Applications for the 2020 Winter Research Program are now open. 

General information on the program, including how to apply, is available from the UQ Student Employability Centre’s program website

Explore the available winter research projects:

Lives Lived Well – Health and Wellbeing, Adolescents and Young Adults, Substance Misuse

Supervisor:     Dr Molly Carlyle  
Duration:        3-4 weeks

Students in the Winter internship program may assist with several projects underway in the Lives Lived Well research team. There will be emphasis on one project: Adolescent Aware (described below).

Adolescence is a period of rapid change and development, with changes in young people’s substance use, mental health and social interactions. Adolescent Aware is a six year longitudinal study, with over 2000 students, from 10 schools across South-East Queensland, who began in Grade 7 and are now in Grade 12. The study has a very strong theoretical basis with a heavy focus on social cognitive theory. Social cognitive factors investigated include moral disengagement (both individual and collective), self-efficacy for a range of factors including assertiveness, empathy, academic achievement, ability to resist peer pressure, to regulate negative and positive emotions and social engagement; as well as anticipated social outcomes from mothers, fathers and peers for consuming alcohol. The survey includes a range of outcomes that could be examined including bullying, substance use (alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, nitrous oxide), mental health (depression, social anxiety, psychosis symptoms), Facebook intrusion and wellbeing. In addition to the social cognitive factors listed above, other important mediating or moderating factors are also measured including sleep, technology, diet, impulsivity, physical activity, involvement in sports, resilience, sense of belonging as well as peer influences (students have nominated up to five friends for each year of the survey).

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Do children acquire and process novel information differently from digital screens compared to a live adult?

Supervisor:     Mr Frankie Fong
Duration:        3-4 weeks

The widespread availability of tablets and smartphones has ushered in a new generation of children who are heavily accustomed to gaining a range of knowledge and skills through interactive electronic devices. Could this affect the way children interpret and respond to what they see on screens? This project employs imitation and selective-trust paradigms to examine children’s social learning mechanisms across different presentation mediums. Scholars will assist in stimuli preparation, data collection, data entry and coding.

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The epidemiology of substance use in adolescents

Supervisor:     Dr Janni Leung
Duration:        3-4 weeks

Substance use are top factors that causes disease burden in young people. This project involves conducting literature review on the epidemiology of substance use, including alcohol, smoking, cannabis, and other extra-medical drug use, across different countries and their psychological, social, and demographic correlates in adolescents. High achieving students will have the opportunity to contribute to a research report for publication and explore future topics that can be developed into a research project for a thesis.

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Understanding the relationship between early childhood educator’s language use, children’s theory of mind, and oral language development in the kindergarten setting 

Supervisor:     Dr Aisling Mulvihill
Duration:        3-4 weeks

Research Questions

  1. Does the mental state language input of early childhood educators predict children’s theory of mind?
  2.  Is the relationship between early childhood educators’ mental state language use and children’s theory of mind mediated by child language capacity?

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Maternal Mental State Language Use in Response to Cross Cultural Stimuli

Supervisor:     Dr Aisling Mulvihill
Duration:        3-4 weeks

Research Questions:

  1. Are there cross-cultural differences in the use of maternal mental state talk?
  2. To what extent does maternal mental state language depend on the group related characteristics of the target?

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How spontaneous emotion is expressed

Supervisor:     Dr Nicole Nelson
Duration:        3-4 weeks

This project will involve exploring how spontaneous emotion expressions appear across various conditions. Anticipated tasks will involve data entry, literature searches, creation of stimuli through video editing, survey construction and data collection. Students will also have the opportunity to develop skills with various software including Qualtrics and Adobe Premiere Pro.


Age Friendly University International Research Review

Supervisor:     Professor Nancy Pachana
Duration:        3-4 weeks

This project involves putting together a literature review (systematic, narrative) for publication about the Age Friendly University movement globally.

Students need not contact Nancy for additional information.

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How to make it through the daily grind: Energy management strategies for well-being

Supervisor:     Dr Stacey Parker
Duration:        3-4 weeks

I am offering the chance to be a part of a larger project, working together with myself, my masters/honours students, and other collaborators, on an experience sampling study about how employees manage their fatigue and vitality during the work day (i.e., via micro breaks, other energy management strategies). We are interested to learn more about if and how energy management during the workday can contribute to the quality of recovery from work-related effort that evening at home.

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Effects of perceived mental effort on electrical brain response

Supervisor:     Associate Professor Alan Pegna
Duration:        3-4 weeks

Based on previous research on perceived ability and effort mobilization, this project has as main goal to understand the role of ability in the context of effort mobilization. So far, Wright (Wright & Dill, 1993; Wright, Wadley, Pharr, & Butler, 1994) showed that the manipulation of perceived ability through feedback or samples selection impacted subjective task demand which in turn determined effort mobilization in agreement with Brehm and Self’s (1969) theory: effort mobilization should increase proportionally as a function of task demand, as long as success is possible and justified. However, these manipulations might induce controlled processes that have been previously reported to render effects on effort-mobilization difficult to predict. This is explained because participants become aware of the experimental variables which can change the automatic processes that are at stake. Admitting this, we plan to manipulate perceived ability at the implicit level: we will briefly flash low vs. high ability words. This will permit to manipulate ability with restricted knowledge of the experimental manipulation and prevent controlled processes.

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Probing perception and cognition in the virtual world

Supervisor:     Dr Alexander Puckett
Duration:        3-4 weeks

Recent years have seen virtual reality (VR) transition from a technological novelty to a viable research tool for studying human perception and cognition. Here we will begin laying the foundation for a series of VR experiments that may include – but are not limited to – studies on perceptual change blindness and false memory formation.

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Leadership in health

Supervisor:     Dr Nik Steffens
Duration:        3-4 weeks

A classic question in psychology has centred on the factors that foster individuals’ motivation to engage in particular tasks (e.g., to work hard as a student; to put effort into one’s job; to look after a family member in need; to volunteer for a social club). However, growing evidence indicates that for individuals and groups to function effectively, it is as (if not more) important that group and organisational life fosters the health and well-being of their members. Yet, we are only starting to uncover the range of factors that promote health and well-being in groups and organizations and we know little about the role that leadership plays in members’ health and well-being. 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 groups, teams, and organizations as well as (b) their relative importance for individuals’ health, burnout, and engagement.

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Utility of Labour Inspections for Psychological Health and Safety Complaints

Contact:     Dr Kirsten Way
Duration:   3-4 weeks

Mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces almost $11 billion (AUD) per year in absenteeism, presenteeism and workers’ compensation costs (beyondblue and PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2014).

Given the size of the problem, work-related mental health conditions continue to be of significant concern to Australian businesses and governments alike (see for example, Safework NSW 2017, Safe Work Australia 2017). Labour inspectorates are an arm of government at the forefront of this effort.  This project aims to investigate WHS regulator interventions in response to psychological health and safety incidents (complaints, injuries or illnesses) including key workplace stakeholders’ perceptions of these interventions.

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