Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Colloquium Presentation: Dr. Sylvie Graf, on the shaping of social attitudes.

The School of Psychology is proudly hosting a talk by:

Dr. Sylvie Graf
Postdoctoral Fellow
Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

Title: Prevalent Positive and Prominent Negative Contact with Outgroup Members Maintain Outgroup Attitudes

Date: Thursday 28th March 2013, 12-1pm in Keats Reading Room (AVLG17) (video streaming to AV3 in the Ourimbah library)
If you would like to meet with Dr. Graf, please contact Dr. Mark Rubin (

Abstract: The talk introduces research on the effect of intergroup contact on outgroup attitudes that has been developed with Stefania Paolini and Mark Rubin during my research visit at the University of Newcastle. In this study, we aimed to resolve a contradiction in contemporary intergroup contact literature. While one stream of research emphasizes the role of contact in prejudice reduction (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006), another warns against the higher prominence of negative contact in increasing prejudice (Barlow et al., 2012; Paolini, Harwood, & Rubin, 2010). We argue that the effect of contact on prejudice can be understood only when relative prevalence of positive and negative contact experience and their prominence in shaping outgroup attitudes are considered simultaneously. Using an ecologically valid approach, we show that although negative contact is more prominent in shaping outgroup attitudes, the less influential positive contact occurs more frequently. Our findings imply that the prevalence of positive contact compensates for the prominence of negative contact on outgroup attitudes, making these attitudes possibly difficult to change via contact effects.

Bio: Dr Sylvie Graf is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Psychology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Her research in the psychology of intergroup relations focuses on intergroup contact and attitudes, stereotypes, and the use of language in intergroup context. At the University of Newcastle, she cooperates with Dr Stefania Paolini and Dr Mark Rubin on determining the interplay between intergroup contact, intergroup attitudes, and personality. Her research visit is partly supported by the University of Newcastle’s Emerging Research Leadership Program awarded to Dr Mark Rubin and Dr Stefania Paolini.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Colloquium Talk: Prof. Peter Howe, on Cognition, Health and Nutrition

The School of Psychology is proudly hosting a talk by Prof. Peter Howe
University of Newcastle, and University of South Australia

Title: Vasoactive Nutrients and Brain Function
Date: Thursday 14th March 2013, 12-1pm in Keats Reading Room (AVLG17) (video streaming to AV3 in the Ourimbah Library)

If you would like to meet with Dr. Howe, please contact A/Prof Frini Karayanidis (

Abstract: Increasing evidence links cardiovascular disease with cognitive decline and depression and it appears that endothelial dysfunction may be a primary pathogenic link. Flow mediated dilatation, a surrogate measure of endothelial function which is impaired in obesity and metabolic syndrome, is inversely related to cognitive performance. Certain nutrients can improve flow mediated dilatation following ingestion. We have observed sustained improvements with regular consumption of marine omega-3 fatty acids, cocoa flavanols, isoflavones and resveratrol and postulate that these vasoactive nutrients may deliver not only cardiovascular but also mental health benefits. We have shown improvements in mood and/or cognition following chronic supplementation with soy isoflavones and omega-3 and we are now using transcranial Doppler ultrasound to explore the link between cognitive effects of nutrients and endothelial function in cerebral arteries. This new approach is enabling us to identify nutrients with the potential to sustain mental health in an ageing population and to optimize both mood and cognitive performance under demanding conditions, such as extreme duress or prolonged fatigue.

Bio: Peter is Professor of Nutrition Research at both the University of Newcastle and University of South Australia and heads the newly formed cross-institutional Clinical Nutrition Research Centre. An authority on health benefits of omega-3 and other bioactive nutrients, Peter has built partnerships with the food industry to develop functional foods and has contributed to food regulatory policy in Australia. He established the Smart Foods Centre at Wollongong and the Nutritional Physiology Research Centre in Adelaide. He is a Fellow of the Nutrition Society of Australia and Editor-in-Chief of Nutrients.