Katharina Lefringhausen


  • EH14 4AS

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am looking for applicants who wish to investigate topics related to the following:
- globalisation based acculturation (e.g. at the workplace)
- contact hypothesis (positive, negative, direct/online, extended, imagined, vicarious)
- assessing culture (e.g., values, beliefs) or theories across cultures
- interventions to foster mutual integration
- predispositions to engage in intercultural competence training
- (also speciesism and positive psychology across culture)

+quantitative research (correlational, longitudinal, experimental)
+mixed methods (This also includes candidates who want to explore the synergies between applied linguistics and psychology.)


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

My research expertise is in cross-cultural social psychology and quantitative research methods. I am particularly interested in the theories on acculturation, intergroup contact, intergorup threat theory, and social identity as well as concepts of culture (values, beliefs, norms, etc.) and positive psychology. Yet, I am also keen to expand - looking and cultural appropriation, radicalization and dehumanization. 

Specifically, I currently explore how majority members' identity, behaviour and values may change towards other cultures experienced in a shared envirnoment (e.g., at the workplace, University campus or neighbourhood), its implications on the intergorup relationships for  majority members and their tendency to thrive (e.g., flourishing and creativity).

I have also contributed to published work on intragroup marginalization, mental health literacy, and how personality traits influence social media usage (FB and Twitter). I have presented my work at TEDx (2013), at the 2014 and 2018 Congress of the International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology, at the International Association of Intercultural Research Congress 2019 and the BPS social psychology conference 2019 and 2020.

As the Director of Research and Academic Relations at SIETAR UK (2016-2019) and Current Director of Community Relations (2019-present), I have developed and lead a project to support refugees and persons who seek asylum in the UK with a group of passionate intercultural competence trainers, D&I experts and academics (https://sietar.co.uk/refugees-and-asylum-seekers-project/). 

This has also led to my position as a steering group member as part of a project on intercultural relations initiated by the British Council (The Big Conversation: values and international cooperation in a changing world, 2019-2020) and led by a research team at the London School of Economics (https://www.britishcouncil.org/research-policy-insight/insight-articles/big-conversation-international-plenary).


I obtained my Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from the University for Applied Science and Arts of Hanover (Germany) in 2009. The following year I completed a traineeship at the German County Association in Brussels (Belgium) followed by a trainee position at a Public Relations Agency in Hamburg (Germany), while working as a PR assistant at a Belgian non-governmental organization until July, 2010.

I then successfully accomplished an MSc and funded PhD in Cross-Cultural Psychology (2010-2015). In this time I also started my work as an  Academic Skills and Statistics Adviser as part of Brunel's Educational Excellence Centre. In March 2016, I gained an Associate Fellow status with the Higher Education Academy and in September of the same year I started my Research & Teaching position at Warwick Applied Linguistics. After having been promoted to Associate Professor in August 2021, it was time for me to explore new opportunities and joined Heriot-Watt University in January 2022. 

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 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


  • BF Psychology
  • cultural encounters
  • intercultural communication
  • muliculturalism
  • Identity
  • well-being
  • acculturation


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