Developmental Psychology Section 2011

Annual Conference

Our Annual Conference was held at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, 7th - 9th September 2011.

It was preceded by two preconference workshops, running in parallel, on 'Repetitive and Restricted Behaviours in Neurodevelopmental Disorders' and 'Essential Skills for Postgraduates'. These were well attended and allowed Section members to interact, respectively, with local clinical psychologists and postgraduates from many sub-disciplinary backgrounds.

The conference organisers at BPS Conferences helped plan registration for the event and 231 delegates from more than ten countries attended. Both local psychology departments were generous in their help with coordinating and sponsoring our occupation of the venues and we thank both Vicki Bruce (Newcastle) and Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon (Northumbria) for their generous support for the event.

The local committee, led by conference organizers Greta Defeyter and Debbie Riby, has worked tirelessly for over a year to ensure that the academic and social programmes contained something for everyone. The two organizers were ably assisted by a local team: Donna Berry Gill Case Rachel Cole-Fletcher Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon Pamela Graham, Colin Hamilton Nicola Jones, Sara King Sarah Malcom Tascha Radford Jacqui Rodgers Michael Smith Jessica Wang. In addition several student volunteers in blue tee shirts were ever-present and consistently enthusiastic to help delegates find their way from one location to another.

There were 209 papers or posters at the conference with 15 symposia. The Keynote Addresses were:

Professor Jackie Masterson (London, I.o.E)  Early stages of literacy development: What we know about how it happens, and what can go wrong along the way

Dr Olivier Pascalis (Grenoble) The development of face perception through infancy and childhood

Dr Noriko Toyama (Tsuda College, Tokyo) The socio-cultural construction of contamination sensitivity in Japan (Co-sponsored by the Japanese Society for Developmental Psychology)

Professor David Evans (Bucknell University, Pennsylvania) The development and psychopathology of rituals, habits, compulsions and repetitive behaviours 

Prizes awarded by the Section

  • Neil O’Connor Prize 

Dr Atsushi Senju was awarded this prize for the paper:  Senju, A., Southgate, V., White, S., & Frith, U. (2009). Mindblind eyes: An absence of spontaneous theory of mind in Asperger syndrome. Science, 325, 883-885. He completed a PhD at the University of Tokyo in 2005, and works as a ESRC Research Fellow at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck College, University of London.

  • Margaret Donaldson Early Career Prize 

Dr Sarah Beck was awarded this prize for her contributions to a wide range of research projects, each of which has at its heart the study of human development. She investigates imagination and reasoning. Her most important findings have been in the domains of counterfactual thinking (speculations about what might have been), metacognition, and tool use. She studied Psychology and Philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Oxford. She moved to the University of Birmingham where she completed her PhD under the supervision of Elizabeth Robinson and is currently a Senior Lecturer. 

Committee work

Under Margaret Harris’s careful editorship, the Section’s journal The British Journal of Developmental Psychology continues to thrive. It attracts high quality papers from internationally recognized scholars.

Members of the Section continue to contribute to work in the Society’s interactions with wider debates. This year, for example, a group chaired by Dorothy Faulkner, John Oates, Natalia Kucirkova and Eva Lloyd kindly responded on our behalves to the Government’s consultation on the Revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). 

Finally, I wish to thank the Section Committee for all its hard work over the year, particularly the following who stood down in September 2011: Louise Bunce, Dorothy Faulkner, Pamela Qualter, Karen Mattock and Andrew Bremner

Charlie Lewis, Chair