Sussex Psychology in the Media: March 2019

When you think of the School of Psychology, you probably picture your lecturers in front of a class or giving you advice during their office hours. But not everything is teaching. This post is a brief summary of some of the School activities that made the news in March.

In her professorial talk last month, Prof Alison Pike provided an interesting and funny account of her twenty-five years researching parental and sibling relationships. Ali spoke about the genetic and environmental aspects of these relationships, and the active role that children play in both parenting and influencing their younger siblings’ behaviour. You can listen to the whole talk here: Happier families: The kids (and mum & dad) are alright (audio only).

Prof Pike is currently studying how children’s behaviour change when they have a baby brother or sister. Lauren Moss interviewed Ali and one of her young participants for the BBC in early March. Ali and her team are still looking for more participants. If you have a toddler and are due to have another baby in the next few months, please contact 3to4study@sussex.ac.uk.

The EDGE Lab led by Dr Darya Gaysina have discovered that repeated episodes of depression in the first three decades of adulthood are linked to memory loss later in life. Darya’s team analysed data from the National Child Development Study which studied the life of 17000 people born in 1958 from birth into adulthood. The accumulation of episodes of depression and anxiety experienced by participants during their twenties, thirties, and forties was a strong predictor of decrease in memory function by the time they reached fifty. These findings highlight the need for higher investment in mental health support for young adults to prevent future risks of dementia. 

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The national press covered the discovery, including The Spectator and The Express, as well as regional broadcast media after PhD student Amber John’s interview with Sky News Radio was syndicated across the commercial radio network. Amber also recorded a video for the University with practical tips on how to look after your mental health.

Are you yawning yet? Prof John Drury was with Claudia Hammond in ‘All in the Mind’ explaining how social identity affects non-conscious behaviours such as yawning:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p067c4t1

Social identity also plays a role in why we ignore fire alarms. John spoke with FM Industry about how people behave in emergency situations: “Is Anyone Listening?” John’s research shows that crowd members in emergencies quickly identify themselves as part of the same group and self-organise. Although this is in general positive, it can sometimes have dangerous consequences. A key problem is that the alarms do not provide enough information (e.g. what the emergency is, where the danger is, etc.), and they are not always reliable (e.g. is there really an emergency or is it a test?).  As a result, people look around at how others react to the alarm and this can delay the evacuation.

The University news broadcast picked up on an event organised by the Psychology Student Experience Team. Part of One World Week, Desserts of the World celebrated the cultural diversity of the School. The event was very popular: many staff and students contributed home-made desserts from their home countries and many more came to Pevensey 1 to try them.  The University article talks about the winner of the Most Inspired Dessert competition, Bianca Popescu who made Moldovian style munecini: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/staff/newsandevents/?id=48313?ref=email

Posted in Psychology in the Media

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