Weekly summary: April 2 – 4


This week we wrapped up emotion and the Cognitive Level of Analysis.  Please make sure that you are able to discuss these three pieces of research:

  • Speismann on the role of cognitive appraisal on physiological response.
  • Singer & Schacter’s Two Factor Theory and their famous study.
  • LeDoux’s model of the fear response.

We also began the BLOA by looking at the principles that define the level of analysis. We looked at three:

  • Animals may be studied in order to understand human behaviour.
  • There are biological correlates to human behaviour – that is, neurotransmitters, hormones, genes and the brain.
  • Behaviour can be inherited.

Finally, we began discussing stress.  At the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Define the four types of stress.
  • Discuss the role of physiology and cognition on stress.
  • Discuss the role of dispositional factors (personality) on stress.  (Think about Sapolsky’s video).
  • Describe Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome.


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Weekly summary: March 30 – April 3

This week we looked the origins of emotion. At the end of this week you should be able to talk about the following concepts:

  • Emotions may have an evolutionary advantage for humans.
  • Facial expressions may be universal, showing us that there are biological roots for basic emotions.
  • In spite of Ekman’s research, there are cultural factors that can affect emotional responses.
  • Cognitive labeling is one of the key theories of emotions, as seen in the study by Speisman.
  • You should also be able to describe Schachter & Singer’s study – and also be able to discuss its ethical and procedural issues.

When we get back, we have only two studies to look at: Schachter & Singer’s study of the Two Factor Theory and then LeDoux’s explanation of how the brain explains what is happening – and a study by Susan Fiske.

The remainder of our semester will be spent on the Biological Level of Analysis and we will practice our final research method – the interview.



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Weekly summary: March 23 – 26

PA photo 15.1.13 romanian orphans

This week we wrapped up memory by looking at how sociocultural factors can affect memory.  For this learning objective you should be able to:

  • Explain how cultural schema have an effect on memory (Bartlett).
  • Explain how schooling can have an effect on memory (Cole & Scribner)
  • Describe how Cole & Scribner used an emic approach.
  • Explain the role of stress of memory (Meany; Rutter’s orphan study)

Now we just have to discuss those things called emotions – and then it is stress until the end of the year….


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Weekly summary: March 16 – 20

This week we focused on the role of biological factors on memory. We specifically looked at the following examples:

  • Case studies and the role of the hippocampus & amygdala: Milner’s study of HM, Sharot’s study of Flashbulb memory.
  • The role of acetylcholine on the creation of long-term memories (Martinez & Kesner)
  • The role of glucocorticoids in memory impairment (Meany; Newcomer)

Thank you all for keeping focused while I was away.  I hope that this week we will be able to wrap up our study of memory and then move on to our next unit – Stress!

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Weekly summary: March 2 – 6

This week we examined the effect of emotion on memory – looking at research on reconstructive memory and the question of the reliability of so-called “Flashbulb Memories.” From this week, you should know  the following research:

Support for the reliability of memory:

  • Brown & Kulik’s original study.
  • Yuille & Cutshall’s Vancouver robbery study
  • Bahrick et al’s yearbook study

Support that memory is not reliable:

  • Bartlett’s War of Ghosts study.
  • Neisser’s study of the Challenger disaster
  • Crombag’s study of the KLM disaster
  • Loftus’s studies on reconstructive memory (post-event interference)

Please watch the video clip below.  This is the famous “Lost in the Mall Study” done by Elizabeth Loftus.

Next week we will wrap up Flashbulb memory by seeing if there is any biological evidence to support it.  Yes, biology is in your near future!

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Weekly summary: February 23 – 27


  • This week we returned to discuss our final memory model for this year – the Working Memory Model (Baddely & Hitch, 1974).  At this point, you should know the key components of the model: the central executive, the episodic buffer, the phonological loop and the visuospatial sketchpad. For a more in-depth explanation, here is a rather dry – but helpful – tutorial

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Weekly summary: February 9 – 13


This week we explored schema theory in a bit more depth.  At the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • State the definition of a schema.
  • Explain how schema play a role in how memories are retrieved.
  • Outline at least two studies that demonstrate the role of schema in memory.
  • Explain how biological research is used to support schema theory.
  • Evaluate the theory – that is, the strengths and limitations of the theory.

When we get back from break, one more memory model and then we start looking at how memory is distorted in a bit more detail.  Oh – and another IB essay is coming your way faster than you can guess….


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Weekly summary: February 2 – 6


This week we focused on Atkinson & Schiffrin’s Multi-store model.  At this point, you should be able to evaluate the model by using research to both support it and to challenge it.

Strengths and support for the model

  • The model broke memory into components that could be studied individually, opening up the field of memory research.
  • Miller’s study on STM
  • Glanzer & Cunitz’s study on Serial Positioning Effect – primacy (LTM) and recency (STM) effects
  • Studies of hippocampal impairment indicate that STM may be impaired by LTM remains intact. (e.g. HM)


  • Does not explain incidental learning
  • The model is considered overly simplistic. Is there really only one STM store? If so, how can we explain multi-tasking? And remember all those different types of LTM? Procedural, semantic, etc? Different types of strokes appear to impair different forms of LTM.
  • The model does not explain memory distortion.
  • The model also does not explain the role of emotion in the creation of memory or why we don’t remember something in spite of rigorous rehearsal.

Here is a good podcast that outlines the case study of HM. This is highly recommended (bordering on required) listening.

In addition we looked at the following:

  • The role of “depth of processing” – that is, emotion and context. You should be able to discuss Craik & Lockhart’s theory and its limitation
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