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One on One... with Jane Ogden

Includes online-only answers

05 November 2012

One inspiration                                                                                      
A woman academic out there, who I haven’t met yet, who has the right work–life balance (sees their kids, works hard, has fun), doesn’t take themselves too seriously but still produces good stuff.

One moment that changed the course of your career
Sitting through seriously tedious labs and sticking electrodes into the heads of sea slugs to understand human behaviour – made me realise I am not a biological reductionist and shouldn’t have done a degree in neurobiology.

One book that you think all psychologists should read
Daughters of Egalia by Gert Brantenberg. It challenges notions of gender and biological reductionism. I gave it to my students to read and they were suitably politicised!

One challenge you think psychology faces
Cats falling off walls get 2,000,000 hits overnight.
We get 50 if we are lucky. We need to move into the modern age of dissemination.

One nugget of advice for aspiring psychologists
Have a breadth of knowledge. Know lots of theories in lots of areas and read lots of different types of studies. Then use this to do something novel and creative. Don’t just reinvent the wheel.

One cultural recommendation
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. A real page-turner, very exciting and really challenges notions of ‘who am I?’.

One thing that makes me laugh
Hugh Grant in the ‘Pop goes my heart’ video for Music and Lyrics. Very funny film. Particularly if you are a child of the 80s.

One of my greatest achievements
To have produced two fantastic kids who are curious and funny and kind. And the fifth edition of my textbook – which has just come out, nearly killed me to write, but it looks lovely.

One treasured possession
My Gran’s eternity ring, which speaks to me and tells me whether or not I am doing the right thing.

One great thing that health psychology has achieved
It has encouraged doctors, nurses, dieticians and nutritionists to think more psychologically about their patients.

One problem that psychology should deal with
Emotion. Generally our theories are far too rational and logical. We need to work out how to understand the nuances of emotion more.

One hope for the future of psychology
In my area much of the most creative and novel work was done in the early 1980s. Since then most of us have been adding to this work. It would be great if people could start to think outside of the paradigm and develop a brand new perspective for us to get our teeth into. I have been trying for the past 20 years but haven’t managed it yet.

One alternative career path you may have chosen
A journalist or broadcaster. I’m better at seeing the bigger picture than the detail.

One psychological superpower you’d like
To stop people smoking (particularly in the doorways of wherever I am).

One final thought
I constantly wonder about the point of being an academic and whether it makes any difference to anyone. But then I stop and remember; my students are fantastic, my colleagues are often friends, and I love thinking and writing. What else could I do?

Online only

One proud moment
Watching my kids playing with their eight-month-old niece (and my step granddaughter) – proud on so many levels. Being featured in an undergraduate textbook, that I didn’t write, as an expert. Being asked to write this!

One thing that organised psychology (e.g. the BPS/ APA) could do better
Encourage cross-fertilisation across areas. We all become very stuck and narrow and often repeat work that is being done in another area without knowing it.

One thing that you would change about psychologists
That they think about how they are measuring things, and whether what they say they are measuring in any way relates to what they are measuring.

One regret
That I didn’t make my friend and colleague Lynne Millward come out for lunch more often.

One hero/heroine from psychology past or present
Hero is too strong a word but I like the way Kelly Brownell thinks. As for non-psychologists I admire Thomas Kuhn, Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar. I also like the way Alan Chalmers writes about science in ways that are accessible to me and my students.