The Second Joint Keele-Staffs Psychology Postgraduate Conference held in June 2019

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

After the success of the first Joint Keele and Staffordshire University Psychology Postgraduate Conference in 2018, we teamed up with the Keele School of Psychology again to host the 2nd Conference. This year, the event took place at Staffordshire University.

Dr Richard Jolley welcoming everyone to the conference

The conference was directed by Dr Richard Jolley (Associate Professor in Psychology, Staffordshire University) and Dr Masi Noor (Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Keele University). The organisation was led by the student committee which consisted of myself and Charlotte Bagnall and Kimberley Dundas (Keele Psychology PhD students). Collaborating with fellow PhD students from Keele for a second time was immensely enjoyable and has helped build a supportive Psychology PhD community across our neighbouring universities.

The morning began with an introduction and welcome from Dr Richard Jolley, after which our first speaker, first year Staffordshire University PhD researcher, Tanya Schrader, began the talks. Tanya gave a brilliant overview of their first PhD study, investigating whether there is a relationship between belief in conspiracy theories, aggression and acceptance of violence.

The next PGR presenter was Olly Robertson from Keele University. Olly presented the findings from an experimental study assessing the moderating role of swearing on emotional regulation; and this was all explained through Harry Potter! Francesca Cornwall from Staffordshire University presented next and gave an engaging overview of their PhD plans, consisting of three stages with the aim of understanding how adults can elicit higher order thinking skills from two-year-olds during their playful activities and physical signs of pleasure. The final PGR presentation from the morning session was from Megan Hermolle from Keele University. Megan is a first year PhD student and presented thought-provoking findings from a huge survey conducted, exploring the extent of Rape Myth Acceptance in the UK at present, in a gender inclusive manner.

We then welcomed our first Keynote speaker, Dr Andrew Stewart from The University of Manchester. Dr Stewart delivered a fascinating keynote, discussing how Open Science and reproducibility is changing the nature of psychological research. This was really useful for PGR students to understand the importance of Open Science practices and how we can incorporate this into our PhD research. Dr Stewart was incredibly generous with his time, answering several questions, in what became a discussion, and sharing resources which will be tremendously helpful.

Lunch was accompanied by poster presentations, which made a great backdrop for our group photo!

There was a wide variety of psychology sub-disciplines represented by the posters from both Staffordshire and Keele PGR students. This included school bullying, social norms and belief in conspiracy theories, maximising uptake and retention of participants in Type 2 Diabetes prevention programme and the social context of medial frontal negativity (MFN). 

The afternoon session began with an introduction and welcome by Dr Masi Noor, proceeded by the first afternoon speaker Charlotte Bagnall from Keele University. Charlotte’s research focuses on transitioning from primary school to secondary school. Charlotte delivered an excellent presentation, discussing the findings of research conducted in the USA, contrasting differences in school transition preparations and experiences reflective of the age and type of transition negotiated. The second speaker of the afternoon session was Halime Unver from Keele University. Halime presented the first two studies from her PhD, assessing the role of Secondary Transfer Effect of Intergroup Contact in the context of acceptance of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Halime presented extremely interesting findings with clear applications, particularly for activists in Turkey. The next presenter was Anthony Miller from Staffordshire University, who presented the findings from an experimental study manipulating challenge and threat states through social identity leadership. Anthony discussed how enactment of social identity leadership principles can improve performance and how this can be applied to sporting teams and workplace teams.

After a caffeine refuel, the afternoon session continued with Pattaramon Worawichayawongsa from Keele University, who presented their research investigating fear of happiness and its relationships with childhood adversity, attachment, self-esteem and emotion regulation. The final PGR presenter was Daniella Hult Khazaie from Keele University, who is investigating how social identity theory can explain health risk perceptions in mass gatherings, and their relation to identification with the crowd.

We then moved on to our second Keynote presentation from Professor Claire Fox (Keele University). Claire gave a fascinating and honest presentation discussing firstly the path to professor and then Claire’s main research interests, focussing on school bullying and relationship abuse. Claire also shared some ‘top tips’ for this journey which were incredibly inspiring and invaluable to the PGR’s in the audience.

There was brilliant, challenging and incredibly important research shared from a wide variety of sub-disciplines in Psychology, demonstrating the diversity of research being conducted across Staffordshire and Keele Psychology. The day drew to an end with a poster and presentation competition, where delegates could vote for the winners. Huge congratulations to Olly Robertson and Emma Harrison who won best presentation and best poster respectively! The prizes were very well deserved.

Thank you to all who attended the 2nd Joint Keele and Staffordshire University Psychology Postgraduate Conference and for making it a success.

After the success of last year’s inaugural conference at Keele University I was delighted to be able to host this year’s psychology postgraduate conference at Staffordshire University. It presented an exciting opportunity for our PhD students to present their research and network with fellow PhD students from our neighbouring institution.  Furthermore, the talks from our two external speakers provided a very useful combination of big picture and personal reflection perspectives on conducting research. It attracted an audience of over 50 staff and students, and the unanimous feeling was that the conference was a great success! The conference was again professionally organised by the conference committee, and my heartfelt thanks go to them. 

If you are reading this blog and are interested in studying for a PhD in the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University please get in touch with me for further information. We very much welcome applications.

Dr Richard Jolley

Associate Professor in Psychology and PhD Psychology Course Leader


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University. The Centre houses a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines.

For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).