Emotion -
Have we got
it wrong?

An inaugural lecture by Professor Frances Maratos

Inaugural lecture: Professor Frances Maratos

A key theory of how emotion shapes our behaviour is known as ‘Threat Superiority’. This is the theory that threats are detected more quickly than non-threats, they are central to how we process information and, subsequently, act behaviourally.  However, the research of Professor Frances Maratos has challenged the Threat Superiority theory.

In this lecture, Professor Maratos presented an alternative ‘Motivational Relevance’ theory of emotion. This theory includes consideration of an individual’s current demands and their endogenous/affective states in influencing behaviour. She discussed how her research has shaped an understanding of the neural basis of emotion, including an understanding of higher-order emotions such as self-criticism. Professor Maratos then discussed the application of this research to her well-being intervention work. This includes the introduction of compassion-based wellbeing interventions with teachers and pupils in the educational sector across the UK, Portugal and Poland.

In advancing research in the field of emotion, Professor Maratos also explained how motivational relevance theory can inform understanding and research in the health sciences sector, including relating to eating behaviours, chronic pain and, most recently, suicide ideation and behaviours in teens. 

If you would like to watch Professor Frances Maratos's Inaugural Lecture, please complete our research enquiry form, with the name of the lecture you would like to watch. You will then receive a link to the video shortly after submitting the form. 

Professor Frances Maratos

Professor Frances Maratos is an expert in Emotion Science, whose research centres on understanding psychological, neurological, cognitive and physiological correlates of emotional well-being. Her research has contributed to understanding anxiety and its relationship with eating disorders, understanding processes of threat and self-criticism, and the use of compassion for emotion regulation across various populations. For example, Frances consults on the UK Mindfulness Initiative Education Strategy policy, leads on ‘Compassion in Education’ applied research for school pupils and teachers across Europe and is an external expert for Brown University, USA, on research focused on understanding self-critical rumination, self-reassurance, and suicidal thoughts/behaviour in youth.