SMP Seminar Series - Semester 2, Week 11

Image: Luis Quintero, Pexels

Presentation 1: Exploring Experiences at Work, Well-being, and Body Image

Speaker: Dr Kristen Murray is a Clinical Psychologist, Senior Lecturer, and Master of Professional Psychology Program Convenor in the ANU School of Medicine and Psychology. Her research and practice primarily focus on body image, where she takes a holistic approach by examining our relationship with both the appearance and functionality of the body across multiple dimensions. Kristen’s research program includes streams investigating (i) assessment and treatment of body image concerns, especially in vulnerable populations such as individuals with a chronic physical illness, (ii) knowledge and beliefs about body image in the community and health professionals to support help-seeking, and (iii) the relationship between body image, health and well-being. More broadly, Kristen has interests in psychological stress, health behaviour change, and interprofessional collaboration.

Abstract: Body image includes the way we see, think, feel, and behave in relation to both the appearance and functionality of our body. Extensive evidence supports its role in a range of health and well-being outcomes across the lifespan. Yet, despite calls for its consideration in well-being at work, few studies have investigated its role in this context. This presentation will discuss body image and existing evidence highlighting its relevance to the workplace. Then, it will discuss a recent exploratory study in which the relationship between one aspect of positive body image – body appreciation – and a range of job demands, resources, and well-being indicators was examined in a large cross-sectional sample of working adults from the United Kingdom. Key findings from the study, and their implications, will be presented along with future directions for this novel program of work.

Presentation 2: Beyond group memberships: a look at the complex, messy social self-concept and how it relates to wellbeing

Speaker: Dr Lillian Smyth is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine and Psychology. She is a social and educational psychologist and conducts mixed methods research on self-concept, identity, normative influence and the social psychology of higher education.

Abstract: We know that social self-perceptions- the way we see ourselves in relation to other people- have important impacts on how positively we see ourselves, the amount and type of social support we perceive as being available to us and, ultimately, our wellbeing and resilience under stress. There is already lots of excellent research on how a specific kind of social self-perception, group memberships, can be measured, harnessed and used in interventions to boost or protect wellbeing. However, group memberships are not the only flavour of social self-perceptions that are linked to positive self-regard, social support and wellbeing. What about me with my best friend? Me as a mentor? The current stream of work starts from the assumption that social experiences are variable and that- for some people- group memberships are not the answer. The research tackles the messy conceptual and methodological process of exploring the non-group social identity. Across a series of studies, we demonstrate psychologically meaningful social self-perceptions associated with non-group-membership social contexts (role, relationship, locations, activities, etc.) that demonstrate a similar association with wellbeing to that already identified for group memberships. We then consider the patterning of social self-perception types, the aetiology of these different configurations (why is my social self-concept 11 relationships and yours is 4 group memberships?) and what happens when the types of self-perception are nested. Using large, observational datasets of self-concept maps, we explore the ways these might be patterned across culture, life experience and individual differences. This research was funded by a 2022 CHM Transform Career Development Fellowship.