Video and web assignmentsThe following assignments are based around interesting videos and articles that can be found on the web. Once you've looked at the site, try to answer the accompanying questions.
Click on the links below to jump down to the relevant video and web assignments for the chapter:
Chapter 1: Psychology - The evolution of a science
Chapter 2: The methods of psychology
Chapter 3: Neuroscience and behaviour
Chapter 4: Sensation and perception
Chapter 5: Memory
Chapter 6: Learning
Chapter 7: Language and thought
Chapter 8: Consciousness
Chapter 9: Intelligence
Chapter 11: Cognitive development
Chapter 12: Social development
Chapter 14: Social relationships
Chapter 15: Social groups
Chapter 16: Psychological disorders
Chapter 17: Mental health
Steven Pinker is one of the most erudite, witty and eloquent psychologists working today. In this video he presents the argument for Nativism by challenging John Locke’s “tabula rasa” or “blank slate” assumption of human nature.
- What are the three lines of evidence Pinker makes for doubting that the human mind is a blank slate?
- According to Pinker, why do so many people prefer to believe in the blank slate?
- According to Pinker, what are the two lines of evidence based on twin studies that parenting plays very little role in development?
Many students find statistical analysis hard and a bit dull, but watch how a Swedish statistics professor can bring alive the power of statistical analysis with humour and relevant application to world poverty.
- What is the statistical relationship between GDP and child mortality?
- According to the data presented by Hans Rosling, is it more important to be first wealthy or healthy before a country develops? Consider the examples of South Korea and United Arab Emirates.
Vilayanur Ramachandran (“Rama”) is one of the world’s leading neuroscientists. He studies neurological disorders as a way of understanding normal human brain function. Originally trained in medicine in India, he completed his Ph.D. work at Cambridge and now works in San Diego.
- What are the three bizarre phenomena Rama uses to reveal brain function?
The corpus callosum is a band of nerve fibers located deep in the brain that connects the two brain hemispheres together. A corpus callosotomy is an operation used to treat severe epilepsy by cutting through the corpus callosum to interrupt the spread of seizures from one hemisphere to the other. Such “split-brain” patients provide a rare opportunity to study the two hemispheres working independently. Watch this brief video of behavioural experiments conducted by Michael Gazzaniga on one of his split-brain patients, Joe.
- What happens if an image is presented on the left hand side of the screen?
- According to Gazzaniga, what do split-brain patients reveal about the human mind?
Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist - a scientist who specializes in how the brain works. In 1996, Jill suffered a massive stroke. Watch this emotive account of how Jill remained conscious during the whole ordeal and recounted her life-altering day.
- Where in her brain did the stroke occur?
Watch this illuminating lecture by Beau Lotto as he explains the importance of context when perceiving the world.
- What is the one thing that Beau Lotto says the audience should remember from his talk?
- According to Beau Lotto, how do we see?
- What happens to the identical desert scenes after you have been staring at the green and red panels?
- Which insect does he use to demonstrate that they also see visual illusions?
Read the information about synesthesia and answer the following questions.
- Which people are most likely to experience synesthesia?
- Name a famous modern scientist who had synesthesia.
- What problem of consciousness may synesthesia help to explain?
Clive Wearing probably has the most profound case of amnesia ever documented. Go to the website above to find out more.
- According to his wife Deborah, how long is Clive’s short-term memory?
- How does Clive describe his own experience?
Go to the website above to find out about Skinner’s operating conditioning with pigeons.
- What weight were pigeons kept at and why?
- What human behaviour does Skinner argue is explained by operant conditioning and why?
- According to Skinner quoting Jonathan Edwards, what disappears when we understand the causes of behaviour?
Go to the website above where you will find a video of Watson and Rayner conditioning “Little Albert.”
- How did Little Albert respond to animals initially?
- In the video, what animals did they present to Little Albert?
- What is the last stimulus that is used to frighten Little Albert?
Laurie Santos looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. A clever series of experiments in "monkeynomics" shows that some of the silly choices we make, monkeys make too.
- Which irrational aspect of human prospect theory do the monkeys also demonstrate?
Read this article that appeared in the New York Times in 1995 and then answer the following questions.
- What is the evidence that chimpanzees can talk and how does Noam Chomsky respond to such reports?
- Do you think that the issue has been satisfactorily resolved and what evidence would convince you that chimpanzees can use language similar to humans?
How do you explain consciousness? David Chalmers asks why we are conscious, and how we can go about finding the answer to this question.
- Is a science of consciousness possible?
- Can neuroscience answer the question of why we are conscious?
- How can we integrate consciousness into our understanding of the world?
Watch this video of one of the world’s leading philosophers, Dan Dennett, talking about consciousness. He also talks about Bellotto’s “Dresden” painting that is discussed in the chapter and shows examples of change blindness.
- Why does Dennett think that it is very difficult to change people’s opinions about consciousness?
- How large is the spotlight of foveal attention?
- What is the remarkable thing about the painting of people on the bridge in Bellotto’s “Dresden?”
This video by the former educational advisor to the British Government, Sir Ken Robinson, is probably the most frequently downloaded clip on the TED site. In one of the most thought-provoking and humorous talks, he draws attention to the problems of modern education for stimulating creativity and pigeonholing children.
- What is the basic problem he identifies?
Here is a very short clip of a two-year-old being tested on an experiment that Bruce Hood conducted in his lab. Although this particular study has not been described in the chapter, it reveals a number of principles and phenomena that have been addressed in other studies. Watch the clip and answer the following questions.
- Why is the experimenter showing the child a ball falling on to a base over and over?
- Imagine what you would predict would happen if you were the child. Why does the experimenter place a shelf in the apparatus?
- When asked to search for the ball, what does the child initially do?
- On approaching the apparatus, what does the child actually do?
- Why does the child make this response?
- What might this behaviour reveal about his executive functions?
This is an Australian advertisement from the ChildFriendly organization that shows the effects of parental influence on childhood behaviour. It is obviously very stylized, but the advertisement makes some very poignant observations related to the research described in the chapter. Watch the video and answer the following questions.
- What are the negative social behaviours imitated by children in this video?
- Whose research is most closely linked to the examples given in the video?
Frans de Waal discusses social behavior in animals. Other intelligent mammals display many of the same social behaviours discussed in this chapter.
- Which example of behavioural mimicry has been found in chimps as well as humans?
- How do the animals discussed here respond to unfair behaviour?
- What examples of cooperation are discussed in this video?
- What do these findings tell us about human social interaction?
Phil Zimbardo is one of the world's most famous social psychologists who was responsible for the infamous 1971 Stanford Prison Experiments that were based on Stanley Milgrams studies of obedience. In this TED talk, he explains how easy it is for anyone to become evil.
- What are the components that define evil?
- What percentage of individuals went all the way in the Milgram experiments?
- Which example of cult suicide behaviour in the jungle does Zimbardo describe?
- Who stopped Zimbardo completing the Stanford Prison Experiments and what happened to them?
- What modern atrocity from the Iraq war does Zimbardo use to illustrate the ease at which ordinary people can become evil?
Read this BBC article from 2010. It describes a French TV show, which replicated the Milgram experiments in conformity. Then watch this exctract from the show:
- What is the difference between this experiment and that carried out by Milgram?
- What does this tell us about Milgram’s findings?
- What does this mean about the morality of reality TV shows?
This is an interview with a psychiatrist describing a patient with dissociative identity disorder and their medical history and family background.
- What diagnosis was the patient initially given when she first attended a psychiatric hospital?
- What is the difference between patients with schizophrenia and patients with dissociative identity disorder when it comes to hearing voices?
- What were the problems that the patient complained of after her switch out of her depression?
- What is the term for these episodes of happy and excited behaviour?
- What were the three family problems revealed in therapy?
Sherwin Nuland is a surgeon and author. In this TED talk, he describes the development of electroshock therapy as a cure for severe, life-threatening depression and how it resurrected his failing life and career. Warning: contains explicit language.
- Why did the early Greek herbalists seek out certain plants?
- What did Benjamin Franklin discover that could produce convulsions?
- What did the three Italian psychiatrists in 1932 note about their depressed patients who were also epileptic?
- Before the 1950’s what was the initial problem of using ECT in the early days?
- What percentage of severe depressives, according to Nuland, did not respond to psychopharmacological treatments, which heralded the renaissance of ECT?
- What symptoms did Nuland suffer that led colleagues to suggest a prefrontal lobotomy?
- What was the alternative solution used to treat Nuland?