Professor Andy Field

8th May 2013

As part of our Inquiring Minds lecture series, on Thursday 2nd May we were joined by Professor of Child Psychopathology at Sussex University, Andy Field.

As well as publishing extensively on the subject of emotional development in children, Professor Field is also well known for his unorthodox methods of teaching statistics and throughout the day he worked with sixth form Psychology and Mathematics students, giving them an insight into what a degree in Psychology really entails and proving that that it certainly is ‘cool’ to be a statistician. Students were taught how to see beyond the headlines and sift through sensationalist data in order to enable them to make informed decisions; the example of the recent measles outbreak in the UK was used to effectively illustrate how damaging taking such research at face value can be.

In the evening, Professor Field delivered a lecture which was attended by parents, members of the public and a range of professionals in childhood related fields, entitled ‘The Development of Fear during Early Childhood: Are Daleks or Parents more scary?’. The entertaining talk examined a body of work looking at how children’s fearful emotional reactions are influenced by what they hear, what they see, their personalities, and their parents. Audience members were taken on an intergalactic journey that explored the effects of parental anxiety, scary movies and news reports to name a few. After a fascinating body of evidence was presented, the conclusion was drawn that parents, not Daleks, really are the scariest presence in a child’s life – closely followed by teachers!