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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