Reviewed Books & Films

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July 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

FAT: What to Blame?

APA The reviewer of The World Is Fat: The Fads, Trends, Policies, and Products That Are Fattening the Human Race, Kathryn E. Henderson of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, notes the worldwide increase in rates of overweight and obesity. She also observes that there is academic and media debate over the cause of this increase. The book's author, Barry Popkin, has "conducted extensive research on the shifts and trends in dietary intake over more than three decades across several countries including India, China, Mexico, and the United States, thereby documenting the 'nutrition transition.'" Popkin contends that much of the increase in overweight and obesity is due to changes in the food industry and the availability and consumption of processed foods and sweetened beverages worldwide.

To what extent does the obesogenic environment model resonate with psychologists? If the causes of this health crisis are indeed embedded in our social and food policies, what are the proper roles and activities of health psychologists, eating disorders researchers, and clinicians who treat those who struggle with weight? Are psychologists trained to consider and intervene at appropriate levels?

Read the Review
ReviewA Bold and Comprehensive Treatise on the Obesity Pandemic
By Kathryn E. Henderson [and] Meghan O'Connell
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(23)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Integrating Art, Creativity, and Imagination Into the Educational Process

APA In his review of Milbrath and Lightfoot's Art and Human Development, Robert Faux argues for the importance of including art in education and that creativity and imagination should be infused across the curriculum. According to Dr. Faux, the book lends itself to this argument by placing the arts at the center of human development "as thinking, creative, and meaning-making individuals." The book also delves into how creativity and imagination are important for identity development; as Dr. Faux writes, "the act of making meaning of our realities and of ourselves is a creative experience."

How might school administrators and educators be persuaded that the arts are integral to the education process? What are potential approaches to integrating the arts throughout an educational curriculum?

Read the Review
ReviewTo Create Is to Be: The Role of the Arts in Human Development
By Robert B. Faux
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(27)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thinking About Mathematical Thinking

APA Psychologists should be paying more attention to mathematics, not only because of that discipline's importance for our statistical analyses, but also to better understand how it can be taught. In his review of Raymond Nickerson's book Mathematical Reasoning: Patterns, Problems, Conjectures, and Proofs, Gordon Pitz says, "Perhaps no academic subject elicits stronger or more varied reactions than mathematics." Those reactions, positive and negative, presumably are based on our varied experiences doing mathematics. My guess is that most doctoral-level psychologists never got beyond number crunching statistics into the real mathematics that is the subject of Nickerson's book.

I present my own case as an example. In high school and college I was pretty good in algebra and geometry. Statistics at that level (central tendency and correlation) was easy and fun, and I did it by hand with paper and pencil. In grad school, analysis of variance was done on a machine (crunch). But that was arithmetic. Then I had to take a course in mathematical statistics (which included stuff like the Neyman-Pearson lemma), and most of that was nearly incomprehensible to me. Gordon Pitz also was a student in that class, and I recall that he actually enjoyed it and earned an A grade. In his review, my friend says it is meaningless to try to explain our difference in terms of innate and experiential factors. What else is there?

Given the importance of learning real math, is there much help for current students whose brains have the same deficiency that mine had? Nickerson and Pitz don't seem to offer much hope at that level.

Read the Review
ReviewThinking About Mathematical Thinking
By Gordon Pitz
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(23)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Barriers to Personality Assessment

APA In his review of James Butcher's (Ed.) Oxford Handbook of Personality Assessment, C. Albert Bardi states:

Of course, underscoring the clinical value of assessment does not speak to the question of what to do with it in an environment that is indifferent or even hostile. Therefore, the same work group (in this case, Eisman et al., 2000) made broad recommendations for ways to facilitate the use of assessment such as patient–consumer education, political lobbying, educating allied fields (e.g., social work) in the use of assessment, and more closely aligning training and practice through research on test appropriateness and clinical realities.
Are clinical and counseling psychologists making progress in facilitating the use of assessment given the current barriers (managed care, etc.)? What can clinical and counseling psychologists do to overcome barriers to assessment and can colleagues from other fields (social/personality psychology, social work, etc.) help?

Read the Review
ReviewPersonality Assessment: The Missing Manual
By C. Albert Bardi
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(25)

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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