The Big 5 S2 Ep 6: Dr. Lisa Thomas on Career Paths in Academia

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On this episode of The Big 5, Dr. Lisa Thomas tells us about her path to becoming a university lecturer and the strong women role models who supported her journey.

Show notes:

You can stay up to date with Lisa’s research on Twitter @drlthomas

If you’re interested in continuing your academic career you can look for jobs and PhDs on jobs.ac.uk

The show transcript can be found here.

The Big 5 Season 2 Episode 5: Dominik Polasek on Studying Sleep at Harvard University

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On this episode, Dominik Polasek tells us about his summer as a visiting research assistant at Harvard University’s Sleep Lab. We also discuss how to get involved in research in the department and find your own international internship.

Show notes:

If you’d like to learn more about sleep research at Harvard you can check out their website here.

To learn more about our sleep research at Northumbria, check out this page.

If you’re a NU Psychology student and want to find out more about getting involved in research, look out for Dr. Michael Craig’s monthly updates on Volunteer Research Assistantships or email him at michael2.craig@northumbriapsy

To follow Dominik’s continued research you can follow him on LinkedIn or Instagram @dominikpolasek

If you’re a student from the Czech Republic looking for funding to come to Northumbria University, check out The Kellner Foundation at their website here.

Here you can find the transcript for this episode.

The Big 5 Season 2 Episode 5: Eating disorder and parapsychology communities online with Claire Murphy-Morgan

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On this special Halloween episode, Claire Murphy-Morgan tells us about the links between art and psychology, treating eating disorders remotely, and the online communities that are discussing parapsychology. We talk all things parapsychology: ghosts, near-death experiences, and spooky Wikipedia editors.

Show notes:

If you’d like to keep up with the Remote Healthcare for Eating Disorders throughout COVID-19 project you can check out their website or follow the project on Twitter @RHEDC_Project.

You can also follow Claire’s work on parapsychology on Twitter @ClaireMorganM.

To stay updated on episodes you can follow me on Twitter @BrownGenavee.

The Big 5 with Anna Maughan on Medical Conspiracy Theories

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On this episode, Anna Maughan tells us about her work on conspiracy theories and how emotions may play a role in who is susceptible to them. We also discuss the possible negative effects of medical conspiracy theories.

Show notes:

You can follow Anna’s work on Twitter @annafmaughan.

You can read one of Anna’s papers on Covid-19 Misinformation here.

If you’d like to stay up to date with the podcast, you can follow me on Twitter @browngenavee.

You can now subscribe to The Big 5 on Spotify.

The show transcript can be found here.

The Big 5 Season 2 Episode 2 with Connor Leslie

On this episode Connor Leslie tells us about her work on agression detection from both an evolutionary and forensic psychology perspective. Connor discusses the importance of detecting agression for preventing violence. Look out for those aggressive behaviors and try to avoid them on the International Day of Non-violence! #internationaldayofnonviolence

Show notes:

To follow Connor’s research check her out on Twitter @ConnorLeslie91.

Want to know more about motion capture and psychology research of a more non-violent nature? Check out these studies from members of our department:

Which dance moves make men look like a good partner?

Which dance moves should women use?

To stay up to date on the show, follow me @BrownGenavee.

The Big 5 Season 2 Episode 1: Charl Emmerson on Workplace Bullying

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On this episode Charl Emmerson, PhD student at Northumbria, tells us about her research on workplace bullying. Charl will be attending the 13th Internation Association of Workplace Bullying Conference in San Diego, California to share her work with fellow researchers, but you can get a sneak peak in this episode Charl discusses what can cause bullying at work and the costs of bullying to employees and employers.

You can follow Charl on Twitter @CharlEmmerson or on LinkedIn to stay updated on her research.

If you’re concerned that you might be suffering from bullying at work you can read more about it here and access support here.

This episode’s transcript can be found here.

Tackle loneliness with a little help from your friends

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AUTHOR: Alexandra Thompson, PGR Student, Department of Psychology

This week (13th-17th June 2022) sees the 6th Loneliness Awareness Week hosted by the Marmalade Trust. This is one of many such campaigns in recent years with the aim of raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with talking about feeling lonely. Intiatives like the UK’s Campaign to End Loneliness and the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission aim to share research evidence about loneliness and to demonstrate the need for national leadership and guidance to address this issue. This has resulted in the appointment of the very first Ministers for Loneliness and the creation of a cross-governmental Tackling Loneliness Strategy and team.

The problem of loneliness

This increased focus is not without good reason. Experiencing loneliness, also referred to as perceived social isolation, can potentially lead to increased risk of developing health problems. Such issues include cardiovascular disease and stroke (1), dementia and cognitive decline (2), depression and anxiety (3) and chronic health conditions such as diabetes (4). Additionally, chronic loneliness and social isolation carries the same level of health risk as obesity and smoking (5).

Traditionally, older adults are viewed as those in society that are most likely to experience loneliness. Although recent evidence suggests that younger people are equally or more likely to report loneliness (6), loneliness in older adults is still a concern in this age group. In 2018 around 1 million UK residents aged over 50 reported that they were chronically lonely, and this number is expected to increase to more than 2 million by 2025. We also have an ageing population in the UK and worldwide, meaning that the effects of loneliness are likely to be experienced by an increasing number of older adults in the near future. Loneliness therefore poses a significant public health risk and has the potential to place increased strain on health and social care services.

This risk has been compounded by the recent COVID 19 pandemic. Social distancing and successive lockdown measures meant that for many older adults their already limited social contact was further reduced. This was clearly a concern for those already experiencing loneliness, but also meant that a new wave of older adults were at risk of becoming lonely, particularly those in residential care. Since these measures have been reversed the potential for more social contact has increased and the risk has hopefully reduced. However, given that negative effects may have already occurred, it’s important that we continue to focus on re-establishing our social connections and those of older adults to minimise this impact.

As you might expect, romantic social connections, such as being in a relationship or being married, offer some protection against loneliness (7). But what about other types of social links? One social connection which appears to be particularly important to older adults are friendships. Friendships seem to be more beneficial in preventing loneliness than family relationships (8). This may not be that surprising as family relationships have the potential to be based more on obligation than friendships and also at times can be fraught with conflict. It has been shown that (9) increasing the number of friends you have generally reduces loneliness (9). However, recent evidence from our department has shown that simply making more friends might not be the answer (10).

What is the magic number?

We surveyed hundreds of older adults about their levels of loneliness and friendships. Our study (10) demonstrated that although having more friends may indeed stave of loneliness, for older adults, adding more close friendships beyond four friends has no further effect in reducing loneliness. If four is the optimal number, then this means that older adults and interventions aimed at reducing loneliness in this age group can focus on establishing and maintaining this relatively small number of close connections. Many individuals have a support group of around five members (11), so it may be possible that some older adults already have the optimal number of close friendships. For those, individuals, focus is best placed on improving the quality within these relationships or addressing other aspects linked to loneliness such as mobility and functional status (12).

About the Author

Alexandra Thompson is a PhD student in the Department of Psychology, working within the Evolution and Social Interaction Research Group and supervised by Professor Thomas Pollet. You can read more about the work of the research group over in this section of the blog

References

  1. Valtorta, N. K., Kanaan, M., Gilbody, S., & Hanratty, B. (2018). Loneliness, social isolation and risk of cardiovascular disease in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 25(13), 1387–1396. https://doi.org/10.1177/2047487318792696
  2. Wilson, R. S., Krueger, K. R., Arnold, S. E., Schneider, J. A., Kelly, J. F., Barnes, L. L., … Bennett, D. A. (2007). Loneliness and risk of Alzheimer disease. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64(2), 234–240. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.64.2.234
  3. Beutel, M. E., Klein, E. M., Brähler, E., Reiner, I., Jünger, C., Michal, M., … Tibubos, A. N. (2017). Loneliness in the general population: Prevalence, determinants and relations to mental health. BMC Psychiatry, 17(1), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-017-1262-x
  4. Brinkhues, S., Dukers-Muijrers, N. H. T. M., Hoebe, C. J. P. A., Van Der Kallen, C. J. H., Dagnelie, P. C., Koster, A., … Schram, M. T. (2017). Socially isolated individuals are more prone to have newly diagnosed and prevalent type 2 diabetes mellitus – The Maastricht study – The M. BMC Public Health, 17(1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4948-6
  5. Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., Baker, M., Harris, T., & Stephenson, D. (2015). Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 227–237. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691614568352
  6. Barreto, M., Victor, C., Hammond, C., Eccles, A., Richins, M. T., & Qualter, P. (2020). Loneliness around the world: Age, gender, and cultural differences in loneliness. Personality and Individual Differences, (January), 110066. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110066
  7. Victor, C. R., & Yang, K. (2012). The Prevalence of Loneliness Among Adults : A Case Study of the United Kingdom The Prevalence of Loneliness Among Adults : A Case Study of the United Kingdom. The Journal of Psychology, 146(1–2), 85–104. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.2011.613875
  8. Lee, G. R., & Ishii-Kuntz, M. (1987). Social Interaction, Loneliness, and Emotional Well-Being among the Elderly. Research on Aging, 9(4), 459–482. https://doi.org/10.1177/0164027587094001
  9. Shiovitz-Ezra, S., & Leitsch, S. A. (2010). The role of social relationships in predicting loneliness: The national social life, health, and aging project. Social Work Research, 34(3), 157–167. https://doi.org/10.1093/swr/34.3.157
  10. Thompson, A., & Pollet, T. (In Press). Friendships, loneliness and psychological well-being in older adults: A limit to the benefit of the number of friends. Ageing & Society.
  11. 11. Dunbar, R. I. M., & Spoors, M. (1995). Social networks, support cliques, and kinship. Human Nature, 6(3), 273–290. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02734142
  12. Theeke, L. A. (2009). Predictors of Loneliness in U.S. Adults Over Age Sixty-Five. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 23(5), 387–396. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apnu.2008.11.00

The Big 5 Episode 18: Dr. Faye Horsley “Why do some people engage adaptively with fire while others go on to misuse it?”

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On this smoking hot episode, Dr. Faye Horsley tells us about her work on the human fire relationship. She talks about why people use fire and how we can prevent its misuse. She also tells us about her new book: New Perspectives on Arson and Firesetting: The Human-Fire Relationship.

Show notes:

If you want a copy of Faye’s book, you can buy a print or e-book version here.

If you’d like to know more about Faye’s work, you can follow her on Linked In or check out her Northumbria Staff page.

We’ll be going on summer break after a very successful Season 1 of The Big 5 NU Psych Podcast, but we’ll be back in September with all new students and researchers to tell us about their experience studying psychology at Northumbria University. Please do follow me @BrownGenavee on Twitter to stay updated on Season 2!

Transcript for this episode.

The Big 5 Ep 17 Kristans Nemkovics “I embarked on this journey to find the pillars that are important to succeed in your studies.”

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In this episode, Kristians Nemkovics tells us about studying during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kristians went on a journey to develop new health sleep, study and eating habits. Kristians gives students advice on how to succeed at university.

Show notes:

For more information on developing good study habits check out this advice from the Amercian Psychological Association.

For some tips on improving your sleep hygiene check out this website. If you’re interested in studying sleep we have many excellent sleep researchers in the department. You can read a blog about their work here and find out why you sometimes feel like you’re falling when you go to sleep.

For some tips on how to start an exercise regimen, check out this advice on the Mayo Clinic’s website and here are some free excercise videos from the NHS.

You can find the show transcript here.

The Big 5 Episode 16: Dr. Micheal Smith “I sometimes feel stressed in my day to day life. What can I do about it?”

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On this episode of The Big 5, Dr. Micheal Smith tells us about a simple way to reduce stress: writing about a positive event in our lives. This episode is our second installment in honor of Stress Awareness Month.

Show notes:

Want to read more about Micheal’s research? You can find more about him on his staff page.

Here is another articles on expressive writing where Dr. Smith is featured:

https://hbr.org/2021/07/writing-can-help-us-heal-from-trauma

You can find the show transcript here.