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Centre for Family Research



I completed an ESRC-funded PhD in Psychology at the Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge, under the supervision of Professor Claire Hughes. My doctoral research won the St Catharine’s Prize for Distinction in Research, which recognised the achievements of A third-year doctoral student in the Arts and Humanities, or the Social Sciences, or the Physical and Biological Sciences. I then conducted post-doctoral research working with Professor Susan Golombok on studies looking at family relationships and adjustment in families created using assisted reproduction. I am currently an ESRC Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, conducting a study examing family experiences of shared-parenting arrangements after separation or divorce. 

I joined the Centre for Family Research in July 2012 as a research assistant working on the Toddlers Up project led by Claire Hughes, investigating the impact of life events and family relationships on the wellbeing of pre-teen children. Prior to this I completed my undergraduate degree in Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge, specialising in Psychology, and graduated with the best overall grade together with best Psychology dissertation.


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.

Teaching and Supervisions


For the academic year 2020 - 21, I will lecture on the following papers: PBS 6 (Development and Psychopathology) and PBS 2 (Psychological Enquiry and Methods).  

Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Affiliated Lecturer, Department of Psychology
Director of Studies, Corpus Christi College
Post-Doctoral Affiliate, Newnham College

Contact Details

(+44) 01223 762841
Not available for consultancy


Person keywords: 
child development