Without anchor: Themata and blood donation

  • Gail Moloney Southern Cross University
  • Marguerite Gamble Macquarie University
  • Jane Hayman Australian Red Cross Blood Service
  • Geoff Smith SecondBite
Keywords: themata, thema, blood donation, social representations, figurative kernel


This paper explores themata as a means of elucidating what is understood about social issues, in

particular, blood donation. We conceptualised themata as dialectical antinomies (Marková 2000;

2003), and looked to the figurative kernel of the representation to identify what the underlying

thema/themata might be. In so doing, we posed the question of whether each of the antimonies in

a thema gives rise to a separate homogeneous representation or whether it is as a pair that

antimonies generate a, potentially, heterogeneous representational field. One thousand and eighty

participants wrote the first five words that sprung to mind when they thought about ‘blood

donation’. Multi-Dimensional Scaling and Hierarchal Cluster Analysis revealed a figurative

kernel comprised of both negative and positive aspects of blood donation. Further analysis

suggested this was articulated through the thema of Self/Other. We discuss the methodology

employed, and the implications of understanding themata for communications by the Australian

Red Cross Blood Service.

Author Biographies

Gail Moloney, Southern Cross University

DR GAIL MOLONEY is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Southern Cross University, Coffs

Harbour, NSW, Australia. Her research interests are in the theoretical articulation of social

representations theory, social identity and psychological essentialism to diffused social issues

such as blood donation, organ donation, resettlement of refugees, the depiction of minority

groups through cartooning, and climate change.

Marguerite Gamble, Macquarie University

MARGUERITE GAMBLE is currently undertaking a PhD (Macquarie University) investigating

the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying associative learning. She has a special interest in

how cross modal processing influences perception. Marguerite holds casual teaching and research

assistant positions at Southern Cross and Charles Sturt Universities.

Jane Hayman, Australian Red Cross Blood Service

JANE HAYMAN is a Research Fellow at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. Jane has a

Master of Science degree in Psychology from Monash University and has more than ten years’

experience in behavioural research. In her role at the Blood Service Jane leads a research

program on Donor Behaviour, which focuses on recruitment of new donors, retention of existing

donors and conversion to plasma. The Donor Behaviour research program involves

collaborations with internal partners in Marketing and external collaborators from various

Universities. Jane also contributes to other research programs that focus on donor health and


Geoff Smith, SecondBite

DR GEOFF SMITH’s current role is Research Manager with SecondBite (Food rescue NFP).

Geoff has experience of running research projects and programs in both the NFP and academic

sectors. Geoff also holds an Adjunct Associate Professor role with QUT. From 2010-2014 Geoff

lead up the Donor and Community Research Program at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

Prior to this Geoff has worked with the Cancer Council Victoria, Australians Donate and Monash

University. Throughout his career Dr Smith has maintained an interest in translating research

projects into action in the community to inform strategies and policies aimed at improving public

health outcomes. Geoff holds a PhD in Cognitive Gerontology (Uni of Manchester), a Masters in

Psychology (Lancaster University) and an MA Honours in Psychology (Edinburgh).