Contact Richard Mallows via the Society’s Leicester office,
or e-mail: [email protected]
My track to this column starts with an inspirational teacher. Like many in my generation, my first subject was not psychology. In my case it was chemistry. As a teacher in a secondary modern school in the late 1960s life was not easy. I had been introduced to aspects of developmental psychology whilst training, but I thought there must be more to support the day to day work. I was lured by the reputation of a local evening class in psychology. The enthusiasm was pervasive and I was hooked. The teacher was David Legge.
David is of course well known to those in the BPS as a former President and Head of Office and he is still making an important contribution to the Society. In his class I learnt to develop a degree of tolerance for ambiguity, which I hope I passed on to my students in subsequent decades. I also hope it will be helpful in my current role.
The next step was another evening institution Birkbeck College, University of London. Apart from the excellent teaching, Birkbeck helps develop perseverance, resilience and broad shoulders, all useful career assets. After Birkbeck the threat of being sent on secondment for six months to Ceausescu’s Romania to teach computing sent me scurrying for employment closer to home. I arrived in York expecting to stay for five years. I like the comment in a recent obituary in The Psychologist about an educational psychologist who, when asked if he was still in Walsall, said that yes he was in Walsall, but not ‘still’. That cheered me up after 40 years in York.
Over those years I have had an on-off relationship in terms of being an active participant with the BPS. For the last five years I have been Honorary Treasurer, having previously been involved at a postgraduate level, Branch, Section and Council level and as a trustee. I became a Trustee having been proposed at a Representative Council by someone I did not know. When I asked Tony Gale why he had done this, he said that he thought I might stir things up a bit. I think it is nevertheless a demonstration that in this sense at least the BPS can be a democratic body. A previous President, Gerry Mulhern, raised issues about democracy and the BPS. To increase participation I would encourage members to register online in order to vote electronically.
I have long been an enthusiastic supporter of The Psychologist, but I expect each new President wonders if anyone is going to read their column. Gerry Mulhern’s opening comment was that this column is eccentricallyplaced. I think it still is. I believe it should appear at the start of The Psychologist together with members’ letters. This would reduce in a symbolic fashion the distance between the President/Board of Trustees and those for whom we are working.
By the time this column has appeared I will have carried out my first official engagement as President at the Wessex Branch AGM, some three days after assuming office. I hope to visit as many networks as I can during what will be a shortened year of office due to the AGM being restored to its better place at the Annual Conference.
I look forward to my term in office and would like to thank my predecessor Peter Banister, who has handed on the BPS in good shape. I hope that likewise I will do the same for my successor Dorothy Miell. It would have been difficult in my institution to take the time to be President, but I have been fortunate to be able to retire from full-time work. I hope that my experience, particularly contact with young people throughout my career and my active participation in the BPS will help me to understand issues facing the membership
Ten things you didn’t know about the new President
In my final year as a Head of Department I went on an intensive evening class for two evenings a week for a year. When asked to guess the subject, my students suggested it ought to be IT, given my skills, but was more probably a language – French. At the end of the year I was very proud to receive my City and Guilds Certificate in Bricklaying.
I wear sandals all year round regardless of the weather. In the late 1980s I had the chance of a six-month sabbatical and I wanted to work with occupational psychologist Cary Cooper, whom I knew by reputation. I heard he would be at the annual CIPD Conference in Harrogate. I was coerced into shoes for this potential meeting. As
I searched the conference venue I began to feel queasy, not helped
by seeing peculiar yellow bits on the vivid green carpet everywhere I went. By the time I found Cary I was very lop-sided and had realised that the sole of my elderly but unworn shoe had split and spilled its contents. That meeting completely changed the direction of my research and teaching interests for the remainder of my career.
I have family relations in both the Falkland Islands and Argentina. During the conflict my aunt in Buenos Aires accommodated the BBC correspondent, much to the consternation of other family members. Closer to home, following a summer holiday, when my teenage son said he did not want to go to France again, we returned home to find we were able to shake hands with him inside without opening the front door. Our first thoughts were that this must have been the ultimate teenage party. We moved out. The house was pulled down and rebuilt on a ten-metre deep concrete foundation.
All over the place
My first memory is being in Bombay shortly after India’s independence, where I saw and experienced completely out of
the ordinary events for an English infant. I have travelled to every continent and over a third of the world’s 230 countries. If I had to choose a representative souvenir it would be a rug made by a Muslim and bought in Peshawar, Pakistan. The rug contains red crosses in recognition of help that the maker received from the Red Cross. I find that symbolic and optimistic. Whilst in Peshawar I looked out of a classroom window expecting to see children in the playground but instead found myself looking at a tented city of one million Afghan refugees – a literal eye opener.
Throughout my teaching career whether in secondary school,
private business or in HE I have been an advocate of the small-scale research project, but the area investigated had to come from the student. Some second-year undergraduate work-based projects led directly to jobs, others indicated surprising gaps in research data. One survey of the disabled in York culminated in very significant changes in access to the city for this group. A part-time nurse in the mid-1990s was astounded by what he described as empathy avoidance in two of his colleagues, whilst a case study on a mature student’s severely epileptic son resulted in continued funding by the local authority. One of the most revealing was being left-handed in the army.
Favourite ‘psychology’ book
The book which inspired me to study psychology was a slim volume, Group Performance by James Davis published in 1969. I took it with me to my first Social Psychology Section annual conference at Durham where I was to give my first paper. I duly obtained his autograph. Twenty years later at the section’s annual conference at Sussex University Davis was again a speaker. Having had no contact in the interim, he told me that he remembered me because on his return to the USA he had been able to tell his children that there was at least one person who liked his book. He even remembered what I was wearing!
Music and film
Although having an eclectic musical taste, one of my favourite composers is Vivaldi. There is an emotional synergy between the Vivaldi pieces used by François Truffaut and his film L’Enfant Sauvage. Although I continued to illustrate my lecture about Victor
of Aveyron with coloured photographs taken at pertinent locations in France, the student’s threshold for black and white films diminished rather sadly over time. I suspect some also prefer the metal band Gojira’s version to Vivaldi.
This description I heard recently sounds much friendlier than train spotter. I have always been interested in steam trains, although not in the same league as rivet counters. I am building a model railway based on the Southern Region circa what we call era 5 1957–1966. This project, basically a giant problem-solving exercise in miniature, is on hold not being compatible with my BPS commitments.
I own what is politely called a classic caravan. It is now 43 years old and it has travelled over 100,000 miles. It has a door on either side which is my excuse for taking it on the continent, as far as Gibraltar in one direction and Santa Maria di Leuca in another, any direction that is south. Fuel costs have rather restricted its current range (no contest with cheapo airlines) so the next trip is probably Land’s End.
One of the joys of retirement is it is easy to say ‘Yes’, although caution should be exercised. I have found myself doing a number of things for the first time. What I thought was going to be a forest walk in northern Argentina turned out to be abseiling down a waterfall at Iguassu Falls and zip wiring from one tree to another in the tall forest canopy (see photo). I do not like heights! Having been trained as a small child in the tropics that all animals were rabid, I now find myself each year looking after a friend’s small farm on the coast in Wales whilst they have a holiday. The sixty sheep, dogs, cats, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs and AGA all have to be kept alive until their return. And then there is my garden…
The history of the Fund
‘While the Society’s Royal Charter encourages its charitable activity
in supporting psychology, it does little to support psychologists’
(opening statement to the notice that application had been made
to the Charity Commissioners for registration as a charity).
This lacuna having been recognised, the BPS Welfare Fund was duly established in 1993. An inaugural meeting was held on 14 December with five Trustees in attendance and Professor Rob Farr was elected Chair. In 1999 he resigned due to ill health, and in the absence of any other candidate I became Chair. In 2006 the Society Trustees decided to replace the Fund Trustees, six were recruited and appointed and an inaugural meeting took place on 28 September 2006.
From the outset of my time as Chair it became clear that the Fund’s resources were woefully limited. Relying on voluntary and spontaneous donations from members, the most ever at the Fund’s disposal was £2016, at one time the balance was down to £10, and grants to deserving applicants fell far short of what was needed.
In September 2000 an advertisement appeared in The Psychologist appealing to members to contribute something, either as an annual or as a one-off contribution. This did, eventually, result in more money being available, and since 2004 the yearly balance has varied between £10,009 and £18,110.
So after considerable fluctuations the Fund has been in a much healthier state and has been able to make more generous and appropriate payments to those in need.
Many applicants have had physical or mental disabilities, either themselves or in the family, and many, the majority female, have been single parents. A number have lost their jobs, some of these having been embroiled in disputes with employers. For many their problems have resulted in their being burdened by unmanageable debts.
Between 2005 and 2011 a total of 41 people have been helped by the fund, averaging about six a year. Average grants were about £750, the largest given being £2000.
To summarise, the Fund has, to some extent at least, fulfilled the purpose for which it was established, that of offering help to any psychologist in need, not just Society members. That help, although always welcomed and appreciated, has virtually always been less than what was truly needed. It is to be hoped that more of the Society’s more fortunate members will feel able to support the Fund. Even a minuscule amount – £1 annually from every member – would enable substantial, realistic support to be provided to those who at the time need it.
Anyone looking for help from the Fund should apply to Russell Hobbs at the Society’s headquarters. Those who would like to contribute should add the amount to be offered to their yearly subscription, or, if a one-off donation, send it to Russell Hobbs.
Grateful thanks to the Trustees (Professor Ann Clark, Professor Pat Howlin, Professor Marie Johnston, Roger Miles, Professor Barbara Tizard, and Dr Peter Wright) whose tireless and invaluable work has enabled the Fund to function at its maximum capacity.
A bath full of ideas and theories
The Psychologist celebrates its 25th anniversary this year (see
the January issue). To mark this with a strong presence at the Society’s Annual Conference in Harrogate in April, Managing Editor Dr Jon Sutton commissioned two artists to create a special Psychologist bath.
Debora D’Auria (Head of Psychology at Southend High School for Girls) and James Townsend had already produced a psychology bath (see tinyurl.com/psychmagbath), layered with pages from textbooks and with a shower tap that played audio of lectures. For the Annual Conference, they produced an entirely new tub layered with covers, images and articles taken from back issues of The Psychologist. Rather than playing audio, the shower head was adapted to record the thoughts of those who sat in the bath.
D’Auria said: ‘Archimedes is said to have exclaimed “Eureka!” in the bathtub. This is a bath full of ideas and theories. I wanted people to stop and pause for just a moment, to think about The Psychologist, psychology more broadly, and perhaps even their own psychology.’
The audio from the event is now available at www.thepsychologistbath.org.uk. Dr Jon Sutton says: ‘Once
you get past a few minutes of me droning on, there’s some really interesting stuff about the last 25 years and what The Psychologist means to people. And you really can’t miss sports psychologist Dave Shaw singing an especially adapted Bobby Darin classic!’
Many thanks to all those who took the plunge, and who are continuing the conversation on Twitter, following @psychmag and using #psychmag25 to reflect on the past 25 years of psychology, The Psychologist and what the next 25 might hold.
At the end of this anniversary year, we will be looking for a good home for the Psychologist bath. You could add a glass top to make an excellent coffee table, make use of the recording facility to gather data, or even use it as a bath! All offers considered – get in touch with Jon on [email protected] to let us know how you would make use of it.
The Society’s Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme provides up to 12 researchers with the opportunity to provide an undergraduate with ‘hands-on’ experience of research during the summer vacation, to gain an insight into scientific research and to encourage them to consider an academic career. The project must provide real benefits to the student and give them tangible training and career development support.
The Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme is a prestigious award that marks out a student as a future researcher and potential academic. It is hoped that the senior researcher, to whom the award is made, will develop the RA’s potential and interest in research.
Students will be provided with the opportunity to engage in
a defined research project for six to eight weeks of their summer vacation. This will enable them to not only gain insight into scientific research as a career, but importantly, will also give their CV a distinctive edge.
Supervisors will be able to conduct a specific research project during the summer vacation, but it also presents an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to science and education by supporting the research assistant. It is intended to help identify potential PhD students as well as providing early mentoring experience for existing PhD students, postdocs, etc.
The 12 winners of the 2013 award are:
1. Dr Kate Bennett at the University of Liverpool with Marianne Erskine-Shaw for the project ‘Does intoxication influence environmental effects on drinking behaviour?’
2. Dr Victoria Bourne at Royal Holloway with Domicele Jonauskaite for the project ‘Exploring the neuropsychological processing of emotion and mood in mothers during and after pregnancy: A longitudinal study’.
3. Dr Lucy Cragg at the University of Nottingham with Sarah Maddison for the project ‘The development of cognitive control in the social domain’.
4. Dr Katherine Berry at the University of Manchester with Isabelle Butcher for the project ‘The impact of a ward based intervention on violence and aggression in people with psychosis: a case note review’.
5. Professor Susan Wilkinson at Loughborough University
with Kathrina Connabeer for the project ‘Anger, conflict
and disagreements in calls to a child protection helpline’.
6. Katie Slocombe at the University of York with Lauren Hogan for the project ‘Is it just apes that ape? An investigation of social learning in parrots’.
7. Mhairi Bowde & Viv Brunsden at Nottingham Trent University with Holly Walton for the project ‘An exploration of place identity, memory and well-being in individuals with Alzheimer ‘s disease’.
8. Dr Margaret Martin at the University of Glasgow with Rusne Kuliesiute for the project ‘Sleepless in Scotland: How do patterns of sleep disruption interact with mood and paranoia?’
9. Dr Richard Stephens at Keele University with Amy Zile for the project ‘Swearing as emotional language’.
10. Dr Niall Galbraith at the University of Wolverhampton with Jodie Betham for the project ‘Adolescents’ misconceptions of psychology and the relationship with help-seeking’.
11. Dr Nadja Heym at the University of Nottingham with Sarah Olin for the project ‘Individual differences in reinforcement sensitivity as underlying mechanism in decision-making and risk-taking behaviour in children’.
12. Dr Myra Cooper at the University of Oxford with Alexandra Pike for the project ‘The influence of a single dose of fluoxetine on anger processing in healthy volunteers’.
To be eligible to receive a Research Assistantship award, students must be completing a Society-accredited undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in psychology, considering research as a career, expecting to achieve a 2.1 or a first class degree and be finishing the penultimate year of their degree and due to start their final year following the completion of the project.
In addition, the supervisor must be employed in a UK Higher Education Institution, the same one as the selected student, and be at least a Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society.
The next round will open in late November and close in early March 2014. More details, including application and full criteria will be available nearer the time.
EFPA changes editorial direction
The European Psychologist, which is the official organ of the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations and supported by other organisations of psychology in Europe (including the British Psychological Society), is changing.
Managing Editor Kristen Lavallee told us: ‘First, we are changing the editorial direction of the journal. Starting this year, EP will be publishing almost exclusively integrative and review articles (rather than single empirical studies). It is intended to be a showcase for cutting-edge research across Europe. Second, we have a new section called EFPA News and Views.
Part of this section will include quarterly updates from EFPA member societies from across Europe. Veronika Polisenska ([email protected]) has organised a network of national news correspondents from each country, who will regularly contribute updates on legal, policy and other matters from individual countries in order to better connect the member societies to each other. If you or anyone you know from the UK would like to contribute to this section, please get in touch with Veronika or your local news correspondent. Finally, Hogrefe has updated the look of the website and the journal cover. Hogrefe offers an open access option to all authors (http://hogrefe.com/openmind). Further, plans are in the works to have translations available of published abstracts in order to increase accessibility.’
The first issue with the new style content and new layout is available free at www.hogrefe.com/periodicals/european-psychologist and Hogrefe is offering one year of free access to The European Psychologist for all participants in this month’s European Congress of Psychology in Stockholm.
New professional indemnity requirements
The Department of Health in England recently consulted, on behalf of the four UK Health Departments, on draft legislation that would see the introduction of indemnity arrangements as a condition of registration for health professionals. In order to be registered with their respective regulator, professionals would be expected to have indemnity arrangements in place. This requirement is as a result of the need for the UK government to transpose an EU Directive into domestic law and needs to be in place by Friday 25 October 2013, subject to the legislative timetable. The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) responded to the Department of Health consultation and you can read their response at tinyurl.com/pombse4
The HCPC anticipates that the majority of their registrants ‘will already be able to meet these requirements as they will be indemnified either through their employer, a professional body, directly with an insurer or a combination of these’. They emphasise, however, that it is important that professionals understand their responsibility to have appropriate arrangements in place.
Until Friday 2 August, the HCPC will be inviting comment on the proposals via online tool, by e-mail or in writing. Details will be posted at www.hcpc-uk.org/aboutus/consultations.
I The Society offers reduced rates for professional indemnity via Towergate and Howdens
Registration is now open for the Society’s first ever Psychology4Graduates event, to be held at the Regent’s College Conference Centre on 14 November 2013.
If you are you going to graduate from an undergraduate degree soon, or have in the last few years and are considering studying psychology at postgraduate level, this event is for you!
Psychology4Graduates highlights the career opportunities available to you as a psychology graduate, with a focus on the routes to becoming a Chartered Psychologist. Talks from psychologists will let you hear about their careers and get an insight into what postgraduate study in psychology involves. In the interactive break sessions, you will have an exclusive opportunity to meet and mingle with established psychologists from all of the applied areas – a unique chance for you to get your questions answered in a friendly, relaxed environment.
A detailed programme will be published soon but the event promises to be educational, informative and entertaining and will hopefully leave you feeling inspired and well informed about your future career in psychology.
Delegate rates are discounted for members and places are limited so visit www.bps.org.uk/p4g2013 for more information and to register your place today.
Final Day Syndrome: reflections on presenting at the Annual Conference
As a presenter at this year’s BPS Annual Conference, I was dismayed when I perused the timetable and saw that I had been allocated to present on the final day of the conference (Thursday 11 April). I have called this the ‘Final Day Syndrome’. There is nothing worse than spending the first couple of days watching others present their research, paranoid that my own presentation isn’t quite up to scratch! Also, watching difficult questions being fired at presenters can be alarming if not for the superb ways in which most presenters manage to answer these tricky enquiries. Indeed, it is the first time at a conference I have not been presenting in the first oral session of the programme. Previous years, I had been first to present after the opening keynote, which was great for three reasons. First, I wasn’t able to over-think it; that is, having not seen other presentations I couldn’t question my own. Second, I was able to relax thereafter and enjoy the conference without second-guessing my presentation and having to contend with pre-presentation anxiety for two days! Third, I could harness the excitement of being at a huge conference to present in an energetic manner, hopefully to the benefit of the presentation.
So this year was different. But surprisingly (to me), presenting on the last day instead of the first was a blessing in disguise. I felt really relaxed and ready when I presented, which in part was probably because my colleague Matthew Slater had presented superbly on the previous day, and I was able to bask in some of his glory. I’m pretty sure he didn’t mind(!). Another contributing factor to my relative calm was how well the conference was organised, cramming enough into the programme to make it thoroughly worthwhile, while providing enough breaks so that I could network and meet researchers whose work I admire. For example, as a sport psychologist I was delighted to get to talk to Dr Paul McCarthy from Glasgow Caledonian University, whose poster on ‘re-evaluating the stigma of consulting a sports psychologist’ struck a chord with me and no doubt every other sport psychologist at the conference; and Dr Mark Allen from London South Bank University, who has conducted some great research in an area I am interested in (challenge and threat states). I was also able to talk with Dr Andrew Manley who not only convened the fascinating ‘Interpersonal perception in sport and exercise contexts’ symposium, but also chaired the session in which I presented, helping create an interesting and forum-like session where presenters and audience members were able to engage in discussion concerning all of the presentations. First, we had Kerry Schofield from forePSYte presenting ‘Is God necessary? A comparison of the psychological functions of religion and empiricism’, a fascinating discussion-type presentation which made me ask questions about mine and others’ beliefs. Next up was me. I talked about my research looking at how we can promote challenge states (adaptive psychophysiological reactions) in participants about to climb a climbing wall. As ever, I enjoyed the experience, and I was elated that the video of me climbing the wall (used as a stressor in my study) worked on the big screen! We then got an insight into the darker workings of the human mind with Loren Abell from the University of Central Lancashire talking about her research on ‘Machiavellianism, competition and self-disclosure in friendship dyads.’ This was aptly followed by Gordon R.T. Wright from Birkbeck, University of London, who presented ‘The Dark Triad’s reputation for deceptive ability is a lie’. Both Loren’s and Gordon’s presentations were an intriguing insight into the behaviours and thought processes of individuals with traits that are misunderstood if not underresearched. I was very lucky to have presented in such an interesting and thought-provoking session.
Overall, one of the biggest lessons I learned from this year’s conference was that the presentation I had arrived with was a work in progress, and through watching and experiencing others’ presentations I was able to alter not only my presentation slides, but also my presentation approach. I had the opportunity to be inspired by other presenters, and learn important lessons about presentation style. I felt more relaxed, less rushed, and more able to present in a balanced way. That is, having seen evidence of some of the amazing and groundbreaking research happening in the UK and around the world presented modestly, I realised that my research attempts to answer a small question, in a small area of research. Therefore, I didn’t feel that need to ‘oversell’ my work. I was able to present the research and more importantly respond to questions in a non-defensive manner. Maybe the Final Day Syndrome is not so bad at all. In fact, I hope to present on the final day next year!
Dr Martin James Turner,
Bursaries for Annual Conference are provided by the Society’s Research Board and are available to postgraduate students who are members of the Society and are presenting at the conference. Bursaries cover the attendance fee (excluding travel and accommodation). Successful applicants are requested to write a post-conference report. The application process opens each year in November in line with the conference programme timetable being published. Full details will be posted on the conference website at www.bps.org.uk/ac2014.
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