Friday, 24 October 2014

Tue 28th Oct: RESEARCH PRESENTATIONS on intergroup psychology

Please join us for two research presentations on the 28th of October by two scholars from the University of Sydney. Full details below.

These research talks are sponsored by the school’s Social and Organisational Psychology research group. 

Hope to see many of you then. Cheers,   Stefania at:

WHEN: Tuesday 28th October, 11.30-1pm,
WHERE: Keats room, Aviation building, Callaghan
WHERELSE:  video conferenced to: The Science Offices Meeting room, Ourimbah
WHO/WHAT FOR: Karen Gonsalkorale, visiting scholar, University of Sydney, delivering a research presentations entitled “Now You See it, Now You don’t: Automatic Bias and Overcoming Bias in Implicit Attitudes” (see abstract and bio below)
WHO/WHAT FOR: Andrea van Dommelen, visiting scholar, University of Sydney delivering a research presentations entitled “Multiple Social Identities in Minority Group Members: individual and contextual differences” (see abstract and bio below)

Gonsalkorale’s Abstract
When implicit measures of attitudes first burst onto the psychology scene, they were often conceived as uncontaminated reflections of the automatic associations stored in memory. Many researchers considered these implicit measures to be revolutionary in their capacity to reveal automatic attitudes that people are unwilling or unable to express on self-report measures. However, we now know that performance on implicit attitude measures is influenced both by the nature of activated evaluative associations and by people’s ability to regulate those associations as they respond. I will describe a method for separating the multiple automatic and controlled processes underlying implicit measures, and discuss how this method can be used to understand the processes responsible for variability and malleability in implicit attitudes. Specifically, I will present studies in which we applied the Quad model (Sherman et al, 2008) to examine variability in implicit attitudes as a function of group membership (Black vs. White participants) and age (young vs. older participants), and malleability in implicit attitudes resulting from prejudice reduction training and alcohol intoxication. The findings indicate that implicit attitude variability and malleability do not only involve activated associations, and may not involve associations at all, in some cases. I will wrap up by discussing the implications of the findings for the measurement and interpretation of implicit attitudes.

Gonsalkorale’s Bio
My research interests include social cognition, stereotyping and prejudice, intergroup relations, and ostracism. I am currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney. Prior to joining the University of Sydney as a Lecturer in 2008, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Davis. I received a Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) in 2001 and a PhD from the University of New South Wales in 2005.

van Dommelen’s Abstract
Members of ethnic and religious minority groups belong to distinct ethnic, religious and national groups that may differ in group composition, values, norms and attitudes. In this talk, I will propose a conceptual and operational framework to examine how minority group members subjectively construe their ingroup in the context of such multiple, cross-cutting group memberships. I will describe the subjective combination of multiple social identities in terms of structure (Social Identity Structure, SIS) and inclusiveness (Social Identity Inclusiveness, SII), and present findings of three studies using this conceptual framework.  In the first two studies, we assessed SII and SIS in a sample of Turkish Belgian Muslims (N = 95) and Turkish Australian Muslims (N = 132). The findings of both studies showed that participants, despite sharing membership in three specific social groups, varied widely in how they combined these group memberships in their ingroup construals. More inclusive ingroup representations predicted how participants felt towards people from other social groups, including remote groups with whom participants were unlikely to have contact. In a third study, again using a sample of Turkish Australian Muslims (N = 143), we examined how ingroup representations are altered after a threat or reassurance to their religious group identity. We found that participants were less likely to integrate multiple social identities in their ingroup construals after the value of their religious group identity was threatened as opposed to reassured. These findings highlight the need for a more thorough understanding of individual versus contextual differences in multiple social identity management in ethnic and religious minority groups.

van Dommelen’Bio
I completed my Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of Brussels (VUB), in Belgium (where I am originally from), in 2008. My Master’s dissertation was in the area of social cognition (stereotype activation upon an encounter with an atypical target), under supervision of Prof. Vincent Yzerbyt at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. In 2010, I worked with Dr. Katharina Schmid and Prof. Miles Hewstone (University of Oxford, UK) on a project on social identity complexity. Later in 2010, I started my PhD research at the University of Sydney, under supervision of Dr. Karen Gonsalkorale and Prof. Marilynn Brewer. For my PhD, I studied how people belonging to ethnic and religious minority groups in Australia, combine their ethnic, religious and national group memberships into an ingroup construal, and how such ingroup construals relate to intergroup variables such as outgroup contact and attitudes. I conducted correlational and experimental studies with community samples of adult and adolescent Turkish Australian Muslims. I recently completed my PhD and will be graduating in October 2014. My research interests are social identity, intergroup relations, acculturation, minorities and refugee mental health. 



Sunday, 19 October 2014

Cognitive Psychology Group Colloquium (and The Great Bayes Debate!)

This week we have two special events.

First, a colloquium from Prof. Cliff Hooker (a pioneer of Cognitive Science at Newcastle, now an Emeritus Professor) in our usual time slot.

Then on Friday we debate whether "Bayesian cognitive models advance our understanding of the human mind." with Dan Navarro (University of Adelaide, and Don van Van Ravenzwaaij in the affirmative and Ben Newell ( and Scott Brown in the negative.

When: Thursday 23th October, 12-1pm (Colloquium)  and
            Friday 24th October, 1-2pm (Bayes Debate)

Where: Keats Reading Room, Psychology Building


Title: A Universal Model for Deep Problem Solving
Authors: Robert Farrell, Cliff Hooker

This paper provides a specific proposal for the internal drive and organisation of a problem solving process capable, if anything is, of solving initially strongly ill-defined (= deep) problems, and an explanation of why it is so cognitively powerful. Arguably it works, if anything does, everywhere deep problems arise, including in design, science, management and detective work, and performs as well or better than alternatives on most wicked problems. The proposed model arose from our study of the development of research into ape linguistic capacities using our high-level organisational model of learning process: self-directed anticipative learning (SDAL) combined with the standard model of design process in which problem and solution are iteratively reformulated.


Robert Farrell holds a PhD (ANU) in Philosophy of Science, has published a well received book on Paul Feyerabend's critique of the common, too simplistic, accounts of scientific method, and 8 papers on the present research.

Cliff Hooker, PhD (Physics), PhD (Philosophy), FAHA is emeritus prof. of Philosophy at NewcastleU. he has published 150+ papers (incl. 7 of Farrell's 8 papers) and authored/edited 20+ books on foundations of physics, biology and complex systems, and on rationality, philosophy of science, applied ethics and kindred topics.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

JUST PUBLISHED: Resilience and Responses to Persistent Pain

The concept of resilience is of considerable interest in clinical practice.  The resilient person shows relatively speedy recovery from a disturbance and an ability to resume their former work practices, habits and normal life.  In addition, they are able to maintain that recovery over the long-term.

The maintenance of recovery is of particular interest in patients suffering from chronic pain, since the presence of persistent pain leads to a raft of behavioural and cognitive changes all aimed at coping with the pain.  And since the pain is persistent, the adaptations are chronic, be they beneficial or not.

In a recently published study, Christie Mason, Toby Newton-John and Mick Hunter interviewed 101 patients attending a pain clinic and administered a range of self-report and assessment scales.  The scales covered areas of perceived pain intensity; attitudes to the pain; functional disability; mental health and wellbeing and available social support, as well as measures of resilience and self-reliance.

The results showed clear association between greater pain intensity and poor coping scores.  The measures of coping (scores showing fear of movement and of re-injury, evidence of catastrophising, depression and disability) were negatively associated with measures of resilience and self-efficacy.  Importantly, for this group, there was a significant positive relationship between resilience and the likelihood of the patient attending work.  However, the very strong relationship between pain intensity and depression, which explained much of the variance in a hierarchical regression of the variables, illustrates the difficulties faced by clinicians in treating these patients.

For further information, please see the following article:

Newton-John TR, Mason C, & Hunter M (2014). The role of resilience in adjustment and coping with chronic pain. Rehabilitation psychology, 59 (3), 360-5 PMID: 25019306

***Our hearty congratulations go to Christie Mason on her recent graduation with a Clinical Doctorate.***

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Cognitive Psychology Group Colloquium

When: Thursday 16th October, 12-1pm
Where: Keats Reading Room, Psychology Building
Prof. Michael Humphreys, University of Queensland
Dr. Kerry Chalmers, University of Newcastle

Title: Episodic Memory
The distinction between episodic and semantic memory dominates most introductions to the study of human memory.  However, in practice this distinction is often ignored.  In an effort to understand whether the distinction is really important and whether it is the best way to introduce students to the study of memory we look at the history of the episodic/semantic distinction.  The object is to understand the problems the distinction addresses and to evaluate the possibility of defining episodic memory. We also consider why it is so difficult to answer questions about whether non-human animals and young children have episodic memories.