Students – conference and community

Previewing the 2020 Conference, and developments with the online community and PsychTalk publication.

Editor's note: Sadly this event has now been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The student stream of the British Psychological Society’s Conference 2020 will feature a fascinating line-up of speakers. As well as Society award winner Dr Amy Orben (pictured above) and talks by psychology students, a number of eminent academics and even a famous face will be delivering keynote addresses.

Among them will be Professor Mark Griffiths (Nottingham Trent University), talking on behavioural addictions in relation to gaming and the internet. Also appearing will be Frankie Bridge, former member of girl band The Saturdays, who was hospitalised after experiencing panic attacks, depression and anxiety. Bridge will appear alongside her clinical psychologist Dr Maleha Khan who, along with psychiatrist Dr Mike McPhillips, contributed to Bridge’s recent book Open: Why Asking for Help Can Save Your Life. It explores Bridge’s experiences and the importance of ‘finding and keeping hold of hope’.

Turing Fellow and Professor of Machine Learning and Robotics Angelo Cangelosi (University of Manchester) will also feature in the student stream. After studying psychology and cognitive science Cangelosi moved into researching humanoid robots and their language grounding and embodiment, human-robot interaction, developmental robotics and robot learning. He has previously worked as Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Cognition and was founding Director of the Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems at Plymouth University.

Chair of the BPS Student Committee Sam Gibb told us that all delegates at the conference would be welcome at the student stream, which would ‘paint us a positive picture of psychology’. Picking up on Orben’s talk to shed light on the nuances of social media, she added: ‘The thing about technology today which is so beautiful is that you can engage to a different degree, depending on the day, depending on how you feel, depending on your background… the engagement you experience can vary. Attending to how people engage electronically is essential for creating that connection, that channel for support. I really understand the future of psychology to be how we can integrate this stuff more.’

Honest discourse
In this vein, the new British Psychological Society online communities are prompting lively discussion, including in collaboration with the student member publication PsychTalk. A recent competition on the student community called for contributions on ‘controversial ideas in psychology’

The winning entrant, Hosana Tagomori from University College London, considered whether addiction to a drug is a brain disease. Tagomori noted shortcomings with the notion of addiction being a brain disease, including that ‘it neglects the dimension of choice and may create hopelessness by implying that addiction is untreatable’. In conclusion, Tagomori argued that: ‘treatments should be aimed at identifying the roots of the problem using a multidimensional approach, empowering individuals instead of turning them into patients, and ensuring they are treated without fear of judgement. Therefore, the definition of addiction as a disease should not abandon the necessity for psychological therapies and environmental changes nor diminish its relevance, as this could do more harm than good in the long run.’

Tagomori’s article, plus two runner ups, will be published in the May issue of PsychTalk.

Incoming PsychTalk editor Juhi Waeerkar, an undergraduate at King’s College London, originally pursued an associate business degree in her hometown of Mumbai, India. She told us: ‘After stumbling across several online resources on psychology, even finishing Robert Sapolsky’s lecture series on YouTube, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go through with a degree in Psychology in the UK. As the incoming editor at Psych-Talk, I hope to provide a platform that allows for honest discourse in psychology with an equal weight given to ideas from every perspective.’

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