Tuesday, 12 February 2019

JUST PUBLISHED: new article on the relationship between between early life events and decision urgency

A new paper based on the PhD research of UoN graduate student Johanne Knowles examined the relationship between decision urgency and early life adversity. The article, co-authored with Nathan Evans and Darren Burke, can be accessed here:

The relationship between early life adversity and adult outcomes is traditionally investigated relative to risk and protective factors (e.g., resilience, cognitive appraisal), and poor self-control or decision-making. However, life history theory suggests this relationship may be adaptive—underpinned by mechanisms that use early environmental cues to alter the developmental trajectory toward more short-term strategies. These short-term strategies have some theoretical overlap with the most common process models of decision-making—evidence accumulation models—which model decision urgency as a decision threshold. In the current paper, the authors examined the relationship between decision urgency (through the linear ballistic accumulator) and early life adversity. A mixture of analysis methods, including a joint model analysis designed to explicitly account for uncertainty in estimated decision urgency values, revealed weak-to-strong evidence in favor of a relationship between decision urgency and early life adversity, suggesting a possible effect of life history strategy on even the most basic decisions.   

Friday, 8 February 2019

Psychology and Computer Games

So, Psychologists study computer games as well !

This year, Macquarie University hosted Interactive Entertainment 2019, a satellite conference of the Australasian Computer Science Week. This conference brought together researchers and developers of games and digital entertainment from around Australia. Alex Thorpe, a PhD student from the Schools of Psychology and Engineering at UoN, presented research on the cognitive workload imposition of user interfaces, and the measurement of this imposition. This research focused on the detection response task (DRT) as an online, objective measure of workload in a continuous computer-based task. Alex and his co-authors were fortunate enough to be awarded Best Student Paper for their research.

link to the paper:

Image result for space invaders

Monday, 10 December 2018

School of Psychology HDR confirmation day and other Xmas goodies

The School of Psychology had its first HDR festive confirmation day.

We thank Jaishree Jalewa, Mattsen Yeark, Gavin Cooper, and Jon Paul Cavallero, for presenting their research programs to an avid crowd of Psychology students and staff. The presentations spanned a variety of topics, from neuroscience to consumers' choices, and were of the highest quality.

The School also celebrated the end-of-year by acknowledging the hard work done over the past year, as can be seen in the photo ('work hard, play hard').

Merry xmas and happy holidays to all student, staff, and families.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

School of Psychology HDR confirmation day, Dec 10, 2018

The School of Psychology at UoN is proud to host the first HDR 'group confirmation day'.

This is going to be an exciting and intellectually stimulating event, we hope you can all attend.

Four PhD candidates will present their research plan and progress to date. I have already seen some of the content and it is quite cool.

10th December 2018, starting 9:40am

Keats Building AV-LG-17, Psychology Building and via AV link to Ourimbah Science Room

* Student presenters: Jon-Paul Cavallaro, Mattsen Yeark, Gavin Cooper, Jaishree Jalewa
* Supervisors: Lauren Harms, Juanita Todd, Guy Hawkins, Scott Brown, Bryan Paton, Deborah Hodgson, Patricia Michie

All HDR students and staff members are welcome and encouraged to attend. Morning tea and pizza for lunch will be provided.

Monday, 29 October 2018

JUST PUBLISHED: Measuring the Personality of 27,415 Children

Miles Bore and Kristen Laurens, Megan Hobbs, Melissa Green, Stacy Tzoumakis, Felicity Harrris, and Vaughan Carr. Item response theory analysis of the Big Five Questionnaire for Children Short-Form (BFC-SF): A self-report measure of personality in children aged 11-12 years. Journal of Personality Disorders.

Some 12 or so years ago Miles became involved with the NSW Child Development project which started its life at UON under the direction of Professor Vaughan Carr. The project is following a cohort of children (and their parents) who started Kindergarten in NSW in 2009 through the linkage of health, education, child protection and justice records. As part of this larger project, the research team wanted to obtain self-report data from the children in what became the NSW Middle Childhood Survey (Laurens et al, 2017). We wanted to include a measure of personality. But, could 11 and 12 year olds reliably complete a self-report personality questionnaire? And, is personality sufficiently developed at this age to be measurable?

In a nutshell – yes.

We modified the Big Five Questionnaire for Children (Barbaranelli, et al, 2003) to create an English language short-form self-report measure of extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness (the ‘Big Five’). In 2015, children across NSW completed a 30 minute online battery at 829 schools under the administration of their teacher with the final sample being n = 27,415.

The data was then cleaned (a massive task lead by Melissa Green at UNSW), analysed and the Big Five findings published in the Journal of Personality Disorders. The Results section, undertaken and written by Prof Kristen Laurens (now at ACU Brisbane), is a work of art in its own right using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis and IRT techniques.

The questionnaire has good psychometric properties and (while more evidence is needed) does appear to measure the Big Five. Future research will now be able to examine the role of personality as part of the larger NSW Child Development linkage project.

The full paper can be found at: https://guilfordjournals.com/toc/pedi/0/0

Friday, 26 October 2018

School seminar Oct 31: How to do Bayesian analysis

Dear All,

Next school-wide research seminar is on next week,  Wednesday 31st October, 12:00pm - 1:00pm.
This seminar is a special one on how to do Bayesian analyses and will include hands-on practical exercises in Bayesian analysis

If you are planning to attend the workshop you will need to take these steps BEFORE attending:
  1. Bring your own laptop computer. 
  2. Install JASP. https://jasp-stats.org/faq/how-do-i-install-jasp/
  3. Save to your laptop the  zip file with example data files. It was sent in a separate email by Angaline Atkins. 
  3b. If you're not on that mailing list email me at ami.eidels@newcastle.edu.au and i'll send you a copy
  4. Wear Halloween costume. This is optional, but it improves learning outcomes. 

Friday, 12 October 2018

School of Psychology research seminar, Oct 17: ECR show and tell


TOPIC: Introducing the Psychology ECRs
Location: Keats AVLG-17 
and video conference to Ourimbah EXSA-102 Room
No rsvp required
Light refreshments will be provided

In this seminar, 7 of our very own psychology early career researchers will give you a 5-minute introduction to their research. Come along and learn more about what the ECRs do!

Here is a list of speakers and what they’ll be telling us about:
Guy Hawkins – How do we make simple and complex decisions?
Sally Hunt – Why women drink
Bryan Paton – Learning and predictions and consciousness, oh my!
Emily Freeman – Let’s play!
Sharon Hollins – Gutsy move… for a brain
Elise Kalokerinos  – Dealing with feelings      
Tara Clinton-McHarg – Changing systems – you know you want to…

Date: Wednesday 17th October 2018
Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Newcastle hosts Specialised meeting on the science of social cohesion

UON School of Psychology's Social and Organizational Psychology Research Group (SOPRG) and  Newcastle-Oxford Research Centre on Conflict and Cohesion (NORCCC) are proud to announce the 2019 SASP-SPSSI group meeting, entitled “Advances in Intergroup Contact Research: Showcasing, Consolidating, Deconstructing and Innovating the Science of Social Integration” to be held in Newcastle, Australia between Monday 29th April and Wed 1st May, 2019. This exciting gathering will run as a post-conference meeting to the annual conference of the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists, running Thursday 25th/Saturday 27th April 2019 in Sydney.

This is an exciting time for research on intergroup contact. With a strong delegation of international and national delegates of varied seniority and background, this specialized gathering will showcase and advance the best research on the antecedents, dynamics, and consequences of intergroup contact across a multiplicity of research laboratories, research paradigms and methods, intergroup settings, and societies.

Through its intimate single session format, the gathering will include the delivery of conference papers (blitz / longer length / posters) by junior and senior researchers and roundtable discussions (small / plenary), this SASP-SPSSI group meeting on intergroup contact aspires to offer an exciting platform to consolidate our understanding and interpretation of key findings, to discuss emerging research trends and methodologies and forge the research and the researchers of the future.

The event will be organised by an enthusiastic committee that spans across three continents, including Stefania Paolini (the University of Newcastle, Australia), Miles Hewstone (the University of Newcastle, Australia; Oxford University, UK), Fiona White (University of Sydney, Australia), Fiona Barlow (The University of Queensland, Australia), Linda Tropp (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA), Liz Page-Gould (University of Toronto, Canada), Rhiannon Turner (Queen's University Belfast, UK) and Angel Gomez (National Distance Education University, Spain).


For ‘burning’ questions that cannot wait, contact Stefania

Monday, 24 September 2018

School of Psychology research seminar: Real-world impact of psychological research (Prof Miles Hewstone)

Wed, 26TH SEPTEMBER, 3-4pm

GUEST SPEAKER: Prof Miles Hewstone

Title: Real-world impact of psychological research: What it is, and some tips for how to achieve it

Prof Miles Hewstone (Oxford University and UON Global Innovation Chair on Social Cohesion) will share his experience from the UK REF (equivalent to our own ERA) research assessment process, and the increasing importance attached to research impact. Research impact is the effect that research has on “the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, environment, quality of life that is beyond academia”.

Two illustrative case studies will be considered one from clinical psychology, and one from social psychology. Emphasis will be placed on how long it takes to have impact, and hence the need to identify potential impacts early, the need to work closely with people in the worlds of policy and practice, as well as government, and the need to document ‘impact’ as objectively as possible.

The seminar will be interactive, and we can hopefully discuss some of your own actual or developing impacts, and how to maximise their effectiveness.

Location: Keats AVLG-17

zoom conference to Ourimbah science room SOE.131-132 via link: https://uonewcastle.zoom.us/j/786538107

No rsvp required. Light refreshments will be provided

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