Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Below is a chart I'm using to demonstrate thesis defense to my sophomores. It's an attempt at humor, so don't judge. I made it using I'll take it down when I'm done, but I needed some place to post it where I wouldn't lose it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recent, Sad Example of Bystander Effect

I was alerted to this story by several psychology teachers via listserves yesterday. I'll admit, even though I'm well aware of the bystander effect and its potential dangers, I still find this story shocking.

An April 24 story in the New York post details the chilling failure of numerous pedestrians to come to the aid of a dying homeless man who had been stabbed when he had recently come to the aid of a female under attack by the stabber. Surveillance video revealed that more than 20 people walked past the dying man as he laid on the sidewalk.

Firefighters found the body of the man more than an hour later when responding to a different call for aid. Apparently, at no point did anyone summoned aid for the man, despite the fact that several passers-by closely examined him (one even took a cell phone photo of the victim).

The story is eerily reminiscent of the 1964 Kitty Genovese case: a murder that took place under the noses of 38 neighbors who heard Ms. Genovese scream and plead for her life, but failed to call the police until after the killer had returned to the scene a third time and fatally stabbed his victim, 25 minutes after the initial attack.

Below is some of the surveillance video. Be aware, you may find it disturbing. I did.

View more news videos at:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mistakes Were Made...But Not By Me: Cognitive Dissonance Resources

In my psychology classes today, we will be discussing the concept of cognitive dissonance. The idea - that holding two contradictory beliefs is uncomfortable and that we will change an attitude or behavior to remove the "dissonance" - is behind much of the self-justification we do when we make mistakes.
Many of the most famous studies in Social Psychology involve cognitive dissonance: the Standford Prison Experiment, the Asch conformity study, and Milgrim's obedience study, to name a few.

But public life is also riddled with examples of politicians, celebreties, and plain folks like ourselves engaging in this self-justification, sometimes with dire consequences. My favorite book on the subject, by authors Elliot Aronson and Carol Tarvis, is called Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me (2007). It illuminates the prevalence of this behavior using examples from recent events.
Another great resource for those interested in all aspects of social psychology is the Social Psychology Network. It has TONS (over 17,000!) links to all types of information and organizations related to social psych. Happy surfing!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vocab Review: Psych Disorders & Treatment

If you're looking for a quick study aid for this unit's test, try this: Pysch Disorders and Treatment Quizlet.

Quizlet is an online review site that allows you to create vocabulary lists and use them to generate flashcards, play matching games, and generally familiarize yourself with the terms. I've uploaded terms for this particular unit because so many students struggle with all the new vocab.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

CATCH-IT and MoodGYM: Online Therapy?

One approach to providing mental health treatment that has emerged in the past few years is the use of online workbooks or exercises to supplement counseling or therapy. The idea is not to replace face-to-face therapy, but to provide assistance to those who cannot seek regular mental health care (for example, those in remote rural areas).

Two projects worth investigating are CATCH-IT, for adolescents, and MoodGYM, for adults. MoodGYM is designed to replicate Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and been shown to be effective in randomized, controlled trials. Both models provide visitors with assessment tools and exercises aimed at reducing current and future symptoms of depression.

You have to set up user accounts to use the sites, but it is possible to do so quickly and with the intention of exploring the site. Of course, you can use it to attempt to improve your own mental health, but keep in mind the sites are not intended to replace normal mental health care.

AP Exam Review Sessions Scheduled

Students, it's time to get serious about that AP Exam review stuff. With only a couple weeks remaining in April, it's hard to figure out what happened to our school year! Time flies when you're having fun, right?

Anyhow, I've penciled in on my calendar some evening review sessions in the days leading up to the AP Exam. These will be in addition to review that happens in class. You are encouraged to come for either or both, depending on your schedule and your preferred method of study. On each night, I will stay as long as students wish to, within reason of course. I will be available as a resource for whatever type of reviewing you want to do: structured, teacher-led, student-led, partner, flashcards, whatever.

Here are the dates:

Sunday, May 9th - 6:00 PM
Monday, May 10th - 6:00 PM

Both evening review sessions will be held in my classroom (136).

Friday, April 16, 2010

Shopping Psychology

I'll credit my colleague, our high school Marketing teacher Mr. Jon Sylte, for alerting me to this
intriguing title. It has wiggled its way to the top of my "To-read" list. (Okay, it's actually right behind some books I have to read for a grad class, but you know what I mean).
In Priceless: the Myth of Fair Value, author William Poundstone explains all the fascinating (and seemingly manipulative) tricks used by companies to get us to accept a particular price for an item. Much of it smacks of the content of a psychology course on problem solving or cognitive obstacles.
In the video below, Poundstone explains how restaurants manipulate their menus to encourage us to buy certain items (at prices the owners want us to pay). One neat trick: use the "anchoring heuristic". Lots of examples of framing as well.

Eliza: The Computer Therapist

Can't afford a real therapist? Don't have the time? Try Eliza, a computer program designed to simulate the active listening of a client-centered therapist.

While I encourage you to check it out for fun, keep in mind my recommendation is a little tongue-in-cheek. Eliza is not meant to replace real psychotherapy, so if you feel you are in need of such services, please, seek out a human counselor or psychologist.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Psych Disorders Assignment Links

By now, we've discussed in class three major categories of disorder: Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, and Schizophrenia. The worksheet you were given yesterday requires you to explore four additional categories of disorder. See below for links to each one:

There are some major proposed changes ("reformulations") to the category of personality disorders in the DSM-5. Particularly, using trait severity ratings and increased emphasis on the person's level of functioning/social impairment in diagnosis.

Also, within the dissociative disorders, "Dissociative Fugue" may be eliminated and simply understood as a type of Dissociative Amnesia (see details).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mandatory AP Preadministration - April 20

During 2nd hour on Tuesday, April 20th, all students registered to take any Advanced Placement exam at Chi-Hi will be called to the cafeteria for "Preadministration" of exam materials. This means you will be filling out all of those tedious identification documents that we, in previous years, had you complete the day of the test. You will also receive all of your registration information about testing week (it will not be mailed to you, as in previous years).

This is a new procedure as of this year, since our building has so many students taking exams, and many of them taking multiple exams. Why the change?
  • You'll be "fresh" for your test. It takes almost an hour to fill out all of those boring (but required) forms. Doing it ahead of time means you won't have to endure it while you are anxious to begin your very important test!
  • It eliminates wasted time. You only have to fill out ONE set of these for ALL your AP tests. Previously, students who were taking their second (or third) AP exam had to sit for an hour with nothing to do while their peers taking a first exam completed this paperwork.
  • It helps ensure all exams run (and finish) on time. We had been having problems with exams running "over" their allotted times, pushing back the next test to be administered and inconveniencing those who had to be done on time for athletics or other obligations. This will hopefully eliminate the problem.

IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT YOU ATTEND THE PREADMINISTRATION SESSION. If even ONE person misses, the entire group of students taking that test will have to wait for him/her to fill out this paperwork on exam day. Don't inconvenience your peers by failing to show up!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Anxiety Disorders Assignment

Tomorrow in class you will be working on creating a "Handy" Guide to five anxiety disorders. Thus, it is to your advantage to bring some colored pencils, if you want them.

Here are the directions for that assignment, by the way. But you'll get a copy in class, too.

Also here's a good web resource for identifying the diagnostic criteria if you don't have a copy of the DSM-IV-TR laying around: Cleveland Medical Clinic's web guide.