Public Engagement

Our researchers have been out and about engaging the public in psychological research

By Kay Ritchie

Over the past few months, many staff members in the School of psychology have been showing off snippets of their research to members of the public at different science festivals.

I think it is really essential that we as scientists explain to members of the public, adults and children, what it is that we’re doing and why it’s important. Current research within the School of Psychology at Lincoln is looking at lots of diverse aspects of how our brains work. From understanding dementia, to criminal behaviour, and child development, our work has important implications for all aspects of life. Since a lot of our research is funded from public money, I think we need to be putting a real emphasis on feeding the results of our experiments back to the public.

In September, lots of members of staff from our School took part in LiGHTS, Lincoln’s annual public engagement event which runs as part of European Researchers’ Night. Universities around the continent put on events on the same day to share their enthusiasm for their research with the public. The School of Psychology ran talks and demos all over campus on topics ranging from sleep to wellbeing to eye tracking. The events were attended by school children and members of the public.

Also in September, Laëtitia Marechal and Kevin Butler attended the ‘Science is Wonderful’ event in Brussels, funded by Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and the European Commission. They showcased research on wildlife tourism, and in particular human’s poor accuracy at interpreting monkey’s facial expressions. Over the course of the two day event, Laëtitia and Kevin were able to speak to approximately four hundred children and adults (with 24 different nationalities!) about their research including Sylvie Guillaume, Vice President of the European Parliament. You can read more about this project here.

In October, Laëtitia Marechal and I went to the Natural History Museum in London for one of the museum’s ‘Lates’. The NHM is open late once a month and researchers can demonstrate their work to the public.

In November, a group from our School went to Skegness Aquarium to run a day of interactive exhibits based on our research. The event, ‘The Community Lab’ was part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science – a Festival run annually around the country. I got funding for our event from the ESRC, and that enabled us to make some new interactive demonstrations of our work. We had activities ranging from visual illusions to face perception and even some colouring in. The day was enjoyed by people from pre-school age to older adults, and the Aquarium were really welcoming. This event was important to me because we spoke to people who would otherwise likely not have come into contact with University researchers.

If you’d like to know more about any of these events, please contact me on