Revolution in the Mind: Reassessing the psychology of rebellion and obedience

Hosted by the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science and LSE Literary Festival

Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building,


Patrick Flanery

Patrick Flanery

Professor Steve Reicher

Professor Steve Reicher


Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch

Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch

How do ordinary people engage with political change? The problem of how far ordinary people conform was first posed by Hannah Arendt and then pursued conceptually and experimentally by social psychologists exposed to the moral, cultural and psychological devastation that followed World War 2 in Europe.  We do as we are told. Or do we? Exploring the psychological roots of obedience and rebellion, this event will present the feature documentary Shock Room and revisit Stanley Milgram's controversial experiments on the banality of evil, asking whether it is conformity rather than resistance and rebellion that guides everyday political behaviour.

A film screening, followed by a discussion.

Patrick Flanery (@PFlaneryAuthor) is an American writer based in London. His first novel, Absolution, was published in 2012; it won the Spear's/Laurent Perrier Best First Book Award and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the Author's Club Best First Novel Award, and the Prix du Premier Roman Étranger in France; it was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Desmond Elliott Prize. It has been translated into eleven languages. His second novel, Fallen Land, was published in 2013. His third novel, I Am No One, was published in 2016. Patrick has written for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, the Guardian, the Spectator, the Times Literary Supplement and the Daily Telegraph. He has held writing fellowships at the Santa Maddalena Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center. He is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Reading.

Stephen Reicher is Wardlaw Professor in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St Andrews. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He has published some 300 books, chapters and articles in the general area of group processes and social identities. This includes work on crowds, on nationalism and national identities, on leadership and political rhetoric, on intergroup hatred and, latterly, on the psychology of obedience and tyranny.

Sandra Jovchelovitch is a Professor in the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science and Director of the Social and Cultural Psychology programme at LSE. In 2012 Sandra was made a Fellow of the British Psychological Society in recognition for her expertise and contribution to the field of social and cultural psychology.

Suggested Twitter hashtag for this event: #LSELitFest

This event forms part of the LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival 2017, taking place from Monday 20 - Saturday 25 February 2017, with the theme "Revolutions".

Update: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Alex Haslam and Kathryn Millard are no longer able to take part in this discussion.


A podcast of this event is available to download from Revolution in the Mind: Reassessing the psychology of rebellion and obedience

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