Reviewed Books & Films

« July 2013 | Main | September 2013 »

August 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Moving Beyond the "WEIRD" Approach in Psychology

APA Psychology is a comprehensive social and behavioral science discipline with a wealth of knowledge about everything from infancy to aging; intergroup and interpersonal relations and conflict; and health behavior, mental health, and well-being. However, in reviewing The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?, Gibbons and Poelker point out the need to move beyond psychology's "WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic)" approach to research and theorizing about humanity and human behavior. Given the diversity of the world's population, how do we approach this task and broaden our understanding of human needs, behavior, and functioning? Certainly, there is a need to increase cross-cultural research, but who should conduct this research, and what countries, locations, or cultures should be priorities? If you need an example of why these are important questions, consider this quote from Gibbons and Poelker's review:

Along a continuum of cruel to loving treatment of the elderly, Diamond would place the contemporary Western world closer to the cruelty pole. But a quote from Hill (cited in Hrdy, 2009, p. 270) suggests that we are not all that close to the cruel end of the continuum: A traditional Ache man, in describing how he would dispatch older women, said, "I would step on them. … I didn't wait until they were completely dead to bury them. When they were still moving I would [break their backs and necks]."
To what extent should psychology as a discipline promote and integrate research that is indigenous? How do psychologists in contemporary industrialized societies interpret data and frame the implications of research on traditional practices?

Read the Review
ReviewBeyond WEIRD: Psychology and Traditional Cultures
By Judith L. Gibbons and Katelyn E. Poelker
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(28)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Is Cognitive Decline Among Older Adults Reversible?

APA The book Developmental Influences on Adult Intelligence: The Seattle Longitudinal Study (2nd ed.), authored by K. Warner Schaie and reviewed by Sophie von Stumm, presents the latest installment of research findings on the nature and development of adult intelligence from the Seattle Longitudinal Study (SLS) initiated in 1956. In total, the SLS comprises seven cohorts sampling 4,857 participants with data from multiple assessment points. One of the questions Schaie has attempted to answer with his research is whether interventions can reverse cognitive decline due to the normal aging process (he reports decrements in intellectual functioning beginning around age 60). On this point, he argues that age-related cognitive decline is associated with "disuse" rather than "loss," and thus it could be reversed through educational interventions.

Do you agree with the premise that age-related cognitive decline is the result of disuse rather than loss? How widely shared is this view among researchers? Is there additional strong empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of cognitive training programs for older adults?

Read the Review
ReviewBig Data on Adult Intelligence: 57 Years of the Seattle Longitudinal Study
By Sophie von Stumm
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(33)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How Does Society Influence the Food Industry?

APA In her review of David Lundahl's book Breakthrough Food Product Innovation Through Emotions Research, Candice Hollenbeck states,

The book could have been improved had Lundahl woven the cases around important societal changes in the food industry or made predictions of future strategies related to cultural shifts.
What are some of the important societal changes that have had influence in the food industry? What would you speculate would be societal changes that might influence the food industry in the future?

Read the Review
ReviewInnovative Research Insights: Exploring New Ways to Connect With Consumers
By Candice R. Hollenbeck
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(29)

Thursday, August 08, 2013

How Can There Be Race Differences in Pharmaceutical Effectiveness If There Are No Different Races?

APA In her review of Jonathan Kahn's Race in a Bottle: The Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in a Post-Genomic Age, Alejandra Suarez notes,

Race continues to be used as a dosing consideration even after the actual genetic mechanisms of action can be traced that do not correspond with the social construction of racial identity.
Are certain drugs really more effective in one racial group than another? And if so, what are the underlying mediating variables (social, psychological, biological) that explain this increased effectiveness, if not racial group (given that racial groupings have no biological basis, as noted in the book and the review)? Or is the "race differences effectiveness" argument just a marketing ploy for pharmaceutical companies to charge more money for a drug and sidestep the generic drug market? Finally, what are the implications of all this for patient–provider communication?

Read the Review
ReviewBlack and White Medicine
By Alejandra Suarez
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(32)

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Should Psychologists Be Atheists?

APA How do psychologists who believe in God and follow a religious tradition reconcile their beliefs with adherence to the science of psychology? In Adieu to God: Why Psychology Leads to Atheism, Mick Power argues that science has all the answers. In their review of this book, Peter Hill and Richard Mullis say that Power's "certainty of conviction" makes him a "modern scientific fundamentalist." The reviewers say that our religious beliefs are complex and cannot be explained away using scientific methods and analysis. They wonder if a "welcoming model of the relationship between psychology and religion is called for … [that] would lead to a productive critical collaboration and conversation about God and religious belief."

For 32 years I was on the faculty of a Jesuit university. My colleagues in psychology were committed Catholics (including priests), Christians of other faiths, Jews, and atheists. In our courses we all proclaimed psychology as science. However, I cannot recall debates in which religion versus science was the issue, or discussions in which an individual struggled to resolve this conflict. Perhaps we did not see any conflict or chose to ignore it. I would like to know if other psychologists have tried to work this out.

Read the Review
ReviewBienvenues to Psychology and Religion: Why Psychology Can Lead to Critical Collaboration, Not Necessarily Atheism
      By Peter C. Hill and Richard J. Mullis
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(27)

Editor of PsycCRITIQUES

Danny Wedding, PhD

Chair of Behavioral Sciences,
College of Medicine,
American University of Antigua

Associate Editors of PsycCRITIQUES

Related Links

Bookmark and Share

Send Feedback

rss Subscribe to the Blog

rss Subscribe via FeedBurner

Subscribe to Blog Updates via Email Here…