Final Comments :)


POPPS – Good or Bad?!

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said “At a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.” Believe it or not this is actually true; the fear of public speaking (glossophobia) tops the list of phobias in various surveys conducted around the world even topping the fear of death. Glossophobia is a subset of social phobia; people do not exhibit fears of meeting new people or performing tasks in front of people. In fact many people with glossophobia maybe able to dance or sing on stage, providing they do not have to talk. Glossophobia generally includes high levels of unexplainable anxiety at the thought of communicating to a group of people; for instance a dry mouth, faster heart beat, sweating and stiffening of muscles.

With this in mind I wanted to discuss whether POPPS is good tool for everyone. We all know what POPPS is; it is there to polish our public speaking skills through repetition and constructive criticism from fellow members. With 60% of people getting turned down for a jobs because they do not have well enough communication skills some would say it is essential. When I first started my psychology degree and was told I would have to do speeches in order to gain a percentage of my course I was not thrilled. I myself throughout school was not confident speaking in front of people. I often got shaking hands, tense muscles and a dry mouth which never seemed to improve speech to speech.

In my first POPPS class, I did not give a speech and watched other people who just seemed naturally confident, hence going first. One person I will always remember said ‘I do not get why people get so nervous’. This got me thinking is it fair that these people that are confident are getting 15% of the module for nothing, yes their doing a speech but it does not affect them, it’s an easy mark. Whereas others may miss a night of sleep due to nerves, feel sick, shaky and tense; and when they’ve finished the speech get told to give more eye contact which is not a confidence booster at all. I know everyone must experience a few nerves but not to the extremes of some.

The question is why people are getting so nervous and is POPPS addressing these issues. Firstly the fear of the unknown, the audience being the unknown; people often wonder what do they expect of me? Do they know more about the subject than I do? Secondly there is fear of forgetting, for instance the fear of the mind going blank and lastly the fear of unanticipated questions, not knowing the answer to a questions that are asked. I believe POPPS does address these issues; we are given speech topics, people know what to expect and we are able to prepare. Also we are often told to use power points or use notes, these act as prompts and the fear of forgetting is reduced. Lastly impromptu speeches work on unanticipated questions in a way; we are given a random topic and have to talk about it.

Now coming to the end of my second year do I think POPPS is good or bad? I think good. Doing my prepared speech last week I noticed a difference to my first year. I am much more confident, I still get nervous but not half as much as I used too and I suppose I have POPPS to thank. Here are a few facts and figures:

–  Proper presentation and rehearsal of your message can reduce your fear by about 75%

– Utilizing breathing techniques can reduce your anxiety by another 15%.

– Preparing for your mental state can reduce your fear the remaining 10%.

Regarding my view point now, I know I’d defiantly rather be giving the eulogy than lying in the casket.

Happy Easter Everyone 🙂



Comments – Week 7/8


Why is the “file drawer problem” a problem?

Suppose one day I decided to conduct a study comparing two groups of people; one group being dyslexic and the other a control group. My hypothesis predicts a difference in visual perception; however I find no difference. Should I report my results or not, is their further studies I could conduct or should I use more participants in order to find an effect. Realistically if I were to publish my results I am saying ‘I have an interesting theory that could explain visual perception but it is wrong’. These factors lead me into ‘filing’ my research away in order to avoid publication of it. This is known as the ‘file drawer problem’ coined by Rosenthal (1979), it is described as the bias introduced into scientific literature by selective publication. Meaning that researches have the tendency to publish positive results but not negative/null results; when in fact we should accentuate the negative.

This leads me to ask why the file draw problem is an actual problem. Firstly in relation to statistics we have a meta analyses which combines several studies who have related hypotheses, however it can only be done on published studies; therefore what about all the studies that have not been published. The file drawer problem results in the distribution of effect sizes being biased or skewed resulting in base rate fallacy, where significance of the actual published studies is overestimated. In the case of Meta analysis or any general study this over estimation can lead to inappropriate interventions and practices being put in place that may not even work. Furthermore the file drawer problem leads to distortion of literature which creates an impression that positive results are far more robust than they actually are. Another reason behind this being a problem is time wasting. This is particularly important within the medical profession; recently an early intervention study by Green at al(2010) published null results in a study related to autism. By doing this others know to avoid wasting scarce resources on things that are not effective. It essentially stops others from trying to establish an effect that is just not there and this in turn does waste time.

Furthermore it is important to understand why not reporting a null finding is not so good and why reporting one is. Firstly ‘The Food and Drug Administration and medical journals’ have claimed that for over a decade they have worried that clinical trials showing no benefits have been filed away rather than published; leading to trails being conducted again. In contrast to this research conducted in the University of Cadiz (UCA) reported null findings that professional preference is not linked to personality. When I first read this I initially thought why is this so important but it is. Many universities and colleges use personality measures to guide students down a career path but this study has allowed us to question is this the route we should be using.

From this information I conclude that we should not publish any old thing but if it has a good case, a strong introduction and methods then despite whether it confirms your hypothesis or not it should be published, as everything confirmed or not gives us knowledge. Also recently it is easier to publish null findings due to electronic journals so there is no excuse. Therefore if you have a null finding hiding in your filing draw get it out and publish it.

This entry was posted on March 10, 2012. 8 Comments

Comments weeks 4/5


Should children be used in psychological research?

We all know some of the most interesting psychological studies have been results of experiments whose participants were children. I myself find them particularly interesting at my age now, as it allows me to look back and think was I like that, what would I have done in those situations, do I recognise myself having gone through certain stages as I was developing. However despite my interest I often look back and think should that study really have been conducted. Therefore I ask the question should children be used in psychological research at all.

I will begin by looking at some studies; despite all studies being valuable and allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of a child’s mind and behaviour, some studies will be seen as good and others bad. Firstly I shall discuss studies regarded as ethically sound and therefore good; firstly a study by Baron-Cohen (1985), wanted to find out if children, particularly autistic children have a theory of mind through the use of the Sally-Anne test (the test is highlighted below in the picture), in order to get the correct answer, the child has to be able to put itself in the shoes of Sally and answer the question ‘where is the ball?’ As Sally does not know her ball has been moved the correct answer would be her basket. However autistic children tended to say the box, as this where the ball actually is. This study gave us a deeper understanding of an autistic child and they have the inability to think about their own or other people’s thoughts. Furthermore there is the study by Samuel & Bryant (1984), where children were tested on the principle of conservation, with a focus on asking one question. Children were shown two beakers of water, one tall and thin, the other short and fat and the children were asked which beaker contained more water. The older the child the better at conservation, also seeing the transformation and being asked one question had an effect on the given answer.

From these studies I would say there is no problem testing children, the children were not put under any stress, they took part in quite simple tasks which may have been similar to something they would do in school and no physical or psychological harm was posed upon them.

However (and that is a big however) what about studies that I view and surely most of you view, as bad and unethical. One popular study is that of little Albert conducted by John Watson (1920), where Albert was exposed to a rat of which he held no fear of at all. Watson then began making loud noises by hitting a metal pipe with a hammer, which Albert naturally reacted to by crying, obviously in distress. After repeatedly pairing the rat with the loud noise, Albert simply began to cry when seeing the rat. Surely we should no develop a new fear within child which might affect them throughout life.  Another study is that by Tudor (1939) named as the monster study (speaks for itself). 22 orphan children were the participants, Tudor gave positive speech therapy to half of them and negative speech therapy to the other half, this included belittling for every single imperfection of speech. Many of the normal speaking orphans receiving negative therapy suffered negative psychological effects and retained speech problems for most of their life.

After looking at these studies, my view point completely changes; no physical or psychological harm should ever come upon a child, even an adult in fact. The fact that the monster study was hidden by the experimenter due to fears of reputation being tarnished speaks volumes. With regards to the Little Albert study, clear distress was shown and Albert was exposed to a fear he once never had.

Therefore to conclude I believe that yes children should be used when conducting psychological research, however a thin line should be drawn to when they should be used. If consent is gained, no psychical or psychological harm is to happen and the psychologist recognises the caution required when working with children then I think it is ok to conduct the study. Most importantly it is important that the child is willing and that if any signs of distress are shown the experiment should immediately be stopped. Children are so influential and therefore precautions need to be taken.


Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A.M., & Frith, U.  (1985) Does the autistic child have a ‘theory of mind’?  Cognition, 21, 37-46

Samuel, J. & Bryant, P. (1984) Asking only one question in the conservation experiment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 25, 315-18.

This entry was posted on February 18, 2012. 17 Comments

Semester 2, Week 2/3 Comments. – It says this comment is awaiting moderation, so I have copied and pasted it below. 

I am not sure if I agree completely with your view point, yes psychology holds interest to most people due to its vast amount of topics where people can gain more understanding about themselves for instance about stress management or child-rearing. Therefore for these purposes some more real word papers preferably should be written for the layman on topics such as the above.

However above you mentioned neuropsychology in regards to this; in my eyes it is impossible to write and make information understandable just for the purpose of the layman. If I look back to year 1 before we began brain and mind, or psychobiology. If I were to read a neuropsychology paper, it often went over my head and I did not understand what it meant, words such as paralimbic cortex meant nothing to me but neuropsychologists have to use these words; they cannot dumb down their paper simply for the layman.

Therefore I believe psychology should be reported in scientific language, those that want to understand it should go out there and do so, just like we all did 🙂