Professor Geoff Beattie’s latest book has just been published by Routledge. Both science and literary writing are integral to this book. Each chapter begins with a detailed description of a time, place and behaviour to situate the psychology, and ultimately to test it. To understand the conflicted habit of smoking and how it was promoted so successfully by the tobacco companies using psychoanalytic ideas, he describes working-class Belfast in the sixties and what smoking meant in his street, and how it was defended. To appraise Festinger’s work on cognitive dissonance, he writes about the boxing gyms of Sheffield where many ‘counter-attitudinal’ statements were said without any apparent effects on underlying attitudes. To explore conflicted memories he sits down with the artist Tracey Emin who describes her early memories and her attempts at resolving them, and how these processes have influenced her art.
This book explores that wide and deep gulf between our experienced lives and our psychological models.
The press release reads:
‘One of the greatest paradoxes of human behaviour is our tendency to say one thing and do something completely different. We think of ourselves as positive and fair-minded, caring about other people and our environment, yet our behaviour lets us down time and time again. The Conflicted Mind, drawing on classic research in social psychology, explores the relationship between the conscious and the more automatic and unconscious processes of the human mind. It offers a groundbreaking perspective on why we think and act in the way we do. All kinds of areas in our lives – our attitudes, habits, communication, roles, and memories – are affected by the decisions our conscious and unconscious selves make. From love to politics, and from race to survival, how can we balance the rational and reflective side of ourselves with a darker side, seemingly hidden from view and subject to all sorts of biases?
In this groundbreaking new book, Professor Geoffrey Beattie, shows how the idea of the ‘conflicted mind’ has been central to some of the most important research in social psychology. Beattie examines key social psychology theories and research in a new light, including Festinger’s concept of cognitive dissonance, Allport’s research on racial attitudes, and Milgram’s obedience experiments, to demonstrate how and why this conflict is present and how it is sometimes manipulated by others.
So why did this classic social psychological research fail to deal adequately with the conflicted mind? And what lessons are there to be learnt for psychologists going forward, and for the wider society? Beattie argues that rather than encouraging individuals to trust their instincts and surrender their decision-making to automatic processes, we should all be seeking to understand these automatic and unconscious processes better. In doing so, we can further understand ourselves, and each other, and recognise that although we may all be flawed creatures, crucially we are not alone.
By situating a critical academic perspective in the context of beautifully written descriptions of everyday life, Geoffrey Beattie, using his trademark original and creative style, brings science and literary writing closer together in a highly readable book aimed at researchers, students, specialists, and the general reader.’