Reviewed Books & Films

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May 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation

APA James O. Young and Conrad G. Brunk, editors of The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation, describe the adoption of language, music, art, systems of thought, values, or behaviors of a particular culture by another as cultural appropriation (CA). We may usefully consider what identity, temporal, social, political, and economic realities and concerns affect interpretation of cultural imitation and/or adaptation. In their review, Christopher Edwards and Delice Coffey state, "We believe that 'Involuntary Automotive Acquisition' is to Grand Theft Auto as CA is to theft of a culture's identity." Is cultural appropriation from a minority or disenfranchised culture by a majority or controlling culture recognition of creativity, artistry, or greatness, or exploitation and dehumanizing parody? Is the music industry’s appropriation of "hip hop" a positive or negative event?

Read the Review
ReviewCultural Appropriation: A Rose by Any Other Name
By Christopher L. Edwards [and] Delice Coffey
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(15)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is Critical Thinking a Difficult Skill to Maintain?

APA Every psychology teacher has to take time to challenge students' beliefs about paranormal phenomena, just as most psychologists may challenge myths about human nature they encounter in social situations. In his review of Jonathan C. Smith's book Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker's Toolkit, David Ludden points out that even scientists, who should be masters of critical thinking, fall for the same things when they wander outside their area of expertise.

Critical thinking is hard cognitive work. The book Ludden reviews provides a "critical thinking tool kit" to help do this work, but using those tools requires practice and discipline. My observation, however, is that when we leave our classrooms and the laboratories where we study our unique specialty, we are just as subject to taking the easy cognitive path as are most other people. Maybe not in the case of the paranormal, but certainly in areas of psychology beyond our specialties. We really don't know what the research is concerning, for example, gender differences in the brain and have not evaluated the evidence, so in social situations we say what we think is true or would like to be true when the best answer would be, "I don't know."

Do you agree that psychologists and other scientists are subject to the same cognitive errors as nonscientists when they venture outside their areas of expertise?

Read the Review
ReviewReality Check
By David Ludden
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(16)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Coping Mechanisms as Depicted on the Screen

APA In a review of the psychological drama/thriller The Lovely Bones, Ngoc Bui discusses several themes in the film, including bereavement and loss. Bui cites research describing two types of bereavement stressors that are readily apparent in the film: "Loss-oriented stressors involve the primary stressors in losing a loved one…the restoration-oriented stressors include denial and avoidance of the grief and dealing with the psychosocial changes or transitions in regard to identity or roles that accompany the loss."

Are these the main types of stress the family experiences in the loss of the young girl? What are the healthy and the unhealthy coping mechanisms they display? How does the serial killer cope with the loss?

Read the Review
ReviewLetting Go and Moving on
By Ngoc H. Bui
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(17)

Monday, May 03, 2010

How Does One Obtain Happiness?

APA Many scientists divide the empirical study of happiness into two types—hedonism and eudaimonia. In his review of Sam Franklin's The Psychology of Happiness: A Good Human Life, Jeffrey Daniels notes that Franklin "does not directly distinguish between hedonia and eudaimonia, although he does argue that hedonism is not the fullest form of happiness. Instead, he focuses almost exclusively on what psychology has to say about living to one's full potential as a measure of happiness. His integration of psychology and Aristotelian ethics nicely links theory, especially from such giants in American psychology as William James, Abraham Maslow, and Carl Rogers."

What is your perspective on happiness? Are there several pathways or is there solely the pleasure pathway and the engagement/meaning pathway? Who are the researchers and theorists that you can cite to support your case?

Read the Review
ReviewPsychology's Validation of Aristotle's Good Life
By Jeffrey A. Daniels
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(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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