“What on earth is psychology and what are you going to do with it?”: An interview with Prof. Geoff Beattie

Professor Geoff Beattie was recently invited to speak with a representative from Hotcourses; an organisation dedicated to providing information and support to applicants on university courses. Here, Prof Beattie discussed his reasons for choosing a career in psychology, and his insights from his personal experiences. Additionally, he reflects on insights from his research on non-verbal communication, and how these relate to our everyday experiences. The interview can be located here.

EHU Psychology research on recreational drug use represented at National conference

Research carried out in the Department of Psychology at Edge Hill University aims to examine associations between recreational drug use and aspects of cognitive functioning. Findings from a series of research studies conducted by Professor Philip Murphy and colleagues were presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Psychobiology Section of the British Psychological Society in Windermere.

Their findings have indicated that use of the illegal drug ecstasy can impair some aspects of visual memory, whilst use of cannabis does not impair this particular area of functioning. However, in another study reviewing findings from 92 previously published research articles, Prof. Murphy and colleagues have found examples in which cannabis users perform worse than nonusers on other types of memory tasks.  In commenting upon the results, Prof. Murphy said that “Although we were disappointed to find only 11 direct comparisons we could analyse, the effect we found was very strong. We also know that there is much published evidence on other aspects of cognitive functioning, from our own and from other laboratories around the world, to suggest that cannabis can impair performance. This is an area which still needs much research.”

In other studies examining drug rehabilitation, Prof Murphy and colleagues have also found potential in the use of the drugs methadone and naltrexone, for reducing heroin usage in addicts. Prof. Murphy explained that “We are hoping that our findings may provide a basis for changing the licencing arrangements for naltrexone, so that unnecessary deaths can be avoided.” This research was carried out in conjunction with Mersey Care NHS Trust, and funded by the Bury Public Health Department NHS Trust.

 

“I have no clue what I drunk last night”: Psychology researchers report findings of research funded by Alcohol Research UK

Edge Hill Psychology researchers have recently reported their findings from their research funded by Alcohol Research UK, aiming to investigate the utility of Smartphone App technology to provide accurate accounts of alcohol consumption behaviours. The research, led by Dr Rebecca Monk with Professor Derek Heim and research assistant Mr Alan Price, reports the benefits of using real-time reports through App technology in comparison with more traditional retrospective self-reports, which are more typical in psychological research. Dr Monk and colleagues hope the findings will help inform the development of such technologies for more useful and accurate measures of alcohol consumption behaviour. A copy of the report can be found here.

 

Is Twitter effective as a learning tool?

twitter stock

New research carried out by Edge Hill academics has shown that using Twitter as a learning tool to engage students may not be as effective as previously thought.

Dr Charles Knight, from the Edge Hill Business School, and Dr Lynda Kaye, from the School of Psychology, published a research paper on how social media has become increasingly important in the work of academics, and comparing this with how students use Twitter as a tool to further their education.

Dr Knight and Dr Kaye surveyed 153 undergraduate and postgraduate students about their personal use of Twitter, examining how often students use it to contact tutors, share information with peers and generally to further their own education. This was then compared with information on how academics use social media for shared academic knowledge, distribution of information, dialogue amongst peers and academic networking.

Their research has revealed that, despite the wealth of opportunity available for both academics and students in social networking sites, the majority of students use Twitter passively as part of their learning process and were far more likely to interact with their fellow students than teachers. In fact, ‘celebrity watching’ was found to be far more popular than following academics in their field.

Dr Knight and Dr Kaye found that academics were far more likely to use Twitter as a tool for teaching and learning than students were. Academics use Twitter frequently to share information, organise events, promote blogs and to network internationally.

Dr Lynda Kaye, Senior Lecturer in Psychology said:

“We found that academics were much more active in their use of Twitter, particularly in promoting research-based issues. Students, on the other hand, tended to be relatively passive, and tended not to actively use Twitter within the academic context. The disparity we observe implies that Twitter is currently not the most effective platform through which to engage students within their university course.”

Their research also raises the question of how academics can improve their use of Twitter to further engage students in the future, suggesting options such as live lecture broadcasts, hosted debates, practical support and course updates.

Dr Kaye said: “As is the case with all technological platforms, Twitter’s development may result in greater potential for its use in improving tutor-student partnerships in the future.”

Edge Hill Psychology research to feature in new book on Sustainable Consumption.

Professor Geoff Beattie and Laura McGuire have a chapter in a major new book which is out this week, published by Oxford University Press. The book entitled; “Sustainable Consumption: Multi-disciplinary Perspectives in Honour of Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta” is a landmark volume on sustainability, dedicated to Partha Dasgupta; one of the world’s leading economists who has pioneered in this area. The book includes chapters written by world-leading experts from different disciplines which seeks to explain different perspectives on sustainable consumption. Beattie and McGuire’s chapter explores the potential value of considering implicit attitudes within this domain. Details of the book may be found here.

Psychology graduates will present work at major international conference

Dominic Aldridge and Katie Emmison with tutor Adam Qureshi

Dominic Aldridge and Katie Emmison with tutor Adam Qureshi

Katie Emmison and Dominic Aldridge, who graduated with upper second class honours in BSc (Hons) Psychology, will make presentations based upon their dissertations at a major national BPS (British Psychological Society) conference.

Katie, who has already secured graduate employment at MAC Clinical Research as a Psychology Assistant, said: “My lecturer Adam Qureshi encouraged me to submit my work for the conference and I was surprised but delighted when it was accepted. I’m both nervous and excited for September! It’s great to be graduating today and starting a career in psychology.”

Dominic Aldridge, who intends to go on to further study, said: “This opportunity made me think more about continuing my psychology studies and research. My tutors at Edge Hill have been really encouraging and I’m excited to be graduating with a 2:1 today.”

The work Katie and Dominic will present involves Theory of Mind – the ability to understand that other people have different mental states, knowledge and beliefs to ourselves – and Executive Function – memory, attention, planning and inhibition, said to be responsible for goal-directed behaviour – and the relationship between the two.

Katie looked at the relationship between theory of mind, executive function (specifically inhibition) and schizotypy. The latter comprises personality traits that are analogous to symptoms/factors that are found in schizophrenia, but are present in the ‘typical’ population (i.e. students).

Dominic looked at the relationship between theory of mind, executive function (specifically memory) and age (he compared young v old adults). Research suggests that executive function ability declines with age, as does theory of mind.

The 31st BPS Cognitive Psychology Section Annual Conference takes place at Nottingham Trent University this September.

Departmental research on social identity and digital gaming features in a new book.

The Health and Social Issues Research Group includes a research theme on social identity, and the applications to a range of behaviours, including reducing prejudice and discrimination in different populations and in understanding drinking cultures of sports teams. Additionally, Dr Linda Kaye‘s research has been considering how social identity underpins the social experiences associated with digital gaming, and how these are related to positive psychosocial outcomes for self-esteem and psychological well-being. Her research has recently been documented in a new book published by IGI Global entitled: “Cases on the Societal Effects of Persuasive Games“. Her research provides an account of the way in which specific digital games promote the development of friendships and their function in fostering social identity formation.

 

 

 

Prof. Beattie’s insights into body language considered at a recent conference

Prof. Geoff Beattie gave a talk entitled “Visible Thought: Rethinking the Nature of Body Language” at the recent Leadership Conference at Edge Hill University earlier this month. He challenged much of the popular thinking about body language in the light of scientific evidence and presented a new perspective on this very important topic. He had begun to explore this issue in his book “Visible Thought“, published by Routledge in 2003, but a new updated version of this book will be published in 2015. It will be called “Rethinking Body Language: How Hand Movements Reveal Hidden Thoughts”.

“Get the Edge: How simple changes transform your life”

Professor Geoff Beattie’s book “Get the Edge: How simple changes transform your life” has just been published in Brazil. The title translates as “All Change Starts With You”. It’s an International best-seller with Chinese and Taiwanese translations already in existence, and with a Korean translation out later this year. Get the edge

Final year students celebrate record success

We are delighted to announce that our final year students have this year obtained a record number of excellent degrees. Across our three undergraduate programmes, 73% of our students have gained a 1st or 2:1 honours. We would like to extend our congratulations to all our students on their successes and we wish them all the best in their future endeavours.