How does television content impact children’s behavior? (credit: modification of work by “antisocialtory”/Flickr)
Why do we study psychology at all? The simple answer: psychology allows us to predict how people will act through understanding how they think! As we will discuss throughout this chapter, studying the mind and predicting behavior is by no means a simple task. Imagine you are the professor of an introductory psychology course and you want to predict who will sit in the third seat of the front row on the last day of class. You might record who sits in that seat each class and rely on probability to predict who sits there, but there are a thousand and one other factors which might influence where any given student sits on any given day. How many can you think of?
Psychological research is all about understanding psychological processes to make educated predictions about the most unpredictable thing there is: human beings. For example, since ancient times, humans have been concerned about the effects of new technologies on our behaviors and thinking processes. The Greek philosopher Socrates, for example, worried that writing—a new technology at that time—would diminish people’s ability to remember because they could rely on written records rather than committing information to memory. In our world of quickly changing technologies, questions about the effects of media and its influence on behavior continue to emerge. Many of us find ourselves with a strong opinion on these issues, only to find the person next to us bristling with the opposite view.
How can we go about finding answers that are supported not by mere opinion, but by evidence that we can all agree on? The findings of psychological research can help us navigate issues like this.
Openstax Psychology text by Kathryn Dumper, William Jenkins, Arlene Lacombe, Marilyn Lovett and Marion Perlmutter licensed under CC BY v4.0. https://openstax.org/details/books/psychology
American Cancer Society. (n.d.). History of the cancer prevention studies. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/research/researchtopreventcancer/history-cancer-prevention-study
American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Research with animals in psychology. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/research/responsible/research-animals.pdf
Arnett, J. (2008). The neglected 95%: Why American psychology needs to become less American. American Psychologist, 63(7), 602–614.
Barton, B. A., Eldridge, A. L., Thompson, D., Affenito, S. G., Striegel-Moore, R. H., Franko, D. L., . . . Crockett, S. J. (2005). The relationship of breakfast and cereal consumption to nutrient intake and body mass index: The national heart, lung, and blood institute growth and health study. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(9), 1383–1389. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2005.06.003
Chwalisz, K., Diener, E., & Gallagher, D. (1988). Autonomic arousal feedback and emotional experience: Evidence from the spinal cord injured. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 820–828.
Clayton, R. R., Cattarello, A. M., & Johnstone, B. M. (1996). The effectiveness of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (Project DARE): 5-year follow-up results. Preventive Medicine: An International Journal Devoted to Practice and Theory, 25(3), 307–318. doi:10.1006/pmed.1996.0061
D.A.R.E. (n.d.). D.A.R.E. is substance abuse prevention education and much more! [About page] Retrieved from http://www.dare.org/about-d-a-r-e/
Dominus, S. (2011, May 25). Could conjoined twins share a mind? New York Times Sunday Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/magazine/could-conjoined-twins-share-a-mind.html?_r=5&hp&
Ennett, S. T., Tobler, N. S., Ringwalt, C. L., & Flewelling, R. L. (1994). How effective is drug abuse resistance education? A meta-analysis of Project DARE outcome evaluations. American Journal of Public Health, 84(9), 1394–1401. doi:10.2105/AJPH.84.9.1394
Fanger, S. M., Frankel, L. A., & Hazen, N. (2012). Peer exclusion in preschool children’s play: Naturalistic observations in a playground setting. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 58, 224–254.
Fiedler, K. (2004). Illusory correlation. In R. F. Pohl (Ed.), Cognitive illusions: A handbook on fallacies and biases in thinking, judgment and memory (pp. 97–114). New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Frantzen, L. B., Treviño, R. P., Echon, R. M., Garcia-Dominic, O., & DiMarco, N. (2013). Association between frequency of ready-to-eat cereal consumption, nutrient intakes, and body mass index in fourth- to sixth-grade low-income minority children. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 113(4), 511–519.
Harper, J. (2013, July 5). Ice cream and crime: Where cold cuisine and hot disputes intersect. The Times-Picaune. Retrieved from http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2013/07/ice_cream_and_crime_where_hot.html
Jenkins, W. J., Ruppel, S. E., Kizer, J. B., Yehl, J. L., & Griffin, J. L. (2012). An examination of post 9-11 attitudes towards Arab Americans. North American Journal of Psychology, 14, 77–84.
Jones, J. M. (2013, May 13). Same-sex marriage support solidifies above 50% in U.S. Gallup Politics. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/162398/sex-marriage-support-solidifies-above.aspx
Kobrin, J. L., Patterson, B. F., Shaw, E. J., Mattern, K. D., & Barbuti, S. M. (2008). Validity of the SAT for predicting first-year college grade point average (Research Report No. 2008-5). Retrieved from https://research.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/publications/2012/7/researchreport-2008-5-validity-sat-predicting-first-year-college-grade-point-average.pdf
Lewin, T. (2014, March 5). A new SAT aims to realign with schoolwork. New York Times. Retreived from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/06/education/major-changes-in-sat-announced-by-college-board.html.
Lowcock, E. C., Cotterchio, M., Anderson, L. N., Boucher, B. A., & El-Sohemy, A. (2013). High coffee intake, but not caffeine, is associated with reduced estrogen receptor negative and postmenopausal breast cancer risk with no effect modification by CYP1A2 genotype. Nutrition and Cancer, 65(3), 398–409. doi:10.1080/01635581.2013.768348
Lowry, M., Dean, K., & Manders, K. (2010). The link between sleep quantity and academic performance for the college student. Sentience: The University of Minnesota Undergraduate Journal of Psychology, 3(Spring), 16–19. Retrieved from http://www.psych.umn.edu/sentience/files/SENTIENCE_Vol3.pdf
Lynam, D. R., Milich, R., Zimmerman, R., Novak, S. P., Logan, T. K., Martin, C., . . . Clayton, R. (1999). Project DARE: No effects at 10-year follow-up. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67(4), 590–593. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.67.4.590
McKie, R. (2010, June 26). Chimps with everything: Jane Goodall’s 50 years in the jungle. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/jun/27/jane-goodall-chimps-africa-interview
Offit, P. (2008). Autism’s false prophets: Bad science, risky medicine, and the search for a cure. New York: Columbia University Press.
Perkins, H. W., Haines, M. P., & Rice, R. (2005). Misperceiving the college drinking norm and related problems: A nationwide study of exposure to prevention information, perceived norms and student alcohol misuse. J. Stud. Alcohol, 66(4), 470–478.
Rimer, S. (2008, September 21). College panel calls for less focus on SATs. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/22/education/22admissions.html?_r=0
Ringwalt, C., Ennett, S. T., & Holt, K. D. (1991). An outcome evaluation of Project DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). Health Education Research, 6(3), 327–337. doi:10.1093/her/6.3.327
Rothstein, J. M. (2004). College performance predictions and the SAT. Journal of Econometrics, 121, 297–317.
Rotton, J., & Kelly, I. W. (1985). Much ado about the full moon: A meta-analysis of lunar-lunacy research. Psychological Bulletin, 97(2), 286–306. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.97.2.286
Santelices, M. V., & Wilson, M. (2010). Unfair treatment? The case of Freedle, the SAT, and the standardization approach to differential item functioning. Harvard Education Review, 80, 106–134.
Sears, D. O. (1986). College sophomores in the laboratory: Influences of a narrow data base on social psychology’s view of human nature. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 515–530.
Tuskegee University. (n.d.). About the USPHS Syphilis Study. Retrieved from http://www.tuskegee.edu/about_us/centers_of_excellence/bioethics_center/about_the_usphs_syphilis_study.aspx.