20 January 2017 | by Dr Daniel Jolley
A colleague of mine recently commented that I am doing a ‘Conspiracy Pub Crawl’ of being a Psychologist in the Pub. She may have a point.
So far I have given talks on my research into the psychology of conspiracy theories at Psychology in the Pub events in Birmingham, Oxford, Lancaster and Sunderland.
But what is Psychology in the Pub?
Well, in simple terms they are a series of events, primarily run by Branches of the British Psychological Society, all of which are free, and all of which are designed to be both open and engaging to the general public.
The format can depend on the speaker. Sometimes they can involve the audience taking part in activities as well as learning more about psychology. For example, I once attended a talk on the psychology of music where the speaker had the audience take part in a music-themed Pub Quiz!
Whilst I am sorry to report that my talk includes no quizzes, I do aim to provide an accessible and informative overview of my research on the consequences of conspiracy theories.
Being a speaker in a pub can be a challenge. You often find yourself in an unfamiliar and unpredictable environment which requires you to step outside of your comfort zone.
In Sunderland, for example, over 100 people turned up to the talk, which was both exciting and daunting, while in Lancaster it turned out that the projector was next to the front door of the pub, which meant a constant flow of people coming in and out past me. Therefore it’s important to ensure that you maintain an open mind as you never know what to expect when you arrive at the venue - or how many people will be there!
My next Psychologist in the Pub takes place in Stoke-on-Trent on Wednesday the 8th of February, at 18.00pm, (see here for more details) where I will be presenting some of my research addressing the misconception that conspiracy theories are only believed by a small number of paranoid people and that they have little, if any, impact on society at large.
First I plan to take the audience through what a conspiracy theory is and some of the reasons why people choose to believe in them.
This will then lead on to a discussion about the perception of conspiracy theories and whether or not they are primarily just harmless chatter of little concern, or a symptom of something more serious.
I will also be talking through some of my work on anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, as well as my on-going work into the connection between conspiracy theories and prejudice, before ending with a few ideas on what (if anything) can be done to stop them from spreading.
If you’d like to know more you can access an overview of my Birmingham Psychologist in the Pub talk in The Psychologist, and please keep an eye out for any upcoming Psychologist in the Pub events near you.