The difference is that these tests are well constructed and therefore much more illuminating. The author, a professor of psychology, has put together a collection of quizzes, jokes, and interactive exercises replicating actual studies by scientists on personality, intelligence, moral values, thinking styles and abilities, and more. Or which tactic would you choose to control unruly prisoners: reason, or harsh treatment, and why? What do most people choose? Then there are a number of studies that show psychological responses and how they can be manipulated, such as jury response to prisoner appearance, or how to trick yourself to eat fewer chips. Evaluation: This is a great book to keep on the coffee table, use on family trips, or pull out at social gatherings.
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And how much of what you think you know about psychology is wrong? But how different are men and women, really? One thing men and women do really differ on is how far they can throw a ball. So if we look at the data for men here, we see what is called a normal distribution curve. A few men can throw a ball really far, a few men, not far at all, but most, a kind of average distance.
In fact, the average man can throw a ball further than about 98 percent of all women. In fact, the average woman is better than 33 percent of all men, and of course, if that was 50 percent, then the two genders would be exactly equal. Any psychologist will tell you that women are better with language and grammar than men.
There, the women. There go the men. Again, yes, women are better on average, but the lines are so close that 33 percent of men are better than the average woman.
And again, if it was 50 percent, that would represent complete gender equality. When making a cake, do you prefer to use a recipe book with pictures? Yeah, a few people. Have a friend talk you through? Or have a go, making it up as you go along? Quite a few people there. Learning styles are made up and are not supported by scientific evidence. We know this because in tightly controlled experimental studies when learners are given material to learn, either in their preferred style or an opposite style, it makes no difference at all to the amount of information they retain.
Could you learn to drive a car, for example, just by listening to someone telling you what to do, with no kinesthetic experience? Could you solve simultaneous equations by talking them through in your head, without writing them down? No; what you need to do is match the material to be learned to the presentation format, not you. But one thing that you might want to think about blaming is your genes. So what this is all about is that a recent study at University College London found that 58 percent of the variation between different students and their GCSE results was down to genetic factors.
That sounds like a very precise figure. So how can we tell? Well, when we want to unpack the relative contributions of genes and the environment, what we can do is a twin study. Identical twins share percent of their environment and percent of their genes, whereas nonidentical twins share percent of their environment, but just like any brother and sister, share only 50 percent of their genes.
So by comparing how similar GCSE results are in identical twins versus nonidentical twins and doing some clever maths, we can get an idea of how much variation in performance is due to the environment, and how much is due to genes. But again, this is a myth, because nearly everything you do involves nearly all parts of your brain talking together, even just the most mundane thing like having a normal conversation. However, perhaps one reason why this myth has survived is that there is a slight grain of truth to it.
A related version of the myth is that left-handed people are more creative than right-handed people, which kind of makes sense because your brain controls the opposite hand. So in left-handed people, the right side of the brain is slightly more active than the left side of the brain, and the idea is the right-hand side is more creative.
But what is true is that ambidextrous people, or people who use both hands for different tasks, are more creative thinkers than one-handed people, because being ambidextrous involves having both sides of the brain talk to each other a lot, which seems to be involved in creative and flexible thinking. The myth of the creative left-hander arises from the fact that being ambidextrous is more common amongst left-handers than right-handers, so a grain of truth in the idea of the creative left-hander, but not much.
This is, again, a complete myth. Nearly everything that we do, even the most mundane thing, uses nearly all of our brains. So what could we do to boost our brainpower? Maybe we could listen to a nice bit of Mozart. Have you heard of the idea of the Mozart effect? The idea is that listening to Mozart makes you smarter and improves your performance on IQ tests. So the original study found that participants who were played Mozart music for a few minutes did better on a subsequent IQ test than participants who simply sat in silence.
But a follow-up study recruited some people who liked Mozart music and then another group of people who were fans of the horror stories of Stephen King. And they played the people the music or the stories. The people who preferred Mozart music to the stories got a bigger IQ boost from the Mozart than the stories, but the people who preferred the stories to the Mozart music got a bigger IQ boost from listening to the Stephen King stories than the Mozart music.
So the truth is that listening to something that you enjoy perks you up a bit and gives you a temporary IQ boost on a narrow range of tasks. Another version of the Mozart myth is that listening to Mozart can make you not only cleverer but healthier, too. This suggests that Mozart should have been a bit more careful, perhaps, when choosing his sexual partners.
But how do we choose a partner? A famous study surveyed people from  different cultures across the globe from Americans to Zulus, on what they look for in a partner. And in every single culture across the globe, men placed more value on physical attractiveness in a partner than did women, and in every single culture, too, women placed more importance than did men on ambition and high earning power.
In every culture, too, men preferred women who were younger than themselves, an average of, I think it was 2. And in every culture, too, women preferred men who were older than them, so an average of 3. Your brain creates patterns from the randomness. An exception to this, however, is penalty shootouts. And one thing you might think about doing is punishing people for their misses and seeing if that improves them.
The story goes that participants were prepared to give what they believed to be fatal electric shocks to a fellow participant when they got a question wrong, just because someone in a white coat told them to. But this story is a myth for three reasons.
It was, in fact, grey. Secondly, the participants were told before the study and reminded any time they raised a concern, that although the shocks were painful, they were not fatal and indeed caused no permanent damage whatsoever. When they were interviewed after the study, all the participants said that they firmly believed that the learning and punishment study served a worthy scientific purpose which would have enduring gains for science, as opposed to the momentary, nonfatal discomfort caused to the participants.
Interestingly, there is one exception: TV appeals for missing relatives. So hoax appealers are more likely to shake their heads, to look away, and to make errors in their speech, whereas genuine appealers are more likely to express hope that the person will return safely and to avoid brutal language.
So, for example, they might say "taken from us" rather than "killed. The myth is that psychology is just a collection of interesting theories, all of which say something useful and all of which have something to offer. What we need to do is assess psychological theories by seeing what predictions they make, whether that is that listening to Mozart makes you smarter, that you learn better when information is presented in your preferred learning style or whatever it is, all of these are testable empirical predictions, and the only way we can make progress is to test these predictions against the data in tightly controlled experimental studies.
Pub Date 30 Dec Read an Excerpt Description Psychology as you wish it were taught: a collection of entertaining experiments, quizzes, jokes, and interactive exercises Psychology is the study of mind and behavior: how and why people do absolutely everything that people do, from the most life-changing event such as choosing a partner, to the most humdrum, such as having an extra donut. Ben Ambridge takes these findings and invites the reader to test their knowledge of themselves, their friends, and their families through quizzes, jokes, and games. Lighthearted, fun, and accessible, this is the perfect introduction to psychology that can be fully enjoyed and appreciated by readers of all ages. Take Dr.
How much do you know and understand about what makes you tick? The aim of this book is to share the answers that psychology has come up with to explain how and why humans do all the things we do. But it is not some dry, dusty psychology textbook, filled — as most are — with details of long, boring experiments and byzantine theories. What you want to know is what psychology can tell you about you and your life. But by the time you reach the end of this book, you will not only have the very best answers that science can offer, but will also have gained a powerful insight into your own psychology. Psychology derives its value from following the scientific method: We come up with theories, and test them using the most controlled experiments possible.
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