Dr Keven Joyal-Desmarais

Dr Keven Joyal-Desmarais


I am a Lecturer in the School of Psychology, University of Leeds. My background is in social and personality psychology, with a particular focus on understanding individual differences in human motivation, and how such differences can be leveraged to personalise behaviour change interventions.

I obtained my undergraduate degree from McGill University (Canada) in 2013, during which I worked on understanding personality-based determinants of depressive symptomology. In 2020, I completed a PhD in psychology at the University of Minnesota (USA), with a focus on social/personality psychology and quantitative methodology. During this time, I developped research streams in behaviour change theories, communication-based interventions, relationship science and health psychology. Between 2020 and 2023, I held a position as a postdoctoral fellow at Concordia University and the Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre (Canada), where I conducted research on the psychosocial determinants of illness-prevention behaviours like vaccination, and on the development of eHealth behaviour change interventions. I joined the University of Leeds in 2023.

Through my work, I have been the recipient of several competive awards and fellowships, such as from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Fonds de Recherche du Québec.

Research interests

I conduct research on how psychological forces can be used to encourage positive behaviours in society. This includes the promotion of health-related behaviours (e.g., vaccination, exercise), prosocial behaviours (e.g., volunteerism, philanthropy), and environmental behaviours (e.g., reduced consumption), while also seeking to reduce negative behaviours (e.g., aggression, discrimination, risky sexual behaviours). My core area of expertise focuses on “motivational message matching”—that is, how communication-based interventions (like workshops, media campaigns, adverts) can be personalised to better account for the motivational forces that drive people’s behaviours, such as their values, cultural beliefs and personal goals. 

In addition, I also conduct work on:

  • Extending psychological models of behaviour change and decision-making (e.g., the Theory of Planned Behaviour)
  • Evaluating processes that underlie the performance of interventions (i.e., understanding why an intervention worked or failed)
  • Understanding how interpersonal others (e.g., romantic partners, family members) impact people’s decision-making
  • Improving research methodology in the behavioural sciences


  • PhD Psychology
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>