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:

PhD Student Blog: Attending the 1st Keele-Staffs Joint Psychology Postgraduate Conference

Darel Cookson (Psychology PhD student, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about the recent inaugural Keele-Staffs Psychology Postgraduate Conference, with postscript from Dr. Richard Jolley (PhD Psychology course leader)

On the 25th April, 2018 the first Joint Keele and Staffordshire University Psychology Postgraduate Conference was held at Keele University. Although Keele have been running the conference for a number of years, this was the first time the event was organised and ran in collaboration with Staffordshire University. Consequently the event was an ideal opportunity for postgraduate researchers at the neighbouring institutions to share their research and build networks.

The conference was directed by Professor Claire Fox (Postgraduate Research Co-ordinator in Psychology at Keele University) and Dr Richard Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Psychology and PhD course leader at Staffordshire University). The organisation was led by the student committee which consisted of myself from Staffordshire University and Emma Harrison and Charlotte Bagnall, second and first year Keele Psychology PhD students, respectively. Collaborating with fellow PhD students from Keele was an immensely enjoyable and rewarding experience.

The morning began with an introduction and welcome from Professor Claire Fox, before the postgraduate speakers commenced. The first presenter was Keele PhD researcher, Olly Robertson, who gave a dynamic and informative overview of her current study. Olly is investigating whether perceived deficits in emotional regulation are associated with heart rate variance; who knew that the time between heart beats was so important? I gave the second presentation discussing the antecedents and consequences of belief in conspiracy theories, while revealing the rationale for my initial PhD investigations. This was followed by a thought-provoking account of the implementation of an innovative domestic abuse prevention programme by Keele MSc student Jess McElwee. Her research assessed student responses to a ‘Love Hurts’ play, aimed at addressing teenage relationship abuse and found that students felt theatre was an effective means of delivery, while further exploration into issues of trust and gender were suggested. The final presentation of the morning session was by Keele PhD student Angela Blanchard. Angela is conducting an autoethnography of childhood emotional neglect, and provided a compelling description of her data collection process and the resultant model she is developing. The model comprises ten themes evolved from thematic analysis.

Lunch was accompanied by poster presentations and of course we had time for a group photo too.

Figure 1. Did you even attend a conference if you didn’t pose in front of the posters?

There was a wide-variety of psychology sub-disciplines represented by the posters:

  • Recollection and familiarity- Memory for pictures and words. Jamie Adams (Keele).
  • The effects of early and late sleep on false memory. Zainab Alyobi (Keele).
  • Student Bullying in Higher Education: The Story So Far. Emma Harrison (Keele).
  • How do we attribute blame and responsibility for alcohol addiction? Claire Melia (Keele).
  • Utilizing eye-tracking to investigate the role of attention in emotional false memory formation. Emma Roberts (Staffordshire).

The afternoon session began with an introduction and welcome by Dr Richard Jolley, proceeded by the first afternoon speaker. Angela Bonner, a PhD student from Staffordshire University, gave an engaging and informative review of her current research. Angela is investigating the impact of glucoregulatory control on emotional recognition memory, when blood glucose is elevated. The second speaker of the afternoon was Kara Holloway, a PhD researcher from Keele. Kara shared her research; implementing a video-based student alcohol intervention, delivered through an app. The intervention included personalised feedback on the harms of drinking and social norming information and preliminary findings were shared. Charlotte Bagnall then discussed how her BSc and MSc research has informed her current PhD study: Improving children’s emotional well-being over primary-secondary school transition. Charlotte has conducted case study research and focus groups to inform her targeted emotional-resilience support intervention aimed at improving children’s experiences of this transition.

After a caffeine re-fuel, the afternoon session continued with Amelia Rout, a part-time PhD student from Staffordshire University, presenting her current research exploring the success of non-traditional students in higher education. Amelia’s research uses mixed methods to examine the influence of self-esteem and self-efficacy on academic success and preliminary findings show that issues around self-confidence and study skills of non-traditional students are often interlocking. The final presenter of the day was Daniella Hult-Khazaie, a PhD researcher from Keele University who provided an in-depth and engaging overview of her PhD area and planned studies. Daniella is investigating the effect of a shared social identity on health risk perceptions in mass gathering; does the sense of a shared social identity influence people’s perceptions of susceptibility to health risks at mass gathering?

Dr Sarah Rose’s keynote

As is illustrated above, there was great research shared from a wide-variety of sub-disciplines in Psychology. The day closed with an honest, informative and engaging Keynote from Dr Sarah Rose. Dr Sarah Rose is a Psychology Lecturer and Course leader for the BSc Psychology and Child Development degree at Staffordshire University and gave an overview of her career pathway which has led her from Staffordshire, to Keele and back! For all the PhD students listening, Sarah’s talk was invaluable and inspiring; thank you for sharing Sarah!

Thank you to all who attended the first Joint Keele and Staffordshire University Psychology Postgraduate Conference and for making it a success. And a huge congratulations to Kara Holloway and Claire Melia, who won best presentation and best poster respectively!


As course leader of the Psychology PhD students at Staffordshire University I was delighted to be offered the opportunity by our Keele colleagues to develop the first joint postgraduate conference between our two universities. Professor Claire Fox commented that this year’s event was the best ever, and we will certainly be working together to continue and develop this conference on a yearly basis. Next year it may well be held at Staffordshire University, watch this space!

This year’s inaugural conference was very professionally organised by the committee of PhD students.The schedule of talks was perfectly organised, with a very good balance of topics and talks from both departments, with well-placed breaks. Professional event organisers could not have done a better job!

If you are interested in studying for a PhD in the Department of Psychology we have nearly 50 academic members of staff, with expertise covering the full range of subdisciplines in psychology: biological, cognitive, developmental, individual differences, and social.  In addition, we have expertise in clinical, counselling and health psychology, running professional programmes in all of these subjects. A range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies is employed throughout the department.

Please contact me at r.jolley@staffs.ac.uk for all PhD enquiries.

Dr. Richard Jolley


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 University. 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. Richard Jolley visits the University of Thessaly to present research on children’s expressive drawings

Dr Richard Jolley

In the second of two blogs, Dr Richard Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Psychology and member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about a research visit to Greece:

On May 23rd I set off to Volos, Greece on an invited trip to the University of Thessaly. I had been asked to give a talk on the development of children’s expressive drawings, and to provide assistance with the Greek translation of my book, ‘Children and Pictures: Drawing and Understanding’.

I set out with some trepidation for the navigation from Athens airport to Volos using a connection of Greek buses and taxis felt like a considerable challenge.  However, the excellent instructions I’ve been given by Dr Fotini Botini, the scientific editor of the Greek translation of my book and the organiser of my talk to her students, made travelling across Greece seem very straightforward. Nevertheless, door-to-door the trip did take a full day and half the night, and I arrived shortly after midnight the next day. None of that seem consequential when I looked at the view from my hotel window the following morning!

 

My talk presented later that day was received by a group of very motivated and interested postgraduate students who certainly kept me on my toes! The talk was an overview of how children express mood in pictures, and the techniques they use (more details of these can be found in my blog about my research trip to the University of  Lausanne).

I also presented data on the pattern in which children’s expressive drawing develops. An influential and long-standing position is that children’s expressive and aesthetic drawings develop in a U-shape. That is, young children’s drawings are thought to be particularly expressive and creative, but then dip during the school years due to a focus on making realistic representations, only then for expressiveness to re-emerge for some adolescents. However, this position has been argued to depend upon measuring the drawings from a ‘modernist’ perspective which places more emphasis on how children have used abstract formal properties (colour, line, composition, etc.) for expressive and aesthetic purposes. I presented my own research conducted with colleagues from both the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University (Dr Claire Barlow) and other institutions (Prof Ken Rotenberg, Keele University; Dr Maureen Cox, University of York). Our findings showed that expressive drawing develops in an age-incremental pattern from pre-schoolers to adult artists, but if the scores are adjusted to limit the impact of the participants’ ability to draw visually realistically then the developmental pattern does indeed tend towards a U-shape.

Immediately following the talk, I had a fascinating discussion with the students who very ably picked up some of the methodological issues in my research which we were then able to apply to their own research studies. Here are a couple of quotes:

“A while ago I was participating to a seminar in “Children Drawings Research Methodology” that Mr. R. Jolley was the main speaker.

It was revealing the way that he was explaining to the audience (us) all the details of children’s drawing that we should pay attention to in research, using several examples during his presentation that made absolutely clear what he was talking about!  He also thoroughly answered all our questions that made obvious his knowledge, interest and love that he has for his research field that transmitted clearly to us!

By the end of the seminar, I was already thinking about abstract expression, color, lines, composition, overall quality and stories that children drawings may be telling us!

Thank you for the exceptional presentation, Dr. Jolley!!”

Olga Michailidou, Grammar School teacher

 

“Professor Jolley’s lecture was well structured. He provided a review of his previous work and the learning goals for the lecture being delivered. He demonstrated enthusiasm in his presentation and he asked questions to ensure our engagement with the topic. To conclude I believe that Dr. Jolley communicated his energy and enthusiasm for his research work, he was inspirational for the students and the new researchers.”

Aspasia Mantziou, PhD Student

 

Expressive drawing is just one part of my wider interest in children’s making and understanding of pictures, and in 2010 Wiley-Blackwell published my book in this area. It has been particularly pleasing for me that the book is currently being translated both in Chinese and in Greek. Dr Bonoti is editing the Greek translation to be published by Topos Books, in which I will be writing a preface. The following day of my trip presented an opportunity for me to clarify the meaning of some sentences of the original text. Our discussion reminded me of how much metaphor and symbolism we use in language, but when translated literally into another language this can lead to confusion!

The topic of children and pictures is not just a research interests of mine, but also a subject in which students at Staffordshire University learn about.  For nearly 20 years it has been a final year option for students studying for a degree across our psychology programmes, and has always been popular and well received by the students.

References

Jolley, R.P., Barlow, C.M., Rotenberg, K.J., & Cox, M.V. (2016). Linear and U-shape trends in the development of expressive drawing from pre-schoolers to adult artists. Psychology of Creativity, Aesthetics and the Arts, 10, 309-324.

Jolley, R.P. (2010). Children and Pictures: drawing and understanding. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.


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. Richard Jolley visits the University of Lausanne to discuss children’s expressive drawings

Dr Richard Jolley

Dr Richard Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Psychology and member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about a recent international visit to present his research:

It is always a pleasure (and indeed an honour) to be invited to speak about one’s research at another University, but particularly so when that University is abroad. So, I set off on April 26th to Lausanne, Switzerland, very much looking forward to presenting my work on the development of children’s expressive drawings. An additional bonus was that I’d been invited to a workshop on ‘children’s drawings of gods’, as I had a theological as well as a psychological interest in this topic.

The trip however did not begin well, as I discovered just before I landed in Geneva that the currency I brought with me was Swedish Kroner rather than Swiss francs; a lesson to be learned if one acquires foreign currency from a supermarket! The difference in Kroner and Franc exchange rates meant I had the equivalent of around 6 pounds worth of currency, not something that goes very far in Switzerland! Nevertheless, I managed to get a train to Lausanne, and although arriving very late at night I quickly discovered that the city is built on a sharply-rising terrain providing (once morning arrived!) beautiful sights of Lake Geneva below.

On the first day I attended a workshop on an international project of “Drawings of gods” led my Professor Pierre-Yves Brandt. So far, they have collected over 6000 children’s drawings from 8 countries (http://ddd.unil.ch/). In the workshop I was invited to comment on the drawings from my expertise in the expressive aspects of children’s drawings, but I was also struck by their theological significance, particularly those drawings that presented God from a Christian perspective that I am more familiar with.  Some drew God in human form, most noticeably in a ‘Jesus-type’ figure dressed in flowing multi-coloured clothes expressing peace and love. Other pictures were equally expressive but showed God in less concrete forms, and in more ethereal settings of clouds and heavens, such as the one below.

The child wrote the following about the drawing (translated from French):

“I drew God as though he was putting a smile and laughter bouts to people who call him and they are happy.  By talking to him they get colours, animals as well as humans”

Because of the cross-cultural nature of the project God was presented somewhat differently in countries where other faiths such as Islam and Buddhism are more prominent. But regardless of age, educational and religious background many of the drawings expressed a personal communication of how each child saw God.

In the afternoon I presented my talk to staff and students on the development of children’s expressive drawings. The talk began with an overview of the different techniques children use to express moods and emotions in drawings, particularly literal (e.g. a smiling face), content (the countryside scene on a sunny day) and abstract (bright colours, uplifting lines, balanced composition, etc.). All three of these techniques can be seen in the following drawing:

The developmental path in which children improve the expressive quality of their drawings has been a long-standing debate in the literature, and one part of the talk discussed a recently published article in which I was the lead author (Jolley, Barlow, Rotenberg & Cox, 2016) that addressed this question.  Our findings showed that although children generally improve the expressive quality of their drawings with age, this is somewhat facilitated by their increasing ability to use representational realism.  However, once the children’s representational drawing ability is statistically controlled for the developmental pattern tends towards a U-shape curve, with very young children and adolescents/young adults producing expressive drawings of higher quality than school-age children.

During my visit I also had the opportunity to discuss ideas for future work with Grégory Dessart, a PhD student working within the ‘Drawings of gods’ project. Grégory will be working in the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University as an academic visiting researcher for 6 months from the beginning of October. His stay will overlap another visiting researcher who is currently working with me, Dr. Romina Vivaldi from Argentina, who you can read about here.

This trip to Lausanne was soon followed by a research trip to University of Thessaly, details of which will follow in a separate blog (click here to read about my trip to Greece).

This pair of trips was very humbling to see one’s work and ideas influencing researchers from other countries. The conversations that ensue not only continue to drive my research interests in this area of children’s making and understanding of pictures, but also impact my teaching in this subject, particularly in the final year option psychology students at Staffordshire University can choose in this subject that I lead.

References

Jolley, R.P., Barlow, C.M., Rotenberg, K.J., & Cox, M.V. (2016). Linear and U-shape trends in the development of expressive drawing from pre-schoolers to adult artists. Psychology of Creativity, Aesthetics and the Arts, 10, 309-324.

Jolley, R.P. (2010). Children and Pictures: drawing and understanding. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.


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 Richard Jolley featured on BBC Radio Stoke discussing gender differences in religious beliefs

Dr Richard Jolley

Dr Richard Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology) was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Sunday Morning Breakfast Show with Liz Ellis (Sunday 1st May) discussing the reasons why more women than men appear to have religious beliefs.

Listen to Richard’s interview via the BBC iPlayer (click here) – Richard can be heard from 2 hour 8 minutes into the programme.

Richard teaches across a range of Psychology modules at Staffordshire University, including a specialist Children & Pictures course based on his research into the development of children’s drawing ability. More details about the course and other Psychology degrees at Staffordshire University can be found here.


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.

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

Research Digest: New Research by Staffordshire’s Psychologists Presented at Conferences

The beginning of September can be a particularly busy time for academics. Not only are academic staff busy preparing for the new teaching semester, we are also busy conducting our own research and presenting this work at conferences across the UK and beyond! Here are some updates on recent conference presentations featuring new research conducted by academic staff from Staffordshire University’s Department of Psychology:

Developmental Psychology: Children’s Creative Intentions in Drawing

The Annual British Psychological Society Developmental Section Conference was held in Manchester this year. This conference is an opportunity for researchers (from students to Professor level) to hear about new research and ideas in Developmental Psychology. It also a great opportunity to catch up with likeminded researchers, many of whom become friends over the years, and attend social events, including the conference Gala Dinner.

SR & RJ Oct 15

Dr Sarah Rose & Dr Richard Jolley

This year two of our Developmental Psychology Team, Dr Richard Jolley and Dr Sarah Rose, attended the conference and presented work on children’s creative intentions in drawing. This is a new area of research as although we know an increasing amount about how children’s drawing skills develop we know very little about where they actually get their ideas about what to draw from. Sarah and Richard presented qualitative research suggesting that children are inspired by a wide range of sources when deciding what to draw, including their immediate surroundings, recent experiences, memories, imagination and motivation to express their thoughts and emotions.

BPS West Midlands Conference: Health Psychology, Keynotes, Social Norms & Brand Recognition!

Various members of staff and students, including many from Staffordshire’s Centre for Health Psychology, attended the British Psychological Society’s West Midlands Branch Conference held in Coventry in early September. The conference was an opportunity for students (both undergraduate and postgraduate), early career researchers and academic researchers to present their own research and hear about the latest psychological research being conducted in the West Midlands region.

Professor Karen Rodham, Keynote Talk

Professor Karen Rodham, Keynote Talk

Professor Karen Rodham, Professor of Health Psychology at Staffordshire University and current Chair of the BPS Division of Health Psychology, gave an engaging and insightful keynote talk about her practice and research working to better understand how people cope with chronic health conditions such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Karen discussed her background in Health Psychology, her practice work and ongoing projects into how people cope with and manage chronic pain, including some interesting new research into how individuals represent chronic pain through drawings or portraits.

Oct 15 Dempsey Poster

Dr Rob Dempsey’s poster presented at the BPS WM Conference

Other presenters from Staffordshire University included Dr Rob Dempsey who presented findings from the recent European Commission-funded SNIPE (“Social Norms Intervention for Polydrug usE in university students“) study, included recent work demonstrating that European students have similar overestimations of their peers’ cannabis use behaviours as found in North America. This study is part of an ongoing series of projects conducted by Rob and several Masters in Health Psychology students investigating the role of misperceptions of peer norms (attitudes and behaviours) in health-related behaviours, such as help seeking for various health issues, substance use behaviours, and self-screening behaviours for cancer (e.g. testicular self-examination).

Oct15 JPB Poster

Jenny’s poster

Also presenting data was Jenny Parfitt-Bowman, a PhD student working on a cognitive psychology research project into branding and consumer behaviour using eye-tracking equipment under the supervision of Dr Louise Humphreys and Dr Emily Buckley. Jenny’s research is investigating the processing of brand information when certain features of the product packaging (e.g. location) is manipulated.

 

 

BPS Cognitive Section Conference: Product Branding & Facial Recognition

Dr Louise Humphreys, and PhD student Jenny Parfitt-Bowman, also presented their research at the Annual British Psychological Society Cognitive Section Conference which was held in Kent. Their presentations were on the topic of product branding. In particular, Louise’s presentation discussed the role of automatic and voluntary processes in locating and recognising a branded product, and Jenny’s presentation considered the impact of brand manipulation on visual attention disruption and accurate product recognition (see below for pictures).

Oct 15 JPB Kent 1Oct 15 JPB Kent 2

Also attending the BPS Cognitive Section Conference was Dr Andrew Edmonds, who has posted his own report on new developments in facial recognition research as discussed at the conference (click here to read Andrew’s blog post).


Academic staff at Staffordshire University’s Psychology Department have a wide range of research interests which directly informs their teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate students. The department is home to two centres of research excellence: the Centre for Psychological Research and the Centre for Health Psychology.

For more information about courses offered by the department please click here, including information about our BPS accredited Stage 1 Health Psychology Masters, Stage 2 Health Psychology Professional Doctorate, as well as our new MSc/MA by Research and established MPhil/PhD programmes.