Reviewed Books & Films

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February 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Does Temperament Research by U.S. Psychologists Lack Explanatory Focus?

APA In Temperament as a Regulator of Behavior: After Fifty Years of Research, Jan Strelau describes his 50-year investigation of temperament that began with tests of Pavlov's physiological assumptions and culminated in his Regulative Theory of Temperament (RTT). In her review of this book, Patricia Ashton points out that Strelau's research has been guided by a strong explanatory focus missing in theories of temperament in the United States (a point also made in the book's Foreword). She further writes: "The lack of such theories generally in psychological research in the United States appears, at least in part, to be the legacy of the anti-theoretical dominance of behaviorism and the pragmatism of researchers who failed to heed Kurt Lewin's (1951) dictum: 'There is nothing so practical as a good theory' (p. 169)."

Does temperament research conducted by U.S. psychologists lack explanatory focus? As the reviewer suggests, is this a problem with psychological research conducted in the United States in general?

Why has Strelau's theory of temperament sparked significant research in Europe, but not in the United States, and at what cost?

Read the Review
ReviewRemembrance of Research Past in Hope of Research Future
By Patricia T. Ashton
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(1)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Using Films to Develop Moral Reasoning

APA In two retrospective reviews of acclaimed director Krzysztof Kieslowski's film series The Decalogue, Keith Oatley emphasizes the storytelling power of these ten 1-hour films. He remarks that each film is a vignette raising provocative moral questions about the effects of good and bad actions on others. Specifically, he notes:

Vignettes have become useful in psychology, as they tap moral intuitions such as the one discovered by Waldemann & Dieterich (2007), that most people think it is right to affect the path of an inanimate agent such as the trolley so that it kills one rather than five people, but wrong to act on people themselves, for instance by pushing them under the trolley or in some way that directly condemns them to death.
Can films really teach us about moral reasoning and moral development? If so, what is the most effective teaching method for integrating such films in the classroom? Can a person of poor moral character be positively impacted by a portrayal of a character of high moral integrity?

Read the Reviews
ReviewWhat Should We Do? and ReviewRules We Live By
By Keith Oatley
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(1)

Monday, February 09, 2009

How Can Psychological Science Contribute More to the Courtroom?

APA Amy Hackney, in her review of the book Beyond Common Sense: Psychological Science in the Courtroom edited by Eugene Borgida and Susan T. Fiske, notes the following points made in the book:

First, research experts are often excluded from testifying on the ground that jurors do not need assistance with common knowledge. But as the science chapters make clear, many of the robust findings in psycholegal research are counterintuitive. Given all that psychological scientists know about the prevalence of erroneous beliefs, cognitive biases, and the extralegal factors that influence jury decision making, it is imperative that psychological scientists do a better job of acquainting judges and lawyers with the relevant research. Second, in general (but with notable exceptions) scientific psychologists have done a poor job using the methods of psychological science to answer the questions most relevant to legal and policy decision makers.
Do researchers need to address different independent and dependent variables that are perceived as more relevant to legal and policy decision makers in order to make a greater or more useful contribution to the legal system? Do scholars need to better "sell" the research in which they are currently engaged?

Read the Review
ReviewBeyond Common Sense Makes Great Sense
By Amy Hackney
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(1)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

How Much Do Psychologists Need to Know About the Business of Practice and the Practice of Business?

APA Dr. Robert Furey praises the new APA book by Steven Walfish and Jeffrey E. Barnett (Financial Success in Mental Health Practice: Essential Tools and Strategies for Practitioners), stating that it covers

the essential lessons that, historically, have not been covered in graduate school or postgraduate training. Can I waive copays? How do I find a good financial advisor? Will my liability insurance cover legal fees for a licensing board complaint? Should I incorporate? What should I charge for my services? What should I know about noncompetition clauses? What are the advantages and disadvantages to joining a group practice? What is an acceptable collection rate? How can I protect myself from lawsuits that arise after I retire? What do I need to know about taxes? What should I know about buying or selling a practice?
If you are a private practitioner, did your own graduate training adequately prepare you for the realities of running a business?

Read the Review
ReviewThe Altruistic Entrepreneur
By Robert Furey
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(3)

Editor of PsycCRITIQUES

Danny Wedding, PhD

Chair of Behavioral Sciences,
College of Medicine,
American University of Antigua

Associate Editors of PsycCRITIQUES

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