Professor Dawn Watling

Personal profile

I came to Royal Holloway in 2005 after completing my DPhil and post-doctoral work at the University of Sussex. I am director of the Social Development Lab. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and a Chartered Psychologist. I am a member of and sit on the Committee of the BPS Developmental Section, and am a member of the BPS Biopsychology Section.

Research interests

Much of my research explores children's and adolescents' social development with a focus on how they learn to navigate through our social world, and developing an understanding of what factors may influence behaviour. I am particularly interested in how children understand the complexities of impression management, both in face to face situations and online. Further, I am interested in how children recognise emotions. Within each, I explore how individual differences in personal factors (e.g., social anxiety, depression, mood, etc.) may be associated (or impact) behaviour.

Recently I have become increasingly interested in what influences children's well-being and mental health. I have been working with charities to evaluate their materials, designed to support children's development and well-being (e.g., Fagus  and Eikon), and have established interdisciplinary collaborations to evaluate how engagement in nature can impact well-being.

My work has been funded by Leverhulme Trust, British Academy, and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Editorial Work

I am Associate Editor for the journal Infant and Child Development, and sit on the editorial board for the British Journal of Developmental Psychology. 


I teach on the following courses:

  • PS1040 Lifespan Development
  • PS2040 Developmental Psychology
  • PS3190 Educational Psychology
  • PS3193 Advanced Statistics

RHUL Teaching Awards

  • Individual RHUL Teaching Prize (for the development Personal Advisor Summary System; 2014)
  • Team Teaching Prize (for fostering the engagement of students with research; 2016)

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