Dr Elizabeth Anne Broadbent

Bachelor of Engineering degree with Honours (Electrical and Electronic) Canterbury University. Graduate Diploma in Arts (Massey). MSc and PhD in Health Psychology, University of Auckland.


Elizabeth initially trained as an electrical and electronic engineer at Canterbury University to pursue her interest in robotics. She then worked at Transpower, Électricité de Tahiti, and Robotechnology. After becoming interested in the psychological aspects of robotics and in psychoneuroimmunology, she obtained her MSc and PhD in health psychology, supported by a Bright Futures Top Achiever Doctoral Award.

She received an Early Career Award from the International Society of Behavioural Medicine and Early Career Research Excellence Award from the University of Auckland. She was a visiting academic at the school of psychology at Harvard University and in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, USA. In 2017, she returned to Boston with a Fulbright award to study companion robots for four months.

Her current research interests include how stress affects our health, how our body posture affects our mood, interventions to help patients make sense of and cope with illness, and human-robot interaction in health contexts. She is particualrly interested in the emotional connections we form with robots, and how we can build emotional intelligence and empathy skills in robots. Her work has been supported by grants from many agencies including the Health Research Council, Auckland Medical Research Foundation, Heart Foundation, Oakley Mental Health Research Foundation, Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust, and the Foundation of Research Science and Technology.

Her research has featured in the New York Times, Scientific American Mind, the Guardian, Time magazine, the BBC World Service and more.


Research | Current

Research interests
  • Stress and wound healing
  • Coping with chronic illness
  • Illness perceptions
  • Risk perceptions
  • Patients’ drawings of their illness
  • Human-robot interactions
  • Embodied cognition

Teaching | Current

HLTHPSYC 715 Research Methods in Health Psychology (course coordinator)

HLTHPSYC 714 Health Psychology (guest lecturer)

HLTHPSYC 122 Behaviour, Health and Development (guest lecturer)

HLTHPSYC 744 Research topic

Postgraduate supervision

Current students:


Kate Loveys, Mohsen Alyami, Deborah Johanson, Mikaela Law, Claire O'Donovan


Kahn Tasker, Alesha Wells

Areas of expertise

Health Psychology

Human Robot Interaction

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Associate Editor: ACM Transactions on Human Robot Interaction

Editorial Board: British Journal of Health Psychology; Psychology & Health


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Hackford, J., Mackey, A., & Broadbent, E. (2019). The effects of walking posture on affective and physiological states during stress. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, 62, 80-87. 10.1016/j.jbtep.2018.09.004
  • Burton, D., King, A., Bartley, J., Petrie, K. J., & Broadbent, E. (2019). The surgical anxiety questionnaire (SAQ): development and validation. Psychology & health, 34 (2), 129-146. 10.1080/08870446.2018.1502770
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Keith Petrie
  • Broadbent, E. (2019). Illness cognitions and beliefs. In T. A. Revenson, R. A. R. Gurung (Eds.) The handbook of health psychology (pp. ). New York, USA: Routledge. Related URL.
  • Broadbent, E., Feerst, D. A., Lee, S. H., Robinson, H., Albo-Canals, J., Ahn, H. S., & MacDonald, B. A. (2018). How Could Companion Robots Be Useful in Rural Schools?. International Journal of Social Robotics, 10 (3), 295-307. 10.1007/s12369-017-0460-5
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce MacDonald
  • Broadbent, E., Ahn, H. S., Kerse, N., Peri, K., Sutherland, C., Law, M., ... Casey, D. (2018). Can robots improve the quality of life in people with dementia?. Paper presented at Technology, Mind, and Society Conference (TechMindSociety), Washington, DC. 5 April - 7 April 2018. PROCEEDINGS OF THE TECHNOLOGY, MIND, AND SOCIETY CONFERENCE (TECHMINDSOCIETY'18). (pp. 3). 10.1145/3183654.3183660
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ngaire Kerse, Bruce MacDonald, Kathy Peri, Mikaela Law
  • Robinson, H., Norton, S., Jarrett, P., & Broadbent, E. (2017). The effects of psychological interventions on wound healing: A systematic review of randomized trials. British journal of health psychology, 22 (4), 805-835. 10.1111/bjhp.12257
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Paul Jarrett
  • Liang, A., Piroth, I., Robinson, H., MacDonald, B., Fisher, M., Nater, U. M., ... Broadbent, E. (2017). A pilot randomized trial of a companion robot for people with dementia living in the community. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 18 (10), 871-878. 10.1016/j.jamda.2017.05.019
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce MacDonald
  • Richardson, A. E., Tennant, G., Morton, R. P., & Broadbent, E. (2017). A self-regulatory intervention for patients with head and neck cancer: Pilot randomized trial. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 51 (5), 629-641. 10.1007/s12160-017-9885-1
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/40631


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 12, Room 12005
New Zealand

Web links