Anja wins prize for expressive writing research

Published: 9 November 2009 at 13:37

Anja is rewarded for her insightful look at how expressive writing can affect health and psychological well being.

After Anja Lindberg graduated from high school in Sweden in 2005, she decided to spend some time in the UK.  She spent just a few months working in a variety of jobs and decided to make the step into higher education by studying for a degree in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.

She is not only graduating with a degree but has also picked up an award for the ‘Best Undergraduate Final Year Health Psychology Project’ for a piece of research that looked at ‘expressive writing’.

Talking about how she adjusted to the higher education system here in the UK, Anja who lives in Cambridge, said:

"When I first started the degree, I had never written in scientific English and had never sat a major exam in my life as the Swedish education system is based around coursework and small but frequent tests.  With the help of teachers and friends, I soon adjusted to a new way of working."

"For my dissertation, I chose to study expressive writing as I have always been interested in health psychology, especially interventions that can promote health and well-being. I examined how short bursts of writing about a positive experience can influence the perception of physical symptoms off illness and psychological health."

"In line with my predictions, I found that participants who wrote about an positive experience, for as little as four minutes reported greater health effect three weeks after the intervention than participants who wrote about a neutral topic. Although quite stressful, I loved doing my project. I had to design the experiment, get approval from the ethics board, recruit over 50 volunteers to partake in the research and, finally, analyse and interpret the results."

"I really enjoyed my three years as an undergraduate at Anglia Ruskin University. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I’ve stayed on as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and am studying for a PhD in Children’s Development of Emotional Awareness. The standard of teaching is excellent as is the support I have received from my supervisor Rachel Cook."

Speaking about Anja’s achievements, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Matt Bristow said:  

"Anja is a model student who has worked hard on her degree and achieved great things.  There has been a considerable amount of research into Expressive Writing – as developed by expressive writing pioneer James Pennebaker - over the past 30 years and Anja’s contribution was looking at positive expressive writing – writing about positive events."

"Her findings proved that this was beneficial to psychological and physical health."

"We’re delighted that she has opted to continue studying with us, on a programme that will give her specialist knowledge of the subject of Children’s Development. We know that whatever she chooses to do in the future, she will go onto achieve great things."

The Health Psychology prize was sponsored by Salimetrics Europe a Newmarket-based whose saliva testing experts work in close association with Anglia Ruskin University to discover more about pain, health, or stress, in humans and animals.