February 21, 2008
LONDON, UK —RHR International-London, a world leader in executive and organizational development, presented Elizabeth Winder, an MSc in Occupational Psychology at Cardiff University, with the British Psychological Society 2007 Student Prize for Excellence. The ceremony took place at the Division of Occupational Psychology Conference held in January at Stratford upon Avon. Sponsored in part by RHR International Company, the award, along with a check for £1,000, is given for the best student paper of the year in Occupational Psychology.

Winder’s winning paper, entitled "The more the merrier and the bigger the better? The joint effects of number of voices and reverberation on auditory distraction,” focused on using Occupational Psychology to provide solutions to the problem of disruptive background noise in open-plan business offices. Submissions were judged by the panel as the project deemed to show the most valuable contribution to the field of Occupational Psychology in the 21st century.

Winder drew on her previous studies that had shown a single voice to be more disruptive to performance than up to six. She also focused on research that had shown, contrary to popular belief, that high levels of acoustic reverberation reduce the disruptive effect of background speech. An important finding from this research is the implication that background noise may help individuals complete their work.

“Ms. Winder’s work was of great interest to me,” says RHR Managing Director Rob Irving. “It was of very high quality and harks back to the pioneering work of early industrial psychologists in looking at the effects of fatigue and monotony and noise on output in the workplace.”

For further information on Winder’s research click here.