David Marks (psychologist)

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David Francis Marks (born 1945) is a psychologist, author and editor of twenty books largely concerned with four areas of psychological research – health psychology, consciousness, parapsychology and intelligence. He has also written and published books about artists and their works.


After completing a BSc at Reading University and a PhD at Sheffield University he migrated to New Zealand where he taught at the University of Otago. He returned to the UK as Head of the School of Psychology at Middlesex Polytechnic before working at City University London from 2000–10. He founded and edits the Journal of Health Psychology. His late brother Jon Marks was a jazz musician. Married four times, he has two children. His daughter, Jessica Marks, is a chef on The Maltese Falcon. His son, Michael Marks, is a trainee teacher at The Compton School, North Finchley, London. He is a vegan. A more detailed biography is published in Who's Who.

Health psychology[edit]

In his work on health psychology Marks advocates a greater understanding of the socio-political context affecting individual behaviour (Marks et al., 2005). With Michael Murray and colleagues he has actively promoted a critical-theoretical approach, including the foundation of the International Society of Critical Health Psychology. This organisation has included the consideration of social justice, community approaches, and arts projects for the reduction of health inequalities. Marks has also been interested in new research methods for clinical psychology and health psychology (Marks & Yardley, 2004).

Marks has promoted the use of cognitive behaviour therapy as an effective clinical approach to smoking cessation. This research began in New Zealand with Paul Sulzberger where they developed the Isis Smoking Cessation Programme (Sulzberger & Marks, 1977). After returning to England in 1986 Marks developed a UK version of the programme which was originally published by the British Psychological Society in 1993 as The QUIT FOR LIFE Programme (Marks 1993, 2005). The approach was developed further and re-published in the Overcoming series by Robinson as "Overcoming Your Smoking Habit" (Marks 2005).

Conceptualizing methods for the design, description and evaluation of interventions has been a complex challenge for the discipline of Psychology. Marks (2009) published a Taxonomic system for psychological interventions.

Consciousness research[edit]

Marks' research into consciousness and mental imagery led to the development of the Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire, a tool for the assessment of individual differences in visual imagery. Marks (1973) reported that high vividness scores correlate with the accuracy of recall of coloured photographs. In 1995 he published a new version of the VVIQ, the VVIQ2. This questionnaire consists of twice the number of items and reverses the rating scale so that higher scores reflect higher vividness. The VVIQ and VVIQ2 are available on the Internet: http://www.art-n-stuff.com/news/ The VVIQ has been validated in about 1000 studies using perceptual and cognitive tasks.

Rodway, Gillies and Schepman (2006) found that high vividness participants were significantly more accurate at detecting salient changes to pictures compared to low vividness participants, replicating an earlier study by Gur and Hilgard (1975). Recently Cui et al. (2007) found that reported image vividness correlates with increased activity in the visual cortex. This study shows that the subjective experience of forming a mental image is reflected by increased visual cortical activity.Logie, Pernet, Buonocore and Della Sala (2011) used behavioural and fMRI data for mental rotation from individuals reporting vivid and poor imagery on the VVIQ. Groups differed in brain activation patterns suggesting that the groups performed the same tasks in different ways. These findings help to explain the lack of association previously reported between VVIQ scores and mental rotation performance. Lee, Kravitz and Baker (2012) used fMRI and multi-voxel pattern analysis to investigate the specificity, distribution, and similarity of information for individual seen and imagined objects. Participants either viewed or imagined individual named object images on which they had been trained prior to the scan. Correlation between fMRI and VVIQ scores showed that, in both object-selective and early visual cortex, Lee et al.'s (2012) measure of discrimination across imagery and perception correlated with the vividness of imagery.

Parapsychology and scepticism[edit]

In his work on parapsychology Marks adopts a sceptical analysis of paranormal claims. For example, Marks published evidence in Nature (journal) that the original claims of remote viewing experiments were based on flawed experimental procedures. Marks also published evidence in The Psychology of the Psychic (Marks & Kammann 1980; 2nd edn. Marks 2000; Forewords to both editions by Martin Gardner) that Uri Geller was able to hoodwink scientists, journalists and the many members of the public with a series of simple but audacious sleights of hand. He is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).[1]

Marks' book, co-authored with the late Richard Kammann, The Psychology of the Psychic is a book on anomalistic psychology which describes case studies of paranormal claims together with a set of principles for explaining how people may believe so strongly in paranormal claims, such as psychological phenomena for the generation of paranormal beliefs is subjective validation, a process through which people find a correspondence between randomly paired events, including coincidences (Marks, 2000). With the late Denis Dutton, when working in New Zealand, Marks co-founded the NZ Skeptics in 1986.

Intelligence – Literacy theory of IQ test score variations across time and space[edit]

David Marks systematically analysed the association between literacy skills and IQ across time, nationality, and race (Marks, 2010). Marks (2010) published a sceptical theory of IQ score variations explaining both the Flynn effect and the alleged racial variations in IQ as an artefact (error) stemming from uncontrolled literacy differences. Marks (2010) hypothesized that IQ differences across time, race and nationality are all caused by differences in literacy because intelligence test performance requires literacy skills not present in all people to the same extent. In eight different analyses mean full scale IQ and literacy scores yielded correlations ranging from .79 to .99.

Kaufmann (2010) explained the significance of Marks' study as follows. If increasing literacy were really explaining a number of seemingly different IQ trends, then you would expect to see a few different phenomena. First, within a population you should expect increased education of literacy skills to be associated with an increase in the average IQ of that population. Second, IQ gains should be most pronounced in the lower half of the IQ bell curve since this is the section of the population that prior to the education would have obtained relatively lower scores due to their inability to comprehend the intelligence test's instructions. With increased literacy, you should expect to see a change in the skewness of the IQ distribution from positive to negative as a result of higher rates of literacy in the lower half of the IQ distribution (but very little change in the top half of the distribution). You should also expect to see differences on the particular intelligence test subscales, with increased literacy showing the strongest effects on verbal tests of intelligence and minimal differences on other tests of intelligence. If all these predictions hold up, there would be support for the notion that secular IQ gains and race differences are not different phenomena but have a common origin in literacy.

Kaufman described how Marks tested these predictions by looking at samples representative of whole populations (rather than individuals), and used ecological methods to compute statistical associations between IQ and literacy rates across different countries. Kaufman's (2010) review suggested that Marks' findings were completely consistent with the predictions: (i) The higher the literacy rate of a population, the higher that population's mean IQ, and the higher that population's mean IQ, the higher the literacy rate of that population. (ii) When literacy rates declined, mean IQ also declined, a reversed Flynn Effect. (iii) Unequal improvements occurred across the entire IQ spectrum with the greatest increases in the lower half of the IQ distribution. Interestingly, Kaufman pointed out that the evidence suggested that both the Flynn Effect and racial/national IQ differences showed the largest effects of literacy on verbal tests of intelligence, with the perceptual tests of intelligence showing no consistent pattern.

The alleged association between race and intelligence and also the Flynn effect both have a similar explanation: literacy differences across race and across time are, Marks believes, the cause of both. Racial IQ differences are converging as the literacy skills within two populations become more equal. Thus racial differences have an environmental cause, just like the Flynn effect. Essentially, both the Flynn effect and racial differences in measured IQ are artefacts of literacy differences. As the literacy of Western populations declines, as appears to be the case currently, then Marks' literacy theory of IQ scores predicts that average IQ test scores is expected to decline, and the Flynn effect will go into reverse, which is exactly what recent studies have found.


  1. ^ "CSI Fellows and Staff". Skeptical Inquirer. 
  • Cui, X., Jeter, C.B., Yang, D., Montague, P.R.,& Eagleman, D.M. (2007). "Vividness of mental imagery: Individual variability can be measured objectively". Vision Research, 47, 474–478.
  • Francome, C. & Marks, D.F. (1996). Improving the Health of the Nation: The Failure of the Government's Health Reforms. London: Middlesex University Press. ISBN 978-1-898253-05-1
  • Gur, R.C. & Hilgard, E.R. (1975). "Visual imagery and discrimination of differences between altered pictures simultaneously and successively presented". British Journal of Psychology, 66, 341–345.
  • Lee, S-H., Kravitz, D.J., & Baker, C. I. (2012). "Disentangling visual imagery and perception of real-world objects". NeuroImage, 59, 4064–4073.
  • Logie, R.H., Pernet, C.R., Buonocore, A., & Della Sala, S. (2011). "Low and high imagers activate networks differentially in mental rotation". Neuropsychologia, 49, 3071–3077.
  • Kaufman, S. B. (2010). "The Flynn Effect and IQ Disparities Among Races, Ethnicities, and Nations: Are There Common Links?" Beautiful Minds. [1]
  • Marks, D.F. (1973). "Visual imagery differences in the recall of pictures". British Journal of Psychology, 64, 17–24.
  • Marks, D.F. (Ed.) (1986). Theories of Image Formation. Bronx, N.Y.: Brandon House. ISBN 0-913412-18-X (cloth).
  • Marks, D.F. (1993). The QUIT FOR LIFE Programme: An Easier Way To Quit Smoking and Not Start Again. Leicester: British Psychological Society.
  • Marks, D.F. (1995). "New directions for mental imagery research". Journal of Mental Imagery, 19, 153–167.
  • Marks, D.F. (2000). The Psychology of the Psychic (2nd Ed.). New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-798-8
  • Marks, D.F. (2002). The Health Psychology Reader. London: SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-0-7619-7271-6 ISBN 978-0-7619-7270-9
  • Marks, D.F. (2005). Overcoming Your Smoking Habit. London: Robinson. ISBN 978-1-84529-067-2
  • Marks, D.F. (2009). Reussir a surmonter le Reflex cigarette (French edition). Paris: InterEditions-Dunod. ISBN 978-2-7296-0979-5
  • Marks, D.F. & Kammann, R. (1980). The Psychology of the Psychic. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-121-5 (cloth) ISBN 0-87975-122-3 (paper)
  • Marks, D.F., Murray, M., Evans, B. & Willig, C. (2003). Health Psychology: Theory, Research and Practice (Chinese Edition). Taiwan. ISBN 957-0420-78-2
  • Marks, D.F., Murray, M., Evans, B., Willig, C., Woodall, C. & Sykes, C. (2005). Health Psychology. Theory, Research & Practice (2nd Ed.). London: SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-1-4129-0336-3 ISBN 1-4129-0336-X
  • Marks, D.F., Murray, M., Evans, B., Willig, C., Woodall, C. & Sykes, C.M. (2007). Health Psychology: Theory, Research and Practice (Indian Edition). New Delhi: SAGE Publications.
  • Marks, D.F., Murray, M., Evans, B., Willig, C., Woodall, C. & Sykes, C.M. (2008). Psicologia de la Salud. Mexico: Manual Moderna. ISBN 970–729–332–2 ISBN 978–970–729–332–8
  • David F. Marks, Michael Murray, Brian Evans & Emee Vida Estacio (2011) Health Psychology. Theory-Research-Practice (3rd Ed.) Sage Publications. ISBN 1-84860-622-2 (hbk) 978-1848606227 (pbk).
  • Marks, D. F. & Sykes, C.M. (2000). Dealing with dementia: Recent European research. London: Middlesex University Press. ISBN 1-898253-32-3
  • Marks, D.F. & Yardley, L. (2004). Research Methods for Clinical and Health Psychology. London: SAGE Publications. ISBN 0-7619-7191-2 (pb)
  • Marks, D.F. (2010). "IQ variations across time, race, and nationality: an artifact of differences in literacy skills". Psychological Reports, 106, 643–664.
  • Rodway, P., Gillies, K. & Schepman, A. (2006). "Vivid imagers are better at detecting salient changes". Journal of Individual Differences 27, 218–228.
  • Sulzberger, P. & Marks, D.F. (1977). The Isis Smoking Cessation Programme. Dunedin, New Zealand:Isis Research Centre.
  • Who's Who (2011). London:A & C Black.

Further reading[edit]

  • Morris, Robert L. (1980). "Some comments on the assessment of parapsychological studies" [review of the book The Psychology of the psychic] Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research The Society for Psychical Research (SPR), 74, 425–443.
  • Marks, D. (1981). "On the review of The Psychology of the Psychic: A reply to Dr. Morris". Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 75, 197–203.

External links[edit]