Dr Richard Cooke

Motivation and theories of health behaviour

My research uses theories like Ajzen’s (1985, 1991) Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) to investigate how motivation affects behaviour. I am interested in several issues:

  • Do the variables in the theories predict motivation/behaviour as proposed by the theories? (Cooke & French, 2008, Psychology & Health)
  • Can variables be added to the theories to improve prediction of behaviour and motivation? (Cooke et al., 2007, Alcohol & Alcoholism; Holland et al., 2009, Health Education Research)
  • Do properties of variables, such as intention stability, affect the strength of relationships within the theory? (Cooke & Sheeran, 2004, British Journal of Social Psychology)
  • Are we measuring constructs effectively? (French et al., 2007, Journal of Health Psychology)
  • How are theories linked to behaviour change? (Zhang & Cooke, 2012, Diabetes Research & Clinical Practice)

Motivation to binge-drink

Within my research on theories, I am particularly interested in motivation to binge-drink (i.e., drinking more than recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption). Binge-drinking is common behaviour among young people, but our understanding of the factors associated with binge-drinking is limited. Work is needed to address the following questions.

  • Do perceptions of binge-drinking affect binge-drinking motivation and behaviour? (Cooke et al., 2010, Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy)
  • What factors predict binge-drinking behaviour? (Cooke & French, 2011, Psychology & Health; French & Cooke, 2012, British Journal of Health Psychology)
  • How do we intervene to reduce binge-drinking in young people? (Coleman et al., 2010, Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy)
In addition to these questions there is need to ensure Government policy on alcohol is evidence-based. To this end I work with the British Psychological Society's Consultation Response Team to provide psychological perspective on alcohol policy. To date, I have been involved in six policy responses.

Finally, there is also a need to bring researchers working on alcohol together from across the UK to share their experiences. Along with Prof Charles Abraham (Peninsula Medical School) I have received funding from the Division of Health Psychology to organise a one-day research seminar to bring together UK researchers investigating psychological aspects of alcohol consumption.

Perceptions and experiences of patients and healthcare professionals: Qualitative Evaluation of "Deadly Trio" Cardiovascular Screening programme for Heart of Birmingham teaching and Primary Care Trust  

The Health and Lifespan Psychology group have been working with Heart of Birmingham teaching and Primary Care Trust to provide a qualitative evaluation of the "Deadly Trio" cardiovascular screening programme. The programme invites men and women aged 40-74 who are not already on a disease register to attend a screening session with the aim to provide early identification of individuals at high risk for developing any of the "Deadly Trio" (coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease) diseases. Individuals at high risk are referred on to specialist services to promote behaviour change such as smoking cessation, increased physical activity, improved diet and reduced alcohol consumption.

Health and Lifespan group members (Richard Cooke, Carol Holland, Helen Pattison, Rachel Shaw) and our research assistant (Yvonne Cooper) are providing the qualitative evaluation of the screening programme. The evaluation involves (a) a systematic review of existing quantitative and qualitative research on cardiovascular screening programmes (b) semi-structured interviews with patients and healthcare professionals and (c) a meta-synthesis of the systematic review and interviews. The systematic review has been presented at the Midlands Health Psychology Network conference in February 2011. Interviews are currently ongoing.

Self-affirmation & Information Processing

Health promotion materials often emphasise threat to promote behaviour change. However, threatening information can initiate defensive processes (e.g., ignoring the message) that reduce processing of the information, and undermine behaviour change. Self-affirmation (writing about a valued aspect of your self-concept e.g., honesty) has been shown to reduce defensive processing and increases persuasion (see Harris & Napper, 2005, Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin). The European Health Psychology Society has awarded a network grant to me, Prof Peter Harris (University of Sheffield), Prof Urte Scholz (University of Konstanz), Dr Benjamin Schüz (Curtin University), and Dr Guido van Koningsbruggen (Utrecht University) to explore the limits of self-affirmation. The network grant covers a series of research meetings, the first meeting took place on 18th June 2011 in Berlin with the next meeting scheduled for 5th May 2012 in Amsterdam. The meetings faciliatate collaboration between European researchers with the overall aim of conducting four research studies.

Information on the Division of Health Psychology Conference >

Cooke, R., Dahdah, M., Norman, P., & French, D.P. (2014). How well does the theory of planned behaviour predict alcohol consumption intentions and behaviour? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Health Psychology Review DOI: 10.1080/17437199.2014.947547

Stevens, R., Bartlett, H., Walsh, R., & Cooke, R. (2104). Age-related macular degeneration patients’ awareness of nutritional factors. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 32, 77-93. DOI: 10.1177/0264619613519341

Cooke, R., Trebaczyk, H., Harris, P., & Wright, A.J. (2014). Self-affirmation promotes physical activity. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 36, 217-223. DOI: 10.1123/jsep.2013-0041  

Holland, C.A., Cooper, Y.E., Shaw, R.L., Pattison, H.M., & Cooke, R. (2013). Effectiveness and uptake of screening programmes for coronary heart disease and diabetes: a realist review of design components used in interventions. BMJ Open, 3, DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003428.

Cooke, R., Harris, P., Schuez, B., Scholz, U., & van Koningsbruggen, G. (2013). Bringing researchers together: Report on EHPS network grant. The European Health Psychologist, 15, 73-75.

Cooke, R., & Sheeran, P. (2013) Properties of intention: Component structure and consequences for behaviour, information processing and resistance. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43, 749-60. DOI: 10.1111/jasp.12003

Zhang, Y. & Cooke, R. (2012). Using a combined motivational and volitional intervention to promote exercise and healthy dietary behaviour among undergraduates. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 95, 215-223.DOI:10.1016/j.diabres.2011.10.006 

French, D.P., & Cooke, R. (2012).Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour to understand binge drinking: the importance of beliefs for developing interventions. British Journal of Health Psychology, 17, 1-17. DOI:10.1111/j.2044-8287.2010.02010.

Cooke, R., & French, D.P. (2011). The role of context and timeframe in moderating relationships within the theory of planned behaviour? Psychology & Health, 26, 1225-1240. DOI: 10.1080/08870446.2011.572260

Cooke, R., French, D.P., & Sniehotta, F. (2010). Wide variation in understanding what constitutes ‘binge-drinking.’ Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, 17, 762-775.

Coleman, L., Ramm, J., & Cooke, R. (2010). The effectiveness of an innovative intervention aimed at reducing binge drinking among young people: results from a pilot study.  Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, 17, 413-430.

Carmichael, A.R., Hatbach L., & Cooke, R. (2009). Breast clinic and lifestyle study (BLISS). International Seminars in Surgical Oncology, 6:12

Holland, C.A., Hill, R., & Cooke, R. (2009). Understanding the role of self-identity in road crossing decisions across the lifespan. Health Education Research, 24, 674-685.

Shaw, R.L., Senior, C., Peel, E.L., Cooke, R, & Donnelly, L.S. (2008). Ethical issues in neuroimaging health research: An IPA study with research participants. Journal of Health Psychology, 13, 1051-1059. 

Cooke, R & French, D.P. (2008). How well do the theory of reasoned action and theory of planned behaviour predict intentions and attendance at screening programmes? A meta-analysis. Psychology & Health, 23,  745-765

French, D.P., Cooke, R., McLean, N., Williams, M., Sutton, S. (2007). What do people think about when they answer theory of planned behaviour questionnaires? A “think aloud” study. Journal of Health Psychology, 12, 672-687.

Cooke, R., Sniehotta, F.F., Schüz, B. (2007). Predicting binge-drinking behaviour using an extended TPB: Examining the impact of anticipated regret and descriptive norms. Alcohol & Alcoholism, 42, 84-91.


Senior, C., Smyth, H., Cooke, R., Shaw, R.L., & Peel, E. (2007) Mapping the mind for the modern market researcher, Qualitative Market Research, 10(2), 153-167.

Cooke, R., Peel, E., Shaw, R.L., & Senior, C. (2007). The neuroimaging research process from the participants’ perspective. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 62, 152-158.

Cooke, R., Bewick, B.M., Barkham, M., Bradley, M., Audin, K. (2006). Measuring, monitoring and managing the psychological well-being of students. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 34, 505-517.

Sheeran, P., Aarts, H., Custers, R., Rivis, A., Webb. T. L., & Cooke, R. (2005) The goal-dependent automaticity of drinking habits. British Journal of Social Psychology, 44, 47-63.

Cooke, R., & Sheeran, P. (2004). Moderation of cognition-intention and cognition-behaviour relations: A meta-analysis of properties of variables from the theory of planned behaviour. British Journal of Social Psychology, 43, 159-186.

Cooke, R., & Sheeran, P.  (2004). Accessibility and temporal stability as moderators of cognition-behaviour relations in the theory of planned behaviour. Irish Journal of Psychology, 25, 44-64.

Cooke, R., Barkham, M., Audin, K., Bradley, M., & Davy, J. (2004). How social class differences affect students' experiences of university. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 28,407-422.

Cooke, R., Barkham, M., Audin, K., Bradley, M, Davy, J., & Slack J. (2004) Student debt and its relation to student mental health. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 28, 53-66.

European survey of university student alcohol use. €75,000, European Research Advisory Board, Dr Richard Cooke (PI), Dr Richard de Visser, Dr Jose Martinez-Raga, Professor Urte Scholz, Dr Franca Beccaria, Dr Jakob Demant and Dr Lena Fleig

UK drinking patterns: prevalence, problems and prediction. £1,000, Division of Health Psychology, Dr Richard Cooke (PI) and Professor Charles Abraham.

A proposal for collaborative research between Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA) and Extracare Charitable Trust, £244,000, 36 months, Extracare Charitable Trust, Dr Carol Holland (PI), Dr Sri Bellary, Dr Matthew Carter, Dr Richard Cooke, Dr Graham Leask, Dr Rachael Powell, Dr Rachel Shaw and Dr Karen West 

Evaluation of the cardiovascular screening programme, £85,764.30, 18 months, Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust, Dr Richard Cooke (PI), Dr Rachel Shaw, Dr Helen Pattison, Dr Carol Holland, Dr Elizabeth Peel 

Exploring when and how self-affirmation works, €5000, 9 months, European Health Psychology Society.Dr Benjamin Schüz (PI), Dr Richard Cooke, Dr Guido van Koningsbruggen, Dr Peter Harris, and Dr Urte Scholz.  

Encouraging sustainable behaviours using information processing and behaviour change techniques, £10,000, 3 months, Centre for Sustainability & Innovation (CSI), Aston University, Dr Richard Cooke (PI), Professor Veronica Wong, Dr Kai Liu

 Embedding education for sustainable development (ESD) into the psychology curriculum, £6,393.40, 12 months, Higher Education Academy (Psychology Network). Dr Richard Cooke (PI) and Mr Peter Reddy  

Engaging different communities with sustainability, £14,500, 4 months, CSI, Dr Carole Parkes, Dr Richard Cooke, DrAjmal Hussain, Dr Roya Gholami

Neuroimaging: Understanding the perceptions and experiences of participants, £7000, 1 year, British Academy of Science. Dr Liz Peel (PI), Dr Richard Cooke and Dr Rachel Shaw.

Cooke, R. (2014) What are the psychological effects of hazardous alcohol consumption and how can they be reduced? BPS Annual Conference, Birmingham.

Cooke, R. (2010) Self-affirmation: Does it promote health protective behaviours? Conference of the European Health Psychology Society, Cluj-Napoca.

Cooke, R. (2009) Exploring how self-affirmation works: Methods and Mechanisms. Conference of the European Health Psychology Society, Pisa.

Cooke, R. (2005) Using think-aloud methodologies to improve health-related measurement. Conference of the European Health Psychology Society, Galway

Fernandes, E., & Cooke, R. (2014). Can a brief intervention based on self-regulation and goal setting reduce alcohol consumption? Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society, Birmingham.

Cooke, R., Dahdah, M., Norman, P., & French, D.P. (2013). How well does the theory of planned behaviour predict alcohol consumption intentions and behaviour? A systematic review and meta-analysis. B.P.S Division of Health Psychology, Brighton.

Cooke, R., Hart, L., Harris, P., Scholz, U., Schuez, B, & van Koningsbruggen, G. (2013). ‘Does self-affirmation promote physical activity regardless of threat level?’ Conference of the European Health Psychology Society, Bordeaux.

Cooke, R., Cooper, Y.,Shaw, R.L., Holland, C., & Pattison, H.M. (2012). ‘GP perspectives on the NHS Health Check: A qualitative study’, UK Society for Behavioural Medicine, Manchester.

Shaw, R.L., Cooke, R., Holland, C., Cooper, Y. (2012). "You can't prevent anything anyway": a meta-synthesis of qualitative evidence about cardiovascular screening programmes. B.P.S. Division of Health Psychology, Liverpool.

Cooper, Y., Cooke, R., Holland, C., Shaw, R.L., Pattison, H.M., & Peel, E.A. (2011) ‘Systematic literature review of quantitative evaluations of cardiovascular screenings: What can previous studies teach us?, Midlands Health Psychology Network, Derby 

Cooke, R., Coleman., & Ramm, J. (2010) ‘Reducing binge-drinking among young people using digital stories’, B.P.S Division of Health Psychology, Belfast. 

Shaw, R.L., Cooke, R., Holland, C., Pattison, H., Wood, J., Neil, L., & Lewis, Y. (2010) ‘Putting the cart before the horse? Assessing the feasibility of incorporating innovative e-learning technologies into postgraduate taught programmes with on- and off-campus students’ PLATEdinburgh.

 Cooke, R. &Sniehotta, F.F. (2009) ‘Does binge-drinking status affect perceptions of binge-drinking?’ KBS Thematic meeting, Nijmegen 

Cooke, R., Coleman, L., & Ramm, J.  (2009) ‘The effectiveness of an innovative intervention aimed at reducing binge-drinking among young people’ INEBRIAGateshead. 

Waldron, S.M., Cooke, R., Wright, A.J., & Harris, P. (2009). ‘Disease detection vs. health promotion behaviours in relation to safe sex and safe skin care’ B.P.S Division of Health Psychology, Aston. 

Cooke, R. & Sniehotta, F.  (2009) ‘Knowledge of binge-drinking limits and perceptions of binge-drinking status among UK undergraduates’ B.P.S Division of Health Psychology, Aston.

 Cooke, R., French, D.P., & Sniehotta, F.  (2009) ‘Wide variation in understanding what constitutes “Binge-Drinking.”’ Psychology, Health & Medicine annual conference, Dublin. 

Shaw, R.L. & Cooke, R. (2009) ‘Exploring users’ expectations and experiences of brain imaging.’ Brains in Dialogue, Cambridge. 

Cooke, R., & French, D.P. (2008) ‘What moderates prediction of screening attendance? A meta-analysis of Theory of Planned Behaviour studies.’ Joint Conference of the European Health Psychology Society and the B.P.S Division of Health Psychology, Bath. 

Zhang, YCooke, R. (2008). Using a combined motivational and volitional intervention to increase physical activity and health eating.’ Joint Conference of the European Health Psychology Society and the B.P.S Division of Health Psychology, Bath.

Shaw, R.L., Peel, E., Donnelly, L.S., Cooke, R., & Senior, C(2008) Using IPA to understand users’ expectations and experiences of having an MRI brain scan, Qualitative Methods in Psychology Section Inaugural Conference, Leeds.

Cooke, R., Sniehotta, F.F., & Schüz, B. (2007) ‘Predicting binge-drinking behaviour using an extended TPB: Examining the impact of anticipated regret and descriptive norms’, B.P.S. Division of Health Psychology Conference, Nottingham.

Cooper, T., & Cooke, R. (2007) ‘Can self-regulatory strategies reduce binge-drinking behaviour in undergraduates?’, B.P.S. Division of Health Psychology, Nottingham.   

Cooke, R., & French, D.P. (2007) ‘Does context affect the prediction of binge-drinking intentions?’ Conference of the European Health Psychology Society, Maastricht.

Cooke, R., Schüz, B., & Sniehotta, F.F. (2006) 'Motivational and volitional determinants of binge-drinking behaviour', Conference of the European Health Psychology Society, Warsaw.

Cooper, T., Cooke R., Schüz, B., & Sniehotta, F.F., (2006). 'Motivational and volitional determinants of binge-drinking behaviour', Midlands Health Psychology Network, Leicester.

Cooke, R., & French, D.P. (2005) Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour/Theory of Reasoned Action to predict screening attendance: A meta-analysis. B.P.S Division of Health Psychology Conference, Coventry.

Gatz, J., Sniehotta, F.F., Cooke, R., & Schuez, B. (2005) Ausfuehrungsplanung und Bewaeltigungsplanung zur Praevention von Binge Drinking unter schottischen Studenten: Eine Interventionsstudie, German Congress on Health Psychology, Freiberg.

Moses, K., & Cooke, R. (2005) Fit and healthy? The prevalence of Eating Disorder Symptomatology in athlete and non-athlete populations. B.P.S Division of Health Psychology Conference, Coventry.

Cooke, R., & Sheeran, P. (2004) Factor structure of properties of behavioural intention. Conference of the European Health Psychology Society, Helsinki.

Cooke, R., & Sheeran, P. (2003) Impact of temporal stability of intentions on information processing. B.P.S. Division of Health Psychology Conference, Stafford.

Cooke, R., & Sheeran, P. (2002) The structure of properties of behavioural intention and their capacity to moderate the intention-behaviour relationship. B.P.S. Division of Health Psychology Conference, Sheffield.

Cooke, R., & Sheeran, P. (2002) Moderation of cognition-intentions and cognition-behaviour relations: A meta-analysis of properties of variables from the theory of planned behaviour. 13th General Meeting of the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology, San Sebastian.

Cooke, R. (2014) Predicting alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems: How many predictor variables do we really need?, Northumbria University

Cooke, R. (2012) Healthcare professional and patient perceptions of a vascular screening programme, Sheffield Hallam University

Cooke, R. (2011) Evaluating the Deadly Trio cardiovascular screening programme, Health Sciences, Primary Care Group, University of Manchester  

Cooke, R. (2010) Increasing physical activity using self-affirmation, German Centre for Gerontology 

Cooke, R. (2009) Awareness of binge drinking definitions: How much do we know? Midlands Health Psychology Network, Coventry University

Cooke, R. (2009) Does context affect motivation to binge-drink? De Montfort University   

Cooke, R. (2007) Does context affect motivation to binge-drink? University of Leeds

Cooke, R. (2007). Applying health psychology to understand motivation to binge-drink. University of Cambridge

Cooke, R. (2006) What do people think about when they answer Theory of Planned Behaviour questionnaires? A think aloud study. Free University Berlin

Cooke, R. (2005) Understanding intention-behaviour consistency in health psychology University of Aberdeen.

Cooke, R. (2005) What do people think about when they answer Theory of Planned Behaviour questionnaires? A think aloud study. University of Derby.

Cooke, R. (2004) Moderating intention-behaviour consistency in health psychology. Psychology and Genetics Research Group, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London.

Cooke, R. (2001) Moderating cognition-behaviour relations. University of Kent at Canterbury.

  • Chartered Psychologist (British Psychological Society/Division of Health Psychology)
  • Health Psychologist (Registration with Health Professionals Council)
  • Register of Applied Psychology Practice Supervisors (Division of Health Psychology)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
  • Member of the British Psychological Society 
  • Member of the Division of Health Psychology 
  • Member of the European Health Psychology Society
  • Member of the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine
  • Member of International Network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol & Other Drugs
  • International Advisory Board member for British Journal of Health Psychology (2010-)
  • Scholar panel member for the British Journal of Health Psychology (2007-2010)
  • Co-editor of The European Health Psychologist (2010-2013)
  • Editorial board member for Drugs & Alcohol Today (2007-2009)
  • Reviewer for academic journals: Addiction Research & Theory, Addictive Behaviors, Alcohol & Alcoholism, Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Appetite, BMC Psychology, BMC Public Health, British Journal of Health Psychology, British Journal of Psychology, British Journal of Social Psychology, Drugs & Alcohol Today, Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, The European Health Psychologist, European Journal of Social Psychology, Health Communication Research, Health Education Research, Health Promotion International, Health Psychology Review, International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Journal of Health Psychology, Journal of Infant & Reproductive Psychology, Journal of Sports & Exercise Psychology, Psychology & Health, Psychology, Health & Medicine, Public Health, Sexual Health and Stress & Health

Last saved: July 2014

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