Post Of The Week – Sunday 23rd July 2017

1) Nigel Owens On Bulimia Nervosa

Eating disorders is an area of Psychology where alpha bias has persisted. They are seen as being peculiarly female problems. This is challenged in this article by Nigel Owens, the rugby referee. The article reminds us that eating disorders can affect males as well as females. It also reminds us that the origins of disorders are complex. In this article, Owens talks about depression and sexuality. The article talks about the effect of media representations. Research relating body image to medial representations of thinness in girls is well established. I don’t know if the same research has been done on males. If it hasn’t, this could be seen as an example of beta bias.


2) The Unconscious

The psychodynamic approach is based on the idea of an unconscious mind. It seeks to explain why we do things even when we are not conscious of the reasons. This article explains how Freud thought about the unconscious 100 or more years ago and how we might think about it now.


3) Studying Classroom Strategies

We had a question in the mock AS exam about addressing the criticism that studies of memory are unrealistic. This is the theme of this article from the Learning Scientists. It looks at what happens when findings reliably demonstrated in a laboratory, that spacing practice and practising retrieval have a positive effect on learning, are tested in a real classroom on things children actually have to learn. The findings of one study go against the conventional wisdom. The authors try to explain why.


4) The Evolution Of Disgust

Evolutionary explanations of food preference use the idea of disgust. We don’t want to eat new things because we find them disgusting. The first part of this podcast explains the impact of disgust on the choices we make and what we might do about them.


5) The Genetic Basis Of Educational Achievement

This video explains the findings of research about educational attainment. You would have thought that the reason why children often have similar educational outcomes to their parents was down to environment. This study suggests that there is a genetic component. It’s notable that as well as using DNA analysis, the study also compares MZ and DZ twins.


6) Variant Of Unknown Significance

This article is not strictly speaking about Psychology but has implications for the way we think about genes. As testing becomes more sophisticated for a variety of medical conditions, people increasingly get results which show variants of unknown significance. They have unusual sequences in their DNA but nobody knows whether or not this is bad news. We need, it is claimed, to think of a DNA test not as a pregnancy test but as a weather report. That makes us rethink the idea of genes for a disorder.


7) Memories

When we study the multistore model of memory, we focus on the idea of the brain having a storage system. This article  encourages us to think of memory in a different way. Memory at its core is a change to a system that alters the way that system works in the future. The sum total of those experiences shape the way in which neurons are organised and connected inside our brains. We are therefore what we remember.


8) Cultural Variations In Self-Control

This article explains what happened when Mischel’s marshmallow test was carried out in rural Cameroon. Children’s response seems to be based on the extent to which they experience authoritarian parenting within a strongly defined social structure whether they are in Cameroon or in Germany. That means that we need to continue to be aware of the difference between individualistic and collectivistic cultures but cannot understand differences in behaviour purely in those terms.


9) Two Genes For Autism

This article explains the role of two genes in the development of autism. They do two different things and they account for a tiny proportion of cases of autism. However, understanding what they do might be the key to understanding the routes which lead to the symptoms of autism.


10) The Diet Paradox

Here is a round up of some of the reasons why diets fail and what we might do about it.

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