SEEK: Salford Environment for Expertise and Knowledge
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2015
Jul

 Applying social psychology to contemporary society This symposium, convened by Dr Abigail Locke of the University of Huddersfield, included four engaging papers that discussed the application of social psychology to a wide range of issues in contemporary society. The first paper, presented by Dr Carrie Childs of the University of Derby, used conversation analysis to examine how police officers disclose personal information to build rapport and trust during interviews with children who have reported alleged sexual abuse. Data obtained from anonymised recordings of 29 police witness interviews provided examples of the ways that such disclosures are used to help children clarify information that was initially misunderstood by the interviewer, as well as providing them with a safe space to disclose painful or embarrassing information. The importance of police disclosing personal information that is appropriate to the context, such as saying they feel nervous during the rapport-building phase of the interview, was also emphasised. Dr Childs explained that conversation analysis has strong potential to inform police training in interviewing vulnerable witnesses, as it can identify where interactions go wrong and how to put them right. Donna Peach of the University of Salford used pluralistic qualitative methodology to explore the personal experiences faced by people who are considering adopting a child. The number of children who are not adopted has recently quadrupled, so insight into the factors that encourage people to follow through with the adoption process is crucial. Analysis of interviews with 21 potential adopters yielded several themes that reflect the complex and dichotomous existence of prospective adopters and revealed the cultural myths that prevent people from opting in. Examples include wishing to be a parent while not wanting to adopt a particular type of child (e.g. an older child or one with disabilities) and believing that an adult life without children is unfulfilled despite the existence of powerful role models to the contrary. Some women did not have fertility problems, but wanted to adopt as they did not wish to be pregnant or to give birth themselves. Peach explained that she was initially concerned about gaining access to enough participants, but the response to her request via Twitter was overwhelming. Clearly, prospective adopters want their stories to be heard. Dr Jane Montague of the University of Derby focused on the ways in which breast cancer surgery is constructed in the UK media. Recent statistics indicate that less than 20 per cent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer opt for reconstruction. The popular media convey powerful messages about the experiences of women with breast cancer and the barriers against and benefits of reconstruction. An ethnomethodological approach was used to analyse 73 articles published in the UK popular press during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (in 2013) that focused on women’s mastectomy, reconstruction and non-reconstruction decisions and experiences