Louise Bowen

Louise Bowen

Research student, School of Psychology

Email:
bowenl7@cardiff.ac.uk
Location:
64 Park Place, Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT

Research summary

The  study of transport behaviour is essential for health, safety and productivity.  Despite extensive research on specific topics in certain areas of transport there are still substantial gaps in our knowledge. The knowledge we have also needs better dissemination and consideration should be given to the impact of the research on policy and practice. The aim must be to make all transport modes safer and to use multi-methodologies to address established problems and  also topics which have recently emerged. Technological advances have also meant  that transport has changed and the impact of technology needs to be addressed.  In addition, technology can now be used to prevent and manage unsafe behaviour.

Inappropriate driving behaviour (e.g., speeding) is often dealt with by sanctions and/or by attendance at appropriate training courses.  What is missing is an understanding of the motivation underlying unsafe  behaviour. Another major problem with much of the research is that factors are often studied in isolation whereas it is clear that a multi-variate approach is essential. In addition, it is important to adjust for possible confounding variables which may influence both risk factors and outcomes (e.g., demographic variables; lifestyle; job characteristics and psychosocial factors). This approach has been used to address issues such as wellbeing and can now be applied to driver safety. A recent survey (N > 2000) using this approach was carried out. The results confirmed that poor driving behaviour, driving when  fatigued and risk taking predict RTAs. These effects were still apparent when demographic, driving, lifestyle, health, psychosocial and work characteristics were covaried. The three risk factors produced additive effects with those who had all three being 2.55 times more likely to have an accident than those reporting no risk factors. Based on these findings it is important to use a holistic approach to improve transport behaviour in all domains and in groups where research on transport behaviour is poorly developed.

My PhD focuses on well-being, as well as other factors, with the aim of formulating empirically validated interventions to mitigate unsafe transport user behaviour patterns, thus reducing fatal, serious and minor accidents.  This in turn may lead to economic savings linked to the reduction of accidents; safer use of vehicles and increased awareness of other users; effective enforcement and  training schemes based on reliable behavioural models, as well as safe integration of new types of vehicle and increased usage of safe behaviour.

Undergraduate education

2012-2015: BSc (First Class Honours) Counselling and Psychology, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David. 

Thesis Title: Digital Natives vs Digital Immigrants

Thesis abstract:  

This research empirically explores the ‘digital native’ concept; separating the ‘being’ from the ‘doing’. A digital native is defined as under age 25 and adept at using technology without prior experience or training.  In contrast, ‘digital immigrants’ are over 25 and, due to exposure later in life, lack technological skill.  Questionnaire data measured digital nativity, computer expertise and technological proficiency.  A laboratory-based experiment measured the impact of labelling upon computer task performance and actual task performance. Seventy-one participants completed the questionnaire.  During the lab-based study (n=30) participants were randomly assigned either ‘native’ ‘immigrant’ or a control group. Opposing the ‘digital natives’ hypothesis promoted by Prensky (2001); and supportive of the research hypothesis, age did not influence nativity scores. Further, this study found no evidence of technological ability differences based purely upon age; however, it did find differences based upon use of the ‘native/immigrant’ label. This suggests the ‘digital native’ concept may not only be flawed, but could be harmful if labels are relied upon instead of understanding individual ability

2012-2013: Embedded Helping Skills (Distinction), University of Wales, Trinity Saint David.

Postgraduate education

2015-2016: Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PCET), University of Wales, Trinity Saint David.

2016-2017: MSc Research Methods in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, Swansea University.

Thesis Title: Can you feel it?: A double-blind, sham-controlled exploration of anodal tDCS for the modulation of somatosensory sensation in cognitively healthy older adults.

Thesis abstract:  

Of particular interest to the present study, although largely understudied in the literature is that of age-related changes in somatosensory function, considered as a window into central nervous system (CNS) function. Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques are a powerful approach to explore the physiology and function of the CNS.  Here we examined the influence of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a technique which produces behavioural effects by altering cortical excitability, on vibrotactile discrimination in older adults.  Double-blind tDCS (Anodal/Sham) of 1 mA was delivered for 10 minutes to the somatosensory cortex (S1) in a right hemisphere contralateral orbit montage. Stimulation was used as part of a pre/post design, with a battery of vibrotactile tasks used in-between. Similar to previous research, baseline (pre-tDCS) results demonstrated a significant worsening of amplitude discrimination thresholds in the presence of adaptation stimuli, although tDCS did not modify vibrotactile discrimination thresholds.  Results are discussed in the context of age and task-related factors which may have contributed to the failure of tDCS to induce changes in cortical plasticity.     

Awards/external committees

2015:
Award for Undergraduate Psychology, British Psychological Society
Award for Best Conference Talk, British Psychological Society
Best Final Year Dissertation, British Psychological Society

Graduate membership: British Psychologial Society (MBPsS)

2018:

HEA Fellowship (FHEA)

Nomination: Prize for Early Promise (PEP) 1st year PhD

Research interests

Funding

2016-2017: MSc Scholarship, Swansea University.

2017-2020: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), School of Psychology, Cardiff University.

Research group

Developmental & health psychology

Occupational Health Psychology

Human Factors (HuFEx)

Transport Futures Network

Research collaborators

Professor Andrew Smith

Dr Paul B Hutchings

Dr Phil Morgan 

Teaching

 2017-Present: Postgraduate Tutor, Cardiff University.  

Delivering tutorials to undergraduate students with the aim of supporting practical report writing.  Marking practical reports and providing feedback (PS1018).

2015-Present: Psychology Tutor.

Providing one-to-one guidance in all aspects of psychology, from effective writing skills, to subject knowledge, statistics  and dissertation project design/writing up.

2016-Present: Psychology and Sociology Tutor, Bridgend Educational Services Trust.

Delivering teaching of AQA syllabus, as well as assessment to GCSE level students in preparation for GCSE exams.

2015/2016: Lecturer in Counselling Studies, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David.   Delivering both lectures and seminars to undergraduates at levels 4, 5 and 6.  Topics covered included psychopharmacology, research methods (qualitative and quantitative), independent project design  (i.e., formulation of appropriate research questions) and independent project design write-up support.