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Speaker Series

How behaviourism can make you much, much smarter

Dr. Bryan Roche                                           
Monday, 20th November, 2017
5.00 - 6.00pm
Mitre Lecture Theatre

Abstract: Recent studies have shown that the SMART (strengthening mental abilities through relational training) method has the potential to increase general intellectual ability measures as well as standardised scholastic aptitude scores by a considerable degree across a very short period of time.

Indeed, SMART is the only form of “brain training” that has been proven to raise IQ by a standard deviation or more, across several studies.  In this talk Dr. Bryan Roche of Maynooth University, Ireland, will outline the rationale behind the SMART method, which has its roots in the experimental analysis of behaviour and a modern Post-Skinnerian account of language and cognition, known as Relational Frame Theory. 

The talk will also outline evidence of the positive effects on intellectual functioning of a relational skills training intervention, and will argue that for pragmatic and ethical reasons our conceptualisation of intelligence needs to be revised in line with a more functional approach to understanding and improving the human condition. 

Dr. Bryan Roche has been a member of academic staff at Maynooth University, Ireland since 2000.  His early work was on the development of Relational Frame Theory, a post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition, the first text for which has been cited over 1000 times in the academic literature.  He is author of over 100 peer reviewed papers and book chapters. 

Dr. Roche has developed an online intervention, based on Relational Frame Theory, that is the only intervention currently known by psychologists to increase IQ by clinically significant degrees (around 15 points) for many or most users.  This method is known as SMART (Strengthening Mental Abilities with Relational Training), and is offered online by the MU campus company, of which Dr. Roche is a co-director. 

Dr. Roche also conducts research into fear and avoidance as part of a wider interest in anxiety, and has developed a new implicit test, built from first learning principles, called the FAST (Function Acquisition Speed Test), also available online as a test and in modified form as a therapeutic intervention to  enhance psychological flexibility in the context of troubling emotional issues. 

The lecture is open to all faculty, staff, students, and members of the general public. Booking is not necessary, but places will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, so please arrive in plenty of time.

For more information, please contact Roy Spina at

Recent distinguished speakers who have visited the Department include:

  • Dr Clare Wilson, Research Director, University of Portsmouth. The Self-Management of Mental Health
  • Professor Aldert Vrij, University of Portsmouth, Cognitive lie detection: A theoretical and empirical overview
  • Professor Constanine Sedikides, Professor of Social and Personality Psychology, and the Director of the Centre for Research on Self Identity at the University of Southampton.
  • Dr Susan J. Rickard Liow, National University of Singapore, Variations in Bilingual Children’s Spelling Development: Models and Applications
  • Professor David Wilson, Birmingham City University, A structural model for understanding the behaviour of serial killers
  • Professor Patrick Sturgis, Director of ESRC National Centre for Research Methods, University of Southampton, What makes trusters trust?
  • Dr Richard de Visser, Reader, University of Sussex, Encouraging adherence to alcohol intake guidelines through use of unit-marked glasses: An intervention study among adults
  • Dr Katherine Bradbury, Research Fellow, University of Southampton, The person-based approach to developing health-related behaviour change interventions
  • Dr Rebecca Graber, Research Fellow, at the University of Sussex, Title: What about your friends? A peer-based approach to psychological resilience and health
  • Dr Lorenzo Stafford, Senior Lecturer, University of Portsmouth, Last Orders At The Bar? Using Health And Psychobiological Approaches To Understanding Alcohol