President’s column; Lifetime Achievement Award; and Public Engagement Grants

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

The BPS has close to 50,000 members, which makes it a very large organisation, and it’s not always that easy to understand and navigate – notably the many Member Networks with their diverse range of interests. Even just considering the range and number of different networks we have in the Society can be overwhelming; the 10 Divisions, 15 Sections, 10 Branches and 17 or so Special Interest Groups, Faculties and other groups (and indeed it’s difficult always to be sure if the list of these is definitive since new substructures are being proposed regularly). Whilst as members we know a great deal about the network(s) we belong to, or at least those we’re active in, we’re rarely as aware of the others, finding it hard to explain if and how they relate to one another, who’s able to join them, how they are funded or how the different activities of the Society are spread amongst them (where, for example, might you find the Society’s CPD provision?). Having made a commitment to join a network, it can sometimes feel as if the network is the Society – it may be the only part that’s valued and understood. As a result it’s proved challenging to build up a more general sense of belonging and community, let alone present a united voice externally speaking for psychology as a whole, even though there is a clear desire for both from members.

You may not be aware of the spread or size of our Member Networks. The numbers of members in each are widely different. The tables  opposite give a feel for this, although they don’t list every group (given, for example, that the Division of Clinical Psychology also has a regional and national substructure of groups not listed here).

As well as very different numbers between each network, there are different membership criteria. Some networks are open to anyone who wishes to join on payment of a fee (of different amounts), others restrict membership to those with Chartered status or eligibility. Branches are distinctive in membership terms, since by living in a particular geographical area you are automatically assigned to be a member of that Branch (if there is an active one in your area). They are also currently funded differently from the other Member Networks, being able to secure funds from the Society directly rather than having to charge their members a fee.

A representative from each of the main Member Networks, of the Society Policy Boards (Research Board, Professional Practice Board, Membership Standards Board and Education and Public Engagement Board) and the Trustees come together each autumn at the General Assembly to hear about each other’s activities and issues and to consider possible new developments for the Society. The discussions in and around the workshop and plenary sessions in the last couple of years have certainly shaped many parts of the Society’s new Strategic Plan, particularly the emphasis on improving services to members and helping their work achieve a higher profile with the public and influence policy makers.

Discussions at last autumn’s General Assembly emphasised the need to ensure that there is a greater clarity on the focus of work done by each network and how there can be greater collaboration and communication between them and with Policy Boards when appropriate. There have already been some changes made in response, for example extending the terms of reference of what used to be called the Psychology Education Board (now the Education and Public Engagement Board), linking to the work on public engagement that Branches do across the UK via new reps on the Board. The General Assembly discussions formed the basis of one of the objectives in the new Strategic Plan, to ‘Achieve a governance structure in which the roles and expectationsof the constituent parts are clear, structural barriers removed and collaboration between them is facilitated’. We’re starting work on this already this summer, and I’ve asked a small group to take it forward by reviewing Member Networks and take some proposals to the next General Assembly this autumn for discussion with the representatives from our Member Networks. Our President Elect, Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, has agreed to chair the group and will draw on the expertise of three of our Boards (Research, Membership Standards, Professional Practice) and of the Representative Council by having their Chair or Chair’s nominated representative on the group. I’m looking forward to hearing what they propose and to the discussions (and actions) that will follow.

Divisions    Total
Clinical Psychology    10379
Educational & Child Psychology    2502
Occupational Psychology    3892
Forensic Psychology    2590
Scottish Educational Psychology    385
Counselling Psychology    3430
Academics, Researchers and Teachers
in Psychology    877
Health Psychology    1973
Neuropsychology    1324
Sport & Exercise Psychology    823

Sections    Total
Education     384
Social Psychology     415
Developmental Psychology     495
Cognitive Psychology     360
Maths, Stats & Computing     134
History & Philosophy of Psychology     168
Psychobiology     117
Psychotherapy     457
Transpersonal Psychology     270
Psychology of Women     226
Consciousness & Experiential Psychology    174
Psychology of Sexuality     199
Qualitative Research Methods     846
Community Psychology     234
Crisis & Trauma Psychology     414

Special Groups    Total
Psychology and Social Care    88
Coaching Psychology    2222
Independent Practitioners    559

Branches    Total
West Midlands     4539
South West     2356
North East of England     4345
Wessex & Wight     5209
London & Home Counties    11673
Northern Ireland     949
North West of England     3996
Scottish     3476
Welsh     1551
East Midlands     inactive
East of England    inactive

Division of Clinical Psychology
Special Interest Groups & Faculties    Total
Children, Young People & Their Families    947
Perinatal Faculty    123
HIV & Sexual Health    91
Leadership & Management    520
Psychosis & Complex Mental Health    510
Holistic Psychology    98
Learning Disabilities    521
Eating Disorders    86
Clinical Health    393
Addiction    90
SIGOPAC (Faculty for Oncology and
Palliative Care)    181
Forensic     254
Faculty of the Older People (PSIGE)    536


Lifetime achievement award James Hartley

Professor James Hartley, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Keele University, has been given a lifetime achievement award by the Society’s Education and Public Engagement Board. The award recognises unusually significant and sustained careers in psychological education.

With a career spanning 50 years, Professor James Hartley (known as Jim to his colleagues) used teaching methods in the 1980s that are still considered innovative today. Nominating him for the award, Professor Michael Murray, Head of the School of Psychology at Keele University, said: ‘In one of his course modules he got a cohort of students to write a textbook to be used by students in the next year. Students authored and edited, with Jim acting as a sort of Chief Editor – this pre-dates the current notion of “students as partners and co-producers in learning”by two plus decades, and the benefits in terms of student independent learning, peer learning, employability and student engagement cannot be overstated.’

After receiving his PhD entitled ‘A study of programmed learning’ from the University of Sheffield in 1964, Professor Hartley, a fellow of
the BPS and APA, took up an appointment as a Lecturer in Psychology at Keele University. He was subsequently promoted to Professor and Head of Department before retiring and being awarded the title of Emeritus Professor of Psychology.

Professor Murray said: ‘In his lengthy academic career as a teacher of psychology Jim has been involved in the training of well over 5000 students who have received either a BSc or a PhD in psychology at Keele. These students have gone on to illustrious careers in psychology and other professions. Many personal reports confirm the lifelong impression Jim has had on their careers.’

Still active in research, Jim has published 16 books, 30 book chapters and more than 350 research articles, with a focus on academic writing and the readability of research papers, the legibility of text and the comprehensibility of journal abstracts, as well as student study skills, academic writing and publishing.

In support of his nomination, Dr Julie Hulme, a former student and colleague of Professor Hartley, described him as one of her ‘most trusted and valued colleagues’. She said: ‘He taught in a way that no one else who had ever taught me did – he took a gentle, leadership approach and was never didactic; he was encouraging, and facilitated his students to take responsibility for their own learning.’

Professor Christopher Knapper (Queen’s University, Canada), a fellow undergraduate with Professor Hartley at Sheffield University, said that they share a mutual interest in educational technology, the improvement of teaching and learning methods, the applications of psychology findings to real-world issues and the importance of clear communication of psychological research findings. He added that one of Professor Hartley’s major accomplishments was the revision of Ruth Beard’s Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: ‘This was one of the very first attempts to apply psychology to pedagogical practice in higher education, and was widely influential in directing our attention to the shortcomings of instructional methods that had been largely unchanged for decades.’

Professor Hartley said he was ‘very pleasantly and agreeably surprised’ to be given the award, which will be presented to him at next year’s Annual Conference in Liverpool, and added that his proudest achievement was being awarded an emeritus professorship and receiving the BPS award in the same year! As for the future of research, he said:
‘I want to explore the nature of slowing down in old age and its effects on what psychologists write about.’

Getting engaged with the public

The Society’s Public Engagement Grants scheme makes annual awards to Society members to help them demonstrate the relevance of psychological science to a wider audience. Four awards were made in the 2013 round and all the funded projects are now well under way.

Face blindness awareness
A roundtable discussion at the House of Commons to discuss prosopagnosia, or face blindness, which was hosted by Dr Sarah Bate from the Centre for Face Processing Disorders (Bournemouth University) and Tobias Ellwood, Bournemouth East MP and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Health.

Dr Bate said that although prosopagnosia affects around 1 in 50 people, it is not a formally recognised condition: ‘Face recognition is an ability that most people take for granted as it’s so automatic for most of us. People aren’t aware that it’s actually a very complex cognitive and neural process, and as with any such process, it can be broken down or fail to develop.’

She added: ‘We are particularly focusing on increasing awareness within the education and healthcare systems. What we really need to do is achieve a formal definition and recognition of prosopagnosia – that is, via the World Health Organization – and establish and distribute a set of guidance notes for professionals who may encounter children or adults with the condition. It was also suggested that a national body or charity was required.’

The event also included the premiere of a face-blindness awareness video, created by the Centre for Face Processing Disorders and also funded by the grant from the Society. Dr Bate told The Psychologist: ‘The video aims to raise public and professional awareness about prosopagnosia. It provides an introduction to prosopagnosia and explains what it is, focusing on the case study of a teenager who has the condition. It also has a substantial section explaining the history of the condition in the psychological literature, and explanations of its potential neural and cognitive underpinnings, with a focus on current research that is attempting to further our understanding of the causes of prosopagnosia. Finally, the video considers the effects of prosopagnosia on people’s everyday functioning, and how there is little awareness of the condition in the education and heath systems, and in
the workplace.’

The event was also supported by the Encephalitis Society and was attended by the London Faceblind group. Dr Bate spoke about the future of the campaign to have prosopagnosia formally recognised: ‘We heard on the day of the roundtable that the NHS Choices website is going to feature prosopagnosia in its A–Z of conditions, and this webpage has now gone live. We plan to build upon this to achieve further recognition of the condition, and Tanja Siggs and Kelly Auty from the BPS had ideas for several agencies we could contact for help with this – for example, the British Medical Association to get a code for face blindness established on the GP systems; the Royal Societies, NHS Health England, the World Health Organization and Patient UK. We are also initiating a specific piece of research to establish the symptoms and effects of prosopagnosia on children, and this will inform a set of guidelines that we develop with a stakeholder committee.’

Psychology FM
Earlier in the year, the BPS funded a series of psychology-themed radio shows in Manchester, a project led by Michael Richards – a PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University. Michael had previously used radio as a tool to help adults and young people with learning disabilities.

He said: ‘Working with the radio helped them to develop the confidence to talk about issues in their lives as well as the fun things they like to do, thus attempting to break the barriers of disability down and challenging society’s stereotyping of them.’

Michael and Professor Rebecca Lawthom (Manchester Metropolitan University) proposed that this work could be extended to working with adults labelled with learning difficulties on subjects relating to psychology including neuropsychology, developmental psychology and community psychology.

The adults in the group along with Michael worked together to prepare the interview schedules and areas of discussion the group wanted to discuss with the public or academics. The group members then conducted the interviews and put the show together in the studio.
Michael said: ‘Often people labelled with learning difficulties are pathologised and individualised by psychologists, therefore the idea of “Psychology FM” instead involved psychologists and adults labelled with learning difficulties working together to learn more about psychology and to produce radio shows about psychology and the experiences people labelled with learning difficulties face in day-to-day life, good and bad.’

Michael and Professor Lawthom worked together on the project between January and June 2014, in which one workshop would involve interviewing academics, the public and students and the following week they would go into the studio and produce the show.
Michael said: ‘Each workshop focused on a particular “psychology” and captured the essence of that psychology through discussion, debate and music. The last show was a little different and instead focused on what it means to be learning disabled during austerity and the Big Society.’

The Society grant was used for access to the radio studio and to pay a DJ who edited the shows, in collaboration with the group members. The shows were broadcast on local radio station AllFM, which has more than 14,000 listeners a day.

In Northern Ireland a two-year project has been launched to celebrate and increase awareness of the history and impact of psychology in the region. The Origins project was launched at the Northern Ireland BPS Branch Annual Conference in April this year by branch chair Professor Carol McGuinness.

It will involve using the previous BPS Origins displays for use in Northern Ireland as well as creating a multimedia timeline of the history of psychology on the branch website and collecting documents about the growth and history of psychology in the area, the resource will then be available online.

Professor McGuinness said: ‘The project builds on the BPS Origins project by populating it with Northern Ireland materials, which can be thought of as a local history project. We have already begun to source historical materials.  I have been very conscious of the need to document the history and development of psychology in Northern Ireland not just for the next generation of psychologists but also to make the public more aware of what psychology is – through its local origins and impact.’

The project has had support from three universities in Northern Ireland, Queen’s University, the University of Ulster and the Open University, in addition to the public engagement grant.

Multisensory illusions
Another project funded by a BPS public engagement grant is being run with the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions visitor attraction in Edinburgh.

Dr Rob McIntosh (University of Edinburgh) came up with the proposal to bring the psychology of multisensory integration to the public, showcasing some amazing bodily illusions developed by collaborator Dr Roger Newport (University of Nottingham).

This project aims to develop a public-ready version of Dr Newport’s MIRAGE system, which will allow people to experience illusions of bodily perception taken from the contemporary literature. The new exhibit will be housed permanently at Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, and undergraduate psychology students from Edinburgh will be involved in presenting it to the public.

Dr McIntosh said: ‘On my first visit to Camera Obscura, I was excited by this potential resource for teaching core concepts in perceptual Psychology. Simultaneously, I was dismayed by the absence of any educational angle to the curation. Visitors are enthralled by the perceptual effects that they experience, but are largely unable to learn anything about why they occur. Moreover, there is nothing in the exhibition to suggest that these effects have anything to do with the subject matter of psychology.’

He added: ‘Dr Newport’s MIRAGE is a kind of “virtual reality” box into which people can place their hands to view them from above. An ingenious arrangement of cameras and mirrors means that the person actually views a real-time video of their hands projected to where they feel their hands to be. Instantaneous digital video manipulation allows them to see their hands being distorted; for instance, stretched, shrunk, swapped, doubled or disappeared.

‘The multisensory impression that one is directly viewing one’s own hand is so irresistible that people experience their body being reshaped magically in front of their eyes. Reactions range from disquieted bafflement, through open-mouthed wonder, to hysterical laughter.’ The new exhibit will open at Camera Obscura on 9 October.

Kelly Auty, Policy Advisor for the Education and Public Engagement Board, said: ‘The Society is committed to undertaking a programme of high-quality public engagement activities which promote excellence in psychology to the wider public. The Education and Public Engagement Board’s grant scheme is a key aspect of our public engagement portfolio. I have been really excited to work with the grant recipients on the projects we have funded from the 2013 round of grants, the quality and variety of the activities funded just goes to reflect the excellent work our members are doing and we are delighted to be able to support them.’ er

The application deadline for this year’s grants scheme has just passed; for information on future grants rounds, contact Kelly Auty at [email protected]

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