Welcome to the Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section
Register for the Annual Conference 2014 on Investigating Somatic Consciousness 4 - 6 September.
CEP members will benefit from a members discount.
Issue 2 of Consciousness & Experience, our Section members newsletter in coming out in July.
The Section had great success at psychology4students in London December 2013. The event review was shared in our members newsletter.
Aims of the Section
Consciousness was the original focus of psychological research and is once more a central topic of enquiry. The growth of interest and research over recent years has been explosive, and to foster this development a new section of the British Psychological Society, the Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section (CEP) was formed in 1997. Its purpose is to advance our understanding of consciousness, to bring scientific research on consciousness closer to other traditions of inquiry into the nature of mind, and to explore how this research can be used to improve the quality of life.
In the modern era, CEP was the first and is still the only subsection of a nationally representative body of professional psychologists devoted to the study of Consciousness.
BackgroundAt the turn of the last century, Wundt, James and the other founders of scientific psychology took it for granted that conscious experience was the discipline's central phenomenon. In the behaviourist period (roughly the first 50 years of the 20th Century) the study and even the mention of consciousness was largely suppressed. With the reintroduction of "mind" in cognitive psychology (over the second half of the 20th Century) mention of consciousness was gradually reintroduced, usually in connection with studies of selective attention and short-term memory. It was generally assumed however that consciousness was nothing more than a form of information processing, with little attention paid to how its rich phenomenology is experienced. The effort to develop an understanding of the mind that paid closer attention to the phenomenology of consciousness gathered pace from the early 1990's, along with a growing understanding of how the methods used to understand consciousness affect the ways that we think about it. In 1994 the founders of CEP were motivated by the conviction that the study of consciousness should be fully reincorporated into mainstream psychology. Official approval for CEP was announced on April 4th 1997, during the BPS Annual Conference. The ballot attracted over 3000 votes (about 10% of BPS membership) - an overwhelming majority in favour. The study of consciousness is now firmly re-established at the heart of the discipline.
There are now many consciousness research groups, for example the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, the Science and Consciousness Review and the Tucson Conferences. Not only psychologists, but individuals from many different disciplines study consciousness, including philosophers, neuroscientists, physicists, engineers working in artificial intelligence, anthropologists, and artists. There are also many ancient traditions for investigating consciousness that have developed in the East.
Journals, such as Journal of Consciousness Studies and Consciousness and Cognition have appeared (including the e-journal, PSYCHE) and there are literally hundreds of books on the topic. For a list of recommended reading please see here.
There are also many additional resources available on the web. Particularly useful collections of on-line papers can be found in the CogPrints archive and on the website of the philosopher David Chalmers.