Reviewed Books & Films

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April 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Children, Media, and Society

APA Leonard A. Jason and Ilana M. Barach note the increasing levels and variety of media exposure in children's lives. Their review of The Handbook of Children, Media, and Development notes the complex issues involved in assessing the impact of media exposure on child development. The Handbook discusses the fact that media can "encourage short-term and long-term violence and aggression in children, but it can also initiate prosocial behavior."

Given the complexity of the issues, the limited research on the long-term impact of new media, and multiple media exposure on child development, does psychology have enough data to weigh in on what represents quality, developmentally appropriate media? Are American children at risk in our media-rich environment?

Read the Review
ReviewKids and the Media: What We Know and What We Need to Learn
By Leonard A. Jason [and] Ilana M. Barach
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(13)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Do Deaf Learners Process Information Differently?

APA In her review of Deaf Cognition: Foundations and Outcomes edited by Marc Marschark and Peter C. Hauser, Kathy Pierce notes that "[the] investigation of cognitive strengths and liabilities in relation to hearing peers [is] inadequate, frequently focusing on negative aspects instead of searching for strengths that could help optimize the learning experiences of deaf individuals."

Do you think that deaf individuals process information in the same manner as hearing individuals? If not, what are the implications for academic and vocational success?

Read the Review
ReviewThinking About Being Deaf: Will the Present Research Help Guide Future Teaching?
By Kathy J. Pierce
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(13)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Thinking About Those Mindless Moments

APA In his review of The Unintended Consequences of Civilization, Gordon Pitz writes,

"Smart people do stupid things because they behave mindlessly. The automatic response system that produces mindless behavior evolved because it was adaptive, but it comes at a cost. That everything beneficial comes at a cost is a special case of the Newtonian principle of maximum entropy."
How do mindless behaviors, the problems of modern civilization, evolution, and fundamental principles of physics relate?

Read the Review
ReviewThe Unintended Consequences of Civilization
By Gordon Pitz
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(12)

Monday, April 06, 2009

What Is the Value of the Genovese Parable?

APA In his review of two books about the Kitty Genovese murder case (Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case and Twisted Confessions: The True Story Behind the Kitty Genovese and Barbara Kralik Murder Trials), Harold Takooshian asserts that this was a parable about street crime (you could say the same about Jesus's story of the Good Samaritan) that "served to increase our awareness of public safety" and had an impact that has "reverberated around the world for four decades." The moral responsibility to help others, especially when they are in serious danger, is an established principle in philosophy and religion. We did not need the Genovese murder to become a parable so we could better understand this principle. Was this perhaps more of a parable of human nature, not morality, and the lesson was that people are inherently evil—that is, insensitive to the needs of others?

One clear impact of the event was that it lead to a period of extensive research on "bystander intervention." However, what is the evidence that the critical event or the research had an impact on public behavior or policy? Takooshian concludes, "Yes Kitty, we hear you now and we are not the same because of this." Even if we could assess the change in moral fiber of individuals or society over a 45-year period, surely we also would find a multitude of determining factors. I suspect a street crime in New York City would account for a negligible amount of the variance in that change.

Of course, the initial event was important and the research was interesting, but how can we determine the impact of these things, in the short run, or over a span of decades?

Read the Review
ReviewThe 1964 Kitty Genovese Tragedy: Still a Valuable Parable
By Harold Takooshian
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(10)

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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