Psychology students get a taste for academic conferences

Tom, Vicky and Rebecca

Dr Tom Wilson presented his research on “Digital analysis of mind-related words published in three areas of Psychology” at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference last week. This research found systematic differences in the frequency of mind-related words used (e.g., consciousness, memory, mindfulness) among sub-disciplines of clinical, educational and experimental psychology, highlighting conceptual distinctions of mind in different areas of psychology. This project was run as part of the Department of Psychology’s Research Internship Scheme, in which a number of second year students have been working with staff to undertake cutting-edge research. Students, Victoria McMahon and Rebecca Hefferman attended this conference with Dr Wilson to present this work as part of this scheme. Here, Rebecca and Victoria benefited from a range of experiences including interacting with other academics and psychology students, and felt inspired by engaging at the forefront of the research process. The Department is hopeful that the internship scheme will continue to provide students with these excellent opportunities in developing academic and research skills and expertise in their area of study.

Vicky and Rebecca

Professor Beattie announced as keynote at European conference

Professor Geoff Beattie has been announced as the keynote speaker at the prestigious European Conference on Psychology and the Behavioral Sciences 2015 (ECP2005), due to take place from 6th-8th July 2015 in Brighton. This interdisciplinary conference draws together academics as well as practitioners to consider future directions in research within psychology and other behavioural sciences.

More details on this can be located here

How political leaders get their voices heard


In line with the recent Political Leaders’ debate, Professor Geoff Beattie took part in an interview on the BBC News channel on the afternoon of the 2nd April discussing in more detail how the patterns of interaction might evolve in the Leaders’ Debate that evening, and how the gender composition of the panel could influence the behaviour of the various politicians.  Each politician will be trying to get their voice heard, and stand out in the debate, but Prof. Beattie highlighted gender differences in how politicians can do this, focussing specifically on types of interruption.  Here, he discussed how ‘overlaps’ are an effective form of interruption used by individuals high in dominance and considered how the use of such specific behaviours might tell us something about the various participants in the debate.  In particular, Prof. Beattie reflected on female politicians of the past  like Margaret Thatcher, and how she both used and responded to interruptions.

The secrets behind the Leaders Debate: What can body language reveal?

Professor Geoff Beattie appeared on BBC Breakfast on the 2nd April discussing what to look out for in terms of body language in the topical Leaders Debate, due to be aired tonight. The format of the Leaders Debate involving seven political leaders, brings a number of different dimensions to televised political discourse in this country. It was more unpredictable than previous formats and brought a new set of social dynamics to bear on the process. It was going to be harder for the politicians involved to maintain their rehearsed and controlled performances in terms of their body language and Prof. Beattie highlighted several behaviours that might allow the public to see behind the masks of the modern politician. In particular, Prof. Beattie mentioned micro-expressions as a way of reading their underlying emotional state, be it anger, fear, disgust or contempt, and explained how to identify micro expressions when masking smiles fade. Further it was also highlighted about the possibility of gesture-speech mismatches when the content of the speech and the message contained in the gesture appear to differ, but where the gesture may give some insight into the politician’s underlying thoughts. As a final word, Prof. Beattie emphasised that the debate later that night could provide a unique opportunity to learn more about our political masters.

The discussion can soon be accessed here 

EHU Psychologist considers why young people have a “fear of missing out”

Professor Geoff Beattie appeared on BBC Radio Lancashire on the 1st April discussing ‘FOMO’ or ‘fear of missing out’. He talked about how this apprehension about other people having a better time than oneself was partly fuelled by social media and how young people were often becoming genuinely anxious as a result of this. Additionally, Prof. Beattie considered the concept in the context of social groups and belonging and how it was interfering with people enjoying the moment more, and gaining greater fulfilment through their own experiences. Instead, they were constantly worrying about their friends ‘better experiences’ and this was sometimes a source of real distraction and worry. To conclude, some discussion was dealt with considering how to combat ‘FOMO’.

EHU Psychology represented at an International education conference

Research conducted within the Department of Psychology at Edge Hill University has been accepted at the prestigious EARLI  conference. Tom Mitchell and PhD student, Claire Kinsella will be presenting insights from their respective research projects considering psychological insights in the context of education, learning and teaching.

Specifically, Tom will be presented his research on “Sex as a source of variance in number line estimation tasks: Evidence across the lifespan” and Claire will present on “Self-determined Behaviour in the Classroom: Developing and Validating a New Observational Tool”.

Is optimism the problem in dealing with climate change?

Professor Geoff Beattie has just received funding from the British Academy/
Leverhulme scheme to investigate possible biases in how people process climate change messages. According to the latest IPCC report, human factors are a significant factor in the rise of global CO2 emissions, and therefore a major driver of climate change. So why do people not respond more to the various climate change messages and campaigns that have been delivered over the past few years? Are there cognitive biases influencing the processing of these messages? Research has shown that, in some other domains, optimists have an unconscious bias to focus on positive information rather than negative information, and this selective processing of information can allow them to remain optimistic in a world with many negative features. Using eye-tracking he will test whether optimists unconsciously avoid fixating those aspects of messages outlining the dangers of climate change and consider the implications of any such bias on reasoning about the dangers of climate change, and the perception of risk. This research could tell us whether in society’s pursuit of ‘positive thinking’, we may well have ‘undermined preparedness’ to deal with real threats that exist out there in the world, like climate change, and created a psychological barrier to behaviour change that we must now overcome

The creative side of psychology in education

The work of PhD student, Claire Kinsella is soon to appear in a book on “Creative Education, Teaching and Learning“, published by Palgrave Macmillan. Claire’s PhD research is exploring the impact of arts-based education on enhancing educational engagement in disaffected learners, such as those in Pupil Referral Units in the North West of England. Her research has utilised a range of approaches in understanding the psychological underpinnings of learner engagement and motivation, with an aim to inform educational interventions, particularly for non-traditional learners.

EHU Psychology researchers assess the role of context in alcohol consumption

Dr Rebecca Monk and Dr Adam Qureshi have recently received funding from Alcohol Research UK to examine the role of different social contexts on people’s alcohol-related thoughts and behaviours. Using innovative methodologies which can examine processes such as impulse control, thought to be instrumental in alcohol consumption, this research aims to build on previous investigations to provide a more realistic account of impulse control in alcohol environments.