Online teaching and learning

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Many of us are now teaching our classes through a virtual learning environment. Most had very little notice, maybe one or two days, and are now on the steepest learning curve ever. Here are a few tips, followed by some very useful sites and links:

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Several online sites are very kindly offering teachers free access to psychology resources  for at least a month, and often through to the end of June 2020. 

Thank you to those teachers who have sent their students home with copies of Psychology Sorted. Our sales have held steady through March, and we’re sure, with the key studies summaries, QR codes and links to many online resources, all students will appreciate this.

Finally, for those who would like to use psychology as a lens for discussing the current pandemic: 

I am sure there will soon be more resources available on this topic.

Cognitive biases like those listed on the Raconteur site (see this link, and below) can be a useful way to describe not only our own reaction to all the troubling news of the Covid-19 virus, but also to analyse the ever-changing reactions of some of the more prominent politicians!  Here’s hoping your families and you keep safe, and stay online 🙂

Cognitive biases

 

‘Psychology Sorted’ Book 1 second edition (including all the new additions) out now on Amazon!

Laura and I have been working hard to get the second edition of ‘Psychology Sorted’ Book 1, Core Approaches out – and here it is! This second edition includes key study summaries for all of the new additions to the Core Approaches – yes, those pesky topics that could come up on Paper 1, Section A. So, if you have been wondering about which study to use for agonists, antagonists, excitatory/inhibitory synapses, neural pruning etc. (I mention the Biological topics as these are the ones that seem to have caused us all so much grief!) then do not fear, we have them here!

You can order the book here

And if you love it please leave a review to say that you do!

FREE – Hallowe’en Offer!

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Whoo Hoo! For HALLOWE’EN our Book 1 Kindle e-book is FREE! Get your best-ever bargain from Oct 31st to Nov 1st (Pacific time, so be patient if you’re in another time zone.) Just click on https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07M6GDF1D and buy for nothing! It was always free to read with Kindle Unlimited, and now it will be free for everyone, but ONLY for two days. Hope you love our ‘Paranormal Distribution.’ 👻

Overlaps between cognition and health

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There are several overlaps between the cognitive approach and the health option. For example, cognitive psychology can explain stress through the theory of cognitive appraisal: how we appraise our level of stress can affect the level that we experience. The theory of planned behaviour can explain addictive behaviours and the varying success of health promotion programmes, mainly through its concept of perceived behavioural control. But remember, as with any option, no one approach can act independently of the others. We are our biology, our cognition and our social interactions – no getting away from it!

References:

Ajzen, I. (1985). From Intentions to Actions: A Theory of Planned Behavior. In Kuhl, J. & Beckmann, J. (eds.), Action-Control: From Cognition to Behavior. Heidelberg: Springer.

Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behaviour. Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 50, pp. 179 211. 

Lazarus, R. S. (1993). From Psychological Stress to the Emotions: A History of Changing Outlooks. Annual Review of Psychology, 44, pp. 1-21.

Lazarus, R. S., & Alfert, E. (1964). Short-circuiting of threat by experimentally altering cognitive appraisal. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 69(2), pp. 195-205.

Ethics of animal research

monkey-3512996_1280A few months ago, we posted about how we could use animals for research.  Today we are looking at the ethics surrounding the decision to conduct research using nonhuman animals. Most students can reel off the ethics involved in conducting research on humans (informed consent, lack of harm, right to withdraw, privacy, etc.) but when we talk about the ethics of conducting research using nonhuman animals as proxies for humans, they are less clear. Often the argument gets stuck at the level of “It’s OK for medical research, but not for cosmetics.”  This is not good enough for an understanding of the complexities (nor for an exam answer).  For students that wish to argue that conducting research on nonhuman animals in order to avoid causing pain or distress to humans can never be ethical, point out that this is a worthy philosophical question, and could even be a counter-argument in a psychology debate on the topic, but again, it cannot constitute the main argument of an exam essay on ethics.

The APA,  BPS and Australian government publish guidelines for conducting nonhuman animal research ethically. What emerges from the guidelines are the ‘3 Rs’ of animal research:

  • Replace animals with other alternatives – such as computer simulations, use of lesser species (such as single‐cell amoebae and nematode worms),  use micro-dosing, CRISPR DNA editing, or human cell cultures – known more colloquially as ‘patient in a dish’ or ‘body on a chip’.  But animals are used to generate new hypotheses, so CRISPR editing was tried out on animals first, as was stem cell research. 
  • Reduce the number of individual animals used, by using data from other researchers, or by repeated micros-sampling on one animal in a repeated measures design.
  • Refine procedures to minimise suffering, by using appropriate anaesthetics and painkillers, and training animals to cooperate with procedures to minimise any distress. Imaginative research, where faecal matter is analysed to investigate stress levels, rather than drawing blood from an obviously stressed animal, has a part to play here.

In Psychology Sorted Book 1, we provide summaries of studies by Xu et al. (2015) and Stanton et al. (2015) which show how nonhuman animals may be used more ethically, to contrast with others such as Barr et al. (2004) and Weaver et al. (2004) which cause more stress to the animals used. These will help to keep your students more closely focused on the complexities of whether and how we should use nonhuman animals in psychological research.

Social networks are good for your health.

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One of the options in IB Diploma Psychology is Health – how to stay healthy, the relationship between biology, cognition and health, and of course, how social factors affect our health. More and more psychologists are concluding that social support is one of the main factors in maintaining good mental and physical health.

A recent longitudinal study conducted into the effect of work stress on health found that men with pre-existing diseases like heart disease, stroke or diabetes who also had stressful jobs with little control over their workload were at a much higher risk of mortality. (Interestingly, there was no similar relationship found between stress at work, heart conditions and early death in women – maybe female social networks are more protective?)

The Guardian summarised these results: “Men…who experienced job strain had a 68% greater risk of premature death than men in more manageable jobs. A greater risk remained even when the men exercised, controlled their weight and blood pressure, and did not smoke.”  It is therefore no use telling men under stress  who have a pre-existing heart condition to get out and exercise more and not smoke, unless we also provide social support, teach positive coping mechanisms, and encourage employers to provide more flexible working hours.

This would provide a good introduction to the Determinants of Health section of the Health option.  In Psychology Sorted Book 2, we summarise Haslam et al’s study into the tendency to underestimate the role of social factors in ill-health, and to also underestimate the ability of social support to keep us healthy. So, be social and stay healthy!

 

Book 2 out now! Free Theory of Mind sample studies below.

We’ve done it!  Click here to order your copy of Psychology Sorted Book 2. And just to thank you all for your patience, I am writing this blog on one of 0. FINAL. front.2the most frequently-asked questions: ‘What is Theory of Mind?’  Of course, I am including studies from the new book, so you can see how helpful our  text will be when teaching Psychology.

THEORY OF MIND is investigated when studying development.  It is a developmental process linked to empathy, and exam questions on the topic will take the form of ‘Discuss the development of empathy and/or theory of mind.’  The slight difference between empathy and theory of mind is that empathy seems to be emotionally driven, and  theory of mind is cognitive. Theory of mind is understanding what others think, and thus being able to predict their behaviour, while empathy is identifying others’ emotions and being able to identify with these. It develops in parallel with theory of mind, and the two seem to depend on each other. Links can be seen here with Piaget, who believed that taking the position of others takes place in the pre-operational stage (before 7 years old), and Hughes, who argued that with the correct task design, this could be shown much earlier.

By 4 years old a child knows that what they see and believe may not be the same as what others see and believe. Three useful studies that test for the presence of Theory of Mind, which can all be found in the book, are:

Baron-Cohen et al._1985– who used a false-belief test (the Sally-Anne task) to investigate whether or not children with autistic spectrum disorder have theory of mind. While there have been criticisms of the study, not least because it has since been shown that many of these children do indeed possess theory of mind, it is a classic in design.

Repacholi and Gopnik_1997 – studied children between 14 mths and 18 mths old, to see when they could identify that others’ wishes were different from their own.  The younger children would offer a researcher crackers instead of broccoli, because crackers were what the they liked, even though the researcher had already shown disgust at the crackers.  However, the slightly older children, once they saw that the researcher liked the broccoli, would offer that, even though they themselves didn’t like it.

Alison Gopnik was also part of a study investigating a possible gender difference in development of empathy.  See the hilarious film clip below.

Finally, a more recent study by Cowell et al._(2015) found that pre-school children with theory of mind were less willing to share their resources than children of the same age without theory of mind. So, it seems that understanding how another is feeling is not enough to make you feel empathy with them.