School of Psychology
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
PhD student, 2014-7.
I am a PhD student in the School of Psychology, supervised by Professor Deb Turnbull, Professor Carlene Wilson and Dr Ian Zajac.
My research is in the area of health psychology, a field that aims to understand the way psychological, social, and biological factors interact with human health. I am interested in the concept of cognitive style, and whether it is related to participation in health-related behaviours such as cancer screening, exercise, diet and smoking.
What is cognitive style?
In short, it’s your preference for using intuitive and rational thinking. Intuitive processes are rapid, associative, and effortless, like instinct or a gut reation. Rational processes are slower and more effortful, rely on working memory, and are thought to have evolved more recently.
The model I'm using  takes a personality approach to these types of processing: some people have more trust in their intuitions than others (this trait is called Faith in Inutition or FI) while some are more comfortable using deliberative thought (referred to as having high Need for Cognition or NFC).
Relation to health behaviour
Cognitive style has been associated with a number of personality traits, skills, and, less commonly, with behaviour. Does the influence of cognitive style in thinking or deciding about health lead to behavioural outcomes that are detectably different between groups of differing cognitive style?
Attitudes, too, are a known predictor of health behaviour (or at least intention to perform a behaviour) and can be encoded in both rational or experiential form. Do experiential and rational attitudes influence behaviour only to the extent that a person uses experiential or rational processing?
Finally, cognitive style is usually measured using participant agreement with very general statements about the way they think, but it is possible that people's cognitive style varies between different situations. I will be developing a measure of cognitive style that is specific to health, which I hope will shed light both on the way people think in relation to health, and on the concept of cognitive style itself.
Findings about the way cognitive style
- changes with context,
- interacts with health attitudes, and ultimately,
- influences health behaviour
may provide us with ideas about how people can be enabled to improve their health behaviour.
Results so far
My first PhD study, in which 585 men over 50 completed surveys about their cognitive style and past cancer screening, found that men higher in NFC were slightly more likely to have had a digital rectal examination for prostate cancer (even after controlling for age, education level, socioeconomic status, and first language). A very small amount of variance was explained, but I hope to expand on this result in the research for which I have just completed data collection.
- Epstein S, Pacini R, Denes-Raj V, Heier H. Individual differences in intuitive-experiential and analytical-rational thinking styles. Journal of personality and social psychology. 1996;71(2):390-405
Third PhD study
McGuiness, C., Zajac, I., Wilson, C., & Turnbull, D. (2016, September). Modelling health behaviour: the contribution of health thinking style. Poster presented at the Florey International Postgraduate Research Conference, Adelaide, South Australia.
First PhD study
McGuiness, C., Turnbull, D., Wilson, C., Duncan, A., Flight, I. H., & Zajac, I. (2015, September). To DRE or not to DRE? Poster presented at the Florey International Postgraduate Research Conference, Adelaide, South Australia.
McGuiness, C. E., Eliott, J., & Cancer Voices South Australia. (2014, September). “Building yourself to better cope”: A case study of a cycling team led by cancer survivors. Poster presented at the Florey International Postgraduate Research Conference, Adelaide, South Australia.
Date Position Institution name 2012 - 2014 Research Assistant The University of Adelaide 2004 - 2009 Graphic Designer Various employers (communications consultancy, newspaper, freelance)
Awards and Achievements
Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount 2016 Award Award for most creative and engaging researcher profile The University of Adelaide — — 2016 Award Florey Medical Research Foundation Poster Prize (All Areas) Florey International Postgraduate Research Conference — — 2016 Award School of Psychology Poster Prize Florey International Postgraduate Research Conference — — 2015 Award School of Psychology Poster Prize Florey International Postgraduate Research Conference — $300 2015 Achievement Health Sciences 3-Minute Thesis Finalist The University of Adelaide 3-Minute Thesis competition — — 2015 Award Northern Communities Health Foundation Prize The University of Adelaide 3-Minute Thesis competition — $500 2014 Award School of Psychology Poster Prize Florey International Postgraduate Research Conference — $300 2014 Award Faculty of Health Sciences Poster Prize Florey International Postgraduate Research Conference — $500 2014 Scholarship Australian Postgraduate Award The University of Adelaide — $77,529
Date Institution name Country Title 2012 The University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) /Psychology 2011 - 2010 The University of Adelaide Australia Graduate Diploma in Psychological Sciences 2004 University of South Australia Australia Bachelor of Visual Communication (Honours) / Graphic design 2001 - 2003 University of South Australia Australia Bachelor of Visual Communication / Graphic design
Year Citation 2017 McGuiness, C., Zajac, I., Wilson, C., & Turnbull, D. (2017). The REIm-13: A Brief Measure of Thinking Style. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 35(4), 1-8.
2017 McGuiness, C., Turnbull, D., Wilson, C., Duncan, A., Flight, I., & Zajac, I. (2017). Thinking style as a predictor of men's participation in cancer screening. American Journal of Men's Health, 11(2), 318-329.
2015 Chur-Hansen, A., Werner, L., McGuiness, C., & Hazel, S. (2015). The experience of being a guide dog puppy raiser volunteer: a longitudinal qualitative collective case study. Animals, 5(1), 1-12.
DOI Scopus2 WoS2
2014 Oster, C., McGuiness, C., Duncan, A., & Turnbull, D. (2014). Masculinity and men's participation in colorectal cancer screening. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 16(3), 254-263.
DOI Scopus5 WoS4
- Tutor for third-year Psychology, Science and Society in 2016.
- Tutor for third-year Health & Lifespan Development Psychology in 2015.
- Tutor and practical coordinator for third-year Health & Lifespan Development Psychology in 2014.
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