Sunday, 20 May 2018

Best wishes to Dr Kirsty Carrick

Hello everyone,

Last week, a long-term staff member retired. Kirsty Carrick has been with us for over 20 years and is a highly respected and much valued member of our team. This got me thinking about how one of the very many strengths of our school is about commitment and longevity in the job. Whether we like it or not, we are an important part of each other’s lives. Many of you remember when our colleague’s got married, when their children were born, and when they were going through ups and downs in their lives. This is the difference between a community and a place of work, it is about loyalty and connection, and it reflects how welcomed I felt from everyone here at the UoN from my very first day. The people we work with are not just our colleagues, but they are people that we share our lives with.

Speaking about longevity, I met with Daphne Keats yesterday. A strong woman who has been a cornerstone of our school. At 92 she just returned from another trip to China where she celebrated the anniversary of the China-Australia Centre for Cross-cultural research, that she started many years ago. I think this centre is a powerful legacy and I have been thinking about how we could maintain it, working with Stefi and the Keats fund. It would be great to continue the momentum that she and John started so many years ago. We could perhaps start with taking some of our students over to run some small cross-cultural projects as part of their undergraduate program? Offer some teaching exchanges?

Last night I also went to the inaugural lecture celebrating the 40th anniversary of medicine at the UoN. Sitting there waiting for the lecture to start, I was watching the rolling video of historical pictures of the medical school form the 70’s through the 80’s and so on to today. In the audience were past deans, VC’s, students and academics. Professor Brian Kelly - the current Head of Medicine and Public Health, describes how he was one of those early medical students. Once again I was struck by this notion of working within an institution that allows us to grow as academics, and encourages commitment and loyalty. Once again, I feel very lucky to be here J    

Good luck Kirsty, you will be missed.


Sunday, 6 May 2018

UoN School of Psychology's Community Engagement

Hello everyone,

Over the last week or so I have been thinking about outreach – why should we do it, and why is it important?

There are the usual fiscal arguments about outreach. About bums-on-seats and income. But for me, the financial flow-on is just a happy coincidence of the real reason we do this.

For example, I have been talking to people like Mary Watson from Wiyillian ta, Dominic Dates from Wollotuka, and my old colleagues from the Tjabal centre, and I am constantly struck by how important it is for us to engage in our indigenous community. We currently have 21 students who identify as indigenous in the BPsyc(Hons), and 13 in the BPsycSc, that’s a tiny portion of our student cohort. It is estimated that we need 800 indigenous therapists across Australia to cope with current demand, yet we have less than 100. Connecting with indigenous colleagues, institutions, students and communities is vital in order to get that little snowball of information and awareness rolling so that indigenous students all over Australia will consider Psychology as a profession, go on to study psychology and then go on to work in community. Our staff and students; Stefi, Jesse, Olivia and April – for example - are doing a fantastic job in establishing and nurturing these connections, and we support them all the way.

Outreach is also about our obligation as scientists and educated people, and I was reminded of this a few days ago by Bryan. We have all studied for many years. We are all experts in our fields, we are all superb scholars. Our education and expertise affords us a social responsibility that goes beyond our teaching and research commitments. Pseudopsychology is alive and well in the community and being adopted by schools, hospitals, community groups, the media and individuals. As learned people, we roll our eyes and scoff. But without us out there connecting with people and sharing our knowledge, we leave a knowledge gap that gets filled with pseudopsychology, and in the end – we have only ourselves to blame. Examples of what we can and should be doing – Frini was out talking to victims of stroke and their families this week about some of the science behind stroke. Also this week, Emina went out to a local primary school to talk about social influence because the kids are submitting a Premier’s prize application for a project to reduce plastic waste. Bill has been out to talk to indigenous kids at the Ourimbah Insight day, Michelle goes out in her own time and talks to community groups about dementia. And I am sure that there is a lot more that we all do that we just consider to be ‘part of our job’.

So why is engagement so important? Yes, it is about forming relationships that will provide research opportunities, placements, attract students, and contribute to communities that need psychologists. However, it is also a mechanism that allows us to share our knowledge, to give back to our communities. Collectively, we have a great deal of specialised knowledge, and with that knowledge comes responsibility. I would argue that it is our responsibility and obligation to give back to our community, and personally, I feel very privileged to be in a position to do so.

Have a great week everyone

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

SOPRG seminar: Join us for a research presentation on Communicating and Learning with Digital Media on Tuesday 8th May, 12-1pm

The Social and Organisational Psychology Research Group (SOPRG) is proud to host a talk by Dr Stephanie Pieschl, UON’s School of Education.

WHEN: Tuesday 8th May, 12-1pm.

WHERE: Keats reading room, Aviation building AVLG17, Callaghan Campus. VC link to Ourimbah campus Science offices' seminar room.

TITLE: Communicating and Learning with Digital Media

ABSTRACT: In this talk, I will give a short overview of my research about how humans deal with the challenges of digitalization and the state of their digital literacy. One strand of my research focuses on self-regulated learning with computer-based learning environments. Among others, I explored learners’ metacognitive adaptation to task demands and their help-seeking as well as the impact of their epistemic beliefs and prior knowledge on their learning processes and outcomes. In another strand of research, I focus on using and communicating with Social Media. For example, I investigated the prevalence, definitional characteristics, risk and protective factors, and consequences of cyberbullying. Based on that research, I created and evaluated the first German cyberbullying prevention program. Additionally, I have been interested in privacy regulation on Social Media and subjective theories about and impact of violent and prosocial media consumption. My research ranges from fundamental experimental research on memory, cognition, and metacognition, to more applied studies in formal and informal learning and communication contexts.

BIO: In 2017 I relocated to Newcastle and I have been a Senior Lecturer of Educational Psychology at the School of Education ever since. I am a trained psychologist (my Diploma, 2002, Doctor of Philosophy, 2008, and Habilitation, 2015, are all in Psychology) and specialize in educational psychology. I started my academic career at the University of Muenster, Germany, but also served as an interim Professor at the University of Wuerzburg, Germany, and as a visiting researcher at the Simon Fraser University, Canada. I have published in some of the top journals in my field and have been involved in multi-million euro interdisciplinary research projects. For more information, please have a look at my profile page:

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

First Time Abroad from Iran to Start a PhD within the new Newcastle-Oxford Research Centre for Conflict and Cohesion

Yasser Saeedian has just commenced a PhD in the School of Psychology with the Newcastle-Oxford Research Centre for Conflict and Cohesion (NORCCC) that will explore people’s daily experiences of intergroup contact and intergroup anxiety using experience sampling methods and psychophysiological measures. Yasser’s interest in working with world-class researchers in a multicultural context has taken him from Iran to Australia.

“Living in a culturally diverse environment and undertaking my PhD with NORCCC, supervised by Associate Professor Stefania Paolini and Dr Elise Kalokerinos, have provided me with a tremendous opportunity not only to increase long term research capabilities, but also to develop a global identity by interacting with people from different ethnic backgrounds that I have never had contact before” Yasser said.

Photo: Yasser with Prof Miles Hewstone

The first two weeks of his PhD coincided with Professor Miles Hewstone’s visit to UoN. Prof Hewstone is one of the most influential and productive Social Psychologists in the world, currently at the University of Oxford and Global Innovation Chair in NORCCC at UoN.

“All I was thinking during these two weeks was how I could make the most of Professor Hewstone’s visit. His valuable suggestions for my PhD were so inspiring. Through the informal meetings, he provided us with his practical tips on how to stay academically motivated and maintain a work-life balance. It was also very exciting to listen to his experience about his involvement in public policy input relating to improving intergroup relations in the UK. I think they were two extraordinary weeks” he said, smiling.

Photo: Prof Miles Hewstone meets SOPRG research students and staff – UON Social and Organisational Psychology Research group – as part of NORCCC mentoring activities.

For more information on the Newcastle-Oxford Research centre for Conflict and Cohesion:

Monday, 23 April 2018

UoN Psycology Head of School, Prof Kristen Pammer, reports live from HODSPA!

Today I write to you from sunny Wollongong, where I am attending the April HODSPA (Heads of Departments and Schools of Psychology Association) meeting where all the heads of psychology from around Australia meet to discuss critical issues for the discipline and profession of psychology. 

It has been great to catch up with colleagues from around Australia and to share our combined concerns and interests for our schools and departments. Some of the important areas of discussion has been around the new APAC requirements. For those of you who are not familiar with the process, we teach psychology to a very strict standard with rigid compliance requirements, and our compliance with these standards gets assessed every 5 years. For the first time in a long time, the compliance requirements will change to allow us to be more flexible and creative. This change will come into place next year and affect us in our next accreditation round. 

On the back of the new accreditation requirements, there was also much discussion around the indigenisation of the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum. Mem Mahmut gave a talk about his work around collecting ideas of ‘best practice’ from around the world to advise us on how to do this in an effective, authentic and sensitive way. Mem has been a visitor to our school in the past, and I caught up with him over lunch and reinforced our support and commitment to his work. I am looking forward to having him visit again later this year. 

The afternoon discussions revolved around how we can provide opportunities to make psychology students more work-ready. What are the skills that psychology students need after 3 and 4 years of study to enter the workforce, given that many students don’t go on to clinical professions? What are the work-ready skills that our PD students need given that less than 1% of STEM PhD graduates go on to full-time academic careers? How can we make our students more future-proof, confident and employable as they move into the workforce? This is an exciting time to study Psychology as the discipline and profession changes and reinvents itself to be more adaptable, creative and responsive to the needs of the individual and society. These are discussions that we will continue in our school and I value your input and feedback.


Friday, 13 April 2018

University of Newcastle PhD students present at the Annual Conference of the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists – Wellington, New Zealand

Social psychology PhD students Olivia Evans, Monica Gendi, Stephanie Hardacre, Romany McGuffog, and Matylda Mackiewicz, (along with Associate Professors Mark Rubin and Stefania Paolini, and Dr Elise Kalokerinos) recently attended the Annual Society of Australasian Social Psychologists (SASP) conference in Wellington, New Zealand. Being the most popular avenue for the dissemination of current social psychological research within Australasia, the 3-day conference attracted 150 pre-eminent national and international researchers. It allowed us to communicate our research to a larger academic audience, and to build collaborative networks with key Australian (and international) academics.

Olivia was shortlisted for the Outstanding Postgraduate Research Award, and presented on the role of social integration in the relationship between social class and mental health. Olivia also chaired her first symposium, titled “Socioeconomic Inequality”, where she discussed the role of social trust and support in the relationship between social class and mental health. Romany participated in the same symposium, presenting findings on the relationships between social class, sleep, and mental and physical health. In different sessions, Monica presented on how perspective taking and social support mediate the relation between need for closure and mental health, while Stephanie delivered a presentation on the effects of leader gender and message framing on mobilising people for gender equality. Matylda presented qualitative analysis findings regarding intergroup contact in the context of attending a Hijab stall.

Meanwhile, Mark presented on workplace sexism and belonging in male-dominated industries, while Stefi discussed findings relating to the effects of incidental and integral emotions on interethnic bias. Finally, Elise delivered a talk on the effects of negative emotional anticipation in regards to negative events.

Because half of SASP’s attendees comprise postgraduate students, it offered a different atmosphere compared to typical conferences, in that it allowed us to network with students and academics alike. We were treated to a very special traditional Māori pōwhiri (welcome ceremony), followed by a hongi (ceremonial touching of noses). We also enjoyed postgraduate workshops discussing the benefits (and perils) of working with the media, and demystifying the publication process. On the social side of things, a visit to the fascinating Te Papa Museum was followed by a trip on the Wellington Cable Car. In what is quickly becoming a SASP tradition, we then tried our hand at Wellington’s only Escape Room – with great success! We can’t wait to attend next year’s conference – this time a little closer to home in Sydney.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Welcome Prof Kristen Pammer, the new Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle

Hi everyone,

I am delighted to be here at the School of Psychology and Newcastle University. I have been here now for almost 3 months and have started to get my head around names, faces and acronyms. I’m still not yet used to the mosquitos, but I guess that will come with time and liberal amounts of Aerogard.

My undergraduate and postgraduate years were spent at a university much like this one – the University of Wollongong. From there I took up a position at the Australian National University and was there for almost 20 years. During this time I did spend postgraduate years in England, Finland and Japan. These international positions developed my skills in neuroimaging in that I was privileged to work in some of the best MEG (magnetoencephalography) laboratories in the world. Unfortunately now-days I don’t get the chance to do much MEG work, but I have been working lately in the area of road safety, which satisfies my desire to be a part of research that is directly applicable to people’s lives. This complements the research that I have done all my career on understanding dyslexia and reading disorders.

Last night I found the university’s motto; “I look ahead” which I found to be particularly prophetic as it captures very much my vision for the school. My aim is to enable all staff and students to be the best that they can be. To “look ahead” and focus on being great, to “look ahead” to shape the future in educating others and contributing to research that shapes lives.

By working together we can look ahead to ensure that our school takes its rightful place in some of the best psychology schools in the world. I look forward to walking that path with every single one of you over the next years, and I encourage you to tell me about is best about our school and what we can be doing better. I am committed to an open door policy where everyone is welcome to drop past for a chat, so I look forward to meeting you all.  

 Prof Kristen Pammer, always looking ahead

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Researchers and HDR students from the UoN School of Psychology present their research in Hobart

Researchers and HDR students from the School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle shared their latest scientific discoveries with fellow experimental psychologists at the Annual Meeting of the Australian Society of Experimental Psychology (EPC 2018).

The meeting took place in Hobart April 4-7, 2018, and was a great success. Among the excellent oral and poster presentation there was a hefty representation for our school's Higher Degree students, who had all done a terrific job and were highly commended for the quality of their research and presentations. These include Zach Howard (multitasking),  Laura Wall (modeling multiple subjects across multiple tasks), Asheek Shimul (mobile phones and math), Reilly Innes (cognitive workload), Alex Thorpe (workload capacity), Caroline Kuhne (priors for model selection), and Paul Garrett (life logging).

Well done everybody.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

SOPRG seminar: Join us for a research presentation on emotion regulation by DECRA Fellow Dr Kalokerinos

The Social and Organisational Psychology Research Group (SOPRG) is proud to host a talk by Dr Elise Kalokerinos. Elise is our new psychology member of staff and DECRA fellow. Come and offically welcome Elise!

WHEN: Tuesday 10th April, 12-1pm.

WHERE: Keats reading room, Aviation building AVLG17, Callaghan Campus. VC link to Ourimbah campus Science offices' seminar room.

TITLE: Putting Emotion Regulation in Context

Research often characterizes emotion regulation strategies as either “good” or “bad” for psychological functioning. However, outside the lab, the context in which emotion regulation is enacted changes dynamically, and in response to these changes, both “good” and “bad” strategies are used to achieve a wide variety of goals. Thus, effective emotion regulation cannot be understood without an understanding of context. In this talk, I will provide an overview of the work I have done thus far in building a contextual model of emotion regulation. My research suggests that effective emotion regulation depends on who is involved (social factors), when the strategy is deployed (temporal factors), and why a strategy is chosen (motivational factors). I will briefly cover several studies I have conducted in the lab and using experience sampling methods, and highlight the work I am planning as part of my DECRA project at Newcastle.

Elise Kalokerinos is a Lecturer and DECRA fellow in social psychology at the University of Newcastle. She was previously a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at KU Leuven, Belgium. Her research centres on emotion regulation, which refers to the variety of processes through which people influence their emotion. She investigates how contextual features influence 1) the strategies people choose to regulate their emotions, and 2) how successful those strategies are in both the short-term (in changing emotion) and the longer-term (in shaping psychological well-being). Her work uses multiple methods, including traditional lab experiments and experience sampling studies using smartphones to investigate these phenomena in daily life.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

JUST PUBLISHED: Special issue on 'Dynamics of Cognitive Control' edited by UoN Prof Frini Karayanidis with collaborators Fabiani and Gratton

Frini Karayanidis and her collaborators, Professors Monica Fabiani and Gabriele Gratton, from the University of Illinois’ Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology jointly edited a special issue on "Dynamics of Cognitive Control: A View Across Methodologies" in Psychophysiology (March 2018, Vol. 55(3)), the flagship journal of the Society for Psychophysiological Research.

This special issue emerged from the ICON-XII Satellite Meeting on Cognitive Control that was chaired by Karayanidis with support by HMRI and UON. The work was progressed during Karayanidis’ visit to Fabiani and Gratton’s lab as the 2016 Beckman Senior Beckman Fellow.
The special issue takes a broad, multimethod perspective on the topic of cognitive control. It is a substantial volume that includes two comprehensive reviews (temporal dynamics of cognitive control, frontal control networks), two theoretical papers presenting novel theoretical perspectives, and eleven empirical studies, each addressing a problem related to the dynamics of cognitive control using combinations of methodologies (eg., modelling, hemodynamic neuroimaging, electrophysiology) and/or analysis approaches (eg., time frequency, event-related potentials (ERPs). The aim is to stimulate further multi-modal research to enhance understanding of cognitive control processes.

Professor Frini Karayanidis

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Cognitive seminar by Prof Jim Townsend, Indiana University

Many of us know about Signal Detection Theory (SDT) and perhaps even use it in our research. It was historically important in separating the bias in human response from perceptual factors such as signal to noise ratio. There is much more we can do within this framework nowadays, and Prof Jim Townsend from Indiana University is one of the leading figures worldwide in the forefront of these advances. He will present recent advances in General Recognition Theory, which can be very crudely viewed as an extension of SDT to complex decisions that involve multiple dimensions. .

The Cognitive Research Group is proud to host a talk by Distinguished Professor James Townsend from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University:

WHEN: Thursday 8 March, 12-1pm.

WHERE: Keats reading room, AVLG17. VC link to Ourimbah available on request.

TITLE: Response Time General Recognition Theory (RTGRT):  The Parallel Class of Systems.

ABSTRACT: GRT (Ashby & Townsend, Psych.Rev., 1986) is, like classical signal detection theory, static in the sense that there is no stochastic process defined on the perceptual detection process itself.  However, it still comprises the major theory-driven methodology for identification of multi-dimensional perception and classification in the field with hundreds of cited applications.  Nonetheless, its static quality is theoretically limiting because:

1. It cannot encompass exceedingly important observables such as probability correct conditional on response times (RTs).
2. As we have repeatedly argued and proven mathematically [e.g., Eidels, A., Townsend, J. T., Hughes, H. C., & Perry, L. A. (2015). Evaluating Perceptual Integration: Uniting Response Time and Accuracy Based Methodologies. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 77, 659-680.], accuracy rather than RTs is optimal for assessing independence of various types but RTs are optimal for identification of mental architectures such as parallel vs. serial processing.

Thus, by extending GRT to a stochastic environment, we simultaneously

1. Probe varieties of independence in terms of the RT dynamics as well as the overall probabilities of response patterns.
2. Set the stage for a grand unification of GRT and SFT, thereby permitting the assessment of independencies and invariances at the same time as identification of architecture and stopping rule.
3. Unify GRT also with A(t), the generalization of the capacity function, C(t) to data containing errors.

If time permits, the following readings will be beneficial preparation for Jim’s talk: 

Ashby, F. G., & Townsend, J. T. (1986). Varieties of perceptual independence. Psychological Review, 93, 154-179.
Townsend, J. T., Houpt, J., & Silbert, (2012). General recognition theory extended to include response times: Predictions for a class of parallel systems. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 56, 476-494. 

We look forward to seeing you there! 

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Engage with prominent international visitors in Cognitive and Mathematical Psychology

The School of Psychology is proud to host research visits by two prominent international researchers, distinguished Prof James Townsend from Indiana University, and Prof Cheng Ta Yang from the National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan. This is a remarkable opportunity for students and staff to engage with world-class researchers in the areas of Human Cognition and Mathematical Psychology. If you would like to meet Prof Townsend or Yang during their visit please contact Ami Eidels at

Prof Cheng Ta Yang's areas of research are primarily visual cognition and attention, visual memory and object recognition, with a focus on both experimentation and modeling. Prof Yang heads the visual cognition and modeling lab in National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, and in 2015 was elected the Outstanding Young Persons (Science and Technology Research Development category), Junior Chamber International, Taiwan.

Prof Jim Townsend is one of the most notable Mathematical Psychologists in the world. He developed ground breaking and widely applicable methods for uncovering the nature of mental processes, based on behavioral measures such as response times and accuracy. Prof Townsend served as the president of the society for Mathematical Psychology, and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Mathematical Psychology, and is currently a distinguished Prof in Indiana University, Bloomington, allegedly one of the top 2-3 cognitive modeling centers world-wide.

During their visit our distinguished guests will give seminars on their research in the Cognitive Group time slot, Thur 12-1pm (Keats room). You are warmly welcomed to attend:

Prof Yang: Thur March 1, 12-1pm in the Keats room.
Title: Systems factorial technology provides new insights on the perceptual decision-making process.

Prof Townsend: Thur March 8, 12-1pm in the Keats room.
Title: TBA

The visits are supported by ARC Discovery Project grant and Keats Endowment grant.

Monday, 12 February 2018

JUST PUBLISHED: new paper by UoN researchers and alumni in Psychological Review

A recent study by Dr Nathan Evans (former RHD student at the School of Psychology, University of Newcastle) and colleagues has been published in one of the flagship journals of psychological research, Psychological Review. This study examined how people become faster at tasks with increasing practice.

Although it is well established that people become faster at tasks with increasing practice, the precise rate that they improve at has been subject to vast debate. Most notably, researchers have debated over whether this rate is best accounted for by an exponential function or a power function – dubbed the “laws of practice” – with power functions predicting a much quicker and larger initial improvement than exponential functions, as well as much smaller amounts of improvement later in practice. Researchers Nathan Evans (formerly at UoN) , Scott Brown (School of Psychology UoN) , Douglas Mewhort (Queen's University, Canada), and Andrew Heathcote (U Tas, former head of the Newcastle Cognition Lab @ UoN) provided a key extension to these previous laws, extending them to account for trends found in the full response time distribution over practice (rather than just the mean response time), and to allow for an initial period of plateau, as improvements in complex tasks can often be slow at the beginning of practice before rapidly occurring.

To briefly summarise, findings across 18 experiments generally found that people’s improvements in time taken on the task over practice followed an exponential function, suggesting that improvements occur at a more balanced rate across practice than is predicted by the power function. In addition, improvements generally included an initial plateau, which was surprising given the extremely basic nature of the tasks in most of the 18 experiments assessed, and further showcased the importance of these new, extended laws of practice. A full version of the accepted manuscript can be found on the Newcastle Cognition Lab website (link: ).

Dr Nathan Evans

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Congratulations Dr Lachlan Tiffen: a PhD written, submitted, examined and awarded

On 25 January 2018 Dr Lachlan Tiffen was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy with his thesis successfully examined and completed with minimal changes required. Lachlan thesis, Individual Difference in Substance Use and Emotion, integrated a wide body of research from Jaak Panksepp’s affective neuroscience model of discrete emotions, the self-medication hypothesis, and personality.

The guiding research question was ‘why do some people transition to harmful substance use while others do not’. The thesis centred on translating substance related knowledge from affective neuroscience, through a discrete emotion systems model (Panksepp, 1998), to clinical psychology nomenclature. The framework came from Self Medication Hypothesis (SMH; Khantzian, 1997) propositions that the foundation of addiction vulnerability was dysfunctional self-regulation manifest in personality, which had psychopharmacological specificity.

The research program contained three studies, each exploring one of three aspects of emotion enquiry; subjective experience, behaviour and physiology (Mauss, Levenson, McCarter, Wilhelm & Gross, 2005) in relation to substance involvement risk. Study 1 examined subjective experience of personality, temperament, emotional regulation and parenting. Study 1 identified emotion related constructs that significantly correlated to and regressions models that could predict significant variability in participants’ involvement with various substances. Study 2 piloted a behavioural categorisation of International Affective Picture System (IAPS; Lang, Bradley & Cuthbert, 2008) stimuli. Study 2 produced image sets representing one neutral and seven discrete emotions providing preliminary support for dual, discrete and dimensional, models of emotion. Study 3 used these image sets to elicit electrodermal activity in a pilot experiment exploring links between participant substance involvement and psychophysiological response to emotional stimuli. Study 3 indicated some differentiation of electrodermal activity components between various substance types, however, results were tentative.

The research program evidence recommends separate analysis by gender and specific substances in future addiction research. It also provided evidence supporting reconceptualised SMH propositions. Although the translation of affective neuroscience through personality required refinement, other individual difference constructs that related to substance use offer interesting avenues for further investigation. This was the real legacy of the thesis; providing unique insights built on diverse, but interrelated foundations to act as guidance for future research into this most insidious and elusive problem for society.

Congratulations Dr Tiffen!

(Primary Supervisor Miles Bore, Co-Supervisor Frances Martin)

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Social and Organisational Psychology Research Group - Some Success Stories

It’s been a busy year for the School’s Social and Organisational Psychology Research Group. Time to congratulate a few recent success stories… 

Congratulations to A/Prof Stefania Paolini for her promotion to Associate Professor.

Congrats to Stefania and Dr Shira Mor for winning a John and Daphne Keats Endowment Research Fund grant: "Do Cultural metacognitions boost the benefits of positive interethnic contact? A field-test in an Israeli-Arab shared learning setting."

Congrats to Olivia Evans for winning a $10,000 Larapinta Trail Challenge PhD Scholarship.

Congrats to Stephanie Hardacre for winning a scholarship to attend the 2018 SASP Summer School.

Congrats to Richard Turner for winning a Higher Degree by Research scholarship to study for a PhD with Mark Rubin and Emina Subasic.

And many thanks to all our speakers for their presentations this year and our PhD and Hons students for their hard-work in their studies.

Have a great Christmas break everyone!


Friday, 8 December 2017

Vice-Chancellor's 2017 Award for Early Career Research and Innovation Excellence

Congratulations to Dr Guy Hawkins from the School of Psychology who recently received two research awards from the University of Newcastle.

At the end-of-year Faculty of Science Awards Ceremony , Guy received the Faculty of Science Award for Early Career Research and Innovation Excellence.

Last week, at the Vice Chancellor's Awards night, Guy received a Vice-Chancellor's Award for Early Career Research and Innovation Excellence.

Both awards noted Guy as a rising star of the Australian cognitive science community who is now recognised for his research excellence beyond Australia's borders, and also beyond the borders of cognitive science. Congratulations Guy!

For more information on the Vice Chancellor's Awards and an overview of 2017 recipients, click here.

Friday, 1 December 2017

E&D SERIES: Presentation on Indigenising psychology curricula closes a busy year for the UON Psychology-Led Aboriginal Equity and Diversity Working Party

Please come and join us for a presentation on Indigenising psychology curricula by Dr Mem Mahmut from Psychology at Macquarie University. This presentation is co-sponsored by the Psychology-led Aboriginal, Equity and Diversity working party and the Social and Organisational Research Group. It will encourage our school to think deeper about our own process of making the psychology curricula relevant and responsive to the needs and aspirations of individuals from varied Equity and Diversity groups.

Dr Mahmut was recently awarded a Churchill Fellowship which will allow him to travel overseas to discover the world's best practice for embedding Indigenous perspectives and teaching in psychology degrees.

WHEN: Tuesday 12th December, 12-1pm

WHERE: Keats Reading Room, Psychology Building, Callaghan (Video link to Ourimbah Science Offices Meeting Room).

WHAT: Presentation entitled “Indigenizing our psychology curricula by individual-led collective action”

An abstract and bio for Dr Mahmut can be found below.

This presentation, as part of our Equity and Diversity Series, marks the end of the activities for 2017 of the busy Psychology-Led Aboriginal Equity and Diversity Working Party. The Psychology-led Aboriginal, Equity and Diversity working party was established in February 2016 to educate staff, students, general public about Aboriginal and Equity and Diversity issues and ensure that teaching, research, service, and governance in Psychology, at UON, and in the local community are cognizant and responsive to the needs, sensitivities, and aspirations of Aboriginal peoples and other E&D groups.

Since its inception, with A/Prof Stefania Paolini’s headship, the AE&D working party has been instrumental in leading, coordinating, facilitating a host of important school-wide AE&D activities, initiatives, achievements towards cultural safety and cultural competence of students, staff, and the broader community. The AE&D working party’s efforts and achievements were recognised by the 2017 UON Faculty of Science’s Collaboration Award high commendation.

DR MAHMUT’S ABSTRACT: We all have the ability to contribute towards closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and the aim of this talk is to demonstrate the small role everyone can play to enact big changes. In this presentation, I will outline the process we have started to embed Indigenous perspectives into Macquarie University's psychology curriculum. I will also detail the international research I will conduct to discover the best approach for Indigenizing psychology curricula as part of my Churchill Fellowship and conclude with the support I need from you to ensure my findings translate into change.

DR MAHMUT’S BIO: Dr Mem Mahmut is a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Macquarie University where he convenes an introductory psychology unit and is the co-director of the Food, Flavour and Fragrance lab. Mem's research investigates the impact a poor sense of smell and low level of empathy has on human behaviour, including the impact on romantic relationships. Mem was recently awarded a Churchill Fellowship which will allow him to travel overseas to discover the world's best practice for embedding Indigenous perspectives and teaching in psychology degrees.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Equity & Diversity Series: UON Psychology researcher secures book contract on transgender health and The Australian Marriage Survey

On 15th November 2017, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 61.6% of Australians and 88.7% of the electorates indicated that they favoured same-sex marriage (see ABS statistics here). With nearly 13 million people returning the survey, the measurement error is minuscule (approx: .00028%). Hence, one would expect a quick enactment of legislation reflecting these views.

Despite the celebrations that have ensued nationwide in the last week, the long survey cycle and campaigning may have exacerbated distress among members of the LGBTIQ community. It is well-established that LGBTIQ people suffer higher levels of distress than the rest of the Australian population, including increased risk of self-harm and suicidal thoughts, especially among the young and gender diverse individuals. From experiences in other countries, however we also know that LGBTIQ people’s lives have improved considerably after their community has legalized same-sex marriage. This includes a 7% reduction in suicide-attempt rate in a US study, and evidence of improvements in various dimensions of same-sex couples’ lives in other studies.

A lot has happened in this area of Equity and Diversity over the last decade nationally and internationally: Community, media and political debate have widened and often become heated, the number of published research articles on LGBTIQ issues has similarly escalated. UON Psychology is actively engaged in this process: Psychology conjoint Associate Professor Rachel Heath and her collaborator recently secured a contract from a US publisher to write an update to Rachel's 2006 book with the new title “A guide to transsexual and transgender health: State-of-the-art information for gender-affirming people and their supporters”. The book is intended to provide a readable and scientifically valid account of the main issues associated with people’s goal of attaining an appropriate confirmation of their gender aspirations towards increased wellbeing, happiness and productivity. A/Prof Rachel Heath hopes to have the book available for purchase by delegates to the biennial World Professional Association of Transgender Health Conference to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in November 2018.

We need more research and more balanced dissemination of research findings in this area. When asked to comment on the science community’s role, A/Prof Heath said: “It is difficult for scientists to comprehend the complexities revealed by the infinite diversity of sexual orientation and gender expression. There is much research to be done in this field from a psychological perspective, as well as by researchers in cognate disciplines”. In 2006 A/Prof Rachel Heath published one of the first comprehensive research volumes on the topic, a volume that is available in the University of Newcastle and Mater Hospital libraries, and in over 400 libraries worldwide. We look forward to UON Psychology and researchers to continue playing an active role in E&D research and advocacy for the wellbeing and self-determination of E&D groups and LGBTIQ communities.