Dr Dawn Watling

Research interests

Much of my research explores how we navigate through our social world, including factors that may influence our behaviour, and the implications of our social behaviour on our relationships. Much of my research focuses on children's social development, but I am also interested in interactions and behaviours of adults.

Key areas of interest include: self-presentation use and understanding; development of social skills; children's peer relations; development emotion recognition; links between behaviour and personal factors (e.g., social anxiety, depression, mood, etc.).



It is well known that individuals wish others to view them positively, and to achieve this many use impression management techniques. I am interested in how and when children and adults understand and use self-presentational tactics. Within each of these areas I explore the factors that may influence their use and understanding; for instance, how well they know their audience; levels of social anxiety, mood, depression, etc.


The ability to quickly and accurately recognize emotions in others (facial or throught body language) is an important social skill. My research focuses on how children and adults recognize emotions in others through investigating the role of neuropsychological factors (i.e., hemispheric lateralisation) and social factors (e.g., social anxiety, depression, attachment) may be related to the recognition of emotions. I am beginning to expand this work to take more of a lifespan approach.

In combining my interests with emotion recognition and self-presentation, I am beginning to explore, using eye tracking techniques, how children identify emotions as being genuine or being pretend


Furthermore, I am interested in links between children's social and emotional understanding and peer status (i.e., can peer acceptance and rejection be predicted by, or predict, children's social and emotional understanding; what factors can predict movement in and out of peer status groups, as well as maintaining status over time).

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