School of Psychology, UNSW


Resilience and well-being

We are interested in (a) correlates of resilience and well-being, (b) strategies that will increase resilience and well-being, such as positivity strategies (derived from the positive psychology literature) and meditation strategies (e.g., mindfulness), and (c) the underlying mechanisms of resilience. Current projects include (a) comparison of strategy effectiveness with university students, (b) underlying mechanisms of the effects of meditation on well-being, (c) individual differences in reaction to and recovery from stressors. Contact Jacky for pre-publication manuscripts, particularly Andreou & Cranney and Cranney & Morris.


Adaptive cognition and psychological literacy

Adaptive cognition can be defined as ways of thinking (and consequently behaving) that are beneficial to one’s (and others’) survival and well-being now and in the future (Cranney & Morris, in press). McGovern et al. (2010) described psychological literacy as encapsulating the common graduate attributes or capabilities that students should acquire while undertaking a major in psychology, such as acquiring discipline knowledge and developing a scientific way of thinking. Cranney & Dunn (in press) defined psychological literacy as psychological knowledge that is used adaptively—see the article for the inherent complexities. In our research, we are interested in the effects on resilience and well-being of applying psychological principles to everyday life. This is a new research area that will be developed further in 2011-12, and is based on theory explicated in the Cranney & Dunn (in press) book. Contact Jacky for pre-publication manuscripts, particularly Cranney & Morris. In the broadest sense, research on the testing effect,prospective memory and extinction can also be included in this category, as these relate to adaptive cognition.


Emotion, motivation and memory

This has been Jacky’s primary research interest, particularly with animal models investigating functional and neural mechanisms of fear acquisition, reconsolidation and extinction. This research will now be conducted primarily with humans, investigating (a) factors influencing recovery from stressors (this relates to the resilience topic), and (b) the nature of prospective memory and of memory reconsolidation. See the publication listing for reprints, and contact Jacky for pre-publication manuscripts.

University student learning and performance  

A recent focus in this area has been the testing effect, whereby it has been found that after an initial reading of material to be learnt, it is better for long-term retention to be tested on that material than to re-read the material. The lab’s research in this area has focused on how group test-taking influences that effect, and how untested material related to the tested material influences long-term retrieval. These studies have been conducted in the classroom using course-relevant material. Other areas of research include investigating strategies for increasing the acquisition of graduate capabilities such as research skills, information literacy skills, and group work. The research on resilience and well-being is also relevant to this topic, as it has primarily been conducted with university students. See the publication listing for reprints, and contact Jacky for pre-publication manuscripts.