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120 Posts authored by: Sue Frantz

In Intro Psych, during coverage of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in the therapy chapter, give your students this one-page summary provided by Division 12 of the American Psychological Association: Society of Clinical Psychology. Walk your students through some of the highlights.

 

Next, share with your students this Tumblr post as it appeared on Fail Blog. Clearly the client had been seeing this therapist for some time. The client knew the basics of CBT – CBT is about changing how one thinks. The client had had some practice in doing this, but during this particular session, the client was not using what he’d learned.

 

The therapist had very likely seen this behavior from the client before and had been thinking about ways to call the client’s attention to his negative thinking without interrupting the client’s train of thought. At the therapy session described in the Tumblr post, the therapist unveiled his new CBT tool: a Nerf gun. For the rest of the therapy session, every time the client voiced “unhelpful ways of thinking,” his therapist shot him with a Nerf gun. The client stopped, thought about what he said, and revised it. Saying “what a stupid issue, I’m an idiot” was revised to this issue is “frustrating me and I don’t want it to be a problem I’m having.”

 

If you’d like to expand this coverage, you can add information about attribution. Making global (vs. specific), stable (vs. unstable), and internal (vs. external) attributions about negative events is associated with depression.

For example, after a relationships ends, a person may make the following attributions.

 

Global: “I can’t do anything right.”

 

Stable: “I’ll never have a successful relationship.”

 

Internal: “I’m not good enough to have a successful relationship.”

 

In CBT, the client is encouraged to make different attributions, attributions that are specific (vs. global), unstable (vs. stable), and external (vs. internal).

 

Specific: “This relationship wasn’t good.”

 

Unstable: “While this relationship didn’t work out, the next one could.”

 

External: “It takes two people to have a relationship. My boyfriend bears some responsibility.”

 

Interestingly, the reverse is true for positive events. Making specific, unstable, and external attributions for positive events is associated with depression. People who are not depressed are more likely to make global, stable, and internal attributions for positive events.

 

Class demonstration

 

If you’ve been waiting all term for an opportunity to peg your students with Nerf balls, here’s the demonstration for you.

Ask your students to imagine that they have received a poor grade on an exam. Ask student volunteers to give a global attribution for the failing grade. Hit them with a Nerf ball (aim low, you don’t want anyone to lose an eye!), and then ask for a specific attribution instead. After students have given several global attributions, ask for stable attributions – and for those to be changed to unstable attributions. Lastly, ask for internal attributions – and for those to be changed to external attributions.

Crows are smart. Never underestimate a crow.

 

Comparative psychology is “the study of nonhuman animal behavior with the dual objective of understanding the behavior for its own sake and furthering the understanding of human behavior” (American Psychological Association, n.d.). The better that we understand how crows behave, think, communicate, and solve problems, the better we will understand both crows and ourselves.

 

I have a short written assignment that my Intro Psych students do. After its completion, students have a greater appreciation for the crows around them.

 

John Marzluff, a University of Washington zoologist, has made studying crows his life’s work. In his 22-minute TEDx talk, Marzluff shares what he thinks everyone should know about crows. I assign this during the thinking chapter in Intro Psych, after we’ve covered neuroscience and learning. It makes for a nice review of previously covered content.

 

Here are the questions I ask my students to address:

  • What three factors does Marzluff cite for the crow's problem-solving ability? Explain how each contributes to problem-solving skills.
  • How do the brain areas of crows map onto the human brain? What do those brain areas do and why are they important? How do their brains differ from those of humans?
  • Give an example from his talk of how the birds' behavior changed due to positive reinforcement.
  • Give an example from his talk of how the birds' behavior changed due to observational learning.
  • What is your reaction to this video? 

 

 

 

Reference

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Comparative psychology. Retrieved December 26, 2018, from https://dictionary.apa.org/comparative-psychology

Sue Frantz

Gaming disorder: Discuss

Posted by Sue Frantz Jan 2, 2019

"Wes, 21, an Eagle Scout and college student from Michigan, played video games 80 hours a week, only stopping to eat every two to three days. He lost 25 pounds and failed his classes" (Irvine, 2018).

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced the addition of “gaming disorder” to the next edition of the International Classification of Diseases.

 

Gaming disorder is defined in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences (World Health Organization, 2018).

 

For your reference, internet gaming disorder appeared in DSM-V in the section identifying areas in need of research. While it’s called internet gaming disorder, the internet part is not required. As it’s currently written, a person would need five of these symptoms to be diagnosed:

 

  • Preoccupation with gaming
  • Withdrawal symptoms when gaming is taken away or not possible (sadness, anxiety, irritability)
  • Tolerance, the need to spend more time gaming to satisfy the urge
  • Inability to reduce playing, unsuccessful attempts to quit gaming
  • Giving up other activities, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities due to gaming
  • Continuing to game despite problems
  • Deceiving family members or others about the amount of time spent on gaming
  • The use of gaming to relieve negative moods, such as guilt or hopelessness
  • Risk, having jeopardized or lost a job or relationship due to gaming (“Internet gaming,” 2018)

 

The symptoms, as it true for (almost?) all DSM-V diagnoses, must cause “significant impairment or distress” (“Internet gaming,” 2018).

 

Following WHO’s announcement, 25 researchers co-authored a short and freely-available paper published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions (Aarseth et al., 2017) outlining their concerns with the inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11. Their six concerns are:

 

  1. “The quality of the research base is low.”
  2. “The current operationalization of the construct leans too heavily on substance use and gambling criteria.”
  3. “There is no consensus on the symptomatology and assessment of problematic gaming.”
  4. “Moral panics around the harm of video gaming might result in premature application of a clinical diagnosis and the treatment of abundant false-positive cases, especially among children and adolescents.”
  5. “Research will be locked into a confirmatory approach rather than an exploration of the boundaries of normal versus pathological.”
  6. “The healthy majority of gamers will be affected by stigma and perhaps even changes in policy.”

 

In the same journal volume, also freely-available, a couple researchers (Király & Demetrovics, 2017) address each of those concerns.

 

Discussion

 

After your coverage of psychological disorders, divide your students into six groups – or if you have a large class, divide students into groups that are multiples of six. Give each group a copy of both articles.  Assign one of the six concerns to each group. The group is to:

  1. Summarize the concern as it was raised in the Aarseth article.
  2. Summarize the response to that concern given by Király and Demetrovics.
  3. Decide, as a group, which of the two arguments is more persuasive. In other words, based on that concern alone, should ICD-11 include gaming disorder? Explain the group’s reasoning.

 

Ask three different group members to take on the responsibility of being prepared to speak to the class about one of those three tasks. In other words, one student would address #1, another would address #2, and another would address #3.

 

Following discussion, ask the group that was assigned the first concern to offer their responses to the three questions. If you have more than one group looking at the first concern, ask the other groups for their response to the third question.

Repeat with the remaining five concerns.

 

Conclude this activity with a summary of how difficult it is to determine if a set of behaviors rises to the point of a diagnosable disorder and that there are real consequences for creating a diagnosis.

 

Expansion

 

If you would like to expand this exploration, the journal volume, September 2017 issue of the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, these two articles came from has another 10 articles on the topic, all freely available. Create 11 groups. Give each group the Aarseth article that opens the volume, plus one additional article from the remaining 11 commentaries. To start the discussion, you can summarize the Aarseth article. This will ensure everyone starts on the same page, and this will model what their summaries should look like. After the groups have had time to discuss the commentary article they’ve been given, ask each group to report out. After all the groups have reported, by a show of hands (or through an audience response system), ask students to decide if gaming disorder should be included in ICD-11. Ask volunteers to share their reasoning.

 

References

 

Aarseth, E., Bean, A. M., Boonen, H., Colder Carras, M., Coulson, M., Das, D., … Van Rooij, A. J. (2017). Scholars’ open debate paper on the World Health Organization ICD-11 Gaming Disorder proposal. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 6(3), 267–270. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.5.2016.088

 

Internet gaming. (2018, June). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.pn.2018.12a20

 

Irvine, M. (2018). ‘Hi, my name is ___, and I’m addicted to tech’. Retrieved December 27, 2018, from https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/hes-a-tech-addict-who-works-in-the-tech-industry/

 

Király, O., & Demetrovics, Z. (2017). Inclusion of Gaming Disorder in ICD has more advantages than disadvantages. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 6(3), 280–284. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.6.2017.046

 

World Health Organization. (2018). WHO | Gaming disorder. Retrieved December 25, 2018, from https://www.who.int/features/qa/gaming-disorder/en/

At the end of each term, I ask my Intro Psych students for their top ten list of important concepts they learned in the course. Last fall, interestingly, none of my students put parenting styles in their top ten lists. This term, a quarter of my students did. The only difference between those classes is that this term I asked my students to read an Atlantic article on distracted parenting (Christakis, 2018).

 

In our coverage of development I asked students, after they had read the article, whether they thought this is a new “parenting style” or if it fits one of the existing four: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, or neglectful. (Most students called it neglectful, but many weren’t quite ready to go all the way there and called it a “new branch” or a “type” of neglectful parenting.)

 

The article makes for an excellent discussion starter for small groups after you’ve covered parenting styles in class. The discussion of the impact distracted parenting has on children will be meaningful to students since you would have just covered child development.

 

Later when you cover operant conditioning – if you haven’t already done so – you can refer back to this section of the article.

 

Young children will do a lot to get a distracted adult’s attention, and if we don’t change our behavior, they will attempt to do it for us; we can expect to see a lot more tantrums as today’s toddlers age into school. But eventually, children may give up (Christakis, 2018)

 

If the adult drops the phone and attends to the child’s tantrum, the child’s tantrum behavior has been positively reinforced by getting attention, and the adult’s dropping-the-phone behavior has been negatively reinforced by stopping the tantrum. If the adult’s phone is more attention-grabbing than the child’s tantrum, then the adult will ignore the child. The result? Extinction. The child will no longer throw tantrums – or, perhaps, any other behavior that is a plea for adult attention.

 

The author of the article cites two research studies. If you’d like to challenge your students’ research skills, ask them to find those studies. The study that took place in Philadelphia is a pretty easy find because the article’s author gives us the names of the researchers. The Boston research article is a little more challenging because we don’t have clues to the citation. I don’t want to give the reference here because it would make it too easy for your Googling students to find. I can give you a hint, however: it was published in 2014 in a highly-respected peer-reviewed journal. And, if you email me (sfrantz@highline.edu), I would be happy to send you either or both references – as long as I don’t think you’re a student.

 

If you’d like to extend this activity, ask students to assess how well the article’s author did at describing those studies. Did the author hit the important high points? Was there other information in the research articles that would be important for a reader of The Atlantic to know?

 

Reference

 

Christakis, E. (2018). The dangers of distracted parenting. Retrieved August 29, 2018, from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/07/the-dangers-of-distracted-parenting/561752/

There are a lot of social psychological concepts that can help explain road rage. This Seattle Times article (Doughton, 2018) beautifully identifies a number of these concepts. Students will see how social psychology tells us something about our everyday lives. And, hopefully, students will remember this the next time they find themselves overly angry at the behavior of strangers.

 

You can use the article in any number of ways.

  • Pull out the examples to frame your social psychology lecture
  • After students read the chapter, but before you cover the concepts in class, ask students, as a homework assignment, to identify the social psychological concepts
  • Before you cover these concepts, ask students to read the article, then, in small groups, identify the social psychological concepts
  • After your social psychology lecture, ask students to read the article, and then in small groups, identify the social psychological concepts

 

If your students are reading the article and identifying the concepts, ask students to define the concepts they find in their own words, quote sections of the article that illustrate each of those concepts, and, finally, explain how the quotes they found illustrate each of the concepts students have identified.

 

To make it easier, give students these concepts to find in the article:

  • Deindividuation
  • Fundamental attribution error
  • Self-serving bias
  • Outgroup homogeneity bias

 

If you’d like students to reflect on previous content they’ve learned about in their Intro Psych course, ask them to identify examples of these concepts in the article:

  • Sympathetic nervous system arousal
  • Observational learning
  • Long-term effects of stress

 

References Doughton, S. (2018, November 2). How to keep your head from exploding in Seattle traffic. Seattle Times. Retrieved from https://www.seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-magazine/how-to-keep-your-head-from-exploding-in-seattle-traffic

Do you cover survey research in your Intro Psych course? Given the prevalence of bad surveys, I’m starting to think I should spend more time on it.

 

For a seemingly unlimited supply of bad survey questions, check out the @BadSurveyQ Twitter account. (Thank you to Rachel Soicher at Oregon State University for directing me to this.)

 

Point out to students that not all surveys are written by researchers who have been trained to conduct surveys. In fact, some survey questions are designed to persuade, not to actually gather data. Other survey questions are written by people with good intentions who may not have thought them all the way through. Can you students spot the difference? More importantly, can your students fix the problems?

 

@KenFernandezPHD shared this slanted poll question. In small groups, ask students to take a crack at rewriting this question in neutral language.

 

Do you believe the corrupt leadership of the FBI and DOJ [Department of Justice] now realize President Trump means to end their efforts to subvert his presidency?

 

Yes
No

 

@magnatom found another slanted poll question. How would your students fix this one?

Do you think the Government will ever seriously look into proven, practical and effective methods to lower vehicle emissions instead of resorting to raising yet more cash from drivers?

 

Yes
No
No idea

 

@t_mabon found this limited option question. Can students identify the problem? And then fix it?

 

How do you read your books?

 

Papers
e-reader/tablet
I don’t read
Audio books

 

@sachinsomaiya found a question that left the interpretation of the rating scale up to the reader. How do your students interpret this? How would they make it better?

 

What priority would you assign to the candidate for this program? Choose a number between 1 to 10 for the person.

 

@BadSurveyQ wonders about the “other” option in this question. Other what? What would your students do with this “other” option to fix the question?

 

Which of the following have you done in the last 2 years?

 

Rented a house
Rented an apartment
Rented a car
Bought a house
Bought an apartment
Bought a car
Other
None of the above

 

@t_mabon shared a poll question that had responses only a company could love. What additional options would your students add?

 

Which of the following statements do you agree with? SELECT ALL THAT APPLY

 

Uber is a company I’m proud to say I use

Uber is a brand/service for me

Uber sends me relevant communications

 

And one last question from @BadSurveyQ, another question that only a company could love.

 

Please select three other statements that according to you also apply to a Tassimo machine [coffee maker].

 

Freedom
Togetherness
Power
Entertaining
Liberating
Fun
Open-minded

 

Now, with this blog post completed, I’m going to have a long over-due chat with my coffee maker. If it’s not entertaining and open-minded, it’s out of here.

The next term is on the horizon. Looking for a different way to introduce your students to the course?

 

Today in the History of Psychology database, created by Warren Street (Central Washington University, Emeritus), has been over 40 years in the making. Hosted on his faculty website for many years, Street donated the database to the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP). Under its second editor ever, Chris Koch (George Fox University), the database made its STP debut in October.

 

In small groups, have your students use their web-enabled devices to find the month and day of their births in the database. (If students don’t want to share their birthday, they can, of course, choose any month and day.) Ask students to pick one event from each birthday. Next, ask students to look at the table of contents from their textbooks to figure out in which chapters those events fall.

 

Circulate among the groups, answering any questions they may have.

 

Ask each group to identify the most interesting event they identified, the month/day/year it happened, why they chose that event, and in which chapter they think it falls.

 

As groups report out, add whatever other information you think would be interesting. Let students know they’ll be hearing more about these events as the course progresses.

 

Keep a list of the dates and events. When you get to those chapters, refer back to these events – or post an announcement in your course management system with additional information.

 

Examples:

 

October 30, 1938: “The Orson Welles radio broadcast of H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds ‘was aired, on Halloween night. This realistic radio drama caused panic in many parts of the United States. The phenomenon was described in Hadley Cantril, Hazel Gaudet, and Herta Hertzog's book The Invasion From Mars (1940).’" 

 

The social psychology chapter will tell us about some of the factors that contributed to this panic. The podcast Radiolab did a story on this event to commemorate the 80th anniversary of its airing. It’s an interesting piece! It's noteworthy that War of the Worlds aired at different times in different parts of the world, all to similar effect. 

 

July 18, 1892: “Lightner Witmer passed his doctoral oral examination at the University of Leipzig under Wilhelm Wundt, receiving the grade of magna cum laude.  The degree was formally awarded on March 29, 1893.  Witmer was a founder of the APA and an originator of modern clinical psychology.”

 

Wundt’s founding of his lab marks the start of the field of psychology. When most people think about psychology, they probably think about psychotherapy. As you’ll see in this course, psychology is much bigger than that. In the therapy chapter, we’ll learn about the psychotherapeutic techniques used by today’s clinical psychologists.

 

December 9, 1930: “Walter Cannon delivered an address to the Harvard Medical Society on heart rate and emotion.  Cannon's research explored the physiology of emotional states.”

 

Walter Cannon’s and Philip Bard’s theory of emotion is covered in the motivation and emotion chapter. Let’s say that you are in a car accident. Your dominant emotion is probably fear. Where does that fear come from? Cannon and Bard found evidence that our physiological response (increased heart rate, for example – more on this in the biopsych chapter!) happens simultaneously with the emotion of fear.

Jenn Grewe asked the 7,000 members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology’s Facebook group to name their favorite psychology podcasts. Thank you to everyone who contributed!

 

If this is not enough podcasts for you to choose from, take a look at the list of psychology podcasts curated by PlayerFM.

 

Podcasts hosted by psychologists (and a behavior analyst and a philosopher) – they don’t walk into a bar, but a couple psychologists do share beer

 

Speaking of Psychology, produced by the American Psychological Association

This “is an audio podcast series highlighting some of the latest, most important and relevant psychological research being conducted today.”

 

The Learning Scientists Podcast, produced and hosted by cognitive psychologists Megan Sumeracki and Yana Weinstein

“A podcast for teachers, students, and parents about evidence-based practice and learning.”

 

PsychSessions, produced and hosted by psychologists Garth Neufeld and Eric Landrum

This podcast “is about the teaching of psychology. We leverage our connections with top psychology educators as well as up-and-coming superstars to have deep conversations about what it means to be a teacher of psychology. Of course we veer away from the teaching conversation from time to time to hear about origin stories and the personal perspectives of our guests.”

 

The Psych Files, produced and hosted by psychologist Michael Britt

The Psych Files “is aimed at anyone curious about human behavior, though students taking a course in psychology, those majoring in psychology, and instructors of psychology will find the podcast particularly of interest.”

 

Workr Beeing, produced and hosted by industrial/organizational psychologists Katina Sawyer-Cooney and Patricia Grabarek

“The Workr Beeing Podcast is another way for you to learn about workplace wellness! In the podcast, Patricia and Katina share research and tips on workplace wellness and interviews with other leading experts in the field.”

 

Behavioral Observations, produced and hosted by behavior analyst Matt Cicoria

“The overall concept - to interview interesting people in the behavior analysis field - formed the basis of the Behavioral Observations Podcast.”

 

The Psych Show (YouTube), produced and hosted by clinical psychologist Ali Mattu

“I make videos on how to use psychology to improve your life, understand the world around us, and explore pop culture.”

 

Naming It, produced and hosted by psychologists LaMisha Hill and Bedford Palmer

“Exploring the intersections of social justice, psychology, & blackness.”

 

Psychology and Stuff, produced by University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Psychology program

This podcast “includes interviews with faculty, students, and alumni from the UWGB psychology program on a wide range of topics (work, research, personal lives, and other stuff).”

 

The Black Goat, produced and hosted by psychologists Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire

“Three psychologists talk about doing science.”

 

Very Bad Wizards, produced and hosted by philosopher Tamler Sommers and psychologist David Pizarro

“We first met at a conference on ethics a few years ago, and have been arguing (and occasionally agreeing) about morality ever since. At some point we realized that our conversations were entertaining (and crazy) enough that other people might enjoy eavesdropping. With that in mind we began recording a series of podcasts to give them a proper home.”

 

The Psychology Podcast, produced and hosted by psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman

“Each episode will feature a guest who will stimulate your mind, and give you a greater understanding of yourself, others, and the world we live in. Hopefully, we’ll also provide a glimpse into human possibility!”

 

The Arkham Sessions, produced and hosted by clinical psychologist Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward

This “is a weekly podcast dedicated to the observation and clinical analysis of the characters in Batman: The Animated Series.”

 

Two Psychologists Four Beers, produced and hosted by psychologists Yoel Inbar and Michael Inzlicht

“Two psychologists drink at least four beers while discussing news and controversies in science, academia, and beyond.” (I first read this as “Two Psychologists Four Bears” – that’s a podcast that would also have some promise.)

 

Science podcasts hosted by journalists

 

Hidden Brain, produced by National Public Radio and hosted by their social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam

“Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.”

 

Invisibilia, produced by National Public Radio and hosted by Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin

“Invisibilia has explored whether our thoughts are related to our inner wishes, our fears and how they shape our actions, and our need for belonging and how it shapes our identity and fuels our emotions over a lifetime. We investigate ways everyday objects can shape our worldviews, the effects we have on each other's well-being, and the various lenses we don.”

 

Freakonomics, produced and hosted by journalist Stephen Dubner

“Each week, Freakonomics Radio tells you things you always thought you knew (but didn’t) and things you never thought you wanted to know (but do) — from the economics of sleep to how to become great at just about anything. Dubner speaks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, intellectuals and entrepreneurs, and various other underachievers.”

 

All in the Mind, produced by ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Radio National and hosted by science journalist Lynne Malcolm 

“An exploration of all things mental, All in the Mind is about the brain and behaviour, and the fascinating connections between them.”

 

You Are Not So Smart, produced and hosted by journalist David McRaney

“Like lots of people, I used to forward sensational news stories without skepticism and think I was a smarty pants just because I did a little internet research. I didn’t know about confirmation bias and self-enhancing fallacies, and once I did, I felt very, very stupid. I still feel that way, but now I can make you feel that way too.”

 

RadioLab, produced by WNYC and hosted by journalists Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich

“Radiolab has won Peabody Awards, a National Academies Communication Award ‘for their investigative use of radio to make science accessible to broad audiences,’ and in 2011 Abumrad received the MacArthur Genius grant.“

 

Science Friday, produced by the Science Friday Initiative, distributed by WNYC Studios, and hosted by journalist Ira Flatow

“Covering the outer reaches of space to the tiniest microbes in our bodies, Science Friday is the source for entertaining and educational stories about science, technology, and other cool stuff.”

 

Science Vs, produced by Gimlet Media and hosted by science journalist Wendy Zukerman

“Science Vs takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.”

 

Podcasts about the human experience

 

This American Life, produced by WBEZ and hosted by journalist Ira Glass

“Mostly we do journalism, but an entertaining kind of journalism that’s built around plot. In other words, stories! Our favorite sorts of stories have compelling people at the center of them, funny moments, big feelings, surprising plot twists, and interesting ideas. Like little movies for radio.”

Favorite episodes identified by educators. Tip: Search the page for “psychology”.

 

Ear Hustle, produced and hosted by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods

“The team works in San Quentin’s media lab to produce stories that are sometimes difficult, often funny, and always honest, offering a nuanced view of people living within the American prison system.”

 

Podcast about teaching in higher education

 

Teaching in Higher Ed, produced and hosted by organizational leadership professor Bonni Stachowiak

“The podcast focuses on topics such as excellence in teaching, instructional design, open education, diversity and inclusion, productivity, creativity in teaching, educational technology, and blended learning.”

Sue Frantz

LGBT experiences in prison

Posted by Sue Frantz Aug 31, 2018

Do you cover transgender and sexual orientation issues in your psychology courses? Before or after your coverage, ask students where incarcerated transgender people should be housed. Should they be housed based on the appearance of their physical body or based on their outward gendered appearance? In other words, if someone was born male, identifies and dresses as female, is convicted of a crime, and sentenced to time in prison, should the person be sent to a women’s prison or to a men’s prison?

 

States determine where an inmate should be housed based on genitalia (Routh et al., 2017). That means that transgender women who have not had sex reassignment surgery are housed in men’s prisons.

 

Have students listen to the 35-minute Episode 18 of the Ear Hustle podcast, broadcasting from San Quentin State Prison. (There is a little salty language and a lot of frank discussion; the LGBT part of the episode runs about 27 minutes.)

 

Questions for students to consider as they listen to the podcast. After listening, students can discuss their responses in an online class discussion board, in small groups during class, or as an entire class:

 

How many out gay men are there at San Quentin? What reasons do the prisoners give for that number?

 

How many transgender women are there at San Quentin?

 

Who is Lady J? Write a short biography for Lady J. What is your reaction to Lady J’s story?

 

How have attitudes toward transgender women in prison changed since the 1980s?  

 

Who is Mike? Write a short biography for Mike. What is your reaction to Mike’s story?

 

Compare attitudes toward transgender women and gay men in your community with the attitudes in San Quentin.

 

What is your reaction to this podcast episode?

 

As of 2015, nine U.S. states provided sex reassignment surgery for state prisoners, including California. Most states provide counseling, some states will start hormone treatments whereas others will only maintain hormone treatment if the inmate has started prior to incarceration (Routh et al., 2017). Investigate what policies are in place for your state or province.

 

Reference

 

Routh, D., Abess, G., Makin, D., Stohr, M. K., Hemmens, C., & Yoo, J. (2017). Transgender inmates in prisons: A review of applicable statutes and policies. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 61(6), 645–666. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X15603745

No, your students will not be texting or talking/listening to a phone in a crosswalk! Instead, they will be observing others who are.

 

A recent study (Alsaleh, Sayed, & Zaki, 2018)* found that people who were on their phones – either looking at their screens or talking/listening to their phone – took longer to cross the street. This is dangerous for a number of reasons. For example, distracted pedestrians are not on the lookout for distracted motorists. When distracted pedestrians and distracted motorists meet, distracted pedestrians always lose. Since distracted pedestrians spend more time in the crosswalk, they have a greater chance of being hit by a distracted motorist.

 

How much time does it take?

 

In urban areas, lanes should be 10 feet (3 meters) wide (National Association of City Transportation Officials, n.d.). That makes a four-lane road 40 feet (12 meters) wide. In the distraction study (Alsaleh et al., 2018), non-distracted pedestrians walked at a rate of 1.66 meters/second. That means it took them about 7 seconds to cross a four-lane road. In contrast, researchers found that phone-distracted pedestrians walked at a rate of about 1.5 meters/second, taking about 8 seconds to cross a four-lane road.

 

The activity

 

The researchers used observers on the ground to determine whether and how pedestrians were using their phones and used cameras to determine walking speed. For this activity, all measures will be done by observers.

Divide students into groups no smaller than three students. One student will determine if the pedestrian is distracted by their phone or not. Since the researchers found no difference in walking speed between looking at the phone and talking/listening, let’s keep this simple and not ask students to make the distinction. One student will be the timer. Using a stopwatch app on their own phone, the student will time how long it takes the pedestrian to cross the street. The third student will be the recorder – recording whether the pedestrian was distracted and recording the time it took the pedestrian to cross the street.

 

Students will need to make some decisions before heading out. If you would like to compile the data across groups, then you should have this discussion as a class. If you would like to discuss how each group’s decisions affected their results afterwards, then let each group decide these on their own.

 

Consider these as starter questions. When students return from the activity, they may have other issues that should have been considered in advance. That is a great opportunity to talk about the importance of pilot studies and their role in helping sort out these issues before investing time in a larger study.

 

  1. Where are they going to do their observations? Ideally, it will be a street with a lot of pedestrian traffic. The wider the street, the easier it will be see differences in the time it takes to cross.
  2. If there is a group of people waiting to cross the street, how will students determine who to time? The first person to cross? The right-most person?
  3. How will the students identify the person to each other to make sure that the student noting the phone behavior and the student doing the timing are looking at the same pedestrian?
  4. When will the timing start? When the target pedestrian lifts a foot to step off the curb? When the foot first hits the street?
  5. When will the timing stop? When the target pedestrian lifts a foot to stop onto the curb? When the last foot leaves the pavement?
  6. How will the recorder record the data? How many columns will be in the data sheet? To how many decimal places will the stopwatch times be recorded?
  7. How long will they collect data? Or how many pedestrians should they time? What if all of the pedestrians are on a phone?

 

When students return with their data, either that same class period or the next class period, have the recording student enter their data in a shared Google spreadsheet, for example. One column should be the first and last initials of each member of the group, one column is for non-distracted times, and one column is for distracted times.

 

Calculate means for the non-distracted and distracted pedestrians. If you’d like, conduct a t-test if you want to talk about statistical significance.

 

If some groups seem to have much slower or longer times than other groups, discuss the methodology they used.

Give each group an opportunity to share with the class what they would do differently if they were to conduct this observational research study again.

 

Conclusion

 

To conclude the activity, explain that if the class were to submit this study for publication, the authors would summarize the research related to this topic, explain in detail how the study was conducted, reveal the results, and finally explain what the findings mean, how they add to the body of research on this topic, and identify what could be done differently or better next time. Now is also a good time to explain the peer review process and the importance of replication.

 

References

 

Alsaleh, R., Sayed, T., & Zaki, M. H. (2018). Assessing the effect of pedestrians’ use of cell phones on their walking behavior. Transportation Research Record, Advance online publication. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1177/0361198118780708

 

National Association of City Transportation Officials. (n.d.). Lane width. Retrieved August 17, 2018, from https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/street-design-elements/lane-width/

 

*Note: The full article by Alsaleh et al. is available through ResearchGate.

In my last blog post, I wrote about one of the common street scams in Paris, the petition scam that relies on foot-in-the-door to work. Another common street scam is the friendship bracelet.

 

The scam

 

A person approaches the mark, wraps string around the mark’s finger, makes a string bracelet, ties it around the mark’s wrist, and then demands money in exchange for the bracelet that the mark cannot remove without a pocket knife.

Here it is in action. Notice how the mark tries to ignore the scammer and how the scammer ignores the mark’s protests and gets the string around his finger and starts twisting the string. It’s tight enough that the mark can’t get it off. At the end, another scammer demands the fee while the original scammer readies his string for the next mark – and scratches himself.

 

 

Norm of reciprocity

 

What drives the scam is the norm of reciprocity. When someone does something for us, we feel compelled to do something in return – even when what we received is not something we wanted.

 

A new research article, reported on by the British Psychological Society Research Digest, suggests that some people experience more “reciprocity anxiety” than other people do. “The scale taps two related components of reciprocity anxiety: avoidance, both of receiving favours/help/compliments and of feeling the need to reciprocate these things (factor 1) and distress, not only about not being able to reciprocate, but also at what others will think if you don’t (factor 2).” Those who scored higher on the “reciprocity anxiety” scale were more likely to say that if they were customers in a restaurant and the server gave them a “free money-off coupon,” they would be more likely to purchase the expensive dessert the server later recommended.

 

The blog post author, Christian Jarrett, pointed out – and rightly so – that he’d have more confidence in the value of the scale if the research measured actual behavior rather than hypothetical behavior.

 

Research idea

 

Imagine if we could measure reciprocity anxiety in tourists before turning them loose on Paris’ Montmarte or Rome’s Spanish Steps. Would those tourists who scored high on the avoidance subscale work harder to avoid the friendship bracelet scammers than those who scored low? Of the tourists who get fished in, would those who scored higher on the distress subscale give more money than those who scored low? If you can’t get a research grant that would take you to Paris or Rome, you could do it on your own campus – returning the money to the marks during your debriefing, of course! Volunteer participants would take a battery of self-report measures included among those is the reciprocity anxiety scale, and then the participants are turned loose. As the participants leave the building, your confederate scammers pounce on them with string. Although, there may be a floor effect on the dependent variable. How much cash do students carry?

 

In-class discussion

 

After covering the norm of reciprocity, discuss this new study on reciprocity anxiety. Ask students to consider what behaviors the reciprocity anxiety subscales might predict, and then brainstorm some ways those predictions could be tested.

Before taking my first trip to Paris earlier this month, I was told to beware of some of the common street scams.

I was targeted for the petition scam twice. The petition scam uses foot-in-the-door and, sometimes as a bonus, diverted attention.

 

The scam

 

In the petition scam, the thief approaches a likely mark with a clipboard in hand and asks, “Do you speak English?” When the mark says, “Yes,” the thief asks something like, “Would you sign this petition to support people who are deaf and mute?” When the mark says they are indeed willing, the thief hands over the clipboard and a pen. After the mark signs, the thief asks for a donation to support the cause. The money “donated” does not go to a cause other than the thief’s own. Foot-in-the-door research shows that, for example, people are more willing after signing a petition, to put ugly signs in their yards (Freedman & Fraser, 1966) or donate more money to a cause (Schwarzwald, Bizman, & Raz, 1983).

 

Foot-in-the-door

 

The foot-in-the-door technique starts with an innocuous question: “Do you speak English?” The mark’s response of “yes” is the foot getting in the door. The response also quickly identifies the mark as a tourist. Although, frankly, tourists are not that hard to spot. They’re the ones standing on sidewalks looking at maps. With their foot in the door, the thief aims to wedge it in even farther. The thief next asks the mark to sign a petition for a good cause. After all, who doesn’t want to support people are deaf and mute? Most people have a pretty easy time signing their name to support a cause – and the door is opened even wider. And now comes the “sales pitch.” “Donate some money to the cause – you know, that cause that you just signed your name to supporting.” The thief hopes that the person wants to avoid the dissonance caused by saying one thing (“I support this cause”) but doing something else (“I’m not going to donate any money”) by actually handing over money.

 

Pickpocket bonus

 

Sometimes the petitioners work with an accomplice. While the mark holds the clipboard with one hand and signs with the other – distracted by the task and with their hands off their belongings, an accomplice rifles through the mark’s bags or pockets.

 

If the mark donates money, the thief and their accomplice see which pocket or area in a bag the money comes from and follows the mark waiting for another opportunity to pickpocket. Distraction caused by a staged commotion by other accomplices makes for easy pickings.

 

My experience

The first petitioner who approached me in the Latin Quarter, asked if I spoke English. I said, “Yes.” She asked if I’d sign her petition to support people who are deaf and mute. That’s when alarm bells went off in my head. I’m in France. Who is she petitioning that she needs English-speakers? And “supporting” a group isn’t much of a petition. It helped that I was aware of the foot-in-the-door literature, so the only endings I could see were either being asked to donate money or being asked to put an ugly sign in my yard.

 

I immediately declined her invitation to sign while simultaneously retaining a firm grip on my bag. When the second petitioner, this time on the Champs-Élysées, approached with the same “do you speak English” question, I said in my best French accent which, admittedly, is not very good, “Non.” She looked at me as if she didn’t believe me – probably because she just saw me holding a Paris guidebook written in English and because she heard me speaking English to my wife. Either way she knew I wasn’t going to fall for it and decided not to waste her time.

 

I regret not finding a shady spot and watching these women in action. I guess the only choice I have is to go back to Paris.

 

References

 

Freedman, J. L., & Fraser, S. C. (1966). Compliance without pressure: The foot-in-the-door technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0023552

 

Schwarzwald, J., Bizman, A., & Raz, M. (1983). The Foot-in-the-Door Paradigm: Effects of Second Request Size on Donation Probability and Donor Generosity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 9(3), 443–450. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167283093015

In my previous blog post, I wrote, “All 25,000+ entries of the American Psychological Association (APA) Dictionary of Psychology are now freely available online. You may just want to let your students know that this resource exists and may be more trustworthy than other sources of definitions for psychological terms students find through a Google search.” Then I described an activity where students would look up terms and identify the most interesting ones to share with the class.

 

The APA Dictionary of Psychology can also be used for source terms in a popular ice breaker. In the Name Game ice breaker, when introducing themselves, the student says their first name and some word in a given category that starts with the first initial of their first name. If the category is animals, I would introduce myself as Sue the Snake. If the category is adjectives, I would introduce myself as Surprising Sue. If the category is hobbies, I would introduce myself as Skydiving Sue. No, I haven’t skydived, but I bet people would remember my name, though! The idea is to attach some imagery or emotion to a person and their name that will act as a retrieval cue later. Students may not remember “Sue,” but if they remember snake, surprising, or skydiving, the “s” may be enough of a retrieval cue to recall “Sue.” (If you do the Name Game ice breaker, consider revisiting why it works when you get to the memory chapter.)

 

For the Intro Psych Name Game ice breaker, students are to look up, using their web-enabled device, APA Dictionary of Psychology terms that start with the first letter of their first name. Students are looking for something in the definition of the term that connects with themselves. When students introduce themselves to the class (or introduce themselves to a group if you have a large section), students need to explain the term and why they chose it. Use this opportunity to talk more about the concept and what chapter it will appear in if it’s covered in your course. If it’s not a term your course covers, you can talk about what chapter it would appear in or what advanced psychology course it may appear in. (If your students are introducing themselves in groups, mingle with the groups to listen for the terms that they use. After groups are done with their introductions, share some of the terms you heard with the class as a whole.)

 

Before turning students loose to do this activity, use yourself as an example. Here are some examples I could use for me. I’ve specifically chosen these terms because I cover them in my course.

 

  • Somatosensory Area Sue. Soma means body. The somatosensory area of the brain is responsible for things like the sense of touch and kinesthesia (knowing where my limbs are positioned). It allows me to feel this marker and know that my arm is raised. We’ll cover the somatosensory area in the neuroscience chapter.

  • Sleep Hygiene Sue. Sleep hygiene is doing what you need to do in order to get good sleep. I chose it because getting good sleep is incredibly important. We’ll cover sleep in the neuroscience chapter.

  • Social Learning Sue. Social learning is the learning that “is facilitated through social interactions with other individuals.” I chose it because in this course, you’re going to be working a lot in groups and learning with and through your peers. We’ll cover social learning in the learning chapter.

  • Social Psychology Sue. Social psychology is about how we influence others and how others influence us. I chose it because my degree is in social psychology. That means that I’m not a psychotherapist. We’ll cover social psychology in the… wait for it… social psychology chapter.

As I wrote in the previous blog post on using the , “With over 25,000 terms in this dictionary, it’s likely that students will come up with something you’ve never heard of. Now is a good time to practice the humility that’s necessary when teaching Intro Psych. Students generate a lot of questions in this course. The chances that they will ask something you don’t know about is very likely. It’s okay to say, ‘I don’t know.’ If it’s in the area of something that you do know, add what you do know.”

 

The conclusion is the same as the previous post.

 

“Through this activity, students will get a sense of how broad of a field psychology is and how much area the Intro Psych course is going to cover, and you will learn a bunch of new concepts. What’s not to love about that?”

All 25,000+ entries of the American Psychological Association (APA) Dictionary of Psychology are now freely available online.

 

You may just want to let your students know that this resource exists and may be more trustworthy than other sources of definitions for psychological terms students find through a Google search.

 

If you’re looking for a different way to start your Intro Psych course, you can ask students to hop on their web-enabled device and browse this dictionary looking at words that begin with the first initial of their first name and the first initial of their last name. (If they have more than one first or last name, they can choose which initials they use.)

 

Students will then choose one word from each section. If their first and last initials are the same, they will choose two words from that section and read the definitions. Students will share what they found with one or two other students. As a group, students are to identify the most interesting term the  members of their group found, and then, looking at the table of contents for your textbook or the list of topics in the syllabus, guess where that concept could be covered in the course. Walk around to each group, answering any questions students may have.

 

Finally, ask each group to report out to the class. What term did they choose? What is the APA dictionary definition (display it via instructor’s computer)? Why did they choose it? And where in the course do they think it best fits? If this will be a concept covered in the course, you can talk more about it and whether the group was right in guessing where it will be covered. If it’s not a concept that will be covered, you can say in what kind of course it would be covered, e.g., a graduate course on statistics.

 

Examples

 

A student has my initials, S and F.

 

Skimming the S section, the student picks schadenfreude, “the gaining of pleasure or satisfaction from the misfortune of others.”

 

The student shares these with their group, and the group selects schadenfreude as the term they found most interesting. A volunteer from the group would define the term, explain why the group chose it, and guesses that the concept would be covered in the disorders chapter. A response from the instructor could be:

 

Doing this is not a sign of a psychological disorder, but is a very common experience. There is an ingroup/outgroup component to this – concepts we’ll talk about in the social psychology chapter. Have a favorite sports team? Your team and the fans of your team are one of your many ingroups. That makes other teams and their fans one of your many outgroups. Have you ever felt joy when your team’s rival did poorly? That’s schadenfreude.

 

Skimming the F section, the student picks face recognition, “the identification of a specific face. A specialized face-recognition region in the temporal lobe has been demonstrated by brain imaging; injury to this region results in such deficits as prosopagnosia, a failure to recognize previously familiar faces.”

 

If the group selected face recognition as the term they found most interesting, again, a volunteer from the group would define the term, explain why they chose it, and, this time, the group guesses that face recognition would be covered in the neuroscience chapter. A response from the instructor could be:

 

Indeed, we will be talking about this in the neuroscience chapter. Not only do some people have prosopagnosia – face blindness – but some people are the exact opposite: super recognizers. Super recognizers can remember faces extremely well, so well that they can look at faces in poor-quality video, remember those faces, and spot those faces in a crowd. You’ll be reading an article on that, and you’ll have the opportunity to take a test to see if you are a super recognizer (short test embedded in this article; longer test). (Note: this might not be a bad time to introduce students to the concept of the normal curve where those with prosopagnosia are in one tail, super recognizers are in the other, and most of us somewhere in between.)

 

Concepts you’ve never heard of?

 

With over 25,000 terms in this dictionary, it’s likely that students will come up with something you’ve never heard of. Now is a good time to practice the humility that’s necessary when teaching Intro Psych. Students generate a lot of questions in this course. The chances that they will ask something you don’t know about is very likely. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” If it’s in the area of something that you do know, add what you do know.  

 

If students chose from the S section, for example, sangue dormido, “a culture-bound syndrome found among inhabitants (indigenous and immigrant) of Cape Verde. Symptoms include pain, numbness, tremor, paralysis, convulsions, stroke, blindness, heart attack, infection, and miscarriage.” Since this is a concept I’ve not heard of, I would say something like

 

I’ve never heard of that, but if we covered it, it’d probably be in either the social psychology chapter or the psychological disorders chapter. “Culture-bound” means that this is something that is only seen in this or similar cultures, but not anywhere else. (In the displayed definition, since “culture-bound” is a link, I’d click through on that, and then probably click through on some of the other culture-bound syndromes listed within that definition.)

 

Conclusion

 

Through this activity, students will get a sense of how broad of a field psychology is and how much area the Intro Psych course is going to cover, and you will learn a bunch of new concepts. What’s not to love about that?

For my Intro Psych course, I spend a lot of time thinking about what the future medical professionals, engineers, business leaders, and politicians taking my classes need to know about psychology. In the disorders chapter, I ask students to raise their hands if they, a friend, or a family member has been diagnosed with a psychological disorder. About 2/3 of the hands go up. My students or someone they know could benefit from seeing a psychotherapist. Intro Psych textbooks include information about what psychotherapy is, but how often do they cover how to find a psychotherapist?

 

The American Psychological Association (APA) provides a “how to choose a psychologist” page, a page that “may be reproduced and distributed for noncommercial purposes with credit given to the American Psychological Association.”  At minimum, provide a link to this page in your course management system. If you have the resources, print and distribute to your students.

 

If time allows, this topic lends itself to a jigsaw classroom. Divide your students into 6 groups. If that would make your group size too large (say, over 5 per group), divide your students into 12 or 18 groups. Each group gets one of the “questions to ask” a psychologist bullets from the “how to choose a psychologist” page with the following instructions.

 

Group A:

 

“Are you a licensed psychologist? How many years have you been practicing psychology?”

 

Using the Internet, find out what it takes to become a licensed psychologist (in our state, province, country – use whatever geographic dimension applies to your location). If licensure includes a doctoral degree or internship accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), find out what a university or internship needs to do to receive that accreditation.

 

Group B:

 

“I have been feeling (anxious, tense, depressed, etc.) and I'm having problems (with my job, my marriage, eating, sleeping, etc.). What experience do you have helping people with these types of problems?”

 

Refer to the examples at the end of this page. How would each of the people in these examples ask this question. Identify five problems that are commonly experienced by students. For each problem, write out how a student could phrase the issue to a practicing psychologist.

 

Group C:

 

“What are your areas of expertise — for example, working with children and families?”

 

Referring to this chapter of your textbook, what areas of expertise might a practicing psychologist identify? (Hint: think populations of people who may benefit from psychotherapy and the types of issues people may have.)

 

For each of the examples given at the end of the page, what areas of expertise should the practicing psychologist have?

 

Group D:

 

“What kinds of treatments do you use, and have they been proven effective for dealing with my kind of problem or issue?”

 

Using the information in this chapter, identify at least five different treatments that a practicing psychologist might use.

 

For each of the examples given at the end of this page, identify the treatment or treatments that may be appropriate.

 

Group E:

 

“What are your fees? (Fees are usually based on a 45-minute to 50-minute session.) Do you have a sliding-scale fee policy?”

 

Using the Internet, identify the typical fees charged by practicing psychologists in our area. What is a sliding-scale fee and how does it work? How often can one expect to attend therapy sessions? How many sessions can one expect to attend?

 

Group F:

 

“What types of insurance do you accept? Will you accept direct billing to or payment from my insurance company? Are you affiliated with any managed care organizations? Do you accept Medicare or Medicaid insurance?”

 

This document provides more information about insurance and psychotherapy: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/parity-guide.pdf. Summarize the major issues to consider. What questions should you ask your insurance carrier before contacting a practicing psychologist?

 

Mingle amongst the groups, answering any questions that arise.

 

After the groups have finished answering their questions, students are to make sure that everyone in their group knows the answers. Reconfigure the groups so that one person from each A to F group is in a new group together. One relatively quick way to do this is to give the members of each group a different colored index card or half sheet of paper. Group A, for example, gets aqua, Group B get dark blue, Group C gets cherry red. When the groups get split up and reassembled, members of the new group will hold up their colors. There should be at least one person for each of the six colors in the new group. Any group who is missing a color can yell for that color: “We need an aqua!”

 

In their new groups, each student reports what they learned about their bullet point. Again, mingle amongst the groups, answering questions.

 

After students have finished sharing within their groups, bring the class back together, and ask students if they feel more informed about choosing a psychotherapist than they did before class started. Answer any remaining questions.

 

Now that students know the questions to ask a psychotherapist, they still need to find a psychotherapist to ask. For people who live in the US or Canada, APA offers a helpful locator service: https://locator.apa.org/. At the time of this writing (June 2018), the website reports that it is “currently undergoing renovations.” Use the drop-down menu to select a US state, a US territory, or a Canadian province. Visitors are redirected to the websites of those state, territorial, or provincial psychological organizations that have their own searchable provider databases.

 

Remind students that one way they may be able to help a loved one is by, with the loved one’s permission, doing the legwork to find a practicing psychologist for them. When you’re struggling and everything feels impossible, finding a practicing psychologist could feel like an impossible task (Murphy, 2018).

 

Crisis Text Line

 

For immediate help, for themselves or a loved one, students can contact the Crisis Text Line.

 

In the US, text HOME to 741741.

In Canada, text HOME to 686868.

 

The Crisis Text Line is coming to the UK in 2018.

 

For students who are looking for volunteer opportunities in the US, Canada, or the UK, the Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteer counselors. Each volunteer receives a “30-hour web-based training” and is asked to commit to four hours of service each week with an overall 200-hour commitment.  

 

Also consider sharing local crisis hotline numbers with your students. A valuable service-learning-type project for your students would be advertising on your campus the Crisis Text Line as well as local hotlines or other national hotlines.