A small team from Staffordshire University, including Lisa Kyte (a current level 5 BSc Psychology and Child Development student at Staffordshire University) and Dr Dan Herron (Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University) are carrying out some research exploring how the cost-of-living crisis is experienced by unpaid carers of people living with dementia.
Research has shown the potential financial challenges associated with being a carer (Gott et al., 2015) and specifically being an unpaid carer of a person living with dementia (Bayley et al., 2021). Being a carer has additional costs that can significantly impact their financial situation. Carers are likely to have been further negatively impacted by the recent cost-of-living crisis (Carers UK, 2022).
Since late 2021, the UK has been experiencing a cost-of-living crisis which has been driven by sharp increases in energy prices and the prices of everyday basics such as food. Carers UK (2022), early in the crisis, carried out a survey and the results illustrated the negative impact of increased prices on carers, with carers having to make tough decisions between food or heating. No research (to the our knowledge) has explored the views and experiences of unpaid carers of people living with dementia during the cost-of-living crisis.
Our study involves taking part in an interview (informal chat) about unpaid carers’ experiences during the cost-of-living crisis this can be in person (depending on location) or by telephone or online chat. If you are 18 years or over, and care and live with a person living with dementia, and are interested in taking part, please read the Cost of living Information Sheet. Please do share this information with anyone you think will be interested.
If you want to take part in this research, discuss it further or have any questions, please do get in touch with Dan (firstname.lastname@example.org or 01782 295866)
The BPS Research Assistantship Scheme is highly competitive, so the Department is proud to be successful in being awarded two summer internships to Dr Alison Owen and Dr Sarah Rose. We wish both students the best of luck in their Summer Research Assistantships!
One of the award holders, Louise Middling, who is working with Dr Sarah Rose, has written a blog piece about her experiences studying BSc Psychology and Child Development and the focus for the research.
If you’d have told me 5 years ago that I would be a mature student at staffs studying BSc Psychology and Child Development I would never have believed you. I can honestly say though that it has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made. The course has opened up a wealth of opportunities for me that I could never have envisaged before I started, and I have met some amazing people along the way.
Having worked as an intervention specialist in a primary school, I have always been interested in exploring new ideas about how children learn and develop and so when the Research Assistantship Module came up as an option module in Level 5, I knew I wanted to take part. I read all of the project proposals hoping to find a project I could really resonate with and learn some new skills that I could benefit from in my final year project. I found myself drawn to a project with Dr. Sarah Rose on the use of social media among young children. I had to admit that my knowledge of social media was scant, and part of me knew that as well as an interesting project, I would need to know all I could to learn to navigate this with my own children in the future!
Luckily I was accepted onto the project and under the guidance of Dr. Rose set about identifying and researching social media platforms designed for use by young children and researching how they interact with each other on these platforms, while looking for relevant research into this topic area. Over the course of the assistantship, I learned so much that has really benefitted me both personally and professionally, and have built skills that I can take forward into the future.
I was delighted when Dr. Rose put me forward for the Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme with the British Psychological Society, and was so happy to hear that we had won one of the awards grants. This has enabled us to extend our research and work with Dr. Beatrice Hayes of Royal Holloway in London into completing a scoping review on perceptions of young children’s SNS use over the summer. I can’t wait to see where this research will lead. If you are reading this and wondering whether to complete the Research Assistantship Module, I definitely recommend it. I’d like to thank Dr. Rose for her mentorship and support throughout.
Matthew Kimberly (Psychology PhD student) blogs about the third annual Keele-Staffs psychology postgraduate conference, with postscript from Dr Richard Jolley (PhD psychology course leader)
Following from the success of the first two joint conferences and a forced hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the third joint Keele-Staffs psychology conference was hosted at Keele University in May 2022. The conference was organised by Dr Richard Jolley (Staffordshire University), Dr Sue Sherman (Keele University) with the help of a conference committee. The event offered an ideal opportunity for postgraduate researchers at both universities to network and share their research with an audience. It was also a great opportunity to practice their presentation skills in a supportive environment!
The conference commenced with an introduction from Professor Abigail Locke (Head of School of Psychology, Keele University) and Dr Richard Jolley. The first presenter in the morning session was Krystian Ciesielski from Keele University, who gave an informative overview of his research on whether visual information is used differently in functional and taxonomic scene categorisation. The second presenter was Tanya Schrader from Staffordshire University, who gave a dynamic talk about the dark side of conspiracy theory belief and how this may influence violence towards groups of people. Tanya was followed by Keele University’s Sebastian Nikolas Tustanowski, who discussed a study he was planning on the role of perceptual and cognitive factors (such as salience and consistency) on long-term memory of objects within a scene. Next, Darel Cookson from Staffordshire University discussed how social norm interventions may be used to reduce anti-vaccine conspiracy theory beliefs.
Following the morning presentations there was a short break before the Keynote speaker – Professor Lindsay O’Dell who is the director of the graduate school at the Open University. Lindsay reflected upon her own PhD journey – giving some wise tips for the PhD students – and then discussed some of the challenges she had experienced in a research project on disabled children and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic and how these were addressed.
Following the Keynote speaker, there was time for lunch, poster presentations and a group photo! Posters were presented by Sian Calvert (Staffordshire University), Iwan Dinnick (Keele University), Chloe Fahey (Keele University) and Chloe Pritchard (Keele University). Sian’s poster examined how social norms can be used to reduce unhealthy snacking in secondary school students. Iwan’s poster examined how characteristics of ingroup identity can reduce forgiveness of outgroup members. Chloe Fahey’s poster focused on the experiences of female sexual health services amongst individuals with autism. Chloe Pritchard’s poster examined public perceptions of child witnesses.
The afternoon session started with a presentation by myself discussing a recent study which examined the influence of relationship characteristics on the disclosure of sexual fantasies. The next talk was by Sonia Begum from Staffordshire University, who discussed some of the factors highlighted within her research to affect uptake and completion of Diabetes prevention programmes in the UK. Next Jamie Holmes from Keele University discussed a planned study examining the role of cognitive porousness in identity construction within players and characters within games such as Dungeons and Dragons.
In the final session Shwetha Davis from Keele University examined the experiences of teachers using trauma informed practices within educational settings. Next, Angela Bonner from Staffordshire University discussed how type 2 diabetes risk influences cognition. The final talk of the conference was by Stuart Moore from Keele University, who discussed how dimension switching can impair visual short-term memory resource allocation.
After Stuart’s talk, Professor Abigail Locke presented the prizes to the winners. Warm congratulations to Shwetha Davis for winning best talk presentation, Sian Calvert for winning best poster presentation and Stuart Moore and Iwan Dinnick for winning best open science research!
And finally a trip to the Keele Postgraduate Association (KPA) for a much deserved refreshment (or two!)
Matt Kimberley, PhD researcher
After the covid-enforced break from this joint postgraduate conference with the School of Psychology at Keele University I was delighted to offer this opportunity to our PhD students to present their research and network with fellow PhD students from our neighbouring institution. Furthermore, the talk from our external keynote speaker provided a very useful personal reflection on conducting research.
In the psychology the Staffordshire University we have around 10 PhD students. As a body of research scholars they provide a significant contribution to the Psychology Department’s research output, and more generally to our research culture. If you are reading this blog and are interested in studying for a PhD in the psychology department at Staffordshire University please get in touch with me for further information. We very much welcome applications.
Dr Richard Jolley
Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology and PhD Psychology Course Leader
The Psychology Academic team are pleased to welcome Professor Richard Cooke who joined the University as a Professor of Health Psychology in January 2022. Richard introduces himself below:
I am delighted to have joined the amazing Staffordshire University as their new Professor of Health Psychology, director of the Centre for Psychological Research (SCPR), and co-director of the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. I am a full member of the Division of Health Psychology and registered as Health Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council. I am also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Registered Applied Psychology Practice Supervisor. I am the current chair of the Division of Health Psychology’s Conference Scientific Committee. I previously acted as Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the 2018 UK Society for Behavioural Medicine annual scientific meeting hosted at Edgbaston Cricket ground.
My primary research interest focuses on people’s motivation
to perform health behaviours, investigating questions such as “Why do people
drink excessively?” and “Why don’t people eat healthily and engage in physical
activity?”. I’m also interested in health guidelines and why people don’t
follow them!, as well as working with colleagues from the Global Drug Survey
team, based in Australia, the UK, and the US, on global comparisons of
My secondary research interest is working with health
professionals to design, develop and evaluate health behaviour change interventions.
My interest in this area began when I led a qualitative evaluation of the NHS
Health Checks programme in Birmingham. Since completing that project I’ve
worked with Optometrists at Aston University, and Nutritionists at the
University of Manchester, to promote dietary behaviour change in patient
populations. I am currently working on a NIHR-funded grant with dentists at the
University of Liverpool to test the impact of a health behaviour change
intervention to promote routine dental attendance.
Many moons ago, I completed my undergraduate degree in
Psychology at the University of Sheffield, before completing my Masters degree in
Research Methods in Psychology at the University of Reading. I then returned to
Sheffield to complete my PhD on moderation of cognition-behaviour relations
using properties of cognition in 2002. Next, I worked at the University of
Leeds on the UNIQoLL project – an attempt to map out the mental health of ALL
students at the University. I then moved to Sheffield Hallam University in 2003
to take on a post as a Lecturer in Health Psychology. One year later, I moved
to Aston University as a Lecturer in Health Psychology, gaining promotion to
Senior Lecturer in 2012. I was part of the team that established the MSc Health
Psychology programme in 2005 and the MSc Health Psychology (online) programme a
decade later. I delivered Quantitative Methods and Advanced Statistics and
Health Behaviours modules for 13 years as well as teaching methods and
statistics, social psychology, and an optional module on the psychology of
alcohol at undergraduate level. Prior to coming to Staffs, I spent four years
as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Liverpool, teaching a
postgraduate module in advanced research methods as part of their MSc Research
Methods in Psychology.
Currently, I have several ongoing projects, including
supervising a PhD student to explore the link between the fear of missing out
(FoMO) and alcohol consumption, secondary analyses of big data sets with
collaborators at UEA and in Bremen, and secondary analyses of longitudinal data
with colleagues in Norway. I continue to write up results of the CALIBRATE
study, a funded study seeking to compare prediction of alcohol consumption
between university students based in six different European countries. If you
are interested in hearing more about these projects feel free to email me via email@example.com or you
can follow me on Twitter @Prof_R_Cooke.
My first few weeks at Staffordshire have been great –
everyone is really friendly, and it’s been a pleasure to meet people and
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.
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
I am Bee Swann-Thomas and I am currently in my second year of studying for a PhD in Psychology. My research interest is exploring whether having a memorial tattoo has an impact upon the grieving process.
I have previously researched this topic for my MSc in Psychotherapeutic Counselling at Staffordshire University. What sparked my interest was the death of my Dad and having a memorial tattoo in his memory. Memorial tattoos have a very personal meaning to me, and I am pleased to have recently had my paper published in Mortality Journal.
The findings from this research showed that memorial tattoos can be a valuable therapeutic aid in the grieving process. They can serve as a permanent physical reminder of a loved one, help with continuing bonds, allow the deceased a virtual afterlife, help in the adjustment to loss, serve as a tool of communication, and be an embodied representation of change. Memorial tattoos empower the bereaved to emerge from the loss of a loved one with a ‘beautiful scar’.
Conducting my MSc research
was really fascinating, and it was an honour to hear peoples’ stories of love
and loss. As a result, I have decided to continue my research for my PhD.
I would like to invite you to participate in my research that is being conducted in the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University. I am interested in the experience of individuals (aged 18 years or over) who have experienced the loss of a loved one and have had a memorial tattoo in their memory. I will be researching five different categories of bereavement: Perinatal loss, Loss through suicide, Military Loss, Cremation ashes tattoos and Loss through Covid-19.
The research will involve a one-to-one interview conducted remotely via the Microsoft Teams platform. The interview will last approximately 1 hour, where you will be asked questions relating to your loved one and your memorial tattoo. You will also be asked to provide a photograph of your memorial tattoo which will be included within the research.
My PhD programme is funded by the university and my aims are to explore important psychological factors affecting motivation to attend and complete diabetes prevention programmes (DPPs), with a particular focus on the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHSDPP). This a national programme consisting of a minimum of 13 group sessions over a 9-month period and aims to encourage those at high risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), to make healthier lifestyle changes.
Diabetes prevention is currently a key priority both nationally and internationally. By maximising the number of people that start (i.e., uptake) and complete (i.e., retention) DPPs like the NHSDPP, this will ensure these programmes are both clinically effective and financially viable.
The published systematic review is the first to investigate recruitment strategies and behaviour change techniques associated with higher uptake and retention in Diabetes Prevention Programmes. Behaviour change techniques are key active ingredients of behaviour change and are now increasingly considered in behaviour change programmes.
Some of the key review findings were that problem-solving, demonstrating the behaviour, practising the behaviour, reducing negative emotions and using incentives for participation were more commonly found techniques in programmes with a lower number of drop-outs. By clinicians and programme organisers incorporating these techniques into their programmes, this will help towards achieving higher completion rates.
My following studies are currently being analysed and written up and will further explore the individual factors that affect participant motivation to attend and complete programmes like the NHSDPP.
If you would like to read the paper you can access it here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168822720305234