Shiota, M. N., Papies, E. K., Preston, S. D., & Sauter, D. A. (2021). Positive affect and behavior change. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 39, 222–228.
Affect and emotion have potent motivational properties that can be leveraged to promote desirable behavior change. Although interventions often employ fear appeals in an effort to motivate change, both theory and a growing body of empirical evidence suggest that positive affect and emotions can promote change by serving as proximal rewards for desired behaviors. This article reviews examples of such efforts in the domains of healthy diet and exercise, prosocial behavior, and pro-environmental behavior, documenting the strong potential offered by behavioral interventions using this approach. The extent to which positive affect experience prospectively drives behavior change (as distinct from rewarding the desired behavior) is less clear. However, a variety of possible indirect pathways involving incidental effects of positive affect and specific positive emotions deserve rigorous future study.
Rodger, A., Wehbe, L. H., & Papies, E. K. (2021). “I know it’s just pouring it from the tap, but it’s not easy”: Motivational processes that underlie water drinking. Appetite, 164, 105249.
Water drinking behaviour is under-researched despite the prevalence and adverse health consequences of underhydration. We conducted a qualitative exploration into the motivational processes underlying water drinking, informed by a grounded cognition perspective on desire and motivated behaviour. We interviewed and analysed data from 60 participants stratified by age, gender, and education level using thematic analysis, to generate three key themes. “Water as situated habits,” suggests that participants form and maintain situated water drinking habits, so that within certain situations they regularly drink water. However, participants who situated their water intake only in one key situation (e.g., work routine), had low and inconsistent intake when they left this situation. Some situations happened so infrequently during the day (e.g., before bed) that participants’ daily water intake was low. Many participants reported drinking water in reaction to thirst cues, but these were easily suppressed or ignored, so that water drinking was inconsistent. Participants who saw drinking water as part of their self-identity had consistent and high water intake across a variety of situations. “Knowledge and attitudes,” suggests that few participants had knowledge or attitudes that promoted water intake (e.g., perceived water as positive or understood the importance of hydration). “Strategies underlying attempts to increase intake” suggests that many participants lacked insight into strategies to increase water intake, although they spontaneously discussed attempts to drink more. This lead to ineffective attempts at behaviour change. Participants’ mentions of dehydration and their responses to a urine colour chart suggested that many participants were possibly underhydrated. Our findings suggest that interventions and practitioners attempting to increase water intake need to increase knowledge about the importance of hydration, and encourage individuals to develop effective situated water drinking habits.
Developing and assessing a digital health app that implements the Situated Assessment Method to decrease distress and increase eustress
In this project, our team will build and evaluate a health app to help individuals learn about and regulate life stress. In previous work, we developed a new instrument for measuring an individual’s stress, the Situated Assessment Method (SAM2). Unlike other instruments that establish an overall measure of an individual’s stress level, SAM2 provides rich information about associated stress mechanisms. SAM2 is also novel in assessing both negative stress (distress) and positive stress (eustress), and typically explains 70-80% of the variance in distress and eustress, while establishing insight into associated stress mechanisms. Interestingly and significantly, performing the SAM2 assessment procedure across multiple timepoints induces learning about distress and eustress. Individuals increasingly understand how the distress and eustress they experience is related to specific stress mechanisms.
In a series of longitudinal studies, this project will build and assess a health app that implements the SAM2 procedure. Of particular interest is building an effective digital tool that promotes learning about distress and eustress to decrease distress and increase eustress (shifting the affect associated with stress from negative to positive). Besides collecting data that tracks distress and eustress longitudinally, the app will continually assess user learning and app engagement.
The PhD student will become part of a large lab group at the University of Glasgow that focuses on health cognition and behaviour. The two Glasgow supervisors (Lawrence Barsalou, Esther Papies) will provide training in health cognition, behaviour change, and research methods. The industry partner (Aleksandar Matic, Koa Health) will serve as an equal third supervisor, providing training in app development, implementation, and assessment. The PhD project will play a foundational role for developing future collaborative projects that aim to develop increasingly powerful apps for decreasing distress and increasing eustress.
Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
Essential application criteria (required):
Completed undergraduate degree in Psychology
Basic training in psychological methods and statistics
Significant previous programming experience in at least one language (e.g., R, Python)
Desirable application criteria (optional):
Advanced training in psychological methods and statistics
Background in health psychology, a health-related occupation, or other health-related experience
Experience with app development (such as Android, iOS, and/or web programming)
Please note that all applicants must also meet the ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here.
For full details and to apply for this studentship, please visit the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) website here.
Societies have always depended upon humanity’s ability to correctly perceive situations and determine suitable subsequent actions. Since this requires us to accurately deal with information, it is important to understand not only how we (mostly) do this, but also how errors may arise.
This is the focus of the new, second edition of Cognitive Psychology, one of the most dynamic areas in its field. Accessible yet comprehensive, this text aims to overcome the gap that arises between real life and laboratory studies, by providing an appropriate balance of research versus application.
Li, G., Varela, F. M., Habib, A., Zhang, Q., McGill, M., Brewster, S., & Pollick, F. (2020, December). Exploring the feasibility of mitigating VR-HMD-induced cybersickness using cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation. In 2020 IEEE International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality (AIVR) (pp. 123-129). IEEE.
Many head-mounted virtual reality display (VR-HMD) applications that involve moving visual environments (e.g., virtual rollercoaster, car and airplane driving) will trigger cybersickness (CS). Previous research Arshad et al. (2015) has explored the inhibitory effect of cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on vestibular cortical excitability, applied to traditional motion sickness (MS), however its applicability to CS, as typically experienced in immersive VR, remains unknown. The presented double-blinded 2x2x3 mixed design experiment (independent variables: stimulation condition [cathodal/anodal]; timing of VR stimulus exposure [before/after tDCS]; sickness scenario [slight symptoms onset/moderate symptoms onset/recovery]) aims to investigate whether the tDCS protocol adapted from Arshad et al. (2015) is effective at delaying the onset of CS symptoms and/or accelerating recovery from them in healthy participants. Quantitative analysis revealed that the cathodal tDCS indeed delayed the onset of slight symptoms if compared to that in anodal condition. However, there are no significant differences in delaying the onset of moderate symptoms nor shortening time to recovery between the two stimulation types. Possible reasons for present findings are discussed and suggestions for future studies are proposed.
Li, G., McGill, M., Brewster, S., & Pollick, F. (2020, December). A Review of Electrostimulation-based Cybersickness Mitigations. In 2020 IEEE International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality (AIVR) (pp. 151-157). IEEE.
With the development of consumer virtual reality (VR), people have increasing opportunities to experience cybersickness (CS) –- a kind of visuallyinduced motion sickness (MS). In view of the importance of CS mitigation (CSM), this paper reviews the methods of electrostimulation-based CSM (e-CSM), broadly categorised as either “VR-centric” or “Human-centric”. “VR-centric” refers to approaches where knowledge regarding the visual motion being experienced in VR directly affects how the neurostimulation is delivered, whereas “Human-centric” approaches focus on the inhibition or enhancement of human functions per se without knowledge of the experienced visual motion. We DIFFERENT E-found that 1) most e-CSM approaches are based on visual-vestibular sensory conflict theory –- one of the generally-accepted aetiologies of MS, 2) the majority of eCSM approaches are vestibular system-centric, either stimulating it to compensate for the mismatched vestibular sensory responses, or inhibiting it to make an artificial and temporary dysfunction in vestibular sensory organs or cortical areas, 3) Vestibular sensory organbased solutions are able to mitigate CS with immediate effect, while the real-time effect of vestibular cortical areas-based methods remains unclear, due to limited public data, 4) Based on subjective assessment, VRcentric approaches could relieve all three kinds of symptoms (nausea, oculomotor, and disorientation), which appears superior to the human-centric ones that could only alleviate one of the symptom types or just have an overall relief effect. Finally, we propose promising future research directions in the development of e-CSM.
Al-Wasity, S., Vogt, S., Vuckovic, A., & Pollick, F. E. (2020). Up-regulation of Supplementary Motor Area activation with fMRI Neurofeedback during Motor Imagery. eNeuro.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) neurofeedback (NF) is a promising tool to study the relationship between behavior and brain activity. It enables people to self-regulate their brain signal. Here, we applied fMRI NF to train healthy participants to increase activity in their supplementary motor area (SMA) during a motor imagery (MI) task of complex body movements while they received a continuous visual feedback signal. This signal represented the activity of participants’ localized SMA regions in the NF group and a prerecorded signal in the control group (sham feedback). In the NF group only, results showed a gradual increase in SMA-related activity across runs. This upregulation was largely restricted to the SMA, while other regions of the motor network showed no, or only marginal NF effects. In addition, we found behavioral changes, i.e., shorter reaction times in a Go/No-go task after the NF training only. These results suggest that NF can assist participants to develop greater control over a specifically targeted motor region involved in motor skill learning. The results contribute to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of SMA NF based on MI with a direct implication for rehabilitation of motor dysfunctions.
Denk-Florea, C. B., Gancz, B., Gomoiu, A., Ingram, M., Moreton, R., & Pollick, F. (2020). Understanding and supporting law enforcement professionals working with distressing material: Findings from a qualitative study. Plos one, 15(11), e0242808.
This study aimed to extend previous research on the experiences and factors that impact law enforcement personnel when working with distressing materials such as child sexual abuse content. A sample of 22 law enforcement personnel working within one law enforcement organisation in England, United Kingdom participated in anonymous semi-structured interviews. Results were explored thematically and organised in the following headings: “Responses to the material”, “Impact of working with distressing evidence”, “Personal coping strategies” and “Risks and mitigating factors”. Law enforcement professionals experienced heightened affective responses to personally relevant material, depictions of violence, victims’ displays of emotions, norm violations and to various mediums. These responses dampened over time due to desensitisation. The stress experienced from exposure to the material sometimes led to psychological symptoms associated with Secondary Traumatic Stress. Job satisfaction, self-care activities, the coping strategies used when viewing evidence, detachment from work outside working hours, social support and reducing exposure to the material were found to mediate law enforcement professionals’ resilience. Exposure to distressing material and the risks associated with this exposure were also influenced by specific organisational procedures implemented as a function of the funding available and workload. Recommendations for individual and organisational practices to foster resilience emerged from this research. These recommendations are relevant to all organisations where employees are required to view distressing content.
The Centre for Doctoral Training offers PhD studentships for UK residents (fees and stipend), and a limited number of international studentships for exceptional candidates. To be eligible for an award, candidates must fulfil UKRI’s residency criteria and hold a 1st or 2:1 undergraduate degree in a subject relevant to the CDT including, but not limited to, computing science, psychology, linguistics, mathematics, sociology, engineering, physics, etc.
To apply for the studentship, please visit the SOCIAL AI website and read the full application instructions. Applicants are required to choose three prospective doctoral projects from a list available on the SOCIAL AI website and detail their suitability for these research projects in their cover letter. Applications are submitted via the University of Glasgow central admissions portal. The deadline for the September 2021 intake is 28th February 2021.
LexOPS is an R package and user interface designed to facilitate the generation of word stimuli for use in research. Notably, the tool permits the generation of suitably controlled word lists for any user-specified factorial design and can be adapted for use with any language. It features an intuitive graphical user interface, including the visualization of both the distributions within and relationships among variables of interest. An inbuilt database of English words is also provided, including a range of lexical variables commonly used in psycholinguistic research. This article introduces LexOPS, outlining the features of the package and detailing the sources of the inbuilt dataset. We also report a validation analysis, showing that, in comparison to stimuli of existing studies, stimuli optimized with LexOPS generally demonstrate greater constraint and consistency in variable manipulation and control. Current instructions for installing and using LexOPS are available at https://JackEdTaylor.github.io/LexOPSdocs/.