Why everyone should know their attachment style – Professor Helen Dent writes for The Conversation

Professor Helen Dent (Emeritus Professor of Clinical & Forensic Psychology, Department of Psychology, Staffordshire University has written a short article for The Conversation UK about the need to understand your own attachment style in relation to your mental and physical health, amongst other outcomes.

The Conversation UK is a free news service featuring articles written by academics on a range of topics and current affairs. Staffordshire University is a member of The Conversation and Read the full article below:

The Conversation: Why everyone should know their attachment style

Watch out for more Conversation articles written by the members of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research!


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. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

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 Sarah Rose featured on BBC One’s Inside Out discussing the need for more men to work in childcare

Dr Sarah Rose (Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was  featured on BBC One’s Inside Out West Midlands TV programme discussing the need for more men to work in early years childcare. Around 2-3% of childcare workers are men but local nurseries in the Stoke-on-Trent region have been attempting to increase the number of men working in their nurseries.

Dr Rose was interviewed for the programme (a link can be found below) and discussed the benefits of having more men working in childcare, including challenging some of the gender stereotypes and gender role assumptions which young children may be learning.

BBC iPlayer: Inside Out (West Midlands) 15th October 2018 (from 20 mins, 40 seconds in)


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:

Nuffield Placement Blog: Investigating the impact of TV viewing on children’s creativity

We have recently hosted a local college student on a Nuffield Research Placement. The student worked with Dr Sarah Rose (Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Director of the Children’s Lab, part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) to develop a project investigating the impact of watching TV on children’s creativity. Here Manvir writes about his experience.

After a rigorous application process, I  was pleased to have been granted a 4-week placement at Staffordshire University in Psychology, provided by the Nuffield Research Foundation. My placement consisted of carrying out research within the field of child development, where I had to plan and set up a pilot study on the effects of television on 3- to 5-year-old children’s creativity.

My first week was very welcoming, I got a tour around the campus and got to meet many people such as members of staff, IT technicians, whom all aided me through my placement by providing me with the appropriate equipment, guidance etc. I received my workspace and received all the information I needed from my supervisor on the history and aims of my project.

The first couple days were just a matter of settling into the University and summoning the psychologist inside me! My first tasks were to plan out the step-by-step procedures we would use to collect the data. This involved me finding and editing suitable TV episode and audiobook which would appeal to the children at the nursery, writing a script, gathering relevant materials and creating data scoring sheets. Since the research involved working with young children, parental consent was required. The staff at the University Nursery, who were very kind and welcoming, distributed the forms to the children.

The two weeks of preparation flew by and before I knew it, it was time to begin the first day of the experiment! Me, Sarah and 3rd year Psychology Student Charlotte headed to the nursery where we set up and began the experiment in a separate quiet room. One by one children were introduced and taken through various fun activities such as naming everything they can think of that makes a noise, finding as many uses as they can for paper cups, acting like different animals, the list goes on. This was all done to measure their creativity prior and after either listening to or watching a magical story from CBeebies. The children all reacted differently, some thought hard, some laughed, some were confused, but nevertheless they all came up with some great ideas and just watching the children actively engage in the tasks was so thrilling to watch as a researcher. All the procedures went to plan, phew!

After three days of conducting the experiment, it was then my job to score and tally the results and present them on a chart. Finally, on my last week of the placement my task was to write up and create a poster on everything I done in my placement, this included the aims, methodology, results, references, etc. I found it so difficult to sum up such an action packed few weeks in one poster that I struggled to fit everything in!

Overall, I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with Staffordshire University, I am proud to of been a part of the research and grateful for Nuffield Research on providing me with the placement and if possible, I would do it all again!


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 speaks at the University of Oxford on children’s art education

Dr Richard Jolley

Dr. Richard Jolley (Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about being an invited discussion panel member on arts education held at the University of Oxford in March 2018:

What is the current state of arts education in National Curriculum schools? What are the benefits of arts education for children’s development, and does learning in the arts promotes attainment in other school subjects? How do other school systems (e.g. Steiner, Montessori) and countries (such as China) approach arts education? What are the barriers to providing children with a more extensive and rich arts education, and how do we address these? What can promote children’s engagement with the arts beyond school contexts? These were some of the questions I was invited to debate upon in March this year by an Oxford student-based charity, Schools Plus, together with three other experts in arts education, at Balliol College, the University of Oxford.

Schools Plus is the largest student-led charity at Oxford. With around 250 volunteers, its aim is to combat educational inequality by pairing volunteer tutors from Oxford and Oxford Brookes Universities with pupils at underperforming local state schools to deliver weekly one-hour lessons. The purpose of the discussion panel was to inform the charity’s volunteers, and other Oxford University students, the important role of the arts for children’s education.

As well as myself, the other speakers on the panel were Dr David Whitley (University of Cambridge), Dr Paulette Luff (Anglia Ruskin University), and Mr. Naveed Idrees (Head Teacher of Feversham Primary Academy, Bradford). Dr. Whitley’s research takes inter-disciplinary perspectives into how art, especially poetry and film, promotes imaginative connections in children’s engagement with the natural world. Dr. Luff is the academic lead of the Creative Writing through the Arts Project with Royal Opera House Bridge, which aims to promote children’s creative writing skills through integration with art, dance and drama. Mr. Idrees has overseen Feversham Primary Academy be transformed from being in ‘special measures’ to within the top 10% nationally for children’s academic process by incorporating the arts into every part of the school day.

The discussion panel (from left to right): Naveed Idrees, Richard Jolley, Lennaert Ludvigsen (chair), David Whitley and Paulette Luff.

During the panel discussion I was asked specifically to lead on the benefits of art education, particularly in relation to drawing, and how other educational systems (such as Steiner and Montessori) and other countries (principally China) approach arts education in their schools. Art education has many benefits for children: promoting their imagination and creativity, expression of emotion and ideas, visual thinking, observational skills, problem-solving and analytical skills, as well as physical/neurological benefits of fine motor control, hand-eye coordination and the development of the brain. How arts education is approached in schools varies considerably in the emphasis they place upon different skills: Steiner (creativity, imagination and expression), Montessori (representational skills), and National Curriculum (a balanced approach). Furthermore, in China, we observe a far more prescriptive approach to teaching art, in which copying existing images still plays an important role but as building blocks of representational schema to then develop more imaginative pictures.

For further information about the discussions you might like to read Schools Plus own article of the event published in the Oxford Student newspaper:

http://www.oxfordstudent.com/2018/03/17/a-call-for-arts-is-drama-more-useful-than-maths/

The discussions I participated in, and meeting the other panel members, helped me reflect upon the bigger picture of my own research on children’s making and understanding of pictures within the wider sphere of children’s arts education. I am currently leading the writing of a grant proposal to the Arts and Humanities Research Council to investigate which types of art experience children are exposed to have a positive impact upon the drawing development. I hope to find out more about the art culture Feversham Primary Academy created that has had such a positive impact upon their children’s general learning experience. It was clear among all the panel members that arts education in all its forms is fundamental for children’s education. We were all of one mind that the challenge for championing its cause, whether presented in research, practice or to government policymakers, is necessary to fulfil the true purpose of education.

Children’s engagement with pictures has been a long-standing research interests of mine, and if you share the same interest you may like to refer to a book I have written on the subject, ‘Children and Pictures: Drawing and Understanding’. The topic is also a subject which students at Staffordshire University study as part of a final year option module on our undergraduate psychology programmes, and has always been popular and well received.


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:

Student Blog: Presenting Summer Research Assistantship work at the BPS Annual Conference

Last summer, two of our Undergraduate Psychology students were awarded British Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Assistantships. This award enabled them to attend the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Nottingham to present the research that they had carried out as part of their summer assistantship. One of the successful students, Ruth, reflects on her experience of the conference.

I had the pleasure of accompanying my course leader, Dr Sarah Rose to the BPS Annual Conference at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham recently to present our work on “Divergent thinking and pretend play in pre-schoolers. This day summed up what a fantastic experience the BPS Research Assistantship has been for me. It was a proud moment to see my name on the poster representing Staffordshire University amongst many other interesting displays of research that have been conducted all over the world in the last year.

Ruth with Dr Sarah Rose at the BPS Annual Conference

The conference was held at a fantastic venue and there were plenty of oral presentations to attend which were based on many different areas of psychology. I particularly enjoyed the Award presentation on “Puberty and the developing adolescent brain” and having just studied this topic as part of the Typical and Atypical module in level 6, this excellent presentation provided a brilliant consolidation to my knowledge and understanding of the subject. Other fascinating talks were given by the joint Spearman Medal award winners on “Observational to dynamic genetics” and “facial expression communication across cultures”, which were incredibly impressive, using ground-breaking technology within the research.

I had a very enjoyable day and came away feeling inspired and looking forward to Post Graduate study at Staffs in September, where I am hoping to complete the Masters degree in Applied Research.

Ruth Pettitt, Level 6 student, BSc Hons Psychology & Child Development.


Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Psychology) supervised Ruth’s research and attended the conference with her. She writes:

Attending the BPS Annul Conference with Ruth was a real opportunity to feel proud of what our Students at Staffordshire University can achieve. Ruth completed the Foundation Year in Psychology before starting the BSc Psychology and Child Development. Throughout both courses Ruth has grown in confidence and has made the most of the opportunities available to her. This has included applying for, and being successfully awarded, a BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantship last summer. This enabled her to undertake the research which we presented at the conference.

Ruth, Dr Sarah Rose, and our other successful BPS Summer Research Assistantship recipient Tanya

Ruth has also successfully carried out an ambitious and innovative Final Year Project investigating the use of drawing to enhance young children’s memory. She is continuing to gain valuable research experience as over the summer she is working for the Behavioural Insights Team collecting data for a large-scale project aiming to assess an intervention to improve the language skills of children.


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:

Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates – Sian (BSc Psychology & Child Development including a Foundation Year)

As part of our new series of StaffsPsych Graduate Success Stories, we are pleased to introduce Sian who graduated from our BSc Psychology & Child Development course in 2015 after also successfully completing a Foundation Year.

Sian introduces herself and talks about her experiences studying Psychology and Child Development at Staffordshire University, and tells us how her degree has helped her  pursue a PhD in Psychology:


Please tell us a little about your background before coming to study at Staffordshire University:

When I left school at 16 years old, I trained to be a hairdresser and worked full time for several years. I decided to have a career change in my mid-twenties, so I completed an Open University course to help me get back into education.

What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?

I was interested in child psychology and Staffordshire University was one of the only universities to offer this type of course.

Furthermore, Staffordshire University gave me the option to complete a Foundation Year as I had taken extended time out of education. I think this was beneficial as this year gave me the tools to succeed at University.

What were the best parts of your experience at Staffs?

The staff in the Psychology Department were very approachable which made my time at Staffordshire University more enjoyable. In addition, I gained training in all the latest equipment and software related to psychology research. The Science Centre, where the Psychology department is based, has state-of-the-art equipment that is available to all students.

What was the biggest challenge(s) that you overcame whilst studying at Staffs?

I think the biggest challenge that I faced at university was time management. I had a young child and trying to juggle all my commitments was difficult sometimes. However, I found planning my timetable in advance really helped.

What have you done since leaving Staffs (e.g. volunteering, working, travelling…)? How did your course help you with this?

After graduating, I spent a short time working as a research assistant investigating the effects of watching television on children’s creative thinking. Subsequently to that, I worked for Leeds University, on a longitudinal smoking prevention project investigating adolescents’ views on smoking. Currently, I am undertaking a PhD looking at improving eating behaviours in high school students using the social norms approach.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans for the future include conducting more research in to children’s eating behaviours and potentially teaching in Psychology.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to study Psychology at Staffordshire University?

Staffordshire University offers a supportive learning environment which will give you transferrable skills that can be used in any job setting. The advice I would give to someone applying to Staffordshire University is embrace every opportunity offered to you. The Psychology Department at Staffordshire University offer a fantastic curriculum with additional opportunities outside of the course for learning.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your time at Staffs?

My time at Staffordshire University has given me so many skills that are transferable to an array of different jobs and I am really grateful for being given the opportunity to study at Staffs.


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:

Toddler’s language development via ‘In the Night Garden’ – Dr Sarah Rose writes for The Conversation UK

Dr Sarah Rose

Dr Sarah Rose, Lecturer in Psychology & Course Leader for the BSc Psychology & Child Development course at Staffordshire University, has recently written a piece for The Conversation UK about how the popular ‘In the Night Garden’ TV programme reflects the language development of the target toddler audience.

You can read Dr Rose’s piece for The Conversation by clicking here.

Watch out for more articles in The Conversation written by the members of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research!


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:

Psychology & The Brain 2018… on tour!

By Dr Sarah Rose, Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire University.

A ‘brain hat’ coloured in by one of our guests at the Potteries Museum

Brain Awareness week is a worldwide celebration of the brain, encouraging people of all ages to appreciate the importance of what our brains do for us. As well as a very successful Psychology and the Brain event held at the University, a smaller event was also held at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent. This was led by myself and five of our Psychology and Child Development Students. The aim of the event was to provide some interactive activities for families to take part in, to learn together about the marvels of the brain.

The students found the experience of running the event and engaging with the public to be rewarding and had fun making their own ‘brain hats’ (see above for a picture).

“It was great to incorporate the information learned from my Psychology and  Child Development course into various activities. Also, being able to teach children about what the brain does and how it works was a truly worthwhile experience.” (Ingrid, Level 5 student)

“Demonstrating to local children at the Psychology and the Brain event what is involved in psychology using child friendly engaging activities was so much fun! As a Psychology and Child Development student, being given the volunteering opportunity has enabled me to demonstrate skills learnt on the course and helped towards building the perfect foundation for working with young people in my future psychology career.” (Rebecca, Level 6 student)

 “I found it very helpful how we were able to use the knowledge we already had but adapt this to suit children. For example, changing the “normal” Stroop task for one that children would find engaging and easier to comprehend. I think applying AND adapting knowledge enhances learning even more, as you really get to grips with the theory underpinning it.’ (Zoe, Level 6 student)

In addition to the students enjoying the event, I also had a great time! It was great to work with this group of students outside of the classroom. Seeing them share the knowledge that they have developed during their degree with families was very rewarding. They worked really well together and demonstrated that they could put what they were learning into practice as they explained the marvels of the brain to young children and their families.

Dr Sarah Rose is planning to organise similar events in the future if you are interested in finding out more about these please do get in touch (click here for Sarah’s contact details).


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:

Pack away (some of) the Christmas toys!

Did your child get lots of toys for Christmas? Are you struggling to find places to store them all?

Dr Sarah Rose, Director of the Psychology Children’s Lab at Staffordshire University reports on some new research suggesting that having fewer toys may actually be better!

Researchers at the University of Toledo in Ohio gave 36 toddlers either 4 or 16 toys to play with for a 30-minute period. Their play was observed and analysed for indicators of play quality. It was concluded that when fewer toys were present children spent longer playing with each toy, showed better concentration, and were more creative as they expanded and developed their play ideas.

This study is a useful reminder to parents, and anyone working with children, that toddlers are easily distracted. Toddlers are developing their ability to focus their attention and steps that can be taken to support this are likely to have long term positive consequences. Attention is vital for academic success and young children with better attentional skills maintain this advantage as they get older.

Not only was having fewer toys found to beneficial to helping toddlers to sustain their attention it also encouraged them to explore and be more creative with the toys. Creativity is another skill that is developed in early childhood and as associated with many positive attributes such as educational achievement, well-being and success at work.

This evidence supports the idea of toy rotation. This involves small collections of toys being rotated into play while the majority are stored away. This provides opportunities for developing sustained attention and creativity while still providing children with novel and varied play experiences.

Further research in this area is needed, particularly relating to play in the home environment, where there are often additional distractions such as background Television and other screen media. The impact of screen time on children’s developing creativity is a topic that we are investigating within our Psychology Children’s Lab. If you are a parent of a 3 to 8 year old child please do consider taking part in our online survey – further details can be found here.

Dr Sarah Rose was also featured in The Sentinel newspaper providing commentary on this recent research finding (click here to read the full story).


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:

Grégory Dessart joins the Department of Psychology on a six-month research visit!

The Department of Psychology is pleased to welcome Grégory Dessart, 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. Grégory introduces himself below:

It is a pleasure for me to work at Staffordshire University as a visiting academic scholar until the beginning of April 2018. I am receiving supervision from Dr. Richard Jolley. My current and main research interests lie in the visual symbolization of abstract notions and their individual development.

More specifically, I am exploring children’s drawings of God through their socio-normative, conceptual and emotional aspects as part of my PhD at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), under the supervision of Prof. Pierre-Yves Brandt. The research lies at the crossroads between developmental psychology, gender studies and the psychology of religion. My main focus has been on data from French-speaking Switzerland. However, my thesis is part of an international project – “Drawings of gods” – funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation for which over 6,000 drawings from eight different countries have so far been collected (http://ddd.unil.ch/).

It is the emotional messages in drawings of God from the Swiss sample that I will be examining during this research visit, and is the key reason I contacted Dr. Jolley because of his research expertise in the expressive aspects of children’s drawings. For instance, we will be examining a range of questions about the emotional intensity, valence and anthropomorphism in pictures such as the one below, and whether they vary according to age, gender, religious schooling and religious practice of the children.

Prior to my PhD, I obtained a degree in psychology from the University of Liège (Belgium) in 2010 where I specialized in CBT and clinical neuropsychology. My primary field of research was then rooted in cognitive psychopathology and the observation of sub-clinical symptoms in the general population. My Master’s thesis explored the effects of childhood trauma on the proneness to face psychotic-like experiences in adulthood through the mediation of stress sensitivity and emotion regulation strategies.

Setting off on a new journey to analyze children’s drawings has been quite refreshing.  In fact, inspecting the data was fun before even looking to have them scored into numbers and stats. Drawings are likely to be read on many different levels, which makes them all the more attractive as a researcher, but also very challenging. This can sometimes feel like wearing many hats at the same time and trying to keep them in balance. However, I am happy to have embarked on this fascinating journey and to have met Dr. Richard Jolley whose long expertise in the field is very beneficial to my work and myself as a drawing researcher-to-be.

I am also fortunate to work in a vibrant research department that boasts several drawings researchers, including Dr. Sarah Rose, Dr. Claire Barlow and Dr. Romina Vivaldi (another visiting academic researcher whose visit you can read about here). I would be glad also to bounce research ideas with you, but also to chat about the meaning of life or whatever over a cup of coffee. Feel free to drop me an email (Gregory.Dessart@staffs.ac.uk).


Grégory first emailed me in July last year expressing an interest to spend some research time in the Department of Psychology, inviting me to work with him on the ‘Drawings of gods’ project. How children depict God has been a long-standing interest of mine, and Grégory’s proposal presented an opportunity to do some collaborative research on a large sample of drawings already collected. So, it is with great pleasure that we have been able to make this research visit happen. Although I hadn’t had any previous contact with Grégory before, we both attended the BPS Developmental Psychology Section conference in Belfast a couple of months later, and then I was invited to give a research talk at the University of Lausanne in April this year (you can read about my visit here). These opportunities to meet helped us to initiate potential research ideas, and since Grégory arrived in the Department in early October we have been working on formulating a coherent set of research questions about the expressive aspects of the 500 or so drawings from the Swiss sample. We intend to involve artists (and potentially non-experts) to score the drawings, which will be funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Dr. Richard Jolley, Senior Lecturer in Psychology.


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department 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).