Ruth Woods
Title: Dr
First Name: Ruth
Surname: Woods
Position: Lecturer in Psychology
Telephone: +44 (0) 1224 263209

Ruth joined RGU in 2017. She is a psychologist who also has training in anthropological methodology and theory. She uses this combination to examine how people construct identities, beliefs and norms in the process of interacting with those around them. This approach, exemplified in her book, ‘Children’s Moral Lives’, allows us to understand how humans are always both unique and culturally embedded.

More information about Ruth can be found at and

Duties and Responsibilities

Ruth teaches on the BA (Hons) Applied Social Sciences, BA (Hons) Social Work, MSc Applied Psychology and MSc Social Work.

Academic Background

  • MA (Hons) Psychology (1st class) (University of Dundee)
  • MPhil Cognitive Science (Distinction) (University of Dundee)
  • PhD (Brunel University)
  • PGCLT(HE) (Canterbury Christ Church University) 

Research Interests

Ruth uses quantitative and qualitative methods to explore the following areas. She is particularly interested in ethnographic and narrative approaches.

  • Children’s moral development in different social settings
  • Children’s ethnic and religious identity development in multicultural settings
  • Children’s experiences of friendship and social isolation, and how they affect development
  • Public perceptions of and responses to anthropogenic climate change, particularly scepticism

Ruth would be delighted to hear from you if you’re interested in collaboration or PhD research in any of these areas.


2019: RGU Pump-Priming Fund, ‘Impact of Brexit on mental health and wellbeing of EU citizens’ (co-investigator with Prof Catriona Kennedy [PI, RGU], Piotr Teodorowski [RGU], Feniks) (£9320)

2009: UKERC, ‘Measuring climate change good practice in schools’ (co-investigator with University of Leeds, Heriot-Watt University) (£20,000)

2009: Canterbury Christ Church University, ‘Exploring religious experiences of British and Spanish young adults’ (joint PI with Ana Fernandez [CCCU]) (£1255)

2007: Canterbury Christ Church University Small Research Grant, ‘Conceptualisations of ethnicity among British children in multicultural communities’ (PI) (£1000)

Professional Memberships

  • British Psychological Society
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

External / Professional Roles

Selected as one of thirty early career researchers to participate in NESTA and UKERC’s Carbon Crucible initiative in 2008.

Reviewer for several journals including Childhood, Developmental Psychology, Public Understanding of Science, International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, and Global Environmental Change.

Reviewer for ESRC


Peer-reviewed journal articles 

  • Jones, C., Henderson, G. & Woods, R. (in press). Relative strangers: Sibling estrangements experienced by children in out-of-home care and moving towards permanence. Children and Youth Services Review.
  • Woods, R., Coen, S. & Fernández, A. (2018). Moral (dis)engagement with anthropogenic climate change in online comments on British newspaper articles. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 28, 244-257.
  • Woods, R. & Henderson, G. (2018). Changes in out of home care and permanence planning among young children in Scotland, 2003 to 2017. Adoption & Fostering, 42, 282-294. https://doi/10.1177/0308575918790435
  • Woods, R. (2018). Children’s use of multiple categorisations in practice in a multicultural setting. Children & Society, 32, 357-367.
  • Henderson, G., Jones, C. & Woods, R. (2017). Sibling birth order, use of statutory measures and patterns of placement for children in public care: implications for international child protection systems and research. Children and Youth Services Review, 82, 321-328.
  • Woods, R. (2017). The development of non-essentialising concepts of ethnicity among children in a multicultural London community. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 35, 546-567.
  • Woods, R. & Masthoff, J. (2017). A comparison of car driving, public transport and cycling experiences in three European cities. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 103, 211-222.
  • Woods, R., Fernández, A. & Coen, S. (2012). The use of religious metaphors by UK newspapers to describe and denigrate climate change. Public Understanding of Science, 21, 323-339.
  • Woods, R. (2010). A critique of the concept of accuracy in social information processing models of children's peer relations. Theory & Psychology, 20, 5-27.
  • Woods, R., Coen, S. & Fernández, A. (2009). An analysis of the British public's concerns regarding climate change legislation. International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, 1, 75-92.
  • Woods, R. (2009). The use of aggression in primary school boys' decisions about inclusion in and exclusion from playground football games. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 79, 223-238.
  • Woods, R. (2008). I like to see my worst people get voted off: Big Brother viewing among British primary school children. Journal of Children and Media, 2, 129-146.
  • Woods, R. (2008). When rewards and sanctions fail: A case study of a primary school rule-breaker. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 21, 181-196.

Books and chapters 

  • Woods, R. (2013). Children’s Moral Lives: An Ethnographic and Psychological Approach. Wiley Blackwell.
  • Woods, R. (2007). Children constructing 'Englishness' and other ethnic identities at a multicultural London primary school. In C. Hart (Ed.), Approaches to Englishness: Differences, Diversity and Identities. Kingswinford: Midrash Publishing. 


Conference and seminar oral presentations

  • Teodorowski, P. & Woods, R. (2019). How Brexit impacts EU citizens’ mental health and wellbeing: Research findings. Presentation at EU Parliament Office, Edinburgh, 12th June 2019.
  • Woods, R. (2018, December). Looked after children in Scotland: Complex lives, complex solutions. Invited presentation at ‘Complex Decision Making for Complex Children and Young People: Getting it Right’ seminar, Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership. Scottish Government, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh.
  • Woods, R. (2015, September). A case study of two boys who did not absorb hegemonic moral values from their culture. Paper presented at BPS Developmental & Social Psychology Annual Conference, Manchester.
  • Woods, R. (2015, September). Using ethnography to reveal the disconnect between values in the peer group and school hegemony. Paper presented at `Beyond Perception 15’ Anthropology Symposium, Aberdeen.
  • Woods, R. (2013, October). Children’s moral lives: Peer exclusion and power. Seminar paper presented at Robert Gordon University, School of Applied Social Studies, Aberdeen.
  • Woods, R. (2013, November). `We never hurt each other on the inside or the outside’: The effect of British preoccupations with harm avoidance on children’s moral lives. Seminar paper presented at University of Aberdeen, School of Education.
  • Woods, R. (2013, November). `We never hurt each other on the inside or the outside’: The effect of British preoccupations with harm avoidance on children’s moral lives. Seminar paper presented at University of Aberdeen, Department of Anthropology.
  • Woods, R., Coen, S. & Fernández, A. (2009, January). An analysis of the British public's concerns regarding climate change legislation. Virtual paper presented at the International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Environment Education and Research, Pune, India.
  • Woods, R. (2008, September). 'If you change your religion you can't be English': Children's views on ethnic constancy are dependent on subject of question and type of transformation. Paper presented at BPS Developmental Section Annual Conference, Oxford Brookes University.
  • Woods, R. (2007, June). Children defining and experiencing racism in 21st century Britain. CRONEM conference on Nationalism and National Identities, Multidisciplinary Perspectives. University of Surrey.
  • Woods, R. (2007, November). Do children construct or discover ethnicity? Insights from a west London primary school. CRONEM seminar series, University of Surrey.
  • Woods, R. (2006, May). Understanding boys' aggression: Information processing or relational meaning-making? Linda Tosh Annual Memorial Lecture, University of Dundee.