Sussex Psychosis Research interest Group (SPRiG)

Exploring Voices in Daily Life (EVOLvE)

What is the study about?EVOLvE Logo

Many people describe having ‘unusual’ experiences, like hearing a voice or voices that other people cannot hear.

These experiences can be positive and enriching for some but distressing for others, who may need further support in understanding and coping with them. 

This research study will attempt to identify what distinguishes between the day-to-day experiences of people whose voices have a positive impact on their lives (voice hearers without a 'need for care'), and the experiences of people whose voices cause them distress, leading them to seek support from mental health services (voice hearers with a 'need for care'). It is hoped that comparing the experiences of voice hearers with and without a 'need for care' might shed light on the factors that contribute to, or protect against, the emergence of distress in relation to voice hearing experiences, pointing towards new targets for psychological therapies to better support voice hearers with a 'need for care'.

Past research has identified differences not only in the nature of the voice hearing experiences of people with and without a 'need for care', but also in the ways that people make sense of and respond to these experiences. However, this has yet to be explored in 'real life', outside of the clinic or the lab. Our study uses a method known as the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) to survey the day-to-day experiences of voice hearers.

ESM requires participants to carry a smartphone on their person for a period of nine days as they go about their usual daily activities. This mobile phone contains an ‘app’, which beeps at regular intervals throughout the day, reminding participants to complete a short questionnaire presented on the screen. Questions ask participants to report on the intensity of a variety of experiences which occurred in the moment prior to the smartphone beeping, for example, their current activity, thoughts, feeling and voice hearing experiences.

This information can be used to identify patterns of thoughts and behaviours of which people may currently be unaware (and which might be acting to maintain voice-related distress in hearers with a 'need for care'), helping to provide a more detailed picture of what these experiences are like in 'real life', outside of the clinic or the lab.


Who can take part?

We are interested in talking to people with or without a need for care who frequently hear a voice or voices that other people cannot hear.

1. Voice hearers with a 'need for care'

We are seeking referrals from clinicians of service users who currently hear a voice or voices most days, and feel distressed by these experiences.

For further details on the study (including a full list of inclusion and exclusion criteria) and how to make a referral, please click on the 'Refer a client - information for referring clinicans' tab  on the right side of the page. 

2. Voice hearers without a 'need for care'

We are seeking people who currently hear a voice or voices that other people cannot hear most days, but do not feel distressed* by these experiences.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, you can find further details on what the study would involve by clicking on the 'Get involved - information for potential participants' tab  on the right side of the page. 

*If you are hearing a voice or voices that are causing you significant distress or disruption to your daily activities, and you are not already receiving support from mental health services, we would encourage you to discuss any concerns you have with your GP. For further information on where to get support (including urgent support), please click here.

Contact Information

For further information, please contact the chief investigator:

Sarah Fielding Smith
School of Psychology
Pevensey 1 Building
University of Sussex

Tel: 01273 872776