The hidden potential of our brains

lowPsychology lecturer Dr Tom Stafford has picked up the 2014 British Psychological Society (BPS) Public Engagement and Media Award for Mindhacks.com, the hugely popular psychology and neuroscience blog he co-founded ten years ago.

Tom, who studied for his BSc and PhD here at our University, started the blog with technology entrepreneur Matt Webb in 2004 after publishing a book, also called Mind Hacks.

Tom’s book explores the hidden potential of our brains with tips and exercises to help us understand how we tick, and Mindhacks.com picks up this theme of making cognitive psychology accessible – it’s been described as “riveting” by Scientific American magazine.

As well as reaching a wide audience of followers – on 10 May 2014 it received more than 100,000 unique visitors – Tom’s blog has attracted attention from industry experts like Claudia Hammond, psychology broadcaster and presenter of All in the Mind on BBC Radio 4.

“When Mindhacks.com started there were very few psychology blogs, so it has helped to define a blossoming culture of online commentary on psychology research and maintains an internationally recognised profile within that culture,” said Claudia.

“Mindhacks.com has remained independent, with no advertising, and the writers work unpaid in their spare time. Their work is licensed under a Creative Commons copyright licence, meaning that it can be republished freely.

“I’m constantly impressed by the quality of Mindhacks.com and see it as a crucial site for people to obtain critically-considered information about psychological research. Their blog posts are always evidence-based and well-argued, and often provide a counterpoint to more sensationalist coverage in other outlets,” she added.

The BPS Public Engagement and Media Award recognises the work of psychologists who, either directly or through the media, have made an outstanding contribution to raising the profile of psychology with the general public.

“The thing that’s always driven Mindhacks.com is finding the everyday angle on things, how we can see these phenomena outside of the lab,” said Tom.

“It’s really pleasing that this is the first time a blog has been nominated for this award and the first time one has won. It recognises that public engagement isn’t all about a single charismatic figurehead.

“Blogging has given me a chance to practice writing for non-specialist audiences, and introduced me to a riotous online world which is informative and inspiring,” he added.

Tom writes for the blog along with Dr Vaughan Bell, neuroscientist and clinical psychologist at University College London.

As well as Mind Hacks, Tom has written three e-books The Narrative Escape , Explore Your Blind Spot and Control Your Dreams.

(via www.sheffield.ac.uk/staff)

Visit Mindhacks.com

Find out more about Tom’s work – visit his staff page