4 August 2014

Criticisms of Connellan, Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Batki and Ahluwalia's "Sex differences in human neonatal social perception" (2006)

So I wrote the following for my dissertation and realized that it was all wrong and it was too much me talking, not enough of my researchers talking.  I was getting personal.  So its been ripped out of my dissertation and put on the blog for your reading pleasure.

These are methodological criticisms and alternatives in regards to Connellan et al. (2006).  For any of this to make sense, you will need to follow this link and read the original paper.

However, to give you the gist of what's going on, Connellan et al., did a study where the experimenter used her own face as stimuli for empathising.  This has been criticised by Cordelia Fine and others as poor experimental methodology as her face could have unconsciously moved eliciting more face-looking time from females, while her hand could have unconsciously moved the mobile around to encourage more looking time from males.  I address criticisms and methodological alternatives.

With due respect to Ms. Connellan’s physical appearance, all babies show preference for attractive faces over unattractive faces (Langlois, Ritter, Roggman, & Vaughn, 1991).  Resulting differences then may simply be that for female infants, Connellan’s face was marginally more attractive than an alien mobile and for male infants, Connellan’s face was marginally less attractive than the alien mobile.  In this way, evaluating attractiveness may also be in relation to the position the infant was in when the stimuli were presented: with the infant lying on their back or sat upright in their mother’s lap (Fine, 2010). 
Also, there is evidence that infants show preferential facial recognition for the gender of the primary caregiver at 3 and 4 months (Quinn, Yahr, Kuhn, Slater & Pascalis, 2002).  While the aim of the study presented by Connellan et al. was to show that socialisation had not taken place at one-day-old, it seems probable that the infants were in contact with both of their parents for the first 24-hours of life and thus, socialisation did begin before the experiment took place.  Again, it seems odd that only a female’s face, Connellan’s, was presented as stimuli for empathising.  If an infant experienced greater contact with the father in their first day of life (e.g., fathers who are holding their infants while their mothers get some well-deserved rest), this would confound the results by Connellan et al.  As Connellan is female, this would confound the results if infants who were in greater contact with their mothers in their first day preferred looking at her face over and above infants who had greater contact with their fathers.  This is a confounding variable that could have been easily controlled for if Connellan et al. premeditated a male experimenter to present his face to half the infants while Connellan’s showed her face to the other half. 

Furthermore, there is the question of the stimuli medium, itself.  For the study, Connellan et al. found that using an arts-and-crafts project (the alien mobile) was an acceptable approximation for systemising, while using Connellan’s flesh-and-blood face as a measurement for empathising.  The original study notes in regards to the face stimuli that “[Connellan’s] hair was tied back, she wore no make-up or jewelry, and the face was positioned 20 cms above the subject. She adopted a positive, pleasant emotional expression, while remaining silent. Movement of her head was natural, while continuously facing the infant” while in regards to the mobile, “ The mobile itself was attached to a stick 1m in length, and was held above the infant’s head, at the same viewing distance (20 cm). The mobile moved with mechanical motion, since any movement of the larger ball caused the smaller ball to move contingently.” The question then, is that if an object held on a stick was acceptable for the systemising approximation, why then would the empathising stimuli not be like-for-like?  That is to say, a cut-out puppet of Connellan’s face and attached to a stick in lieu of her own real face could have been enough of a contrast to the alien mobile to approximate for empathising.  Or perhaps, if a cut-out were too static for empathising to take place and if an artistic element was important, a 3-D mask of Connellan’s face could have been used as well.  The idea being that both options are an improvement over Connellan’s real face because the art projects could be controlled for movements as opposed to the movements in Connellan’s real face which were not adequately controlled for.  

23 July 2014

Philosophy of Religion Course - Surrey Adult Learning

Hello Readers!

Are you all having a good summer?  I hope so.  I've been very busy locked into my flat, splitting my time between analysing my data for my newest psychology experiment and lesson planning my new class for Surrey Adult Learning: Philosophy and Religion.

One thing that always surprises me is how often people assume that because I'm a psychologist I have automatically shut off exploring the world of religion and philosophy.  Would it surprise you to know that actually it was a core part of my Bachelors degree in psychology?  The critical thinking skills are invaluable to psychological thinking and remember, before psychology existed, philosophy of religion was the primary way to explain for human behaviour.

Whether you are a person of faith or not, there is a great deal to be learned from the Philosophy underpinning the belief in a higher power.  If you would like to learn more about this course, please have a look at my Facebook Event I created with the link below.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be posting discussion questions to start debating and get people thinking on Facebook.  

Feel free to drop me a line if ever you want to say hi.  I'm terribly bored waiting for September to come around again so I would love to hear from you.

9 April 2014

AQA “A” AS Unit 1; Chapter 1 & 2: Models of Memory Practice Worksheet

I kind of surprised myself as this worksheet I designed has turned out to be a very simple but useful resources for memorizing the models of memory.

To A-level students I remind you, in your exam drawing accurate diagrams is credit worthy as long as your diagram is accurate, well described and has a title.  I think the models of memory unit is difficult, so get in touch with your artistic side and start by labeling the models and then move on to drawing them from scratch!

Download the worksheet here!

4 April 2014

Upcoming Events for Summer 2014 at The Tutor King

Hi All!

There is lots of upcoming events for Summer 2014 here at The Tutor King of Hampton Court.

Throughout April 2014, 14:00 at Birkbeck University

Hosted by Birkbeck Psychological Society, The Tutor King of Hampton Court is doing a three-week statistics revision course for Birkbeck students. This free course will include tutorials on when to use what test, how to write results for APA, and demonstrations on SPSS.

  • Week 1, 6 April 2014: Analysis of Variance
  • Week 2, 13 April 2014: Multiple Regression
  • Week 3, 27 April 2014: Reliability & Factor Analysis

Free classes are available to Birkbeck University Students at Birkbeck Main Building, Room MAL 457 at 14:00.

If you are attending this event, tweet me @TheTutorKing to let me know!  Or even better, check out the Facebook event page here.

Don't forget, The Tutor King is also available for private dissertation tuition.  If you are serious about getting that Distinction, you should definitely get in touch!

17 May 2014

Outline a Surrey based charity supporting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGB&T) community with the Support of Woking Borough Council and other LGB&T organisations and supporters will be hosting an event to raise awareness of homophobia and transphobia.

The event will be held in Woking Town Centre Peacocks Walk (next to town square) on the 17th May 2014, from 9am -6pm where stands from organisations that work with and support the LGB&T community will be talking to and raising awareness with the general public about homophobia and transphobia.

As well as the presence in the town centre there will be two public talks on the impact of homophobia on health along with the Lesbian and Gay Liaison Officers (LAGLO’s) talking about hate crime. These talks will be held at 13:30 and 15:30 respectively in the Woking based Lightbox Museum and exhibition venue.  We hope to announce other activities as we move closer to the event.

The Tutor King will be taking part of IDAHOT, supporting LGBTQ+ Psychology courses for Surrey Adult Learning and may be speaking at the exhibition.

2 June 2014, 19:00 at Esher Green Learning Centre

Taking place as part of Esher Green's annual Summer Lecture series, this talk will focus on Alan Downs' theory of The Velvet Rage, explaining how internalised homophobia learned in childhood affects relationships and coming out for gay men in adulthood. Downs believed that his theory was universal. However, cross-cultural psychology research across Canada, the UK and the USA has found that this is not always the case. Lecture attendees will learn about cross-cultural research methods, equality and diversity in psychology and sexual difference in human development. 

For more information, please go to Surrey Adult Learning's website here.  Or even better, check out the Facebook event page here.

Tickets are £12 and the lecture is for two hours.  To purchase tickets, please call 0300 200 1044 or email adultlearning@surreycc.gov.uk.

16 June 2014, 19:00 at Esher Green Learning Centre

Taking place as part of Esher Green's annual Summer Lecture series, this talk will focus on the debate in gender studies between essentialism and social constructionism; that is, whether differences in gender is determined by human biology or social influences. Some psychologists are concerned that essentialism leads to what is known as neurosexism, or the biological justification for oppressing women in society. Working from ongoing research, this cross-cultural psychology project will explore gender differences across the UK, Armenia and the relationship between gender, biology, culture, and career choice. Lecture attendees will learn about cross-cultural research methods, equality and diversity in psychology, and sex difference in human development. 

For more information, please go to Surrey Adult Learning's website here.  Or even better, check out the Facebook event page here.

Tickets are £12 and the lecture is for two hours.  To purchase tickets, please call 0300 200 1044 or email adultlearning@surreycc.gov.uk.

29 September 2013

The Six Key Approaches to Psychology (AQA AS Psychology "B", Unit 1: Chapter 1)

Before you can talk about remembering, conforming, eating, sleeping, depressing or addicting, it’s important to understand the basics.  As a student, how can you possibly begin to discuss the finer details of behaviour without understanding the key approaches to psychology?  In much the same way, how can an architect begin to explain the importance of the dining room chandelier, if she hasn’t even built a sturdy foundation to build the rooms upon?

This is the strength I believe of studying the “B” section of the psychology A-level.  For those who don’t know, AQA Psychology “B” was written for students who have already completed a GCSE in psychology.  I can’t say I ever met a student who has done this GCSE (I’m sure they exist), but this A-level takes a more direct no-nonsense approach to teaching psychology I believe.  In contrast, the “A” section (which I teach far more often) tends to take a “Let’s start talking topics, and you’ll learn the approaches along the way”, which evidently works; I can’t refute that “A” is very popular.  However, I can’t help but feel the strength in “B” is that it explains the six key approaches to psychology incredibly well in the first 23 pages while the “A” students are still struggling with drowning in models of memory.

For students taking the “A” section, I highly recommend buying the “B” book, as this is a fantastic resource that is equally valid for discussing in your psychological essays.

So, moving onto the discussion at hand, there are six key approaches to psychology that you should know the basics of before anything else.  Those approaches are:

These are not the only approaches to psychology – far from it.  There are many many approaches (some of which have been discussed in the blog already).  But these six do tend to be the overarching umbrellas onto which other more specific approaches to psychology base themselves upon.  For example, my preferred field, Cross-Cultural Psychology, tends to be seen as a Social approach.  Members within a culture interact with other humans, learning cultural norms of behaviour that others individuals model behaviour for them to copy - which then the individual goes on to influence others by modelling the behaviour further.

Over the next six weeks, I will be discussing each approach in greater detail, as well as identifying the key names and years that you should burn into your skull forever because The Tutor King promises, that if you know these six approaches like the back of your hand—then no exam question is too hard to answer.

25 September 2013

Congratulation and Information for New Clients

First, I would like to take this time to congratulate my A-level students from the 2012-2013 academic year. I am very proud to be a part of their hard work. This year, I met my students when they had C’s, D’s, E’s and even a few F’s and U’s. When A-level results came in, almost all of my students received B grades. One very special student even received an A, improving from a C from the previous exam! I just want to say congratulations to you all. Your hard work and study hours carried you so far and I hope you are all enjoying your places at university. I'm very proud of this outcome and I hope this trend continues for those who The Tutor King works with in the future.

Second, I am doing a second master’s degree at Birkbeck University in Gender, Sexuality and Culture. As many of my clients know, I research in LGBTQ psychology as well and I hope with this certificate I will be able to go further in my ability to design good cross-cultural studies and specialise in two very under-developed areas of psychology. 

 Third, I need to update the site for future clients and the answer is, I have limited availability. This year is incredibly important for The Tutor King. First, I am working toward my DTLLS certificate (Diploma to Teach in Lifelong Learning). Once I earn this vocational certificate, I will hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and thusly a much improved tutor for my students. 

 In order to achieve my QTS, I must teach 100 classroom hours. Unfortunately this means my private tutoring hours do not count. So for now, I am focussing on my Adult Learning with Surrey County Council to earn my hours and achieve my DTLLS. 

 So, for the 2013-2014 academic year, I am only available on Fridays and I am only seeing students in my home. At present, I have three or four slots available. If you would like to study with me, please contact me at enquiries@thetutorking.com.

7 April 2013

AQA “A” Unit 3; Chapter 19: Cultural Criticisms of the Psychometric Method of Defining Intelligence and Culture-Free Intelligence Tests (Part 1)

I was in the mood to write something really unique and original for the blog this week.  The ‘Theories of Attachment’ blog has done amazingly well hitting second place in the top ten and I really wanted to challenge that.  Moreover, I want to step a bit out of my comfort zone of social psychology, but still do enough cross-cultural psychology to keep things interesting and fun.  Quick inspection of the textbook reminded me of all the subjects that scare me to death and with a deep breath I screw my courage to the sticking place; I am tackling the subject of Intelligence Testing.

When discussing psychometric approaches to measuring intelligence, the underlying paradigm is that intelligence:

The key idea behind intelligence testing in this way is that psychologists should be able to measure differences in intelligence between individuals (Searle, 2003).  So, where do we start?

Wechsler (1939) further developed Binet’s ideas (1905) of the intelligence quotient (IQ), the score calculated by comparing mental and chronological age and multiplying by 100 (thus, making average IQ, 100).

What Wechsler found, was that if you took a large group pf people’s IQ scores, they usually fell in what is called a normal distribution.  Normal distribution is the pattern that is discovered when many people’s scores are put on a continuous variable and the frequency is plotted.  Wechsler’s key findings were that:

  • 68% of people scored between +1 and -1 standard deviation, scoring between 84 and 116 IQ points.
  • 95% of people scored between +2 and -2 standard deviations, scoring between 68 and 132 IQ points.
  • 5% of people scored between +3 and -3 standard deviations, scoring < 68 and > 132 IQ points.

The best way to understand these statistical results is to remember they are around the 100, meaning half of the percentage is above the 100 score and the other half below.  So, with the first standard deviation divide the percentage in half and you can deduce what the general population is.

68% ÷ 2 = 34% of people score between 100 and 116 IQ points and 34% of people score between 84 and 100 IQ points.

To do the second and third standard deviations, you have to subtract the first standard deviation from the second.

95% - 68% = 27% ÷ 2 = 13.5%

Therefore, 13.5% of people score between 116 and 132 IQ points and 13.5% of people score between 68 and 84.

Now, challenge yourself!  What percentage of people score greater than 132 IQ points?

Moving on, The Wechsler Scales (also called the WISC-R) are aimed at adults, children and pre-schoolers, with questions adjusted to suit the ages of all three groups.

The WISC-R measures:

However, there are key criticisms to measuring intelligence with the WISC-R.
  1. Most of the items rely on verbal comprehension (e.g., understanding the spoken word; Colman 1990).
  2. The WISC-R measures knowledge and memory rather than pure thinking abilities (e.g., problem solving and logic; Colman, 1990).
  3. The Flynn Effect (1994) observes that average scores on intelligence testing has grown by 15-25 points over the last generation.  Flynn argues then that intelligence cannot have increased over that period, and therefore the tools used to measure intelligence over the past 20 years have been statistically flawed and are not in fact measuring the intelligence it has claimed (Note: The WISC-IV released in 2003/4 was adjusted in order to address the Flynn Effect).
  4. The WISC-R does not go far enough to measure what intelligence means for people of different ages (Siegler & Richards, 1982).
  5. The WISC-R is culturally biased; it represents learning through formal education that only Western children have access to, therefore it may not accurately measure intelligence as it is understood by children without formal education, such as in Senegal (Van de Vijver & Leung, 1997).
Let’s focus specifically on the last criticism.  The United Kingdom, the United States of America and many other countries like these place a very high value on formal education for children.  This naturally lends itself to measuring intelligence by using the English language but (i) if you do not speak fluent English, does this make you inherently less intelligent or (ii) could the English language itself be encoded with values assumed to be associated with intelligence but are actually culturally relative values, like goal attainment (Sternberg et al., 1981).

Intelligence in the West generally means that a person has practical problem-solving skills, social competence, and in particular speed; that information can be called upon quickly (Sternberg, 1985).  Consider how important shows like Jeopardy are, where intelligent people compete to be the fastest intelligent person.  All three contestants are right, but viewers  attribute the quickest contestant as the most intelligent by enshrining him as 'the winner'.

But this is the American definition of intelligence.  Let’s consider other countries’ definitions of what it means to be intelligent.

These are characteristics that are specific to particular countries.  More generally, Andreas Demetriou and Timothy Papadopoulous (2004) suggests that notions of intelligence is always in reference to the individual’s social world.  For example, in Eastern cultures the definition intelligence also extends to an understanding of social, historical and spiritual aspects of everyday life.  Problem solving therefore is not something done by an individual, but in reference to other’s thoughts and feelings; that an intelligent person understands that to find a resolution to a problem means consulting the thoughts and advice of those he or she is interdependent with. 

This suggestion is supported by other cross-cultural findings such as:

If you want to learn more about intelligence across cultures (and race and gender) I highly recommend the following The Psychologist article.

The main idea behind the cultural criticism of Intelligence testing is that intelligence is a concept that is defined by the social world and related to the self.  Therefore, as long as there are different cultures, there will always be different ideas about what makes a person smart or not.  In reference to psychometric testing then, it may not be possible for any one test to measure intelligence across cultures.

Or is it?

Tune in next week to learn more about culture-free intelligence tests!