Most broadly, Dr O’Brien’s research focuses on social and developmental psychology – ranging from social representations of the euro to the social construction of ‘geeks’. Much of her research has centred on schools – both primary and secondary – in terms of children and young people’s understanding of authority and power.
Her interest in school bullying, combined with the excision of ‘Asperger Syndrome’ from the DSM 5, led to an interest in the autistic and neurotypical spectrums in both children and adults. These conditions are fascinating to study from a clinical perspective, concerning neurological hardwiring, and from the perspective of personality psychology. She is currently interested in applying Jungian depth psychology to the autism and Asperger literature.
At present, her research focuses on three perspectives: social psychology concerning social stigmas and stereotypes; Jungian depth psychology as an alternative to the study of cognitive biases; a comparison of mainstream accounts and New Age discourses.