OBITUARY: LIAM HUDSON ; Iconoclastic Researcher in Psychology

By Dean, Roger T. | The Independent (London, England), May 3, 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

OBITUARY: LIAM HUDSON ; Iconoclastic Researcher in Psychology


Dean, Roger T., The Independent (London, England)


Liam Hudson was an innovative, iconoclastic and influential researcher in psychology, and in areas abutting sociology and philosophy. He was also a creative artist in photography, painting, sculpture and writing, and could inter-relate all these facets of his activities as part of a questioning apprehension of the world.

Hudson was born in Sutton, Surrey in 1933, and educated at Whitgift School. His father was a salesman and manager, his mother an art teacher. After National Service, he won a scholarship in 1954 to read Modern History at Exeter College, Oxford, later switching to Philosophy and Psychology. He acquired a PhD, nominally in Psychology, from Cambridge University in 1961. He then became Director of the Research Unit of Intellectual Development at Cambridge in 1964, and later took a Chair in Educational Sciences at Edinburgh, leading a research institute there from 1968 to 1977. After Edinburgh, Hudson held a Chair at Brunel University, London, in the burgeoning Human Sciences department.

In 1966 he published Contrary Imaginations: a psychological study of the English schoolboy. With this book, Hudson changed British understanding of how to educate schoolboys so as to enhance their opportunities. The influence of the central concept of 'convergers' and 'divergers' was strong. Convergers " those with high IQ, but found to have limited diversity of response to questions such as what one could do with a brick " became almost a stereotype; they were often practitioners of the 'physical sciences'. Divergers were those schoolboys who had lower but reasonable IQ, yet more diverse responses to the challenge of the brick.

Hudson, perhaps modestly, viewed himself as a diverger, and was certainly committed to moving across imagined boundaries. He challenged the whole of the empirical psychology movement and indicated that anthropology and sociology were necessary complements; more importantly, he used personal and interpersonal challenge as part of his method. Understanding the views of individuals is the real subject of psychology's endeavours.

His ideas were embodied in a series of books: for example, after Contrary Imaginations, came Frames of Mind: ability, perception and self- perception in the arts and sciences (1968), which dealt partly with the surprisingly different response to 'the brick', or comparable challenges revealed by schoolboys invited to be 'John McMice' (who 'liked to shock . . . with gruesome jokes'). Later books explored the dream lives of people, in relation to the converger concept, and the 'psychological significance of the nude in art' (Bodies of Knowledge, 1982).

To begin with, these books had their counterparts in hard 'empirical' science publications, in Nature and many other journals. But gradually Hudson began to question the empirical approach, and he noted that often those people who were unconvinced of the empirical approach were the most productive.

I met Liam Hudson first when he was part of an interview panel as I sought a Readership in Cell Biology at Brunel.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

OBITUARY: LIAM HUDSON ; Iconoclastic Researcher in Psychology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?