Dr Megan Birney

Dr Megan Birney

School of Education
Associate Professor Psychology of Education

Contact details

School of Education
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Megan Birney is a social psychologist interested in identity processes, intergroup relations, social influence, toxic behaviours, and conspiracy theories.


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • PhD Psychology; University of Exeter
  • MSc Social & Organisational Psychology; University of Exeter
  • BSc Psychology & Interdisciplinary Studies; Virginia Tech (USA)


Dr Megan Birney joined the University of Birmingham as an Associate Professor in 2024. 

Megan completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies (Business Leadership and International Development) at Virginia Tech (USA). After this, she spent time travelling and working before studying an MSc (with distinction) in Social and Organisational Psychology and a PhD in Psychology at the University of Exeter. Her research during this time focused on how perceptions of non-native accents influence the relationship between immigrants and UK citizens. 

After her PhD, Megan worked as a Research Fellow at the University of St. Andrews investigating identity processes within variants of Milgram’s ‘Obedience to Authority’ studies. Before coming to Birmingham, Megan spent 6 years at the University of Chester, and 3 years at Staffordshire University, where she developed and led curriculum in Social Psychology at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels.


Megan teaches on the BSc Psychology in Education 

  • Module Lead for Social Psychology and Learning
  • Supervisor on Psychology and Education Research Project/Dissertation

Postgraduate supervision

Megan is open to supervising PhDs on issues relevant to identity processes, intergroup relations, language, and marginalisation/exclusion.

Other activities

  • Associate Editor: Journal of Language and Social Psychology
  • Associate Editor: Psychology of Language & Communication
  • Full Member: European Association Social Psychology (EASP)


Recent publications


Birney, ME 2023, Self and Identity: The Basics. The Basics, 1st edn, Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429274534


McNulty, A & Birney, ME 2024, 'What makes a ‘good man’? A mixed-methods exploration of UK adolescent attitudes towards masculinity', Journal of Gender Studies, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 186-199. https://doi.org/10.1080/09589236.2023.2170337

Birney, ME, Reicher, SD, Haslam, SA, Steffens, NK & Neville, FG 2023, 'Engaged followership and toxic science: Exploring the effect of prototypicality on willingness to follow harmful experimental instructions', British Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 62, no. 2, pp. 866-882. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12603

Birney, ME, Roessel, J, Hansen, K & Rakić, T 2020, 'Prologue: Language Challenges in the 21st Century', Journal of Language and Social Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927X20933315

Birney, M, Rabinovich, A, Morton, TA, Heath, H & Ashcroft, S 2020, 'When speaking English is not enough: the consequences of language-based stigma for nonnative speakers', Journal of Language and Social Psychology, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 67-86. https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927X19883906

Birney, ME, Rabinovich, A & Morton, TA 2020, 'Where Are You From? An Investigation Into the Intersectionality of Accent Strength and Nationality Status on Perceptions of Nonnative Speakers in Britain', Journal of Language and Social Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927X20932628

Morton, TA, Wilson, N, Haslam, C, Birney, M, Kingston, R & McCloskey, L-G 2018, 'Activating and Guiding the Engagement of Seniors With Online Social Networking: Experimental Findings From the AGES 2.0 Project', Journal of Aging and Health. https://doi.org/10.1177/0898264316664440

Gonzalez-Franco, M, Capraro, V (ed.), Slater, M, Birney, ME, Swapp, D, Haslam, SA & Reicher, SD 2018, 'Participant concerns for the Learner in a Virtual Reality replication of the Milgram obedience study', PLOS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0209704

Haslam, A, Reicher, SD & Birney, ME 2016, 'Questioning authority: new perspectives on Milgram's ‘obedience’ research and its implications for intergroup relations', Current Opinion in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2016.03.007

Haslam, SA, Reicher, SD & Birney, ME 2014, 'Nothing by Mere Authority: Evidence that in an Experimental Analogue of the Milgram Paradigm Participants are Motivated not by Orders but by Appeals to Science', Journal of Social Issues. https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12072

Rabinovich, A, Morton, TA & Birney, ME 2012, 'Communicating climate science: The role of perceived communicator’s motives', Journal of Environmental Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2011.09.002

Entry for encyclopedia/dictionary

Birney, M, Haslam, SA & Reicher, SD 2023, Obedience to Authority. in ST Allison, JK Beggan & GR Goethals (eds), Encyclopedia of Heroism Studies. Springer, pp. 1–4. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-17125-3

Review article

Birney, ME, Reicher, SD & Haslam, SA 2024, 'Obedience as “Engaged Followership”: A Review and Research Agenda', Philosophia Scientiae, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 91-105. https://doi.org/10.4000/11ptx