Researching alongside her studies
Hi, Kamilla Knutsen Steinnes! You are in your third semester of a Master’s degree programme in psychology and, at the same time, work as a Communications Officer in the Junior Researcher Programme. What does that entail?
Researcher and student. – JRP represents a unique opportunity to obtain relevant research experience and gain new professional connections, recommends masterstudent Kamilla K. Steinnes. Photo: Svein Harald Milde/ UiO
- It is an opportunity for psychology students to conduct psychological research as part of an international team. The end result of this collaboration is to disseminate our findings. Opportunities like these are quite unusual in Norway, although more common abroad.
What is the Junior Researcher Programme?
- It is an independent programme that was previously associated with the European Federation of Psychology Student's Associations. Despite its autonomy, the programme is headquartered at the University of Cambridge, UK. The objective is to provide direction and assistance to the young researchers partaking in the programme with the added benefit of enabling them to get a foot inside the research community while still in the process of completing their education.
- The Junior Researcher Programme further aims to communicate current psychological research both within and outside of the research community, in the hopes that it will yield a functional value in our modern society.
What are you researching?
- We are a team of students from different countries, including the UK, US, Indonesia, Germany and Sweden, who are investigating the recent minimalism-trend of social media. We are conducting an intervention study to see whether this new movement can affect consumption behavior and psychological wellbeing. If this trend can actually reduce our excessive consumption and, in turn, increase wellbeing then this could be a small step towards a healthier and more environmentally friendly society. It is a highly contemporary field of study where the emerging results may be especially relevant for commercial advertising and environmental campaigns.
- The results may also be of interest for policymakers and various organizations working to promote sustainable development.
What is minimalism?
- It is a movement that, especially among younger people, is spreading rapidly via user-generated content, mainly through YouTube vlogs, micro blogging and online forums. It is all about living and thriving with fewer resources, often as an opposition against the capitalistic consumer culture. It also involves freeing up time that can be spent in more meaningful ways, such as spending time with family and friends. Most minimalists get involved in the movement due to environmental and ethical reasons. Minimalistic bloggers tend to focus on clothing consumption and often tell viewers about their simplistic wardrobe while they give advice on how to make the items last longer.
- Today, we know that income and psychological health does not correlate in the way we previously believed. That is, when income exceeds the amount we need to cover our basic needs, there is no equivalent increase in psychological health.
How is the programme structured?
- You begin with a startup meeting that is located in a different country every year. We had our meeting in Slovenia this summer, where we prepared our project and presented our subsequent plans. This startup meeting is the only time during the project that we have met each other in person. Otherwise we work via Skype and other similar communication means.
- We have just submitted a «study protocol» for evaluation, which is a research article outlining the methods and materials we are planning to use in the study. This article will hopefully get published after peer-review in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
- We are also applying for funding, both to the research project itself and to personal travel expenses associated with the project. This winter we are going to an event in Madrid, where we may present a poster and a proceedings presentation. In this case, we will show our theorization, design and methods.
- The final results will be presented at the annual JRP-conference in Cambridge in August next year. We have also been offered a month-long internship at The Policy Research Group of Cambridge.
Why do you participate?
- It is a unique chance to acquire practical experience within psychological research as well as a great occasion to obtain new professional connections.
- Furthermore, I was initially attracted to the programme due to my chosen project’s inspiring and current topic that I thought was worth studying. At the same time, we receive training in how to best convey our knowledge according to the goal that it will benefit others.