Power Distance and Plane Crashes: The Gladwell Hypothesis

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

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 2 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 …

Key Study: “The Sweaty T-shirt Study” (Wedekind et al. 1995)

Travis Dixon Biological Psychology, Human Relationships, Key Studies 5 Comments

Can we smell someone’s genes? Not their trousers, but their genetics. The Swiss Biological Researcher Claus Wedekind and his colleagues conducted a famous study to see if our preference for smells is linked with our genetics. In other words, they wanted to see if we prefer the smell of someone who has genes that would be a good match with …

Key Study: Childhood stress and its effects on serotonin (an animal experiment), (Gardner et al. 2009)

Travis Dixon Biological Psychology, IB Psychology HL Extensions, Key Studies Leave a Comment

This animal experiment by Gardner et al. (2009) could explain links between stress early in life when we’re kids and our behaviour as adults. The use of rats in this study allows the researchers to manipulate and measure IVs and DVs in ways that would be impossible in human subjects. The study provides possible explanations for why early life stress …

Key Study: Evolution of Gender Differences in Sexual Behaviour (Clark and Hatfield, 1989)

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

If a man sleeps with lots of women he’s a “stud” but if a woman does it she’s a “slut.” By why does this societal double-standard exist and are men really more promiscuous than women? Clark and Hatfield’s classic study might be able to give us some answers to these questions. Background Information The perception exists in society that men …

Key Study: Leading questions and the misinformation effect – ” the car crash study” (Loftus and Palmer, 1974)

Travis Dixon Cognitive Psychology, Internal Assessment (IB), Key Studies, Studies and Theories Leave a Comment

 Memory is a reconstructive process, which means memories are actively and consciously rebuilt when we are trying to remember certain things. Elizabeth Loftus, her colleagues and others studying this cognitive phenomenon have shown that during the reconstruction phase our memories can be distorted if we are given false information about the event – this is called the misinformation effect. Background Information …

Key Studies: “Weapon focus” and its effects on eye-witness memories (Loftus, 1987)

Travis Dixon Cognitive Psychology, Criminology, Key Studies, Studies and Theories Leave a Comment

From decades of research we know that memory is not a passive cognitive process, but it is an active reconstructive one. As Elizabeth Loftus says, memory is not like a tape recorder that records things accurately and plays it back for us, but it’s more like a wikipedia page that anyone can go in and change. Loftus should know as …

Key Study: The Minnesota Twin Study of Twins Reared Apart

Travis Dixon Biological Psychology, Key Studies, Studies and Theories 4 Comments

Understanding how and why twin studies are used is an important topic in biological psychology because they can give us important insights into the extent to which our behaviour is nature (genetics) or nurture.  Context Is our behaviour a product of nature or nurture? In other words, are we born the way we are, or have we become this way …

Key Study: London Taxi Drivers vs. Bus Drivers (Maguire, 2006)

Travis Dixon Biological Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Key Studies Leave a Comment

Understanding how the brain can grow and change as a result of our environment and experiences is an exciting and important new field in psychology. Maguire’s study on this topic is already a classic.  Context One of the most fascinating (relatively) recent discoveries is the idea of neuroplasticity: the brain’s amazing ability to grow and change as a result of different experiences. …