MSc Health Psychology Graduate wins National BPS Prize!

We are very pleased to announce that our own MSc in Health Psychology graduate Sarah Higgins has won the UK-wide award for ‘Outstanding MSc Thesis’ awarded by the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology. The competition for this award is stiff with course leaders from across the UK nominating the best MSc thesis from their cohort of students.

Sarah Higgins‘ thesis was entitled ‘The effects of nutrition label format on healthier dietary choices: A forced choice eye-tracking study’ was nominated by her supervisor Dr Heather Semper and course leader Dr Amy Burton as she achieved the highest mark in the 2014-15 cohort, and the work was of exceptional quality. Sarah completed her MSc in Health Psychology alongside a full time job as a Psychology Technician at Staffordshire University, and achieved a Distinction overall for her Masters’ degree.

Sarah Higgins presenting a poster version of her study at the Midlands Health Psychology Network conference in Stoke-on Trent on February 25th 2016.

Sarah Higgins presenting a poster version of her study at the Midlands Health Psychology Network conference in Stoke-on Trent on February 25th 2016.

Sarah’s thesis explored whether hybrid labels, which combine text values and traffic light colours, could improve the selection of healthier dietary choices and the attention to health-related nutrients. She used an eye tracker to investigate the label formats with 48 healthy participants. The analyses showed significantly lower correct selections of healthier dietary choices for colour-only vs. hybrid label formats. The colour-only and hybrid label formats were processed faster than the text-only label formats, with reduced fixation counts and fixation dwell times. For all label formats the percentage fixation dwell time was significantly greater for fats and sugars than other nutrients.

Supervisor Dr Heather Semper said “Sarah’s thesis was exceptional, and we are very pleased that she has won the award and very proud of her. She clearly worked very hard on the project and the topic is novel and interesting. We are currently in the process of writing this study up for publication in a peer reviewed publication. She has a very bright career in health psychology ahead of her”.

The award will be presented at the Division of Health Psychology’s Annual Conference in Aberdeen in August 2016 ( where she has been invited to present the paper in an oral presentation.

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. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise, one of the leading research-active academic schools for Psychology and Sport degrees situated in the heart of England.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:


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  1. Pingback: Sarah Higgins wins the National BPS/ATSiP Technical Support in Psychological Teaching Award! | InPsych @ Staffordshire University

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