“The Conflicted Mind”, according to EHU Psychology professor

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.’

EHU Psychology Professor discusses how to battle the winter blues

Professor Geoff Beattie did a series of TV, radio and newspaper interviews in Dublin on the effects of the seasons on mood and behaviour, urging people to avoid ‘hibernating’ at this beautiful time of the year.  The media day was commissioned by Tourism Northern Ireland.  The chef in the photograph is Noel McMeel from the Lough Erne Resort who has cooked for a number of US Presidents.  Geoff finished off a long day of radio and newspaper interviews with an appearance on TV3’s 6 o’clock Show, the big, live early evening show on Ireland’s equivalent of ITV.  He was interviewed and then had to ‘cook’ with Yvonne Connolly.  His ‘cooking’, it seems, consisted of slicing a parsnip, but even then he says that Yvonne looked slightly alarmed by his culinary skills!

EHU Cyberpsychologist Dr Linda Kaye gives Tedx Talk on what Emoji’s say about us

Dr Linda Kaye recently represented Edge Hill University at the TEDxVienna “On The Edge” Conference, at the Volkstheater, Vienna. The conference comprised a range of invited speakers who presented their cutting-edge ideas on the role of technology and science in society.

Dr Kaye presented her insights on “What your emoji says about you”; enthusing audiences on how different emoji may help us make accurate first impressions of each other in online communication. Specifically, she drew on her research conducted in the Department of Psychology with Dr Helen Wall and with external partner Dr Stephanie Malone (Australia Catholic University). The research entailed obtaining measures of personality and emoji behaviour in a sample of Facebook users, in which a group of naïve observers were then asked to make a personality impression of them. According to their findings, Kaye and colleagues report that emoji may help us understand other people’s levels of open-mindedness; a trait which is otherwise difficult to judge at first impression in the “real world”.

To view the talk click here.

EHU Psychology lecturers discuss the psychology behind real world issues

Edge Hill University was delighted to host BBC Radio Lancashire recently to broadcast the excitement of Freshers’ Week and to share some research insights from a number of lecturers across the University. As part of this, Dr Andy Levy and Dr Linda Kaye from EHU Psychology each took part in an interview to help spread the word about how psychology is being applied to a range of real-world issues.

Dr Andy Levy discussed his insights about sport and exercise rehabilitation, and how psychology can help encourage people to adhere to healthy lifestyles. Next, Dr Linda Kaye discussed her insights into the psychology of emoji, and how they function in contemporary human communication.

The full broadcast can be accessed here.

Psychology Professor discusses the stresses and strains of modern life

Professor Geoff Beattie recently did a morning of interviews on the stresses and strains of modern life, discussing research carried out by Gousto.  He did twenty or so back-to-back radio interviews including BBC Nottingham, BBC Radio Tees, BBC Radio Devon, Radio Yorkshire, BBC Radio Shropshire etc. with Sally Gunnell on the pressures that we all face today, where we are expected to excel in all aspects of life. Sally is used to pressure, she is the only female British athlete to have won Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles, and the only female 400m hurdler in history to have won the Olympic and World titles and broken the world record. They talked about that insidious process of social comparison, fuelled by Facebook and other social media.  The pressures, of course, come from within and we realise that some of the expectations are unrealistic but we still feel guilty when we fail to meet them. Sally talked about the pressures of winning an Olympic gold, and the pressures she faces today as a working mum. Resilience in sport and in life seems to be the key, and they talked about how that can be developed, and what lessons we can learn from sport to apply to our more mundane everyday lives.

Visualising Success: Satisfaction

Developing skills and self-knowledge on placement with IBM.

BSc (Hons) Psychology student Lydia Suffling began her placement with the Human Resources department of IBM in June 2015, in Portsmouth. During her time there, she rose to the challenge of an additional new role within a fast-paced team in London, assisting with a large-scale project. 

As this placement formed part of her degree, an additional challenge for Lydia was to complete reflective coursework assignments, analysing her workplace experience in the context of relevant psychological literature. Lydia believes that her insight into the demands of the workplace have been greatly enhanced by her placement experience.

“Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey with IBM – not only have I increased my skills in communication, collaboration, critical thinking, project management and organization; I have also learnt about my own style of learning and enjoyment in the workplace.” Lydia Suffling, BSc (Hons) Psychology

Visualising Success: Advantage

Students gain valuable employment skills during their degree.

The research internship scheme in the Department of Psychology provides funded opportunities each year for the second year students on our BSc (Hons) programmes. 

The successful applicants have the opportunity to work alongside members of the academic staff in order to gain the experience of being part of a professional research team. They primarily work in the data collection stage of a research project, where they are responsible for administering research procedures to participants, and ensuring the accurate collection of data. Engagement in this scheme enriches the students’ experience of learning research methods in psychology, and enhances the experience they can include on their CVs when seeking employment after graduation.

“The Psychology department at Edge Hill will provide you with tools that you will need to pursue your ambitions. There is no better time to start using those tools than now!” Bethany Jones, BSc (Hons) Psychology 2017, 1st Class Honours

Visualising Success: Catalyst

Our partnership with social enterprise Catalyst Psychology provides valuable student placements.

Catalyst Psychology is a social enterprise providing child and educational psychology services within the Greater Manchester area. This is supported by a team of qualified Educational Psychologists, Assistant Psychologists and administrative staff who help deliver a number of psychological services in schools. 

Catalyst Psychology has been a partner of Edge Hill University for a number of years, and has supported many undergraduate psychology students on placement to enable them to gain invaluable experience relating to the role of an Educational Psychologist. Additionally, Catalyst Psychology contributes to our undergraduate curriculum, specifically within the BSc Educational Psychology strand of our programmes.

“All students who have been fortunate to undertake placement work with Catalyst have reported having extremely rewarding and meaningful experiences. This has translated not only into enriched opportunities for the purpose of course assignments, but also in developing key transferable skills relevant to a range of educational-based roles.” Dr Linda Kaye, Educational Psychology Programme Leader

Psychology Professor joins BBC Breakfast to discuss children’s fear of crime

Professor Geoff Beattie recently appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss a new report from the Children’s Society which looked at how cumulative disadvantages impact on children’s well-being.  The report found that the most common worry amongst children between 10 and 17 is fear of crime.

Professor Beattie discussed how crime rates, including violent crime, have dropped significantly over the past twenty years but this has not been accompanied by a reduction in fear of crime.  He also pointed out that people generally are not very good at working out the probability of negative events occurring and they rely on a series of heuristics including whether an event is vivid in their mind.

The discussion also included reference to the way we consume news these days, and how social media, can affect this because they both rely heavily on image rather than text.  They make the images of the aftermath of crime very vivid indeed and influence how people think about the likelihood of certain crimes occurring.  Until relatively recently, news was heavily text based with more of an explanation of why things occurred rather than just focusing on the very visual consequences.  Professor Beattie suggested that parents need to talk more about crime to their children, to contextualise it, to talk about how to avoid becoming a victim of crime, and build self-efficacy, to make it less fearful for them.

Psychology Professor’s books go International

The Chinese rights of Professor Beattie’s book ‘Rethinking Body Language: How Hand Movements Reveal Hidden Thoughts’ published by Routledge in the U.K. in 2016 have just been sold to Post And Telecom Press.  It will be published in China in 2018.  His various other books have been translated into German, Finnish, Portuguese for the Brazilian market, Italian, Taiwanese and Korean.  ‘Get the Edge: How Simple Changes Will transform Your Life’ published by Headline in the U.K. was also translated into Chinese and published in China by CS-Booky.