Dr Rob Dempsey blogs on the perceived use of ‘smart drugs’ by university students

Following recent reports of increases in the use of ‘smart study drugs’ by university students in the UK, Dr Robert Dempsey (Lecturer in Psychology & Co-director of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about his collaborative research which has received recent media attention:

Socially Normative: Perceived norms and acceptability of ‘smart drug’ use by students

Socially Normative is a blog written by Dr Robert Dempsey with colleagues Dr John McAlaney and Dr Bridgette Bewick – all of whom have research interests in understanding the influence of perceived social norms on behaviour, including the use of substances and online behaviours. Read more about their work via the Socially Normative website.


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire Centre. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams: Health and Behaviour Change and Applied Perception and Cognition.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

BPS Teaching Awards for Professor Clark-Carter & Sarah Higgins

The Department of Psychology are pleased to congratulate two members of staff who have received national awards for their contributions to teaching. On the 4th – 5th May 2017 Professor David Clark-Carter and Sarah Higgins attended the Annual British Psychological Society Conference held in Brighton to accept their individual awards.

The awards ceremony was held on Friday 5th May where Professor David Clark-Carter received the BPS Education and Public Engagement Board Lifetime Achievement Award and Sarah Higgins received the BPS/ATSiP Technical Support in Psychological Teaching Award.

Professor David Clark-Carter receiving his BPS Education and Public Engagement Board Lifetime Achievement Award

In addition to the awards ceremony they attended a Gala dinner on the 4th May. During the dinner guests were entertained by the Vintage Swing Trio and received an after-dinner speech from Polly Toynbee where she shared insights into her life and career as an award winning journalist and writer.

Sarah Higgins receiving her BPS/ATSiP Technical Support in Psychological Teaching Award

Professor David Clark-Carter: “Each recipient of an award was introduced by the President of the British Psychological Society, Professor Peter Kinderman. I don’t know whether others felt the same but it seemed as though he was talking about someone else when he introduced me in such flattering words. I owe the award to the supportive environment created by my colleagues and to the many students from whom I have learnt.”

Sarah Higgins commented: “It was an honour to attend the BPS awards ceremony where the achievements of those receiving awards were celebrated. I am delighted to have received the award and would like to thank everyone involved in the nomination and decision making processes. It is humbling to be acknowledged for my work at Staffordshire University and a pleasure to work alongside my colleagues to provide the best student experience that we can.”


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details, and to book your place at an open day, please visit: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

New MSc Psychology Conversion Course Starting in September 2017

Dr Louise Humphreys (Lecturer in Psychology & Course Leader, MSc Psychology Conversion course) blogs about a new Masters award for students with a non-Psychology degree to gain the Graduate Basis for Chartership:

I am pleased to announce that from September 2017 we are offering an exciting new MSc Psychology course, designed for students who are considering a change in direction and who wish to pursue a career in psychology. The course allows graduates with an honours degree in any discipline to ‘convert’ this to an accredited psychology degree in order to then pursue further training or study in psychology at a postgraduate level. Entry to professional applied psychology training courses (including our own MSc Health Psychology and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology), and eventual achievement of Chartered Status, requires applicants to have the Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC). This is a means by which the British Psychological Society (BPS) ensures that those working towards Chartered Status have studied psychology at the appropriate breadth and standard to equip them for postgraduate training.

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The MSc Psychology is designed to cover core areas of psychology as defined by BPS criteria associated with, and equivalent to, their Qualifying Examination, i.e. research design and methodology, practical work, cognitive psychology, biological bases of behaviour, developmental psychology, social psychology, personality and intelligence.

Unlike a number of alternative conversion courses, the MSc is completed in one academic year, running from September with the final piece of work, the dissertation, being submitted the following July, enabling graduates to apply for further postgraduate study, or employment in the September following enrolment. Additionally students have the choice of undertaking one (Level 6) option module, allowing them to learn more about a specialist area within psychology, as well as the core GBC content. Students on the course will be taught at our Stoke City Campus, home to our £30 million Science Centre, which can be located only a minute’s walk from Stoke-on-Trent Rail Station.

For more information about this exciting conversion course please visit our MSc Psychology Course Profile.

Find out about our range of postgraduate courses at our upcoming Postgraduate Open Event, Wednesday 24th May, 4-7pm – register for the event here.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details, and to book your place at an open day, please visit: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Sun Awareness Week: Dr Alison Owen discusses new research into sun protection behaviours

Dr Alison Owen

As part of Sun Awareness Week (8th-14th May 2017), Dr Alison Owen (Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University) blogs about her recent research into the use of facial ageing software to improve sun protection behaviours:

More than one in three people have been sunburnt in the last year while in the UK and, of those, 28 per cent were sunburnt three or more times, according to a survey carried out by the British Association of Dermatologists to mark their Sun Awareness Week. In addition, a study we conducted here at the Centre for Health Psychology at Staffordshire University found that 80% of female participants felt that a tan looked good and 71.4% felt that tanned people look healthy (Williams et al., 2013).

Based on these findings, we have researched ways in which to help people to improve their sun protection behaviours in order to encourage them to be more safe in the sun, focusing on addressing the appearance-effects of sun exposure to improve sun protection behaviours. Along with colleagues Prof. David Clark-Carter, Dr. Emily Buckley and Prof. Sarah Grogan, we showed participants images of how their faces may age if they exposed their skin to the sun, compared to how their faces might age if they protect their skin. The picture (below) shows an example of the software used, where participants are able to view a projected image of themselves up to the age of 72 years, comparing images of them after exposing their skin to the sun without using protection (right hand side) with those where they have been protecting their skin from the sun (left hand side). We found that viewing the projected damage to their skin condition significantly improved factors such as participants’ intentions to wear sun protection, and gave them more negative attitudes towards UV exposure (Williams et al., 2013).

APRIL software showing a projection of how a participant may look at 72 years of age.

The World Health Organization (2012) suggests that recreational exposure to UV radiation, including exposure to the sun and sunbeds and a history of sunburn, are the primary causes of all melanomas, which can lead to skin cancer, emphasising the importance of staying safe in the sun. The NHS website contains advice on how best to protect your skin (click here).

You can watch Dr Alison Owen talking about her research as part of a feature on tanning use and skin cancer by BBC Inside Out West Midlands from February 2015 (from 1 minute into the below video).


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research.

Keep updated with the latest Health Psychology news from Staffordshire University via following us on @StaffsPsych and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:

Watch: Dr Daniel Jolley discusses fake news and conspiracies ahead of the 2017 UK General Election

Dr Daniel Jolley

Dr Daniel Jolley (Lecturer in Psychology) has been featured as one of Staffordshire University’s Election Experts ahead of the June 2017 General Election.

Dr Jolley discusses some of the issues associated with fake news and beliefs in conspiracy theories based on his own research in relation to voting in the upcoming General Election – watch the videos below:

 

 

Find out more about Dr Jolley’s research in the Department of Psychology by visiting the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research website.


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire Centre. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams: Health and Behaviour Change and Applied Perception and Cognition.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

Is competitive (or ‘pushy’) parenting good for children? Dr Sarah Rose discusses on BBC Radio Stoke

Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Psychology, Award Leader for the BSc (Hons) Psychology & Child Development) was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Sunday Morning Breakfast show discussing recent debates about competitive (or ‘pushy’) parenting and the effects on children’s development. Dr Rose discusses some of the psychological theory behind parenting styles which encourage competitive behaviour and whether this is beneficial for child development.

Listen to Sarah’s interview on the BBC iPlayer via the below link (from 1 hour, 8 mins in):

BBC Radio Stoke: Maxine Mallen (Sunday Breakfast Show, 7th May 2017)

Dr Rose directs the Children’s Lab which is part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research. The Children’s Lab is home to research in Developmental Psychology at Staffordshire University. Research conducted at the Lab informs teaching on our Undergraduate Psychology courses, including our BSc (Hons) Psychology & Child Development degree.


Interested in Psychology? Come to an Open Day & find Staffs-Uni-Hi-Res_45-1024x683out more about Psychology courses at Staffordshire University.

Thinking about taking a Psychology degree or a related course? Come to one of Staffordshire University’s Open Days and find out more! Book your place via: www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

Find out about our Psychology degrees, including our highly rated BSc Psychology & Child Development degree and our Undergraduate courses and Postgraduate awards.

Dr Rachel Povey blogs on encouraging children to make healthy choices

Dr Rachel Povey (Associate Professor in Health Psychology & Co-director of Staffordshire University’s Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology) blogs about her recent research on encouraging healthy eating amongst schoolchildren and public engagement:

Last November I was invited to give an assembly at a primary school in Stockport, in order to promote their “healthy eating” week.  I hadn’t given an assembly before, and was apprehensive, but excited about speaking to 420 primary school children.

I produced a few colourful slides about making healthy eating choices, and together with Lisa Cowap, we launched our assembly. The fun part was luring the head teacher with an iced doughnut, and asking a number of children to come out and try and persuade her to eat an apple instead.

At the end of the assembly Lisa and I launched a competition where we asked children to design a poster advert to persuade people to eat fruit and vegetables. The competition was designed in collaboration with a local book shop (@simplybooksNo1) who donated vouchers to spend in their shop for the prizes. The competition inspired children to produce lots of brilliant artwork, with some also using excellent motivational messages.  A panel of independent judges rated the work, and a winner and two runners up were chosen. The winners were announced in an assembly in January, and all three winning entries are now on show in Simply Books café (see below). The experience was a rewarding one, and if it encourages even a few children to think about making healthy choices, it was worth it.

 


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research.

Keep updated with the latest Health Psychology news from Staffordshire University via following us on @StaffsPsych and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:

Graduate, Laura, blogs about her Psychology Technical Skills Internship at Staffordshire University

Graduate intern, Laura, blogs about her recently completed graduate internship working with the Psychology technicians at Staffordshire University.

I graduated in the summer of 2016 from Staffordshire University with a BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology and have been travelling and enjoying the summer free of exams, still unsure of the direction my career was going. Just before Christmas last year I saw the Psychology Technical Skills Assistant internship with Staffs Uni, and decided how this could be the opportunity I was waiting for to begin my career and taste what it is like to be an ‘adult’. Which I am sure all graduates will agree is the hardest aspect of completing university. I instantly felt at home when I returned to the university and was welcomed by all the academics and technicians, and have enjoyed every day since I started.

I have had the pleasure of working with some of my own project students with their final year projects and watched them succeed, this had by far been the most rewarding part of the last 3 months, especially after being in their position last year. This has truly opened my eyes to the different aspects of psychological research and has (finally) helped me decide my career path. I am hoping to continue as a Psychology Technician and further advance my skills or go into research and eventually complete a PhD.

I have been fortunate enough to share this experience with Sarah Higgins and Paul Gallimore, both whom are award winning Psychology Technicians and have been amazing with my training. They have embraced my enthusiasm to learn and made the internship as enjoyable and valuable as possible, also helping me overcome a number of challenges along the way. Both have been incredibly supportive of helping me to develop skills for a career and hopefully to have a more permanent career which use my knowledge from this internship.

From project building for students to using specialist equipment such as EEG or eye tracking, all of which I wish I had used in my own final year project! Both psychology technicians are happy to go one step further for each of their students and will to make your project build easier (if there is such thing as making 3rd year ’easier’ anyway). All of the psychology equipment is there for students to use, so please use it to your advantage and have some fun and learn new skills in your final year as an undergraduate.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details, and to book your place at an open day, please visit: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

For more information about the undergraduate Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the course profiles below:

World Bipolar Day 2017: Raising awareness & new research at Staffordshire University

This Thursday (30th March 2017) is the annual World Bipolar Day, a day to raise awareness and understanding of Bipolar-related conditions and reduce stigma. World Bipolar Day is held on the same date as the birthday of Vincent van Gogh, the renowned Dutch artist who likely experienced some form of bipolar-related condition. Dr Robert Dempsey, Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, conducts research to understand the role of psychosocial factors in the experience of and vulnerability to bipolar.

Dr Dempsey comments that around one in every hundred people experiences a bipolar-related condition. People living with bipolar experience changeable moods including mania, a heightened state associated with increased behavioural activity, energy and speeded thoughts, and depression, including the experience of low mood, sleep difficulties and low energy. There are many other experiences associated with bipolar-related conditions, including increased anxiety, psychosis and other general health-related issues, so people’s experience of bipolar can vary. People living with bipolar also often report difficulties in their social and personal lives, and have an increased risk of dying by suicide compared to the general population. Estimates suggest that around 19% of people with a clinical diagnosis of bipolar die by suicide, but this could be an underestimate given that some people do not come into contact with healthcare services and may not receive a bipolar diagnosis, so the actual rate could be higher. It is important to note that many people with bipolar maintain a high quality of life, self-manage the symptoms associated with a bipolar diagnosis very well, and many attribute positives with their diagnosis such as increased empathy, creativity and enhanced emotions (Lobban et al., 2012).

The research we conduct here at Staffordshire University does not treat bipolar as an ‘abnormal’ experience, rather we see a bipolar continuum on which everyone in the general population is located, with some experiencing more severe and changeable moods than others. We focus on understanding the interaction between psychological and social factors in people’s experiences of bipolar and have conducted various studies in this area (1, 2, 3, 4).

Our current research has investigated the role of appraisals of an individual’s social environment in the experience of suicidality for people living with bipolar. We have conducted qualitative interview studies to understand the role of various social factors in the experience of suicidality for people with bipolar (5), the complex relationship between bipolar and social functioning and vice versa (6), as well as the experience of talking about suicidality in our interviews from the perspective of our participants (7). We are currently analysing data from a quantitative study investigating the prospective predictors of suicidality in a sample of people with bipolar, and have already reported that feelings of defeat and internal entrapment (feelings of being trapped by one’s moods and thoughts) are a predictor of increased suicidal ideation over time (8). By better understanding the psychosocial precursors of suicidality experienced by people with bipolar we can inform the development of more effective, targeted interventions to improve outcomes for people living with bipolar.

I hope that World Bipolar Day helps to raise awareness of bipolar-related conditions, improve the understanding of the varied experiences associated with bipolar, and helps to reduce the stigma that is often associated with bipolar and other related conditions.

Dr Rob Dempsey was also briefly featured on the BBC Radio Stoke news bulletins on 30th March discussing his research into suicidality and bipolar (click here to listen: from 3:15 into the programme).

WBD is an initiative of International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) in collaboration with the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD) and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD). For more information about World Bipolar Day please visit http://ibpf.org/webform/world-bipolar-day.


Dr Rob Dempsey is Co-Director of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, home to psychology-related research at Staffordshire University.  The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams, Health and Behaviour Change, and Applied Perception and Cognition.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

Psychology & Me 2017: How does Psychology impact our everyday lives?

In the Department of Psychology we love a chance to showcase how psychology can impact you in your everyday life. We were delighted to welcome over 80 guests to the Science Centre on Wednesday 22nd March for our annual event, Psychology and Me, which was organised this year by Dr Nichola Street and Dr Daniel Jolley, both Lecturers in Psychology.

‘Psychology and Me’ was an interactive evening showcasing the latest technology and research from Staffordshire University’s Department of Psychology. Guests attending enjoyed the evening of short expert talks on different aspects of Psychology, where we explored if watching television affects children’s creativity, what may affect our memory and how psychology can improve our health behaviour. Dr Daniel Jolley, co-organiser, also spoke about how psychology can help explain why we believe in conspiracy theories.

“Psychologists are learning more about why so many millions of people believe in conspiracy theories and what the potential consequences of conspiracy theories may be.  We all know of at least one conspiracy theory, so it was great to showcase to the guests how psychology can help explain why so many people believe in them”

Visitors then had the chance to get hands-on with a variety of demonstrations of psychology in action, from measuring brainwaves with EEG testing to being involved in a casino-style craps table to explore gambling habits, using iPad technology to demonstrate classic facial illusions, and getting behind the wheel in our driving simulator to test how good your attention is when driving.

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For all the demonstrations, visitors were able to learn the psychology that underpinned the activity, and how it could be applied to them in everyday life. Dr Nichola Street, Lecturer and co-organiser said:

“We were delighted to see each guest getting hands-on with the demonstrations.  There was a real buzz around the Science Centre!  If you were unable to join us, you can find plenty of photos and videos on Twitter via our #StaffsPsychMe hashtag”

            ‘Psychology and Mewas only made possible with the support of many staff and students throughout the University. Judy David, Head of the Department of Psychology, led this thanks on the evening and has said:

“I’m very grateful to the large numbers of psychology staff and student helpers who were there throughout the evening demonstrating, chatting to visitors and representing their pride in Psychology at Staffordshire University. The feedback received from everyone was excellent and we are already looking forward to next year!”

We look forward to welcoming you to ‘Psychology and Me in 2018!


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details, and to book your place at an open day, please visit: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

For more information about the undergraduate Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the course profiles below: