Dr Daniel Jolley interviewed by UNILAD on the dangers of conspiracy beliefs

Dr Daniel Jolley (Lecturer in Psychology & Member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured in a story by the UNILAD news site on the dangers of beliefs in conspiracy theories.

Dr Jolley conducts research into the consequences of believing in conspiracy theories, including the potential negative impact on health-protective behaviours (e.g. vaccinations) to the engagement in politics and voting. Read Dr Jolley’s interview via the below link:

UNILAD: Why Believing In Conspiracy Theories Is Dangerous For Us All


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 Daniel Jolley appears on hit myth-busting TV show ‘Adam Ruins Everything’

Dr Daniel Jolley, a Psychologist from Staffordshire University will appear on hit US television show ‘Adam Ruins Everything‘ this week. Dr Jolley specialises in the psychology of conspiracy theories and was invited onto the myth-busting programme to discuss his research.

The popular show sees investigative comedian Adam Conover reveal everyday hidden truths with the help of scientific research and Daniel appears as a guest in an episode broadcast on American television channel Tru TV on Tuesday 10th October.

“I’m a big fan of the show – it’s not just educational but uses humour backed up with research to showcase important issues. My research explores how conspiracy theories can potentially stop us engaging in society in a positive way. For example, people who were exposed to conspiracy theories were shown to be less likely to vote, less likely to trust science and less likely to have a child vaccinated against a disease.”

Daniel flew to Los Angeles to record the episode earlier this summer and said it was an eye-opening experience.

“Going through make-up and being on set was a completely new experience for me! Seeing behind-the-scenes and how the programme is put together was fascinating.”

Adam Ruins Everything has a large following across the globe and Daniel hopes it will open up his research to new audiences:

“We have a strong focus on research at the University so it is really exciting to bring Staffs to America and beyond! This has been a brilliant way to reach a much wider audience and will hopefully show viewers how varied and interesting psychology can be.”

UK fans can catch up with clips from the episode on the Adam Ruins Everything YouTube channel once it has aired.

Discover more about studying Psychology at a Staffordshire University Open Day – view dates and book your place here.

This is a reposting of a Staffordshire University Press Release.


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: My first week as a PhD student

Darel Cookson

Darel Cookson, a new PhD Student in the Department of Psychology and the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, blogs about her first week at Staffordshire University as a PhD Student:

It is hard to believe that this time last week I was (not so) quietly fretting about starting my PhD, excited at the enormous opportunity I had been offered and nervous about the level expected of me, but also anxious of doing something super embarrassing on my first day. However here I am a week later, still alive, and the most embarrassing thing that occurred was dropping my handbag on the floor and watching the contents scatter down the stairs in front of me, (I can live with that!).

I thought I would write a blog post to give some information and insight to anyone who is thinking about starting a PhD, or starting one in the near future, of what you might expect in your first week.

Monday

My first day, I arrived at 8:30am on Monday morning and met my primary supervisor (Dr. Daniel Jolley) who had very kindly prepared me a programme for the week ahead. As someone who likes a good ‘to do’ list this was very much appreciated. My supervisor gave me a tour of the campus and the rooms I will need to locate and then we proceeded to the library where I received my student card (its official!). My next meeting was with Dr Richard Jolley. He and the psychology technicians gave us (myself and a visiting PhD student) a tour of the Science Centre and we learned about some of the fantastic equipment available to use.

At lunch I met with two of my supervisors (Dr. Jolley & Dr. Robert Dempsey) and we talked about the project, discussed different ideas and they gave me some advice on where to start my reading. I spent the afternoon in my office, which I share with another PhD student and a post-doc researcher, I sat at my desk and actually began my PhD!

Its official, everyone buys you a new notebook when you are a student…

Tuesday

After my first day nerves, Tuesday began with a coffee, reading, and researching the training programmes available through the Staffordshire University Graduate School to decide which would be best for me to attend. The series looks fantastic. That afternoon I booked a meeting with the Academic Skills Tutor who helped me navigate the library website, definitely worth doing if you are new to an institution.

Wednesday

In the morning I observed the seminar class I will be teaching next week which was really exciting. I enjoy teaching so had been looking forward to meeting the students and they were all really engaged and showed impressive critical thinking. Let’s hope they are just as focused when I take the class!

Thursday

First thing on Thursday, I made another appointment with the Academic Skills Tutor who was so helpful in guiding me through my reference management options, it was reassuring to have the foundations to manage the literature I will be reviewing. I met with my supervisory team for a lunch meeting (Drs Jolley, Dempsey and Povey) and we again discussed project ideas and have agreed to meet weekly for the initial few weeks.

Friday

I am actually working on my PhD; it is still sinking in! It has been wonderful today to get stuck into the work and to reflect on the previous week. Thank you for everyone at Staffordshire University who have been so welcoming this week, I feel that my next few years here are going to be very special.


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire Centre. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams: Health and Behaviour Change and Applied Perception and Cognition.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

Dr Daniel Jolley featured on BBC Radio Derby discussing conspiracy theories & Theresa May

Dr Daniel Jolley

Dr Daniel Jolley (Lecturer in Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on BBC Radio Derby’s Sally Pepper show (5th October 2017) discussing his conspiracy theories research and of possible conspiracy theory about Theresa May’s conference speech performance at the 2017 Conservative Party Conference.

Dr Jolley conducts a number of studies into the consequences of belief in conspiracy theories, such as the impact of conspiracy beliefs on behaviours such as voting, vaccinations, and green behaviours (e.g. energy conservation).

Listen to Dr Jolley’s interview via the below link (from 2hr, 35 mins, 25 seconds):

BBC iPlayer: BBC Radio Derby: Sally Pepper Show


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: Experiences of Undertaking a BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantship

Tanya Schrader, current Final Year BSc Forensic Psychology student at Staffordshire University, blogs about her experience working as a BPS-funded Summer Intern:

Tanya talking about her Summer Intern research on Six Towns Radio

During Summer 2017, while my friends were raising their hands in the air (like they just don’t care), I was doing a research project. I know what you’re thinking, but I can assure you, it was anything but dull. In fact, I think I may have found my career path. I assisted Dr Daniel Jolley in a project investigating the influence of belief in conspiracy theories on criminal behavior. This was made possible by the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Research Assistantship Scheme and Staffordshire University. The internship aims to provide students an opportunity to sample real-world research.

The project involved examining the relationship between conspiracy theories and White-Collar Crime (WCC); these types of crimes concern fraud and embezzlement which can cost the UK economy £193 billion per annum. We were specifically interested whether believing in conspiracy theories would lead to higher intentions to engage in WCC – If they conspire, why can’t I.  During the project, I undertook data collection and analysis utilizing varied methods and designs, alongside writing sections of the academic paper, which will hopefully lead to publication (an exhilarating thought). I also wrote for non-acadamic audiences such as a piece for Psych-Talk, a student publication. This project improved my academic skills which, I strongly suspect, will prove invaluable while undertaking my third-year project and postgraduate study.

Tanya presenting her work at the BPS East Midlands Conference

Moreover, Dr. Jolley and I were invited to speak about the internship and Staffordshire University, at 6 Towns Radio. Despite my initial anxiety, it was fun!  It was an opportunity to talk about psychology and research in non-academic terms and increase awareness of social psychology concepts. Folks from as far afield as my native South Africa tuned in and engaged in the discussion.

In addition to the radio interview, Dr. Jolley and I submitted an abstract to present a poster at the BPS East Midlands Conference. This gave me a flavor of the processes involved in such events. The application was successful and I joined the Staffordshire University team at the conference. The poster was well received and generated interest (I even heard a PhD student refer to it as ‘really cool’) which was a lovely endorsement for the Summer’s hard work.

Tanya with members of staff from the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University

I am grateful to have had this opportunity to expand my knowledge, skills, and confidence. Thanks to Dr. Jolley, the BPS and Staffs Uni for making it possible. The experience has solidified my intention to pursue a career in research and my upcoming third-year project feels less daunting. In fact, I relish the prospect of another investigation.


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:

Funded PhD opportunity in the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, Department of Psychology

We are delighted to welcome applications for a funded PhD opportunity in the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, Department of Psychology, for an anticipated September 2017 start date.

The PhD project is titled The role of social norms in reducing belief in conspiracy theories and will be supervised by Dr Daniel Jolley (Principal Supervisor, Lecturer in Psychology), Dr Robert Dempsey (Lecturer in Psychology) and Dr Rachel Povey (Associate Professor in Health Psychology).

Project Background:

Belief in conspiracy theories is widespread in society. Whilst belief in conspiracy theories may fulfil needs such as control (e.g., Whitson, et al., 2015), they are potentially dangerous; exposure to conspiracy theories reduces people’s engagement in a variety of behaviours, including vaccinations (e.g., Jolley & Douglas, 2014a, 2014b). Examining tools to address conspiracy theories is therefore timely. Broadly speaking, this novel project will therefore build on existing research by exploring the relationship between perceived social norms and conspiracy beliefs and develop interventions that will help combat the effects of conspiracy theories.

This PhD project has three phases:

  1. a systematic literature review,
  2. empirical studies understanding the psychological mechanisms underlying social norms and conspiracy beliefs,
  3. the development of attitudinal and behaviour change interventions (e.g., improving vaccine uptake).

This three year funded PhD and includes a fee waiver equivalent to the home/EU rate and a tax-free stipend of £14,553 p.a. over the three years of the project. In addition to their PhD studies, the successful applicant will also deliver up to six hours per week of teaching or teaching-related support and will join the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research which provides a supportive research environment in the Department of Psychology.

We recommend that you make contact with the Principal Supervisor (Dr Daniel Jolley, daniel.jolley@staffs.ac.uk), to receive the full project outline and/or to enquire about this PhD opportunity.

Applications

Details on how to apply (alongside qualification requirements) for the funded PhD opportunity can be found here. Applications (a CV and a covering letter) need to emailed to the Staffordshire University Graduate School by 4th August 2017 (details and the email address for the Graduate School can be found here).


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire Centre. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams: Health and Behaviour Change and Applied Perception and Cognition.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

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

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

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

Dr Daniel Jolley

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

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

Dr Sarah Rose

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

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

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

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

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


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details, and to book your place at an open day, please visit: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

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

Dr Rob Dempsey blogs on the perceived use of ‘smart drugs’ by university students

Following recent reports of increases in the use of ‘smart study drugs’ by university students in the UK, Dr Robert Dempsey (Lecturer in Psychology & Co-director of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about his collaborative research which has received recent media attention:

Socially Normative: Perceived norms and acceptability of ‘smart drug’ use by students

Socially Normative is a blog written by Dr Robert Dempsey with colleagues Dr John McAlaney and Dr Bridgette Bewick – all of whom have research interests in understanding the influence of perceived social norms on behaviour, including the use of substances and online behaviours. Read more about their work via the Socially Normative website.


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire Centre. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams: Health and Behaviour Change and Applied Perception and Cognition.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

Watch: Dr Daniel Jolley discusses fake news and conspiracies ahead of the 2017 UK General Election

Dr Daniel Jolley

Dr Daniel Jolley (Lecturer in Psychology) has been featured as one of Staffordshire University’s Election Experts ahead of the June 2017 General Election.

Dr Jolley discusses some of the issues associated with fake news and beliefs in conspiracy theories based on his own research in relation to voting in the upcoming General Election – watch the videos below:

 

 

Find out more about Dr Jolley’s research in the Department of Psychology by visiting the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research website.


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire Centre. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams: Health and Behaviour Change and Applied Perception and Cognition.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

Dr Daniel Jolley blogs about his recent research on the psychology of conspiracy theories

Dr Daniel Jolley (Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about his recent research:

In a recent paper published in Political Psychology by myself, Karen Douglas and Robbie Sutton from the University of Kent, we found that conspiracy theories might be a way that people can defend their everyday lifestyle when society is under threat. In other words, conspiracy theories may sometimes bolster rather than undermine support for the social status quo when its legitimacy is threatened.

Conspiracy theories are associated with almost every significant social and political event, such as the suggested theory that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.  A similar thread throughout conspiracy narratives is that they point accusing fingers at authority (such as the government).  Conspiracy theories single out a small group of perceived wrongdoers who are not representative of society more generally but instead are working against us.  Believing in conspiracy theories may, therefore, give people the opportunity to blame the negative actions on these wrongdoers, thus then bolstering support for the social system in general; blaming a few bad apples to save a threatened barrel.

Mar17 DJ blog

This argument is in line with system justification theory which proposes that we all have a motivation to hold positive views about the society that we live in.  When our society is threatened, however, we seek to defend or bolster the status quo; for example, people may use stereotypes – which are mental shortcuts about different groups of people – to justify differences between people to maintain the status quo that we are used to.  In our new paper, we argue that belief in conspiracy theories may join the ranks of these system-justification processes.

We tested the system-justifying idea across several research studies, using both undergraduate students and members of the general public.  We found that conspiracy theories increased when the legitimacy of society was threatened, and that also being exposed to conspiracy theories increased satisfaction with the status quo when under threat.  We found that conspiracy theories were able to increase satisfaction with society in general because people blamed society’s problems on a small group of wrongdoers, rather than society in general.

This research provides a new understanding of the role that conspiracy theories may place in our society.  To directly quote the end of the paper: “The present results suggest that by pointing fingers at individuals – even groups of individuals charged with operating the system – conspiracy theories may exonerate the system, just as blaming a driver for a car crash shifts blame from the car.”

Reference: Jolley, D., Douglas, K.M, & Sutton R. (in press).  Blaming a few bad apples to save a threatened barrel: The system-justifying function of conspiracy theories.  Political Psychology.


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire Centre. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams, Health and Behaviour Change, and Applied Perception and Cognition.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).