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The appropriateness of children reading fairy tales. Focused on Ann Trousdale (1989)

Fairy tales have always been introduced to children at a very young age, regarding to their cultural background. An example of a Western fairy tale would be the famous Three Little Pigs, while an example of an Arabic fairy tale would be the One Thousand and One Nights. 

Most fairy tales are focused on stories between positively represented characters; ‘The nice and loving characters and the negatively represent characters; ‘The Villains’.’ Most of the plots are ended with the villains getting punished, as a consequence for their bad deeds. However, some of the endings are brutal and violent, and it can be seen from the older version of Three Little Pigs;

‘When the little pig saw what he was about, he hung on the pot full of water, and made up a blazing fire, and, just as the wolf was coming down, took off the cover, and in fell the wolf; so the little pig put on the cover again in an instant, boiled him up, and ate him for supper, and lived happy ever afterwards.’ (Joseph Jacobs, 1890)

Some caregivers are concerned about the possible negative effects the brutal ending of some fairy tales could have on children, and they think a more gentle ending should be appropriate. This leads to writers to edit the older versions of fairy tales, which can also be seen from the newer version of Three Little Pigs;

‘With a yelp of pain he sprang straight up the chimney again, and raced away into the woods. The three little pigs never saw him again, and spent their time in the strong little brick houses singing and dancing merrily.’ (Disney Book Club, 1972).  

Despite many caretakers would believe the more gentle ending will be beneficial to the children,  Ann Trousdale (1989) has reported that ‘two-and-a-half-year-old Christie,, had had several nightmares in which she saw the Big Bad Wolf , or the Big Bad Wolf had come to her house’, after reading the gentle ending Disney Version. Trousdale then conducted a study with two fairy tales on a little girl called Rebecca, and her respond has suggested that ‘she had a strong need to see  these dangerous impulses brought under control at the end of the story.’ This provided an implication in which Christie’s fear for the Wolf returning can be resolved by exposing to an ending which the treat gets eliminated. Later on, Trousdale introduced the original version’s ending of the Three Little Pigs, and the removal of the villain character had ‘put the Big Bad Wolf to rest. When asked, she says he’s not going to come back- but retells the story without the [first two] pigs getting eaten’. The changes of Christie’s behavior supports the research.

The research has demonstrated that the violent nature of fairy tales do not negatively affect children. However, it is important that any dangerous impulses at the end of story must be eliminated, as children are vulnerable to believe in the treat returning back to them some point of their lives. The study involves with ‘Christie’ provided valuable ideas in dealing with children feeling threatening after reading fairy tales, however it can be argued that child at that age would not be aware of the experimental settings she was going through. The consent was however given by her parents, and this allowed them to pull Christie out of the study if they feel not comfortable about it.

References

Jacobs, J., (1890). Three Little Pigs. English Fairy Tales.no 14, page 68-72.

Walt Disney’s (1972). Walt Disney’s Three Little Pigs (Disney’s Wonderful World of Reading).

Trousdale, A., (1989). Who’s Afraid of The Big, Bad Wolf? Children’s Literature in Education, Vol 20, No 2.

Evaluation on the the Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’

Mary Ainsworth proposed a method to help analysing human infants’ attachment types. The research she had conducted is under being in experimental settings, and has been named as ‘The Strange Situation’. It was carried out in the 1970s.

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The Artificial Settings

The study involves with having the infants and their mothers being at a strange room with toys and seats. The study targets in observing the infants’ ‘Safe Base Behaviour’; how often and ways the infants will try to interact with their mothers for comfort and security, but also their reactions at Reunion with mothers after separation. It has an operationalised procedures.

1. The infant and the mother would enter a strange room with toys and seats.

2. A stranger will enter the room, and try to interact with the infant and the mother. The infant’s reaction with the stranger is observed.

3. The mother leaves the room, leaving the infant and the stranger together. The infant’s reaction has been observed, and the stranger try to interact with the infant.

4. The mother returns, and comfort the infant if it is distressed.

5. Both the stranger and the mother leave the infant being in the room.

6. The mother return and reunion with the infant.

The study has been conducted in artificial settings, and it cannot represent what infants experience in real life settings. However, the experimental settings allow procedures be operational, making it easier to be replicated again. This can increase reliability if tests are repeated.

The results in the Strange Situation, of proportion of infants’ attachment type has been shown consistent, and similar pattern has been observed with the settings conducted in different countries. The difference in the proportions of attachment types between different countries can be explained by different rearing techniques which are encouraged by the mother’s own culture.

There is ethnic issue with the settings, as the infants may experience unnecessary distress. They are also not capable to withdraw from the research even if they want to, as they cannot communicate and express their feelings. The Strange Situation has been conducted in Japan, where the culture’s rearing concept is that the mother will very rarely leave the infants alone. Many infants expressed massive amounts of distress, while many of them have never experienced to be left alone and being away from their mothers. For some cases the research had to be terminated because of the excessive amount of distress the infants have shown.

As conclusion, the Ainsworth’s Strange Situation helps to identify the infants’ attachment type. However, the infants may experience unnecessary distress which is unethical.

Reference

M., D., S Ainsworth. & S., M., Bell. (1970). Child Devlopment. Vol. 41. pp.46-67.

Addiction on using drugs; Focusing on Robins et al, 1973

There are many researches which demonstrate the devasting effects of heroin have towards its users, for example, ‘A total of 60% met the criteria for a lifetime anxiety disorder, and 51% had a current anxiety disorder. A depressive disorder was diagnosed in 41% of subjects, with 30% having a current diagnosis. ‘ (Darke & Ross, 1997).

Heroin is powerful and addictive, and its users often find it very difficult to get rid of their dependence on the drug. However, a study (Robins el al, 1973), has demonstared addiction may not be as difficult to withdraw as it is commonly thought.

The study was sponsored by the US goverment and was carried out in the 1972, for invesigating the porpotion of US Veterans’ taking of drugs such as Heroin during the Vietnam War. It was important to conduct the study as there were reports of many US personel got depenent on the cheap and available drugs, and the US goverment needed the data to prepare on possible health intervention for the soliders returning to their home country.

The US goverment introduced a military program to deal with the drug abuse among troops in Vietnam, and soliders who were departing from the country were required to be interviewed and constribute urine samples which were then analysed for drugs testing. The study focused on September 1971 as the month to collect samples, and those who have been found positive with drug usage were checked up 8-12 months later.

The results has suprisingly suggested that the soliders in Vietnam had greatly descreased their intake of drugs after returning to the US, and very few have became addicted; ‘only 0.7 per cent said that they had been addicted at
any time during the eight to 12 months since their return’. The validity of the solider’s statement had been tested and confirmed by another urine test.

One possible reason to explain the result is that US troops in the Vietnam War went through very harsh experience in the foreign country, being in an hostile place where they were constantly threatened by diseases, and enermies who used effective stratgies such as bobby trap with the advantage being familar with the place and weather. A good avoident approach would be become reliance on drugs which will give them pleasurable feeling, and thus taking drugs such as Heroin. Once they returned to the US, they no longer need to be deal with being in the threatening situation. So they did not need to conduct the avoiding behaviour anymore. Furthermore, the price of Heroin was massively more expensive in the US than Vietnam, it therefore would be an financial bundle for the returned soliders.

The setting of the study is high in ecological validity, as the data were collected from real life soliders who serviced in the Vietnam War. There were little chance of the data not representing the particiapnts because despite the soliders could have lied in interviews due to social desirability, their statement were further tested by urine test. The sample size of the study is big; 943 men was involved. However, it can be challenged as being gender biased as all the data were collected from male US soliders.

Reference:

S.Darke., J.Ross. (1997), Polydrug dependence and psychiatric comorbidity among heroin injectors. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Volume 48, Issue 2, p135-141.

L.N.Robins., D.H.Davis., D.W.Goodwin. (1974), Drug use by U.S. Army enlisted men in Vietnam: A follow-up on their return home. American Journal of Epidermiology. Volume 99, No. 4, p235-249.

Significance Testing in Psychology Research

Significance Testing is fundamental in identifying whether there is a relationship exists between two or more variables in a Psychology Research. It is achieved by comparing the probability of which the data has demonstrated its effect due to chance, or due to real connection.

The ‘p’ value in Significance Testing indicates the probability of which the effect is cause by chance. When the p value is small, it suggests that it is likely the effect is not caused by chance. Hence having a real connection between the relationships, and the conclusion we make from the data has higher validity.

The most commonly agreed border in Significance Testing is at the P value 0.05.  If the p value is being less than 5% (p<0.05), we will identify it being Statistically Significant. Similarly, if the P value is more than 5% (p>0.05), we will identify it being Statistically Insignificant. However, it is worth knowing that the boarder value of Significance Testing can vary depending on how the experimenter would identify the relationship being significant. In some cases, the experimenters may consider p<0.1 still be Statistically Significant.

Significance Testing is very important in researches as it helps to indicate whether if the data is valid, and the appropriateness to conclude from the data.

Outliers in Psychology Researches

An outlying observation, or outlier, is one that appears to deviate markedly from other members of the sample in which it occurs (Grubbs, 1969). Outliers may appear in Psychology researches, and affecting the analysis of the data into conclusions. This decreases the validity of the results, making it hard to generalise and apply to the target areas.

 To encounter the problem, researchers would normally eliminate the extreme scores. This will make the total set of data to have a clearer sense of direction on the effects of relationships. However, excluding outliers is a reductionist approach, and may prevent us to develop our understanding by removing a special case of data. Furthermore, it is possible that the researchers may not include outliers as to increase the validity of the research. This is researchers biased.

In some cases, outliers can appear because of errors. The errors can be created from many parts of the research. Outliers can be created by few individual participants not understanding the procedures, and provide extreme scores when responding to the conditions. This can be solved by conducting a pilot study before the research. A pilot study is a rehearsal of the research in a small scale, and it helps to identify any possible problems the research may face when being carried out in a larger scale.

Outliers can also be created when there are errors in analysing and concluding the data. An example can be seen with Quantitative Data. It is possible that the set of data has been put in incorrectly during calculation, and affect the results of Mean, Median and Standard Deviation. A good method to deal with the problem is to reject all values beyond a criterion number of standard deviations from the mean of each experimental cell; typically discarding all values beyond about 2 to 3 SD of the mean (Selst & Jolicoeur,1994). Researchers may also use Inter-quartile range of the data set to remove extreme scores, by only focusing on the mid 25-75%. It is useful because according to the Normal Distribution, majority of the population lie in the middle range, with the minority of population lie within the extreme ends.

Outliers can be problems to researches, by being the unconventional data which differ from the majority. It is difficult to decide if it is appropriate to remove them. The advantage of removing outliers is that it makes it easier to evaluate the data, without extreme scores. The disadvantage of removing them is that it may make us ignore some special but important data, stopping us to provoke with developing an improved idea on the targeted topic.

Reference:

Selst, M.V. & Jolicoeur,P. (1994): A solution to the effect of sample size on outlier elimination, The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A: Human Experimental Psychology, 47:3,632.

Grubbs, F. E. (1969): Procedures for detecting outlying observations in samples. Technometrics 11, 1–21.

Investigating romantic relationships in Psychology.

Psychologists are fascinated with investigating in romantic relationships. Based on the Evolutionary Approach, us humans are meant to be going around passing on our genes to as many partners as possibles, without commitments and to be bonded with one individual. So, why are romantic relationships are formed? The answer for this question been investigated from several different approach in Psychology.

There are evidences suggesting early Attachments of infants would affect later romantic relationships. Avoidantly attached people indicate that they are uncomfortable being close to others, find it difficult to completely trust and depend on others, and are nervous when anyone gets too close (Simpson 1990).  However, the problem of linking up early Attachment and romantic relationship is that most studies in this area is correlational, making it hard to establish cause and effect.

Evolutionary approach explain it differently. It suggests that if the father is bonded into a relationship, and not going around for finding another partner, he can use his time and resources to help the rearing of his child. This increases the child’s chance of survival, also the possibility to pass on the gene successfully.

As an extend of the Biological Approach, there are also evidences suggesting there are neuronal effect in romantic relationships. Serotonin-enhancing antidepressants (SSRIs) can jeopardize one’s ability to feel romantic passion for a new partner or a deep attachment for a long attachment for a long-term mate (Fisher, 2004; Fisher and Thomson, in press). Once again, the problem of connection between neuronal with romantic relationship is Cause and Effect. We are yet to find if SSRIs cause people to feel romantic passion for individuals, or romantic passion for individuals cause the release of SSRIs.

Despite investigation in romantic relationships can bring good implication, however, we should be caution during the investigating in our studies. We should be aware some participants may feel distress when looking back into past relationships, and may not want to share the bad experiences they possibly had. Appropriate ways of researching would be self-report or questionnaires, as participants may not feel the same amount of pressure comparing methods such as Interviews. However, it is worth to be aware that with using methods such as self-report, participants may get biased to themselves when discussing romantic relationships.

References:

J.A. Simpson (1990).  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1990, Vol. 59, No. 5 , 973.

R.J. Sternberg., Karin Weis (2006). The new psychology of love. Page 103.

Discussion on the research methods in The Nature of Love (Harlow 1958)

Harlow (1958) conducted a laboratory experiment investigating the “Cupboard-Love Theory”; a theory using the behaviourist approach, which try to explain the formation of Attachment is achieved through Operant Conditioning. It suggests infants’ connection with parents or primary care givers are only achieved through rewards such as security or food. When infants are hungry, they would be in a craving state for food. However, when their primary care givers or parents deliver them food, they would no long feel hungry, and at the same time learned that good relationship with the food deliver is beneficial. It is Operant Conditioning, as it suggests infants learn from consequences.

In Harlow’s study, he carried out his experiment using baby rhesus monkeys which were taken away from their mothers. The baby monkeys been allocated into a condition with two artificial surrogate mother; one is a monkey figure made by terry cloth, and the other one is made by bare wire with milk. They represent ‘Comfort’ and ‘Food’. After the monkeys got familiar with the condition, they got exposed to frightening stimulus. It been found that infant monkeys tend to choose the ‘terry cloth’ mother as their safe-base when being frightened, providing an evidence against the cupboard love theory.

One advantage of Harlow using the experimental settings is that extraneous variables can be tightly controlled. All the baby monkeys were through in almost identical conditions, being isolated from the outside world which may affect the findings. Furthermore, it makes replication of the study easier if we would like to test the reliability.

However, many criticised on the ethical issues in which the study was involved with. The baby monkeys were taken away from their parents, and did not have a choice whether to take part. Unlike human participants, they did not have the right to withdraw. Furthermore, the monkeys have been through harm for taking part in the stud. Not only did they experienced fear by the the frightening stimulus, they also showed signs of attachment deprivation, of which they failed to form Attachment and affect their lives later on.

An extra critisation of the study is that some questioned on the validity of the study in questioning the cupboard love theory, with whether if baby rhesus monkeys can present human infants.

Despite the criticise the study received,  some argued back that using Animals is the only possible way for investigation. It is almost impossibly legal and very unethical to put through human infants in the same my condition. The study by Harlow provide us a good evidence to suggest the commonly agreed cupboard love theory is not true.

REFERENCE:

Harry F. Harlow (1958) American Psychologist13, 673-685

Statistics’ Role in Psychology

Statistics is a process of which we obtain, organise and make sense of numerical quantitative data to conclusion. It is vital to Research Processes, with its scientific methods which helps our development of understanding in Psychology.

One of the advantages of using Statistics is that it allow us to make collected data to be in a more standardised format. This makes it easier to compare between collected data but also become more objective. Too often Qualitative data are guilty of being too influenced by researchers’ point of view and even biased in some cases under the tendency to support the research hypothesis. However, with quantitative data, it is less likely to be affected by the researchers as it demonstrates the finding itself, without requiring the researchers’ own interpretation.

Investigating using Statistics used to be a very long and hard process. The introducing of computer software to do statistics not only makes the process so much more easier but also decreases the chance of making mistakes. Furthermore, the uses of Statistics allow us to represent our data by graphs or charts on computers. This helps the researcher to convey their idea across by stimulating the readers visually to understand the relationship between variables.

Statstics, especially Correlation, been criticised on not capable to establish Cause and Effect. This is due to we only investigate how likely the two or more variables would interact with each others, and often ignore individual cases and anonymous data.  However, this reductionist approach makes it easier for us to investigate and increase the validity if the anonymous data are in fact caused by errors of which would spoil the chance of us making a sound conclusion.

Despite the disadvantages of Correlation, it is still a very useful way of measuring data for evidences supporting conclusions. It helps us to indicate how strong the relationships are between variables, and the stronger they are, the higher the validity. Its usefulness can be demonstrated by many studies, an example would be the correlation study on Naval Crew (Rahe RH 1970). The study involves investigating with 2684 Naval Crew on how stress, measured by LCU, seeing whether it would influence on illness rates on board. With a study with that many participants, correlation makes it easier for us to investigate the relationships.

As a conclusion, Statisics has a vital role in Psychology. It helps providing techniques and empirical, objective data which help developing our understanding. It also helps make sense of data from different sources, and allow comparison with  standardised findings. Without Statistics, conclusion in researches would be subjective and lack of reliability, as it would be difficult to falsify researchers’ interpretations.

Eugene Kwun Kit Fung
23/10/2011