Thursday, 29 September 2016

Resilience Unravelled: Resilience is not cuddly. Podcast with Professor Antonia Bifulco

Toni Bifulco was invited to participate in a podcast, one of a series run on resilience, by Russell Thackeray of QED ( experts in change management in organisations.

The discussion was quite wide ranging on resilience in everyday life and in relation to vulnerable populations. Issues of childhood adversity, different attachment styles and responses to stress were outlined. Its application to stress in the workplace was also discussed. Toni Bifulco drew on research into resilience across the lifespan. Resilience factors include secure attachment style, good support and effective coping strategies. She also outlined her team's latest ESRC project 'Stress Online' a computerised assessment of life events which provides  a relatively objective assessment of recent stressful experience. This is to be offered to different agencies in assessing stress, vulnerability and resilience, including organisations in relation to worker stress, and voluntary agencies in relation to client stress.

Click here to listen to the podcast. 
For further information, see or email

Friday, 23 September 2016

Research Seminar: Dr Nicola Pitchford (University of Nottingham)

*** Everyone Welcome! No need to book in advance *** 

Date: Thursday 6th October
Time: 16:00-17:00  
Room: Town Hall Committee Room 2  
Dr Nicola Pitchford (University of Nottingham) 

"Unlocking Talent Through Technology: Evidence base for effectiveness and successful implementation from Malawi, Tanzania and the UK"

Dr Nicola Pitchford is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at The University of Nottingham, UK. Her research expertise lies in the field of developmental neuropsychology, more specifically how the cognitive processes that underpin scholastic progression develop over childhood. She works with specialist populations of children with acquired neurological disorders. Her clinical research centres on discovering how stroke, preterm birth, and brain tumour impact on scholastic and neuronal development and wellbeing. Nicola works at the interface of theory and practice. She collaborates with academics from different disciplines (e.g. psychology, medicine, education) and works with practitioners and professionals from a diverse range of fields (e.g. neurologists, neonatologists, oncologists, nurses, educators, companies, charities, non-government organisations, and government officials) to ensure that her research secures maximum benefits for key users and stakeholders. Nicola is also Guest Editor for the internationally renowned, scientific, open access journal, Frontiers in Psychology.


In this talk I will describe the “Unlocking Talent Project”, which is based on a new and innovative technology intervention, developed by the UK charity onebillion, to raise numeracy and literacy standards in marginalised children around the globe. The project is being implemented by VSO, an international charity that aims to alleviate poverty in the world. Within their Global Education Programme, VSO have established a Community of Practice for the Unlocking Talent Project, which includes teachers, education policy makers, government officials, and international development funders.
My team of research psychologists are collaborating with colleagues from the School of Education at the University of Nottingham and the University of Malawi, VSO, and onebillion to evaluate the Unlocking Talent Project. We are leading an ambitious, international, research programme investigating the effectiveness of this new technology intervention in supporting early child development. Our current research is centred in Malawi, Tanzania and the UK and will soon extend to other countries, including South Africa and Brazil.
In this presentation I will 1) describe the Unlocking Talent Project, 2) present the research approach and current evidence base from Malawi, Tanzania and the UK, and 3) introduce a new method of using touch-screen technology to assess core cognitive and fine motor skills that are known to influence scholastic progression.
Further information about this project can be accessed at the following links: 

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Research Seminar: Dr Yvan Russell (Middlesex Psychology)

*** Everyone Welcome! No need to book in advance *** 

Date: Thursday 22nd September
Time: 16:00-17:00  
Room: Town Hall Committee Room 1   
Dr Yvan Russell (Middlesex University) 

"Social complexity in a captive chimpanzee group: The role of reciprocity and three-way effects"

Abstract: Much of our social knowledge derives from third-party report: person A learns about person B through testimony from person C. “Reputation” can be defined as “knowledge about a person’s typical behaviour based on a knowledge of that person’s past behaviour”. Reputation and gossip are an essential part of human life – but in this talk I will widen the perspective to discuss the capabilities of our closest genetic relatives: chimpanzees and other great apes. These animals don’t have language and therefore their social information gathering is limited to either direct encounters or to third-party observation (observing events as an uninvolved bystander). Here, I will report my empirical work on this topic which includes an eavesdropping experiment in four great ape species and investigations of third-party effects in a chimpanzee social network. Key to these studies were the behaviours of food sharing, allogrooming (where one chimpanzee cleans the other’s fur – construable as a kind of economic service), and social partner decision making. I will present analyses focusing on chimpanzee behaviour as an economic activity; comprising analyses of direct reciprocity (A helps B, then B helps A) and indirect reciprocity (A observes B help C, therefore A helps B), behaviours for which reputation is crucial. 

Biography: Yvan Russell is an evolutionary psychologist studying the evolution of expert intelligence in humans and animals. He is developing a multi-disciplinary research program covering the topics of cognitive psychology, evolutionary biology, cross-cultural and developmental psychology, the psychology of religion, statistics, anthropology, and behavioural economics. Yvan studied psychology at the University of Manitoba (B.A.-Adv.) and then studied evolutionary psychology and biology at the universities of Reading (M.A.) and Liverpool (Ph.D.). For his Ph.D., he studied cognition in chimpanzees and other great apes. Subsequently, he held postdoctoral research fellowships at Brunel University, Oxford University, and the University of Göttingen. He has also taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level at The Open University, Brunel University, and Middlesex University. In 2013, he joined the Department of Psychology at Middlesex University London.


Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Lundy Animal Behaviour Field Trip: June 2017

Lundy is an island off the North Devon coast, situated in the mouth of the Bristol Channel.  The island contains a number of diverse ecologies and and many species making it a good choice for ecological and behavioural science field trips.  Every year we take psychology and biology students to the island.

A video about the trip can be found here:

A trip to Lundy will lead to change.  The island is a beautiful place that is remote and very different from the city.  The opportunity to observe wild animals living their lives is a privilege that is endlessly fascinating. Many questions will arise and the field trip is designed to provide you with the methods to answer them.  You will develop scientific skills that are applicable across all species, including humans.  You will learn to plan and execute a research project from scratch.

I am looking to bring up to six students who want to collect data for their third year project or and students who wants experience of field work for their CV.  Students in the second year of their BSc from autumn 2016 are eligible to apply for this trip with a mind to their final year project in 2017.  I will consider other students also, if they are keen to experience field work.  If you are interested in coming to Lundy then please email me on:

For details about the psychology project work, please look at this page - - where you will also find handouts containing useful methodological information.

The trip to Lundy is from Saturday 3 June to Saturday 17 June 2017.

We will travel to Ilfracombe on Friday 2 June 2017 and sail to Lundy on 3 June 2017.  The return is managed all in one day.

This trip will be a collaborative venture between the departments of psychology and natural sciences at Middlesex University.

The cost of this trip is £195 per person, which includes travel to and from the island, accommodation (incl. bedding and towels, with one change during the stay) and food on the island as well as one night in Ilfracombe before sailing to Lundy.  The majority of the costs for the trip have been provided by the Faculty of Science and Technology, Middlesex University.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Tom Dickins

Professor of Behavioural Science

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Please do take time to look at the Lundy poster pictured below. It is on the noticeboard opposite David and Paul's office (TG47). It outlines the various projects undertaken  by Psychology and Natural Sciences students on Lundy this summer. 

Please refer second year students to this opportunity and to Tom Dickins.