Welcome to the DBS psychology blog!

This is the psychology blog for Dubai British School. Psychology at A-level isn’t really a breaking news subject (compared, say, to my Politics blog or Careers & University Counselling blog) so there aren’t regular blog updates, but look around the black bar at the top and you will find multiple resources on different pages. This is a “sticky post” and stays at the top. Posts follow below with most recent at the top.

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Changing awarenesses: sexual behaviours, reasons, and anxiety

The Telegraph reports this week that men are not good at spending time alone – with an interesting implication for psychology, that they make poor participants in psychology experiments because they’re more contrarian. We’ve always known gender is an extraneous participant variable that can affect a study, so that’s worth bearing in mind when you do research.

Perhaps more interesting (and very relevant to A2 Relationships psychology) is the British sex survey which this week revealed a plummet in rates of British sexual activity in the last decade. Socio-economics (it’s been a bleak, depressing few years for a majority of people) might explain that in evolutionary terms: put bluntly when you feel insecure, your caveman genes have less incentive to breed – and in fact, an incentive to avoid doing so. You can find some interesting data that matches this from Japanese generational change if you look around – about a new generation uninterested in marriage or even permanent relationships in light of economic stagnation. Socioeconomics, especially when they evolve rapidly and destabilise established cultural traditions and social structures, have significant power to change behaviours permanently with each new generation. Read some of the linked articles too.

Technology too: an alternative (or, more likely, complementary) explanation is the rise of mobile internet and its increasing dominance over our lives. Longer work hours, poorer job / home / pension / financial security is a socket into which easily fits the plug of hook-ups apps like Tinder. Maybe if you’re part of an insecure modern young adult generation there is, as a wise man once sung, “nothing left to do / except dance and drink and screw.” It’s chicken and egg whether the existence or apps like Tinder causes, or is caused by and just satisfies (pun intended) a desire for more casual sex than traditional social structures encourage, but changes in gender attitudes are evident in this article from a woman frankly describing her (rather extensive) use of the app. A2 students note that sexual behaviours are far more complex than “men-sex, women-relationship” and note the evolutionary implications for mate-scanning implicit in her article.

In other news, read this response to the recent concern that therapy might actually make problems worse (compare the traditional wisdom “not to dwell on it”); other findings (relevant to A2 Phobias) show evidence in support of talking cures for social anxiety – which shouldn’t surprise us. And maybe it turns out words have power because, well, I say so – a nice little piece about how irrational we are in social contexts.


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GCSE Revision Seminars

Today being now a holiday, the planned GCSE Psychology Paper 1 revision recap seminar will instead take place Weds p3/4, replacing the scheduled Open Clinic.

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AS Unit 1 resit: overview of the paper

For those coming up to tomorrow’s AS Unit 1 resit, here’s some thoughts about the paper. Reading and understanding this is easily worth a grade’s improvement on a resit.

AS Unit 1 Cog Dev Exam Reminders


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13: data analysis

On the data page of the blog you will find a copy of a dataset which can be used to undertake a sample data analysis task. So here’s what you can do:

  1. Use that dataset file to answer the questions in the file. Turn them into a coherent post on your blog. Explain briefly in the post the stages of performing the analysis – so an interested reader could follow and do it – i.e. “talk us through it.” Include the updated version of the file, with the post answering the questions and the data file showing the use of the statistical analysis tool. Before you post, ask me for what the two variables are so you can put this in the data.
  2. Now devise an equivalent set of data, for use with one of the other statistical tests (make sure you agree as a group who does what, so every test type is covered at least once.) Devise the data and give it to someone else – then make a second post, with their data, completing task 1, above, for that dataset, in the same way.

Once you’re done, take some time to read other people’s posts. By the time you’ve read multiple different data analyses, you will have a clear idea what to do with any set of data, and how to do it – including the use of the significance tables.

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10: Johnny and APD

The imaginary scenario: Johnny, 17, has been involved in a violent fight in a British town centre on a Friday night. He was heavily drunk and glassed another man with a broken bottle, scarring him for life. He then fled the police in a stolen car, causing thousands of pounds of damage in the process. He has been brought before court. Although the court may not know about it, he has a long track record of trouble with the police and other authorities – he has been excluded from four schools, for example.

The defence are arguing that Johnny suffers from undiagnosed APD (see 3.3, 3.4 of the textbook) – and that therefore he was unable to make better choices. Imagine you have been commissioned as professional psychologists / psychiatrists to assess Johnny and make recommendations to the judge for sentencing.

Focus on the three words DIAGNOSIS, CAUSE and TREATMENT:

  1. Does Johnny qualify as APD? You will need a list of analytical information for diagnosis – what are you looking for in order to decide if he has APD?
  2. What are the likely causes of his full / borderline APD? Do these causes lead us to conclude something about whether he was able to choose his actions?
  3. With both Johnny’s own good, and the protection of the public, in mind – what recommendation will you make to the judge? How ought Johnny to be sentenced – or treated? Be as specific as possible if you recommend some treatment.
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13: finishing media, updating blogs, the philosophy of research

As report season approaches, you need to bring yourself up to speed on all current topics. You ought to be able by now to fully answer, closed-book under exam conditions, any media psychology exam questions; you ought to understand all the research methods section except the data analysis at the end (and even though I’m going to walk you through that you should have tried to get it yourself first) and your recent practical experimental work will need to be written up to a high quality standard. Evidence on all of this, on your personal blog, will form the basis for my report-writing over the next week or so.

So, in the two days of my absence on the coming Sunday and Monday, make sure you have completed all the following by my return on Tuesday:

  • finished and written up your experiment in full – APFC, resources, discussion
  • written a 400-700 word article on “Popperian versus Kuhnian conceptions of scientific progress”
  • answer an exam-style question to the title of “Discuss what psychological research tells us about obsession with celebrities, why it comes about and what variations are evident in these behaviours”
  • write a post summarising the different types of psychology practical that can be done (see the flowchart on p518) and analysing which you think has offered the best gains in psychology – referring to real examples from AS and A2; use the title “The best way to study psychology”
  • finally, and without needing to post about it, ensure you’re totally happy with the middle section of research methods – we’ve covered this across the course, but you must be 100% confident as we will not mention it in class

When i return, we’ll do a couple more formal media papers, review your work for the reports, and move onto data analysis to finish research methods.

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