Page 1: Information and consent

Study Title: Does how we think about others affect how we behave? Exploring Theory of Mind.

Research Team: Sophie Mann, MSc., Trainee Forensic Psychologist,  Dr Simon Duff, Associate Professor, Dr Elizabeth Paddock, Associate Professor. Centre for Forensic and Family Psychology, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham.

Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences Research Ethics Ref: FMHS 123-2003

This research is looking at whether there are differences in people’s abilities in “Theory of Mind” and if this can help to explain why some people might be more likely to behave in certain ways, which can be harmful to others. Theory of mind is a cognitive skill that we develop during childhood, which helps us to understand that other people have different thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and attitudes to our own and helps us to make predictions about the world.

This research project hopes to improve understanding of why some people are more likely to behave in harmful ways, even to people close to them like partners or family. The research aims to explore how our thinking, experiences we may have had in childhood and our emotions, like anger, can make us more or less likely to misunderstand other’s intentions and perhaps behave aggressively, as we might feel threatened.

The results of the research hope to be used to add to current understanding of different types of violence and to increase the effectiveness of treatments available. The research also aims to add support to the idea those in prison, or on probation, with certain offence histories, may benefit from staff being more aware of their past difficulties e.g. with trauma or with misunderstanding others, which can sometimes lead to problems with behaviour.

You can ask any questions before deciding if you wish to take part, by contacting the researchers (details below).  Taking part is entirely voluntary.

What will I be asked to do?

The study is all online and involves four sections. You will be asked to confirm basic information during the consent form below to ensure you are eligible for the study. No identifiable data, e.g. name, address, history will be collected.

The first section looks at your theory of mind abilities and will show you pictures of men and women’s eyes. You have to determine what the person is feeling, by selecting one of the four options given in the picture. The second part is a questionnaire asking about difficult experiences you may have had in childhood. Some of these questions are explicit and descriptive and may be upsetting. Therefore, some information about how to access additional support, is provided below.

The final section will ask you about previous or current relationships and how you thought, felt and behaved.

Completing the study should take approximately 20 -30 minutes.


You can withdraw at any point during the questionnaire for any reason, before submitting your answers by clicking the Exit button/closing the browser.  The data will only be uploaded on completion of the questionnaire by clicking the SUBMIT button on the final page.  At this point it will not be possible to withdraw your answers.   You will then be presented with a debrief page giving more information about the research topic and details of where you can seek support if you have been affected by the issues raised in the questionnaires.

What are the disadvantages of taking part?

It is possible that you may find the descriptions of childhood adverse experiences in one of the questionnaires upsetting or make you feel uncomfortable.  Please take time to think carefully about whether it might be an upsetting or sensitive topic for you at the moment.

What are the advantages of taking part?

Your contribution together with others will help the researchers to understand more about why some people are more likely to behave in certain ways against family or partners and if this can be prevented or targeted in treatment. 

Who will know I have taken part in the study?

No one will know you have taken part in this study because we will not ask for your name or any other personal ID during this questionnaire.  Your IP address will not be visible to or stored by the research team because an online survey platform is being used which receives and stores an IP address but enables this detail to be filtered out before it is transferred to the research team.  As with any online related activity the risk of breach is possible but this risk is being minimized by using a platform that sits on an encrypted webpage.   For further information about the online survey tool security please see

What will happen to your data?

When you have clicked the submit button at the end of the questionnaire, it will be uploaded into a password protected database with a code number.  The research team will not be able to see who it is from and for this reason it will not possible to withdraw the data at this point.  Your data (research data) will be stored in a password-protected folder sitting on a restricted access server at the University under the terms of its data protection policy.   Data is kept for a minimum of 7 years.

This questionnaire is for a Doctorate project and the answers received from all participants will be combined in a password protected database ready for analysis.  The results will be written up as a thesis and will be used in academic publications and presentations. The overall anonymised data from this study may be shared for use in future research and teaching (with research ethics approval). 

The only personal data we will receive is your e-mail, so we can send you the link to access the online survey or if you need contact us to ask further questions or need support.  This will be received and handled separately from your completed questionnaire and it will not be possible to link the sets of data.  Your e-mail address will only be kept as long as needed to resolve your query.  It will then be destroyed.  For further information about how the university processes personal data please see:

Who will have access to your data?

The University of Nottingham is the data controller (legally responsible for data security) and the Supervisor of this study (Sophie Mann) is the data custodian (manages access to the data) and as such will determine how your data is used in the study. Your research and personal data will be used for the purposes of the research only.  Research is a task that we perform in the public interest. 

Responsible members of the University of Nottingham may be given access to data for monitoring and/or audit of the study to ensure it is being carried out correctly.

If you have any questions or concerns about this project, please contact:

Sophie Mann, MSc. E-mail:  

or if you have any concerns about any aspect of this study please contact the Research Supervisor:  Dr Simon Duff or Dr Elizabeth Paddock  Email

If you remain unhappy and wish to complain formally, you should then contact the FMHS Research Ethics Committee Administrator E-mail:

I have read and understood the above information and consent form, I confirm that I am 18 years old or older and by clicking the NEXT button to begin the online questionnaire, I indicate my willingness to voluntarily take part in the study.


NEXT – I consent to take part             or please exit the study if you do not consent to take part.