Dr Katherine Shelton - BSc PhD Cardiff


Research group:
Developmental & health psychology
029 208 76093
Tower Building, Park Place

Research summary

My research is in the area of developmental psychology with a focus on the emergence and maintenance of developmental psychopathology in social contexts during childhood and adolescence.  I am particularly interested in the relationship between aspects of family functioning and children’s psychological well-being. Current projects include the Wales Adoption Study which focuses on the experiences and support needs of families in the first year following an adoptive placement. I am also interested in the implications of experiences of homelessness for young people’s mental health and well-being. To that end, I am working in partnership with Llamau to study the support needs of young people with experiences of homelessness. More information about each of these projects can be found by following these links:

Teaching summary

I co-teach an undergraduate Year 5 module, ‘Developmental Psychology’ and a final year 6 module, ‘Developmental Psychopathology in Childhood and Adolescence’. I also teach on the postgraduate research design and statistics course.

Selected publications (2014 onwards)


Full list of publications


Research topics and related papers

My core interest is children’s understanding of their family and how these appraisals influence their psychological well-being and development (Harold et al., 2002; 2004; 2007; Shelton et al., 2006, 2008; Shelton & Harold, 2007, 2008a,b; Goeke-Morey et al., 2002; 2003). Some of my research has examined the family-based processes that characterise relationships between parent psychopathology and adolescent aggression and depression (Shelton & Harold, 2008) as well as the interplay of genetic and environmental factors underlying links between parent-child conflict and early adolescent adjustment problems (Shelton et al., 2007). I have also undertaken research examining the nature of relationships between family functioning, pubertal timing and adolescent substance use (Shelton & van den Bree, 2010).  More recently, I have conducted research examining risk factors for homelessness in early adulthood (Shelton et al., 2009; van den Bree et al., 2009).


Shelton, K.H. Lynch, J., & Waters, C. (2017-2019). Knowledge Transfer Partnership with St. David's Children Society to implement post-adoption support. £171,655.

Arribas-Ayllon, M. Clarke, A. & Shelton, K.H. (2017). Genome testing in adoption: from new uncertainties to family-formation. Wellcome Trust. £30,564.

Shelton, K.H., Jones, C., & Langley, K. (2016). Autism spectrum disorder and experience of homelessness: A creative arts project. Arts Council of Wales. £3225.

Shelton, K.H., Holland. S., Ottaway, H., & Doughty, J., (2013 with funding starting October 2014 to September 2016). Understanding the elements of early placement success for adopted children and their families. National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR). £198,722.

Rice, F., Frederickson, N., Shelton, K. H., McManus, C. (2011-2013). Examining pathways linking
psychological adjustment and academic attainment across the transition to secondary school. Nuffield
Foundation. £111,474. [link]

van den Bree, M.B.M., Shelton, K. H., Heron, J., Munafo, M., Hickman, M & Maughan, B. (2011-2013).  Peer group influences on the relationship between depressive symptoms and alcohol misuse in adolescence. European Research Advisory Board. €94,486.

Shelton, K.H. & van den Bree M.B.M. (2010 - 2013). Knowledge Transfer Partnership: £129,456. The needs of young people with homelessness experiences.

Shelton, K.H.  (2003-4). Marital conflict, children’s coping strategies and their psychological adjustment: A process-oriented analysis. Economic and Social Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship. £27,117.

Postgraduate research interests

I am interested in supervising research projects in the area of developmental psychology with a particular focus on the family as a context for understanding child and adolescent well-being.

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, or for further information regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me directly (contact details available on the 'Overview' page), or submit a formal application here.

Current students

Andrew Brown. ESRC Type 2 studentship in partnership with Adoption UK: The identity of adopted adolescents.

Charlotte Fry. ESRC +3 /Llamau funded studentship: Cognitive function among young people with experiences of homelessness.

Rebecca Anthony. ESRC 1+3 studentship: Understanding the elements of early placement success for adopted children and their families.

Beverley Winn. Doctoral research:  The relationship between adult symptoms of autism and the quality of couple relationship: Implications for adult mental health and well-being.

Previous students

Alegra Hummel (2011-2013). Doctoral dissertation: Psychological aspects of pubertal maturation, family functioning and substance use in adolescence.

Kate Hodgson (2011-2013). Doctoral dissertation: An investigation of characteristics of young people with experiences of homelessness. 

Sasha Walters. (2007 - 2011). Doctoral dissertation: ‘Family influences on children's transition from primary to secondary school.’

Eugenia Baibazarova (2007 - 2011). Doctoral dissertation: ‘Maternal influences on early child emotional development.’

Miss Eleanor Walsh (2008-2009). Masters in Research Methods for the Social Sciences. Awarded with Distinction.

Undergraduate education

1999: Bachelor of Science, University of Wales, Cardiff. First Class Honours.

Postgraduate education

2003: Doctor of Philosophy, Psychology. Cardiff University.

2011: Postgraduate Certificate in Undergraduate Teaching and Learning. Higher Education Academy.

Awards/external committees

2012: Cardiff University Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP): summer bursary for an undergraduate research placement.

2012: Cardiff University Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP): summer bursary for an undergraduate research placement.

2005: Travel Fellowship, Behavior Genetics Association.

2003: Postdoctoral Fellowship, Economic and Social Research Council.

2001: Charles Cole Travelling Scholarship, Cardiff University for a research visit to University California, Davis.

1999: Stuart Dimond memorial prize for best final year undergraduate research project, Cardiff University.

Associate Editor: Social Development


2013 - present: Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, Cardiff University.

2009 - 2013: Lecturer. School of Psychology, Cardiff University.

2007 - 2008: Research and Teaching Fellow. School of Psychology, Cardiff University.

2004 - 2006: Research Psychologist, Department of Psychological Medicine, School of Medicine, Cardiff University.

2003 - 2004: ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Psychology, Cardiff University.

1998 - 1999: Research Assistant, City University, London.

1997 - 1998: Research Assistant, School of Psychology, Cardiff University.