Drunk Monkeys

I've heard of these drunk animal videos but only just searched for them today. This one is actually educational as well. The monkeys have the same proportion of drinkers to non-drinkers as human populations and they have been studied to understand alcoholism in humans. This video is hilarious as well with all its drunken monkey shenanigans.

Maxim Sex Survey: What Women Want

This is my kind of survey. Men's magazines do the same things as women's magazines but raunchier, and Maxim is probably my favorite. Some of their findings are hilarious: 40% of women surveyed watch porn once or twice a month and 81% do not want you to attempt entry into their backdoor without asking first (be polite ;). Women also want an hour of foreplay!

Good news for men - 89% of women still enjoy sex even if they don't climax. The room most chosen besides the bedroom for sex by women was the kitchen.

Onto criticism, the most important of which is probably the sampling method. Nearly half of the women surveyed were from big cities in the US which relates to the next problem. Only US residents were surveyed and because the sample wasn't stratified so not only are the results not representative of the US population they definitely cannot be extrapolated to women from different countries with other sexual appetites and histories. Furthermore, the article says it gathered its data with the help of The Frisky and Lemon Drop. If you check out those sites you can see that a certain type of woman frequents those sites which will affect the results of the survey. Women in the target age group should have been surveyed from different socioeconomic backgrounds, education levels and city sizes.


Excellent Extended Essays

I have added several psychology excellent extended essays to my mediafire account.  They all scored full marks, an A, on each criterion by examiners.  They should help you gauge what is expected of you in psychology extended essays.
Hint: Look for a yellow square in the top right to get to the PDF view
Here are some additional ones I found on Crane's old site but his links are dead so I've added them here. They are all from Nørre Gymnasium except the last one.

Mass Article Update

I added tons of articles in pdf form on the bottom of the revision pages under Additional Resources.  They are denoted by this icon

Juvenile Delinquents, Two Types?

A new longitudinal study reports that past delinquent behavior does not necessarily translate into future crimes.  The most important indicators are social and familial circumstances.  I'll leave it up to you to think of all the different possible scenarios that could lead juvenile delinquents to stop committing crimes.  A few subtype boxes and combinations is certainly not enough to fully predict future criminal behavior - individual differences and perception of life experiences probably plays a large role.


Better Sex with Cocaine and Alcohol

A new review (metastudy) has just been published on the effects of various drugs on sexual performance. They found that most drugs, both stimulants and depressants, decrease sexual performance with the following caveats:

  • Cocaine facilitates erections in rats
  • Caffeine makes both male and female rats horny
  • A little bit of booze removes inhibitory tendencies
  • Too much booze disrupts sexual performance but this wears off over time

Pfaus claims that '[o]nly animal model studies can provide direct cause and effect data and physiological information' for sexual behavior.  Alarm bells should be ringing, only animal studies provide causal relationships of drugs on sexual behavior? Really? Not to sound like a speciesist but we can only say that rat studies can inform our understanding of human sexual behavior.  Humans are far more complex neurologically and although cocaine may increase erections in rats it doesn't necessarily mean the same will happen in humans.

Studying animals it is the only logical starting point for studying this sort of behavior but we must be weary when extrapolating the results to humans.


Terrorists Suffer from Anxiety Disorders

Maybe they do, maybe they don't. My point is instead one of ecological validity (a form of external validity) referring to the extent that experimental findings apply to real world situations. These researchers investigated how anxiety and uncertainty can make us become more radical and committed to religious causes. They did most of this with computers using implicit measures and explicit measures for testing attitudes towards religion. Self-report was used to test whether participants would 'die for their cause' among other things.

Here's the problem: we do not know how or if people who score 5/5 on wanting to die for a religious cause (the participants were undergraduates) are actually willing to do go and risk their life if the religious cause called him/her up and said alright it's go time. Saying you'd sacrifice your life for some fictional religious cause on a computer and actually putting your real life that actually means something to you at risk is completely different from some temporary virtual life you are willing to send off to religious war or what have you.

Think about how careless people can be when playing video games - why would you care if you die, you respawn anyway. It's the exact same problem for experiments that try to test social phenomena: we behave differently when the risks are real vs fictitious.  But doing real world research on terrorists or any other form of criminal is complicated if not impossible.  For example, there are obvious ethical considerations if I wanted to test how likely someone who scores highly on an explicit measure of prejudice is to commit a hate crime. You just cannot do that (at least where I'm from).

Nevertheless, the problem of ecological validity is an important one and should be pointed out whenever possible, though justified as to why it matters in the context of a particular experiment and the real world situation it relates to.


Does the Late Bird Get the Worm?

Ever wonder why you may be groggy in the morning starting school ridiculously early in the morning. This may be because adolescents begin a a delayed sleep phase. Researchers convinced a school to meet 30 minutes later in the mornings than usual. Class attendance improved and there were less visits to the health center for 'fatigue-related complaints'. Students were surveyed for mood prior to the study and after the 30 minute change and after the 30 min change, fewer students reported feeling depressed or irritable.

Let's criticize this study. The problems with self-report are numerous, the largest one that House (yea from the tv show) would agree with is prevarication (=lying). If you were a student and your school started at 9 instead of 8.30 don't you think you'd circle whatever you needed to to ensure they kept the newly instated rule? Of course you would. There is also research showing that people are very bad at judging the amount of sleep they get, so if students report that they sleep 8 hours, well they could just be wrong.

See podcast for more

Methodology Updated

I spent the morning doing an extensive update to the methodology page adding tons of content.  I will probably turn it into a pdf cause it ended up pretty long. If anything is unclear, shoot me an email and I'll fix it.

I also updated the video resources page linking to many full movies, documentaries and specials on google video and youtube. Since it's summer time, I figured people would rather watch something than read over the summer ;).

Mythbusters Tackle Beer Goggles

Yesterday's episode of Mythbusters took on beer goggles. Here's what they did. They had 30 faces that Jamie, Adam and Kari rated while sober on a 10 point Likert scale. Then they got buzzed - Jamie and Adam drank 3 beers and Kari 2 beers - and rated different faces that other participants had rated equally attractive for Jamie, Adam and Kari. Afterwards they got drunk by drinking many more beers and rated different faces that were rated equally attractive by other participants.

Their results were a bit odd:
  • Jamie's ratings increased from buzzed to drunk but were highest while sober
  • Adam's ratings were steadily higher from sober to drunk
  • Kari's ratings improved from buzzed to drunk but decreased from sober to buzzed

They deemed the myth plausible but there are some confounds to consider like experimenter bias.  Jamie seemed intent on proving that he was not affected by the beer goggles effect.  Adam appeared to want the beer goggles to gain some credence through evidence.  To eliminate this bias they of course should have used participants who were unaware of the aim of the experiment using blind procedures.  They also should have accounted for the placebo effect by using a more complex experimental structure that would have used 2 groups who received either non-alcoholic or alcoholic beer.

Check out the video here