Body Image in Girl Guides: New Research by Dr Alison Owen & graduate Emily

By Dr Alison Owen, Lecturer in Psychology.

More than 400,000 girls meet regularly as Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and The Senior Section in the UK (Girlguiding, 2018). Together they learn skills, grow in confidence, make lifelong friendships, help their communities and have lots of fun (Girlguiding, 2018). Despite the positive skills that the members learn through the organisation, the ‘Girl’s Attitudes Survey’ (Girlguiding 2016), recorded that almost half of all its members aged between 11 and 21 claim that the way they look holds them back. Sixty-one percent of members aged between 7 and 21 were happy with the way they looked; indicating that almost 40% of the children and adolescents surveyed were unhappy with their appearance. The report published the survey results and explained that young girls have been victims of body criticism and that body dissatisfaction peaks as adolescents transition into becoming young adults.

Researchers at Staffordshire University decided to expand the findings of the ‘Girl’s Attitude Study’, and carry out a study looking at body image in a group of Girlguides using a qualitative approach. Emily Griffiths, who graduated from Staffordshire University’s BSc (Hons) Psychology course, carried out focus groups, speaking to groups of members at a local Girlguiding unit, about their thoughts and feelings about their bodies. Alongside Dr Alison Owen, the researchers analysed the findings from the focus groups, and four themes were identified: “Emotions and Feelings”, “Conversations and Critiques”, “Weight and Size” and “Influences on Body Image”. The results of the study found that on the whole, the participants reported having positive body image and feeling positively about their bodies, however they also identified areas that made them feel more negatively about their appearance, for example social media and the media in general.

Dr Owen continues to carry out research looking at body image in different sections of the population, and Dr Owen and Emily Griffiths are hoping to expand the research with members of Girlguiding in the future.

If you are interested in reading more about the study plaese visit the British Journal of School Nursing’s website:

References:

Girlguiding (2016). Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2016. Available at https://www.girlguiding.org.uk/social-action-advocacy-and-campaigns/research/girls-attitudes-survey/

Girlguiding (2018). Our Mission. Available at https://www.girlguiding.org.uk/about-us/what-makes-guiding-special/our-mission/


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University has a history of excellence in teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research has active team of Health Psychologists who conduct research and provide consultancy in a range of health-related issues.

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

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

Dr Manpal Bhogal blogs about attending the Human Behaviour and Evolution Conference in Amsterdam

By Dr Manpal Bhogal, Lecturer in Psychology.

I was fortunate to be able to attend the Human Behaviour and Evolution Society conference at the beginning of July, which took place in Amsterdam. I was excited by this trip as I had the opportunity to visit the city of Amsterdam as well as participate in an impressive conference programme. The programme included brilliant presentations by academics at varying stages of their career, including early career researchers and pioneers of the field.

I attended the conference with Dr Daniel Farrelly (University of Worcester) who has been inspirational in formulating my own research and research interests. It was exciting for us to be able to work on research we have both planned, attend the conference, and enjoy the amazing food on offer in Amsterdam!

The conference consisted of several important topics of importance to evolutionary science, providing the latest findings from studies that have not all yet been published in journals. I was particularly interested in attending symposiums related to human mating strategies, competition, hormonal influences on behaviour, and issues surrounding reproducibility in evolutionary psychology. It was exciting to be able to listen to pioneers of evolutionary psychology such as David Buss talking about human mating, Ben Jones talking about hormonal influences during ovulation, and Dan Fessler discussing his research and replication.  I was also pleased to meet pioneering early career researchers in the field such as Arnaud Tognetti, who conducts research into cooperation, and Nicole Barbaro who conducts research into mate retention and attachment.

One particularly impressive feature in this conference was the poster presentation session. It took me two hours to make my way through the 175-poster symposium, and I still didn’t get to see many of them. There is some excellent research being done in the field, and it was pleasing to hear a PhD student had based her thesis on the work conducted by Dr Daniel Farrelly and myself, which further supports the idea that academic conferences are excellent for networking, and for us to be aware of the research being done.

Attending this conference was important for knowledge transfer, reflection on current research and implementation of current research in my teaching of evolutionary psychology at undergraduate level. I believe keeping up to date with current research enables me to be able to challenge myself and the content I deliver to students. It is always important to feed correct, up to date findings when delivering any form of academic content, which I felt this conference enabled me to do, not to mention research ideas generated from listening to other academics at work.

On a final note, if you ever get a chance to go to Amsterdam – go!


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 our MSc Health Psychology research at the 6th Staffordshire Health Psychology Conference

Two of our MSc Health Psychology students, Andrew and Jess, blog about their experiences presenting their MSc research, delivering workshops and attending the 6th Annual Staffordshire Health Psychology Conference.


Before I write about the conference, I just want to acknowledge all of the hard work me and my course mates have done over the past year, on the MSc Health Psychology course. It has been a struggle, but I am so proud of us for everything we’ve accomplished. We made it!

A few weeks ago, the 6th Annual Staffordshire University Health Psychology Conference took place, coinciding with my dissertation hand in. As you can imagine, it was quite the day! Not only was I looking forward to seeing all the people I had interacted with over the year, I was nervous about handing over something I had worked so hard on. Fingers crossed I get the grades I need.

As my postgraduate journey was coming to an end at Staffs, the opportunity to present at the annual Health Psychology Conference presented itself. I of course took that opportunity. When we all received the schedule for the day, it did occur to me that I was the only Masters student doing an oral presentation, and this did worry me at first. What if I was not going to be taken seriously, as someone who is not at the same professional level as most of the audience? Nerves did build up, but the support of my fellow course mates during the day really calmed me down. I am so glad we were all there to support each other at the end.

After it was all said and done, I felt amazing! I had many people congratulating me on a great presentation, and I really enjoyed the experience. If anyone is thinking about attending or presenting at a conference, I would highly recommend it. The networking, presenting, workshopping etc., are all valuable experiences that I feel are definitely helping me in my career journey. Maybe they may help you too.

Andrew.


The 6th Annual Staffordshire University Health Psychology Conference was such a lovely round off to the academic year. As an MSc Health Psychology student, this conference was also where we handed in our dissertation and closed the chapter on a challenging but rewarding year.

The presentations consisted of topics ranging from; promoting physical activity in sedentary office workers to MukBang (online eating behaviour) to experiences of Professional Doctorate students. These topics were also presented by a range of people at different stages in their careers such as MSc students, Professional Doctorate students and professionals working in their field. I feel that the range of talks given at the conference highlight the numerous areas that Health Psychology can be applied to.

The day was organised so well by Meghan and Stephanie and there was plenty of chances to network in between the talks. The conference consisted of oral presentations, poster presentations and workshops. I was lucky enough to present a poster presentation about online health seeking behaviours and facilitate a workshop on mindfulness and its application to health.

One of the activities from the mindfulness workshop

If you have the opportunity to attend this conference, then I wholeheartedly recommend it and if you get the chance to present at this conference, go for it! This conference was so enjoyable and allowed individuals of all levels to showcase the innovative Health Psychology research that is currently taking place at Staffordshire University, in a respectful and encouraging atmosphere.

I would just like to finish this post by saying, if you are thinking about doing the MSc in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University, you will not be disappointed. This year, I feel I have gained so much confidence in my abilities and have had the opportunity to explore so many different avenues of Health Psychology that I didn’t even know existed.

Jess.


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University has a history of excellence in teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research has active team of Health Psychologists who conduct research and provide consultancy in a range of health-related issues.

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

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

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:

Dr Alison Owen blogs about demonstrating APRIL Face-Aging Software at This Morning Live

By Dr Alison Owen (Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research)

From the 17th to the 20th May the This Morning Live Shopping and Lifestyle Show took place at the NEC in Birmingham. The show is a shopping festival, where the This Morning television program is filmed live, and presenters from the show give talks and discussions on topics such as cooking, fashion and healthcare.

I was invited to attend the This Morning Live show by Katy Foxcroft and Gillian Robson, the developers of tanning cream, Tancream. They developed the cream after Gillian was diagnosed with skin cancer five years ago. After undergoing surgery for the cancer, Gillian was advised to wear a high protection sun cream of SPF50 daily. As she liked to have a tan, Gillian used fake tan, however this also meant having to apply a separate SPF50 product, so together Gillian and her friend Katy developed a false tan with added SPF50.

As well as selling their product, Katy and Gillian’s aim is to inform people about the dangers of not protecting their skin from the sun, and the risks of skin cancer. They therefore asked if I was able to come along to the This Morning Live show, as they had heard about the APRIL software that I use here at Staffordshire University, showing people how their skin may age if they do not protect their skin from the sun.

At the stand, ready to show people the APRIL software

I worked on the stall demonstrating the software to visitors to the show, as well as talking to them about all aspects of safe UV exposure, including skin cancer, sun damage, sunbeds and moles. I met such a wide variety of people, from elderly women who had always protected their skin, to a 19 year old girl who used sun beds for 20 minutes at a time, four to five times a week, and had done since she was 13 years of age. It was so interesting to meet so many different people, and hear their thoughts and experiences of protecting their skin from the sun.

The event was definitely ‘Health Psychology in action’. It was great to speak to such a wide variety of people, and to try and encourage them to protect their skin, and make healthier choices about UV exposure, when at times I only had short bursts of sometimes just a minute before they moved on to the next exhibit.

On the second day of the show, we had the addition of a UV camera on the stall to show people damage that had already been done to their skin. This was great for people to see, as they were able to view any underlying damage to their skin, before going on to see what further damage could be done to their skin (using the APRIL software) if they did not start protecting their skin.

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As well as talking to visitors to the Tancream exhibit, I was also able to enjoy the show, watching Philip and Holly film sections of This Morning alongside other This Morning presenters, including Rylan, Gok Wan, and the This Morning doctors, Dr Chris and Dr Ranj. It was also an opportunity to meet other experts in the area of sun protection and UV exposure, and do some networking.

The show was a great experience, and just shows how different and varied the job of Psychology Lecturer here at Staffordshire University can be!


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

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

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

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

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:

Sun Awareness Week 2018 – Protecting against skin cancer & harmful UV exposure

The British Association of Dermatologists’ Sun Awareness week is running from May 14th to May 20th. The aim of the week is to teach people about the dangers of sunburn and excessive tanning, and to discourage people from using sunbeds, as well as encouraging people to regularly self-examine for skin cancer (click here for more details about Sun Awareness Week).

Each year in the UK, there are more new cases of skin cancer than breast and lung cancers combined. Thankfully, the majority of skin cancers are treatable, but the most deadly form, malignant melanoma, kills over 2,000 people in the UK each year, with all skin cancers killing a total of more than 2,500 people annually (click here for a factsheet by Skin Cancer UK). Malignant melanoma is the second most common cancer in 15-34-year-olds, and at least two young people in Britain receive this diagnosis every day (Cancer Research UK, 2011). The World Health Organization (WHO, 2012) suggests that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, including exposure to the sun and sunbeds, are the primary causes of all melanomas, leading to skin cancer.

Here at Staffordshire University, Dr Alison Owen carries out research encouraging people to take care of their skin, and protect it from the sun and sunbeds. Dr Owen, alongside colleagues Prof Sarah Grogan (Manchester Metropolitan University), Prof David Clark-Carter and Dr Emily Buckley, have carried out a number of pieces of research looking at the impact of APRIL facial ageing software, which can show people the damage that exposing their skin to the sun without sun protection, or using sunbeds, can do to their skin. The researchers found a number of very positive findings, in particular when comparing the appearance-focussed intervention to more traditional health-focussed literature (i.e. leaflets), there was a much bigger impact on people’s opinions after viewing the damage to their skin.

The World Health Organization recommends a number of steps to protect your skin from the sun and UV exposure, including:

  • Limit time in the midday sun
    The sun’s UV rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. To the extent possible, limit exposure to the sun during these hours.
  • Wear protective clothing
    A hat with a wide brim offers good sun protection for your eyes, ears, face, and the back or your neck. Sunglasses can greatly reduce eye damage from sun exposure. Tightly woven, loose fitting clothes will provide additional protection from the sun.
  • Use sunscreen
    Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15+ liberally and re-apply every two hours, or after working, swimming, playing or exercising outdoors.
  • Avoid sunlamps and tanning parlours
    Sunbeds damage the skin and unprotected eyes and are best avoided entirely.

Dr Owen will be at the This Morning Live shopping and lifestyle show (running from the 17th to the 20th May, NEC Birmingham) demonstrating the APRIL software, working alongside the award winning sun protection brand Tancream.


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

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

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

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

Two Funded Bursaries for Trainees on the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University is delighted to announce two funded student bursaries for the highly successful Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology programme.

The two-year bursaries are both for £12,000 per annum, which is inclusive of course fees and a contribution towards living and study costs. One has been provided by Lawnswood Campus in Wolverhampton, which is a home to four Pupil Referral Units, working with students who find mainstream schooling a challenge. The other bursary is in partnership with The Huntercombe Centre, Birmingham, which is a 15-bed locked rehabilitation hospital for men aged between 18-16 years old with mild to moderate learning difficulties, mental illness, autistic spectrum conditions and complex needs.

Dr Rachel Povey, Co-Director of the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology said:

“We are very excited about the new partnerships we have with Lawnswood Campus and The Huntercombe Centre.  The two-year bursaries will enable two new trainees on our Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology to gain their competences in two quite different, but stimulating and interesting environments”

Further details about the bursaries are available via these links (1) Lawnswood and (2) Huntercombe. For further information about these exciting opportunities, please contact Dr Rachel Povey (r.povey@staffs.ac.uk).

Please note that the closing dates for the bursaries are Tuesday, 15th May (Lawnswood) and Wednesday, 13th June (Huntercombe Centre) respectively.


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

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

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

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

PhD Student Blog: Attending the 1st Keele-Staffs Joint Psychology Postgraduate Conference

Darel Cookson (Psychology PhD student, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about the recent inaugural Keele-Staffs Psychology Postgraduate Conference, with postscript from Dr. Richard Jolley (PhD Psychology course leader)

On the 25th April, 2018 the first Joint Keele and Staffordshire University Psychology Postgraduate Conference was held at Keele University. Although Keele have been running the conference for a number of years, this was the first time the event was organised and ran in collaboration with Staffordshire University. Consequently the event was an ideal opportunity for postgraduate researchers at the neighbouring institutions to share their research and build networks.

The conference was directed by Professor Claire Fox (Postgraduate Research Co-ordinator in Psychology at Keele University) and Dr Richard Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Psychology and PhD course leader at Staffordshire University). The organisation was led by the student committee which consisted of myself from Staffordshire University and Emma Harrison and Charlotte Bagnall, second and first year Keele Psychology PhD students, respectively. Collaborating with fellow PhD students from Keele was an immensely enjoyable and rewarding experience.

The morning began with an introduction and welcome from Professor Claire Fox, before the postgraduate speakers commenced. The first presenter was Keele PhD researcher, Olly Robertson, who gave a dynamic and informative overview of her current study. Olly is investigating whether perceived deficits in emotional regulation are associated with heart rate variance; who knew that the time between heart beats was so important? I gave the second presentation discussing the antecedents and consequences of belief in conspiracy theories, while revealing the rationale for my initial PhD investigations. This was followed by a thought-provoking account of the implementation of an innovative domestic abuse prevention programme by Keele MSc student Jess McElwee. Her research assessed student responses to a ‘Love Hurts’ play, aimed at addressing teenage relationship abuse and found that students felt theatre was an effective means of delivery, while further exploration into issues of trust and gender were suggested. The final presentation of the morning session was by Keele PhD student Angela Blanchard. Angela is conducting an autoethnography of childhood emotional neglect, and provided a compelling description of her data collection process and the resultant model she is developing. The model comprises ten themes evolved from thematic analysis.

Lunch was accompanied by poster presentations and of course we had time for a group photo too.

Figure 1. Did you even attend a conference if you didn’t pose in front of the posters?

There was a wide-variety of psychology sub-disciplines represented by the posters:

  • Recollection and familiarity- Memory for pictures and words. Jamie Adams (Keele).
  • The effects of early and late sleep on false memory. Zainab Alyobi (Keele).
  • Student Bullying in Higher Education: The Story So Far. Emma Harrison (Keele).
  • How do we attribute blame and responsibility for alcohol addiction? Claire Melia (Keele).
  • Utilizing eye-tracking to investigate the role of attention in emotional false memory formation. Emma Roberts (Staffordshire).

The afternoon session began with an introduction and welcome by Dr Richard Jolley, proceeded by the first afternoon speaker. Angela Bonner, a PhD student from Staffordshire University, gave an engaging and informative review of her current research. Angela is investigating the impact of glucoregulatory control on emotional recognition memory, when blood glucose is elevated. The second speaker of the afternoon was Kara Holloway, a PhD researcher from Keele. Kara shared her research; implementing a video-based student alcohol intervention, delivered through an app. The intervention included personalised feedback on the harms of drinking and social norming information and preliminary findings were shared. Charlotte Bagnall then discussed how her BSc and MSc research has informed her current PhD study: Improving children’s emotional well-being over primary-secondary school transition. Charlotte has conducted case study research and focus groups to inform her targeted emotional-resilience support intervention aimed at improving children’s experiences of this transition.

After a caffeine re-fuel, the afternoon session continued with Amelia Rout, a part-time PhD student from Staffordshire University, presenting her current research exploring the success of non-traditional students in higher education. Amelia’s research uses mixed methods to examine the influence of self-esteem and self-efficacy on academic success and preliminary findings show that issues around self-confidence and study skills of non-traditional students are often interlocking. The final presenter of the day was Daniella Hult-Khazaie, a PhD researcher from Keele University who provided an in-depth and engaging overview of her PhD area and planned studies. Daniella is investigating the effect of a shared social identity on health risk perceptions in mass gathering; does the sense of a shared social identity influence people’s perceptions of susceptibility to health risks at mass gathering?

Dr Sarah Rose’s keynote

As is illustrated above, there was great research shared from a wide-variety of sub-disciplines in Psychology. The day closed with an honest, informative and engaging Keynote from Dr Sarah Rose. Dr Sarah Rose is a Psychology Lecturer and Course leader for the BSc Psychology and Child Development degree at Staffordshire University and gave an overview of her career pathway which has led her from Staffordshire, to Keele and back! For all the PhD students listening, Sarah’s talk was invaluable and inspiring; thank you for sharing Sarah!

Thank you to all who attended the first Joint Keele and Staffordshire University Psychology Postgraduate Conference and for making it a success. And a huge congratulations to Kara Holloway and Claire Melia, who won best presentation and best poster respectively!


As course leader of the Psychology PhD students at Staffordshire University I was delighted to be offered the opportunity by our Keele colleagues to develop the first joint postgraduate conference between our two universities. Professor Claire Fox commented that this year’s event was the best ever, and we will certainly be working together to continue and develop this conference on a yearly basis. Next year it may well be held at Staffordshire University, watch this space!

This year’s inaugural conference was very professionally organised by the committee of PhD students.The schedule of talks was perfectly organised, with a very good balance of topics and talks from both departments, with well-placed breaks. Professional event organisers could not have done a better job!

If you are interested in studying for a PhD in the Department of Psychology we have nearly 50 academic members of staff, with expertise covering the full range of subdisciplines in psychology: biological, cognitive, developmental, individual differences, and social.  In addition, we have expertise in clinical, counselling and health psychology, running professional programmes in all of these subjects. A range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies is employed throughout the department.

Please contact me at r.jolley@staffs.ac.uk for all PhD enquiries.

Dr. Richard Jolley


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 Rachel Povey comments on childhood obesity for The Sentinel

Dr Rachel Povey (Associate Professor in Health Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured in The Sentinel newspaper commenting on recent statistics from the National Child Measurement Programme showing concerning rates of childhood obesity in the Staffordshire county. The Sentinel story highlights high rates of children who are classed as obese or overweight in parts of Stoke-on-Trent and the wider county.

Dr Povey, who conducts research into the psychology of children’s eating behaviours and ways to promote healthy eating (click here for a blog about this work), provides expert commentary in the story about why rates of childhood obesity appear to be increasing. The full story can be read on The Sentinel website below:

The Sentinel: This area has Stoke-on-Trent’s fattest kids – find out how overweight your neighbourhood is


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

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

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

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