Meet people in the School, Psychology, Social Psychology

Introducing new academics in the School: Dr Sebastian Bartos, Lecturer in Psychology

We introduce another of the academics who join the School this summer. Dr Sebastian Bartos is a Lecturer in Psychology.

Tell us about your interests and the area of psychology that you work in.

I’m a political psychologist of sexuality: I study how people think and feel about the social, political, and moral side of sexuality. I am fascinated with how quickly and how radically some attitudes towards sexuality have changed. For example, sexual behavior between men was illegal in the UK from 1533 to 1967. Within 50 years, this country has moved from decriminalizing homosexuality (1967) to outlawing discrimination (2010) and to marriage equality (2013). Many problems remain, such as hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation and health disparities between people of different sexualities. But the speed with which societal attitudes have changed is still remarkable. I am currently working on a couple of papers on what this phenomenon can teach us about social change in general.

As an example, my most recent paper explores the effects of referenda on the wellbeing of minorities whose rights are at stake. Specifically, my colleagues and I collected data on the wellbeing of sexual minorities in Australia during the 2017 public vote on marriage equality. We found that participants who saw more anti-gay political messages and who took a more active part in the campaign had significantly higher levels of depression and anxiety. This paper both refines existing theoretical models and documents a specific case of people being subjected to extra pressure because of their sexuality.

I like to see the bigger picture so I’m proudest of my reviews of homophobia research. In a systematic review and meta-analysis, my colleagues and I showed that educational programs can be as effective in changing attitudes as the much-promoted intergroup contact (i.e., meetings and conversations between people of different sexualities). More recently, in a systematic review of qualitative research on resilience, we showed how the same individuals (parents, teachers, psychologists) can be both a source of support and a source of stress for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer people.

What were you doing before you came to the Open University?

Before I joined the OU, I was a lecturer at the University of Surrey, and then at the University of Northampton. I mostly taught research methods (both quantitative and qualitative) and social psychology.

Before that, I obtained a PhD in Psychology (Surrey, 2016), with a thesis on changing homophobia. I received my undergraduate (Psychology) and master’s degree (Clinical Psychology) from the Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. It was a very different experience from studying in the UK, for which I am very grateful.  

What are your plans for teaching and research in the School?

I’ll be on the presentation team for the Level 3 dissertation module, DE300 Investigating Psychology 3. I’m looking forward to the challenges of this module, which most psychology students take to complete their BSc qualification. I will also contribute to the development of some new research-related modules. As for my own research, I have some big plans related to homophobia and social change, so watch this space!

Publications mentioned:

Bartoș, S.E., Noon, D.W., & Frost, D.M. (2020). Minority stress, campaign messages, and political engagement in the Australian Marriage Survey. Sexuality Research and Social Policy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s13178-020-00444-y

Bartoș, S.E., & Langdridge, D. (2019). LGBQ resilience: a thematic meta-synthesis of qualitative research. Psychology & Sexuality, 10, 234-247. doi: 10.1080/19419899.2019.1596973

Bartoș, S.E., Berger, I., & Hegarty, P. (2014). Interventions to reduce sexual prejudice: A study-space analysis and meta-analytic review. Journal of Sex Research, 51, 363-382.doi: 10.1080/00224499.2013.871625

Read more about Sebastian’s work here

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