The UQ School of Psychology winter research projects and supervisors are listed below. Once you have found a project you are interested in you can apply via the UQ Student Employability Centre website.

Projects


Dynamic decision making during goal pursuit

Supervisor: Dr Timothy Ballard

Project: This project seeks to examine how people make decisions under time pressure while pursuing performance goals. For example, how are pilots or emergency medical technicians able to make split second decisions under pressure without compromising their own performance or the safety of others? We will use laboratory experiments to investigate the psychological processes that underlie these types of decisions. Our research is particularly interested in understanding the influence of factors such as goal difficulty and time deadlines on the strategies people use to make decisions. We are looking for one UQ student to work on the project. The scholar's duties will include reviewing relevant literature, running experiments and analysing data.

Contact: t.ballard@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 9506

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Exploring the active ingredients that lead to changes in parents’ self-regulatory capacity through participation in a parenting program

Supervisor: Dr Jamin Day (co-supervisor: Dr Julie Hodges)

Project: This project is aimed at uncovering the underlying mechanisms of parenting change associated with participation in Triple P, an evidence-based parenting program. The project aims to (a) assess changes in parents’ self-regulatory capacity on a weekly basis during participation in an 8-week Group Triple P program; and (b) collect feedback from parents around which components of the intervention were most active for producing change. The student joining this project as part of the Winter Scholar Program will be exposed to a wide range of clinical and research-related activities, including attending group Triple P sessions to assist with data collection, and data management. The successful student will need to be motivated and demonstrate strong initiative. It is also expected they will have strong interpersonal skills, experience with Excel and SPSS. Prior experience managing datasets is desirable, as the project may include data-related tasks such as data cleaning and management.

Contact: j.day@psy.uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 7689

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Supporting parents and caregivers to promote child and adolescent development and wellbeing

Supervisor: Dr Cassandra Dittman

Project: I am a Research Fellow in the Parenting and Family Support Centre. My interest is in the impact of quality parenting on important developmental outcomes for children and adolescents, and the use of the evidence-based parenting program, Triple P, as a means of experimentally testing this issue. I am also interested in ways that we can train and support other important caregivers (e.g., early childhood educators) in children's lives to promote children's prosocial behaviour and learning skills and reduce child behaviour problems. Winter scholars will have the opportunity to contribute to different projects within these themes. Specific projects include: the evaluation of a new online program for parents of teenagers; the development of measures of parenting teenagers and adolescent wellbeing; and assessing the learning and behaviour support needs of early childhood educators. Winter scholars will develop skills in literature review, research design and methodology, data collection and engaging and tracking participants, data entry and analysis, and preparing papers for publication. It is strongly preferred that the scholar has sound quantitative research methodology and data analysis skills, and has used SPSS (e.g., through completion of PSYC3010).

Contact: c.dittman@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 7303

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Development of parents' self-regulatory capacity

Supervisor: Dr Julie Hodges

Project: I am interested in research that focuses on the developmental outcomes of children and adolescents and the influence that working with families and schools can have on these outcomes. I am also interested in exploring the interplay between these contexts. I am currently working as a Research Fellow on the Mental Health of Young People with Developmental Disabilities (MHYPEDD) project, a population level rollout of free parenting programs to parents of children with disabilities. I am an investigator on the DET Horizon Project: Principal Leadership for Parent Engagement. I am also involved in a Triple P project that aims to identify the 'active ingredients' that contribute to the development of parents' self-regulatory capacity. In 2017, research will be connected to the latter project.

Contact: j.hodges@psy.uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 6017

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Me and Mine: self-reference behaviours in interactions with property

Supervisor: Dr Ada Kritikos

Project: In this project we want to investigate how the concept of the ‘self’ determines our interactions with other people, and with property. To do this, we will use response times measures as well as eyetracking technology to record how people scan a self- versus other-owned object, and then test their ability to recall a list of these objects. We will train you in eyetracking data collection and analysis, and introduce you to experimental stimulus presentation software (Eprime). This project is ideal for students wishing to pursue studies in Cognitive (Neuro)science. Preference will be given to students who have done PSYC2020 and / or PSYC3302. Please feel free to contact me before applying if you wish to clarify details and expectations of the winter scholar's role in the project.

Duration: 6 weeks from early July (dates negotiable).

Contact: a.kritikos@psy.uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 6408

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Decision-making in dynamic multi-tasking environments

Supervisor: Professor Andrew Neal

Project: The aim of our project is to examine how people multi-task. We have participants perform a maritime surveillance task in which there are a number of ships on the screen, and they have to allocate their attention across these different ships, in order to ensure that each one is classified before the deadline. We examine how people allocate their attention in an environment in which there are competing demands and pressures, and examine the impact that this has on task performance. The winter scholar can assist in data collection, preparation and analysis; we are open to other tasks that the scholar may want to undertake.

Contact: andrew@psy.uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 6372

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Intersections of emotional consequences and decision-making pathways for palliative care in animal and human populations

Supervisor: Professor Nancy A. Pachana

Project: Vets and physicians face similar challenges negotiating end of life decisions with patients both human and animal. This project involves a literature review with publication outcomes and a chance to meet with human and animal palliative care experts.

Duration: 6 weeks.

Contact: npachana@psy.uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 6832

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Innovative uses for assistance animals - what does the future hold?

Supervisor: Professor Nancy A. Pachana

Project:  Assistance animals are being used in a variety of innovative contexts from courthouses to mental and physical health contexts. This project involves a literature review with publication outcomes and a chance to meet with assistance animal organisations and experts.

Duration: 6 weeks.

Contact: npachana@psy.uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 6832

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Does it help to have a role model?

Supervisor: Dr Kim Peters

Project: There is a general belief that role models matter, and that people who have role models are more likely to succeed than people who do not. However, there is very little evidence for this belief. In the current project, we will explore whether role models matter in the context of the PhD supervision relationship. We are specifically interested in whether PhD students who consider their supervisors to be a personal role model make better progress than PhD students who do not see their supervisors in this way. As a winter scholar, you will have the opportunity to conduct interviews with current PhD students at UQ. You will be supported through the process by Kim Peters and Sarah Bentley, and will receive training in interviewing and transcription techniques. 

Duration: 6 weeks.

Contact: k.peters@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 9157

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Health and well-being in organisations: What makes people healthy and engaged at work?

Supervisor: Dr Nik Steffens

Project: One of the core questions of psychology has centred on identifying the factors that allow individuals to perform well and be productive. However, beyond performance and productivity, initial evidence indicates that it is as (if not more) important that organisations look after their employees by promoting their health and well-being. Yet, we are only starting to uncover the range of factors that promote health and well-being in organisations and we know little about their relative impact (i.e., which factors have a strong and not so strong impact on health and engagement when comparing these with each other). In the present project we are conducting research to gain a more comprehensive understanding of (a) the various factors that influence people’s health and well-being in organisations as well as (b) the variability in the extent to which these impact people’s health and engagement. As a winter scholar, you can gain research experience and contribute to the development of this research by assisting in (a) developing the study design, as well as (b) collecting and coding of data (depending on your skills and interests you may also engage in additional tasks such as data analysis), and (c) preparing a short scientific report.

Duration: 6 weeks.

Contact: n.steffens@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 9555

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Revising classic psychology: How does categorising self and others into social groups impact people’s behaviour?

Supervisor: Dr Nik Steffens (co-supervisor: Dr Kim Peters)

Project: A classic study of psychology — the minimal group paradigm — has shown us that categorisation of people (strangers) in terms of (meaningless) different social groups can lead to ingroup favouritism. This research has led to a new understanding of the structure of people’s sense of self and resulted in very influential novel theories of individuals, groups, and organisations. However, how strong is the evidence for this effect? In the present project we are conducting research to revise and re-evaluate our classic understanding of social categorisation by examining the strength of the evidence for this effect as well as the factors that amplify and attenuate this effect. As a winter scholar, you can gain research experience and contribute to the development of this research by assisting in (a) developing the study design, as well as (b) collecting and coding of data (depending on your skills and interests you may also engage in additional tasks such as data analysis), and (c) preparing a short scientific report.

Duration: 6 weeks.

Contact: n.steffens@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 9555

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Understanding body dysmorphic disorder

Supervisor: Dr Cynthia Turner

Project: Body dysmorphic disorder is a psychological disorder. Most people have something about their appearance that they don’t like (e.g., nose too large, eyes the “wrong” colour, etc). However, people with body dysmorphic disorder experience persistent, intrusive and preoccupying thoughts about a perceived or imagined defect in their appearance. They think about their appearance flaw for hours each day. They can't control their negative thoughts and don't believe people who tell them that they look fine. Their thoughts may cause severe emotional distress and interfere with their daily functioning. They may miss work or school, avoid social situations and isolate themselves, even from family and friends, because they fear others will notice their flaws. They may even undergo unnecessary plastic surgeries to correct perceived imperfections, never finding satisfaction with the results. The winter scholarship will allow a student to experience a variety of research-related tasks associated with seeking to better understand body dysmorphic disorder. These may include literature review tasks, analysing data, contributing to research ethics applications, or contributing to preparation of a journal submission manuscript. Tasks can be tailored somewhat to student interest. Students who have a familiarisation with undertaking comprehensive literature reviews, and/or with statistical expertise in using SPSS are strongly encouraged to apply, however guidance and supervision in all tasks will be offered. Some off-campus work/meetings are likely to be required.

Contact: cynthia.turner@uq.edu.au

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Why do people sometimes need anonymity?

Supervisor: Dr Eric Vanman

Project: This project is focused on developing a measure about how often and why people sometimes need to be “anonymous”. This could happen in any sphere of life, but it would most likely occur while people are using the internet or a social app. Some of this project time will be devoted to developing an existing library of useful references in this area. We will also be doing some work to develop the questionnaire using online research participation pools (e.g., MTurk and Prolific). Students will meet regularly with Dr Vanman throughout the project. We will set weekly goals for both the library reference work and the questionnaire development. Our overall goal will be to have both completed by the end of the project. The student may share authorship on anything that is published from this work. The successful scholar should have excellent library and reference skills in addition to a strong interest in social media platforms, and perhaps personal experience that may be relevant as we brainstorm the questionnaire.

Contact: e.vanman@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 6213

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