Posted by & filed under Psychology Update.

There are two important articles in this week’s Psychology Update.

#1   After PTSD, More Trauma

DESCRIPTION:  “David J. Morris, a former Marine infantry officer, is the author of the forthcoming book “The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”  Mr. Morris describes his life after serving in the military and suffering intense PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).   He describes his experiences with the VA (Veterans Administration) system in his attempt to get treatment.  Further, he elaborates on the treatment that made him worse not better.  He also discusses his road to recovery.

SOURCE:  New York Times by By David J. Morris

Date:   January 17, 2015

#2   ‘American’ Sniper’ Jury Is Told of Troubled Ex-Marine Who Killed Chris Kyle

DESCRIPTION:  This article is a first in the series about the beginning of the trial of Eddie Ray Routh who shot Chris Kyle (American Sniper) and another marine.  The article provides details of Mr. Routh’s condition and diagnosis after leaving the military.  He was diagnosed as both schizophrenic and having PTSD, and has had a number of violent interactions.  The article juxtaposes the defense arguments regarding the insanity plea versus the prosecutor’s perspective that Mr. Routh essentially did not have a disorder and is purely guilty murder regardless of his diagnosis and mitigating circumstances.

SOURCE:  New York Times  by Manny Fernandez and Kathryn Jones

DATE:  February 11, 2015


(shortened URL)


#3 ‘American Sniper’ Jury Finds Ex-Marine Guilty of Murder

DESCRIPTION:  The trial ended, and the jury found that Eddie Ray Routh is guilty of murder despite the data that he was diagnosed with both PTSD and schizophrenia.  He will be sentenced to life in prison.

SOURCE:  New York Times, February 27, 2015, by Manny Fernandez and Kathryn Jones


(shortened URL)



•What is PTSD?  What are the causes, triggers, and symptoms?
What does the diagnosis entail?  That is, how is the diagnosis made?

•What is the insanity defense?   How is it determined?
(See the Websites of the week (for March 2, 2015) that are part of this update.)

•What types of therapy are employed for veterans who suffer PTSD as described by David Morris?  What is the efficacy of the treatment?  What are the pros and cons of each as described by the author?

•How are we to understand the point of view of the defense for Mr. Routh in their use of Psychological/Psychiatric data vs the denial of the data by the prosecutors?  What accounts for the clash between the scientific and the legal system?

•If we accept David Morris’ description of PTSD, the VA, and subsequent treatment, then how would you, the student, judge Mr. Routh if you were a member of the jury?


Posted by & filed under Psychology App of the Week.


(The apps listed are generally free.  However, occasionally there may be a charge.   $=$.99 up to $1.25.   $$=$1.99   $$$=$2.99)

The Stroop Effect
Available for both iOS and Android

(click on the appropriate link for your needs to be taken to the info page)

Description (from the Google Play Store)

“The Stroop Effect is a demonstration of interference in the reaction time of a task. When the name of a color (e.g., “blue,” “green,” or “red”) is printed in a color not denoted by the name (e.g., the word “red” printed in blue ink instead of red ink), naming the color of the word takes longer and is more prone to errors than when the color of the ink matches the name of the color. The effect is named after John Ridley Stroop who first published the effect in English in 1935. The effect had previously been published in Germany in 1929. The original paper has been one of the most cited papers in the history of experimental psychology, leading to more than 700 replications. The effect has been used to create a psychological test (Stroop Test) that is widely used in clinical practice and investigation.”

This is a fun app to work with an entire class room or to set up a mini two person experiment in your class (like pair-&-share).   You can simple hold up your tablet in front of the class, give instructions, and then collect data.  It is informative, entertaining, and demonstrates a number of processes.   This can be an easy 10 minute demonstration activity.

Posted by & filed under Psychology Update.

Description:   While there are many known functions of sleep, scientists now believe that another function that occurs during the sleep cycles is the cleaning out and clearing the brain of toxins that have built up throughout the waking day.  The scientists call this the “glymphatic system” in that it involves the glial cells of the brain and works similar to the lymphatic system.  The article will interest even those who are not physiologically oriented in that it discusses sleep issues and how these impact daily living.  The researchers look to applying this new discovery to developing new sleep therapies.

Source:      New York Times

Date:        January 11, 2014


(shortened URL)

Original Publication

Xie et al, (2013), Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain
Science 18 October 2013, Vol. 342 no. 6156, pp. 373-377


•What are the functions of Sleep? (in general)
•According to the article, what else is happening in the brain during sleep?
•How do the activities of daily living impact our sleep?
•What are the consequences (short and long term) of sleep deprivation?
•Based upon this new research, what types of therapies might be developed?

Posted by & filed under Psychology Update.

Description:      This NY Times Magazine article discusses the chromosomal abnormality called Prader-­Willi syndrome which eventually causes a continual food craving and the problem of never feeling full or satisfied.  The article begins with a case discussion of a young woman and her development from birth through adolescence and difficulties the parents have experienced coping with the problem.   The article describes the syndrome as well as the brain and physiological factors involved in this disorder.   Further the article discusses the social and cultural factors in the day to day lives of children and adults who experience the disorder.

Source:  New York Times

Date:        January 21, 2015


(shortened URL)

Questions for DIscussions:

•What is the Prader-Willi Syndrome?
•How does it develop from birth to adolescence?
•What are believed to be the causes and subsequent symptoms?
•How does the Prader-Willi Syndrome parallel what is known about the physiological factors in hunger regulation?  What parts of the brain are involved?
•This article is a good one that delineates the BioPsychoSocial  perspectives in understanding human behavior and disorders.   Assign three group to cover each of the perspectives for a full analysis of the syndrome.


Posted by & filed under Psychology Website of the Week.





This site from the Chronicle of Higher Education is specifically for you, the professor.  This week’s entries feature two articles from the Chronicle Of Higher Education section VITAE.  This section of the CHE is aimed at a sympathetic understanding of what, you the professor, must deal with on a week-to-week basis.   The two chosen for this week focus on what happens in the interaction between professor and student around student excuses.  This is informative and entertaining.

The first looks at faculty reactions and strategies regarding students who have not purchased their textbooks at least four weeks into the semester.  The second looks at student excuses for missing the midterm:  the passing of their grandmother (again and again).


#1   Dear Student: It’s February and You Still Don’t Have Your Textbook?

Date:  February 6, 2015

(shortened URL)


#2   Dear Student: Should Your Granny Die Before The Midterm

Date:   January 29, 2015

(shortened URL)

Posted by & filed under Psychology Update, Research Methods.

Four articles are presented this week.  Each deals with the common theme of scientific and critical thinking about events in the news.  These can be used for a discussion (see at the end) of viewing events through a “social science lens.”  You may decide to pick and choose which article is of most usefulness for your teaching purposes.

ARTICLE #1: “The Vaccine Lunacy:  Disneyland, Measles and Madness”

Description:  Frank Bruni, an op ed columnist at the New York Times, discusses how “personal opinions” trump scientific data.  Regarding the recent measles outbreak in late 2014 and early 2015, he blasts how those in the  “anti-vaccine movement reflect a chilling disregard for science.”  Additionally he briefly mentions those who deny climate science and those who support faddish diet aides without reliable scientific evidence.

Source:      New York Times by Frank Bruni

Date:        January 31, 2015


(shortened URL)


ARTICLE #2:   “British Journal Retracts Paper Linking Autism and Vaccines”

Description:  This article addresses the serious ethical issues of Dr. Andrew Wakefield in his drawing conclusions that the MMR vaccination was a cause of autism.  Dr. Wakefield’s work triggered the anti-vaccine movement, and though discredited, the work is still used as “proof” that vaccines are responsible for autism.  “A British medical panel concluded …  that Dr. Wakefield had been dishonest, violated basic research ethics rules and showed a “callous disregard” for the suffering of children involved in his research.”

Source:      New York Times by Gardiner Harris

Date:        February 2, 2010



ARTICLE #3:     “Groundhog Day 2015: Punxsutawney Phil Sees Shadow, Predicts Six More Weeks of Winter”

Description:  Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this year predicting another six weeks of weather.  Since 1887, Americans have looked to Phil as the prognosticator of weather.   Is Phil accurate?  How many times has he been right? Wrong?  Worshipping a giant rodent is a custom left over from medieval times celebrating the midpoint of the winter season hoping for an early spring.  Science and superstition walk hand-in-hand in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania

Source:      Washington Post by Angela Fritz

Date:        February 2, 2015

LINKS TO RESOURCES    (includes video)

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ARTICLE #4:     “Appeals Court Upholds Need for Scientific Evidence of Disease-Related Claims for Food”

Description:  An appeals court ruling forbade a pomegranate juice company from making healthy medical claims about it’s product.  The brief report points out that claims “cited those studies in advertisements to suggest that consuming pomegranates could help people fight heart disease, prostate cancer, or erectile dysfunction.”  Problems in the type of research conducted are mentioned in the article.

Source:      Chronicle of Higher Education: The Ticker by Ruth Hammond

Date:        February 2, 2015


(shortened URL)



•What do the four articles have in common?

•How is the use of the scientific method (or lack thereof) discussed in each of the articles?

•Can the students detect the flaws in the science discussed in the articles?

•What knowledge is derived regarding drawing conclusions based on facts/data vs personal opinions?

•Epistemology:  How do we derive real objective knowledge of the world?

•How is the scientific method subverted when conflicts of interest (such as politcs and montary issues) influence research?

•What conclusions should students draw about interpreting issues in the “news”?

•What lies behind the denial of real research? (the anti vaccine groups, deniers of climate change, birthers, conspiracy theorists, and so on)

•How does critical thinking help students separate the false from real facts?  What role does Psychology play in this endeavor?

Posted by & filed under Psychology Update.

DESCRIPTION: Two brief articles (accompanied by videos) that are to serve as PSA (public service announcements) regarding domestic violence. The first is headlined in Time Magazine as “Watch the Chilling New Domestic Violence Ad You’ll See During the Super Bowl.” The article points out that the PSA is based on an actual 911 call for help.   The second brief article and video are part of the NFL’s campaign to end domestic violence and features a number of well known football players. 



(Time Magazine January 27, 2015 — includes video)


(USA Today, October 22, 2014 — includes video)



  • Based upon Social Psychology, what is an “attitude” and what is “persuasion.”   Do studies show that a PSA can change (persuade) an attitude? Do the PSA commercials regarding abuse have elements that meet criteria for attitudinal shifts?
  • Based upon social science data, what are the causes of domestic abuse? Does the Bio-Psycho-Social model help in the explanation?
  • From what is known from Social Learning Theory and Bandura’s work: how would these psychologists account for domestic abuse in families? What role does media play in both facilitating and inhibiting abuse and family violence?
  • Ask the students: how do the explanations of a social scientist differ from those of the lay person (everyday person) regarding the causes and “cures” for abuse?
  • Ask the students: how do the explanations of a social scientist differ from those of the lay person (everyday person) regarding whether a campaign such as this to end domestic violence will be effective or not?

Posted by & filed under Psychology Update.

Description: This Huffington Post article cites a study from the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. It discusses how researchers using virtual reality experiments gave their subjects the opportunity to experience their bodies with different color skins, ages, and gender. The results suggested that unconscious racial biases could be reduced by having an individual become more empathetic by “walking in another’s shoes” and thus lessen unconscious racial stereotypes. The Huffington Post article posts both graphics and video illustrations of the virtual reality employed in the study that can be used in class or powerpoints.

Source: The Huffington Post by Almendrala and Cooper-White

Date: December 15, 2014


Huffington Post Article

Trends in Cognitive Sciences (December 2014)

Questions for Discussions:

  • Based upon studies in Social Psychology, how are racial stereotypes formed?
  • What techniques from classic studies have been shown to reduce racial bias?
  • Based upon the descriptions in the current study, how can exposure and empathy be employed to reduce racial bias?
  • Given the current problems in law enforcement in the news, how could this study be applied to working with urban police departments?