Behaviour Change and Psychological Governance – ESRC Seminar Series 2013-2015

10-5pm, 24th March 2014, The Hepple Room, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol

This seminar series aims to investigate as yet unanswered aspects of the debate over Behaviour Change and the use of psychology in techniques of governing.  Specifically, we do not know enough about the effects of psychological forms of governance on national populations and specific social groups. Nor do we know what alternatives to Behaviour Change might look like if they were informed by participatory, observational or interpretive social science methods rather than economistic or behavioural science techniques and paradigms.

The seminars will discuss the Behaviour Change agenda in its wider context – in relation to how our cultural ideas about the brain, mind, behaviour and self are changing.  Participants from a range of social science disciplines will identify research, practical and political challenges posed by the current policy enthusiasm for particular branches of positive psychology, wellbeing, happiness, flourishing and ‘mindfulness’ in order to examine two original aspects: (a) the cumulative effect, or unintended consequences of the use of psychology in public policy, and (b) the underlying assumptions and principles on which they are based.

The first seminar will be held at Bristol University’s School of Geographical Sciences and focuses on building a contemporary and critical understanding of the relationship between space and behaviour. Seeking to avoid the past mistakes of a now- discredited behavioural geography and overcoming some of the blind spots of environmental psychology, this theme considers how best to conceptualise the spatial framing of human behaviours without unwittingly reviving the spectre of environmental determinism.

Participants for this event include Professor Graeme Evans (School of Art & Design, Middlesex University London), Dr Monica Degen (Sociology and Communications, Brunel University London), Dan Lockton (Royal College of Art, Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design), Professor Eve Edelstein (Institute of Place and Wellbeing, University of Arizona) and Dr Margaret Tarampi (Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara). For more information, please follow the link above.


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