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

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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

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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 …

Lesson Idea: Understanding generalizability and population validity

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If you want to write excellent evaluations of psychological studies then generalizability is a really important term to know. It’s also called external validity and it refers to the extent to which we could expect the same results in a different context (i.e. do the results apply beyond the study, external to the study?). In this post we’ll focus on population validity (read more …

Computer games and the brain: A summary with two key studies

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In this post we look at the positive effects of playing computer games by looking at how it might affect the brain, both in young and old people. We know from many MRI studies that our brain changes as a result of experience – this is called neuroplasticity. Therefore, it’s not unrealistic to think that hours spent playing video games …

Key Study: Bandura’s Bobo Doll (1963)

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Introduction In one of his earlier research studies (1961), Bandura showed that children exposed to an aggressive model would later copy those same aggressive behaviours, even if the child was in a different setting. This supports the idea that behavior can be learned through observation, which is the major claim of Social Learning Theory (SLT). TV and films have become …

Key Studies: Reconstructive memory

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False Memories and the Misinformation Effect Background Information Elizabeth Loftus is a prominent memory researcher whose work has had significant impacts on the legal system in the United States. She is often called on to testify in legal cases against eye-witness testimony. In the past, if an eyewitness claimed that they saw someone commit a crime they would almost definitely …

Schema Theory: A Summary

tdixon Cognitive Psychology, Studies and Theories 4 Comments

In order to describe schema theory accurately, you need to know: What is schema theory? What is a schema? What are the characteristics and functions of schema? (These are the key claims of schema theory). How can schema influence our thinking and/or our behaviour? In order to explain schema theory, you need to understand: How can claims of schema theory be …

Flashbulb Memory Theory (Brown and Kulik, 1977)

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Flashbulb memories are “memories for the circumstances in which one first learned of a very surprising and consequential (or emotionally arousing) event.” (Brown and Kulik, 1977). For example, remembering where you were when you found out you got accepted into your dream college, that a loved one had passed away or a public news event like the death of a …

T.E.A.C.U.P…and why I don’t use it.

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Yesterday I posted about how to evaluate psychological theories in three simple steps. I mentioned John Crane’s popular acronym T.E.A.C.U.P, which stands for: testable, evidence, applications, construct validity, unbiased and predictive validity. (It can be found on John’s website, too). This is an alternative to my “Let’s make a DEAL” framework for evaluating theories. You can see that my DEAL framework …

Let’s make a D.E.A.L – evaluating theories in three simple steps

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I teach my students to look for three things when evaluating theories: Evidence Applications Limitations Let’s make a D.E.A.L Most students are capable of independently explaining these three things. When teaching essay writing on theories I teach students to use my own “Let’s make a D.E.A.L” strategy and not TEACUP. D.E.A.L Describe the theory Explain the Evidence Applications of the theory …