Brian Hughes is a Professor in Psychology, and a specialist in stress psychophysiology, health psychology, the public understanding of psychology and science, and the application of psychology to social issues. A prominent advocate for scientific psychology, evidence-based policy, and the role of psychology in society, he writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.
His latest book is A Conceptual History of Psychology: The Mind Through Time (Bloomsbury, 2023; out now). Previous books include The Psychology of Brexit: From Psychodrama to Behavioural Science (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology (Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2012), Rethinking Psychology: Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience (Palgrave, 2016) and Psychology in Crisis (Palgrave, 2018).
As well as blogging at The Science Bit, he has written for the Irish Times, the Irish Examiner, the Irish Independent, Health Affairs, The Psychologist, The Irish Psychologist, and Psychology Today. He has contributed to a wide range of talk shows, podcasts, and documentaries on science, psychology, and philosophy. He has been interviewed on several topics for outlets such as the New York Times, the Financial Times, O Globo (Brazil), Metro.co.uk, the Sunday Times, the Sunday World, RTÉ, Today FM, and Newstalk FM. His blog has been featured in pieces appearing in Slate online and the Guardian Higher Education Network.
He was a member of the HSE (Ireland) National Working Group on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and serves as a Scientific Advisor to the charity Hope 4 ME & Fibro Northern Ireland. He is also chairing a global research team on behalf of the International Prader-Willi Syndrome Organisation (IPWSO).
A former President of the Psychological Society of Ireland, he currently serves on the PSI’s Science and Public Policy Committee. He was the Society’s media spokesperson during two contentious national referendums on abortion rights: firstly in 2002, when it was being proposed that threat of suicide be removed as grounds for legal abortion, and again in 2018, when the ban on abortion was finally removed from the Irish constitution.
In 2019, he was appointed as the first Chair of the Board of Management at the newly opened Educate Together Secondary School in Galway.
A noted authority on the impact of mental stress on human physiology, especially cardiovascular responses, he has also authored over 100 academic journal articles and chapters. His experimental research focuses on psychological stress (particularly its impact on cardiovascular psychophysiology, immunity, and health) and on psychosocial moderators of stress processes (such as social support, cognition, and personality). He has conducted extensive research into the ways human cardiovascular responses habituate during repeated or sustained stress exposure, helping to explain how some people are resilient to the long-term health effects of chronic stress. He served as President of the international Stress and Anxiety Research Society from 2014 to 2016.
As well as his post at the University of Galway, he has held visiting academic positions at King’s College London, Leiden University, the University of Birmingham, and the University of Missouri.