Rethinking Body Language

Rethinking body language

Professor Geoff Beattie’s new book; “Rethinking Body Language” is due to be published in March 2016. This book, building on the earlier ‘Visible Thought’, challenges all of the old assumptions about body language in the light of the most recent cutting-edge research, and presents a new theoretical perspective on this subject, with enormous implications for us all.  The traditional view of body language is that it is primarily concerned with the expression of emotions and the negotiation of social relationships, the more social aspects of communication.  This new theory argues that body language, particularly the spontaneous hand movements that people make when they talk, reflect aspects of thinking but in a way complexly different to verbal language.  Critically, as speakers, we are unaware of how and what we are communicating with our iconic hand movements so they often communicate a good deal more than we intend.  Professor Beattie shows how we may detect deception in gesture-speech mismatches and how these unconscious hand movements may give us a real insight into people’s underlying implicit attitudes, in contrast to what they report.  This ground-breaking book takes body language analysis to a whole new level.  It is written in a very accessible style by one of the real experts in the field, recognised for his world-leading academic research in this area.



Why digital games make us happy

Dr Linda Kaye joined BBC Radio 5 Live on 18th August to discuss why gaming makes us happy. Here, she discussed how viewing gaming through the perspective as enjoyable leisure, has obvious benefits for happiness and life satisfaction. Additionally, she highlighted the findings of her current research in showing how gaming functions positively on players’ sense of identity and community and how these are key influences on positive psychological outcomes for happiness. A short version of the discussion can be found here.

The psychology of social media

With recent reports suggesting the increase in Smartphone use for accessing the Internet, relative to other platforms, Professor Beattie joined BBC Breakfast to discuss the psychological implications of this. Here, he discussed the arguments from psychology that we are ‘addicted’ to social media and other applications given the ease of access with 4G.  Research suggests that over 30% of adults use their smartphone within five minutes of waking up;  we spend on average 3.6 hours a day on the device.  Professor Beattie also highlighted that it has many of the characteristics of an addiction in terms of its importance in our lives, its effects on mood, the development of tolerance and evidence of withdrawal.  Further, he identified the way it may fuel the rise in narcissism in society by allowing individuals high levels of control and selection in terms of how they present to their friends and followers on social media, and great ease in eliciting immediate likes and positive comments from this set of individuals.  But perhaps even more importantly, Professor Beattie drew on the issues over it’s impacting on the quality of face-to-face interaction.  Here, he stressed that face-to- face interaction is the foundation stone of the social world where we learn about reciprocity, interpreting emotion and empathy.  He identified this makes it much harder with parallel activities going on, and no joint focus.

Psychology Professor warns of new Government health-care proposals

Professor Philip Murphy from the Department of Psychology was interviewed on the BBC Radio 5 Breakfast Show on Wednesday 29th July concerning the government proposal to set up a review covering, amongst other things, the payment of sickness benefit for people with addiction problems. In announcing this review the Prime Minister had raised the possibility of removing sickness benefit from people with addiction problems if they did not accept treatment. Whilst acknowledging the potential usefulness of a review by experts, Philip pointed out that people with the necessary diagnosis of an addiction problem in order to receive sickness benefit were, by definition, already in the health care system, and that any serious attempt by the government to get such people off sickness benefit would require a funding commitment to make treatment services more available. If the issue of treatment was not handled carefully, Philip warned, the financial cost to society would almost certainly outweigh any savings made in sickness benefit.

Pub sights and sounds cause us to drink more

Being in an environment surrounded by alcohol-related sights and sounds can reduce our ability to control alcohol consumption according to new research published by Edge Hill University and Alcohol Research UK.

EHU Psychology students achieve a record number of “good-class honours” degrees

Recent figures reveal some excellent results for our very soon-to-be graduates. Specifically, 75.4% of our finalists achieved degree classifications of 2:1 or above, which is above the national average of “good class honours” results for UK Higher Education Institutions (The Complete University Guide, 2015).

All the staff at Edge Hill Psychology would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our students on their university achievements and wish them every success in their future endeavours. We also look forward to the Graduation ceremony due to take place later this week.


Context is important for understanding alcohol-related behaviours

EHU Psychology researchers have made progress in understanding the role of contexts (e.g., environmental cues) for alcohol behaviours. In measuring participants’ inhibitory control (ie. ability to control behaviours) Dr Adam Qureshi, Dr Rebecca Monk and Dr Xiaoyun Li found that these varied as a result of different visual cues (e.g., alcohol versus neutral cues). Additionally, alcohol-related auditory cues such as background bar noise were also found to be important in inhibitory control responding.

These findings imply that environments which are rich in alcohol-related cues may be influential in consumption behaviours, suggesting need for further work in researching the role of context for these issues.

The report of these findinfs can be found here

Understanding the role of the “divided self” in dealing with global challenges

Professor Beattie gave the opening keynote lecture at the International Academic Forum’s European Conference on Psychology and the Behavioral Sciences in Brighton on the 7th July.  He developed the theme of the ‘divided self’, and why we need to focus on the implications of the ‘dissociation’ between implicit and explicit attitudes to deal more effectively with the global challenges we face.  It was a genuinely international audience with attendees from 35 countries from across the globe.

EHU academics present research on the psychology of sustainability at the United Nations Conference


Professor Beattie and PhD student Laura McGuire presented their research on the implications of implicit attitudes to low carbon at odds with self-reported attitudes at the United Nations Conference ‘Our Common Future Under Climate Change’ held at UNESC0 Headquarters in Paris from the 7th to the 10th July.  This four-day Conference was the largest forum for the scientific community to come together ahead of the COP21 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015 . The Conference addressed key issues concerning climate change in the broader context of global change, and was organised around daily themes.  The Conference focused on moving from present knowledge to future solutions.  Keynotes were delivered by the likes of Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winning economist and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founding director of the Potsdam Institute and adviser to both the German government and Pope Francis.  There were over 2000 delegates from 100 countries at the conference and there was considerable international interest in the research being developed at Edge Hill into this critical issue.