Girls and Facebook: Building Self-worth?

For all students out there you may wonder why females post more pictures on facebook than men. A recent study suggests it's all about self-worth. Basically Western culture puts a lot of emphasis on female physical appearance, posting pictures allows people to comment on how good they look which boosts their self-esteem.

How Evil are You? Deindividuation in the Real World

Derren Brown is a mentalist who recently began a new mini-series entitled 'The Experiments.' This experiment is on deindividuation made famous by Zimbardo's prison experiment. The audience gets to choose what happens to an innocent person on a Friday night. They always have a choice between something negative and positive. Guess what the majority always chooses? Watch till the end, it is a very powerful way to show the effects of deindividuation.

Video Games Increase Violent Tendencies? An Unorthodox Experiment Suggesting the Contrary

I came across an interesting episode of Bullshit! (Penn and Teller, 2009) regarding video game violence. It's an age old topic in psychology and is very politically charged. Most research tends to be correlational, for example showing that as children play more games you are more likely to commit violent acts in the real world. So the general concern is that children as young as nine who play Call of Duty are going to turn into killing machines if given real weapons. So what happens if you give a nine-year-old who spends many hours of his day playing Call of Duty the chance to shoot a real gun? Something quite shocking happens actually (watch until the very end, I won't spoil it).

Penn and Teller are not bound by the ethical code psychologists must follow. They are therefore allowed to have a nine-year-old shoot a real rifle with real bullets on TV under the supervision of a weapon specialist. I don't see anything like this getting past a university ethics committee, but I'm sure the mother gave consent. I won't spoil what happened, but this is one powerful way to show that any concerns about young violent video gamers actually gun toting given the opportunity is ill-conceived, and as far as I'm aware this is the first piece of evidence of its kind. Despite its many flaws this mini experiment certainly makes its point.

Biological Updated with Videos

Looking at my stats for this blog I noticed that Biological is by far the most popular.  I have updated it with more information and embedded video clips from Simpsons and House to illustrate theories and concepts.  Hopefully this brings the theories to life a bit more which is one of IB Psych Revision's main goals.

CAS Southpark Style

I saw this south park episode a while ago and thought it was an interesting take on the interaction between physiology (aging) and cognition (thoughts about the world).  Stan has had a birthday and his outlook on life changes, he develops CAS.  This can be thought of as aging affecting Stan's cognition, I won't spoil anything just have a gander. This puts an entertaining twist on the otherwise fairly dry cognitive part of the syllabus.

More Empathy Reduces Prison Sentences

I was really busy with my mini-project for school which is the equivalent of an advanced IA at IB level.  We got to design and run our own experiment, run the stats and report the results.  It's been the most fun part of university thus far.

We investigated how knowledge of the personal history of defendants would affect the recommended prison sentence compared to controls (same crime but no personal history mentioned).  The questions looked like this:

From the moment X was born X was kept locked in a basement by their parents.  X was never exposed to sunlight, and was also fed the same meals every day. One day X managed to escape.  X had no social skills because of their isolation and was filled with anger.  Everywhere X went they were reminded of their lonely childhood. After years of trauma X murdered 7 individuals that reminded X of their parents over a period of several months.

The participants then gave their recommended prison sentences (10-50 years) and the level of empathy felt towards the defendant (1-5).  The statistical analysis we ran was a mixed ANOVA which is beyond the scope of IB, but it basically analyzes the variances for several repeated measures conditions and independent measures with one test.  The main findings were that females give lower prison sentences than males and that when personal history of the defendant is mentioned, recommended prison sentences were lower compared to when no personal history is mentioned.  We also discovered that empathy levels were a good predictor of recommended prison sentences (higher empathy generally means lower prison sentence).

For those of you wish to read the paper and get an idea of what a 3rd year psychology lab report looks like click here.  If you want to just see the poster made to show the design, results and findings click here.