Psychologies magazine: Not just a pretty face

As French import 'Psychologies' prepares to hit our newstands, Sophie Morris asks whether British women are ready to drop celebs for something more cerebral

Psychologies aims to satisfy the increasing demand for self-help and self-improvement information, in a glossy monthly package. The magazine's runaway success in France is down to the publishing guru Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber, who rescued a yellowing academic journal almost a decade ago and nurtured it into its present form. But, as the UK launch editor Maureen Rice freely admits: "What works brilliantly in France isn't necessarily going to work here. It's got the DNA of the French magazine, but it's very different."

Rice, who worked on the launches of both In Style and Eve, is convinced that the independent British woman feels rather neglected by the current one-size-fits-all approach to magazines, and is ready for more specialist magazines.

The UK Psychologies' answer to this is a content that is focused and academically rigorous without being too demanding. A beauty piece, for example, looks at the concept of "allure" through unconventional icons such as Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich and Sarah Jessica Parker. Another article looks at how we pass judgement on people based on first impressions, and why we rarely change that opinion. There's also practical advice on how to improve your relationship with your mother, and a look at the psychological fallout of last month's terror attacks in London.

In short, it's intellectually stimulating but it's not rocket science. As Rice explains: "It's not some arcane thing that's parked off in a university somewhere. It's just the way we live, the way we are. If you'd asked me, 'Are you interested in psychology?', I don't know what I would have replied. But I would have said that I'm fascinated by behaviour and emotions. Think about the conversations we have with our women friends: what do we talk about? We may not call it 'psychology', but that's what it is."

Clearly, French women take the pursuit of happiness very seriously, but they were also introduced to philosophy at primary school. And the reason why they don't have as much of a need for magazines with cover lines shouting, "Lose 6lb in as many hours!", may be explained by the title of the book, French Women Don't Get Fat.

So, since British women seem to dwell less on existential issues than their French counterparts, Rice is packing her version of Psychologies with advice that is both insightful and practical from experts such as this paper's agony aunt Virginia Ironside and the psychologist Oliver James. "It's time for a new level," agrees the former Cosmopolitan editor Marcelle d'Argy Smith. "We've had pop psychology in magazines for so long, and it's patronising beyond belief."

Easy Living, a competitor for the attentions of a similar readership, covers a broader spectrum of topics compared with Psychologies' narrow focus, but its editor Susie Forbes concedes that the popularity of her "Emotional Intelligence" pages is an indicator that Psychologies has a chance of doing well in the UK.

Rice is confident that she has hit on the right formula for reinterpreting over here what French women can't seem to get enough of. She says that French women are somewhat lacking in the humour department, and that her readers will demand some levity, however serious the topic. She expects to reach women aged between 35 and 55, but is more interested in their "psychographic" profile than what stage they have reached in their lives as the subject matter cuts through the generations.

Still, magazine-selling celebrities are very much a part of this attractive parcel. Meg Ryan is on the cover of the first issue and is interviewed inside, but Rice says that such interviews with stars will be intimate rather than gossipy or voyeuristic. "I'm quite interested in how Meg Ryan dropped two dress sizes but I'd read that somewhere else. She talks about getting older and how she's been through a lot of personal change," she says.

Chrissie Hynde, Derren Brown and Tony Parsons are other famous voices in the first issue, which is priced at £2.50, rising to £3, a confident pitch that may not capture that many impulse buyers, but does position Psychologies firmly in the quality market. And following Easy Living's inspired launch offer of 12 issues for £12, Psychologies will offer six issues for £6.

The biggest obstacle to Psychologies' success may be the absence of vital advertisers - at present, it is relying on beauty products and little else. Otherwise, it will be up to British women to choose between psychology and Paris Hilton. As Rice is the first to admit, "It's not necessarily for everybody," but it will certainly make a refreshing change in what can be a very predictable market.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy