Psychology student is awarded prestigious bursary for memory study

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Joanne Persson

A psychology student at the University of St Andrews has been awarded a prestigious grant for a study into memory.

Joanne Persson, a PhD student in the School of Psychology, is conducting research into the relationship between attention and memory in older adults.

She has been awarded the prestigious British Psychological Society’s Conference Bursary, in order to attend the annual Social Psychology conference which will take place at the University from 21-23 August.

Her research was inspired by previous studies which have shown much of the negative perceptions about ageing concern memory-loss in later life.

She is now seeking participants aged 60-75 to take part in an experiment run across two sessions.

The first involves completing three memory tasks (each taking approximately 5 minutes), where participants will have to remember a list of words, 12 personality traits, and a series of pictures.

The second is an attention task that will ask those taking part to identify whether a flash appears on the top or bottom half of a computer monitor.

The first part of this study takes approximately 45 minutes to complete, and the second session takes 2.5 hours. Participants will be reimbursed £17.50 for their time, plus any relevant travel expenses.

Miss Persson is hoping to present the results from this study at the conference next month, if she can find at least another 25 people willing to take part.

She said: “This is an opportunity for anyone keen to contribute to this increasingly important area of research in our ageing society.

“Current estimates suggest that the number of older people in Scotland should increase by 58 per cent by 2031 (from 0.83 million in 2004 to 1.31 million).”

Previous research has indicated that views of ageing are primarily negative; however, most research has been carried out in the USA or Canada, with very few studies on such perceptions in the UK. This means there is very limited understanding of how old age is perceived within Britain.

This research could help to develop our knowledge of the ageing process in the UK, and to understand people’s experiences of growing older in Scotland. If you would like to take part, please contact Joanne on 01334 461989 or [email protected]

Note to Editors

For an image of Joanne Persson please contact the press office.

Research previously conducted by Joanne found interesting differences between young and older adults’ perceptions of ageing. Young people (aged 17-25 years) believed the age at which someone becomes old was 59.8 years, whereas older people (aged 60-74 years) didn’t believe that old age began until 72.5 years.

“Changing Social Psychology? Theory and Research in a Transforming World”

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact Fiona MacLeod on 01334 462108 / 0771 414 0559.
Ref: (psychology 18/07/12)
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