We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Posts archived in Attachment

In the last month a report appeared in the Daily Mail entitled ‘Putting baby in nursery could raise its risk of heart disease because it sends levels of stress soaring‘. This conclusion is based on a report by Aric Sigman, a psychologist who has previously been attacked by Ben Goldacre for his bad science (see here). Sigman’s day care claims have come in for a blistering attack by Bishopblog ‘How to become a celebrity scientific expert’. It’s a great example of why we need to understand science – because it means we are less gullible.

In brief Sigman bases his conclusions on accepted research that has shown that children in day care have raised levels of the stress hormone cortisol. But he then assumes that such increased levels later have negative consequences. In fact some research suggests that increased cortisol levels may lead to reduced fearfulness, a positive consequence. And further, the link between cortisol and heart disease is based on studies of people over 65 so it is mistaken to assume that children with raised levels of cortisol are more at risk of heart disease. However, it’s a very appealing newspaper title and has led to lots of comments from parents on the ill effects of day care.

The moral of the story? Don’t believe all your read. Always ask questions.


Free posters

Free posters now available from OUP to brighten your classroom – you can start teaching from this straight away or use it as a revision tool with students.

The pictures are from the new AS Visual Companion.

The sales team who visit your school should have the posters.

Or you can write directly to Fiona.mccollum@oup.com and ask for one.

Interesting range of online experiments involving bio-motion here

Guess what! Antisocial men are less likely to get married when compared to less antisocial men. Why was this hypothesis so striking, had nobody asked women whether they would prefer a more or a less antisocial partner? Anyway, this was a nicely done twin study, and it showed that antisocial behaviours are also reduced by marriage – with a positive correlation between quality of marriage and size of antisocial behaviour reduction. Interesting? Rocket science? You decide.

An Examination of Selection vs Causation via a Longitudinal Twin Design S. Alexandra Burt, PhD; M. Brent Donnellan, PhD; Mikhila N. Humbad, MA; Brian M. Hicks, PhD; Matt McGue, PhD; William G. Iacono, PhD. Does Marriage Inhibit Antisocial Behavior? Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2010;67(12):1309-1315

There’s a useful presentation on experimental design to be found here

But equally interesting is the software that has been used to produce it – you can have a play here – it’s really easy to use, and you have to agree the presentations look pretty slick..

I was wondering – this could be used for a quick class experiment: Ask one group to present information using powerpoint (i.e. in a linear fashion), ask another to present the same info using the more hierarchical prezi software, to see if the way in which information is organised affects recall in independent groups of subjects?

There really are some beautiful charts and diagrams here…. truly ‘descriptive statistics’. I can’t really do any of it justice by cramming it into a tiny blog post, but it’s well worth having a look at this venn diagram about drugs, for example. Or this interactive representation of the link between stress and work.

Many of you may not be aware that the BPS published new documents relating to ethical practice in August 2009 which you can access here. There has been quite a considerable shift of emphasis. There is now a general document ‘Code of Ethics and Conduct’ which identifies four overriding principles: respect, competence, responsibility and integrity. In conjunction with this are various ethical guidelines such as ‘Ethical principles for conducting research with human participants’ and ‘Guidelines for minimum standards of ethical approval in psychological research’. There are also guidelines for conducting research on the internet, research within the NHS, research with people who do not have the capacity to consent and research with animals.

In the document on research with human participants the following issues are discussed: consent, deception, debriefing, withdrawal from the investigation, confidentiality, protection of participants and privacy in observational research.




Five unethical psychology experiments

Classic A02 point gets the humorous podcast treatment here at the ever entertaining Psychfiles site.

spock.jpg “IT IS probably the most famous greeting in the universe.

But the simple Vulcan salute left makers of the new Star Trek film with a galactic-sized headache – because Mr Spock just couldn’t do it.

After much head-scratching, experts on the $150 million blockbuster – which boasts stunning high-tech effects – hit upon a low-tech but logical solution – gluing actor Zachary Quinto’s fingers together, The Mail on Sunday newspaper in the UK reports.

Quinto, 31, admitted he found it impossible to form his fingers into the distinctive V-shaped gesture, saying: “It’s much harder than it looks. Seriously.”

One on-set insider said: “Zach could do the salute some of the time but only after he’d positioned his fingers the right way off-camera.

“In some scenes he has to do the salute while speaking his lines so they ended up using skin-protective superglue, like they use in hospitals, to stick his fingers together.”

William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the long-running TV show and the first seven Star Trek films, was also unable to do the salute, so he used fishing line to tie his fingers together”. (Link)

So what’s going on there then? If the first Spock had Vulcan Hand Signal Ability (hereafter referred to a ‘VHSA’) why not the new guy?

Is it a genetic thing like tongue rolling? You’ve got the gene or you haven’t? Or is it a learnt thing like juggling or tying shoelaces? Once you’ve got the enactive ‘muscle memory’ in place you don’t have to think about VHSA anymore? Surely if it was a practice thing then the new Spock would beat himself up trying to master this skill…. I’m sure Christian Bale would put the effort in if he found himself in such a position.

My own limited research during lunch today indicates that it does get easier with practice, but you still have to think about the physical position of your fingers quite a lot. It also seems to help if you position your fingers whilst your arms are lowered and then raise them, but I’m not sure it looks as cool. So I don’t know… maybe I’ve just got the VHSA gene. But if I have, what possible evolutionary advantage could that have? I’m pretty certain that the ability to mimic characters from Star Trek is unlikely to enhance one’s reproductive potential……

(Couldn’t quite work out where this fitted in on the syllabus, but obviously had to get it in somewhere so, if you click on the ‘see rest of post’ link below, it’ll take you to the “VHSA Research Methods Worksheet”).

Read the rest of this entry »