Psychologist logo

One on one... with Martin Conway

Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Leeds

01 March 2012

One person who inspired you

Bob Dylan.

One moment that changed the course of your career

When the history A-level I was doing at night classes collapsed because of lack of students and I switched to then brand new A-level psychology course.

One Proustian moment

I vividly remember having been a young man who really had no motivation to achieve anything, talking to some friends in a pub on Portobello Road about the A-levels I was doing at night classes, when I had the sudden realisation that I wanted to be an academic. It really was a road to Damascus experience.

One alternative career path you might have chosen

People often don’t believe this, but I was briefly a train driver so I guess I could still be on the tracks.

One book that you think all psychologists should read

The two volumes of William James’s The Principles of Psychology.

One thing that you would change about psychology/ psychologists

Connecting theory at the cognitive level to our growing understanding of what is taking place at the neurobiological level.

One regret

That I wasn’t Bob Dylan.

One early memory

Seeing Dylan live in Earls Court in 1974 when he played his best album Blood on the Tracks. I was only three.

One nugget of advice for aspiring psychologists

Never be afraid to move to a better job.

One cultural recommendation

A long weekend in Rome.

One research finding that has surprised you the most

That there was a Big Bang.

One hero/heroine from psychology past or present

One of the people who most influenced me and whose work I have always looked up to is Eleanor Rosch. Her papers in the 1970s influenced me more than anything else.

One thing that organised psychology (e.g. the BPS/APA) could do better

Here in the UK I think that organised psychology could help to ensure that we have an integrated education in psychology running from GCSE to degree and master’s level.

One great thing that psychology has achieved

Cognitive and neuropsychology (two great things).

One problem, research, professional or otherwise, that psychology should deal with

Education, education, education.

One hope for the future of psychology

That our fast-developing understanding of the human mind deepens our insight into our own natures.

One proud moment

Getting a paper into Psychological Review (2000).

One psychological superpower I’d like to have

To understand mathematics like a real mathematician does, but without having to work at it.

One more question

What is the issue that psychologists have failed to understand? My answer is motivation.