Dr. Richard Stephens

Title: Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Phone: +44 (0)1782 733600
Email:
Location: Dorothy Hodgkin Building 1.75
Role: Research Leader of the Psychobiology Research Laboratory; Director of MSc in Psychology and MSc in Clinical Psychological Research; Workplace Safety Advisor; Faculty of Natural Sciences Director of Postgraduate Teaching.
Contacting me: During semester time my office hours are Mondays 2.30-3.30pm and Wednesdays 2.30-3.30pm
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Latest News

Interested in doing a PhD in my areas of psychology? The research institute at Keele has just announced their annual competition for fully funded PhD studentships. Please get in touch by email if you are interested.

Undergraduate student Amy Zile worked with me in my lab on a British Psychological Society funded Undergraduate Research Assistantship entitled: “Swearing as emotional language”. Amy developed a measure of swearing fluency and assessed the effects of an emotional manipulation on the fluency with which people are able to swear.  Findings will be presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in May 2014. This is part of an on-going series of studies looking at the psychology of swearing.

Meanwhile Dr Lauren Owen of Swinburne University of Technology, Australia, continues to work in my lab as Postdoctoral Research Fellow on our £148,975 EU-funded Marie Curie Research Fellowship. The fellowship aims to transfer knowledge to EU institutions and to research the cognitive consequences of the alcohol hangover.

For latest updates follow me on twitter: @psychologyrich

Find out about some of psychology's coolest research on my Cool Psychology blog. Latest post: The Coolidge Effect

 

Career History

I've been a professional psychologist for 20 years. The most recent dozen years have been at Keele University, first as a Post-Doc, then a Lecturer, and now a Senior Lecturer in Psychology. Currently I lead the Psychobiology Research Laboratory in the School of Psychology and am course director for the Psychology MSc. I am on the committee of the British Psychological Society Psychobiology Section. My previous psychology jobs were with the Health and Safety Executive and the University of Birmingham Institute of Occupational Health. My PhD, 'Chronic neuropsychological health effects in sheep dippers', was supervised by Dr Anne Spurgeon and awarded by Birmingham University in 1996. My first degree, Life Sciences (Psychology) BSc (Hons) was awarded by Westminster University (formerly the Polytechnic of Central London) in 1992.

Swearing

Our article "Swearing as a response to pain" published in 2009 received international media coverage including BBC television's The One Show ,  CBS television news, BBC Radio 4, Scientific American , ABC news , The Guardian, The Independent, and many others. Subsequently the research has been honoured, if that's the right word, by the receipt of an Ig Nobel prize in 2010. Ig Nobel prizes are awarded for research that "first makes you laugh then makes you think". A follow up paper was accepted for publication in Journal of Pain in September 2011.

 

Alcohol Hangover

Despite being the most prevalent and commonly recognised problem experienced in relation to alcohol, alcohol hangover has been a neglected part of the alcohol research scene until recently. In collaboration with Dr Joris Verster of Utrecht University, I was awarded £4,886 by the Alcohol Education and Research Council to fund speaker travel expenses and room hire for a one-day meeting on alcohol hangover research at the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) 33rd Annual Scientific Meeting, June 26-30, 2010, in San Antonio, Texas. It was enjoyable, thought provoking and inspirational to meet hangover researchers from around the world. A brief report of the meeting is available to download here. For more information on alcohol hangover research, please click here.

 

Influences on human cognitive performance

In 2009 I was awarded a Wingate Foundation Medical Research Travel Grant which enabled me to visit Transport Research Laboratory and carry out a pilot study assessing the effects of alcohol hangover on simulated driving, in collaboration with Professor Andrew Parkes. I have also published research on cognitive effects of football heading, of repetitive movements such as hand clenching or chewing gum, of becoming dehydrated and of chemical exposure. Related to this is an interest in the psychometric properties of Digit Symbol Substitution tests.

Dynamic media for teaching and learning

A further research interest arises out of my teaching specialism. In collaboration, programmer and mathematician Sol Nte and I have been developing dynamic media to improve teaching of research methods and statistics, including a dynamic representation of ANOVA, funded by The Higher Education Academy Psychology Network, and a dynamic representation of the normal distribution, funded by a Keele University Faculty of Natural Sciences Teaching Innovation Award.

The private car as a means of mass transport

I have recently become interested in the problems associated with the private car as a means of mass transport and how people experience ceasing or reducing driving. Researching the latter question has prompted me to seek training in qualitative research methods. To that end I have been supported via an ESRC Research Resources Board training bursary.

Other information

I am a member of the Research Institute for Social Science, Centre for Psychological Research,  Brain and Cognition research group.

MSc and PhD Supervision

I'd be very pleased to speak to prospective MSc or PhD students about supervising dissertation research in any of the above areas.

In January 2011 I visited the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus to take part in some TV filming with Stephen Fry and Brian Blessed. The sequence, in which I ran through some of my psychological experiments on swearing with Stephen and Brian, will be included in Fry’s documentary “Planet Word” to be aired on BBC television in Autumn 2011. Click here for a (slightly blurry) picture.

  • Stephens, R. Grange, J, Jones, K, Owen, L. (2014). A critical analysis of alcohol hangover research methodology. Published online 16th March 2014 in Psychopharmacology doi 10.1007/s00213-014-3531-4
  • Tolstrup, J, Stephens, R, Grønbæk, M. (2014). Does the severity of hangovers decline with age? Survey of the prevalence of severe hangover in different age groups. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 38, 466-470. doi: 10.1111/acer.12238
  • Stephens, R. (2013). Swearing - the language of life and death. The Psychologist, 26, 650-653.
  • Partington, S., Partington, E., Heather, N., Longstaff, F., Allsop, S., Jankowski, M., Wareham, H., Stephens, R. & Gibson, A.S. (2013). The relationship between sports participation and drinking behavior among students at English universities. Addiction Research & Theory, 21, 339-347. doi: 10.3109/16066359.2012.727508
  • Stephens, R. & Allsop, C. (2012). Does state aggression increase pain tolerance? Psychological Reports, 111, 311-321.
  • Stephens, R. & Umland, C. (2011). Swearing as a response to pain – effect of daily swearing frequency. Journal of Pain, 12, 1274-1281. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2011.09.004.
  • Stephens, R. & Edelstyn, NMJ. (2011). Do individual differences mediate the cognitive benefits of chewing gum? Psychology, 2, 834-840. 
  • Heffernan, T., Clark, R., Bartholomew, J., Ling, J. & Stephens, R. (2010). Does binge drinking in teenagers affect their everyday prospective memory? Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 109, 73-78. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2009.12.013
  • Stephens, R., Rutherford,A., Potter, D.&Fernie, G. (2010). Neuropsychological consequences of soccer play in adolescent UK school team soccer players. Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 22, 295-303.
  • Ling,J., Luczakiewicz, K., Heffernan, T.M.& Stephens, R. (2010). Subjective ratings of prospective memory deficits in chronic alcohol users. Psychological Reports, 106, 905-917. DOI:10.2466/PR0.106.3.905-917
  • Stephens, R., Atkins, J. & Kingston, A. (2009). Swearing as a response to pain. NeuroReport, 20, 1056-1060. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e32832e64b1.
  • Stephens, R. & Nte, S. (2009). Development and evaluation of an interactive visual workspace to aid the intuitive understanding of ANOVA (Analysis of Variance). Psychology Learning and Teaching, 8, 14-20.
  • Stephens, R. & Kaufman, A. (2009). The role of long-term memory in Digit-Symbol test performance in young and older adults. Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition, 16, 219-240. DOI: 10.1080/13825580802573060.
  • Stephens, R., Ling, J., Heffernan, T.M., Heather, N & Jones, K. (2008). A review of the literature on the cognitive effects of the alcohol hangover. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 43, 163-170 doi:10.1093/alcalc/agm160.
  • Stephens, R. (2006). Age-related decline in Digit-Symbol performance: Eye-movement and video analysis. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 21, 101-107 doi:10.1016/j.acn.2005.08.002
  • Stephens, R., Rutherford, A., Potter, D. & Fernie, G. (2005). Neuropsychological impairment as a consequence of football (soccer) play and football heading: A preliminary analysis and report on school students (13-16 years). Child Neuropsychology, 11, 513-526 doi: 10.1080/092970490959629
  • Stephens, R., & Tunney, R.J. (2004). Role of glucose in chewing gum-related facilitation of cognitive function. Appetite, 43, 211-213 doi:10.1016/j.appet.2004.07.006
  • Stephens, R., & Sreenivasan, B. (2004). The effects of long-term low-level organophosphate exposure on orchard sprayers in England: A neuropsychological investigation. Archives of Environmental Health, 59, 566-574.

Year 1

  • PSY-10018 Individuals and Society 1 (Seminar Tutor)
  • PSY-10017 Mechanisms and Principals 1 (Seminar Tutor)
  • PSY-10016 Research Methods 2 (Module Leader)

Year 2

  • PSY-20018 Cognitive & Biological Research Methods in Psychology (Lecturer)
  • PSY-20005 Biological Psychology, Perceptions and Cognition (Lecturer)

Year 3

  • PSY-30092 Psychobiology (Module Leader)

  • PSY-30061 Final Year Project (Project Supervisor)

MSc

  • Director of the Psychology MSc programmes
  • PSY-40015 MSc Dissertation (Module leader)
  • PSY-40031 Special Topics in Psychology 2 (Module leader)

Psychobiology Research Laboratory

Research Leader: Dr Richard Stephens

 
I have a fantastic crop of undergraduate and postgraduate psychology students carrying out their dissertation research in my lab under my supervision. As ever it is a real pleasure working with such keen and enthusiastic collaborators.

MSc Students 2012/13

Kara Holloway - Using an online drinking survey to assess risk factors for alcohol use disorder
Sam Royle - Psycho-social correlates of the alcohol hangover - mood, personality, guilt and expectation

BSc Students 2013/13

Shabana Aslam - Is the stress reducing effect of swearing mediated by psychological flow?
Lucy Davies - Presentation mode and the left-digit effect in discount perceptions of charm prices
Christine Ehirim - The effect of swearing on decision making
Thomas Fletcher - Effect of horror films, arousal transfer and swearing on stress and fear
Kathryn Hayward - Effect of acute exercise and psychological flow on cognition, stress and mood
Stuart Mills - Effect of swearing on onlookers’ perception of pain
Charlotte Perry - Does personality affect religious and spiritual well-being styles?
Melanie Piper - Does taboo gesticulation help relieve ostracism?
Leonel Tchiapi - Alcohol consumption in university students: living at home and living on campus
Phuong Vu - The effect of hangover on creativity: A naturalistic study
Shabnum Yasin - Is the stress relieving effect of swearing mediated by psychological flow?
Amy Zile - Do Perceived Gender Norms Influence Pain Tolerance?

Previous successes

2009/10 final year undergraduate student and Psychobiology Research Lab member Claire Allsop won the 2010 British Psychological Society Psychobiology Section Undergraduate Project Prize for her project entitled "The effect of manipulated levels of state aggression on pain tolerance".  Claire presented her project at the September 2010 meeting of the BPS Psychobiology Section.