2011 Scholars

Posted by on 2 January 2011

The Foundation has much pleasure in announcing the 2011 Scholars:

Sally Prebble - The University of Auckland

PrebblephotoSally Prebble is enrolled in a PhD programme in the Department of Psychology at Auckland University. Her research project is entitled:

Autobiographical memory and sense of self

Previous research has suggested that people’s memories of their lives (autobiographical memory, particularly episodic memory, i.e. the hard factual memories) play an important part in their sense of who they are (sense of self). A healthy sense of self is thought to be important to well-being, quality of life and mental health. A common fear of people is that the loss of memory that accompanies older age and dementia will lead to a loss of identity. This study is an attempt to examine which aspects of sense of self are vulnerable to loss of memory, and how sense of self is affected by deterioration in memory that occurs with the passage of time in dementia. The findings may assist with developing support services for older adults that maintain their autonomy and well-being.

Isabelle Miclette - Massey University

IsabelleMichletteIsabelle Miclette is a PhD candidate in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University. She is investigating.ways of reducing loneliness and improving the well-being of older adults.

Ways of reducing loneliness and improving the well-being of older adults.

Loneliness is a common complaint amongst the older population. It leads to low quality of life, poor subjective health and increased use of health and social services. This research explores ways in which older adults can develop self-help skills that will enable them to cope better with loneliness. In particular, the usefulness of the Self Enrichment Course in reducing loneliness will be examined. This involves a group process of reframing loneliness as a challenge and the use of past experiences of successful coping with challenges earlier in life to devise strategies to overcome loneliness; then allowing participants to contribute some of their wisdom and coping skills to others.

Rachael Sim - Massey University

rachelsimRachael Sim is a doctoral candidate in Massey University’s School of Psychology.She is investigating:

The prevalence and role of false memories as people age.

Having completed her Master’s in 2010 (which was funded by HOPE) Rachael has now enrolled in this PhD programme. In her Master’s programme she investigated the prevalence of false memories in older as compared to younger subjects, finding no difference. ( A false memory is an erroneous memory in which a person recalls events that had not in fact been experienced.) She suspects this was due to an inadequately sensitive test. In her doctoral research, she plans to expand the testing regimen to include a battery of other tests, to use two different methods of inducing false memories and to investigate a wider spectrum of types of memory that may be affected as people age. 

Louise Cowpertwait, PhD candidate - University of Otago

louise cowpertwaitDepression is a debilitating mental disorder characterised by low mood or loss of pleasure along with an array of other symptoms which cause clinically significant distress. Research has found that, contrary to stereotypes of depressive old age, most older people are not depressed. However, the number of older people who are depressed and the costs associated with this is still significant. There is a need to understand depression among older adults to ensure prevention and treatment efforts are efficient and effective in this population, particularly in the context of ageing populations. Psychological theory recognises the impact that social factors can have on depression risk.

My research aims to improve current understanding of the relationship between depression and social support, by quantitatively investigating a large, longitudinal dataset from community dwelling older adults living in New Zealand. I will investigate how various aspects of social support (such as the size of ones network, frequency of social interactions, and ones subjective evaluation of their social network) predict levels of depression over time. A literature review has been completed, which has highlighted the need for this research, and initial stages of data analysis will begin in June.

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