The diagnosis of the inhabitants of The Hundred Acre Woods.

I have no idea whether this relates back to research skills, but it’s the last blog entry of the academic year and so I wanted to it on something that I only recently found out, but think is really interesting.

Whilst searching for blog topics a couple of weeks ago, I came across an article about cartoon characters and how they can be diagnosed to having medical disorders. The main example of this is the beloved children’s programme, which played an important role in most of our early childhoods, Winnie The Pooh. Each character in the Winnie The Pooh cartoon has a very strong personality. This is no doubt why so many of us love the show. Yet, it is these personality traits which can be translated into a Psychological Disorders. I don’t believe that the books and TV shows were created with this idea in mind, however when each character is psychologically analysed, each one clearly has a disorder that can be diagnosed based on their behaviours.

So looking at each character individually:

Christopher Robin – Schizophrenia
Christopher Robin is the creator of all of these characters. In his mind, these characters represent feelings within himself as he learns to cope with the external world, taking on each persona. It has been said that each character represent the development of the ego/self.

Winnie the Pooh – Addict/Eating Disorder
Winnie the Pooh has unhealthy obsessive fixation with honey. This constant quest for food and eating with his hands would automatically be recognised by Freud as an oral fixation. Even with a vast number of friends it could be said that Pooh is trying to fulfil a loneliness, using food as a comforter.

Piglet – Anxiety
This anxiety disorder manifests itself in paranoia, making Piglet have irrational and delusional fears about everything, resulting in him finding it difficult to function normally. As well as lacking self-esteem, Piglet also has a speech impediment with his stuttering problem.

Owl – Dyslexic
The image of the owl is associated with wisdom and knowledge. The character Owl is of course quite clever, with all the “right answers,” however it was clear he does not fully understand written work and would instead decipher the messaged based on it images.

Tigger – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Tigger cannot control his hyperactivity, constantly distracted, impulsive and doesn’t seem to care. His destructive behaviour often results in him getting into trouble. His is extremely curious and is willing to try anything that crosses his path which would concern psychologist with substance abuse.

Rabbit – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Rabbit is known for being over organised and obsessive about it, always worried about how things looked, constantly returning to check that everything is still in order.

Eeyore – Depression
Eeyore’s disorder is the most obvious. Rarely with a smile on his face, he doesn’t care much about anything. To say that he is gloomy is a bit of an understatement. He isn’t bipolar as he never displayed a mixed of sudden highs with sudden lows, he is presented chronically as always being depressed.

I know that it is a ridicules idea, to diagnose cartoon character, and that over analysing such simple concepts can destroy them, even spoil a beloved childhood character. I just found the whole idea really interesting.


Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Publication Bias or The File Drawer Effect

The file drawer effect (or file drawer problem) is when studies in a given area of research are conducted but when reviewed they are never reported. Those that are not published usually report different results from what the majority of studies conducted on the same subject report. This problem is referred to as the file-drawer effect as the unpublished results are imagined to be tucked away in file cabinets, in fear that their finding will impact/contradict the results of other studies. Publication bias is the tendency for researchers or editors only reporting experimental results that are positive or results that support previous findings. It has been found that statistically significant results are three times more likely to be published than papers confirming a null hypothesis. It also has been found that another common reason for results not being published is due to the investigator’s lack of knowledge on the subject in question. Also those who peer review research are usually experts in the field and so will most probably have conducted their own studies. It has been known for peer reviewers to overlook results that contradict their own research. In efforts to decrease this problem, many medical journals require registration of a study before it commences so that unfavourable results are not withheld from publication. However, not all researchers are aware of these registers. Also attempts to identify unpublished work have proven very difficult.


Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


Cross sectional studies or Longitudinal studies

A longitudinal study is the observation of the same variable over a long period of time. They are usually used to study the development of whatever is being observed, over the course of a life time.
Unlike longitudinal studies which track the same individuals, a cross sectional study is when a group of younger participants are compared with another group of older participants, in the aim of finding out the influence of age on the behaviour in question.
Because a longitudinal study follows the same people, the differences observed in these people are less likely to be effected by cultural differences across generations. Because of this longitudinal studies can be applied in various other fields. In medicine it can be used uncover predictors of certain diseases, enabling doctors to tackle the disease when it’s in it earlier stages of development. In advertising it’s used to identify the changes in a target audience’s attitudes and behaviours caused by advertising. Studies are observational in the sense that there is no manipulation of the variable being observed, increasing their ecological validity, however this results in a lack of control over extraneous variables. Because of the repeated observations, they have more power than cross-sectional studies. Some of the disadvantages of longitudinal studies are the facts that it takes a lot of time and can be very expensive. They can also have a high dropout rate, people leaving the studies before it’s over, preventing all observations to be made.
Cross-sectional studies are observation of all of a population usually individuals with a specific characteristic. Cross-sectional studies are descriptive studies meaning they are neither observational nor experimental. Results can be used to describe features of the target population, such as prevalence of an illness. Unlike longitudinal studies observations are only made a few times or even once, over a far shorter period of time.


Posted by on March 11, 2012 in Uncategorized


The Case of Henry Gustav Molaison (also known as HM)

For this week’s blog entry I decided to continue on the topic of Case studies, focusing on the case of HM and the ethical issues that arose.
During the 1940’s, HM suffered from his first epileptic fit on his sixteenth birthday, over the next couple years these fits progressively worsened and became uncontrollable by medication. Dr William Scoville was one of the leaning surgeons in lobotomies at the time and believed that HM’s fits could be cured by removing a part of the brain that he believed was the cause of his epilepsy.
The effect that the lobotomy had on HM’s epilepsy was unclear, it appeared to have improved, but unfortunately the lobotomy had caused a greater problem. Even though his personality and intellect remained the same, HM was now unable to form new memories, as well as losing some of the memories of the ten years prior to the operation. The loss of ability to form new long term memories is known as Retrograde Amnesia. HM would happily reread books and magazines over and over again without a loss of interest. For many years to follow he would report that he was 27, then realise that this could be truth and resort to guessing his own age. He was unable to recall the faces of people he had met, as well as being unable to memorise lists of words.
HM was vaguely able to understand what was going on: “Right now, I’m wondering, have I done or said anything amiss? You see at the moment everything looks clear to me, but what happened just before? That’s what worries me. It’s like waking from a dream.”
For many years to come HM was studied by many psychologists at MIT in Boston. There was an interesting incident happened on one occasion. When asked if he remember the ways to the testing room, HM replied that he couldn’t remember but as he did so his bodied turned in the right direction. This suggested that his procedural memory (memory for skills) was undamaged and that it was his episodic memory (memory for life events) that was no longer intact. It could be said that HM’s loss was a psychological gain.
One of the main issues raised in the case was the fact that because HM had no memory about the things that had happened to him, how was he really able to give those studying him informed consent? He was unable to understand what was happening to him, or even who was conducting the studies. However, still alive today, HM takes a rationally approach to his problems: “It does get me upset, but I always say to myself, what is to be is to be. What I keep thinking is it possible that I had an operation? And somehow the memory is gone. It isn’t worrisome to me because I know that if I they ever performed an operation on me, they’d learn from it. It would help others.”


Posted by on February 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


The difference between a Case Study and Single Case Design.

A case study is a detailed study of an individual person, institution or event, providing rich and in depth data. Case studies usually investigate examples of human behaviour, human experiences and behaviours that are rare or conditions that would be unethical to generate experimentally. Single case designs however are experimental designs that are applied to either one individual or when a number of individuals are considered as one group. These designs are mainly used to study the changes exhibited by an individual as a result of some form of treatment. Each participant in a single case design experiment acts as their own control, so each individual is exposed to a treatment phase and a non-treatment phase while behaviour is observed and recorded. Because of this the design is often used when performing behavioural modification or when measuring behavioural change. Case studies have had a particularly important role in the studies of the brain. One example of a well-known and influential case study is that of Phineas Gage in 1848. Gage was involved in an accident that resulted in a tamping iron being driven though his brain, damaging a large percentage of it. Gage survived the accident and lived a further 12 years and was able to function normally, the accident did however have a huge effect on his personality.

Single case designs can be conducted over any period of time whether it is a week or a year whereas case studies are usually longitudinal, this is when observations and studies of the case are recorded and conducted over an extended period of time.
There are important ethical issues involved in both case studies and single cases design especially confidentiality. Unfortunately unlike single case design, case studies are more easily identified due to their unique characteristics resulting in a lack of confidentiality. Also because of these unique characteristics case studies lack generalizability and even though single case design have a higher level of controls over variables they lack ecological validity.


Gleitman, H., Gross, J. & Reisberg, D. 2011. Psychology, 8th ed. London, England. Norton.

Howitt, D. & Cramer, D. (2008). Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology, Second Edition. Essex, England. Pearson Education Limited.

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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


The Importance of Peer Review

The peer review is an essential part of judging research on its scientific quality. It is of vital importance that that psychology develops its knowledge base through conducted research and sharing these findings with other scientists. It is in the interest of science that research which is flawed is detected and the results ignored. Peer review is the assessment of scientific research by other scientists who are seen as expert within the same field. Peer reviews ensure that any research that is published is of the highest accuracy and quality. Peer reviewing is usually unpaid work and peer reviewers are asked to assess the quality of a piece of research, their reviews are then considered by a peer view panel. The peer review serves three main purposes, firstly to determine the allocation of research funding. Research is paid for by for by various government and charitable bodies. So it is important that these bodies have reviews in order for them to decide which research is most likely to be worthwhile. The second purpose of the peer review is to determine what research is worthy of publication in scientific journals and books. Journals provide the scientist with the opportunity to share the results of their studies and experiments. Prior to peer reviews research was simply published without being critiqued beforehand, it was assumed that only with new ideas could something be proven wrong. The final purpose of the peer review is to assess the research rating of university departments. All science departments within all universities are expected to conduct research, which is then assessed in terms of quality. It is these ratings that determine the future finding of the department.


Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Uncategorized


Dealing with Ethical Issues in Psychological Research

Ethical issues are conflicts about what is acceptable; there are various ethical issues which can arise during psychological research. The main ethical issues to arise are informed consent, deception, the right to withdraw, protection from harm, confidentiality and privacy. The most obvious way of dealing with these ethical issues is through the use of ethical guidelines. In order to obtain informed consent participants should be asked to formally indicate that they agree to participate in the research and that they understand their role. This should be based on comprehensive information concerning the nature and purpose of the study; this can be achieved by signing a form of consent. Deception should only occur when necessary for obtaining results and if there is a need to deceive it must first be approved by the ethics committee, taking into consideration the cost and benefits of the study. After the study participants that have been deceived they should be fully debriefed and offered the opportunity to withhold their data, if they wish. Participants should be made fully aware at the start of the study that they have the right to withdraw at any time during the study. When it comes to dealing with protecting participants from harm, this means both physical and metal harm, researchers must do their best to ensure that all possible risks that could cause harm to a participant are minimised and that if any harm should come to one of the participants then the study should be stopped. To ensure confidentiality names of participants should not be recorded, instead numbers, initials or false names should be used. To also ensure privacy no one should be observed without their informed consent, unless it is a public place.


Posted by on November 18, 2011 in Uncategorized