Can protesting be good for you?

Sara Vestergren

We often hear about the difficulties and negative consequences of protesting and activism, and these negative consequences might be the reason why you are on this page in the first place. Some protest related experiences can leave the protester/s with long-term physical and mental scars. There are reports of activists losing their jobs, getting burned out, being ridiculed and criminalised, getting arrested and/or treated violently by the police. For example, at the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp, Greater Manchester Police made 231 arrests which resulted in 77 complaints to the Greater Manchester Police. Of these 77 complaints, 40% were related to police misuse of force. However, these negative consequences of participation in protest only tells half the story. What about the positive benefits of protesting – are there any (apart from making the world a better place of course)?

No matter where in the world we protest or what we protest for/against – our participation will have consequences. In a recent summary of personal and psychological consequences of protest and activism, 19 different types of consequences were identified, most of them of positive nature. For example, through participating in protests we can learn new skills such as organising workshops and managing the legal and societal system, we can change our consumer behaviour, we can become empowered, and we can gain new friendships and relationships.

Furthermore, participation in protests can improve your general health and well-being, self-esteem, confidence, and health. Protest participants have reported both increased general well-being and more specific consequences such as decreased migraines and easing of arthritis symptoms such as more movable joints and less joint pains, and increased long-term happiness. There is also research in support for increased self-esteem through participating in protests. For example, through the experience of standing up for what we believe in, together with others that share our views, during a protest we can become empowered and increase our confidence in ourselves, which may then stay with us and be applied to other areas of our lives.

So how do these changes come about?

Is it enough to just go and stand in the middle of a protest, breath in the air and suddenly you’ve benefitted from it? Of course not, if life was only that simple. However, there seems to be two crucial processes that leads to these various consequences; conflictual interaction with an outgroup (often the police) and supportive interaction within the ingroup (other campaigners). Firstly, when we perceive the police to act illegitimate and indiscriminate, we increase our opposition or become oppositional towards that outgroup (the police). The police here supress the right to protest (experienced as illegitimate) and treats all campaign members alike (experienced as indiscriminate) by for example forcefully dragging fellow campaigners away or dispersing the whole group of campaigners from an occupied area. There may initially be a perception of the police to be a force on ‘the right side’, a force that will do the right thing. However, when the police then act in opposition to our perception of how they should act a contradiction between our expected and experienced view of them emerges creating a shared oppositional identity amongst the protesters. Secondly, through our new opposition towards the outgroup our ingroup becomes more united, we feel closer to each other and feel as others will support us in our views and actions. This ingroup unity makes us more alike. These two processes can make us shift in the way we see ourselves and the world, and consequently, how we act in the world.

What happens when the protest is over?

Do we change back to our pre-protest selves when the protest is over? The endurance and strength of the changes seems to be linked to our relationships with other activists/campaigners. To sustain the changes over time we need to keep our ‘activist’ view of the world and ourselves alive. This also means keeping the content of that identity (such as fighting injustices) alive and adapted to all areas of life. For example, in studies of a group of Swedish environmentalists it was found that the activists who stayed in touch with other activists also stayed changed. This was explained through the activists being able to feel connected to the campaign issues and causes and thereby keep their environmentalist identity alive – with everything that means – for example, recycling, reducing meat consumption, reducing consumption in general, and staying active in other campaigns relating to environment or human rights issues. So, by staying in touch with other campaigners/activists, online or physically, we can keep our view of ourselves and the world alive and thereby sustain the changes such as empowerment, health benefits, oppositional view and diet.

To sum up, protesting may have its downsides, however, it would be very naive to claim that protesting isn’t good for you (and the world). This is not to say that we all change in the same ways, or that everyone changes – some may just become more convinced and enhance their opinions and behaviours. Additionally, the police response to protests may in itself be counterproductive (for the police) as it creates a stronger and more united opposition that fights more and harder to achieve change.

This blogpost was first published on Protest Justice

If you have any queries or want more information about the studies, contact Sara Vestergren


Twitter: @SwedishProtests


Boehnke, K., & Wong, B. (2011). Adolecent political activism and long-term happiness: a 21-year longitudinal study on the development of micro- and macrosocial worries. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37 (3), 435-447.

Cherniss, C. (1972). Personality and ideology: A personological study of women’s liberation. Psychiatry, 35 (2), 109-125.

Cox, L. (2011).  How do we keep going? Activist burnout and sustainability in social movements. Helsinki: Into-ebooks.

Drury, J., & Reicher, S. (2005). Explaining enduring empowerment: a comparative study of collective action and psychological outcomes. European Journal of Social Psychology, 35, 35-58.

Drury, J., Reicher, S., & Stott, C. (2003). Transforming the boundaries of collective identity: From the ‘local’ anti-road campaign to ‘global’ resistance? Social Movement Studies, 2, 191-212.

Gilster, E. (2012). Comparing neighbourhood-focused activism and volunteerism: psychological well-being and social connectedness. Journal of Community Psychology, 40 (7), 769-784.

Gilmore, J., Jackson, W., & Monk, H. (2016). Keep moving!: report on the policing of the Barton Moss Community Protextion Camp. Liverpool: CCSE and York: CURB.

Gorski, P., Lopresti-Goodman, S., & Rising, D. (2018). “Nobody’s paying me to cry”: the causes of activist burnout in Unites States animal rights activists. Social Movement Studies, 18 (3), 364-380.

Hannsson, N., & Jacobsson, K. (2014). Learning to be affected: subjectivity, sense, and sensibility in animal rights activism. Society & Animals, 22 (3), 262-288.

Kaplan, H., & Liu, X. (2000). Social protest and self-enhancement – a conditional relationship. Sociological Forum, 15 (4), 595-616.

Klar, M., & Kasser, T. (2009). Some benefits of being an activist: measuring activism and its role in psychological well-being. Political Psychology, 30 (5), 755-777.

Reicher, S. (1996). ‘The Battle of Westminster’: developing the social identity model of crowd behaviour in order to explain the initiation and development of collective conflict. European Journal of Social Psychology, 26, 115-134.

Shriver, T., Miller, A., & Cable, S. (2003). Women’s work: women’s involvement in the Gulf War illness movement. The Sociological Quarterly, 44 (4), 639-658.

Stuart, A., Thomas, E., Donaghue, N., & Russell, A. (2013). ‘We may be pirates, but we are not protesters’: identity in the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Political Psychology, 34 (5), 753-777.

Van Dyke, N., & Dixon, M. (2013). Activist human capital: skills acquisition and the development of commitment to social movement activism. Mobilization: An International Journal, 18 (2), 197-212.

Vestergren, S., Drury, J., & Hammar Chiriac, E. (2017). The biographical consequences of protest and activism: a systematic review and a new typology. Social Movement Studies, 16 (2), 203-221.

Vestergren, S., Drury, J., & Hammar Chiriac, E. (2018). How collective action produces psychological change and how that change endures over time – a case study of an environmental campaign. British Journal of Social psychology, 57 (4), 855-877.

Vestergren, S., Drury, J., & Hammar Chiriac, E. (2019). How participation on collective action changes relationships, behaviours, and beliefs: an interview study of the role of inter- and intragroup processes. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 7 (1), 76-99.


Heather Taylor-mann & Cherry Hardiman: Volunteering while studying enhances your learning

Starting your postgraduate studies can be daunting. Academic expectations are higher than at undergraduate study and the time frame of which your studies start and finish is relatively short, with an abundance of lectures, reading and assignments to engage your time with. There is one main question on everyone’s mind though, what next?

Deciding on a career path if you haven’t already and implementing the necessary steps to achieve your goals is something that is at the forefront of all of our minds at this stage of our academic journey. This is why it is so important to take advantage of every opportunity that is placed in front of you. Volunteering as a research assistant at the university is an excellent way of combining your studies and interests, whilst gaining that valuable experience that employees and academic institutes are looking for to set you apart from the rest.

Early on into our MSc in Applied Psychology we were fortunate enough to be told about a PhD study being carried out at the university by David Tate into The Development and Feasibility Trial of a Cognitive Behavioural Social Competence Therapeutic Intervention for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder without an Intellectual Disability (SCTI-A). Two research assistants were needed to assist in the analysis and recording of data. As the subject matter was one that interested us both, we jumped at the chance and expressed our interest. I had also carried out a similar position during my undergraduate studies so I was aware of how the practical application of being part of a study enhanced your learning and provided you with a wealth of experience to transfer to job applications.

Balancing time is always a concern, but this is also a skill that needs to be learned for the world of work. We never felt that our time volunteering impeded our ability to study nor did we feel that our time was being stretched to far. We enjoyed being a part of the study and seeing the commitment and dedication that goes into completing a PhD. So if you have the opportunity to volunteer, go for it! 

There is something special about being able to be a part to of something that potentially could
change lives for the better, we found that ourselves, especially with the research coming from a
fellow peer at the university we also attend. The general hum of The University of Salford hive
comes from a sense of collectiveness, that we can all have our own part in what the University
and its students can achieve. You’ll also never know when you your studies might need the
extra help to make it the best it can be, so volunteer and give yourself the chance to make a


What has really happened to Phineas Gage?

 By Ivett Ayodele              


Myths and recent discoveries about Psychology’s most famous Case Study


A few  days ago I was reading the August issue of the BPS Digest and came across a piece by Christian Jarrett titled “What textbooks don’t tell you about psychology’s most famous case study” (See this article here.) I was surprised because as far as I was concerned, the story of Phineas Gage always sounded more like a myth to me. I was compelled to do some research on the new discoveries and here is my own summary about the real story of Phineas Gage.

If you are studying Psychology or have an interest in it, you have probably heard of the case of Phineas Gage. His story is remarkable and very popular among psychology students all over the world (Jarrett, 2015).


Who was Phineas Gage?

Phineas Gage was a railway worker in the 1800s. On the 13th September, 1848 he suffered a traumatic brain injury when an iron rod went through his entire skull, destroying a large section of his brain (Cherry, 2015). The fact, that he not only survived but was also able to speak and walk after the accident, made him one of the most famous patients in neuroscience (Jarrett, 2015).  However, according to Griggs (2015), most textbooks (at least the American ones) give a misleading account of his story.  In particular many suggest he had a dramatic change in character and personality.

“In this regard his mind was radically changed, so decidedly that his friends and acquaintances said he was “no longer Gage”. (Harlow, 1868, p. 340)


The Myth

 Richard Griggs, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Florida, analysed the content of 23 textbooks and found that most of them had told the story of Phineas Gage inaccurately (Jarrett, 2015).

These textbooks will tell you that although Phineas Gage survived the accident, he became a changed man (Cherry, 2015), he never worked again or that he became a circus freak for the rest of his life, showing off the holes in his head (Jarrett, 2015). However, according to Griggs (2015), the most appalling error seems to be that Gage survived for 20 years with the tamping iron rod embedded in his head!


New Discoveries

Thanks to the work of Malcom Macmillan and Mathew L.  Lena, who carried out some historical analysis between 2000 and 2010 (e.g. see “Rehabilitating Phineas Gage”, 2010), it seems that in fact, Phineas Gage made a surprisingly good recovery. He ultimately emigrated to Chile and became a coach driver, controlling six horses and dealing politely with non-English speaking passengers (Jarrett, 2015). Furthermore, in 2008, some new photographic evidence emerged from Jack and Beverly Wilgus. They acquired the daguerreotype below, of which this is a photograph 30 years ago, but it was not identified as Phineas Gage until 2008. (Macmillan & Lena, 2010).




According to Macmillan and Lena (2010) two relatives of Phineas Gage also have copies of the photograph of a similar daguerreotype, which was passed down to the descendants of Phineas’ siblings. They therefore argue, that there is no doubt the image is of Phineas.


There is further evidence by Macmillan and Lena (2010) that suggests, that Phineas Gage not only recovered after his accident but also consistently sought to readapt to his circumstances.

  1. Phineas returned to work on his family farm just four month after his accident and sought his old job four months later.
  2. Two or three years later, he started lecturing and exhibiting himself, advertising and traveling independently, requiring him to re-learn any lost social skills.
  3. He worked as a Currier for a year (1851-1852) and he also learnt how to drive a coach during this period.
  4. He was reliable enough to be employed as a Coach driver in Chile, where he remained for about 7 years; using complex social and cognitive-motor skills which were required for this job.
  5. He was able to adapt to the language and custom of Chile, which was a foreign land for him.
  6. A doctor who knew him well in Chile stated that he saw “no impairment whatever” in him after a certain period of time.

In his late years, Phineas Gage began to suffer from ill health and decided to follow those members of his family, who had relocated to San Francisco, California. He eventually regained his health and worked as a farmer in Santa Clara. (Cherry, 2015).   However, he soon started to experience convulsions and became dissatisfied with his job, changing his employer frequently before deciding to return to his family in San Francisco. He died of a series of severe convulsions on the 21st May 1860 (Macmillan & Lena, 2010.)


Why is it important to set the record straight about Phineas Gage?


Well, according to Griggs (2015) there are one and half million students studying Psychology in the USA alone and they are introduced to the discipline via textbooks (Jarrett, 2015).

Therefore, “it is important to the psychological teaching community to identify inaccuracies in our textbooks so that they can be corrected, and we as textbook authors and teachers do not continue to “give away” false information about our discipline” (Griggs, 2015).


I hope you enjoyed this post and I would like to invite you to submit a piece of your own to our Blog! You can write about you experiences at Salford or if you read a good book, or see a good film you could write a review on that! For more information please contact me on




Cherry, K. (2015, November 18). About Education. Retrieved from

Griggs, R. (2015). Coverage of the Phineas Gage Story in Introductory Psychology Textbooks: Was Gage No Longer Gage? Teaching of Psychology, 195-202.

Harlow, J. M. (1868). Recovery from the passage of an iron bar through the head. Publications of the Massachusetts Medical Society, 2, 327–347, [Facsimile in Macmillan, 2000,

Jarrett, C. (2015). What the textbooks don’t tell you about psychology’s most famous case study. BPS Digest, 626.

Macmillan, M., & Lena, M. L. (2010). Rehabilitating Phineas Gage. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 641-658.




Pavlov’s Ducks: an experiment in conditioning


By Sophie Lavin



This study investigated whether ducks can be trained, using the work of Pavlov and Skinner. It turned out ducks are not as stupid as they look.



Ivan Pavlov’s work on the digestive system of dogs led him to Classical Conditioning. He predicted that a stimulus could become associated with food and cause salivation if a particular stimulus in the dog’s surroundings was present when the dog was given food. In his initial experiments, Pavlov presented a stimulus (rang a bell) and then gave the dog food; after a few repetitions, the dogs started to salivate in response to the stimulus.

BF Skinner was a behaviourist who considered free will an illusion and human action dependent on  the consequences of previous actions. If the response is bad, it is unlikely the action will be repeated; but if it is good, the action will become more probable. This is reinforcement, and making use of it is Operant Conditioning. Skinner called his pigeons ‘superstitious’ because, by feeding them using a machine that dispensed food at regular intervals no matter what the birds did, he noticed that they associated the food with whatever chance actions they were doing when it was delivered. The pigeons continued to perform the actions, hoping for more food.

This study set out to find out whether ducks are as clever as dogs or pigeons. They don’t seem it.

Hypothesis: that ducks can be trained to respond to the sound of a bell.




The study used direct observation in a rural laboratory setting.



Participants were an opportunity sample of five Indian Runner Ducklings of indeterminate sex[1]. They were introduced to the laboratory at two weeks old and at the time of the experiment they were 20 weeks old.



Ducks and a shed. A bell. Duck food. Probably a fox, too.



For 18 weeks, every time food or water was provided for the participants, a bell was rung. Food was always provided in the shed. After 6 weeks the participants were allowed to play on the pond during the day but herded back into the shed at night, in case the fox introduced an extraneous variable. At 20 weeks the experimenter attempted to put the participants in the shed by ringing the bell.



Participants were kept safe from the fox, fed and allowed to play on the pond.




Table 1

Putting the Ducks Away.


Day bell herding required
Monday 1  
Tuesday 1  
Wednesday 1  
Thursday   1
Friday 1  
Saturday 1  

[1] It’s beginning to look like they are all male (no eggs)


Ducks put themselves into the shed upon hearing the bell six times out of seven (or 86%).



The results showed that the participants were indeed smarter than they looked. They had been conditioned to run into the shed on the sound of the bell. On Thursday, the experimenter was stuck on a delayed train home from university, and the test was administered by an adolescent research assistant. This young helper rarely does any chores around the laboratory, and had never fed the ducks. Therefore the surprise result was that the participants appeared to have been subject to operant conditioning. They responded to the bell only when they believed that the bell might lead to being fed. They were not Pavlov’s Ducks, they were Skinner’s Superstitious Ducks.






Thoughts on a second year assignment


Dr Catherine Thompson


It is the time of year when all second year students are in the midst of their change blindness assignment for the modules ‘Further Biopsychology and Cognition’ and ‘Cognitive Psychology’. Having led the modules for a few years I have noticed that the majority of students go through a similar experience with the assignment and I can clearly see them progressing through a series of “interesting” phases. Here are my thoughts on the stages that most students go through when making their second year cognitive experiment (and incidentally, the stages that every researcher goes through when designing and setting up a computer-based experiment):


Enthusiasm – so I would generally say that most people start out with a certain level of enthusiasm. It is good to have free reign to design your own experiment and investigate something that interests you, rather than having to write about a data set that you have been given and have no ownership over. Yes it might be difficult to think of a good idea, but at least it is your idea.


Perseverance – this is not an easy assignment and there is a lot of work involved, particularly to keep up with the weekly tasks we complete (design the study, collect the materials, build the experiment….). Good to know that L809 and L810 are available after 5pm!


Realisation –who knew there were so many aspects to consider? It is not just choosing your variables, you have to make the stimuli, write your instructions, note down the correct answers, create a response screen (!), work with your group members…. and that’s before you even get to E-Prime (but it can’t be that difficult, can it?).


(Intense) Irritation – it happens to us all, when you use E-Prime to build an experiment it hardly ever works the first time. Either the computer can’t find an image file, or you haven’t put the correct answers in capital letters, or your pictures are too big for the screen…. the list goes on. So you find yourself in what seems to be a never-ending cycle of editing-testing-editing-testing, asking yourself “will it ever work??”


Moderation – this is the time for composure. Keep calm – it’s only a computer. Take a deep breath, go and have a break, then (unfortunately) carry on.


Elation – (aka “great happiness”) you may think this is a little over the top, but wait until you have experienced the moment when everything comes together and the experiment you designed is working perfectly for all to take part in. You are ready to collect your data and all the hard work was worth it.

Plus, when you come to collate your data and analyse the results you find out the benefits of E-Merge –being able to merge hundreds of responses into a single file and having all your data ready to input into SPSS with just a few mouse clicks.


I’m fairly sure that most of our current Level 6 students can remember building their E-Prime experiments for the cognition modules (and they all recall those days fondly!). The Level 5 students are going through it at the moment (hope you have reached the ‘Elation’ stage), and our Level 4 students have got this all to look forward to; exciting times ahead.

Designing your own computer-based experiment is difficult and at times it can be frustrating, but don’t forget the skills that you learn throughout the process – experimental design, knowledge of dependent and independent variables, ethical considerations, Photoshop, working in a group, and of course, mastering E-Prime. You might feel reluctant to complete another E-Prime experiment in the near future, but trust me, that feeling passes quickly (!).


Brain & Behaviour: The Children of 9/11

By Alexandra Horsman



The typical view of a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferer is, without doubt, a veteran. And although the anxiety disorder is highly associated with those within the armed forces, retired or not (The Veterans’ Mental Health Charity, 2014), PTSD can in fact affect any individual who encounters a particularly stressful, fearsome, or generally traumatic experience. As well as military combat, many unsettling situations can cause PTSD, such as prolonged abuse, natural disasters, and even terrorist attacks. And the links between PTSD and terrorism is what this article will focus on.


So, what does this condition really do to a person?


Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious anxiety condition following a particularly traumatic event that can cause irritability, intense fear, and sleep interruptions. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people who go through a disturbing event at least once in their lifetime will go on to develop the condition (The National Health Service, 2013).

While PTSD can start to develop immediately after the experience, symptoms may not begin to appear until weeks, months, or sometimes even years later. Among individuals, symptoms can vary, but there are several similarities that most suffering with PTSD will go through.


PTSD Symptoms

Reliving the experience: This is the most predictable outcome while suffering from the condition. Victims will regularly, and usually vividly, relive the traumatic experience through invasive flashbacks and recurring nightmares, ultimately leading to constant sleep disruptions. Re-experiencing the event often leads to physical sensations within the body including regular sweating, trembling, and physical pain.

Avoidance: Being a key symptom of PTSD, avoiding specific people or places that may possibly remind the sufferer of the experience is not uncommon. Many people will attempt to push all memories of the trauma completely out of their mind, sidestepping conversation about the experience, focusing on a distraction such as work, and some may even try to block out all emotions. Purposely ignoring feelings is known as emotional numbing. Predictably, this can lead to social isolation and withdrawing from enjoyable activities.





Hyperarousal: Those suffering from PTSD are regularly found to be anxious and generally find it quite hard to relax. Their awareness of threats is heightened, and it is not unusual for victims to become easily frightened or startled. This mentality is otherwise known as hyperarousal.

Other: It is common for victims to acquire other specific problems while dealing with PTSD such as depression, headaches, and drug or alcohol misuse. Due to this, PTSD can seriously affect work, and even breakdown relationships.

Clearly, PTSD can be incredibly distressing, often seriously impacting day-to-day life. Those suffering from the condition are also experiencing physiological changes within the body. As shown through brain scans, the  hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a vital role in learning and memory, is reduced in size among PTSD sufferers. The malfunctioning of the hippocampus may prevent flashbacks from being adequately processed. As a result, anxiety does not diminish over time for people with the condition (Yehuda, 2001). Furthermore, studies (e.g. Yehuda, 2002; Smith et al., 1989) have found abnormally high levels of stress hormones in those suffering from PTSD. These hormones, like adrenaline, are produced when an individual is among potential danger. In turn, a reaction occurs, usually referred to as ‘fight or flight’, which helps the body to prepare for the possible threat. Due to heightened levels of these hormones, people with PTSD live in constant ‘fight or flight’ mode, even when the individual is not in jeopardy. These abnormalities within the brain indicate why someone with PTSD may experience frequent hyperarousal, numbed emotions, and the inability to overcome the trauma (The National Health Service, 2013).


So, how are PTSD and terrorism linked?

Terrorism and the development of psychological trauma are probable companions, and while many people can empathise with those involved in a terrorist attack, it is relatively easy to disregard the amount of children that are present during acts of terrorism.  With hundreds of youths affected, there is one incredibly distressing terrorist attack that will forever be remembered: 9/11.

The morning of September 11th, 2001, dramatically distressed the majority of US citizens, additionally affecting many individuals worldwide. With the number of deaths reaching near 3000, the unforgettable attacks on the World Trade Center left an anxiety-filled hole within American society. Without question, numerous adults were heavily psychologically affected by these violent acts of terrorism (Shalev, 2004), leading to speculations about the psychological well-being of the children of New York City.

Not unlike adults, children affected by PTSD display the usual warning signs like anxiety, sleep difficulties, and experience recurring nightmares. Yet, due to age and psychological maturity, children specifically can revert to bedwetting, becoming anxious upon separation from a parent, and, most worryingly, re-enacting the traumatic event through play (Fremont, 2004). Early research into the subject indicates that children are more likely to develop trust issues, feel hopeless about the future, and struggle to maintain peer relationships if exposed to violent trauma at a young age (e.g. Rosen & Fields, 1988; Rigamer, 1986).



Following 9/11, a significant number of New York City public school children, ages four through seventeen, were identified as suffering symptoms consistent with a number of anxiety disorders; A massive 26.5% of NYC children not only reported disruptions in day-to-day life but met criteria to be diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder, specifically PTSD (Fairbrother, Stuber, Galea, Fleischman, & Pfefferbaum, 2003). Fairbrother et al., (2003) established high risk factors that contributed to the development of PTSD within these children included parental views of the attacks, the amount of media exposure, and, of course, direct family loss.

Although there are many variables that will affect a young person’s individual reaction to such situations, a child’s capability to cope in regards to terroristic trauma is highly influenced by their parents’ or primary caregivers’ reactions to such events (Deblinger, Steer, & Lippmann, 1999), regardless of whether their family was directly involved. Pessimistic emotions expressed by parents concerning the 9/11 terrorist attacks correlated with higher levels of distress in their children (Fremont, 2004), suggesting that children may use the reactions of their caregivers as an indicator for the severity of the situation (Fairbrother et al., 2003), with distress signifying a fearful or potential threat.


While parents play a rather significant role in determining the likelihood of PTSD among children, the amount of media exposure of terroristic actions highly correlates with symptoms of PTSD (Collimore, McCabe, Carleton, & Asmundson, 2008). On September 11th, 2001, adults watched, on average, 8.1 hours of media coverage that day, while children reportedly watched 3.0 hours (Schuster et al., 2001). Children who watched more coverage about the attacks displayed more symptoms of PTSD than children who watched less (Otto et al., 2007). These findings were not only limited to children in close proximity of the attacks but affected youths over 2000 miles away; Children in Seattle demonstrated signs of PTSD following 9/11 equivalent to those living in New York during the attacks (Lengua, Long, Smith, & Meltzoff, 2005), suggesting that many children across the US could have been psychologically affected by the catastrophic events due to high levels of media exposure.

Children affected by 9/11 suffered severe emotional impact, resulting in symptoms consistent with PTSD, if a family member was directly injured, or indeed killed, from the acts of terrorism (Hoven et al., 2005). And, unsurprisingly, a higher rate of PTSD was present in the children who unfortunately lost a parent to the fall

of the twin towers (Whalley & Brewin, 2007), especially as children who lose someone significant are more likely to watch more media coverage in comparison to children without direct losses (Pfefferbaum et al., 1999, cited in Fremont, 2004).

There are many predisposing factors that can increase a child’s risk of developing PTSD. Research shows that young girls are more likely to develop symptoms of the condition than young boys (Lengua, Long, Smith, & Meltzoff, 2005), and it is also believed that a family history of antisocial behaviour and mental health difficulties increases the likelihood of a child developing PTSD after a violent trauma (e.g. Breslau & Davis, 1992; Giaconia et al., 1995). Nevertheless, it has been revealed that several different aspects of family life have been shown to protect a child from stress following a traumatic event, including a dependable emotional relationship with at least one parent (Losel & Bliesener, 1990, cited in Fremont, 2004) and actual physical proximity with the mother or father (Garbarino,  Kostelny, & Dubrow, 1991).

Although that are several different types of treatment for PTSD, including courses of medication, children will often undergo therapy to combat the condition. While it may be hard to confront the anxiety produced by PTSD, seeking professional help is positively linked to effectively defeating this life-altering condition.


In brief, it is safe to say that 9/11 was an incredibly harrowing and upsetting event, with adults and children alike being severely psychologically affected. The terrorism exhibited on that very troubling and painful day will never be forgotten. Dramatically affecting the mental health of America, it is likely that thousands of citizens across the country suffered from the development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the barbaric and unforgivable actions that made the world stand still.







Breslau, N. & Davis, G. C. (1992). Posttraumatic stress disorder in an urban population of young adults: Risk factors for chronicity. The American                 Journal of Psychiatry, 149(5), 671-675. Retrieved from


Collimore, K. C., McCabe, R. E., Carleton, R. N., & Asmundson, G. J. G. (2008). Media exposure and dimensions of anxiety sensitivity: Differential                 associations with PTSD symptom clusters. Journal of Anxiety Diosrders, 22(6), 1021-1028. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2007.11.002


Deblinger, E., Steer, R. A., & Lippmann, J. (1999). Two-year follow-up study of cognitive behavioral therapy for sexually abused children suffering                 post-traumatic stress symptoms. Child Abuse & Neglect, 23(12), 1371-1378. doi: 10.1016/S0145-2134(99)00091-5


Fairbrother, G., Stuber, J., Galea, S., Fleischman, A. R., & Pfefferbaum, B. (2003). Posttraumatic Stress Reactions in New York City Children After the           September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks. Ambulatory Pediatrics, 3(6), 304-311. doi: 10.1367/15394409(2003)003<0304:PSRINY>2.0.CO;2


Fremont, W. P. (2004). Childhood Reactions of Terrorism-Induced Trauma: A Review of the Past 10 Years. Journal of the American Academy of Child       & Adolescent Psychiatry, 43(4), 381-392. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200404000-00004


Garbarino, J., Kostelny, K., & Dubrow, N. (1991). What children can tell us about living in danger. American Psychologist, 46(4), 376-383. Retrieved                 from


Giaconia, R. M., Reinherz, H. Z., Silverman, A. B., Pakiz, B., Frost, A. K., & Cohen, E. (1995). Traumas and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in a                 Community Population of Older Adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 34(10), 1369-1380. doi:          10.1097/00004583-199510000-00023


Hoven, C. W., Duarte, C. S., Lucas, C. P., Wu, P., Mandell, D. J., Goodwin, R. D., Cohen, M., Balaban, V., Woodruff, B. A., Bin, F., Musa, G. J., Mei,         L., Cantor, P. A., Aber, J. L., Cohen, P., & Susser, E. (2005). Psychopathology Among New York City Public School Children 6 months                 After September 11. Jama Psychiatry, 62(5), 545-551. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.62.5.545


Lengua, L. J., Long, A. C., Smith, K. I., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2005). Pre-attack symptomatology and temperament as predictors of children’s responses to             the September 11 terrorist attacks. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(6), 631-645. doi: 10.1111/j.14697610.2004.00378.x


Otto, M. W., Henin, A., Hirschfeld-Becker, D. R., Pollack, M. H., Biederman, J., & Rosenbaum, J. F. (2007). Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms                following media exposure to tragic events: Impact of 9/11 on children at risk for anxiety disorders. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 21(7),      888-902. doi: 10.1016/j/janxdis.2006.10.008.


Rigamer, E. F. (1986). Psychological Management of Children in a National Crisis. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 25(3),                 364-369. doi: 10.1016/S0002-7138(09)60258-2


Rosen, J. & Fields, R. (1988). The long-term effects of extraordinary trauma: A look beyond PTSD. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 2(2), 179-191. doi:          10.1016/0887-6185(88)90024-2


Schuster, M. A., Stein, B. D., Jaycox, L. H., Collins, R. L., Marshall, G. N., Elliott, M. N., Zhou, A. J., Kanouse, D. E., Morrison, J. L., & Berry, S. H.            (2001). A National Survey of Stress Reactions after the September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks. The New England Journal of Medicine, 345,         1507-1512. doi:10.1056/NEJM200111153452024


Shalev, A. Y. (2004). Further Lessons from 9/11: Does Stress Equal Trauma? Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 67(2), 174-177. doi:          10.1521/psyc.


Smith, M. A., Davidson, J., Ritchie, J. C., Kudler, H., Lipper, S., Chappell, P., & Nemeroff, C. B. (1989). The corticotrophin-releasing hormone test in             patients with posttraumatic stress disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 26(4), 349-355. doi: 10.1016/0006-3223(89)90050-4


The National Health Service. (2013). Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Retrieved from                disorder/pages/introduction.aspx


The Veterans’ Mental Health Charity. (2014). What is PTSD? Retrieved from


Whalley, M. G. & Brewin, C. R. (2007). Mental health following terrorist attacks. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 190, 94-96. doi:10.1192/                bjp.bp.106.026427


Yehuda, R. (2001). Biology of posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 62(17), 41-46. Retrieved from                psycinfo/2001-11162-007


Yehuda, R. (2002). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The New England Journal of Medicine, 346, 108-114. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra012941


Challenges to journalism


By Stephanie Szeto @stepszeto


There are widespread discussions and even fear about the downfall of traditional journalism as claims going around that everyone can be a reporter with the advanced mobile technology and easy online access, which enable people to take instant photos of key moments then share and make comments to social media websites. For example, Hong Kong In-Media, one of the most prominent independent online media platforms in Hong Kong, encourages the public to upload photos, news or articles of what they see and hear on their website. Since it empowers people to report and never deletes articles or commentaries, except hoax or advertising spam, it provides Hongkongers the opportunity to experience the thrill of being journalists.

However, will the above mentioned situation be the combat of journalism? Multiple Journalism website (2015) believes a transformation is needed and the independent journalists with technology mind can stimulate a better journalism in the digital age. By accepting the technological change, journalists can see the diverse channels as a new opportunity rather than a crisis. From my own observation, journalists who are active on Facebook are more popular than those who are not. It can be explained by mere exposure effect that journalists can update their Facebook status every single minute and have direct interaction with readers, and shortens the distance between journalists and fans. Moreover, it can also be explained by the interface of Facebook. Research found that people who prefer Facebook than Twitter enjoy images and entertaining message than plain text. Thus, a journalist posting an article with an appealing image on Facebook is more likely to reach people than publishing on newsletter column. Subsequently, as Multiple Journalism mentioned that the technology era does not bring challenge to journalism if the journalists know how to make use of the new media channels.

Besides, psychology professionals can fully utilize the new media channels to reach the public by providing practical tips and easy to digest knowledge to raise public’s concern about mental health.


Wakeup call of the long-term democratic movement

By Stephanie Szeto @stepszeto

From last September to December, Harcourt Road outside the Hong Kong government headquarters was filled with tents to protect the Umbrella Revolution protestors from the ever changing weather. Pro-democracy signs were hanging all over the area and the utopia of Harcourt Village was established.

Foreseen that the movement was going to last a while, Hongkongers, who either could not participate the enduring sit-in or some of the them claimed they were too coward to take part in, showed their support by their own style of contribution. Groups of volunteers distributed materials to the protesters, like food, water, face towels or paper fans. Some of them sprayed mist sprayers to cool down the

heat, and the others collected garbage and managed the recycling drop-off area. The female public toilet on the Connaught Road Central had been washed cleaner ever and now filled with toiletries and feminine hygiene by volunteers. A parent expressed on Facebook that her child has never done any housework but now he started to take responsibility of it, and she was surprised how much her son had grown by engaging in the social movement. On the other side of the street, a group of carpenters built a sizeable study corner for the occupying students with chairs, desks and bookshelves. A full-time lifeguard enjoyed carpentry in his pastime came over to help the setup and said, “I don’t want to see the students sacrificing their grades for democracy.” (Frankenberry, Ruzic, & Chan, 2014). The study area included library corner filled with books later known for “Charter Self-study Area” as the Cantonese translation of “Charter” can have the meaning of “umbrella fight”. Inspired by John Lennon’s “Imagine”, Lennon Wall has been created by colourful post-it as wall paper with protesters’ encouraging messages and desires for democracy.

The bitter protest of Umbrella Revolution pro-democracy sit-in has come to an end after 79th days.

During the clearance, camps in the protest sites were torn down and protesters were escorted or carried off to the police arranged coaches. In those districts, traffic resumed heavily jammed as nothing had happened; however, that was not the end but the wakeup call of the long-term democratic movement that demonstration signs demanding for “real universal suffrage” and promising “we will be back” were spread to hang up all over Hong Kong.


Chinese may be susceptible to Internet rumours

By Stephanie Szeto @stepszeto


I believe everyone has heard some kind of rumours, for example in school, at workplace or within friend circle. Since the development of Web 2.0 provided the interactive experience on Internet, the landscape of social networking is getting denser, more complex and participatory (Whittaker, Howarth, & Lymn, 2014). Rumours, at the same time, can be spread broader and quicker through social media than word of mouth (Bai, 2012). A marketing survey found that Facebook was the most popular social networking platform used by Hongkongers that 91% of the respondents used mainly Facebook and the largest age group of Facebook users was 25 to 34 with 55% female. The survey also found that Hongkongers seemed out of favour with traditional media and 44% of the respondents read Facebook for breaking news (Lam, 2014). By my own observation during the Umbrella Revolution, Facebook were the most prominent platform for Hongkongers to read, share and comment the breaking news, in addition, Internet rumours were also widely distributed.

On the first night of Umbrella Revolution, a message, de facto rumour, spread on Facebook that mobile network would be shut down by the Authority sparking the massive rush download of an app called FireChat which allowed mobile users to stay connected with each other through messages without using WiFi or mobile network (Hume & Park, 2014). This rumour freaked me out too and I

was one of those dreaded netizen to rush download FireChat. I rationalised my irrational behaviour by telling myself better safe than sorry. However, without clarified by the Authority, this Internet rumour was scotched because mobile network had never suspended. Yet, the Authority became the suspect to spread the rumour for threatening the protesters and anyone who wanted to flock to the protest sites by producing mass panic.

After that, another Internet rumour was going round about People’s Liberation Army would intervene in the movement. Although the Authority denied the possibility of the intervention, mass panic has been triggered by a mass transmitted derivative work of the Army’s tank on Facebook (Sin, 2014). Perhaps the Tank Man photo, taken during Tiananmen Square Protest in Beijing on 4th June 1989, has imprinted on Hongkongers’ mind, or Hongkongers’ distrust toward the Authority induced the trust of the rumours on Facebook (Bai, 2012). Unlike the older generation, I was too young to feel the impact on the bloody clearance of Tiananmen Square Protest, so I guess the younger generation may not take the Tank Man photo into account, but they tended to believe information on the Internet than the untrustworthy Authority.

Bai (2012) assumed that Chinese are vulnerable to rumour and Liu (2010) attributed this phenomenon to the tendency to use anecdote rathen than seek reliable information to differentiate rumours. But, what is the element to shape Chinese’s irrational behaviour? Gold (2002) suggested self-construal of Chinese may be the element. Living in the collectivistic society, Chinese emphasizes good interpersonal relationship, namely Guanxi network, so they are likely to conform to group members to keep group harmony. This explanation suggested two implications that 1) Chinese tend to believe and conform what in-group members say without criticizing or verifying the truth. 2) Chinese are likely to widely spread what have heard serving as information exchange purpose and hope others would share their information reciprocally. The conformity tendency and internalized interdependent self-construal may turn out leading Hongkongers to easily believe and spread Internet rumours during Umbrella Revolution, especially when they perceived the Authority was unreliable.


Images of umbrella brought Hongkongers together

By Stephanie Szeto @stepszeto


Since the Western media nicknamed Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement as “Umbrella Revolution”, the humble umbrella turned out to be a great source of creation inspiration. The yellow umbrella is especially popular on social media because Hongkongers used yellow ribbon to represent their desires for democracy and universal suffrage, and yellow became the de facto official colour related pro-democracy activities as well as disapproval of the Hong Kong Police’s violence against pro-democracy protestors so far.

The 87 tear gas rounds deployed by the police actually brought Hongkongers together. While some Hongkongers participated in the sit-in at protest sites, the other concentrated on creating artworks to represent Umbrella Revolution. As images can easily attract attention and convey abundant messages in succinct manner (Sontag, 2003), the artworks created by artists, designers and home-based keyboard fighters spread rapidly across social media and received tons of Likes, Comments and Shares on Facebook. People who are pro-democracy changed their Facebook Profile Pic or Facebook Cover to those artworks with themes of yellow umbrella or yellow ribbon. The most impressive among all, is the one with five umbrellas grouped like Bauhinia blakeana flower symbolising the Flag of Hong Kong and those five umbrellas sprang back “five stars” and marked Chinese words meaning “rebound”. This implies that Hong Kong was defending against the intrusion of “five stars” which suggested the Five-star Red Flag of China. Over the past few years, Hongkongers felt that the Mainland government has been tightening progressively its grip over the

city by grasping the economy and manipulating the policy. For example, money from Mainland overwhelmed the real estate markets and created the housing crisis in Hong Kong. Moreover, recently, a Mainland media veteran was brought in to the monopolising free-to-air terrestrial television station, Television Broadcasts (TVB), as controlling stakeholder, to which created a concern about the underlying nested interests of Mainland.

During the sit-in, umbrellas were brought in bulk and distributed freely as shields to protect protesters from police’s next attack, shelters to sleep under and sketchpads to write slogans on. Bryan Druzin, Assistant Professor of law at Chinese University of Hong Kong, believed that umbrella was the emblem of Hongkongers’ passive resistance besides its practical function. Kacey Wong, Hong Kong artist and Assistant Professor of design at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, held a mock Umbrella Revolution logo competition on social media. The top three prizes would be Justice, Democracy, and Freedom, and the competition has attracted an influx of entries. Research found that exposure to images of terrorism affect individuals’ emotion and their emotional responses (Iyer, Webster, Hornsey, & Vanman, 2014). Though Umbrella Revolution was not a terrorist attack, it intensely impacted Hongkongers without any doubt. However, the psychological process is yet to be addressed.

Please click the following link for Kacey Wong’s Umbrella Movement Logo Competition


Umbrella: the symbol of non-violent protest

By Stephanie Szeto @stepszeto


Hong Kong weather is known for its unpredictability. To protect against the sudden rain and strong sunlight, Hongkongers used to prepare an umbrella in their bags all over the year. Since last September, Hongkongers have found a new way to use the umbrella to shield them from the burning pepper spray as well as clouds of tear gas, which had been used by the police to break up mass of serene and ordered protesters who appeared at government’s headquarters to show their support to the captured pro-democracy students. However, the tear gas had the counter-effect to call on tens of thousands of Hongkongers from all ages to approach the government’s headquarters. Although police fired the tear gas more than 80 times into the crowds, the increasing number of Hongkongers who were full of disapproval of the use of tear gas flocked to the protest sites. They held up an umbrella as a shield and put on either surgical masks or safety goggles to protect their faces or eyes. Some of them who did not have goggles wrapped their eyes with plastic wrap taken from kitchen at

home. From their basic gears, we could certainly tell that they just wanted to protect themselves rather than attack. They craved for justice and democracy but not a war.

Since then, the umbrella became the symbol of this non-violent protest which astonished the Western media dubbed the movement as “Umbrella Revolution”. Despite the fact that the protest leaders insisted it was a pro-democracy movement rather than a revolution or the Hong Kong based English newspaper South China Morning Post keeps using the term “Occupy Central”, it could be seen from social media that Hongkongers preferred “Umbrella Revolution” much more. It is because 1) the protesters went out spontaneously to support the students, say no to tear gas, and voice out their desire for justice and democracy as said before rather than spurred by the three Occupy Central advocates. Actually, protesters disregarded the three advocates who have proposed the occupation more than a year without taking any action. 2) The Cantonese translation of Charter Road, located in Central, can have the meaning of “umbrella fight”, therefore, the term “Umbrella Revolution” depicted thoroughly the situation that the protesters were holding umbrella to fight for democracy in Central area. Moreover, 3) umbrella is familiar and symbolic compared to an abstract idea of “occupation”. The term “Umbrella Revolution” spread across the social media and stimulated a lot of creations ever since.


Can Hongkongers trust official source?


By Stephanie Szeto @stepszeto


It seems logical that public tend to rely on official source, such as government to have credible disaster information and relevant protective actions than unofficial sources no matter in traditional or social media forms (Wogalter, 2006, Liu, Fraustino, & Jin, 2015). Nonetheless, Palen and colleagues (2009) found that public thinks unofficial sources can sometimes provide more timely and accurate information than official sources. This finding may explain why, in 2003, four Hongkongers decided to change their own website from personal photo sharing to a public SARS information distribution platform which eventually made the government to provide accurate SARS information in a timely manner.

The recent outbreak of Influenza made Hongkongers panic. Despite the statistic shows that 500 to 1000 people die from influenza each year and this figure is higher than the figure of 299 died from SARS epidemic, Hongkongers still blamed the government for not announcing the accurate number of death toll of influenza, which had already exceeded the number of SARS in 2003. Perhaps Hongkongers were still living in the shadow of SARS or Hong Kong government had lost its credibility. However, the counterfactual thinking messages on Facebook could tell that the government had failed Hongkongers’ expectation. Concern about the death toll of influenza might not be that high if the government updated the figure in its official media openly to advise the public how serious the outbreak was. Moreover, the message of “We, Hongkongers, save our own Hong Kong” was widely spread on Facebook to remind everyone to save oneself by wearing mask as the government failed to do its job. Some Hongkongers also made sarcastic comment about they were lucky to live in Hong Kong where Internet Great Firewall is not applied, or the death toll of influenza would be officially announced fewer than 40 by the government; because they observed that the Chinese government would not announce dead figure more than fortyish regardless of how serious the disaster was.

Recently, a Singaporean teenage Amos Yee, who uploaded a self-performed video to YouTube to criticise the late former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, was arrested and kept in a cell with bright lights switching on for 23 hours every day at Changi Prison; then ended up transferred to the Institute of Mental Health on 23rd June. This incident attracted so much attention from Hongkongers because a few months ago, the Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23 issue was raised again and there has been a lot of public concern about freedom of speech, especially on Internet, that any expressing and receiving any government unwelcome messages or political satire creations may be regarded as illegal, or turned out to be sent to mental hospital like Yee.


Ivett Interviews: Marina Andrielli

Ivett interviewed Marina Andrielli this week! Marina is an intern at the University of Salford and she came all the way from Italy to work on one of  Dr Sharon Coen’s projects with her. She obtained her Master Degree in Business Psychology at the University of “La Sapienza” in Rome.

1. How did you get into Psychology?

I read Freud when I was 12 years old. By studying it, I realized that this is my area of interest.

2. Who is your favourite Psychologist and why?

During my University Study I came across many psychologists who I either loved or not. But I met one Psychologist during my studies and I really loved him. He is Prof. Francesco Avallone He was in charge of Work Psychology, Organizational Development, Organizational Culture, Organizational Effectiveness, Human Resource Development, Employee Training, and Employee Wellness. He has published many books about Business Psychology and in each of them, as in every lesson; there was a lesson in life. A practical and pragmatic connection between his subject and what in the world and of the world, we students would have to learn. Vice Rector, then Rector in “La Sapienza” Unibersity of Rome, in an opening speech of the year he said: “(…) My students are very diligent … ordered … too much ordered … too diligent ..and this order and all this diligence is due in part to the difficulty of thinking about the future. We must not stop thinking about the future. Depending on the future that we imagine we can really change our action today. ”  You can see Prof Avallone’s  profile here.

3. What psychological concept/topic/issue are you most passionate about?

I am very interested in Subliminal Persuasion in the media. Specifically, I conducted a literature search for my Master Thesis about subliminal audio messages. I believe there is more research to be done in this area. It is a very stimulating topic!

4. What makes Psychology Department at Salford unique?

I still do not know the Salford of University well but I can say I got used to a more formal university system in Italy.  Surely I can say I got used to a more formal university system in Italy. Enhancement of sharing areas through specific structures,  colours, passions and ideas … this is that comes to my mind when I think of the University of Salford.

5. If you could work anywhere, which University would you pick and why?

I would not change my university education.  I think I would choose to enrol in “La Sapienza” and redo the path ( winding) that brought me here to make this experience.

6. What was the most fascinating research/project you were involved in/conducted?

The research on subliminal audio messages to which I referred in point 3. I would liked to explore this topic further in the future.

7. What are you working on at the moment?

I am Intern in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Salford. I am following one of  Dr. Sharon Coen’s project: Member of Communication, Cultural & Media Studies Research Centre. It is a work in Progress!

8. If you could choose another Profession, what would it be?

I would choose to be a musician.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” T.S.Elliot

10. Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook. But I’m throwing on Twitter !

11. Which book is a must have for Psychology students?

I believe that there is one for each area of interest.

12. What advice would you give to SalfordPsych students?

Studying psychology can be a double edged sword. Maybe I advise them not to fall into the traps of the mind! No, It’s a joke……I don’t feel able to give advice to SalfordPsych students. I hope that they take as much as they can from their experience, because it is unique and unrepeatable.  

13. What do you hope for Psychology in the future?

More and more Research!

You can contact Marina via email:


Ivett Interviews: Mike Lomas



Ivett interviewed Mike Lomas this week.  

Mike is a  Phd Student and a Part-Time Lecturer here at Salford University. 


1. How did you get into Psychology?

I actually discovered the subject by accident. I was originally studying to become a physiotherapist, but my modules in human anatomy and physiology were not sufficient to get me onto my desired degree. My tutor then advised I study psychology alongside them and it was here that I fell in love with it. I began to develop a more comprehensive understanding of ‘health’ beyond physical wellbeing, and how psychology can be of huge benefit to people’s lives.

2. Who is your favourite Psychologist and why?

That is a very good question! I guess I have never really thought about choosing a favourite. A name that springs to mind is Philip Zimbardo. Obviously his work is ground-breaking and he is very well known, but I am a huge admirer of his passion and enthusiasm. His recent work with the Heroic Imagination Project has great potential to be a real force for good. You can read more about Philip Zimbardo’s work on Heroic Imagination here.

3. What psychological concept/topic/issue are you most passionate about?

My main interest is mental health and the promotion of well-being. Broadly speaking, I look to use psychology to have a positive impact of

people’s lives. The beauty of this issue is that it can be applied in almost any context, be it healthcare, education, employment, or just about any human environment.

4. What makes Psychology Department at Salford unique?

I would have to say the applied nature of the work conducted by the staff. The department consists of experts covering broad range of topics, not only theoretically, but also working in the field. This means that they are actively putting their knowledge in the practice to benefit people’s lives and also using this experience to further inform their teaching.

5. If you could work anywhere, which University would you pick and why?

This sounds like a cop out, but Salford. I was born and raised here, so I have a strong attachment with the area and it certainly forms part of my identity. If I were forced to study elsewhere then I would probably choose the University of Copenhagen. I have for a long time been fascinated by Scandinavian culture and this is the oldest and largest university in Denmark. They also have a highly regarded psychology department! We frequently see nations in this region scoring highly in terms of quality of life and I believe that from a psychological perspective there is a lot to be learned from the Scandinavian model, which could be used to inform practice here in the UK.

6. What was the most fascinating research/project you were involved in/conducted?

I couldn’t really single out a single project, but I have recently been working as a research associate at the Sustainable Housing and Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU), here at the University of Salford . They do a lot of work with marginalised and invisible groups such as gypsy and travelling communities, the homeless, and asylum seekers. Whenever you see such individuals discussed it’s usually from an outsider’s perspective and I’ve found that working with them provides a real insight into their lives and experiences. Find more information about Sustainable Housing and Urban Studies Unit here.

7. What are you working on at the moment?

I recently began working towards my PhD here at Salford. It’s a multidisciplinary project covering such areas as environmental and social psychology, urban studies, human geography and mental health. Specifically I am looking at urban regeneration and how this may impact on identity. Many of the ways in which we define ourselves are embedded in physical structure and I’m investigating whether changes to an environment can impact on self-concept. Also, as with much of my work, I will be exploring the impact of such projects on mental health and wellbeing.

8. If you could choose another Profession, what would it be?

Definitely investigative journalism. George Orwell once said that; “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” So, yes. I guess I would enjoy being a professional trouble-maker. I’d also like to think I’d still consider things from a psychological perspective.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

I don’t have a favourite, but one that I recently stumbled across is:

“If the human brain were simple enough for us to understand, we would be too simple to understand it.”

I feel it nicely highlights the paradox that is human psychology. It’s also a good, go to quote if a question from a particularly insightful student has you stumped!

10. Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter, absolutely. I find people are often cynical about social media use, but I believe it is down to how you choose to interact with it. Scratch the surface and you have an excellent source of information, resources, discussion, and debate. I certainly wish I had discovered it earlier into my academic career.

 11. Which book is a must have for Psychology students?

I couldn’t really recommend a particular book, but rather any research methods book than you feel is helpful to you. I find this area, particularly stats, is one that can cause a great deal of anxiety for students. A good research methods book that you find easy to understand can prove a real life-saver.

12. What advice would you give to SalfordPsych students?

Think ahead. Graduation may seem a long way off, but once you’re into your studies, three years will fly by. Ideally you want a plan of what’s next, so you can hit the ground running on graduation.

13. What do you hope for Psychology in the future?

I know it isn’t much to ask, but I want it to help save the world. Climate change, war, famine; these are all human-based problems with human-based solutions, which I’d very much like to see solved.


If you would like to know more about Mike, please find his blog here.  You can also find Mike on Twitter @MikeLomas_ .



Ivett Interviews: Dr Catherine Thompson

This week Ivett interviewed Dr Catherine Thompson,  Lecturer in Psychology. Catherine is the  module leader for the Cognitive modules on the undergraduate Psychology programmes. Catherine’s research focuses on visual cognition and her main areas of interest include how observers allocate their attention effectively and what factors influence selection; limits in the control of attention and the impact of a preceding task on the allocation of attention; and the influence of environmental factors on cognitive performance.



  1. How did you get into Psychology?

I kind of just fell into Psychology. It wasn’t something I planned – more the fact that there were very few a-level choices available in my sixth form and Psychology appealed to me. It worked out well though!


  1. Who is your favourite Psychologist and why?

I’m not sure I have a favourite Psychologist. I’ve read the work of so many fantastic researchers and I’ve met some really great people from the field that I don’t think I could pick one in particular. Having said that, I really admire the work completed by Alan Baddeley and Graham Hitch on working memory. It is such an important concept that relates to so many aspects of human behaviour. The working memory model has been very influential in identifying how and why people differ in cognitive ability, and the work in this area has led to improvements in functioning for a number of populations and in a variety of settings. I am also very much in awe of Daniel Kahneman. A Nobel Prize winner (in economic sciences, despite being a Psychologist), his research and the way in which he communicates this work have made a huge impact on our understanding and recognition of thought processes.


  1. What psychological concept/topic/issue are you most passionate about?

I am most interested in Cognition, and within Cognition my preferred topic is visual attention. I find it so interesting that we don’t process the external environment in the way that we think we do, and what we attend to is influenced by our previous experiences. It really does show that every person has a unique and individual view of the world.


  1. What makes the Psychology Department at Salford unique?

I think our department is unique in two ways. The first is the staff – we always go that extra mile to support our students. The second is our students (obviously!). We have a really diverse mix of students and they each bring something special to the department.


  1. If you could work anywhere, which University would you pick and why?

I really enjoy my job so I think I would be happy working in any Psychology department. My answer would therefore be based on where I would most like to live – either Manchester (I love living in Manchester, so any uni in this area would suit me) or Edinburgh (I really like the city of Edinburgh and my Mum was born there so it feels very special).


  1. What was the most fascinating research/project you were involved in/conducted?

From my own perspective the most fascinating project I was involved in was the work I conducted for my PhD. The work was very theoretical and although I’m in favour of applying research to the real world it was a real privilege to investigate something purely for the purpose of expanding knowledge within a specific area – who knows where that sort of thing could lead! I wouldn’t expect many people to be fascinated by the topic though (!) so another very interesting project I was involved in was the ‘Thrill Laboratory’ which investigated different aspects of thrill-seeking behaviour. We were based at Alton Towers for two days taking all sorts of behavioural and physiological recordings from people as they went on a roller coaster – completely different to the sort of work I am usually involved in.


  1. What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working with my lovely intern from Italy (Alessia Pasquini) and we are just about to run an experiment investigating how the demands of one task can affect attention and performance in a second task. This is an effect I’ve termed “carry-over” and it reveals the importance of attentional control in everyday tasks. As soon as the task demands change we should update our attentional settings, but findings show that we don’t always do this, which results in attention and resources being directed towards irrelevant information. I am also in the process of writing up a previous experiment in this area to submit for publication so my mind is fully focused on carry-over at the moment! I have other data that is waiting to be written up and submitted (some work on the influence of emotion on attention and another study that one of my dissertation students completed looking at how mind wandering – or daydreaming – narrows our spread of attention). I am also focusing on teaching at the moment because most of my modules run this semester and I’m trying to get to know the new Psychology and Criminology students and my new personal tutees. It’s a busy time, but it is challenging and fun.


  1. If you could choose another Profession, what would it be?

I have absolutely no clue! I don’t really spend time thinking about alternative options, and “what ifs”, I prefer to focus on the present. If I didn’t enjoy my job I might think about other options but so far I’ve been very happy in my chosen profession.


  1. Do you have a favourite quote?

“Those who give too much attention to trifling things become generally incapable of great things” (La Rochefoucauld)

10.  Facebook or Twitter?

Anyone who knows me will be aware that I’m pretty ‘anti’ social media so my answer would be “neither”. I do have a Twitter account though so I guess if I had to choose it would be Twitter. I definitely don’t do Facebook!


11.   Which book is a must have for Psychology students?

We give students recommended textbooks on each module so I don’t want to repeat texts that have already been suggested. Instead I would recommend some ‘lighter’ reading for those spare moments, and I’ll suggest two. The first is “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” by Oliver Sachs, which covers a whole range of case studies of patients suffering from neurological disorders. The second is “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman; not an easy book to read but it provides so much information about the process of thinking and reasoning. It will give you a whole new perspective on Psychology and the importance of studying the mind.


12.  What advice would you give to SalfordPsych students?

Can I give two pieces of advice? 1. Read journal articles (please!). 2. Keep an open mind – just because you may be more interested in one specific topic area in Psychology it doesn’t mean that other areas are less valuable. Every area within Psychology has a role in our understanding of behaviour and human performance.


13.  What do you hope for Psychology in the future?

I hope it continues to thrive and I really hope that as Psychologists we can continue to develop theories and apply these theories to real-world settings – I see both as integral to the field and equally important. Also, I hope that Psychology continues to interest me for many years because as you can see above I don’t really know what else I would be doing!


If you would like to know more about Catherine Thompson, please check her Profile out on the Hub.

You can also find Adam on Twitter @catthompson1



Ivett Interviews: Ansah Yakub (BSc Psychology Graduate)

Ivett Interviewed Ansah Yakub (BSc Psychology Graduate) this week.  Anash has graduated this year and she is getting some fantastic interviews in the first stages of trying to get on in the graduate job market.

1.   How did you get into Psychology?

I actually started off by doing psychology as an A level as it was a subject that I had always taken an interest in. However, I soon realised that this only skimmed the surface and I wanted to know about the subject more in depth. Therefore, I decided to take it further by studying the subject at university.

2.    Who is your favourite Psychologist and why?

Henri Tajfel (1979) – The Social Identity Theory. I think this theory is still very relevant and current regarding issues in the media which can be applied to identity and in-groups and out-groups.

3.   What psychological concept/topic/issue are you most passionate about?

Media representation as it a topic that I can relate to in regards to my ethnicity/religion.

4.   What makes Psychology Department at Salford unique?

The University of Salford has a lot of useful resources specifically for the psychology students, for example, the labs, computers with the SPSS program and many useful psychology books. Also, many of the lecturers are always on hand to help with any specific issues that you may have throughout your years and are always willing to go the extra mile.

5.   If you could work anywhere, where would you pick and why?

London! There are always more opportunities down south regarding psychology. Also, the environment is very fast paced so it would be interesting to see how the work differs.

6.   What was the most fascinating research/project you were involved in/conducted?

My dissertation – as it was my own project, I had the opportunity to research anything that I took a particular interest in. This project takes up a lot of time in your final year so it is essential that you enjoy the topic that you are researching.

7.   What are you doing at the moment?

I am currently trying to find a job or even some voluntary work to get a bit of experience behind me. I have been attending job fairs and recruitment days to see what is out there and how I can utilise my skills that I have gained through university to mould to specific job roles.

8.   If you could choose another Profession, what would it be?

Physiotherapist, but I have never been good at science! So health sciences it was.

9.   Do you have a favourite quote?

“It is literature which for me opened the mysterious and decisive doors of imagination and understanding. To see the way others see. To think the way others think. And, above all, to feel.” – Salman Rushdie

10.   Facebook or Twitter?


11.   Which book is a must have for Psychology students?

Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology – Hugh Coolican

12.   What advice would you give to SalfordPsych students?

There is always room to improve, use the resources around you to help you improve your skills whether it may be written or verbal. It is important to read the feedback that the lecturers give to you on assignments or presentations as this could help you essentially get better marks. As well as talking to lecturers, talk to other students as you can always help each other out!

13.   What do you hope for Psychology in the future?

Psychology is regularly undermined but I think people need to realise that this subject provides a wide variety of options and it all depends on how people use their degree. I would love for people to see how psychology can open so many doors and how much you can gain from such a degree.


Ivett Interviews: Dr Adam Galpin

This week Ivett Interviewed Dr Adam Galpin, Senior Lecturer in Psychology.  Adam is the programme leader for the UK’s first MSc in Media Psychology taught at Salford’s new campus at MediaCity UK. Adam teaches modules on media psychology and technology use at postgraduate level, and contributes to undergraduate modules in cognitive psychology and individual differences.

1. How did you get into Psychology?

I’ve studied Psychology since I took the A-Level back in 1993, and I can’t really remember what the main motivation was then, but there were quite a few Psychologists depicted in fiction on TV and film at the time. I’m thinking of Cracker, and of Psychological thrillers like Basic Instinct (Sharon Stone had studied Psychology as I recall!). I think these were something of an influence. Like lots of people, at this stage I didn’t really have a good understanding of what Psychology was, and thought it was all about reading minds!

2. Who is your favourite Psychologist and why?

This is really tricky. I’m tempted to say William James because he observed a considerable amount of what we now know in Cognitive Psychology back in the 19th Century without access to modern experimental technology. I’m also impressed by thinkers who can see passed the dominant paradigms of the time. For instance, Maslow and Rogers departed from the deterministic perspectives of Psychoanalysis and Behaviourism to paint a more positive picture of human motivation. Of living Psychologists, Bandura has written one of the most influential articles that I’ve read recently (Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. Media Psychology, 3, 265-298).

3. What psychological concept/topic/issue are you most passionate about?

Cognitive and emotional engagement with media and technology, or how we pay attention to and become absorbed in experiences and narratives. This really fascinates me because such experiences are very powerful in both positive and threatening ways. Creators of media technology are increasingly interested in understanding audience responses so they can design appealing experiences. This area is diverse and includes narrative transportation, wearable technology, prosthetics, VR, user experience; but underlying all of these topics are cognition and emotion.

4. What makes Psychology Department at Salford unique?

Media Psychology! We run the UK’s first and only MSc in Media Psychology, so that makes us pretty unique. I’ve worked at other larger Psychology departments and I definitely think we have a much more applied emphasis here at Salford, which is reflected in our research projects and in the courses we offer.


5. If you could work anywhere, which University would you pick and why?

I couldn’t do what I do here anywhere else, so I wouldn’t move to anywhere else in the UK. But perhaps I could be tempted away to somewhere completely different to experience different cultures and ways of thinking.

6. What was the most fascinating research/project you were involved in/conducted?

I’ve been working in the area of upper-limb prosthetics with biomechanical engineers for the past 3 or 4 years. The project is really interesting and truly inter-disciplinary, so I would say this one.

7. What are you working on at the moment?

See above! But also, I have recently launched a consultancy with my colleague Jenna Condie called ‘Media Psychology Services’ providing psychological insight into media use for industry. We’ve had some really good projects so far…

8. If you could choose another Profession, what would it be?

Easy – Zoologist. I’m really into spiders for some reason. Not sure what Freud would say about that.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

No, actually!

10. Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook for social use, Twitter for professional use.

11. Which book is a must have for Psychology students?

As an introductory text I found Gleitman really useful.

12. What advice would you give to SalfordPsych students?

Get involved. There is so much going at Salford, from talks, to societies, social media, to volunteering for research studies, to employment and voluntary opportunities. Do everything you can.

13. What do you hope for Psychology in the future?

That we find a way to eye-track spiders.


If you would like to know more about Adam Galpin, please check his Profile out on the Hub.

You can also find Adam on Twitter 



Ivett Interviews : Clare Allely

1. How did you get into Psychology?

I have always been interested in why people do things and disorders such as autism so psychology seemed the most appropriate degree to study!

2. Who is your favourite Psychologist and why?

One of my favourite psychologists is Professor John Read based at the University of Liverpool. Professor Read’s research shows that genes are not the main cause of schizophrenia and that drugs should not be the automatic treatment of choice. In fact, he shows that some two-thirds of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia have suffered physical or sexual abuse which is, if not the major, then a major cause of the illness.

Here is a link to Professor Read’s research publications.

3. What psychological concept/topic/issue are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about developmental psychology and forensic psychology and bringing these two specialist fields of research together. Currently there are enormous gaps in our understanding of the actual mechanisms underlying the development of a serial killer or mass murderer and this is what I am currently investigating.

4. What makes Psychology Department at Salford unique?

What definitely makes the Psychology Department at Salford unique is how is combines technology and media into psychology. The department really encourages the application of the theory to real-world settings.

5. If you could work anywhere, which University would you pick and why?

If I had to work in a place other than Salford University, I would have to say Harvard University. The field of Psychology first emerged at Harvard in the late 1800’s under the scholarship of William James, and ever since then Harvard has been at the forefront of the field. So many of the most prominent psychologists have worked in the psychology department at Harvard over the years including: B.F. Skinner, Gordon Allport, Jerome Bruner, George Miller and Henry Murray.

6. What was the most fascinating research/project you were involved in/conducted?

The most fascinating project I was involved in was one which investigated the neurodevelopmental and psychosocial risk factors in serial killers and mass murderers. The work was published in the Journal of Aggression and Violent Behavior and since its publication I was invited to become a member of a team of serial murder experts who participate in the Multidisciplinary Collaborative on Sexual Crime and Violence. One product of the collaboration is the Serial Killer Database Project, a catalogue of serial murderers who fit the FBI definition. It really is amazing where research can lead and the connections and collaborations which can result!

7. What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on a really interesting empirical project with colleagues from the Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre including Professor

David Cooke; Dr Sebastian Lundström; Dr Eva Billstedt and Professor Christopher Gillberg looking at the rate of psychopathy traits and neurodevelopmental disorders in an adult prison population and an adolescent population. The data is derived from Swedish data records.

I am also working on a number of book chapters in a variety of areas including one for the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development which is looking at damage resulting from perinatal complications and childhood accidents. Another explores the neurobiology of single and multiple homicide and brain injury for The Wiley Handbook of Forensic Neuroscience.

8. If you could choose another Profession, what would it be?

It would probably be a Forensic Psychologist. I just completed my masters in forensic psychology earlier this year but realised I loved research and teaching too much!

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world” (Albert Einstein).

10. Facebook or Twitter?

Currently Facebook but I just got a Twitter account this summer so I suspect that might change.

11. Which book is a must have for Psychology students?

I would have to recommend three.

For the statistics part of the psychology programme, while other SPSS books are recommended, I have personally found ‘SPSS for

Psychologists’ written by Nicola Brace, Rosemary Snelgar and Richard Kemp to be particularly helpful and an absolute must have:

Another book I would recommend is ‘Phantoms in the Brain: Human Nature and the Architecture of the Mind’ by Professor Vilayanur Ramachandran. I read this myself while a first year student and found it fascinating! It is now available as an audio download: ….or you can watch him online giving a TED talk:

A book I would recommend based on my own area of research is one called ‘The Autisms’ written by Mary Coleman and Christopher Gillberg. It explores autism from a number of different fields including neuropsychology; neuroanatomy and genetics.

12. What advice would you give to SalfordPsych students?

Don’t leave things to the last minute! Start well in advance. This allows you time to reflect on what you have read and written. Also don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for advice.

It is a good idea to build up work experience as soon as you can. In most cases you will have to gain experience on a voluntary basis before you can apply for a paid position. Consider what type of people you want to work with, whether it be with young offenders or individuals with depression and/or anxiety and contact relevant local organisations and charities. When I was an undergraduate student I was a volunteer for Headway which is an organisation for individuals with acquired brain injury. I found the experience invaluable.

13. What do you hope for Psychology in the future?

More psychology in the courtroom!

Professor Penny Cooper (Kingston Law School, Kingston University London) has invited me to collaborate with her as a ‘research expert’ for The Advocate’s Gateway ( in order to raise awareness and understanding of autism spectrum disorders amongst legal practitioners. The field of developmental forensic psychology, in particular, is an area that really deserves more research attention and one of my main aims is to increase understanding of the importance of focusing on this area (primarily due to the importance of developing early identification and early preventative measures).


If you would like to know more about Clare Alley, please check her Profile out on the Hub. You can also find Clare on Twitter @ClareAllely .