Edinburgh Research Explorer

Joanne Williams

Personal Chair of Applied Developmental Psychology

Profile photo

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

Children's health and mental health, development of biology and health concepts, atypical development, children's interactions with animals, attachment to pets, and animal cruelty.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Strathclyde


I am a developmental psychologist with teaching responsibilities in developmental psychology and developmentalpsychopathology and  research interests in child and adolescent health and mental health.

My career in Edinburgh began as a post-doctoral research fellow examining psychological factors associated with child and adolescent injuries. In 1996, I took a two-year lectureship in Psychology, and from 1998 to 2012 I was lecturer/senior lecturer in psychology, in Moray House School of Education.

Since 2012 I have been senior lecturer in Clinical and Health Psychology. I coordinate Children, Adolescents and Animals Research (CAAR) and I am Deputy Director of the Centre for Applied Developmental Psychology. I am Programme Director for the MSc Psychology of Mental Health (Conversion) and contribute developmental psychology teaching on a range of postgraduate programmes.

My research has focused on child and adolescent health and mental health.  I have investigated child and adolescent health concepts and psychoeducational interventions. I also have interests in developmental disabilities and am Associate Editor of Research in Developmental Disabilities. Over the last 10 years I have become particularly interested in children's interactions with animals and the impact these interactions can have on child development and animal welfare. I have explored child and adolescent attachment to pets, children's understandng of animal sentience, child and adolescent cruelty to animals, animal assisted interventions for children with autism and mental health difficulties, and evaluations of animal welfare education programmes. This work has led to collaborations with a range of academics and charities, including the Scottish SPCA. 

Research outputs

  1. The Animal Welfare Education for Children Toolkit

    Research output: Book/ReportOther report

  2. The challenges & future development of animal welfare education

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Research activities & awards

  1. Children and animals: Cruelty and compassion

    Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation

  2. Listening to children's voices in relation to animal cruelty

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

  3. The links between animal cruelty, adverse childhood experiences and human violence: Research and practice

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

View all (18) »

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