Cannabis use and intelligence in young people: EHU Professor comments

EHU Psychology academic, Professor Philip Murphy comments on a recent article published in British Medical Journal on the links between cannabis use and intelligence in young people. The recent article claimed that children with moderate to high academic ability at 11 years old, are more likely to use cannabis than those of lower ability.

In his piece for The Conversation, Professor Murphy notes that the study’s findings should be interpreted with caution. Namely, he identifies that some of the results are not statistically significant when comparing certain ability groups in the period of early adolescence, but appear to be more rigorous for the older year groups.

He goes on to question why a link should be expected between these two seemingly unrelated factors. That is, why should those young people who are more intelligent be more likely to smoke cannabis than their less academically-able peers? Maybe one explanation is that low academic ability is related to having less awareness of new experiences through which to explore these behaviours. However, there is still much to speculate on whether this is indeed the case.

Clearly, research on this topic is very important, and the recent research has certainly opened up some new insights to help move forward our understanding of these issues.

Why do the British love to queue? EHU Professor explains

It’s typically understood that the British public is good at queuing, but what is the psychology behind this behaviour? Professor Geoff Beattie joined BBC Breakfast to give some insights.  Some recent research from University College London has investigated the social organisation of the queue and the rules that govern people’s satisfaction levels and willingness to wait or leave the queue.  Professor Beattie discussed the broader psychological issues about how queues represent the British value of fair play, and how queues for food rations in the Second World War (‘our finest hour’) were important in establishing their role in our society.  He also argued that their orderliness are important in British culture because they help us avoid social embarrassment by having to confront those who infringe the social rules of queue jumping.  Since the social norms regarding queuing are so widely known, and widely shared, there are fewer infringements to deal with.  Finally, within this discussion, Professor Beattie drew on the role of nonverbal communication in dealing with queue infringements and the maintenance of this social order. The full broadcast can be view here (around 1.40).

The “divided self”: Implications for human behaviour

Professor Geoff Beattie recently did an interview with IAFOR about ‘the divided self’.  IAFOR is the international think-tank based in Japan with a significant international audience.  Professor Beattie discussed the clash between the operation of more unconscious and automatic processes in human beings, and their more conscious and controlled processes, and how this can lead to particular challenges when it comes to promoting issues like sustainability, and equality and diversity.  Human beings sometimes respond in ways that are not desirable because of the operation of these two ‘systems’ of thought.  Professor Beattie was also interviewed about ‘Big Brother’, when it was on Channel 4, and why it might have been psychologically informative. Details on this interview are here.

The Psychology of Donald Trump’s Body Language

us-election-analysis-2016Our resident expert on body language Professor Geoff Beattie has recently published new work on ‘How Donald Trump bullies with his body language‘. This piece focuses on Donald Trump during the second Presidential debate and has appeared in a collected volume on the U.S. election 2016 that features 83 contributions from leading academics around the world. This volume examines the role of the media in the campaign, the campaign itself, the underlying policy considerations, diversity and division in the campaign, the view from overseas, the digital campaign, pop culture and populism, with a final reflective section on the election result and its implications. The editors were D. Lilleker, E. Thorsen, D. Jackson& A. Veneti (Eds.), US Election Analysis 2016: Media, Voters and the Campaign. Bournemouth: CSJCC.

“The Psychology of Language and Communication” to become a classic edition

bookProfessor Geoff Beattie’s book ‘The Psychology of Language and Communication’ written with Andy Ellis is to be reprinted in the Psychology Press/Routledge classic editions series.

The publishers write:

‘The Psychology Press & Routledge Classic Editions series celebrates a commitment to excellence in scholarship, teaching, and learning within the field of Psychology and related areas. The books in this series are widely recognized as timeless classics, of continuing importance for both students and researchers. Each title contains a completely new introduction which explores what has changed since the books were first published, where the field might go from here and why these books are as relevant now as ever. Written by recognised experts, and covering core areas of the subject, the Psychology Press & Routledge Classic Editions series presents fundamental ideas to a new generation.’

EHU Psychology Professor reports on Donald Trump’s body language


Professor Beattie wrote a piece for ‘The Conversation’ on Donald Trump’s bullying tactics in the second Presidential debate. It focussed on his body language and gestures, his name calling, and his nonverbal communication as comment whilst Hillary Clinton was talking. Professor Beattie argued that these are the kinds of tactics that boxers use to intimidate their opponents and affected how the whole thing was viewed and discussed.  The article had 58k reads on ‘The Conversation‘ over the first few days.  The article was reprinted in Newsweek and can be found here.

Edge Hill University student heads to Sri Lanka to expand her knowledge and understanding of global mental health

In March, an Edge Hill Psychology student, Jessica Ashworth travelled to Sri Lanka to undertake a voluntary Mental Health Placement with SLV.Global; a graduate-led volunteering organisation, which runs psychology-focused placements in Sri Lanka and also in Bali, Indonesia.

For today’s psychology students who wish to pursue a career in the mental health sector, it’s important to gain worthwhile, hands-on work experience. Not only has Jessica utilised and developed important skills in her chosen field of study but she has also developed an in-depth understanding of mental health from an additional cultural perspective.

During her placement Jessica planned and ran therapeutic activity sessions in psychiatric facilities for individuals living with a wide range of mental health issues. In addition to their time at the hospital, volunteers also worked at numerous schools and social initiatives for children and adults with disabilities and taught English in the local community.

Many skills are honed and developed through working and living abroad. Most obviously, not sharing a common language can be a challenge and discovering new ways to make yourself understood without the aid of verbal language requires patience, innovation and creativity. The ability to be flexible and cool under pressure and to remain composed, even when things aren’t going to plan, are all attributes any future employer or educator would value.

During her placement Jessica lived out of her comfort zone for much of the week. The weekends, however, were a different story. Volunteers on the Mental Health Placement in Sri Lanka had their weekends free to roam the lush, tropical island and uncover its many secrets. You can read what Jessica said about her time in Sri Lanka below and if you have any questions you can check out SLV.Global on or email them on

“It’s hard to sum up such an incredible month with all the sorts of different individuals we worked with, but a final very valuable part of the project was meeting psychology students from all over the world and learning from each of their experiences with ideas they brought to new projects.” – Jessica Ashworth.

Can recreational drugs be helpful in psychological therapy?

There is much debate about the effects of recreational drugs, such as MDMA (ecstasy),  particularly on cognitive functioning, such as memory processing ability. However, Professor Philip Murphy, along with other highly commended academics within this field have been debating the use of MDMA in psychological therapy. A recent article in the ‘I’ newspaper includes these insights and questions whether the positive, calming effects known to be associated with MDMA are useful in assisting the process of overcoming trauma, grief and extreme negative emotions. The article can be located here


Analysing politicians’ body language

Professor Geoff Beattie has recently been interviewed on Russia’s Central Television program with Vadim Takmenev; the top current affairs and news programme in the former Soviet Union.  The program presents real life, political, social and cultural events and has featured Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Daniel Craig, Lara Fabian, Alain Delon, Jean-Claude Van Damme,  Jackie Chan, Benicio Del Toro, Til Schweiger, Vin Diesel, James Cameron, Lars von Trier, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Radcliffe, Stephen Fry, Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev amongst others.  This particular program focused, in part, on Putin and Obama`s meeting during the recent G20 summit in China. Professor Beattie was featured as an expert on non-verbal communications analysing photos and videos of their meeting at the G20. The programme is made by NTV.

NTV Broadcasting Company is the largest non-governmental TV-network in Russia. It covers an audience of approximately 100 million people in countries of the former Soviet Union. It is also the main Russian language channel broadcast worldwide via satellite. NTV journalists have interviewed George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft, James Baker, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Ariel Sharon, Mikhail Saakashvili, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Nicole Kidman and many others. NTV covers all the main political, social and cultural events each day and brings the top news stories from around the world which are produced by dedicated staff in Moscow working with colleagues at NTV’s world bureaux worldwide including New York, London, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Kyiv etc.