our President welcomes new students; introducing ‘altmetrics’; President’s Award; meet the Psychologist and Digest team; and more

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

For me as an academic, September has always meant the start of a new year – new timetables and classes, new faces to get to know, the annual round of conferences and academic meetings starting up (and the bizarre urge to buy new stationery!). It’s the time of year that the Society welcomes new psychology students onto their courses by providing departments with copies of The Psychologist to distribute to them. [We are also, incidentally, making this September issue open access online via]. So I thought it would be helpful to cover some of the issues that particularly affect students and departments of psychology.

Student events
The BPS Annual Student Conference will take place on the first day of the Society’s Annual Conference (5 May 2015 in Liverpool), and it will feature a ‘Spotlight on careers’ section and some fascinating keynotes. The student conference also has a poster session, accepting submissions for projects that have not yet been concluded, to allow you to submit work you’re currently doing (e.g. final-year projects). You can submit online via

We also run talks and exhibitions for students in their first-year at university and those at school or college who are thinking about taking a psychology degree. These ‘Psychology4Students’ events include presentations by established UK psychologists and various demonstrations, book sales and careers advice. This year they will take place in Sheffield on the 20 November and in London on the 2 December. Do take a look at and book by 20 November!

Further down the line, you may well be interested in our ‘Psychology4Graduates’ event, taking place this year in London on 3 December: see

Career progression survey
If you’re just starting out on studying psychology you will probably be interested in knowing more about what you can do with a psychology degree. The Society is engaged in a major piece of work to follow the 2011 cohort of psychology graduates for seven years, evaluating their career progression at four key points – one, three, five and seven years after graduation; and to evaluate the current careers of earlier cohorts of graduates as a comparator. If departments would like to join as a partner institution (getting detailed feedback on your own graduates’ career progress as well as summaries of the overall survey analysis) please e-mail [email protected].

Our analysis of the first phase of the survey suggests that overall, over 65 per cent of respondents were in full-time employment or postgraduate study. Within two years of graduation, this had risen to over 83 per cent, peaking at over 99 per cent by four years. There was a slight decline at seven years, with a noticeable increase in those in part-time employment.

Overall, 66.3 per cent of respondents indicated that their current employment was related to their long-term career plan. The expected pattern of early careers destinations is supported to a greater extent, with more established careers being increasingly evident in the 2007 and 2005 cohorts. The type, pattern and duration of employment confirms that for psychology graduates, the early career destinations are often not linked to their intended careers destination and it can take around five years post-graduation for graduates to settle into a traditional career pathway. For example, in relation to the 2011 cohort, only 48.6% of respondents indicated that their current employment was related to their long term career plan. This percentage then increases for the 2009, 2007, and 2005 cohorts (70.9%, 74.7% and 81.8% respectively).

Overall, 54.6 per cent of respondents indicated that the possession of a degreein psychology had been a requirement for obtaining their current job. This was more likely for 2005 and 2007 graduates (76.4% and 72.2%) than for 2009 and 2011 graduates (49.4% and 31.8%).
Overall, 53.8 per cent of respondents were employed in the public sector; 34.7 per cent in the private sector and 11.5 per cent in the not-for-profit sector. Interestingly, looking across the different cohorts, more 2005 graduates were employed in the public sector than the private sector (69% and 23.6%). However, this delineation becomes less acute across the 2007, 2009 and 2011 graduates. So that for the 2011 graduates, the percentages in each sector were very similar (42.3% and 44.5%).

Overall, 41.6 per cent of respondents indicated that their current job is in the field of psychology, but this was represented by a decline across the specific cohorts (54.5% for 2005; 50.6% for 2007; 38.8% for 2009; and 31.8% for 2011).

We will be continuing this tracking of graduates to find out more about the long-term career destinations of psychology graduates and will be asking more about the particular ways in which their study of psychology has supported their later career options and decisions.What the Society can do for you Whilst you are still a student, being a member of the Society can help with your studies in a number of ways:I    The Psychologist, published monthly containing inspiring articles, useful information, news and reviews
I    the award-winning Research Digest (, which has been sharing the latest published research for the past 11 years. It is available in blog, e-mail, Twitter and Facebook forms, and non-members of the BPS can register for this service too.
I    an active network for undergraduates (details at
I    the student magazine Psych-Talk, not only a source of information but also  a place to hone your writing skills – we’ll accept articles, book reviews, events reviews, interviews, so if you’ve done some excellent research, started a study group or a psychsoc, been to
a good conference, presented a poster, write it up for Psych-Talk (guidelines for contributors can be found via
I    our Sections, Divisions and Special Groups, which you can join and receive useful publications and conference discounts (see
I    local Branches – as Society members you will also be members of your local Branch, so keep an eye out for local events or opportunities to get involved or to ask them to help with your university’s psychology society (e.g. by providing speakers)
I    the Society website, including the members only area, which contains lots of helpful information
I    (and looking ahead for some of you) PsyPAG, an active network for postgraduate students (details at

Awards and grants
We offer an Undergraduate Award, given to those students who achieve the highest overall score in an accredited degree programme at each of the institutions accredited by the Society. Your department might also be in the running for an award – the Innovation in Psychology Programmes Award is given in recognition of particularly innovative and creative design and/or delivery and/or assessment of accredited psychology programmes for the benefit of the student experience.

You might also be lucky enough to benefit from our Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme (see p.691), giving students the chance to get direct experience of conducting research during the summer vacation.

Looking further ahead in your journey, we have the Postgraduate Study Visits Scheme and the Joint Postgraduate Award with the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology. And further on still, there is the Outstanding Doctoral Research Contributions to Psychology Award and Postdoctoral Study Visits Scheme. All the above are just a part of a much wider programme of awards and grants, which I’d strongly encourage you to look through (see You can think of them as something to aspire to, but also there is much inspiration to be got from looking at the achievements of past award winners.

Join us
Students are the lifeblood of the Society – you are the next generation of academics and practitioners – and I strongly urge you to join us. This year the student membership fee is £25. Begin the lifelong relationship.

- See also ‘Careers’, p.702

Presidents’ Award 2014 Professor Richard Crisp

Social psychologist Professor Richard Crisp (Aston Business School) who developed ‘imagined contact’ – a mental simulation technique that models interactions between people from different cultures and groups – has been honoured with the Society’s Presidents’ Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Knowledge 2014.

He was, until recently, Chair in Psychology at the University of Sheffield and was nominated for the award by Professor Miles Hewstone (University of Oxford), who praised not only Professor Crisp’s research but also his commitment to training the psychologists of the future. Professor Hewstone said: ‘He has established an international reputation for research on the psychology of prejudice, social cognition and intergroup relations. His work is characterised by integrative theorising and rigorous methodology, exploring both basic level processes and a concern with pressing social issues.’

Professor Crisp’s contribution to social psychology includes 130 articles and chapters in books, which Professor Hewstone said ‘have made important contributions to how psychologists understand the impact of social categorization on prejudice, discrimination and social conflict’. He has also received many awards through his career so far, including the Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize (for the best paper of the year on intergroup relations) as well as the Society’s Spearman Medal in 2006.

After gaining his BA in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford (St Catherine’s College) Professor Crisp went on to study for his PhD at Cardiff University. He became a Chartered Psychologist in 2003. Prior to his time at Sheffield and Aston he had worked as a lecturer and senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham and as Professor and Head of Psychology at the University of Kent.

He made his name with influential research on imagined intergroup contact, arguing that the simple act of imagining positive contact with a member of an outgroup can contribute to reducing prejudice against that group.

Professor Hewstone said that Professor Crisp was also committed to doctoral training. He said: ‘Richard’s research is highly team-focused, and the outstanding success of his graduates provides evidence that he can enable and inspire excellence in doctoral supervision. Almost all of his past students have completed their PhD with first-authored publications, often in the very best journals.’

Professor Crisp said he had been ‘surprised, honoured and delighted’ to receive the award. He said his eventual career in psychology was born out of a love for English literature and economics, he explained: ‘What I loved about English was delving deep in to characters’ lives, their history and working out the drives and motivations that explained their story. What I loved about economics was the idea that certain human behaviours could be modelled, predicted and analysed in a systematic way; that things like consumption, investment, supply and demand could all be studied scientifically. When it came to my degree choice I was stumped – how to combine my fascination with the human condition with my appetite for science? Of course, I discovered psychology as the perfect combination of these interests, and I’ve been enthralled ever since.’

He said his most meaningful contribution to psychological knowledge came to him on a late-night flight from Amsterdam to Birmingham in 2002, imagined contact – a mental simulation technique that models interactions between people from different cultures and groups. He told The Psychologist: ‘The technique has been hugely successful at promoting more positive group-based interactions, reducing prejudice and empowering individuals with confidence and self-efficacy.‘It’s such a simple idea, but one with so much power and potential. To see it grow from a flash of inspiration to a collaboration to a research programme to a multi-lab global endeavour is immensely rewarding. Most importantly though, I passionately believe imagined contact has the power to change people’s lives for the better.’

He added that one of his proudest achievements was having helped the next generation of psychological scientists; helping them to forge their own careers and contributions to the field.

He said he plans to continue his mentoring work. He spoke of the future: ‘I’ve spent my whole career pushing forward with scientific discovery – and I’ll always want to do that. But what I’m really getting excited about now is impact. I strongly believe there is a need for us to better connect basic science with application; to build stronger pathways to impact, and harness advances in psychological science to effect positive change in people’s everyday lives.’

His new role at the Aston Business School will involve applying psychological insights to the problems and challenges that face the business world, from SMEs to global corporations.

Meet the team
The Psychologist and Research Digest team met in London on an ‘away day’ recently to discuss the future of the publications. It was
a rare chance for a group photo. Here team members describe their background before joining the staff.

Debbie Gordon Editorial Assistant:
‘Before joining the Society I worked for a large international food manufacturer and had also worked as an account manager. I have worked part time for the Society for the last six years, and when I’m not working I’m being mum to my two children Raia (8) and Alex (3). I have a degree in media and music technology.’

Ella Rhodes Staff Journalist: ‘After completing my psychology degree at the University of Birmingham and having always been an avid writer I hoped to combine my two biggest passions. I worked for two years at the Derby Telegraph with the aim of becoming a science writer. Happily, in June, I started my new role writing news and features for The Psychologist.

Peter Dillon-Hooper Assistant Editor: ‘I was working as a freelance editor and legal researcher and doing some part-time university lecturing when I was offered a two-week contract with The Psychologist in May 1998. Somehow or other I’m still here. Today I combine my job on The Psychologist with being the Society’s Academic Resources Manager.’

Mike Thompson Sub-Editor/DTP Designer
: ‘I have worked on The Psychologist for more than 20 years – and before that I was a typesetter working on a range of weekly and monthly publications in the East End of London.’

Dr Catherine Loveday Chair of the Psychologist and Research Digest Editorial Advisory Committee
: ‘I am an academic at the University of Westminster with particular research interests in the neuropsychology of memory as well as neurodevelopment and neuroendocrinology. Over the last few years I have developed a strong passion for dissemination of good psychological research and practice, both within and outside of the profession and this was why I have been so keen to be involved with The Psychologist. I joined the committee a few years ago and was appointed Chair in May 2014.’ 

Dr Jon Sutton Managing Editor:
‘I took up my role in March 2000, at the tender age of 25, after a PhD in psychology from the University of London and a brief lectureship at Glasgow Caledonian University. I am particularly proud of proposing the Research Digest and overseeing its increasing success, and of developing a team that looks to come up with the goods month after month, year after year. These are exciting times for The Psychologist and Research Digest, and we are continually looking to expand and improve our offerings for the Society membership and beyond.’

Dr Christian Jarrett Research Digest Editor
: ‘Mid-way through my cognitive neuroscience PhD at Manchester University I realised that becoming a specialist in a narrow field wasn’t for me. I seized any outside writing opportunities I could, then I saw the ad to become part-time editor of the Society’s new Research Digest. Not long after, I left academia completely, taking up a dual role at the BPS, as Digest editor and also as journalist on The Psychologist. Now I am full-time on the Research Digest.’

Dr Alex Fradera Research Digest Writer
: ‘Towards the end of school I’d decided to study journalism, but a careers fair rep advised
me to simply study any essay subject that fascinated. Enter psychology. It led to one PhD, several research jobs and a career applying psychology in the workplace, but the allure of regular writing never went away, making my freelance role at the BPS a perfect fit.’

Ian Florance Freelance writer: ‘I studied English and history of art at Reading and Leeds; worked in publishing for over 30 years and am now a freelance consultant and a poet, novelist and journalist. Tim Cornford (then BPS Chief Executive) and Jon Sutton invited me to contribute to the ‘Careers’ section around 10 years ago and it’s a favourite part of my portfolio work.’


Use of titles

Members of the Society are entitled to use a range of designations and titles that indicate their level of membership and recognise their experience and contribution to the discipline. The Society’s titles are conferred under Royal Charter authority and are available exclusively to current members. Psychologists who are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) are able to use one or more of several titles that indicate their entitlement to practise. HCPC titles are protected in law and can only be used by individuals who are registered.

The Society has an established policy on the use of titles and requires members to differentiate between titles and designations awarded by the Society and those associated with HCPC registration.

Society membership designations
MBPsS – the designation that all Graduate Members are entitled to use.
CPsychol – the designation for those members who have completed Society-recognised postgraduate professional training or a psychology PhD and have been admitted to Chartered Membership.
HonMBPsS and HonFBPsS – Honorary Life Member and Honorary Fellow respectively; designations the Society may confer on individuals of distinction on the recommendation of the Board of Trustees.

Society titles
AFBPsS – Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Members who can demonstrate several years’ experience applying a specialised knowledge of psychology may apply for the award
of this title.
FBPsS – Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Members who can demonstrate an advanced knowledge of psychology and an outstanding contribution to the discipline may apply for this award.
The above designations and titles are the only ones conferred by the Society. Members are strongly encouraged to use their designations wherever possible.
They are a key benefit of membership and convey a powerful message concerning members’ experience and professionalism.
The website contains guidance on the use of Society titles and descriptions – see
Further information on Society membership categories and awards is available at

HCPC titles
Psychologists who are registered with the HCPC have the right to use one or more of seven adjectival titles – Clinical Psychologist, Counselling Psychologist, Educational Psychology, Forensic Psychologist, Health Psychologist, Occupational Psychologist and Sport and Exercise Psychologist. They may also use two generic titles, Practitioner Psychologist and Registered Psychologist.

The HCPC adjectival titles map onto the areas represented by the Society’s practitioner Divisions, and  until the HCPC took over the regulation of psychologists Full membership of a Division automatically carried the right to use an adjectival title. This no longer the case.

The HCPC ‘owns’ all of the domain-specific titles and it is registration with the HCPC, not Full Division membership, that determines eligibility to use an adjectival title.

Guidance on correct usage of titles and designations
A key principle is that our membership designations should not be used in combination with the adjectival titles of the HCPC. Although the Society is supportive of members using both Society and HCPC titles where they have established their right to do so, we are different organisations and our titles  stand for different things. Our Royal Charter gives us the authority to award specific designations associated with membership but no longer allows us to confer domain-specific titles.

Society policy therefore says that it is no longer acceptable to use the descriptions Chartered Clinical Psychologist, Chartered Counselling Psychologist, Chartered Educational Psychologist, and so on.Correct usage ensures a clear separation between Society membership designations and HCPC adjectival titles,  as in: Chartered Psychologist and Health Psychologist; or CPsychol, Registered Forensic Psychologist. 

The website contains detailed guidance and further examples of both correct and incorrect use of Society and HCPC titles and members: see

Further queries may be directed to the Membership Team at [email protected]


Introducing ‘altmetrics’

Authors in BPS journals now have a new way of measuring the impact of their articles with the Altmetric service launched in July by our publishing partner Wiley. Alternative metrics or ‘altmetrics’ track and measure online activity and discussions about individual articles across social media (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.), the mainstream media (newspapers and magazines) and various other online sources.

Articles published in BPS journals will display a score indicating the amount of attention that the article has received. Users clicking on the Altmetric ‘badge’ on Wiley Online Library will see a page displaying the score and the detail behind it, for that article.

Remember, Society members have free access to all BPS journals and their entire backfiles (as well as 32 other Wiley journals) via PsychSource (

Traditional metrics, such as impact factor typically report at the journal level. Altmetric exploits the recent development of new tools for article discoverability to give an understanding of the more immediate impact of a specific research article, or even authors’ impact. It also gives direct access to the online conversations about an article, by medium, source and region. Authors and readers can opt to be alerted each time there is an online mention of a particular article.

Graham Woodward, Associate Marketing Director at Wiley, hopes that this new service will give authors another good reason to choose to publish in BPS journals, adding: ‘Altmetrics are unlikely to replace traditional metrics anytime soon, but our aim is to provide our authors, readers and editors with a more complete picture of the impact of published research.’


Assisting undergraduate research

Eleven students have had summer placements supported by the BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme, which helps those coming into their third year receive training at their universities whilst carrying out a supervised research project. The award allows universities to provide an undergraduate with hands-on experience of research during the summer break to gain an insight into scientific research and to encourage them to consider an academic career. To win
the award, the project must provide real benefits to the student and give them tangible training and career development support.

Among the recipients of the 2014 award were Anna Kolesnik, supervised by Professor Glenn Waller (University of Sheffield), studying the relationship between risk-taking behaviours and anxiety during adolescence and adulthood. Anna’s research involved measuring participants’ risk-taking behaviours, anxiety levels and impulsivity. She said: ‘We aimed to determine whether heightened anxiety during adolescence was associated with risk-taking behaviours in all teenagers, and whether this association decreases with age. Alternatively, two separate groups of teenagers may emerge – some becoming more anxious and risk-averse, and others becoming more prone to take risks without a simultaneous increase in anxiety.’

Throughout her project Anna was given training in how to conduct a literature review, how to carry out a developmental behavioural study with individuals aged nine to 30 years old and how to undertake statistical analysis of behavioural data. She said: ‘My future goals are to complete a PhD in developmental neuroscience. Ultimately, I would like pursue a career in psychological research.’

Also benefiting from the scheme was Axel Vittersø, supervised by Dr Rachel Arnold (University of Bath), in a longitudinal assessment of organisational stress in elite athletes. Axel has received training from Dr Arnold as well as a PhD student at the university and has learned how to recruit participants and design data-collection packs. The project has also given him the chance to attend seminars, tutorials and complete online training usually offered for postgraduate researchers by the university. Axel said: ‘I really enjoyed my assistantship, and it inspired me to continue with further studies. Going into the role,  I wanted to approach it as if it were in fact a PhD to see if this was something that I would be capable of doing. I feel like my goal of doing a PhD is becoming more realistic and attainable. Rachel has given me insight into how this could be done with regard to funding, the application process and what skills and abilities I need to be able to demonstrate.’ The project examined athletes’ preparation for a major sporting event and the organisational stressors they may encounter. This involved collecting data from a large sample of athletes. Axel said: ‘It is important to examine organisational stressors, since research has revealed the prevalence of organisational stressors in elite sport, identifying over 600 organisational demands and the impacts they can have on performance, health and well-being.’

Hannah Howman, an undergraduate student at the University of Nottingham, has also received funding to carry out research using eye-tracking to unravel how humans understand sarcasm. Her supervisor, Dr Ruth Filik, said that despite the fact that sarcasm is very common in everyday language, little is known about the real-time psychological processes involved in understanding it. She told The Psychologist: ‘Some very recent research suggests that some negative utterances, for example, “She is not the best teacher”, instead of receiving a literal interpretation, for example, “She is a good teacher but others are better”, seem to receive a sarcastic interpretation by default, for example, “She is far from being the best teacher”. This finding is particularly interesting in the respect that it cannot be explained by any of the contemporary theories of sarcasm comprehension. ‘The main aim of our research is to monitor participants’ eye movements while they are reading negative utterances such as “She is not the best teacher” in contexts which bias either a literal or sarcastic interpretation of the phrase. We will further compare these to how affirmative utterances – e.g. “She is the best teacher” – are processed, which will again be presented in contexts which bias either a literal or sarcastic interpretation. Differences in the processing of negative versus affirmative utterances will be very informative regarding whether there is something special about negation which leads people to interpret things sarcastically.’

Dr Lois Grayson and her student Rachel Norris (Durham University) have also benefitted from this summer’s scheme. Rachel has been conducting a pilot study into the trait characteristics and sensory mechanisms associated with severe eating-related symptoms in patients with eating disorders,working with around 24 patients from the NHS outpatient clinic in Stockton. Specifically, autism spectrum disorder is associated with sensory issues, and a correlation has been reported between autistic trait expression and sensory atypicalities in the general population. Dr Grayson said: ‘We hypothesise that individuals with high autistic trait expression (high AQ scores) and eating disorders will show more sensory atypicalities than controls with high AQ scores, who in turn will show more than those with low AQ scores and eating disorders.’

Participants were also tested to see if experiencing eating difficulties makes people more reliant on what they see than what they taste. The task involved sipping fruit-flavoured liquids,some of which were coloured in accordance with taste (congruent condition) and some which were not (incongruent condition). Dr Grayson said: ‘We also hypothesise then that the same pattern [as the AQ and sensory scores] will be seen in terms of error scores in the incongruent trial condition of the colour versus taste experimental data..’ Finding that taste and smell are compromised in eating disorder patients with high autistic trait expression (to the extent that their food preferences are more guided by colour than flavour) would be a step, the researchers believe, towards developing recovery eating programmes tailored to sensory profiles.

The award for 2015 opens in November. For more information, see

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