Reviewed Books & Films

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June 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What Can Psychologists Do to Affect Larger Systems?

APA In their review of Preventing Mental Ill-Health: Informing Public Health Planning and Mental Health Practice, Jay E. Maddock and Jane Chung-Do note that the role of cognitive and behavioral factors in mental ill-health suggests the possibility to intervene at the "population level." A focus on "risk and protective factors such as life events, coping and support, mind-body connections, secure foundations in childhood, and one's role in society" forms the basis for exploring preventive interventions. Maddock and Chung-Do note that few interventions have demonstrated long-term effectiveness and discuss what is known about the role of social support, order, and connectedness in producing environments that support mental health. Given psychology's traditional focus on individual, family, and group treatments to address mental illness, can current training, research, and knowledge be adapted to what the reviewers describe as the "healthy communities movement"? As experts on human behavior, can psychologists assist in developing population-focused policies and practices that result in social conditions that reduce the experience of mental ill-health?

Read the Review
ReviewA World Without Mental Illness?
By Jay E. Maddock and Jane Chung-Do
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(26)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

(Almost) Nothin' But the Dog in Me?

APA Robert Mather and Tephillah Jeyaraj reviewed Dario Maestripieri's book Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships. They state,

Dario Maestripieri observes human behavior through the lens of a primatologist in a manner reminiscent of the work of Morris. An engaging writer and thorough scientist, Maestripieri succeeds in presenting a good balance of controversial debates regarding his assertions. He develops arguments to support his ideas on primate behavior based on the most current social cognition, social neuroscience, and judgment and decision-making research.
Is Maestripieri's approach consistent with what we now call evolutionary psychology? What are the similarities and what are the differences? Should this be the start of increased collaboration among neuroscientists, economists, social psychologists, psychologists of other areas, and primatologists?

Read the Review
ReviewOf Naked Apes and Hairy Markets
By Robert D. Mather and Tephillah Jeyaraj
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(20)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How Smart Are Our Explanations for Why We’re Getting Smarter?

APA Alan Kaufman, Thomas Dillon, and Jeffrey Kirsch recently presented a withering critique of James Flynn's new book, Are We Getting Smarter? Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century. Although they agree with Flynn's central assertion that IQs have been steadily rising across the past century, Kaufman et al. take issue with Flynn's suggestion that this increase is largely due to our having developed new cognitive skills and neural clusters to deal with the wider range of cognitive problems in modern society. According to Kaufman et al., Flynn has failed to acknowledge research incompatible with his theory and has based his views on highly questionable assumptions. In addition, they argue:

In general, the book is disorganized, rambles from topic to topic, offers no overview or guiding principle, and treats data in an arbitrary and haphazard manner to test this or that hypothesis. Sometimes Flynn's comments read more like astrology than psychology….The style is to offer a rash of data and citations and follow them with an assertion that flows more from the author's convictions than from logic or the findings of sound empirical research.
If you are familiar with the Flynn effect and proposed explanations for it, where do you stand in this debate?

Read the Review
Review"A Beautiful Theory, Killed by a Nasty, Ugly Little Fact"
By Alan S. Kaufman, Thomas Dillon, and Jeffrey W. Kirsch
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(19)

Thursday, June 06, 2013

How Can the Profession Practice What It Preaches?

APA In her review of Making Our Voices Heard: Women of Color in Academia, Jessica Henderson Daniel notes the candid disclosures of the academics participating in the volume. The narratives provide an opportunity for women in academic positions not only to "compare and contrast their reactions and responses to those incidents presented in the book" but also to consider whether "there might be more effective strategies, for example, consultations and alternative ways to conceptualize the situation." Henderson Daniel also highlights the role of mentoring in women's success in the academic environment and notes that the book itself could serve as a discussion topic within a mentoring context. In addition, she suggests readings from psychology to help readers place the narratives in perspective. Although psychology has produced scholarship that can facilitate processing the narratives and discussions presented, have the discipline and the profession critically examined the experiences of women of color in the profession today? To what extent do stereotypes continue to affect participation, productivity, and longevity in the field? Are we overdue to take advantage of insights from our own profession?

Read the Review
ReviewAnchored and Linked: Women of Color Write About Life in the Academy
By Jessica Henderson Daniel
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(22)

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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