Assignment 1.2: Journal Entry

** Please note:  This blog post was written in whole or in part as an assignment for a class that I was taking.  If you decide to use some of my work in your own assignments, please give credit where credit is due and cite your source!  Thanks :) **

The questions posed for this assignment are:

  • What initially interests you most about psychology? Why?
  • Which of the six perspectives of modern psychology most appeals to you? Why?
  • Consider a scientific study that purported to identify the cause of autism. What are some critical thinking questions you might ask about the study to determine its scientific merit?

My first interest in psychology is the way that different problems can affect people.  The fact that the human mind can manifest issues in some people and not in others is fascinating to me.  To see someone handle something or react in ways that I don’t see in other people makes me really ponder what a vast place the mind is and yet so small, to have so many differences and have so many things capable of going “wrong” in an individual.

I think the most interesting of the psychological perspectives is the Cognitive Perspective.  I am a thinker and try to be introspective on what I’m doing and why, so I find it interesting to see the different ways that people process things that come at them and they way they handle them, as well as how they learn from things.

In a scientific study, such as one to identify the cause of autism, some critical thinking questions that might be asked to determine its scientific merit are:

  1. Is the hypotheses one that CAN be answered with the study?
  2. Will each participant or idea be presented with the same questions and same response choices?
  3. Will the same information be collected from each participant or regarding each theory?
  4. Will the conditions be the same for each participant, will each theory be presented in the same set of circumstances?
  5. Will the method of observation be the same across the board?
  6. Will the sampling be diverse enough to determine an answer?

In 1996 a study was done to determine if autism was more prevalent in children in US Metropolitan areas.  The study was done by people at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Battelle Memorial Institute Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation in Atlanta, GA.  The purpose of the study was to study increases in the prevalence of autism in populated areas.

Some of the questions that I would ask in relation to this study are:

  1. Does the study include an area with enough population to be considered a metropolitan area?
  2. Was the study group diverse enough to make a determination on the general population?
  3. Was the age group studied diverse enough to make a determination about autism in populated areas?
  4. Were the study participants taken from multiple different areas in the metropolitan area?

It appears that the study showed a diverse grouping of children between the ages of 3 to 10 years, including a good ratio of male-female, black-white, and a variety of IQ levels or developmental impairments.  About half of the children were chosen from educational sources, so this begs a question about whether or not a more diverse group could have been found by including other sources, or participants that may have been impaired to a degree that would not allow them to attend an educational institution.

Cited:

Boyle Coleen, Doernberg Nancy, Karapurkar Tanya, et al.  Prevalence of Autism in a US Metropolitan Area.  JAMA. 2003;289(1):49-55.doi:10.1001/jama.289.1.49.  http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/289/1/49.full.pdf+html?sid=c4678816-b52f-4fe9-bfa5-d8350dce7886

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