Psychology

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  1. » The foundations of human political ideology
  2. » Can religion help us save the planet
  3. » Focus and Flexibility: Attention, Distraction, and Cognitive Control
  4. » Discriminating the future
  5. » Exploring protective factors against sexual offending
  6. » Understanding and challenging elements of rape culture
  7. » How do young people use the social media to give and receive help for psychological distress?
  8. » Project A: Illusory Line Motion (ILM) and the distribution of attention
  9. » Project B: Illusory Line Motion (ILM) and the distribution of exogenous attention
  10. » Identifying the foundation of prosociality: What factors shape prosocial behaviour development in early childhood?
  11. » Identifying how synchrony in mother-infant interactions changes across the first two years of life
  12. » Sensorimotor basis of braille reading
  13. » Attention and eye tracking
  14. » Mātauranga Māori and identity, wellbeing, belonging and connection
  15. » Brain training applied to neurodevelopmental disorders
  16. » Keeping calm, cool, and collected across generations: Examining emotion regulation in 4-year-old children and their parents
  17. » Examining the causes and consequences of sexism in New Zealand
  18. » The effects of inequality on wellbeing
  19. » Examining the motivational basis of system-challenging and system-supporting collective action
  20. » New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study: Ambivalent Sexism
  21. » New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study: Psychological Health and Wellbeing
  22. » Does evidence of animal intelligence reduce dehumanisation of human outgroups and motivation to eat meat?
  23. » Computational models to predict cognitive remediation outcomes

The foundations of human political ideology


Supervisor

Quentin Atkinson

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI205

Anyone who has debated politics over the dinner table knows that political opinions can vary widely, even within one family. But what is it that determines our views on taxation and welfare, military spending and climate change, abortion and gay marriage, and why do opinions about these seemingly disparate aspects of our social lives coalesce the way they do? This project will use survey and experimental data to identify the underlying psychological mechanisms that shape the human political landscape. This project will require and further develop good critical thinking, experimental design and quantitative skills. An interest in human evolution is preferred.  

Can religion help us save the planet


Supervisor

Quentin Atkinson

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI206

Opinions differ regarding  the extent to which religiosity promotes or suppresses concern about the environment. The ‘religious right’ in the US is notoriously blasé about the threat of climate change. Conversely, Pope Francis has put the moral weight of the Catholic church behind climate action. However, the potential for religion to help motivate environmental concern remains understudied. This project will review research in the area and design experiments to test predictions regarding how the psychology underlying religion could be used to motivate environmental action. The project will require and further develop good critical thinking, experimental design and quantitative skills. An interest in human evolution is preferred.

Focus and Flexibility: Attention, Distraction, and Cognitive Control


Supervisor

Paul Corballis

Jude Buckley

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI207

An important assignment is due – and concentration is required. Your mind is focused, but in the background a smartphone buzzes to announce the arrival of a text message, a phone rings, a kettle boils.. Day-to-day life consists of a complex set of competing behavioural goals – complete the assignment, read the message, make the tea – that must be evaluated and prioritised or discarded according to the situation. Accordingly, our minds exist in constant tension between focus and distraction, fixedness and flexibility. At some moments we are able to focus on a sensation, a memory, or a goal. At other times our minds to wander from one thought to another, or are captured by some new stimulus. Critically, successful interaction with the world depends both on our ability to focus and on our propensity for distraction. Focus allows us to protect our current priority from competing irrelevant concerns, while distractibility enables us to respond to unexpected changes in the environment. Finding the appropriate balance between maintaining current goals and switching focus is a central requirement of human cognition.

The ability to exert cognitive control – to maintain focus on a task or goal in a constantly changing psychological environment – has been linked both with selective attention (SA), the ability to prioritise the processing of goal-relevant stimuli, and working memory (WM), the ability to temporarily retain and manipulate information to perform some task. A number of authors have pointed out similarities between SA and WM, and some have suggested that they are flip sides of the same coin. This derives, at least in part, from accounts in which SA and WM both draw on a

limited central pool of executive control resources. 

The summer student(s) will assist in new and ongoing studies exploring the relationships between SA, WM, implicit processing, and cognitive control.  No special skills are required.  Some training will be provided in EEG data acquistion, behavioural studies of attentional selection and cognitive control, data processing and analysis, and write-up.  

Discriminating the future


Supervisor

Sarah Cowie

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI208

This project looks at how relations between stimuli, consequences, and behaviours are learned; how are these learned relations are used to predict events in the future; and how distance to the future influences choice. The project involves working in the operant lab, as well as doing a literature review and data analysis.

Exploring protective factors against sexual offending


Supervisor

Sophie Dickson

Gwenda Willis

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI209

The incalculable costs of sexual crimes underscore the critical importance of understanding factors that increase or decrease the risk of reoffending to better identify who is at risk to reoffend.  Risk factors for reoffending have been researched extensively and they dominate risk assessment instruments used by correctional psychologists.  However, approximately 50% of men assessed in the “high” and “very high” risk categories using these instruments do not sexually reoffend.  The current project seeks to improve the predictive accuracy of sexual reoffending risk assessments through developing structured approaches to the assessment of protective factors.  Protective factors can be defined as factors that make reoffending less likely.  Several domains of protective factors in relation to sexual offending have been proposed (e.g., goal-directed living), but methods for their measurement have not yet been developed.  This project is focused on the development of two structured, clinician-administered measures of protective factors which will be tested in a longitudinal study commencing in mid-2017. 

This summer research scholarship will provide an opportunity for students to be involved in a number of aspects of the current research project. The student/s will be asked to complete a focused literature review to gain an understanding of the overarching aims of the research. In addition, they will be involved in a variety of tasks involved in the research project, such as coding interviews for the presence of protective factors, transcribing interviews, data entry (entering information obtained by the NZ Police or Department of Corrections into a master spreadsheet), and scheduling appointments.

Participants in this research project are men with convictions for sexual offences.  While the summer student/s will not work directly with research participants, they may be exposed to potentially distressing/upsetting information, which for some students (and professionals alike) can be traumatising and/or triggering.  Students involved will work closely with the supervisors.  They will be given full training in the measure/s of protective factors.  As they will be working with sensitive and confidential data, they will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement.  The summer student/s must have a keen interest in correctional/forensic psychology.  They must have strong word processing skills and some experience using Excel would be advantageous. 

Understanding and challenging elements of rape culture


Supervisor

Nicola Gavey

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI210

We are currently working on several projects that are scoping the possibilities for working with young people to challenge and shift elements of rape culture. This summer project will contribute to this ongoing body of work. It will suit a student with a strong interest in feminist psychology, excellent writing skills and close attention to detail. Preference given to students who have completed Psych 319 or who are enrolled in it in Semester 2, 2017. 

How do young people use the social media to give and receive help for psychological distress?


Supervisor

Kerry Gibson

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI211

This project will explore how young people are using social media to give and receive support for psychological distress.  A Summer Scholarship student might be involved in a range of activities including: developing a literature review on young people’s social media use; researching online data to identify a range of social media forums and how they are currently used; and possibly also interviewing some young people about how they have used social media to seek or provide psychological support.  The ideal student for this role would be someone who uses social media themselves and is familiar with how young people communicate through these forums.  They should feel comfortable talking to young people and it would also be helpful if they had some experience of working with a youth organisation such as Youthline or similar (but this is not essential).

Project A: Illusory Line Motion (ILM) and the distribution of attention


Supervisor

Jeff P. Hamm

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI212

This project is focused on examining the link between illusory line motion, where a line that is presented all at once appears to be in motion away from a previous flash, and exogenous visual attention.  The experiment will be focused on measuring the distribution of exogenous visual attention following an uninformative peripheral flash, and investigating if this distribution is related to the illusory motion. 

This project will require the student to collect data in pre-designed experiments and to read literature to become familiar with the theoretical background.  The students will receive training in the statistical analysis of the data obtained.  In addition, due to the similarity of the experiments involved in Project B, the students will gain experience in working in a collaborative multi-experiment project.

Project B: Illusory Line Motion (ILM) and the distribution of exogenous attention


Supervisor

Jeff P. Hamm

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI213

This project will employ informative symbolic cues (L = attend left, R = attend Right, for example) to examine the distribution of endogenously oriented attention.  The literature is less clear on whether or not this form of attention results in illusory line motion. Therefore the purpose of this project is to investigate whether or not endogenously oriented attention produces illusory line motion, and if so, if it is related to the distribution of endogenous attention.

This project will require the student to collect data in pre-designed experiments and to read literature to become familiar with the theoretical background.  The students will receive training in the statistical analysis of the data obtained.  In addition, due to the similarity of the experiments involved in Project A, the students will gain experience in working in a collaborative multi-experiment project.

Identifying the foundation of prosociality: What factors shape prosocial behaviour development in early childhood?


Supervisor

Dr Annette Henderson

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI214

Cooperation is critical to human survival; yet humans vary in their cooperative inclinations. Indeed, we know very little about how cooperation develops. This project addresses this gap by examining the role that experience, genes, parenting and other infant-specific factors (e.g., language ability, temperament, social cognition) play in the development of prosocial behaviour across the first 3 years of life. This project will use data from an ongoing longitudinal study tracking the development of prosociality from 10 months to 3 years of age. The large scope of this study means that the student will be able to narrow the focus of his/her summer project based on his/her interests.

As this study is ongoing, the student will also help with running experimental sessions with children in the Early Learning Lab (City Campus, School of Psychology). The student will also receive training on other research tasks such as calling and scheduling appointments, participant recruitment, conducting literature reviews, data entry, data coding, and data analysis. Importantly, the student who works on this project will be involved in a thriving lab group over the summer months. The group will have regular lab meetings in which we read recent articles in developmental science and have exciting discussions on topics relevant to the work in the lab. As you can see, this project will provide the student with a very unique experience; he/she will be exposed to every stage of research in developmental science.

Experience with infants and/or young children would be helpful. However, of most importance is that the student would be comfortable working with young children. Students will complete a confidentiality agreement. Most of the work will be done on weekdays however, the student will need to be available for a few weekend times throughout the summer (for data collection and participant recruitment).Project description

Identifying how synchrony in mother-infant interactions changes across the first two years of life


Supervisor

Dr Annette Henderson

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI215

Communication is essential to our everyday lives. As such, it is critical that effective communication skills develop early in life. Early mother-infant interactions provide an important context for developing these early skills. We know that synchrony is critical to successful mother-infant interactions and a disruption in synchrony has adverse consequences for development. While the importance of synchrony is clear, very little is known about how synchrony changes in mother-infant dyads across the first two years of life. This project will take critical steps towards addressing this gap. This summer project will involve coding the verbal and nonverbal behaviours that shape synchrony in early mother-infant interactions. We will use this coding to develop models of early communication and will test these models using our virtual infant, BabyX, and/or in actual infants.

The student who works on this project will also help run experimental sessions with children in the Early Learning Lab (City Campus, School of Psychology). The student will receive training on research tasks such as calling and scheduling appointments, participant recruitment, conducting literature reviews, data entry, data coding, and data analysis. Importantly, students who work on this project will have the opportunity to be involved in a thriving lab group over the summer months. Our group will have regular lab meetings in which we read recent articles in developmental science and have exciting discussions on topics relevant to the lab. This project will provide students with a very unique experience; he/she will be exposed to every stage of research in developmental science.

Experience with infants and/or young children would be helpful. However, of most importance is that the student would be comfortable working with young children. Students involved will need to complete a confidentiality agreement. Most of the work will be done on weekdays however, the student will need to be available for a few weekend times throughout the summer (for data collection and participant recruitment).

Sensorimotor basis of braille reading


Supervisor

Barry Hughes

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI216

To engage in various aspects of research related to the perceptual, cognitive and motor skills underlying braille reading, including but not limited to: reviewing literature, research design and methods, data collection, statistical analyses and reporting, and writing.

Attention and eye tracking


Supervisor

Tony Lambert

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI217

This project will involve carrying out eye tracking studies which evaluate the role of non-conscious visual processing, by the dorsal visual stream, in the control of eye movements and attention.

Mātauranga Māori and identity, wellbeing, belonging and connection


Supervisor

Jade Le Grice

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI218

This summer scholarship will involve literature searching, compiling, and the creation of a literature review that addresses the question – how does mātauranga pertaining to Māori identity contribute to wellbeing, a sense of belonging and connection for tamariki and taitamariki? The project will involve exploration of Māori ontologies of identity, across spiritual, physical, environmental, and relational domains of understanding, drawing upon the most recent theoretical and empirical research in this area. It will also explore challenges imposed by colonisation, the implications for tamariki and taitamariki who have been taken into Care (Oranga Tamariki, formerly CYF), and strategies utilised by Māori to craft positive identities in contemporary life. The literature review will developed for Ngāpuhi Social Services to inform initiatives pertaining to the support of taitamariki in Care.  

Brain training applied to neurodevelopmental disorders


Supervisor

Dr. David Moreau

A/Prof Karen Waldie

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI219

As part of the MovinCog Initiative, we are seeking a student interested in the remediation of neurodevelopmental disorders. The project will focus on analyzing and interpreting data from current trials, as well as the implementation of additional experiments in schools or in the lab. An interest in developmental psychology and statistics is desirable, but no specific background is required. More information about the project can be found at movincog.com.

Keeping calm, cool, and collected across generations: Examining emotion regulation in 4-year-old children and their parents


Supervisor

Nickola Overall

Annette Henderson

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI220

The ability to successfully regulate emotions is crucial for many aspects of daily functioning and is considered an important milestone in children’s socio-emotional development. Despite increasing empirical attention devoted toward the development of emotion regulation (ER), it is unclear which types of children’s ER strategies are particularly effective and whether children’s ER strategies are similar to those used by their parents. This study addresses these gaps by: (1) examining the effectiveness of three types of ER strategies – minimizing emotions, heightening emotions, and flexible communication of emotions, and (2) exploring whether children use the same types of ER strategies as their parents. To examine the effectiveness of children’s ER strategies, this study assesses the degree to which different ER strategies used by 4-year-olds during an emotionally-eliciting task (e.g., a frustration task) are associated with cognitive and social functioning in subsequent tasks. To examine whether children and parents use the same ER strategies, this study examines parents’ ER during an emotionally-intense context and tests whether they are related with children’s ER strategies during the frustration task. The summer scholar involved in this project will conduct detailed behavioural coding of the child and parent tasks as part of a larger research team.

The student will also be provided with the opportunity to help with running experimental sessions in the Early Learning Lab (City Campus, School of Psychology) and receive training on other research tasks such as calling and scheduling appointments, participant recruitment, conducting literature reviews, data entry, data coding, and data analysis. The student who works on this project will be involved in a thriving lab group over the summer months. Our group has regular lab meetings in which we read articles in developmental and social science and have exciting discussions on topics relevant to the work in the lab. As you can see, this project will provide the student with a very unique experience; he/she will be exposed to every stage of research in developmental and social science.

Experience with young children would be helpful. However, of most importance is that the student would be comfortable working with young children. Students will complete a confidentiality agreement. Most of the work will be done on weekdays however, the student will need to be available for a few weekend times throughout the summer (for data collection and participant recruitment).

Examining the causes and consequences of sexism in New Zealand


Supervisor

Nickola Overall

Danny Osborne

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI221

Despite being the first country in the world to grant universal suffrage to women, gender inequality continues to be a problem in New Zealand. Indeed, recent evidence suggests that women still earn approximately 10% less than men per hour of work. The aim of the current project is to examine the causes and consequences of sexism in New Zealand society. Students who receive a scholarship to work on this project will be involved in various tasks that help us address this research topic. Specifically, students’ responsibilities will include data entry, scanning of completed surveys, and other aspects of the data collection process. At the end of the semester, the successful student will be involved in the creation of an empirical report. Students will gain skills in the following areas: (a) data analyses, (b) data entry, (c) the composition of scientific reports, and (d) the management of a large database.

The effects of inequality on wellbeing


Supervisor

Danny Osborne

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI222

Inequality in New Zealand has reached an unprecedented level and is likely to increase in the upcoming years. Although a number of studies have examined the consequences of unequal wealth distribution on people's health and well-being from a sociological standpoint, the psychological processes through which these effects emerge is unknown. To these ends, the aim of the current project is to address this oversight by identifying the effects that inequality has on the attitudes and values of New Zealanders. Students who receive a scholarship to work on this project will be involved in a variety of tasks that help us address this critical research question. Specifically, students’ responsibilities will include data entry, scanning of completed surveys, and other aspects of the data collection process. At the end of the semester, the successful student will be involved in the creation of an empirical report. Students will gain skills in the following areas: (a) data analyses, (b) data entry, (c) the composition of scientific reports, and (d) the management of a large database.

Examining the motivational basis of system-challenging and system-supporting collective action


Supervisor

Danny Osborne

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI223

Social injustices are rife in human society, but collective action is rare. Though existing models of collective action show that protesters must (a) identify with a social group, (b) perceive injustice(s) against that group, and (c) believe that they are capable of facilitating social change before engaging in collective action, past research assumes that all collective action is the same. The purpose of the current summer scholarship is to differentiate between protests that aim to challenge the social system, and those that seek to reinforce/defend it. To these ends, we will use system justification theory as a way to explain why some people are willing to fight for social change, whereas others are willing to protest on behalf of the social system. At the end of the semester, the successful student will be involved in the creation of an empirical report. Students will gain skills in the following areas: (a) data analyses, (b) data entry, (c) the composition of scientific reports, and (d) the management of a large database.

New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study: Ambivalent Sexism


Supervisor

Chris Sibley

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI224

This specific project will examine Ambivalent Sexism in the New Zealand population using data from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study.

The New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS) is a 20-year longitudinal national probability study of social attitudes, personality and health outcomes. This summer research scholarship will give you a chance to get involved with the NZAVS.  Students will have the opportunity to be involved with preparing, and being included as an author, on scientific reports and journal articles published using data from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study.

You can learn more about what to expect from a summer scholarship with the NZAVS by reading the following NZ Herald article. This article summarizes the results of past summer scholar research in our lab.

New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study: Psychological Health and Wellbeing


Supervisor

Chris Sibley

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI225

This specific project will examine psychological health and wellbeing in the New Zealand population using data from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study.

The New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS) is a 20-year longitudinal national probability study of social attitudes, personality and health outcomes. This summer research scholarship will give you a chance to get involved with the NZAVS.  Students will have the opportunity to be involved with preparing, and being included as an author, on scientific reports and journal articles published using data from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study.

You can learn more about what to expect from a summer scholarship with the NZAVS by reading the following NZ Herald article. This article summarizes the results of past summer scholar research in our lab. 

Does evidence of animal intelligence reduce dehumanisation of human outgroups and motivation to eat meat?


Supervisor

Alex Taylor

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI226

In recent years researchers have found growing evidence that a wide range of animal species exhibit aspects of human-like intelligence (e.g. Plotnik et al 2006, 2011, Bartal et al 2011, 2015). Research has also suggested that emphasising the similarities between humans and animals 1) decreases motivation to eat meat (Bastian et al 2012, Loughnan 2014) and

2) reduces the dehumanisation of human outgroups (Haslam & Loughnan 2014, Amiot & Bastian 2015). This project will use evidence from recent breakthroughs in animal cognition to test these hypotheses further.

Computational models to predict cognitive remediation outcomes


Supervisor

Dr. David Moreau
A/Prof Karen Waldie

Discipline

Psychology

Project code: SCI246

As part of the MovinCog Initiative, we are seeking a student interested in the remediation of neurodevelopmental disorders. The project will focus on the implementation of statistical algorithms to extract information from large data sets, including data reduction and machine learning techniques. An interest in statistics and data analysis is desirable, but no specific background is required.

More information about the project