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About me

I am an assistant professor of Social Data Science and Psychology at the University of Copenhagen. I am interested in combining social science theory, big data, and machine learning methodologies to better understand human behaviour, with applications in social good domains. I am particularly interested in how data-driven methods can help to inform or challenge existing theories in the social sciences. My research investigates how digital data and AI can be leveraged to better understand the predictors of educational attainment, cooperation, human biases, sustainable behaviour, migration patterns, modern slavery, and human trafficking.



Are your research group or department interested in how you can use big data and machine learning in your work but don't know where to start?

Together with PhD candidates Babette Bühler and Hannah Deininger (University of Tübingen), we offer workshops for complete novices who want to know more about big data, machine learning, (Explainable) AI, and Networks. We offer an accessible introduction for anyone with a social science, natural science, or humanities background. We can conduct the workshop using R, Python, or with no coding.

We can be flexible to your interests, needs, and context — so please don’t hesitate to get in contact!

Feedback from our "Introduction to Machine Learning in Education" workshop at Goethe University Frankfurt (May, 2023)



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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2017 - 2023

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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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, run by Imperial College London and in partnership with The University of Chicago, The Alan Turing Institute, and Warwick University. The fellowship looks at how we can harness the power of data science and AI in a responsible way to enable charities, start-ups, NGOs, and governmental departments operating in the social good space an opportunity 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 filled week 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, as well as analyzing the data.



Lavelle-Hill, R., Smith, G., & Murayama, K. (2023). Machine Learning Meets Traditional Statistical Methods in Psychology: Challenges and Future Directions.

Lavelle-Hill, R., Lichtenfeld, S., Sakaki, M., Goetz, T., Frenzel, A., Smith., G, Marsh, H., Pekrun, R.  & Murayama, K. (2023). Using Machine Learning to Understand how the Predictors of Maths Ability Change over Time. 10.31219/ 

Zitzmann, S., Wagner, W., Lavelle-Hill, R., Jung, A., Jach, H., Loreth, L., ... & Hecht13, M. (2023). On the role of variation in measures, the worth of underpowered studies, and the need for tolerance among researchers: Some more reflections on Leising et al. from a methodological, statistical, and social-psychological perspective. preprint.

Campos, D. G., Fütterer, T., Gfrörer, T., Lavelle-Hill, R. E., Murayama, K., König, L., ... & Scherer, R. (2023). Screening Smarter, Not Harder: A Comparative Analysis of Machine Learning Screening Algorithms and Heuristic Stopping Criteria for Systematic Reviews in Educational Research. 10.31234/

Jach, H., Cools, R., Frisvold, A., Grubb, M., Hartley, C., Hartmann, J., ... Lavelle-Hill, R. ... & Gottlieb, J. Curiosity in cognitive science and personality psychology: Individual differences in information demand have a low dimensional structure that is predicted by personality traits. 10.31234/


Bardach, L., Oczlon, S., Schumacher, A., Lavelle-Hill, R., Lüftenegger, M., & Steffen Zitzmann. (under review). Teaching and Learning in a Culturally Diverse World: A Meta-Analysis on Cultural Diversity Climate in K-12 Schools.

Deininger, H., Lavelle-Hill, R., Parrisius, C., Pieronczyk, I., Colling, L., Meurers, D., ... & Kasneci, G. (2023, June). Can you solve this on the first try?–Understanding exercise field performance in an intelligent tutoring system. In International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (pp. 565-576). Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland.

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. (accepted).

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.

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

External Workshops delivered:

Introduction to Machine Learning in Psychology and Education Research (R).

Goethe University Frankfurt (in person). May 2023.

Introduction to Machine Learning for Educational Assessment (Python).

ZIB academy, DIPF Frankfurt (in person). Sept 2022.

Introduction to Machine Learning in Psychology and Education Science (Python).

FDZ academy Berlin (online). March 2022.

Conferences (selected):

EARLI 2023, Thessaloniki, Greece. "Using Machine Learning to Understand how the Predictors of Maths Ability Change over Time."

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"


Winner of CosMo conference "Science Pitch" competition. Tübingen, 2022.

Awarded The University of Nottingham Travel Prize, 2019.

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

External Funding:

Carlsberg Foundation, Research Infrastructure Grant (awarded 2023)


Novo Nordisk, Interdisciplinary Synergy Grant (awarded 2023)

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


University of Copenhagen

Assistant professor (tenure-track) of Psychology and Social Data Science

2023 - Present

University of Tübingen

Post-doctoral Researcher

Machine Learning in Education

2021 - 2023

The Alan Turing Institute

Post-doctoral Researcher

Using AI to Prevent Modern Slavery

2019 - 2021

University of Nottingham

2015 - 2020

University of Nottingham

PhD in "Big Data Psychology" with

N/LAB, Business School and the School of Psychology

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

2011 - 2015

Lund University

2013 - 2014

Universitas 21 Study Abroad Program

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


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