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Dr Virginia <br> Lam

Programme Leader

Developmental Psychology

Leadership, research & teaching in Psychology. Specialisms in Child Development & Social Psychology. Programme Leader for BSc Psychology and BSc Child Psychology.

  • AE 2.10, Stratford Campus
    School of Psychology
    The University of East London
    Stratford Campus
    E15 4LZ
  • +442082232817

    Virginia joined UEL Psychology after teaching and research in other London universities. She had completed her undergraduate studies at Cardiff University, followed by a Masters in Psychological Research at Exeter and a PhD in Developmental Psychology at Goldsmiths. Since then her research has encompassed areas across both social cognition and developmental psychology and from preschool through childhood to adolescence/adulthood.

    Virginia conducts and supervises research under the broad overarching theme of Diversity and Development, particularly among children and young people and based in 'real-life' settings such as schools and community hubs. She has published various articles, chapters and reports on these areas and regularly presents at conferences and symposia internationally. She has co-authored the text Developmental Psychology twice (Pearson/ Prentice Hall; 2nd ed. in 2016; Italian ed. in 2013). [See under Research and Publications.]

    Currently, Virginia oversees the project 'Growing up bilingual' (GUB project). It is funded by the ESRC through the University Bloomsbury and East London group's Doctoral Training Partnership's (UBEL-DTP) Collaborative fund (2018-2021). The project aims to understand, through longitudinal research, the cognitive and social development of bilingual children with and without formal heritage language tuition. Co-supervising with Professor Andrew Ravenscroft (Cass School of Education), the team collaborates with Newham Partnership for Complementary Education (NPCE) and its nationwide mother-organisation, the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education (NRCSE).

    Virginia teaches primarily Developmental Psychology. From 2019 she is Acting Programme Leader for the BSc Psychology and BSc Child Psychology and co-leads the core module Topics in Developmental Psychology. For several years, she had led Research Methods for the MSc Psychology, was its Admissions Tutor, and had served as the School's Leader of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

    Virginia is a BPS Chartered Psychologist (Developmental Psychology) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She was an Associate Lecturer with the Open University for over 10 years teaching Distance Learning courses Childhood Studies, Child Development and Exploring Psychology.


    Virginia's research encompasses areas across developmental psychology and social cognition that broadly surround the theme ‘Diversity and Development'. The age groups studied span from early childhood through adolescence to adulthood. She is particularly interested in social group (gender, race, ethnic, national, religious and ethnolinguistic) differences, social group identities and intergroup processes (e.g., stereotyping, prejudice, peer interactions, group relations) and their impact on applied areas of development (e.g., self-concepts, social competences, cognitive functioning and educational outcomes, body image satisfaction and eating preference, sporting activity/ level) and social attitudes and behaviour (e.g., political parties, institutions, voting tendency) in 'real-life' settings such as schools and community/ cultural hubs.

    Students and prospective students are welcome to consult with Virginia about research projects, postgraduate research opportunities or voluntary teaching assistantships with her project-partner in these areas. [Please scroll down on this page to see her recent or on-going lines of research]

    1. Bilingual/ bicultural development. Virginia collaborates with the local organization Newham Partnership for Complementary Education (NPCE; local member of NRCSE), which brokers projects or placements between students and complementary schools. Recently, the team won a research grant (UBEL-DTP) to fund a three-year (2018-21) project investigating potential benefits of bilingual/ bicultural development across the complementary language and mainstream education sector. The previously completed 'scoping' study had received coverage by the media (1, 2) and UEL news and its paper published in the journal Language and Education [see Publications].

    Virginia also gained a series of funded internships to support committed and promising students as research assistants. Students who are also interested in volunteering as teaching assistants at complementary language schools may contact Virginia about any potential opportunities with NPCE.

    2. Ethnic identity, acculturation, self-esteem, body image satisfaction (and eating behaviours) among diverse female populations. The relationships between the key constructs have been piloted in former students' projects. Virginia is keen to explore further among adolescents.

    3. Children's gender-based reasoning about toys: The role of child and parental variables. Recent and ongoing student research involves testing children from preschool (as young as 2) to school (up to 10 years) ages and taking data from their parents. Virginia is looking to expand the scope of investigations to more aspects of gender cognition and behavior.

    4. National (British or other) and ethnic identifications, social group stereotypes/attitudes and feelings about and sport participation/ spectatorship/ fandom. These are broad areas and taps into intergroup or political psychology.

    5. Children's representations about nonhuman agents. A relatively new line of work, this taps into children's thoughts and beliefs about entities that are not human including animals or living creatures (observable or unobservable), popular occult figures (e.g., fairy, superman, Father Christmas), and spirits and deities (Gods, saints, angels), and the influence of culture (e.g., religious group membership, beliefs and practice) on such representations.

    Virginia has supervised areas broadly related to the above themes. Her current/ recent research supervisees (from undergraduates to doctorates) investigate/ have investigated such diverse topics as bilingual development and cultural-linguistic identity, national and supranational identifications and intergroup prejudice, social impact of virtual interactive gaming, clinical impact of cyberbullying among adolescents, perceived gender inequality and work performance and satisfactionmultiple-minority status, perceived discrimination and mental health, and the effects of modelling or rewards on children’s healthy food choice, among others.

    Prospective research students interested in investigating these themes are encouraged to contact Virginia directly.



    [From 2013 articles and chapters downloadable from ROAR

    Lam, V. L., & Guerrero, S. (in press). Animals, Superman, fairy and God: children's attributions of nonhuman agent beliefs in Madrid and London. Journal of Cognition and Culture.
    Lam, V. L., Chaudry, F. R., Pinder, M., & Sura, T. (2019). British Sikhs in complementary schooling: the role of heritage language proficiency and 'culture learning' in ethnic identity and bicultural adaptation. Language and Education, 33.

    Lam, V. L., & Katona, Z. (2017). National and supranational identities and ingroup/outgroup attitudes of Hungarian adolescents. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 15, 115-130. here]

    Lam, V. L., & Tran, D. H. (2017). Ethnic cognition and affect of British-born Chinese children. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 7, 135-145. [open-access full-text]

    Lam, V. L., & Seaton, J. A. (2016). Intergroup attitudes and group evaluations: The role of competition in British classroom settings. Child Development Research, ID8649132, 1-10. [open-access full-text]

    Gillibrand, R., Lam, V., & O’Donnell, V. L. (2016). Developmental Psychology(2 nd Ed.). Harlow: Pearson/ Prentice Hall.

    Lam, V. L. (2015). The role of ethnicity and culture in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating of young females. In A. D. Warner (Ed.), Ethnic identity: Perceptions, discrimination and social challenges (pp. 1-18). New York: Nova Science. [full-text proof downloadable here]

    Lam, V. L., & Corson, E. J. (2013). British identity, intergroup attitudes and sport participation in the context of the London Olympics: children and adolescents in East London. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 31, 379-394. [full-text accessible]

    Lam, V. L. (2013). Developing ethnic identities and ethnic attitudes in children: Theory and research in context. In C. Agyemang, C.O. Airhihenbuwa & A. de-Graft Aikins (Eds), Ethnicity: Theories, international perspectives and challenges (pp. 101–134). New York: Nova Science.  [full-text downloadable from ROAR here]

    Gillibrand, R., Lam, V., O’Donnell, V. L., Tallandini, M. A., & Vincre, A. (2013). Psicologia dello Sviluppo. Trieste: Pearson Italian Spa.

    Guerrero, S., Enesco, I., & Lam, V. (2011). Racial awareness, affect and sorting abilities: a study with Spanish preschool children. Anales de Psicologia, 27, 639–646.

    Lam, V., Guerrero, S., Damree, N., & Enesco, I. (2011). Young children’s racial awareness and affect and their perceptions of mothers’ affect in a multiracial context. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 29, 842–864.

    Lam, V., & Moodley, D. (2011). Ethnic minority children’s attitudes towards competitive team members: a minimal group study with British Bengali children. Anales de Psicologia, 27, 647–654.

    Gillibrand, R., Lam, V., & O’Donnell, V.L. (2011). Developmental Psychology. Harlow: Pearson/ P. H.

    Lam, V. L., & Leman, P. J. (2009). Children’s gender- and ethnicity-based reasoning about foods. Social Development, 18, 478–496.

    Lam, V., & Smith, G. (2009). African and Caribbean adolescents in Britain: ethnic identity and Britishness. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 32, 1248–1270.

    Leman, P. J., & Lam, V. L. (2008). The influence of race and gender on children’s conversations and playmate choices. Child Development, 79, 1329–1343.

    Lam, V. L., & Leman, P. J. (2003). The influence of gender and ethnicity on children’s inferences about toys. Social Development, 12, 269–287.

    Selected Conference Presentations and Invited Talks

    Lam, V. (2018). What does academic research say about growing up bilingual? Invited talk presented at the Growing up bilingual: Educational perspectives symposium, Rossotrudnichestvo with the Russian Embassy, London, 14 June.

    Lam, V. L., Samba, P., & Emmerson, F. (2017). Preschoolers’ gender-based reasoning about toys: Categorisation skills and parental gender norms. Paper presented at the 18th European Conference on Developmental Psychology, Utrecht, 1 September.

    Lam, V. L., Chaudry, F. R., Pinder, M., & Sura, T. (2017). Fostering a bilingual/bicultural generation: A mixed-methods study within a complementary school context. Poster presented at the 18th European Conference on Developmental Psychology, Utrecht, 1 September.

    Lam, V. L. (2017). Helping to foster the next bilingual and bicultural generation: The Ramgarhia story. Invited keynote presented at the Newham Complementary Schooling public meeting, Ramgarhia Community Centre, Forest Gate, London, 1 April.

    Lam, V. L. (2016). Ethnic identity as a predictor of female body satisfaction and self-esteem in a majority British African-Caribbean sample. Poster presented at the 24th Biennial Meeting of the ISSBD, Vilnius, Lithuania, 10-14 July.

    Lam, V. L. & Katona, Z. (2016). National identification and ingroup-outgroup attitudes of Hungarian adolescents. Poster presented at the 24th Biennial Meeting of the ISSBD, 10-14 July, Vilnius.

    Lam, V. L., & Seaton, J. A. (2013). Children's attitudes towards ingroup/ outgroup members and group evaluations: A minimal group study with competitive teams. Paper presented at symposium Children's identities and intergroup attitudes in a social context, BPS Cognitive and Developmental Sections Joint Conference, Reading, 5 September.

    Lam, V.L., & Corson, E. J. (2012). East London children’s British and ethnic identification and sport participation in the run-up to 2012 Olympics. Paper presented at BPS Developmental Section Annual Conference, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 5 September.

    Lam, V. (2012). National identity, group attitudes, competitiveness and sport participation: A study of Newham children in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics. Invited talk at the Centre for Psychiatry, Queen Mary, University of London, 18 April.

    Lam, V.L. (2011). Britishness among adult students: surveying national and ethnic identities in an ethnically diverse university. Poster presented at the BPS Social Psychology Section Annual Conference, Fitzwilliam College, 7 September.

    Lam, V. (2008). Racial awareness and affect of young children in a multiracial context. Invited paper presented at symposium: Intergroup relations and social stigma: recent approaches in social and developmental psychology, Seminario Internacional Complutense, Madrid, 14 May.

    Lam, V., Guerrero, S., Damree, N., & Enesco, I. (2008). Racial awareness and affect of young children in a multiracial context. Poster presented at the 20th Biennial meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development, Wurzburg, Germany, 16 July.

    Guerrero, S., Enesco, I., Lam, V.L., & Solbes, I. (2008, 16 July). Development of racial awareness and the relationship with age and cognitive level: a study with Spanish children between 3 and 5 years of age. Poster presented at the 20th Biennial meeting of the ISSBD, Wurzburg, Germany.


    Lam, V. L. (2016). Helping to foster the next bilingual and bicultural generation: The Ramgarhia story. A non-technical report for school, parents and other stakeholders. Newham: Ramgarhia Gurdwara.

    Lam, V. (2012). National identity, knowledge about countries, intergroup attitudes, competitiveness and sport participation of Newham pupils in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics: The baseline study. A non-technical report for schools. In Mega Event Cities: