School of Psychology

Statistics are not Sadistic

Andy Field
Every psychology student needs to get their head around statistics. When confronted with the complex, highly technical, and    completely tedious statistics books and lecturers at their university, many students run weeping back to their beds never to emerge into the statistical world again.

But stats are neither scary nor boring at Sussex. With a highly prestigious National Teaching Fellowship for his ground-breaking and dedicated work teaching statistics, a British Psychology Society award for making statistics interesting, and having written a whole series of Discovering Statistics books, Professor Andy Field has revolutionized how statistics is taught and learnt.

‘There is a huge divide between what statisticians understand and what their audience can understand. I’m a psychologist not a statistician, so my job is to get the gist of what they write and convert it into a language that normal people can understand — throwing in some entertaining examples along the way’ says Andy.

Using weird, funny, and interesting examples, coupled with an irreverent writing style, Andy’s books explain stats in a way that is understandable, funny, and interesting to students.

Professor Andy Field’s Discovering Statistics range of books are international best-sellers. ‘Not in the J.K. Rowling sense of the word’ Andy is keen to point out, although the Times Higher Education Supplement did once label him ‘the Harry Potter of Statistics’. 

Andy’s passion for making statistics as interesting and fun as humanly possible, has struck a chord in students all over the world. He receives hundreds of emails every year from around the world thanking him for his books and web pages and he has two Facebook appreciation pages. His books are used in universities all over the world. At Sussex, Discovering Statistics using SPSS is the core textbook for the second year Discovering Statistics module, which Andy convenes, as well as forming part of the reading list for the first year research skills in psychology modules.

Understanding research is the backbone of any psychology degree. ‘Psychology is a scientific discipline so theory and evidence go hand in hand. It is impossible to develop any theory without research and the analysis of data, and this is why statistics is so important’ explains Andy.

Andy also wrote How to design and report experiments with Dr. Graham Hole, convenor of the first year Research Skills modules. This book complements the Discovering Statistics series as an intellectually rigorous yet amusing step-by-step guide to doing research. It tells students everything they need to know about how to run experiments in an enthusiastic, interesting and often amusing manner.

At Sussex, Andy and Graham have worked hard to make perhaps the dullest and most difficult subject in the whole of the psychology degree programme one of the most interesting and entertaining. Not only in writing books, but also when it comes to teaching. Ask any of our students and they will have a funny story to tell about one of Andy’s lectures. "Andy's lectures were hilarious and he made statistics so much more enjoyable than I thought it could be! The fact that the lectures were related to content in the book made it easier when trying to understand concepts and look things up," reports one Sussex student. Cat graph

Andy’s enthusiasm is both contagious and inspiring to students, and there is no other university at which statistics will be as entertaining as Sussex!