Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Head of School Prof Simon Dennis off to a new adventure

Our Head of School since July 2013, Professor Simon Dennis, is heading off on his next academic adventure leaving us today and heading for the University of Melbourne. Simon is leaving a strong legacy from his time with us across all aspects of the School from championing new programs, improvements in student retention, a new Psychology Clinic at Ourimbah, and a plethora of initiatives in research from GICs to supporting individual staff research endeavours. Simon will be greatly missed. We sincerely wish him well in his new and exciting role at Melbourne.

Where to now for the School of Psychology? Professor Jenny Bowman is Acting Head of School and the recruitment of a new Head of School is well underway. Watch this space for the next chapter in our School’s life and times.

Simon's farewell party

Simon with the best staff  in the world. Left to right: Tara, Danielle, Simon, Jess, and Sophie.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Psychology RHD students excel in the Faculty 3-minute thesis competition

Five RHD students from the School of Psychology competed yesterday in the Faculty round of the 3-Minutes Thesis competition.

Romany McGuffog, Zachary Howard, Laura Wall, Paul Garrett, and Jade Goodman were among 18 PhD candidates that presented the highlights of their research in a tight time framework of only three minutes. All of our students delivered a stellar performance, and two of them were selected to represent the Faculty of Science at the University final , Wednesday 12 July, 4pm, in room CT202 (Computing and Information Sciences Building, Callaghan Campus).  Please come along to support our finalists and network with local community, industry and business representatives who will also be in attendance.

 Our representative, from left to right: Jade Goodman, Zachary Howard, Paul Garrett, and Laura Wall (not in the photo: Romany McGuffog).

Our representatives enjoying a well earned rest at the end of the competition.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Research Presentation by Visiting Speaker Dr Jenna Condie: “Where is Psychology in the Posthuman City?”

The School of Psychology’s Social and Organisational Psychology Research Group invites you to a research presentation by visiting speaker Dr Jenna Condie titled: “Where is Psychology in the Posthuman City?”

When: 12.00pm – 1.00pm on Tuesday 30th May

Where: The Keats Reading Room, Psychology/Aviation Building (AVLG17), with video link to the Science Offices at Ourimbah.

Psychology contributes much to our understandings of city life, from urban stress and restorative spaces, to identities of place and sense of belonging. As my research explores the intersections of people, digital technologies, and cities, I am engaging with posthumanist and new materialist philosophies to replace dominant binary constructs—the human/non-human, body/machine, online/offline, self/other, people/places, digital/material—that rei
nforce boundaries between people, cities and technology. To consider the potentials of a ‘posthumanist psychology’, I draw from my research on humans as ‘sensors’ for ‘smart’ cities, connective resistance to urban redevelopment, and the social encounters reworked by location-aware smartphone apps. What are we ‘becoming’ (Barad, 2003) in the posthuman city and what is the place of psychology?

Dr Jenna Condie is a Lecturer in Digital Research and Online Social Analysis in the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at Western Sydney University. Her research focuses on the relationships between people and place in the digital world. Jenna champions the use of social media and digital technologies to encourage voice, participation, and dialogue within academic and community contexts.

All are welcome. We look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Community engagement and healthy living with psychosis

Health and Clinical Research Group Seminars

Community engagement in providing services to people with psychotic illness, with reference to SHIP – the Survey of High Impact Psychosis, and CM Engage


Healthy living intervention in people with psychosis.

Dr Mary-Claire Hanlon and Ms Doreen Mucheru

10th May, 12 noon
Keats Reading Room (AVLG17 Psychology Building)

 The Survey of High Impact Psychosis (SHIP) was conducted nationally in Australia, and the Lower Hunter New England (HNE) region participated. We’ll revisit SHIP – how it was conducted, what were some of the pertinent outcomes, and the opportunities for further research that SHIP now provides. One of those opportunities is in deepening our understanding of the community management now being provided for people with psychotic illnesses, and how we can assist community managers to understand and implement research evidence in their practice. Through CM Engage, we are paving the way for deep engagement between researchers, the Mental Health services and the community management organisations. One way of doing this will be to provide a healthy living program – thereby providing the evidence base for translation of research through action research projects at the community management level.

Dr Mary-Claire Hanlon completed her Bachelor of Science as a mature-age student at Newcastle, followed by Honours in Psychology and a PhD in Psychiatry into social cognition in schizophrenia. Together with Dr Linda Campbell, Mary-Claire was one of two HNE Site Coordinators on SHIP. Mary-Claire now facilitates clinician-researcher education , development and support at the Calvary Mater Hospital whilst also being the SHIP Key contact for HNE and Orange sites. Mary-Claire continues to analyse and report on SHIP outcomes, while developing CM Engage with community managers. Miss Doreen Mucheru completed her Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics, with Honours, at Newcastle; and has recently converted her Masters of Philosophy into a PhD, preparing for the healthy living program in CM Engage. Doreen has already had her first paper published (from her Honours thesis) and had another recently accepted for publication.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

University of Newcastle PhD students present at the Annual Conference of the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists – Melbourne

Social psychology PhD students Matylda Mackiewicz, Monica Gendi, Olivia Evans, Romany McGuffog, and Stephanie Hardacre and 3rd year Psychology student Timothy Lang (along with Dr Emina Subasic, Associate Professor Mark Rubin, and Dr Stefania Paolini) recently attended the Annual Society of Australasian Social Psychologists (SASP) conference in Melbourne, Australia. SASP is the most popular avenue for the dissemination of current social psychological research within Australasia, and attracts between 130-180 pre-eminent national and international researchers. The 3-day conference provided a chance for us to communicate our research in a targeted fashion to a broader academic audience, and to build collaborative networks with key Australian (and international) social psychology academics. 
Monica, Olivia, and Romany participated in a session titled “Mental Health and Wellbeing”. Monica discussed her findings on the relations between need for closure, mental health, and regret. Olivia delivered a presentation on the relationships between social class, mental health and social integration in first year university students. Romany presented findings on the relationships between social class, sleep, and mental and physical health. Stephanie participated in a symposium on “Prototypicality and Leadership Effectiveness”, delivering a talk on the effects of leader gender and equality message framing on mobilising men and women for gender equality. Tim presented a snapshot of his research on self-expansion motivations. The five PhD students also had the opportunity to watch their respective supervisors each take to the podium and present their research in an early morning symposium on "Conflict, Contact and Cohesion".

Because SASP comprises a strong postgraduate student representation, it provided a distinctive atmosphere compared to usual academic conferences, in that we were able to network with both students and established academics. The postgraduate workshops in particular were extremely valuable – outlining the benefits of adopting open science practices, and describing career opportunities outside of academe. SASP also has a substantial social program, which this year included a trip to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, a cocktail reception, and a screening of the Milgram documentary Shock Room. We look forward to attending next year’s conference in New Zealand.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Official opening of the Ourimbah Psychology Clinic

The official opening of the Ourimbah Psychology Clinic was celebrated on Wednesday, with the Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen presiding. The Clinic sees the School of Psychology expanding the range of placement experiences on offer to postgraduate students in Clinical Psychology, as well as providing an affordable and accessible service to residents of the Central Coast. 

The Ourimbah Psychology Clinic builds upon the existing Callaghan Psychology Clinic, offering a range of services including diagnostic and cognitive assessments, group programs, family therapy, and individual therapy for a wide range of concerns. The Clinic also supports clinical research initiatives, such as Dr Linda Campbell’s work with neurodevelopmental disorders and Dr Michelle Kelly’s research into the provision of an intervention for carer’s of older people living with dementia. The Ourimbah Psychology Clinic will initially open on Mondays and Tuesdays. More information, including appointment details and session costs, can be found here: http://www.newcastle.edu.au/about-uon/governance-and-leadership/faculties-and-schools/faculty-of-science-and-information-technology/school-of-psychology/psychology-clinic 

From Left to Right: Drs Andrea Griffin, Linda Campbell, Stefania Paolini, and Frini Karayanidis celebrating the opening of the new clinic.

L to R: Drs Stefania Paolini, Linda Campbell, Frini Karayanidis, and Andrea Griffin inside the new clinic.

Dr Sean Halpin, the Psychology Clinic Director at the University of Newcastle, with Prof Simon Dennis, the Head of UoN School of Psychology.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

UoN School of Psychology hosted the Australasian Experimental Psychology Society conference

From April 19-22, the University of Newcastle hosted the 44th annual conference of the Australasian Experimental Psychology Society at Ramada Resort, in beautiful Shoal Bay.

The conference had 187 attendees, 130 spoken presentations and 32 posters. Nearly half of the presentations were by students, and the student awards for best presentation and highly commended in each of the three streams of talks and the poster session were closely contested. Award recipients were from ANU, USyd, UQ, CurtinU, UNSW and UoN. 

The Ross Day Plenary Lecture was very well attended and delivered by Prof. Andrew Heathcote (introduced by Prof. Sally Andrews).

The success of the conference depended on the hard work of the organising committee (Darren Burke (Chair), kerry Chalmers (Treasurer), Simon Dennis, Ami Eidels, Emily Freeman and Frances Martin), and especially of the student volunteers (Kylie Campling, Jacob Dye, Paul Garrett, Zach Howard, Reilly Innes, Johanne Knowles, Joshua Makin, Allyson Ray, Laura Wall and Hyungwook Yim) and School admin staff (Sophie Percival and Danielle Storey).

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The School of Psychology Hosts a Presentation on the Psychology of Biculturalism and Mutliculturalism by Prof Benet-Martinez

The School of Psychology and Social and Organisational Psychology research group is proud of inviting you to a research presentation by Prof Veronica Benet-Martinez, Department of Political and Social Sciences Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain on Tuesday 11th of April 12-1pm, lecture theatre HB13, Hunter Building, Callaghan (video conferenced to Ourimbah Science Offices Seminar room).

PRESENTATION TITLE: Multi-cultural identities & minds: (Cross)cultural, socio-cognitive, and personality perspectives  

ABSTRACT: Cultural contact due to factors such as migration, globalization, and travel (among others) has made cultural diversity experiences an everyday phenomenon and led to unprecedented numbers of individuals who consider themselves bicultural or multicultural. What are the psychological consequences of these acculturative and identity processes? Using a framework that integrates acculturation, social-identity theory, and individual differences approaches, and that relies on laboratory experiments, and survey and social network methodologies, this presentation will review a program of research conducted to examine how multicultural individuals process and respond to dual cultural information (e.g., cultural frame-switching or CFS), how they integrate their different cultural identities into a cohesive sense of self (e.g., Bicultural Identity Integration, BII), how they maintain competing loyalties between different cultural groups, and the socio-cognitive and adjustment consequences of this type of experiences and identities. These studies, which are conducted with samples varying in culture/ethnicity, age, and generational status, enclave, reveal that: (1) cultural frame-switching effects exist for a wide range of behaviors (e.g., attributions, personality self-views, ethnic identity, self-construals, values, among others); (2) individual differences in BII moderate cultural frame-switching behavior so that biculturals high on BII respond to cultural cues in culturally-congruent ways while biculturals low on BII give contrastive responses; (3) differences in bicultural identity are linked to specific demographic, acculturation, personality, social-identity, cognitive, and wellbeing variables; and (4) biculturalism (relative to other acculturation strategies) is positively linked to (psychological and socio-cultural) adjustment.

BIOGRAPHY: Verónica Benet-Martínez is a Professor in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Barcelona, Spain. Her research centers on the psychology of multicultural identity and experiences across different national contexts (Europe, USA) and for different types of groups (e.g., immigrants, ethnic minorities, transnational adoptees). She is particularly interested in individual variations in bicultural identity structure and dynamics, and the interplay of social context and cognitive and personality factors in predicting both positive and negative outcomes from multicultural and intercultural experiences. She investigates these issues with experimental and correlational designs that rely on self-report, behavioral, and social-network data. She most recently published the “Oxford Handbook of Multicultural Identity,” which won the Ursula Gielen Global Psychology Award by the American Psychological Association. Before joining UPF, she held faculty positions in the psychology departments of the University of California (Riverside) and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), and was a funded Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California (Berkeley). She obtained a Ph.D. in Social-Personality Psychology from the University of California (Davis). She is an appointed Fellow of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), was an associate editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2009-2015), and has been an editorial board member for several top-tier personality, social, and cultural psychology journals. She was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center during the last spring 2016 term.

If interested in a one-to-one meeting with Prof Benet-Martinez around her visit, please contact her SOPRG host at stefania.paolini@newcastle.edu.au to make arrangements.

Visit and seminar by Prof Robert Goldstone from Indiana University, Thur April 6

Prof Robert Goldstone from Indiana University is visiting the UoN School of Psychology, and will give a seminar this Thur, April 6, 12-1pm, Keats room. Please find the title and abstract below.

Prof Goldstone is Distinguished Professor in the Psychological and Brain Sciences department and Cognitive Science program at Indiana University. His research interests include concept learning and representation, perceptual learning, educational applications of cognitive science, decision making, collective behavior, and computational modeling of human cognition.  

Mathematical Reasoning as a Literally Physical Symbol System 

Robert Goldstone

Indiana University, Department of Psychological and Brain Science and Program in Cognitive Science

Much of the power of mathematics comes from its generality and ability to unify prime face dissimilar domains.  The same combinatorics formula applies to sealing wax, cabbages, and kings with no customization needed, or even permitted.  By one account, analytic thought in math and science requires developing deep construals of phenomena that run counter to untutored perceptions.  This approach draws an opposition between superficial perception and principled understanding.  In this talk, I advocate the converse strategy of grounding mathematical reasoning in perception and action.  I will describe empirical evidence for perceptual changes that accompany learning in mathematics.  In arithmetic and algebraic reasoning, we find that proficiency involves executing spatially explicit transformations to notational elements.  People learn to attend mathematical operations in the order in which they should be executed, and the extent to which students employ their perceptual attention in this manner is positively correlated with their mathematical experience.  People produce mathematical notations that they are good at reading.  Perception, attention, and action routines are tailored to fit mathematical requirements.  Thus, for reasoning in mathematics (and science, but that’s another talk), relatively sophisticated performance can be achieved not only by ignoring perceptual features in favor of deep conceptual features, but also by adapting perceptual processing so as to conform with and support formally sanctioned responses.  These “Rigged Up Perception and Action Systems” (RUPAS) offer a promising general strategy for achieving educational reform.  Based on the theoretical foundation of RUPAS, we have begun to design, implement, and assess virtual, interactive sandboxes for students to explore algebra.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The School of Psychology hosts Prof Mary Peterson (object perception, gender equity in science)

The Faculty of Science/School of Psychology’s Equity and Diversity Group and the Cognitive Research Group are very proud to host two presentations by Professor Mary Peterson from the University of Arizona:
a science talk on object perception (Thursday 30 March) and a seminar + Q&A session on gender equity in science (Friday 31 March).

Presentation 1: Towards a New Understanding of Object Perception.

WHEN: Thursday 30 March, 12-1pm.

WHERE: Keats reading room, AVLG17.

Visual perception was long understood as a serial feedforward process in which, at a very early stage of processing, borders between regions in the visual input were assigned as bounding contours to the region on one side; this constituted object detection (aka figure assignment). The other region, lacking a shaping contour, was perceived as a locally shapeless ground to the object. On this feedforward view, object memories and semantics were accessed only after object detection occurred and only for objects ("figures"), not for grounds. Research in my laboratory shows that this traditional view is incorrect, and favors the alternative view that before object detection, a fast pass of processing activates multiple possible object hypotheses that could fit both sides of borders. These hypotheses compete for perception at high (e.g., perirhinal cortex of the MTL) and low (V1 and V2) levels of the visual hierarchy. The winner is detected/perceived; the loser is suppressed. In my talk, I will review some history and then summarize six recent experiments consistent with the view that object detection occurs via hierarchical Bayesian inference.

Presentation 2: Gender Equity in Science.

WHEN: Friday 31 March, 12-1pm.

WHERE: Keats reading room, AVLG17.

A short seminar on gender equity in science followed by an extended Q&A session on this and related topics. 

Professor Peterson has extensive experience in this area: she is one of the founding organizers of "Females of Vision, et al" (FoVea,https://www.facebook.com/FoveaVision/ founded in 2016), whose goal is to enhance the success of women in vision science; she secured a grant from the National Science Foundation to support FoVea's activities (2016 – 2019). She has been a member of the advisory board of Women in Cognitive Science (http://womenincogsci.org/) since its
inception in 2000, and more.

FREE LIGHT LUNCH will be provided following the Q&A session.

If you would like to meet with Professor Peterson during her visit to UON on Thursday 30 or Friday 31 March, please email your preferred time and day to guy.hawkins@newcastle.edu.au

Friday, 17 March 2017

Public Lecture at Maitland City Library

What is happiness anyway? A psychological and personal perspective.

Associate Professor Ross Wilkinson, PhD MAPS MCCLP

Date: 21st March 2017

Time: 6:00pm

Venue: Maitland City Library

What it is to be happy has been a topic of philosophical debate for over 2500 years. In this talk I will briefly outline the history of this debate and then focus on the recent contributions of psychology to this question. With the upsurge of interest in ‘positive’ psychology, research attention has turned to happiness and the factors that influence it. I will present an overview of the psychological approach to happiness as ‘wellbeing’ and show how subjective happiness varies around the world. The major factors that research has identified as contributing to both current happiness and a deeper and longer-lasting well-being will be discussed. Evidence-informed, practical strategies for increasing your own happiness and that of others will be presented.

Associate Professor Ross Wilkinson is an academic and clinical psychologist based in the School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle where he is the Head of the Health and Clinical Psychology Research Group. He has over 25 years’ experience in both research and practice in psychology and has a long-standing interest in positive psychology. He has a research program focussed on the link between relationships and mental health and runs the Relationships and Psychological Health Laboratory (RaphLab). His other research interests include attachment, mindfulness, and perinatal mental health.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

UoN School of Psychology ranked among the top 150 world-wide (QS ranking)

Well done to us!.. our report card should say ‘consistent improvement, highly promising’!

In 2014, we were 19th in the Top 50 Under 50, but then we grew up and had to start playing in the big kids sandpit.
In 2015, we didn’t make it into the Top 200.
We crawled into the scale in 2016, when we were ranked in the Top 200 (151-200 range).
And, 2017 saw us jump up a notch into the Top 150 – really in there with the big kids now!


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

SOPRG PRESENTATION on trauma, self-growth, and social identity resources on Tue 21/03/17

The School of Psychology's Social and Organisational Psychology research group is proud of inviting you to a research presentation by Prof Orla Muldoon, University of Limerick, Ireland., on Tuesday 21st of March, 12-1pm, Keats reading room, Aviation building, Callaghan (video conferenced to Ourimbah Science Offices Seminar room).

PRESENTATION TITLE: ‘Healing ourselves’:  Negotiating psychological stress & trauma using shared social identities 

ABSTRACT: Conceptualisations of stress and psychological trauma largely rely on individualistic models of resilience and vulnerability.  This presentation will briefly outline the conceptual model that highlights a collective approach to stress and trauma. Specifically the role of  shared social identities and associated identity resources on adjustment to stress and trauma is outlined.  Using data from lab work, the impact of group membership on cardiac reactivity during the Trier Stress test it outlined.  Subsequently the role of identity resources in ameliorating post-traumatic stress in  post-conflict Northern Ireland and post-earthquake Nepal is outlined.  Finally the potential for identity resources to promote adjustment and adaptation to trauma is considered. First by considering role of social identity resources in promoting post traumatic growth  and  second  by presenting evidence of the positive  consequences of a collective crowd experience for those bereaved by suicide.  Discussion of the findings orient to the potential for this approach to support recovery and adjustment for those affected by trauma.

BIOGRAPHY: Orla Muldoon is Professor of Psychology at University of Limerick Ireland where she is also Director of the Centre for Social Issues Research.  She has a long standing interest in the role of group related experiences and identities on health and social development. She has published more than 70 papers on this topic subsequent to completing her  PhD on the impact of political violence n childhood in Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland.  She is current editor of Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology and Co-editor of Political Psychology.  She is currently on sabbatical in Brisbane and Is keen to meet Australian colleagues as this is her first visit here.

If interested in a one-to-one meeting with Prof Muldoon around her visit, please contact her SOPRG host at emina.subasic@newcastle.edu.au to make arrangements.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

JUST PUBLISHED: Age, Cognitive Decline, and Brain's White Matter

New research at UON’s Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory (FNL) has been featured in the latest issue of Research Australia’s online magazine, which showcases health and medical research (Insight, 2017, Issue 4, p. 14-15). 

Dr Todd Jolly’s PhD research indicates that the effects of cardiovascular health on cognition may be greater than the effects of age per se. This work was performed under the supervision of Associate Professor Frini Karayanidis within UON’s Priority Research Centre for Stroke and Brain Injury. The findings suggest the relationship between age and cognitive decline could be explained by brain white matter health. Moreover, older people who reported one or more cardiovascular risk factors show greater decline in brain white matter health and cognition than older adults with no risk factors. This work has implications for prevention of cognitive decline and theories of cognitive ageing. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

If Collectivists like Social Groups, and Cities are Social Groups, do Collectivists like Cities?

Do you like the place where you live? Maybe it's got great architecture, it's clean and crime free, the housing is cheap, and/or the nightlife is good? But maybe your liking for the place is also related to something else - your own tendency to identify with social groups? In some recent research, my colleagues and I investigated this issue by considering the relations between collectivism, city identification, and city evaluation.

Collectivism is a sociocultural orientation towards perceiving the self and others as belonging to social groups, and it influences the extent to which people identify with social groups. The more collectivist you are, the more strongly you identify with social groups.  Prior research has found that people who identify strongly with a place tend to like that place more. Hence, it is possible that people who are relatively high in collectivism identify strongly with the place that they live and, consequently, evaluate that place more positively.

To investigate this possibility, my colleagues and I sampled 1,660 residents of four cities in three countries: Newcastle, Australia; Sydney, Australia; Paris, France; and Istanbul, Turkey. Participants completed an online survey containing measures of collectivism, city identification, and city evaluation. We found that, within each city sample and across the combined samples, a specific measure of collectivism called collective interdependent self-construal was positively related to city evaluation. We also found that city identification mediated this relation. Hence, people's general tendency to construe social groups as part of their self (collectivism; e.g., “The groups I belong to are an important reflection of who I am”) predicted their level of identification with their city (city identification; e.g., "I identify with other people living in Sydney"), which in turn helped to explain their positive appraisal of that city (city evaluation).

A key limitation of our research is that it employed a cross-sectional correlational design, which prevented us from drawing clear conclusions about the causal direction of the relations that we observed. Future research should employ a longitudinal research design in order to provide clearer conclusions on this issue.

The present research results imply that the social psychological group processes that are responsible for people's identification with and evaluation of social groups based on gender, ethnicity, nationality, etc. may also apply to cities because, at their base, cities are social groups.

For further information please see the following journal article:

Rubin, M., Badea, C., Condie, J., Mahfud, Y., Morrison, T., & Peker, M. (2017). Individual differences in collectivism predict city identification and city evaluation in Australian, French, and Turkish cities Journal of Environmental Psychology, 50, 9-16 DOI:

For a self-archived version, please click here.  

Thursday, 9 March 2017

EQUITY&DIVERSITY SERIES: Benefits and risks of positive and negative intergroup interactions (Tue, 14/3, 12-1pm)

The School of Psychology's Social and Organisational Psychology research group is proud of inviting you to a research presentation by Dr Lydia Hayward, UNSW, on Tuesday 14th March 12-1pm, Keats reading room, Aviation building, Callaghan (video conferenced to Ourimbah Science Offices Seminar room). This presentation is part of our Equity and Diversity Series.

PRESENTATION TITLE: When and how does negative contact with outgroup members harm intergroup relations more than positive contact helps it?

ABSTRACT: Over 60 years of research has shown that positive interactions between members of different groups can reduce prejudice, however recent evidence suggests that negative contact may be having a stronger impact on intergroup relations, increasing prejudice more than positive contact is reducing prejudice (positive-negative contact asymmetry). In this talk, I will discuss several studies investigating: 1) the causal nature of these relationships; 2) whether this asymmetry also exists for racial minority group members; 3) how negative contact might work to increase prejudice; 4) whether negative contact has a potentially constructive influence on social change; and 5) how past contact experiences may colour the lens through which current real-world conflict is perceived. Results' implications for recent debates over prejudice reduction as a method of social change.

BIOGRAPHY: Lydia Hayward completed her PhD at the University of Queensland in 2016 and is now a postdoctoral researcher at UNSW working with Associate Professor Lenny Vartanian. She studies the predictors and consequences of prejudice and stigma. Currently, she is investigating how weight stigma experiences affect body image and motivation to engage in weight loss behaviours among people who are overweight and obese. During her PhD, she focused on the predictors of prejudice, understanding how positive and negative interactions with people from other racial groups predicts racism, intergroup emotions, and participation in collective action among members of advantaged and disadvantaged groups.

If interested in a one-to-one meeting with Dr Hayward around her visit, please contact her SOPRG host at Stefania.Paolini@newcastle.edu.au to make arrangements.

Monday, 6 March 2017

UoN to host the Experimental Psychology Conference (EPC) 2017

EPC is the annual meeting of the Australasian Society for Experimental Psychology. This meeting provides a forum for presenting new research across the broad spectrum of experimental psychology.

EPC has been held annually since the first meeting at Monash University in 1974. In large part, both the meeting and the Australasian Society for Experimental Psychology owe their existence to the leadership of Emeritus Professor Ross Day. This debt is acknowledged by the naming of the annual plenary lecture, given by a luminary of the society.

This year, EPC will be hosted by the School of Psychology of the University of Newcastle. The conference will take place in the Ramada Resort Shaol Bay, Wed 19/4 - Sat 22/4. Abstract deadline is coming very soon, March 10, 2017.

The organizing committee is delighted to announce that the plenary lecture will be given by Prof Andrew Heathcote, currently at the University of Tasmania, but a novocastrian at heart. Prof Heathcote is a world leader in the study of memory and decision-making models. He held full time positions at the UoN School of Psychology since 1991, and had been awarded the lucrative Australian Professorial Fellowship. He holds positions at both UTas and UoN.

Further details, links, and contacts can be found in the formal EPC-2017 webpage, here.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Researchers from UoN presented their work at the annual Mathematical Society meeting

Students and Staff from the School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle presented their research last week, at the annual meeting of the Australian Society of Mathematical Society, hosted in Brisbane by the University of Queensland.

Laura Wall, Zach Howard, and Paul Garrett from the University of Newcastle were among Research Higher Degree students from all over the world, presenting their research and furiously debating about LBA, SFT and other acronyms.  

Friday, 10 February 2017

HMRI Rare Diseases Public Seminar, Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Living with a rare disorder: Not such a rare experience

To mark Rare Disease Day 2017, HMRI and the Priority Research Centre GrowUpWell are hosting the HMRI Rare Diseases Public Seminar, Tuesday 28 February 2017. The event starts at 5:15pm, is FREE of charge, and offers FREE PARKING. 

Speakers and topics:

Dr Tracy Dudding-Byth | Matching faces: How using computer vision can help diagnosis of children with undiagnosed intellectual disability

Miss Jane Goodwin | A different but not so rare parenting journey: Exploring parents’ experiences of having a child with a rare disorder

Dr Aniruddh V. Deshpande | Surgeons and rare diseases in Newborn Children: Where we are and where we want to be

Dr Elizabeth Kepreotes | Rare disorders and advocacy in Australia today

The Hunter is home to many leading researchers and clinicians focused on improving the diagnosis, treatment and management of range of rare disorders. Research areas include: 
·         rare genetic diseases, and inherited forms of intellectual disability for which the genetic basis remains unknown; 
·         developmental disability (such as 22q11.2 deletion syndrome/VCFS);
·         kidney diseases and complex surgical diseases on lung function of growing children; and
·         factors that influence and impact upon parents' ability to cope and adjust to having a child with a diagnosed rare disease.

The seminar will be chaired by Dr Linda Campbell and Associate Professor Alison Lane, and will be followed by light refreshments.
Cost: FREE
Food: Sandwiches will be provided, with an optional gold coin donation always appreciated. Tea/coffee along with biscuits and fruit will also be provided.
Car Parking: Free car parking is available at the HMRI Building. If you require a Disabled Parking spot, or have special access requirements, please advise via registration below.
Event Schedule
·         5.15 pm – 5.30 pm: Arrival and refreshments
·         5.30 pm – 7.00 pm: Welcome and Researcher Presentations
·         7.00 pm – 7.30 pm: Informal question time, networking and refreshments (end of event)

Sunday, 11 December 2016

JUST PUBLISHED: Haven’t You Heard! Vowel Perception Involves an Evidence Accumulation Process.

As children, part of learning English involved uttering the proverbial ah, eh, ee, oh, oo – the vowels, which along with consonants, form the building blocks of the English Language. Overtime, we learn to easily distinguished between different vowels in speech. To make this discrimination we need to process a wealth of continuous information, such as the pitch, the duration, or the loudness of the sound and then make a discrete choice about what vowel we have heard. Researchers have found it difficult to reconcile the fact that listeners make discrete choices based on continuous information.

Graduate student Gabriel Tillman and Professor Scott Brown from the University of Newcastle along with Titia Benders (Macquarie University) and Don van Ravenzwaaij (University of Groningen) developed a cognitive process model that describes how continuous acoustic information leads to discrete phoneme decisions. In a nutshell, the model posits that people sample evidence from the sounds and this evidence accumulates until a decision threshold is crossed, which triggers an overt response.

The model accounted for choice and response time data from an experiment where Dutch listeners discriminated between Dutch vowels. With the model, the researchers could examine unobserved processes involved in the perception of Dutch vowels. They found that sound frequency information contributes more to the perception of vowels than duration information, that frequency was more important for some of the Dutch vowels than others, and that longer durations did not delay when participants started using information from the sound.

Read more about this study here:


Friday, 2 December 2016

Health and Clinical Psychology Research Group Seminar

START Caring for Carers: A psychological intervention for carers of people with dementia

Dr Michelle Kelly

When: Wednesday 7th December 12 noon
Where: Keats Room (AVLG17) - Psychology Building, Callaghan Campus (video to Ourimbah Science Offices)

Abstract: There are an estimated 1.2 million people involved in the care of a person with dementia and 7% of all Australians identify as being a carer for family or friends suffering from dementia. Whilst there are many challenges that carers face, increasing dependence and challenging behaviours associated with dementia are unquestionably difficult. Thus, the development of an effective intervention to support carers and optimise their capacity and opportunity to care is vital. Not only may this lead to an improvement in quality of life for the carer, but also for the person with dementia. This presentation will cover the development of a feasibility and acceptability study of an 8-session individualised psychological intervention for carers of people with dementia. The proposed study will take place within the University of Newcastle Psychology Clinics with interventions being delivered by students on placement. The research team hopes to receive feedback on the study with regards to study design but moreso, the challenges and ethical considerations of running such a project within a student training facility.

Bio: Dr Michelle Kelly is a Clinical Psychologist and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology. Her research focus is on social functioning in clinical groups including dementia and traumatic brain injury. Michelle’s research also covers other areas of care in dementia such as the management of the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and the effects of these on carers.