Sara Mesquita da Silva

Research group:
Developmental and Health Psychology
029 208 70479
57 Park Place

Research summary

My research focuses on the psychological processes associated with developmental and health challenges that individuals are repeatedly confronted during their life span. In particular, I am looking at individual and couples factors when facing a blockage to the major life-goal of biological parenthood. I am interested in research topics such as decision-making, couple’s relationship, self-regulation and wellbeing.

Selected publications (2014 onwards)


Full list of publications


Research topics and related papers

My research explores how couples self-regulate when facing a blockage to the major life-goal of biological parenthood, i.e. infertility. According to self-regulation theory (SRT), to disengage from a blocked goal and reengaging in other meaningful life goals should contribute for better adjustment outcomes. My research aims to test this hypothesis.

Decision-making about uptake of (more) fertility treatment offers a suitable context to understand individual and dyadic differences in self-regulation because it is possible to contrast objective (medical prognosis) and subjective assessments of goal blockage; to assess goal effort based on couples’ treatment uptake behaviour and to investigate how SRT applies in a dyadic context.

This study aims to use a mixed convergent parallel design. Quantitative methods will be used to reach a better conceptual and operational definition of the major SRT; to clarify the functional value of SRT and to investigate individual differences in self-regulation by exploring the possible moderator/mediator role of individual, contextual, and goal-related variables on the relationship between self-regulation and wellbeing. Qualitative methods will be used to investigate how couples assess goal blockage and to understand couples’ negotiation strategies regarding self-regulation.

Results from this study are expected to provide a better understanding of adaptation to different types of goal blockages people often face across their life-cycle.

Findings are applicable to many different types of life-goals regarding work, marriage/family, finances, health. In particular, they are especially relevant in the applied field of reproductive medicine for the deliverance of tailored interventions to patients at risk for premature discontinuation or overpersistence in uptake of fertility treatment and also for the development of decision-support technologies to help couples decide about treatment uptake.


I was awarded a Doctoral Fellowship by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

Research group

My research is supervised by Dr Sofia Gameiro and Professor Jacky Boivin.

Cardiff Fertility Studies Research Group Cardiff Fertility Studies

We study all aspects of fertility health to better understand the experiences of men and women trying to become parents. Our work creates the science to support people trying to become parents because it:

  • Helps to better document the experiences of people trying to conceive
  • Supports people trying to conceive
  • Optimises conditions for fertility
  • Guides professionals to take a patient-centred approach in their care of people trying to conceive
  • Provides the evidence that policy makers need to prioritise fertility issues

Research collaborators

Dr Sofia Gameiro

Professor Jacky Boivin.

Undergraduate education

2006-2009:  First Degree in Psychological Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Porto (Grade A - European granding scale).

Postgraduate education

2009-2011: MSc in Clinical and Health Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Porto (Grade A - European granding scale).