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Viva Success

We will update this page with Viva successes as they happen!

Psychology Graduations

Photos and updates from our latest graduation ceremonies.

Barbara and Ethan attended the BPS Division of Occupational Annual Conference

July 1st, 2020

by Barbra Piotrowska and Ethan Shapiro

In January 2020 Barbara and Ethan attended the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology Annual Conference. The conference was held in a picturesque market town Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare’s place of birth. The conference’s theme this year was ‘The Practice of Science: Occupational Psychologists at Work’ and indeed showcased a range of interesting talks, papers and seminars. Here are some of Barbara’s personal highlights from the conference.

First highlight was a full seminar devoted to race pay gap, that was also extended by the discussion on gender pay gap. The seminar was kicked off by Prof. Binna Kandola who started with a historical overview showing how the ‘importance’ of ethnicity in job market became more pronounced in 15th century and gave examples of some of the main infamous contributors to this shift. One particularly memorable was Dr Samuel Morton, who came up with the idea of measuring people’s skulls to gauge their level of intellect. He found that the English – who were white – had the biggest brains…it should not come as a surprise that the data turned out to be fabricated! Next, Dr David Biggs gave a talk on the ethnicity differences in temporary versus permanent jobs. Dr Nic Hammarling further gave a fascinating, yet shocking and eye opening, talk about gender pay gap (just to quote some statistics… 78% of UK companies across different sectors are shown to pay men more…). She made a strong case for the necessity of tackling the gender pay gap in order the tackle the race gap. The last, but definitely not least, presentation was given by Dr Ryan Lewis who conducted qualitative interviews with black men on their work experiences. The quotes he presented were truly heart-breaking and gave an almost visceral insight into the participants’ experiences. Interestingly, it resonated with some of Barbara’s experiences at her previous workplace, which made her think about the issues of nationality on top of those of race.

The second worth highlighting talk was a keynote delivered by Prof. Brian Nosek from the University of Virginia. Some of the readers may be familiar with prof. Nosek as he is a well-known advocate for open science movement (you can access, of course, his presentation slides here). Prof. Nosek gave a very compelling talk on the importance of pre-registering studies to reduce publication bias, as well as he encouraged researchers to share their data and research materials. He also gave some insights into how we can change our research culture and encourage more researchers to follow this path. For those interested, you will find more information here.

The last highlight was a keynote given by Prof. Frederik Anseel who is a feedback researcher. Prof. Anseel gave an inspired and thought-provoking talk on performance management systems and the role of feedback – looking at the a range of evidence from decades of research it seems that ….yghm…none of these actually work! The talk very much resonated with the theme of this conference as evidenced how small the overlap between research findings and practice often is. There is, however, more applied research to come in this area – so watch this space!

We are running a new series about what our Psychology Alumni have been up to since graduating!

June 17th, 2020

Psychology Alumni of Edinburgh Napier, we would like to run a series about what you have been up to since graduating! We would like to feature a whole bunch of you, if you would like to be part of this, please email n.fisher@napier.ac.uk. Here you can read about our first feature in the series Catriona Havard. We look forward to hearing from you!

Abigail Cunningham awarded prestigious Carnegie Scholarship for PhD studies!

June 1st, 2020

Huge congratulations to Abigail Cunningham and her supervisory team Dr Liz Aston, Dr Grant Jeffrey and Dr Taulant Guma. Abigail has been awarded a highly competitive Carnegie Trust PhD scholarship award, the first to a student of Edinburgh Napier University! Abigail’s project will explore Scottish-Pakistani’s experiences of ‘policing’ in everyday life including institutional, community, and self-policing. Due to the highly interdisciplinary nature of the PhD, her supervisory team stem from a breadth of disciplines with expertise in criminology and policing, critical community psychology, and human geography and migration. Abigail is already well known as a valued member of our school having worked on modules in Social Sciences and Psychology. We wish her all the best for a great start to her PhD studies this coming Autumn. Congratulations Abigail!

The team welcomes three new staff members!

May 13th, 2020

We are delighted to welcome three new staff members to our team this semester. Dr Ethan Shapiro joined us in January as a lecturer and he specialises in Occupational and Organisational Psychology. Dr Nina Fisher joined us in March as an associate lecturer and her main research area lies in Music Psychology. Finally, Dr Marina Wimmer just recently joined us in April as an associate professor, Marina specialises in Developmental Psychology. They (and all of us!) look forward to hopefully seeing you soon!

Amanda Diserholt discusses her PhD Research on Fatigue

May 7th, 2020

Our very own PhD student, Amanda Diserholt was interviewed on the podcast ‘Rendering Unconscious’ about her PhD research on fatigue and academic interests. ‘Rendering Unconscious’ is a podcast hosted by psychoanalyst Dr Vanessa Sinclair who interviews people from a range of backgrounds (including psychoanalysts and psychologists) about their own expertise, world events, culture and more.

You can listen to Amanda here: Rendering Unconscious: Amanda Diserholt: Lacanian Scholar on Fatigue (Audio)

Alternatively, you can watch the interview here: Rendering Unconscious: Amanda Diserholt: Lacanian Scholar on Fatigue (Video)

Postgraduate Research Conference

May 24th, 2018, by Ben Cotterill

At the PGR 2018 Conference, I presented a PechaKucha presentation (20 slides, each for 20 seconds) on my area of research – how temperament and interviewing techniques affect children as eyewitnesses. As I only started my PhD in February, my presentation also covered my MSc project from last year. My MSc project investigated whether shyer children are more suggestible to leading questions, so this allowed me to share some results while also explaining how I plan on building from those findings in regards to my PhD project. The PechaKucha method of presenting was completely new to me and it was certainly challenging to summarise the literature and explain my project in such a short amount of time, but it was also interesting learning a new way of presenting. Even more interesting was listening to the wide range of different studies that occur in the school; it was a great chance to get to know the SAS team better, as well as their research.

Psychology of Creativity Conference, May 2017

May 20th, 2017, by Lindsey Carruthers

With my collaborators at the University of Buckingham, I organised the first annual Psychology of Creativity conference, held here at Edinburgh Napier University, on May 17th 2017. We had over 70 attendees, from 26 difference institutions across the UK. Our keynote speaker even flew all the way from Bologna, Italy, to attend! Click here to see the website, which has been updated with feedback, photos, and reviews of the successful event.

Research Internships at Edinburgh Napier: Heather Dunnachie

Summer 2016
My Summer Internship Experience with the 3D and 4D Face Perception Lab

Summer internships provide all levels of students with the priceless opportunity to work for a short period of time in research fields relating to their degree subject.  This is a brief account of my experience working as a student intern within the 3D and 4D Face Perception Psychology Lab at Edinburgh Napier University.

As a 4th year undergraduate student being able to find paid work that relates to your degree course can be extremely difficult, so when offered the opportunity to take part in real life research I jumped at the chance.  From the start of the application process I was able to gain a variety of experience from practicing filling out application forms to additional experience of being interviewed.  After being offered the internship place I was ecstatic, I couldn’t believe I had been given the chance to aid real life research!  I did learn very quickly that research always comes with its difficulties and challenges along with its rewards.

To begin with the 3D and 4D photographing equipment that was provided by DI4D was complicated to work with.  There were 9 individual cameras set up as 3 different pods, each pod was linked to its own individual computer (see images below), this meant that when an image sequence was captured the data from 3 of the cameras (or one pod) was sent to a separate computer.  After having the sequence captured it had to be transferred to a shared storage drive in order for the image to be built up into its 3D and 4D form.  Constructing the un-edited raw 3D/4D images was very time consuming, however working as part of a team with the Research Assistant was very helpful for speeding up this process.  I think that for me, communicating and coordinating with other members of staff was the most important skill that I gained from this experience, especially when you have to focus and adjust 9 different cameras before collecting the data.

Some other challenges I encountered was working in a real life lab setting, as an undergraduate student I had previously only conducted research for small scale reports as part of coursework within a group.  In addition to this adapting research ethics forms and creating a lab protocol was a new experience for me, however again being able to work as a team with the Research Assistant these challenges were overcome rapidly.

One of my favourite parts of the internship was participant recruitment.  With all the advancements that participant recruitment has made over the years with using the internet you have to get very creative for coming up with new ways to recruit.  The flexibility that comes with research allowed me to spend time in and out of the lab looking at new ways to recruit.  As well as recruiting participants, engaging and meeting new people was enjoyable, you never knew who you might end up speaking to the next day.

Overall despite a few challenges the internship experience for me was incredible, I cannot thank everyone who helped me and gave me this opportunity enough.  The practical skills I have harvested from this experience will be put to good use as I enter my final year in my undergraduate program.  If anyone reading this is contemplating applying for any internship positions then I would highly encourage them to do so, it is definitely something you won’t regret!

Heather Dunnachie

Research Internships at Edinburgh Napier: Delara Allahverdi

lee's pliotposter (2)Summer 2016

From the 9th May to the 24th June 2016 I worked as a summer research intern in the Psychology department alongside Dr Rory MacLeanDr Jennifer Murray and Lee Curley on a project in juror decision making. Throughout my undergraduate degree I had become really interested in decision science and knew it was the area I hoped to have a career in, so I was really eager to start working on this project.

The project itself investigated the process and efficacy of decision-making strategies used by jurors, which involved presenting participants with examples of evidence from mock trials and asking them to assess likelihood of guilt on a continuum. My role was to primarily collect all of the data required (which was done through a questionnaire format) and analyse it. At first data collection did pose as a challenge as university campuses were mostly empty with students starting their summer holidays. However, luckily, friends and family were extremely keen to take part! Data analysis ran smoothly with the results showing what was predicted.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a summer research intern and would highly recommend applying to all students. Having now attended graduate interviews, recruiters have been very interested in my internship and enthusiastic to hear more about it. Being in a working environment and teammates with lecturers that have taught you for the past 4 years was a great experience, and one that I will certainly not be forgetting in a hurry. As I now start my graduate job in market research, the research and statistical skills I gained through this internship will be greatly beneficial.

Research Internships at Edinburgh Napier: Laura Nedel Duarte

Summer 2016

I have recently completed a seven-week research internship with the Psychology Subject Group. The study looked into what people focus on when assessing the risk of suicide of fictitious case studies. My role involved designing the material used in the study, which consisted of producing three vignettes presenting three different levels of risk of suicide (high, moderate, and low), developing a risk assessment questionnaire for each vignette and interviewing participants afterwards to find out how they evaluated and decided on the risk of suicide of the fictitious patients. I was also responsible for recruiting participants and collecting data through the use of an eye tracking device (fixations and pupil dilation).

This internship gave me an opportunity to learn how to operate two different eye-tracking devices and interpret the data recorded by these devices. I have never had the chance to operate an eye tracker before, therefore, I felt a little bit insecure in the beginning of the study. Nevertheless, now that I feel confident in using this device, I am considering using it for my dissertation this year.

This experience has increased even more my passion for psychological research. I am fascinated about human body, mind and their interaction; hence it was very gratifying studying eye movement and pupil dilation to investigate people’s cognitive processes. On a more personal level, being able to learn more about suicide, the topic studied, meant a lot to me as I have lost loved ones this way.

The internship allowed me to put the knowledge I have learned in class into practice. It helped me improve my organisational, communication and research skills. It provided me an exceptional opportunity to gain real work experience, such as working in a team with other researchers and learning how to conduct a study on a very sensitive topic.

All these benefits of undertaking this internship could have not be gained inside a classroom.

The internship was an extremely beneficial and valuable experience. I am deeply grateful for being offered with this opportunity. Dr Jennifer Murray, Lindsey Carruthers, and Dr Zoё Chouliara made my first experience as a research intern very special and inspiring; they were all very supportive. I hope to have more opportunities like this one in the near future.

Laura Nedel Duarte: 4th year Psychology student at Edinburgh Napier University

hannah-wearing-eye-tracker

A participant wearing the eye-tracker (published with permission)

 

Conference Experience Series: Summer 2016

Giving the benefit of the doubt: The role of vulnerability in the perception of Dark Triad behaviours

Kai Li's Paper

June 9, 2016, by Kai Li Chung

Described as a set of personality traits that are socially aversive, the Dark Triad – psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavallianism – is becoming a research focus within personality psychology.  Even at subclinical levels, these dark personalities are associated with significant social, emotional, financial, and sometimes even physical harm.

Although the Dark Triad underlies a host of detrimental behaviours such as exploitation, control, and deception, these traits have been associated with desirable traits, including charisma and boldness.  It has been argued that people with dark personalities are able to exert control over others because humans have psychological needs for authority and belonging.  These needs can easily be exploited, putting some people at risk of victimisation by social predators.  People develop an inclination for undesirable behaviours under circumstances that encourage its practice, suggesting that there is a two-way relationship between the Dark Triad person and the person on the receiving end of their behaviour.

With this in mind, a study was conducted by Kai Li Chung and Dr Kathy Charles aimed to determine the characteristics of people who ‘enable’ people with dark personalities (e.g. through tolerating unpleasant behaviours, not challenging unethical conduct, etc.).  The Vulnerability Scale was developed to capture the traits of individuals who have a tendency to fall victim to social manipulators.  Vignettes were used to elicit participants’ perceptions of Dark Triad behaviours.

The findings of the study revealed that people who were more vulnerable were significantly more agreeable and neurotic.  Those who had higher vulnerability scores also tended to be significantly less extraverted and conscientious.  The vignette-based study found significant differences in the response styles between high and low vulnerability groups.  People who were less vulnerable tended to be more assertive in expressing their opinions.  In contrast, vulnerable people had a milder response style, whereby their responses hovered around the neutral option.  It appears that vulnerable individuals see grey areas in Dark Triad behaviours, whereas less vulnerable people perceive more readily that people with dark personalities are malevolent.

One main limitation of the study, however, is the validation of the vignettes.  Therefore, an avenue of research is to compare the findings found using these vignettes to findings from other objective measures in order to evaluate internal consistency.

For research opportunities or further information, please get in touch with the corresponding author at K.Chung@napier.ac.uk.

The article can be accessed using this link until July 28th, 2016: http://authors.elsevier.com/a/1TAZhheKdUxrA

Super-Recogniser Conference

May 30, 2016, by Faye Skelton

SuperRecogniserConf-45Super-Recognisers are a rare group of people who can remember and match huge numbers of different faces. Psychologists are increasingly working with police forces to help develop and understand this ability and the role it can play in fighting crime.

On 27th and 28th May 2016, Dr Faye Skelton (Edinburgh Napier University) and Dr Hayley Ness (The Open University) joined forces to host a Super-Recogniser workshop and conference. This event brought together psychologists, legal experts, police authorities and other invited specialists for presentation, discussion and networking around the cutting edge of this newly forming field.

This public engagement event also contributed to increasing awareness of the Metropolitan Police’s Super-Recogniser Unit. This is a unique unit of officers dedicated to identification of offenders, who have had extraordinary success doing so from CCTV images. The event brought together officers from this unit and those from Police Scotland and the Police Scotland college at Tulliallan.

SuperRecogniserConf-17The pre-conference workshop, held at the Open University in Edinburgh, explored issues of expertise and expert evidence, presentations from Dr Martin Thirkettle and Dr Ailsa Strathie of The Open University, along with Prof. Jim Fraser (University of Strathclyde) and Dr Michael Bromby (Glasgow Caledonian University). Post-workshop discussions continued over dinner at Bonham’s, and a few whiskies at Teuchter’s!

The super-recogniser conference continued the following day at Edinburgh Napier University’s Craiglockhart campus. Theday saw presentations from the Metropolitan Police Super-Recogniser Unit, plus academic presentations on research with super-recognisers from Dr Josh Davis (University of Greenwich), Anna Bobak (Bournemouth University), with Dr Gini Harrison (The Open University) and Dr Hayley Ness presenting data from a collaborative project with Dr Faye Skelton. The day concluded with a panel discussion led by Prof. Jim Fraser and Dr Michael Bromby around issues of expertise and the provision and interrogation of expert evidence in Scottish courts.

The event hopes to lead to further collaborations between researchers and police authorities, and  implementation of some of the Super-Recogniser unit’s proactive practices across Scotland.

Thanks go to The Open University in Scotland and Edinburgh Napier University for providing financial and administrative support for this event and to Dr Jason Rutter for photography.

Dr Faye Skelton

Rory Wins Best Tutor Award!

Rory's awardRory and his awardMay 25, 2016

Well done to Rory MacLean, who has won the Best Tutor award for the School of Life, Sport, and Social Sciences!

Both Rory and Grant were shortlisted from our group for the award based on nominations from students, and they were invited to the Edinburgh Napier Student’s Association Excellence Awards at Craiglockhart campus. On winning, Rory said “I was very surprised! I was sure it would go to one of my fellow nominees”.

Congratulations Rory on your very well deserved award!

Book Launch: Ethics and Psychology by Dr Calum Neill

May 20, 2016

Neill reviewsNeill Front coverCalum Neill‘s brand new book is out NOW!

The official book launch takes please on June 2nd, and everyone is welcome. It takes place at The Cameo, Edinburgh, and is free to attend.

New Publication: The Role of Make-Believe in Foley

Digital Make Believe (2)

May 19, 2016, by Lindsey Carruthers

This month, my first book chapter has been published! It is called The Role of Make-Believe in Foley, and appears in Digital Make-Believeby Phil Turner and J. Tuomas Harviainen. It is based on a study I carried during a research internship with my colleagues at the Edinburgh Napier University School of Computing. My collaborator, Phil Turner, recognised a gap in the literature on the acts of pretending and make-believe in adulthood, compared to the vast amount of information on these behaviours during childhood. We therefore identified a vocation in which pretending is vital, namely Foley artistry, and interviewed 10 artists for their views on the matter.

The role of a Foley artist is fascinating. Did you know that the only sounds recorded on TV and Film sets are the voices of the actors? Every other sound you hear, footsteps, a glass being placed on the table, the sound of clothing, horse’s reigns, and even sounds of an animal chase in nature documentaries, are all added post-production (watch this to see Foley in action and this). The sound effects team take care of unrealistic or novel sounds (such as a dragon’s roar or a space ship) but a Foley artist adds every other sound you can ‘see’ in a scene. They do this by using props that sound the same as we, the audience, would expect them to sound. The most well-known example of this would be using two half coconuts to mimic the sound of horse shoes. Another example would be to rustle a plastic bag to make the noise of fire. The possibilities are truly endless, and the artists we interviewed spoke of the tricks of the trade, their creative process, the importance of acting in their role, and how physically challenging the job can be.

We found clear evidence that pretending is a behaviour that exists in adulthood, and is therefore not restricted to childhood. Further details can be found in the chapter.

This was my first experience of qualitative data collection, and I had previously been adverse to these methods due to my strong preference for quantitative techniques. However, the interview process was interesting, fun, and it was lovely to engage with the participants, and to learn about their intriguing careers. I probably got off lightly, as our analysis was exploratory, but I did enjoy the experience of using methods outwith my comfort zone.

I’d be happy to discuss this research with anyone who is interested.

Lindsey Carruthers

Does going for a drink after work with colleagues cause cliques?

May 16, 2016

Bridget Hanna (Occupational Psychologist and Lecturer in Work Psychology at Edinburgh Napier) discussed the issues surrounding alcohol at work with Stephen Jardine and guests on BBC Radio Scotland on Friday 13th May. You can listen to the discussions here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b060bln5.

An immersive learning experience like no other….

May 9, 2016, by Lindsey Carruthers

Last week, we were very lucky to have been invited to Police Scotland College, Tulliallan, for an immersive learning experience like no other….

Like a traditional school trip, staff and students from the Psychology, Criminology, and Forensic Biology programmes gathered on a coach to be taken to the beautiful Tulliallan campus. On arrival, we split in to four groups and were given an identity that would be ours for the rest of the day: Police Scotland, the Scottish Government, the UK Government, and the Military (and other services).

Before we started, we had no idea what to expect. We knew we were there for some ‘anti-terrorism’ training and a ‘live simulation’, which led many of us to believe we’d be running around or hiding in cupboards! However we had received an email from organiser Alex McIntyre, requesting that we wear business dress…how would I be able to run and hide in heels? This left us confused, nervous, and a little bit scared! I opted for comfortable flat shoes…just in case.

In reality, the experience was about the strategies and focus of each of the groups, and the activities were based in the Hydra Suite, where each group was provided with a room that was monitored from the control room by Police Scotland staff. The Hydra Immersive Learning System was developed by Professor Jonathan Crego of the Hydra Foundation. The systems helps Police Scotland look at all things regarded as a Critical Incident (http://www.hydrafoundation.org).

Within our rooms, we were fed information about a simulated (pretend) major incident in a fictitious town*. Our task throughout the day was to work in our groups in order to form priorities, ask questions, and to make decisions based on both the information available and our given roles. We even had to deal with the ‘media’, with someone from each group being interviewed on camera. I was in the Scottish Government group, and some of our main concerns were the safety of the public, reducing panic, and managing the media. We had frequent plenary sessions where all of the groups came together, and the responses were thoroughly discussed with the Police Scotland training staff.

The staff of Tulliallan were fantastic (as shown by their response to the #runningmanchallenge). Their superior knowledge, kind manner, and humour made the day extremely interesting and enjoyable. We all learnt a great deal about the responsibilities of each group in reaction to an attack, and gained an appreciation of how complex yet efficient an emergency response can be. What we experienced was a tiny snippet of what the Hydra Immersive Learning Suite can provide, but we all left with an understanding of how valuable a training method it is.

We hope to maintain and build our ties with the staff at Police Scotland, Tulliallan, and thank them very much for having us.

*Details have been purposely vague throughout this piece – its top secret!

Lindsey Carruthers

Postgraduate FOrensic Psychology and CriminOlogy Research Network (PoPCoRN)

April 29, 2016, by Lee Curley

Popcorn heading

Popcorn all speakers

The Popcorn Team (left to right): Liam Ralph (ENU), Katy Proctor (Glasgow Caledonian), Karen Richmond (Strathclyde), Amy Humphrey (Dundee), Lee Curley (ENU), Claire Taylor (Abertay), and Rebecca Foster (Glasgow).

On the 26th of April 2016, I helped to organise the first Postgraduate Forensic Psychology and Criminology Research Network seminar series. I was also a co-founder of the event alongside Dr Kathy Charles, Dr Alex McIntyre, and Liam Ralph. The first seminar series was a huge success.

The day started off with myself talking about the decision making strategies of jurors within the Scottish legal system. I got a good response, and was asked some excellent questions. I am always surprised how much people are interested in the work I do, it really makes the long days slogging at statistics worth it. Once I had finished speaking, I was followed by Karen Richmond from the University of Strathclyde. She gave an excellent and insightful talk, which was titled “Maintaining the Standards of Forensic DNA Evidence: A Comparative Study”. Her talk was very thought provoking and interesting for a young decision making scientist such as myself. I really do recommend young academics to attend one of Karen’s talks.

Karen’s talk was followed by Claire Taylor from Abertay University. Claire’s talk was titled “Multiple missing: an exploration of behavioural consistency in repeat missing adults”. Amy Humphrey from the University of Dundee then continued the missing person presentations with a talk called “Network Geography in Missing Person Investigations”.  Both these talks were very interesting. Before both Claire and Amy’s presentations, I did not know much about missing person research. However, after hearing them, I really want to find out more about their research, and look forward to their future talks. If any undergraduates at Edinburgh Napier are interested in missing person’s cases I strongly suggest you try to attend one of Claire or Amy’s talks.

Katy Proctor from Glasgow Caledonian University presented next, and her talk was titled “Stalking in Scotland – Investigating the Invisible”. Her research was very novel. I really enjoyed her talk, she coped with such a grim topic with enthusiasm and passion. Katy’s research was very interesting, and once again I do urge the undergraduates, and masters, students to attend her future talks. Rebecca Foster from the University of Glasgow followed Katy. Rebecca’s talk was titled “The Effects of Imprisonment on Families”. She finished the seminar series very well. She really did know her topic inside out, and answered questions amazingly. I was straight on google scholar trying to find out more about her area once she finished. I hope I can see Rebecca present again in the near future.

Overall, the day was a success, and Popcorn now has 12 representatives from a number of universities throughout Scotland. I genuinely hope this is the start of something big, and that potential collaborations of the mind can occur because of this research network. I also urge undergraduates, master’s students, and research students from other disciplines to set up similar research seminars and research networks. If nothing else, speaking about research you love to other people who are just as passionate is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon (also the pub afterwards is a plus).

If you are interested in joining the PoPCoRN Research Network, or for more information, please get in touch via the contact page, or email Popcorn.Scotland@gmail.com

Lee Curley

Masterclass Review by Amanda Diserholt

Amanda - Birkbeck

April 25, 2016, by Amanda Diserholt

When fellow Napier PhD student Michael Palkowski brought to my attention two upcoming Masterclasses run by the prominent philosopher Slavoj Žižek at Birkbeck, University of London, there was no doubt that getting down there for the action was nothing short of a great idea. Žižek, apparently considered ‘the Elvis of Critical Theory’, is the most famous contemporary Lacanian theorist – making him a pretty big deal in my field of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory (a theory originally developed by French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who built on the work of Freud and linguistics).

On the first day, we arrived at the university filled with excitement and anticipation. The talk was entitled ‘Surplus-Value, Surplus-Enjoyment, Surplus-Knowledge’ and held in a medium-sized lecture hall that quickly filled up with around 100 people. Having intensely read some of Žižek’s work and heavily cited him in my undergraduate dissertation, as well as having seen many of his thought-provoking Youtube videos, I was inevitably star-struck. It felt like going to a concert of a big shot celebrity.

Amanda - MasterclassŽižek started off the first class by saying how tired he was of making improvised jokes, apologising for what was to be a ‘serious’ talk. What closely followed must have been at least three spontaneous and hilarious jokes. Moving on, the talk shifted from a(n) (intense) philosophical and epistemological orientation to a more political terrain; from materialism vs. idealism and the notion of absolute truth to the economic concept of surplus-value and the function of capitalism. It was difficult at times to follow his arguments, as references were made to a concept or name I did not know much about (but also due to him pursuing multiple points simultaneously). However the following day during his second talk this difficulty somewhat dissolved as the territory was more familiar to me. The focus was on perspectives on nature and the interaction between humans and nature from the standpoint of different fields, but particularly within the field of Lacanian psychoanalysis wherein the conception of nature is not uniform.

Overall, what was most astonishing with Žižek’s two classes was the diversity of his knowledge and the number of fields that were pulled into his arguments: mathematics, physics, philosophy, linguistics, cosmology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, religion, ecology, bioethics and so on and so on. From this I realised the value of an interdisciplinary approach; looking outside your field to consider how things are and are not connected as a way of contextualising an area (and thus understanding it better), is not a bad idea.

So I have returned to Edinburgh with a thirst to find out more about certain notions, and a promise to commit myself to go to more public events when the opportunity presents itself. It is a powerful way to provoke your thoughts and instil an appetite for more knowledge. And if you happen to go with like-minded friends who ferociously debate with you over a pint of beer in the pub afterwards – even better.

If anyone is interested, the following is a link to Žižek talking about the refugee crisis on Channel 4 which was aired on the same day of the first Masterclass (the introducer started the second Masterclass by remarking some tweet responses to it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EYxqocgk9g

Podcast of the first masterclass: http://mariborchan.si/audio/slavoj-zizek/surplus-value-surplus-enjoyment-surplus-knowledge/

Podcast of the second masterclass: http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2016/04/slavoj-zizek-masterclass-2-surplus-value-surplus-enjoyment-surplus-knowledge/

Barbara Wins Conference Award

Barbara is in the centre here, with Lee and Kirstie on the left, and Kai Li and Jennifer on the right.

Barbara is in the centre here, with Lee and Kirstie on the left, and Kai Li and Jennifer on the right.

April 13, 2016

The PsyNaps group are all very proud of PhD student Barbara Piotrowska, who won the ‘Best Extended Oral Presentation’ award at the School of Life Sport, and Social Sciences Postgraduate Research Conference last week.

Barbara presented her research entitled ‘Visuo-motor integration in dyslexia: the development of a novel screening tool’. Barbara told us that “dyslexia is a continuum of difficulties in learning to read affecting around 10% of the British population. Early identification and intervention are crucial in both language remediation and in limiting the low self-esteem and behavioural problems often reported in unrecognised dyslexia”.

Congratulations Barbara! Very well done to all of other presenters from the PsyNaps group too, you were all fantastic!

Updates from Lee: Is the jury still out?

April 12, 2016, by Lee Curley

On the 5th of April 2016, I presented at the Research in Progress Seminar. This seminar series involves the speaker presenting their newest ideas and findings to the staff and postgraduate students in the School of Life, Sport, and Social Sciences (SLSSS). This was my first experience of presenting to the school, and I really enjoyed the it. I was well received by my peers, which has given me confidence for future presentations. I was also asked questions that I had not really thought about before. These questions allowed me to think about my research from another angle. This will help me when formulating future experiments and when discussing the current piece of research.

On the 6th of April 2016, I also presented a poster at the SLSSS Postgraduate Research Student Conference. This was not as engaging as the seminar, however it did allow the audience more time to ask me questions. What I have learned from my presentation experiences is that if you want questions, and ideas to think about, a poster may be better suited. However, if you are more interested in getting your point across and reaching as many individuals as possible a presentation, or seminar, may be better.

Both experiences have helped me gain valuable experience, and they both allowed me the chance to have some friendly discussions about my project. The conference was amazing. It was very well run, and I look forward to next year’s event. I would say, however, that I wish I had more opportunities to present as it is such a worthwhile experience for any young academic, and I wish I had started going to more conferences in my undergraduate years.

Lee at Seminar       Lee conference

Recent Research Funding Success!

April 11, 2016, by Jennifer Murray

The psychology research group have secured funding for four new projects which fit within our overarching research themes: Forensic Psychology and Applied Cognition. These projects will see five new research staff joining us between March and August 2016. Details of these projects are below.

Applied Cognition

Alex McIntyre and Faye Skelton received funding to set up and develop a 3D/4D lab. The lab will allow innovative research on face recognition and processing to be carried out and this project will bring on board two new members of staff to support the establishment and running of the lab and research.

Alex McIntyre received further funding to hire a research intern to join the team on a project that will track 3D development of faces across the lifespan to develop human recognition and biometric similarity models.  This innovative project will recruit individuals and families and capture their images using 3D photometry and laser imaging.

Forensic Psychology

Jennifer Murray, Zoe Chouliara, Stephen Smith and Kathy Charles received funding for a project which will investigate clinician’s perceptions of empathy during suicide risk assessments. This project will involve the use of one-to-one in-depth interviews with clinicians involved in risk assessments, and the use of Q-Methodology to develop a model of subjective empathy perceptions in the suicide risk assessment context. Nicole Walsh has been brought into the team as a research assistant and a research intern, Caitlin McLachlan, will be joining later this year as a research intern.

Jennifer Murray, Lindsey Carruthers, Zoe Chouliara, and Mary Thomson (Northumbria University) have received funding to investigate which decision making cues (what pieces of information) people use when assessing the risk of suicide. This project will pilot the use of mobile and stationary eye-tracking techniques in conjunction with ‘think aloud’ qualitative methods, and will employ a research intern.

Rory MacLean, Jennifer Murray, and Lee Curley received funding to explore juror decision making, using threshold models to analyse whether jurors make their decisions based on the number of cues (amount of information) for and against guilt or through the integration of evidence. A research intern will join the team later this year.

Kirstie’s Kilimanjaro Experience

Kirstie

May 4, 2016, by Kirstie McClatchey

Since 2003, my father Professor John McClatchey had been living with polycythemia vera (PV), a rare blood disorder. Unfortunately last April he died of a sudden heart attack and I decided to raise money for MPN Voice, a charity that funds research into PV and other myeloproliferative disorders. Therefore, on the 25th of March 2016 I departed Scotland for Tanzania, with the ambition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. I climbed with the company Action Challenge who guided our group of 12 on the 6 day Machame route.

The first day went seemingly well, but by day two (3827m AMSL) I was beginning to feel the effects of high altitude, which I can only describe as feeling like you are terribly hungover. The third day involved climbing high (4625m) and sleeping low (3960m), which did wonders for my altitude sickness. By day four our group were scrambling up the Barranco Wall and enjoying some spectacular views. It was this night however, we were informed we would have around three hours sleep before being awoken for our summit bid at around 10.30pm. By 11.30pm we had departed for the summit. I was wearing more clothes to keep warm than I thought I could possibly fit, although we were later told that our summit night had been unusually mild. After a nine hour slog uphill we arrived at Stella Point to watch the sunrise. I witnessed this through tears, as I was so relieved that we only had about 45 minutes until the summit. After the amazing porters had given us a hot drink, we headed towards the summit. Breathing at this point was extremely difficult and every step felt like a marathon. Eventually the summit was in sight. There were no clouds, just beautiful sunshine. Then our team made it. It was incredible. I don’t actually remember much from the summit apart from ‘I need to get down’. Once we got our pictures we started to descent, which was actually worse than the ascent due to exhaustion. Eventually we made it back to camp and departed for the hotel the next morning.

Overall, the whole experience was unbelievable! I would never have reached the summit without the wonderful porters who work on the mountain every day. They are superhuman. Big shout out also to Dr Dave, our team doctor, who helped us survive the 6 days. In total, I raised over £800 for MPN Voice through thoughtful donations, and these donations definitely helped me on summit night to keep going. A big thank-you again to everyone who donated. Back to PhD work now I suppose…

 

Decision Making: A Cognitive Process of Choice

March 21, 2016, by Jennifer Murray

Dr Jennifer Murray has recently become an Associate with Essenta.dk. Essenta is an innovative research informed business and training provider who work with those in the public and private sectors to train their staff in improved decision making using the latest research evidence from decision science and neuropsychology.

Jennifer has recently contributed an article to Essenta which outlines one of the core models of decision making, the dual process model, in ‘normal’ language, to allow a wider audience to benefit from and understand the model without having to negotiate academic jargon and complex data analyses. This article is available using the link below, and will be one of a series of related pieces on the topic of decision making.

Murray, J. (2015). Decision making: A cognitive process of choice [online]. Available: http://www.essenta.dk/?id=124&c=Decision Making.