Welcome to the Real World Behavioural Science (RWBS) podcast, where we look at how behavioural and social sciences are being used in the real world to help change the public’s health, for good.
The RWBS podcast is created by the Behavioural Science and Public Health Network (www.BSPHN.org.uk) and is aimed at people working in public health, academia and industry, who have an interest in how behavioural science is being used to improve health and wellbeing.
Each month, Stu King (BSPHN Committee Member and founder & CEO of behaviour change specialists BeeZee Bodies) interviews professionals from the worlds of public health, academia and industry, who are using behavioural science to help change people’s lives.
We have episodes featuring:
- Professor Jim McManus - Co-founder of the BSPHN & Director of Public Health, Hertfordshire County Council, UK
- Dr Amy Bucher – Behavioural Scientist at MadPow, Boston, USA
- Dr Nick Cavill – Quasi-academic and Director of a Public Health Consultancy, UK
- Professor Chris Armitage – Professor of Health Psychology, University of Manchester, UK
- Rich Sheridan – CEO and Chief Storyteller at Menlo Innovations, Ann Arbour, USA
- Dr Justin Varney - Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council, UK
- Mike Kelly - Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University Institute of Public Health, UK
- Wendy Wills - University of Hertfordshire
- Kim Roberts - HENRY
We have some great guests in the pipeline from across industry, public health and academia and from across the world, including:
- Samuel Salzer - Habits Weekly, Sweden
- Tim Chadborn - PHE Behavioural Insights Team
20. Richard Wiseman (Professor of Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire)
Professor Richard Wiseman has been described as ‘…one of the most interesting and innovative experimental psychologists in the world today.’ His books have sold over 3 million copies and he presents keynote talks to organisations across the world, including The Swiss Economic Forum, Google and Amazon.
He holds Britain’s only Professorship in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and is one of the most followed psychologists on Twitter.
Street Magician to Psychology Professor
Richard starts the podcast by talking about becoming completely hooked on magic at a young age. Whilst working in Covent Garden as a street magician, Richard happened upon a magic book which described the similarities between magicians and psychologists. So began his interest in psychology.
After completing his undergraduate degree at University College London (UCL), he went to Edinburgh University to work on a PhD looking at psychics and mediums as the team wanted someone with a background in the psychology of deception and magic. Upon completing that, Richard accepted a Lectureship at the University of Hertfordshire where he is now a professor.
Public Understanding of Psychology
Through work for radio and the BBC around identifying truth and lies, Richard talks about meeting two people that hugely impacted his career; Roger Highfield, who was the Science Editor at The Telegraph at the time and now is heavily involved in the Science Museum, and also Simon Singh, author of Fermat's Last Theorem.
Putting ideas to paper
Richard shares what he learnt from some time working in advertising, how to reframe and the importance of authenticity as a writer. In line with this, he talks about his book, The Luck Factor, looking at the psychology of luck. From this, he identified that small interventions can have big impact, which evolved into 59 seconds; think a little, change a lot.
Richard discusses how all the talks he gives are essentially about getting people to change, through simple interventions or 'opening the door' in a fun way. From these concepts, he wrote 'Rip it Up' about lifestyle change and during Covid-19, helped design a game where the more you kept away from people, the more lives you saved called 'Can you save the World?'.
Richard talks about 'being expansive', working with Derren Brown who takes the audience on a journey from what seems a small idea through to what becomes a massive conclusion enthralling an entire audience.
Richard leaves us with advice to find your passionate, be authentic and have a big vision. Don't be constrained by what others have done in the past and fundamentally, if you have a great idea, it will sell itself.
20. Professor Susan Michie (Professor of Health Psychology & Director of CBC at UCL)
Susan Michie is Professor of Health Psychology and Director of UCL's Health Psychology Research Group. She is also chartered clinical & health psychologist, and elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS) and the British Psychological Society (BPS).
Early Life & Career
Susan starts the episode by talking about the huge shoes she felt she had to fill from a young age, with a father who was instrumental in setting up modern AI and computer science in the UK. During this time, the Lighthill report was produced saying that there was no future in computers - check out a YouTube video on the report's debate! Susan’s mother was also the first woman foreign secretary of the Royal Society, so her upbringing had a large emphasis on science.
Susan details her journey through University, early career, and the many ways that she rebelled against the system, staging events at Oxford University and beyond to challenge outdated policies and thinking. As a clinical psychologist, she worked in social services family centres with families and children who were at risk. She also worked at the Royal Free Hospital, London where she joined the Psychology Unit as a Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Health Psychology, working with Professor Marie Johnston.
Eventually Susan branched into other areas, such as public and professional attitudes towards genetic testing and informed choice and decision making about prenatal screening. She explains that her career journey has had many branches as she does not stay within the academic four-walls, even knocking on doors to talk with people.
CBC & COM-B
Susan talks about her work in UCL's Centre for Behaviour Change (CBC) which brings together disciplines and translates behavioural science for practical use. The CBC provide CBC training, a Summer school, conferences & events, and an MSc in behaviour change.
She shares how the COM-B model of behaviour was developed by working in the Department of Health, where she saw how none of the many behavioural frameworks were 100% fit for purpose. Systematic reviews revealed that a simple model was needed to understand behaviour, and inspiration was taken from the American Judicial System – does someone have the Capability, the Opportunity and the Motivation to commit a crime.
As her work on the application of behavioural theories continues, Susan shares how she is looking to continue linking work across disciplines and seek methods for better analysis of the huge amounts of data being produced about behaviour change.
Susan leaves us with advice for those starting out or entering field: try and do what you are really interested in, are curious about and enjoy doing, when you can. Building networks is hugely important so don't be shy to start conversations or write to people. 9 times out of 10 it might go nowhere, but 1 in 10, it can take you to interesting places.
19. BSPHN Committee Leads - Dr Michelle Constable, Professor Angel Chater, Dr Neil Howlett & Professor Jim McManus
This is a special episode with the Current Chair, Past Chair, and Past-Past Chair and Treasurer of the BSPHN! Having had the BSPHN's annual conference in February, this is the perfect time to get some of the founding committee members together.We begin...
18. Dan Makoski (Chief Design Officer at Lloyds Banking Group)
The BSPHN's Annual Conference is running from 9th - 11th February 2021. Sign up to attend now and get a year's free membership.Stu is joined by Dan Makoski; an executive that brings an organisation’s deepest purpose to life by weaving technology and...
17. Adam Ferrier (Consumer Psychologist & Founder of Thinkerbell)
The BSPHN's Annual Conference is running from 9th - 11th February 2021. Sign up to attend now and get a year's free membership. In this episide, Stu is joined by Adam Ferrier, Founder & Chief Thinker at Thinkerbell, an agency that practices measured...
CORONAVIRUS Mini-Series #9 (15th Dec) Conspiracy Theories - Prof Jim McManus & Dr Daniel Jolley
n this coronavirus special, Stu talks with Jim and Dan about conspiracy theories - what is conspiratorial thinking, common COVID-19 conspirators and how to approach changing someone's mind.
Real insights from the front lines of health behavior change
Only two episodes in but have already gotten a lot out of this series