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