Should we rewrite Psychology History? A New Look at the Milgram Obedience Studies

  Stanley Milgram’s studies of destructive obedience – the tendency to follow orders resulting in harm to another person – have earned a place in psychology’s Hall of Fame, appearing on all recent psychology A-level specifications and in most, if not all, general undergraduate textbooks. And why not? Milgram’s studies were brilliantly designed, meticulously carried out […]

Read more

Error

An observant reader noticed an error on page 198 of the new AS/Year 1 AQA book. In the key terms box the definitions for covert and obvert observation are the wrong way round, though the text is correct. Overt observation is open – people know they are being observed. Covert observation is closed – people […]

Read more

Why education presents research methods problems

An excellent article on the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest blog considers why it is so difficult to establish cause and effect in studies of links between intelligence and education. One difficulty is that it is not ethical to remove one randomly-selected group of children from education to test what happens to their intelligence levels in later life. Another […]

Read more

Facebook ethics

At the start of this July (2014), Facebook hit the news worldwide, all because of research methods. If ever proof were needed that research methods are super-exciting, here it was! A study conducted over one week in 2012 had altered the extent to which 689,000 Facebook users were exposed to emotional content in their News […]

Read more

Biased about bias

Psychologists take care to avoid bias in their investigations, for example making assumptions about differences between males and females (alpha bias) or overlooking differences between males and females (beta bias). A study by researchers at Princeton University suggests the existence of a ‘bias blind spot’ that means people recognise that bias exists but assume they personally […]

Read more

Correlational data

When we talk about interpreting correlational data, we often rightly stress that correlation does not establish cause and effect. However, it is important not to simply dismiss correlations because of this – as this video from the OU’s Joy of Stats series shows, the scientific attitude to an apparent correlation is to work as hard […]

Read more

Shocking boost to working memory?

A study from Oxford University has shown that applying a weak electrical signal to the scalp can boost mental arithmetic abilities for up to six months. Volunteers who received the stimulation for just 20 minutes a day for five days saw their ability to solve calculations improve by 28 per cent. The brain stimulation technique, […]

Read more