Post Of The Week – Thursday 12th September

1) Locked Up For Being Ill?

In the AS course, we look at three definitions of abnormality: failure to function adequately, deviation from social norms and deviation from ideal mental health. People who fail to function adequately or whose behaviour deviates from social norms are likely to end up in contact with the police. This programme explores how those people are treated when they enter custody.

Some of this is quite upsetting: only watch if you are feeling up to it. It begs the question of how people who are labelled as deviant or failing to function should be treated. Most of the programme was shot in Southampton (my home town) but the last section shot in Leicester shows how attaching a psychiatric nurse to police response teams can provide positive outcomes for all concerned.

2) What We Eat And How We Think

When we look at evolutionary explanations of eating behaviour, we consider the idea that meat eating and the development of the large human brain went hand in hand. We have evolved to eat meat because eating meat gave us nutrition much more quickly than eating vegetation. Because we were eating meat, we needed less energy for our intestines and less space for them. So our guts got smaller and our brains got bigger. As our brains got bigger,  we were able to develop skills of language and cooperation which enabled us to hunt more efficiently which meant we could eat more meat.

This article has an interesting twist on this theory. It suggests that the ability to make tools and the ability to use language developed in the same part of the brain. This is interesting because it puts the development of language a long way back but also because it suggests that the ability to use tools would have enabled us to hunt more efficiently which would enable our brains to grow as we could digest more nutrients with less energy and to develop language further. With better language skills, we can hunt more efficiently and make better use of tools. In evolution, everything is connected to everything else.

There’s also a “which came first?” question in here. Was it the language or the tool making which developed first as a result of the development of this part of the brain? As with other “which came first?” questions, it’s one we can’t answer and perhaps the wrong question to ask.

3) Memory Myths

We started the AS course by looking at some unusual pieces of Psychology. The idea of the lesson was to identify the one piece of made up research. Here’s the blog the real research came from.

This post looks at common myths about memory, with commentary on what the experts think. Common sense and what Psychology tells us are often different things.

4) A Bit About How You Learn

This article here identifies some common myths about learning and explains what’s wrong with them.

On the other hand, here is some sound advice from the British Psychological Society Research Digest.

The Research Digest is the inspiration for this blog. You can easily subscribe to it or follow it.

5) Anna Freud And Early Social Development

In our AS course, we focus on the work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Both had important things to say about early social development. Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund, has rather dropped out of the picture.

This article explains her influence in shaping our ideas about childhood and children’s needs. If you’re interested, there’s a link to a Radio 4 programme about her.

6) Cognitive Biases – Gambling And Pay Day Loans

These two articles are about different social problems but have a common theme: biased and distorted thinking.

We look at advertising as a form of media influence in the addiction topic.

7) Darwin’s Women

In the Relationships topic, we look at Darwin’s theories about sexual selection. In particular, we examine critically his ideas about passionate males and coy females.

This article, along with a linked video, explores further Darwin’s attitude to women. This helps us to understand his theory of sexual selection. It also suggests that some of the criticism levelled against Darwin arising from his theory is not justified.

8)  A Top 10 List of Psychology’s Big Questions, and the Answers

A nice article to finish off a blog early in the term.

One comment

  1. […] while ago, I included a link in a post of the week to a Panorama programme about how in the UK people with mental health problems are dealt with by […]

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