Dr Kathryn Buchanan

Department of Psychology
Dr Kathryn Buchanan
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 873074

  • Location

    2.703, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    Thursdays (term-time): 3-4pm



Kathryn Buchanan obtained her Bsc (Hons) in psychology from the University of Kent in 2008 before going on to complete a PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her thesis primarily examined the contribution of two key behaviour types known as 'getting ahead' (agency) and 'getting along' (communion) to subjective wellbeing. Kathryn then worked as a post-doctoral researcher on a 4 year EPSRC funded project (2012 - 2016), where alongside a multidisciplinary team she assisted in the development of a system that aimed to help householders reduce their energy consumption. Kathryn joined the department as a lecturer in 2016. Her research employs a mixed methods approach and continues to revolve around identifying factors that can lead to desirable societal outcomes such as increased happiness and the promotion of pro-social behaviours. Her recent work looks at people's reactions to seeing others' acts of kindness.

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Improving subjective well-being through the identification of happiness-enhancing activities

The Darker Side of Seeing Others Kindness

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Applied Psychology (PS118)

  • Statistics for Psychologists, 2nd Year (PS212)

  • Enhancing employability and career planning (PS417)

  • Advanced employability skills and career progression (PS492)


Journal articles (15)

Buchanan, K. and Sandstrom, GM., (2023). Buffering the effects of bad news: Exposure to others’ kindness alleviates the aversive effects of viewing others’ acts of immorality. PLOS ONE. 18 (5), e0284438-e0284438

Buchanan, KE., Rolison, JJ., Jinga, I., Thompson, J. and Russo, R., (2022). Who tugs at our heart strings? The effect of avatar images on player generosity in the dictator game.. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 75 (3), 377-389

Buchanan, K., Aknin, LB., Lotun, S. and Sandstrom, GM., (2021). Brief exposure to social media during the COVID-19 pandemic: Doom-scrolling has negative emotional consequences, but kindness-scrolling does not.. PLoS One. 16 (10), e0257728-e0257728

Buchanan, K. and Russo, R., (2019). Money doesn’t matter! Householders’ intentions to reduce standby power are unaffected by personalised pecuniary feedback. PLoS One. 14 (10), e0223727-e0223727

Buchanan, K., Staddon, S. and van der Horst, D., (2018). Feedback in energy-demand reduction. Building Research & Information. 46 (3), 231-237

Mallaband, B., Wood, G., Buchanan, K., Staddon, S., Mogles, NM. and Gabe-Thomas, E., (2017). The reality of cross-disciplinary energy research in the United Kingdom: A social science perspective. Energy Research and Social Science. 25, 9-18

Churchyard, JS. and Buchanan, K., (2017). Which way to well-being: “More of the same” or “trying something novel”? The association of comfortable and experimental behavior styles to well-being. Personality and Individual Differences. 109, 35-43

Buchanan, K., Banks, N., Preston, I. and Russo, R., (2016). The British public's perception of the UK smart metering initiative: Threats and opportunities. Energy Policy. 91, 87-97

Buchanan, K. and Russo, R., (2015). Going the extra green mile: When others' actions fall short of their responsibility. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 42, 82-93

Buchanan, K., Russo, R. and Anderson, B., (2015). The question of energy reduction: The problem(s) with feedback. Energy Policy. 77, 89-96

Buchanan, K. and Bardi, A., (2015). The Roles of Values, Behavior, and Value-Behavior Fit in the Relation of Agency and Communion to Well-Being. Journal of Personality. 83 (3), 320-333

Bardi, A., Buchanan, K., Goodwin, R., Slabu, L. and Robinson, M., (2014). Value stability and change during self-chosen life transitions: Self-selection versus socialization effects.. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 106 (1), 131-147

Buchanan, K., Russo, R. and Anderson, B., (2014). Feeding back about eco-feedback: How do consumers use and respond to energy monitors?. Energy Policy. 73, 138-146

Buchanan, K. and Saunders, L., (2012). Engaging the public in psychology. Psychologist. 25 (11), 794-795

Buchanan, K. and Bardi, A., (2010). Acts of Kindness and Acts of Novelty Affect Life Satisfaction. The Journal of Social Psychology. 150 (3), 235-237

Conferences (4)

Buchanan, KE., Feedback in energy demand reduction: Examining evidence and exploring opportunities

Buchanan, K., (2017). A Luke-Warm Reception: Why Consumers Aren’t Overly Excited by Smart Thermostats.

Buchanan, K., (2016). Dreams or nightmares? Consumers’ reactions to home energy automation

Vastardis, N., Adjrad, M., Buchanan, K., Liao, Z., Koch, C., Russo, R., Yang, K., Ghavami, M., Anderson, B. and Dudley, S., (2014). A user-centric system architecture for residential energy consumption reduction

Grants and funding


NetworkPlus - A green, connected and prosperous Britain

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council



Colchester Borough Council (CBC)


Encouraging Long Lasting Employee Energy Saving Behaviour Change through IoT

Enabling Innovation: Research to Application

Encouraging Long Lasting Employee Energy Saving Behaviour Change through IoT

Enabling Innovation: Research to Application

Provide KTP RA support


Provide KTP RA support



Provide KTP 2018


Provide KTP 2018

Innovate UK (formerly Technology Strategy Board)


IHD Efficacy and Use

Green Energy Options Ltd (GEO)


Engaging end users with energy: Exploring the efficacy of physical and virtual in-home-displays

University of Essex

+44 (0) 1206 873074


2.703, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Thursdays (term-time): 3-4pm

More about me