Dr Michael Batashvili joins the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University

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Dr Michael Batashvili

Dr Michael Batashvili, who has recently joined Staffordshire University as a Lecturer in Psychology, introduces himself in his first InPsych blog post:

I am delighted to be joining an enthusiastic academic team here in the Psychology Department. My first week has been great and I am looking forward to what’s to come.

A bit of background on me: Since high school I wanted to become a developmental psychologist. However, within my second year of undergraduate study at the University of Derby, I was hooked on cognitive and biological psychology. I received my BSc (Hons) degree in Psychology in 2009 and decided that I wanted to continue studying as much as I could. I enrolled in a ‘new route PhD’, which included a Masters of Research (MRes) and a PhD studied over the course of four years. I had a keen interest in brain activity (still do) and began the PhD just as the university had invested in some neurophysiological equipment. I became enthusiastic about studying method of electroencephalography (EEG for short) and planned to use it in my PhD research. After setting up the lab with my supervisors, working as an Associate Lecturer, collecting all my data and writing up my thesis, a long time had passed. However, I had completed it and was extremely happy with what I had accomplished and the journey I had been on.

For those interested, my research area is Maths Anxiety and electrical brain activity. I’m aware that a great number of individuals dislike maths and some fear it and I have a keen interest to understand what and how this occurs in the brain.

Nearing the end of my PhD I began working at the University of Sheffield in a teaching focused role in psychology. I enjoy research but I have a passion for teaching so this suited me very well. After being there for just over a year I arrived at Staffordshire University in a lecturer position in psychology. Now that I am here, I am very excited to get back to my research and to continue teaching within this fantastic department.


Staffs-Uni-Hi-Res_45-1024x683The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

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 or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

Dr Maria Panagiotidi joins the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University!

Dr Maria Panagiotidi, who has recently joined the Psychology Academic Staff as a Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, writes an introductory blog about herself and her research:

I am delighted to be joining the team at Staffordshire University as a Lecturer in Psychology.

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Dr Maria Panagiotidi

I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at Pantio University in Athens, Greece. I fell in love with research and cognitive psychology while working on my research project, which investigated the effects of music training on time perception. After graduating I moved to London, where I obtained a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience.

I completed my PhD in Psychology at the University of Sheffield under the supervision of Dr Tom Stafford. During my studies I examined the role of the superior colliculus in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and worked on establishing a potential objective test for the disorder using a variety of methodologies (eye tracking, behavioural testing, clinical eye tests). The initial findings from my studies were promising and led to a successful grant application (White Rose Collaboration Fund) to fund a study investigating the role of the superior colliculus in ADHD using neuroimaging in collaboration with researchers from the University of York and Leeds.

Over the last year, I have been working as a research psychologist at Arctic Shores, a Manchester based start-up creating psychometric mobile games. My role involved designing and conducting experiments to validate psychometric games. Being part of a multidisciplinary team and an innovative organisation was a great experience and provided me with useful insight into applied psychology and new technologies. As a result, I have developed a passion for cyberpsychology, a subject I am hoping to further explore in the future.

Alongside my previous roles, I have been actively involved in a number of science communication and public engagement activities. A recent project I worked on was the Empathy Station, an installation in collaboration with British Council Film exploring the role of Virtual Reality on Empathy, which was presented at last year’s Sheffield International Documentary Festival. I’m looking forward to continuing this work and taking on some public engagement responsibilities here at Staffordshire University!

If you want to hear more about my research or want to get in touch, please follow me on twitter @mariapage.

I’m looking forward to getting stuck into teaching and meeting more of the students and staff at Staffordshire, which has been a very supportive and welcoming place so far! I’m also excited to start doing research using the fantastic facilities here at the Science Centre.


Staffs-Uni-Hi-Res_45-1024x683The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

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 or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

Could you design and conduct a psychological experiment in one day?

On Wednesday 11th May 2016 the Psychology Department welcomed sixteen psychology students from Stoke-On-Trent Sixth Form for an ‘Experiment in a Day Workshop’. The interactive workshop provided the students with an opportunity to develop and run memory-based experiments whilst gaining insights into the Psychology technical resources available in the department.

Paul Gallimore and Sarah Higgins, Technical Sarah-H paul-GSkills Specialists in the Psychology Department and members of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, delivered the workshop with assistance from George Fortune, a current second year Staffordshire Psychology Student Advocate. In the session, the sixth form students defined the different memory processes and engaged with tasks to test apply their knowledge. Afterwards they then ran their own experiments on student participants from the sixth form to collect data to take away and analyse for a report set by their teacher.

There were four different experiments that the students had a chance to build, all of which tested different types of memory processing from recognition tasks to encoding tasks. One of the experiments ran by the students was the Stroop Task (pictured below) which required their participants to identify the ink colour words were written in. Once the data was collected the group discussed the findings for each of the experiments and provided suggestions to explain the results collected.Stroop Task

Students who took part in the workshop were asked for their feedback, with all students in attendance stating that they enjoyed the workshop, particularly the practical elements. Some students mentioned that they liked being able to take part in the experiments as well as conducting them. Whereas other students mentioned that they enjoyed using the psychology equipment / software and enjoyed the interactive quiz and tasks integrated within the workshop.

If you would like to come and have a go at some experiments and see the equipment that we have to offer why not attend our next open day?


Interested in Psychology? Come to an Open Day & find out more about Psychology courses at Staffordshire University.

Curious about how psychologists test and observe behaviour? 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/

Dr Andrew Edmonds featured on BBC Radio Stoke discussing the “Adele Illusion”

Dr Andrew Edmonds, Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, was featured on BBC Radio Stoke discussing the recent “Adele” illusion – listen to Dr Edmonds’ interview via the below link:

BBC Radio Stoke iPlayer: Perry Spiller Show (From 02:27:40)

Read about Dr Edmonds’ explanation of the “Adele Illusion” via our InPsych blog: The Psychology of the “Adele Illusion”


The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

The Psychology of the “Adele Illusion”

Dr Andrew Edmonds, Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, talks about the psychology behind the “Adele Illusion” a recent meme being shared via social media:

You may by now have seen Adele as you’ve never seen her before – with her eyes and mouth upside down! Even the biggest admirers of her work would probably agree that this makes her face look a bit distorted. However, turning the whole image upside down makes this disappear. This is a modern version of the Thatcher illusion, first discovered in 1980 by Peter Thompson.

So what is going on here? It is thought (e.g. Edmonds & Lewis, 2007; Thompson, 1980) that inverting the eyes and mouth of a face disrupts information about the spatial relationship between the features of a face (broadly termed ‘configural information’). Research has shown that this configural information is unavailable to us when a whole face is turned upside down.

So, if configural information is unavailable to us, and it is the disturbance of this information which produces the weird appearance in the upright Adele face (with the eyes and mouth inverted), then this may explain why the upturned features disappear when we turn the face upside down! However, more recent research suggests that the illusion may actually be due to a reduced sensitivity to inverted facial features (e.g. Psalta, Young, Thompson and Andrews, 2014).

The same picture of Adele just turned the right way up!

Whatever the explanation, illusions such as this are more than just a bit of fun – they have helped psychologists to identify the sorts of processes that are involved in ‘normal’ upright face processing. It is thought, for example, that we use configural information for the processing of familiar faces but not when processing those which are unfamiliar to us. This is just one of the many differences between familiar and unfamiliar faces which I am interested in understanding in my own research, as well as the question of how faces become familiar to us over time.

Listen to Dr Andrew Edmonds being interviewed by BBC Radio Stoke about the Adele Illusion via: Dr Andrew Edmonds featured on BBC Radio Stoke discussing the “Adele Illusion”


The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

Exploring the Role of Experience in Face Recognition (#StaffsVSS, Thurs 19th Nov, 4pm)

Dr Sarah Laurence

The School of Psychology, Sport & Exercise is pleased to welcome Dr Sarah Laurence (Lecturer in Psychology, Keele University) who is giving the fourth Visiting Speaker Series talk on Thursday 19th November, 4pm, in the R001 Lecture Theatre in the Science Centre (Leek Road campus).

Sarah will be speaking about her cognitive psychological research into face perception. Sarah’s research investigates the basic psychological processes associated with facial recognition, how experience influences facial recognition, and the potential applications of understanding the basic processes of face recognition in contexts such as the criminal and justice system (e.g. when applied to eyewitness testimony).

All staff, students and members of the public are welcome to attend these free Visiting Speaker talks – join in our live tweeting from the talk using the #StaffsVSS event hashtag. We hope to see you there!

The Visiting Speaker seminars are a regular series of free talks hosted by the School of Psychology, Sport & Exercise. Psychologists from across the country are invited to speak at these events to share their research and discuss their findings with staff and students from Staffordshire University. The Visiting Speaker series is also open to anyone from the general public with an interest in psychological research. No need to book a place – just turn up!

Research Digest: New Research by Staffordshire’s Psychologists Presented at Conferences

The beginning of September can be a particularly busy time for academics. Not only are academic staff busy preparing for the new teaching semester, we are also busy conducting our own research and presenting this work at conferences across the UK and beyond! Here are some updates on recent conference presentations featuring new research conducted by academic staff from Staffordshire University’s Department of Psychology:

Developmental Psychology: Children’s Creative Intentions in Drawing

The Annual British Psychological Society Developmental Section Conference was held in Manchester this year. This conference is an opportunity for researchers (from students to Professor level) to hear about new research and ideas in Developmental Psychology. It also a great opportunity to catch up with likeminded researchers, many of whom become friends over the years, and attend social events, including the conference Gala Dinner.

SR & RJ Oct 15

Dr Sarah Rose & Dr Richard Jolley

This year two of our Developmental Psychology Team, Dr Richard Jolley and Dr Sarah Rose, attended the conference and presented work on children’s creative intentions in drawing. This is a new area of research as although we know an increasing amount about how children’s drawing skills develop we know very little about where they actually get their ideas about what to draw from. Sarah and Richard presented qualitative research suggesting that children are inspired by a wide range of sources when deciding what to draw, including their immediate surroundings, recent experiences, memories, imagination and motivation to express their thoughts and emotions.

BPS West Midlands Conference: Health Psychology, Keynotes, Social Norms & Brand Recognition!

Various members of staff and students, including many from Staffordshire’s Centre for Health Psychology, attended the British Psychological Society’s West Midlands Branch Conference held in Coventry in early September. The conference was an opportunity for students (both undergraduate and postgraduate), early career researchers and academic researchers to present their own research and hear about the latest psychological research being conducted in the West Midlands region.

Professor Karen Rodham, Keynote Talk

Professor Karen Rodham, Keynote Talk

Professor Karen Rodham, Professor of Health Psychology at Staffordshire University and current Chair of the BPS Division of Health Psychology, gave an engaging and insightful keynote talk about her practice and research working to better understand how people cope with chronic health conditions such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Karen discussed her background in Health Psychology, her practice work and ongoing projects into how people cope with and manage chronic pain, including some interesting new research into how individuals represent chronic pain through drawings or portraits.

Oct 15 Dempsey Poster

Dr Rob Dempsey’s poster presented at the BPS WM Conference

Other presenters from Staffordshire University included Dr Rob Dempsey who presented findings from the recent European Commission-funded SNIPE (“Social Norms Intervention for Polydrug usE in university students“) study, included recent work demonstrating that European students have similar overestimations of their peers’ cannabis use behaviours as found in North America. This study is part of an ongoing series of projects conducted by Rob and several Masters in Health Psychology students investigating the role of misperceptions of peer norms (attitudes and behaviours) in health-related behaviours, such as help seeking for various health issues, substance use behaviours, and self-screening behaviours for cancer (e.g. testicular self-examination).

Oct15 JPB Poster

Jenny’s poster

Also presenting data was Jenny Parfitt-Bowman, a PhD student working on a cognitive psychology research project into branding and consumer behaviour using eye-tracking equipment under the supervision of Dr Louise Humphreys and Dr Emily Buckley. Jenny’s research is investigating the processing of brand information when certain features of the product packaging (e.g. location) is manipulated.

 

 

BPS Cognitive Section Conference: Product Branding & Facial Recognition

Dr Louise Humphreys, and PhD student Jenny Parfitt-Bowman, also presented their research at the Annual British Psychological Society Cognitive Section Conference which was held in Kent. Their presentations were on the topic of product branding. In particular, Louise’s presentation discussed the role of automatic and voluntary processes in locating and recognising a branded product, and Jenny’s presentation considered the impact of brand manipulation on visual attention disruption and accurate product recognition (see below for pictures).

Oct 15 JPB Kent 1Oct 15 JPB Kent 2

Also attending the BPS Cognitive Section Conference was Dr Andrew Edmonds, who has posted his own report on new developments in facial recognition research as discussed at the conference (click here to read Andrew’s blog post).


Academic staff at Staffordshire University’s Psychology Department have a wide range of research interests which directly informs their teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate students. The department is home to two centres of research excellence: the Centre for Psychological Research and the Centre for Health Psychology.

For more information about courses offered by the department please click here, including information about our BPS accredited Stage 1 Health Psychology Masters, Stage 2 Health Psychology Professional Doctorate, as well as our new MSc/MA by Research and established MPhil/PhD programmes.

Dr Andrew Edmonds reports from the BPS Cognitive Section Conference

Dr Andrew Edmonds, Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, provides a short report from the BPS Cognitive Section Conference held in September 2015, in particular some new developments in his research area – facial recognition.

The highlight of this year’s Annual BPS Cognitive Section Conference – hosted by the University of Kent – was the fascinating sessions on face processing, superbly convened by my former mentor and co-author, Professor Bob Johnston. Two days of talks reflected on just how far research has come in the field over the last 40-50 years and highlighted some of the challenges still remaining. For example, research has shown that we are relatively poor at processing faces which are unfamiliar to us – such as picking a once-seen face out of a line-up, or even just determining that two simultaneously-presented faces are of the same person – but yet we are often very confident of our judgements in these situations. This has significant implications, not only suggesting that we are not always reliable eyewitnesses but that police officers and passport control officials may also make errors when performing their duties. Current research is therefore aiming to explore what factors affect our ability to perform these face matching tasks accurately – if we can identify these factors, this may help us to understand whether performance on these tasks can be improved and if so, how.

An example of why researching facial recognition and processing is important. The man on the right was convicted of an indecent assault based on the composite image on the left. This was a few years ago now but shows how inaccurate facial composites could lead to wrongful convictions of innocent individuals.

An example of why researching facial recognition and processing is important. The man on the right was correctly convicted of an indecent assault based on the composite image on the left – the development of more accurate facial processing software can have a significant impact on conviction of offenders.

Meanwhile, in the last 10-15 years huge amounts of progress have been made in the development of systems such as EvoFIT to help witnesses produce facial composites (likenesses of criminals) which can lead to the perpetrators of crimes being identified. Whilst identification of criminals from these images is still far from perfect, accuracy is now at such a level that researchers can begin to investigate what makes someone good at constructing an identifiable face composite (e.g. performing well on other face processing tasks, being able to refer to examples of the internal features of faces during composite construction etc.). Somewhat reassuringly, the early evidence suggests that being moderately intoxicated at the time of seeing the criminal does not significantly impair our ability to perfom this task – but the effects of hangovers have yet to be explored!

The conference was also an opportunity to renew old acquaintances and develop new ones, and I am excited by the prospect of collaborating with Dr Sarah Laurence from Keele University on some interesting new projects – we are both interested in how faces become familiar over time and what processes are involved in us learning a new face – so look out for more news on this in the future. I am really looking forward to welcoming Sarah to the university as part of the Visiting Speaker Series in November 2015, and hope to see you there too!


Dr Edmonds is a researcher and a member of the Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research. For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.