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Developing a Personal Profile

This post provides the information you need in order to prepare for our tutorial next week, which is a personal tutorial.

During the personal tutorial at the beginning of the semester, I told you about a valuable resource called the Psychology Student Employability Guide. Throughout your degree I will be asking you to use this guide to help you in your personal development and career planning. If you have not already done so, you should take some time to scan through the entire guide so that you understand the aims of the guide and what you can expect to accomplish by using it. The timelines on pages 19 to 21 give you a very good idea of what you might aim to accomplish during each year, and how to do so in discrete steps.

In our next tutorial we will begin the process of developing a personal profile. We will follow the process outlined in Chapter 2 of the Psychology Student Employability Guide. This chapter describes a self-assessment process called the Holland Assessment (pages 40 to 44) that can help you identify your skills, values, attributes, and preferences, and then think about how all of those combine.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to do all of them at once! For our next tutorial, we will focus on skills. I would like you to read the section on skills (pages 23 to 32) and to complete the skills assessment. To do so, you should print the relevant pages and complete the assessment on paper. Please bring this with you to tutorial.


The Ethics of Psychology in the News

Just a quick reminder that you should be reading and thinking about the ethics of psychology in preparation for our tutorial next week.

Here is a recent news item that may stimulate your thinking: a social psychologist has admitted that many of his papers are based on non-existent data. As a result, not only has he lost his job and his doctoral degree, but in addition, many people are questioning whether the practices of research psychologists need to be changed to prevent other cases of fraud.

Cooperation and the Queen Bee

Last week Laura told us about a study she read in Psychological Science about the Queen Bee theory. The Queen Bee theory concerns how women relate to other women in the workplace, and as you might guess from the name, examines whether women compete versus cooperate with other women.

I just noticed that a friend of mine in the United States has written a column about this topic for the Huffington Post. In his article, “Do men and women cooperate differently?“, he summarises a recent paper from the journal Psychological Bulletin.


Ethics in Psychology

Our next tutorial will be about ethics in psychology. I will not ask you to write as much for this tutorial, but you do need to allow plenty of time for reading and reflection.

To prepare for the tutorial, I would like you to spend some time reading about the topic, both within and outside of scientific research, and then to write a brief comment on whether ethics in psychology is grounded in our ethical principles of everyday life.

First, I would like you to consider the question, “What is ethics?” You don’t need to spend a lot of time on this step, but you should use this step to help you reflect on what you know about ethics already. For instance, you might think about what you learned about ethics from your family, at school, or from any other organisation such as a church group or youth group.

The next step is to think about how the study of ethics applies to everyday life. Throughout history, philosophers have made important contributions to the study of ethics. The ethical questions that philosophers address are sometimes quite different from the questions that most people ask themselves in their day-to-day lives. Applied ethics refers to the branch of philosophy that concerns itself with the questions people ask themselves (or sometimes avoid asking!) in daily life.

Thomas Shanks, a philosopher at Santa Clara University in California has written a very useful article about applied ethics. He writes about how we can use our moral knowledge to shape our day-to-day decisions. He proposes that we can live ethically by asking ourselves five simple questions every day.

  1. Did I practice any virtues today?
  2. Did I do more good than harm today?
  3. Did I treat people with dignity and respect today?
  4. Was I fair and just today?
  5. Was my community better because I was in it? Was I better because I was in my community?

Once you have read the Shanks article, I would like you to consider the ethical principles that govern the conduct of psychological research. Many professional and governmental organisations publish codes of conduct that identify the basic ethical principles that members should follow. I would like you to read the Code of Ethics and Conduct published by the British Psychological Society. You should also familiarise yourself with the ethics pages within our school.

Finally, I would like you to write a brief comment addressing the question, “How are the ethics of psychology grounded in our ethical principles of everyday life, and how are they different?”

Psychological Science

This post describes the task that I would like you to do for our tutorial next week.

For this task, I would like you to apply your reflections on psychology in the media to produce a short, engaging summary of peer-reviewed empirical research. You should choose two articles published in the journal Psychological Science and write one summary for each article.

Here are some tips for your blog entries. Make sure you give your piece a succinct, meaningful headline. Your summary should also be brief – about two paragraphs – but contain the essential information a reader would want to know about the study in order to decide whether it is a useful and meaningful study. Essential information includes the scientific question, the methods, the results, and the authors’ interpretations of the study results. Address a broad audience, and aim for a smooth writing style that is engaging and jargon-free.Finally, be sure to include an evaluative statement. What is the value of this study? Has it changed your understanding of science or of psychology?

During tutorial we will discuss how scientists work with the media to communicate research findings.

I look forward to hearing about your discoveries!


Trends in Cognitive Sciences

This post describes the second task that I would like you to do for our tutorial meeting next week.

For this task, I would like you to apply your reflections on psychology in the media by writing short, engaging summaries of peer-reviewed research reviews.

Over the course of your degree you will read journal articles regularly. When choosing what to read, you may find it helpful to distinguish between review articles and empirical articles.

All empirical articles present new data. Empirical articles are easy to recognise because they nearly always have clear sections labelled Methods and Results.

Review articles do not present new data, but instead summarise a variety of previously published research. Review articles usually review research with a specific aim, such as evaluating the evidence supporting a particular theory, or answering a pragmatic question. Review articles vary in length. Trends in Cognitive Sciences (TICS) publishes quite short articles, for instance, whereas Psychological Review publishes longer articles that put forward a new theory.

For our tutorial you should read two review articles from Trends in Cognitive Sciences, and write a short blog entry on each. Add your entry to this post by clicking on the comment link below.

Before you write your blog entry (or for some of you, before you edit the summary you already sent me), you should spend some time thinking about what you want to communicate, and how you can communicate it effectively. You may want to read through some successful science blogs to see how others do this. A good place to start is the British Psychological Society’s psychology blog.

Here are some simple guidelines. Give your piece a brief title that is easy to understand. Address a broad audience, rather than your tutor. This will help you not to make assumptions about what your reader already knows. Describe the scientific question and the relevant research in clear, simple language. Always include your source, which in this case is the name of the journal, Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Where suitable, refer to the authors by name or institution. Include your own perspective, perhaps by evaluating the study methods, the authors’ interpretation or their data, or by evaluating the value of the study. How has this study challenged your thinking about science, about psychology, or about psychology in the media?

If you have already sent me a summary by email, I would like you to edit your summary based on my guidance here. Try to make your summary as short as possible, whilst retaining the necessary context and details.

Employability Guide for Psychology Students

Don’t forget the assignment that I gave you during our first meeting. I asked you to read pages 9-19 in the Employability Guide for Psychology Students, and to do the first exercise.

The exercise that I am asking you to do introduces personal development planning in the context of career planning.

You don’t need to create any comments in response to this post, but feel free to use the comments function if you have any questions.