including President’s column; Research Board Lifetime Achievement Award; New curator of psychology; Online voting and more.

President’s column

Sue Gardner
Contact Sue Gardner via the Society’s Leicester office,
or e-mail: [email protected]

I hope that you managed to have a holiday this summer and that you have recharged your batteries ready for the autumn. This is usually a busy time of year for most people, with a new academic year starting and work deadlines reset after the welcome disruptions of July and August.

I save up some good books to read during the holidays and I also saved a few months of Research Digest e-mails from the Society. These are really useful and interesting summaries of recently published papers, and both the blog and fortnightly e-mail are completely free. The blog has risen to number 21 in the influential ‘Wikio’ ratings of worldwide science blogs, based on the number and strength of incoming links, as it continues to bring the Society and the discipline to a large and international audience. You can subscribe at, where you can also click through to the useful Twitter and Facebook presences. Please help us to spread the word about this quality research resource.

The importance of research to all our activities is obvious to us but the Research Board is hoping to make this clear to others. The Board, under its Chair Professor Judi Ellis, is preparing a booklet to identify key areas of psychological research that have had a significant impact on society. If you are interested in making a contribution please contact Dr Lisa Morrison Coulthard at [email protected]

Also in my holiday reading were some of the recent documents produced by the Society. For example, The Role of Psychology in End of Life Care is an excellent report produced under the auspices of the Professional Practice Board, chaired by Dr Carole Allan. This report highlights three areas: Contemporary Issues, Information about Legislation and Policy and Clinical Practice. The document provides a framework for psychologists working with those who are dying, their families and those who are bereaved. This deserves to be widely read and will hopefully influence psychologists and others in this area of work.

The influence of psychology across Europe was interesting to see at a recent meeting in Oslo of the General Assembly of the European Federation of Psychologists Associations (see conference reports on p.744). There are over a quarter of a million psychologists in Europe and the General Assembly, currently held every two years, brings their representatives together. The meeting took place over a weekend and provided a fascinating glimpse of life as a psychologist across the continent. Some of the organisations are well developed and advanced and some are fairly new or at an earlier stage of development. Professor Ann Colley (the Society’s Chief Executive), Professor Pam Maras (Honorary General Secretary) and I represented the UK organisation and contributed on your behalf. Dr Liz Campbell, our Vice President, was voted in as the next General Secretary and will, I’m sure, keep us in touch with developments. It was interesting to talk to other psychologists about the interests of their members and to realise how much we all have in common.

Finally, the consultation exercise about member networks has nearly been completed and the Board of Trustees will be looking at the comments and suggestions you have made to strengthen our organisation for the future. We are also discussing future services for members as well as ways of improving the services we currently provide. We will keep you informed of developments both on the website and in the pages of this publication. That will keep us all busy this autumn.

Learning centre
To have your CPD event approved by the Society and for a catalogue of forthcoming opportunities, see or call 0116 252 9512.
To advertise your event in The Psychologist, e-mail [email protected] or call +44 116 252 9552.
A diary of non-approved events can be found at

Research Board Lifetime Achievement Award
Annette Karmiloff-Smith and Uta Frith

To acknowledge and applaud outstanding contributions to psychological knowledge throughout an individual’s career, the Society has introduced a new award – the Research Board Lifetime Achievement Award. To mark the honour’s inaugural year, in 2009 it has been jointly awarded to two outstanding members of the Society, recognising their distinctive and exemplary contributions.

Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith of Birkbeck, University of London, and Professor Uta Frith of University College London will both receive commemorative certificates and £1000 towards further research.

Professor Karmiloff-Smith CBE CPsychol was nominated by the head of psychology at Birkbeck, Professor Mike Oaksford, who said: ‘Karmiloff-Smith’s achievements are an extraordinary example to students and colleagues throughout the world. What makes her stand apart from others, and which represents the hallmark of her career, is that she has contributed to major theoretical and experimental paradigm shifts in several different areas.’

While studying genetic and experimental psychology at Geneva University in 1974, Annette was widely recognised for her article published in Cognition: ‘If you want to get ahead, get a theory’, which continues to be cited and influence research 35 years on. This paper launched the start of an outstanding research career into the understanding of normal cognitive development and atypical development in genetic disorders.

When told of the award, Annette said: ‘I am delighted and very honoured, although “lifetime achievement” makes it sound as if it’s the end of my research career. For me, it’s a great opportunity for yet another beginning!’

The joint winner of the 2009 Research Board Lifetime Achievement Award is Honorary Fellow of the Society and Chartered Psychologist Professor Uta Frith. An internationally recognised expert on developmental disorders, Professor Frith is best known for her work on autism, on which she has produced many seminal papers, including the 1985 study in which she, along with two of her then colleagues Simon Baron-Cohen and Alan Leslie, proposed and tested the hypothesis that a principal feature of autism is the failure to develop theory of mind. 

Professor Margaret Snowling and Professor Dorothy Bishop say in their nomination, ‘The paper reporting this result has become a citation classic’; and in his supporting letter, Professor Stanislas Dehaene of College de France adds, ‘She is one of the pioneers of social neuroscience; it took a real pioneering spirit to engage in this direction before anyone else would.’
‘I was surprised and delighted to receive the Society’s new award,’ Professor Frith told The Psychologist. ‘I was delighted on behalf of all the women who make psychology such a thriving discipline and on behalf of all the researchers in developmental cognitive neuroscience.’

New curator of psychology

The Society is delighted to announce that Philip Davis Loring has taken up the new post of BPS Curator of Psychology at the Science Museum, London. The post was created as a key component of the new arrangements for the Society’s History of Psychology Centre, which are now based on major collaborations with high-profile and respected organisations.

Over the next five years, Philip will be researching the Museum’s psychology and other collections and will have access to the Society’s archives. He will be expected to use the Museum’s artefacts to illustrate historical developments in psychology, such as the emergence of laboratory-based psychology at the end of the 19th century and its many transformations since then. But he’ll also be working alongside curators of other disciplines to ensure that psychology is represented in the wider story of the making of the modern world. Philip will also be exploring the possibility of linking up with other European museums online.

Philip, who recently completed a doctorate in the History of Science at Harvard University, said: ‘Psychology has a valid place in a story of the history of modern science. Psychology is an incredibly accessible science, one that extends into the public sphere. At present, our exhibit in the museum consists of three display cases which celebrated the centennial of the Society. I’m looking forward to identifying more items from the archives and developing exhibits that visitors can learn from and be inspired by.’

The five-year sponsorship agreement with the Science Museum also provides for a major psychology exhibition to run for from four to six months, as well as for a series of public engagement events at the Dana Centre.

Peter Dillon-Hooper, Manager of the History of Psychology Centre said: ‘The Society is supporting this project as a marvellous opportunity for bringing psychology to the public. The Science Museum enjoys over two and a half million visitors a year, and has a significant web presence. We are now part of that, with the BPS Curator of Psychology acting as the champion for the discipline within the museum.’

We hope to keep you updated regularly with the new curator’s ongoing work at the Science Museum, the development of future exhibits and upcoming events.


Society members prepared responses to 10 consultations during July.  Full details can be accessed via – changing the Status field from Active to Completed calls up links to all consultations for which responses have been submitted, starting with the most recent.

In the Society’s response to the Department of Health’s call for views on the state of readiness of the NHS to have regard for the NHS Constitution:
I    it was recommended that the government take steps to promote the Constitution, particularly in respect of its pledges for free universal healthcare, provision of NICE-recommended treatments and adherence to human rights principles;
I    commissioners were urged to review local deficits in services and to encourage Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS), specialist advocacy services, and service-user representative organisations to stimulate and respond to service-user demand for local implementation;
I    concerns were expressed that the Constitution may be seen as an emblematic, paper-only, exercise by both staff and service users
I    it was noted that there is a risk that funds will not be universally allocated to support the Constitution's aims;
I    it was argued that there should be clear support (in both commitment and funding) to extending all NICE-recommended medications and treatments to service users – and, in particular in the area of mental health care, to undertake the necessary workforce planning required to improve access to psychological therapies across all client groups;
I    it was recommended that the regulatory agencies be given a role in reviewing and regulating the implementation of Constitution-congruent services;
I    it was stressed that the Constitution relates not only to the treatment of existing disorders or healthcare challenges, but also to the prevention and early detection of problems, and to the maintenance and enhancement of physical and psychological health and well-being (consistent with the emerging ‘New Horizons’ strategy for mental health care).
Following a number of miscarriages of justice based on misleading expert testimony, the Law Commission proposed that judges should be empowered to apply rigorous criteria regarding the admission of expert evidence. Key points raised in the Society’s response are:
I    The proposal was welcomed but appears to underestimate the extent of knowledge of scientific method and statistical reasoning required, and the time needed to assimilate such knowledge, to enable judges to make informed decisions on the forms of evidence typically provided by psychologists.
I    The provision made for independent assessors to assist judges in their task would be particularly welcomed in the case of psychological evidence.
I    It was recommended that such assessors should not merely be experts in their field but should also possess sufficient legal knowledge and awareness of the issues in applying experimental research to ‘real-world’ behaviour.

The preparation and submission of the Society’s responses to consultations on public policy is coordinated by the Policy Support Unit (PSU). All members are eligible to contribute to responses and all interest is warmly welcomed. Please contact the PSU for further information ([email protected]; 0116 252 9926/9577). Details of active and completed consultations are available at:

Online voting  

At a Society Special General Meeting in April this year, members voted to change the Society Statutes to allow member ballots to be conducted online as well as by post. Until the formal Privy Council approval process has been completed, we will not use the online voting service. However, in preparation and to maximise the convenience and cost benefits this system will bring when it goes live, we would like to encourage members to ‘opt in’ to use the service now.

This service provides eligible members with the opportunity to cast their votes in Society ballots online. The system selected to provide this service has been carefully vetted to ensure that the service is secure and only available to Society members using their login details to access the members area of the Society website.

To ensure that no eligible members are excluded, the service will be run in parallel with existing postal voting services. 

In order to use online voting you will need to opt in, as by default the voting preference for all members is set to postal. To change this, log on to the members area of the Society website and select the ‘Change Member Details’ option in the ‘Member Tools’ area. The member amendment page has been updated to include an option to set your voting preference to either online or postal. You can only select one of the voting preference options, and postal ballot forms will not be sent to you if you have selected the online option.

Please note that until the Statutes have been formally amended by the Privy Council, any ballots required up to that date will be sent by post, even if you have selected the online voting option.

When the system is operational and if you have opted in, you will be notified by e-mail when a ballot is published. Then you will simply need to log on to the members area of the Society website and select the online voting link in the ‘Member Tools’ area. On the voting pages you will be presented with a list of any current ballots in which you are eligible to participate, and selecting any of these will provide you with full details. Once you have submitted your online vote you will not be able to change it or cast any further votes for that ballot. The system is fully secure and your vote will be anonymous.

This service brings easier access for members to take part in important Society ballots; enables eligible members living abroad to be included in ballots for the first time; and, has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of ballots to the Society. We hope that many of you will opt in.

Safeguarding vulnerable groups
It has come to our attention that we gave some incorrect information in the item on p.611 of the July issue, concerning the Independent Safeguarding Authority. Their deadline for registration for people currently in post, with a CRB check, is 2012 rather than 2009. Further details can be found at

Society vacancies

Ethics Committee

An in-depth experience of at least one area of applied psychology; an interest in ethical issues; experience in leading and managing committees; previous involvement in Society affairs (see p.787).
Contact Lisa Morrison Coulthard [email protected], 0116 252 9510.
Closing date 30 October 2009

Membership and Professional Training Board.
Validation panel members

Chartered Psychologist with experience of university validation (see p.761).
Contact Lucy Kerry [email protected].
Closing date 30 September 2009

A positive message at BA/BPS lecture

The highly respected past President of the American Psychological Association, Dr Martin Seligman, will deliver this year’s British Academy/British Psychological Society Annual Lecture. Dr Seligman’s main mission since 2000 has been the promotion of positive psychology, a field that includes the study of positive emotion, positive character traits, and positive institutions.

The effectiveness of positive interventions is reasonably well documented, particularly in schools, and Dr Seligman will discuss some of the major interventions and how to deliver them. He will suggest that psychology in the coming decade will be complemented by a new focus on positive education.The lecture takes place at Friends House on Euston Road at 5.30pm on Tuesday 29 September.

Further details can be found in the advertisement on page 000 or at

HPC on titles and renewal

The Health Professions Council has confirmed the legal position that the Society’s ‘adjectival titles’ could only be used by those registered in the relevant domain on the HPC’s register. The HPC will make their own independent decisions based on their procedures concerning the admission of individuals to their register and thus access to the protected titles.
The Society is no longer responsible for registration standards for practice, and therefore it is important that there should be no confusion between the functions and titles of the HPC and the Society. The Trustees and the chairs of the relevant Society Divisions have agreed that retention of the adjectival titles could encourage confusion on the part of members of the public.
The titles, therefore, no longer perform their original function and the decision stands that ‘Chartered Psychologist’ (CPsychol) should be the sole title awarded to those with Chartered Membership of the Society, and therefore the title that Society ‘Chartered’ members should use.

The HPC’s advice regarding use of their titles is very clear. HPC Registered Psychologists may use: ‘Registered Psychologist’, ‘Practitioner Psychologist’, or ‘[one of the seven protected titles] Psychologist’.
Also, in early August the HPC sent a registration renewal form to all practitioner psychologists on the register. All sections of this form needs to be filled in, signed and returned to the HPC with the renewal payment. All registrants are required to pay their renewal fee and return their signed and completed renewal form to the HPC as soon as possible but no later than 31 October 2009 to make sure their name stays on the register. 

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