27th June 2013 - Psychology in the Pub Manchester

The BPS North West group are running their own Psychology in the Pub event in Manchester on 27th June. Their speaker is Dr. Catherine Loveday who'll be delivering a talk entitled 'Lost in Music' about why music often evokes emotional reactions in us and the brain basis behind this. The talk starts at 6.30pm, so people need to arrive in good time to get a seat and a drink. The pub is The Lass O'Gowrie, on Charles St. (off Oxford Rd).

11th October 2012 at 19.30 at the Showroom Cafe/Bar

The bedtime story effect:  The role of sleep in memory and language learning  

Dr Anna Weighall, Sheffield Hallam University

For hundreds of years scientists have questioned the function of sleep.  Evidence is now converging on the conclusion that sleep has an active role to play in memory consolidation, although this view is controversial.  I will talk about the way in which sleep may affect our ability to lay down new information and to learn. I will talk specifically about the role of sleep in learning new vocabulary with reference to a series of experiments which investigated word learning in adults and young children. Our findings suggest that memory for newly learned words improves after sleep in both adults and children.  This finding has important implications for our conceptualisation of vocabulary development and for teaching and learning strategies. This talk will provide you with the perfect excuse for sending your children to bed early and perhaps even for a nap yourself!

Dr Anna Weighall is a principal lecturer in Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University where she lectures in a wide range of topics spanning cognitive and developmental psychology.  Her research interests are primarily concerned with language comprehension, learning and development.  Her current research is funded by the Leverhulme Trust in collaboration with Professor Gareth Gaskell and Dr Lisa Henderson at the University of York.

Previous Events: 

16th August 2012
Weird Science: An Introduction to Anomalistic Psychology

 Ever since records began, in every known society, a substantial proportion of the population has reported unusual experiences many of which we would today label as “paranormal”. Opinion polls show that the majority of the general public accepts that paranormal phenomena do occur. Such widespread experience of and belief in the paranormal can only mean one of two things. Either the paranormal is real, in which case this should be accepted by the wider scientific community which currently rejects such claims; or else belief in and experience of ostensibly paranormal phenomena can be fully explained in terms of psychological factors. This presentation will provide an introduction to the sub-discipline of anomalistic psychology, which may be defined as the study of extraordinary phenomena of behaviour and experience, in an attempt to provide non-paranormal explanations in terms of known psychological and physical factors. This approach will be illustrated with examples relating to a range of ostensibly paranormal phenomena.

 Professor Chris French is the Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths College, University of London ( He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, as well as being a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the British False Memory Society. He has published over 100 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics within psychology. His main current area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims. He writes for The Skeptic and for the Guardian’s online science pages. Follow him on Twitter: @chriscfrench

21st June 2012

Does racism continue to play a role in our mental health system today 

and what is the impact of racism on the individual?  Clinical 

Psychologist, Gail Coleman will explore these questions in a 

presentation looking at the historical roots and reality of racism in 

psychology and in British society today.  Dr Coleman will consider the 

way BME people have been pathologised by psychiatric/psychological 

professions.  She will also reflect upon the impact on children, given 

that nearly 88,000 racist incidents were recorded in Britain's schools 

between 2007 and 2011. In conclusion, Dr Coleman will discuss what can 

we do to promote change in the NHS, in our education systems,in our 

families and in our communities today

29th February 2012 at 19.30 at the Showroom Cafe/Bar

Moral Minds - Mary Langridge
In this session we explore the various facets of human morality. From where our judgments come from to the emotions we feel this talk explores the psychology of morality. 

15th March at 19.30 2012 at the Showroom Cafe/Bar

Thinking Meat: Understanding brain and mind - Tom Stafford

Your brain weighs the same as half a brick and has the consistency of warm butter. Yet such a mundane object allows you to have every thought you've ever had, every feeling, dream or hope. This talk will be an introduction to what I view as the central puzzle of psychology: how the brain creates the mind. I'll discuss fundamental insights from the study of perception and action and suggest how these provide important clues for understanding all of human psychology. The talk will feature: Lego Robots! 'Subliminal messages'! Britney Spears! Pirates! And a no-holds-bared personal revelation from the speaker
Tom Stafford is a lecturer in Psychology and Cognitive Science at the University of Sheffield. He is the author of Mind Hacks (2004) a book of tips and tricks for understanding your brain, and The Rough Guide to Brain Training (2010). He contributes to the award winning psychology blog and can be followed on twitter as @tomstafford.

April 12th 2012 at 19.30 at the Showroom Cafe/Bar

Transsexuality beyond the tabloids: Science and real life - Christina Richards

Transsexuality, more commonly called trans, is increasingly portrayed in the media in ways which perhaps do not reflect the reality of trans people's lives. Similarly, the treatment to change trans people's bodies so they are in line with their minds, and the science underlying this, is also commonly misunderstood. At this event, Christina Richards - senior specialist psychology associate at the largest NHS Gender Identity Clinic in the UK - will present the current science regarding trans people and will look at gender as it relates to everyone, trans or otherwise.

16th November 2011 at 19.30 at the Showroom Cafe/Bar

The Gender Agenda - Meg Barker

In this session we explore the psychology of gender and how it operates in our lives, particularly in relationships. Popular psychology tells as the men are from mars and women are from venus: that the two genders are naturally and normally opposite and should be treated as such. Meg Barker asks whether this fits our own experiences of ourselves and our relationships, as well as considering recent psychological research, for example on the impact of gender stereotyping on the brain and on everyday behaviour. In the discussion we will think about different possible understandings of gender and how we might go about addressing gender inequalities.

19th October 2011 at 19.30 at the Showroom Cafe/Bar
Where we belong: Consequences of group-based identity - Keon West

We are all aware of our personal identities – the identities that mark us as individuals. And it’s widely known that we cherish these identities and work hard to defend them. Less widely understood, but nonetheless equally important, are group-based identities, which are also cherished, defended, and protected, and which influence our thoughts and behaviours. Keon will present the results of his recent research which examined some of the consequences of group-based identification, as well as ways to deliberately manipulate group-based identities to achieve desirable goals. This will lead into a broader discussion of contemporary group-based identities, and the ways in which we manage the pros and cons of considering where we belong. See youtube on

14th September 2011, 19.30, The Showroom

Drink and drugs in pubs and clubs - Gillian Smith

"I like to do my principal research in bars, where people are more likely to tell the truth or, at least, lie less convincingly than they do in briefings and books." 
P.J. O'Rourke

Like P.J. O'Rourke, Gillian Smith likes to conduct (scientific) research in bars and clubs. Join Gillian as she discusses recent and published findings on what people are drinking and taking in bars and clubs, looking at those who consume, and characteristics of their environment. Join in the discussion on the reasons why we consume and what we can do to promote harm reduction and better health. Gillian W. Smith is a lecturer in Psychology at Nottingham Trent University with wide interests in alcohol and drug use from occasional use to addiction.

Skeptics in the Pub, 15th August, 7.30, The Showroom:

Explaining social behaviours such as cooperation and altruism is one of the greatest challenges facing the biological and social sciences. Darwin’s theory of natural selection provides an excellent framework within which to examine theories across the disciplines. This talk will lead you through the basic theories in this area, explaining how benefits to our relatives, our reputation and our self-concept lead us to perform bizarrely altruistic acts; from giving money to charity, to donating blood or laying down our life for others - acts which appear to be detrimental to our own reproductive success. 

Mary Langridge is an Associate Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, co-founder of Psychology in the Pub Sheffield and a PhD student at the University of Nottingham. Her research aims to unify theories across economics, biology and psychology in order to understand cooperation, costly punishment and how our moral and religious values influence our moral decisions. 

When? 17th August 2011 at 19.30 
Where? The Showroom Cafe/Bar, Paternoster Row, Sheffield (back room past the bar)
What's it about?

"Scientists find part of the brain that prefers simple stories” – Why psychological baggage makes it harder for us to understand the brain.

We are our brains. Francis Crick, in his book “The Astonishing Hypothesis” had this to say: ‘You’, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells…”

So what does it mean when part of a brain “lights up” when we gamble and win? Which part of the brain tells us what is valuable and what isn’t? What does dopamine do? And do any of these questions actually make any sense when we’re talking about as many neurons as there are stars in the Milky Way?

How the human brain produces the entirety of our function and human experience is one of the most complicated and intriguing questions asked by scienceNeuroscientist Craig Bertram suggests why our love of a good story and the sheer complexity of the human brain might be conspiring to frustrate our attempts to understand ourselves, and asks how accurate our understanding of dopamine, the “pleasure chemical”, really is.

When? 20th July 2011 at 19.30
Where? The Showroom Cafe/Bar, Paternoster Row, Sheffield (back room past the bar)
What's it about? 

On the 7th of June 2003 Devin Moore, an 18 year old from Fayette, Alabama, with no previous criminal record, had been taken to Fayette police station on suspicion of stealing a car. As he was booked he grabbed the officerʼs handgun and shot him twice, once in the head. As another police officer responded to the sound of gunshots Devin shot him three times, one shot hitting the officer in the head. As Devin made his way out he shot the 911-dispatcher, in the head, he then left the station by stealing a police car.

Devinʼs defence was that he was acting out a mission from Grand Theft Auto, a video game. The media would have us believe that Devinʼs actions were the result of playing video games for hours, isolated from society, however, over 35 million copies of Grand Theft Auto have been sold worldwide. Dr Simon Goodson presents this topical talk which will expose the facts and fiction surrounding video games so that we can all sleep soundly at night!

When? 21st June 2011 at 19.30
Where? The Showroom Cafe/Bar, Paternoster Row, Sheffield.
What's it about?

“Mummy, when I grow up I want to be a lap dancer”: Sexualisation and young people
Today there is a lot of concern about the so-called pornification of society. Particularly that it leads to the early sexualisation of young girls. We are told that the media acts as a super peer, influencing young people to engage in ‘risky behaviour’ with harmful consequences, such as teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. It is argued that because young people learn about sex and relationships from porn they develop unrealistic expectations and young men want their partners to perform like the porn actors.
Clare will present the results of her recent research which examines the relationship between raunch culture and young people’s health; looking a how young people engage with a broad range of sexualised culture, including pornography. This will lead into a broader discussion of the issues surrounding media and young people, whether it is harmful and/or beneficial, and what is anything should be done to protect children. Hopefully the discussion will complicate simple arguments about sexualisation.

When? 18th May 2011 at 19.30
Where? The Showroom Cafe/Bar, Paternoster Row, Sheffield.
What's it about?
'You’re dumped': Friendship and Facebook
Friendships may end acrimoniously as a result of an argument or conflict of interests, or they can simply dissolve as friends grow apart. On social networking websites the above is, of course, still true, however at some point one party must take the decision to remove the other from their online network (defriending them), effectively sending the message that "you and I are no longer friends". Sue will present the results of her recent research which examined the reasons given for defriending another person, and looked at the practical and emotional responses when people discovered they had been defriended. This will lead into a broader discussion of the benefits and pitfalls of social networking in general, and the ways in which we manage our friendships online and offline.