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Leading psychologist releases new book Doubt: A Psychological Exploration

December 20, 2022

An internationally acclaimed psychologist from Edge Hill University has released a new book exploring the psychological basis for self-doubt and how it has impacted on people, history and the world.

Professor Geoff Beattie explores everything from self-doubt and impostor syndrome to the weaponisation of doubt relating to climate change and the marketing of cigarettes.

Doubt: A Psychological Exploration has blended the latest academic research with case studies of famous figures to create a highly insightful book which provides a central concept for psychology.

A picture of Professor Geoff Beattie holding his new book.

Professor Beattie said: “Doubt is a concept which has been oddly neglected in the past, despite its ubiquitous nature and far-reaching influence. In writing the book I discovered just how ubiquitous it is with some of history’s greatest figures expressing serious doubts about their work and achievements. I also saw how doubt and scepticism can and has been used to influence public opinion, even to the detriment of our own personal health.

“I wanted to navigate readers through the various ways doubt can start and develop, changing the individual in the process. What emerges is that we can either learn to control our doubts, using them as a tool to drive us forward, or be drowned by them, losing our way.”

The book helps readers to recognise how doubt may have been operating in their own lives and to identify how and when it has been used against society – for example, to prevent climate action – and at what personal and societal cost.

It also takes the reader into the lives of transformational thinkers, artists, scientists and writers to explore how and why doubt was crucial in their lives and how the likes of Kafka, Jung, Picasso and Turing succumbed to doubt or learned to control it.

Presenting a compelling case for why doubt cannot be ignored, Professor Beattie’s book is of major interest to academics from a wide range of disciplines, as well as the general public, who may well see something of themselves in its pages.

Marcel Danesi, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Canada, said: “This is one of the most brilliant books I have ever come across. Its aim is to address the question of what is doubt, not directly in any circumscribed definitional standard, but by examining the powerful role it has had, and continues to have, in human life. Its implications for grasping who we are as a species – we are the only species that possesses doubt – and for harnessing or counteracting its enormous power of control over human life, make it a must read for everyone.”

Brian Butterworth, Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Neuropsychology, University College London, UK said: “Beattie brilliantly illustrates the science of doubt with fascinating case studies from doubters like Kafka, to non-doubters like Picasso and how it can be addressed therapeutically, as in Brendan Ingle’s boxing gym in Sheffield.”

Richard Bentall, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Sheffield,said: “Geoff Beattie has written a brilliantly entertaining book about the little considered phenomenon of doubt, focusing mainly but not exclusively on self-doubt. The book offers a wide-ranging and unique appreciation of the importance of doubt in individual minds and in human affairs.”

Professor Beattie is a prize-winning academic, author and broadcaster. He received his PhD from Trinity College Cambridge and is now Professor of Psychology at Edge Hill University, as well as fellow of the British Psychological Society, the Royal Society of Medicine and the Royal Society of Arts. He has also just been appointed Visiting Scholar, OCLW, University of Oxford and member of Wolfson College.

To discover more about courses at Edge Hill University, please visit

December 20, 2022


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