Reviewed Books & Films

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February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

What 2012 Films Would Win If Psychologists Gave Out Academy Awards?

APA The decision to add selected psychologically relevant films to PsycCRITIQUES (a practice introduced by E. G. Boring, the first editor of Contemporary Psychology) has been widely applauded, and many readers report they read the film reviews before turning to the more pedestrian reviews of books.

Some of the 2012 films that have been (or will be) reviewed in PsycCRITIQUES include Brave, Les Misérables, The Hunger Games, The Dark Knight Rises, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amour, The Central Park Five, Silver Linings Playbook, and Lincoln.

If you were organizing awards for psychologically relevant films, which movies would you nominate?

Read the Reviews
ReviewA Ray of Hope in a World of Darkness
By Jeremy Clyman
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(35)
  • A review of the film The Dark Knight Rises
ReviewAppetite for Destruction
By Christopher J. Ferguson
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(23)
  • A review of the film The Hunger Games

ReviewFacing Our Monsters
By Jacqueline Remondet Wall
      and David G. Wall
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(45)
  • A review of the film Beasts of the Southern Wild
ReviewThe Amazing Spider-Man: Growth
Over Grief

      By Jeremy Clyman
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(36)
  • A review of the film The Amazing Spider-Man

ReviewSelves and Others
By Keith Oatley
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(3)
  • A review of the film Anna Karenina
ReviewComing Closer
By Keith Oatley
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(1)
  • A review of the film The Sessions

ReviewDraw and Release: Tension and Independence in the
Mother–Daughter Dyad

      By Leafar F. Espinoza
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(8)
  • A review of the film Brave
Review"Just Call Me Hitch . . .": The Enigma of Alfred Hitchcock
      By Marlene M. Eisenberg
      and Michael B. Blank
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(6)
  • A review of the film Hitchcock

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Are We Dumb to Worship Intelligence?

APA In his enthusiastic review of Elaine Castles's Inventing Intelligence: How America Came to Worship IQ, Robert Sternberg argues that Castles's main message will likely be rejected by those who most need it: specialists in intelligence. According to Sternberg:

The main message of the book is that human intelligence, as we know it, is in large part a cultural invention. This message is not new (see, e.g., Sarason & Doris, 1979; Sternberg, 2004), but it is one that the general public and most in the field of intelligence have failed to grasp. What is viewed as "intelligent" differs from one culture to the next, and behavior that is intelligent in one culture may be unintelligent, or irrelevant to intelligence, in another.
Do you agree that intelligence is a cultural invention? That what is considered intelligent varies across societies? And that we expect too much from our current tests of IQ?

Read the Review
ReviewIf You Read One Recent Book on Intelligence, Make It This One
By Robert J. Sternberg
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(6)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Is a Psi Just a Psi?

APA Daryl Bem describes James Carpenter's new book First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life as a "transformational contribution to both psi research and the psychology of consciousness." Bem argues:

Carpenter's basic premise is that even if psi is currently anomalous in terms of known physical and neurobiological mechanisms, it is not psychologically anomalous. Like memories of past experiences, subliminal stimuli, and unconscious motives, psi is a nonconscious, continuously present resource in the development of all conscious experience. In arriving at a conscious thought, perception, or intended action, we nonconsciously combine pertinent information from all these resources.
In his own research on psi, Bem notes that over a third of academic psychologists dismiss it as impossible. Does Carpenter's framing of psi make this controversial subject area any more likely to win acceptance?

Read the Review
ReviewESP Is Not a Psychological Anomaly
By Daryl J. Bem
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(50)

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Are America's Youths Becoming Less Violent Over Time?

APA Editor Kenneth Land's book, The Well-Being of America's Children: Developing and Improving the Child and Youth Well-Being Index, presents details of the development of a national composite index to assess the well-being of America's children over time. The Index of Child and Youth Well-being (CWI) consists of several interrelated indices summarizing annual time series of numerous social indicators describing the well-being of children and youths in the United States. After development of the CWI, trends were charted from 1975 to 2008 in a variety of domains ranging from family economic well-being to emotional and spiritual well-being.

As reviewer David Elkind discusses, some findings with the CWI were as expected, such as indices of family economic well-being moving in accord with the economic conditions of the time. The safety/risky behaviors index and the spiritual/emotional measures also fluctuated over time. Interestingly, the study's findings also showed that, with the exception of a peak in 1993, both violent crime victimization and offender rates for children and youths have declined over the years 1975–2007.

How does this finding square with the series of recent tragedies involving young adult/youth perpetrators, such as the recent Newtown, Connecticut, shooting? Is there justification to be optimistic about youths becoming less violent in spite of recent events? How might research that draws upon historical social indicator data to understand trends over time inform the ongoing discourse about youth violence prevention? What are the limits to conclusions that could be drawn on the basis of this type of methodology?

Read the Review
ReviewHow Are We Doing?
By David Elkind
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(5)

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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