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About Me

My name is Hannah Howman, and I am an ESRC funded Psychology PhD student at the University of Nottingham. I completed my bachelor's degree (Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience) and master's degree (Psychology Research Methods) at the University of Nottingham. 

My PhD research focuses on cyberaggression behaviours, specifically, cyberbullying, cyberstalking and trolling. I am interested in working towards the development of an online intervention to combat cyberaggression behaviours, with a research focus on personality traits and moral transgressions. Additional research interests include the processing of sarcasm, and examining the role of the wink emoticon and wink emoji in sarcasm comprehension in younger and older adults. 

I am an advocate for improving mental health, following my own experiences with mental health difficulties, and I have shared my mental health journey as part of Zoë J Ayres #100voices project. In addition, I support others who may be experiencing mental health difficulties via my voluntary work as a Shout Volunteer and through my training as a Mental Health First Aider.

Outside of my research, I enjoy baking (The Great British Bake Off is a must watch!), reading, and hiking.

 

PhD Project

WORKING TOWARDS THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN ONLINE INTERVENTION FOR CYBERAGGRESSION BEHAVIOURS: A RESEARCH FOCUS ON PERSONALITY TRAITS AND MORAL TRANSGRESSIONS

Qualitative Survey Questions

Three qualitative studies were conducted to explore cyberbullying, cyberstalking and trolling. Participants were asked a variety of questions to establish their understanding of the behaviour and their thoughts/opinions on the behaviour.

Personality Traits

Two studies were conducted to investigate the personality profiles underlying cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and trolling.

Moral Transgressions

Two studies were conducted to examine the comprehension of moral transgressions (i.e., moral and immoral actions), and whether comprehension of these materials was influenced by participants' engagement with cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and trolling.

Qualitative Interviews

Online interviews were conducted to explore what people wished to see implemented in an online intervention for cyberaggression behaviours.

 

Experience

February 2022 - Present

Editor, The PhD Place

Part of the editorial team for The PhD Place, an online PGR community focused on friendship and building connections with other researchers. Responsibilities include proofreading and editing articles for submission online.

2020 - Present

Volunteer, Shout 85258

Trained Shout Volunteer to help guide texters from a hot moment to a cool calm using Shout's five stages of a conversation: (1) build rapport; (2) explore the texter's issues, risk and impact; (3) identify the goal; (4) discover next steps; and (5) end the conversation.

2019 - 2020

Students as Change Agents, The University of Nottingham

Member of the SACA project: 'Supporting the Academic Journey of Students with Learning Differences.' Roles and responsibilities included: (1) developing the survey on Qualtrics; (2) analysing the data using thematic analysis; and (3) presenting the findings at the Inclusive Practice Conference held at the University of Nottingham.

2018 - 2021

People and Culture Committee, The University of Nottingham

PhD Representative on the School of Psychology PCC committee. Responsibilities included helping to: (1) develop the Peer Mentoring Scheme; (2) plan a showcase of achievements from women within the school for International Women's Day; and (3) develop the mental health survey to investigate the mental wellbeing of PhD students.

2016 - 2017

Junior Analyst, CH2M

Roles and responsibilities included: (1) creating hydraulic models using Flood Modeller to simulate the flow of water through river channels, urban drainage networks, and across floodplains; (2) updating the financial and project documents for bi-weekly meetings with the Environment Agency; and (3) creating technical notes, hydraulic reports, and final reports for projects commissioned by the Environment Agency.

 

Education

2018 - Present

The University of Nottingham

Psychology (PhD)
Supervisors: Ruth Filik and Walter van Heuven
Modules: Philosophy of Research: Social Science; Professional Skills in Behavioural Science Research; Intermediate Quantitative Analysis; Corpus Linguistics; and Advanced Content Analysis.

2017 - 2018

The University of Nottingham

Degree: Psychology Research Methods (MSc)
Classification: Distinction
Modules: Psychological Research in Context; Research Design, Practice and Ethics; Advanced Methods in Psychology; Foundations in Qualitative Methods; Research Internship; Professional Skills; and Empirical Research Project.

2012 - 2015

The University of Nottingham

Degree: Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience (BSc)
Classification: First Class
Third Year Modules: Cognitive Development and Autism; Neuropsychology and Applied Neuroimaging; The Visual Brain: Evolution, Development, Learning and Adaptation; Developmental Dyslexia: Psychological and Educational Perspectives; Neuropsychology Dissertation; Understanding Developmental Disorders; Cognition in the Real World; and Research Project.

 

Skills

Software

R Studio and SPSS for data analysis; Qualtrics; Microsoft Project; some experience of typesetting using LaTeX.

Presenting at Conferences

Presented posters at the Experimental Psychology Conference held at Bournemouth University (2019), the 20th European Conference on Eye Movements held in Alicante (2019), and the Inclusive Practice Conference held at the University of Nottingham (2020).

Peer Mentoring

Peer mentored a first-year PhD student in the School of Psychology as part of the People and Culture Committee Peer Mentoring Scheme.

Mental Health First Aider

Trained Mental Health First Aider since 2020. The online course taught me the skills to provide first aid to people who may be experiencing mental health difficulties.

 
Image by Jason Leung

Awards

Nottingham Advantage Award

2014/2015

The award is the University of Nottingham's free employability scheme that formally recognises extracurricular activities. The award was granted for the successful completion of the following modules: Skills for Employability, Internships and Placements, and Perspectives on Sustainability.

The British Psychological Society's Undergraduate Research Assistantship Award

2014

A prestigious award that marks out a student as a future researcher and potential academic. The award was granted to enable Dr Ruth Filik (University of Nottingham) to receive support to fund my assistantship for the project: 'Using eye-tracking to investigate how we understand sarcasm.'

 

Publications

EMOJI AS A TOOL TO AID THE COMPREHENSION OF WRITTEN SARCASM: EVIDENCE FROM YOUNGER AND OLDER ADULTS

Garcia, C., Turcan, A., Howman, H., & Filik, R. (2022). Computers in Human Behavior, 126, 106971. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2021.106971

ABSTRACT: There is evidence for an age-related decline in the ability to understand non-literal language such as sarcasm. There is also evidence to suggest that devices such as emoticons/emojis may influence sarcasm comprehension in younger adults. However, research examining whether such devices may improve written sarcasm comprehension in older adults is scarce. The present study used an online rating task to investigate the influence of the winking face emoji on both the interpretation and perception of message intent for sarcastic or literal criticism or praise. Results revealed that older adults, in comparison to their younger counterparts, demonstrated deficient ability in interpreting and perceiving sarcastic intent. However, older adults' interpretation and perception of sarcastic intent were significantly improved when the messages were accompanied by the winking face emoji. This would suggest that the winking face emoji is a clear indicator of sarcastic intent, compensating for the absence of non-verbal cues in written communication, and may play a useful role in successful intergenerational communication.

EXAMINING THE ROLE OF CONTEXT IN WRITTEN SARCASM COMPREHENSION: EVIDENCE FROM EYE-TRACKING DURING READING

Turcan, A., Howman, H., & Filik, R. (2020). Journal or Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(10), 1966-1976. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000910

ABSTRACT: This article addresses a current theoretical debate between modular and interactive accounts of sarcasm processing, by investigating the role of context (specifically, knowing that a character has been sarcastic before) in the comprehension of a sarcastic remark. An eye-tracking experiment was conducted in which participants were asked to read texts that introduced a character as being either sarcastic or not and ended in either a literal or an unfamiliar sarcastic remark. The results indicated that when the character was previously literal, a subsequent sarcastic remark was more difficult to process than its literal counterpart. However, when the context was supportive of the sarcastic interpretation (i.e., the character was known to be sarcastic), subsequent sarcastic remarks were as easy to read as literal equivalents, which would support the predictions of interactive accounts. Importantly, this effect was not preceded by a main effect of literality, which constitutes evidence against the predictions of modular accounts.

THE ROLE OF EMOTICONS IN SARCASM COMPREHENSION IN YOUNGER AND OLDER ADULTS: EVIDENCE FROM AN EYE-TRACKING EXPERIMENT

Howman, H. E., & Filik, R. (2020). Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(11), 1729-1744. https://doi-org.nottingham.idm.oclc.org/10.1177/1747021820922804

ABSTRACT: We present an eye-tracking experiment examining moment-to-moment processes underlying the comprehension of emoticons. Younger (18-30) and older (65+) participants had their eye movements recorded while reading scenarios containing comments that were ambiguous between literal or sarcastic interpretations (e.g., But you're so quick though). Comments were accompanied by wink emoticons or full stops. Results showed that participants read earlier parts of the wink scenarios faster than those with full stops, but then spent more time reading the text surrounding the emoticon. Thus, readers moved more quickly to the end of the text when there was a device that may aid interpretation but then spent more time processing the conflict between the superficially positive nature of the comment and the tone implied by the emoticon. Interestingly, the wink increased the likelihood of a sarcastic interpretation in younger adults only, suggesting that perceiver-related factors play an important role in emoticon interpretation.

THE ROLE OF DEFAULTNESS AND PERSONALITY FACTORS IN SARCASM INTERPRETATION: EVIDENCE FROM EYE-TRACKING DURING READING

Filik, R., Howman, H., Ralph-Nearman, C., & Giora, R. (2018). Metaphor and Symbol, 33(3), 148-162. https://doi.org/10.1080/10926488.2018.1481258

ABSTRACT: Theorists have debated whether our ability to understand sarcasm (pertaining here to verbal irony) is principally determined by the context or by properties of the comment itself. The current research investigated an alternative view that broadens the focus on the comment itself, suggesting that mitigating a highly positive concept by using negation generates sarcastic interpretations by default. In the current study, pretests performed on the target utterances presented in isolation established their default interpretations; novel affirmative phrases (e.g., He is the best lawyer) were interpreted literally, whereas equally novel negative counterparts (e.g., He isn't the best lawyer) were interpreted sarcastically. In Experiment 1 (an eye-tracking study), prior context biased these utterances toward literal or sarcastic interpretations. Results showed that target utterances were easier to process in contexts supporting their default interpretations, regardless of affirmation/negation. Results from a second eye-tracking experiment suggested that readers' tendency to interpret negative phrases sarcastically is related to their own tendency to use malicious humor. Our findings suggest that negation leads to certain ambiguous utterances receiving sarcastic interpretations by default and that this process may be further intensified by personality factors.

 

"No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself."

Quote from A Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf

 

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