Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Book by Michael Britt: Psych Experiments

Recently, a friend of the blog and creator of The Psych Files podcast/educational website, Michael Britt, published a book called, Psych Experiments. In short, for those teachers who want the learning of research methods to come alive, this is the book we've been waiting for. This is a book written with high school students in mind--no unnecessary complications and attempts to bulk up the academic language for publication. Just old-fashioned direct language that is highly understandable.

After piquing the curiosity of the reader with some psych history and a couple cool stories, Britt lays out the thinking behind the book. He explains that the replications will not be exact, but rather "conceptual replications" by examining the key ideas behind the famous and infamous experiments.

In preparation for the research to be carried out, Britt emphasizes respecting the participants, using informed consent and ability to withdraw. He examines the ethics, risks, and benefits. Britt points out that he also avoids using technical terms like independent and dependent variable, operational definitions, etc. in order to make the book accessible to non-academics. Teachers can use this intentional omission as a tool to use with students.

With his signature style, Michael Britt takes classic research studies and breaks them down into understandable bits in a way that is highly readable and informative. The primary and basic information for each research study covered in a way that students will find very helpful.

Here is one example:

Noticing a Face in the Crowd

Psych Concept: Identifying Emotions
Name of Experiment: Constants Across Cultures in the Face and Emotion
Original Scientist/Research: Paul Ekman and Wallace V. Friesen (1971)
Name of Replication/Extension: Finding the Face in the Crowd: An Anger Superiority Effect
Replication Scientist/Research: Christine H. Hansen and Ranald D. Hansen (1988)

Overview of the topic
Original experiment/research described
"Let's Try It" section
"What to Do" section to carry out one's own version of the research with step by step instructions
The Results section
Why It Matters section

So what kinds of research does Britt put into the book? Well, the book is less than 300 pages but manages to deal with 50 research studies. Here are some of the topics he deals with:

  • classical conditioning
  • manipulation and money
  • memory
  • creativity
  • method of loci
  • getting workers to be more productive
  • mental sets
  • psychiatric labels
  • ergonomics and design
  • roles and how they impact behavior
  • romance and partner choice
  • conformity
  • happiness
  • persuasion
  • cognitive dissonance
  • inkblots
  • false memories
  • attractiveness
  • brain imaging
  • curiosity
  • superstitions
  • discrimination
  • and so much more!

So I give my strongest recommendation for purchasing this book. Go out to a bookstore and get it. Go on Amazon and get it. Just get it! It will likely become an integral tool in your teaching tool belt.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

1 comment:

mbritt said...

I'm really glad you liked the book Chuck. I know that one of the things psych teachers struggle with is coming up with a psychology experiment that is "do-able" either in the classroom or as a small project, so I think the book gives a bunch of do-able ideas that I think students will enjoy carrying out. If anyone has any questions for feedback about the book - feel free to get in touch with me.