Matthew Williams

Doctor of Philosophy, (Psychology)
Study Completed: 2015
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
How well do psychologists' research methods equip them to identify the impacts of climate change on behaviour? A methodological investigation with particular reference to the effects of temperature on violent behaviour

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The Earth''sclimate is changing, and this change could have an important impact on human behaviour. Mr Williams critiqued the suitability of psychologists'' mainstream research methods for engaging in research concerned with the impacts of climate change on human behaviour. His thesis also included an applied engagement in climate change research, taking the form of a study of the effects of temperature on the incidence of assault, suicide, and self-harm hospitalisations in New Zealand. He found that random day-to-day variations in temperature had a positive effect on all three forms of violence, but it was difficult to determine whether sustained rises in temperature would have the same effect. Mr Williams identified several problems with psychologists'' mainstream research methods that may hamper psychologists'' ability to effectively engage in climate change research, including problems with measurement, analysis, and the modelling of uncertainty. His thesis research concluded with several methodological recommendations for psychologists studying climate change impacts.

Dr Stephen Hill
Associate Professor John Spicer


Journal articles:
Williams, M. N., Grajales, C. A. G., & Kurkiewicz, D. (2013). Assumptions of multiple regression: correcting two misconceptions. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 18(11).
Williams, M. N., Hill, S. R., & Spicer, J. (2013). Comments on 'Temperature and violent crime in Dallas, Texas: Relationships and implications of climate change'. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 14(5).
Williams, M. N., & Jones, L. M. (2011). Validating a measure of children's monitoring-blunting coping styles in dental situations. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 17(3), 274–284. doi:10.1080/13548506.2011.601748
Williams, M. W. M., & Williams, M. N. (2012). Academic dishonesty, self-control, and general criminality: A prospective and retrospective study of academic dishonesty in a New Zealand university. Ethics & Behavior, 22(2), 89–112. doi:10.1080/10508422.2011.653291

Conference presentations:
Williams, M. N., & Hill, S. R. (2013, June 4). Will hotter temperatures increase violent crime rates? The challenges of forecasting behavioural response to climate change. Poster presented at the The New Zealand Climate Change Conference, Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Williams, M. N., & Jones, L. M. (2009). Coping in the chair: A validation study of the Monitor-Blunter Dental Scale (MBDS). Poster presented at the New Zealand Postgraduate Conference, Wellington, New Zealand.
Williams, M. N., & Jones, L. M. (2010, July 17). Interventions for children's dental anxiety: Validating a coping styles scale. Paper presented at the New Zealand Psychological Society Annual Conference, Rotorua, New Zealand. coping-styles-scale-4810169

Williams, M. N. (2010). Coping in the chair: A validation study of the Monitoring Blunting Dental Scale (Master's thesis). Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand.

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