Yesterday (March 22nd) I spent the whole day at the BPS Undergraduate Conference hosted by Edinburgh Napier University (#BPSscotUGconf). I don’t blog very often but yesterday was such an interesting and positive event I wanted to say something about it and share some of the promising research and ideas that are coming from Scotland’s psychology undergraduates.
Three hundred delegates from all over Scotland and the north of England got themselves to Edinburgh for the 9.30am start with 100 student presenters scheduled for the day. I attended five talks in the morning covering research on: malevolent personality and creativity; mindfulness; hair colour and attractiveness; how to improve the rehabilitation of young offenders; and our relationship with death. A wide variety of research methods were used from psychometric tests and statistical analyses, physiological measures of arousal, thematic analysis of e-mail interviews, and Lacanian discourse analysis.
I was very impressed with the way in which student presenters dealt with questions (particularly Edinburgh Napier’s Eric Fitchel (researching mindfulness) and Amanda Diserholt (using Lacanian analysis). It was also great to see students so open to suggestions from the audience. Paula McGillian from the University of Abertay took my suggestion to consider women’s hair colour preferences at sperm banks very well!
After lunch I delivered a short keynote lecture on therapeutic jurisprudence and future thoughts for forensic psychology. The blurb from the conference programme is here and my Prezi is here. Two key aims from my lecture were to introduce therapeutic jurisprudence to a wider audience, and to encourage a wider appreciation and use of different methodologies in forensic psychology. The references I used in my lecture are at the end of this blog post.
In the afternoon I chaired a session dedicated to forensic psychology which comprised the following students and projects: Dimitar Karadzhov – University of Glasgow – Psychopathy; Rebecca McCartan – University of Strathclyde – Implementation intentions; Ashley Blandford-Newson – University of Abertay – The CSI Effect; Samantha Termer – University of the West of Scotland – Ear witness line-ups; and Jennifer McAllister – University of Abertay – CCTV through deaf eyes.
All of these presentations were delivered in an engaging and enthusiastic way even by students who said they were really nervous beforehand. I learned about some new topics in this session and I will be using some of the content in my own teaching. Samantha’s presentation on ear witness line-ups and emotion was all new to me and I will be including some of it in my fourth year module where I discuss the reliability of witnesses in different contexts. I was also fascinated by Jennifer’s presentation on the differences between deaf and hearing people on a CCTV task. Her well designed study tested the detection abilities of deaf and hearing participants when detecting crimes on a panel of four CCTV screens. Deaf participants showed enhanced performance on this task. Jennifer’s inspiration for this research came from a news story about deaf CCTV operatives in Mexico. I knew nothing about these differences until Jennifer’s talk and this new knowledge will definitely feature in my teaching about the abilities of different witnesses. It was a superb talk to end the day with.
The conference concluded with a wine reception on the fifth floor of the Sighthill library which has floor-to-ceiling windows and a view of Edinburgh and the castle. I’d like to thank Dr Phyllis Laybourn not only for all her hard work organising the conference but also for providing photographs for this blog. Thank you to everyone who took part in the conference and I’m looking forward to next year’s!
And finally, a few tweets:
References from the keynote
Baxter, J., Charles, K., Martin, M., & McGroarty, A. (2012). The relative influence of leading questions and negative feedback on response change on the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale (2): Implications for forensic interviewing. Psychology, Crime & Law, 1, 1-9.
Canter, D. & Youngs, D. (2009). Personal narratives of crime. In Canter, D. & Youngs, D. (Eds.) Investigative Psychology: Offender Profiling and the Analysis of Criminal Action. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Carson, D. (2003). Therapeutic jurisprudence and adversarial injustice: questioning limits. Western Criminology Review, 4, 124-133.
Gathings, M. J., & Parrotta, K. (2013). The use of gendered narratives in the courtroom: Constructing an identity worthy of leniency. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 42, 668-689.
Hochstetler, A., Copes, H., & Williams, P. (2010). “That’s not who I am:” How offenders commit violent acts and reject authentically violent selves. Justice Quarterly, 27, 492-516.
Wexler, D. B. (2013). The development of therapeutic jurisprudence: from theory to practice. Arizona Legal Studies, Discussion Paper No. 13-51.