Psychology in Action Conference

Psychology in Action Conference

9th Dec 2022

On 22nd November, Psychology A Level pupils from TWGGS had the opportunity to attend the Psychology in Action conference at the Emmanuel Centre. The day had a wide-ranging programme examining the theories and applications of psychology in the modern world, led by five renowned speakers from the world of psychology. Here, our Lower Sixth pupil, Maryam Syeda, gives us a taste of the day.

Memory and Music by Catherine Loveday

Loveday explained how our memory allows for us to truly create a form of identity. However, this identity can be lost due to neurological, degenerative diseases such as Alzheimers. Despite this, research has proven music to be extremely robust against neurological diseases as it creates a neural link between brain structures. Music has the ability to access a different part of our memory that no other media form can really do; it can invoke feelings and emotions and take us to different points in our life. We have what has now been defined as a ‘cascading reminiscence bump’ for music: it’s the idea that we have the tendency to recollect more events that are typically formed during ones teen years, with the cascade occurring, as you’d also be exposed to your parents’ music as children, creating multiple ‘bumps’ throughout your life and memory in terms of recollecting music tunes. 

Psychology in Sport by Jonathon Smith

Performance psychology looks at how we manage our mind when performing, focusing on different parts of the brain. For example, our frontal lobe has been shown to create our will power, and our limbic system controls our emotional thinking, e.g. aggression, anxiety and happiness. Sometimes, both logical and emotional thinking happen at the same time! Jonathon explained the “chimp model analysis”, comparing our limbic system to our “inner chimp”. The “inner chimp”, is the part of the brain that psychologists want athletes to avoid, and therefore represents the emotional part of our brain influencing us. When influenced by the limbic system, arousal levels can spike with performance anxiety. In order to deal with our “chimp”, Smith recommends techniques such as “what if” planning, and problem solving. 

Examination Success by Kelly Bristow 

With the conference catered towards A-level and IB students, Bristow went through the best revision tips and tricks that will help any student achieve high grades! The best form of revision is always past-papers in order to familiarise yourself with the exam language and types of questions asked. Yet, a key method of building up and consolidating knowledge is by using active recall via techniques like flashcards, blurting, Cornell notes, and even the Feynman technique! The importance of a realistic revision timetable/system was also mentioned, with the importance of scheduled breaks mentioned too. In order to get the top marks of the psychology mark schemes, examiners have expressed the need to be clear and precise, ensuring we have relevant detail and effective evaluation.

The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories by Daniel Jolley 

To create a conspiracy theory, Jolly explained the main three ‘ingredients’ required: a protagonist (who did it); an action (what they did), and lastly a motive (why did they do it). Many believe in conspiracy theories to feel secure in an existential way, or a means to explain big, global events and gain an ounce of control. This can be especially true if provoked by experience and/or the environment. However, belief in conspiracy theories don’t only affect the individual, but all those around them. An example was the ‘anti-vax conspiracy’: this conspiracy has caused those who believe in and/or are exposed to conspiracy theories to decrease their intention to vaccinate, and has also decreased normative action (i.e. less voting, refusing taxes) due to distrust of the government. We can use the following to help reduce belief: inoculation via scientific evidence; promotion of analytical thinking; inducing feelings of control, and correcting inaccurate social norms from peers.  

Applications of Behavioural Science by Patrick Fagan

Fagan began by talking about how our behaviour can be applied to real-life situations. A common application of this can be seen every second: brand advertising. This occurs through nudging which is any aspect of chosen architecture that alters behaviour in a predictable way. For example, in emails we receive talking about the latest deals. Companies use the following techniques to subconsciously make people want their product: commitment (people feel invested); scarcity (sense of urgency), authority (credibility), and reciprocity (making people feel indebted). He also discussed how we rely on heuristics (a mental shortcut) to make immediate judgements without thinking. For example, if a judge’s previous case resulted in a minor punishment, they’ll be harsher to the next sentencing. 

Dance and the Brain by Dr Peter Lovatt

Our last talk of the day was by Dr Lovatt who discussed his own difficulties in school, with dance helping him overcome these. He spoke about how we are all born with the ability to dance, having sensory motor coupling which allows us to have innate rhythm even as babies. He shared the many benefits to dancing such as when people move in sync with others; they tend to like each other more and improve trust. Dancing can also help us understand our way of thinking: some prefer structured dance involving convergent thinking to get to one correct answer, whilst others prefer improv, using divergent thinking to choose one option out of many. He also began sharing his work with people who have Parkinson's (deficit in divergent thinking), explaining how improv improves physical symptoms. 

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