Communicating the importance of psychology

Psychologist and broadcaster Claudia Hammond honoured by the British Academy.

Psychologist and radio presenter Claudia Hammond will receive the British Academy President’s Medal today for her work in improving public understanding of psychology through broadcasting and writing for wider audiences.

At its 2017 Prizes and Medals ceremony, to be held in central London, the Academy will recognise a host of academics, broadcasters, writers and entrepreneurs for their distinction in – and dedication to – the subjects that make up the arts, humanities and social sciences. Hammond receives the award along with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Katie Mitchell OBE, Professor James Stevens Curl and Professor Helga Nowotny. Previous winners include Baroness Shami Chakrabarti CBE, the former head of human rights group Liberty.

Professor Sir David Cannadine, President of the British Academy, will host the ceremony. He said of the winners: ‘They have blazed new trails through their disciplines, shown dedication of the highest order and, through their work, furthered understanding of what it means to be human.’ 

Of her award, Claudia Hammond said: ‘I’m delighted and honoured to be receiving this award from the British Academy. My aim is to communicate the importance of psychology and how evaluating evidence can be useful in all our lives and it’s really nice to see that recognised by such an important institution.’

Speaking to us in 2009, Hammond recounted her days working local radio between school and university: ‘Claudia’s Sunday Requests on Hospital Radio Bedford was not an award-winning production… I started it when I was 14. I went round the wards asking for requests and I found myself going in earlier and staying longer. Patients told me their stories and details of their illnesses and treatments. This was what got me interested in psychology, maybe what even led to me doing a postgraduate degree in health psychology.’ On her hopes for the future, she said: ‘What I hope might happen is that just as the field of economics is suddenly catching on to the decades of psychological research on decision-making, that other fields might start to do the same and to realise that there’s all this research out there which could be put into practice. Expert panels and commissions wouldn’t dream of not including an economist. I’d like to see a day when they all have a psychologist too.’

The Wiley Prize in Psychology this year rewards lifetime achievement by an outstanding international scholar, and is awarded to Professor Stanislas Dehaene (INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit) for his contribution to the study of the cognitive neuroscience of numeracy, literacy and consciousness.

- Find much more from Claudia Hammond in our archive, including this interview from May 2009, this Q+A and this extract from her recent book Mind Over Money. 

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