British Academy Fellowships

Ella Rhodes reports as several psychologists are honoured.

The British Academy has elected four psychologists among 65 new Fellows – 42 UK Fellows, 20 Corresponding Fellows and three Honorary Fellows (the latter including poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and former Chief Executive of the British Library, Dame Lynne Brindley). The latest election of 42 UK Fellows takes the total number of living Fellows to more than 1000 for the first time.

Professor Stephen Reicher (University of St Andrews) was one of the psychologists who was newly elected as a Fellow. Reicher’s work has focused largely on the relationship between social identities and collective mobilisation, with emphasis on topics such as crowd behaviour, nationalism and national identity, leadership and mass social influence, conformity and obedience, and the psychology of tyranny.

Among his achievements, Reicher has published more than 200 academic articles and chapters, and is the author of nine books, most recently The New Psychology of Leadership. He has also advised the UK and Scottish governments and his work on crowd dynamics has transformed public order policing in the UK and across much of Europe.

Professor Reicher said: ‘One of the great paradoxes of academic life is that achievement is always collective, but reward is always individual. In my work, I have always benefited from wonderful PhD students, collaborators and colleagues. I find it impossible to define where my contribution begins and theirs ends. ‘So, delighted as I am to be given this Fellowship, I see this less as a personal accolade than recognition for our way of doing psychology which is socially engaged, which challenges the idea that human nature limits the worlds we can create, and which focuses on the collective processes that can bring about social change. Also, like Groucho Marx, I do feel that any association that would have me as a member can't be all that it’s cracked up to be’.

The second British psychologist to be elected was Professor Nicholas Tarrier (University of Manchester). His work has looked into the psychological and psychosocial mechanisms underlying mental health problems, particularly schizophrenia, psychoses and post-traumatic stress disorder and the development and evaluation of psychological treatments for these problems.

Also named as a fellow was emeritus Professor of Psychology Janette Atkinson for her work on models of visual brain development, underlying visual, spatial and social cognition in both typical and at-risk infants and children, including those with very premature birth and Williams Syndrome. Atkinson said she was very pleased at her election and added: ‘I see this honour as reflecting not only my own leadership role, but also the work of my team in the Visual Development Unit and all my collaborators around the world who have helped in the progress of our basic developmental research and in translating these findings into educational and clinical areas. I believe that my election, with others, reflects the Academy’s recognition of the diverse interdisciplinary range of modern psychology, as well as a gratifying appreciation of the gender balance of our discipline.’

Finally, from across the pond, Professor Elizabeth Spelke (Harvard University) was made a Corresponding Fellow thanks to her work in cognitive development looking at the nature and origins of knowledge of material objects, animate beings, number, geometry, and the social world. Lord Stern, President of the British Academy, said: ‘Our fellows play a vital role in the work of the Academy; encouraging younger researchers, engaging in public discussion of the great issues and ideas of our time, and contributing to policy reports. Their collective work and expertise are testament to why research in the humanities and social sciences is vital for our understanding of the world and humanity.’

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