Jenny Groarke is a final year PhD candidate and Irish Research Council Scholar. Jenny’s work is examining music listening and wellbeing, with a special interest in the benefits of music listening for older adults. The first study in this PhD project employed a collective intelligence methodology to examine older and younger adults uses of music, and their beliefs about the value of music for enhancing wellbeing. This paper was published in Psychology of Music and recently featured in the Pacific Standard Magazine. Jenny’s second study aims to develop a psychometric measure of the functions of music listening, and a theory of adaptive music listening behaviours using survey-based structural equation modelling. Jenny’s third and final study is a randomised-controlled trial (RCT) comparing the effects of music listening on younger and older adults using electroencephalography (EEG) and behavioural measures. Jenny is also a Choral Scholar at NUI, Galway and St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, and community music facilitator with Sing-Bang Music Workshops.
Chris Noone is conducting PhD research focusing on the relationship between mindfulness and critical thinking. While it has been suggested that mindfulness should facilitate successful critical thinking, in line with traditional Buddhist conceptualisations of mindfulness as clarity of thought, few studies have examined this relationship and none have focused what the relevant mechanisms are. One potential mechanism which will be investigated in this project is enhanced self-regulation/executive functioning, which is key to reflective thinking and has been shown to be related to mindfulness. Taking the default interventionist dual process theory of higher-order cognition as a theoretical framework, a series of studies are being carried out to examine whether mindfulness facilitates critical thinking, what mechanisms are responsible if this is the case and what are the short and long term effects of mindfulness practice on critical thinking skills and dispositions.
In line with this work, Chris has contributed to a book chapter on metacognition with Dr. Hogan, Owen Harney and others and presented at several conferences including the International Symposium for Contemplative Studies, the European Conference on Positive Psychology and the European Health Psychology Society conference. Chris has also contributed to a book chapter and a journal article on our work on citizen consultation for the design of wellbeing measures and to research on pain, reading, wellbeing and job satisfaction. Outside of research, Chris has been active in student representation at local, national and international levels including being the first Irish person to serve on the Board of Management of the European Federation of Psychology Students’ Associations. This and work with Dr. Hogan and colleagues at NUIG has allowed him to explore advocacy issues, civic engagement, collective intelligence and the role psychology can play in facilitating advocacy, engagement, group decision-making and policy design. Chris is passionate about citizen engagement and is hoping to further his knowledge and experience of this area.
Owen is conducting his PhD research in the area of computer-supported collaborative learning. His research involves the integration of the systems science methodology Interactive Management (IM) into the classroom environment. Owen’s research to date has investigated the effects of social psychological variables, such as dispositional trust, consensus and perceived efficacy in this collaborative learning process; forming the basis for his first PhD study. This paper, published in Social Psychology of Education, can be found here.
Owen’s subsequent studies have sought to investigate the effects of dialogue, facilitation style, and peer to peer prompting on the complexity of argumentation, and cooperative conversational dynamics in collaborative learning. Owen’s research seeks to inform the development of a systems science education programme, a pilot of which was run in early 2015. A proposal for the development of such a systems science education programme is detailed in this book chapter, which Owen contributed to with Dr. Hogan and Professor Benjamin Broome. Owen has contributed to two other book chapters to date including a chapter on Integrating Argument Mapping with Systems Thinking Tools and Metacognitive Skill Development and Applied Systems Science, as well as papers on student-centred conceptualisations of critical thinking and the use of a systems science methodology in consultation with citizens about the design of wellbeing measures and policies. Outside of his PhD research, Owen has worked on many other projects with Dr. Hogan, assisting with the design and application of collective intelligence workshops for the Route-To-PA and Q-Tales EU projects.
Cormac Ryan: The consequences of social media
Cormac is a second year Galway Doctoral Research Candidate on the Child & Youth Research programme at N.U.I.G. His research examines the wellbeing outcomes of the social media experiences of young adults. By qualitatively examining individually created argument maps and employing a collective intelligence methodology to facilitate group discussion, Cormac is hoping to achieve a unique, user-defined understanding of social media outcomes. In his third and fourth study, these insights and the collective thinking of young social media users will be used to inform the design and development of a psychometric measure. This scale will be suitable for analysing associations between adaptive and maladaptive social media experiences and subjective, psychological, and social wellbeing outcomes. If Cormac wasn’t doing this, he’d be playing golf.
Eric Van Lente: Mindfulness, Oneness self-perception and Well-being
Eric Van Lente is conducting research on the relationship between mindfulness, oneness and well-being.
Throughout history, people have sought to understand their relationship with others, the world, and the universe – and in many religious and philosophical traditions there has been an attempt to understand experiences of oneness or non-duality that arise in these relationships ([William] James, 1910). Oneness or non-dual awareness has been defined as ‘a sense that the usual subject/object distinctions are no longer the dominant mode of experience’. While there is evidence that greater mindfulness is related to greater well-being, this study aims to examine whether changes in meditators’ oneness self-perception is a mechanism by which these changes occur.
The first study of Eric’s PhD project employed a collective intelligence methodology to examine long-term meditators experience of oneness and will use these results to develop a questionnaire-based measure of oneness self-perception. In the second study, using the new measure, the relationships between mindfulness, oneness self-perception and well-being will be examined through an online survey involving short- and long-term meditators. The final study will be a randomised-controlled trial (i.e. an experiment) with beginning meditators in which the effects of mindfulness meditation on oneness self-perception and well-being will be explored.
Prior to beginning this PhD Eric worked in a number of health, medical and social science areas including occupational health and population mental health. He spent a number of years at the University of Chicago partly sponsored by a Fulbright Award where he also completed his MA in experimental psychology, a year at the University of Illinois working on Social and emotional learning (SPHE), and three years as a mechanical engineer in nuclear fusion research. Eric has been involved in over 37 quantitative and theoretical papers, reports, posters and presentations in psychology, health and engineering.
Eric has attended and presented oneness-related research at a number of Mind and Life Summer schools and he is also involved in the Mindful Way at NUI Galway, a group which aims to create a Mindful University at the National University of Ireland Galway.