Professor Elizabeth Peel

BA, Diploma Applied Psychology Nottingham, PhD Loughborough, C.Psychol, FBPsS

  • Professor of Communication and Social Interaction
  • Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor, Loughborough Doctoral College

Having graduated with a joint honours degree in Psychology and Sociology and a Diploma in Applied Psychology from the University of Nottingham (1997), Elizabeth then worked for a year as a research assistant/assistant psychologist before undertaking an ESRC funded PhD, under the supervision of Prof. Celia Kitzinger, Derek Edwards and Sue Wilkinson, in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Loughborough University. Elizabeth's PhD explored manifestations of heterosexist discourse in educational training for professionals about lesbian, gay and bisexual issues. She then worked at the University of Edinburgh (2002-2003) on a longitudinal qualitative study about newly diagnosed patients’ with type 2 diabetes perspectives on health service provision, before lecturing at Aston University (2003-2013).

Prior to (re)joining the School at Loughborough in April 2016, Elizabeth was Professor of Psychology and Social Change and Director of Research in the Institute of Health and Society, University of Worcester. She has received a number of academic awards, including the Feminism & Psychology undergraduate prize (1998), an American Psychological Association distinguished book award (2007), and British Psychological Society (BPS) awards for outstanding research (2012) and textbook prize (2013). Elizabeth held a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship for the ‘Dementia Talking: Care, conversation and communication’ project (2011-12). She is a Fellow of the BPS and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. More on her career is in The Psychologist (March 2016 issue).

Elizabeth Chaired the BPS Psychology of Sexualities Section (2014-2017), and is on the Editorial Boards of various journals, including Qualitative Research in PsychologyFeminism & PsychologyJournal of GLBT Family Studies, and Psychology & Sexuality. She edits (with Elizabeth Stokoe) the Routledge ‘Gender and Sexualities in Psychology’ book series. She is an executive committee member of International Society for Critical Health Psychology (ISCHP) and led the organisation of the society’s 10th Biennial Conference in July 2017. Elizabeth is currently working on an ESRC-funded project focused on evaluating the regulation and reform of legal gender identity (2018-2021) with colleagues Davina Cooper (PI) at Kings and Flora Renz and Emily Grabham at Kent.

Elizabeth's research, under the umbrella ‘critical social psychology’, principally coheres around two main areas: (non-heterosexual) sexualities, especially with regard to families and relationships, and health communication, particularly in relation to people living with a dementia. She has published widely in the areas of sexualities diversity training, same sex relationships and families, type 2 diabetes, and latterly dementia care and communication, using predominantly (but not exclusively) post-positivist qualitative methods including discursive psychology and conversation analysis. Over the years, Elizabeth has received research funding from the British Academy, Big Lottery, Chief Scientist Office, Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, Department of Health, Heart of Birmingham PCT, and the Alzheimer's Society. In 2015 she led a BPS Research Seminar Series with Prof. Michael Murray (Keele Initiative on Ageing) and Dr Carol Holland (Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing) exploring the psychologies of ageing. Her latest books are Ageing and Sexualities (with Prof. Rosie Harding, University of Birmingham) and Critical Kinship Studies (with Dr Damien Riggs, Flinders University).

One of Elizabeth's main projects is Dementia Talking: Care, conversation and communication project, the empirical component of which was funded by the British Academy. The data-set consists of media representations of dementia, interview data with family carers of people living with dementia, and 45 hours of video-recordings of people with dementia in health care, care home and domestic settings. Dementia Talking aims to understand how talk about, and to, people with dementia is constructed, with the goal of improving communication with people with dementia, via the interlinked research questions: How is dementia represented in society? How are people with dementia communicated with, and about? How can the communication strategies of people with dementia and their carers be understood, improved and facilitated? In what ways can communication through everyday conversation improve the care of people with dementia?

Other current and recent projects include:

Civil Partnership, Marriage and Meaning Making for Same Sex Couples.Coventry University. April 2015-September 2016, CI with Dr Adam Jowett, Coventry University.

Beyond Boundaries: Exploring psychologies of ageing.BPS Research Seminars competition. April 2015-April 2016. PI.

Over the Rainbow - LGBT dementia group and intergenerational support project. Dementia Engagement & Empowerment Project (DEEP) Involvement Fund via Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Comic Relief. February 2014-February 2015. PI.

More information about Elizabeth's research and publications can be found via:

Google Scholar

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA). Elizabeth currently supervises 7 doctoral research students. 

Elizabeth is interested in supervising PhD students who wish to undertake projects aligned with her research interests. Please contact her via email.

Current postgraduate research students

  • Aysegul Dilbirligi: "Attitudes towards parenting in the UK and Turkey", with Sarah Holloway and Adrian Leguina.
  • Chloe Waterman: "Legal decision-making in dementia: A conversation analytic study", with Rosie Harding (ESRC funded).
  • Manuel Torres-Sahli: "Representations of ageing in Chilean discourse", with Cristian Tileaga.
  • Gabriel Knott-Fayle: "Gender and the representation of transgression in the sports-media complex", with Gemma Witcomb.
  • Scott Varney: "A social psychological analysis of laughter, collaborative understanding, and other audience responses to television situation comedy", with Marco Pino.

Recent postgraduate research students

  • Jordan Elliott-King (2019) "Physical activity interventions in dementia", with Eef Hogervorst.
  • Joseph Ford (2017) "Empathy in palliative care interactions", with Charles Antaki.
  • Heather Yemm née Vickers (2017) "Understandings of mild cognitive impairment", with Dawn Brooker.
  • Shahreen Bashir (2017) "Young people living with liver disease", with Pam Lowe.
  • Kirsty Danielle Stephens (2016) "Constructing the female sporting body: Motivations, barriers and embodiment of the female road cyclist", with Gyozo Molnar and Irmgard Tischner.
  • Jan Grove (2014) "Same-sex couple counselling", with Val Owen-Pugh.
  • Amy Burton née Bennion (2012) "Quality of life in older patients with age-related macular degeneration", with Jonathan Gibson and Rachel Shaw.
  • Adam Jowett (2011) "Chronic illness in non-heterosexual contexts", with Rachel Shaw.
  • Ellis, S.J., Riggs, D.W. & Peel, E. (2020) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer Psychology: An introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Second Edition.
  • Peel, E., Holland, C.A. & Murray, M. (2018) Psychologies of Ageing: Theory, research and practice. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Harding, R. & Peel, E. (2018) Polyphonic legality: Power of Attorney in dialogic interaction. Social & Legal Studies.
  • Rivers, I., Gonzalez, C., Nodin, N., Peel, E. & Tyler, A. (2018) LGBT people and suicidality in youth: a qualitative study of perceptions of risk and protective circumstances. Social Science & Medicine, 212,1-8
  • Riggs, D.W. & Peel, E. (2016) Critical Kinship Studies: An introduction to the field. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Peel, E. & Harding, R. (Eds.), (2016) Ageing and Sexualities: Interdisciplinary perspectives. Farnham: Ashgate/ Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Erol, R., Brooker, D. & Peel, E. (2016) The impact of dementia on women internationally: An integrative review. Health Care for Women International, 37(12), 1320-1341. doi:10.1080/07399332.2016.1219357
  • Peel, E. (2015) Diagnostic communication in the memory clinic: A conversation analytic perspective. Aging & Mental Health,19(12), 1123-1130.
  • Peel, E. (2014) ‘The living death of Alzheimer’s’ versus ‘Take a walk to keep dementia at bay’: Representations of dementia in print media and carer discourse. Sociology of Health and Illness, 36(6), 885-901.