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Power of the Mind

To contact the group please leave a message using the form at the bottom of this page.

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Power of the Mind is all about understanding the amazing way the human mind works and how it influences our behaviours. How does language develop, how do we make decisions, how good is our memory, can we believe what we see and hear? These are just a few of the questions we looked at last year, plus we’ve recently dived into even more fascinating topics around sleep, reading, drawing, music, facial recognition and online behaviours . We have well regarded and engaging guest speakers from local universities, do fun exercises and get involved in some great chats as we learn, laugh, live. You can even get involved in research and taking free courses if you want to pursue your interest further.

Given the positive feedback from the 2023/4 sessions, we’ve now arranged the summer 2024 series. What we thought would work well, and your enthusiasm to this suggestion supported this, is to have these summer sessions as more interactive including wider group discussions. Dr Debbie Pope will introduce the topics and current research. We will then have a chat about current thinking, our own experiences and anything else relevant. We have also re-arranged Professor Pam Qualter’s talk on Loneliness. This will be a specialist talk from a U.K. expert in her field with questions and answers after. These are the summer 2024 sessions;

Session 1 – Personality

Wednesday 17th July at 6:15 – 7:45pm at Withnell Fold Sports and Social Club

During this session we will explore the concept of Personality using the Big Five Personality Test. You will get a chance to complete the Big-5, which is the most widespread test of personality in the world and then, as a group, we will consider the positives and negatives of using psychological tests. 

Session 2 – Social Psychology 

Wednesday 24th July 6:15 – 7:45pm at Withnell Fold Sports and Social Club

In this session we will first look at early videos from the 1960s that were seen as both shocking and disturbing and became seminal studies in social psychology, exposing the ‘darker side’ of human behaviour. We will discuss their content and consider if their findings are still valid today.

Session 3The Psychology of Loneliness

Friday 2nd August 1.30 – 3.00pm at Withnell Fold Sports and Social Club

Talk by Professor Pamela Qualter, University of Manchester

Pamela is the UK’s leading scientific expert on child and adolescent loneliness.  She works with the UK Government’s Tackling Loneliness Team, recently being commissioned by them to write an evidence gap report on loneliness; she is also co-chair of the WHO Technical Advisory Group on Social Connection. Previously, Pamela led the BBC Loneliness Experiment, then the world’s largest study of loneliness.

Session 4What’s so Funny? The Psychology of Laughter and Humour

Friday 16th August 1.30 – 3.00pm at Withnell Fold Sports and Social Club

What makes you laugh? Why do we laugh and what purpose does it serve? In this session, we will consider laughter and humour from a psychological perspective. Can laughter keep us healthy?

Session 5Perception

Wednesday 21st August 6:15 – 7:15pm at Withnell Fold Sports and Social Club

Interactive session. In this session, we will use our senses and show how our brains often deceive us…what we see, hear, touch and smell may not be all we think they are!

If you are currently not part of the group and wish to receive regular update emails then please contact me using the form at the bottom of the page.

Free events and activities available outside the U3A

Open University free courses Please follow the link and put psychology in the search engine (or whatever floats your boat!). I did the Forensic Psychology online course which is what really sparked my interest in the ‘Power of the mind’.


More information about our 2023/4 Winter series U3A POTM talks and speakers that have already taken place

Session 1 – The Mystery of Sleep.

• What happens when we sleep?

• Why do we sleep and why is it so important?

• Sleep disorders – when sleep all goes wrong

An Interesting You Tube clip to watch!

This is a good TED talk (20 mins) from 2013 by Professor Russell Foster (Head of Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute) about the importance of sleep and its relationship with mental health.

Session 2  – Helping the Police to Catch Criminals

• How the police have used facial composites in the past

• Why we aren’t very good at identifying faces

• How we can get better using our understanding of psychology

You Tube clips. A 2-minute summary of the EvoFIT system https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On3t9ijwHGY&t=6s

Professor Charlie Frowd teaches and conducts research within forensic psychology, focusing mainly on facial composite construction and identification. 

He has developed the award winning EvoFIT composite system, and trains and supports police in its use; also interviewing witnesses and victims of crime.Using this system, witnesses choose from a selection of faces that bear a resemblance to an assailant and a composite is ‘evolved’ over time by blending together the selected faces.

Charlie’s U3A talk will focus on this EvoFIT system; how and why it was developed and how it works (with lots of fun examples!). He will explore how good (or bad) we are at facial identification and what processes we go through when asked to identify faces, especially if we are asked to recall them as witnesses to a crime.

Charlie currently conducts research studies to constantly improve and update the existing EvoFIT system and he also supervises many PhD students. Following his talk, he will introduce current research being conducted at UCLan and, if interested, will provide further details on how to take part. Please note individuals would take part directly with UCLan as the research is not a U3A sponsored activity.

Session 3 ‘Understanding how online worlds affect our everyday experiences and behaviour’ 

Dr Linda Kaye Edge Hill University  

Dr Linda K. Kaye is Associate Head of Psychology at Edge Hill University. She specialises in cyberpsychology, in which she broadly seeks to understand how online worlds affect our everyday experiences and behaviour, and the extent to which we can understand human psychology from studying people’s online behaviour. Her overarching research aims are to explore how online settings may promote social inclusion and well-being. Within this, she addresses core theoretical questions such as “how social is social media?” and “are emoji emotional?” but also works in applied areas such as understanding the effectiveness of online communication and online consumer marketing. A cross-cutting theme of all her research relates to identity and inclusion, and how we can ensure we are supporting an inclusive society via online environments.

When using technology and the Internet, we can engage in a wide range of behaviours, from “liking” a friend’s photo on Facebook, to typing a keyword into Google. Cyberpsychology is the psychological study of online behaviour. This field has started to help us understand how aspects of our personality and characteristics might be represented in the behaviours we choose to engage in online. This provides a fascinating insight into how we can use online behaviours to help understand each other. This session will introduce you to cyberpsychology, and some of the key research studies which have been done on the topic of online behaviour, which will give you insight into what your online behaviour might reveal about you…!

Here are the links which Linda signposted at the end of her talk, in case anyone is especially keen to read more on the implications of online behaviour for digital legacy (first link) and the possibilities of cyberpsychometrics in recruitment (second link):

Session 4. Drawing Development: Insight into the Mind of a Child

• Why do all children seem to go through the same stages when drawing people?

• Does a child’s drawing express more than simple representations of their world?

• Is a child’s use of colour important?

An Interesting You Tube clip to watch! https://www.ted.com/talks/graham_shaw_why_people_believe_they_can_t_draw?language=en

This is a TEDx talk (15 mins) from 2015 by Graham Shaw (communications expert)

Session 5. Why Music is Good for the Mind.

• Why do we make and listen to music?

• Is music a language of its own?

• Why does some music get stuck in our heads?

• Music therapy

Test your sense of pitch! https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/tunestest/test-your-sense-pitch

The power of music on the brain: https://nhdementiatraining.org/2020/11/16/music-memories-the-power-of-music-on-the-brain/

Summer session tbc Professor Pamela Qualter University of Manchester 


Professor Pamela Qualter is the UK’s leading scientific expert on child and adolescent loneliness.  She works with the UK Government’s Tackling Loneliness Team, recently being commissioned by them to write an evidence gap report on loneliness. Previously, Pamela led the BBC Loneliness Experiment, then the world’s largest study of loneliness. Here are a few interesting links to Pamela’s work;






Spring/ Summer 2024 Social psychology sessions being planned. This is about the nature and causes of individual behaviours in social situations and how people’s thoughts, feelings, beliefs, intentions and goals are influenced by others. Topics are many and varied but can include identity and attribution theory, social influence, group behaviours, prejudice and discrimination, relationships, aggression, attitudes, stereotypes, and morality. We will also be posting useful links on the Power of the Mind group website page including interesting articles, YouTube videos, public talks, courses and anything else we think might float your boat.

Our Summer 2023 sessions have finished but information on them is shown below:-

Session 1. Language. 

content of session: 

You Tube clips. Interesting You Tube clips to watch! 

  1. Is language only for humans? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqJf1mB5PjQ&t=1s 
  1. The McGurk Effect (when your eyes and ears don’t always agree): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2k8fHR9jKVM 

Session 2. Memory

content of session: 

You Tube clips. Interesting You Tube clip to watch (note: this clip is longer than the others and quite disturrbing in places) 


Session 3. Imagery and Problem Solving


content of session: 

You Tube clips. Interesting You Tube clip to watch.

Aphantasia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp6TfNXbJ4M 

Stephen Wiltshire and Mental Imagery (a news report): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RijoAJo-Odc&app=desktop 

Session 4. Decision Making

content of session: 

You Tube clips. Interesting You Tube clip to watch. 

Darren Brown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UpUcgPP-YY 

Session 5. Emotions and Emotional Intelligence 

content of session: 

You Tube clips. Interesting You Tube clip to watch. 

Can dogs sense emotion? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK7wp2xWOo4 

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