Dr Geoff Bunn

What's the difference between a broken leg and a broken heart? One answer is that whereas a broken leg is real in a physical sense, a broken heart is real in a psychological sense. Psychological experiences cannot be reduced to physical entities because to do so would be to evacuate them of any psychological content. Unlike a bone, a heart can only be understood to be broken metaphorically - and indeed only in reference to the cultural and historical framework that makes the idea of a 'broken heart' meaningful in the first place. Although anthropology has long shown that different cultures conceptualise human beings and their emotions in many different ways, psychology has traditionally attempted to discover transcultural universal essences within the individual. Has Western psychology discovered the correct set of categories with which to answer the question "what is it to be human?" (Smith, 2007) To test this hypothesis properly we need to employ methods supplied by historical and conceptual research.

Research Interests

Higher Education Academy Small Project Grant (£6000) for developing a website for resources for lecturers teaching Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology.

Professional Body Membership and Activity

Chair, British Psychological Society History & Philosophy of Psychology Section
External Examiner for the University of Bradford Psychology & Management undergraduate B.Sc dissertation.

Editorships and Consultancies

History & Philosophy of Psychology (BPS) – Editor
Theory & Psychology (SAGE) - Editorial Board
Reviewer for: History & Philosophy of Psychology (BPS), Theory & Psychology (SAGE), History of the Human Sciences (SAGE), Isis: Journal of the History of Science Society (Chicago), Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences (Wiley)
Grant reviewer for The Wellcome Trust
The British Psychological Society: Research Board. Grant awarding. Committee Member (2010-present)
The British Psychological Society: Representative Council. Administration. Committee Member (2010-present)
The British Psychological Society: History & Philosophy of Psychology Section. Learned Society. Chair and annual conference organiser (2010-present)

Research Outputs

Authored Books

Banister, P., Bunn, G., Burman, E., Daniels, J., Duckett, P., Goodley, D., Lawthom, R., Parker, I., Runswick-Cole, K., Sisxmith, J., Smailes, S., Tindall, C. and Whelan, P. (2012) Qualitative Methods in Psychology: A research guide. 2nd Edition, Open University Press.

Bunn, G. 2012. "The Truth Machine: A Social History of the Lie Detector". John Hopkins University Press.
isbn: 978-1421405308 (1-421405-30-X)

Edited Books

Lovie A., Richards G.D., Bunn G. (eds) 2001. "Psychology in Britain: Historical Essays and Personal Reflections". BPS Books.
isbn: 1-854333-32-1


Bunn, G. 2012 "Historical analyses", in P. Banister et al (Eds.) Qualitative Methods in Psychology: A research guide, 2nd Edition, Open University Press.

Bunn G. 2001. "Introduction" in: G.D. Richards, A.D. Lovie and G.C. Bunn (eds) Psychology in Britain: Historical Essays and Personal Reflections. BPS Books.
isbn: 978-1-854333-32-2 (1-854333-32-1)

Journal Articles

Bunn, G. 2010 "The experimental psychologist’s fallacy: Gustav Fechner", The Psychologist, 23(12), 964-967

Bunn G. 2007. "Spectacular Science: The Lie Detector's Ambivalent Powers" History of Psychology, vol.10 no.2, pp.156-178
issn: 1093-4510 doi: 10.1037/1093-4510.10.2.156

Bunn G. 2003. "Book Review of Dai Jones and Jonathan Elcock: History and Theories of Psychology: A Critical Perspective" Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, vol.39 no.1, pp.81-82
issn: 1520-6696 doi: 10.1002/jhbs.10041

Bunn G. 2001. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The C.S. Myers Memorial Lecture" Psychologist, vol.14 no.11, pp.576-579
issn: 0952-8229 url: http://www.bps.org.uk/publications/thepsychologist/search-the-psychologist-online.cfm?fuseaction=inc_getFile&ID=325&Publication_ID=1

Bunn G. 2001. "Eysenck at the Science Museum" Personality and Individual Differences, vol.31 no.1, pp.41-44
issn: 0191-8869 doi: 10.1016/S0191-8869(01)00002-2

Bunn G. 2001. "'A flair for organization': Charles Myers and the Establishment of Psychology in Britain" History and Philosophy of Psychology, vol.3 no.1, pp.1-9
issn: 1469-283X url: http://www.bps.org.uk/downloadfile.cfm?file_uuid=8A8B8BFD-1143-DFD0-7E17-BEBBB162CC6A&ext=pdf

Conference Presentations

Bunn, G. 2012 "Sex and Lies: The Lie Detector as a Love Detector in Disguise", Manchester Science Festival, 30 October

Bunn, G. 2012 "The Secret History of the Love Detector", Wellcome Trust London, Stories from the Archives, 16th October

Micaleff A., Fatimehelin I., Hassan A., Kagan C.M., Williams T.Z., Bunn G. 2009. "Family conflict and intergenerational understanding amongst men from the Yemeni and Somali communities in Liverpool" at: Community, Work and Family - Utrecht..

Kagan C.M., Micaleff A., Fatimehelin I., Hassan A., Williams T.Z., Bunn G. 2008. "Intergenerational work in schools and the community: Social Capital and Wellbeing" at: World Congress Community Psychology - Lisbon..

Bunn G. 2003. "Introduction" at: The MRC Applied Psychology Unit. Wellcome Witnesses to twentieth Century Medicine. Wellcome Trust. L.A. Reynolds and E.M.Tansey
url: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/silva/histmed/downloads/c20th_group/wit16.pdf

Internet Publications

Bunn, G. 2013 "The Curious Story of How the Lie Detector Came to Be", BBC News Magazine, 21st May

Bunn G. 2010. "Introduction - The Experimental Psychologist's Fallacy - special issue marking the 150th Anniversary of Gustav Fechner's Elements of Psychophysics" The Psychologist. url: http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=23&editionID=195&ArticleID=1760

Bunn G. 2004. "Ingenious: Seeing Things Differently [Diagnosing Character]" National Museum of Science and Industry. url: http://www.ingenious.org.uk/Read/Work/Diagnosingcharacter/

Research Reports

Bunn G. 2004. "Studying Work. In Making the Modern World: Stories About the Lives We've Made" for National Museum of Science and Industry. National Museum of Science and Industry.
url: http://www.makingthemodernworld.org.uk/stories/the_age_of_the_mass/05.ST.06/?scene=3

Other Types of Output

Bunn, G. 2011 "A History of the Brain" BBC Radio 4 Productions.
Available here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/History-Brain-BBC-Radio-Science/dp/1408470683/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327592315&sr=8-1

Bunn G. 2001. "Centenary - Founding factors" vol.14 no.8. Psychologist. pp.404-405
url: http://www.bps.org.uk/publications/thepsychologist/search-the-psychologist-online.cfm?fuseaction=inc_getFile&ID=274&Publication_ID=1

Bunn G. 2001. "Centenary - Margaret Lowenfeld" vol.14 no.7. Psychologist. pp.347
url: http://www.bps.org.uk/publications/thepsychologist/search-the-psychologist-online.cfm?fuseaction=inc_getFile&ID=233&Publication_ID=1

Current Teaching Input

  • Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology (Level 2 and Level 3)
  • Dissertation (Level 3)
  • Practical Psychology (Discourse Analysis, Level 2)
  • Qualitative Methods (M.Sc.)

Other Responsibilities

Departmental online learning staff support officer
Geoff Bunn

Research Centre

Social Change & Wellbeing


Psychology Department
Birley Building
Birley Fields Campus
53 Bonsall Street
M15 6GX

Tel: 0161 247 2587

Fax: 0161 2476364

Email: g.bunn@mmu.ac.uk