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:

Psychologists from the UK & France gather at Staffordshire University to discuss the psychology of children’s healthy eating behaviours

By Dr Rachel Povey, Associate Professor in Health Psychology.

On 25th April 2018, the first of three research seminars on psychological perspectives on healthy eating in children was held at Staffordshire University. The seminars are funded by the British Psychological Society, and was organized by myself in collaboration with colleagues at Aston University (Professor Jackie Blissett and Dr Claire Farrow).  Psychologists from all over the UK and France attended and presented findings from their research.

The day opened with a stimulating talk by Dr Angel Chater (University of Bedfordshire) providing an insight into experiences of barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption among foodbank clients. This was followed in the morning by a wide range of thought-provoking talks which examined healthy eating in childhood from pre-school up to adolescence.  Presentations focused on different factors found to influence healthy eating in young children including genetic factors, exposure to different foods and parent-child interactions. Studies involving older children focused on peer influences and included interventions which used social media to change eating behaviour.

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The afternoon began with a fascinating presentation by Lisa Cowap (Staffordshire University) on a school-based intervention which used simple plans to improve snacking behaviour in primary school children. Following presentations described different ways of changing children’s eating behaviour, from using carefully-designed Apps, to creative techniques to get children more engaged with the food they eat. Finally, the day closed with an inspiring talk by Dr Sophie Nicklaus (French National Institute for Agricultural Research), on how to help children make healthy food choices by emphasizing pleasure.

Overall it was a fascinating and motivating day which provided an opportunity for psychologists researching children’s eating behaviour to network and share ideas. The next research seminar will take place in Autumn.

British Psychological Society: Society funds event on the psychology behind children’s eating habits

InPsych: Dr Rachel Povey featured in The Sentinel newspaper discussing children’s fussy eating habits


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 Success! MSc Health Psychology Student Publishes her Dissertation Research

By Dr Sarah Dean, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire University.

Lucy Field

Lucy Field completed the MSc in Health Psychology at  Staffordshire University in 2017 and has recently had her dissertation research, which was supervised by Dr Sarah Dean, published as an open access article in the Global Journal of Health Science.

It has been recognised that stress can have a very negative impact on people’s health and wellbeing and it is therefore important that interventions are designed to help people deal with stressors effectively. One way of doing this is to use interventions that help people to become more aware of their bodies, their response to stress and how to regulate this. Lucy’s work explored the effectiveness of a biofeedback intervention, using the HeartMath training programme, to reduce a person’s physiological response to stressors. It was found that the intervention had positive effects for participants. Participants reported feeling less stressed and more relaxed after taking part in the intervention and Lucy’s physiological data supported this. Future research is needed to explore the use of HeartMath further.

This is what Lucy had to say about her time on the MSc:

“I really enjoyed my MSc in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University. Health promotion and stress have become areas of specialty for me. I completed my research on stress using a  biofeedback technique with support from my tutor and other researchers in the field. This has been published! I would not have believed this to be something I could have accomplished at the beginning of the course. I am now looking forward to starting the Prof Doc in Health Psychology!”

Please click here to read Lucy’s published article.

Field, L. H., Edwards, S. D., Edwards, D. J., & Dean, S. E. (2018). Influence of HeartMath Training Programme on Physiological and Psychological Variables. Global Journal of Health Science, 10(2), 126-133.


Thinking about postgraduate study in Health Psychology?

If you are interested in studying our BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology why not sign up to our next Open Afternoon on Tuesday 3rd July?

For more information about the Open Afternoon, please email the MSc Health Psychology  Course Directors Dr Sarah Dean s.dean@staffs.ac.uk or Dr Gemma Hurst G.L.Hurst@staffs.ac.uk.


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:

New research explores mothers’ experiences of feeding infants

By Dr Sarah Dean, Senior Lecturer in Psychology.

Researchers at The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, based at Staffordshire University, are conducting a study to learn more about the experiences of new Mums who live in Stoke-on-Trent. Dr Sarah Dean and Professional Doctorate student Sarah Thurgood are leading this research, which is funded by CHAD (The Centre for Health and Development), in order to learn more about factors that influence infant feeding.

The research team hope to use the information gathered to learn more about the types of support Mums have found useful and areas they felt less supported in. The idea is that this knowledge could then be used to inform future research or to help in the design of future interventions to help new mums with feeding their babies. The survey is open to mothers living in Stoke-on-Trent who have had their first baby between 6 weeks and 6 months ago.

Interested in taking part in this study? Click here to visit the study’s website for further information and/or to take part


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: What do you think about when you hear the term ‘body image’?

By Alexandra Morley Hewitt, MSc by Applied Research student

When you are asked about body image, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

When asked about their body image, most people will tend to focus on the negatives and things that they don’t like about themselves, such as “my bum is too big” or “I don’t like my nose”. We are all able to think about the negative aspects of our body very quickly, however, how we view our own bodies has seemed to change in the past few decades and people are now beginning to think more positively about themselves and their bodies.

Likewise, body image research has tended to focus on the negatives (i.e. what we dislike about our bodies or find embarrassing), but there has started to be a shift towards understanding positive body image. Initially research saw positive body image as simply being at the other end of the scale from negative body image. So, if you didn’t think positively about your body, then it meant you had a negative body image (Avalos, Tylka, & Wood-Barcalow, 2005). This could be an oversimplification of the complex nature of body image which could be a combination of both positive and negative facets. This old way of thinking about body image potentially delayed advancing the understanding of positive body image, especially as there has been a lack of measurement tools available to examine positive body image (such as validated psychometric self-report questionnaires).

In 2005, the creation of the Body Appreciation Scale (Tiggemann, 2015) provided this opportunity for better understanding more positive aspects of body image. This scale allows positive body image to be measured and examined in a new way, facilitating more nuanced body image research. Positive body image was no longer seen as having no negative body image thoughts, rather, positive body image became a widely acknowledged concept that included factors such as body appreciation, body acceptance, and inner positivity (Tylka & Wood-Barcalow, 2015). With researchers using a mixture of methods, the definition of positive body image developed, further theories were created and measurement tools adjusted, such as the further refinement of the Body Appreciation Scale.

Alongside my supervisor (Dr Alison Owen, Lecturer in Psychology), we are aiming to build upon this area of research by examining how a number of individual differences factors, ranging from age to physical disability to personality, are predictive of positive body image. If you are interested in participating in this study, please click here to find out more information about the study.


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:

Innovative national study of university students’ experiences of high mood launched at Staffordshire University

By Dr Robert Dempsey, Senior Lecturer in Psychology.

As part of an exciting and innovative collaboration between eight UK universities and the Student Minds charity, we are conducting a national survey of the relationship between students’ experiences of high and variable moods with their academic experiences and general wellbeing. Experiences of variable mental health by university students has received significant attention over the past few years, with increases in the rates of reported mental health issues amongst students aged between 18 and 24 years and an increased number of students disclosing mental health difficulties to their universities (IPPR, 2017).

Whilst there has been a lot of discussion of students’ experiences of depression, anxiety, suicidality and the engagement in self-harm related behaviours, there has been little focus on the experience of high and variable moods amongst students and how this might impact on their social and academic functioning. High moods, which are associated with increased energy and activity levels, disturbed sleeping patterns, but also the engagement in more impulsive and risky behaviours, could have as much of an impact on student wellbeing during university studies as can depression, anxiety and negative moods. Given that studying for a degree is often one of the most stressful experience encountered in students’ lives, understanding how students respond to this stress and manage their moods is important for developing preventative interventions and improving students’ overall wellbeing and university experience.

Our unique collaboration aims to better understand students’ experiences of high and variable moods, identify the predictors of high mood amongst students and the potential avenues for intervention to improve students’ wellbeing and performance at university. As part of a collaborative network of researchers based at eight UK universities, which Staffordshire University is pleased to be part of (alongside Northumbria, King’s College London, Exeter, Manchester, Newcastle, Reading, and Glasgow universities) and Student Minds, we have launched a national survey of students’ experiences of high mood. We plan to follow-up this first survey with additional surveys to allow us to understand how students’ experiences of changeable and high moods develop over time.

Updates about this study and other research being conducted in the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research will be posted on the Department of Psychology’s InPsych blog!

The National Survey: Seeking University Students!

The survey is open to all UK university students aged between 18 and 25 years who are currently enrolled at any UK university. We are seeking a broad range of participants, including those who perhaps haven’t experienced any high or variable moods, to take part in the survey and help to inform future interventions in this area.

Note that Staffordshire, Northumbria and Exeter Psychology students can take part via their SONA systems (the study is listed in SONA and can be completed in return for credits). All UK students who complete the survey can also opt-in to a prize draw for vouchers.

For further information and/or to take part, please click here to visit the survey’s website.

 

Currently a student, but aged 25 years and over?

A separate study I am conducting is investigating how pro-social behaviours such as volunteering impact on mental health and coping strategies, e.g. suicidal thinking and self-harm. This is another collaborative study between myself, based at Staffordshire, and researchers at external universities.

Anyone can participate in this separate study (there is no age limit) which takes the form of an online survey of personality, prosocial behaviours and mental health. Students studying at Chester, Nottingham Trent and Staffordshire universities can sign up to the study in SONA to receive credits (please log into SONA to find the study).

If you are not a Chester/Staffs/Trent student, you can find out more about the prosocial behaviour study by clicking here. Chester/Staffs/Trent students please see SONA for more details.


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 Development, Social and Cognitive Psychology.

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).