Cyberpsychology with the real world front and centre

'Cybercognition: Brain, Behaviour, and the Digital World' by Lee Hadlington, reviewed by Grainne Kirwan.

Cyberpsychology is currently enjoying a surge in interest both in terms of academic courses (with the University of Wolverhampton and Nottingham Trent University joining the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design, and Technology in offering Masters levels programmes in this area), and academic books, published by a wide range of experts. It is now heartening to see that as well as the textbooks offering broad introductions to the field, there is an increasing number of more specialised books examining sub-topics in detail (for example, Thomas Parsons’ recent text Cyberpsychology and the Brain, and the range of texts offered under the Palgrave Pivot series). A recent addition to the corpus of such specialised books is Dr Lee Hadlington’s Cybercognition: Brain, Behaviour, and the Digital World.

Hadlington is a Senior Lecturer in De Montfort University, with research interests in applied cognitive psychology, cyberpsychology, and cybercrime, making him the ideal choice as an author of a book dedicated to exploring the cognitive applications of technology. His book fills a void in the library of academic tomes in this field – while some have included chapters on how technology affects cognition, this is the first book to directly address it as the main topic of the piece.

The breadth of topics included is impressive – attention, multitasking, task switching, search strategies and decision making are all covered in separate chapters, but the text also provides an overview of how applied fields, such as education, can be affected by technology. Dedicated chapters to the much-debated topics of technology addictions and brain training applications also encourage readers to consider all sides of these debates, carefully evaluating the evidence presented by peer-reviewed research in these fields. The book also includes chapters introducing readers to both online interactions and cognitive psychology – enabling even early undergraduate students or interested non-psychologists to find their way in what can be a complex field.

Cybercognition… has a number of valuable strengths which will be beneficial for its use in pedagogical settings. The author takes complex topics, presents them in a highly engaging and thorough format, and encourages the reader to apply the research data to their own daily interactions with technology. He also carefully considers the peer-reviewed research in the field, avoiding sensationalism in favour of basing his conclusions on evidence-based studies. What is particularly impressive is that he does all of this with little assumption of prior psychological knowledge on the part of the reader. He uses humour very effectively, and includes some excellent pedagogical aids, such as listing learning aims and objectives at the start of each chapter, including clear overviews and summaries within the chapters, and presenting several boxes examining ‘Cybercognition in the real world’ and ‘Questions to consider’ which bring the applied nature of the topic to front and centre. It is a little unfortunate that these boxes appear less frequently as the book progresses, but simply by triggering these evaluations early on, it encourages students to continue these considerations for the later topics in the book.

Cybercognition… is, in all, an excellent read, engaging and informative for undergraduates, postgraduates, and academic staff alike. The specificity of the topic probably makes it most appropriate for postgraduate programmes in cyberpsychology, cognitive science, and human-computer interaction, but the book would also be a useful additional resource for many undergraduate psychology modules. 

- Reviewed by Grainne Kirwan, Lecturer in Psychology and Co-Chair of the MSc in Cyberpsychology, Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology. See another of her reviews here.

Cybercognition: Brain, Behaviour, and the Digital World is published by Sage (£26.99; ISBN-13: 978-1473957190).

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber