The last two weeks have been busy ones. We wrapped up the first year of the course by looking at two final learning outcomes: the role of evolution on behaviour and the use of brain imagining technology to understand human behaviour.
You should be able to do the following at the end of these two weeks:
Explain what is meant by natural selection.
Describe research related to evolutionary arguments of human mating behaviour.
Explain the limitations of evolutionary arguments.
Describe the use of one structural (MRI) and one functional (PET or fMRI) brain imaging technology.
Explain both the practical and the methodological limitations of using brain imaging technology.
It is hard to believe that we have already finished our first year together. To keep you interested in modern brain research, here is a final video for the year!
This week we will finally wrap up our interview projects. Last we also began our study of genetics and intelligence. Here are some of the key ideas that you should have taken away from this week and a preview of what to expect this week:
Psychologists at the BLOA believe that some behaviours are inherited.
Genetics are studied through the use of correlational studies. In these studies, data is gathered through interviews, psychometric testing (e.g. IQ tests) archival research or observational study in order to establish whether there is a relationship between two variables. No cause and effect can be established. It is unknown whether A influences B, B influences A, whether they both influence each other, or whether there is no influence of one on the other at all.
Psychologists use twin and adoption studies to determine the strength of the correlation between genetics and behaviour. This is known as the concordance rate.
Many twin studies rely on self-reported data. Others are based on archival data, which means that the research is retrospective. Attempting to do prospective research may result in self-fulfilling prophecies – a rather serious confounding variable!
Psychologists believe in the Diathesis-Stress Model. This argues that people have a genetic vulnerability to certain behaviours, but without the right environmental stressor, the gene is not expressed. This is not only about mental illness. Theoretically, if you have the genetic potential for intelligence, but you are deprived by your environment of stimulation and appropriate education, that gene may not be expressed.
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.
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!
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