I am currently recruiting participants to take part in an online questionnaire study, which is part of my Social Psychology PhD. I am using an experimental design, investigating people’s reactions to an excerpt from some online articles which discuss childhood vaccinations. We want to understand what specifically influences people’s opinions on childhood vaccinations.
In order to take part in this study participants must be:
Aged 18 or over
British and living in the UK
Have a child aged 3 years or younger OR be
currently expecting a baby.
This study has research full ethical approval from Staffordshire University; all data is anonymous, and participants can stop completing the questionnaire at any point by selecting ‘exit’.
Thank you, and if you have any questions, please email:
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).
The PsyPAG 34th Annual Conference took place from Tuesday 23rd – Friday 26th July 2019 at Sheffield Hallam University. This year, the conference theme was to promote the health and wellbeing of delegates while they had the opportunity to meet, network and share their research with peers. I was lucky enough to attend along with fellow PhD researcher Tanya Schrader where we shared our research on belief in conspiracy theories.
PsyPAG is the Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group and is funded by the Research Board of the British Psychological Society. PsyPAG is run purely by postgraduates for the benefit of postgraduate psychology students at UK institutions. Each year PsyPAG organises an annual conference where, across three days, psychology postgraduate students meet, share their work via oral and poster presentations, provide feedback, attend workshops and keynotes, and build support systems and even collaborations! This was my second year attending PsyPAG and it was a fantastic conference where I could share the first few studies of my PhD, receive feedback from peers, and build friendships with fellow postgraduate students.
A highlight of the conference was the keynote presentations, thoughtfully selected by the organisation committee to align with the conference theme of promoting health and wellbeing. The first keynote was from Professor Sir Chris Husbands, who discussed academic careers in the 21st century. We were urged to think about what the big issues were that our research was interested in and to use this to maximise our impact. Cognitive Psychologist, Dr Dan Smith, told the story of their research, detailing a series of elegant experiments probing the relationship between the motor system and cognitive processes.
The second day of the conference began with a keynote from Professor
Madelynne Arden, who discussed their impressive body of work exploring adherence
to medication in Cystic Fibrosis, using a behaviour science approach to
intervention research. Dr Emma Norris then shared her journey from PhD to
postdoctoral researcher and discussed the differences moving from independent
research in a PhD programme to working on a large multi-disciplinary project. The
final keynote was from Dr Jennie Drabble, a Forensic Psychologist who also
discussed life after PhD. Dr Drabble emphasised the importance of taking time
for yourself outside of academia and motivated the room to help change the
culture of academia from within.
A further highlight of PsyPAG 2019 was the workshop; ‘Bringing Reproduceable Science to the People – The Story of Change’ produced and delivered by Olly Robertson and Dr Jon Sutton. This workshop was focussed on how we can best communicate our research to wider audiences in an interesting and accurate way. The onus was put on researchers to take opportunities to communicate their work and we discussed how to do this with both accuracy and elegance. Then we had 5 minutes and no more than 10 sentences to summarise our PhD research and then share it with the group – quite a challenge! I took a lot away from this session and it was so helpful to receive advice from the editor of The Psychologist (albeit a bit daunting!).
Tanya and I shared our research in the ‘Social Psychology’ symposium. Tanya kicked the session off with her fascinating work exploring the darker side of conspiracy theories. Tanya is interested in potential predictors and consequences of conspiracy belief, particularly around violence and crime. Using hierarchical regression analysis, Tanya has found that conspiracy beliefs play a unique role in predicting acceptance of violence. Tanya is clearly passionate about this subject and used several real-life examples of the potential violent consequences of conspiracy beliefs. I then presented the first two studies of my PhD, exploring the role of perceived social norms in motivating conspiracy beliefs. Currently, my research is showing that we over-estimate the extent to which other people endorse conspiracy theories and we are significantly influenced by the perceived beliefs others. My next job is to try to use this knowledge reduce belief in dangerous conspiracy theories – which is proving to be most difficult!
There were several excellent presentations throughout the three days at PsyPAG and it is always exciting to see what your peers are studying. Madeleine Pownall, a first year PhD student from The University of Leeds explained a theory she is currently working on to ask; can positive self-objectification diffuse stereotype threat effects in women? Madeleine has amalgamated three theories in social psychology with sophistication and is now developing a body of research to test these ideas. It was inspiring to see such innovative ideas from your peers! Another stand out presentation was from Ed Noon from Sheffield Hallam University who is investigating how adolescents use social media, particularly Instagram and how this can influence social comparisons and thus identity development.
The organisers from Sheffield Hallam University, Suzy Hodgson, Martine
Lamb and Nikki Dean Marshall, were incredible and did such a fantastic job this
year, so thank you very much! I am very grateful to have attended PsyPAG 2019
and to have the opportunity to share my research.
Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on TRT World’s Roundtable television programme discussing the psychology and consequences of beliefs in conspiracy theories as part of a discussion panel. Dr Jolley discussed some of his recent research into the potential negative effects of believing in conspiracy theories with other leading experts researching why individuals believe in conspiracies.
You can view the Roundtable programme featuring Dr Jolley via the below Youtube video:
Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sarah Brett show discussing the reasons why people believe in conspiracy theories, whether more conspiracy theories are being believed today compared to the past, and whether conspiracy theory beliefs are resistant to change.
You can listen to Dr Jolley’s interview via the below link:
Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Stuart George Radio Show discussing conspiracy theories in relation to a recent story about the Indian Army posting a photo of ‘Yeti footprints’.
You can listen to Dr Jolley’s interview via the BBC Sounds website, see below:
As a first-year undergraduate, one of our assignments was to write a reflective essay with SMART goals. My first thought was “Argh!”. My second thought was “Why, why, why?”. I’m happy to report that it turned out well and I’ve come to appreciate reflection both in my academic and personal life. Reflective practices have not only benefitted my academic work but also reminds me to acknowledge my achievements, big and small, that have aided me in my endeavours. Reflecting on my achievements has proved a valuable method to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the experiences of undertaking a degree.
The last time I wrote on this blog was at the end of my BPS Research Assistantship in 2017. I had my final year ahead of me and had made the decision to continue to post-graduate study. I had no idea how I was going to overcome the logistical and financial challenges, but I was determined to find a way (Did I mention that my husband is also doing a degree at Staffs?). I reflected over the many challenges I’d overcome to get into university, and the achievements I’d made up to that point. This gave me the determination I needed to stay positive and focussed.
First and foremost, I knew I needed to put everything I had into my final year. I set out my academic goals (and yes, they were SMART), put my head down and went full steam ahead. It was intense, and I could not have done it without the support of my peers and the best academic staff in the world. My project supervisor, Dr Dan Jolley, showed unwavering faith in my abilities even when I was very much in doubt. My project, which investigated the relationship between rape myth acceptance and feminist conspiracy theories, produced a significant result and I knew that this research needed to be extended. I presented my findings at the Staffordshire University Psychology Student Conference, followed by the British Psychological Society’s Midlands conference. I received valuable feedback on both counts, which informed the direction of my postgraduate study.
I put forward a PhD proposal and it was accepted. Together with my supervisors, Dr Daniel Jolley and Dr Sarah Krähenbühl, I am currently in the early stages of my program of researching the darker outcomes of conspiracy theory beliefs. We are investigating the unjust treatment of people who belong to groups that are perceived to be involved in conspiracies. In particular, if this relates to increased online and offline aggression, the justification of violent acts, and if such group membership affects people’s experiences within the criminal justice system.
Again, I find myself at a point where I need to reflect upon my journey thus far to reassure myself that I have what it takes.
As 2018 gave way to 2019, while I was planning the upcoming year and feeling slightly anxious about the challenges ahead, I received news that I was to be published! The study that was conducted as part of my BPS Assistantship project, culminated in a paper which I co-authored with Dr Daniel Jolley, Prof Karen Douglas and Dr Ana Leite. The paper, titled Belief in conspiracy theories and intentions to engage in everyday crime, has just been accepted for publication by the British Journal of Social Psychology. What a splendid way to begin the new year. So now, whenever the inevitable doubts creep in, I have this achievement to remind myself that I have what it takes to be a PhD student.
Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured in an interview with the online VICE news website discussing the reasons why people believe in conspiracy theories, especially in relation to celebrity news, and what effects conspiracy beliefs have on individuals.
Dr Jolley discusses some of the reasons why individuals may believe in conspiracies relating to famous names (e.g. Beyonce, Nick Cage, Avril Lavigne) and how such beliefs may have negative consequences, especially in relation to political and environmental issues, read more via:
Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Stuart George’s drivetime show (7th November 2018) discussing the psychology of conspiracy theories and why people believe in conspiracy theories.You can listen to Dr Jolley’s interview via the below link:
Conspiracy theories are associated with almost every significant social and political event, including the theory that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, that the U.K Government murdered Diana, Princess of Wales, or that the harms of vaccines are being covered up so that pharmaceutical companies can continue to make huge profits. Belief in these types of conspiracy theories is blooming in the 21st century: millions of people subscribe to them.
A basic understanding of logic, rationality, and probability tell us, however, that most of these conspiracy claims are probably false. So why then do so many people believe them? What makes them so attractive and compelling to people? And, anyway, what’s the problem, aren’t they just harmless fun?
In this talk, Dr Jolley will take you through the psychology of conspiracy theories. You will learn why people subscribe to conspiracy theories and discuss some of the misconceptions (including whether all conspiracy believers wear tin-toil hats!)
Dr Jolley will also uncover some of the potentially damaging consequences of conspiracy theories; maybe they are not just harmless after all! There will also be an opportunity for a Q&A session at the end.