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Salford Research Team Win BPS Psychobiology Section Summer Internship 2015

The team of psychologists (Simon Cassidy, Rob Bendall, Lynne Marrow and Adam Galpin), based in the Directorate of Psychology and Public Health, will be working with student intern Sarah Lambert. Sarah has recently completed her second year on the BSc Psychology (Hons) programme and will be spending the summer working on a project investigating brain imaging and eye-movements as markers of cognitive style. Sarah will be posting here regularly to keep you up to date with her experiences as an intern.


#1 – The experiences of a Psych intern….


So the first day of my BPS Psychobiology Summer Internship arrived and I had no idea what to expect. To my utter relief I was not ordered to stand up and recount an in depth analysis of cognitive style and biological markers, whilst drafting a detailed sketch of the anatomy of the brain. Nor have I been sent to fetch cups of tea or deliver dry-cleaning. Thanks to the support and reassurance I’ve received from my supervisors, my apprehension has been overshadowed by excitement, and I am thoroughly enjoying my first week as an intern.

My highlights of the week so far include one-to-one training sessions with Rob Bendall on building cognitive experiments in E-Prime (its easy once you know how!), literature searching and a very very handy tutorial from Roy Vickers on how to get the best out of SOLAR.

I’ll be sure to post regular updates of my ongoing experiences and hopefully give you a glimpse of what it’s like taking the first steps into the exciting world of psychological research.



#2 – The experiences of a Psych intern….



So here’s where it gets really interesting! This week I’ve been introduced to the lab and the impressive experimental setup that Rob Bendall has created. My initial thought was “this looks incredibly complicated and very expensive – don’t touch ANYTHING”. And a complex system it is. Simultaneously gathering data from eye-tracking, fNIRS brain imaging and E-Prime software, the set-up relies on an extraordinary amount of technology to ensure the experiment runs smoothly. The test data extracted during training sessions, although not relevant to the study, personally makes for interesting viewing.The very fact that internal processes can be converted into visual representations still amazes me.



Additional tasks this week have included finalising posters and information sheets in preparation for recruitment and drawing up the first draft of the abstract. This has been an education in itself. It’s surprisingly difficult to prepare an abstract without any preliminary data, but I am assured that if I pursue a career in psychological research that this will not be the first and last time I’m in this predicament!


With the help of my co-researchers and some very patient guinea pigs I’ve managed to (almost) master the experimental procedure and I’m keen to get this show on the road. We finally have confirmation of ethical approval and so recruitment can start in earnest. Next stop data collection…………… Look out for posters around the psychology Directorate if you want more information on the study of would like to participate.


#3 – The experiences of a Psych intern


Only three weeks in to the project my position as an intern has taught me more than I ever could have imagined. I began my journey excited at the prospect that this experience was going to be fantastic opportunity to learn more about the mechanics of a research project. On reflection, my initial focus was how lucky I was to have one-to-one training on the lab equipment, and I was eager to learn more about brain imaging and eye-tracking. I didn’t realise that it would offer me something much more valuable – the chance to glimpse into the future and define my own career aspirations. From literature searching, data collection, writing, planning and networking – I’m thoroughly enjoying the variety of my role.





There is now no doubt in my mind that my future will be solidly grounded in research. Hopefully this blog will give me the platform to not only share my experience, but to show students the opportunities that are out there for us all.


As a student you are forever told to go out and get some work experience or engage in voluntary work “because it will look fantastic on your C.V. “. Of course it will give you the edge, but there is a more important and more pressing reason that you should consider stepping out of your comfort zone and gaining some work experience. Your journey through higher education and ultimately the career path you subsequently follow is determined by decisions you make – equip yourself the best way you can by learning what it is that you actually enjoy. Work experience is more than gaining an advantage over other graduates – it’s an opportunity to discover your own strengths and find the career path that is right for YOU. Whether your interests lie in psychological research, mental health, counseling or the criminal mind, there are opportunities to suit everybody. You just have to find them.


#4 – Experiences of a Psych intern…


Data collection is well underway and I’m beginning to get a real taste of what a career in research would entail.



My schedule is getting progressively busier as data collection, data analysis and poster preparation are all in progress, and my organisational skills are truly being put to the test. The process of data collection has been a rewarding, informative and at times even a frustrating experience. I get a certain satisfaction from each and every successful appointment, knowing that the success of the project hinges on gathering reliable data. I can’t help but take it personally when equipment failures interfere with my quest to collect useable data! These technical hitches (although maddening) are part and parcel of the experimental process – particularly when working with a very technologically heavy set-up. However, I’ve found that looking forward, I am no longer fazed at the prospect of conducting future experiments. The knowledge I have gained has given me the confidence in my own troubleshooting abilities and provided me with an incredibly valuable experience. Preliminary data screening also began this week, with training sessions on how to extract the useful data and filter out what we don’t need. As a novice this allows me to observe how the data may be mentally analysed and applied to the topic as the project goes on. For instance, whilst ‘sense’ checking the eye-tracking data Adam Galpin explained how reading the raw data and ‘sense’ checking not only helps avoid errors occurring, but can reveal interesting details about the nature of the information contained in the output. This initial analysis provides a clue as to what variables may be of interest and indicates the direction that analysis may take. These regular meetings with the team allow me to witness the thought processes of the researchers and see how decisions and conclusions are made. This has undoubtedly been the most valuable aspect of my internship. It is here that the true value of my position as an intern becomes glaringly obvious. The beauty of collaborative work is that each contributor brings their owns strengths to the table. I’m extremely lucky to be seated at that table and have the combined knowledge of four researchers as an available resource.



#5 – The experiences of a Psych intern….



Focus has now shifted onto extracting, converting and analysing data. All the work of the previous four weeks is culminated into these masses of figures on a spreadsheet. I am still amazed at how individual disposition and behavioural responses can be converted into visible and usable statistics. This is where we discover the direction the analysis will take. In reality, the process of analysis is somewhat different to what is taught during research methods lectures and seminars. I was unaware that the preparation, screening and filtering of data was quite so complex and time-consuming. To give you an indication of the magnitude of this task, for this project the extraction of the eye-tracking data first requires all short fixations to be manually removed, saccade (eye-movement) length and direction need to be calculated, and the position and type and of eye-movement deciphered. This process needs to be completed for each and every experimental trial before we can even begin to extract any meaningful data. So in short, if there are 30 participants and 20 experimental trials…..that means this procedure must be repeated 600 times! Only then can the actual analysis begin.



As you can imagine, I’m becoming quite the excel expert!

In addition to extracting eye-tracking data, this week work has started on filtering and analysing the fNIRS brain imaging output. I can’t help but be slightly amused by Rob’s catchphrase of “this is how I do it, but you’ll find your own way”. This is usually the point when I come to the realisation that I am responsible for doing this task on my own. As daunting as this is I am given all the tools and guidance I need, and again, this is where my confidence in my own abilities is beginning to grow. Once I have nailed the actual process I find that it is much easier to understand the concept of the analysis. You see, it’s not just the actual process of hitting the right buttons and learning what goes where, but grasping the theory of why. This is precisely what psych research is about –interpreting the results, identifying possible variables of interest and the application of this information. Thanks to the descriptive manner of the research team not only am I gaining the knowledge of how to conduct ‘real life’ statistical analysis, but I’m quickly learning the theory behind the process.


#6 – The experiences of a Psych intern….



The research poster is finally complete and encompasses all the hard work of the previous few weeks. It’s enormously satisfying to view the finished product and certainly a very proud moment to see my name amongst the other researchers – proof that I have indeed contributed to the composition of the project! The very fact that there have been four other contributors that have been readily available for advice and feedback gives me secure confidence in the content and presentation of the poster. However, although this is reassuring, I must admit that the most stressful element of the entire internship has been my own determination to meet the expectations of the other researchers! All that remains is to present the research poster at the BPS Annual Psychobiology Section Scientific Meeting next week – rest assured, I will let you know how I get on.

Through my time here, I have come to the conclusion that psychological research is often misconstrued and the fear of statistics or the dreaded SPSS tends to put many undergraduate students off pursuing a research career. In truth, statistics only play a small role in a research project – a small role but essential role nonetheless. The basis of any research project is the theoretical reasoning and formation of the research question – stats simply provide you with your indicative result. As a novice you don’t need to be able to recite the ANOVA formula or navigate seamlessly through the SPSS program. You don’t even need to like statistics! What is important however is being able to understand the output, how it applies to your research question and what this means in real life terms.

So my internship has officially come to an end…but they won’t get rid of me that easily. I’ve enjoyed my time here so much and I’m gaining so much knowledge that I’m continuing to work on the project along with the current research team. The opportunity to learn is still very much accessible and I am very thankful that I am still made to feel so welcome. I’m very aware of just how fortunate I have been to have not only have been awarded the BPS psychobiology section internship, but to have such positive and engaging role models as mentors. My time here within the research department has been an educational experience, offering me the chance to expand my knowledge and gain a real taste of the research environment. I’m immensely grateful to the research team (Simon Cassidy, Rob Bendall, Adam Galpin and Lynne Marrow) for finding the perfect balance between supervision, issuing responsibility and allowing me to follow my own initiative. This is undoubtedly what has made this journey such an enriching experience. I must also give a special mention to the rest of the Psychology and Public Health department. It has been an absolute pleasure to work within such a welcoming and sociable environment. Surrounded by the discussion of current projects and exchanging of ideas, my dedication to pursuing a research career has only been reinforced by witnessing the sheer passion and apparent enthusiasm of the entire department. Thank you!


#7 – The experiences of a Psych intern….



A prerequisite of the internship award was that I must attend the Annual BPS Psychobiology Section Annual Scientific meeting and present the findings of the project in the form of a research poster. Although I was eager to stand beside the poster that was a single representation of all the hard work of the previous three months, I do not mind admitting that I did have reservations over my ability to deliver an engaging and coherent account of the research study. Understandably, my apprehension was centered around the potential questioning that may be directed my way. What if I don’t know the answer to a question? Or maybe I wouldn’t even understand the question! My initial fears were quashed once I arrived at the venue, finally found a prominent spot to display my poster and became acquainted with the other attendees. Realistically, after spending a good twelve weeks immersing myself in the research project I found I could find a confident response to any questions fired at me. That being said, all questions were delivered in a positive manner, and were based on genuine interest in the methodology and results of the study. Trust me when I say – nobody is there to publicly humiliate you! It was fantastic to receive such positive feedback and personally a really rewarding experience. I must admit once the poster session was finished (and I’d survived!), it was nice to be able to circulate and discover the varied journeys that had led researchers to the paths they had chosen. It was a great opportunity to steal some valuable hints and tips! The Psychobiology Scientific conference offered a perfect relaxed and friendly introduction into the psychresearch domain, and is one that I look forward to attending again next year. I’d strongly urge others tojoin the BPS and make use of these external events to learn, connect, and above all, build their own confidence.




Sarah Lambert with Dr Richard Stephens

(Chair of the BPS Psychobiology Section)


















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Summer Internship: Read about Hanna’s US adventure!

Our very own Hannah Arhinful has won an International Travel bursary and will be keeping us up to date on her Summer Internship!

Hannah will be spending the summer in Boston, and will be posting regularly to keep us up to date with her US adventure.

Follow Hannah’s updates and get inspired here.

For more information on the International Travel Bursaries see here:



Why are internships important? Read some of the reasons why it is important to make time for internships here



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John Hudson wins the 2015 BPS poster competition

Our very own John Hudson, PhD student under the supervision of Dr Ashley Weinberg has won the poster competition at the Annual Conference of the BPS!

His poster looked at factors connected to job-related stress in the public sector. You can find his poster here.


Congratulations John!


Follow John on Twitter: @brucierooster

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The age of celebrity politics

In an article published in the latest edition of The Psychologist magazine, I explore the contribution Psychology can give to understanding the phenomenon of celebritisation of politics.


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Health blogging – new research about impact of writing style

By Dr Sarah Norgate


Ever since blogs arrived on the scene – so, well over two decades ago now – researchers have looked at the extent of benefits of blogging for wellbeing, psychosocial gain and business growth. In the health sector, practitioners and campaigners are increasingly exploring whether health blogging serves as a potential tool for motivating people to make lifestyle changes to prevent onset of health problems.

A new discovery out this year from Carmen Stavrositu (University of Colorado) and Jinhee Kim (Pohang University of Science and Technology)1 shows that the type of narrative used in a blog posting makes a difference to people’s behavioural intentions and perceived vulnerability to health risks.


The team set up a blog post called ‘My battle with skin cancer’, and manipulated blog posts to be either ‘transporting narratives’ or ‘non-narratives’. In the transporting version of the blog-post, the reader was immersed in the journey saying what lifestyle changes they would have done differently if they had known better. In the ‘non-narrative’ version the blog remained non-personal and factual. In addition, the researchers also manipulated reader response posts to the blog as being either appreciative for the advice (thanks for the tips, and for sharing) or discounting the advice (have you not heard that….).

After reading the blog, readers of the ‘transported’ narrative were more likely to say they would change their lifestyle – to wear sunscreen regularly or to seek out further information on skin cancer prevention. Compared with before reading the blog, readers perceived themselves as no less vulnerable than others to experiencing negative health outcomes. However, once the reader’s negative/positive comments were taken into account, the picture was more complex. Having the appreciative comments on the blog actually increased the chance that readers thought they were no less vulnerable than others.

The potential role of health blogging interventions raises questions about the reliance on traditional didactic approaches on online information sites.

Onwards then…. towards a new generation of evidence based online health interventions. But in doing this, let’s not forget the voice of the citizen or consumer.

Now then, as this first ever blog has been written more in ‘non-transporting’ mode I decided to make this last sentence more personal. Just to say thanks to other blog writers and social media species who inspired this.

Carmen D. Stavrositu & Jinhee Kim (2015) All Blogs Are Not Created Equal: The Role ofNarrative Formats and User-Generated Comments in Health Prevention, Health Communication, 30:5, 485-495, DOI:




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The end of TV? Broadcast crisis in HK

By Stephanie Szeto @stepszeto


There are only two free-to-air terrestrial television stations, Television Broadcasts (TVB) and Asia Television (ATV), in Hong Kong.  Owing to the financial crisis in past quarters, the ATV has been struggling with fund raising endeavour, in coping with consecutive financial loss and failure to pay salaries of hundreds of employees.  The posts on Facebook could tell that Hongkongers attributed ATV’s failure to their outdated drama genre and mismanagement. Media commentaries presented that their management should take the responsibility because the crisis originated from the internal organisational issue (Jin, Liu, & Austin, 2014).  Some people expressed views on posts that demanded ATV to give up their fight and the government should order ATV to surrender its free-to-air TV license to the Hong Kong Television Networks (HKTV, mentioned in the previous article).  As Lee (2004) found that Hong Kong audiences’ reactions to public media crises has become emotional and may explain the negative and less sympathetic comments of Hongkongers’ harsh reaction to the fall of ATV.


Some Hongkongers, alternatively, attributed the downfall of ATV to its fierce competitor, TVB which was assumed to monopolise the TV industry.  However, as Atkins (2010) mentioned that the impact of crisis is not limited to one organisation, TVB was also suffering from the decline of TV industry, despite reaching its peak in the 90s.  Today, the 24/7 access online providing abundant supply of entertainment, such as YouTube and iTunes, is the main culprit for downfall of TV industry.  During the dispute over free-to-air TV licence to HKTV, Mark Lee Po-on, TVB’s General Manager, claimed that there was not enough advertising revenue to support newcomer to the TV media market.  It may be the reason why there were internet rumours about reciprocal relation between TVB and the government that TVB delivered pro-government perspective to the audience and the government denied to issue a free-to-air TV licence to HKTV.


While people continue to discuss online about this evolving media crisis in Hong Kong, we will wait and see if there is any relationship of the ongoing situation with the heated debate of the 2017 political reform of the Hong Kong SAR which has been a focus of attention from a number of international media. One is sure that social media will be something we may continue to watch on.




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New media and new perspectives on the crisis in Hong Kong

by Stephanie Szeto (@StepSzeto)

Stephanie Szeto






The high penetration of the new mobile technology and social media enables some Hongkongers, who don’t have much prior knowledge of computer, to access internet media and enjoy spontaneous mobile mass communication, such as Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.   In past few decades, only few TV media existed in Hong Kong. Television Broadcasts (TVB) is completely monopolising the media market as Asia Television (ATV) produces limited domestic programmes and is facing major financial problem that has to terminate some news broadcasts.  People are now used to read news from wide variety sources for having different perspectives, for example independent press, rather than from the traditional mass media, such as the two existing free-to-air terrestrial television stations, (TVB) and (ATV). Young people are more accessible and develop critical views to various news angles and discover nested interests of different media stakeholders may affect the political stands or economic positions of various commentaries or social media blogs.


In last October 2013, tens of thousands of protesters marched to the government headquarters of the Hong Kong SAR claiming the violated Hong Kong’s core values of freedom as the monopolisation of existing TV public media eventually led to rejection from the government in issuing an additional free-to-air TV licence to the Hong Kong Television Networks (HKTV).  The march originated from a social action organised with the help of a Facebook page claiming to gather ten thousand of HKTV supporters and simultaneously gained nearly five hundred thousand LIKES.  Facebook has become a powerful social media to magnify the tearful speeches of HKTV staff and celebrities that were spreading quickly on the web which explained the underlying nested interests of politicians in rejecting the license application.  Protesters claiming that, despite a 85% of respondents in a public survey conducted by The University of Hong Kong indicated more free-to-air TV choices, the government turned down HKTV’s application as a result of politically decision.  Mr. Ricky Wong Wai-kay, the boss of HKTV, presented that he would create a station that will truly belong to Hongkongers by giving alternative choice, such as ‘dark’ comedy and drama, which allows different political satire may capture the popular sentiment.  Therefore, Hongkongers believed that the government was crushing the city’s core values of freedom and vowed to have social movement against the media monopolisation.  Wong questioned whether Hong Kong was still governed by the rule of law and the HKTV, in the end, resorted to broadcast by over-the-top online platform.


With more easy access to online platforms, Hongkongers are now relying less on traditional TV news as they believe it offers more pro-government perspective to the audience.  On the other hand, posts of independent press and internet radio have acquired a higher share of media influence.  This situation is confirmed by the findings of crisis communication research that some people give higher level of credibility to new media than to traditional media in terms of having different perspective of the crisis (Jin, Liu, & Austin, 2014). One would see the new media has become a real battle ground for people to exert their political influence and gaining publicity through the emerging mobile technology.

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“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”


Written by:  Dr Simon Cassidy, 13th March 2015Simon Cassidy





The quote in the title (and variations of it) is attributed to Henry Ford, the prolific American pioneer, leader and industrialist. And he could be right according to initial findings of a study conducted here at the University of Salford examining psychological resilience, also referred to as emotional or psychosocial resilience. What the quote suggests is that people’s beliefs about their abilities determine their chances of completing a task successfully (or not).  We—psychologists I mean—refer to these beliefs about ability as self-efficacy. You could call it confidence but that would be too easy for us scientists. In actual fact calling it confidence would be an oversimplification and a little inaccurate. Self-efficacy emerged in the 1970s as a central construct in Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (subsequently Social Cognitive Theory); he defines it as “the belief in one’s capabilities to organise and execute the course of action required to manage prospective situations”. Studies of self-efficacy have been pretty consistent in finding that it is associated with, and in some cases, predictive of, positive outcomes and performance. So our judgements and beliefs about our capabilities are important in real terms. It seems that judging yourself to be capable of success increases your chances of actual success, while judging yourself as not capable of success reduces your chances of actual success. Henry was right!


This raises the question of what exactly is it that people who believe that they are capable of success do? We know in general terms that self-efficacious (big unwieldy term I know, but hey I’m a scientist) individuals are more persistent and more motivated, but what we are less clear on is the specific actions that individuals with positive self-efficacy beliefs take that makes them more likely to succeed. Not knowing this makes it difficult to exploit the potential advantages of positive self-efficacy.


We know from Bandura that self-efficacy is particularly important when individuals face adversity. Adversity can be defined as difficult, challenging or unpleasant events, situations or circumstances. Faced with adversity, some people have the capacity to bounce back from failure, to beat the odds and do better than might be expected given the circumstances. These people are considered to be resilient and resiliency is considered an asset because of its obvious benefits. One way to explore the specific behaviours associated with self-efficacy is to investigate how it relates to resilience and resilient (or adaptive) responses. Looking at how individuals respond when faced with adversity and how these behaviours are connected to self-efficacy may give us some insight into why self-efficacious (there’s that term again) individuals are more likely to succeed and may help us develop interventions aimed at building resilience.


Both self-efficacy and resilience make most sense when studied and measured in specific contexts – it’s difficult to accept that someone has the same belief in their capabilities or responds to adversity in the same way irrespective whether we are talking about relationships, bereavement, learning or health. Because of this and because understanding issues of student achievement and wellbeing is a priority for those of us working in the field of psychology and education, my study focussed on academic self-efficacy and academic resilience in students. Once students’ academic self-efficacy had been measured, they were presented with a case study describing academic adversity and failure and asked to select, from a list of potential behaviours, how they would respond. A second version of the case study described a fellow student who was facing the same academic adversity and students were now asked to select, from the same list, how their colleague should respond.


OK, what did the study find? Well initial results were presented at the BPS Division of Educational and Child Psychology Annual Conference in Durham in January, although detailed analysis is still underway. So far findings show that academic self-efficacy is a strong predictor of academic resilience. Positive self-efficacy beliefs predict increased resilience in students when faced with academic adversity. This finding is important but was anticipated, so no surprises there. What is valuable is that the study measured resilience by asking students to select specific responses to adversity that were either more or less resilient and compared the responses of low and high self-efficacy students.  Further analysis of this will provide, I hope, some of the details we are missing about how students who believe in their academic capability behave in different ways to those students who doubt their capability. When responses to personal adversity and adversity faced by a fellow student were compared, students showed greater resilience for their colleague. That is, students selected more resilient responses for colleagues than they did for themselves. This is an important finding for two reasons. Firstly it suggests that students are aware of what are the most adaptive responses to academic adversity, but don’t necessarily select them. Secondly, students are likely to be a good source of resilience for colleagues who are facing challenging situations, which is encouraging for peer assisted learning and mentoring schemes.


What I’m working on at the moment is extracting the detailed information about differences in specific responses to adversity of believers and non-believers (in the self-efficacy sense). The goal is to use this as a device to instil greater resilience in students. It’s tough out there and applying our knowledge and skills as psychologists can help. For now though the message is clear “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”


That should have been the end of the piece but as I’m writing about resilience I couldn’t resist adding another of Henry Ford’s quotes (and in doing so ruining the dramatic end to the post): “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”. I think the quote captures a lot of what there is to capture about resilience. Thank you Henry for your contribution to psychology and to this post.



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Q&A with Jess Bannister, BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling Graduate

Jess BannisterJessica Bannister graduated with a BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling degree from the University of Salford in 2014. Jess’s dissertation research led to opportunities to speak at local colleges on her experiences of university life and being an undergraduate student. Jess is currently working full time to finance her postgraduate studies in September. Jenna interviewed Jess to find out more.

  1. Hi Jess, you went to talk to Loreto college students about being a psychology student. How did that talk come about?  

Originally I was meant to go to Loretto College to recruit participants for my dissertation project, which explored social media use by college students and apprentices. However, the best time for them to participate was June (my dissertation was due in May) so I thought rather than ending correspondence there, I wanted to at least give a discussion or something about what a dissertation is like.

2. What key points did you make in your talk? 

I mainly talked about the process of completing my dissertation, making sure I expressed the process of ethics, as that was something I had no idea about going into planning my dissertation. I think that a lot of the beliefs around dissertations is that you can just go away and do something, which is definitely not the case. I also wanted to point out to students that while it is one of the most stressful times in your education, that you can/should still have fun while doing it. The dissertation is often on a topic based around your interests and something that you enjoy, so have some fun with it.

 3. Did college students ask you any interesting questions? Can you tell me about some of them. 

I was surprised at how engaged the students were in the talk. I was expecting them to be quiet and not wanting to talk to the stranger that’s giving a talk in their class.  Through my experiences of  being in college, we would have done the same thing. A lot of students were asking how stressful it was doing the dissertation, and asking general questions about university life. A lot wanted to know as well what I was planning to do now that I had left university and now I’m in the wider world.

4. What would you do differently if you were to do another talk? 

I definitely wouldn’t be so nervous leading up to the talk. Before I set off on my drive to the college I was so nervous to the point of panicking. While my parents and boyfriend were trying to convince me everything would be ok, I was adamant that everything would go wrong, and everyone would hate me. But obviously I was wrong. I think if I wasn’t as nervous I probably would have included more content in the talk, elaborating more where I needed to instead of just discussing key points because I was worried I would be boring people.

 5. What advice did you give to college students thinking about studying psychology at degree level? 

I would definitely advise students to read around the subject from day 1. I definitely did not do enough reading around subjects, and only properly opened a book when it was assignment time, and you can tell as that reflects in my feedback. Be a step ahead of your module and it will benefit. Take part in student and lecturers studies as well. If you have no idea what a degree level research project is like, taking part in one can show you what goes on, and also with the amount of equipment there is at university, you can get some amazing ideas for a future research study. The main piece of advice I have though is to have fun. Don’t just be a book worm or spend all your time doing assignments, have some fun too. Uni is the best time for socialising and meeting new people, so get out and meet your peers.

 6. How did you find it being a university psychology student? Positives and negatives!

Going to uni has been the best thing I have ever done. It was a hard transition going from college with all my friends to somewhere completely new with people I didn’t know, but I’ve met some of the best friends in the world, and uni has given me a new sense of independence I never knew I could have. I’ll admit sometimes it has been hard, and I’ve thought what’s the point if I’m not doing well, but when you read that email at the end of 3rd year saying ‘Congratulations’, you know that every minute, every moment you felt stressed or upset, or like you couldn’t do it was worth it, because you have earned yourself a degree.

 7. What was it like doing your dissertation project? Why did you choose that topic?  

Going into my project I thought I was just going to plan what I was doing, then go out and do it, so it came as a surprise to me to hear all these rules and regulations about what you had to do, like applying for ethical approval, and all the materials that had to be included with that. I felt like I had to know what I was doing before I actually had a full idea. But on the whole it was an amazing experience to undertake my own research, and in the midst of conducting research you kind of forget you’re doing this for a 10,000 word report, but you’re actually doing it to extend knowledge in your chosen topic.

I chose my subject for a number of reasons. Firstly, I had done an assignment similar to this one in my level 5 social psychology module, and wanted to extend this, and use participants outside of university to gain more of a generalised view. My supervisor helped me to gain a clearer topic to focus on. I chose social media as my topic because it is such a vastly growing phenomenon that views are constantly changing on it, and it is being utilised for more and more things every day. I had read journals on how students use it for everyday purposes, so I wanted to research how it could be used in an educational setting, and how teachers and peers can use it to give support to other students.

 8. What are your next steps?

A. For me, it will be to gain some experience in counselling and mental health, since this is the career path I wish to take. I’ve taken a year out from my studies, which was hard at first adjusting to life outside of education. Since I was a child I have been in education, so it was different not to be. I have expanded my skills, through working full time and volunteering at mental health clinics, and I now feel ready to go back to university and complete my Masters and Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy. I have been looking into finance and funding, and have even opened a crowdfunding page, to see if that gets me anywhere. I think the psychologist in me is using it as some kind of social experiment, but we’ll see if anything happens with that. The Masters is a major opportunity for me as not only do I get a placement on the course, but I shadow real life counselling sessions, which will help me pick up the skills I can’t learn in a seminar room or a lecture theatre. I have a long road ahead of me to get there, but I know once I am there, all the hard work will have paid of for me, and also for my fellow students in whatever they’re pursuing.

Best of luck Jess! Keep us all posted 🙂




The endless possibilities of Psychology…

To describe the BPS North West of England Branch Conference (co-hosted with Psychology at Salford) in three words would be; insightful, empowering, thought provoking, intelligent, educative and informative. Now I know that’s more than three words but you can’t sum up a day that covers social change, social psychology of parenting, insights from eye tracking, media representations of breast cancer survivorship and more, all in one sitting. A day that covered a spectrum of subjects, the intake of information was explosive. We journeyed together through contemporary Psychology and how a science that has such a broad history is being applied and redefined in the 21st Century.

I believe that the day had something that would interest everyone but what really caught my attention were the talks given by Dr Abigail Locke (University of Huddersfield), Dr Adam Galpin and Cathy Ure.

We ventured through the world of parenthood with Dr Abigail Locke (University of Huddersfield) who discussed ‘The Social Psychology of Parenthood’ .Parenting is something many of our students, myself included, can relate to. We are constantly bombarded with information on the latest representations of how the perfect mother should parent. In her talk, Dr Locke explored the social representations of mothers and how over time, the social norm of what being a mother consists of has changed. For example how the working mother is now considered a normality and how parenting guides and books relating to parenthood had accompanied that change. How stay at home fathers are now more common, how they are perceived and how they perceive themselves. I found myself becoming immersed in the talk, mentally ticking the list of parenting styles I agreed and disagreed with, and the latest fad that was all the rage. Saying to myself ‘well my partner had to go back to work, he earned three times as much as i did”. I think it’s always a positive side effect of a good talk if you become involved in their contents.

Dr Adam Galpin (University of Salford) gave an insightful (excuse the pun!) talk on how we take information using infrared light to track peoples eye movements. I may be slightly biased as I actually had the pleasure of taking part in an eye-tracking study in my first week at Salford. It could also be due to the fact I studied media and advertising in further education which drew me in. Nevertheless I became engrossed as Dr Galpin talked over how this information is taken and evaluated so that we can then understand what information the viewer is taking in. Speaking from both sides of the study, it was really interesting to compare what the participant (myself) experienced, and what information was considered and assessed. I would encourage anyone to participate in such research if the opportunity presents itself.

On a subject that affects many people – , Cathy Ure (University of Salford) discussed her research on the media representations of breast cancer survivorship . We discovered how the media depicts breast cancer survivorship and how we interpret survivorship. Cathy Ure talked about ‘the spiral of silence’ theory, the idea that the media dominate representations of survival, so that alternative views and experiences will not be articulated, how ‘survivors’ may feel in fear of being rejected and how they tend to conform with the majority representations. In Lorna Paterson’s recent L4 lecture on Social Groups, we were introduced to this very same theory of social influence and the exercise of social power by a person or group to change the attitudes or behaviours of others in a particular direction (Cialdini & Goldstein, 2004). This drew me in, not just as a subject matter close to my heart, but also how the basic fundamentals I am learning about in class, can be applied and understood in the ‘real’ world.

Another presentation that wasn’t initially on my agenda, but I found interesting nonetheless, had to be Sharon Coen’s (University of Salford) talk on how we can utilise the growth of social media and incorporate our knowledge of psychology to learn, and consolidate this information to instigate social change. She gave a personal account of how she used social media to create a platform for a neutral ground of speech for friends from Palestine and Israel in their time of current conflict. I found this really empowering, to see how we can use social media for good in the world.

Now if what I’ve discussed doesn’t set your intellectual tastebuds tingling then rest assured there would have been something to suit you elsewhere during the day. One thing I did find disheartening was the low attendance at the conference on the day. Maybe more advertising and student involvement would help for next year’s conference? The peel hall is a beautiful setting and the content for the day of a vast spectrum, but the numbers didn’t start of as high as one would have hoped, and began to dwindle towards the end of the day. I’m not sure the reason for this? The conference held up its side of the deal, even a free lunch (which was lovely by the way). Is there a reason you were a no show? Or if you decided to leave early, why? If there was a reason you left, tell us, so we can improve and make future events more enjoyable.
What I did notice and thought this was a really inventive idea and hope to see repeated again at next years conference, was the we had invited some perspective A level students considering Psychology as their next step. From what i gather, A level and university level psychology differ significantly and these types of events could help bridge the gap. And, if I had one other suggestion, it would be that in parts, the momentum lacked slightly and lost its ‘umph’, to retain the visitors attention I would suggest the possibility of more interaction, within the presentations themselves and during the course of the day.

So what did i take away from today? The answer…a lot! When I arrived this morning I expected to sit through talks that felt beyond me, discussing subjects I didn’t fully understand, and feeling almost out of my depth.What I found was that even though I’m new to psychology, having only been here at Salford for 5 weeks, the topics discussed were relatable. I understood their value and I related to them. More than that, I understood why the speakers were in front of me presenting their work. Because psychology matters and it is relevant, and makes a difference to how we view and participate in our world. Attending the conference opened my eyes to how the possibilities in psychology are endless. The horizon of social issues available to investigate and those that are still to be uncovered is mind-blowing. It excited me, it ignited a need to find out more and I can’t wait to get started.

To find out more or to register for the next event in our Free Seminar Series follow the link:

employability engaging people events learning volunteering work experience

Volunteering, an idea worth spreading

By Nikki Street and Tom Mayers

nikki tom
Here’s the obligatory #selfie of us on the day!

The SalfordPsych Engagement Team asked if I (Nikki) could write a blog after spotting some photos of me volunteering at TEDxSalford this year. I of course said yes, who wouldn’t want to write a blog (?!) but immediately invited my friend Tom on board.  Whilst I can take some credit (and the benefits) for volunteering on the day, Tom has been a part of the TEDxSalford team and blogging for them for over 2 years now. We have written this post together to explore our different experiences and highlights from the day.

Two years ago, we were delegates at TEDxSalford 2012 and found the whole thing so inspirational. We are both Psychology graduates and even though our research interests are pretty different, we both enjoy the TED events. Another similarity between us is that we volunteered for different organizations during our undergraduate Psychology studies. I volunteered and continue to volunteer at the Samaritan’s offering emotional support to people struggling to cope and training for new volunteers. Tom volunteered at the Manchester probation service and is now working for the organisation full time in a job he loves.

You might have heard of TED before, or watched hours of these amazing lectures online. The pretense is to give an 18 minute talk with the aim to inspire. TEDxSalford is a locally organized event bringing people together in Salford to share their work and ideas. Mishal Saeed is the Curator and Licensee for TEDxSalford and also a previous President of the University of Salford Student Union. TEDxSalford is now the largest independent TEDx organization in the UK.


What was our best part of TEDxSalford this year?

Nikki – A noble peace prize-winner, a teenage nuclear scientist and a psychoanalyst walk into the Lowry…I know this sounds like the start to a very strange joke but this is the reason why I loved volunteering for TEDxSalford so much. The event brings together so many different people from different backgrounds. Being part of the team meant I met many of the speakers, which really highlighted how they are just ordinary people doing extraordinary things – their stories show the goodness in the world!

I can’t pick one talk that I enjoyed the most, but my 3 favourite were:

  1. Tawakkol Karmen, the Noble Peace Prize winner for her peaceful protests and non-violent attempts towards peace building and women’s rights in Yemen. Listening to her talk and hearing (and being part of) the longest standing ovation on TEDxSalford record gave me goose pimples. She is an inspiration human being. Fact.
  2. I heard, from the side of stage, Sophia Wallace speaking about her artwork ‘Cliteracy’. Once I got over the repeated taboo word ‘clit’, a word that, according to Sophia, has become needlessly taboo I listened to the message. Whilst male sexuality is often discussed and widely acknowledged, female sexuality is often limited to menstruation and reproduction. We need to rethink women’s sexuality, particularly in sex education. Vagina literally means sword holder and Sophia’s artwork tries to ask questions about this ingrained inequality in our society.
  3. Lucy Hawking was also a highlight, she tries to break down the barriers of communication and science using children’s stories to engage and identify with children living lives not represented in ‘standard’ family dynamics. Although I only managed to catch the end of her talk, it was definitely in my top 3 of the day!


Robin Ince Tom
Robin Ince- Comedian, Actor & Writer with Tom

Tom- I am a big fan of Robin Ince. Both Nikki and I have been to see him twice at the Lowry theatre over the years and we both listen to his BBC Radio 4 show with Professor Brian Cox “The Infinite Monkey Cage”. I mithered, badgered and queried until I was allocated as Ince’s speaker liaison for the day. I was responsible for making his TEDxSalford experience as comfortable and as easy as possible. It was great to converse with him on a wide variety of subjects. Even more amazing was that Ince needed to get to Piccadilly station quickly after his talk and the best scenario was for me to take him in my car. Imagine having your hero in the front seat of your car! As amazing as the experience was, it was also one of dread as I didn’t really know how to get to the station! I had to “be cool”, as if this was a normal experience. I had to actively listen to what Ince was saying and respond accordingly, read the road signs, try not to crash and get to the destination in one piece. Needless to say, we did get there, on time and in one piece. Who says men can’t multitask?


What was our take away from the experience?

Nikki- Working on the ticketing team throughout the day, we saw pretty much everyone attending the event. The mix of attendees astounded me with parents, children, students, and all the people in between. TED brings together a range of people and I believe that is the beauty of the event. My main takeaway of the day was how spreading ideas about science in different ways is particularly important (children, art & individual stories). I believe in the power of interdisciplinary collaborations in science and this is where some of the best work happens. Jack Sim a.k.a. ‘Mr. Toilet’ in his 18 min slot reflected on his rationale for trying to make a difference by highlighting the importance of proper sanitation in a society. Jack Sim worked out on average how many days he had to live and wanted to do something useful with the rest of his days. Following this, I found myself working out my average days left in my life. In the UK life expectancy for women is 82.3 years and 78.2 years for men- on this logic I have 20,160 days left to live and the day made me determined to fill them with meeting my own goals and strive to help others.

Tom- Besides taking away the memories of meeting interesting people such as Lucy Hawking, Jack Sim and Robin Ince, one of the positive impacts of being involved with TEDxSalford is the skills that the opportunity develops. Throughout my two year experience as a volunteer, I have developed many skills and experiences such as: writing articles, editing, writing code, marketing, event management, and communicating with high profile individuals to name a few. The above skills and experiences are things that I probably wouldn’t be able to develop in a normal full-time role, perhaps because TEDx isn’t a normal voluntary opportunity. But it is one I would actively encourage someone to get involved with.


Everybody has his/her own TED talk- what would you say?

Nikki- I don’t think anyone has seen or been to a TED event and not considered what they would say in 18 minutes to inspire. My research based in empirical aesthetics has ties with many areas of psychology including perception, cognition and environmental psychology. Whilst investigating the power of art and beauty was once a main domain of psychologists but has fallen out of favour partly because of the associated experimental difficulty. I believe the Arts and Science should be reunited to engage and inspire others and change the stuffy perception of science into the more accessible field of Art. I am particularly interested in using art as science communication to make research accessible to everyone.

Tom-Of course, if something disastrous happened within TEDxSalford and as a matter of last resort the curators said to me “Tom, you’re going to have to talk for 10 minutes, we’re desperate!”. There is a lot I could probably talk about, although, I am very passionate about education and the concept of intelligence. As a psychology student at university, I became interested and passionate about the concept of intelligence, especially in relation to how creativity plays a role. Personally, I believe that creativity is equally important to the role of intelligence as academic abilities like mathematics. Without creativity, our knowledge is useless as we would not know how to use it constructively or think in abstract ways. Behind every great human achievement whether it is the wheel, pyramids, medicine or technology, creativity worked hand in hand with classical characteristics associated with intelligence. At university, I was attracted to reading around Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences and believe that creativity has a seat at the table of intelligence. This interest also helped shape my first ever article for TEDxSalford which can be found here.


nikki volunteerInspired to become a TEDxSalford volunteer?

Driving home pumped and full of inspiration, we can’t highlight enough the enjoyment of our day volunteering at TEDxSalford.  It really was a festival of the mind and trying to turn off that inspiration to get to sleep was a challenge. Volunteering at TEDxSalford certainly fits the brief and spirit of the event “ideas worth spreading”.

If you think volunteering at TEDxSalford is something you might be interested in, keep an eye on the website or follow on twitter (@TEDxSalford) for updates. If you are thinking about volunteering in any area we would urge you to go for it! The benefits and experiences gained in volunteering such as meeting people you would never encounter, building your confidence and career prospects in the future can’t be underestimated!

Our twitter names…








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:


“Thoughts on Psychology at Salford’s new seminar series “Applying Psychology in the 21st Century”

It is rare these days that we get something for nothing. As level 4 students will know from John Allbutt’s recent Lecture on Affiliation, attraction and love, some people are motivated on a cost/reward basis. Well, what costs nothing, and then rewards you with an insightful view of applying psychology? The first in our ‘Free Seminar Series on Applying Psychology in the 21st century’ that is what.

The series kicked off with Sam Grogan (Researcher and Dean of students), offering a penetrating view of ‘absorption’ for the performer resulting in the potential of them encountering ‘optimal experience’. Some Level 4 students were quoted as being ‘mind blown’ and others ‘mindful’. The general feedback was that the experience was a great insight into what we may expect to see in the future of contemporary Psychology. The presentation engaged the viewer, and kept your attention causing participation and development in your own ideas and opinions.

Theories that explained how performers become lost in the performance they are giving, are no longer just the performer but merged with the objects they are encountering which in turn offers the possibility of ‘optimal experience” for the performer, how this can be effected by repetition, causing the performer to loosen their ‘grip’ and how these methodologies can be considered in other fields were just some of what was covered. These theories were reinforced by memorable narrative quotes from such books as ‘winnie the pooh’; this may sound odd, but during the presentation made perfect sense.

The session ended with an invitation to take part in a practical focus session allowing the audience to become ’absorbed’ through techniques used within Grogan’s own practical work. By focussing on only music and allowing the subconscious to take the lead on our physical movement creating movement in its own way: dance.

I would definitely recommend, if you haven’t already, that you see for yourself. You may not follow the narrative 100% but you will understand the general theme of what it being presented and this can only lead to an increase our knowledge and help us become more independent in our thoughts and ideas in psychology. It is not going to cost anything other than your time for what could be an invaluable session. I have registered for the next one, have you?

Heres how;

Also, If you would like to take a look at the presentation by Sam Grogan you can do so here;




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_ .


applied psychology graduate stories learning Level 6 psychology

Thinking like an educator! Educational Psychology in the final year of undergraduate studies

For the Educational Psychology module in the final year of our undergraduate programmes, students are required to think like an educator and produce a seminar proposal for teachers on a selected topic from the field of Educational Psychology. Last year we decided to showcase students’ work for the module (see here). The post was very popular so we’ve decided to do it again.

Carmen-Florentina Ionita

Carmen-Florentina Ionita, BSc (Hons) Psychology graduate (and winner of  Best Psychology Student 2014), developed a seminar proposal for teachers on the socio-emotional development of gifted and talented children. Carmen is now studying her MSc in Neuroimaging for Clinical and Cognitive Neurosciences at the University of Manchester and kindly agreed for her Educational Psychology work to be showcased on our blog (see below).

Educational Psychology can be “…loosely defined here as the application of psychological theories, research and techniques to the educational development of young people in the context of the home, school and community” Holliman (2013, p. xxii).  More broadly, educational psychology also considers how people of all ages learn, how teaching and learning practice can be improved, whether different people should be taught differently, and how learning can transform the person and impact upon their lives.  The Educational Psychology module assignment focuses on the application of theory to teaching practice.

Happy reading!

Educational Psychology Assignment by Carmen-Florentina Ionita from SalfordPsych

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



Mind Bending Books: Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Mind Bending Books
“It is what you read when you don’t have to
that determines what you will be when you can’t help it”
Oscar Wilde
Welcome to a new series about those books that change the way we think for ever, those books you try to persuade your friends to read, and whose ideas come back to you in the night when you can’t sleep. Here at SalfordPsych we are offering you a captive audience of like-minded students and staff with whom to share your treasures…
Zen book
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M Pirsig (1974)
ISBN 0-688-00230-7 (418pp)
Zen’ is a modern classic. It is the fictional (but highly autobiographical) account of a father and son’s road trip across the USA in the 1960s. The manuscript was rejected by a record breaking 121 publishers before going on to sell over 5m copies worldwide.
This book will not teach you Zen Buddhist practice, or how to keep your motorbike on the road. It is actually a philosophical riff on Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality. This includes discussion of epistemology and the philosophy of science and logic. The title refers to an extended metaphor relating mechanical understanding to rational analysis and a Classical outlook on life (as opposed to a Romantic, gestalt one). The journey is towards reconciliation of the dichotomy between the two ‘ways of being’.
‘Quality’ is a Big Idea. So big, that the narrator’s pursuit of it drove him insane. Interspersed with hard-core rational philosophy is a challenging , personal and highly intelligent account of the experience and treatment of mania, disassociation, ECT, and of societal responses to mental illness. The book also tackles the worst fear of many a sufferer –  the horrific suspicion that you have passed your condition on to your children.
This book changed the way I think about Quality, and about the fine line between genius and madness. When Big Ideas challenge established authority, the exponent can be marginalised. Plato, Darwin, Freud and Pirsig battled on with perseverance and resilience to pass their Big Ideas on to us so that we might use them to have Big Ideas of our own.
Although more philosophy than psychology, this book will be of interest to anyone interested in the ingredients of ‘peace of mind’, in the philosophy of science, or in experiences of mental illness.
Ease of Reading: 2 (where 5 is pool-side, and 1 is alone in silence)
Health Warning: take regular fresh air breaks; don’t read it all in one go! Depressing but worth it.
Review by Sophie (@gluepotgluepot) Level 4 Psych & Counselling
Which book changed your thinking?
To submit a review, please email it to and keep it within these guidelines:
  • 350 words or fewer
  • Include title, author, ISBN
  • Include how/why it changed your life and why you think SalfordPsych readers will like it
  • Rate it on the ease of reading scale (where 5 is light and fluffy for reading on the beach or by the pool, and 1 is difficult and gives you a headache)
  • Include your name, course and level of study.
Have you read this book? Tell us what you thought of it in the Comments section below…

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 



Salford psychology students create newspaper articles about the brain and behaviour

By Lynne Marrow 

Last year we published two “newspaper style” articles, assignments submitted for the Brain and Behaviour module, here on the Psychology blog. The assignment allows final year students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to translate a complex set of ideas into a readily understandable form aimed at the non-specialist reader. Students are also encouraged to be creative in the presentation of their work. In 2013, the articles, by Joanne Pritchard (Foetal Alcohol Syndrome: the Ladette Legacy?) and Clayton Clough (Are We Biologically Predisposed To Believe In God) were well received and great fun to read. This year, we have chosen to publish two more: Bankers Behaving Badly, by Robert Smith, investigates gender differences in the risk taking behaviours of the men and women who run our financial institutions, whilst The Jewels of Fatherhood, by Ethar Bashir, considers whether testicle size and testosterone affect male parenting behaviours. These two very different articles address interesting and important topics within psychology and we hope you enjoy reading them. Both articles are featured below…read all about it!


Brain and behaviour newspaper article: Robert Smith from SalfordPsych

Brain and behaviour newspaper article: Ethar Bashir from SalfordPsych