June 13, 2013 by Cara Flanagan.
Posted in: Psychology A2 Relationships
A newly published American study by Cacioppo and colleagues (2013) looked at the satisfaction in couples who met on-line. They analysed responses from nearly 20,000 people who married between 2005 and 2012. They found that more than one-third of marriages in America now begin on-line!
In comparison with more traditional off-line meeting, the on-line couples expressed greater marital satisfaction and were slightly less likely to separate or divorce. Their only conclusion is that on-line dating may be changing the institution of marriage.
Such research does suggest that previous research about the formation, maintenance and breakdown of relationships may need updating to include couples who meet on-line and the different factors involved in relationship processes in that medium.
May 29, 2013 by Rob Bircher.
Posted in: Memory
Critics have not been very kind to Inferno, Dan Brown’s follow-up to The Da Vinci Code: mocking its wooden dialogue and ‘tour guide’ descriptions of Florence and Venice. But how does it stand up scientifically? A key part of the plot hinges on [spoiler alert] a chemically-induced amnesia. We are told in the book that new memories are normally stored in STM for around two days before migrating to LTM. Using ‘new blends’ of benzodiazepines, however, a character’s STM is ‘deleted’, resulting in them losing all recollection of two days’ worth of events.
So should psychology students be rushing to defend Dan Brown’s research skills, or is this a passage we’d all do best to forget?
May 28, 2013 by Cara Flanagan.
Posted in: Aggression Eating behaviour Exam updates News Psychology A2
After a query from a student in our forum, I sent the following question to AQA:
In the AQA A Psychology specification there are several references to ‘neural mechanisms’. In the mark schemes these are explicitly linked to brain mechanisms (e.g. see question 5, June 2011 PSYA3). However the term ‘neural’ is defined as ‘of, relating to, or affecting a nerve or the nervous system’ (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/neural). Should you broaden your use of this term and not limit it just to the brain? The specification does not make this clear.
I received the following answer:
We agree with the definition of ‘neural’ and relevant material on e.g. the peripheral nervous system, would always be credited. For most topics relevant material on neural mechanisms would normally involve the brain ,which is why the brain is emphasized in mark schemes, but in future we will make it clear that ‘neural’ incorporates the whole nervous system and not just the brain.
May 20, 2013 by Cara Flanagan.
Posted in: Abnormality Psychology A2 Psychology AS Psychopathology WJEC topics
A German study just published by Moritz and colleagues provides an interesting insight into antipsychotic drugs used in the treatment of schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses. Data was collected by asking psychiatric patients to complete a questionnaire about their experiences in taking antipsychotic medication for their mental disorder. The conclusion was that such drugs are effective because they dampen emotion rather than treating any specific symptoms. ‘Doubt, numbing and withdrawal were the main subjective antipsychotic effects’. Basically such drugs just keep patients quiet – an effect which many patients find unpleasant. One reviewer says ‘It is clear we need better ways to help people’.
You can read fuller details of the study here (which contains some evaluative points) and here.
May 14, 2013 by Cara Flanagan.
Posted in: Psychological research (inferential statistics) Research Methods
I came across this rather fun little study:
This experiment tested the assumption that music plays a role in sexual selection. Three hundred young women were solicited in the street for their phone number by a young male confederate who held either a guitar case or a sports bag in his hands or had no bag at all. Results showed that holding a guitar case was associated with greater compliance to the request, thus suggesting that musical practice is associated with sexual selection. (Guéguen et al., see here).
Interesting conclusion – but is it justified?
May 6, 2013 by Adrian Frost.
May 3, 2013 by Cara Flanagan.
Posted in: Psychology A2
AQA A A2 students are encouraged to include evaluation points relating to issues, debates and/or approaches. Common debates include determinism/free will and reductionism a. Popular issues include gender bias and cultural bias. The following comments from the AQA Report on the Examination provide some very useful advice for students on these debates/issues;
January 2013 report: Determinism
All explanations/theories in psychology are determinist, as they are trying to explain the reason people do things. So referring to any particular theory as ‘determinist’ is trivial. It is only in specific areas that it becomes an important issue e.g. evolutionary and genetic theories of aggression suggest that individuals do not have free will and choice Read the rest of this entry »
April 30, 2013 by Cara Flanagan.
Posted in: Anomalistic psychology Psychology A2
The excellent Brian Dunning has produced a podcast in his Skeptics series on Ganzfeld experiments, see here.
April 29, 2013 by Cara Flanagan.
Posted in: Psychology AS Stress
A team of Californian researchers, led by Susan Charles, recently published a study linking daily hassles to depression (Charles et al., 2013). A group of just over 700 participants were studied for eight consecutive days. On each day they reported daily hassles and also how negative they were feeling. Ten years later the same participants were re-assessed. The researchers found that those participants who experienced negative emotions on days with high levels of daily hassles were more likely to be depressed. This suggests that people who are stressed by their daily hassles are more likely to suffer from mental health issues later in life.
April 17, 2013 by Cara Flanagan.
Posted in: Anomalistic psychology Psychology A2
I’ll say at the outset that I am not a believer in paranormal phenomena – but the research reported below shows that we should always keep an open mind. There may be quite rational explanations for some supposedly paranormal (or anomalistic) experiences. Then, of course, they are not anomalistic after all.
Some people claim to be able to see a halo or aura around other people – a kind of glow, which is often colourful. Recent research has offered a possible explanation for this based on synthesthesia, a condition where people experience crossing between their senses. In other words the stimulation of one of their senses causes a perception in one or more different senses. The consequence is that, for example, different words have specific colours or ‘taste’ different.
The well-known neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran tested a 23-year-old young man (TK) who has both synesthesia and Asperger disorder (see here). TK also claimed to see a coloured light around people that varied with their emotions. When TK observed one of the volunteers he reported seeing a blue aura. When they stood the volunteer in front of a white screen TK was slower to identify blue letters projected onto the apparent blue aura but had no difficulty with orange letters. People without synestheia had no difficulty reporting letters of any colour. This suggests that the perception of an aura may be explained as a form of synesthesia.