Professor Stephen Gibson

Director of Doctoral Programmes


Stephen Gibson is Bicentennial Chair in Research Methods and Director of Doctoral Programmes in the School of Social Sciences.  He is a social psychologist with research interests in obedience and social influence, identity and citizenship, and representations of peace and conflict.  His research makes use of methodological and conceptual approaches informed by discursive and rhetorical psychology, and as such he has an interest in the use and development of qualitative research methods in general, and discourse analytic methods in particular.  His most recent major project has involved a secondary qualitative analysis of archived audio data from Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments, and challenges the conventional view of these studies as demonstrations of people following orders.  Findings from this research have been published in a number of international journals, and in a monograph published in 2019 by Cambridge University Press.

As Director of Doctoral Programmes, Stephen oversees the PGR student experience across the School, including our thriving PhD and DBA programmes, and works closely with our partners at the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences and Scottish Graduate School of Arts & Humanities.

Areas of interest

  • Citizenship
  • Discourse analysis
  • Discursive psychology
  • Obedience
  • Peace and conflict
  • Qualitative methods
  • Rhetoric
  • Social identity
  • Social influence
  • Social psychology.


PhD Psychology (Lancaster University, 2006)

MSc Psychological Research Methods (Lancaster University, 2002; Awarded with Distinction)

BSc Psychology (Lancaster University, 2001; 1st Class Hons)


Stephen joined Heriot-Watt University in December 2019, having previously worked at York St John University between 2005-2019, where he taught psychology and latterly was School Research Lead for the School of Psychological & Social Sciences.

Projects/Research showcase


Stephen has been awarded funding from bodies such as the Leverhulme Trust, British Academy and Nuffield Foundation, and is joint Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Social Psychology

 He is currently a member of the ESRC’s Peer Review College, and serves on the Editorial Board of Social & Personality Psychology Compass

2019, He has served in various roles on the Social Psychology Section Committee of the British Psychological Society, and most recently was chair of the Section’s Annual Conference