Security Lancaster Seminar with Professor Stephen Reicher

Wednesday 6 December 2023, 2:00pm to 3:00pm


BLN - Elizabeth Livingston LT - View Map

Open to

All Lancaster University (non-partner) students


Free to attend - registration required

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Event Details

Security Lancaster Seminar with Prof. Stephen Reicher (host Prof. Mark Levine)

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Prof. Stephen Reicher

The wrong psychology: How the UK Government dealt with Covid and how we can do better next time

In this talk I will address the role of behavioural science in the Covid response and the implications for the contribution of behavioural scientists to major policy issues (e.g. climate change, immigration, social cohesion and resilience) more generally. I will argue that the pandemic shows, first, that behavioural science matters on a systemic level and, second, that it is therefore of societal importance to get the behavioural science right. I shall argue further that the UK Government got the behavioural science wrong, rooting their response in a paternalistic conception of individuals as ‘fragile rationalists’ who cannot cope with a crisis and constitute a problem to be managed. This not only ignores the importance of building positive social relations between people and with the government, it actively undermines such relations. Using both my theoretical work on group process and my practical experience as a Covid advisor to the UK and Scottish governments (and a member of independent SAGE) I will discuss an alternative approach based on developing ‘collective resilience’ and constituting the public as a key partner in resolving crises.

Stephen Reicher is Wardlaw Professor of Psychology in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St. Andrews. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Convener for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His work addresses the psychology of group and collective processes, including such topics as crowd behaviour, group cohesion and solidarity, inter group hatred, toxic behaviour and leadership. During the COVID pandemic he was an advisor to the UK Government, the Scottish Government and a member of Independent SAGE, chairing its Behavioural Science sub-group.

Contact Details

Name Mark Bellwood

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