1977 …2022

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    Personal profile


    Geoffrey Beattie is Professor of Psychology at Edge Hill University, Director of External Impact for the department and Research Group Leader for the Multi-modal Communication Research Group. His research focusses primarily on multi-modal communication and applied social psychology.


    The research on multi-modal communication offers a major reconceptualisation of human communication, by focussing on the close connections between gestures, speech and thinking in linguistic generation (‘Visible Thought’, Routledge, 2003; ‘Rethinking Body Language’, Routledge, 2016).


    He has explored the cognitive, social and pragmatic functions of the iconic gestures that accompany speech, including the role of iconic gesture in lexical retrieval and how gestures and speech complement each other in intricate ways in semantic communication. His research shows that both verbal and nonverbal elements are critical to everyday semantic communication and that iconic gestures reflect unarticulated aspects of thinking. This has major implications for how we must think about speech and human communication. He has researched how listeners decode iconic gestures and how, and why, certain gestures attract the gaze fixations of listeners and the implications of this for communicative effectiveness. He has investigated the possible applications of this theoretical perspective for deception, where gesture-speech mismatches may occur, along with structural changes in the phases of gestures. He has considered the implications of this close connection between speech and bodily movement for the organisation of conversations themselves and particularly for turn-taking in conversation. He has also explored the practical implications of this theoretical approach for the design of effective communication, and worked closely with ITV in the design of television commercials to test these ideas (outlined in ‘Rethinking Body Language’, 2016).


    His research on multi-modal communication has won a number of major national and international prizes including the Spearman Medal awarded by the British Psychological Society for ‘published psychological research of outstanding merit’ and the internationally acclaimed Mouton d’Or for the best paper in semiotics for research on the effects of deception on gesture production. His book with Andy Ellis ‘The Psychology of Language and Communication’ was republished in 2017 in the Psychology Press and Routledge Classic Editions series for ‘timeless classics in psychology’. The Chinese rights for ‘Rethinking Body Language’ were licensed by Post & Telecom Press in 2019, for publication in Chinese for mainland China.


    The applied social psychological research focusses primarily on implicit cognition and its effects on behaviour in two principal domains - sustainability/climate change and racial bias.


    He has worked extensively on the ‘value-action’ gap when it comes to human behaviour and the fact that self-reports of attitudes are poor predictors of actual behaviour in certain domains. In the area of climate change, the goal is how to get people to act more sustainably, and to identify what psychological barriers (both cognitive and emotional) are preventing them from changing their behaviour to mitigate the effects of climate change. Part of this research focuses on identifying underlying implicit attitudes to high and low carbon products/lifestyles and researching effective mechanisms for changing these implicit attitudes. A new paper in ‘Environment and Behavior’ in 2020 (with Laura McGuire) outlines some of this work. They are also about to start a major new international interdisciplinary project, funded by EHU’s Research Institute Thematic Awards, to investigate the effectiveness of different educational programmes in the U.K. and overseas for shaping these attitudes. They aim to determine the effects of any such changes for actual sustainable behaviour. This work on the psychological barriers to climate change has been detailed in a number of his  books, including ‘Why Aren’t We Saving the Planet: A Psychologist’s Perspective’, Routledge, 2010; and ‘The Psychology of Climate Change’, Routledge, 2018, and a large number of papers in various journals, including Nature Climate Change.


    He has also investigated the ‘value-action’ gap in other domains, including implicit racial bias and its implications for employment opportunities. He has explored how unconscious prejudice can operate in everyday life and how it can impact on the selection of candidates for various employment positions. This research suggests that if we really do want to do anything about racism in society, then we need to understand these implicit, unconscious processes and how to combat them. This work has been discussed in both ‘Our Racist Heart: An Exploration of Unconscious Prejudice in Everyday Life’, Routledge, 2013and ‘The Conflicted Mind’,  Routledge, 2018. ‘Our Racist Heart’  was ‘highly recommended’ in the American Psychological Association’s review journal Choice and selected as one of the editor’s highlights.


    Importantly, in a paper in the ‘Journal of Experimental Psychology: General’, 2020, he and his colleague, Motonori Yamaguchi, have critiqued the current principal measure for measuring implicit racial bias, the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which is essentially based around an explicit categorisation to various racial categories, and they propose a more genuinely implicit alternative – a multi-attributes version of the IAT (or m-IAT). This should be a significant development for this field going forward.


    His research on climate change has reached major international audiences, and he has been invited to work with the U.N. in a number of capacities on climate change. He is currently a member of the steering group committee for the new U.N. Interdisciplinary and Intergovernmental Panel of Behaviour Change for Sustainable Development (IPBC) and for the first report for this committee he will be leading on chapters on ‘Representations of climate change’ and ‘Consumption and climate change’. In addition, he has presented his research (with Laura McGuire from the Faculty of Education EHU) on why we need to target implicit, automatic associations in the fight against climate change at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, in July 2015. He also written a chapter for the new edition of the United Nations International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice Report along with 40 other authors, both academics and practitioners, from across the globe, including the U.S., Australia, Europe, Nigeria, Sweden, South Africa, Canada, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. This report, which is issued every ten years, will be published in 2020.


    He has also worked with the British Academy on climate change, as well as receiving research funding from them. He presented his research on optimism bias and climate change at the British Academy Summer Showcase 2018, and at a British Academy event on climate change at the Latitude Festival in 2019. He will be speaking at a B.A. event at the Buxton International Festival in summer 2020 on the theme of ‘taking responsibility for climate change’.


    In terms of other international exposure for his climate change work he has worked as an external consultant to Unilever’s Leadership Vanguard (LV) with Paul Polman, then CEO of Unilever, and others. LV is a major global initiative that seeks to identify, support and mobilise future-fit leaders – all in the interest of reinventing growth. Inspired by CEOs such as Polman and Ajay Banga, and instigated by Xyntéo and DNV GL, the Vanguard partnership includes Unilever, MasterCard, Woodside, Singapore’s Economic Development Board, Ericsson, Energias de Portugal and the International Committee of the Red Cross. This organisation helps shape the sustainability policy of Unilever and other leading multinationals. He is a counselor on the Executive Board of the International Interdisciplinary Environmental Association and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Japanese research organisation and think-tank ‘The International Academic Forum’. He has given a large number of international keynotes on this work and is currently scheduled to give a keynote at the National Geographic Science Festival in Rome in April 2020 on ‘optimism and climate change’. The Chinese rights of ‘The Psychology of Climate Change’ have also been licensed by the Shanghai Education Publishing House and will be translated into Chinese for Mainland China. ‘The Psychology of Climate Change’ has also just been converted into an audio book as part of a new initiative by Taylor & Francis.


    In terms of his work on implicit racial bias, he has given a number of significant keynote addresses on this theme at a variety of applied conferences, including the Annual Conference of the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Asian Fire Service Association National Conference, the Equality Challenge Unit Biennial Conference, the Respect Difference Conference, Police Service of Northern Ireland etc. The Chinese rights of ‘The Conflicted Mind’ have also been acquired by China Renmin University Press.


    Geoff Beattie was Professor of Psychology at the University of Manchester (UoM) from 1994 to 2012 and Head of Department then Head of the School of Psychological Sciences from 2000 until 2011. He was Research Group Leader of the ‘Language and Communication Research Group’ (2004-2011), and a Professorial Research Fellow in the Sustainable Consumption Institute at UoM from 2008-2012. He was also Visiting Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara in 2012.


    He has published twenty-five books on a range of topics (including two semi-autobiographical novels ‘The Corner Boys‘, Victor Gollancz, 1998 and ‘The Body’s Little Secrets’, Gibson Square, 2018). A number of the books have either won or been shortlisted for major national or international prizes. ‘Talk: An Analysis of Speech and Non-verbal Speech in Conversation' (Open University Press) detailed the research that was awarded the Spearman Medal by the British Psychological Society. 'We Are the People: Journeys Through the Heart of Protestant Ulster' (Heinemann) and 'The Corner Boys' (Victor Gollancz) were both short-listed for the Ewart-Biggs Literary Prize. 'On the Ropes: Boxing as a Way of Life' (Victor Gollancz) was short-listed for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. His books have been translated into Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, Portuguese, Italian, Finnish and German. He has also published over one hundred academic articles in journals including Nature, Nature Climate Change and Semiotica.


    He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society (FBPsS), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine (FRSM) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). His research has been funded from a range of sources, including research councils (ESRC; British Academy), the EU FP7, charities (Leverhulme Trust; Nuffield Foundation; Equality Challenge Unit) and from commercial sources like Tesco and Unilever.


    He has always been keen to show the relevance of psychology to society in general and in 2005-2006 he was President of the Psychology Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He is well known for bringing analyses of behaviour, and particularly nonverbal communication, to a more general audience by appearing as the on-screen psychologist on eleven series of Big Brother in the U.K. and for explaining how psychology can be used by people in their everyday lives, for example, in the international bestseller ‘Get the Edge: How Simple Changes Will Transform Your Life’ (Headline). He has given many keynote addresses to a wide range of audience, including public lectures at Gresham College, the International Psychology Conference in Dubai, the Psychology Teacher National Conference, the European Conference on Psychology and the Behavioral Sciences, Techkriti, the Annual Technical and Entrepreneurial Festival Kanpur, India, both Houses of Parliament through the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum, the Star lecture at the University of Manchester etc. He has also spoken at various music and book festivals including ‘The Secret Garden Party’, ‘Shambala’, Latitude and the Edinburgh, Munich and Cheltenham Book Festivals.


    He has presented a number of television series including ‘Life’s Too Short’ (BBC1), ‘Family SOS’ (BBC1), ‘The Farm of Fussy Eaters’ (UKTV Style) and ‘Dump Your Mates in Four Days’ (Channel 4). He has also appeared as an expert commentator and analyst on BBC News, Euro News, ITV News (including his own strand ‘The Body Politic’ on News at Ten on the run up to a General Election), CNN, Sky News, BBC News 24, BBC World Service, News Asia, Russia Today, GMTV, Channel 4 News, Channel 5 News, BBC Breakfast, Good Morning America, Tonight with Trevor McDonald etc.


    He has written a number of books on the psychology of sport, principally boxing and running, and presented a number of radio series on the psychology of sport on BBC Radio 5-live, with interviews with leading sportsmen and managers including Alex Ferguson, Naseem Hamed, Kelly Holmes, Chris Boardman etc. In 2015, he was invited to write an introduction to W.T. Gallwey’s classic and multi-million selling book ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’. He discussed how Gallwey’s ideas resonated with (and predated) some of the most influential ideas in contemporary cognitive psychology on systems of thinking and human performance.


    He was writer and presenter of The Ceasefire Generation, Radio 4, 14 September 2012, Documentary of the Week, Radio 4. In November 2019, he took part in a one-hour discussion on BBC Radio 5 Live with Rachel Botsman from the Said Business School at the University of Oxford on the subject of ‘trust’. His other radio interviews include the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour, Science Now, All in the Mind, Word of Mouth, Freewheeling and Midweek (all Radio 4), Nightwaves (Radio 3), Parkinson on Sunday (Radio 2), BBC World Service ‘World of Books’ programme, ‘This Week’ (RTE), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and many local radio stations.


    In addition, he has carried out media work on behalf of a range of organisations, including ITV, Universal Pictures, Department for Work and Pensions, NHS, Nivea, Royal Mail, Disney and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


    He has given numerous keynote addresses to both academic and non-academic audiences including Unilever, P&G, ITV, HSBC, Tesco, Marketing Forum, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Annual Conference of High and Supreme Court Judges in Ireland, the Marketing Society, the Equality Challenge Unit, Malaysian Olympic Association, British Council, Samaritans and the Central Office of Information, and written extensively for the Guardian, the Observer, the Observer Magazine, the Independent, the Independent on Sunday and The New Statesman, as well as contributing to Granta magazine, over a number of years. He has published six books based on these collected journalistic pieces - 'Survivors of Steel City', Chatto & Windus, 'Making It',' All Talk', 'England After Dark' (all Weidenfeld & Nicolson), Hard Lines' (Manchester University Press) and ‘We Are the People: Journeys Through the Heart of Protestant Ulster (Heinemann).



    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
    • SDG 4 - Quality Education
    • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
    • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
    • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
    • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
    • SDG 13 - Climate Action
    • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

    Education/Academic qualification

    Psychology, BSc, University of Birmingham

    Psychology, PhD, The role of language production processes in the organization of behaviour in face-to-face interaction, University of Cambridge


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