President’s column; Doctoral Award; and more

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

The only advantage of miserable weather in the spring is that it discourages distractions from revision. So to everyone involved with exams at this time, good luck. All members either are or have been in this position and know of the struggle. Beyond exams however, is the relief of surmounting a hurdle and the excitement of choosing what to do next. For A-level students and undergraduates the ever-popular Student Lecture Days will be held this autumn in London and Nottingham, with experienced researchers and applied psychologists giving a flavour of their work. We know that young people are really keen to know about career and study options, so more such days are likely in the future. In March the BPS Scotland Branch held an Undergraduate Conference at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. This provided a wonderful opportunity for final-year students to present their abstracts to peers in a relaxed and friendly environment. With over 70 presentations to more than 200 attendees from about 10 universities this proved to be a popular and successful event. The Branch is hoping to hold a similar event next year and further details will be available on the website in due course. The Society is developing packs to enable higher education institutions to introduce the Society to new entrants so that they can become members more readily if they wish.

The Research Board is planning a range of activities to raise the profile of Sections and of our organisation as a learned society. These activities include the development of more promotional materials, establishing further awards to recognise outstanding achievements and contributing to the consultation on the Research Excellence Framework. Given the importance attributed to the impact of research the time may have come to encourage more collaboration between the Research and Professional Practice Boards to the benefit of both. The Professional Practice Board is adopting two new strategic thrusts, around Providing Leadership and Support for Applied Psychologists. A review of communications is being planned by the Publications and Communications Board given the increased functionality of the new website, which will be launched this year. This Board is also working to develop our publications and increase the benefits for members. The new education governance structures being put in place will enable the Membership and Professional Training Board to become the Membership Standards Board by the autumn, so that the organisational changes brought about by the removal of our regulatory functions can be completed. The Psychology Education Board loses Dr Richard Latto, who has championed the cause of pre-tertiary education for many years, and welcomes Dr Dorothy Meill after the Annual General Meeting. Our thanks go to Richard for his hard work both as Board Chair and as a Trustee. We also thank Richard Kwiatkowski who is leaving as the Chair of the Ethics Committee, to be replaced by Dr Tony Wainwright.

You will have seen from the Annual Report that by the end of 2009 the Society had 49,021 members in total and that our financial position had returned to a healthy state. We don’t know what lies ahead but we are an intelligent, thoughtful and creative group of people so I have every confidence that we will find our way through whatever the future holds. I’ve been involved with the Society for many years and I have experienced the cycle of issues arising, options being explored, debates being held (sometimes with great heat) and then solutions being set in place. The energy and hope of youth combined with the patience and pragmatism of age will ensure a potent mix of ideas and a workable outcome.

This is my last column as I hand over the presidency to Dr Gerry Mulhern at the Annual General Meeting on 25 June. I would like to thank my menfolk at home, my employer and colleagues in Oxford, the hardworking staff of the Society, the resourceful Senior Management Team and the lively Trustees for all their support. I have great admiration for those who chair or serve on Boards, Branches, Sections, Divisions and committees as this work drives most of the initiatives that enable the Society to support psychology and psychologists. I wish you all well and thank you for your contributions. It has been a great privilege to work with you and I know that we will all support Gerry as President in the year ahead.

Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research Contributions to Psychology 2009 

Nicole Tausch

Dr Nicole Tausch has been recognised by the Society’s Research Board for her doctoral work on ‘subtyping’. Her research involved a two-pronged attack on the problem of prejudice, working simultaneously from both a cognitive and social perspective. Some of the most distinctive findings came from a series of studies examining biases in the attribution of warmth and competence traits.

Nicole was nominated by her doctoral supervisor Professor Miles Hewstone, who said: ‘I am privileged to have worked with such an outstanding scholar – she is, quite simply, outstanding; and very much deserving of the award. She is a deep, theoretical thinker, whose work has integrated a wide variety of social-psychological theories, ranging from those concerned with intrapersonal processing of social information to those concerned with social culture aspects of prejudice and intergroup conflict.’

Originally from Germany, Nicole studied her diploma in psychology at Martin Luther University, and later gained her DPhil in social psychology at the University of Oxford. She said: ‘It is an honour to receive this award. I am absolutely delighted. I would like to thank Professor Miles Hewstone for his continuing support and encouragement.’

Nicole is currently taking a more critical approach to the role of intergroup contact as an intervention to improve intergroup relations. Specifically, she is considering whether positive intergroup contact has the potential to create unrealistic expectations for equality among members of socially disadvantaged groups, and to reduce support for collective action and social change strategies more generally.

In addition to the recent line of research Nicole is focusing on factors predicting different forms of group-based action in order to determine the circumstances under which non-normative actions, such as violence, are supported. This research is funded by the British Academy and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Nicole, who will be joining the University of St Andrews in October as a lecturer in social psychology, will receive £500 and a commemorative certificate. She will also be invited to deliver a lecture based on her research at the Society's 2011 Annual Conference in Glasgow.

Deborah Jane Baker (1949–2009)

Professor Deborah Baker, a leading authority on health inequalities and Associate Fellow of the Society, died in October 2009 of cancer. She graduated in psychology from Brunel University in 1973 and subsequently completed her doctorate at the University of Bath. She worked at the universities of Bath, Bristol, Manchester and at Salford where she was Professor of Public Health and Director of the Centre for Public Health Research. An inspiring research leader, at the time of her death she was leading a major programme investigating the relationship between social exclusion and infant health promoting behaviours within the context of inner city regeneration. 

Award-winning journal article
An article from the Society’s Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, ‘How are employees at different levels affected by privatization? A longitudinal study of two Swedish hospitals’, has won an Emerald Management Reviews Citation of Excellence.

The article, by Helena Falkenberg, Katharina Näswall, Magnus Sverke and Anders Sjöberg, was selected from 15,000 articles as one of the 50 best published in 2009 in management. Emerald Management Reviews is an abstracting and indexing database that covers the top 400 business and management journals worldwide.


Another positive outcome! Regulation of the sunbed industry in Northern Ireland

Further to this consultation, which closed in February of this year, a range of measures have been agreed for regulating the sunbed industry in Northern Ireland. These reflect many of the recommendations made by the Society, including prohibiting the use of sunbeds by anyone under the age of 18. There was a strong consensus among respondents that a clear legislative framework, to which all sunbed premises would be required to adhere, would be the most effective way forward: a Bill is therefore now to be drafted.

Despite noting some omissions in the final recommendations, the joint authors of the Society’s response, Gayle Brewer (member of the Division of Teachers and Researchers in Psychology) and Chris Bundy (member of the Division of Health Psychology), agreed that the outcome was a positive one overall, with Gayle commenting that ‘the proposed regulations have the potential to substantially improve public health’.

Full details of this outcome can be accessed via our website: go
to, enter ‘Completed’ in the Status field and ‘Sunbed’ in the Keyword/s field, then click Search to be taken to the relevant page.

April responses
Eight responses were submitted during April, which were again put together by members holding a wide range of affiliations with the Society’s Divisions, Branches, Faculties and Sections. Of course, membership of member network groups is not a pre-requisite for those wishing to take part and we were pleased that members without any such affiliations were also able to contribute. We would like to thank everyone for their hard work – without them the Society’s voice would not have been heard.

The complete list of the consultations responded to in April is as follows:
I    Consultation on a Strategy for Services in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in England (Department of Health)
I    Consultation on our Assessments of Quality 2010–11 (Care Quality Commission)
I    Looked After Children: Consultation on the draft guidance (National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence and Social Care Institute for Excellence)
I    Draft All Wales Obesity Pathway (Welsh Assembly Government)
I    Public Consultation on the Introduction of the Pupil and Parent Guarantees (Department for Children, Schools and Families)
I    HPC Consultation on Removing the Health Reference as a Requirement for Entry to the Register (Health Professions Council)
I    Sex and Relationships Education Guidance (Department for Children, Schools and Families)

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:

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