Letter: Psychology on trial

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Sir: Wendy Lawson claims (letter, 20 September) that 'psychology in our schools has led to increasing levels of basic illiteracy'. I would be interested to know what evidence she has to support this claim. There is, on the contrary, evidence that employers value the communication skills, both written and oral, that psychology students possess. An education in psychology encourages students to support all the claims they make by empirical evidence.

The Rachel Nickell trial has highlighted psychology in general and psychological profiling in particular. However, it is just as absurd to conclude from one well-publicised case that psychological profiling is of no use as it would be to conclude from previous, more successful cases that profiling can solve all the police's problems. An education in psychology teaches the dangers of over generalising from a limited number of instances.

If psychology were more widely taught, some of the woollier thinking surrounding this case might have been avoided.

Yours sincerely,


Department of Psychology

University of Plymouth


21 September

The writer is president elect of the British Psychological Society.