Christmas Drinking: New research explores the effects of an appearance-focused intervention for alcohol use

By Dr Alison Owen, Lecturer in Psychology.

Research by Cancer Research UK suggests that young adults will drink an average of 62 units – the equivalent of 30 glasses of wine or 22 pints of beer – in the run-up to Christmas. As Christmas party season approaches, researchers in the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research & Centre for Health Psychology are looking into ways to encourage people to stick to the government’s recommended alcohol guidelines. Myself and Dr Keira Flett are in the initial stages of analysing research from a pilot study, looking at the impact of an appearance-focussed intervention designed to encourage safer alcohol consumption in students. The researchers are focusing on appearance following their previous research looking at smoking and UV exposure behaviours (Grogan et al., 2011a, 2011b; Flett et al., 2013, 2017; Williams et al., 2012, 2013a, 2013b, 2013c, 2014), which found that young people are more likely to be persuaded to change their health behaviours if they believe that carrying out that particular behaviour will damage their appearance.

Students taking part in the current study were shown how their skin may age if they drank in excess of the recommended guidelines, compared to how their skin may age if they drank within the considered healthy limits. They were able to see themselves ageing from their current age, up to the age of 72 years. Participants were recorded during the sessions, so that the researchers could hear how participants responded to the intervention as they viewed it. The researchers are currently in the process of analysing and writing up their findings. In the future, we plan to expand the research to compare the effectiveness of the appearance-focussed intervention with a health-focussed intervention, where participants read about the health impacts of binge drinking and drinking above the recommended alcohol limits.

The UK government guidelines state that to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis, and that if you regularly drink as much as this, it is best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days. If you are interested in finding out more about the recommendations or have any concerns about your alcohol consumption during this festive season and beyond, then please visit www.drinkaware.co.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 Stafford shire 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:

The Department of Psychology Celebrate Staff Success!

By Dr Robert Dempsey, Senior Lecturer in Psychology.

In October 2017, the Department of Psychology were pleased to celebrate winning three awards at Staffordshire University’s Celebrating Staff Success Ceremony held at the Kings Hall in Stoke-on-Trent. This yearly awards ceremony recognises the contributions and successes of staff working at the University across a range of roles.

The Department of Psychology had a number of nominated staff across a variety of award categories, including nominations for our Psychology and Me event (for public engagement), research impact (with both Professor Karen Rodham & Dr Amy Burton receiving nominations), as well as a People’s Choice Award nomination for Judy David‘s valued contributions to the successful running of the Department of Psychology.

The team were ecstatic to win three highly competitive University awards for: Living our Values – Brilliant and Friendly (Sarah Higgins), Best Newcomer (Dr Michael Batashvili), and Innovative and Applied Learning (Dr Robert Dempsey).

“I was so surprised to be nominated and then to win it was incredible. It felt amazing to receive the award, mainly because it reminded me how much I love my job and the people I work with, both students and staff.”

Dr Michael Batashvili, Lecturer in Psychology & Winner – Best Newcomer Award

 

“I am delighted and very proud to have received this award. I feel that the award is a reflection of the supportive and encouraging environment that I work in with my many brilliant colleagues and students. A big thank you to the nominator and to everyone that made achieving this award possible. The event was a lovely opportunity to celebrate and reflect on so many achievements from colleagues over the past year.”

Sarah Higgins, Technical Skills Specialist in Psychology & Winner – Living our Values – Brilliant & Friendly Award.

“It was a pleasure just to be nominated and invited to attend the ceremony. To win the award was a very nice surprise and motivates me to keep improving my teaching approaches and develop my students as independent learners, whilst also challenging them and having fun at the same time”

Dr Robert Dempsey, Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Winner – The Innovative and Applied Learning Award

 

“While it was fabulous to see some of our LSE staff winning awards at the CSS event, it was really pleasing to see so many LSE  nominations, and for both academic and professional staff. It was a really enjoyable event – connecting with staff from the many different parts of the University. A  much valued opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the many individual and team achievements within the School and across the wider University”

Dr Nigel Thomas, Head of the School of Life Sciences & Education

 


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:

Keith Walmsley-Smith discusses mid-life crises on BBC Radio Derby

Keith Walmsley-Smith (Lecturer in Psychotherapeutic Counselling) was featured on BBC Radio Derby’s Sally Pepper Show (Monday 20th November 2017) discussing why some people experience a ‘mid-life crisis’ and whether there are any possible benefits to behaving younger than your actual age.

 

You can hear Keith’s interview via the BBC iPlayer link below (from 1 hour, 16 minutes approx. into the show):

BBC Radio Derby: Sally Pepper Show (20/11/17)

Keith teaches counselling to students studying Staffordshire University’s BSc (Hons) Psychology & Counselling degree and professional postgraduate counselling courses.


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:

 

Grégory Dessart joins the Department of Psychology on a six-month research visit!

The Department of Psychology is pleased to welcome Grégory Dessart, an international researcher who has joined the Department’s Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research for a six month visit to work with researchers based in the Centre. Grégory introduces himself below:

It is a pleasure for me to work at Staffordshire University as a visiting academic scholar until the beginning of April 2018. I am receiving supervision from Dr. Richard Jolley. My current and main research interests lie in the visual symbolization of abstract notions and their individual development.

More specifically, I am exploring children’s drawings of God through their socio-normative, conceptual and emotional aspects as part of my PhD at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), under the supervision of Prof. Pierre-Yves Brandt. The research lies at the crossroads between developmental psychology, gender studies and the psychology of religion. My main focus has been on data from French-speaking Switzerland. However, my thesis is part of an international project – “Drawings of gods” – funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation for which over 6,000 drawings from eight different countries have so far been collected (http://ddd.unil.ch/).

It is the emotional messages in drawings of God from the Swiss sample that I will be examining during this research visit, and is the key reason I contacted Dr. Jolley because of his research expertise in the expressive aspects of children’s drawings. For instance, we will be examining a range of questions about the emotional intensity, valence and anthropomorphism in pictures such as the one below, and whether they vary according to age, gender, religious schooling and religious practice of the children.

Prior to my PhD, I obtained a degree in psychology from the University of Liège (Belgium) in 2010 where I specialized in CBT and clinical neuropsychology. My primary field of research was then rooted in cognitive psychopathology and the observation of sub-clinical symptoms in the general population. My Master’s thesis explored the effects of childhood trauma on the proneness to face psychotic-like experiences in adulthood through the mediation of stress sensitivity and emotion regulation strategies.

Setting off on a new journey to analyze children’s drawings has been quite refreshing.  In fact, inspecting the data was fun before even looking to have them scored into numbers and stats. Drawings are likely to be read on many different levels, which makes them all the more attractive as a researcher, but also very challenging. This can sometimes feel like wearing many hats at the same time and trying to keep them in balance. However, I am happy to have embarked on this fascinating journey and to have met Dr. Richard Jolley whose long expertise in the field is very beneficial to my work and myself as a drawing researcher-to-be.

I am also fortunate to work in a vibrant research department that boasts several drawings researchers, including Dr. Sarah Rose, Dr. Claire Barlow and Dr. Romina Vivaldi (another visiting academic researcher whose visit you can read about here). I would be glad also to bounce research ideas with you, but also to chat about the meaning of life or whatever over a cup of coffee. Feel free to drop me an email (Gregory.Dessart@staffs.ac.uk).


Grégory first emailed me in July last year expressing an interest to spend some research time in the Department of Psychology, inviting me to work with him on the ‘Drawings of gods’ project. How children depict God has been a long-standing interest of mine, and Grégory’s proposal presented an opportunity to do some collaborative research on a large sample of drawings already collected. So, it is with great pleasure that we have been able to make this research visit happen. Although I hadn’t had any previous contact with Grégory before, we both attended the BPS Developmental Psychology Section conference in Belfast a couple of months later, and then I was invited to give a research talk at the University of Lausanne in April this year (you can read about my visit here). These opportunities to meet helped us to initiate potential research ideas, and since Grégory arrived in the Department in early October we have been working on formulating a coherent set of research questions about the expressive aspects of the 500 or so drawings from the Swiss sample. We intend to involve artists (and potentially non-experts) to score the drawings, which will be funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Dr. Richard Jolley, Senior Lecturer in 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).

Dr Manpal Singh Bhogal joins the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University!

By Dr Mani Bhogal, Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire University.

Dr Manpal Bhogal

I am delighted to join the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University. The Psychology Department here is full of talented, friendly and welcoming staff! Here is a bit of background about me:

I studied Psychology at the University of Wolverhampton, graduating in 2007. I thoroughly enjoyed the course, and it was after completing my undergraduate dissertation I realised that I loved research. I then went onto complete a MSc in Health Psychology at Aston University, but at the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted a career researching social evolutionary psychology. I went onto work in public health departments in the NHS as a health improvement advisor, working in smoking cessation and weight management services. There I used psychological principles to design a weight loss programme for clinically obese clients. I then began studying for my PhD whilst working for the NHS. I left the NHS in 2014.

I studied for my PhD on a part-time basis at the University of Wolverhampton in 2011, under the supervision of Dr. Niall Galbraith and Prof. Ken Manktelow. My research focussed on exploring sexual selection theory and altruistic/cooperative behaviour. My research explored whether people were more altruistic towards those they find attractive, with a methodological framework founded on behavioural game theory. I graduated with my PhD in September 2017.

Whilst completing my PhD, I took a full-time post at Coventry University in 2014 as an assistant lecturer in psychology. There I taught on the undergraduate psychology course and supervised several dissertation projects. I joined the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University in October 2017.

My current research interests relate to Evolutionary Psychology and Social Psychology. Much of my research explores mate selection and romantic relationships, including altruism, sexual jealousy and sexual infidelity. I have published several papers in the field, and I am currently an editorial board member for Springer journal ‘Current Psychology’.

I am thrilled to be at Staffordshire University, working as part of an excellent team of psychologists. If you would like to get in touch, you can follow me on Twitter @DrManiBhogal.


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 Sarah Rose comments on children’s fussy eating for The Sentinel

Dr Sarah Rose

Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Psychology & Director of the Children’s Lab at Staffordshire University) was featured in The Sentinel Newspaper commenting on a news story about children’s fussy eating behaviours and how to encourage children to eat a variety of foods.

Read the story in full via the Stoke/Staffordshire Sentinel website:

The Sentinel: Here’s what to do if your child is a fussy eater

Dr Sarah Rose is a researcher in Developmental Psychology and Course Leader for Staffordshire University’s BSc (Hons) Psychology & Child Development degree.


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 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:

New research links ADHD to multisensory integration

Dr Maria Panagiotidi

Dr Maria Panagiotidi (Lecturer in Psychology & Member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about her new paper investigating sensory integration and ADHD:

In our daily life, we often take in information from multiple senses at the same time. As we interact with the environment, signals from various senses are integrated to create unified and coherent representation of our surroundings. This process is known as “multisensory integration”. The ability to integrate information from multiple senses has been shown to be abnormal in certain disorders such as autism. Anecdotal evidence suggests that individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) might also have deficits in multisensory integration. ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder and in roughly half of the children diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms persist into adulthood. It is characterised by attentional difficulties, hyperactive/impulsive behaviour, or both. ADHD can be viewed as the extreme end of traits found in the general population.

In a recent paper published in “Acta Psychologica”, we empirically tested multisensory integration in individuals with high and low level of ADHD traits and found significant abnormalities in the way they integrate visual and auditory signals. Specifically, adults who reported more inattention and hyperactivity symptoms, processed sensory information differently than adults with fewer symptoms.

In total, 40 participants with high and low ADHD traits were recruited and took part in a lab based task; they were presented with a series of brief sounds and simple images and were asked to decide whether they appeared at the same time or not. The image and the sound were presented either simultaneously or with slight delays (image before the sound or vice versa). The responses of the participants were used to measure multisensory integration. The effect of ADHD symptoms on performance was investigated by comparing the responses of the high and the low ADHD groups. The low ADHD group reported a higher number of simultaneous presentations. This finding suggests that individuals with ADHD symptoms are less likely to integrate multisensory information.

Perceiving signals from two or more modalities as occurring separately can lead to distractibility, one of the core and most disruptive symptoms of ADHD. Showing that ADHD might be linked to abnormal integration of sensory information also informs our understanding of neural mechanisms involved in the disorder. In particular, it provides further evidence for the involvement of the midbrain superior colliculus (SC) – a sensory structure linked to orienting the eyes and head towards salient stimuli – in ADHD (located towards the top of the image).

Our study identified a new area of focus for future ADHD research, which could potentially improve our ability to diagnose and assess ADHD. In addition to this, our results may provide future directions for possible ADHD treatment and behavioural interventions.

You can read the publication via the below link:

Panagiotidi, M., Overton, P. G., Stafford, T. (2017). Multisensory integration and ADHD-like traits: Evidence for an abnormal temporal integration window in ADHD. Acta Psychologica, 181, 10-17.


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 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:

Dr Daniel Jolley featured on BBC Radio Stoke talking about why people believe in conspiracy theories

Dr Daniel Jolley

Dr Daniel Jolley (Lecturer in Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Stuart George evening show (9th October 2017) discussing why people might believe in conspiracy theories, his conspiracy theories research, and his appearance on TruTV’s Adam Ruins Everything TV show.

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 1hr, 17 mins, 35 seconds in):

BBC iPlayer: BBC Radio Stoke: Stuart George Show

Dr Jolley was also featured on BBC Radio Derby talking about conspiracy theories relating to Theresa May’s Conservative Party Conference Speech (click here).


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: