The Big Bang West Midlands Fair returns to Staffordshire University in 2019!

By Dina Grinsted, Schools & Colleges Champion for Psychology

Some of the Department of Psychology in attendance at last year’s Big Bang Fair

In June 2018, Staffordshire University welcomed the Big Bang West Midlands for the first time, celebrating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) subjects. Over 2000 students and teachers visited the campus throughout the day, and enjoyed a wide variety of STEAM activities, including nine psychology stands!

Ahead of the return of the Big Bang Fair to Staffordshire University in 2019, here is a brief review of the Department of Psychology’s presence at the 2018 fair:

Dr Emily Buckley, Judy David, and Masters student Charlotte Stock try on the VR headsets

The ‘Virtual Reality in Psychology’ stand allowed visitors to experience dinosaurs in VR, and learn about how we can use virtual environments in psychology. This was a very popular stand, with many people trying out the dinosaur experience! Guests also had the chance to test their memory, and learnt how to improve it through techniques such as the Method of Loci and mnemonics on our Memory Test stand.

Third year BSc Psychology student Jaime-Lee Cunningham and Dr Andrew Edmonds on the ‘Memory Test’ stand

The event was a great success, with a huge number of visitors taking part and enjoying the activities. Staffordshire University has been confirmed as the home for the 2019 event, which will take place on Tuesday 18th June 2019. Come along to find out about all things STEM, including Psychology activities. Book your free visit here.

On the ‘Detecting Stress Responses’ stand, guests were connected to a BioPac, and had their Galvanic Skin Response tested whilst doing moderately stressful activities. This measures the level of sweat on the fingertips as an indicator of stress, so the aim was to attempt to keep your stress levels down.

One student advocate who helped to run this stand said

“I was particularly happy to see so many young girls expressing enthusiasm and engagement with some of the scientific principles that we were demonstrating to them on the Detecting Stress Responses stand.  Great to see that STEM engagement with girls is improving.”


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.

“Oh, I’m really sorry, the jacket potato took ages to arrive…” Do you feel guilty about taking a lunch break?

By Mike Oliver, Trainee Health Psychologist.

What has the length of time it takes to queue up for a jacket potato got to do with taking breaks at work? For some people, it turns out that it’s a handy way to explain to their colleagues why they’re “late” back from lunch. And by “late”, I don’t mean “late”. All they’ve done is taken a bit longer than they feel comfortable in taking for their lunch break.

How have we got to the point where some people feel guilty about taking their legally allowable break?

Taking a break is good for your health isn’t it? So taking breaks is just common sense isn’t it? It’s certainly not common practice. At the place I work, our latest staff survey told us that 42% of our workforce, either don’t take a lunch break at all or take less than the legally required minimum time of 20 minutes. (Yes, that’s right – it is the law for your employer to allow most workers to take a 20 minute, uninterrupted break, at some point during the day). There appears to be a growing trend nationally for large numbers of people not to take breaks at work, with surveys reporting that between 66% and 82% of workers do not always take their breaks (Bupa, 2015; Mastercard/Ipsos Mori, 2016).

In my research into the psychological and social benefits of taking breaks during the working day (in office settings), I uncovered an amazing set of thoughts and behaviours linked to taking breaks (or not) during the working day. As well as review and meta-analysis of literature in the field, I was curious to find out how people thought about taking breaks.  Putting it simply, I asked groups of office workers at a large employer, the following, deeply insightful, questions:

  • “Do you take your lunch breaks?”
  • “Why?” Or: “Why not?”

Using a combination of my curiosity and a structured way of analysing what people said, I found that:

  • Lots of people feel anxious and guilty about taking breaks
  • Work “wins”. Faced with a choice when they’re really busy, even if someone wants to take a break, then work “wins”
  • If you’ve got a great set of colleagues who all want to take lunch breaks, then guess what… you’ll take your breaks!  And if you don’t have a great set of colleagues, then guess what…?
  • If you choose to take your break at your desk, then people acknowledge that they are “fair game” for being given work to do!
  • It’s not  as simple as 2 groups emerging (those who do, and those who don’t take breaks) – people move from group to group depending on lots of situational factors

I’m now trying to work with these themes to look for ways to change the culture to one where people at least feel more comfortable to take a break if they want to. Clearly, if you have a job, the culture at your workplace will almost certainly be different to the one where I work, but perhaps, this blog might make you think a bit differently. Go on, stop reading this, move away from your screen… and take a break!


Mike will be sharing more about his research into the consequences of taking breaks (or not) during the working day at Psychologist in the Pub on Wednesday 1st May at The Glebe in Stoke.

Mike currently in his third year studies in his Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University, which he combines with working in the Public Health team in a Local Authority. Mike can be contacted via: m.oliver@student.staffs.ac.uk


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.

Psychology Teacher Forum 2019 – Training & Networking event held for Teachers

By Dr Claire Barlow (Senior Lecturer in Psychology)

The Department of Psychology recently hosted the Psychology Teacher Forum, an event aimed at psychology teachers in the West Midlands and surrounding areas. The aim of the Forum was to create a networking opportunity for teachers working in Further Education, alongside workshops focussed on teaching some of the core areas of psychology led by subject specialists at the University.

The Psychology Department welcomed 23 delegates who teach psychology on a range of different qualifications (e.g., A Levels, BTEC and Access courses). Judy David opened the event with a brief history of the Psychology Department at Staffs before Mel Hall delivered the first workshop where top tips and ideas for teaching Research Methods were shared, including happy and sad graphs! 

Our Psychology technicians, Paul and Sarah, then led a tour of the Department facilities with an opportunity for delegates to take part in some demonstrations of our specialist equipment, such as the pain lab cold pressor tank.

Dr Jade Elliott then delivered a session on biological psychology, demonstrating interactive activities such as the 3-D brain app and the Wisconsin Sorting Task. 

After a bit of light refreshment and networking supported by current PhD student Tanya Schrader, the final workshop covered courses and careers in Psychology delivered by Dr Claire Barlow and Dr Heather Semper.

We received some really positive feedback after the event, one attendee commented:

“thank you to all of the academic and support staff who made yesterday’s Teacher Forum such a wonderful event.  My team and I all left with some brilliant ideas and we were so impressed with the facilities and knowledge of both the staff and technicians. We are now looking into bringing our students along to see how much is on offer locally for L3 provision and beyond” 

Dr Claire Barlow was involved in the organisation of the event alongside Dina Grinsted (Schools & College Champion for Psychology), Claire commented:

“it was great to welcome so many fellow teachers of Psychology to the Department.  One of the most positive aspects was the sharing of our experiences of teaching this fascinating subject area as well as the connections we have made.  We hope to build on this event and create further opportunities to work together in the future”


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.

Dr Daniel Jolley interviewed on BBC Radio Stoke ahead of the Psychology & Me event

Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Saturday Breakfast show discussing the Department of Psychology’s Psychology and Me event held in February 2019.

You can listen to Dr Jolley’s interview via the below link:

BBC Sounds: BBC Radio Stoke Saturday Breakfast – 23/2/2019 (from 2:44:42)


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

Forensic Psychology students visit the Keele Mortuary

By Dr Sarah Krahenbuhl (Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology & Course Leader – BSc Forensic Psychology) and two Level 5 Forensic Psychology students

Students on our BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology course study a range of modules related to Psychology and Forensic Science, including individual modules focused on Crime Scene Investigation, the Psychology of Crime and Criminal Justice, and Forensic Applications of Psychology.

After completing their studies, many of our Forensic Psychology graduates pursue careers in the police force or a variety of roles working with offenders. As part of this work, many Forensic Psychology graduates may be working on crimes scenes or other settings where they may see a dead body. To help prepare our students for these potential future careers, we recently took a group of our Forensic Psychology students to the Keele University Mortuary. Staff at the Mortuary delivered a number of sessions for our students, including observations of a dead body, seeing how lived experiences (such as smoking or livening in a polluted environment, damage to areas of the brain, undiagnosed aneurysms) affect the body which may only become apparent post mortem, and viewing the Mortuary’s surgical equipment.

Two of our Level 5 Forensic Psychology students who attended the Mortuary visit, Emily and Emily, commented:

“We were taken into the mortuary and shown the cadavers. We were able to see different sections of the body such as the torso, the brain, legs and arms, and a full body. With these different sections we were able to explore actual organs including the brain. This was especially fascinating as psychology students as we were able to see the different areas of the brain that we learn about on our course, and how diseases can be physically shown within the brain. This was especially useful to apply to our Biological Psychology module”

“Another benefit of this trip was to prepare for potential future job areas that a Forensic Psychology student may be interested in, as some jobs may involve viewing the deceased. This also provided an insight into post mortems and anatomy which may be applicable to the forensic field. This trip was not for the faint hearted; you would need a certain mindset to attend this as some students may find this distressing. However, this was a great opportunity and we would definitely recommend that other students take part in this trip in the future.”

Dr Sarah Krahenbuhl (Course Leader, BSc Forensic Psychology) commented: “This was a unique opportunity for our Forensic Psychology students to have direct contact with bodies post mortem, to get some understanding of anatomy, and relate potential theoretical forensic-based experiences to the reality of an individual.”

Please click here for further information about Staffordshire University’s BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology course.


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

Psychology at the Museum: Activities for families on Sat 2nd March!

This Saturday, 2nd March (11am-3pm), Dr Sarah Rose (Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Child Development) will be visiting the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery with students from the BSc Psychology and Child Development course to run a series of free drop-in activities for families.

Dr Rose and the undergraduate students will be hosting a number of activities and demonstrations for families who are interested in finding out more about the human mind. The Potteries Museum is situated in Hanley city centre, Stoke-on-Trent (click here for a map). The hands-on psychology-related activities to be demonstrated on Saturday 2nd March will be suitable for anyone aged two years and older, and for people with any level of interest in psychology and the mind!

Come along and make a brain hat, find out how new skills are learnt, improve your memory and learn about emotions!


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

Psychology Teacher Forum Event – Free training event for Psychology Teachers

Do you teach psychology in a school or college? Would you like the opportunity to connect with other psychology teachers in the local area and hear about ideas for teaching different areas of psychology?

As part of our expanding schools and colleges provision, the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University are running a Psychology Teacher Forum event on Wednesday 27th February 2019. The event will run from 2:00-5:30pm and will include practical workshops focussed on sharing ideas for teaching practice, will enable us to share student progression information (i.e., current content and expectations when studying for a Psychology degree and psychology careers information) and also to provide an opportunity to meet other teachers/lecturers of psychology. We have various sessions planned which include:

  • Teaching Research Methods
  • Tour and Demonstrations
  • Teaching Biopsychology
  • Networking and Refreshments
  • Psychology Degrees and Careers

This event will be followed by our Psychology and Me public event, which you are also invited to attend. This event runs from 6:00-8:30pm, and will involve a series of short talks from our academics, followed by demonstrations of our psychological equipment and research.

If you would like to book a place on the Psychology Teacher Forum Event please visit the following link and complete the short booking process:  https://psychologyteacherforum19.eventbrite.com

We look forward to welcoming you to the Department of Psychology!


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

Psychology and Me: Interactive evening of Psychology for the general public!

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University is delighted to invite you to Psychology and Me, a fun and interactive evening where you will be given the opportunity to get hands-on with some of our state-of-the-art equipment used in our psychological research, as well as hear about the latest research findings from a variety of experts working in psychology.

Psychology and Me will take place at Staffordshire University’s Science Centre, Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent, on Wednesday 27th February 6 – 8:30 pm. Click here to view the location of the Science Centre on Staffordshire University’s Stoke-on-Trent campus. Tickets include free parking on site and refreshments.

This year’s Psychology and Me event includes a number of activities:

Psychology and Me: Listen

Have you ever wondered… why people fall for fake news? What do your children’s drawings really mean? Will seeing a future ‘you’ encourage a healthier lifestyle? A series of short expert talks will explore these and other fascinating questions.

Psychology and Me: Hands-on

Try your hand at learning how our equipment works such as how virtual reality can change our world, how we can know what you are thinking without asking and how we test your reaction skills in our driving simulator, amongst other fun demonstrations.

Psychology and Me: A chance to win

Having taken part in the hands-on activities, you have a chance to win some Love2Shop vouchers. Entry information and winners announced on the night.

How does psychology apply to you and your life? Come along and find out.


Reserve your place at Psychology and Me

Reserve your (free) ticket(s) for this year’s Psychology and Me event please visit our Eventbrite page: https://psychologyandme19.eventbrite.co.uk or contact psychologyevents@staffs.ac.uk for more information.


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

The Psychology of Space….in Space

By Dr. Nikki Street, Dr. Gemma Hurst & Dr. Daniel Jolley

Could you live for a year or more in space? What challenges might you face living and working there? What would you miss about earth? These are the question we proposed to over 1500 attendees during the European Researchers Night at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in September 2018.

Psychologists from The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research at Staffordshire University attended the event where our aim was to introduce the guests to the physical environment in space and together discuss the challenges with space travel on people’s wellbeing. Drs Nichola Street, Gemma Hurst and Daniel Jolley, and Dina Grinstead and Darel Cookson were on hand during the night to discuss the Psychology of Space with guests.

The event was split into different parts.  First, guests ‘travelled’ to the International Space Station (ISS) using Virtual Reality equipment to explore the living conditions of space travellers.  We asked guests to consider what they would find most challenging living on the ISS for a year and what they might miss about earth during that time. The ISS that they explored can be termed an ICE environment; those environments which are Isolated, Confined and Extreme. Spending time in these types of environments is a psychological challenge.  For those guests who were a little too young to use the Virtual Reality, they were able to view the space centre on a projected screen.Alongside the VR exploration, we asked what guests would miss the most if they had to live in space for a year. The responses from guests were heart-warming and clear patterns appeared:  People would miss their Family, Friends, Pets, Food (they had tasted space food in another Staffordshire University run activity on the night) and nature. People talked about missing the space to walk the dog or the chance to change where you are.Next, guests entered a ‘psychology relief room’ in which they were exposed to natural imagery and sound. These nature interventions have been trailed in ICE environments as a way to dampen the potentially harmful effects of physical space with success. Evidence shows that even when direct access to nature is not possible (as it would not be in space) nature substitutes can go some way to reduce psychological harm.

While the ‘extreme’ aspect may be missing from many of our experiences on earth we can certainly think of many places that fit into the isolated and confined categories such as hospitals, prisons or even your home or work places. And like our space travellers pointed out, Nature exposure can go some way towards combatting the negative effects.  The research of Drs Nikki Street & Gemma Hurst aims to shed light on the impact of physical environments on an individual’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour. To learn more about the exciting research from the department please visit The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research‘s website.


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 Daniel Jolley is the Conspiracy Psychologist in the Museum!

As part of The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery’s Friday Twilight Series, Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) on Friday 9th November will be giving a free public talk on the psychology of conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy theories are associated with almost every significant social and political event, including the theory that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, that the U.K Government murdered Diana, Princess of Wales, or that the harms of vaccines are being covered up so that pharmaceutical companies can continue to make huge profits. Belief in these types of conspiracy theories is blooming in the 21st century: millions of people subscribe to them.

A basic understanding of logic, rationality, and probability tell us, however, that most of these conspiracy claims are probably false. So why then do so many people believe them? What makes them so attractive and compelling to people? And, anyway, what’s the problem, aren’t they just harmless fun?

In this talk, Dr Jolley will take you through the psychology of conspiracy theories. You will learn why people subscribe to conspiracy theories and discuss some of the misconceptions (including whether all conspiracy believers wear tin-toil hats!)

Dr Jolley will also uncover some of the potentially damaging consequences of conspiracy theories; maybe they are not just harmless after all!  There will also be an opportunity for a Q&A session at the end.

Book your place! The talk is free and takes place on, Friday 9th November, 7 – 8.30pm.  Further information about the talk can be found via: http://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/pmag/whats-on/events/page/2/?event=EVENT591450


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: