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About me

I am a researcher with a PhD in "Big Data Psychology" combining psychological theory and machine learning to understand human behaviour, with applications in social good domains. I am currently working at The Hector Institute of Education Sciences and Psychology at the University of Tübingen in Germany. I am researching how big data can be leveraged to better understand educational attainment and individual differences in learning. Previous work uses machine learning and AI to help prevent modern slavery and human trafficking.



March 2017 - Present

Analysing academic datasets on student performance using machine learning methods with the goal of understanding bias in the data. Recent research also includes detecting individual differences in digital traces of behaviour in online learning environments.

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2015 - 2019

My PhD used consumer data to investigate how psychological research is best conducted using big data, where the goals are to have interpretable and generalisable models of human behaviour. 

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October 2019 - 2021

At the Alan Turing Institute I leveraged big data, machine learning and AI to better measure, understand, and ultimately help prevent modern slavery, human trafficking, and other exploitative crimes.

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June 2019 - August 2019



I was a fellow on the Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) 2019 ran by Imperial College London and in partnership with The University of Chicago, The Alan Turing Institute, and Warwick University. This programme looks at how we can harness the power of data science to enable charities, start-ups, NGOs and governmental departments operating in the social good space to grow. I worked on a project in partnership with IEFP in Portugal, building a recommender system to improve employment outcomes in mainland Portugal.

July 2015 - October 2015


A lot of our daily purchases are driven by various psychological factors. For example, people can buy chocolates either because of habit or because of lapses in self-control when facing a pack of Maltesers at the till. Whilst a wealth of decision-making literature studied psychological mechanisms of impulsive and habitual behaviours in the lab, there is still not enough research translating decision-making theories into real world choices. The Digital Economy opens up a new era in the research of human behaviour, as information about what we buy, where we travel and even what we eat can be recorded “online”, producing evidence that is more accurate than self-reported logs. This project analysed how we categorize and understand different clusters of individual daily decisions and how to interpret the outputs of these analyses.

July 2013 - August 2013



During the 6 week Developmental Psychology internship at The University of Nottingham I actively helped to plan and run the university's Summer Scientist Week (SSW). SSW is a fun few days for children, which also serves as a pool of participants for the Developmental Psychology researchers working in and around Nottingham. My role involved event organisation, setting up the data base, testing the children's vocabulary ability using BPVS (including autistic children), calibrating the test scores, and inputting and analyzing the data in Excel.


Journal Publications:

Lavelle-Hill, R., Harvey, J., Smith, G., Mazumder, A., Ellis, M., Mwantimwa, K., & Goulding, J. (2022). Using mobile money data and call detail records to explore the risks of urban migration in Tanzania. EPJ data science, 11(1), 28.

Lavelle-Hill, R. & Mazumder, A. (2022). AI for Detecting Sexual Exploitation Online in the UK: A Review of Indicators and Ethics. In press.

Lavelle-Hill, R., Smith, G., Mazumder, A., Landman, T., Goulding, J. (2021) Machine learning methods for “wicked” problems: exploring the complex drivers of modern slavery. Nature Humanities and Social Science Communications 8, 274.

Lavelle-Hill, R., Goulding, J., Smith, G., Clarke, D. D., & Bibby, P. A. (2020). Psychological and demographic predictors of plastic bag consumption in transaction data. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 72, 101473.

Lavelle-Hill, R. E., Skatova, A., Goulding, J., Bibby, P., & Clarke, D. (2020). Buying what people like you buy: Personality Homophily and Well-being in Consumer Behaviour. PREPRINT available at OSF

Tomas, C., Whitt, E., Lavelle-Hill, R., & Severn, K. (2019). Modelling holistic marks with analytic rubrics. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 4, p. 89). Frontiers.


Data for Policy 2020, London (virtual). "Using machine learning methods to better understand the complexities of modern slavery" 

UCL LIDo PhD Programme, London  2020. "Big Data Psychology"

DSSG Data Fest, Imperial College London 2019. "Building a Recommender System to Improve Employment Outcomes in Portugal"

World Conference of Personality, Hanoi 2019. "Bags of money or bags of Impulsiveness? Psychological and Demographic Predictors of Plastic Bag Consumption in Big Data."

European Conference of Personality, Zadar 2018. "Using Machine Learning Techniques to Examine the Relationship between Money, Personality, and Well-being."

GovTechLab Knowledge Transfer Consortium, London, 2018. "Big Data for Social Good"


Awarded funding from CosMo conference "Science Pitch" competition 2022.

Awarded The University of Nottingham Travel Prize 2019.

Awarded scholarship and funding by The European Conference of Personality 2018.

Media Engagements:

Interviewed on NottsTV about research on the predictors of plastic bag purchasing in Jan 2022.

See news coverage from The Independent, The Guardian, and the Daily Mail.

Turing blog post. "Black Friday 2020 survival guide: Will recession or AI save us from impulse buying this year?"

Interviewed on BBC World Service on the psychological and demographic predictors of buying plastic bags in Oct 2020.

Speaker at DSSG Data Fest 2019



2015 - 2020

PhD in "Big Data Psychology" with

N/LAB, Business School and the School of Psychology


2011 - 2015

1st class (HONS) in BSc Psychology (with international study)
Incl. Cognitive Psychology,
Biological Psychology,
Developmental Psychology,
Personality and Individual Differences


2013 - 2014

Swedish Language,
Cultural Perspectives on Health,
Scandinavian History,
Evolutionary Psychology,
Violence Gender and Culture, 
Politics in The Middle East,
History of the Holocaust


CosMo 2022

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DSSG 2019

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Data Fest 2019

Data Fest 2019

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DSSG Project Team

DSSG Project Team

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Data Fest 2019

Data Fest 2019

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Data Fest 2019

Data Fest 2019

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Data Fest 2019

Data Fest 2019

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Data Fest 2019

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World Personality Conference 2018

World Personality Conference 2018

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