Thursday, 29 September 2011

Do you have a Jekyll and Hyde approach to saving energy?

Nadine Page in the School of Psychology carried out some research into people's behaviour around energy-saving and found that 86% of her research sample were more likely to try to save energy at home rather than in the workplace.

"The external drivers of behaviour also differed according to context," she said. "Participants reported that having good leadership and positive role models was important for motivating them to save energy in the workplace whereas at home, they saved energy to be financially rewarded."

These results show that energy-saving actions differ systematically according to context and the reasons for saving energy in the workplace are very different to those that motivate behaviours in and around the home.

"By identifying the similarities and differences between contexts, and gaining a better understanding of people in each of these, we can ensure that interventions have greater success at effecting change in the longer-term," said Nadine.

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It would be good to know about any strategies our readers have adopted to save energy in the workplace, so leave us some comments, please.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

New Mathematical Model to Enable Web Searches for Meaning

A new theory of meaning which has the potential to enable web searches that interpret the actual meaning of queries rather than just searching for words or phrases, has been developed by Dr Daoud Clarke.

In a paper published online in Computational Linguistics, Dr Clarke describes how he has built a mathematical model based on the idea that the meaning of words and phrases is determined by the contexts in which they occur.

“This is an old idea, with its origin in the philosophy of Wittgenstein, and was later taken up by linguists,” said Dr Clarke, “but this is the first time that someone has used it to construct a comprehensive theory of meaning.”

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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Hertfordshire researchers to push forward an asset-based approach to health and wellbeing

University of Hertfordshire researchers are to host an international conference at the British Library next week (26-27 September), which will explore how asset based approaches can enhance health among communities.

A health asset is any factor or resource which enhances the ability of individuals, communities and populations to maintain and sustain health and wellbeing. The conference, Assets for Health and Wellbeing across the life course, will focus on methods identifying, measuring and evaluating assets for health and wellbeing.

“What we aim to do is push forward the argument for using asset-based approaches to health and wellbeing,” said Dr Wendy Wills, one of the organizers at the University of Hertfordshire’s Centre for Research into Primary and Community Care. “Asset-based approaches are important because they focus on the positive things that people are already doing to protect and promote their own health instead of continually looking at the negatives. We have around sixty speakers from around the world presenting at the conference so this gives us an ideal opportunity to share our research evidence and discuss best practice."

Researchers from the University of Hertfordshire will be among those presenting their findings at the conference. Key contributions include The contribution of a community food group to older people’s  nutritional and social well-being in which Dr Angela Dickinson will examine the role community food groups play in terms of nutritional and social support to older people; other Hertfordshire papers will explore the range of social determinants on adolescent health, propose an asset mapping process to facilitate the capturing of children’s wellbeing, and assess the benefit of using Appreciative Enquiry to improve end of life care.

For further information click here

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

It's official - First impressions do count!

It is often said that we make judgments about people in the first three seconds of seeing them. Now new research from psychologists, Professor Karen Pine and Professor Ben Fletcher in collaboration with Mathieson & Brooke Tailors (M&BT),  proves that this is indeed the case and shows how much clothing influences these opinions.

The study shows that wearing a made-to-measure suit, rather than an off-the-peg equivalent, positively affects the judgments people make in those first three seconds. In fact, twice as many people will  view you as confident and successful if you wear a made-to-measure suit rather than an off-the-peg suit.

In the research conducted among 300 participants (males and females aged from 14 to 67) viewed a series of separate images of a man and a woman for just 3 seconds. They were then asked to make ‘snap judgements’ about the person in the picture.

When the man in the picture wore a made-to-measure suit he made a more favourable impression than when he wore a very similar off-the-peg suit of the same colour. People judged him to be more confident, successful, flexible and a higher earner than the same man wearing a similar high street equivalent. The man’s face in the picture was blanked out so these different judgments arose purely from observing his attire.

According to Professor Pine, these findings are an important contribution to their ongoing work geared towards reaching a better understanding of the psychology of fashion and clearly highlights the importance of good tailoring.

David Brooke from M&BT acknowledges that a made-to-measure suit is undoubtedly more expensive than some high street suits, but these research findings confirm that it can now be seen as a career investment and an essential ingredient to personal success.

So, see what your first impressions are of the photos below:

Executive summary of Karen Pine's paper on The Effect of Appearance on First Impressions

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

New Research Finding Will Protect Vital Global Crops

Light leaf spot on crop
A team of researchers led by Professor Bruce Fitt at the University of Hertfordshire has found a new form of resistance to the damaging pathogen that causes light leaf spot in oilseed rape – one of the world’s most important crops.

In a paper published in Plant Pathology, the team describes a research project done at Rothamsted Research, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and KWS UK Ltd, which looked at disease in UK oilseed rape and came up with new findings about crop resistance, which impacts on the global bid to protect arable crops from disease.

Results indicate a novel form of resistance in a specific variety of Brassica napus (oilseed rape) mediated by a single so-called “R gene”. R genes are important for plant resistance to pathogens and they work in various different ways. In this case, the R gene produces a protein inside the plant that can limit pathogen asexual reproduction (which occurs regularly during the cropping season) but allows sexual reproduction (which generally occurs only once a year) and so significantly reduces the chances of a light leaf spot epidemic developing during the crop growing season.

“This is the first time that anyone has come up with a finding like this in crop resistance,” said Professor Fitt, a leading authority on oilseed rape diseases. “Our results could lead to new strategies for breeding resistance against crop pathogens, leading to increased yields and reduced costs both to the farmer and the environment and reduce the need for chemical fungicides.”

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