Media

The scientific exploration of the mind and brain is fascinating, and I am very lucky to be able to contribute - in a very modest way - to that field. In my own area of research, I think that understanding the processes involved in making decisions, particularly financial ones, is both important and interesting. I am therefore usually very happy to get involved in activities around public engagement (horrible term, good actual thing). This can involve giving talks to student societies or radio interviews, writing content or tests for the web, or helping with media projects to get this stuff out there, as accurately and engagingly as possible.

Contributor

Bits of my research has been reported by most of the broadsheets, and some tabloids, and has appeared on Have I Got News for You. Result. I have been interviewed by various papers including The Times, as well as doing live radio interviews in both the UK and abroad.

I have had appearances on several recorded radio programmes, talking about research on judgement and decision making and economic psychology. Most recently I was on the BBC Radio 4 show, The Philosopher's Arms, talking about free riding. It had the advantage of being recorded in a pub. I have also appeared on BBC Radio 4's All in the Mind, talking about the effects of bonuses. This was not recorded in a pub, but in a proper Broadcasting House studio, which may explain why my voice is a bit squeakier.

Beyond that, I have written and recorded a small set of podcasts to tie in with my undergraduate module on The Psychology of Time, which are available on iTunes. For free.

TV

I have worked many times with the BBC and independent production companies on brain-science-related TV series. I have been a consultant, researcher, or scientific advisor on many series over the past ten years or so, including 'The Human Mind' (BBC1, 2003), 'The Body of Marilyn Monroe' (Tiger Aspect, 2004), 'How Art Made the World' (BBC2, 2005) and 'Secrets of the Sexes' (BBC1, 2005), 'Alternative Medicine: The Evidence' (BBC2, 2006), and ‘The Making of Me’ (BBC1, 2008). I have been involved in most non-technical aspects of production, including developing and structuring scripts, creating TV-friendly demonstrations of psychological experiments, talking to fellow scientists and encouraging collaboration, and even organising filming locations, as well as standing in a lab coat somewhere in the back of a shot to make it clear that we’re doing science. More recently I've had less time to be substantially involved in TV projects, but I still help informally with TV series, including advising on content, setting up tests, or helping with web-based tie-ins. Here's an example of one of the series I was fairly heavily involved with:

Radio

I spent a month on a work placement at the now sadly defunct Material World (BBC Radio 4), a live half-hour science show, where I came up with feature ideas, drafted scripts, found contributors, and wrote content for the show's website. I mainly worked on diamonds, quantum cryptography, and colour vision. I like radio documentary a lot. A million years ago I was also co-presenter (with half a dozen or so other presenters) on a science magazine show at Imperial College, which won the snappily-titled 'Best Speech Based Factual Programming' category in the Student Radio Awards. A category that was dropped shortly afterwards.

Web

I have also worked with the BBC to help develop online tests and surveys to tie in with TV series, which are fun to complete yet scientifically valid. I developed much of the BBC's SexID test, which was used to provide content for the TV Series Secrets of the Sexes, and which ended up collecting data from over 250,000 people. This dataset has led to over 20 publications so far, from researchers across the world, including a special section of the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. I also helped design a survey investigating the link between personality and art preferences for the series How Art Made the World, in 2004. This had over 90,000 respondents, and the results have just been published in the British Journal of Psychology. I have an ongoing relationship with the BBC advising on the design and capabilities of the new LabUK venture. Most recently, in Autumn 2010 I worked with production company Wall-to-Wall and web media company Cimex to help develop some fun tests to accompany the BBC1 series The Young Ones.

Writing

I enjoy writing about science, although I don't do as much non-academic writing as I used to. In recent years, I have mainly focused on writing about my area of expertise for commercial clients, like this for example, and literature summaries and more policy-related material for government departments. In the more distant past, I have written material for the BBC website, to tie in with tests we have developed, and to summarise topics for radio shows. I used to write science articles for student paper 'Varsity', and was runner-up in the Daily Telegraph Young Science Writer Awards twice, writing on laser guide stars and rat pheromones.