Dr Catherine O'Brien

Dr Catherine O'Brien

BBusSc BSocSc MPhil PhD

Dr O’Brien has taught on a wide range of social and developmental psychology topics as well as developmental psychopathology, including school bullying and autistic spectrum conditions.

Dr Catherine O'Brien

Dr O’Brien received her undergraduate training in psychology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She was awarded two Gates scholarships to complete her MPhil and PhD respectively, in Social and Developmental Psychology at the University of Cambridge. She was then a research associate in the then Faculty of Social and Political Science, University of Cambridge. Dr O’Brien has supervised on psychology papers for numerous Cambridge Colleges. She was Director of Studies in SPS/PPS/HSPS at Peterhouse from 2007-2017 and has directed studies in PBS at Magdalene College since 2014, at Jesus College (Part I) since 2020, and at Wolfson College since 2022. She is a Bye-Fellow in PBS at Lucy Cavendish College, Jesus College and Wolfson College. In 2018, she was short-listed for a CUSU student-led Teaching Award as supervisor, one of only 10 such supervisors selected in the School of Social Sciences.

•    School bullying
•    Autistic spectrum conditions from a social and developmental perspective
•    Depth psychology

Most broadly, Dr O’Brien’s research focuses on social and developmental psychology – ranging from social representations of the euro to the social construction of ‘geeks’. Much of her research has centred on schools – both primary and secondary – in terms of children and young people’s understanding of authority and power.

Her interest in school bullying, combined with the excision of ‘Asperger Syndrome’ from the DSM-5 (2013), led to an interest in the autistic and neurotypical spectrums in both children and adults. These conditions are fascinating to study from a clinical perspective, concerning neurological hardwiring, and from the perspective of personality psychology. She is currently interested in applying Jungian depth psychology to the autism and Asperger literature.

At present, her research focuses on three perspectives: social psychology concerning social stigmas and stereotypes; Jungian depth psychology as an alternative to the study of cognitive biases; a comparison of mainstream accounts and New Age discourses.

What's on

'You' by Gavin Fry

Art Exhibition: 'Things Put Differently'

03/06/2023 at 10.00

Visit Wolfson's latest exhibition 'Things Put Differently' featuring Gavin Fry and works by Anthony Green and Mary Cozens-Walker.

Student working on a laptop

WolfWorks: Writing for Publication

03/06/2023 at 10.00

Thinking about submitting an article to a journal or turning your PhD thesis into a book?

Photo of artist Gurpran Rau holding a piece of her artwork

Art Exhibition: 'Patterns of Renewal'

03/06/2023 at 10.00

We're delighted to be the first to display Gurpran Rau's latest exhibition 'Patterns of Renewal', featuring a series of paintings created during lockdown inspired by her walks in the woods of Cambridgeshire.

A poster for the publicity of the event Solutions to Plastic Pollution. The event details are shown on a blue-ash green background in both white and black text. To the right is an image of a plastic water bottle and a recycling sign on the front of it.

Solutions to Plastic Pollution

05/06/2023 at 17.00

Join us on the 50th World Environment Day for an engaging panel discussion and keynote speech on solutions to plastic pollution.