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Annual psychology conference showcases cutting edge student research


Lee Adendorff
17 September 2019

From the psychological attraction of high sugar foods to healthy career aspirations and emotional intelligence in music appreciation, Southern Cross University Psychological Science Honours students will once again be presenting the results of their fascinating research at a public conference in Coffs Harbour.

Now in its 16th year, the two-day annual conference has become a highlight on the university calendar where Honours students present a year’s work in just ten minutes. 59 students will be honing their science communication skills to present this year, in what conference organiser Dr Gail Moloney calls “a formative learning experience”.

“The conference fosters the development of fantastic public speaking skills and builds tremendous confidence. These skills serve the students well in their future careers,” said Dr Moloney.

“Conducting research involves being able to disseminate the research, that is, being able to publicly share the research in a way that can be understood by both the academic community and the general public,” she said.

Naomi May is looking at attentional bias towards high-sugar foods and the cognitive mechanisms that effect excess sugar consumption. “I hope to contribute to the literature which may help people to overcome using sugar as a tool for emotion regulation and help them to find healthier more effective tools,” said Naomi.

“Completing my Honours year in psychology has so far given me insight into what conducting research involves and has given me the confidence to feel like this is something that I could do as a part of my career in psychology,” she added.

Parenting is providing a rich source of material for some students. Maddison Dallow will be presenting her research on biases between genders, specifically mothers and fathers with young children. "There is a lack of gender studies within self-processing bias research, I hope my findings can assist in further explaining gender differences, parental differences and parent-child relationships," she said. 

Fellow student and mother of two teenagers Nadia Smith will present her research on generation and parenting styles, particularly with regards to 'entitlement'. Of her Honours year, Nadia said: "I have learned so much in this year and I have learned a lot about what psychology can be. I will take these lessons with me in whatever I decide to do".

Maejoy Obach said her Honours year had given her access to important professional networks. She is presenting her research into the impact of culture and religion on moral decision making. “Communities across the globe struggle to reach moral consensus on topics such as abortion and the climate crisis. I hope my research helps communities develop greater empathy towards diverse ways of thinking,” said Maejoy, whose family is making a six-hour drive to see her present at the conference.

Rated number 1 in Australia according to the authoritative QILT rankings, Southern Cross University’s psychology program offers a Bachelor of Psychological Science and a one-year Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours).