Penny obtained her DPhil in experimental social psychology from the University of Oxford; her doctoral research investigated how we ‘catch’ others emotions. She employed both experimental and more naturalistic field based studies to address the question of how emotions spread between people. Her experiments investigated the ‘infectious’ automatic spread of emotion via primitive contagion, and the more conscious spread of emotion via appraisals of how others are feeling. Her experimental research also looked at how the wider social and interpersonal context, for example how the appropriateness of others emotional reactions, the extent to which we identify with them, interpersonal attraction, and perceived similarity, influence how likely we are to catch another’s emotions.
Her field research explored the phenomenon of ‘group emotion’ by mapping the emotional responses of group members over several days. Penny assessed the extent to which group dynamics such how much members socially identified with their group influenced the spread of emotion.
In addition her research interests include identifying processes which enable people and groups to thrive and flourish, and to cope, adapt and grow in the midst of adversity. She is interested in how constructs such as ‘hope’ ‘optimism’ and ‘purpose’, to name a few, can enable a more ‘resourceful’, creative way of thinking that enables individuals, leaders and teams to spot and take advantage of opportunities and to deal with challenges.
Previously Penny has lived and worked in London, Malaysia, and Barbados, most recently serving as Lecturer in Psychology at the University of the West Indies.
Penny is currently employed as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, working within the Henley Directors Forum. Current research projects include; exploring the nature of ‘conflict’ and ‘trust’ in the boardroom, capturing the life-stories of CEO’s and understanding the mechanisms through which story-sharing promotes resilience and personal growth. Penny is guided by a keen interest in applying research findings to ‘real-world’ contexts.
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