Critical Thinking Booklet Psychology Eighth Edition

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Critical Thinking Booklet

Psychology

Eighth Edition

Douglas A. Bernstein, Louis A. Penner,


Alison Clarke-Stewart, and Edward J. Roy



William S. Altman
Douglas A. Bernstein
Sponsoring Editor: Jane Potter

Marketing Manager: Amy Whitaker

Marketing Assistant: Samantha Abrams

Senior Development Editor: Laura Hildebrand

Editorial Associate: Henry Cheek

Copyright © 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Houghton Mifflin Company hereby grants you permission to reproduce the Houghton Mifflin material contained in this work in classroom quantities, solely for use with the accompanying Houghton Mifflin textbook. All reproductions must include the Houghton Mifflin copyright notice, and no fee may be collected except to cover the cost of duplication. If you wish to make any other use of this material, including reproducing or transmitting the material or portions thereof in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including any information storage or retrieval system, you must obtain prior written permission from Houghton Mifflin Company, unless such use is expressly permitted by federal copyright law. If you wish to reproduce material acknowledging a rights holder other than Houghton Mifflin Company, you must obtain permission from the rights holder. Address inquiries to College Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Company, 222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116–3764.

Contents

Preface IV

Chapter 1—Introducing Psychology 1

Chapter 2—Research in Psychology 5

Chapter 3—Biological Aspects of Psychology 9

Chapter 4—Sensation 13

Chapter 5—Perception 18

Chapter 6—Learning 22

Chapter 7—Memory 26

Chapter 8—Cognition and Language 30

Chapter 9—Consciousness 35

Chapter 10—Cognitive Abilities 39

Chapter 11—Motivation and Emotion 44

Chapter 12—Human Development 48

Chapter 13—Health, Stress, and Coping 52

Chapter 14—Personality 56

Chapter 15—Psychological Disorders 61

Chapter 16—Treatment of Psychological Disorders 66

Chapter 17—Social Cognition 70

Chapter 18—Social Influence 74

Chapter 19—Neuropsychology 79

Chapter 20—Industrial/Organizational Psychology Summary 84



Engaging in Critical Thinking in Psychology

Many educators rhapsodize about critical thinking (although often in rather vague terms) as a desirable activity that everyone should integrate into their course work. It might be easy to dismiss critical thinking as just another educational fad. But it isn’t.

Critical thinking is simply another way to describe the process psychologists use when approaching a problem. We begin by describing the behaviors or phenomena that interest us; we attempt to develop explanations for them; we develop and test hypotheses, then attempt to predict outcomes based on our explanations; and we draw conclusions based on the results. In the process, we learn a great deal about the elements of the problem, their interrelationships, and connections to familiar ideas.

Some researchers have found that if you use critical thinking when you write about a topic, you’re likely to learn more and to understand the material better (Tynjälä, 1998; Wade, 1995). Pena-Shaff and Nicholls (2004) found that students better understood information when engaged in critical thinking in online discussions. And, according to Kowalski and Taylor (2004) students who engaged in critical thinking were more likely to change their initial misconceptions about psychology than those who didn’t think critically.

Many different people use critical thinking in all kinds of ways. You might be familiar with a television show called Mythbusters, in which Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman use critical thinking and experimental methods to look for the truth behind urban legends and other common misconceptions (Loxton, 2005). If you’re interested in psychic phenomena, you may want to see how the James Randi Educational Foundation (at http://randi.org/) applies critical thinking to people’s claims of paranormal abilities.

The exercises in this booklet present ideas, beliefs, and statements, which are linked to each chapter in Essentials of Psychology (Bernstein & Nash, 2008). You’ll be asked to evaluate these ideas, beliefs, and statements using the critical thinking method. Because we want you to concentrate on learning to think critically, we’ve provided some source material for each question. You might want to look for more information, using appropriate search engines such as PsycARTICLES® or PsycINFO®, or by working with your school’s library or tutoring staff.

Critical thinking isn’t just helpful for your school work, or for making decisions about which car to buy or how to invest your savings. It’s also a fun way to learn. Students who used critical thinking in online discussions (Pena-Shaff, Altman, & Stephenson, 2005) or in the classroom (Hays & Vincent, 2004) said it helped them learn better and develop their communication skills. So, when we engage in critical thinking, we learn more, deepen our understanding of what we already know, learn more effective ways to communicate with other people, and have a lot more fun in the process. We hope you’ll enjoy working on these critical thinking exercises, and that they’ll stimulate your curiosity, ingenuity, and sense of intellectual play.

Be well, and enjoy!

William S. Altman, Ph.D.

Psychology and Human Services Department

Broome Community College, Binghamton, NY


References

Bernstein, D. A., & Nash, P. W. (2008). Essentials of Psychology (4th ed.). New York:


Houghton Mifflin.

Hays, J. R., & Vincent, J. P. (2004). Students’ evaluation of problem-based learning in graduate psychology courses. Teaching of Psychology, 31, 124–126.

Kowalski, P., & Taylor, A. K. (2004). Ability and critical thinking as predictors of change in students’ psychological misconceptions. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 31, 297–303.

Loxton, D. (2005). Mythbusters exposed: How a special effects crew opened the most important new front in the battle for science literacy. Skeptic, 12(1), 34–42.

Pena-Shaff, J., Altman, W., & Stephenson, H. (2005). Asynchronous online discussions as a tool for learning: Students’ attitudes, expectations, and perceptions. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 16, 409–430.

Pena-Shaff, J. B., & Nicholls, C. (2004). Analyzing student interactions and meaning construction in computer bulletin board discussions. Computers & Education, 42,

243–265.

Tynjälä, P. (1998). Writing as a tool for constructive learning: Students’ learning experiences during an experiment. Higher Education, 36, 209–230.

Wade, C. (1995). Using writing to develop and assess critical thinking. Teaching of Psychology, 22, 24–28.



CHAPTER 1


CRITICAL THINKING ACTIVITIES



ACTIVITY 1.1: Assessing the Impact of Legislation

Governments often enact laws to solve particular social problems or to lessen their impacts. One example is the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2002. Its purpose was to improve the quality of children’s education in the United States, and according to the Department of Education, the law is working as intended (http://www.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml).

One way in which the NCLB is supposed to help raise academic achievement is through testing, to determine whether there is actually improvement in the education of children. However, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing claims this approach has failed. You can read their statements about NCLB at (http://fairtest.org/nattest/bushtest.html).

Researchers have looked at NCLB from a variety of perspectives. Smith (2005) and Johnson (2006) provide overviews of the law, its intentions, and some of its possible consequences. Others have looked at NCLB’s impacts on gifted children (Mendoza, 2006), music education (Circle, 2005), and visually impaired children (Ferrell, 2005).

Use the critical thinking method outlined in your textbook to determine whether NCLB is working as intended. Be sure to look carefully at your sources to determine whether they are credible and accurate, or just someone’s opinion. The basis for critical thinking is the use of evidence. Remember that in thinking critically, you need to answer the following questions:


  1. What am I being asked to believe or accept?
  2. What evidence is there to support the assertion?


  3. Are there alternative ways of interpreting the evidence?

  4. What additional evidence would help to evaluate the alternatives?

  5. What conclusions are most reasonable?

References:

Circle, D. (2005). To test or not to test? Music Educators Journal, 92(1), 4.

Ferrell, K. A. (2005). The effects of NCLB. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 99,
681–683.

Johnson, A. P. (2006). No child left behind: Factory models and business paradigms.


Clearing House, 80(1), 34–36.

Mendoza, C. (2006). Inside today’s classrooms: Teacher voices on No Child Left Behind and the education of gifted children. Roeper Review, 29, 28–31.

National Center for Fair and Open Testing. (n.d.). Federally mandated testing page: NCLB. Retrieved December 29, 2007, from http://fairtest.org/nattest/bushtest.html.

Smith, E. (2005). Raising standards in American schools: The case of No Child Left Behind. Journal of Education Policy, 4, 507–524.

United States Department of Education. (n.d.) No Child Left Behind—ED.gov. Retrieved December 29, 2007, from http://www.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml.

ACTIVITY 1.2: Grade Inflation

Many people believe that today’s students are getting higher grades for doing less work, or work of lower quality than students of previous generations. Media outlets report that grade inflation is a problem at most colleges, as illustrated by reports from USA Today (2002) and Wikipedia (2006). Organizations such as GradeInflation.com (http://gradeinflation.com/) report that grade inflation is rampant and becoming more serious. Yet Ellenberg (2002) and Kohn (2002) suggest that it may not be such a problem.

What is closer to the truth? Use the critical thinking approach to decide whether grade inflation is real. If so, is it a major problem or something not worthy of concern? Be sure to look carefully at your sources to determine whether they are credible and accurate, or just someone’s opinion. Remember that the basis for critical thinking is the use of evidence.

Remember that in thinking critically, you need to answer the following questions:


  1. What am I being asked to believe or accept?

  2. What evidence is there to support the assertion?

  3. Are there alternative ways of interpreting the evidence?

  4. What additional evidence would help to evaluate the alternatives?

  5. What conclusions are most reasonable?

References:

Ellenberg, J. (2002, October 2). Don’t worry about grade inflation: Why it doesn’t matter that professors give out so many A’s. Slate. Retrieved December 29, 2007, from http://www.slate.com/id/2071759/.

Grade inflation. (2006, December 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved December 29, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/
index.php?title=Grade_inflation&oldid=96950800
.

Ivy League grade inflation [Electronic version]. (2002, February 27). USA Today. Retrieved December 29, 2006, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/2002/02/08/


edtwof2.htm
.

Kohn, A. (2002). The dangerous myth of grade inflation. Chronicle of Higher Education; 49(11), pB7. Retrieved December 29, 2007, from EBSCO Academic Premier database.


ACTIVITY 1.3: Do We Use Only 10% of Our Brains?

The famous American psychologist William James (1907) once said, “Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources” (p. 323).

Many people believe we all have a great deal of untapped mental potential. Some think it’s based in a kind of reserve of intelligence, while others believe in paranormal abilities that have not yet been developed. Often, they’ll explain this by saying that we only use 10% of our brains. Perhaps your parents or teachers may have mentioned this to you.

Creative Alternatives (Superconscious, 2007), CornerBar PR (Industry appetizers, n.d.), and other commercial sites all quote the 10% figure. Many, such as self-described psychic Uri Geller (n.d.), attribute it to Albert Einstein, while others cite Margaret Mead or other famous researchers. Anitei (n.d.) at Softpedia cites data from brain scanning studies to show that we only use about 20% of our brains when making memories. It’s worth noting that many of these organizations and individuals also provide materials or services, which they claim are designed to help you activate the slumbering part of your total potential.

Many psychologists, such as Chudler (1997), call the 10% figure a myth. Several (Genovese, 2004; Radford, 2000) have sought to explain or debunk the idea that we only use 10% of our brain. Yet the belief persists despite the efforts of psychologists and psychology instructors (Standing & Huber, 2003). Could this be because it really is true?

Do we have massive untapped resources in our brains? Use the critical thinking method to come to your own conclusion. Be sure to support your thoughts with credible source material. Remember that in thinking critically, you need to answer the following questions:


  1. What am I being asked to believe or accept?

  2. What evidence is there to support the assertion?

  3. Are there alternative ways of interpreting the evidence?

  4. What additional evidence would help to evaluate the alternatives?

  5. What conclusions are most reasonable?

References:

Anitei, S. (n.d.). We use just 20% of out brains to make memories. Retrieved July 20, 2007, from http://news.softpedia.com/news/We-Use-Just-20-of-the-Brain-to-Make-Memories-52643.shtml.

Chudler, E. (1997). Myths about the brain: 10 percent and counting. Retrieved September 4, 2007, from http://www.brainconnection.com/topics/?main=fa/brain-myth.

Geller, U. (n.d.) Uri Geller. Retrieved July 20, 2007, from http://www.uri-geller.com/

lbmp_print.htm
.

Genovese, J. E. C. (2004). The ten percent solution. Skeptic, 10(4), 55–57.

Industry appetizers: Overheard at the bar. (n.d.). CornerBar PR. Retrieved July 20, 2007, from http://www.cornerbarpr.com/industryappetizers/overheard.cfm?article=1033.

James, W. (1907). The energies of men [Electronic version]. Science, 25(635), 321–332. Retrieved July 20, 2007, from Classics in the History of Psychology Web site: http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/James/energies.htm.

Radford, B. (2000). The ten-percent myth. Retrieved July 20, 2007 from http://snopes.com/science/stats/10percnt.htm.

Standing, L. G., & Huber, H. (2003). Do psychology courses reduce beliefs in psychological myths? Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 31, 585–592.

Superconscious interview with Melvin Saunders. (2007). Creative Alternatives. Retrieved July 20, 2007, from http://www.mind-course.com/interview.html.

CHAPTER 2



CRITICAL THINKING ACTIVITIES



ACTIVITY 2.1: The Effectiveness of Peer Review

The scientific community relies on a process called peer review (see a good definition and discussion of peer review in Wikipedia) to ensure that information published in scientific journals is accurate. Yet there are still major problems associated with the peer review process, and much inaccurate or misleading material may still be published. Weiss (2005) details many sorts of scientific misconduct that may not be detected by the peer review process. The issues surrounding the effectiveness of peer review are discussed in depth by Fox (1994) and Lundberg (2002). Still, most scientists seem to feel that the peer review process is the best way to ensure scientific integrity.

Use the critical thinking approach to determine whether peer review is an effective method for maintaining honesty in scientific research. Be sure to support your thoughts with credible source material. Remember that in thinking critically, you need to answer the following questions:


  1. What am I being asked to believe or accept?

  2. What evidence is there to support the assertion?

  3. Are there alternative ways of interpreting the evidence?

  4. What additional evidence would help to evaluate the alternatives?

  5. What conclusions are most reasonable?

References:

Fox, M. F. (1994). Scientific misconduct and editorial and peer review processes. Journal of Higher Education, 65(3), 298–309.

Lundberg, G. D. (2002). The publishing dilemma of the American Psychological Association. American Psychologist, 57, 211–212.

Weiss, R. (2005, June 9). Many scientists admit to misconduct [Electronic version]. Washington Post. Retrieved December 29, 2007, from http://www.washingtonpost.com.

Peer review. (2006, December 27). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved December 29, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Peer_review&oldid=96718551.


ACTIVITY 2.2: Reiki

Practitioners of Reiki claim that it is a technique through which they can heal many physical, mental, and emotional conditions. According to Wikipedia, it was developed in Japan in the early 20th century. While Reiki masters have extolled its effectiveness (Rand, n.d.), skeptics claim that it is nothing more than quackery or fraud (Carroll, 2002). Some researchers (Rosa, Rosa, Sarner, & Barrett, 1998) have attempted to determine the effectiveness of Reiki.

Is Reiki a real phenomenon, or are the skeptics correct? Use the critical thinking method to come to your own conclusion. Be sure to support your thoughts with credible source material. Remember that in thinking critically, you need to answer the following questions:


  1. What am I being asked to believe or accept?

  2. What evidence is there to support the assertion?

  3. Are there alternative ways of interpreting the evidence?

  4. What additional evidence would help to evaluate the alternatives?

  5. What conclusions are most reasonable?

References:

Carroll, R. T. (2002). Reiki. In The Skeptic’s Dictionary. Retrieved January 13, 2007 from http://skepdic.com/reiki.html.

Rand, W. L. (n.d.). The international center for Reiki training. In The International Center for Reiki Training Web site. Retrieved January 13, 2007, from http://www.reiki.org.

Reiki. (2006, November 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 13, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reiki.

Rosa, L., Rosa, E., Sarner, L., & Barrett, S. (1998). A close look at therapeutic touch. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 279, 1005–1010.

ACTIVITY 2.3: Loony for Luna

For centuries, people have believed that the full moon causes insane behavior. Sources report links between the full moon and binge drinking, criminal disturbances, and violent crimes such as murder (Sims, 2007; Tasso & Miller, 1976; Townley, 1997). Townley (1977) also reports statistically significant correlations between the phase of the moon and the number of medical procedures performed, the conception of children, and other phenomena. Lieber and Sherin (1972) found a significant link between the lunar phase and the number of homicides in Dade County, Florida, as well as a relationship between the phase of the moon and the level of violence or strangeness of the homicides. Further confirmation of a relationship between lunar cycle and insanity comes from Blackman and Catalina (1973) who correlated the phase of the moon with the number of admissions to a mental health center emergency room.

Other researchers dismiss the influence of the moon on such phenomena. Campbell and Beets (1978) found no relationship between the phase of the moon and the number of psychiatric hospital admissions, suicides, or homicides. They suggest that any findings to the contrary are a particular type of statistical error. This echoes the findings of Walters, Markeley, and Tiffany (1975), who studied the relationship between lunar phases and the number of emergency contacts to a community mental health facility. A meta-analysis of 37 studies (Rotton & Kelly, 1985) also refuted the supposed link between madness and the moon, attributing any links to various errors on the parts of some other researchers. Similar findings were reported more recently by Owens and McGowan (2006).

However, in an article looking at both the positive and negative findings of various researchers in this area, Vines (2001) posits a possible explanation that might link the phase of the moon to human behavior, taking social and historical technological change into account, along with data on human biorhythms.

Does the moon influence human behavior? Use the critical thinking method to come to your own conclusion. Be sure to support your thoughts with credible source material. Remember that in thinking critically, you need to answer the following questions:


  1. What am I being asked to believe or accept?

  2. What evidence is there to support the assertion?

  3. Are there alternative ways of interpreting the evidence?

  4. What additional evidence would help to evaluate the alternatives?

  5. What conclusions are most reasonable?

References:

Blackman, S., & Catalina, D. (1973). The moon and the emergency room. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 37, 624–626.

Campbell, D. E., & Beets, J. L. (1978). Lunacy and the moon. Psychological Bulletin, 85,
1123–1129.

Lieber, A. L., & Sherin, C. R. (1972). Homicides and the lunar cycle: Toward a theory of lunar influence on human emotional disturbance. American Journal of Psychiatry, 129, 69–74.

Owens, M., & McGowan, I. W. (2006). Madness and the moon: The lunar cycle and psychopathology. German Journal of Psychiatry, 9(1), 123 127.

Rotton, J., & Kelly, I. W. (1985). Much ado about the full moon: A meta-analysis of lunar-lunacy research. Psychological Bulletin, 97, 286–306.

Sims, P. (2007, June 7). British cops shine light on late-night lunacy. The Courier Mail. Retrieved on 4 September, 2007, from http://www.news.com.au/story/

0,23599,21864175 13762,00.html.

Tasso, J., & Miller, E. (1976). The effects of the full moon on human behavior. The Journal of Psychology, 93, 81–83.

Townley, J. (1997). Can the full moon affect human behavior [Electronic version]?

In J. Townley Dynamic Astrology: Using Planetary Cycles to Make Personal and Career Choices. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books. Retrieved on July 23, 2007, from http://www.innerself.com/Astrology/full_moon.htm.

Vines, G. (2001, June 23). Blame it on the moonlight [Electronic copy]. New Scientist, 170(2296), 36–39. Retrieved July 23, 2007, from EBSCO Academic Premier database.

Walters, E., Markley, R. P., & Tiffany, D. W. (1975). Lunacy: A type I error? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 84, 715–717.

CHAPTER 3




CRITICAL THINKING ACTIVITIES




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