Sunday, 17 August 2014

Secured your University Place? Studies to involve Hormones, Behaviour or Biomarkers? Learn from the Salimetrics Library or ask us directly, Free Learning Opportunity...Links Below

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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Salimetrics One World: Profiles of International Leaders in Salivary Bioscience: Dr Daniel Farrelly, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Health and Society, University of Worcester, UK

Each month we will feature an expert from the Salimetrics Saliva Research Community. We will bring together University Researchers around the World in order to encourage the sharing of ideas. We want to encourage Collaborative Research and to maximise Grant Applications / Awards in these challenging economic times. We have made it possible for you to communicate directly with the "Expert" featured. 

This Month Dr Daniel Farrelly

Senior Lecturer, Institute of Health and Society, University of Worcester

Daniel's Profile

Daniel is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Worcester. He obtained his BSc (Hons) in Psychology from Liverpool University in 1999, followed by an MSc in Evolutionary Psychology from Liverpool University in 2000. He gained his PhD in Psychology, studying the evolution of human cooperation, from Newcastle University in 2005. Previous to his current role, he has held research positions at Plymouth, Newcastle and Edinburgh Universities, and was also a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Sunderland before taking up his current position at the University of Worcester in early 2014.

His main interests are in the empirical and theoretical application of evolutionary theory to explain human behaviour and psychological processes. This includes areas such as how cooperation has evolved in humans, particularly in response to different social situations and pressures. He also explores how social factors, including different life-history variables such as relationship status, influence male competitive behaviour and also levels of circulating testosterone. He is also interested in emotional intelligence, including its links with other personality traits and its application to different occupational and health settings

Daniel has also conducted different consultancy sessions in the area of Emotional Intelligence for different organisations, Including Nissan UK, NHS, and the Tyne Gateway charity.

Interview with Daniel:

1. Can you tell us about the major themes in your research program?

I am particularly interested in evolutionary explanations for different behaviours. This initially involved the effect of different social conditions on the evolution of human cooperative behaviours, which was the basis of my PhD. Since then I have become more interested in how life-history variables influence competitive behaviours in males. There has been a good deal of research showing that married males and males in long-term, committed relationships have lower circulatory testosterone levels, which is an adaptive response in motivation in males from competition to increased investment in their partner and children. I am interested how this also relates to competitive behaviour, and after showing that professional tennis players are less competitive after marriage (Farrelly & Nettle, 2007), I have since explored the role that testosterone also plays here.

Farrelly, D., & Nettle, D. (2007). Marriage affects competitive performance in male tennis players.Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 5, 141-148.

2. If you had to pick 1 publication in the past 5 years as the "best of your best", what would it be and why?

That would have to be my recent publication that shows that competitors who choose to be represented by the colour red have higher testosterone levels than those that choose to be blue. The reason for this is that it follows a lot of findings that red competitors have an advantage in lots of settings, including sport (team and individual) and online gaming. A hypothesised reason for this is that red is an important colour relating to aggression and dominance (as well as testosterone) in other primates, so it may be the same in humans. Alternatively, it could be that there are so many cultural effects on how we perceive red (e.g. Stop signs) that it is just an cultural artefact. I like our finding because it was the first to make the link between the colour red, competition and testosterone, which reveals a lot about the origins of this effect. I also like this paper because I can refer to it as ‘The Red Paper’, which makes it sound like a seminal Beatles album!

Farrelly, D., Slater, R., Elliott, H.R., Walden, H.R., and Wetherell, M.A. (2013). Competitors who choose to be red have higher testosterone levels. Psychological Science, 24, 2122-2124.

3. How did you get interested in using saliva in your research?

It was the next logical step in the research I was interested in. As a psychologist I wanted to explore competitive behaviours from an adaptive perspective. However it quickly became clear that to get a fuller sense of how changes in mens’ lives affect their motivation to compete I would need to examine testosterone levels too. This was initially quite daunting, but it soon became clear how easy and quick it was to do this from saliva samples and since then I’ve not looked back.

4. Which salivary analtyes are you working with?

At the moment I am just using circulatory testosterone as this is the most pertinent in my research area, but I’d like to explore the likes of cortisol and oxytocin as well. These will have an important role to play across a male’s lifetime, and I would like to see more of this in my research.

5. How has working with saliva changed the direction of your research plans?

It has opened up to me the full scope of what we can learn about behaviour. In most areas of social science there is a limit in the knowledge of what we can attempt to know, which I think holds back many disciplines and avenues of enquiry. On a practical level as well, I like how it provides measures that are not influenced by social influences, experimenter effects, or participant motivation. I see far too often good experiments spoilt by participants (particular when research participation credits are sought) clearly uninterested in engaging with what’s being asked of them, rushing through an experiment as quickly as they can. A lack of motivation won’t really affect the spit you provide!

6. What analyte is not measured in saliva now that you would hope could be measured in the future?

At the moment I’m really impressed with what is available and relatively straightforward for your average researcher (like me!) to use. Personally what I would like to see is a simpler way of measuring prenatal levels of testosterone. Currently I believe it’s only measurable following amniocentesis, so something less invasive would be great, as I think this might reveal a lot more of our adaptive psychology.

7. What advice would give young investigators who might be considering working with saliva in their research?

I tell them to not be daunted, and not to be put off by any obstacles that may occur. It was difficult to run the first of my experiments with salivary testosterone sampling, but since then I’ve not looked back. Speak to others with experience of working with saliva, and consider the costs and ethics as a necessary and valuable process rather than a pain. Also, don’t be put off by having to handle others’ saliva. I’ve never had any issues with spillage (so far)!

8. Tell us something about you (a hobby or special interest) that we would be surprised to know?

Although I am very interested in the advantage red competitors have, I am actually an Everton fan. However I would never, ever, like to see my beloved Blues wearing red shirts!

To make contact with Daniel please e mail:

Monday, 28 July 2014

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