Empathy and altruism – recent evidence

Altruism is a type of prosocial behaviour.  Whereas prosocial behaviour is behaviour that helps others, altruism goes one step further - it is behaviour that helps others with no benefit to ourselves, and often at a cost to ourselves.  While some psychologists argue that there is no such thing as truly altruistic behaviour (see Schaller and Cialdini's Negative State Relief model, for example), others like Batson argue that altruism operates through empathy.  Batson's Empathy-Altruism hypothesis states that empathic concern produces ...

Pro-social behaviour and the bystander effect

What is pro-social behaviour?  Most of us have heard of anti-social behaviour.  This is behaviour that harms others and shows a lack of concern for their well-being.  pro-social behaviour is the opposite. It is behaviour that helps others and shows a concern for them.  Prosocial behaviour also includes altruism, which is when we help others and show a real concern for them, without any expectation of benefit for ourselves, and sometimes at a personal cost.  As a friend of mine ...

Answering the “So What?” question

A few days ago, the last wave of essays came in for marking, before I could take my winter break.  Apart from one or two essays, I found myself thinking throughout my marking, "Yes, but  So What?  Why are you referring to this study?" So here is an example to help you make your answers into true answers to the question, and not just a description of all you know on a certain topic. [Note, I am not suggesting that you have ...

Environment and physiology – Seasonal Affective Disorder

For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, this is a highly relevant topic at this time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder is is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons and the accompanying decrease in natural daylight.  It is a very good example of an interaction between the environment and a physiological process. This blog by Dayna Evans carries an excellent description of her suffering from SAD. Rosenthal et al (1986) summarised a series of studies and concluded ...

It’s now November – time for exam preparation!

Really, it was time for revision a while ago if you are a student who is sitting IB Diploma Psychology exams on Think deeply Thursday 6th and Friday 7th November.  However, a week is long enough to brush up on exam technique and plan to focus your answers effectively on the questions asked rather than writing everything you know about the topics you have studied. Feedback from the May 2014 examiners is a good place to start for tips: Paper 1 Section A (Short-answer ...

Moderators’ advice for your IA

Subject Reports The IB Diploma Psychology subject reports were published recently. They are where examiners and IB Diploma moderators give feedback on the quality of the May 2104 exams and the IAs.  This month we will take a look at what the moderators said about the IAs, both HL and SL.  Those of you taking your exams in May 2015 have probably now started your IA experimental study, and those of you taking your exams in November 2015 or May 2016 ...

The levels of analysis in Psychology

Many of you will be studying Psychology for the first time, and will be wondering at the 'levels' of analysis' approach taken by the IB Diploma Psychology course.  This approach, with an acknowledged difference between the biological, cognitive and sociocultural levels of analysing the reasons for behaviour, is also taken by many university courses.  The reason for this goes back to the old and now outdated nature/nurture debate.  How much of our behaviour is inherited and how much is learned? The ...

The biological level of analysis

By Monday, September 1, 2014 No tags 0

If you are starting teaching your Y1 psychology course this September, it is a fair chance that you are starting with the biological level of analysis.  Though, of course, you have the flexibility to begin where you like. It is important that students realise that psychologists working in neuroscience do not necessarily take a reductionist approach and declare that it is "All in our genes".  The current argument is that there is an interaction between our biology, our cognition and the ...

Decisions, decisions…what to do for your IA?

By Friday, August 1, 2014 , 0

The internally-assessed experiment (IA) that you conduct in Psychology is worth 20% of your marks if you are an HL student and a whopping 25%  if you are an SL student, so it is worth getting it right.  Here are some thoughts to help you along the way. Choose the right study.  Attached is a list of studies that are all suitable for replication, with a link to the original study in each case.  The originals are sometimes hard to read, but you ...

Memories are made of….

What are memories made of?  Well they are certainly not 'carved in stone' as we might believe, and nor are they exact pictures of what happened.  In fact memory is the most flexible of cognitive processes, and can be altered drastically by time passing, suggestions made to you after the event, and by stress during an event.  Just talk to your brother, sister or friend about something that happened when you were both present, some years ago.  have you got ...