One on One... with Costas Karageorghis

We dip into the Society member database and pick… Costas Karageorghis, Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology at Brunel University London.

One thing psychologists could do better
Sometimes I get a wee sense that we can come across as imposters and that we do not necessarily take to heart what we preach. For example, if we passionately espouse a particular approach – let’s say it’s Self-Determination Theory – we should strive to be empowering, encouraging and enabling in our interactions with others, rather than controlling, cynical and critical. Psychologists are important role models in many fields of human endeavour and so practising what we preach is a clear imperative in my mind.

One hope
I hope that humankind and the distinguished leaders of the human race can realise and take far more earnestly the tremendous damage that we are inflicting upon our precious planet. It is possible for ordinary people to take the initiative in terms of regulating their everyday behaviours in such a way that the health of the planet is less severely compromised. The planet needs time to heal and I feel that psychologists, with our expertise in behaviour management, have a seminal role to play. People may need to eliminate their dependency on the internal combustion engine, consider having fewer children, and live closer to work. I am a firm believer in the notion that each individual has the power to make a difference and, together, we must

One motto
At work, I have always abided by the motto to ‘deliver the lecture that I would want to listen to’. In recent years, automated lecture capture has done to the lecture what video did to the radio star and, believe it or not, lecturers are now a dying breed in universities. The big push is towards ‘flipped classrooms’, ‘technology-mediated delivery’ and ‘team-based learning’. These approaches certainly have their place but please, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are few pedagogical experiences that are as life-changing as a well-delivered lecture by an individual who is an expert in their subject area.

One moment
There is a long-established ‘BASES (British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences) Band’ of which Professor John Buckley (Chester) and I are founder members; we normally play at the annual BASES conference but have also performed at many other events [in the picture above it’s the 2012 Pre-Olympic Congress in Glasgow]. In Manchester in the early noughties, delegates were staying at hotels scattered all over town and there was no formal venue booked for us to play. John brought his trumpet along and I had a Roland keyboard plus a mic/amplifier. With our equipment in tow, we presented ourselves at the entrance to a swanky hotel bar and, cool as you like, I looked the burly bouncer in the eyes and said, ‘Hi chummy, we’re the band’. He immediately showed us to a mini-stage, where there was a gleaming baby grand onto which I duly placed my keyboard. The delegates began to flood in until the point that we had commandeered almost the entire lounge. Suffice to say, the drinks flowed and we had a whale of a time, singing and dancing into the small hours. No-one ever questioned the veracity of our ‘we’re the band’ claim, which was entirely bogus in that context. Buoyed by the memory of this formative experience, John and I attempted the same ruse at a posh hotel in Nottingham in October 2019… but on this occasion the canny management immediately shut us down. Quel dommage! 

One alternative career path 
I know from the personal struggles of close friends that, no matter how talented or dexterous you might be, it’s hard to know where the next meal is coming from in the music business. This is what prevented me from going headlong into music performance as a career. During my university years, I performed regularly in West London’s less glamorous venues and learned the hard way about the jobbing musician’s hand-to-mouth existence. Jazz pianist Nigel Fox is a lifelong friend, he reminds me of Ronnie Scott’s quip: ‘Did you hear the one about the jazz millionaire? … He started with two million.’

One musical selection
A piece of music that moves me and I never grow tired of listening to, is 'Lately' by Stevie Wonder. Coming from the perspective of a man who suspects his lover of cheating on him, this classic song seems to hold the perfect balance of musicality and emotionality. From a technical perspective, the use of colourful and complex chords – unusual for a pop song – coupled with the most unexpected of modulations for the final chorus is simply breath-taking. Then, in the outro, Stevie sustains a vocal note with such sensitivity that you’re left in a gooey mess. Just because a man has lost the use of his eyes, it does not mean that he has lost vision.

One psychologist we should be proud of
We should be proud of Dr Linda Papadopoulos – she is, indubitably, a national treasure. I am always impressed by her erudition and faultless delivery in the realm of public engagement.

One inspiration
One of my greatest inspirations has been my former PhD supervisor, Professor Peter Terry, who now lives in Toowoomba, Australia. A highly gifted communicator, Peter always guided me against the gratuitous use of technical language and psychobabble. As a neophyte scholar, I once wrote that two psychometric instruments were not ‘phenomenologically isomorphic’ (i.e., they were not the same). Peter read this while on a plane that was taking him and the British bobsleigh team to Nagano for the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. To teach me a lesson, he got the bobsleighers to use the phrase 'phenomenologically isomorphic' in every media interview that they gave during the Games. For example, sleigh driver Sgt Sean Olsson said to one media agency: ‘The problem is that the bob tracks here in Japan and those in Europe are not, eh, phenomenologically isomorphic, and so I need a little time to adjust.’ The interviewer stared at Sean in total bewilderment.

Twitter: @SAVIBrunel

Photo credit: Sally Trussler, Brunel University London photographer

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