ISBN 0305-7607 Association for the Teaching of Psychology
We welcome insertions to be included with the Newsletter. Contact Jenny Toal firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
June 2009 Chair’s Report Editor’s Letter What to do after the AS exams ... Psych Exchange news The Extended Project Resource Reviews Auntie’s Web-links Christine Sizemore and Elizabeth Loftus in person EFPTA/ATPS Conference 16-19 April 2009 Albert Bandura ATP AGM ATP ... the Journal Helpline ATP Committee
From the Editor Dear ATP members, The last edition of our Newsletter was a bumper issue ... because YOU sent in so many wonderful things! It’s your contributions which make the newsletter, and this time well, exams looming, all sorts of pressure - there are far fewer contributions. What we have here is great, but I am beseeching you to look at what you have, because I know that we all have things we’ve done, produced, etc which we could share to inform, amuse, enthuse, or help other members. Both Deb and I reserve the right to edit contributions if we feel this is necessary for whatever reason, but this is a process not a threat. We are an interesting lot! On the OCR site Ros Marshall (email@example.com) wrote that this http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=Rrc4I3-n-9Q&NR=1 was worth looking at, and I certainly found it so. She also cited Ken Cook’s http://bit.ly/C70kd, well worth watching as a How-To. So clear, and so different from many I’ve sat through (INSET, anyone?). In fact, the former clip would be a very worthwhile INSET session ...
On a different tack, I am shocked, but no not surprised, that one of the major exam boards is charging £205 for its day course supporting teaching the new A2 spec. Exam Boards are businesses, and therefore need to make a profit - but also need clients. As clients teachers have the power, in most institutions, to choose the Board. So are ALL Boards charging such huge fees? And if they are, is there some sort of inter-Board agreement? Are ATP members concerned about this - use our blog on the website! Please dear people send in contributions for the autumn edition of the Newsletter, maybe even some ideas for useful revision session or activities? And please, please do see the advert for submissions for the ATP Journal which we will relaunch during the winter. The ATP needs YOU ! Every good wish for a happy and successful summer,
And from the same institution, Laura Rudd (firstname.lastname@example.org) is investigating the “Golden Hello for FE” for Psychology, and is having difficulty accessing information - if anyone can help please contact me or Laura - we hope to have news on this in the autumn Newsletter.
ATP June 2009 Newsletter We welcome contributions and letters from readers. Please send your correspondence to the Editor. The Editor reserves the right to edit and/or amend all articles submitted. The views expressed by contributors to the magazine are their personal views, and publication does not mean that those views are endorsed by the ATP The ATP Magazine is published three times a year. The next edition of the ATP Magazine will be published in October 2009 (copy deadline 31st August 2009). Published by The Association for the Teaching of Psychology c/o The British Psychological Society, St. Andrews House, 48 Princess Road East, Leicester LE1 7DR Editor: Evie Bentley Please send correspondence, and submissions as Word doc attachments to email@example.com, or to Oaklands Park, High Hatch Lane, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex BN6 9LH Data Protection Policy The ATP store data about our members for the purposes of administration only. We will usually only contact you to send you the materials that comprise our membership benefits (for example, newsletters), or with information that is relevant to our members
(for example, information about conferences, or changes to our membership terms and conditions). On a very occasional basis, we may contact you to remind you to renew your membership, to update our records, for consultation or to evaluate our services to our members. If you prefer not to be contacted for these purposes, please tick the box below. We will never pass information about you on to other agencies or organisations except where necessary to deliver our services to members. I do NOT want you to contact me to remind to update your records, for consultation or to evaluate your services
From the Chair For some reason, I always expect to have more time in the summer term, I should know by know that it never happens. As soon as examinations are over, I just want to hibernate, but this year we will all be busy preparing resources for new A2, GCSE and Diploma qualifications – does it never end? On the positive side, not long until the summer holidays, but it does all start again in September! In April I attended the annual EFPTA Conference, this was held jointly with the ATPS Conference in Edinburgh. The two day event was excellent and good fun was had by all. Our European visitors particularly enjoyed the experience of a traditional Scottish Ceilidh. A full report is included in this newsletter.
we need evidence of your experiences and difficulties. At the Conference a session will be held to discuss these issues, but if you are unable to be at the Conference please email either Emma Shakespeare or Gail Ward (contact details at back of newsletter) with details of your experiences. As always I welcome ideas/comments from any members about how to improve our services. The ATP is only ever as good as its membership so please continue to promote the ATP and encourage others to join. Please also remember to keep us informed of any changes to your personal details so we can keep in touch. The ATP now has a new and improved website, please have a look and let me have your suggestions www.theatp.org
Deb Gajic firstname.lastname@example.org
Our next big event is the Annual ATP Conference in Exeter July 9th – 11th; please see the website www.atpconference.org. uk for further details. This promises to be a spectacular event, once again organised by Phil Banyard. Our AGM will be held during the Conference on Friday 10th July at 6pm and a nomination form is enclosed in this newsletter. A very thorny issue is that of gaining QTS. As many of you know, it is almost impossible to offer guidance as the rules and regulations not only vary vastly between institutions, but change on an annual basis. The ATP wants to lobby government on this issue; however
What to do after the AS Exams or possibly in the new term / end of term / when about to scream ... Coursework has died a death, and that leaves many of us with a gap post-AS exams (and at other times). Even though we may lose students to field courses or various days out this is still a time which could be really valuable in reminding students that psychology is fantastically interesting and fun, and reinforcing some of the research methods or other information so the odd fragment might last into September. So here are a set of ideas - do use them, edit them, or be stimulated to produce your own (in which case please could you share a copy with the rest of us by emailing me the file? Please?) email@example.com For things which are suitable, it is good for students to have to remember the scientific method on which psychology is based: theory; hypothesis; sampling; empirical methods where possible; collection of data; data presentation and analysis; conclusions
First Kiss ...
I have recycled this because it works well, is fun, and has a strong ethical side. I think it’s more suitable for Y13, who have that extra bit of maturity, and adults. It is based on the concept that the items we store most successfully into LTM are those with the greatest personal meaning, the deepest semantic processing. Groups can each have a different task, such as constructing the questionnaire, deciding on open or closed questions or simple yes/no answers, deciding on the target population and sampling method, data collection and analysis and so on. The ethics of asking about a socially and personally sensitive memory also need discussion. There could be a plenary session to pool questions, ideas and planning, but students need to know that the teacher/tutor has the final say as the responsibility for activities rests with her/ him. One word of caution: when we first did this our questionnaire (all yes/no answers) was immensely popular with the adults in the sample, from the canteen staff to families - but one student came reeling back into the class after, misguidedly in my opinion, having used her father as part of her sample. It wasn’t just a case of too much information, she was additionally deeply shocked that he’d started kissing girls in the back row of the cinema when aged 11 !
Paranormal and Related Beliefs
This is an oldie, but not dreamt up by me. I know it as the Barnum Effect, named after the circus man who had “something for everyone”, but Wiki has it as the Forer Effect. For this to work and be student-led you need confederates, a couple of students who “run” this activity. You need a generalisable, vague description of traits and behaviours which seems to be highly individual. Then you print this as many times as you have students in the class, perhaps with a fake web address at the bottom, and put each copy in an envelope, each envelope having the name of someone in the class. The stooges tell the class that they have accessed a computer programme which gives accurate horoscope type predictions of personality based on birthdates-based star signs. After all, astrologers believe that their subject is a true science. They take a list of names plus birthdates/signs, and disappear for 10 minutes supposedly to print off the readings but actually to add the birth date/ sign on each envelope. When they return, each person is asked to read their own personality prediction silently and secretly in case they find something they don’t want others to know. They replace their prediction in the envelope, and then one by one give an assessment of accuracy of that prediction - could be on a 1-5 scale, or a Likert scale, or similar. You could have a discussion on how to present the data descriptively, or any other discussion, but eventually the stooges have to reveal what really occurred. Whenever this has been done participants have given their predictions a high score of accuracy, and are amazed when they read identical predictions for others. There is the ethical issue of deception here, but this is a class exercise and with full debriefing it has not produced any discomfort in the past. Derren Brown did this for his TV show some years back, but hopefully they won’t have seen or will have forgotten it.
Compare and Contrast To get across the tricky idea of similarities and differences between different studies I’ve made some snap cards. One card for each study, the students play snap in pairs, but instead of ‘snapping’ the matching cards they snap whenever two studies are from the same approach or perspective. When that happens they have to identify one similarity and one difference between the two studies - and write it down of course!
Each group writes its clues, aka questions, and gets the crossword grid constructed. A finite amount of time for this is advisable! Then the groups swap crosswords and try and do the one they have been give. Here is the real learning outcome - I’ve had students “ask” far more bluntly than I would ever dare “who wrote this rubbish?” and comment very unfavourably on the lack of clarity and unclear questions.
My students have enjoyed playing a whole-class version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” (there’s a PowerPoint template on www.Psychexchange.co.uk). The PowerPoint is very professional looking, and has questions on the Biological Approach but could be adapted in lots of ways. It’s certainly engaging! They’ve also enjoyed Psychology Bingo give each student a blank grid, approx. 5 by 4. Have them put a key term in each space (e.g. reliability; validity etc) from a list you give them. The list needs to have several more terms than there are spaces on the grid, and could be put up as a PPT slide, an OHT or on a smartboard so each student chooses their own terms. Someone then reads out the definitions in random order, the students cross off the key terms if they have them on their card. This could then be developed as an exercise in groups, each group devising their own Psychology Bingo game based on a topic or area.
Crosswords and questionnaires/ surveys Writing questions is hard work. I have just done sets for each of the new AQA/a A2 topics and it has done my head in! Students do find it hard to make their questions clear, understandable and unambiguous, and making up a crossword demonstrates this well. This can be done at the end of a topic or sub-topic, as well as an “extra”, and then reinforces topic knowledge as well as the need for clarity and specific-ness. There are many free, online programmes for constructing crosswords, and many institutions also have ones such as Hot Potato or Moodle. Use them, they save another type of grief!
It’s taken me considerably longer than I had anticipated to make these things but there’s enough of each to make 9 sets for the OCR specification - I’m still glueing them to the backs of playing cards. Alternatively you could just write the names of the studies on pieces of paper. Not as flashy but somewhat easier. Or write/print/stick onto coloured card!
Louise Lomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Level Psychology
How do taxi drivers use their grey matter to navigate?
It’s been an exciting time at www.PsychExchange.co.uk over the last few months and we’ve gone from strengthto-strength all thanks to the bubbling community of psychology teachers we have that are willing to share their ideas, resources and time to help each other. As I write this we are approaching 80,000 downloads which is amazing and we are nearing having 1,000 resources, including videos and ideas, on the site. What a mile-stone. With the second year of the new specifications PsychExchange will be a valuable resource to us all sharing schemes of work, resources and the odd rant (which is always good). So, if you haven’t been along to PsychExchange for a while come and see the massive archive of excellent resources we have and maybe you could share something yourself while you’re there. We’ve had many excellent resources for all the major exam boards recently and in the videos section we have several full length documentaries (along with all the other fab little clips): “Dr. Money and the boy with no Penis”, “HardTALK: Chris Sizemore” and the Channel 4 documentary “Would you save a stranger?” Thanks to all for sharing.
“Content is more exciting than other specifications.” Janet Harrision, Stratford upon Avon College
This is what Janet Harrison who is currently delivering our Psychology A Level says.
Jamie Davies email@example.com
Why don’t you look and see what you would say about our Psychology A Level?
The Extended Project
With the demise of coursework, teachers up and down the county are having to rethink how they can engage the imaginations of budding psychologists. The Extended Project (EP) could provide that important opportunity to study a psychological topic in-depth using methods and study skills students may not otherwise use before university. The EP is a stand-alone qualification offered alongside A Levels (although a compulsory part of the diploma) and is offered by OCR, AQA, Edexcel and WJEC. Worth the same as an AS level, it carries the same number of UCAS points and could be the sort of talking point at an admissions interview that discriminates one candidate for an oversubscribed course from another.
hours? Will you put in entries in Year 12 or Year 13? And most importantly- where can you find the answers to these questions? Each Awarding Body is building a bank of resources and teacher support that can direct your choices and much of it is freely available on-line. Here at OCR we are working with centres to develop learning aids such as PowerPoint presentation and materials that can be photocopied, as well as assessing different models of delivery and offering free training events for teachers.
Students can choose any topic - findings from the QCA pilot suggest that they achieve best when they have this flexibility. The final project can take the form of a product, performance, field study, design, investigation or dissertation. It gives students a good chance to flex skills like self-directed learning, source selection, evaluation and planning. Without coursework or other opportunities for independent study, there is a risk that such skills will be underdeveloped.
Schools and colleges are already having to cope with the changes to A Levels, GCSEs and the introduction of Diplomas, so the thought of another new qualification may be too much to bear but consider the benefits: There are real opportunities for cross curricular links as staff expertise is shared. Universities are sitting up and taking notice as EP focuses on the process not the outcome so students don’t have to narrow their thinking to rigid examination criteria. And for those students who would leap at the chance to collect data for their very own chisquare? All they have to do is choose their hypothesis…
But consider the implications before students rush out eagerly clutching their questionnaires on shopping habits or grabbing volunteers for audience effect tasks.
Sally Morris has taught Psychology
Who will mange the qualification? What if students want to study topics outside of your comfort zone of the Stroop Effect? Where are the ethical constraints? Who will be the most suitable (this does not have to equate with most the academic!) students to take on the project? How can it slot into, around, on top of other taught subjects? With what will you fill the 30 or so hours of guided learning
h t t p : / / w w w. t e s . c o . u k / a r t i c l e . aspx?storycode=2622868 TES article: Harvard professor critical of A levels praises the “paradigm shift” offered by the EP http://www.qca.org.uk/qca_15297.aspx fact sheet regarding EP from QCA http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN. cgi?pn_id=2008_0173 Schools’ minister Jim Knight praises the extended project http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/ projects/extended_project/ link to the OCR website.
for over a decade and is a former Head of Department working as a Seconded Teacher in the Customer Support Division of OCR If you or your centre would like to discuss the extended project, support materials or share your own developed materials please contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overall, a great, well written book, that I would definitely recommend for both teachers as a resource and students as a text.
Chair of the ATP
AS Core Studies & Research Methods – Psychology OCR, Psychology Press – Banyard and Flanagan For someone, like me, teaching the OCR specification for the first time, this book is a gift. The layout and design are logical and attractive. The use of colourful illustrations and pictures make this book very user friendly. I particularly liked the picture of Phil Banyard (Is he a muppet or a Nottingham Forest supporter?) on page 178. The content of this book links very closely to the specification and I’ve used many of the suggested activities in my lessons. As this is a completely new specification, the exam-style questions have been great for homework tasks and the specimen answers give an insight into the mark scheme. As you would expect from two such established and experienced authors this book is written in a very accessible and humorous style. I fell that this book would prepare students extremely well for the research methods paper (G541) and section A and B of the Core Studies paper (G542). The only weakness, in my opinion, is the coverage of section C questions. I feel that this could have been simplified by giving more examples of specimen answers and more clearly outlining assumptions, strengths and limitations of the approaches. 12
Head of Psychology, The Polesworth School.
Haslam & Reicher – The BBC Prison Study www.onlineclassroom.tv
Changing A Level specification completely in September to OCR has been a steep learning curve. Many of the 15 core studies were familiar to me; however, I knew very little about Haslam & Reicher’s study, other than watching the TV series. I managed to get hold of the original series, but found it far too long to show in its entirety and I don’t have the technical skills or time to edit it down. I did show my students a couple of episodes, which they really enjoyed, but as a TV programme, rather than a scientific study. I found they still struggled with the details of the study, especially the information they would need in the examination.
The DVD also has extra features: Social Identity Theory, Ethics, Data and a Comparison of the Stanford Prison experiment and the BBC study. With the exception of the data section, which would be useful to show to students to consolidate their knowledge, I found that the other sections were over reliant on talking heads and therefore would not be very interesting for students. However, teachers will find them helpful for their own use. On the whole this is an excellent resource that I thoroughly recommend; I only wish Online Classroom would do DVDs for the other OCR core studies!
Chair of the ATP Head of Psychology, The Polesworth School.
Online Classroom’s DVD is approximately half the price of the BBC DVD and has a running time of 25 minutes, which I think is perfect for holding student attention. The DVD features carefully selected footage from the series and interviews with Haslam & Reicher. They go through the study step by step, emphasising the important facts that students need to know and thoroughly discuss the findings and conclusions. I found the DVD both interesting and informative. It could be used to introduce the study or as an aid to revision. 13
Angles on Psychology – Teacher’s Support Guide by Julia Russell Folens ISBN 978-85008-299-6
I’m always quite shocked by the price of Teacher Support Guides and this one is expensive at £79.99. However, as you would only buy one per department, and it comes with a CD ROM, with a one site licence, I suppose you could justify the expense. As expected from an experienced teacher and author like Julia Russell, this guide is jam packed with activities, all of which are very closely linked to the specification and very well organised. It contains a huge variety of different activities; there really is something for everyone. The CD ROM has all the activities included in the book, plus some excellent PowerPoint presentations. These would make fantastic starters, they contain some very stimulating material and interesting and thought provoking, colourful pictures that students would love. I would particularly recommend this book to any new teacher or someone new to teaching Edexcel Psychology. However, it does have appeal beyond the Edexcel specification as some of the ideas for activities could easily be adapted. This is a great book to dip into when in need of inspiration for a lesson. The media watch activities make use of very up to date stimulus material that students would enjoy. All of the activities have clear learning objectives. Of particular use are the stretch and challenge tasks, these could be used to ensure lessons offer extension for more able students, something the dreaded OFSTED are very hot on at the moment. Specimen examination papers with answers, from a senior examiner are of course a bonus. This book would be a useful addition to any teacher’s resources.
Chair of the ATP 14
Zimbardo Speaks – Uniview DVD www.uniview.co.uk
For those of you that missed the excellent South West Conference (www.southwestconferences.co.uk) last year when Zimbardo spoke in the UK Uniview are offering a DVD of his lecture at the very reasonable price of £49 + VAT. Zimbardo’s lecture was entitled ‘The Psychology of Evil: the Lucifer effect”, and is based on his recent book of the same title. It is clear that this study developed from his situational approach or, as he put it in a lecture over 20 years ago, “the power of the situation”. Zimbardo is an entertaining and engaging speaker and his talk is well supported with relevant PowerPoint slides and short video clips. Zimbardo thoroughly discusses the Stanford Prison Experiment, his most famous work, updating it with insights from his experiences as an expert witness in the trials of US soldiers accused of atrocities towards Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison. Some of the footage he shows is shocking, but illustrates his points about the
effects of situational influences on behaviour. Zimbardo’s message is best summed up by the famous quote from Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” At just over two hours, we probably wouldn’t show it to students in its entirety, however, it is clearly divided into sections to make dipping in and out easy. The sections on the Stanford Prison Experiment are particularly relevant to A Level Students and some of the other sections could be used for stretch and challenge activities. It is an excellent teacher resource and has inspired us to read Zimbardo’s book The Lucifer Effect, another possible resource for stretch and challenge. www.lucifereffect.com
Chair of the ATP; Head of Psychology, The Polesworth School
ATP Editor; Psychology ASP, West Sussex Adult Education
Brain Training: Train Your Brain DVD (Cara Flanagan, Uniview)
I confess that I was sceptical about the concept of brain training, it seemed like such a marketing thing to buy a CD or DVD or similar and gain a better memory, revise more successfully, but then I realised that revision texts are helpful, and perhaps some of these programmes can help memory and thinking but which ones? There are so many to choose from. This one comes from someone wellknown to most of us, as Cara Flanagan has a long and successful track record of writing for students, doing revision conferences, and running excellent training for psychology teachers. Three main sections focus on study skills, revision methods and exam techniques. In the study skills section there are suggestions and examples of important things such as attention and concentration span, how to learn and active learning. She shows how self-control therapy which really means taking control of one’s own learning can be achieved, and looks at the benefits of creating a study team. The revision methods section shows memory research and its implications, and explains various revision/ memory techniques. Exam techniques focus on how exams are marked. This could be useful to recommend to students, or to use in class or make available to groups. This DVD would also generalise to most subjects. I liked the graphics and video clips, the head and shoulders talking with a transcript available, the references for cited research; all in all this could, be a very useful package, not least because someone else is saying these things, not you or me, and this someone else is well-known.
Auntie’s Web Links
These are some of the pages from BBCi which could inform or entertain or stimulate discussion or be used as stimulus material for stretch exercises. Enjoy! Altruistic behaviour on show... hot dancers get the chicks, helped by avian cooperation! This includes a short video clip. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/ nature/7891243.stm Face the fear - or just pop a pill... Dutch investigators believe beta-blocker drugs could help people suffering from the emotional after-effects of traumatic experiences. This could be a useful stimulus for discussion on ethics, as such drugs could be used after individuals have performed violent tasks under orders, e.g. in the armed forces http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7892272. stm A Canadian study suggests abuse in early childhood permanently alters how the brain reacts to stress http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7901337. stm Stop working long hours... you have been warned! A Finnish study of middle-aged Brits showed long working hours may raise the risk of mental decline and possibly
dementia ... what chance for teachers, then? http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7909464. stm ... and start doodling instead because though doodling may look messy, but it could in fact be a sign of an alert mind - I knew it!! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7912671. stm First it was good to cry, now Harvard says it’s OK to be angry and could help your career http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7918622. stm Unhappy children are more likely to grow up to become adults who are permanently sick or disabled; a UK study has suggested http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7913552. stm Sad soldiers self harm and lack access to psychological support http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7914913. stm They can read your mind now! Well, first steps to this ... http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7937926. stm Cheeky chimp plans its ambushes by collecting missiles - planned attacks! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/ nature/7928996.stm Older fathers’ children perform less well in infancy and early childhood http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7931982. stm Teenagers’ are 2
circadian hours’ behind
rhythms adults’ 17
... leading to headmaster urging lie-ins and later school starts, (but Hugh Christie College, Tonbridge, already do this) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/ england/tyne/7932108.stm
Face colour changes our perception - think pink! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7974194. stm
Women more likely to suffer when marriages fail becoming more prone to risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7925360. stm Monkeys floss too, and pass on this behaviour by teaching/social learning! (+ video clip) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asiapacific/7940052.stm Brain declines from age 27 (and I thought it was all that wine!) after peaking at age 22.... http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7945569. stm More chimps, more tools... the original honey-monsters? (+ video clip) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/ nature/7946614.stm It’s time to shop shop shop ... 10 days before the onset of menstruation... no guilt then! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7971578. stm Imprinting helps with maths? Birds do it, well chicks actually - fluffy chick video clip included http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/ nature/7975260.stm The need for sleep and a possible link from insomnia to suicide 18
An agoraphobic turns a corner: after 18 years (+ video clip) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/ tyne/8003982.stm Virtual brain - now a possibility http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8012496. stm
former Psychology student
Evie Bentley, ATP Editor
Christine Sizemore and Elizabeth Loftus in person
Christine Sizemore was reassuringly normal for a lady who changed the history of Psychology. No glitz, no glamour, just a petite figure who spoke quietly and confidently through the slide show of her art. The paintings were of such a variety of styles and skills that it was difficult to reconcile this to the knowledge that a single person had painted them all. This was when I realised that this was not someone who had done painting-by-numbers – these were all really fashioned by different people at different times. When she commented on one painting that she said she hadn’t remembered doing, it seemed to make perfect sense (being middle-aged and forgetful) until you realised that she couldn’t remember who (of the people with whom she’d shared her life for forty years) had done it. After the slide show, she spent over an hour answering questions on her life with the ‘alters’. Once again there was no unnecessary drama – just a factual recounting of her experiences with these people. The audience of students was attentive and respectful – one thousand bright young things – captivated by what they were listening to, and unusually quiet. There was no inappropriate and unnecessary chatter. Like me, they were overwhelmed by what they were hearing, the story of a very unusual life, recounted with sensitivity and humour. There was no Hollywood drama, unlike the film we are all so fond of – the artistic licence that made the film so fascinating was absent, and in its absence, the true story was just as appealing, told, as it was, from the perspective of the woman whose life it was. The trauma that triggered the ‘splitting’ (not mentioned in the film or in the article we use to teach it) convincingly supported the post-traumatic model. The little girl who had witnessed a man’s body pulled from the ditch in which he had drowned, who then experienced her mother bleeding profusely 19
from a cut accidentally inflicted whilst preparing dinner, and saw ‘the other girl’ go and get help. She calmly told us about the ‘purple lady’ who was mostly responsible for bringing up her daughter, and the ‘strawberry girl’, a character she didn’t like because she was so selfish, and chuckling as she told us about how lucky she had been that Eve Black was frigid – a feature that kept her, Christine, safe and out of trouble! We were all charmed and intrigued, not just by her life-story, but with how spookily normal she made it all sound – convincing, because they supported the conviction that the therapy she had undergone had resulted in complete integration of all the ‘alters’ and that she is now leading a full and happy life. Elizabeth Loftus presented an equally captivating contrast to the morning session with Christine Sizemore. Gone was the cosy sitting-room atmosphere of the morning – replaced with the lecture theatre run by the consummate expert. She took us through research into false memory syndrome, emphasising the importance of scientific examination and analysis of testimony, demonstrating the importance of internal validity and control in order to achieve essential accuracy leading to true justice in the courtroom. She highlighted the dangers of post-event information with what seemed like a very trivial scenario – not ‘Lost in the Mall’, but the egg-salad sandwich (egg mayonnaise, to those of us who speak the lingo prevalent on this side of the pond) – and demonstrated that we can so easily be misled into recalling things that simply did not happen that we should treat our memories with extreme caution. It made me realise that when someone says to me, ‘You never said that!’ or “You never did that!’ that because they have forgotten it, it is tantamount to the claim that it never 20
really happened – quite a revelation. The young people, some of whom did seem to struggle a bit with the complexities of her presentation, were brought straight back to full concentration when they realised that she had been expert witness for the defence in the Michael Jackson trial. Her response to the student’s question on whether she felt he was guilty or innocent was well fielded and intelligently presented. Not tempted into giving us her own personal opinion, Elizabeth Loftus took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of scientific method in the field of criminal psychology, and led the discussion to raise awareness of the pitfalls of hypnotic evidence and the fragility of human memory when used by individuals who use guided imagination to elicit rich false memories that are impossible to falsify. All in all, it was a very mentally challenging day, and by the end of it, all I could do was to eat an egg mayonnaise sandwich and go off to bed!
EFPTA/ATPS Conference 1619 April 2009, Edinburgh
This was a very successful conference and our thanks go to Morag Williamson and Sue Porter who worked so hard to organise the speakers, the venues and the social activities for the delegates. The conference began on Friday at James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh. The facilities were excellent and we were treated to a series of stimulating presentations. Carol Craig, from the Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing, opened the day with a thought provoking session on “Positive Psychology” in which she highlighted the possible harmful effects of raising students’ self esteem in an indiscriminate way. This was followed by an interesting talk on Charles Darwin by Joe Cocker. The morning session ended with a presentation by Geraldine Jones, from Edinburgh Napier University, on the evidence that neuroscience has provided about the profound changes that occur in the brains of young people and the implications of these to teaching and learning. In the afternoon we were treated to what is always a great experience at conferences like this, a presentation by psychology students, in this case from Linlithgow Academy. They tend to “tell it how it is” and these two young people gave a very interesting talk that was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Renate Schrempf, from Stuttgart, and Morag Williamson, from Edinburgh Napier University, reported on a piece of research they have been conducting for EFPTA. They are aiming to collect information to put together a profile of Psychology teaching across Europe, to include such things as the type of courses on offer, typical number of 21
teaching hours and whether the subject is compulsory (as it is in Finland). It will also contain details of teacher training and the quality of resources available so it is hoped that this “data-base” will prove useful in the future as a means of sharing good practice. The final session of the day was the EFPTA board meeting at which elections took place to appoint the new President and officers. Jari Honkala was thanked for his work as President over the last 5 years, during which he has worked hard to establish the EFPTA and get it registered in Finland as an official organisation. On Friday evening 20 of us attended a Ceilidh in the Edinburgh Assembly Rooms and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The European delegates were particularly impressed by the men in kilts! The events of Saturday took place in “Our Dynamic Earth”, opposite the new Scottish Parliament building, and this proved to be an excellent venue. The opening speaker was Dave Perrett from St Andrew’s University and he entertained us with his lecture on “Reading Faces”. His use of technology amazed the delegates and led to a healthy stream of questions. There were then two workshops which both focused on mental health issues. The first was about safeguarding the rights and welfare of mental health service users and the second was about the introduction of Scotland’s first “Mental Health First Aid Course”. Both workshops received very positive feedback. After a splendid lunch we had another choice of workshops. In one Marie Morrison and Jonathan Firth described the changes to SQA NQ Psychology courses from 2009 and at the same time Michelle Clark from 22
the Astley Ainslie Hospital (NHS Lothian) gave a presentation on “Applying Health Psychology” in which she described her involvement in the production of a “Heart Manual” for patients who have experienced heart disease. It was Michelle’s first presentation of that scale and she received very positive feedback from the floor. A series of short items, including a wonderfully entertaining item by Morag Williamson on the life and work of Robbie Burns, took us up to the ATPS AGM and wine reception, and the EFPTA general meeting, at which we discussed the way forward and how we can promote further cross-Europe projects and activities. Saturday evening was rounded off with an excellent Indian meal and some of the European delegates were able to stay long enough to experience some of Edinburgh’s many tourist attractions on Sunday before returning to the airport for the flight home. Thanks go to Morag Williamson and Sue Porter (ATPS) and Joe Cocker and Udo Kittler (EFPTA) for organizing a memorable event.
Reading Faces – Professor David Perrett, University of St Andrews, EFPTA/ATPS Conference Saturday 18th April
As Psychologists we like to think that we ‘never judge a book by its cover’, however when it comes to human faces there are many assumptions that we do make. Professor Perrett argues that many of those assumptions are supported by evidence; faces do give us important clues as to personality, trustworthiness and health. Professor Perrett gave his presentation in the impressive surroundings of The Dynamic Earth Centre in Edinburgh. Trustworthiness is something we tend to judge by behaviour rather than appearance, and indeed, early research by Michael Stirrat found that evidence gathered from static faces was unreliable. Further research, using economic games based on co-operation or exploitation, uncovered that slim faces were likely to be judged more trustworthy than more robust, wider faces. This correlates with evidence from ice hockey, that players with wide faces tended to spend more time in the penalty box. On the whole, it is male faces that are wider and this is linked to testosterone. Professor Perrett argued that human faces have evolved to become narrower as co-operation became more important for survival. Research by Stephen, Coetzee and Law Smith found that perception of health is linked to colour cues in the skin. Of course, we know this already, all our grandmothers have told us we looked pale and therefore must be ill at some time or other. Women, use make-up to mimic good health; rouge on their cheeks and lipstick to mimic sexual attraction and arousal. Human skin colour is obviously linked to ethnicity and race, but there are some constants. Faces reflect health through skin tone. Some of the factors of apparent health are HLA immune genes, reproductive genes, body fat and lifestyle (sleep, exercise, diet). To investigate this 23
experimentally, composite faces were made by blending several images to create average faces. These were then colour manipulated. Participants were asked to change the colour of the faces, using the computer mouse to make them look healthier. In the UK, South Africa and Australia, participants added more red. Rankin, Coetzee even found this in African faces. When participants were asked to manipulate the blue/yellow axis, they added more yellow. So red/yellow faces are judged healthiest. There are three factors that effect skin pigment; these are blood, melanin and carotenoids. Oxygenated blood is redder and this makes skin look healthier. Oxygenation of blood is improved by fitness training and influenced by reproductive hormones. Therefore exercise can improve the appearance of the skin, making an individual both look and actually be healthier. Tanned faces reflect the presence of melanin, people do tend to look healthier with a bit of a tan, however, remember your sun screen! Carotenoids are found in food, especially fruit and vegetables. It turns out that eating too many carrots really can turn you orange! Carotenoids are yellow-red pigments that aid the immune system, in some animals they are used in ornamentation for sexual selection (feather colour etc.) When participants were fed Ă&#x;-carotene over an 8 week period their skin tone did change. So eating more fruit and vegetables can not only make us healthier, but change our appearance for the better too. Skin really does reflect diet.
lifestyle. Telling young people that eating their five-a-day of fruit and vegetables will make them live longer, be less likely to contract certain illnesses in the future etc., is not effective, however, saying it will improve your physical appearance and therefore make you more attractive to perspective partners could well be.
Chair of the ATP Further references: www.perceptionlab.com www.faceresearch.org
Of course, fashion and ethnicity are variables in preferences for faces, but the findings suggest that judgements of health remain constant. Perhaps the most important implication of this research is that it could be used to motivate people to live a healthier 24
Albert Bandura: BPS London Lecture
It was a thrill to see the great man on April 22nd, and apparently he is the most cited psychologist in the world. He was talking about his crusade (my words, not his) to reduce “urgent social problems by psychosocial means”. Basically, this involves working with a foundation which aims to change behaviours by modelling better alternatives using TV soaps, the programmes being made by local people for their own population. This is the social learning or social cognitive approach in action, and we saw a variety of video clips of programmes made for and in Africa and Asia and South America addressing such issues as condom use to combat HIV, contraception to limit family size, female genital mutilation, and female education. The success rate in changing perceptions, attitudes and behaviours, maybe even beliefs was to me astonishing though very heartening. I feel the quick fix is unlikely to last, that changing long-entrenched beliefs and behaviours is likely to need long-term work, but as a start these TV soaps are a wonderful tool. Bandura was not an exciting speaker; he read from his notes and read out his PowerPoint slides which many people clearly found rather disconcerting and disappointing. But the content of what he said I found fascinating, and his dry humour came over in the words themselves. I would not have missed this for anything! The website for this work, worth looking at, is http://www.populationmedia. org/2007/03/21/papers-by-albert-bandura/
Forthcoming Conferences I can only put in what is sent, so this is not a comprehensive list. If you run or know of an organisation which runs, conferences for psychology teachers or students then please ask them to let me have details, bearing in mind there can be a 2-3 month delay in publishing the next Newsletter!
Evie Bentley, Editor
Southwestern Conferences Science and Pseudoscience (see the rave review in the last Newsletter) Monday 9 November Bristol Colston Hall (megabus from London Victoria stops outside) Tuesday 10 November, Edinburgh Assembly Rooms Wednesday 11 November, Nottingham Playhouse Philip Zimbardo, plus his wife Christina Maslach Tuesday 23 March, London Emmanuel Centre Wednesday 24 March, London Emmanuel Centre Provisional booking accepted now (£20 for student tickets, £30 for tickets to two events) For further details see w w w. s o u t h w e s t c o n f e r e n c e s . c o . u k Also send your email address to cara. email@example.com to be notified of future events
ATP Annual Conference
See www.atpconference.org.uk for further details – July 9th-11th Exeter University.
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Will be held during the Annual Conference at Exeter University Friday 10th July 6pm Nomination Forms available in Conference Packs and from Secretary: - Morag Williamson. 07718 647487 MoragHWill@aol.com
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