ICCS Research Afternoon – PhD Presentations

417 Muirhead Tower
Monday 20 May 2019 (13:00-17:30)

ICCS Research Afternoon – PhD Presentations

13:00 – 14:30  (Seminar)

Why is Democracy so Difficult?  A Psychosocial Inquiry

Professor Barry Richards, Political Psychology at Bournemouth University – hosted by the International Political Psychology Working Group

In this seminar I would like to present some provisional observations on the present difficulties of liberal democracy. Publics are often polarised, deeply suspicious of democratic institutions and processes, and hostile to politicians. Public spheres are fragmented and often toxic. Political psychology has a lot to say about all this; I will focus on a 'psychosocial' approach, one combining psychoanalytic ideas with analyses of socio-cultural change. Emotionally, democracy demands a lot from us as citizens. For it to work well, we have to be able to function in mature ways, with patience, empathy, generosity, etc. We have to be able to manage our strong ambivalence towards leaders, and to accept the imperfections of government. I will consider the evidence (for example in the successes of 'populist' leadership) that this psychological basis for the viability of democratic governance now appears to be shrinking.

Barry Richards is Professor of Political Psychology at Bournemouth University. His recent publications include What Holds Us Together (Karnac/Routledge, 2017) and The Psychology of Politics (Routledge, 2019). 

14:45 – 15:45

PhD Presentations: Thomas Stocks, Donatella Bonansinga, Chiara Cervasio

(Co-ordinated by the International Political Psychology and Trust Working Groups

  • Thomas Stocks

Human rights news and the activation of right-wing personality dimensions

Abstract: This project studies the role of the personality dimensions of Social Dominance Orientation and Right-Wing Authoritarianism in moderating attitudinal effects caused by exposure to human rights news. First, I identified common media frames in human rights news coverage that map on to the wider ideologies associated with RWA and SDO. Second, I conducted  a series of media exposure experiments, to examine how exposure to certain types of common human rights media coverage interacts with RWA, but not SDO, to affect human rights attitudes. The experiments find evidence of RWA-associated priming, but no evidence of wider human rights framing effects.

  • Donatella Bonsansinga

The affective content of populist security communication

Abstract: This presentation investigates security communication in both left and right-wing populism, focusing specifically on the affective content of this talk. Looking at two cases in point of populists in power (Matteo Salvini and Alexis Tsipras),  this paper unpacks right and left-wing discourses by 1) mapping the levels of emotionality involved (individual, collective, social), 2) identifying their affective tone and 3) classifying emotional appeals based on six clusters (anger, fear, hope, pride, disappointment, compassion). The paper concludes with an elaboration on the implications of these appeals for public attitudes towards populism. 

  • Chiara Cervasio

Status and Security Concerns in Face-to-Face Diplomacy: the Case of Sino-India Contemporary Relations

Abstract: This research studies the variables influencing perceptions of status and security concerns in face-to-face interactions among representatives of two countries that stand in a relationship of ‘rivalry’. The case of Sino-India contemporary security relations is explored, and particular attention is paid to the role that humanization, empathy, and trust have played in influencing the outcomes of face-to-face diplomatic meetings, and the obstructing/cooperative behaviors that decision-makers of the two different countries have adopted in different strategic scenarios. 

16:00 – 17:30  

Oops I did it again – Understanding Moral Disengagement and its Role in Sexual Abuse 

Professor Rosalind Searle, Psychologist at the University of Glasgow – hosted by Trust Working Groups

Prof. Rosalind H. Searle holds the chair in HRM and Organisational Psychology at the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow. She is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist and a Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS). She has a PhD from Aston University, and an MBA. Her research focuses on organisational trust and HRM, trust and controls, change and counterproductive work behaviours. Her work on fitness to practice for Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) has been identified as one of the six most important studies for regulators comparing misconduct in three professionals. She is currently undertaking further work for them exploring moral mindsets of sexual perpetrators in health and social care to provide insight into better ways to reduce the prevalence of and to better ameliorate incidence of sexual abuse in health and social care organisations. Her previous academic positions include Coventry University where she co-founded the Centre for Trust Peace and Social relations, and the Open University and Aston University. She is co-editor for the Routledge Companion to Trust (2018) and serves on editorial boards of Journal of Management, Journal of Trust Research, and International Perspectives in Psychology:  Research, Practice, Consultation (IPP). Her research appears in leading international journals (e.g. Human Resource Management, Journal of Organisational Behavior, International Journal of HRM, and Long Range Planning) and in commissioned research for regulators (e.g. Professional Standards Authority), government (e.g. Welsh Audit, Scottish and English Governments) and private organisations (e.g. energy sector).

Sexual exploitation of service users is a concern in any organisation – be it an international aid organisation or a health provider. In both these contexts the service user is potential more vulnerable to exploitation by perpetrators. Misconduct by professionals, particularly sexual violations, destroys trust in them but also damages current and future trust in their employing organisations and in wider institutions (O’Donohue, Downs et al. 1998). This study is unusual as it explores the mindsets of sexual perpetrators in order to identify better the means to reduce the vulnerability of service users and employing organisations. Building on a prior study within a health context (Searle, Rice et al. 2017), this study paper explores sexual abuse, a form of professional misconduct that transgresses not only professional codes, but also deviates for accepted societal behavioural norms. The focus of our analysis the moral mindsests of 232 health professionals charged with sexual misconduct. The results reveal that while such misconducts predominantly involve male perpetrators, there are important gender differences. The presentation will outline the moral mindsets of those undertaking different activities (variations in targets and frequency) and identify steps that organisations can do to protect service users, but also to empower co-workers to more successful intervene and challenge perpetrators.

O’Donohue, W., K. Downs and E. A. Yeater (1998). "Sexual harassment: A review of the literature." Aggression and Violent Behavior, 3(2): 111-128.

Searle, R. H., C. Rice, A. McConnell and J. Dawson (2017). Bad apples? Bad barrels? Or bad cellars? Antecedents and processes of professional misconduct in UK Health and Social Care: Insights into sexual misconduct and dishonesty.

This ICCS Research Afternoon is free to attend.


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