Weekly summary: August 25 – 29

This week we began our study of abnormal psychology.  At the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Discuss both conceptual and practical definitions of abnormality.
  • Explain the problems with using a statistical or social deviation approach to defining normalcy.
  • Explain why symptoms are problematic in determining whether a behaviour is normal.
  • Explain the limitations of Jahoda’s Optimal Health Model.

The following video is a good summary of what we did this week.

Enjoy your Week without Walls.  When we get back, we will be discussing diagnosis….

Weekly summary: May 12 – 16

Robert Sapolsky

This week we watched the film “Stress: Portrait of a Killer.”  Based on our notes, our reading and the video, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are the physiological responses to stress? (In other words, what does our body due to respond to a stressor?)
  • According to Selye, what is the result of chronic stress?
  • According to Brady et al, what role does our sense of control have on our health?
  • Why did Sapolsky choose baboons as his sample to study the effects of stress?
  • What were Sapolsky’s findings with regard to the role of social ranking on health in baboon troops?
  • The Whitehall study found similar results.  Why was the Whitehall study a “model study?”
  • What role does stress play on cardiovascular health?
  • What role does stress play on emotional health?
  • According to the Dutch Hunger Study, what role did stress play on the health of the offspring of women who had survived the famine?
  • What effect does stress have on telomeres?  Why should this matter to us?

In case you missed the video – or in case you loved it so much that you want to watch it again! – the link is below.

Weekly summary: April 22 – May 2


Two very short weeks – and next week another one.  Oj.

Our topic these past two weeks has been the role of genetics on behaviour.  At the end of this set of lessons, you should be able to discuss the following:

  •  Why do psychologists use twin studies?
  • What is meant by the concordance rate?
  • One of the problems of studying the genetic basis of intelligence is construct validity.  What does that mean?
  • What is the advantage of using a prospective study?  What is the disadvantage?
  • What is one limitation of adoption studies?
  • What is a pedigree study?
  • What are two ethical considerations when carrying out genetic studies in psychology?

If you can answer all of those questions, you are doing well.  Below is a short interview which looks at the life of Henrietta Lacks, whom we discussed in class.  Enjoy your weekend.

Weekly summary: April 7 – 11

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.
  • Ekman argues that facial expressions may be universal, showing us that there are biological roots for basic emotions.
  • LeDoux argues that emotional responses are the result of two paths to the brain. Be able to explain his model as well as how Fiske has applied the model in her research on racism and prejudice.
  • Cognitive labeling is one of the key theories of emotions. The study by Speismann is a good example of this.
  • You should also be able to describe Schachter & Singer’s study – and also be able to discuss its ethical and procedural issues.

Looking forward to moving on to our last topic of the year – the Biological Level of Analysis and the role of stress in our lives….


Weekly summary: March 31 – April 4

This week we wrapped up memory and started a discussion of emotion.  We looked at some research on happiness and finally wrote down a definition of emotion.  Here is a good video to get you ready for next week’s classes.  The final class for the CLOA and the winding down to April break.  Yahoo!


Weekly summary: March 24 – 28


This week we looked at socio-cultural effects on memory. And it seems that we spent a lot of time in Guatemala.  Above is a picture of Antigua – one of my favorite places in Guatemala.

We looked at four key areas.  You should know two of them for the exam.

  • The role of education.  For this week looked at the study by Cole & Scribner on Liberian children.
  • The role of lifestyle.  Roggoff & Waddell’s study on Mayan children who interact with their environment.
  • The role of deprivation.  In addition to the Meaney study, we also talked about Rutter’s study of the Romanian orphans.
  • The role of poverty.  The study by Pollit on the role of diet on cognitive skills.

One of the things you should realize this week is that environmental factors affect biological processes that affect memory.  This demonstrates the true interaction of the levels of analysis and why one level of analysis is rarely enough to explain a person’s behaviour.