Dr Julia Allan
Dr Julia Allan

Dr Julia Allan

PhD, C.Psychol, HCPC Reg, SFHEA

Senior Lecturer


1st Floor, Health Sciences Building, Foresterhill, University of Aberdeen, AB25 2ZD


Julia is a Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology in the Institute of Applied Health Sciences and Deputy Lead of the Aberdeen Health Psychology Group.  Joining the group in August 2004 as a Research Fellow, Julia worked with Prof Derek Johnston (2004-2006) looking at the objective assessment of activity limitations and stress-related heart rate in real time, before being awarded a Chief Scientist Office Fellowship (2006-2011; mentored by Prof Marie Johnston) to investigate the role of cognitive/executive function in the control of dietary behaviour.  After a brief spell as a core-funded Research Fellow (2011-2012), Julia took up a position as a Lecturer in 2012 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2014.  Julia is a British Psychological Society Chartered Psychologist and an HCPC registered Practitioner Health Psychologist. She is Past Chair of the British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Scotland (2018-20) and currently sits on the European Health Psychology Society's Executive Committee.

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

Higher Education Academy recognition panel (from 2019)

Institute of Applied Health Sciences Postgraduate Teaching Committee (from 2014)

Aberdeen Health Psychology Group (from 2004)

University of Aberdeen Working Group on the management of work-related stress (2018-2019)

University of Aberdeen Senate Working Group on key performance indicators (2016-2017)

External Memberships

Past Chair, British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Scotland (2020-2021)

Executive Committee Member, European Health Psychology Society (2020-2022)

Membership Officer, European Health Psychology Society (2020-2022)

Chair, British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Scotland (2018-2020)

British Psychological Society Representative, Scottish Obesity Alliance (2018-20)

Steering Group Member, Scottish Branch, British Psychological Society (2018-2020)

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (from 2017)

Food Standards Scotland Dietary Guideline Review Panel (from 2018)

Member of the European Health Psychology Society (since 2008)

Member of the British Psychological Society and Division of Health Psychology (since 2009)

Member of the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine (since 2011)

Prizes and Awards

University of Aberdeen Excellence in Teaching Award 2017

Scottish Crucible 2011

Henry Prize in Mental Philosophy (Logic) 2001


Research Overview

My research focuses on the cognitive determinants and consequences of health relevant behaviours/ processes such as eating, physical activity and stress. In particular, I am interested in; how health relevant decisions are made (e.g. food choices; diagnostic decisions; treatment decisions, etc); how behaviour is controlled over time (e.g. how people stick to diets; how performance is maintained when fatigued, why willpower fails, etc); and how environments and systems can be modified to prompt healthier choices and behaviours.

My primary interest is the ‘executive functions’, a group of cognitive processes that allow people to plan, initiate and maintain complex patterns of behaviour in order to achieve goals, but I also have a strong interest in the development of methods to measure behaviour in real time. I work as part of a multi-disciplinary team, and my work is currently, and has been previously, funded by the MRC, ESRC, CSO, RSE, Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK and the Scottish Government.

Research Areas

Applied Health Sciences

Research Specialisms

  • Health Psychology

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Knowledge Exchange

Policy, Public Sector and Third Sector

Clarke M, Dale H, Smith J & Allan JL (2019). British Psychological Society response to the Scottish Government ‘Reducing Health Harms of Foods High in Fat, Sugar or Salt’.

Moffat H, Shearer R, Allan JL, Clark M, Dale H, Dombrowski S & Ozakinci G (2018). British Psychological Society response to The Scottish Government ‘A healthier future – action and ambitions on diet, activity and healthy weight’.

British Psychological Society Briefing: Developing a Scottish Healthy Weight Strategy (2018). [co-author]

British Psychological Society Briefing: Public policy priorities for Scotland (2018). [co-author]

Allan JL (2016) Behavioural Science: Making healthy choices easier.  Board Paper Food Standards Scotland. FFS/16/12/06.

British Psychological Society (2019) Understanding Obesity. Contributor.

Scottish Obesity Alliance (2018-20). Manifesto contributor and British Psychological Society representative.

Food Standards Scotland (2017-present). Invited academic member of Future Strategy Stakeholder Group; Invited member expert review panel of new Dietary Guidance for Scotland

Scottish Parliament. Exhibition on obesity and direct engagement with MSPs and Scottish Government Diet & Health Policy Team on health psychology’s contribution to the obesity agenda (2018)



2021-2024       Mona Maier. University of Aberdeen (Institute of Applied Health Sciences competitive studentship). Decision fatigue in health and healthcare. Primary supervisor.

2021-2024       Adegoke Alabi. University of Aberdeen (Elphinstone Scholarship). Do rural dwellers experience cancer differently? Co-supervisor.

2019-2022       Sara Simao. University of Southampton. Optimising nutrition interventions: Harnessing the power of adolescent values and motivations. Co-supervisor.

2018-2021       Xuemin Zhu (Health Economics Research Unit) The role of the physician’s risk and time preferences and personality in clinical decision making. Co-supervisor.

2016-2019       Georgios Kitsaris. Univeristy of Manchester. Co supervisor. Effects of dental disease on school readiness and its association with executive function in preschool age children

2015-2020       Uma Janaki (University of Aberdeen, IAHS studentship) Using insights into time preference and present bias to develop an intervention to improve adherence to exercise. Co-Supervisor.

2013-2017       Cheryl Bell (ESRC Health Pathway Studentship). Thesis title: Stress in junior doctors: real-time observational, self-report and physiological investigation during the working day. Primary supervisor.

2013-2016       Mairead Black (Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Training Fellowship) Mode of delivery after caesarean section: an investigation of offspring risks and factors influencing women’s attitudes towards delivery mode. Co-supervisor.

2012-2017       Christine Roberts (Rowett Institute / Pathways to Health Studentship). Thesis title: Maximising quality of life and functional independence in older adults through physical activity. Primary supervisor.

2011-2015       Nicola McCleary (MRC Doctoral Training Grant). Thesis title: The relationship between difficulty of a clinical decision as reported by healthcare professionals and the quality of that decision in terms of evidence based practice. Primary supervisor.

2011-2015       Brian Power (MRC Doctoral Training Grant).  Thesis title: Developing and piloting a complex intervention for health professionals with moderate to severe weight problems. Co-supervisor.

2011-2017       Megan Watson (Scottish Government Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division).  Project title: Barrier to improving physical activity levels in Scottish families. Co-supervisor.

2007-2010       Mahadir Ahmed (Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia).  Thesis title: Psychological preparation for MRI. Co-supervisor.

Funding and Grants

2020. Institute of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen. PhD Studentship. Decision fatigue in health and healthcare. Allan JL, Powell DJ & Murchie P.

2020. Chief Scientist Office. £342,472. Research Grant. Protecting population physical & mental health during the coronavirus pandemic: A representative national weekly survey to understand changes. Dixon D, Hubbard G, Johnston M, Murchie P, Allan JL, Den Das C, O’Carrol R, Farquharson B, Maltinsky W, Mercer, FLemin.

2020. MRC. £146,462. Bedtime Routines Intervention for Children (BRIC) using an automated text messaging system for behaviour change. Pretty I & Allan JL. Public Health Intervention Development Scheme.

01/03/19-31/03/20      Scottish Government. £9,996. NurseLIFE: Nurses’ Lifestyle, Food intake & Exercise. Allan JL, Powell DJ, Fassen de Heer P, Johnston M & Johnston DW.

01/11/18- 31/10-21     ESRC. £576,886. Performance related pay (PRP) and stress. Bender K, Theodossiou I, Allan JL & Powell D.

01/08/18 – 31/07/19   Royal Society of Edinburgh. £62,287. Enabling healthier snack choices: A randomised controlled trial of a cognitively informed point of purchase prompt (PPP) in NHS hospitals. Allan JL (PI). Sabbatical Research Grant Award.

01/01/17- 31/12/19     Cancer Research UK. £287,355. Achieving Self-directed Integrated Cancer Aftercare (ASICA) in melanoma: A randomized patient focused trial of delivering the ASICA intervention as a means to earlier detection of recurrent and second primary melanoma. Murchie P, Masthoff J, Durrani A, Depasquale I, Brant W, Neilson A, Rajpura S, Meredith F, Walter F, Nicolson M, Allan JL, Burrows N, Norrie J, Proby C, Lee A, Johnston M & Treweek S. Research Grant.

01/11/16 – 31/08/17   Chief Scientist Office. £33,283. Supporting healthy snack choices in Scottish hospitals: a feasibility study. Allan JL (PI), Johnston M, Webb S & McKenzie F. Development Work Grant.

01/03/15 – 30/09/15   Scottish Economic Society. £1,950. Performance related pay and stress: a pilot study. Bender, Allan JL & Theodossiou I. Research grant.

07/01/13 - 01/12/14    MRC. £26,290. Determinants of diet and physical activity (DEDIPAC EU Knowledge Hub). Ludbrook A, De Roos B, Douglas F, McNeil G & Allan JL. Engagement in EU Knowledge Hub Grant.

10/06/13 - 31/03/16    Scottish Government (RESAS Division). £106,272. Reducing calorie consumption through food packaging and presentation.  Allan JL (PI). Research grant as part of SG block grant.

01/01/13 - 31/12/14    Royal Society of Edinburgh. £5,700. Unravelling the impact of dietary iodine exposure on brain structure and cognition in the elderly: a study on a large Scottish cohort.  Valdes Hernandez M, Allan JL, Combet Aspray E, Kyle J & Brich F. Scottish Crucible Projects for Scotland grant.

01/03/13 - 31/08/16    University of Aberdeen. £63,665. Maximising quality of life and functional independence in older adults through physical activity.  Allan JL, Phillips L, McArdle K, Soiza R & Gray S. Pathways to Health PhD Studentship.

01/03/12 - 28/02/16    Wellcome Trust. £220,774. Mode of delivery after caesarean section: An investigation of offspring risks and factors influencing women's attitudes towards delivery options. Black M, Bhattacharya S, Gillies K, Allan JL, McLernon DJ. Research Training Fellowship.

31/03/11 - 31/03/16    Scottish Government (RESAS Division). £272,000. Translating intentions into behaviour to influence diet and exercise.  Allan JL (PI). Research grant as part of SG block grant.

02/01/12 - 31/10/12    Royal Society of Edinburgh. £4,500. Improving health and health behaviours through serious games. Scott-Brown K, Allan JL Azzopardi L, Crook P, van der Pol M. Scottish Crucible research grant.

02/01/12 –  01/01/13  Royal Society of Edinburgh. £1,200. Cognition, diet and health: feasibility of using existing cohorts to answer current questions. Allan JL (PI) & Valdes-Hernandez M. Scottish Crucible research grant.

01/06/13 - 01/09/13    University of Aberdeen. £4,950. A pilot study to develop methods of describing the behaviour of junior doctors in ward rounds. Allan JL (PI), Johnston M, Johnston DW & Ross S. Pump priming grant.

01/12/10 – 30/06/13   Chief Scientist Office. £212,185. Nursing stress and patient care: real time investigation of the effect of nursing tasks and demands on psychological and physiological stress and job performance. Johnston M, Johnston DW, Jones MC, Ricketts I, Allan JL & Schofield P. Research Grant.

01/08/06 - 25/05/11    Chief Scientist Office. £123,714. Why do people fail to turn good intentions into actions?  An investigation of cognitive control factors affecting dietary behaviour. Allan JL (PI). Independent Research Training Fellowship.

Awarded but not accepted  ESRC. £183,209. Why don’t people act on good intentions? Allan JL (PI). Independent Research Fellowship (open scheme).

01/07/07 - 30/09/10    Chief Scientist Office. £222,450. Stress in NHS-24 nurses: Level, determinants and consequences assessed using psychological, physiological and behavioural measures. Johnston DW, Allan JL, Farquharson B, Jones MC & Johnston M. Research Grant.

01/07/05 - 31/12/05    MRC. £5,989. The relationship between impairment and activity limitations following total joint replacement: subjective self-report versus objectively measured limitations. Johnston DW, Johnston M, Hay JL, Dieppe P & Kenardy J. Health Services Research Collaboration Research Initiation Grant.

03/03/05  University of Aberdeen. £3,500. Introduction to Multi-level modelling. Hay JL & Molloy GJ. Staff Development Workshop Grant.

01/07/00 - 01/09/00    Carnegie Trust. £590. Crossed dominance and motor performance. Hay JL & Carey D. Undergraduate Research Bursary.


Teaching Responsibilities

Programme Director : MSc Health Psychology (BPS Accredited)

Non-course Teaching Responsibilities

Personal tutor (Undergraduate)

Personal tutor (Postgraduate)

External examiner


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Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Conferences

Contributions to Journals

Non-textual Forms

Working Papers