Current 2019 Projects


Andy Symons – Master of Psychology (Clinical)

Andy is investigating reflective functioning in men as they transition into life as fathers. Reflective functioning is a person’s cognitive capacity to reflect on their own mental states and also interpret others’ thoughts, feelings and desires. Developing accurate reflective functioning abilities are important in creating a well-adjusted sense of self while also helping to successfully form relationships with others. So far research has found associations between impaired reflective functioning and several mental health disorders such as borderline personality disorder, eating disorders and depression. However, there is little evidence around how impaired reflective functioning might affect fathers. In particular, Andy is interested in how impaired reflective functioning might be associated with self-reliance as a coping style and risk-taking behaviour.

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Imogene Smith - Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) Candidate

Imogene commenced her Doctorate of Clinical Psychology here at Deakin in 2019. For the research component of this course, she is investigating whether men's desire to have children is associated with mental health outcomes post-partum and bonding with their baby. She is also exploring the ways new fathers, who had low desire for children, express their feelings on social media once they enter fatherhood.


Mallika Lucie Abbott - Master of Psychology (Clinical)

In the current socio-historical climate, masculine role expectations of fatherhood are shifting from those that were historically accepted such as provider, disciplinarian, playmate and life coach to incorporate roles that are typically associated with mothers and femininity, such as nurturer and carer for emotional health. There are conflicting arguments suggesting that this change is psychologically beneficial, or in contrast, that the new role expectations add stress to new fathers at a time of social and emotional upheaval. This study will investigate role identity among new fathers and its associations with risk of depression, anxiety and felt anger. 

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Julianne Livingston - Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) Candidate

Julianne began her Doctorate of Clinical Psychology at Deakin in 2018. As part of her training, she is investigating whether young men's access to social support and their typical approach to coping with stress predicts their risk of experiencing psychological distress (e.g., depression, anxiety, anger). She is also examining whether the relationships between social support, coping style, and psychological distress change as men enter fatherhood for the first time.  


Graduated Projects


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Angela Nastoulis - Honours Student

The effects of a parental bond are known to be related to a child’s life trajectories. In particular, levels of parental overprotection and care has been shown to be related to how a child forms their own identity. Angela is investigating intergenerational influences on men as fathers, and how they bond with their own children.


Liam Graeme - Honours Student

Research into parental mental health is limited, with much of the research being focused on outcomes for mothers and children. Liam will use MAPP data to investigate the effect satisfaction with parental responsibility may have on the psychological wellbeing of fathers. 

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Lauren Francis - Honours Student

The relationship between sleep and mental health has been thoroughly investigated in mothers in the postpartum period, however this relationship has had little research attention in fathers. Lauren is therefore utilising data from the MAPP project and online discussion forums to investigate the relationship between the sleep of fathers of infants and their mental health outcomes.



Isabelle Sinclair (GradDip Student) & Madeleine Ely (Honours Student)

One of the few measures designed to assess a father's emotional bond to an infant is the Paternal Postpartum Attachment Scale (PPAS; Condon et al., 2008). Isabelle and Madeleine are assessing the factor structure and validity of this scale using data from the MAPP Study, the ATPG3 study and the Triple B study. In particular their research explores correlations with father-infant emotional availability assessed during parent-child videoed observations.

Tessa Harrison - Honours Student

Increasingly there is debate about whether the diagnostic criteria for depression is skewed towards women. One suggestion is that men are more likely to feel anger when depressed but this is not generally accounted for in instruments that screen for depressive symptoms. Tessa is investigating patterns of coexisting symptoms of depression and anger and exploring differences between men with and without children.

Imogene Smith (Honours Student)

An increasing number of men and women are electing to not become parents. Imogene is interviewing men who have expressed a clear intention to not have children. She will explore their reasons and ask how they envisage their future lives and social connections in a world where becoming a father is a normative milestone.



Emily Molyneux - Honours Student

‘An Anchor – Grounding, or Grinding Halt: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Rural Men’s Expectations of First-Time Fatherhood’.

Emily investigated rural men’s perceptions of their future selves and their expectations of fatherhood. In 2017, Emily began her candidature in the Doctor of Clinical Psychology program at Deakin University. 


Seona Palmer - Honours Student

‘Stress at the Peak Age for First Time Fatherhood’.

Seona assessed differences in levels of stress experienced by men with and without children at the peak age for fatherhood (28-32 years). She also investigated whether social support from family, partner or friends reduces the risk of stress during this time of life. 

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Liel Bridgford - Honours Student

‘Anxiety at the Prime age for the Transition to Fatherhood and the Buffering Role of Environmental Mastery and Purpose in Life’.

Liel assessed anxiety, mastery, and purpose in life in men with and without children. In 2017, Liel is working for Panda - Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia



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Dani Ryan - Honours Student

‘Men’s Desire to Have Children at the Peak Age for Becoming a Father’.

Dani presented her research findings to the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health Inc. National Conference.  

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Chris Kings - Honours Student

‘On Becoming a Father: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis of Young Men’s Expectations of Their Future Role as a Parent.’

Chris presented his research findings to the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health Inc. National Conference. 

Chris’s research is now published in the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity. The paper title is: The "Sensory Deprivation Tank": An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Men's Expectations of First-Time Fatherhood.

In 2016 Chris began his candidature in the Doctor of Clinical Psychology program at Deakin University.

Read more about Chris's research project.