Keynotes highlight poverty, inequalities and climate change on day two ECP 2023

The first day of presentations at the European Congress of Psychology 2023 began with the event’s first keynote speaker Professor Rusi Jaspal, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Brighton.

Professor Jaspal’s talk, titled ‘Coping with threats to identity amid change, uncertainty and technological innovation’, took listeners on a journey through his career conducting psychological research into identity.

Defining identity as “the constellation of elements (e.g. group memberships, personality traits) that makes each individual unique and distinctive”, Professor Jaspal covered how people experience and cope with threats to their identity in an ever-changing world.

Next up in Auditorium One was Professor Kate Pickett OBE, Professor of Epidemiology and Deputy Director of the Centre for Future Health at the University of York, whose talk focused on inequality, labelling it ‘the enemy between us’.

Describing how the extent of inequality in a society comes about, Professor Pickett explained how “individual differences will explain who falls, but the height of the hurdles will explain how many fall”, outlining the societal aspect which must be tackled.

The third keynote speaker of the day, Serdar M Değirmencioğlu of Goethe University Frankfurt, tackled one of the key themes of the congress – climate change and psychology’s role in addressing it as a global issue.

His talk outlined a different way to approach climate change as a psychological, noting how “the literature has so far focused on individual decision or at the level of the individual”, rather than targeting communities.

Across an hour at lunch, editor of The Psychologist Dr Jon Sutton welcomed four experts for a panel discussion on poverty and inequalities, with Dr Sutton noting that such issues “have come to the fore in psychology and for the BPS.”

Panellists Dr Bridgette Rickett (Leeds Beckett University), Professor Philip Murphy (Edge Hill University), Tiago Pereira (Portuguese Psychological Association) and Germán Gutiérrez gave their perspectives on how poverty and inequalities intersect with mental health, and the solutions that psychologists can bring to the table.

In the afternoon, delegates in Auditorium One enjoyed Professor Ioana Cristea from the University of Padova’s keynote on ‘a pharmacologically informed paradigm for psychotherapy research’, a talk which considered how we can be more aware of what ‘ingredients’ make up psychotherapy.

Rounding off the day on the main stage was Professor Christoph Steinebach, President of the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations, taking a look at the future of European psychology in the post-Covid era.

Away from the keynotes and main stage events, delegates at the Brighton Centre enjoyed a diverse range of talks, presentations and posters touching on all areas of psychology, before heading to Brighton Pier for the evening.

Despite the rainy weather, hundreds of psychologists turned out for fish and chips and amusement fair rides as the sun set over the sea.