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UQ Psychology in the News

UQ Psychology in the News
Pink balls in day-night cricket could challenge players at sunset

Associate Professor Derek Arnold has weighed in on the latest controversy in cricket with an article on The Conversation website:

    "People may be able to see a pink ball, but that doesn’t mean they can accurately judge its velocity."

    "Speed perception is a special property of vision, tapping specialised mechanisms and brain structures."

    "Human motion perception relies on brightness differences. When brightness differences are small, we can have trouble judging speed. Worse, people tend to see things as moving more slowly than they actually are when there are only slight brightness differences."

Read the full article here:

Professor Thomas Suddendorf participated in the Reddit Science AMA (Ask Me Anything) Series

Professor Thomas Suddendorf participated in the Reddit Science AMA (Ask Me Anything) Series titled Human Uniqueness:

I'm Professor of Psychology at the University of Queensland, Australia. I'm here to answer questions about what makes humans unique. AMA!

For the full discussion see:

The negative social and psychological impacts of the campaign in Ireland reveals a high degree of distress

Advertisements for the anti-marriage equality case in the Irish referendum caused a majority of LGBTI people to feel angry and distressed, according to a new study.

The survey of 1,657 Irish LGBTI people also found that only a minority of respondents would be prepared to face the referendum again if they did not know about the eventual successful outcome.

The results are contained in Swimming with Sharks, the first study of the negative social and psychological impacts of the no campaign in Ireland. Its authors include Dr. Sharon Dane who is a post doctoral researcher in the School of Psychology.


The psychology of waiting - ABC Brisbane Drive

Are you sick of waiting for the budget? What about the election to be called?

Waiting of course is something we do pretty much every day but there are some interesting mind tricks at play when it comes to how we deal with waiting.

Adam Bulley from the School of Psychology spoke to David from ABC Brisbane Drive:

App designed to smooth transition from theory to practicing on placement

This year’s Master of Applied Psychology students will pilot a new app designed to put theory learnt in the classroom into virtual practice.

UQ Master of Applied Psychology Placements Manager, Gillian McGregor came up with the concept of the app whilst preparing and supporting students for their placements in professional practice.

“Professional psychology students encounter a steep learning curve when shifting from theory, to applying this theory in practice,” Gillian said. 

“Working with students during this developmental transition gave rise to thinking whether there was a way to incorporate the use of technology to enhance this process.”

The app engages games technology which has been designed to track the developmental journey and curriculum of professional psychology training. 

The game requires students to use skills they have learnt and apply these to real life scenarios they will encounter as part of their profession including the intake interview, ethics, risk assessment and suicide assessment and diagnostics. 

Each of these areas has several scenarios for students to engage with, providing a variety of presenting issues, and differing degrees of complexity and difficulty. 

Students’ progress along the developmental journey towards increasingly complex cases, promoting engagement and the application of learned skills. 

Successful completion of easier levels provides access to increasingly difficult scenarios.

“The plan is that the software will be further developed to cover all areas of the relevant curricula, including psychological interventions, psychological assessment, and multi-cultural issues in psychotherapy” Gillian said.

“We are really excited about the benefits this software will provide to the students as well as their future clients, as the students will have had increased opportunity for practice.  

“An interesting development that emerged during testing when students played in teams of two or more was the creation of collective intelligence, sparked through the stimulus of engagement with the game.”

The pilot will allow Gillian and her team to conduct research and further testing with student users, placement providers and supervisors, and professional and academic staff to establish the efficacy.

A second year Master of Psychology student Rebecca Norwood who was involved in the latest testing provided positive feedback on the app.

"I think the apps/programs are a good addition to student current learning and seem to provide some of the real world training, without being in the real world,” Ms Norwood said.

“It provided an opportunity to think through assessment and risk and respond straight away.

“During the assessment activity I was able to choose the “wrong” answer, as well as the right ones and explore the ‘what happened if’, and at one point I was fired!

“Much better to understand how this may happen in the virtual world than the real one.”

Final year and internship students from the Qantm College SAE Institute in Brisbane including four game designers, three programmers, a graphic designer and an animator under the supervision of Dr Ralf Muhlberger assisted to develop the app.

Do media organisations have a responsibility to be more compassionate and what factors work against this occurring?

Do media organisations have a responsibility to be more compassionate and what factors work against this occurring?

Ahead of the Compassion in Action Forum in Brisbane, University of Queensland psychologist Dr James Kirby gives his critique to the Brisbane Times.

Fear is a big blocker to humans being compassionate - fear we might be taken advantage of, will look foolish, or expose weakness.

Media ratings revolve around fear, because natural instinct primes us to assess threats.

Imagine if half the news was dedicated to problems we face and the other half provided hope and information to improve those situations.

Improving the situation is not something automatically recognised as being part of compassion, but it is vital.

To view the full article:


Why do 4 out of 5 American parents spank?

Psychology Today has published an article based on research by Antonia Kish and Associate Professor Peter Newcombe, "Smacking Never  Hurt Me: Identifying Myths Surrounding the Use of Corporal Punishment" in the academic journal Personality and Individual Differences.

 "Australia is one of the few western nations where spanking is still legal, and this article was authored by research psychologists at Australia’s University of Queensland. The researchers wanted to know whether fictitious popular beliefs keep spanking alive. They asked 366 freshman psychology students about ten myths identified in modern spanking studies."

View the Full Article here:

How I use mental exercises to ease my fear of flying

Dr. James Kirby published an article on The Conversation about his personal experiences and responses to the anxiety of flying.

In the last five years, I’ve become quite anxious during flights – especially when turbulence hits. And while my wife Cassie never feared turbulence before, she has recently “caught” my anxiety, for which I feel inherently guilty.

Now, we’re as bad as each other, and that can make for some terrible flight experiences. A recent case in point was our return flight from an otherwise lovely holiday in Bali.

To view the full article:

Dr Kirby was also interviewed on 612 ABC Brisbane (20th July 2015). Listen to the full interview here:

He also was a guest on ABC RN Afternoons (21st July 2015). Listen to the full interview here:

A new study suggesting boys may suffer more than girls when their mums return to work has been challenged

Research in the University of New sOuth Wales, and colleagues suggests that when mothers return to work, girls are more likely to benefit from a range of advantages such as increased work ethic, whereas boys are more likely to suffer, especially in terms of education. This study was the subject of discussion on a recent Radio National Life Matters program featuring Professor Matt Sanders, Professor Marian Baird and Dr Xiaodong Fan.

Professor Sanders pointed out to listeners that while boys were more likely to display behavioural, emotional and conduct problems than girls, it was also important to remember from an early intervention perspective, that it’s not the quantity of time that a parent devotes to a child that's important, it’s the quality of time.

“The developmental research shows that many of the interactions that drive development are brief and frequent, they are child-initiated interactions, it’s not just large blocks of time of being with children,'' Professor Sanders said.

To listen to the full podcast go to:

One quarter of Queensland parents are fighting with their teens at harmful levels well above the average rate

Dr Kylie Burke discusses family conflict in The Courier Mail.

A Quarter of Queensland parents are fighting with their teens at harmful levels well above the average rate of family conflict, new research has revealed.

These parents are dealing with persistent aggression, hostility and unresolved conflict with their teenagers that can lead the child to increased risk-taking behaviour, mental health problems and truancy.

On average, parents can expect to go through about two “disagreements” with their teen each week with mothers and teenage daughters most likely to be in conflict.

UQ Psychology's Bill von Hippel was interviewed on Channel 7 about the psychology of lying, but is he telling the truth?

UQ Psychology's Bill von Hippel was interviewed on Channel 7 about the psychology of lying, but is he telling the truth? 

Watch the video here:

The ability to tell what people are feeling, thinking and wanting is basic precursor to emotional intelligence in adults

Professor Virginia Slaughter says the ability to tell what people are feeling, thinking and wanting is a basic precursor to emotional intelligence in adults.

For the full articles:

Gut feeling key to fingerprint matching

ABC Science has an article about Fingerprint Matching featuring UQ School of Psychology's Dr Matthew Thompson.

"Gut feeling is responsible for a lot more of the accuracy than many people think, even the experts themselves," says Dr Matthew Thompson.

"The results from these experiments suggest that a surprising amount of fingerprint examiners' accuracy can be accounted for by non-analytic thinking, which is intuitive, unconscious, associative, and effortless," says Thompson.

"You can think of it as a sort of gut feeling."

Read the full article here:

‘Parents these days’ are judged too harshly - John Pickering - PFSC

John Pickering talks to The Conversation:

I am someone who investigates how science can help parents deal with the sleepless nights, the fussy eaters, the sibling rivalry, the intrusive in-laws, and a career that favours fulltime hours.

What I have experienced, though, is the growing and seemingly widespread view that parents these days aren’t doing a good job – that in fact they’re doing a “crap” job.

Parents are out of touch, we’re told, and too soft. They give in to their kids too easily. They’re over-involved helicopter parents, or under-involved don’t care parents. Or they could be bulldozer or lawn-mower parents, the ones who smooth the way for their child’s transition through life and make life difficult for everyone else in the process.

This is the old “kids these days" narrative but applied to parents.

For the full article published on The Conversation see:

Autonomy sometimes makes workers less happy and less productive

Researchers have known for decades that jobs with high demands and low autonomy seem to drain workers’ mental and physical health. For example, women with these types of jobs were 40 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease in a 10-year study of more than 17,000 women. Because of this pattern, it seems logical that employers can help workers with demanding jobs by giving them more autonomy.

The study used a questionnaire to assess participants’ motivation. The questionnaire measured two types of focus. The first is called “prevention focus,” which is how much people focus on avoiding negative outcomes such as getting a failing grade. The other, “promotion focus,” describes the drive to excel and achieve goals. After completing the questionnaire, 110 university students played the role of a human resources manager answering emails from employees. For the first set of emails, participants had information about company policies but no specific instructions about how to do their jobs. Then, some participants were instructed to answer future emails in chronological order and at a consistent pace, while others were told they were free to choose their own order and pace.

"The results suggest that anxious or risk-averse people may do better in a structured environment where they know exactly what is expected of them." - Dr Stacey Parker (UQ Psychology Lecturer in Organisation Psychology)

For the full article published on Inside Science see:


Study says cheating behaviour can be inherited

Brendan Zietsch looks at a possible genetic link with infidelity: 'Born to be unfaithful? Study says cheating behaviour can be inherited. The story was covered by The Telegraph in the UK.

"It could be the perfect excuse for cheating spouses who are caught out: infidelity may be inherited. Both men and women may be more likely to have affairs as a result of the genes passed down by their parents, according to research."

"Scientists have even identified a single gene which has variations that make women more likely to commit adultery."

"The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Queensland and other institutions, examined the roles played by genes in human affairs."

"Dr Brendan Zietsch, research fellow at the university’s school of psychology, who led the study, said: “Our research clearly shows that people’s genetic make-up influences how likely they are to have sex with someone outside their main partnership."

The story was also covered by:


Alex Haslam was interviewed on the 7.30 Report last week about the forthcoming G20 in Brisbane

Alex Haslam was interviewed on the 7.30 Report last week about the forthcoming G20 in Brisbane, and how police can engage constructively with protesters.

"Most of the people in crowds are there for a good reason and they're actually exercising their legitimate rights whether it's to go to a football match or to engage in protest and if you treat that group of people as if they're just all criminals then they will turn against the police and against the authorities and align themselves with those elements who are intent on violence. So actually you get a spiral of activity which is very, very destructive, very, very counter-productive."

Dr Eric Vanman was featured on Catalyst discussing his research on crying

Dr Eric Vanman was featured on Catalyst discussing how his research has shown that people can identify the faces of people crying even at an unconscious level. 

"It must just have been something that some ancestor was able to create - this secretion - and those people who could do that when they were sad were more likely to be taken care of and cared for. So you'd basically get these criers that get passed on, where generations after them can now show tears as well."

Risky business: how protection workers decide to remove children from their parents

Professor Paul Harnett published an article on 'The Conversation':

"The starting point for child protection workers to respond to a report of suspected maltreatment is to estimate an overall level of risk. Many jurisdictions across the world use computerised structured decision-making tools that estimate risk based on the presence or absence of specific risk factors and protective factors."

"Decision-making is most straightforward when risk factors clearly outweigh protective factors or vice versa. One such example may be a case where a child shows signs of neglect, rarely attends school and lives with substance-misusing parents who are in a domestically violent relationship."


Full Story:

Citizen CSI: Crime 101x gives the public a chance to catch the criminal

ABC News online has convered the launch of Crime 101x:

"The University of Queensland is inviting participants from around the globe to take part in a citizen crime scene investigation."

"Participants would learn about the psychology of the law and follow the trial through a series of weekly videos."

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