It has been a long time since I posted anything on here. Since I last posted, I’ve been busying myself with much analysis, planning of studies and moving back to my homeland of Kent.
To ease back in to this blog writing malarkey, I thought I’d do something a little different. My girlfriend is always laughing at my love of gadgets, so rather than give my thoughts on the current state of psychology, or analysing the most up-to-date research, I’m instead going to share some of the gadgets and tools that I’ve discovered over the last few years that have helped make my life easier during my PhD. These are the things I wish I had been shown at the start of my university years, and they really could be used by all students, not just those doing a PhD. If there is anything you think should be on the list that isn’t, let me know!
In the summer of 2010 I was conflicted. On the one hand, I had just been offered a PhD studentship at the University of Kent. This caused great feelings of joy, as my goal throughout university had been to do a doctorate degree. On the other hand, there was an ominous feeling of despair. The studentship was on something entitled The Social-Guilt Hypothesis. Guilt?!
It wasn’t that guilt wasn’t interesting. It was that I thought I knew all there was to know about guilt. I knew Freud had said a bunch of stuff, that it was probably related to depression, and that it’s an emotion you feel when you do something bad and get caught. Was guilt really something I could study for three years?! I still remember the first time I searched the internet and journals for literature. It’s funny how little I knew yet how much I thought I did.
A generic definition of an emotion might describe it as a state of consciousness. Google dictionary defines it as “[a]ny of the particular feelings that characterize such a state of mind, such as joy, anger, love, hate, horror, etc.” The emphasis is on feeling and state of mind. The debate of whether an emotion can be unconscious has recently grabbed my attention, so I thought I’d write a brief summary of some of the arguments for and against unconscious emotions.
Just a short-ish post about something I found rather interesting today. My supervisor, Stuart Derbyshire, has done a lot of research on pain. This is the reason why I get to have an office with a sign on the door which reads “Pain Lab”.
Today Stuart introduced me to offset analgesia. When he first mentioned it, I thought it must be some piles-like-disease (“Ach, I’ve offset my anal-gesia again!!!”). I was so surprised by how effective it was that I have had the urge to write about it and share my experience with you. Offset analgesia is best summarised in one of Stuart’s papers:
There has been a big furore recently concerning the need to replicate within psychology. In this article I want to explore why replication is necessary to begin with, why psychologists have been so bad at replicating in the past, and what is currently being done to ensure we are better at replicating in the future.
A lot of buzz has surrounded a paper by Green, Lambon, Moll, Deakin and Zahn (2012), entitled “Guilt-selective functional disconnection of anterior temporal and subgenual cortices in major depressive disorder”. I’ve decided to analyse the study and I’ll finish by concluding whether or not I believe the hype was deserved.
Seeing that the focus of my PhD is guilt, I like to think that I know a little something about it. Yet this week I’m going to be exploring previously unchartered grounds, namely whether there exists gender differences with regards to guilt. This is the topic of a paper by Etxebarra, Ortiz, Conejero and Pascual (2009), entitled “Intensity of habitual guilt in men and women: Differences in interpersonal sensitivity and the tendency towards anxious-aggressive guilt”
Gender differences immediately set off my alarm bells. The media loves them, which, as with pseudo-neuroscience, usually means that findings from studies get twisted and exaggerated in order to support intuitions and stereotypes.