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Professor George Gaskell

I graduated from University College London in 1969, staying on to complete my PhD in social psychology under the supervision of Professor Rob Farr. In 1971 I took the long journey, about two kilometres, to the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science (DPBS) at the London School of Economics, where I have since been happily engaged in teaching, research and administration. I am currently Professor of Social Psychology and the Director of the School's Methodology Institute. 

My research interests fall under the rubric of societal psychology, an approach developed with the late Hilde Himmelweit with whom I edited 'Societal Psychology' (1990). In this it is suggested that a neglected focus in social psychology is the study of social phenomena and cultural forces that both shape, and in turn are shaped by, people's outlooks and actions.

Past research projects have included the study of energy use and conservation, the crowd in contemporary Britain, youth and unemployment, social and cognitive aspects of survey methodology and community care.

Current research, with Dr Martin Bauer, involves the coordination of an international comparative study of biotechnology in the public sphere funded by DG Research of the European Commission. Theoretically the work draws on social representations theory, a critique of traditional attitudinal and public opinion research, and on social systems theory. Within different arenas of the public sphere biotechnology presents different challenges and is represented in different ways. The research focuses on three arenas of the public sphere, policy making, media coverage and public perceptions. Our objective is to understand from the discourses in these three arenas the structure and functions of representations, the interrelations between the three arenas and the ways in which the public sphere responds to, and in turn, shapes the development of the technology.

In the course of this research there has been a parallel focus on research methods and in particular on the development of quality indicators for qualitative research (Bauer and Gaskell, 2000).  

Edited books and monographs

Gaskell, G. and Bauer, M. (2001). (eds)  Biotechnology 1996-2000: The years of controversy.  London: Science Museum Press.

Bauer, M. and Gaskell, G. (2000) (eds) Qualitative researching with text, image and sound. London: Sage.

Durant, J. Bauer, M. and Gaskell, G. (1998). Biotechnology in the Public Sphere: a European Source Book. London: Science Museum Publications.

Wright, D.B. And Gaskell, G. (1998) (Eds) Surveying memory processes. Hove, Psychology Press

Himmelweit, H and Gaskell, G (l990) (Eds), Societal Psychology. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Fraser, C and Gaskell, G (l990) (Eds), The Social Psychological Study of Widespread Beliefs. Oxford University Press.

Gaskell, G and Benewick, R (l987). The Crowd in Contemporary Britain. London: Sage.

Gaskell, G and Joerges, B (l987) (Eds), Public Policies and Private Actions. Aldershot: Avebury WZB


Monnier, E, Gaskell, G, Ester, P, Joerges, LaPillone, B, Midden, C and Puiseux, L. (Eds) (l986). Consumer Behavior and Energy Policy. New York: Praeger.

Hutton, S, Gaskell, G, Corden, A, Pike, R, and Bradshaw, J, (l985). Energy efficiency in low income households: An evaluation of local insulation projects. Department of Energy, HMSO, London.

Ester, P Gaskell, G Joerges, B Midden, C de Vries, T and van Raaij, W (Eds), Consumer Behaviour and Energy Policy. North Holland, Amsterdam, New York.

Gaskell, G and Sealy, A P (l976). Groups: Block 13, D305 Social Psychology, p.81. Open University Press.

Selected articles and chapters post 1994

Gaskell, G., Allum, N., Wagner, W., Kronberger, N., Torgensen, H., and Bardes, J. (2004).  GM foods and the misperception of risk perception.  Risk analysis, 24. (1). 183 - 192.

Ten Eyck, T., Gaskell, G. and Jackson, J.P. (2004).  Seeds, food and trade wars: Public opinion and policy responses in the US and Europe.  Journal of Commercial Biotechnology.  10: 3, 258-267.

Gaskell,G., Allum, N., Bauer, M., Jackson, J.P., Howard, S. and Lindsey, N. (2003) Climate change for biotechnology? UK public opinion 1991-2002. AgBioForum, vol 6 nos 1&2.

Gaskell, G., Allum, N. and Stares, S. (2003). Europeans and Biotechnology in 2002: Eurobarometer 58.0 (

Gaskell, G. and Allum, N. (2001) Sound science, problematic publics? Contrasting representations of risk and uncertainty.  Politeia XV11, 63, 13-25.

Gaskell, G. et al. (2000) Biotechnology and the European Public. Nature Biotechnology, 18, 935-938.

Gaskell, G., Wright, D. and O'Muircheartaigh, C. (2000) Telescoping landmark events: Implications for survey research. Public Opinion Quarterly, 64, 77-89.

Gaskell, G. (2000) Individual and group interviewing, pp 38-56, in Bauer M and G Gaskell (eds) Qualitative researching with text, image and sound. London: Sage.

Gaskell, G. and Bauer, M. (2000) Towards public accountability: Beyond sampling, reliability and validity, pp336-350, In Bauer M & G Gaskell (eds) Qualitative researching with text, image and sound. London: Sage.

Bauer, M., Gaskell, G. and Allum, N. (2000) Quantity, quality and knowledge interests: Avoiding confusions, pp3-18, in Bauer M & G Gaskell (eds) Qualitative researching with text, image and sound. London: Sage.

Durant, J., Bauer, M., Gaskell, G., Midden, C., Liakopoulos, M., and Sholten, L. (2000) Industrial and post-industrial public understanding of science, in: Dierkes M and C von Grote (eds) Between understanding and trust: the public, science and technology, Reading, Harwood, Academics Publisher.

Gaskell, G., Bauer, M., Durant, J. and Allum, N. (1999) Worlds apart: The reception of GM foods in the United States and Europe. Science. July 16.

Bauer, M and Gaskell, G.(1999) Towards a paradigm for the study of social representations, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 29, 162-186.

Gaskell, G., Bauer, M. and Durant, J. (1998) The representations of biotechnology: policy,media and public perceptions. In Durant, J., Bauer, M. and Gaskell, G. (eds) Biotechnology in the public sphere: a European source book. London: Science Museum Press.

Gaskell, G., Bauer,M. and Durant, J. (1998) Public perceptions of biotechnology. Eurobarometer 46.1. In Durant,J.,Bauer,M. and Gaskell, G. (eds) Biotechnology in the public sphere: a European source book. London: Science Museum Press.

Bauer, M,. Durant,J,. Gaskell,G., Bridgman,E, and Liakopoulos,M. (1998) United Kingdom: national profile. In Durant.J., Bauer,M. and Gaskell, G. (eds) Biotechnology in the public sphere: a European source book. London: Science Museum Press.

Bauer.M., Durant,J. and Gaskell,G. (1998) Biotechnology in the public sphere: a comparative review. In Durant,J,.Bauer,M. and Gaskell,G. (eds) Biotechnology in the public sphere: a European source book. London: Science Museum Press.

Wright, D. B., Gaskell, G. D. and O'Muircheartaigh, C. A. (1998). Flashbulb memory assumptions: Using national surveys to explore cognitive phenomena. British journal of psychology, 36, 443-456.

Gaskell , G et al. (1997) Europe ambivalent on biotechnology. Nature, 387, pp 845-847

Wright, D.B., Gaskell, G.D. and O'Muircheartaigh, C.A. (1997). Temporal estimation of major news events: Re-examining the accessibility principle. Applied cognitive psychology, 11, 35-46.

Wright, D.B., Gaskell, G.D. and O'Muircheartaigh, C.A. (1997). The reliability of the subjective reports of memories. European journal of cognitive psychology, 9, 313-323.

Gaskell, G., Bauer, M. and Durant, J. (1997) Survey research on public attitudes to public to science and technology in S. Sjoberg and E. Kallerud (eds) Science, technology and citizenship.Oslo. NIFU.

Gaskell, G and Wright, D (1997) Group differences for memory of a political event. In J.W. Pennebaker, D. Paez and D. Rime (eds) Collective memory of political events: Social psychological perspectives. New York: LEA.

O'Muircheartaigh, C, Gaskell, G and Wright, D (1996) Weighing anchors:verbal and numeric labels for response scales. Journal of Official Statistics. 11, 3, 295-307.

Gaskell, G. (1996) On the lure of metrication: Attitudes and social representations. Papers on Social Representations. 5, no.1.

Gaskell, G (1996) People's understanding of vague quantifiers. Survey Methods Centre Newsletter. vol. 16, no.2.

Gaskell, G, Wright, D and O'Muircheartaigh, C. (1995). Context effects in the measurement of attitudes: A comparison of the consistency and framing explanations. British Journal of Social Psychology, 34, 383-393.

Gaskell, G, Dockrell, J and Rehman, H. (1995). Community care for people with challenging behaviours and mild learning disability. An evaluation of an assessment and treatment unit. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 34, 385-395.

Dockrell, J, Gaskell, G, Normand, C and Rehman, H (1995). An economic analysis of the resettlement of people with mild learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. Social Science and Medicine, 40, 7, 895-901.

Wright, D and Gaskell, G (1995). Flashbulb memories: Conceptual and methodological issues. Memory, 3, 1, 67-80.  


Professor George Gaskell, Pro-director (Resources and Planning) Director, The Methodology Institute

"Kurt Lewin, one of the founders of empirical social psychology, said that "there is nothing so practical as good theory". This maxim characterises the approach of the Institute, the joint exploration of concepts and theory with the study of social issues - societal psychology writ large"