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The role of psychologists in unlocking innovation potential


“Being behaviour change experts, psychologists are key to unlocking innovation in people and organisations.” That statement was made by Mike Kyrios, President of the Australian Psychological Society, in response to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s national innovation and science agenda announcement.

Through the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Government will invest $1.1 billion to incentivise innovation and entrepreneurship, reward risk taking, and promote science, maths and computing in schools by focusing on four priority areas:

  • Culture and capital, to help businesses embrace risk and incentivise early stage investment in startups;
  • Collaboration, to increase the level of engagement between businesses, universities and the research sector to commercialise ideas and solve problems;
  • Talent and skills, to train Australian students for the jobs of the future and attract the world’s most innovative talent to Australia; and
  • Government as an exemplar, to lead by example in the way Government invests in and uses technology and data to deliver better quality services.

Kyrios said that the innovation focus should be expanded beyond science and technology to the social sciences, in particular psychology, which has the expertise to understand what drives creativity and how to facilitate changes in thinking and behaviour to achieve a culture of innovation.

“Innovation is, after all, about changing behaviour, focused creativity and managed risk taking” according to Kyrios.

Professor Kim Cornish from Monash University and chair of the Heads of Departments of Schools of Psychology (HODSPA) said that they urge the Prime Minister to think outside the science and technology square when it comes to innovation, and work with psychology and the social sciences.

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