Skip to main content
James Rubin Headshot

Professor James Rubin

Professor of Psychology & Emerging Health Risks

Research interests

  • Psychology

Biography

James has been a researcher at King’s College London since 1999. He specialises in understanding how people perceive potential health risks, and how those perceptions affect their behaviour and wellbeing. This work broadly encompasses two areas: why people attribute physical symptoms to possibly hazardous substances, and how best to support people who find themselves suddenly exposed to a health risk following a disaster or major public health incident. James has explored reactions to possible health risks including COVID-19, pandemic influenza, biological and chemical terrorism, the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, the polonium 210 incident, the Ebola outbreak, the Salisbury Novichok incident, episodes of major flooding across England, Wi-fi, mobile phone and police radio signals, chemical exposures, wind turbines, surgery, medication side-effects and more.

Research Interests

  • Psychology as applied to health protection 
  • Health communication 
  • Risk perception 
  • Symptom perception 
  • Help seeking behaviour 
  • Emergency preparedness 
  • Vaccination uptake 
  • Adherence to prophylaxis 
  • Idiopathic environmental intolerance 
  • Nocebo effects 

James is always happy to discuss PhD supervision on any of these areas. He has previously supervised doctorates relating to:   

  • vaccination uptake in South Sudan,  
  • symptoms attributed to the childhood flu vaccination,  
  • reducing the nocebo response,  
  • the social psychology of flooding,  
  • how best to communicate about emergency decontamination,  
  • how to encourage people to check themselves for ticks,  
  • if and how to communicate about nuclear terrorism,   
  • behavioural responses to power outage,
  • responses to the COVID-19 pandemic,
  • symptoms attributed to police radios.  

Research Groups

James is the King’s assistant director for the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emergency Preparedness and Response which is a formal partnership between King’s College London and the UK Health Security Agency.

Expertise and Public Engagement

James is a member of several committees which provide advice to Government agencies. These focus on topics including: the provision of support to victims of terrorist attacks; the soil and environmental checks around Grenfell Tower; the risk from new and emerging viruses; the role of behavioural science in improving and protecting public health; and the assessment of risk in relation to major emergencies that might affect the UK in the future. During the COVID-19 pandemic, James was a regular participant in the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

    Research

    King's Water Centre Web Banner
    King's Water Centre

    Researching water, environment and development. Our centre spans the humanities, social, and physical sciences to explore the challenges of water governance from global to local scales.

    News

    Engaged and informed communities are more likely to adapt their behaviour during disease outbreaks

    New research from a team led by Dr Louise Smith and Professor James Rubin from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s...

    image of a rash on a person's hands and arms

    Opening windows for short periods of time could help prevent COVID-19 transmission

    As the public begin to meet inside again, research shows that a quarter don’t open their windows despite knowing it can help reduce transmission.

    french wu

    Support needed to adhere to Test, Trace and Isolate

    New analysis conducted by researchers at the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response, King’s College London, UCL...

    Illustration of a man having a COVID test

    People who thought they'd had COVID-19 were less likely to follow April lockdown rules

    New research from King’s College London reveals an individual’s beliefs about whether or not they’d had COVID-19 influenced how likely they were to follow...

    Digital sign on the side of an empty road reading 'stay home, essential travel only'

    King's Principal receives Knighthood

    Professor Edward Byrne, President & Principal of King’s College London has been awarded a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours

    ed-byrne-headshot-780 (002)

    Effective test, trace and isolate needs better communication and support

    New research led by King’s College London has shown that the majority of the UK public report an intention to carry out test, trace and isolate behaviours if...

    test track and isolate COVID19 adherence

    Test, trace and isolate systems must consider human behaviour

    Greater public awareness of symptoms, rapid testing, guarantees on confidentiality and measures to lessen the financial burden of quarantine are central to...

    Test, trace and isolate systems must consider human behaviour

    Better support may help people with COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate

    A new study led by King’s College London researchers has shown that during the UK lockdown period, people who received support from outside their home were...

    Better support may help people with COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate

    Existing evidence suggests face coverings do not lead to false sense of security

    Existing limited evidence suggests that wearing face coverings to protect against COVID-19 does not lead to a false sense of security and is unlikely to...

    Existing evidence suggests face coverings do not lead to false sense of security

    Features

    King's contribution to coronavirus response

    King's academics and researchers are supporting ongoing research and conversation addressing the global outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

    Coronavirus promo

    Spotlight

    Understanding behaviour during crises

    Over the past decade, King’s researchers have navigated the delicate but essential line between providing timely yet rigorous evidence in times of crises....

    People 780 x 440

      Research

      King's Water Centre Web Banner
      King's Water Centre

      Researching water, environment and development. Our centre spans the humanities, social, and physical sciences to explore the challenges of water governance from global to local scales.

      News

      Engaged and informed communities are more likely to adapt their behaviour during disease outbreaks

      New research from a team led by Dr Louise Smith and Professor James Rubin from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s...

      image of a rash on a person's hands and arms

      Opening windows for short periods of time could help prevent COVID-19 transmission

      As the public begin to meet inside again, research shows that a quarter don’t open their windows despite knowing it can help reduce transmission.

      french wu

      Support needed to adhere to Test, Trace and Isolate

      New analysis conducted by researchers at the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response, King’s College London, UCL...

      Illustration of a man having a COVID test

      People who thought they'd had COVID-19 were less likely to follow April lockdown rules

      New research from King’s College London reveals an individual’s beliefs about whether or not they’d had COVID-19 influenced how likely they were to follow...

      Digital sign on the side of an empty road reading 'stay home, essential travel only'

      King's Principal receives Knighthood

      Professor Edward Byrne, President & Principal of King’s College London has been awarded a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours

      ed-byrne-headshot-780 (002)

      Effective test, trace and isolate needs better communication and support

      New research led by King’s College London has shown that the majority of the UK public report an intention to carry out test, trace and isolate behaviours if...

      test track and isolate COVID19 adherence

      Test, trace and isolate systems must consider human behaviour

      Greater public awareness of symptoms, rapid testing, guarantees on confidentiality and measures to lessen the financial burden of quarantine are central to...

      Test, trace and isolate systems must consider human behaviour

      Better support may help people with COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate

      A new study led by King’s College London researchers has shown that during the UK lockdown period, people who received support from outside their home were...

      Better support may help people with COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate

      Existing evidence suggests face coverings do not lead to false sense of security

      Existing limited evidence suggests that wearing face coverings to protect against COVID-19 does not lead to a false sense of security and is unlikely to...

      Existing evidence suggests face coverings do not lead to false sense of security

      Features

      King's contribution to coronavirus response

      King's academics and researchers are supporting ongoing research and conversation addressing the global outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

      Coronavirus promo

      Spotlight

      Understanding behaviour during crises

      Over the past decade, King’s researchers have navigated the delicate but essential line between providing timely yet rigorous evidence in times of crises....

      People 780 x 440