Dr Stephanie Burnett Heyes

Dr Stephanie Burnett Heyes

School of Psychology
Assistant Professor

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Stephanie Burnett Heyes is a developmental psychologist with expertise in adolescent and young adult social cognition, emotion, decision-making and mental health/wellbeing. 


Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (Merit), University of Birmingham (2019)

PhD, University College London (2010)

BA in Psychology, Physiology and Philosophy (First), Oxford (2005)


Dr Burnett Heyes did an undergraduate degree in Psychology, Physiology and Philosophy at Corpus Christi College, Oxford (2005). She then undertook a Wellcome Trust-funded four-year PhD in Neuroscience at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (2010) supervised by Prof. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and Prof. Chris Frith. Her PhD research investigated adolescent cognitive and functional brain development focusing on social cognition, emotion and decision-making under risk. Dr Burnett Heyes was awarded the British Neuroscience Association PhD Award for her doctoral research (2010) and was shortlisted for a WISE Excellence Award (2010) for her public engagement work with schools. Dr Burnett Heyes then completed a two-year postdoctoral position with Prof. Masud Husain at the UCL Institute of Neurology (2010-2011) investigating impulsivity and apathy in psychiatric and neurological populations. She then moved to the University of Oxford, Department of Experimental Psychology to begin a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship researching adolescent social cognition and emotion (2011-2015). This included a period of secondment to Prof. Emily Holmes’ research group at the University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry to conduct experimental psychopathology research using experimental mental imagery paradigms. Subsequently Dr Burnett Heyes moved to the University of Birmingham School of Psychology in 2015 to begin a Lectureship.

Dr Burnett Heyes’ current research takes a multidisciplinary approach to better understand adolescent and young adult social interactions, emotion, decision-making and mental health. Dr Burnett Heyes has expertise in predominantly quantitative methods from experimental psychology and involvement in research collaborations incorporating qualitative and social network methods.


Dr Burnett Heyes leads the final-year module Adolescence: Mind and Brain.

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Burnett Heyes supervises postgraduate projects in the following research areas:

  • Adolescent social cognitive development, including perspective-taking and social decision-making
  • Social factors in adolescent and young adult wellbeing, including the relationship between social interactions and mood
  • Adolescent and young adult wellbeing and emotional disorders, including self-harm and the bipolar disorder spectrum
  • Experimental psychopathology research on (hypo)mania risk/treatment mechanisms
  • Virtual reality interventions for adolescent issues e.g. gang involvement


ORCID ID: 0000-0002-9049-9559, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9049-9559

Scopus Author ID: 55191271200, https://www.scopus.com/authid/detail.uri?authorId=55191271200

Researcher ID: ABC-3156-2021, https://publons.com/researcher/4751515/stephanie-burnett-heyes/

Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=AY2JQlEAAAAJ&hl=en


Current research projects:

  1. 1) Social networks and wellbeing in adolescents and young adults
    - What is the relationship between mood and social interactions? Is mood contagious in real-world social networks, and can young people support one another in times of distress?
    - Block P and Burnett Heyes S (2021). Sharing the load: Contagion and tolerance of mood in social networks. Emotion. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33370141/
    - Press coverage: Guardian, Sun, National Geographic, BBC All in the mind
    - Ongoing projects in collaboration with Dr Per Block, Miss Delfina Bilello and others, conducted with intramural and ESRC DTP funding
  2. Risk-taking in virtual reality
    - Funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant and conducted in collaboration with Dr Juliane Kloess, this research project seeks to understand adolescents’ experiences of an award-winning virtual reality tool developed by our collaborator Round Midnight to start conversations with young people on difficult topics including gangs, weapon-carrying and violent/antisocial behaviour
  3. Mental imagery and mood in (hypo)mania
    - This project uses experimental mental imagery generation paradigms to understand cognitive risk and maintenance mechanisms of mood escalation in (hypo)manic episodes in the bipolar disorder spectrum
    - O’Donnell C, Di Simplicio M, Brown R, Holmes EA & Burnett Heyes S (2018). The role of mental imagery in mood amplification: An investigation across subclinical features of bipolar disorders. Cortex. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28912037/
  4. Social factors in adolescent self-harm
    - Midland ESRC DTP-funded PhD project conducted by Delfina Bilello, supervised by Dr Burnett Heyes and co-supervised by Prof. Ellen Townsend (University of Nottingham) takes a sequential mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) approach to understand the social (peer) context of adolescent self-harm
  5. Adolescent social cognitive development
    - Perspective-taking and social decision-making in real-world adolescent peer relationships
    - Doctoral research conducted by Dr David Pollard, supervised by Dr Burnett Heyes and Prof. Ian Apperly


Highlight publications

Vannucci, C, Bonsall, MB, Di Simplicio, M, Cairns, A, Holmes, EA & Burnett Heyes, S 2022, 'Positive moods are all alike? Differential affect amplification effects of 'elated' versus 'calm' mental imagery in young adults reporting hypomanic-like experiences', Translational Psychiatry, vol. 12, no. 1, 453. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-022-02213-4

Block, P & Burnett Heyes, S 2020, 'Sharing the load: contagion and tolerance of mood in social networks', Emotion. https://doi.org/10.1037/emo0000952

Burnett Heyes, S 2019, 'Just banter? Friendship, teasing and experimental aggression in adolescent peer networks', Developmental Science. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12926

Block, P, Heathcote, LC & Burnett Heyes, S 2018, 'Social interaction and pain: An arctic expedition', Social Science and Medicine, vol. 196, pp. 47-55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.10.028

Pollard, D, Heyes, SB & Apperly, I 2018, 'The social brain in adolescence and adulthood: Lessons in mindreading', Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology Series, vol. 39, pp. 115-146. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119461746.ch4

Recent publications


Bilello, D, Swancott, L, Kloess, J & Burnett Heyes, S 2023, 'Adolescent Risk-Taking and Decision Making: a qualitative investigation of a virtual reality experience of gangs and violence', Frontiers in Virtual Reality, vol. 4, 1142241. https://doi.org/10.3389/frvir.2023.1142241

de Voogd, EL, de Hullu, E, Burnett Heyes, S, Blackwell, SE, Wiers, RW & Salemink, E 2017, 'Imagine the bright side of life: a randomized controlled trial of two types of interpretation bias modification procedure targeting adolescent anxiety and depression', PLoS ONE. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0181147

Burnett Heyes, S, Pictet, A, Mitchell, H, Raeder, SM, Lau, JYF, Holmes, EA & Blackwell, SE 2017, 'Mental Imagery-Based Training to Modify Mood and Cognitive Bias in Adolescents: Effects of Valence and Perspective', Cognitive Therapy and Research, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 73–88. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-016-9795-8

O'Donnell, C, Di Simplicio, M, Brown, R, Holmes, E & Burnett Heyes, S 2017, 'The role of mental imagery in mood amplification: an investigation across subclinical features of bipolar disorders', Cortex, vol. 105, pp. 104-117. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2017.08.010

Burnett Heyes, S, Zokaei, N & Husain, M 2016, 'Longitudinal development of visual working memory precision in childhood and early adolescence', Cognitive Development, vol. 39, pp. 36-44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogdev.2016.03.004

Holmes, EA, Blackwell, SE, Burnett Heyes, S, Renner, F & Raes, F 2016, 'Mental imagery in depression: Phenomenology, potential mechanisms, and treatment implications', Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, vol. 12. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-021815-092925

Ng, RM, Burnett Heyes, S, McManus, F, Kennerley, H & Holmes, EA 2015, 'Bipolar risk and mental imagery susceptibility in a representative sample of Chinese adults residing in the community', International Journal of Social Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020764015597951

Burnett Heyes, S, Ji, JL, MacLeod, C & Holmes, EA 2015, 'Emotional mental imagery as simulation of reality: Fear and beyond: A tribute to Peter Lang', Behavior Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2015.11.004

Burnett Heyes, S, Jih, Y-R, Block, P, Hiu, CF, Holmes, EA & Lau, JYF 2015, 'Relationship reciprocation modulates resource allocation in adolescent social networks : developmental effects', Child Development, vol. 86, no. 5, pp. 1489–1506. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12396


Bilello, D, Swancott, L, Kloess, JA & Heyes, SB 2022 'Adolescent Risk-Taking and Decision Making: Qualitative Investigation of a Virtual Reality Experience of Gangs and Violence' OSF Preprints. https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/ku984

Vannucci, C, Bonsall, M, Simplicio, MD, McMullan, A, Holmes, EA & Heyes, SB 2021 'Positive moods are all alike? Differential affect amplification effects of ‘elated’ versus ‘calm’ mental im-agery in young adults reporting hypomanic-like experiences' PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/7zmep

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