skip to content

Centre for Family Research



I am a Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh. Prior to joining Edinburgh, I was a member of the Centre for Family Research for almost 10 years. Under the supervision of Professor Claire Hughes, I completed my ESRC-funded PhD which examined the transition to parenthood in heterosexual couples, with a particular focus on the impact of expectant parents' thoughts and feelings about their unborn infant on their representations of and interactions with their infant. My subsequent post-doctoral research with Professor Susan Golombok explored parent-child relationship quality and child development in new family forms (e.g., those created through assisted reproductive technologies). Following this, I gained an ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship to examine parent and children's experiences of shared parenting arrangements post separation and divorce. My other previous research also included studies of pre-adolescent adjustment and assisting with the creation of the Brief Early Skills and Support Index (aka BESSI), a ‘school-readiness’ questionnaire.


I am a developmental psychologist interested in parenting and child adjustment, with a specific interest in the causes and consequences of parental mind-mindedness and sensitivity as well as the interdependence of family members. My PhD thesis (2018) examined the impact of expectant parents' thoughts and feelings about their unborn infant on their representations of and interactions with their infant. My PhD was framed with the New Fathers and Mothers Study, an international longitudinal study that follows first-time parents from pregnancy until their infants second birthday in the UK, US and the Netherlands. 


Key publications: 

Foley, S., Alvarez, C., McCarthy, J., & Hughes, C. (in press) Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd? Maternal and Paternal Talk About Family Differ in Associations with Wellbeing, Couple Relationship Quality and Caregiving Sensitivity. Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Golombok, S., Zadeh, S., Freeman, T., Lysons, J., & Foley, S. (in press) Single Mothers By Choice: Parenting and child adjustment in middle childhood. Journal of Family Psychology. 

McConnachie, A.L., Ayed, N., Foley, S., Lamb, M.E., Tasker, F., Jadva, V., & Golombok, S. (2020) Adoptive Gay Father Families: Adjustment at Early Adolescence. Child Development. DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13442 

Hughes, C., Devine, R.T., Foley, S., Ribner, A.D., Mesman, J., & Blair. C. (2020) Couples Becoming Parents: Wellbeing Trajectories and Social Support Across the Transition to Parenthood. Journal of Affective Disorders,265, 372-380. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.01.133 

Foley, S., Branger, M. C. E., Alink, L. R. A., Lindberg, A., & Hughes, C. (2019) Thinking About You Baby: Expectant Parents’ Narratives Suggest Prenatal Spillover for Fathers. Journal of Family Psychology.

Hughes, C., Foley, S., Devine, R.T., Ribner, A., Kyriakou, L., Boddington, L., Holmes, E., & the New Fathers and Mothers Study Team (2019) Worrying in the Wings: Negative Emotional Birth Memories in Mothers and Fathers Show Similar Associations with Perinatal Mood Disturbance and Delivery Mode. Archives of Women’s Mental Health. 

Foley, S., & Hughes, C. (2018) Great Expectations? Do Mothers’ and Fathers’ Prenatal Thoughts and Feelings about the Infant Predict Parent-Infant Interaction Quality? A Meta-Analytic Review. Developmental Review, 48, 40 – 54. 

Hughes, C., Aldercotte, A., & Foley, S. (2017) Maternal Mind-mindedness Provides a Buffer for Pre-adolescents at Risk for Disruptive Behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 45, 225 – 235.           


Other publications: 

Hughes, C., Foley, S., White, N., & Devine, R.T. (2018) School Readiness in Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities: Psychometric Findings From a New Screening Tool, the Brief Early Skills and Support Index (BESSI). British Journal of Educational Psychology. 88, 606 - 627. 

Hughes, C., White, N., Foley, S., & Devine, R.T. (2018) Family Support and Gains in School Readiness: A Longitudinal Study. British Journal of Educational Psychology. 88, 284 - 299.

Hughes, C., Daly, I., Foley, S., White, N. and Devine, R. T. (2015). Measuring the foundations of school readiness: Introducing a new questionnaire for teachers – The Brief Early Skills and Support Index (BESSI). British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 332 – 356.     

Lee, P., Foley, S., & Mee, C. (2013) Getting it right from the start: Evaluation of a DVD and booklet for new parents. Community Practitioner, 86, 32 - 36.                   


Foley, S., Devine, R.T., Pintar, A., & Hughes, C. (2018, Dec) Gains in Mind-mindedness Across the Transition to Parenthood: An International Study of Mothers and Fathers. Prize-winning paper presented at the UK and Ireland Marce Society Annual Conference. London.

Foley, S., Lindberg, A., & Hughes, C. (2018, Sept) Spill-over in Pregnancy? Couple Dissatisfaction Predicts Reduced Coherence in Expectant Fathers’ Descriptions of Their Unborn Child. Paper presented at the British Psychological Society Developmental Section Annual Conference. Liverpool.

Foley, S. (2018, Feb) Great Expectations? St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge.

Foley, S., Imrie, S., Jones, C., & Fink, E. (2017, Nov) "Honest Conversations with New Parents: Transitions, Tensions, Triumphs". Public engagement event, ESRC Festival of Social Science, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.

Foley, S., Fink, E., Devine, R.T., & Hughes, C. (2017, Sept) Is Parents’ Talk To and About their Infants Related to Depression or Couple Satisfaction? Paper presented at the British Psychological Society Developmental Section Annual Conference. Stratford-upon-Avon.

Foley, S., & Hughes, C., (2017, Sept) Parenting Before Birth? A Meta-Analysis of the Links Between Prenatal Representations of Infants and Postnatal Parenting. Paper presented at the 37th Annual Conference of the Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology. York.

Foley, S., Devine, R.T., & Hughes, C. (2017, April) Parental mind-mindedness: measurement, gender differences, and associations with infant outcomes. Paper presented at the SRCD Biennial Meeting, Austin, TX, USA.  

Foley, S., Devine, R.T., & Hughes, C. (2015, September) Mind-mindedness: concordance between expectant parents and associations with wellbeing. Paper presented at the 35th Annual Conference of the Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology, Nottingham.

Hughes, C., & Foley S. (2014, September) Risk, Disruptive Behaviour in Pre-teenagers and Maternal Mind-mindedness. Paper presented at the British Psychological Society Developmental Section Annual Conference, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Not available for consultancy


Person keywords: 
child development