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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

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

BSc Psychology & Counselling – Field trip to Beaudesert Care Farm

By Julie Faulkner, Course Leader – BSc (Hons) Psychology & Counselling

During the winter this year, we offered our Psychology and Counselling undergraduates the chance to don a pair of wellies and enter the hills of Cannock to experience the eco-therapeutic value of care farming at Beaudesert Park Farm. This is family-run cereal and cattle farm, in a beautiful setting on the edge of Cannock Chase. Fifteen of us travelled by coach to spend the afternoon with staff, members and volunteers, who offered a warm welcome and a range of taster activities.

What are care farms?

Due to increasing financial pressures on the British farming industry, many farmers need to explore alternative income streams to survive. Care farming is one example of this, based on the principles of ecotherapy, where the natural environment offers a therapeutic space. In the case of Beaudesert, this involved structured farm-based activities for people from vulnerable groups and extends to carpentry, crafts, preparing food for the team and walking. Many volunteers of the project are previous members who now support others. This work is funded by health, social care and education agencies, but this funding is not always available. Mary Cope, one of the farm’s owners explained how this type of purposeful activity has had a profound impact on the quality of life for people with mental health difficulties and their families. We heard how some members had previously been isolated in their homes without structure or social contact before attending the farm.

Sadly, funding for these programmes is becoming increasingly scarce. The Seeds of Hope Programme that supported these members came to an end due to lack of funds. But rather than leave them unsupported, the staff team decided to set up a weekly walking group, which is now exploring new locations for walks within the local countryside.

Our time at the farm

When we arrived, we were introduced to the ‘Rolls Royce’ of composting toilets! Then we were greeted by the group of members and volunteers in a modern, purpose-built educational facility. Mary told us about the work of the care farm, which also included a project for people with dementia and activities for school children. We were taken on a tour of the farm to feed goats, see the rare breed cattle and talk to members and workers about their experiences on the farm. Incidentally, most of the volunteers are previous members of the care farm’s programmes. John Hegarty, a keen eco-psychologist took us through a mindfulness exercise as we stood among the woodland. I could feel the tension of the day giving way to the calm of the present moment. Later, we were treated to home made cakes and hot drinks, whilst mingling with the team and weaving with corn. The students were able to ask questions and give their feedback about what had impacted them about the experience.

Final reflections

As we walked around the farm in coat and wellies and chatted with members, I could see how this setting created a sense of peace and how the people’s lives had been changed through coming in to this space, whether spending time alone in the beautiful setting or through practical tasks and being together in the rural setting.

This field trip was also a chance for students from all levels of the undergraduate course to take some time out of their studies to be together. In their own words, her are some of their thoughts:

“It was a great place to be with nature and to see how it helped the people who used the service”

“It was inspiring to witness how an environment offering a supportive network, acceptance and purposeful activity impacted and improved the lives of the people at the farm.”

It was such a success that we plan to repeat this trip in the coming year for any students on the BSc Psychology and Counselling Degree course.


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

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:

Staffs Psychology – 2018 Graduation Gallery!

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University held our Annual Graduation Ceremony at the beautiful Trentham Estate in July 2018. A selection of images from our Graduating Class of 2018 can be viewed below:

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Highlights from the Psychology graduation day and ceremony can be viewed below:


Thinking about applying for a Psychology degree at Staffordshire University via Clearing?

Visit our clearing pages for details of available places starting in September 2018: https://clearing.staffs.ac.uk/


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

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:

I’m a Scientist… get Dr Jolley out of here!

This Summer, Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) took part in I’m a Scientist, Get me out of Here.

The event involves two weeks of online chat with school children where, during the second week, the children vote for their favourite Scientist in X-Factor style. Dr Jolley was crowned the winner!

Dr Jolley was in the Society room, which was sponsored by the British Psychological Society and included other researchers who are involved in health psychology, alcohol and autism. Each day, there were 30-minute chats with school children from across the UK where no question was off limits. The children were able to ask our favourite pizza, what we love about our jobs and whether Beyonce is a robot. Dr Jolley commented:

 “The experience was challenging but so fun and rewarding! My research explores the psychology of conspiracy theories – so why do people believe climate science is a hoax or that Princess Diana was murdered by the Royal Family. The children really engaged with the topic – and not just asking about weird conspiracy theories (such as that Beyonce is a robot!!), but about why people believe.  We also talked about their potential harm. This, of course, was alongside my favourite pizza, which is a Margherita!”

The winner is awarded funds to help with further outreach work, which Dr Jolley is currently planning. He hopes to use the funding to educate children – and the public more generally – about the psychology of conspiracy theories: conspiracy theories are fun, but they can be quite worrisome! Click here if you want to learn more about Dr Jolley’s conspiracy theory research.

The Society Zone is freely available, so you can view all the profiles and content: https://societyj18.imascientist.org.uk/


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

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:

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:

Professor Karen Rodham to appear at Latitude Festival discussing the future of healthcare

Professor Karen Rodham (Professor of Health Psychology & Director of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) will be appearing at the Latitude Festival on Saturday 14th July discussing the future of healthcare and the role of self-management for people living with long term chronic conditions.

Professor Rodham will be participating in a discussion about new developments in healthcare practice with Robin Ince, Professor Daniel Davis and Professor Greg Hanon (click here for details). Professor Rodham will be discussing her experiences working as a Health Psychologist in the NHS with people living with long term pain conditions and the implications of self-management for patients, policy-makers and healthcare staff.

Professor Rodham has also written for the British Psychological Society’s The Psychologist publication on the topic of the use of self-management in healthcare – read more via:

Karen Rodham – Overrated: Self-management (The Psychologist)


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 Daniel Jolley discusses Grease conspiracy theories live on BBC Radio Derby

Dr Daniel Jolley (Lecturer in Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on BBC Radio Derby’s Sally Pepper’s show (8th June 2018) discussing why people believe in conspiracy theories and beliefs in a conspiracy theory relating to the character of Sandy in the film Grease.

You can listen to Dr Jolley’s interview via the below link (from 2hr, 14 mins, 30 seconds in):

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:

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: