The Positive Psychology Research Group (also known as the Applied Positive Psychology Lab Bucks, or APPLBucks) comprises staff (lecturers on the Bucks MSc in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) programme), students and alumni with an interest in positive psychology research.

Positive psychology is the scientific study of humanity’s strengths and of how people best flourish in their daily lives. Research areas of interest include hope & resilience, strengths & virtues, the benefits of both positive and negative emotions, happiness and wellbeing, growth & learning, creativity, engagement, peak experiences, and prosociality (altruism & empathy).

This group is a forum for discussion, collaboration, and support for that research. Each year, the group holds an Applied Positive Psychology symposium in conjunction with the other UK universities that provide MAPP programmes (Anglia Ruskin University and the University of East London) with contributions from other positive psychology researchers from organisations including the University of Northampton, University of Buckingham, University College Cork, Goldsmiths, and the Positive Psychology People/Positive Psychology Learning.

The core staff in the group consists of the MAPP lecturers: Drs Matthew Smith, Piers Worth, Genevieve Cseh, and Ceri Sims.


Bradley, Scott and Worth, Piers (2017) Character strengths in sport and physical activity. In: Positive Psychology in Sport and Physical Activity: An Introduction. Routledge. ISBN 978-1138235595

Cheng C, Sims C, et al (2011) Sociocultural Differences in Self-Construal and Subjective Well-Being: A Test of Four Cultural Models, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42(5), 832-855

Cseh, Genevieve M. (2016) Flow in Creativity: A Review of Potential Theoretical Conflict. In: Flow Experience. Springer, pp. 79-94. ISBN 978-3-319-28632-7

Ivtzan, I, Lomas, T, Hefferon, K and Worth, Piers (2015) Second Wave Positive Psychology: Embracing the Dark Side of Life. Routledge. ISBN 9781138818668

Sims, Ceri M. (2017) Second Wave Positive Psychology Coaching with difficult emotions: Introducing the mnemonic of ‘TEARS HOPE’
. The Coaching Psychologist, 13 (2). pp. 66-79. ISSN 1748-1104

Sims, Ceri M. (2016) Do the big-five personality traits predict empathic listening and assertive communication? International Journal of Listening. pp. 1-26. ISSN 1090-4018

Sims, Ceri M. (2014) Self regulation coaching to alleviate student procrastination: Addressing the likeability of studying behaviours, International Coaching Psychology Review, 9 (2), 148-164

Smith, Matthew D.and Worth, Piers (2019) Positive psychology and ‘luck’ experiences. In: The Routledge Handbook of Theories of Luck. London. Routledge. Routledge, London. (Submitted)

Worth, Piers (2010) Four questions of creativity: Keys to a creative life. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 978-1426925443

Worth, Piers(2015) The hero’s journey. In: Second Wave Positive Psychology. Routledge, pp. 175-196. ISBN 978-1138818668

Worth, Piers (2015) Positive development – our journey of growth. In: Second Wave Positive Psychology: Embracing the Dark Side of Life. Routledge, pp. 31-54. ISBN 978-1138818668

Worth, Piers, Gavrielides, Theo, Smith, Matthew D., Ntziadima, Andriana and Gouseti, Ioanna (2015) The Psychology of Restorative Justice: Creating the Inner and Outer Space for Change – An Observation of Restorative Justice Meetings. In: The Psychology of Restorative Justice: Managing the Power Within. Routledge, pp. 203-226. ISBN 978-1472455307

Worth, Piers and Smith, Matthew D. (2017) Critical positive psychology: A creative convergence of two disciplines. In: The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Positive Psychology. Routledge International Handbooks. Routledge, pp. 3-10. ISBN 978-1138961432

UK Applied Positive Psychology Symposium Proceedings:

Proceedings of the 5th Annual Applied Positive Psychology Symposium.- 2019

Proceedings of the 4th Annual UK Applied Positive Psychology Symposium – 2018

Proceedings of the 3rd Annual UK Applied Positive Psychology Symposium – 2017

Proceedings of the 2nd Annual UK Applied Positive Psychology Symposium – 2016

Dr Julia Robertson, Dr Sena Quaye and Dr Barbara Kingsley are undertaking research to understand the complex reasons behind cosmetic usage. Some reasons may be obvious (e.g. to enhance appearance), but others may be less so (e.g. as camouflage, real or psychological, in identity formation, in mate seeking behaviours and so on).

If you are 18 or over and have used or currently use cosmetics, they would be grateful if you could spare as much or as little time as you would like to take part in a written, online study.

All participation is entirely voluntary. Please read the Participant Information Sheet before you decide whether to take part.

If you would be willing to take part the survey can be accessed through the link. .

The study has been approved by the University Research Ethics panel at Buckinghamshire New University.

For further information, please email

Dr Julia Robertson and Dr Barbara Kingsley have undertaken a number of faciometric studies which have evidenced the physiological relationship between facial cues and related variables (e.g. mate choices, sexual orientation, perceived attractiveness, health, etc.).  These facial cues include measures such as facial width to height ratio, cheekbone prominence, lower face to full face height ratio and face width to lower face to height ratio.

Their research to date has shown that observed facial differences between genders change and decline with age, meaning that care should be taken in using faciometrics in studies involving older populations. They also found that facial structure does not follow the same aging trajectory in all populations. In another study, they observed a more feminized facial phenotype in gay than heterosexual males.

In their current research Dr Robertson and Dr Kingsley are investigating how people use restricted information in terms of facial image alone in order to make stereotypical assumptions about another’s personality. Anyone 18 or over can take part in this research. All participation is entirely voluntary and takes 15-20 minutes (at the most) to complete a survey. Please read the Participant Information Sheet before you decide whether to take part.


Robertson, Julia M and Kingsley, Barbara E (2018) Sexually Dimorphic Faciometrics in Black Racial Groups From Early Adulthood to Late Middle Age. Evolutionary psychology : an international journal of evolutionary approaches to psychology and behavior, 16 (4). p. 1474704918811056. ISSN 1474-7049

Robertson, Julia M, Kingsley, Barbara E and Ford, Gina C. (2018) Psychometric and Faciometric Support for Observable Facial Feminization in Gay Men. Journal of Homosexuality. pp. 1-19. ISSN 0091-8369

Robertson, Julia M, Kingsley, Barbara E and Ford, Gina C (2017) Sexually Dimorphic Faciometrics in Humans From Early Adulthood to Late Middle Age: Dynamic, Declining, and Differentiated. Evolutionary Psychology, 15 (3). pp. 1-10. ISSN 1474-7049

Dr Barbara Kingsley and Dr Julia Robertson have conducted research into exploring reticence in learning about research methods. Outcomes have been used to inform and enhance teaching of research methods and to develop a new text book.


Kingsley, Barbara E and Robertson, Julia M (2017) Exploring Reticence in Research Methods: The Experience of Studying Psychological Research Methods in Higher Education. Psychology Teaching Review, 23 (2). pp. 4-19. ISSN 0965-948X

Robertson, Julia M and Kingsley, Barbara E (2015) Teaching Research Methods to encourage the transition from ‘reluctant scientist’ to psychologist: A longitudinal study. Psychology Teaching Review, 21 (1). pp. 44-55. ISSN 0965-948X

Dr Sena Agbo-Quaye and Dr Cheryl Pitt are investigating the career stories of university academic staff. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the career development, occupational decision making and life journeys of academics.

They are looking for more participants who are academics with at least 12 months lecturing experience at higher education level and are 30 years of age or over. If you’re interested in taking part, please contact .

This research project seeks to investigate the extent to which the self-perception of leadership relates to self-determination, hope and well-being.

The dual imperatives of promoting the well-being of students as well as resourcing the difficulties and current rates of poor mental health that exists means that increasing understanding of what promotes effective functioning in young people is crucial. Developing leadership skills during the school years can enable pupils to develop to meet life’s challenges, cope with stress and potentially flourish.

In her current study, Dr Ceri Sims is investigating whether leadership identity and experiences are predictive of hope in pupils between 13 and 18 years of age and whether this is mediated by need satisfaction through a sense of school belonging and academic self-regulation.  The research also investigates whether leadership identity is related to student wellbeing.

Research into the affective sciences, the scientific study of emotion, has seen a marked increase in recent years leading to a demand for appropriate validated materials. Materials developed to date have mainly been visual, with some audovisual stimuli used more recently. When auditory stimuli have been used, they’ve tended to comprise speech sounds which are susceptible to confounding factors such as the language or the interpretations of the emotive words.

Dr Sena Agbo-Quaye, Dr Barbara Kingsley and Dr Julia Robertson are developing a database of affective non-speech sounds, which are standardised along the dimensions of arousal (stimulating or calming) and valence (positive or negative). The proposed project will take place in two phases. The first will be to generate a database of affective non-speech sounds based on Ekman’s (1992) six basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise) as well as a neutral sound. These sounds will be validated in the second phase. Each sound within the database will then be rated for valence, arousal, naturalness (i.e. acted or entirely natural) and identification (i.e. does the sound reflect the intended emotion) by 100 participants. The sounds which receive ratings of 60% or more for naturalness and 80% or more of correct identification will be included in the final database and will be organised along the dimensions of valence and arousal.