Watch: highlights from the 2014 Chancellor’s Lecture

Is there a reason why teenagers take more risks, and are more influenced by their peers, than adults? Is the adolescent brain different to that of an adult? Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, a Royal Society University Research Fellow and Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, answewred these questions and more at this year’s Chancellor’s Lecture The Teenage Brain.

The annual Chancellor’s Lecture is one of the major events in the University’s calendar. Chancellor Professor Tanya Byron, a chartered clinical psychologist, journalist, author and broadcaster introduced lecture and chaired the Q&A session.

Interviews with Professors Blakemore and Byron, along with some highlights from the lecture, can be seen in the video:

Implicit bias in job recruitment- what are the issues?

Professor Geoff Beattie recently gave an invited keynote address to the Asian Fire Service Association annual conference held in Stoke-on-Trent.  The subject of his talk was implicit bias in job recruitment linked to the ethnicity of applicants, and how to combat it.  Here Professor Beattie outlined some of his research covered in ‘Our Racist Heart: An Exploration of Unconscious Prejudice in Everyday Life.’ (Routledge, 2013).

Body Politics

Body politicsYesterday, Professor Geoff Beattie did an interview with Oksana Boyko on ‘Worlds Apart’ for Russia Today on the subject of the body language of the various leaders at the APEC CE0 summit, focusing in particular on the micro-behaviours of Presidents Obama and Putin.  Here, he discussed how power is negotiated through nonverbal communication and that even when interactions are formal and constrained, some unconscious nonverbal communications leaks genuine emotional responses.  Putin is well known for carefully choosing iconic images to represent aspects of his power and authority, and certain of his brief nonverbal interactions are designed to send similar messages.  How these power plays generalise to female politicians was also discussed.  The interview was broadcast (6 times) on the 16th November.

Finding the right language to discuss cancer

Professor Geoff Beattie

Professor Geoff Beattie

Professor of Psychology at Edge Hill University, Geoff Beattie, has spoken about the importance of finding the right metaphor to discuss cancer.

Geoff, who took part in the discussion on BBC Breakfast along with Katherine Marsland who had recently been diagnosed with secondary cancer, was invited onto the programme following the release of new research undertaken by Professor Elena Semino into the various metaphorical frames used to talk about cancer both by patients and by doctors.

Geoff said: “The commonest metaphorical frame beloved by the media is the war metaphor, where patients are talked about as ‘battling the disease’ and ‘conquering cancer’ but this might not be the most appropriate. There is sometimes a tendency to blame patients when they have not succeeded in defeating it, and research suggests that this metaphor can lead to feelings of guilt in the patients themselves.”

He discussed the importance of people with cancer being understood, identifying that sometimes hiding behind the cloak of metaphor may make communication easier for friends and family, as metaphors are readily accessible.

Geoff has previously written about the influence of metaphors in other areas of everyday life in his book All Talk, which particularly looked at how politicians use metaphors to frame issues: “From ‘fighting inflation’ and ‘winning our economic battle’s’ using the war metaphor, to ‘getting rid of dead wood’ or ‘cultivating new growth’ using the gardening metaphor, these different metaphorical frames affect how we think about the issues and even about the people directly concerned.”

“The point is that metaphors are everywhere and influence us all the time. That is why they are so important and in need of more critical examination.”

Geoff is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, featured as the on-screen psychologist for 11 series of Big Brother and his analyses of nonverbal communication have featured in a large number of academic articles and books.

Find out more about Geoff’s appearance here.

Find out more about studying Psychology at Edge Hill here.

Are metaphors the wrong way to talk about cancer?

Professor Geoff Beattie was on BBC Breakfast on the 5th November with Katherine Marsland who had recently been diagnosed with secondary cancer.  Prof. Beattie discussed the importance of finding the right metaphor to capture the experience of the condition.  The item was occasioned by some new research conducted at Lancaster University into the various metaphorical frames used to talk about cancer both by patients and by doctors.  The commonest metaphorical frame (beloved by the media) is the war metaphor where patients are talked about as ‘battling the disease’ and ‘conquering cancer’ but this might not be the most appropriate.  There is sometimes a tendency to blame patients when they have not succeeded in defeating it.

Prof. Beattie also discussed the idea that one metaphorical frame might not be appropriate for different people at different points in the development of the illness, especially for those who have had the diagnosis of secondary cancer.  Additionally, it was discussed about the importance of people with cancer being understood and that sometimes hiding behind the cloak of metaphor may make communication easier for friends and family (because metaphors are readily accessible and can be a little cliched) but its use comes with consequences for how we think about both the disease and the patient.

You can watch the discussion here

Psychology student awarded Scholarship for dedication to volunteering

Final year Psychology student Samantha Betteridge has recently been awarded an On-Course Scholarship for her extensive volunteering experience over the last few years. Samantha has undertaken a range of different voluntary placements, including working for the charity MindFull UK, providing online support for youngsters with mental health issues. In addition, Samantha undertook volunteering on the VESL programme over the summer in which she taught English in a Thai primary school. All her volunteering experiences have given Samantha the motivation and enthusiasm to pursue her ambition of becoming a Clinical Psychologist.

Further details of Samantha’s experiences and insights can be found here

Sports and Exercise Psychology student wins Gold Sports Scholarship

Kelly Bourne, a second year Sports and Exercise Psychology student, has recently been awarded  one of three Edge Hill University Sports Scholarships at Gold standard.

Having taken part in sports from a young age, Kelly has shown a continued commitment through her engagement in a wide range of sporting opportunities. To name a few; from age 9-17, she captained the CYP (Clubs for Young People) team in which she led the team in four national tournaments. Later, whilst in secondary school, Kelly was then scouted by Cardiff City Football Club and performed at elite level, competing with representatives from Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur . As well as other key indicators of her excellence in sport, Kelly also was invited to take part in an under 19s Welsh National Team Training programme. Through this, she had the opportunity to play in a number of key international tournaments.

Since being at Edge Hill University, Kelly has also played in the Welsh Premier League, in which her team progressed to play in the EUFA Champions League in Bosnia. Kelly is now an established player at Blackburn Rovers Football Club.

In receiving her scholarship, Kelly commented:

“I am very pleased to be one of only three students to receive the gold award. This is down to my participation in football, for my club (Cardiff City FC and Blackburn Rovers) and country (Wales). It goes to show that if you have a long term goal that you have your mind set on, and you are prepared to overcome the short term goals such as time, effort and commitment, your hard work and determination will enable you to achieve”.

Prof Beattie discusses issues of monitoring children’s mobile phone usage on BBC North West

Professor Geoff Beattie has made a recent appearance on BBC North West to discuss the issues associated with monitoring young people in their use of mobile technologies. In particular, this is based on the development of a new mobile app; Mobile Force Field, designed as a child safety app, in which parents may monitor, detect, and filter potentially harmful content which may be received and sent through their child’s mobile device.

Prof. Beattie’s discussions can be found here.

Major new report explores problems children face in today’s digital age

A major new report concerning the difficulties and dangers of growing up in the digital age has been compiled by Edge Hill’s Professor Geoff Beattie.

Children Without Frontiers is a research-based snapshot of current knowledge of the issues our children face in the age of the internet, which argues that by relying on certain methodological approaches in the past we may not yet know the full extent of the effects of the internet on our children.

The report warns against underestimating the effects of ‘social desirability’ when we survey or interview children or young people. For example, when children’s attitudes to what they see online are measured via them ‘self-reporting’ what they have seen, their response may well be influenced by a desire to look ‘cool’ and any psychological effects may be deeper than they realise.

The study calls for the measurement of associations in the brain, essentially through time reaction tasks.

Geoff Beattie said: “Given recent evidence which suggests that implicit, unconscious attitudes are a significant determinant of our behaviour, it’s clear that research into this whole area requires some new thinking and radical new approaches.”

In Children Without Frontiers, Professor Beattie also argues that it may be time to reappraise the whole issue of how parents deal with what their children are experiencing online, in a world where children are exposed to more extreme things earlier and at more vulnerable ages, and parents have, in many instances, been left far behind in their knowledge and understanding of this new technology.

This generational divide was explored in The Byron Review, a major government review conducted by Professor Tanya Byron, Chancellor of Edge Hill University and commissioned by the then Prime Minister, in 2008.

As Professor Beattie’s previous research has found, people are more likely to have ‘flashbulb’ memories (hardwired, indelible memories designed for human survival) of major negative events from television or the internet rather than those from significant negative events from their own life.

Geoff explains: “Parents will often feel in a powerless position, and resort to various defence

Professor Geoff Beattie

Professor Geoff Beattie

mechanisms and rationalisations to justify their position of relative inactivity, while children feel unable to discuss flashbulb memories of disturbing things they have seen online for fear of how their parents might react.”

Children Without Frontiers was commissioned by the developers of the world’s first child safety app, MobileForceField, which was launched today.

EHU Psychology student follows her career aspirations in Educational Psychology

We are delighted to announce that one of our MSc Conversion students, Patricia Euston has recently accepted a job as an Assistant Psychologist at Catalyst Psychology, a local independent Educational Psychology provision.

Having worked in education for numerous years, Tricia joined the Department of Psychology to pursue her interest in Psychology and has been working on research projects examining factors associated with maths anxiety in school-aged children. We wish Tricia every success in her new job and are delighted to be maintaining such a positive partnership with Catalyst Psychology.