Julia Pearce

Julia Pearce


  • Reader in Social Psychology and Security Studies, War Studies
  • Phone87282
  • 260

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Biographical details

Dr Julia Pearce is a Reader in Social Psychology and Security Studies, Associate Dean (Impact & Innovation) in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy and Deputy Head of Department and Director of Academic Staffing in the Department of War Studies. Her research uses social psychological theories of health behaviour to examine the impact of risk and crisis communication on risk perception and behaviours, with a focus on extreme events such as terrorism and pandemics. She is particularly interested in understanding the likely reactions, needs and appropriate communication strategies for groups who may be vulnerable during an emergency. The greater part of her research assesses psychological and behavioural responses to low-likelihood, high impact, extreme events such as chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) terrorism and marauding terrorist firearms attacks. This research has (i) challenged assumptions about public panic by providing evidence to suggest that under-response can be as problematic as over-response during a crisis, and (ii) demonstrated the importance of communicating with members of the public before, during and after extreme events.

During her time in the Department of War Studies Dr Pearce has contributed to nine collaborative multi-institution projects, including leading the communication measures work package on the 3-year EU FP7 Security funded PRIME  project on the prevention, interdiction and mitigation of lone actor terrorism. She recently completed an 18-month project that was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19 to provide real-time data to support the development of public health guidance about the COVID-19 vaccine for ethnic minority groups in the UK. She is currently conducting research examining how risk perceptions and behavioural responses to health threats vary amongst different population groups under the auspices of the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response.

Dr Pearce is a Chartered Psychologist and an Honorary Public Health Academic Consultant at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). She is a member of several committees which provide advice to government agencies, including as Deputy Chair of the Cabinet Office National Risk Assessment Behavioural Science Expert Group. During the COVID-19 pandemic she participated in the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) Ethnicity subgroup.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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