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.

“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.”