The Psychological Society of Ireland’s Early Graduate Group have asked me to deliver a keynote at their forthcoming annual conference. I’m guessing it is because they are “Early” Graduates that my keynote is scheduled for an eye-blearying timeslot of 9:30 AM on a Saturday morning. I’ll have to get up at dawn just to make sure I have the right number of espressos on board. At least I’ll have the whole day ahead of me afterwards.
As befits such an august occasion, the conference theme focuses on the place of psychology in Irish society, a topic that really puts it up to a speaker. So, after mulling it over for a while, here is the abstract I came up with…
The Point of Psychology (and How it Gets Missed)
The point of psychology is, and always has been, to use scientific methods to resolve uncertainties in our understanding of the human condition. Nonetheless, many audiences seek to imbue psychology with some kind of mission to “improve people’s well-being” (whatever that means), to “encourage positive behaviours” (whatever they are), or to cure mental ill-health by means of laying-on-of-hands.
In addition, psychology often projects itself as a politically liberal (as opposed to conservative) discipline, despite being an overwhelmingly white, middle class, middle-aged, male academic field shaped by a century of Euro-American hegemony.
This talk will examine these themes, and include at least one joke.
You see? Worth getting up for.
The lecture takes place on Saturday, 28 February, at 9:30 a.m. in the Psychology Building at NUI Galway. See here for a map and here for details on registering for the conference, and here for their Facebook page. The schedule is cleverly worked out. For what is essentially a one-day conference, they’ve manage to incorporate two conference parties.
Staying up late, getting up early…
Brian Hughes is an academic psychologist and university professor in Galway, Ireland, specialising in stress, health, and the application of psychology to social issues. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.