Key Study: Schemas and Story Interpretations (Anderson et al., 1976)

Travis Dixon Cognitive Psychology, Key Studies, Studies and Theories 1 Comment

“No two people read the same novel or watch the same movie.” This is one of my favourite sayings as an English teacher. It conveys the simple fact that our interpretations of stories are based on our personalities, our experiences, our biases, our schemas. While this might be common knowledge now, in the 1970s it was being slowly revealed through …

Key Study: The Office Schema Study (Brewer and Treyens, 1981)

Travis Dixon Cognitive Psychology, Key Studies Leave a Comment

Our life’s memories are filed away in our long-term memory and our mind categories these into clusters, which we call schema. These schema then affect how we process new information and remember old information. At least, these are the claims of schema theory. In this post we’ll look at how these claims are supported by a classic study.  Because of …

Key study: Subjective social status and stress in teenagers (Rahal et al. 2019)

Travis Dixon Health Psychology, Key Studies, Studies and Theories Leave a Comment

Social status is an important predictor of numerous mental and physical health problems. Generally speaking, the lower your social status, the more at risk you are for developing health problems, like chronic stress and heart disease. While socioeconomic status has been extensively researched, more modern studies are focusing on subjective social status. This is particularly relevant for understanding stress in teenagers. …

Key Study: Stress beliefs and health problems (Fischer et al., 2016)

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The following information is adapted from our eBook: IB Health Psychology – A Revision Guide. Why do people develop physical health problems? One answer could be based on stress beliefs – if you think stress is bad you might be more likely to have health problems. This was one finding from the following study.  Stress is correlated with a number …

Key Study: Cognitive appraisals and the stress response (Lazarus, 1963)

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The most influential cognitive explanation of stress is based on “cognitive appraisals” – how we assess the relevance and potential harm of a stressor. The following study is one of many that supports this explanation. Stress is a complex phenomenon that involves biological, psychological and environmental factors. Richard Lazarus was a pre-eminent psychologist in the field of stress research. Along …

Key Study: Social status and stress in Olive Baboons (Sapolsky, 1990)

Travis Dixon Health Psychology, Key Studies, Studies and Theories Leave a Comment

An interesting finding in the field of stress and health psychology is that people with higher social status are generally in better health: they have lower rates of heart disease, are less obese and live longer. Why? One reason could be because they are less stressed.  A lot of our knowledge about stress and health comes from animal studies, particularly those …

Key Study: Schema Theory & the Superwoman Self-schema

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Schema theory is one of the most important theories in cognitive psychology, but it can also be one of the more difficult theories to understand. The best way, I’ve found, to understand schema theory is to look at as many real-life examples as possible. In this post, we’ll look at a fascinating example – the AfricanAmerican Superwoman self-schema. A schema …

Power Distance and Plane Crashes: The Gladwell Hypothesis

Travis Dixon Key Studies, Social and Cultural Psychology 3 Comments

I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book “Outliers.” In this book, Gladwell gives an interesting psychological explanation for why some countries have higher rates of plane crashes than others. The “Gladwell Hypothesis,” as it has come to be known, suggests that plane crashes can be explained by looking at cultural values. In particular, the cultural dimension of “power distance.” Power …

Key Study: Gandhi and the Anchoring Effect
Strack & Mussweiler, 1997

Travis Dixon Cognitive Psychology, Key Studies, Studies and Theories 6 Comments

Are we always in control of our thoughts, or can they be influenced by invisible forces? The art of persuasion and subtle manipulation is a fascinating field of study in psychology. In this post, we’ll look at how people can manipulate our cognitive biases to influence our decision-making. One of the more interesting cognitive biases  is the “anchoring effect.”  The anchoring …

Key Study: The Marshmallow Test Across Cultures: German vs. Cameroon Kids (Lamm et al. 2018)
An example of how enculturation can influence behaviour.

Travis Dixon Developmental Psychology, Key Studies, Social and Cultural Psychology Leave a Comment

“The Marshmallow Test” was designed by Stanford Psychologist Walter Mischel in the 1960s. It’s a test of a kid’s ability to delay gratification – to wait for something they really want. The ability to delay gratification has been correlated with a number of successful outcomes, including doing better at school, getting higher SATs and being less likely to end up …