Dr Amy Burton writes about how participants shared feelings of intense pressure regarding the accepted length of time to breastfeed.
The Conversation UK is a free news service featuring articles written by academics on a range of topics and current affairs. Staffordshire University is a member of The Conversation UK and you can read the full article below:
Written by Matthew Kimberley, Psychology PhD Researcher
I am currently in the second year of my PhD at Staffordshire University. Every PhD at Staffs is completely different and is tailored to the researcher. You choose your own research area and much of the design and the direction of the PhD is directed by the research, with support offered by your supervisors.
range of research being conducted within the department at Staffordshire
University allows you to interact with researchers with different research interests
and methodologies. Through interactions with your fellow researchers, you are
able to share your experiences and learn from one another. This may include
sharing methodology/analysis experiences or methods of recruitment.
During a PhD at Staffordshire University, you work closely with your supervision team at all stages of research and receive a great deal of feedback. My supervision team consists of Doctor Jade Elliott, Doctor Samuel Jones and Doctor Zachary Parker. During your PhD, you gain a great deal of support and mentorship from your supervisors. Having more than supervisor allows you to gain insight from several viewpoints which is useful when shaping your research.
PhD allows you to dedicate a large proportion of your time to your research and
to focus your attention to answering your research question. My research
examines the factors which influence whether an individual shares their sexual
fantasies with their partner. To accomplish this, I am primarily using
quantitative research methods, such as quantitative content analysis and
multiple regression analysis.
PhD, I also teach part-time in the Psychology department. This has allowed me
to gain valuable teaching experience and provided me with a number of training
opportunities. I am particularly interested in gaining HEA associate fellowship
in the near future.
alongside my supervisors, my research currently focuses on the disclosure of
sexual fantasies. In particular, I am interested in examining which factors may
influence how likely individuals are to share their fantasies with an intimate
initial year of my PhD at Staffordshire University, I conducted a systematic
review which aimed to examine which factors influenced self-disclosure within
sexual and/or romantic relationships (Kimberley et al., in preparation). This
review highlighted that very little research has examined which factors
influence the disclosure of sexual fantasies.
Given that a
large proportion of individuals regularly experience sexual fantasies (97%-
Lehmiller, 2018) and that sexual fantasies and sexual self-disclosure act as
relationship maintenance and enhancement tools, it is important to conduct research
to examine which factors may inhibit or promote the disclosure of sexual
methodologies commonly used by HIV research, my first study aimed to identify
the reasons participants provided for disclosing (or not disclosing) their
sexual fantasies. This study also asked participants how their partner
responded (or how they believed their partner would respond) to these
disclosures. Recruitment has recently ended for this study, and I am now
beginning to start analysis of the data using content analysis. Understanding
the reasons people hold for hiding their sexual fantasies from a partner is
crucial for developing an understanding of why some people disclose and others
I have also
recently received ethical approval for a second study, which examines how
relationship characteristics (e.g. trust, love or perceptions of one’s partner)
may influence an individual’s likelihood of disclosing their sexual fantasies.
Recruitment for this study has started recently. Within this study,
participants are asked to reflect on their relationship with a regular partner
and to respond to hypothetical scenarios involving the disclosure of various
sexual fantasies. To participate, you must be aged over 18 and currently in a
sexual and/or romantic relationship. You do not need to have previously
disclosed (or had) a sexual fantasy to take part.
If you would be interested in taking part, you can do so by accessing the following link (http://staffordshire.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2gK6xCjjZVTMvJA)
If you are a Staffordshire University student, you may also take part in the study through sona, where you can earn 2 sona credits. If you have any questions, please contact me (email@example.com).
HLecturer in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University, Dr Alison Owen, is working in collaboration with Dr Manpal Bhogal at the University of Wolverhampton, looking at some of the factors that might be related to tanning behaviours and sunbed use.
In 2013, researchers Dr Alison Owen, Professor David Clark-Carter and Dr Emily Buckley at Staffordshire University, with Professor Sarah Grogan of Manchester Metropolitan University, carried out research and found that almost a fifth (18.6%) of women had used a sunbed at least once in the past month, with the majority of participants agreeing that a tan looked good (80%), and that tanned people look healthy (71.4%) (Williams, Grogan, Clark-Carter & Buckley, 2013). The current researchers therefore felt that it would be interesting to explore some of the factors behind people feeling positively about tanning behaviours or choosing to use a sunbed.
Dr Owen and Dr Bhogal are combining two areas of psychology in their present research: Health Psychology and Evolutionary Psychology. Their study involves an online questionnaire that will ask participants about indoor sunbed use, attitudes towards tanning and topics such as self-esteem.
If you are over 18 and are interested in participating please complete the online questionnaire – it is open to all people, both those who use sunbeds as well as those who don’t, and just involves you answering a short survey.
Written by Professor David Clark-Carter, Professor of Health Psychology.
Imagine you have energy-sapping fatigue or a long-lasting pain which affects your life. You have sought medical advice but, even if tests have been conducted, you are left with no diagnosis.
Psychologists have long recognised that this situation can be linked to psychological problems such as anxiety and depression. However, while psychologists can see that such psychological problems are a perfectly understandable consequence of chronic (i.e. long term) debilitating health conditions, there is a danger of seeing the causal link as going in the other direction. Accordingly, the chronic condition can be seen as being the consequence of an underlying psychological state rather than the other way around.
The situation isn’t helped when people around the sufferer, be they family, friends or members of the medical profession, deny that there is a real physical condition. This, in turn, can lead to an understandable suspicion when psychological interventions are offered as a way to deal with the physical symptoms and lessen the psychological ones. This may be seen as supporting the notion that the condition is a consequence of a psychological state. However, that is far from the truth. Even when a diagnosis of a condition is made, if no medical cure is available psychological interventions could help the sufferer to deal with the physical symptoms.
By acquiring techniques to deal with physical symptoms, sufferers can feel more in control of their own lives and get away from a feeling of helplessness. Even when a medical intervention can be prescribed to alleviate the physical symptoms, such as pain killers, these are unlikely to be a long term solution and can have their own problematic side effects. The pandemic has led to conditions such as long-covid for some people. Greater awareness of this condition could lead to greater understanding of those with other chronic conditions.
Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology
By James Vernon, Lecturer in Psychology and Counselling, Staffordshire University
Well, what can I say other than I am over the moon, elated and struggling to find the superlatives to convey how I feel in joining the Psychology and Counselling department at Staffordshire University. I have received such a warm and friendly welcome from everybody within the department and cannot wait to begin working within the team. I have been asked to provide a bit of background about me so here goes (If you fall asleep, I understand).
After many years of working in unfulfilling roles, I decided to return to University in 2015 as a mature student at the tender age of 35 to complete my undergraduate degree in Psychology & Counselling here at Staffordshire University. Returning to the world of academia after 15 years away felt daunting but the warm welcome and unwavering support I received from the staff within the department was incredible and I was soon made to feel at home. The course content, the opportunities and the support I received whilst at Staffs inspired me to achieve my goal to which I graduate in 2018.
Yet, my Staffordshire University student journey didn’t stop there. In the autumn of 2018, I enrolled on the three-year Masters degree in Psychotherapeutic Counselling. As well as furthering my knowledge in theoretical concepts and ethical considerations relating to the field of counselling, engagement in the course provided me with the opportunity to hone my skills and develop my identity as a therapist whilst on placement. After completion of my professional training and finally obtaining my qualified counsellor status, I moved to focus my on MSc research project into the impact of COVID-19 on bereavement counselling and in particular both the impact of isolation on being in a grief like state and adjusted ways of working professionally.
With the unprecedented and ever evolving world we find ourselves in I feel that this is exciting and fertile time for the world of Psychology and in particular the profession of Counselling. COVID-19 has provided us the ideal time to assess and evaluate what we think we know and consider how we provide support for our clients. My research interests rest here in developing new ways of working by combining traditional methods of counselling with digital technology, telephone delivery and eco therapy and also assessing the impact of COVID-19 from both a psychological, societal and ethical level.
Previously I have managed several mental health services across Staffordshire and South Cheshire and also have developed my own private counselling practice. Away from the world of Psychology & Counselling I am a keen sportsman and can be often found on the golf course, walking my Goldendoodle pup Chloe or cycling exploring the amazing networks across the city.
I am honestly overjoyed to be at Staffordshire University and working as part of an amazing team. I am really looking forward to meeting the students and hopefully offering the same inspiration that was afforded to me. Please stop me if you see me across campus and say “Hi” or even better you can let me bore you even more with photos of my dog by following me on twitter @JamesVernon9318.
The Psychology Academic team are pleased to welcome Dr Megan Birney who joined the University as a Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology and Individual Differences in June 2021. Megan introduces herself below:
I am so excited to be joining the vibrant and friendly
Psychology Department at Staffordshire University as a Senior Lecturer in
Social Psychology and Individual Differences.
I am a social psychologist at heart! My research centres
around identity processes, intergroup contact, communication, social stigma,
obedience, and social exclusion; I love teaching about how these theories can
be applied to real-world problems in society and passing some of my passion for
these topics on to my students.
I completed my undergraduate
degree in Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies (specialising in
International Studies and Business Leadership) from Virginia Tech (USA). I went
on to receive an MSc (with distinction) in Social and Organisational Psychology
in 2010 and a PhD in Psychology in 2015, both from the University of Exeter. My
research during this time focused on understanding how perceptions of
non-native accents influence the relationship between immigrants and host
country natives. After my PhD, I worked as a Research Fellow at the University
of St. Andrews investigating the role that
identity processes play within variants of the Milgram paradigm. I am
still involved in these projects today.
Prior to coming to Staffordshire, I spent 6 years at the University of Chester helping develop the psychology provision at undergraduate and postgraduate level at their campus in Shrewsbury. I both taught and led modules there in areas related to Social Psychology, Organisational Psychology, and Quantitative Research Methods, and in 2016, I became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Throughout this time, I remained an active researcher. Some highlights include co-editing a special issue in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology and starting as an Associate Editor at the open-access journal, Psychology of Language and Communication.
Currently, I have several ongoing projects with various collaborators and with the community organisation Climbing Out. I’m always keen to get students involved in these projects where I can so if you’re interested do get in touch via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or my Twitter account: @meganebirney
My first couple of weeks at Staffordshire have been really
exciting; I’ve loved meeting the colleagues I’ll be working with and am looking
forward to getting ‘stuck in’ to the modules I’ll be teaching on. Staffordshire
University has such an excellent balance between producing innovative research
and their value on high-quality teaching. I am truly honoured to be a part of
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.
Research carried out at Staffordshire University has looked at the impact in young people of a reduction in physical activity and an increase in sedentary behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research was carried out by Staffordshire University Health Psychology lecturer, Dr Alison Owen, alongside Dr Kathryn Bould, a lecturer in Psychology at Liverpool John Moores university.
The research involved looking at the results
of studies published since the start of the pandemic, to bring together the
findings of the pieces of research looking at physical activity and sedentary
behaviour in young people during the pandemic. Stockwell et al. (2021) define
physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscle that
results in energy expenditure, and can include exercising, walking, gardening
and doing household chores. Sedentary behaviours can be defined as any waking
behaviour with an energy expenditure of ≤1.5 metabolic equivalents while in a
sitting or reclining posture, including watching TV, video gaming and computer
use (Stockwell et al., 2021).
The studies showed that children’s physical
activity behaviours have lessened significantly during these times, while their
sedentary behaviours have risen significantly. For example one study (Moore et
al., 2020), found that only 4.8% (2.8% girls, 6.5% boys) of children and 0.6%
(0.8% girls, 0.5% boys) of youth were meeting combined movement behaviour
guidelines during COVID-19 restrictions. They found that children had lower
physical activity levels, less outside time, higher sedentary behaviours
(including leisure screen time), and more sleep during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In their report, Dr Owen and Dr Bould made
some suggestions for ways to encourage and foster physical activity in both
children and their families, for example by showing people different ways of
staying active and offering other opportunities for physical activity, as well
as ensuring the feeling of staying safe and being protected.
The work has
been published in the British Journal
of Child Health. If you are interested in reading the full article, or have any
questions about the study then please contact Dr Alison Owen –
Moore, S., Faulkner, G., & Rhodes R
(2020). Impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak on movement and play behaviours
of Canadian children and youth: a national survey. International Journal of
Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 17(1), 85.
Stockwell, S., Trott, M. & Tully, M. (2021).
Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviours from before to during the
COVID-19 pandemic lockdown: a systematic review. BMJ Open Sport &
Exercise Medicine. 7:e000960.
Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology
Dr Amy Burton has contributed to an edited collection of chapters on physical activity and visual impairment. The book, entitled Movement and Visual Impairment: Research across Disciplines has been edited by Dr Justin Haegele and is an in-depth review of research spanning a range of disciplines including biomechanics, physical education and Paralympic sport.
Dr Burton’s chapter reviews the research evidence regarding physical activity interventions for older adults with vision impairment. The chapter includes an over view of her own work highlighting how engaging in physical activity in later-life can be particularly challenging for those with vision loss (Burton et al, 2016) with a number of psychological, social and societal factors contributing to low levels of engagement (Burton et al, 2018).
provides a detailed overview and critique of interventions designed to promote
physical activity for older adults with sight loss. The majority of these have
been dedicated to reducing falls risk and have shown limited success. In the
chapter Dr Burton highlights how a focus on functional limitations in research
has been at the expense of acknowledging other psychological, cultural, and
societal barriers to engagement. The chapter ends with a call for researchers
to further engage with the social motivators for exercise in older adults with
sight loss and to pay greater attention to the potential for the psychological,
in addition to physical, benefits of being more active.
Our Dr Alison Owen writes about her research exploring body image in female athletes.
Research carried out at Staffordshire University has looked into body image in a group of British female athletes, to look into how they feel about their appearance, and whether they feel that appearance pressures have impacted on their athletic careers in any way. The research was carried out by Staffordshire University graduate Tess Allen, alongside Staffordshire University Health Psychology lecturer, Dr Alison Owen.
British female athletes were interviewed individually, and asked to discuss their thoughts and feelings about their body. All of the athletes reported feeling the need to maintain a particular appearance. The women also all reported feeling pressure from outside influences, including the media, as well as from the uniforms they had to wear for their sports.
A number of suggestions and recommendations have arisen from the research findings, including a need for interventions to maintain a positive body image in female athletes, as well as considerations for factors such as uniform choice.
work has been published in the Journal
of Qualitative Research in Sports Studies. If you are interested in reading the
full article, or have any questions about the study then please contact Dr
Alison Owen – email@example.com
My name is Matt and I have just finished my undergraduate degree in Psychology with a first and I started my PhD in psychology in September (also at Staffs). During my time at Staffs I have fallen in love with the research side of psychology and this helped me set my sights on completing a PhD in psychology. To do this I knew research experience would be extremely helpful! Thanks to the experience gained from completing the research internships (and one terrifying interview!) I have been accepted onto the Psychology PhD course at Staffordshire University and am due to start my research into the barriers people face in the disclosure of their sexual fantasies.
My experience completing two research internship during my undergraduate studies:
The first of these was during the summer of 2019 where I assisted Dr. Jade Elliott and Dr. Erica Lucas with their project which examined the influence of glucose on reasoning. This involved assisting with the transcription and coding of audio recordings of participants. Scores were then inputted into a spreadsheet. This internship really helped me to improve my skills in the management and organisation of data. This was incredibly useful during the data analysis stage of my third-year project which produced a very large database.
This year I applied for a research internship with Dr Sam Jones. This project looks at Digital Literacy. Through this summer, I have been helping Sam to find research into digital literacy and summarise and present this in a clear manner. I have found tables especially helpful for this as a means of presenting all the studies and the key information associated. As this is a new area of research for both myself and Sam, I have particularly enjoyed learning more about the area alongside Sam and sharing our findings through weekly teams meetings. Through this internship and my meetings with Sam, I feel my literature searching skills and the way that I organise research has improved massively. This will be very helpful next year when I am conducting a literature review for my own research! Through my work on this internship, I am being made a named author on the upcoming first journal article.
completing both research internships, my skills in literature searching and the
management of research and data have improved. This has proved incredibly
useful during my studies and will be useful when conducting my own research
next year. If anyone is considering doing a research internship next year, I
highly recommend it! Especially if you will be completing your third-year
project the following year or are considering a career in research. The skills
you will gain working alongside the lecturers will be incredibly helpful!