A Successful Evening of Weird and Wonderful Psychology!

The Psychology department at Staffordshire University organised a successful community event, “Weird and Wonderful Psychology”, hosted in the University’s £30 million Science Centre in December 2015. Dr Robert Dempsey and Dr Nichola Street report on a highly entertaining “Weird & Wonderful Psychology” event:

cropped-Dec-15-WW-Psychology-Plasma.jpgOur event showcased some of the more unusual, fantastic and quite odd aspects of Psychology to an audience of visitors from the general public, students from local sixth form colleges, as well as staff and students from Staffordshire University. The event including a range of live demonstrations featuring the industry standard equipment used by staff and students in the Psychology department’s teaching and research activities.

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A Busy Science Centre

These demonstrations included the use facial ageing software to show visitors the potential effects of alcohol and smoking on facial appearance (as used in our health psychology research), using goggles to show the effects of macular degeneration and alcohol use on performance on simple day-to-day tasks, mindfulness-boosting activities, and whether we can use physiological measures of the stress response to detect when people are lying.

We even subjected the Head of the School of Psychology, Sport & Exercise, Dr Peter Jones, to our Human Lie Detector study – who was ably caught out by our Dr Gemma Hurst’s skills at detecting when he was lying!

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In addition to demonstrations by our Psychology lecturers, the event also included a number of demonstrations devised and performed by our Second Year Undergraduate Psychology students. Our students were tasked with designing and pitching their Weird & Wonderful demonstration as part of their Social Psychology module seminars, with the winners demonstrating their activity live on the night including delivering a short talk in front of our invited guests.

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Our “MindControllers” Student Group – investigating obedience and conformity!

Needless to say, our students did a fantastic job of performing their demonstrations on the night, including explaining how their activity demonstrates psychological phenomena to our invited guests. Our students demonstrated how we can unknowingly change our behaviours to authority figures, whether particular personality traits make for better leaders, how we can conform to perceived norms and obey authority figures, the “Chameleon Effect” when we change our expressions to match those of other people during “selfies”, through film showing how we can’t always see things changing in front of our eye known as “Inattentional Blindness“, and the power of stereotyping other people based on their appearance (see below for pictures).

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The Great British Psychology Bake-Off!

As part of the evening’s activities, a Psychology bake-off competition was held which featured assorted cakes and baked goods demonstrating various aspects of Psychology. Including Sigmund Freud Mince Pies, a Brain cake, the Big 5 Personality Traits, The Muller-Lyer Optical Illusion, gingerbread people demonstrating Twin Studies and Gender Stereotyping, as well as a unique set of cakes demonstrating a positive correlation (and a statistical outlier!) which were voted the winner of the Bake Off!

Dec15 WW Cakes GridVoting & Talks on Weird & Wonderful Psychology!

The event culminated in the attendees voting for the best student demonstration from the evening – with The Mind Controller’s winning first place with their demonstration exploring how individuals’ behaviour can be influenced and exploring the psychological fields of conformity and obedience. The event also featured a series of short talks by lecturers from the department on their research interests relating to the weirder and unusual aspects of Psychology, including Dr Daniel Jolley on “Climate Change is a Hoax! The Psychology of Why People Believe Conspiracy Theories”, Dr Andrew Edmonds on “Jesus in Toast – Why People see Faces in Unusual Places”, and Mel Hall on “Who You Gonna Call! Ghostbusters? The Psychology of the Paranormal”. All talks were well received by the audience and showcased some of the interesting and exciting research happening in the department.

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Mel Hall’s Talk on Parapsychology

Mel even gave a live demonstration of her psychic abilities by asking the audience to guess which number she was thinking of, with the majority correctly and spookily guessing “7”! Although there was a slight twist – our staff and students kept repeating the number 7 during the earlier demonstrations, so we’re not completely sure whether our colleague Mel is really psychic despite her claims otherwise!

The evening was a fantastic and very enjoyable event, and we were very pleased to see our guests getting enthused about Psychology and very proud of our students who presented their demonstrations in an engaging and professional manner.


Judy David, Academic Group Lead for Undergraduate Psychology at Staffordshire University, commented: “I was proud of how enthusiastically students and staff approached this event. So many people contributed, and it was great fun to be able to show off some of the more strange aspects of Psychology to both the public and our own students. There were some very interesting and stimulating activities and talks. I’m already looking forward to next year!

Dr Peter Jones, Head of the School of Psychology, Sport & Exercise, said: “I really love our Weird and Wonderful event. It’s great how it allows our students to showcase the importance of Psychology and how touches every part of our lives, plus it also involves the wider public as Staffordshire University is such an important part of our community”.


The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

Getting Psych’d about baking!

Next Tuesday (1st December) the Psychology department at Staffordshire University are excited to be hosting the ‘Weird and Wonderful Psychology Event’.

cropped-Dec-15-WW-Psychology-Plasma.jpgWe have an exciting line up including demonstrations and speakers lined up! There is also an opportunity for EVERYONE to be involved (students, staff and the public this is your chance) to submit a cake to the competition and win a prize.

Weird & Wonderful Psychology Bake-off!!

The psychology bake-off is open for entries from all budding bakers. To enter the competition you just need to bake and decorate a cake/biscuits with a psychology theme. To get your creative minds going here are some cakes that you could use for inspiration……

https://twitter.com/sugarplumpuds

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/203365739393681351/

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https://twitter.com/sugarplumpuds

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https://www.pinterest.com/pin/266979084130424150/

So get your aprons on and produce a psychology bake! The weirder and more wonderful the better!

If you have any questions about the competition and for further details on how to enter please get in touch with Nikki Street (Nichola.Street@staffs.ac.uk).

NB: Due to health and safety issues the cake will not be able to be eaten during the event and awarded prizes based on overall look of the image.


The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

Weird & Wonderful Psychology 2015!

The Psychology department at Staffordshire University are very pleased to announce a return of the “Weird & Wonderful Psychology” event in December 2015!

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The free event will be open to members of the public, staff and students from Staffordshire University, and will include demonstrations, talks and activities showing the weirder, unusual and generally wonderful aspects of Psychology!

Weird & Wonderful Psychology will take place on Tuesday 1st December 2015 from 5pm-8pm. More details about the event will appear on our #WWPsy15 homepage. Guests can book their place by emailing psychologyevents@staffs.ac.uk

Nov 15 WW15Come and Open Your Mind and Your Curiosity to the Weirder and Wonderful aspects of Psychology!


The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise’s Visiting Speaker Series 2015/16

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Dr Nichola Street

Dr Nichola Street announces a new edition of the Visiting Speaker Series in the School of Psychology, Sport & Exercise:

Each year the School holds a visiting speaker series hosting academics and practitioners working in a variety of settings around the UK. We encourage attendance from everyone with an interest in psychological research and practice and we hope to see students, staff and the general public attending and engaging with psychological research.

The series is held on Thursdays from 4-5pm on a (mostly) bi-weekly basis and begins next week on Thursday 1st October. In Semester 1 talks will be held in the Science Centre Lecture theatre R001 and Semester 2 in Ashley Lecture building LT2. To keep up to date with the schedule or for more information please visit the visiting speaker series webpage for information.

This year we have a great line up of speakers that show the current and up to date trends in a number of different areas within psychology. A wide range of topics will be covered by this year’s speakers including health psychology, face perception, forensic and investigative psychology, impact pathways in applying psychology as well as cognitive and experimental neuropsychology.

First Visiting Speaker: Dr Elena Hoicka, Thursday 1st October, 4pm

Visiting Speaker

Dr Elena Hoicka

Next week the series kicks off with Dr Elena Hoicka from University of Sheffield who will be coming to speak with us about her work in developmental psychology and particularly how ‘Toddlers think for themselves!’ the abstract for her talk below outlines the fascinating research she will be discussing.

‘Toddlers think for themselves!’

Social learning has been a large focus of early developmental psychology for the past two decades. While importantly revealing how culture is transmitted to young children, questions about how young children come up with their own ideas and learn for themselves have been largely ignored. In this talk, I will present research showing that toddlers can be creative and come up with their own ideas. I will focus on two streams of research – toddlers’ creation of their own novel jokes, and toddlers’ divergent thinking with novel objects. However, I will also demonstrate that social learning can be an important part of children’s independent learning and thought, suggesting both of these strands of learning are inter-connected.

New students, returning students, members of staff, and anyone with an interest in psychology are very welcome to come along! Hope to see you Thursday 1st Oct 4-5pm, R001 Science Centre for a chance to hear about the latest research in psychology.

For more information please contact the Visiting Speaker series organiser: Dr. Nikki Street  Tel: 01782 294672 Email: nichola.street@staffs.ac.uk


For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

Nichola Street Joins the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University.

The Psychology Academic team are pleased to welcome Nichola Street who joined the University as a Lecturer in Psychology in August 2015. Nichola introduces herself below:

I am delighted to be joining the team at Staffordshire University as a Lecturer in Psychology. My first week here was full of happy, friendly faces and learning my way around the building and campus!

NStreet Aug 15To give you a bit of background to my journey here, I began studying psychology at high school, and was hooked on the subject from the beginning. I went on to complete my undergraduate degree in Applied Psychology and PG Cert in Counselling and Psychotherapy at Liverpool John Moores University.

I had discovered a love of research during my degree and I started my PhD at Aberystwyth University in 2010 under the supervision of Dr Alex Forsythe. My PhD examined perceptions of visual beauty, focusing on the role that individual difference plays in aesthetic responses to natural shapes (fractals). I’d always been fascinated by the draw and hypnotic qualities of nature, and wanted to explore some of the factors that made these scenes so appealing to so many people. I transferred my PhD studies to University of Liverpool to complete my thesis. During the final year of my PhD I also worked as a Research Fellow at University of Salford with Dr Sarah Norgate (lead) on an EPSRC Digital Economy/ Energy 6th Sense Transport research in collaboration with Lancaster University and 3 other UK universities investigating travel behaviour. Our particular focus was the concept of ‘Walking School Buses’ and exploring how to reduce barriers to uptake with the support of a smartphone application ‘goWSB’. Most recently, over the last year, I have been working at University of Liverpool as a Lecturer in the School of Psychology. My role at Liverpool involved coordination for the international psychology module and working on the Online MSc Programmes in a Quality Assurance position. My time at Liverpool taught me many things but one stands outs, that there is an international need for psychological studies and education which should be encouraged as much as possible as psychologists often hold the key to helping tackle global issues in this increasingly global world.

My research focuses on some key underlying questions, namely how the environment in which we spend time can impact our behaviour and wellbeing. I enjoy interdisciplinary working and am currently collaborating with artists and scientists from a number of disciplines to explore this question further. The team and expertise here at Staffordshire is something that attracted me to the university. I was also drawn to the teaching and student-focus here at Staffordshire as I see supporting the next generation of psychologists is such an important task. Alongside my teaching, I’m excited to be taking on some public engagement responsibilities including organising the ‘Weird and Wonderful Psychology’ event to be held later in the year. I enjoy creative and collaborative events and find them very inspiring, so I am hoping to bring some of this passion to the students and wider Stoke population about the wonderful subject that is psychology!

Finally if you like social media, please follow me on twitter @NikkiCMJones, I try to tweet regularly mainly work and research related content alongside some personal stuff (mostly expect pictures of art/animals/food & drink!) and always appreciate making new connections. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into teaching and meeting more of the students and staff here at Staffordshire, so far so good and I’m very glad to be new to the team!