Weekly summary: March 9 – 13


This week we looked at the origins of aggression and bullying behaviour.

This week we looked at biological, cognitive and socio-cultural roots of violence.  You should be able to explain each of the following concepts:

  • The role of testosterone and serotonin on aggressive behaviour.
  • Baumeister’s Theory of Threatened Egotism.
  • Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory.  This is supported by a study by Eron (1987) who found that parents of bullies are often authoritarian and use physical force.
  • Zimbardo’s research on deindividuation.
  • Research on the role of social norms in determining acceptable levels of violence.

We are now beginning the very end of the coursework.  Our last task is a Socratic Seminar  in which you are going to respond to a bullying case study.  You should be able to discuss strategies for resolving violence issues within schools as well as the effects on the community if these issues are not resolved.  This is your last assessment that is not a revision assessment.  Please make sure that you do good research to impress one last time as we get ready for exams.


Weekly summary: March 2 – 6


This week we returned to biology for a little while in order to finish our discussions on human relationships by looking at sexuality. Remember, the following studies are useful for Paper I.

  • LeVay’s study of the role of the INAH3 nucleus in the hypothalamus.  This demonstrates localization of function.
  • Gorsky’s research on the role of testosterone on sexual behaviour.  This demonstrates the role of hormones on behaviour.
  • Bailey & Pillard’s research on the role of genetics on sexuality.
  • We also discussed the theory that the more sons, the more likely that the younger one will be gay may have biological roots – as the mother’s own immune system fights against the y chromosome in her womb.

We also examined evaluative strategies.

  • The reductionist nature of the arguments.
  • The difficulty of measuring the “gay” construct.  Sexuality is defined differently cross-culturally as well as within cultures.  We looked at the fafafine of Samoa as an example.
  • The question of researcher bias (LeVay) and the use of ad hominem arguments in order to discredit research.
  • It is questionable whether animal research (Gorsky) explains human sexuality.
  • Much of the research is correlational in nature.
  • The ethics of doing true experiments with pre-natal development.
  • Recruitment of samples – especially cross-cultural samples – has historically proven very difficult.

Weekly summary: February 23 – 27

Fatal Attraction Theory says that often the things that brought us together are the things that also drive us apart.

Fatal Attraction Theory says that the things that bring us together may also be the things that drive us apart.

This week we wrapped up our discussion of relationships by looking at both the role of communication in relationships and why relationships fall apart.   In order to answer potential essays on these topic, you should be able to discuss many of the following concepts/theories:

  •   According to Aronson, two factors in how we communicate are  authenticity and congruence. For example, using flattery which is not congruent with an individual’s person of him/herself may result in the “ingratiating effect.”
  • Self-disclosure is seen as an important factor in maintaining relationships.  Be sure that you can describe and evaluate  the Social Penetration Theory.
  • Gottman shows that the non-verbal communication in a relationship may be the best determinant of the potential health and longevity of a relationship. Facial expressions of disgust and contempt are signs that the relationship is in trouble.
  • A relationship is an agreed upon set of rules.  When those rules are broken, relationships may fall apart. (Duck & Pond)
  • Social exchange theory: the role of communal vs. exchange relationships. (Mills & Clark)
  • Fincham & Bradbury argue that it is whether we use relationship enhancing or distress enhancing strategies in communication.  In particular, they focused on how we attribute failure or success to the dispositional traits of our partner or situational factors.
  • Fatal attraction theory (Felmlee)

Take a look at this lecture by Gottman called “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” A rather dramatic title, but he looks at the four factors that he feels lead to the breakdown of relationships.


Weekly summary: February 2 – 6

This week was a busy one, discussing many of the reasons why we are attracted to others.  D block is slightly ahead of C block, so some of the theories below may not yet be familiar to C block. We will be wrapping up all of these theories next week.

  • The role of neurotransmitters (Fisher)
  • Evolutionary arguments for attraction (Buss, Wedekind, Low)
  • The Similarity Attraction Model (CLOA, Markey et al; Walster)
  • Veitsch (CLOA – Good news and attractiveness) the role of valence, congruence and authenticity
  • Gain-Loss Theory & the Pratfall Effect (CLOA, Aronson).  This is based on equity theory.
  • The role of self-esteem (CLOA, Kiesler & Baral)
  • Reciprocity theories (SCLOA)
  • Proximity Theory (SCLOA, Zajonc)
  • Social Penetration Theory (SCLOA)

Clearly, you do not need to learn every one of the theories we discussed.  But I would recommend that you know at least two theories from each level of analysis.

Next week we have a lot of wrapping up to do.  We will finish attraction and begin discussing the role of communication in relationships.

Weekly summary: January 26 – 30


Being away for MUN and then having to prepare for mocks has meant that the weekly summaries have not been so relevant.

Remember that we have wrapped up the pro-social behaviour part of our unit.  At the end of January, you should be able to discuss the following:

  • To what extent can culture be used to explain helping behaviour?
  • What are the difficulties of carrying out cross-cultural research on helping behaviour?
  • How did Whiting and Whiting explain the role of collectivism in pro-social behaviour?

We are now starting love and attraction. Just in time for Valentine’s day!


Weekly summary: January 12 – 16

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

This week we looked more closely at helping behaviour.  We focused on the following theories:

  • Exchange theories that look at costs and benefits.  This included the research by Isen & Clark’s studies of the role of feeling good on helping.
  • We then looked at the combination of factors that influence behaviour.  Darley argues that it is multifactorial in the Social Impact Theory – arguing that helping is a function of SIN – strength/immediacy/number.
  • We looked at Darley’s study on diffusion of responsibility.
  • Finally, we looked at the role of culture in helping.  You should be sure to read over the research by Levine on cross-cultural studies of helping. You may also want to Helping cross cultural.

And here is a review of Piliavin’s classic study: