Staff within the Department of Psychology have a wide range of specialist expertise and knowledge. We work together in a number of research groups through which we support the work of both staff and students in the Department. In addition, we are able to offer a range of services on a consultancy basis. If you would like to discuss collaboration or consultancy with us, please do get in touch. Our research groups play an important role in the Department of Psychology. The groups meet regularly throughout the academic year and provide opportunities for members to discuss their current research, ideas for new research projects, or simply to discuss an interesting journal article or conference presentation they've seen. They also provide an important support structure for junior researchers, including MPhil and PhD students.

Recent Submissions

  • Understanding self-respect and its relationship to self-esteem

    Clucas, Claudine; University of Chester
    The concept of self-respect has received little attention in the psychological literature and is not clearly distinguished from self-esteem. The present research sought to empirically investigate the bases of self-respect by manipulating adherence to morals together with interpersonal appraisals, or task-related competence, in hypothetical scenarios (Studies 1a and 1b) and a situation participants relived (Studies 2 and 3). Participants’ levels of state self-respect and self-esteem were measured. Studies 1-3 found main effects of adherence to morals on self-respect, with self-respect mediating the effect of adherence to morals on self-esteem, but little support for competence and interpersonal appraisals directly influencing self-respect. Self-respect uniquely contributed to anticipated/felt self-esteem alongside competence or interpersonal appraisals. The pattern of results supports the conceptualisation of self-respect as a component of self-esteem associated with morally principled conduct, distinct from performance and social self-esteem. The findings have implications for our understanding of self-esteem and moral behaviour.
  • Police officers’ and Registered Intermediaries’ use of drawing during investigative interviews with vulnerable witnesses

    Mattison, Michelle Louise Ann-Marie; Dando, Coral; University of Chester; University of Westminster
    Attempts to enhance episodic retrieval focus largely on verbal strategies which do not always address the limited or impaired free recall ability of vulnerable witnesses. Asking a witness to draw while recalling episodic information has long been deemed an effective method of improving communication and cognitive performance. Thus far, research has revealed these effects within laboratory settings but with scarce attention paid to real-life interview practice. In this paper, we explore police officers’ and Registered Intermediaries’ use of drawing during investigative interviews with vulnerable witnesses. A sample of specialist practitioners (n=85), comprising of vulnerable witness interviewing police officers (n=50) and Registered Intermediaries (n=35) completed a self-report questionnaire. As expected, frequent use of drawing was reported by both practitioner groups, and there was a positive correlation between reported use and perceived effectiveness. There were similarities between groups in reported techniques employed when using drawing, but some differences were apparent and these were attributed to the differing functions in police and Registered Intermediary roles. Overall, a consensus between empirical research and practice is evident, but these findings warrant further exploration in order to establish whether such practice is wide-spread.
  • Recruiting cancer survivors into research studies using online methods: a secondary analysis from an international cancer survivorship cohort study.

    Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J.; Pendrous, Rosina; Hulbert-Williams, Lee; Swash, Brooke; University of Chester
    Recruiting participants into cancer survivorship research remains a significant challenge. Few studies have tested and compared the relative use of non-clinical online recruitment methods, especially in samples of adult cancer survivors. This paper reports on the feasibility of recruiting a representative cohort of cancer survivors using online social media. Two-hundred participants with a cancer diagnosis within the past 12 months were recruited via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit) into a longitudinal questionnaire study. Different methods of online recruitment proved to be more effective than others over time. Paid Facebook boosting, Reddit posts, and Twitter adverts placed by existing cancer charities proved most helpful in reaching our recruitment target (contributing 27%, 22% and 32% respectively). Recruiting online achieved a more demographically and clinically representative sample for our study: our sample was younger, less heteronormative, including those with a range of clinical diagnoses, primary and recurrence illness, and patients who had both completed and were still receiving treatment. This was certainly not a quick method of sample recruitment but that could have been optimised by focussing only on the three most effective methods describe earlier. Whilst we found that online recruitment is significantly lower cost than traditional recruitment methods, and can reduce some biases, there still remains the potential for some biases (e.g. excluding much older participants) and ethical/methodological issues (e.g. excluding those without access to the internet). We outline our recruitment strategy, retention rates, and a cost breakdown in order to guide other researchers considering such methods for future research in cancer survivorship.
  • Are Prisoners More Psychopathic than Non-forensic Populations? Profiling Psychopathic Traits among Prisoners, Community Adults, University Students, and Adolescents

    Boduszek, Daniel; Debowska, Agata; Sherretts, Nicole; Willmott, Dominic; Boulton, Mike; Kielkiewicz, Krzysztof; Popiolek, Katarzyna; Hyland, Philip (Informa UK Limited, 2019-09-12)
  • Shared meaning in representational and abstract visual art: an empirical study

    Schepman, Astrid; Rodway, Paul; University of Chester (American Psychological Association, 2019)
    A longstanding and important question is how meaning is generated by visual art. One view is that abstract art uses a universal language whereas representational art is tied to specific knowledge. This view predicts that meaning for abstract is shared across viewers to a greater extent than for representational art. This contrasts with a view of greater shared meaning for representational than abstract art, because of shared associations for the entities depicted in representational art, as supported by recent empirical findings. This study examined the contrasting predictions derived from these two views. 49 nonexpert adult participants wrote brief descriptions of meanings that they attributed to 20 abstract and 20 representational artworks, generating a corpus of 1918 texts. Computational analyses (semantic textual similarity, latent semantic analysis) and linguistic analysis (type-token ratio) provided triangulated quantitative data. Frequentist and Bayesian statistical analyses showed that meanings were shared to a somewhat greater extent for representational art, but that meanings for abstract artworks were also shared above baseline. Triangulated human and machine analyses of the texts showed core shared meanings for both art types, derived from literal and metaphoric interpretations of visual elements. The findings support the view that representational art elicits higher levels of shared meaning than abstract art. The empirical findings can be used to enhance theoretical and computational models of aesthetic evaluation, and the rigorous new methodologies developed can be deployed in many other contexts.
  • Perceived stress and professional quality of life in nursing staff: how important is psychological flexibility?

    Kent, William; Hochard, Kevin D; Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2019-08-14)
    Objectives: Nurses are at high risk of chronic stress. Tailored, evidence-based stress-management interventions may minimise absenteeism and staff turnover, whilst at the same time promoting good quality patient care. Current literature for nurse-focused stress-management interventions is varied in quality, with little focus on data-driven intervention development. This study explores how process measures related to Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) are associated with perceived stress and professional quality of life in nurses, in order to guide intervention development. Design: A cross-sectional, online psychometric survey was implemented using LimeSurvey software. Methods: One-hundred and forty-two nurses were recruited from various specialties across four English National Health Service (NHS) Trusts. Questionnaires assessed demographic and work-related sample characteristics, ACT processes (mindfulness, acceptance, cognitive defusion, self-as-context, values and committed action), and four work-related wellbeing outcomes (perceived stress, burnout, compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction). Correlation and regression models were used to analyse data. Results: All six ACT processes negatively correlated with perceived stress, burnout and compassion fatigue, and positively correlated with compassion satisfaction (all p<.05). In regression models, these same processes explained significant variance for all outcomes (R2 range=.36-.61), above and beyond that explained by socio-demographic and work-related factors. Acceptance (β range: -.25 to -.55), mindfulness (β range: -.25 to -.39), and values-based processes (β range: -.21 to -.36) were frequent independent contributors to work-related wellbeing. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that the ACT framework provides a promising platform from which to develop nurse-focused stress-management interventions. Interventions focusing on acceptance, mindfulness, and values-linked processes may be most effective.
  • The Psychological Impact of Cancer (PIC) Scale: development and comparative psychometric testing against the Mini-MAC© Scale in UK and Australian cancer survivors.

    Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J; Hulbert-Williams, Lee; Whelen, Liz; Mulcare, Hunter; University of Chester; Western Health (Wolters Kluwer, 2019-09-20)
    Background: Clinicians and researchers make considerable use of both the Mental Adjustment to Cancer (MAC) Scale, and the shorter Mini-MAC, to measure psychological adjustment in cancer patients. The length of the scale is problematic when used clinically, and its psychometric properties have been criticized. This paper presents two studies leading to the development of a novel scale the Psychological Impact of Cancer (PIC) Scale using items drawn from the MAC. Methods: Study 1 used standard item-reduction techniques to shorten the Mini-MAC in a sample of 160 cancer patients of mixed diagnosis, recruited an average 46 days post-diagnosis. This resulted in a 12-item scale with a four-factor structure, similar to that derived from a 2012 re-analysis of the Mini-MAC. Study 2 presents confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) of this new measure and tests its construct validity and test-retest reliability in a sample of 183 mixed cancer survivors. Results: This study indicated that the shorter scale performed well on CFA indicators (RMSEA= .083; ECVI= .923; PNFI= .604; AGFI .857) and tests of internal consistency (all >.623); and comparable concurrent validity with longer versions. The four factors were labeled cognitive distress, cognitive avoidance, emotional distress and fighting spirit. Conclusions: Given its shorter length and acceptable psychometrics, the PIC offers a useful clinical and research tool to assess the psychological impact of cancer. Psychometric properties of one subscale (fighting spirit) remain poor, but no worse than in the original scale; directions for further development of the scale are described.
  • Brief Engagement and Acceptance Coaching for Community and Hospice Settings (the BEACHeS Study): Protocol for the development and pilot testing of an evidence-based psychological intervention to enhance wellbeing and aid transition into palliative care

    Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas; Norwood, Sabrina; Gillanders, David; Finucane, Anne; Spiller, Juliet; Strachan, Jenny; Millington, Sue; Swash, Brooke; University of Chester; University of Edinburgh; Marie Curie Hospice Edinburgh (BMC, 2019-08-20)
    Background: Cancer affects millions of individuals globally, with a mortality rate of over eight million people annually. Although palliative care is often provided outside of specialist services, many people require, at some point in their illness journey, support from specialist palliative care services, for example, those provided in hospice settings. This transition can be a time of uncertainty and fear and there is a need for effective interventions to meet the psychological and supportive care needs of people with cancer that cannot be cured. While Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been shown to be effective across diverse health problems, robust evidence for its effectiveness in palliative cancer populations is not extensive. Method: This mixed-methods study uses a single-case experimental design with embedded qualitative interviews to pilot test a novel intervention for this patient group. Between 14 and 20 patients will be recruited from two hospices in England and Scotland. Participants will receive five face-to-face manualised sessions with a psychological therapist. Sessions are structured around teaching core ACT skills (Openness, Awareness and Engagement) as a way to deal effectively with challenges of transition into specialist palliative care services. Outcome measures include: cancer-specific quality of life (primary outcome) and distress (secondary outcome), which are assessed alongside measures of psychological flexibility. Daily diary outcome assessments will be taken for key measures, alongside more detailed weekly self-report, through baseline, intervention and one-month follow-up phases. After follow-up, participants will be invited to take part in a qualitative interview to understand their experience of taking part, and acceptability and perceived effectiveness of the intervention and its components. Discussion: This study is the first investigation of using ACT with terminally ill patients at the beginning of their transition into palliative treatment. Using in-depth single-case approaches, we will refine and manualise intervention content by the close of the study for use in follow-up research trials. Our long-term goal is then to test the intervention as delivered by non-psychologist specialist palliative care practitioners thus broadening the potential relevance of the approach.
  • A personal journey of a long and winding road to Professorial status: An alternative pathway and the challenges, trials and tribulations.

    Lafferty, Moira E.; University of Chester (Springer: Palgrave, 2019-11-01)
    For many years, the awarding of a professorial title was seen as a realistic objective and target for those with a substantive international portfolio of research publications and grant income success. With the changing landscape in Higher Education and a drive within the UK for Universities to show much more social responsibility and engagement we are beginning to see much needed change. In this chapter, I reflect on my personal journey to professorship and how my numerous experiences and diverse portfolio of activity finally came together to have personal and professional meaning. In telling my story, I am to raise awareness of the numerous challenges I encountered as a female, from my early years entering higher education through to my professorial application and beyond. I also reflect on my thoughts and feelings and provide ideas about what we can do to help more women thrive and succeed within academia.
  • “It’s not just part of my life, it is my life”: The paradoxical identities of a community judo coach

    Ryrie, Angus; Lafferty, Moira E.; Liverpool John Moores, University of Chester (Manchester Metropolitan University Press., 2019)
    The aim of this chapter is to explore coaching identities and present a case study that captures the everyday realities and multifaceted roles a community judo coach undertakes. In doing so, it provides a platform to explore and discuss the identities exhibited; evaluate practice within contextually different settings to present a realistic appraisal of coaching in the “field.”
  • “All roads lead to Rome”, but “Rome wasn’t built in a day". Advice on QSEP navigation from the ‘Roman Gods’ of assessment!

    Eubank, Martin; Holder, Tim; Lowry, Ruth; Manley, Andrew; Maynard, Ian; McCormick, Alister; Smith, Jenny; Thelwell, Richard; Woodman, Tim; Lafferty, Moira E.; et al. (British Psychological Society, 2019-09)
    This article aims to explore assessors’ observations and experiences of QSEP in relation to trainee competence development and demonstration, and help QSEP trainees and supervisors to identify some of the potholes in the road and consider ways to avoid them. Specifically, assessors have written a short review of their QSEP observations and commentary about what they want to see more of in the future. Their views are forthright, but given in good faith in the spirit of providing advice to candidates, and guidance to supervisors, about the nature and scope of QSEP submissions.
  • Many Roads Can Lead to Rome – Supervisors perspectives on successful supervision and the challenges.

    Lafferty, Moira E.; Hemmings, Brian; Katz, Jonathan; Cunliffe, Matthew; Eubank, Martin; University of Chester, University of Greenwich, Liverpool John Moores University (British Psychological Society, 2019-09)
    The article focuses directly on the stories of supervision and supervision in practice at the micro level by drawing on the views and experiences of three supervisors, two (Brian and Jonathan) with numerous years supervisory experience and one newly qualified supervisor (Matt). Brian and Jon, supervise their QSEP candidates through a combined group and individual supervisory programme in contrast, Matt adopts an individual approach with all his supervisees. In the remainder of this article, these three supervisors present their thoughts and personal experiences on three core areas, developing the supervisory relationship, challenges to supervision and the concept of continued development as a supervisor.
  • Acute physical exercise can influence the accuracy of metacognitive judgments

    Palmer, Matthew; Stefanidis, Kayla; Turner, Ashlee; Tranent, Peter; Breen, Rachel; Kucina, Talira; Brumby, Laura; Holt, Glenys; Fell, James; Sauer, James; et al. (Nature, 2019-08-27)
    Acute exercise generally benefits memory but little research has examined how exercise affects metacognition (knowledge of memory performance). We show that a single bout of exercise can influence metacognition in paired-associate learning. Participants completed 30- min of moderate-intensity exercise before or after studying a series of word pairs (cloudivory), and completed cued-recall (cloud-?; Experiments 1 & 2) and recognition memory tests (cloud-? spoon; ivory; drill; choir; Experiment 2). Participants made judgments of learning prior to cued-recall tests (JOLs; predicted likelihood of recalling the second word of each pair when shown the first) and feeling-of-knowing judgments prior to recognition tests (FOK; predicted likelihood of recognizing the second word from four alternatives). Compared to noexercise control conditions, exercise before encoding enhanced cued-recall in Experiment 1 but not Experiment 2 and did not affect recognition. Exercise after encoding did not influence memory. In conditions where exercise did not benefit memory, it increased JOLs and FOK judgments relative to accuracy (Experiments 1 & 2) and impaired the relative accuracy of JOLs (ability to distinguish remembered from non-remembered items; Experiment 2). Acute exercise seems to signal likely remembering; this has implications for understanding the effects of exercise on metacognition, and for incorporating exercise into study routines.
  • Complex Sociality of Wild Chimpanzees Can Emerge from Laterality of Manual Gestures.

    Roberts, Anna I.; Murray, Lindsay; Roberts, Sam G. B. (Springer, 2019-06-24)
    Humans are strongly lateralized for manual gestures at both individual and population levels. In contrast, the laterality bias in primates is less strong, leading some to suggest that lateralization evolved after the Pan and Homo lineages diverged. However, laterality in humans is also context-dependent, suggesting that observed differences in lateralization between primates and humans may be related to external factors such as the complexity of the social environment. Here we address this question in wild chimpanzees and examine the extent to which the laterality of manual gestures is associated with social complexity. Right-handed gestures were more strongly associated with goal-directed communication such as repair through elaboration in response to communication failure than left-handed gestures. Right-handed gestures occurred in evolutionarily urgent contexts such as in interactions with central individuals in the network, including grooming reciprocity and mating, whereas left-handed gestures occurred in less-urgent contexts, such as travel and play. Right-handed gestures occurred in smaller parties and in the absence of social competition relative to left-handed gestures. Right-handed gestures increased the rate of activities indicating high physiological arousal in the recipient, whereas left-handed gestures reduced it. This shows that right- and left-handed gestures differ in cognitive and social complexity, with right-handed gestures facilitating more complex interactions in simpler social settings, whereas left-handed gestures facilitate more rewarding interactions in complex social settings. Differences in laterality between other primates and humans are likely to be driven by differences in the complexity of both the cognitive skills underpinning social interactions and the social environment.
  • Exploring health visiting professionals' evaluations of early parent-infant interactions

    Elmer, Jessica R. S.; O'Shaughnessey, Ruth; Bramwell, Ros; Dickson, Joanne M.; Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, University of Chester, Edith Cowan University (Taylor & Francis, 2019-07-07)
    Abstract Objective: To examine the accuracy of Health Visitors (HVs) evaluations of the quality of parent-infant interactions. Background: HVs have been identified as key professionals in the early identification of difficulties in parent-infant interactions. The aim of this study was to explore how accurately HVs, Family Health Nurses (FHNs) and Community Nursery Nurses (CNNs) evaluate early parent-infant interactions. Method: A sample of 56 HVs, 4 FHNs and 14 CNN recruited from two National Health Service (NHS) Trusts, viewed video footage of six parent-infant interactions which had been categorised as ‘sensitive’, ‘mixed’, and ‘problematic’ using the CARE-Index. Participants evaluated the quality of the parent-infant interactions shown in these videos using the Parent-Infant Interaction Rating Questionnaire (PIIRQ). Results: On average, participants correctly rated the problematic videos as lowest in quality, the mixed as higher in quality than the problematic videos, and the sensitive videos as highest in quality. Interestingly, within the problematic category participants rated the ‘unresponsive’ pattern of interaction as significantly lower in quality than the ‘controlling’ interaction. Conclusions: The findings suggest participants were relatively accurate in their evaluations of parent-infant interactions. However, they indicate that participants were more likely to be concerned about unresponsive, as opposed to controlling, interactive behaviours. Recommendations for further research include exploration of potential differences in how health-visiting professionals evaluate particular patterns of parent-infant interactions.
  • The value of self-respect for moral and social behaviour: Development of a trait self-respect measure

    Clucas, Claudine; Wilkinson, Heather; University of Chester (2017-05-05)
    Objective: Research into self-respect is scarce, possibly because self-respect and self-esteem are often treated as interchangeable in popular culture. However, there is evidence that self-respect is a component of global self-esteem that is attached to moral, principled and honourable behaviour, highlighting its unique role in predicting moral behaviour and well-being. The paper reports on the development of the trait self-respect scale (SRS) to stimulate research into this concept. Design: Following pilot work to develop the items, cross-sectional survey and lab-based data were collected to validate the SRS. Methods: Seven convenience adult samples (total N=841) completed the SRS online or in person alongside other validated scales. One sample (N=115) also underwent lab-based tasks measuring moral self-concept and cheating. Results: Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses supported a one-factor structure. The SRS showed good internal consistency (α>.8 in all samples), convergent and discriminant validity. It correlated significantly with self-esteem (r=.40-.61), and with agreeableness, Machiavellianism, positive norm, moral identity internalisation and symbolisation (N=121), moral-based self-esteem, self-control, number of moral trait adjectives recalled in self-related processing (N=115) and religious status (N=230), adjusting for self-esteem. It did not correlate with amount of social comparison, or with competence and social self-esteem, adjusting for self-regard. Moreover, self-respect significantly predicted forms of pro-relationship behaviour, pro-social behaviour (N=114), cheating (self-reported and observed) and well-being (N=81) over and above self-esteem. Conclusion: Findings support the need to consider trait self-respect in investigations of well-being and moral and social functioning, and contribute to debates on the value of self-esteem.
  • Using Drug Development Methodology to Improve Survivorship and Supportive Care Intervention Trials.

    Howells, Lesley; Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J.; Blagden, Sarah P.; Maggie's Centres, London; University of Chester; University of Oxford (Wiley, 2019-05-20)
    N/A
  • Empirical Advances in Studying Relational Networks

    McLoughlin, Shane; Stewart, Ian; University of Chester; National University of Ireland, Galway (Elsevier, 2016-11-29)
    The relating of relations is a key feature of the development of complex relational networks. Despite this, thus far there has been little empirical study of this phenomenon, outside of analogy. The latter, which involves coordination of relational networks, is indeed an important example of the relating of relations but there are other examples that can also be involved in complex relational framing. Experiment 1 extended previous research by exploring non-coordinate relating of relations in adult participants. First, Crel functions of YES, NO, SAME, DIFFERENT, and OPPOSITE were established in arbitrary stimuli using a multi-stage Relational Evaluation Procedure (REP). Then participants were tested for the evaluation of various forms of relating of relations including deriving coordination, distinction and opposition relations between relations. Three out of four participants showed predicted patterns of behavior. In Experiment 2, these same three participants showed transformation of contextual control functions via the relating of relational networks. Implications and future research directions are discussed.
  • Pain Processing in Psychiatric Conditions: A systematic review

    Vaughan, Sarah; Poole, Helen M.; Forshaw, Mark J.; McGlone, Francis; Failla, Michelle D.; Cascio, Carissa J.; Moore, David J.; University of Chester, Liverpool John Moores University, Vanderbilt University Medical Centre (American Psychological Society, 2019-04-29)
    Objective: Pain is a universal, multidimensional experience with sensory emotional, cognitive and social components, which is fundamental to our environmental learning when functioning typically. Understanding pain processing in psychiatric conditions could provide unique insight into the underlying pathophysiology or psychiatric disease, especially given the psychobiological overlap with pain processing pathways. Studying pain in psychiatric conditions is likely to provide important insights, yet, there is a limited understanding beyond the work outside depression and anxiety. This is a missed opportunity to describe psychiatric conditions in terms of neurobiological alterations. In order to examine the research into the pain experiences of these groups and the extent to which a-typicality is present, a systematic review was conducted. Methods: An electronic search strategy was developed and conducted in several databases. Results: The current systematic review included 46 studies covering five DSM-5 disorders: autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorder and eating disorders, confirming tentative evidence of altered pain and touch processing. Specifically, hyposensitivity is reported in schizophrenia, personality disorder and eating disorder, hypersensitivity in ADHD and mixed results for autism. Conclusions: Review of the research highlights a degree of methodological inconsistency in the utilisation of comprehensive protocols; the lack of which fails to allow us to understand whether a-typicality is systemic or modality-specific.
  • Technical Notation as a Tool for Basic Research in Relational Frame Theory

    Tyndall, Ian; Mulhern, Teresa; Ashcroft, Sam; McLoughlin, Shane; University of Chester; University of Chichester (Springer Verlag, 2019-04-08)
    A core overarching aim of Relational Frame Theory (RFT) research on language and cognition is the prediction and influence of human behavior with precision, scope, and depth. However, the conceptualization and delineation of empirical investigations of higher-order language and cognition from a relational framing theoretical standpoint is a challenging task that requires a high degree of abstract reasoning and creativity. To that end, we propose using symbolic notation as seen in early RFT experimental literature as a possible functional-analytical tool to aid in the articulation of hypotheses and design of such experiments. In this article, we provide examples of aspects of cognition previously identified in RFT literature and how they can be articulated rather more concisely using technical notation than in-text illustration. We then provide a brief demonstration of the utility of notation by offering examples of several novel experiments and hypotheses in notation format. In two tables, we provide a “key” for understanding the technical notation written herein, which other basic-science researchers may decide to draw on in future. To conclude, this article is intended to be a useful resource to those who wish to carry out basic RFT research on complex language and cognition with greater technical clarity, precision, and broad scope.

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