Monday, 17 September 2018

School of Psychology research seminar: Modeling Dynamic Social Networks

The UoN School of Psychology is proud to present:


Location: Keats AVLG-17 
and video conference to Ourimbah EXSA-102 Room
No rsvp required
Light refreshments will be provided
Date: Wednesday 19th September 2018 Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Title: Modeling and Analysis of Dynamic Social Networks
Mohsen did his undergraduate studies in Electrical Engineering at the Shiraz University of Technology. He then did his master studies again in Electrical Engineering at the National University of Singapore in 2009. He did his PhD under supervision of Prof. Brian. D.O. Anderson at Research School of Engineering inthe Australian National University in 2014. He iscurrently a post-doctoral researcher at the NewcastleUniversity, Australia. His research interests includesecurity, control, estimation and optimization for cyber-physical systems and analysis of social networks.In the past, social networks consisted of a limited number of individuals discussing an issue. However, with the ever-growing speed of technology, this number has increased exponentially. Individuals in a social network can influence each other's opinions on various topics. Hence, it is of utmost importance to comprehend the underlying structure of opinion dynamics in social networks. Understanding how opinions are formed in a social network and the patterns of relationships among individuals can help us realize the weaknesses, strengths, and interests of individuals. In this talk, I introduce some of the existing model sets that have been proposed for capturing evolution of opinions within social groups. Several model sets will be introduced and relations between them will be analyzed

Monday, 3 September 2018

Cognitive Group seminar on Aviation Cmmunication

Dr Dominique Estival from the University of Western Sydney will visit Newcastle this coming Thursday and will present her work on Aviation Communication.

WHEN: Thursday Sept 6, 12-1pm

WHERE: Keats room, Psychology/Aviation building

WHAT: Cog seminar on 'Aviation Communication'


Between 1976 and 2000, more than 1,100 passengers and crew lost their lives in accidents in which investigators determined that language had played a contributory role.Although Aviation English has been established as the international language of aviation, communication between pilots and Air Traffic Control (ATC) is still not always error-free. Problems can be exacerbated when one or more of the speakers use English as a second (or third) language.  Conducted from a human factors and a linguistic perspective, research on communication errors made by pilots investigated the factors impacting on communication accuracy (including workload, information density, rate of speech and native language). Results from experiments conducted in a flight simulator and results from a recent study of LiveATC recordings at Sydney airport will be presented.


Dominique Estival holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. As a linguist, her research spans the computational modelling of language change, machine translation, linguistic engineering, spoken dialogue systems and aviation communication. As a pilot and a flight instructor, she has first-hand experience of student pilots’ difficulties with radio communication and she studies how pilot training, language background and contextual factors affect pilots’ ability to communicate while flying. Her recent book “Aviation English: A lingua franca for pilots and air traffic controllers” will soon appear in paperback.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

School of Psychology research seminar: 'How the brain makes sense of the world'

The School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle is proud to host a research seminar by Dr Kara Federmier

WHEN: Wednesday, Sept 5, 12-1pm

WHERE: Keats room ( video conference to Ourimbah EXSA-201 )

No RSVP required, light refreshments will be provided


Kara D. Federmeier received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego. She is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Neuroscience Program at the University of Illinois and a full-time faculty member at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, where she leads the Illinois Language and Literacy Initiative and heads the Cognition and Brain Lab.  She is also currently serving as the President of the Society for Psychophysiological Research. Her research examines meaning comprehension and memory using human electrophysiological techniques, in combination with behavioral, eyetracking, and other functional imaging and psychophysiological methods.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Research Student Presents at Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam

Duy Le, a Master of Philosophy student at the School of Psychology under the supervision of A/Profs Ross Wilkinson and Mark Rubin, recently attended and presented at the sixth conference on school psychology in Vietnam. 

The conference, titled “The Role of School Psychology in Promoting Wellbeing of Students and Families”, was co-organised by The Consortium to Advance School Psychology – International (CASP-I) and Hanoi National University of Education. The conference’s objective was to bring together psychologists and related stakeholders to advance the profession and services of school psychology to promote the well-being of students and their families. In two days (August 1 – 2, 2018), the conference attracted around 300 American and Vietnamese psychological researchers and practitioners, policy makers, university managers and lecturers, psychological students, parents, and school managers and teachers from different education sectors.

At the conference Duy presented his paper, co-authored by A/Prof Ross Wilkinson, titled “Students’ mental health during university transition across the cultures: An attachment perspective”. The presentation focused on an attachment theory perspective of mental health issues of students during their transition to university. Up to now, studies on attachment in Vietnam have been focused on the infant – mother relationship rather than adult (including university students) attachment. With his presentation, Duy hoped to popularise the concept of adolescent and adult attachment and promote the use of this concept among school psychologists and researchers in Vietnam.

Duy began his research program this year with a cross-cultural project looking at the mental health, attachment and social integration of first-year university students in Australia and Vietnam. With the support of an Australia Awards Scholarship, this former university lecturer and psychological counsellor hopes to be successful with his studies before returning to Vietnam and using his new knowledge and experience to develop a support program for university students in Ho Chi Minh City.

Photo: Duy Le (blue shirt) and his former lecturers at the conference

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

School of Psychology research seminar: Music and Emotions

The School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle is proud to host a research seminar by Dr Genevieve Dingle.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 22, 12-1pm

WHERE: Keats room ( video conference to Ourimbah EXSA-201 )

No RSVP required, light refreshments will be provided

WHAT: seminar on "Music and Emotions across the Lifespan"


Australian household surveys have shown that music is among the top strategies people use to regulate negative emotions; and the number one strategy among young adults. It is interesting therefore that so little is known about the link between music, emotions, and emotion regulation in various age groups. In this seminar I will present several studies from our lab on emotion perception and emotional response to music and other sound stimuli in children, young adults, and older adults. I will also describe the Tuned In music emotion regulation program, and some results from school and community samples. This seminar is likely to interest academics in the emotion, developmental and clinical psychology disciplines.

Dr Genevieve Dingle

Monday, 13 August 2018

COPE: The ‘Choose your Own Parenting Experience’ Study

Being a new parent can be difficult. Psychoeducation has been shown to significantly benefit parents in the transition to parenthood. 

Researcher from the FIND lab (Family Interactions & Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) at the University of Newcastle investigate the effects of game-based learning using an interactive m-health game. M-health is the use of mobile phones in health-based communication and games. The ‘Choose Your Own Parenting Experience’ is a fun, interactive, game-based experience modelled on the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ format designed to be played on your mobile phone. It is designed to equip parents with parenting tips and knowledge to help them on their parenting journey. 

This week, Miranda Cashin – Honours student at the Ourimbah campus under the supervision of Dr Linda Campbell – talked about her Honours research on ABC central Coast (7/8/2018) and 2NURFM (8/8/2018). Miranda did a fantastic interview that we would like to share with you. 
If you would like listen to it, or to know more about the research and perhaps participate – please go to the lab's website

The study is the brain child of PhD candidate, Jaime Wroe – a graduate from our School.

Well done Miranda (left) and Jaime (right) !  

Friday, 10 August 2018

CBMHR Early Career Researcher conference

PhD Students and Postdocs from the School of Psychology recently presented talks and posters as part of the Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health’s (CBMHR) annual Early Career Researcher (ECR) conference. The conference brings together ECRs working in preclinical neurobiology, psychological processes, and mental health across several different schools at the University of Newcastle. Our psychology ECRs presented on topics across cognitive, clinical, social, and biological psychology. We’d like to thank all the psychology presenters, who gave excellent and engaging talks and posters: Alexander Thorpe, Mattsen Yeark, Jade Goodman, Paul Garrett, Sharon Hollins, Ashlea Rendell, Gavin Cooper, Jon-Paul Cavallaro, Max Katz-Barber, and Yasser Saeedian,

We’d also like to congratulate the prize-winners from the School of Psychology!
Jade Goodman won Best Talk for her work with Associate Professor Kerry Chalmers and Dr Emily Freeman on the associations between childhood trauma and working memory ability in adulthood.

Alexander Thorpe was the runner-up for Best Talk for his work with Dr Keith Nesbitt, Associate Professor Ami Eidels, and Conjoint Associate Professor Rachel Heath on measuring workload capacity with a continuous task.

Jon-Paul Cavallaro won Best Poster for his work with Professor Scott Brown and Dr Guy Hawkins on consumer choices under time pressure.

Thanks to everybody who was involved, and we hope to see you next year!

Elise Kalokerinos, Sally Hunt, and Guy Hawkins
Psychology Early Career Researcher Representatives on the Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research Committee

Monday, 6 August 2018

School of Psychology research seminars for the coming term (2018 II)

This semester we are running a series of school-wide research seminars every second Wednesday, 12-1pm, starting from Week 2 - 8th August.

Guest speakers and topics:

·       Kristen Pammer              Attention, distraction and driving in the loop

·       Genevieve Dingle            Music and emotions across the lifespan

·       Kara Fedemeier               Finding meaning in time: what electrophysiology reveals about how the brain makes sense of the world

·       Mohsen Zamani              Theoretical modelling of social networks to capture social influence/ persuasion processes  

·       ECR Committee              Introducing the Psychology ECR’s

·       Cognitive Group             Why would people use Bayes instead of NHST? And How-to! With demonstrations and workshop

The first talk is by our very own Head of School, Prof Kristen Pammer:

Image result for kristeen pammer

Speaker: Kristen Pammer
Where:  Keats Room AVLG-17 and video conference to Ourimbah Science offices
When: 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Attention, distraction and driving in the loop

Safe driving is predicated on attending to objects that are important in the environment, but also filtering out what is unimportant. Failing to detect critical objects when driving are estimated to constitute approximately 5% of all crashes, and around 9% of crashes involving serious injury. Looked-but-failed-to-see crashes describe car crashes in which drivers are apparently looking directly at an unexpected object on the road yet report failing to see it, resulting in a collision. A cognitive mechanism that explains looked-but-failed-to-see crashes is inattentional blindness (IB). IB is a phenomenon that occurs when observers fail to notice an unexpected, though clearly visible object in their visual field when their attention is engaged elsewhere. We have designed a unique driving-related IB task to explore attentional allocation to critical objects when driving, such as hazards and motorcycles, in different cohorts of drivers. In this, we have demonstrated differential allocation of attention, and this is important for our understanding of attention and situation awareness in driving.  Moreover, the complexity and familiarity of the driving task impacts situation awareness, such that our capacity for identifying changes in the driving scene deteriorates when the task of driving requires less attention – such as in familiar or unvarying driving environments. To address this, we propose that some level of distraction can optimise attentional capture of unexpected stimuli by disrupting the attentional set for driving, and forcing the observer to distribute their attention more broadly. This contradicts the common understanding of distraction in driving, where distraction refers to an additional stimulus that draws attention away from the primary task of driving. Yet we have demonstrated that that task-irrelevant distraction - regardless of modality - has the potential to facilitate conscious processing of unexpected stimuli. This implies an optimal level of distraction may be required for optimal attentional engagement. This is important in the context of increasing automation in driving, where drivers are increasingly ‘out of the loop’ and disengaged from the driving situation. Evidence of attentional engagement is crucial to our ability to allocate attention in a take-over scenario.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Congratulations Dr Sally Hunt, new convenor of the UoN Master of Professional Psychology program

It is my great pleasure to announce that Dr Sally Hunt will be joining us as the new convenor of the Master of Professional Psychology.

Sally completed her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology in 2003 and spent the first part of her career developing a solid foundation in clinical psychology by working in inpatient and outpatient mental health services and delivering psychological interventions in competitively funded randomised controlled trials. Her clinical focus has been on child and adolescent mental health, and comorbidly occurring conditions including affective disorders, psychosis, personality disorders, and alcohol/other drug use problems. She has experience in the use of neuropsychological assessment, cognitive behaviour therapy, motivational interviewing and mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques among these populations.

In 2015 Sally completed her PhD at the University of Newcastle under the supervision of Professor Amanda Baker and Emeritus Professor Pat Michie. Sally’s PhD research examined the neuropsychological profiles of people presenting with comorbid depression and alcohol use disorders. At the University of New South Wales, her post-doctoral research focus has been the development, evaluation and dissemination of computer- and internet-delivered treatments for people with co-occurring mental health and alcohol/other drug use problems. Current projects include development of the eCliPSE online portal to facilitate wider access to evidence-based interventions for comorbidly occurring mental health and substance use problems in conjunction with the NSW Ministry of Health. Sally also has research interests in the mental health and wellbeing of mothers and is currently developing an e-Health intervention to address the closing gender gap in hazardous alcohol use.

Sally has extensive experience in clinical supervision, as a Board Approved Supervisor of Intern Psychologists, Registered Psychologists and Clinical Psychology Registrars. In recent years Sally was a clinical supervisor in the University of Newcastle Psychology Clinic, for Carers NSW, and in private practice.

Sally will be starting on Monday the 6th of August, and I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that it is going to be a great pleasure working with her to set up our new program.

Kindest regards

Monday, 30 July 2018

LOSING SIGHT: Inside the Myopia Epidemic

There is a relatively new blindness epidemic happening around the world. It is predicted that half the world’s population will be short-sighted (or myopic) by 2050, and nearly 1 billion people will progress to dangerously high levels of myopia what can lead to profound blindness.

Most people are not aware of this new epidemic or how to guide their children’s development to avoid myopia. Sally McFadden, from the School of Psychology at UoN, is involved in supporting both the production of international guidelines with the International Myopia Institute as well as the production of an educational film about this epidemic and its possible causes. A link to a teaser for this film can be found here:
LOSING SIGHT: Inside the Myopia Epidemic

Sally has been working for decades on the science of myopia and its causes. Her dedication has led to the translation of her work into developing possible treatments for myopia. These include drugs that aim to halt the relentless progression of myopia, and for those who have already developed high myopia, bioengineering treatments that aim to stop the development of associated changes in the eye that lead to profound blindness. The Vision Sciences Group led by Sally is seeking new PhD students who wish to participate in this exciting work. Additionally, The Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) is interested in hearing from anyone who wishes to support the important research work that will help develop these treatments.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Children's University at the School of Psychology

Recently, the School of Psychology entertained and educated groups of school children who visited the Callaghan and Ourimbah campuses as part of the Children’s University program. Over 1,000 children visited, and each took part in four different activities from different research groups at the university. For the children who took part in the psychology activity, we entertained them with some illusions, a video, and even a card trick. These led to interesting discussions about what psychological science really is. The activity ended with a game of building blocks - but huge building blocks! The students raced in teams to make patterns out of giant-sized cardboard boxes, which we made harder and harder by imposing tricky rules. This generated lots of discussion about teamwork and communication - and organisational psychology!

Thanks to all the people from the School of Psychology who made this event work so well!

Kerry Chalmers
Tanya Crawford
Jade Frost
Paul Garrett
Montana Hunter
Elise Kalokerinos
Michelle Kelly
Stuart Marlin
Bryan Paton
Sonja Pohlman
Alex Provost
Alison Rasmussen
Patrick Skippen

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!