Dr Rob Dempsey wins ‘I’m a Scientist… Get Me Out of Here!’ Mental Health Zone (June 2019)

Dr Rob Dempsey (Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Mental Health, Course Leader – MSc Foundations of Clinical Psychology) took part in June 2019’s ‘I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here!’ public engagement event for schools and colleges. ‘I’m a Scientist’ is a two-week long online event where scientists working in a variety of fields answer a variety of questions posed to them by students in primary and secondary school through to 6th form. Students and scientists discuss topics in a series of online chats, with students also able to post questions online for scientists to answer.

Dr Dempsey took part in the British Psychological Society sponsored Mental Health Zone in June 2019 and was one of six psychologists working in mental health-related fields who took part in a number of live online chats over a two week period. The second week of the contest takes the form of an X-Factor style knock-out competition, where the scientist with the fewest number of student votes is eliminated each day with the victor announced at the end of the week. In a close contest, Dr Dempsey received the highest number of nominations and was crowned winner of the Mental Health Zone:

I was delighted to win I’m a Scientist’s Mental Health Zone, especially as this is based on nominations from students we chatted to over a two week period. The event is a great way for students of various ages to interact with scientists working in various fields and have their questions answered about our research and work in Mental Health. I hope that we managed to inspire some of the students to pursue careers working in Mental Health, and personally I hope that some will consider studying Psychology at A-Level and Degree level and pursuing careers in Psychology and Mental Health

Dr Rob Dempsey, Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Mental Health

Dr Dempsey wins a prize of £500 to spend on public engagement activities and is planning on producing a free video resource with supporting materials for use by high school and college teachers – the aim being to highlight why psychological approaches to understanding mental health-related issues are needed and how students can pursue careers in this area. Dr Dempsey conducts research focusing on understanding the psychological pathways implicated in the experience of common mental health-related complaints, and is hoping that this resource will help others to pursue similar careers in this area.


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. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

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.

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

Email: r.jolley@staffs.ac.uk


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).

Are you “Research Ready?” An introductory course to quantitative and qualitative methods

Dr Sarah Dean, Dr Jennifer Taylor, Dr Gemma Hurst and Dr Andrew Edmonds from the Psychology department at Staffordshire University are running a short introductory research methods course called “Research Ready”.

The course will introduce attendees to quantitative and qualitative research, covering topics such as: research design, research questions, qualitative analysis (thematic) and quantitative analysis (t-tests, correlations and ANOVAs using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS)).

The course will be delivered over two days, with day one focusing on research design and qualitative analysis, and day two quantitative data analysis. You have the option of signing up for a single day or both days. The course will be delivered in an interactive format with plenty of opportunities to ‘have a go’ and practice what you learn with friendly and experienced staff to support you!

The course takes place on Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th August 2019 and will be suitable for those who are completely new to research methods or for those simply wanting a refresher. Perhaps you have just graduated and feel as though you need a refresher before starting postgraduate study? Or you may be a current student who would find this helpful as revision over the summer? Maybe you have got no research experience but would like to learn to develop and expand your research knowledge and future opportunities? Whilst the course will be delivered by Psychology staff experienced in teaching research methods, the course will also be appropriate for those within other disciplines. Everyone is welcome!

The cost of attending the full two-day course is £250 and for attendance at one day is £175. You will receive a certificate of attendance and light refreshments will be provided. 

To sign up to the course please click here

For further information and for any enquiries please contact researchready@staffs.ac.uk


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. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Exterior Science Centre

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.

VIDEO: Sixth Annual Staffordshire Psychology Student Conference 2019

The Department of Psychology held its Annual Psychology Student Conference in April 2019 where our final year students presented the findings from their research projects. Our students gave either an oral or a poster presentation to their peers and an audience of academic staff, including their project supervisors.

A wide variety of research topics were presented by our students, including studies investigating the role of Youtube videos in conspiracy theory beliefs, the relationship between dark personality traits and students’ academic stress levels, the effects of children’s screen time on creativity, how viewing virtual reality environments influences pain, the ‘weapons focus’ effect, the relationship between personality traits and mate poaching behaviours, amongst others.

Highlights from this year’s Annual Psychology Student Conference can be viewed via the below video:


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. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

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.

The Second Keele-Staffs Psychology Postgraduate Research Conference

In April 2018, Staffordshire University joined up with Keele University to deliver the first Joint Keele-Staffs Psychology Postgraduate Research Conference. The event was a success and a great opportunity to share research and build networks with our neighbouring university.

This year, we are delighted that the 2nd Keele-Staffs Joint Psychology PGR Conference is being held at Staffordshire University on Wednesday 15th May 2019. The conference will take place at Staffordshire University in the Science Centre, R001, from 9:30am – 4:00pm.

Please come and enjoy the wide variety of presentations and posters showcasing the diverse assortment of research that our PGR students are currently conducting. From social identity leadership, to conspiracy theories, and childhood adversity, to refugee integration, we can guarantee there will be something to interest all! We are also very excited to be welcoming Dr Andrew Stewart from the University of Manchester and Professor Claire Fox from Keele University who will be giving Keynote presentations.

It will be wonderful to see you there to support our PGR students. Lunch will be provided and you can register your attendance here. Of course you can just show up too!


For further information about the Conference, please contact the organisers via:


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

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


The Big Bang West Midlands Fair returns to Staffordshire University in 2019!

By Dina Grinsted, Schools & Colleges Champion for Psychology

Some of the Department of Psychology in attendance at last year’s Big Bang Fair

In June 2018, Staffordshire University welcomed the Big Bang West Midlands for the first time, celebrating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) subjects. Over 2000 students and teachers visited the campus throughout the day, and enjoyed a wide variety of STEAM activities, including nine psychology stands!

Ahead of the return of the Big Bang Fair to Staffordshire University in 2019, here is a brief review of the Department of Psychology’s presence at the 2018 fair:

Dr Emily Buckley, Judy David, and Masters student Charlotte Stock try on the VR headsets

The ‘Virtual Reality in Psychology’ stand allowed visitors to experience dinosaurs in VR, and learn about how we can use virtual environments in psychology. This was a very popular stand, with many people trying out the dinosaur experience! Guests also had the chance to test their memory, and learnt how to improve it through techniques such as the Method of Loci and mnemonics on our Memory Test stand.

Third year BSc Psychology student Jaime-Lee Cunningham and Dr Andrew Edmonds on the ‘Memory Test’ stand

The event was a great success, with a huge number of visitors taking part and enjoying the activities. Staffordshire University has been confirmed as the home for the 2019 event, which will take place on Tuesday 18th June 2019. Come along to find out about all things STEM, including Psychology activities. Book your free visit here.

On the ‘Detecting Stress Responses’ stand, guests were connected to a BioPac, and had their Galvanic Skin Response tested whilst doing moderately stressful activities. This measures the level of sweat on the fingertips as an indicator of stress, so the aim was to attempt to keep your stress levels down.

One student advocate who helped to run this stand said

“I was particularly happy to see so many young girls expressing enthusiasm and engagement with some of the scientific principles that we were demonstrating to them on the Detecting Stress Responses stand.  Great to see that STEM engagement with girls is improving.”


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. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

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.

“Oh, I’m really sorry, the jacket potato took ages to arrive…” Do you feel guilty about taking a lunch break?

By Mike Oliver, Trainee Health Psychologist.

What has the length of time it takes to queue up for a jacket potato got to do with taking breaks at work? For some people, it turns out that it’s a handy way to explain to their colleagues why they’re “late” back from lunch. And by “late”, I don’t mean “late”. All they’ve done is taken a bit longer than they feel comfortable in taking for their lunch break.

How have we got to the point where some people feel guilty about taking their legally allowable break?

Taking a break is good for your health isn’t it? So taking breaks is just common sense isn’t it? It’s certainly not common practice. At the place I work, our latest staff survey told us that 42% of our workforce, either don’t take a lunch break at all or take less than the legally required minimum time of 20 minutes. (Yes, that’s right – it is the law for your employer to allow most workers to take a 20 minute, uninterrupted break, at some point during the day). There appears to be a growing trend nationally for large numbers of people not to take breaks at work, with surveys reporting that between 66% and 82% of workers do not always take their breaks (Bupa, 2015; Mastercard/Ipsos Mori, 2016).

In my research into the psychological and social benefits of taking breaks during the working day (in office settings), I uncovered an amazing set of thoughts and behaviours linked to taking breaks (or not) during the working day. As well as review and meta-analysis of literature in the field, I was curious to find out how people thought about taking breaks.  Putting it simply, I asked groups of office workers at a large employer, the following, deeply insightful, questions:

  • “Do you take your lunch breaks?”
  • “Why?” Or: “Why not?”

Using a combination of my curiosity and a structured way of analysing what people said, I found that:

  • Lots of people feel anxious and guilty about taking breaks
  • Work “wins”. Faced with a choice when they’re really busy, even if someone wants to take a break, then work “wins”
  • If you’ve got a great set of colleagues who all want to take lunch breaks, then guess what… you’ll take your breaks!  And if you don’t have a great set of colleagues, then guess what…?
  • If you choose to take your break at your desk, then people acknowledge that they are “fair game” for being given work to do!
  • It’s not  as simple as 2 groups emerging (those who do, and those who don’t take breaks) – people move from group to group depending on lots of situational factors

I’m now trying to work with these themes to look for ways to change the culture to one where people at least feel more comfortable to take a break if they want to. Clearly, if you have a job, the culture at your workplace will almost certainly be different to the one where I work, but perhaps, this blog might make you think a bit differently. Go on, stop reading this, move away from your screen… and take a break!


Mike will be sharing more about his research into the consequences of taking breaks (or not) during the working day at Psychologist in the Pub on Wednesday 1st May at The Glebe in Stoke.

Mike currently in his third year studies in his Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University, which he combines with working in the Public Health team in a Local Authority. Mike can be contacted via: m.oliver@student.staffs.ac.uk


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. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

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.

Psychology Teacher Forum 2019 – Training & Networking event held for Teachers

By Dr Claire Barlow (Senior Lecturer in Psychology)

The Department of Psychology recently hosted the Psychology Teacher Forum, an event aimed at psychology teachers in the West Midlands and surrounding areas. The aim of the Forum was to create a networking opportunity for teachers working in Further Education, alongside workshops focussed on teaching some of the core areas of psychology led by subject specialists at the University.

The Psychology Department welcomed 23 delegates who teach psychology on a range of different qualifications (e.g., A Levels, BTEC and Access courses). Judy David opened the event with a brief history of the Psychology Department at Staffs before Mel Hall delivered the first workshop where top tips and ideas for teaching Research Methods were shared, including happy and sad graphs! 

Our Psychology technicians, Paul and Sarah, then led a tour of the Department facilities with an opportunity for delegates to take part in some demonstrations of our specialist equipment, such as the pain lab cold pressor tank.

Dr Jade Elliott then delivered a session on biological psychology, demonstrating interactive activities such as the 3-D brain app and the Wisconsin Sorting Task. 

After a bit of light refreshment and networking supported by current PhD student Tanya Schrader, the final workshop covered courses and careers in Psychology delivered by Dr Claire Barlow and Dr Heather Semper.

We received some really positive feedback after the event, one attendee commented:

“thank you to all of the academic and support staff who made yesterday’s Teacher Forum such a wonderful event.  My team and I all left with some brilliant ideas and we were so impressed with the facilities and knowledge of both the staff and technicians. We are now looking into bringing our students along to see how much is on offer locally for L3 provision and beyond” 

Dr Claire Barlow was involved in the organisation of the event alongside Dina Grinsted (Schools & College Champion for Psychology), Claire commented:

“it was great to welcome so many fellow teachers of Psychology to the Department.  One of the most positive aspects was the sharing of our experiences of teaching this fascinating subject area as well as the connections we have made.  We hope to build on this event and create further opportunities to work together in the future”


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. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

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.

Dr Daniel Jolley interviewed on BBC Radio Stoke ahead of the Psychology & Me event

Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Saturday Breakfast show discussing the Department of Psychology’s Psychology and Me event held in February 2019.

You can listen to Dr Jolley’s interview via the below link:

BBC Sounds: BBC Radio Stoke Saturday Breakfast – 23/2/2019 (from 2:44:42)


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. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

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 further information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages: