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Psychology Postgraduate Studies

Caitriona Kinsella

Name: Caitriona Kinsella 

Present Position: PhD student 

Qualifications: BA (Hons) French and Psychology, N.U.I, Galway. Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology, University of Nottingham, England.



Project Title (working title): Understanding Charitable Behaviour

Project Supervisor: Dr. Clifford Stevenson

Expected Completion Date: September 2012

Postal Address:
Department of Psychology,
CSIS Building,
University of Limerick,



Having completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and French at N.U.I., Galway, including a year studying in UniversitÚ de Franche-ComptÚ, Besanšon, France, I went to the University of Nottingham, England to do a conversion course - a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology. I then returned to Ireland, where I worked as Team Leader for the Home Help section of RehabCare/ Carelink, a branch of the Rehab Group(an independent, not-for-profit organisation which provides training, employment, health and social care and commercial services to people across Ireland). Following this I spent some time in Singapore working in the field of education, after which I came to Limerick to begin my doctoral studies.



Project aim:

The project aims to elucidate how people understand charity to isolate the key identity processes in people's decisions to donate and to manipulate these to maximise charitable donations to specific target recipients. The project hopes to enrich the psychology of everyday helping behaviour and allow charities to maximise their revenue.


Description of PhD Research


Increasingly the role of groups in structuring helping behaviour has been studied. The psychological literature on intergroup helping (eg Sturmer & Snyder, 2009) emphasises three related factors which demonstrably affect intergroup helping behaviour: perceived similarity of donor to recipient, power differences between helping and helped and the specific contexts of helping behaviour.

However this group level analysis can sometimes make contrary predictions. On the one hand, Social Identity Theory (Tajfel, 1979) predicts perceived similarity to one's group will lead to increased empathy and subsequent helping behaviours (Batson, 1991). On the other hand, similarity can be viewed as threatening (Nadler, 2002) and an intergroup theory of power relations demonstrates how helping can strategically be used as a form of intergroup differentiation. These contradictory findings present something of a paradox. The present study attempts to redress this by adopting a mixed methods approach to the issue of intergroup helping behaviours by looking at how issues of group identity, similarity and difference impact upon a person's willingness to give.



Teaching on modules:


Psychology in everyday life PS4031, Social Issues PS4032, Social Psychology PS4011, Human Development Across the Lifespan PS4023 and Empirical Psychology I and II PS4043 and PS4034



Poster and Conference Presentations:


"Does Difference From or Similarity to the Ingroup Increase Helping Behaviour - A Qualitative Study". Kinsella, C. & Stevenson, C. (2011).

EASP 2011 Conference, European Association for Social Psychology - Sweden, July 2011.


"Does Difference From or Similarity to the Ingroup Increase Helping Behaviour - A Qualitative Study". Kinsella, C. & Stevenson, C. (2011).

Poster presentation accepted by BPS 2011 conference, The British Psychological Society - Scotland, May 2011.


"The Role of Empathy and Responsibility in Decisions to Donate". Kinsella, C. & Stevenson, C. (2011).

C-SPI Conference, Conference for Social Psychology in Ireland - Ireland, April 2011.


"Understanding Charitable Behaviour". Kinsella, C., Stevenson, C. & Muldoon, O. (2010). Transfer presentation, University of Limerick - Sept. 2010.


"Understanding Charitable Behaviour: How people account for their own and others charitable behaviour in everyday talk". Kinsella, C., Stevenson, C. & Muldoon, O. (2010)

Poster presented at NIBPS 2010 conference, The British Psychological Society Northern Ireland Branch - Ireland, April 2010.



Other Qualifications:


Member of EHSREC - Education and Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee, University of Limerick.


IRCHSS Research Methods and Statistics Winter School 2010

SPSS, NVivo, Atlas, AMOS


Certificate in Counselling and Psychotherapy, PCI College Ireland 2011


Certificate in Practical Counselling, School of Counselling, Singapore 2009






Manual Handling Training Course, RehabCare 2008


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