Mentoring breeds success, says EHU psychologist


Research by an internationally renowned psychologist at Edge Hill University has shown that mentors can be as influential in a child’s success as their teachers.

Geoff Beattie, Professor of Psychology, conducted the review on behalf of Disney UK to mark the launch of its ‘Aim High’ mentoring programme and argues that mentors create a more intimate and trusting environment for kids to learn and reach for their goals.

“We often think that good teachers are some of the most important figures in the lives of our kids,” said Professor Beattie. “But mentors can be equally as influential, giving children an intimate and focused forum to demonstrate the ‘how’ of success. Within this environment they learn to approach issues and plan, practice and deliver results. This breeds confidence, making them more resilient to everyday life and more optimistic about reaching their goals.”

His study highlights that when children are within a reassuring setting with a mentor they can ask questions without fear of ridicule, realise that the impossible is possible, and learn from people who have been there and done it themselves. He found that having a mentor was also shown to improve both a child’s attendance and performance at school.

Anna Hill from Disney UK commented: “With Aim High, Disney is seeking to inspire UK kids to set goals and reach for their dreams. It is about making the impossible possible and encouraging them to be the best they can be. The review not only shows that mentors can benefit a child’s development, but also just how far mentoring can go in enhancing their lives long term.”

Disney’s Aim High scheme is in its 3rd year and is for seven to 14-year-olds. This year’s scheme was launched this week with the help of Laura Trott and Jason Kenny, both Olympic gold medallists and mentors for young cyclists.

Watch this year’s launch at

Professor Beattie added: “Disney Aim High gives children a taster of what mentoring is all about and the confidence to seek out longer term relationships with inspirational people who can offer them the support, encouragement and advice to reach their own full potential.”

The academic psychologist, writer and broadcaster is known for his detailed analyses of nonverbal communication which has featured in a large number of academic articles and book. He has analysed behaviour to a more general audience by appearing as the on-screen psychologist on 11 series of Big Brother and is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

Key findings from his latest piece of research include:

  • Mentoring positively affects behaviour – including motivation, commitment, academic performance and school attendance.
  • Mentoring positively affects health and career outcomes.
  • Mentoring is more effective when it lies outside of a formal hierarchy and in-built authority e.g. teachers, line managers.
  • Mentoring positively affects relationships – kids learn and develop appropriate strategies for dealing with issues that may arise in everyday life with respect to relationships.
  • Key to success – many successful individuals single out mentoring as one of the key factors in their own success.
  • Mentoring can raise a child’s horizons – by demonstrating that the impossible, is possible.
  • Mentors are more effective than role models – individuals featured in books or on the news, however inspiring or revered, are ultimately too remote to be influential.
  • Mentoring can provide ‘tacit’ knowledge – allowing success to develop
  • Early exposure is important – children imitate the most basic forms of behaviour from others, so there are benefits to exposing them to mentors early in life.
  • Mentoring has a positive effect on both the mentee and the mentor – the latter often reporting higher levels of job satisfaction and motivation at work.


Fancy applying for a PhD Studentship?

The Department of Psychology was formally established in 2011 and offers an exciting and rapidly developing environment for research, having benefited from recent research infrastructure development. The department hosts two established research groups: the Cognitive Science Research Group and the Health and Social Issues Research Group. Each of these groups supports the collaborative research activities of its members. However, research is not restricted to these areas, so that we have particular strengths in social psychology, visual perception, organizational/work psychology, biological psychology, neuropsychology cognitive psychology, and sport and exercise psychology.
We would be happy to receive enquiries concerning research to PhD level in any area of Psychology. Expressions of interest would be particularly welcome in the following:

  • Behavioural and linguistic indicators of personality
  • Cognitive control and skill acquisition
  • Cognitive performance in substance misusers
  • Contextual influences on personality assessment
  • Contextual, social and cultural influences on substance abuse, health and well being
  • Digital gaming in social contexts
  • Effective acquisition and performance of motor skills
  • Executive function and theory of mind in schizophrenia
  • Eyewitness Memory and suggestibility
  • Family food choices and obesity
  • False memories and eye movements
  • How iconic gestures interact with speech in everyday conversation
  • Implicit and explicit attitudes to the environment in the light of the threat posed by climate change
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Motivation and happiness within organizational contexts
  • Implicit attitudes to doping in sport
  • Parallel motor planning and the role of multiple brain regions in representing sensorimotor decisions
  • Physical exercise and cognition
  • Subliminal representation of object affordances and the automatic activation of the motor system
  • Social cognition
  • The neural mechanisms involved in action prediction and anticipation for every day actions
  • The neural basis and cognitive correlates of elite sport performance and sport learning
  • Visual cognition and eye movement behaviour

Informal enquiries may be addressed to the Head of Department, Professor Philip Murphy, Tel: 01695-584508.

Research Talk by internationally-renowned Professor Glyn Humphreys


The Department of Psychology is delighted to be hosting a research talk to be given by internationally-renowned Professor Glyn Humphreys (Oxford University).

His seminar, entitled: “The salient and irresistible self: The social cognitive neuroscience of self-bias” promises to be an interesting and enlightening insight into the psychological underpinnings of the self.

Prof. Humphreys’ talk will be taking place on 26th February 2014 from 1-2pm in H2 (Faculty of Health Building). All are welcome.

PhD Studentship: Group regulation of alcohol consumption behaviours

The Department of Psychology is delighted to be offering this three year studentship in “Group regulation of alcohol consumption behaviours”, supported by Alcohol Research UK.

This studentship is concerned with gaining a better understanding of how group processes shape and maintain alcohol behaviours. Adopting a multi-methodological approach that comprises experimental, ethnographic /qualitative and cutting-edge experiential sampling methodologies, the aim is to examine systematically how group dynamics may be harnessed for reducing problematic levels of alcohol consumption.  Based at Edge Hill University in the North West of England, the PhD student will join the Health and Social Issues Research Group in the Department of Psychology and be part of a team investigating social, cultural and contextual influences on substance use behaviours.

For more information, please see here

Ban ‘bonus birthdays’ for children, says psychologist


Psychologist Geoff Beattie argues that children should not enjoy a ‘bonus birthday’ each year just because their parents don’t want them to feel left out on a sibling’s big day.

The writer, broadcaster and Professor of Psychology at Edge Hill University has joined the big debate following new research just published, which found almost half of young people are having two or more ‘birthdays’ a year because parents buy them presents on their brother or sister’s birthdays, as well as their own.

“I think this is ridiculous,” said Geoff. “Parents are under so much pressure as it is, but this is an opportunity for them to teach their children about how to deal with disappointments that will invariably come along later in life. It’s a bad idea to rely on material presents to soothe children because it encourages the wrong sorts of materialistic habits later in life.

“Isn’t it better to teach children how to share emotionally and let them celebrate the fact that it’s their sibling’s birthday without any sort of gift? Instead they should be taught about the simple pleasures in life of seeing their brother or sister happy on their special day. Learning to appreciate the little things is so important and we shouldn’t be looking at material goods to make us happy.”

Geoff, who is well known for bringing analyses of behaviour, particularly nonverbal communication, to a more general audience by appearing as the on-screen psychologist on 11 series of Big Brother, also believes that it is important for children to learn to delay gratification.


“A person’s ability to delay gratification relates to other similar skills such as patience, impulse control, self-control and willpower, all of which are involved in self-regulation, which is necessary to meet demands of the environment. I believe that if children have the ability to work hard for rewards and delay gratification, it can predict future academic and social success.”

Geoff has carried out some work on wealth and material goods. In his best-selling book Get the Edge: How Simple Changes Will Transform Your Life, Geoff explains how psychology can be used by people in their everyday lives to give them happiness without the need for materialistic objects.

He added: “Another main area of academic interest has been the psychology of sustainability and I have been investigating why people are not doing more to safeguard the environment in the light of the threat posed by climate change. This latest study on buying extra presents for children shows that we are purchasing unnecessary items, which could ultimately be harming the environment. People seem to be ‘dissociated’ when it comes to the environment and understanding this state could be crucial to changing their behaviour for the better.”

Geoff’s work in psychology is extensively covered in the national and international media and he is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

Department of Psychology welcomes two new lecturers!


The Department of Psychology is delighted to have recently welcomed Dr Stergios Makris and Thomas Mitchell as part of their dynamic team of lecturers.

Dr Stergios Makris’ research focuses on visual perception, attention and action representation, and is published in a number of high quality cognitive psychology and neuroscience journals.

Thomas Mitchell’s research examines individual differences in numerical cognition, with some recognition of the educational implications. He is recently published in a number of good quality journals.

“I’d be expecting caviar in lectures” – new research suggests not!

Whilst the increase in Higher Education tuition fees was speculated to result in increased student demands and higher student expectations of their university experiences, Dr Linda Kaye and colleague’s research suggests this is not necessarily the case.

Having undertaken focus groups with first year undergraduate students, both before and after the increase in the tuition fees, they found that those students in the post-fee rise group were just as satisfied with their university experiences as those in in pre-fee rise group. Additionally, there were no apparent differences in their expectations of their course contact time, support or resources.

This research, which is soon to be published in “Higher Education”, can be located here

Professor Beattie discusses the psychology behind buying presents for children

Our very own Professor Geoff Beattie graced our screens yesterday on BBC Breakfast and later on BBC News 24 in which he discussed the developmental implications of buying presents for siblings on a child’s birthday.

Here, Professor Beattie argued that children need to learn delay gratification given this is a key factor which predicts future academic and social success. Additionally, heavily reliance on material goods in childhood may later encourage materialistic habits in later life.

A link to the BBC Breakfast broadcast is provided here 

Researchers embrace smartphone technology to reveal alcohol-related behaviours

At the recent annual conference for the Society for the Study of Addiction, in York, Dr Rebecca Monk presented a paper entitled “A multi-methodological approach to studying alcohol-related cognitions”. This work outlined a series of innovative research studies that examined the effects of social and environmental context on alcohol-related cognition.

By combining field research and experiential sampling using smartphone application technology, this research was able to demonstrate that alcohol-related cognitions varied between real-world (in vivo) social and environmental contexts. More specifically, when questioning occurred in alcohol-related environments and in the presence of social others, people were more likely to think good things would happen and have more positive beliefs about alcohol consumption, as well feeling less able to refuse alcohol. However, this pattern of behaviour was reversed when peopled responsed in non-alcohol related environments and during solitary response sessions. Crucially, these studies show that alcohol-related cognitions change in social and environmental context, and therefore highlight the importance of using objective measures in the field.

Student shows bullies he’s a winner


An inspirational Edge Hill University student has shown his bullies that he’s no victim and has scooped an award by dedicating his time to helping others.

It is Psychology student Kristian Richings’ outstanding work within the charity sector that has been recognised with an Edge Hill University Excellence Scholarship in Volunteering

Kristian was a victim of bullying at a younger age but the harrowing experience didn’t break him and instead sparked a passion for helping children overcome personal struggles.

Now the 23-year-old from Gloucestershire juggles voluntary roles for various organisations including the NSPCC and Child Line with his degree studies.

He said: “I know what it’s like to be bullied, I’ve been through it myself and it makes you feel scared, anxious and causes low self-confidence. I’ve come through these hard times and I want to use my own personal experience to show these young people that they can reach their full potential in whatever they choose to pursue.”

Kristian also suffers from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, an inflammation on the brain and spinal cord that can cause long term illness and disability. But he is battling his illness and now studies Psychology at Edge Hill where he hopes to go on to have a career in Clinical Psychology.

“I really want a job that involves improving the lives of people with various neurological issues to ensure they have a better quality of life and personal well-being,” said Kristian.

“I would also love to put a project together that would allow Edge Hill societies to include children in the local area in extracurricular activities on campus. It would be nice to think that this kind of charity work with young people could have a lasting positive reaction on future generations.

“I’m so glad that Edge Hill University regards voluntary work so highly. There’s a lot of amazing people who have supported me here. Students and staff are the ones that inspire me to do more and be the best that I can be.”

The scholarship award will help Kristian reduce the amount of hours he works in order to pursue more voluntary charitable opportunities.

He said: “I’m so happy that I have won this scholarship because I will be able to reduce the amount of time I have to work and I will be able to put more time into my voluntary projects. It will also allow me to manage my illness more effectively.”