The popular science radio show ‘All in the Mind’ is 25 years old this year. To celebrate the presenters looked back over the last 25 years of psychology research to find out whether it has made a difference in the real world. The show first broadcast on the 19th November featured guests Prof Graham Davey, from the University of Sussex, and our very own Dorothy Bishop. The programme highlighted the challenges facing the discipline which everyone thinks they know about. Consequently it is often considered by outsiders to be, to quote Graham Davey, “the study of the bleedin’ obvious”. Conversely, when psychological research throws up counter intuitive results these are often dismissed as ‘nonsense’.
However, the programme provided examples from across the years of how understanding the way we think and behave can have real utility. For example in helping people pick healthy options, understand how best to interrogate memory or encourage them to pay their taxes on time.
In Dorothy’s own field, the study of language impairments, psychological research is having a real impact in education policy.
Asked what the biggest discoveries in psychology have been over the last 25 years Dorothy highlighted the integration of genetics with psychology, particularly in the area of language and reading development. Dorothy also commented on the allure of neuroscience; arguing that in many cases we need to integrate the latest neuroscience with the phenomena, methodology and theories of psychology in order to fully understand the results from these new technologies.