I have published 20 books, a number of which have either won or been shortlisted for major national or international prizes.
The books cover a range of areas, nonverbal communication/body language, communication more generally, my early life in Belfast, the psychology of sport, including ethnographic writing on the lives of boxers, the effects of unemployment on society, the psychology of sustainability, how psychology can be used to improve your life and the role of implicit prejudice in contemporary society. All involve psychology in one way or another.
I have also written one novel about a teenager in Belfast getting caught up in the Troubles. Psychology again is at its core.
Rethinking Body Language
Out March 2016. Challenging all of our old assumptions about the subject, Rethinking Body Language builds on the most recent cutting-edge research to offer a new theoretical perspective on this subject that will transform the way we look at other people.
Our Racist Heart? An Exploration of Unconscious Prejudice in Everyday Life
'Our Racist Heart?' examines implicit, as opposed to explicit, racial attitudes in contemporary British society. It uses new experimental approaches to reveal these implicit attitudes and shows how unconscious biases can influence our everyday actions and thinking. In this exploration of unconscious prejudice I use my own experiences of class and religious prejudice in Northern Ireland to bring this whole process to life, and I discuss implicit prejudice in relation to the history of race, racism and social psychological theory.
Chasing Lost Times: A Father and Son Reconciled through Running
This was a book jointly written with my son Ben who is bordering on elite status as a distance runner. It explores how running, which is a lifetime passion of mine, brought us back together after we had drifted apart. This book explores the psychology of running but much more importantly it is a book about the psychology of a father-son relationship and those bonds that tie fathers and sons together regardless of what they go through.
Get the Edge: How Simple Changes can Transform Your Life
In this book I tried to show how the latest research in psychology could be used by people in their everyday life to make things better for themselves, things like improving one's mood or mending a broken heart, or working in a more sustained way on a project, or spotting a liar, or making what you say more memorable, or making more of a first impression. The idea behind the book is that academic research in psychology can be used by everyone.
Why Aren’t We Saving the Planet? A Psychologist’s Perspective
Global warming is a truly global problem: it will affect every single one of us and will only be stopped by a huge shift in our individual attitudes and behaviour. So why aren’t we doing more to save the planet? This book follows my personal mission to find some answers to this most important of questions. In this book I detail new research into people's underlying attitudes, rather than what they just report. I discuss in detail how to change attitudes to the environment and how to encourage sustainable behaviour before it is too late.
This is a very personal exploration of my Ulster Protestant background during some of the worst years of the Troubles. It explores my Ulster Protestant heritage and seeks to understand better the often misunderstood Protestant community. It starts with me going home to visit my mother and trying to find out more about my own family history and the cultural history of my people. I write about the Somme and the psychological consequences of trench warfare and the aftermath of the Great War for the people of Ulster.
Visible Thought: The New Psychology of Body Language
This book represents the new psychology of body language. It shows how the hand movements we make when we talk reveal unarticulated aspects of thinking and therefore we can sometimes literally read minds by studying these unconscious movements, which operate alongside speech but with only minimal awareness at the best of times.
The Shadows of Boxing: Prince Naseem and those he left behind
This book chronicles the contrasting fortunes of the hard men of Brendan Ingle's gym, and looks at how Naseem Hamed's family coped with the incredible pressures of fame. It also features the first major interview with Naz since his defeat at the hands of Marco Antonio Barrera. It is a story about the lives of boxers after the hullabaloo of world championship boxing has died away.
The Corner Boys
This is a novel set in a loyalist working-class neighbourhood in Belfast, a city, like many others, in industrial decline but a city at war. To be a somebody at that time you had to be in the 'Organisation'. This is a story about life on the fringes of the paramilitaries during that particular time in the Troubles; a story of a teenager trying to make sense of life in a distorted landscape. 'The Corner Boys' was shortlisted for the Ewart-Biggs Literary Prize in 1989.
Head-to-Head: Uncovering the Psychology of Sporting Success
This book was based on two series of interviews I conducted for Radio 5 Live, where I sat down with famous individuals from the world of sport, people like Alex Ferguson, Naseem Hamed, Kelly Holmes, Jonathan Edwards, Chris Boardman and others, and probed the psychology underlying their particular sport. 'We are all psychologists', Alex Ferguson told me in the interview, 'some are just better at it than others.'
Hard Lines: Voices from Deep within a Recession
This book takes a close look at Britain during a time of 'negative de-industrialization'. It is a book about people and the lives they lead in the midst of change and uncertainty. It is about what it was like to be there at the sharp end when the foundries and furnaces and the mines all stopped, to see the human cost of economic policy and to understand how some survived regardless.
On the Ropes: Boxing as a Way of Life
I took up boxing to write this book, as more illustrious writers have done in the past. Indeed, the first 'word' in 'On the Ropes' is the noise that I made involuntarily when I was punched in the stomach by Mick 'the Bomb' Mills. I spent a number of years boxing and hanging out with Mick and the other lads from Brendan Ingle's gym in Sheffield. It was never dull and I learned more about myself than I ever thought possible as I spent my days and nights in this tough world of theirs. 'On the Ropes' was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year in 1996.
We Are the People: Journeys Through the Heart of Protestant Ulster
This was the first time that I had written about my Protestant working-class background in Belfast. When I left Northern Ireland for university I was sometimes a little vague about my past. I had grown up at the 'turn of the road' in North Belfast or 'Murder Triangle' as it was known in the media. A number of my boyhood friends had been killed in the Troubles, some others were in the Maze prison for terrorist offences. We had all been in the same gang when we were young. I had passed the Eleven Plus and gone on to Belfast Royal Academy and then moved away to university. I may have represented the University of Cambridge at badminton, but I had learned to play in St Marks Church Hall with friends who were now in the Maze serving life sentences for murder. This book is about my return home. 'We are the People' was shortlisted for the Ewart-Biggs Literary Prize in 1993.
England After Dark
This book was based on a series of articles that I had written for the Guardian newspaper, mainly about the North of England, in the midst of a crippling recession. However, I did venture out with the Vice Squad in central London and I travelled through the night with some labourers who lived in Grimsby but worked in London. All I remember now is that I was knackered by the time we got to London, and they had to start work on the building site. I was fascinated by this England that we never saw and it sometimes seemed to me that we shut our eyes a little too readily.
All Talk: Why it's important to watch your words and everything else you say
This was another book based on a series of articles that I had written for the Guardian, this time about the use of language in everyday life. The starting point was my academic interest in language but I wanted to show the power of language in shaping all of our everyday lives through jokes and sales patter and insults and interruptions. I wanted to show why the common metaphors of everyday life shape our thinking and why every time a politician says something about 'curing unemployment' then we need to be extra vigilant. After all, politicians are not doctors and we have to be careful about the medicine they prescribe.
This was a book about body language on beaches, when the human body is on full display and the use of verbal language is restricted. The idea for the book came to me one long afternoon in the South of France when I started making detailed notes of people's bodily postures when they were sunbathing. I noticed that couples would change posture but still mirror each other exact's posture despite the many changes. I made nearly 4000 detailed observations over the next week or so and wrote this up for a leading academic journal in nonverbal communication. This book outlined the research in a more accessible way to show how the human body sends powerful messages unconsciously in this most public of settings.
Making It: The Reality of Today's Entrepreneurs
I lived in Sheffield when I wrote this book about the new entrepreneurs living the Thatcherite dream. Most of the entrepreneurs were quite desperate, the vast majority were doomed to failure. The subtitle of this book is 'The Reality of Today's Entrepreneurs' because previous books about entrepreneurs seemed to always start with the successful ones and work backwards, I wanted to work in the reverse direction with those desperately trying to make it. This books covered different sorts of stories.
Survivors of Steel City: Portrait of Sheffield
This was my first non-academic book. I had started writing for the Guardian about life in the North of England during tough economic times. I wrote about the lives of unemployed steel workers and miners avoiding the supermarket when their friends might be there to save embarrassment, boxers, doormen, clubbers, ten bob 'millionaires' who were really on the dole, masseuses and burglars, those trying to get by day by day in desperate economic times. I was really interested in how people survived psychologically when they were thrown onto the scrapheap by a government who did not seem particularly interested in their fate. On the back of this book, I was the story consultant on an award winning ninety-minute documentary film about Sheffield, entitled 'Tales from a Hard City'. This documentary film won the Grand Prix at the Marseilles Film Festival and the Best Regional Film in the Indies Awards.
The Psychology of Language and Communication
This was a wide-ranging introduction to the psychology of language and communication which I wrote with the psycholinguist Andy Ellis. We covered a vast amount of material and in the words of one reviewer we produced 'a highly readable, engaging, and comprehensive introduction to the study of language.'
Talk: An Analysis of Speech and Non-Verbal Behaviour in Conversation
This was my first book and detailed my academic research on the analysis of language and nonverbal communication in conversation. The book describes the intimate connections between language and nonverbal behaviour, particularly hand gesture and patterns of eye gaze. It also covers issues to do with turn-taking and control in conversation and famously put Margaret Thatcher's interview style under the microscope. I was awarded the Spearman Medal by the British Psychological Society for this work. The Spearman Medal is awarded for 'published psychological research of outstanding merit.'