The early years

The Early Years: Foundation or Society? (1985 - 1989)

From the ninth until the twelfth of September 1985, the first meeting of ESCoP took place. The first key-note speaker was Donald Broadbent (to this day, the key-note lecture and ESCoP meetings is called "The Broadbent lecture") and the meeting was on an invitation only basis, since there were at this point in time, no members (yet). At this first meeting it was decided to establish ESCoP and on the fourteenth of November 1985, after the first meeting was over and the decision was taken, ESCoP was officially created. The first board consisted of Alan Baddeley (president), John Michon (secretary), Janet Jackson (second secretary), Wolfgang Prinz (treasurer) and Paul Bertelson, who would later be referred to as the so-called 'Gang of Five'. Although John Michon went home as secretary and Janet Jackson as assistant secretary, that did not last. Michon got appointed the position of Dean of the Psychology department at Groningen University and had a sabbatical coming up, so after a while Jackson took over the position of Secretary and Michon became a regular board member.

ESCoP did not start out as a society, but rather as a Foundation. There was a difference of opinion between Alan Baddeley and John Michon on this matter. Where Baddeley wanted a democratic society, Michon wanted a more autocratic foundation. The main difference between a society and a foundation? In a foundation, the members have no power: the board takes all the decisions. This was something, Michon felt, that was needed during the early years, when decisions had to be taken quickly, without consulting the members (which would cause endless delays). So in the end, Michon and Baddeley reached a compromise: ESCoP started out as a foundation and four years later, after it had been safely established, ESCoP turned into a democratic society.

During these early days, membership grew quickly. The conferences attracted attention, with many people wanting to be there and a sense of community grew, so that ESCoP was not 'just' a scientific convenience. 
So although the first meeting was relatively small, with only around fifty or sixty people present, the following conferences expanded quite quickly.

One of the reasons for this, was that the first board instituted an advisory council with a member from each country which had a sizeable amount of cognitive psychologists. Their job was to involve as many of their countrymen as possible. Another way to quickly attract people, was the possibility of a combined membership: members of, for instance, the psychonomics foundation in The Netherlands, could become members of ESCoP at a reduced cost and similar constructions were available to cognitive psychologists in other countries. Because of these reasons, ESCoP grew to a membership of 300 to 400 people within the space of four years. And, as a society, ESCoP started flourishing.

Memories of the Gang of Five
John Michon tells us what he remembers about the other members of the 'Gang of Five': Alan Baddeley, Paul Bertelson, Wolfgang Prinz and Janet Jackson.

The first meeting
John Michon tells us his memories of the first, invitation only, ESCoP meeting in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. 

ESCoP: social society?
Baddeley talks about the social aspects of the society. From the dangers of having the 'gang of five' family claim too much ownership over ESCoP, to the necessity of social events at the conferences.

Natural growth
Baddeley explains how ESCoP grew into the society it is today.

The Gang of Five: stories and anecdotes
Alan Baddeley shares his memories on the other 'Gang of Five' members. From John Michon who wanted a "stichting" and Paul Bertelson's stand-off with 'an outrageously gay' bartender, to the warm recollections of family friend and 'Scottish maternal figure' Janet Jackson.


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The Nineties: a society flourishes (1990 - 1999)

In the nineties, ESCoP continued to develop. The largest increase of membership had been during the first few years after ESCoP came into being, so the amount of members stabilized somewhat in this period. Cognitive psychology as a field continued to develop, became more established, and ESCoP, being there almost from the start, quickly became a very influential factor in the field.

The ESCoP meetings also started to make their mark in the world of cognitive psychology. Whereas, during the first five years of its existence only three meetings were held, these scientific conferences started to become an almost yearly event during the nineties, with conferences held in locations like Paris, Rome, Lissabon and even Jerusalem.


The beginning of the 21st century: a story of success 

ESCoP has been around for over twenty years. In a scientific field, which is always very fluid and prone to sudden changes in direction, that is a very long time indeed. Over the time of its existence, the field of cognitive psychology has changed and matured, but ESCoP has remained a constant, reliable factor. Its yearly conferences serve as an overview of what's going on in research, its five hundred members include all major European congnitive psychologists and ESCoP is a very well-known name in the field. In short: the idea that formed in the minds of John Michon and Alan Baddeley in the mid eighties has become a big success. Still in its early twenties, the society is alive and kicking and will most probably remain a factor of importance in the field of cognitive psychology for years to come.

Of course, it is always possible to strive for more. For one thing, like 'Gang of Five' member John Michon points out in the ESCoP today' video in this section, ESCoP could still extend its influence beyond the confines of its own field of research and become more influential in society as a whole. If that happens - or if ESCoP would even want that to happen - is up to its current members, but it is a comforting thought that there are still things to strive for. Not only in science, but also beyond. One good sign, is that the interests of ESCoP already extend inward, to the society and her history, of which this website is a testament.

ESCoP 2000s Video
John Michon tells what he thinks of the ESCoP as it is today and what things he would have done differently, had he remained involved in ESCoP.

The ESCoP meetings
Baddeley shares his experiences with the ESCoP meetings, explains why they are different than 'regular' scientific conferences and tells us if he still attends the meetings today.

The state of society
Alan Baddeley talks about the society as it is today. Is it what they expected it to be when they set out to create ESCoP in the eighties? And is the society still as necessary today as it was back then?


ESCOP today

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