The annual British Psychological Society Conference seems to come around more quickly every year. Luckily, the subjective nature of time perception was the focus of one of the talks so I gained a bit of insight into why this might be the case. Claudia Hammond, who was receiving a media award from the Society, spoke about her new book (pictured right) Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception, (click on title to see more information as well as phenomena such as the ‘Oddball effect’). Claudia is able to communicate really complex ideas in an engaging and accessible way. She gave a convincing account of time dragging for kidnap victims such as Alan Johnston and managed to stimulate a few ideas about primacy/recency effects in wine tasting. I can’t wait to read it.
Congratulations also to John Radford who received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology Education. He is an inspirational psychologist who established Psychology as an ’A’ level subject in 1968 and oversaw its development as Chief Examiner for 9 years. He also set up what has become the department I work in and I was lucky enough to interview him recently for an article in The Psychologist Magazine about his take on the last 50 years of Psychology in the UK.
Other good sessions included Diane Halpern on gender (she handled this perennial hot potato adeptly), Peter Hegarty on Foucault (part of a History of Psychology series) and Dan Gould on Olympic success. The latter made some really important points about encouraging kids to have fun and experience lots of different sports before you start ‘training them to win’. I found myself drawn to quite a few of the presentations from the Sport and Coaching section because they seem to be working at the forefront of applied psychology. For example, Mark Bawden spoke about the contribution of Positive Psychology in his work coaching the English cricket team and his talk ‘Building super strengths and flooding weaknesses’ was superb in terms of delivery and content. It is always good to hear the story of the African violet lady of Baltimore (look it up) and to see an underdog triumph through tenacity (Steven Bradbury – watch him on you tube here).
The venue for the conference this year was The Grand Connaught Rooms in Holborn, dead handy for me and also surrounded by good places to eat and drink. I managed to fit in an old favourite, Great Queen Street, as well as a great new Mexican bar and restaurant La Bodega Negra (website here) where I had one of the best ‘Old Fashioneds’ I have ever tasted. Given the state of the en primeur campaign and general state of disarray in the wine world I might stick to cocktails for a bit.