Sam Ashcroft

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Sam conducts research on how people respond to coherent, incoherent and ambiguous information. He does this using a new behavioural approach to language called Relational Frame Theory (RFT). Sam uses PsychoPy experiments and psychophysiology in his research. His work builds on Cognitive Dissonance Theory, Meaningfulness and Behaviourism generally.

Sam lectures on several Research Methods and Skills (PS4005) classes and demonstrates on lab classes in Becoming a Psychological Researcher (PS5015). He also marks on various other modules and lectures on Work-Based Learning towards the end of the academic year.

Qualifications

Sam completed his undergraduate degree in BSc Psychology with International Study (Hons) at the University of Nottingham. His international study year took place at the University of Hong Kong. He has been studying for his PhD since 2015. At the University of Nottingham, Sam completed three research internships. At the University of Chester, Sam has been a Research Assistant on four different projects. He has also previously lectured on several modules such as Work-Based Learning and Research Methods and Skills (PS4005). Now, Sam teaches undergraduate modules alongside conducting his PhD research.

Overview

Sam is interested in behaviourist research that looks at how humans respond to coherence. He is also interested in well-being, meaning, Cognitive Dissonance Theory and behaviourism generally. Sam enjoys teaching about methodology and data analysis. Alongside SPSS, Sam uses R for gathering, cleaning, analysing and presenting data.

s.ashcroft@chester.ac.uk

Teaching

Sam teaches on several Research Methods and Skills (PS4005) classes. He is also a lab demonstrator on Becoming a Psychological Researcher (PS5015). Sam’s main interest in teaching is to develop students’ understanding of how good science is done, particularly in terms of methodology and data analysis. He also marks or lectures on several other modules throughout the year, including Work-Based Learning.

Research

Sam’s research revolves around Relational Frame Theory (RFT), a behaviourist theory that stems from Contextual Behavioural Science (CBS). 

Sam studies behavioural and physiological responses to the level of coherence, incoherence and ambiguity within ‘relational frames’. Empirical findings in this area may lead to new insights into how humans use language and symbolic learning to ‘make sense’ of the world. In the future, Sam hopes to extend this basic behavioural account to more complex phenomena such as how humans find meaning in their day to day lives.

Sam has also been part of numerous other research projects, including: studying whether ACT, CBT or a placebo work best for increasing pain tolerance; investigating variables that influence British perceptions of foreigners; looking at whether nightmare content is different across various groups; assessing how prior learning of information can affect the learning of successive information; and how best to teach mindfulness to ensure the training generalises outside of the training environment.

Sam is an active member of the Chester CBS Lab, which forms a part of the Chester Research Unit for the Psychology of Health (CRUPH). He is also a Board Member of the UK & Ireland Chapter of the Association of Contextual Behavioural Science (ACBS). Additionally, Sam is the Postgraduate Representative for the Faculty of Social Science.

Published work

Hochard K., Ashcroft S., Carrol J., Heym N. & Townsend E. (2017). Nightmare content is not associated with immediate self-harm risk. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior.

Conference Presentations

Ashcroft S., Hulbert-Williams L., Hochard K. & Hulbert-Williams N.J. CBS Consistent Definitions of Relational Coherence, Incoherence and Ambiguity. ACBS Conference, Seville, June 2017 (poster).

Ashcroft S., Hulbert-Williams L., Hochard K. & Hulbert-Williams N.J. Relational Coherence and Ambiguity: Behavioural and Affective Responses within a Novel Training Paradigm. ACBS Conference, Seville, June 2017 (oral).

Ashcroft S., Hulbert-Williams L., Hochard K. & Hulbert-Williams N.J. The Important of a Contextual-Behavioural Scientific (CBS) Approach to the Coherence of Relational Frames. Postgraduate Conference, University of Chester, June 2016 (oral).

Ashcroft S., Hulbert-Williams L., Hochard K. & Hulbert-Williams N.J. Studying Coherence from a Relational Frame Theory Perspective. Postgraduate Conference, University of Chester, June 2017 (oral).

Hochard K., Ashcroft S., Heym N. & Townsend E. Nightmares and Self-harm: An Exploratory Comparison of Linguistic Frequency in Negative Dream Reports from Self-harming and Control Participants. International Academy for Suicide Research (IASR) world congress, Montreal, Canada, June 2013 (poster).

Hulbert-Williams N.J., Hulbert-Williams L. & Ashcroft S. Implementing evidence-based principals: training non psychologists in ACT-enhanced communication skills in the cancer care setting. IPOS World Congress of Psycho-Oncology, Dublin, October 2016 (poster).

Hulbert-Williams N.J., Hulbert-Williams L. & Ashcroft S. Implementing evidence-based principals: training non-psychologists in ACT-enhanced communication skills in the cancer care setting. European Oncology Nursing Society Annual Conference, Dublin, October 2016 (poster).