Post Of The Week – Sunday 18th June 2017

1) The Psychology Of Cults

Cults are interesting from a social psychological point of view. They are based on obedience to an authority figure and rely on compliance. This video from TED Ed touches on some other Psychology concepts.


2) The Smartphone Psychiatrist

The psychiatrist in question is Tom Insel. This extended profile is fascinating not only for what it tells us about Insel’s plans to use technology to change the way mental illness is diagnosed and treated but also for explaining how his career landed him in the position he is in now. The differences between approaches which we study in our course and which might seem like some sort of academic exercise represent real disputes between researchers which have been played out over many years.


3) Predicting Suicide

Suicide is a leading cause of death in younger people. This paper explains one approach to predicting suicide: numbers. It relates to a paper which has just been published which shows that an algorithm based on data commonly held about patients following hospital admissions can predict who is at greatest risk of suicide. As with anything to do with holding data about people, there are ethical considerations to address.


4) Low Intensity CBT

I’ve mentioned IAPT a few times during the course. The idea is that people can be referred for psychological therapy quickly by their GP. Initial treatment is low level: online and by someone without full clinical training. If this doesn’t work, more intensive treatment is offered. This article explains that this system may be flawed. One in two people experience relapse. This suggests that more expert intervention is needed earlier.


5) Genome Wide Association Studies

One of the evaluation points we use when looking at biological explanations in our course is that the science is fragmentary. Genes are identified which are related to a disorder but it is not explained how the gene contributes to the disorder. The role of the PTPRD gene in the development of OCD is a case in point. This article explains how widespread this issue is and emphasises the need for biological insight.


6) Reliability Of Eyewitness Testimony

The research we look at as part of our course emphasises the mistakes witnesses make and the factors which affect them. At the same time, and for evaluation purposes, we recognise that studies of real life witnesses emphasise how they get things right. This article uses the a comparison with DNA evidence to draw a distinction between reliability and contamination.

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