Dr Anna-Stiina Wallinheimo

Dr Anna-Stiina Wallinheimo


Postdoctoral Research Fellow
BA (University of Stockholm); MSc (University of Bath); MSc (University of Kingston) and PhD (University of Surrey)
+44 (0)1483 688971
21 AC 04

Academic and research departments

School of Psychology, School of Literature and Languages.

Research

Research interests

Teaching

Publications

Loneliness among older adults is a major societal problem with consequences for health and wellbeing; this has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The present study investigated associations between internet use, including frequency and type of use, and loneliness in a large UK sample of middle-aged and older adults, aged 55–75 (n = 3500) from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) cohort study. Our findings indicated a clear relationship between the frequency of internet use and subjective loneliness. Those who used the internet more than once a day reported feeling less lonely than those who used the internet once a week or less. We also found that those who used the internet for e-mail communication were less lonely. However, individuals indicated higher levels of loneliness when the internet was used for information searches about health. Regarding sociodemographic factors underlying internet usage, less frequent use was seen amongst individuals who lived alone, people who were not employed, who had lower education levels, and lower sociodemographic status. Additionally, gender differences were found in the type of internet use: males report using the internet for e-mail communication more than females, while females’ internet use for health-related information searches was higher than in males. In sum, findings suggest that intervention strategies that promote internet access amongst middle-aged and older people could be useful for tackling loneliness and point to the groups within society that should be the focus of such interventions.

Lauren Spinner, HARRIET TENENBAUM, Lindsey Cameron, ANNA-STIINA WALLINHEIMO (2021)A school-based intervention to reduce gender-stereotyping, In: School Psychology International SAGE Publications

Children’s adherence to gender stereotypes can be detrimental, yet interventions to tackle stereotyping have achieved mixed success. Few studies have examined interventions developed collaboratively by educators and researchers, and the impact of interventions that focus on increasing perceived similarities between genders has yet to be tested. The present study evaluated an intervention among 6- to 10-year-old British children (47 boys; 37 girls) compared to a control group (61 boys; 47 girls). Led by their class teacher via weekly 30-minute lessons, over a four-month period, children learned to identify and challenge stereotypes, and explored similarities between genders and diversity within gender (e.g., not all girls like pink). Key measures of gender flexibility in relation to toy play, occupations, and perceived similarity to gender groups were utilised. After controlling for baseline scores, the intervention group felt more similar to the other gender and reported that they could do a wider range of occupations in the future. Those who showed less flexibility around toy play at baseline were more flexible after the intervention. Boys in the intervention group reported that gender stereotypes were more unfair than did the control group. Findings are discussed in relation to theories of gender stereotyping and intervention research.

ANNA-STIINA WALLINHEIMO, ADRIAN PAUL BANKS, HARRIET TENENBAUM (2019)Achievement Goals and Mental Arithmetic: The Role of Distributed Cognition, In: 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2019) : Creativity + Cognition + Computation

The purpose of these studies was to investigate the role of distributed cognition in defusing the impact of evaluative pressure caused by performance-approach goals on mental arithmetic performance. Performance-approach goals can generate worrying thoughts that can deplete working memory resources. However, some of these working memory limitations can be compensated by off-loading the internal cognitive process to the external environment. We tested this prediction in two experiments. Participants carried out modular arithmetic tasks in a performance-approach goal or mastery-approach goal condition crossed with interactivity or no interactivity. Performance-approach goal manipulation hampered cognitive performance (accuracies), (Experiment 1). However, these negative effects were defused with the help of interactivity (Experiment 2). Interestingly, the mastery-focused individuals had a performance drop in the interactive condition (Experiment 1 and Experiment 2). Finally, experiment 2 reported higher maths anxiety levels for the performance-focused individuals. Reasons for the findings and future implications will be discussed.

Jamie Rutland-Lawes, ANNA-STIINA WALLINHEIMO, SIMON EVANS (2021)Risk factors for depression during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal study in middle-aged and older adults, In: BJPsych Open7(5)161 Cambridge University Press

Background The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant social restrictions have had widespread psychological ramifications, including a rise in depression prevalence. However, longitudinal studies on sociodemographic risk factors are lacking. Aims To quantify longitudinal changes in depression symptoms during the pandemic compared with a pre-pandemic baseline, in middle-aged and older adults, and identify the risk factors contributing to this. Method A total of 5331 participants aged ≥50 years were drawn from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Self-reported depression symptoms in June/July 2020 were compared with baseline data from 2–3 years prior. Regression models investigated sociodemographic and lifestyle variables that could explain variance in change in depression. Results Within-participant depression scores increased significantly from pre-pandemic levels: 14% met the criteria for clinical depression at baseline, compared with 26% during the pandemic. Younger age, female gender, higher depression scores at baseline, living alone and having a long-standing illness were significant risk factors. Gender-stratified regression models indicated that older age was protective for women only, whereas urban living increased risk among women only. Being an alcohol consumer was a protective factor among men only. Conclusions Depression in UK adults aged ≥50 years increased significantly during the pandemic. Being female, living alone and having a long-standing illness were prominent risk factors. Younger women living in urban areas were at particularly high risk, suggesting such individuals should be prioritised for support. Findings are also informative for future risk stratification and intervention strategies, particularly if social restrictions are reimposed as the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold.

Concerns have been raised regarding middle-aged and older adults’ mental health during the coronavirus outbreak. The aim of the current study was to characterise associations between internet use (frequency and purpose), depression symptoms and Quality of Life (QoL) during the pandemic, in individuals aged 55–75. Data (N = 3491) were drawn from the English longitudinal study of ageing (ELSA) cohort study collected in June/July 2020 (while social distancing measures were in place). Associations with frequency of use were tested using analysis of covariance (ANCOVAS), controlling for covariates such as wealth and education. Type of internet use (for communication, information search) was also analysed amongst frequent users. Significant effects of frequency of use were observed (p = 0.01 for depression, p < 0.001 for QoL), with lower depression symptoms and higher QoL scores amongst more frequent users. Regarding purpose of use, those who reported using the internet for communication purposes had higher QoL. However, use for health-related or Government services information searching was associated with more depression symptoms. Results provide important information regarding the potential benefits of internet use for middle-aged and older people, suggesting that strategies to increase internet usage (particularly for communication) might benefit middle-aged and older adults’ mental health and counter isolation as the coronavirus crisis continues to evolve.

Additional publications