2020 – 2021 Seminar Archives

2020-2021 Seminars

The ganzflicker experience: A window into the mind’s eye

 Dr. Reshanne Reeder, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Edge Hill University
Thursday 26 November 2020
 11am – 12pm

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The mind’s eye is an elusive subjective experience; as such, most of us are unaware that there is more than one way to imagine the sensory world. People who have no mind’s eye (aphantasia) must rely on non-sensory imagination (symbols, words) to simulate the world, whereas people who have an extremely vivid mind’s eye (hyperphantasia) may get lost in visual fantasies on a daily basis. The mind’s eye is now thought to be a spectrum, with different abilities offering different advantages and disadvantages in daily life and across the lifespan. An elegant method I have adapted as a window to the rich individual differences of the mind’s eye is the “Ganzflicker” experience, a rhythmic alternation of colours that can elicit intense and vivid pseudo-hallucinations. Over the past year, I’ve collected over 200 individual experiences from people across the spectrum of imagery abilities. Results have consistently shown extremely strong evidence that people with aphantasia are less prone to pseudo-hallucinations compared to people with imagery. Among those who have visuals, people with imagery see more vivid and complex pseudo-hallucinations, and experience more altered states of consciousness, compared to people with aphantasia. This study has important implications for understanding pathological hallucinations, which are unpredictable and debilitating to normal life. Lastly, I will briefly discuss a proposal to create a wholly immersive Ganzflicker environment, which will address the limitations of current computer-based experiments, and also engage the public in new scientific discoveries.

Things got a lot worse after the breakup: Men’s experiences of post-separation abuse

Dr Liz Bates, Principal Lecturer in Psychology at University of Cumbria
Thursday 10 December 2020
 11am – 12pm


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There is now significant literature that details the prevalence of male victims of intimate partner violence (IPV), including their experiences of physical violence (e.g., Hines et al., 2007), psychological and emotional abuse (e.g., Bates, 2020) and the impact of this on physical and mental health (e.g., Hines & Douglas, 2011). The aim of this talk is to discuss the lesser known area of how men’s experiences of abuse can continue and change post separation. This will involve presenting some findings from two recent studies that have explored this including key findings such as experiences of alienation from their children, ongoing experiences of violence and coercive control, and the impact of these experiences on men and their children. Findings are discussed in the context of current legislation, policy and practice.

Conspiracies: theory and application

 Ivan Sebalo, PhD Researcher in Psychology at University of Central Lancashire
Thursday 28 January 2021
 11am – 12pm

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The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the consequences of people acting on conspiracy theories. While some have burned the 5G towers, others denied the existence of the virus. This demonstrates the importance of the beliefs people hold, as the actions derived from them can be harmful not only to the actor, but also to others. Fortunately, there is a growing body of research investigating the motivations behind endorsement of conspiracy theories as well as factors facilitating their entrenchment. The core of the latter is represented by the three needs: existential, epistemic, and social. Meanwhile, the latter includes: analytic thinking, societal changes, stressors, and feelings of control.

Nevertheless, there is less research that investigates prevention of actions based on conspiracy theories. Consequently, the presentation will first highlight the main factors related to adoption of conspiracy theories. Afterwards, potential approaches to interventions targeting behaviour based on conspiracy theories will be outlined. Lastly, the results of the preliminary study aimed at investigating these approaches will be presented with an additional discussion of methodological and ethical issues encountered.

Improving the psychological wellbeing of people affected by cancer: developing acceptable, effective and tailored intervention content using single-case and cohort designs

Prof Nick Hulbert-Williams, Professor of Behavioural Medicine at University of Chester
Thursday 25 March 2021
 11am – 12pm

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The literature demonstrating the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) as an established psychological intervention framework continues to grow. ACT fits well with current data on the experience of psychological distress in people affected by cancer, and yet evidence for the use of ACT within these populations remains sparse (see Hulbert-Williams et al, 2018). A higher-quality evidence base, established through robust and theoretically-informed research, is needed, including the exploration not only of effectiveness but of processes and mechanisms of effect too. In striving for our interventions to be clinically implementable and impactful, research also need to address the reality that much of what we develop is too costly and specialist in nature, and that more pragmatic methods are needed.

In this talk I will give an overview of why I’ve moved (temporarily) away from trial methodology to build an evidence base, and intervention framework, for using ACT in cancer settings using more basic-science methodology. I will talk about data emerging from our ongoing theoretical modelling cohort study of cancer survivors and our single-case methodology research in palliative care settings (the BEACHeS Study). In doing so, I will advocate for a return to basic science methods to develop improved psychosocial oncology interventions. We must learn to walk before we can run, even though this sometimes feels at odds with broader pressures for immediate impact in real-world settings.

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