Psychology, Psychology in the world

The ‘Bad People’ podcast: Why people do bad things

Dr Zoe Walkington and Dr Camilla Elphick from the School introduce a BBC/OU co-production. 

A podcast named Bad People may initially sound like an unusual choice for members of the Open University School of Psychology & Counselling academic team to be involved with. However Bad People aims not to label people as different, evil or bad, but to use psychological science to try to explain, or understand, why people do bad things.  

Bad People is a BBC Sounds podcast presented by a psychologist Dr Julia Shaw who specialises in criminal psychology, and her co-host comedian Sofie Hagan, and this combination of an academic and a comic go some way towards explaining the podcast’s quirky and humorous approach. It explores true crime cases and in early 2021 academics from the School of Psychology & Counselling Camilla Elphick and Zoe Walkington were approached to act as nominated academics on 10 episodes of the BBC/OU co-production. 

It was an exciting prospect. Normally working with the BBC at the Open University involves working on Television or Radio shows, but this was something a bit different. The podcast targets a younger demographic and there was a need to tie in each episode with a particular case. The production team were also keen to capture something of our own specialist academic interests in the shows, and so we were able to be heavily involved in some episodes, even personally appearing in one each, as well as facilitating other colleagues from the OU to shine in their own episodes (e.g. Stephen Akpabio-Klementowski from the Students in Secure Environments team in an episode about prisoner education). 

The episode in which Zoe features showcases her knowledge exchange work in police suspect interviewing (Blue Lips: Does Good Cop Bad Cop actually work?) is already available from the link below. Camilla was able to share her expertise in understanding why witnesses to sexual harassment in the workplace often fail to report what they have seen, and this episode will appear in the next few weeks. Both are available to download from this link:

As OU academics we both thoroughly enjoyed our involvement in the show, and hope that it has led to some episodes that might interest students of the School of Psychology & Counselling.  

Read about Zoe Walkington here:

Read about Camilla Elphick here:


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