Tag Archives: psychology

Man Has Nose Chopped Off To Resemble ‘Captain America’s’ Red Skull… Dedication Or Madness?

Body Modification

My face flared up like a tomato…

We all know how far people will go when it comes to making sure their Cosplay outfits are up to scratch. With a myriad conventions becoming worldwide institutions and attracting bigger crowds every year such as San Diego Comic Con, the photographs of some of these outfits are sublime. Moreover, in recent years there have been outfits that have been the result of much blood, sweat and tears, such as the vast array of superhero outfits like Xenomorphs, Predators, Mech Suits and Iron Man replicas that provide us all with something to marvel at (did you see what I did there?). As it stands, most people know just how far to take it but there are always a minority of individuals’ out there that like to take things that little bit further, toying with the translucent lines of societal norms. Which brings us to this absolutely insane Redskull cosplay Continue reading

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Processing Bias for Aggression Words in Forensic and Nonforensic Samples – Does Internal Dialogue Influence Schematic Algorithmic Thinking Patterns

Samskara is the Sanskrit term for the word 'Schemata'.

Samskara is the Sanskrit term for the word ‘Schemata’.

Salient stimuli that are of concerning consternation toward individuals’ of clinical and nonclinical populations produce specific configurations of bias towards avoidance, vigilance and aggression. Individuals’ with an aggressive disposition may have a predilection towards aggressive and/or violent behavior as has been evidenced in various dot probe and emotional stroop tests. There have been discussions about ecological validity implementing words in dot probe tests and many researchers are now using photographic face stimuli (NIMRID). However, there has been evidence to suggest there is a strong bias towards lexical stimuli due to numerous cognitive traits including individual schema and scripts (Smith and Waterman, 2003). Due to uncertainty of the nature of the dot probe test and its efficacy in a forensic environment, the study will include both; the emotional stroop test and the dot probe test. The study looks at the differences priming aggressively displayed words has on population samples reaction times (RTs) from non-forensic (based on Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire) and forensic based (based on their index offence) environments. Continue reading

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The notion of power relations and why it is a central component of critical evaluation


The epistemological ground of social research developed, in part, as a legitimated form of knowledge about the universality of the western individual – produced by, and for those in power (Foucault, 1980). As a result, social research itself is a relation of power that produces – and is produced by – individual theoretical perspectives (Foucault, 1977) Thusly, Critical social psychology acknowledges and focuses on the datum that all knowledge is socially constructed, and historically situated (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). Furthermore, social psychologists understand that different perspectives and methodologies produce social formations that restrict culturally specific forms of knowledge (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). Therefore, exploring some of the substantive topics that social psychology concerns itself with can highlight interrogative themes – such as situated knowledge and power relations (Holloway, 2005). Thusly, this allows one to step back from the information and begin to understand how these power relations came to be, and how they are linked to the wider forces that create and sustain the production of power (Motzkau, J., 2012). This essay aims to look at different power relations, why they are so important and how they are constantly changing by critically evaluating topics of research within social psychology (Motzkau, J., 2012).

The contemporary methodologies and perspectives used in recent times were borne out of the social psychology crisis in circa 1967, in part, due to the American social psychologist Kenneth Ring (1967) who published an article in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology entitled; ‘Experimental social psychology: some sober questions about some frivolous values’. Thusly, Kenneth Ring (1967) pointed out the shortcomings in social psychology and – in particular – experimental psychology and how it fostered a dehumanising vision of participants and ignored real world settings. Subsequently, what followed was criticism based on the scientific method, which was – for a long time during, and after the behaviourist period – considered the only valid means of obtaining objective neutral knowledge, unaffected by ideology and cultural embeddedness (Simpson & Dovidio, 2013). Conversely, experimental psychologists view was that scientific research made it possible to get at the facts; facts that were considered as accurate, irrespective of politics, values, ideology or cultural embeddedness (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). As a result, the scientific basis of experimental social psychology was considered to be impervious to, and unaffected by, ideology (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005).

Subsequently, due to the foucauldian notion of reciprocity in the relationship between social psychological research and the social world it investigates; there is affirmation that research questions could be influenced by social, political and historical contexts, as much as they are being influenced by the findings from said research (Lemke, 2002). Thusly, this is due to the ontological nature that an individual socially constructs their being in relation to the constant dynamicity of ever changing knowledge (Hollway, 2005). Therefore, due to the circuitous nature of the production of knowledge, epistemologically – social psychology can be shaped by – but also directly contribute to – continuously re-shaping the lived realities of those it investigates (Hollway, 2005). Thusly, the relationship between social psychology and its subject area can be referred to as a powerful ‘two way dynamic’ (Hollway, 2005). Contextually, this can facilitate the extraction of power relations that can be present where knowledge is constructed, generated and dissipated (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). Furthermore, power relations, and reciprocal dynamics, are considered to be ubiquitous, and thusly, unavoidable and constantly changing (Langdridge, 2005). It is in this sense that power itself is considered to be neither good ‘nor’ bad; but merely producing effects, which can be positive in the production of extracting value judgements (Motzkau, J., 2012). Therefore, one can critically evaluate the effects that power produces in relation to specific contexts providing value judgements (Motzkau, J., 2012). This in turn, can serve as a function on whether these effects may be good or bad – and for whom (Hollway, 2005).

Incidentally, looking at the topic of embodiment and the self can start to draw out issues of power relations (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). For example, Foucault’s examination of the effects that power relations had on individual’s bodies, resulted in his theory of the ‘docile body’ (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). Consequently, the docile subject has no capacity for resistance, and is subject to the power of the state (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). Moreover, Foucault saw subjectification as a dual process that operated both; externally, and internally, as a process through which individuals make themselves subjects of state regulation (Foucault, 1973). Thusly, the construction of subjectivity is constantly in flux, and it is not something that the individual formulates or conceives, but stems from ‘taken-for-granted’ normalizations, which create patterns, found within culture, society and social settings (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005).

As a result of the docile body, Foucault (1990) developed the idea of the ‘reflexive subject’ through which power is exercised, rather than possessed – and its functions are multiple and verbose. Thusly, it can be viewed as productive, as well as repressive, and where power exists, resistance is inevitable (Foucault, 1982). Contrastingly, following this formulation – instead of operating as an oppressive force exercised over individuals – power operates in relations between individuals and groups (Otto, 1999). Furthermore, relational power circulates in discursive networks like chains through the whole social structure (Otto, 1999). Also, Foucault explained the intimate operations of power within the individual in what he termed ‘care of the self’.

Accordingly, discourses construct particular versions of how people should be, how they should act, how they should look, and creates a demarcated line of normality for which to gauge anything that deviates from that standardized normalization (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). Essentially, this can have certain effects, both advantageous, and disadvantageous (Westmarland, 2001). Applied to the body, discourses defining a ‘normal body’ get taken up as ‘truths’, which then invalidate other accounts that deviate from what is constituted as normal (Foucault, 1980). A discourse on able-bodied people being ‘normal’, for instance, has the effect of constituting disabled bodies as somehow abnormal, unattractive and to be pitied or avoided (Foucault, 1977). Furthermore, by presenting heterosexuality as natural and normative, it automatically delineates homosexuality as some sort of deviance (Foucault, 1980). Some of these binaries, such as homosexuality and transgenderism have brought about the theoretical development known as queer theory (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005).

Foucault establishes standards of ‘normality’ as discourses people soak up unsuspectingly and this is why medical recognition and diagnostic testing are so important to people who suffer from controversial conditions (as cited in Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). If the experience of illness is not legitimated and labelled through a medical diagnosis, it is difficult to explain to others and have the illness socially and medically accepted (Horton-Salway, 1998). For example, individual’s suffering from illness are often keen to pursue a proper diagnostic test that will prove without doubt the existence of the illness (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). The ongoing pursuit of a positive test is linked to a need to fit the gold standard of proof as defined by dominant discourses of empirical science; a need to be prototypically categorized (Foucault, 1980). Furthermore, disciplinary regimes such as medicine and psychiatry generate languages of description and explanation where one learns to classify themselves and view their bodies as normal or abnormal, healthy or unhealthy, sane or mad, fat or thin, and so on (Foucault, 1980). Thusly, classification of oneself creates the construction of ‘binaries’ and the potential for ‘othering’ and marginalization, which gave birth to queer theory as mentioned in the above paragraph (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). Subsequently, individuals are inclined to think that practitioners and doctors know what is best for them, thusly, they are passively handing over their bodies to the control of medical experts (Langdridge, 2005).

Conversely, phenomenology offers a framework for the study of experience from the perspective of the individual. Thusly, epistemologically the discipline is concerned with discovering and understanding the meaning of an individual’s lived experience, and is driven by a desire to understanding subjective experience, gaining insights into people’s motivations and actions, and cutting through the clutter of taken’for’granted assumptions and conventional wisdom (Lester, 1999). Phenomenological theories of embodiment have been concerned in distinguishing between the various essentialist physiological and biological causalities that structure bodily existence, and the meaning that embodied experience assumes in the context of lived experience (Butler, 1986). Drawing on the phenomenology of French philosopher, Merleau-Ponty (1945), Butler (1986) explained that, rather than viewing bodily experience from an essentialist perspective, Merleau-Ponty (1945) claimed that the body is a ‘historical idea’ rather than a ‘natural species’ (Butler, 1986). From this perspective, the body can be understood as being in an active process of embodying certain historical and cultural possibilities, and that this complicated process is one, which any phenomenological theory of embodiment needs to describe (Dyson, 2007).

Thusly, phenomenologists support the use of qualitative evidence, but fundamentally take issue with what they see as the relegation of actual bodily experience (Finley & Landridge, 2005). For them, meaning originates not in discourses but in lived experience and only through this is it possible to understand what it means to have and be a body, to be sick, in pain, and oppressed (Finley & Landridge, 2005). Furthermore, phenonemologists took note that Foucault spent a great deal of time writing about the body, as opposed to studying the individual’s actual bodily experiences when it came to issues such as sexuality, oppression and illness (Finley & Landridge, 2005). In particular, phenomenologists disagree with Foucault’s assertion that there is nothing meaningful outside discourse and that what passes for truth about the body is only the knowledge that has been accepted in society (Finley & Landridge, 2005). For example, Foucauldian discourse deals exclusively with production of language and classifications that marginalise the individual and there is no particular acknowledgement of the individual’s lived world; their subjective and objective issues emotionally and physically whilst dealing with certain health issues (Finley & Landridge, 2005).

Incidentally, an existential-phenomenological method was used with the aim of describing the lifeworld of an individual with multiple sclerosis (MS) (Giorgi, 1985; Valle and Halling, 1989). Importantly, the individual’s illness is confronted in the context and of family connections and other relationships. In other words, the individual will describe what limitations they are faced with – intersubjectively within the social realms of their life (Finley & Landridge, 2005). Furthermore, the individual’s experience of having/being a body with MS cannot be separated from their world. Thusly, the multiple sclerosis is in the individual; it has become embodied; intersubjective with relations with others (Finlay, 2003). As Merleau-Ponty has famously explained: ‘There is no inner man [sic] … Man is in the world, and only in the world does he know himself’ (as cited in Finley & Landridge, 2005).

By conducting a between – analysis of phenomenological and the discursive psychological perspectives they co-exist to a certain extent in the sense that the methodologies are qualitative and essentially about the agentic individual being able to make their own decisions (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). As Harre (1990) noted, both approaches take people to be active agents, who attempt to realise, together with others, plans, projects and intentions according to the rules and norms of the local society. However, contrast arises due to the phenomenologist approach focusing more on the ontological assumption that information is gained through the individual’s lifeworld (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). Whereas, the discursive perspective is more about how social norms are produced from language and how these social norms come to be valued as normative assumptions (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005). Ultimately, the two perspectives mentioned can somewhat co-exist to offer a more enlightening picture of theoretical questions being asked and the different methodologies used that each provide different sources of knowledge (Finlay & Langdridge, 2005).

In conclusion, the construct of power is difficult to define, measure, and test (Finley & Landridge, 2005). However, it is far too important to ignore or relegate to mere theoretical speculations (Foucault, 1990). So, it must be studied and looked at contextually; especially as power relations and situated knowledges are dynamically established relationships (Hollway, 2005). Thusly, the question of who has the power to interpret people’s experience applies to all social psychological research (Hollway, 2005). Moreover, it is a political and ethical question, as it involves the process of giving meaning to events and accounts, it is researchers who evaluate them (Hollway, 2005). Consequently, since it is impossible to avoid this process of researcher evaluation, there is a need to be careful when basing interpretations on evidence (Finley & Landridge, 2005). Also, the research process must interrogate how specific evidence and the meanings from that evidence came to be produced and within what assumptions and power relations (Hollway, 2005). It is of paramount importance to hold in mind the many levels at which power relations operate when topics are situated historically and critically (Hollway, 2005).


Bertrand Russell, Power: A New Social Analysis (1938)

Brownmiller, S. (2005). Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape (1975). Pearson Education New Zealand.

Butler, Judith, 1986. “Sex and Gender in Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex. ” Yale French Studies 72:35-49

Burr, V. (2005). ‘Bystander Intervention’, in Hollway, W., Lucey, H., Phoenix, A and Lewis, G. (eds) Critical Readings In Social Psychology, The Open University.

Cherry, F. (1983) ‘Gender roles and sexual violence’ in Allgeier, E.R. and McCormick, N. B. (eds) Changing Boundaries: Gender Roles and Sexual Behavior, Palo Alto, Ca., Mayfield Publishing.

Crossley, N. (1996). Body-subject/body-power: agency, inscription and control in Foucault and Merleau-Ponty. Body & Society, 2(2), 99-116.

Myers, G. M. (2008). Social Psychology (9th ed.). By David G. Myers, New York, McGraw-Hill

Finlay, L. (2003). The intertwining of body, self and world: A phenomenological study of living with recently-diagnosed multiple sclerosis. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 34(2), 157-178.

Finlay, L. and Langdridge, D. (2005). ‘Embodiment’, in Hollway, W., Lucey, H., Phoenix, A and Lewis, G. (eds) Critical Readings In Social Psychology, The Open University.

Foucault, M. (1977) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, (trans. A. Sheridan), Harmondsworth, Penguin.

Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings, 1972-1977. Random House Digital, Inc..

Foucault, M. (1990). Politics, philosophy, culture: Interviews and other writings, 1977-1984. L. Kritzman (Ed.). Psychology Press.

Giorgi, A. (1985). Sketch of a psychological phenomenological method. In A. Giorgi (Ed.), Phenomenology and psychological research (pp. 8-22). Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.

Gough, B. and McFadden, M. (2001) Critical Social Psychology: An Introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Harré, R. (1990) Exploring the human Umwelt, in R. Bhaskar (ed.) Harré and His
Critics: Essays in Honour of Rom Harré, with His Commentary on Them. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hollway, W. (2005). ‘Social Psychology: Past and Present’, in Hollway, W., Lucey, H., Phoenix, A and Lewis, G. (eds) Social Psychology Matters, The Open University.

Hollway, W. (2005). ‘Conclusion: Social Psychology Matters’, in Hollway, W., Lucey, H., Phoenix, A and Lewis, G. (eds) Social Psychology Matters, The Open University.

Howitt, D. (1991) Concerning Psychology: Psychology Applied to Social Issues, Milton Keynes, Open University Press.

Infinito, J. (2003). Ethical Self‐formation: A look at the later Foucault. Educational Theory, 53(2), 155-171.

Langdridge, D. (2005). ‘The Settlement of Social Psychology’, in Hollway, W., Lucey, H., Phoenix, A and Lewis, G. (eds) Critical Readings In Social Psychology, The Open University.

Lemke, T. (2002). Foucault, governmentality, and critique. Rethinking Marxism, 14(3), 49-64.

Lester, S. (1999). An introduction to phenomenological research. Stan Lester Developments, 1-4.

Levine, M. (1999). Rethinking bystander nonintervention: Social categorization and the evidence of witnesses at the James Bulger murder trial. Human Relations, 52(9), 1133-1155.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962). The phenomenology of perception(C. Smith, Trans.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. (Original work published 1945).

Motzkau, J. (2012). ‘How Does Social Psychology Matter? Producing Knowledge – evaluating research’, in Block 6 Online Commentary: The production of knowledge. The Open University

Otto, D. (2010). Power and Danger: Feminist Engagement with International Law through the UN Security Council. Austl. Feminist LJ, 32, 97.

Peerenboom, R. (2003). Beyond universalism and relativism: the evolving debates about values in Asia. Ind. Int’l & Comp. L. Rev., 14, 1.

Ring, K. (1967). Experimental social psychology: Some sober questions about some frivolous values. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 3(2), 113-123.

Russel, B. (1938) Power: A New Social Analysis, London: George Allen and Unwin; New York: W.W. Norton.

Shotland, R., & Straw, M. K. (1976). Bystander response to an assault: When a man attacks a woman. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 34(5), 990-999. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.34.5.990

Stainton-Rogers, W. (2003) Social Psychology: Experimental and Critical Approaches, Buckingham, Open University Press.

Tuffin, K. (2004) Introduction to Critical Social Psychology, London, Sage.

Valle, R., King, M, & Halling, S. (1989). An introduction to existential-phenomenological thought in psychology. In R. Valle & S. Halling (Eds.),
Existential-phenomenological perspectives in psychology (pp. 3-16). New York: Plenum Press.

Westmarland, N. (2001, February). The quantitative/qualitative debate and feminist research: A subjective view of objectivity. In Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research (Vol. 2, No. 1).

Willig, C. (2001) Introducing Qualitative Research in Psychology: Adventures in Theory and Method, Buckingham, Open University Press.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Bias and Psychological mind games.

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Bias and Psychological mind games.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG3XtCmqI64&w=420&h=315&#8221%5D

BBC Bias against Scottish Independence reported on Russia’s Today News Program.

Propaganda is not something that you would expect from a state owned broadcaster in this day and age. One would only have to look back to Nicolae Ceausescu’s last speech in the 21st of December 1989 Romania and realise that people will eventually stop sucking Brain Taylor’s teat(s) (depending on how hungry one is – although one can only presume that full fat milk is the only option here – judging a book by it’s cover of course). There seems to be somewhat of a dichotomy when the nation is being forced to believe that there is an obesity problem; but that, there is ‘no’ option other than sucking Brain Taylor’s malnutritional, calorifical full fat milk, paying for it, and becoming ill from misinformation being espoused from the top of the hierarchical pyramidal unionists to the bottom feeders, who are left to clean up a long brown stain of lies.


We all love the word ‘reform’. Which essentially and ultimately means changing a corporation from being state owned to becoming a privatised money chugger for the people in power. BBC does not need reform, ….it needs to be stopped and we need to see an abolishment of the TV license fee.

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Nietzsche was right: adversity makes you stronger

It is the quote used by many to bolster resilience in the face of adversity. But the words “what does not kill me, makes me stronger”, by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, could have scientific merit too, according to research.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, 12:55 PM GMT 19 Dec 2011


US psychologists found that while traumatic experiences such as assault, bereavement or natural disaster can be extremely damaging, smaller amounts of trauma may help people develop resilience. “Everybody’s heard the aphorism ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’ ” Mark Seery, a researcher at the University at Buffalo, said. “But in psychology, a lot of ideas that seem like common sense aren’t supported by scientific evidence.

“Indeed, a lot of solid research shows that having miserable life experiences is bad for you.

“Serious events, like the death of a child or parent, a natural disaster, being physically attacked, experiencing sexual abuse, or being forcibly separated from your family, can cause psychological problems. Some research has suggested that the best way to go through life is having nothing ever happen to you.

But not only is that unrealistic, it’s not necessarily healthy.”

In one study, although researchers found that people who experienced lots of adversity were generally more distressed than others, those who had experienced no traumatic events in their lives had similar psychological problems.

The people with the best outcomes were those who had experienced some negative events in their lives.

Another study found that people with chronic back pain were able to get around better if they had experienced some serious adversity, whereas those who had suffered either large amounts of adversity, or none at all, were more impaired in life.

Dr Seery said one possibility for this pattern was that people who have been through traumatic experiences have had the opportunity to develop their coping mechanisms more acutely.

He said: “The idea is that negative life experiences can toughen people, making them better able to manage subsequent difficulties.”

Dr Seery also said people who have gone through stressful events may have stronger social networks than others, as they have learnt how to get help from others when they need it.

“I really look at this as being a silver lining,” he added.

“Just because something bad has happened to someone doesn’t mean they’re doomed to be damaged from that point on.”

Dr Seery’s paper on adversity and resilience was published in the latest issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.

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