Dr Sarah Rose comments on children’s fussy eating for The Sentinel

Dr Sarah Rose

Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Psychology & Director of the Children’s Lab at Staffordshire University) was featured in The Sentinel Newspaper commenting on a news story about children’s fussy eating behaviours and how to encourage children to eat a variety of foods.

Read the story in full via the Stoke/Staffordshire Sentinel website:

The Sentinel: Here’s what to do if your child is a fussy eater

Dr Sarah Rose is a researcher in Developmental Psychology and Course Leader for Staffordshire University’s BSc (Hons) Psychology & Child Development degree.


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 click here.

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

BPS Funded Summer Research Project – Divergent thinking & pretend play in pre-schoolers; Is the relationship reciprocal?

Earlier in the summer we reported that we were delighted to have been two British Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme. Both projects have now been successfully completed and Ruth Pettitt, current Level 6 Psychology and Child Development student, reflects on her experience of working with Dr. Sarah Rose.

Ruth writes ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed working on the project throughout the summer. I was very apprehensive at the start, and wondered whether I was up to the task ahead. There were lots of “highs” and certainly a few “lows”, but I had lots of support and reassurance from my supervisor, Dr Sarah Rose confirming that this was completely normal when conducting research, especially with 4 year olds!’

‘My previous experiences of working with children certainly came in useful when collecting the data, you have to expect the unexpected at all times! Despite the timing of the project (just when all nursery children are about to leave, ready to start school!), we reached our target of 58 participants all between the age of 4 years 3 months and 4 years 9 months. Completing the project required perseverance and determination and there were many unexpected challenges to overcome. I had to be organised and manage the workload carefully, as it varied enormously from week to week. Despite Sarah being available throughout, the research frequently required me to work independently which gave me a real experience of the research culture. It was an invaluable experience that I can look back on and draw from in the future, and it has inspired an increased enthusiasm to be a future academic. I’ve gained a lot of practical experience, together with research knowledge far beyond that which I have already learned within my degree. This opportunity has certainly given me an increased confidence and I now feel better equipped to tackle my research project in Level 6.’

Ruth Pettit & Dr Sarah Rose

Dr. Sarah Rose says that ‘Working with Ruth has been an absolute joy. Research with young children always involves some highs and lows and problem solving is certainly a skill required when working in this area. Ruth has demonstrated her ability to think on her feet to make sure that the children taking part in the research had a positive experience while following the pre-planned experimental procedure. Together we have carried out novel research investigating the relationship between children’s play and creative thinking. We look forward to sharing our findings at conferences and through a peer-reviewed journal article.’

Current Staffordshire University Psychology students interested in gaining experience conducting research with young children can get involved with one of Dr. Sarah Rose’s ongoing projects by contacting her.


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 click here.

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

Dr. Richard Jolley visits the University of Thessaly to present research on children’s expressive drawings

Dr Richard Jolley

In the second of two blogs, Dr Richard Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Psychology and member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about a research visit to Greece:

On May 23rd I set off to Volos, Greece on an invited trip to the University of Thessaly. I had been asked to give a talk on the development of children’s expressive drawings, and to provide assistance with the Greek translation of my book, ‘Children and Pictures: Drawing and Understanding’.

I set out with some trepidation for the navigation from Athens airport to Volos using a connection of Greek buses and taxis felt like a considerable challenge.  However, the excellent instructions I’ve been given by Dr Fotini Botini, the scientific editor of the Greek translation of my book and the organiser of my talk to her students, made travelling across Greece seem very straightforward. Nevertheless, door-to-door the trip did take a full day and half the night, and I arrived shortly after midnight the next day. None of that seem consequential when I looked at the view from my hotel window the following morning!

 

My talk presented later that day was received by a group of very motivated and interested postgraduate students who certainly kept me on my toes! The talk was an overview of how children express mood in pictures, and the techniques they use (more details of these can be found in my blog about my research trip to the University of  Lausanne).

I also presented data on the pattern in which children’s expressive drawing develops. An influential and long-standing position is that children’s expressive and aesthetic drawings develop in a U-shape. That is, young children’s drawings are thought to be particularly expressive and creative, but then dip during the school years due to a focus on making realistic representations, only then for expressiveness to re-emerge for some adolescents. However, this position has been argued to depend upon measuring the drawings from a ‘modernist’ perspective which places more emphasis on how children have used abstract formal properties (colour, line, composition, etc.) for expressive and aesthetic purposes. I presented my own research conducted with colleagues from both the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University (Dr Claire Barlow) and other institutions (Prof Ken Rotenberg, Keele University; Dr Maureen Cox, University of York). Our findings showed that expressive drawing develops in an age-incremental pattern from pre-schoolers to adult artists, but if the scores are adjusted to limit the impact of the participants’ ability to draw visually realistically then the developmental pattern does indeed tend towards a U-shape.

Immediately following the talk, I had a fascinating discussion with the students who very ably picked up some of the methodological issues in my research which we were then able to apply to their own research studies. Here are a couple of quotes:

“A while ago I was participating to a seminar in “Children Drawings Research Methodology” that Mr. R. Jolley was the main speaker.

It was revealing the way that he was explaining to the audience (us) all the details of children’s drawing that we should pay attention to in research, using several examples during his presentation that made absolutely clear what he was talking about!  He also thoroughly answered all our questions that made obvious his knowledge, interest and love that he has for his research field that transmitted clearly to us!

By the end of the seminar, I was already thinking about abstract expression, color, lines, composition, overall quality and stories that children drawings may be telling us!

Thank you for the exceptional presentation, Dr. Jolley!!”

Olga Michailidou, Grammar School teacher

 

“Professor Jolley’s lecture was well structured. He provided a review of his previous work and the learning goals for the lecture being delivered. He demonstrated enthusiasm in his presentation and he asked questions to ensure our engagement with the topic. To conclude I believe that Dr. Jolley communicated his energy and enthusiasm for his research work, he was inspirational for the students and the new researchers.”

Aspasia Mantziou, PhD Student

 

Expressive drawing is just one part of my wider interest in children’s making and understanding of pictures, and in 2010 Wiley-Blackwell published my book in this area. It has been particularly pleasing for me that the book is currently being translated both in Chinese and in Greek. Dr Bonoti is editing the Greek translation to be published by Topos Books, in which I will be writing a preface. The following day of my trip presented an opportunity for me to clarify the meaning of some sentences of the original text. Our discussion reminded me of how much metaphor and symbolism we use in language, but when translated literally into another language this can lead to confusion!

The topic of children and pictures is not just a research interests of mine, but also a subject in which students at Staffordshire University learn about.  For nearly 20 years it has been a final year option for students studying for a degree across our psychology programmes, and has always been popular and well received by the students.

References

Jolley, R.P., Barlow, C.M., Rotenberg, K.J., & Cox, M.V. (2016). Linear and U-shape trends in the development of expressive drawing from pre-schoolers to adult artists. Psychology of Creativity, Aesthetics and the Arts, 10, 309-324.

Jolley, R.P. (2010). Children and Pictures: drawing and understanding. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.


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).

Dr. Richard Jolley visits the University of Lausanne to discuss children’s expressive drawings

Dr Richard Jolley

Dr Richard Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Psychology and member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about a recent international visit to present his research:

It is always a pleasure (and indeed an honour) to be invited to speak about one’s research at another University, but particularly so when that University is abroad. So, I set off on April 26th to Lausanne, Switzerland, very much looking forward to presenting my work on the development of children’s expressive drawings. An additional bonus was that I’d been invited to a workshop on ‘children’s drawings of gods’, as I had a theological as well as a psychological interest in this topic.

The trip however did not begin well, as I discovered just before I landed in Geneva that the currency I brought with me was Swedish Kroner rather than Swiss francs; a lesson to be learned if one acquires foreign currency from a supermarket! The difference in Kroner and Franc exchange rates meant I had the equivalent of around 6 pounds worth of currency, not something that goes very far in Switzerland! Nevertheless, I managed to get a train to Lausanne, and although arriving very late at night I quickly discovered that the city is built on a sharply-rising terrain providing (once morning arrived!) beautiful sights of Lake Geneva below.

On the first day I attended a workshop on an international project of “Drawings of gods” led my Professor Pierre-Yves Brandt. So far, they have collected over 6000 children’s drawings from 8 countries (http://ddd.unil.ch/). In the workshop I was invited to comment on the drawings from my expertise in the expressive aspects of children’s drawings, but I was also struck by their theological significance, particularly those drawings that presented God from a Christian perspective that I am more familiar with.  Some drew God in human form, most noticeably in a ‘Jesus-type’ figure dressed in flowing multi-coloured clothes expressing peace and love. Other pictures were equally expressive but showed God in less concrete forms, and in more ethereal settings of clouds and heavens, such as the one below.

The child wrote the following about the drawing (translated from French):

“I drew God as though he was putting a smile and laughter bouts to people who call him and they are happy.  By talking to him they get colours, animals as well as humans”

Because of the cross-cultural nature of the project God was presented somewhat differently in countries where other faiths such as Islam and Buddhism are more prominent. But regardless of age, educational and religious background many of the drawings expressed a personal communication of how each child saw God.

In the afternoon I presented my talk to staff and students on the development of children’s expressive drawings. The talk began with an overview of the different techniques children use to express moods and emotions in drawings, particularly literal (e.g. a smiling face), content (the countryside scene on a sunny day) and abstract (bright colours, uplifting lines, balanced composition, etc.). All three of these techniques can be seen in the following drawing:

The developmental path in which children improve the expressive quality of their drawings has been a long-standing debate in the literature, and one part of the talk discussed a recently published article in which I was the lead author (Jolley, Barlow, Rotenberg & Cox, 2016) that addressed this question.  Our findings showed that although children generally improve the expressive quality of their drawings with age, this is somewhat facilitated by their increasing ability to use representational realism.  However, once the children’s representational drawing ability is statistically controlled for the developmental pattern tends towards a U-shape curve, with very young children and adolescents/young adults producing expressive drawings of higher quality than school-age children.

During my visit I also had the opportunity to discuss ideas for future work with Grégory Dessart, a PhD student working within the ‘Drawings of gods’ project. Grégory will be working in the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University as an academic visiting researcher for 6 months from the beginning of October. His stay will overlap another visiting researcher who is currently working with me, Dr. Romina Vivaldi from Argentina, who you can read about here.

This trip to Lausanne was soon followed by a research trip to University of Thessaly, details of which will follow in a separate blog (click here to read about my trip to Greece).

This pair of trips was very humbling to see one’s work and ideas influencing researchers from other countries. The conversations that ensue not only continue to drive my research interests in this area of children’s making and understanding of pictures, but also impact my teaching in this subject, particularly in the final year option psychology students at Staffordshire University can choose in this subject that I lead.

References

Jolley, R.P., Barlow, C.M., Rotenberg, K.J., & Cox, M.V. (2016). Linear and U-shape trends in the development of expressive drawing from pre-schoolers to adult artists. Psychology of Creativity, Aesthetics and the Arts, 10, 309-324.

Jolley, R.P. (2010). Children and Pictures: drawing and understanding. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.


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 research shows a positive relationship between ADHD and autistic traits in adults

Dr Maria Panagiotidi

Dr Maria Panagiotidi (Lecturer in Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about her new research:

In a recent paper published in the “Journal of Attention Disorders”, we found that there is a positive relationship between Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) traits. Specifically, adults who reported more inattention and hyperactivity symptoms, also reported more behaviours related to autism spectrum conditions (e.g., difficulties in communication).

ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder and in roughly half of the children diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms persist into adulthood. It is characterised by attentional difficulties, hyperactive/impulsive behaviour, or both. ASD is a developmental disorder that severely affects development in three main areas: language ability, social interaction, and stereotyped or repetitive behaviours. Clinical and genetic studies suggest that these conditions often co-occur and share genetic susceptibility. ADHD and ASD can both be viewed as the extreme end of traits found in the general population.

In collaboration with Dr Tom Stafford and Professor Paul Overton from the University of Sheffield we examined the co-occurrence of ADHD and ASD traits in an adult healthy population. In total, 334 participants were recruited and were asked to complete a number of online questionnaires measuring current and retrospective (from their childhood) ADHD and ASD symptoms and behaviours. A positive relationship was found between ADHD and autistic traits. In particular, higher inattention and overall ADHD scores were associated with self-reported deficits in communication and social skills. Both childhood and current ADHD traits were associated with autistic symptoms. The only autistic symptoms not associated with ADHD scores were related to attention to detail. This finding suggests that that tendency to focus on detail might be specific to autism.

Overall, our results are similar to findings from previous studies on clinical populations, in which a significant overlap exists between the two conditions. This further supports the dimensionality of ADHD and ASD, and suggests that these disorders might share substantial aetiology.

You can read the publication via the below link:

Panagiotidi, M., Overton, P. G., & Stafford, T. (2017). Co-occurrence of ASD and ADHD traits in an adult population. Journal of Attention Disorders. Advance Online Publication. doi: 10.1177/1087054717720720


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).

Dr Sarah Rose featured in a Q&A with the Parenting Science Gang on Children’s TV viewing and creativity

Dr Sarah Rose

Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Psychology & Director of the Children’s Lab at Staffordshire University) was featured in a live Question and Answer web chat with the Parenting Science Gang, a parent-led citizen science project funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Dr Rose discussed her research into the effects of viewing TV on children’s creativity, including the development of novel ways of measuring children’s creative thinking through play-based tasks and her work into children’s drawings.

Read Dr Rose’s interview via the Parenting Science Gang’s website (click here).

Dr Rose is also the Course Leader for Staffordshire University’s BSc (Hons) Psychology and Child Development degree, one of only a hand of such degrees in the country.


Interested in Psychology? Thinking about a Psychology degree?

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

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. Romina Vivaldi joins the Department of Psychology on a six-month research visit!

The Department of Psychology is pleased to welcome Dr Romina Vivaldi, an international researcher who has joined the Department’s Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research for a six month visit to work with researchers based in the Centre. Dr Vivaldi introduces herself below:

I am Dr. Romina Vivaldi from the National Research Council of Argentina (CONICET) and I am delighted to be joining the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University as a visiting academic scholar for six months under the supervision of Dr. Richard Jolley. My research interests lie in children’s symbolic development, especially as it relates to pictures. One particular focus of my research is children’s developing understanding of the artist’s intention behind pictures. I have also conducted research on preschool children’s production and use of drawings. In addition to Dr. Jolley’s extensive experience in representational and expressive drawing development, I look forward to discussing research ideas with Dr. Claire Barlow and Dr. Sarah Rose who also have research interests within this broad area, as well as with other staff members and students.

Dr Romina Vivaldi

I completed my psychology degree at the National University of my hometown: Rosario, Argentina. A fun fact about me is that when I was a 1st year undergraduate I used to say that I was keen on every aspect of the Psychology practice BUT Research and Teaching! Interestingly, when I started to learn more and more about the profession I ended up falling completely in love with the two practice areas I thought I might dislike the most. After that, I have never looked back.

After receiving my degree in 2009, I contacted a former professor of mine who then became both my PhD and Post doc supervisor, Dr. Analía Salsa. Dr Salsa’s research area is children’s symbolic development. When she asked me about my research interests I knew that I wanted to study the mentalistic aspects of children’s drawing development. Since drawings are one of the first symbols children produce, they can work as a window to their feelings and ideas, even for toddlers whose linguistic skills are yet to be developed.

I have also been working in a teaching position at the Educational Psychology School at the Instituto Universitario del Gran Rosario [University Institute of the Great Rosario] since the beginning of my PhD program. Teaching is like breathing to me: I am passionate about helping students to achieve their academic goals and to become more confident with their speaking and writing skills. I am also very enthusiastic about developing new and innovate ways to teach every single piece of knowledge I was lucky enough to gain during my developing  research career.

Everyone has been remarkably kind to me on my first couple of days here and I have been overwhelmed by the research facilities the University has to offer. Therefore, I am looking forward to making a fruitful contribution to this stimulating academic team. I am based in the Brindley building, B160, so please pop in if you are passing, or contact me by email (Romina.Vivaldi@staffs.ac.uk) or telephone (4589).

———————————–

It was almost a year ago that I received an email from Romina asking whether she could work with me on an academic research visit to Staffordshire University. I was first struck by her courageousness, particularly as we had never met or even had any previous correspondence!  But after numerous emails sorting out the practicalities, I am very pleased that she arrived on Monday 12th June, and has settled in so quickly into the Department and her work.

Romina has such a positive outlook and drive that I am sure she will flourish during her time here, and provide a very useful addition to the team of staff we have  researching children’s symbolic and creative understanding in the domain of pictures. Furthermore, academic research visitors provide an important contribution to the research culture of the department, particularly international visitors. From October, the Department of Psychology will have another research visitor, Dr. Grégory Dessart from the University of Lausanne, who will be working with me on the expressive aspects of children’s drawings of God.

Dr. Richard Jolley

Senior Lecturer in Psychology


We wish Dr Vivaldi every success in her six month stay with the Department of Psychology and the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research!


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).

Two prestigious BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantships awarded to the Staffordshire Psychology Department

The Department of Psychology is delighted to have been awarded funds through the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme. The scheme is a prestigious award that marks out a student as a future researcher and potential academic.

The BPS Research Assistantship Scheme is highly competitive, so the Department is proud to be successful in being awarded two Assistantships to Dr Daniel Jolley and Dr Sarah Rose.

Dr Daniel Jolley

Dr Daniel Jolley, Lecturer in Psychology, has been awarded an Assistantship where our current Level 5 student Tanya Schrader will be working on a project examining conspiracy theories. Tanya has said:

“I am delighted to be included in the 2017 BPS Research Assistantship Scheme. This exciting opportunity will afford me invaluable research experience which I will apply to my future career. Thank you to the BPS, Staffordshire University and Dr Daniel Jolley for the support.”

Dr Sarah Rose

Dr Sarah Rose, Lecturer in Psychology and Director of Staffordshire University’s Children’s Lab, will be working with Ruth Pettitt, a current Level 5 student to investigate whether there is a reciprocal relationship between play and creativity in preschool aged children. Ruth has said:

“I am absolutely thrilled to be given this unique opportunity and very proud that I am considered both capable and worthy of the trust and support of Dr. Sarah Rose, Staffordshire University and the BPS. I will thoroughly enjoy immersing myself into the project and I am looking forward to my journey of learning over the summer.”

The two Staffordshire undergraduate students will be provided with the fantastic opportunity to gain ‘hands-on’ experience of research during the summer vacation. Dr Emily Buckley, Head of the Department of Psychology, provided a little more background on the awards:

“The assistantships will enable the students to gain an insight into scientific research, to develop their potential and to encourage them to consider an academic career within psychology.  We are very much looking forward to working with them.”

We wish both students the best of luck in their Summer Research Assistantships!


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:

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.

Student Blog: “Help! My child’s a neophobe!”

Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Psychology & Director of the Children’s Lab at Staffordshire University) introduces a blog by a current Staffordshire Psychology & Child Development Student:

Sharing the findings of research in psychology is important. To develop the skills required for this, our third year BSc Psychology and Child Development students have been writing informational blogs aimed at parents. These have been completed as part of a series of tasks designed to develop their ability to share psychological research findings in an informative and engaging way. The work below was written by current student Carol Ashley.

Help! My child’s a neophobe!

It’s official, I am a failure as a mother, I have raised a food neophobe, albeit unwittingly. Apparently, my child’s road to ruin began when she was just 14 months old. Researchers at Queensland University have indicated that the type of foods introduced at this age can determine whether or not a child will be a fussy eater (the neophobe in question) by the time they reach the (very precise) age of 3.7 years.

The 2016 study speaks grandly about “non-core foods” by which I’m assuming they mean the custard creams I gave her (I was trying to finish the ironing). However, on a serious note, I realise I may have been slightly lax when it came to introducing new vegetables and occasionally resorted to the fast food option.

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The research points out the difference between fruit and vegetables never having been offered rather than actually being refused. My daughter balked at her first taste of broccoli and turned up her nose at other vegetables too. Fruit was a different story, she liked every type I gave to her and, in my defence, she ate a lot more fruit than the dreaded non-core foods with their saturated fats, added sugars and salt. Nevertheless, the study suggests that being introduced to different vegetables at 14 months a child would later like more vegetables and fruit, yet eating fruit may not mean they will like more vegetables – still with me? Interestingly the research found no connection between the content of the diet with a toddler’s BMI score, but don’t be fooled – this could affect children as they get older.

As is usually the case there is another school of thought that restricting a child’s diet is counter-productive. In 2014, Rollins, and his colleagues suggested that there may be a link between inherited and environmental influences in the emergence of the fussy eater. So is it my fault that my daughter is partial to the odd chicken nugget or fish finger, has my horror of the “golden arches” and the eerie clown lit an unquenchable flame? Or could it be inherited from me? I cannot look a Brussels sprout in the eye!

Can this pattern be reversed? Well, Webber (2010) states that it takes 8-15 attempts before taste buds become accustomed to flavours, so armed with my trusty steam cooker, I am determined that at the grand age of 3.7 years my tiny neophobe will learn that broccoli is not the root of all evil.


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 and Postgraduate courses.