I’ve been watching the recent debate about replication with interest, concern, and not just a little amusement. It seems everyone has their opinion on the matter (leave it to a field of scientists to have twice as many opinions as there are scientists in the field!), and at times the discussion has been quite heated. But as a grad student, it’s been difficult to know whether I should throw my own hat in the ring. With psychology heavyweights like Kahneman and Gilbert voicing their opinions, what room is there for a third-year grad student? But fortunately (or unfortunately), I’ve never been one to know when to keep my opinions to myself, so I want to present my own thoughts on the matter. My perspective is that, even if the issue gets heated at times, this discussion can be fruitful as we learn to navigate a changing discipline.Continue Reading
One of the skills that I believe is important to teach in schools is the ability to develop and apply moral values to everyday life. In the past, this sort of thing was done by integrating religion into school. Children would be taught Christian moral values and principles, and they learned to apply them. Once schools became more secularized, this religious moral education was removed. And don’t get me wrong—I believe that is a good thing. However, no system of moral values was put in its place. Instead of embracing the moral values of secular society, schools opted toward a “no-values” approach that removed as much value-judgment as possible. The emphasis shifted to facts and analysis of facts instead of values and value judgments.Continue Reading
Over the past year, psychology as a field, and in particular social psychology, has come under scrutiny after several notable cases of scientific fraud. The most notable was Diederik Stapel, who outright fabricated data for at least 30 publications. A couple other cases of data manipulation and fraud have just surfaced recently, leading to further resignations of researchers in the field. Amidst these news stories, some have asked the question, “Is psychology trustworthy? Is it even a science at all?”
Of course, these are not new questions for psychology to deal with. Making the case for psychology as a science has been a continual process over the years, and psychology to some extent still suffers from the impression that has remained from the psychoanalytic tradition of Freud. The psychoanalysts loved to sit people on couches and talk about dreams and repressed childhood memories and so on. But we’re past Freud. Honest.
However, given the recent scrutiny, I thought it appropriate to take the time to address the question again and argue that yes, psychology is indeed a science. I come from the perspective of a graduate student in social psychology—traditionally the most “suspect” of the areas in psychology—and as such, most of my experience and examples come from that area. I approach this question from the “if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck” approach (see, I’m using the scientific method already!). I would like to argue that psychology operates very similarly to other fields of science that are not in dispute—the so-called “hard sciences”. So let me outline just a few of the ways in which psychology parallels these fields.Continue Reading
Education is crucial to the functioning of a strong, healthy society, because today’s modern society is built upon knowledge and information. And during our many, many years of education, we learn math, science, history, English, art, health, and more. These are all good things, and important for a well-rounded education. But in amongst this smorgasbord of studying, there are several topics that are generally not covered that I think are important for every school to teach. Some of these might not need an entire course to cover them, but at the very least, these are topics that I think every school should be sure to include in their curricula—preferably as early as possible. Let me share with you my thoughts.Continue Reading
I recently completed my Honours thesis as a component of my BA degree in Honours Psychology. This thesis involved about a year’s worth of work from start to finish—planning out the study, doing a literature review, developing the materials, getting ethics clearance, running the study, collecting the results, analyzing the results, and writing it all up. Needless to say, it feels good to be finished it. I thought it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about the topic and about what I found. Essentially, the main purpose of the research was to look at the association between ultimate justice and revenge. I’ll start off explaining each of these in a little more detail, and then tell you what I found in my own study.Continue Reading
Another year has come and gone. Where did all the time go? It seems like 2010 has flown by. But of course, as everyone always seems to do on New Year’s Eve, I’d like to take some time to reflect on the past year.
I guess that for me, 2010 was all about decision-making. I had to make some big decisions, the most important one being about grad school. Do I want to go to grad school? Should I go as soon as I graduate? Where should I apply? These were all questions that I had to answer this year, and I’ve now gone through that entire process. I’ve filled out the applications, done the GREs, sent out transcripts, got letters of reference. And now I wait. 2011 will be the year that I find out what happens.Continue Reading
It’s been a busy past couple of weeks for me. I’ve been hard at work doing all the necessary steps toward applying for grad school. I realized the other day that I haven’t written anything about this process, so I figured I’d take the opportunity to do so now.
The first thing to know about applying to grad school is that it is a lot of work. I think this is actually a secret test of whether people are ready for the rigors of grad school; if they get through the application process, they’re ready. There are many steps to the process, and most of them have to be done simultaneously. Luckily, I think I am actually nearing the end of the process.Continue Reading