Dr Sarah Rose blogs on attending the BPS Developmental Psychology Section Annual Conference

Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Psychology and Course Leader for Staffordshire University’s BSc Psychology and Child Development) recently attended the British Psychological Society’s Developmental Psychology Section Annual Conference, and blogs about her experience of the conference:

This year’s conference was in Belfast and included a wonderful mix of applied and more theoretical developmental psychology. The Conference was preceded by an inspiring public lecture in which Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk emphasised the importance of infant parent bonds not only on the child’s developing brain but for our vision for the kind of society we wish to build. This emphasis on the connections between children and the people around them was reflected in the Conference keynotes (Prof. Susan Golombok, University of Cambridge; Prof. Peter Hobson, University College, Tavistock Clinic; and Prof. Teresa McCormack, Queens University).

While at the conference I gave two research talks, presenting my work investigating the immediate impact of television on young children’s creativity and describing a new measure of creativity that I have been working on with Dr. Elena Hoicka from the University of Sheffield. Both talks were well attended and it was a great opportunity to get some feedback from others with interests in these areas.


Dr Sarah Rose presenting her children’s creativity research at the BPS Developmental Psychology conference (Photo credit: Dr. Sian Jones)

I also took to opportunity to present a poster showcasing work done by one of my 2015-2016 3rd year project students. This student, Grace Aldridge, developed an idea that I had become interested in when attending a talk at a previous Developmental Section Conference, this was that children have problems recognising angry dogs and this may contribute to them being at an increased risk of being bitten by a dog. Grace carried out an ambitious project in which she showed 135 young children 15 images and 15 video clips of dogs and asked them what emotion they thought each dog was experiencing and their intention to approach the dog. We found that the children were actually relatively good at recognising the dogs’ emotions. However, although the children were less likely to approach an angry dog there was no difference in their inclination to approach a happy or frightened dog. They appeared to be unaware that there might be problems approaching frightened dogs, and we think that this could contribute to the increased likelihood of them being bitten by a dog. There has been some great coverage of this research in the National and International press and we hope that our evidence can be used to emphasise the importance of teaching children how to behave safely around dogs, especially regarding approaching a frightened dog.


Dr Sarah Rose presenting her scientific poster at the BPS Developmental Psychology Section conference (Photo credit Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk)

The BPS Developmental Psychology Section Annual Conference is very friendly and welcoming and several presenters were showcasing work that they completed during Masters and PhD study. To find out more about the Section and plans for their 2017 Conference in Stratford Upon Avon see their website. Maybe see you there?

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Does television affect young children’s creativity?

New research at Staffordshire University aims to find out! Dr Sarah Rose, Lecturer in Developmental Psychology, is welcoming 60 children and their parents to the Psychology ‘Children’s lab’ on the third floor of the Science Centre during June and July. These children and their parents are contributing to new research on the immediate impact of watching television on children’s creativity.

When they arrive at the lab children are given an ‘unusual box’ to play with. The box has ledges of wood attached to it, loops and holes, and inside is a stairway. In order to test their creativity, the children are given unusual objects to use within the box. The different movements that the children make with the objects in the box, such as moving them up and down the stairs or balancing them on the shelves, are recorded and scored for creativity. Following this, the children either watch an old ‘slow-paced’ episode of Postman Pat from the 1990s, a recent more ‘fast-paced’ episode or are given books and jigsaws to read and play with.

The unusual box (SR)

The “Unusual Box”

To determine the effect of watching the TV episode, all the children are then set a number of action and movement tasks to complete, including exploring how many different ways they can get from one side of a room to another and get a paper cup into a bucket. Similar to the activity with the ‘unusual box’, the different movements are recorded and scored for creativity. The assessment of creativity is of course complex. In this study tasks requiring divergent thinking will be used, these will require children to move and behave in different ways. This is a particularly appropriate way to measure creativity in 3-year-old children who may or may not feel like talking to us when they visit the lab!

The Psychology Children’s lab now has a web presence (https://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/childrenslab/) and it is hoped that this project will be the first of many to take place in the lab. Sian Foulkes, a current level 6 student, is working as a research assistant to help Sarah to collect the data from the children and their parents. Student research assistants will also be involved in scoring the various tasks for creativity once they have received training. Sarah says ‘that it is exciting to be welcoming local children and their parents to the children’s lab to take part in ground breaking research and being able to provide hands on research experience for students is very important too’.

For more details about the Children Lab click here. Interested in Child Development? The Psychology department at Staffordshire University also runs a successful BPS-accredited BSc (Hons) Psychology & Child Development degree.