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Geoffrey Beattie

Professor of Psychology, Edge Hill University

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Geoff Beattie is Professor of Psychology at Edge Hill University, and was formerly Professor of Psychology and Head of School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester. He has published a number of books on psychology applied to a range of topics (including ‘The Psychology of Language and Communication’, ‘The Psychology of Climate Change’, ‘Why Aren’t We Saving the Planet’, ‘Our Racist Heart: An Exploration of Unconscious Prejudice in Everyday Life’, ‘Visible Thought’, ‘The Conflicted Mind’, ‘Trophy Hunting: A Psychological Perspective’, all published by Routledge). He was awarded the Spearman Medal by the British Psychological Society for ‘published psychological research of outstanding merit’ and is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, the Royal Society of Medicine and the Royal Society of Arts. His psychological research has focussed on the role of implicit processes in decision-making and behaviour in three areas. Firstly, in improving understanding of the nature and role of implicit nonverbal behaviour in communication to overcome everyday errors in misinterpretation, and to augment communicative effectiveness in domains like public service messaging and advertising. Secondly, in advancing our understanding of the role of implicit cognition in discrimination and how genuine implicit bias can be identified and assessed to promote equality and diversity. And thirdly in developing a new understanding of the role of implicit cognition in decision-making relevant to climate change to inform international policy and practice in this area. The goal here is to identify psychological barriers to climate change mitigation including developing new approaches to changing underlying implicit attitudes to high carbon lifestyles. He has also published several books of reportage (including ‘Survivors of Steel City’, Chatto & Windus; ‘We are the People: Journeys Through the Heart of Protestant Ulster’, Heinemann; ‘On the Ropes: Boxing as a Way of Life’, Victor Gollancz), two novels (‘The Corner Boys’, Victor Gollancz; ‘The Body’s Little Secrets’, Gibson Square) and a memoir (‘Protestant Boy’, Granta) – he grew up in a mill house at ‘the turn of the road’ in North Belfast (christened ‘Murder Triangle’ by the media during the Troubles) and was the first in a generation from his primary school to pass the Eleven Plus. He attended Belfast Royal Academy and did his PhD at Trinity College Cambridge. The memoir is about his Protestant working-class background and his move away from the turn-of-the-road gang. His book ‘Selfless’ (Routledge, 2021) explores the discomfort of social class and education in more detail. His most recent book is on the psychology of doubt explored through life histories. It considers self-doubt and the impostor syndrome as well as the weaponisation of doubt with respect to climate change and the marketing of cigarettes. He explores through an analysis of letters, diaries, conversations, autobiographies etc. how doubt develops and how the likes of Kafka, Jung, Picasso and Turing succumbed to doubt, or eventually learned to control it. He argues that doubt is central to the self; it can be either a safeguarding mechanism or a distraction, rational or irrational, systematic or random, healthy or pathological, productive or non-productive, but always critically important. The book ‘Doubt: A Psychological Exploration’ will be published by Routledge in November 2022.   At the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing, he will be working on a new book on lies, lying and liars. His initial research has been focussing on historical and political autobiographies and biographies, philosophical texts and the core psychological literature, including sociobiological perspectives. He has background research material on individuals who live their lives though lies – conmen, ‘ten-bob’ millionaires, undercover police, cheats and adulterers. He is interested in the psychology of the liar, strategies of deceit, remorse or lack of it, emotion and rationalisations, pathological liars, the development of lying, lying and narcissism, functional and effective lies, big lies like those of Putin and how these are maintained, the consequences of lying, lie detection. There will be an element of personal reflection throughout the book. ‘I remember the first time my mother lied to me’ is the book’s opening sentence, moving then onto research in psychology on lies in everyday life, and why psychology has drawn the wrong conclusions from this research. His underlying assumption is that lying can only properly be understood in the context of individual lives, including his own.