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David Myers

Women, Interrupted

Posted by David Myers Expert Apr 27, 2017

In Psychology, 11th Edition, Nathan DeWall and I report that “In everyday behavior, men tend to act as powerful people often do: talking assertively, interrupting, initiating touches, and staring.” Women tend to be less interruptive, more sensitive, and to speak with more qualifications and hedges.


Have you noticed this phenomenon in conversation or meetings?


A fresh example of men’s more intrusive speech comes from Tonja Jacobi and Dylan Schweers’ forthcoming analysis of U.S. Supreme Court interruptions by (and of) male and female justices. Their finding: “Women [were] interrupted at disproportionate rates by their male colleagues.”


Setting aside the contentious relationship between the late Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer, the three most interrupted justices were the court’s three women justices. But these are all progressive judges, so was this instead an ideology difference, with conservative (mostly male) justices interrupting liberal (mostly female) justices? Apparently not. Looking farther back, the moderate conservative Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was interrupted 2.8 times as frequently as her average male colleague.


“I don’t think that a lot of men notice that they’re doing this,” observed Jacobi.

In today’s tech world, many students come equipped with laptops for “taking notes.” Actually, as I noted in an earlier blog post, Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer have found that when it comes to remembering and applying concepts, “the pen is mightier than the keyboard.” With laptops, it is easy to take verbatim notes. When writing longhand, students more actively process the material, summarize it in their own words, and learn it more deeply.

FatCamera/Getty Images

 And as students sitting near the back of the classroom can vouch, their peers often aren’t taking notes. They’re checking Facebook, playing games, messaging, online shopping, and information searching (stimulated by the class, we can hope). So, does this multitasking during class time exact a cost?   


When surveyed, students “report little or no effect of their portable device use on learning class material,” report Susan Ravizza, Mitchell Uitvlugt, and Kimberly Fenn from prior studies.


Really? To assess that presumption, Ravizza et al. secured the permission of 84 Michigan State introductory psychology students to have their class-time Internet use monitored. (The students afterward reported that their use was unaffected by the confidential monitoring.)


The results: During the 110 minute class, the average student did nonclass-related Internet browsing for 37 minutes. And the more the Internet use, the lower the final exam score—even after controlling for students’ intelligence (ACT score), motivation, and course interest.


The bottom line: “These findings raise questions” about encouraging students to bring laptops to class when not essential to class activities.

I never used to cover sleep, but once it became clear that so many students weren’t getting enough sleep, I started talking about it – at length. I had the same experience with stress. The stress and coping chapter was one I typically skipped in Intro, until I opened my eyes to the stress my students were feeling combined with the lack of good coping skills.


And now I’m back in that very same boat but this time it’s the number of drug overdoses.


Invite your students to visit The New York Times article “You Draw It: Just How Bad Is the Drug Overdose Epidemic [in the United States]?”[Shout out to Ruth Frickle for sending me this article!] and complete each of the graphs to illustrate their best guesses on how, in the US, the number of deaths due to car accidents, deaths from guns, deaths from HIV, and deaths from drug overdoses has changed since 1990. After students draw on each graph, ask them to click the “Show me how I did” button. Next, ask students to calculate how far off they were.


For each graph, write down your guess. If you underestimated, subtract your guess from the actual number, write down how much you were off, and note that you underestimated. If you overestimated, subtract the actual number of deaths from your guess, write down how much you were off, and note that you overestimated.


After pressing each “Show me how I did” button, text appears explaining the hypothesized causes for the change in the number of deaths. Ask students to read the text following the drug abuse graph, and identify the possible reasons for the steep climb in overdose deaths and identify the ways that have been suggested to reduce the number of deaths.


In class, by a show of hands (or using a clicker system), ask students if they were the farthest off on death by car accident? Death from guns? Death by HIV? Or death by drug overdose? (If you’ve covered the availability heuristic, now is a nice time to revisit that concept? “What type of deaths do you hear the most about? Did those deaths receive your highest guesses?” Or if you’re not ready to tackle drug abuse as a topic, use this as an availability heuristic example to help students be more aware of the issue.)


If time allows, invite students to discuss in pairs or small groups how researchers could investigate the effectiveness of each drug overdose prevention proposal. If you’d like to use this as a research methods booster, give each group one of the five prevention proposals given near the end of the article. Ask each group to write the proposal as an hypothesis, e.g., If there were “tighter regulation of prescription opioids,” then the number of drug overdose deaths would decrease (or the rate of increase in drug overdose deaths would be slowed). Each group should then identify the independent variable (including experimental and control conditions) and the dependent variable, including operational definitions, and identify any ethical concerns in doing this research.


In whatever context you choose to discuss this topic be aware that some of your students may have experience with drug overdoses. They, themselves, may have had an overdose, or they may have a friend or family who overdosed and who may have died as a result.

David Myers

Celebrating Tom Ludwig

Posted by David Myers Expert Apr 13, 2017

All good things must come to an end, and few things have been as good as my colleague Tom Ludwig’s 40-year career, which culminates with his Hope College retirement this Spring.


Not only is Tom a superb teacher and a kind and helpful colleague/friend, he is also a self-taught creator of multiple digital resources for the teaching of psychology. Over 30 years he has created multiple editions of PsychSim, as well as PsychQuest, PsychOnline, PsychInquiry, Exploring Human Development, Active Psych, and, most recently, Concepts in Action. In recognition of his creative work, he has received national and international awards, including what I call the teaching of psychology “Heisman Trophy”—the annual American Psychological Foundation Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award.


In this new Hope College press release, Tom reflects on his career and his passion for teaching and technology. What fewer people know is that Tom is a master of other things as well. To name a few, Tom knows ancient biblical languages, has been the interim president of a Lutheran seminary, has assembled his own furnace and constructed his own kitchen, speaks German, and wrote a computer program to teach himself Japanese Kanji characters before a sojourn in Japan.


Tom Ludwig, who has new fields yet to plow outside the classroom, is one of the most brilliant, as well as nicest, human beings I have known . . . and someone whose birthday our department lovingly celebrated this week.

Federico Babina is a graphic designer and architect. He has created a series of 16 images, collectively called Archiatric, that are a depiction of different psychological disorders. Visit Babina’s Archiatric page and click through each image. [Shout out to Lisa Thompson Potgieter for sharing these prints on the AP Psych Teachers Facebook page!]


After covering disorders, show students this compilation of all 16 images (you can buy the print) and give students an alphabetized list of the disorders depicted.





Bipolar Disorder



Dissociative Disorders


Eating Disorder

Gender Disorder



Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder





Ask students to work in pairs or small groups to match each disorder to Babina’s depiction and provide a short justification for why they matched each disorder with that particular image. Once group discussion abates, starting with the top left corner, ask student groups to volunteer their guesses and why. Then reveal the disorder Babina matched with that image.


The danger in using images like these to depict complex experiences is that they, by their very nature, oversimplify the experience. For example, the image used to depict obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) captures the need for order sometimes seen in OCD, but it doesn’t capture other common symptoms such as cleaning, checking, and counting.


As you identify the disorder that matches the image, ask students how the images depict the disorder. And, more importantly, ask students what symptoms of the disorder are NOT depicted in the image.


[Thank you to Susan Nolan, special consultant on this post!]