Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Daisy Fancourt, BBC New Generation Thinker

16 March 2018

Back in March 2017 Daisy Fancourt (UCL's Research Department of Behavioral Science and Health) was selected from hundreds of applicants after a nationwide search by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for the best academic ideas with the potential to be shared through broadcast.

Daisy Fancourt Daisy has become one of the BBC's New Generation Thinkers, who were invited to go on to make programmes for Radio 3, BBC Four and other outlets. 

One of Daisy's collaborations is with Tomorrow's World and BBC Arts and is a new BBC Citizen Science project aimed to get research data from 100,000 people leading to research publications. The project is called 'The Great British Creativity Test' and it aims to understand how engaging with creative activities (from painting to singing to baking to gardening) affects our emotions. We all know that doing these activities does have an affect on our emotions (and is also linked to recovery from a range of mental health conditions) but what are the psychological 'pathways' connecting these activities with our emotions? Do these activities help us to vent negative emotions (a form of catharsis),  do they offer a mindful escapism, or increase our sense of self-worth, or make us feel part of a community? How do the different pathways vary depending on the type of activity we engage in (e.g. do musical activities have different psychological 'pathways' to our emotions than non-musical activities)? Do the strength of different pathways depend on our personality type? And do people with mental health conditions such as depression have blunted or stronger responses to creative activities? 

When asked about her experiences so far, Daisy commented: "I'm excited to launch this Citizen Science experiment with the BBC, working with colleagues in the Department of Behavioural Science and Health. The data will have an immediate relevance to schemes such as 'social prescribing' within the NHS and support the work of arts organisations delivering programmes for mental health in the community."

Daisy has already appeared on BBC's Radio 3 In Tune show about the Great British Creativity Test (listen here 31mins 30secs) and provided a live public presentation as part of the BBC Free Thinking Festival at the Sage Gateshead about her broader research on the impact of arts and cultural engagement on public health in the uk (listen here).

Further information