Psychological research to inform digital game design at a forthcoming conference

Dr Linda Kaye has been invited to present her research on social gaming at a national conference to be attended by key stakeholders in the digital gaming industry. At the Develop Conference, due to take place from 8th-10th July 2014, Dr Kaye will be giving a talk on “Social psychology and digital gaming experiences: What can developers learn from this discipline?” Within this, she will be considering how processes such as group flow and social identity formation within gaming can enhance positive gaming experiences and outcomes for players, to inform future game design.

Final year student accepted to talk at the BPS Cognitive Section Conference

We are delighted to have recently received news that Katie Emmison, a final year Psychology student, has been accepted to present her dissertation research at the BPS Cognitive Section Conference in September.

Her dissertation project entitled “Association between schizotypy, theory of mind and executive function” will appear within the conference programme shortly. Her dissertation supervisor Dr Adam Qureshi is delighted with Katie’s achievements. Adam will also be presenting at this conference with his work on “Contribution of working memory to perspective calculation and selection”.

 

Dr Joanne Powell’s research highlights the role of handedness on the neuropsychological underpinning of social cognition ability

Dr Joanne Powell’s recent research has found that handedness (left or right-handed) is related to “intentionality competence”- ones ability to explain and predict the behaviour of others by attributing mental states. Using a form of neuroimaging analysis, Dr Powell and her team found interesting differences between right and left-handers in their neuroanatomy. The research is now published in the prestigious journal “Cortex”. The paper can be located here.

Professor Geoff Beattie

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Professor of Psychology at Edge Hill University, Geoff Beattie is an internationally renowned writer and broadcaster.

Geoff is best known for his detailed analyses of nonverbal communication which has featured in a large number of academic articles and books, and lead to his featuring as Big Brother’s resident on-screen psychologist for 11 series.

He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society whose knowledge of how nonverbal communication reveals hidden thoughts has been featured on ITV’s Ghosthunting, Lorraine Kelly, Richard and Judy, The One Show, Tonight with Trevor McDonald and Radio 4′s Woman’s Hour. 

Are ‘fines’ the solution to food waste in restaurants?

Professor Geoff Beattie joined the BBC Breakfast this morning to discuss food waste in restaurants and specifically the Swiss restaurant that has introduced a ‘fine’ for customers who do not clear their plates. Whilst a restauranteur thought that it was a bad idea, Beattie argued that “we need to change our attitude to food and food waste, and anything which makes us think about what a valuable resource food is, is essentially a good thing. Moreover, we waste 24 million slices of bread a day in this country, and throw out the equivalent of 86 million chickens a year. In restaurants 27% leave significant amounts of food, and most say they are not concerned about this.”

Professor Geoff Beattie talked about the psychology of food consumption and mentioned the ‘Clear your plate’ campaign recently introduced in China where ordering more than you can eat is a status symbol amongst the emergent middle classes. Finally, Beattie talked about the importance of food waste for the environment, and that we must break our wasteful habits to mitigate climate change.

BBC Breakfast will be releasing the episode onto BBC iPlayer soon

The Psychology of Hugging

 

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Psychologist Professor Geoff Beattie has joined the big debate on hugging, arguing that it has a range of benefits for our health and well-being

The writer, broadcaster and Professor of Psychology at Edge Hill University was interviewed on BBC Radio following the unveiling of Little Miss Hug, the newest character in the Mr Men series of books which have sold more than 80 million copies worldwide.

“Hugs seem to have such a positive impact. They impact on self-esteem, they impact on relationships and they impact upon the body’s ability to cope with stress.”

Geoff’s latest research identifies hugging as an instinctive, primitive behaviour which is present even in toddlers and young children who hug their teddy bears and dolls for comfort. He argues there is significant evidence to suggest that hugging increases the body’s levels of the feel-good, bonding hormone oxytocin and reduces the stress hormone cortisone, having an overall positive impact on our physical health and mental well-being.

According to Geoff there are a number of different hugs which we use in everyday life as a means of non-verbal communications. This includes the ‘bear hug’ to signal social status and dominance, and the ‘big squeezey hug’ to signal sympathy, which human beings are able to understand on a similar level to facial expressions.

Geoff discussed his research, and the UK’s changing relationship with hugging, on BBC Radio with Adam Hargreaves, son of the creator of the Mr Men franchise Roger Hargreaves, on Thursday 8th May. The 35th addition to the Little Miss family, Little Miss Hug, has attracted significant media attention as a symbol of how attitudes to hugging have changed.

Geoff concludes that hugging in the UK is now one of the most common form of nonverbal communication used in greetings and farewell, something which would have been unthinkable in 1966 when a famous study identified the UK as a ‘zero-contact culture’.

In response to the question of how body language in public in the UK changed, he said,

“It looks as if it has changed quite dramatically. There is a generation coming through in which hugging seems to be the principal way they are using to greet each other. From a psychologists’ point of view you have to welcome that because hugging has such a positive impact on the human body.”

You can listen to the full interview on BBC iPlayer from 33:20 here.

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.

Psychology book ‘Our Racist Heart’ reviewed in leading academic journal

Professor Geoffrey Beattie’s recent book ‘Our Racist Heart? An Exploration of Unconscious Prejudice in Everyday Life recently received a glowing review by Thomas Cafferty from the University of South Carolina, and was published in the Journal of Social Psychology. Below is an excerpt from the review, and the full review can be found here.racist heart cover

In summary, Our Racist Heart? is an effort to shed some new light on a timely and always important issue. Beattie contributes a valuable update of Allport’s work, especially exploring the importance of unconscious factors in the development and expression of prejudice….what is impressive is the elegant way that Beattie has incorporated his autobiographical account of experienced prejudice with knowledgeable commentary in terms of modern views of prejudice.

Psychology students gain MHFA qualification

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Third year BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Psychology students at Edge Hill were recently given the opportunity to gain the Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) qualification to help them deal with this growing issue the world of sport.

The qualification, which is accredited by the UK Department of Health, equips participants with the skills and knowledge to recognise the early signs of a mental health problem, provide first aid, guide someone towards the right support and help to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

Dr David Marchant, Programme Leader for Sport and Exercise Psychology, explains “Although there is a growing awareness of mental health problems within sport, there is still stigma attached to athletes with mental illnesses. Because of this, we wanted to equip our students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to go out into sporting settings and help break down this stigma and, as such, help to develop a culture where athletes can get the right support when they need it.”

David continues “Because many of our students go on to work within sporting, exercise or health settings it is important that are able to play a vital role in increasing awareness of mental health issues, with the qualification also being extremely valuable in helping them to support their fellow students, family members and colleagues who may have concerns about mental health and wellbeing.”

Dr Marchant adds that feedback from the students who have undertaken this course, which was developed in Australia and is now internationally recognised, has been really positive, with its practical nature proving particularly enjoyable.

One person who is especially pleased that the university is offering the MHFA programme to students is Betty Kitchener, the co-founder and CEO of Mental Health First Aid Australia, who was awarded the Order of Australia medal for her efforts in developing and disseminating MHFA.

Speaking last year, when students studying a range sport and physical activity programmes completed the programme, she said: “I congratulate Edge Hill University for introducing this initiative. MHFA is about empowering the whole community to take action regarding better mental health, so it is wonderful to see Edge Hill pioneering this work with their students. The skills the students have learnt will definitely help them in their future careers to support those with mental health problems.”

To find out more about studying Sport and Exercise Psychology at Edge Hill University, visit ehu.ac.uk/studypsychology

To find out more about the MHFA course, visit: www.mhfaengland.org

Is humiliation the key to positive behaviour change?

Professor Geoff Beattie recently joined the BBC Breakfast and BBC News 24 teams to discuss the case of Edmond Aviv; the man who was ordered to wear a sign saying ‘I am a bully’, having been convicted of abusing his neighbours over a number of years.

Professor Beattie considered whether humiliation works in promoting positive behaviour change, and whether shame acts very differently to guilt. Within this, Professor Beattie discussed how people cope with shame and how promoting empathy of others is key to reintegration within the community.

BBC Breakfast will be releasing the episode onto BBC iPlayer soon