Professor Peter Smith

Staff details

PositionEmeritus Professor of Psychology, Unit for School and Family Studies
Department Psychology
Email p.smith (
Phone+44 (0)20 7919 7898
Professor Peter Smith

BA PhD CPsychol FBPsS

Bullying, play, grandparenting, evolution

Academic qualifications

B.A., Ph.D.



I am based at the Unit for School and Family Studies, which I headed from 1998-2011. As an Emeritus Professor I am continuing with research, writing, and some postgraduate supervision.

I am primarily researching school bullying, cyberbullying, the causes of bullying and ways of preventing it in school. Recently, with ABA and with Fran Thompson, I carried out a research project on the success of anti-bullying strategies in schools in England, funded by the DCSF/DfE (2008-2010).  This is available at

I am also Chair of COST Action IS0801 on cyberbullying, from 2008 to 2012. Several research students are working in this area, including examining the use and effectiveness of peer support schemes in schools, use of quality circles to reduce bullying, and aspects of cyberbullying.

With Qing Li and Donna Cross I have edited a book on cyberbullying, Li, Q. Cross, D. & Smith, P.K. (eds), Cyberbullying in the Global Playground: Research from International Perspectives. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

I am also particularly interested in similarities and differences between bullying (in western countries), ijime (in Japan), and wang-ta (in Korea), and have had a PMI2-funded link (2008-2009) with Seoul National University in South Korea.

Other research interests are in family systems, grandparenting and technology used in older people. Work here has included use of the Family Systems test (FAST) to measure differences in perceptions of power and affiliation in 3-generation families; and examining the effects of loss of contact with grandchildren, on grandparents, following parental divorce or for other reasons. I coordinated a project funded by the European Commission under its Fifth Framework Research Training Network (RTN) programme, entitled Grandparenthood and Intergenerational Relationships in Aging European Populations (2002-2006). It comprised 2 teams from the UK and 1 each from Finland, France, Greece, Norway and Spain.

I have also carried out research on children's play, and published a book on this in 2010: Smith, P.K. (2010) (with one chapter by Y Gosso) Children and play. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

With Craig Hart I have edited a second edition of an advanced text on children’s social development Smith, P.K. & Hart, C.H. (eds), (2011). Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Social Development, 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, and with Helen Cowie and Mark Blades, have recently published a fifth edition of a successful textbook on children’s development: Smith, P.K., Cowie, H. & Blades, M. (2011). Understanding Children's Development, 5th edition (with 2 extra chapters). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.