Post Of The Week – Thursday 29th August

1) The Men Who Made Us Thin (Again)

This programme has continued to cover research relevant to our course.  Here’s a link to Programme 3.

One section of this deals with the controversy generated by Dr. Katherine Flegal’s research which challenges the claim that a BMI of more than 25 is associated with poorer health outcomes. In addition to the analysis in the programme, there is an excellent radio discussion involving Katherine Flegal here.

This is a very good example of the at times difficult relationship between science and the media where complex questions of health and public policy are concerned.

2) Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD

It is sometimes difficult to explain the idea of cultural difference in Psychology, particularly the idea that definitions are culturally bound.

This article looks at differences in diagnosis of ADHD in the U.S. and France and relates these differences to broader differences in attitudes to childrearing and to mental health.

It’s not all good news from France though. This article explores how children with autism have been treated.

3) Neuroscience Reveals The Deep Power of Human Empathy

I’ve been working on the Cognition And Development topic this week. The big idea which this topic comes back to is empathy. Traditionally, we have looked at cognitive development in terms of the individual. The latest research emphasises the cultural aspects of learning and development. We learn and develop because of who we are with and how they interact with us. This article looks at the neuroscientific basis of these interactions.

For people with autism, this dimension of learning is very difficult. However, understanding what they find difficult may also be a key to understanding the unusual abilities and talents which people with autism sometimes have. To understand more, listen to this programme here.

4) Males And Mental Health

It seems a while now since we were looking at research into attitudes to mental health. Here’s a reminder of the work being done in Australia to challenge stigma and stereotyping.

It’s worth pointing out that this is players from one of Australia’s best rugby teams going into one of Australia’s top schools. There’s been some great work done in the UK but I can’t think of anything which has such a high profile.

5) Relationships – Monogamy

This programme challenges the assumptions we might make about monogamy. In the Relationships topic, we look at the assumption that monogamous relationships are part of the natural order of things. The work we do on the formation, maintenance and breakdown of relationships takes monogamous relationships as its starting point.

This programme challenges these assumptions, portraying a group of people living in very different relationships.

6) Brain In A Test Tube

You may have seen a news story about this. Here’s the BBC’s take on it, along with a piece from National Geographic. Good science journalism.

7) Psychology As Science

As part of our final module, we look critically at the idea of Psychology as science. We look at the idea that replication is central to this process and consider the so-called “file drawer phenomenon” where research which does not find significant results or which challenges other previously published findings gets put to one side and ignored. Some of these ideas are discussed in the first part of this programme here.

Here’s a bit more on the file drawer phenomenon.

This lecture from Professor David Shanks at UCL explains these issues in detail. You have to be patient but the insights are worth it.

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