My final 4 blog comment and so happy 😀

needs moderating at time sent

For the last blog of the year, (yeah!!) I have decided to talk about whether psychology participants used are too restricted. What I mean by the participants being restricted is that are psychology participants to Westernised.  Westernised culture is a society that is usually industrialised and democratic society. Arnett (2008) conducted a Meta analysis study on psychology publications in APA journals. Arnett found that when he took a sample of 6 major APA journals and found that 77% of the articles in those journals had a majority of European American participants. Arnett also found that 96% of research was conducted in countries that make up only 12% of the worlds population. These are staggering numbers when you think that psychologist make assumptions and inferences on human behaviour based on research on only 12% of possible participants. But is it ok to make assumption about the whole of humanity based on research on only 12% and are there areas of psychology that are hindered by the lack of multi culture research.

There are areas in psychology that need participants from multiple cultures to be examined properly. One of the most talked about argument that has been argued using behaviours of different cultures is the nature, nurture debate. 1 example of this is the argument of are facial emotion expression learned or innate. Charles Darwin believed that emotion expression in the face was innate but most psychologists disagreed with him believing that they are learned. It was only when Paul Ekman read an article by Silvan Tomkins that a study with other non western cultures was conducted. Ekman and Friesen (1971) went to New Guinea to test challenge the widely accepted belief that emotional expression is learnt. Their participant was a tribe in New Guinea that had very little contact with the rest of the world and therefore had little influence from others on their culture and life styles. If emotional expression is learnt we would expect at least some variations among different cultures as different cultures can have very different norms and values that affect behaviour. The study found the complete opposite to what was expected. The tribes people were able to identify and display the correctly emotions from pictures of western participants and stories of pretend scenarios. What this study suggests is that because different cultures expressed and recognised emotions in the same way even with little contact with each other which suggest that unlike what was believed by many psychologists that Darwin was right an emotional expression is innate rather than learnt. What this study demonstrates is that the debate on nature vs nurture in emotional expression was easily testable when comparing people and testing people form different cultures but it is impossible to say whether its nature or nurture in people of the same culture because they are brought up in similar environments. I’m not saying that cross cultural comparisons are the only way to test nature vs nurture debate for example research from Thompson (1941) found that children who were blind at birth were able to express emotion such as happiness by smiling exactly the same as children who were born with sight which also suggests that emotional expression is innate and not learnt since children who are blind at birth are unable to learn through imitating.

What cross cultural studies do is it allows psychologist to test to see if a particular phenomena or theory actually applies to all of humanity or just a population. By only using a particular group for participants you can’t really be sure if your findings apply to other populations.

So to conclude is psychology participants to restricted. Well yes and no. I don’t believe it’s a problem when you are testing for a new theory to see if a phenomenon exists. If you do find that your theory is correct and you only want to apply it to a specific population then there is not much point in testing other populations. However if you do find a phenomenon and you want to apply it to the whole of humanity then I believe research with participants from a variety of cultures is important as you cant ever really realistically apply finding from participants from 1 culture to another as they may be completely different.



1)      Arett, J. J. (2008). The neglected 95%: Why American psychology needs to become less American. American Psychologist. 63(7), 602-614.

2)      Ekman, P., & Friesen, W.V. (1971). Constants across cultures in the face and emotions. Journal of personality and Social psychology, 17(2), 124-129.

3)      Thompson, J. (1941). Development of facial expression of emotion in blind and seeing children. Archive of psychology, 37


Almost done 😀 just 1 more!!!!!

Most psychology students have probably heard at some point in their academic lives “What’s the point of psychology” or “psychology is just a cop-out degree”. Psychology has a bit of an image problem, it is seen by many as a very non scientific, oooh lets try this approach compared to other scientific fields such as physics and chemistry. This view can have negative impacts on how psychology research is perceived by others and has the potential for very important and significant findings to be disregarded as Psychology is not a science.

Some have argued that one way to make psychology seem more scientific is to write up psychology research so that it is solely aimed for the scientific community i.e using only scientific jargon and writing in very scientific fashion which would mean that the layman person wouldn’t understand fully what the paper was discussing. I believe that this is a bad and dangerous idea and the aim of this blog is demonstrate how this method could potentially alienate layman persons and be harmful to the psychology field.

I believe that there are 2 main ways that making psychology so that the layman person can’t understand could cause problems:

1)      Fear caused by lack of understanding

2)      Unquestioning belief of seemed superior knowledge

Let’s start with the first issue of fear caused by lack of knowledge. People tend to fear what they don’t know or understand. This makes sense from an evolutionary prospective because what we don’t know or understand could potentially be dangerous to us. For example in 1966 Tobias found that teacher preferred traditional structured devices e.g flashcards and workbooks, compared to programmed instructions such as computer programmes because they didn’t understand the new technology or its purpose at the time and were afraid that it could take over their jobs. Obviously now day we know that ridicules as many of us use these programmes everyday as teaching aids but that fear of not knowing probably slowed down or could have even stopped the use of technology which we take for granted today. This could happen with psychology, if the majority can’t understand what psychology is or is being used for they may begin to fear it a many and potentially reject or worse act to get rid of what people may perceive as a threat.

The 2nd potential problem is the unquestioning belief. Psychologist, although do get some grief, are slow but surely gaining more respect as a scientific field in the public eye. This can be seen by many TV programme now starting to use psychologist to explain aspects about their show or world event. This means that people may start to view psychologist with more respect which is a good thing. However if we make papers to hard to understand people may with this new respect for psychology may take it at face value and not challenge it and even misinterpret what the psychologist actually means. A good example of this is the IQ test developed by Binet. In 1904 a French psychologist Binet constructed an IQ test for the French government which had the aim of identifying young children who need remedial education. However Binet’s IQ test was later translated into English and was used by a movement known as Eugenics which aim was to preserve the advancement of humanity by preventing the breeding of undesired gene pool. The American eugenicist Hennery Goddard introduced Binet’s test to America but instead of using it to detect children who needed extra help he used the test to classify everyone under 1 if 4 categories, normal, morons, idiots, and imbeciles. Between the 1920s-1940s over 30 American states passed laws that would allow the enforcement of sterilization of people who based on this test were regarded as sub-normal. Many states did not revoke these laws until the late 70s. What this example shows is that people saw Goddard as an expect and didn’t question his authority even though he used others work for his own purposes and ideology even when that work wasn’t originally designed for that purpose. The people simply weren’t aware and naïve of what the purpose of Binet’s IQ test was for.

To conclude there definitely must be something done about the publics current opinion about psychology and I believe few psychologist would argue against this. However I don’t believe that simply writing up papers so that it seems more scientific is the answer to the problem but has the potential to cause more damage to the psychology field. Not only can it alienate the layman public causing fear or misinterpretation which consequence are shown in examples above, but it could also isolate psychology from other academics field like the medical or sporting fields which may not fully understand psychology jargon.



1)      Tobias, S. (1966). Lack of knowledge and fear of automation in teacher’s attitudes towards programmed instruction and other media. Educational Technology Research and Development. 14, 1, 99-109.

2)      TV programme: Race and Intelligence Science’s Last Taboo


[awaiting moderation huh 😦 ]


I was struggling to think of a topic to do my blog on this week so looking back at older blogs on quantitative vs. qualitative research and I noticed that on many blogs diary studies were briefly mentioned but no one (that I have read) went into great detail on diary studies and why do we use them. Diary studies have been shown to be very useful in other academic areas such as history were the diary of Anne Frank gave historians great detail about what it was like during the time of the German occupation ( But for psychology why not just use interviews? In this blog I am going to look at the pros and cons of diary studies research method in psychology and see if they if they are a worthwhile or just a lazy alternative for interviews.


First let’s look at the pros for diary studies. One of the major benefits of diary studies is that they are incredibly flexible. They are flexible in 2 ways. The first way diary studies are flexible is how you structure the diary. Most people (like me) would assume that a diary is simply someone just writing down whatever they want, however in psychology a psychologist can design a diary to be 1 of 3 structures. The diary could be either structured were the participant just tick what they have done from a pre determined choices, the diary could be semi-structured were the diary is a mix of tick box choices and free writing of experiences, and the final structure is an unstructured diary which is the more well known of participants just free writing what the think and feel. The 2nd way that diary studies are flexible is of the type of diary you use. With the advance of technology we are gone with the days of only using paper and pen and we can now use video cameras and audio recorders to record diaries.


The second pro of diary studies is that they are simple to run and time effective. In diary studies once you have decided on a structure of your diary you quick explanation to the participant of what to do and give them the diary. This means that the majority of the study is done by the participant which allows the research to be doing other productive activities.


The 3rd benefit is that just like in interviews diary studies are experienced focus meaning that the data is rich in detail which quantitative data can lack.


The final pro that I’m going to talk about is that unlike interviews were there is always the participant and researcher present either in the same place or by phone, diary studies can be done by the participant on their own. Latane and Darley (1968) study got participants to fill out a questionnaire in a room that was slowly filling with steam, 75% of participants went to check that there wasn’t a fire when on their own compared to 48% when participants were with 2 confederates that were not going to leave the room. What this example shows is that people behaviour and potentially views can be influenced by other and therefore their behaviour is not natural. The advantage of diary studies is that they can be done along and are therefore not influenced by others.




Now lets look at the cons of diary studies. The first major problem with diary studies is that they can be time sensitive. What I mean by time sensitive is that in some occasion it may be impossible for the participant to do they diary entries immediately after a though or event has occurred, for example doing a voice recoding in a busy train. Therefore there are times when the participant fill out their diary after the event and will therefore rely on their memory. Studies have shown that the memory can be flawed and easily influenced by our schema. Barlett’s (1932) War of the ghosts study showed that participants would change a story from a different culture to fit their own when they were asked to recall it. This is an example of the dangers that could happen when participants don’t fill in their diaries as soon as an event occurs, the participant could have forgotten some of the aspects of the event so their schema simply fills in the blanks which could be wrong information.


Another problem which is from participant error in diary studies is that of social desirability. Participants are aware that what they put in their diaries will be read by the researcher. There may be situations were participants don’t record all the information into their diary’s as they know it will not be socially desirable, e.g. any racist beliefs. This means that participants are not giving all the information which could mean the study lacks internal validity.


The final con of diary studies that I’m going to talk about is risk of a potential error of miss interpretation from the research. Once a diary has been finished it is then analysed by the research. The issue of misinterpretation may be a problem because a research may know what they want or expect to find before analysis and may see what they want to see rather than what is accurate. Balcetis & Dunning (2006) conducted an experiment with a picture which could be seen as either a seal or a donkey. The study involved a game were participants were rewarded for seeing either sea creatures or barn animals. The study found that when participants wanted to see a sea creature saw mostly the seal and participants wanting to see a barn animal mostly saw the donkey. What this example shows that people can have different views of the same stimulus depending on what they want to see. This could also happen to researchers who are under pressure to publish work and want to see a certain effect occur will see it and could miss other potentially important factors or views.


So to conclude, there are many, quiet serious weaknesses to diary studies in psychology. However the fact that they are very flexible in the fact that they can be done alone and be done in places were having an interview would be completely impossible or inappropriate I believe that diary studies do have a place in psychological research.





2)      Latane, B. & Darley, J.M. (1968). Group inhibition of bystander intervention in emergencies. Journal of personality & social psychology, 10, 215-221.

3)      Barlett, F.C. (1932). Remembering: A study in experimental and social psychology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge university press.

4)      Balcetis, E., & Dunning, D. (2006). See What You Want to See: Motivational Influences on Visual Perception.  Journal of personality and social psychology, 91, 4, 621-625.


here are my first blog comments for semester 2 🙂