Blocktalks are organised by the Psychology department and Mindwise at the end of each quarterly block as a way to share experiences, stories, and research among colleagues and students from different backgrounds. The aim is to bring together a broad range of research interests, foster collaborations across departments, and highlight the themes that connect our work as psychologists in an informal setting.
November 7th 2019:
How working memory guides attention: From lab to life
Sebastiaan Mathôt (Experimental Psychology)
When I'm looking for my red coffee cup, my gaze is automatically drawn towards other red objects. This happens because the color red (and other features of the coffee cup) serves as an "attentional template", and objects that match this template automatically attract attention. But what exactly is an attentional template? After all, giving something a name doesn't explain it. And are attentional templates artificial lab phenomena, or do they also play a role in real-life situations? In this block talk, I will describe a series of recent studies in which we've tried to address these questions.
June 26th 2019
The (un)necessity of complex statistics in an N=1 world
Laura Bringmann (Psychometrics and Statistics)
More intensive longitudinal data is becoming available in which people, such as patients with a clinical disorder, are measured over a long time period, for example 3 times a day for several months. This requires more complex modelling techniques. Or does it? In this talk, Laura will discuss different visions on what to do with N=1 data.
April 10th 2019
Discrimination in minimal groups: A case of the Butler did it or Murder on the Orient Express?
Prof. Dr. Russell Spears (Social Psychology)
Almost 50 years ago Henri Tajfel demonstrated mere categorization into (minimal) groups on a trivial basis (e.g., a coin toss) was sufficient to produce intergroup discrimination. This effect has had a profound effect on our understanding of the power of groups that influenced evolutionary and economic theories as well as social psychology. However finding the true explanation turns out to be like hunting for the culprit in a never-ending Agatha Christie murder mystery. I provide a historical journey through the various explanations not least Tajfel’s preferred “social identity” account. Despite trying to rule out self-interest, this keeps returning like the proverbial mummy that won’t die and I present some recent research suggesting that the first idea, dismissed by Tajfel has also risen from the dead. The true culprit is then revealed.
(Keynote talk at the 2019 Heymans Symposium)
January 24th 2019
Executive functions: From brain activity to therapies and the research process behind
Stefanie Enriquez-Geppert (Clinical Neuropsychology)
Stefanie focuses on translational research on executive functions. Executive functions are regarded especially imperative for success in daily life and their disturbances are related to clinical neuropsychological findings. The scope of her examinations is the specification of neurocognitive processes underlying executive functions and the development and application of neuroscientific approaches to enhance them in clinical groups. In her talk Stefanie will present some research findings and share her experience in the research process regarding experimental conductance, research stays, and contact with professionals.
November 7th 2018
Public Acceptability of energy sources, systems, and policies
Goda Perlaviciute (Environmental Psychology)
Various energy projects have been proposed for the sustainable energy transition, for example renewable energy sources, carbon capture and storage, and nuclear energy. Public acceptability influences whether and to what extent these different projects can be implemented. Goda studies key factors, such as people’s values, that drive public acceptability of energy sources, systems, and policies. She will discuss her research so far, as well as future interesting research questions on public acceptability of energy sources, systems, and policies.
June 21st 2018
What you always wanted to know about the teaching in Psychology... but never dared to ask
Sabine Otten (Social Psychology)
This draws our attention to some core characteristics of our teaching program in Psychology, to the people that make this program happen, and to the challenges that we are facing for the future.
April 12th 2018
Making a difference: Improving learning by applying memory theories
Hedderik van Rijn (Experimental Psychology)
Among the first identified phenomena in modern-day psychology are the spacing and testing effects which determine how well factual information is memorized: performance is better when learning is spaced over time and when some of the learning time is devoted to testing retention of the information. However, to utilize these phenomena to improve learning in real-life settings requires adaptation to the characteristics of individual learners. Here I will present the RuggedLearning/SlimStampen system, embedded in Nestor, that allows RUG students to learn more efficiently and discuss how this system utilizes psychological theories to make a difference in the real-world.
(Keynote talk at the 2018 Heymans Symposium)
1 February 2018
Subjectivity in Creativity Judgments, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Covfefe
Eric Rietzschel (Organisational Psychology)
Is creativity in the eye of the beholder after all? And would it be a problem if it was? Creativity research predominantly relies on subjective judgments of creativity, and researchers have traditionally tried to achieve high levels of intersubjective agreement, or interrater reliability, to accurately assess an idea's creative quality. While understandable from a pragmatic perspective (we have to start with something, after all), the interpersonal differences in creativity judgments that we have tended to treat as error variance may actually be what creativity is all about.
9 November 2017
Sex and Disgust: two functional yet obstructive bedfellows
Charmaine Borg (Clinical Psychology)
By eliciting the overwhelming urge to withdraw from disgusting cues, disgust prevents contamination. This helps explain why sexual behaviours, such as watching people French kissing, typically elicits disgust, at least in pre-pubertal children. Anecdotal evidence indicates that at around 8-12 years of age a striking transition from disgust to desire occurs. Thus, a key question is not how people acquire disgust for sexual stimuli, but how it subsides, and why sexual disgust persists (at least in some people), giving rise to sexual problems.
In this talk, I will discuss what happens when the default disgust is not extinguished. Specifically, our research highlights the potential role of disgust in penetration-related disorders. Extensions of this work using fMRI suggest that there is significant overlap in the brain regions that respond to penetration cues and disgust cues in women.
The assessment of mental workload, combining objective and subjective measures
Karel Brookhuis (Traffic Psychology)
To assess mental workload, the cost of the desired, target level of performance that should be achieved (or continued) is the topic of interest. These costs are referred to as mental effort which is comparable to what may be referred to as ‘trying hard enough’, struggling to stay on the safe side. Changes in effort will be visible in performance indices and in self-reports of the operators themselves, or alternatively, in changes in certain physiological measures.
Do we really need 400 mental disorders to describe psychopathology?
Peter de Jonge (Developmental Psychology)
The DSM-5 describes the presence of about 400 different mental disorders. Does that help our understanding of psychopathology? Do they really exist? Can we do without these labels? In this talk, Peter will explore these issues from the perspective of a dynamical psychology. Keynote talk at the 2017 Heymans Symposium
Why a priori grouping wrongs the individual and how to do a better job
Marieke Timmerman (Psychometrics and Statistics)
Psychological research often involves a comparison of natural groups - for example contrasting a specific patient sample with a community sample, or contrasting samples with varying socioeconomic status. In the statistical analysis, the default approach to comparing the groups is to use group membership as a predictor. This approach is useful to identify whether group membership matters for the outcome variable(s) of interest. However, it falls short in identifying individual differences within the natural groups. In this Blocktalk, Marieke will present latent class analysis as a useful and feasible alternative that does justice to individual differences, while still allowing for examining relationships with group membership. As will be discussed, the method is useful for many different types of data, including longitudinal data, and data involving different outcomes that are to be analysed jointly. The core issues and the insights that can be achieved, will be explained by means of a longitudinal study towards individual courses of emotion dysregulation problems, stress and ADHD-symptoms across the adolescence.
Just before the new theory – Piaget’s unpublished causality experiments, c.1967-1971
Jeremy Burman (Theory and History of Psychology)
The works of Piaget’s final decade have been described as constituting a new theory. But the reason for this change has remained unknown. In some of Jeremy’s recent work, he has examined the influence on Piaget’s thinking of updates in biology and logic. In his Block Talk, however, he will discuss a cause internal to his experimental work in psychology: his unpublished experiments on the child’s understanding of physical causality, which he recently discovered at the Piaget Archives in Geneva.
Intrinsic motivation to act pro-environmentally
Linda Steg (Environmental Psychology)
Linda will talk about why people are motivated to engage in pro-environmental behaviour, even though this may involve some personal costs. She will explain why acting pro-environmentally can make people feel good, and which factors enhance intrinsic motivation to engage in pro-environmental behaviour.
Letting Go By Going Big
Brian Ostafin (Clinical Psychology)
The emotion of awe involves response to perceptually vast stimuli and has traditionally been thought to be a central element of religious experience. Such experiences have been described as justifying existence, including the experience of unjust suffering. Brian will discuss research that examines the relation between awe and forgiveness of transgressors.
Keynote talk at the 2016 Heymans Symposium
The other face of teaching
Evelien Wolthuis (Teaching unit)
How are the connections made between theory and skills in our programme and how can they be strengthened? How do students contribute in the teaching within the department and how does this experience provide a stepping stone to a wider marketplace? These are just some of the questions Evelien will address in her Block Talk.
Consciousness is more than you think it is
Victor Lamme (Brain and Cognition, University of Amsterdam)
Victor Lamme will describe work from his lab on how the brain extracts conscious percepts from the environment and how conscious representations may differ from unconscious ones. For more information on Victor Lamme's work, visit his website.
Development and management of a research program on lateralization of brain and behaviour
Reint Geuze (Clinical Neuropsychology)
Reint Geuze will talk about a long-standing collaboration with Ton Groothuis (Behavioural Biology) whose initial question was What is the functional significance of lateralisation of brain and behaviour? Through the years, some of the projects have sought to identify the influence of sex hormones on lateralization of the brain, the evolutionary advantages of being right-handed, and whether the typical lateralized organization of the brain (left hemisphere-language, right hemisphere-spatial orientation) associated with better performance compared to atypical lateralization. Reint’s presentation will present highlights from research with different populations and his own experiences working on such a large-scale project.
Ageing and cognition: Understanding how the brain changes and adapts with age
Monicque Lorist (Experimental psychology)
Monicque Lorist will talk about the interactions between ageing and cognition. She will describe how MRI scans allow us to see that the 'hardware' that is in the structure of the brain changes with age, but that the extent to which these changes have a real impact in every-day functioning remains elusive. The better we understand how the brain changes and adapts with age, the better we can provide new ways to curb age-related decline.
(Xinlixue de erhao: Women de jinguang dadao yuanlaishì silu yitiao) (Traducción en Español: Malas noticias para la Psicología: Nuestro camino real es un callejón sin salida)
Paul van Geert (Developmental Psychology)
Keynote talk at the 2015 Heymans Symposium
Shaping society through educational testing: How to select students?
Rob Meijer (Psychometrics and Statistics)
Rob Meijer will talk about the enormous influence that (large-scale) testing has on how Western society is organized and discuss recent changes in educational testing as a result of societal protests. He will argue that some of these changes will have bad side effects.
On Planets, Women, and Mental Disorders
Trudy Dehue (Theory and History of Psychology)
Psychologist and philosopher of science Trudy Dehue will give the first colloquium, arguing that science creates reality more than that it discovers – because researchers’ answers to the question ‘what counts as’ are more decisive than the actual counting.
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