All 17 entries tagged Psychology

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January 10, 2006

Glitter's apparent stupidity

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4586460.stm

Did this occur to anyone else whilst hearing about Gary Glitter's child rape case:

Why, if you have underhand intentions towards children, move to a country which inflicts the death penalty if you get found out?!


January 02, 2006

Are women from Venus, and does that make us less rational?

Someone said, I think in response to Lorna's entry about learning to debate properly, that he thought women are more likely to jump to conclusions in a discussion. This got me thinking…

I will be the first to admit that, on certain subjects that are close to my heart, I do become somewhat defensive. But is this widespread among women or, indeed, a solely female trait? And if it is, even to only a small extent, why do we do it? Is it because we are, historically, the underdogs and as such we have learnt to be defensive of our perceived weaknesses? Is this also true for other groups in society that have been similarly viewed?


November 29, 2005

The differences between the sexes

Follow-up to Rape: do we deserve it?! from Musings of a blonde

Justin pointed out, quite rightly, to me last night that I probably misinterpreted the comment by 'henry' (No. 15) on my entry above in my own comment, No.17. Henry was stating that many women demonstrate stereotypically male aggressive behaviour when meeting men for the first time. He then mentioned the word 'control' and I overreacted in, I'm ashamed to admit, a quite feminist way. As someone who prides herself in her attempts to see all arguments from all sides, I was quite disappointed. But then it got me thinking…

I read the entry in a particular way. Reading the comment again after Justin's imput I can clearly see the other interpretation, but I still think I would always have reacted the way I did. Is this due to my particular view on the subject or just because I am a woman? It occurred to me that maybe men are more likely to react in the way Justin did, and women in the way I did: as a woman I find myself reacting in a relatively defensive manner on issues of sexual equality despite the fact that I would not class myself as a feminist.

But as rational human beings shouldn't we all be able to react in a reasoned way to a comment, regardess of which sex we are? Or is that view inflicting Vulcan logic on human minds and do our instinctive reactions in fact vary according to our situation? If men and women do indeed have differing instinctive reactions to potentially controversial statements is it due to the 'men are from Mars, women are from Venus' fundamental psychological differences or is the society around us and our position within it a more significant swaying factor?

An aside:
Transsexuals believe they are mentally the opposite sex to their physical appearance. Do they react in the opposite way to the one stereotypical for that of their physical sex?


November 22, 2005

The mindset of heinous criminals

Follow-up to Rape: do we deserve it?! from Musings of a blonde

As a follow up to comment 11 of the above entry, which when something like this:
"If you believe that heinous criminals (of the sort that would receive the death penalty) are fundamentally evil/psychologically disturbed, you might agree with execution as you wouldn't think they were capable of repenting. However, if you believe that these people can be rehabilitated and can, indeed, realise that what they did was deeply wrong is there not a large argument for keeping things how they are?"

I find it conceptually difficult to think that a serial killer, for example, might realise the true horror of their crimes, as any 'normal' (term used very loosely) member of society understands them, and repent of them. If they truly accept what they've done in terms of the generally accepted morality would they not be utterly disgusted with themselves. Is this an argument to support the idea that serious criminals are indeed fundamentally disturbed?


November 21, 2005

The death penalty

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4453848.stm

Hmmm, a lot of things in the news have been annoying me in the past few days…

Why is taking the life of a police officer worse than that of any other human being? Saying this implies that a police officer's life is more important than that of any other. Could it not be viewed as more terrible to take the life of a child? By choosing to work in the emergency services police officers must be accepting that they will put themselves in more danger than your average person during a day at the office. Not to say that taking a bullet is part of the job, but risk is, presumably, expected.

Surely the death penalty is either right or wrong and should be applied to all murderers or none at all? Why is there one rule for one murderer and another for another? Who's to say that this murderer was any more evil than, say, a serial killer whose attacks were all premeditated and meticulously planned?

The ex-Met Police chief quoted in the above article describes the murderer as a 'monster who executed this young woman in cold blood' and his act as 'pure evil'. Would it not also be reasonable to think that the murderer was acting partly through panic? I'm sure killing a police officer was probably not part of the plan and it was not premeditated. Does that make his crime worse or better? Can you even define a murder as being worse or better than any other?

Something that confused me highly was the extreme reaction of the ex-chief-of-police. He said that all his life he has been against the death penalty, but that this murder has changed his mind. In another article I read that 36 police officers have been murdered in the line of duty in the past two decades. Why, then, has he changed his mind this time? Perhaps because she was the first woman to be murdered in a criminal case?

The same guy also says that if the death penalty is not imposed as a result of this murder then 'wrong really has finally totally triumphed over right and all civilised society, all we hold dear, is the loser'. I am unsure of exactly where I stand on the death penalty issue, but have a gut feeling that 'an eye for an eye' is not the basis for a civilised society.

On the radio show I was listening to this morning someone called for a life sentence to mean life instead of introducing the death penalty. This is, however, an unrealistic goal as prisons are already overcrowded. There is also an argument that the taxpayer shouldn't have to keep criminals fed an housed for the length of their lives. But to introduce the death penalty, even in part, to solve the problem of overcrowding in prisons is deeply wrong. So what do we do?


Rape: do we deserve it?!

I hope I'm not the only person who's been shocked by the figures released this morning from a survey by Amnesty International.

This survey, of over 1000 British men and women, showed that a third thought that women who flirt with men have only themselves to blame if they are raped. A similar number thought that being drunk or wearing revealing clothing laid blame solely at the woman's door. I know that some women are not responsible: they get overly drunk and consequently make themselves vulnerable and act in a way that is inappropriate and may lead men on. But to say that mere flirting gives a man a right to force sexual intercourse on a woman is crazy! I, and all women I know, dress in clothes they think suit them so that they look attractive. But I object to being classifed as up for a shag just because I want to look good. Would the same people say that well-endowed women should expect to be a target for rapists just because they are stereotypically attractive?!

Scarily, the 12,000 cases of rape reported in the UK each year are speculated to only represent a fifth of the actual number of cases, and only six per cent of reported rapes actually led to a conviction. With statistics like that and potentially painful and lengthy trials leading up to the small number of convictions it's hardly surprising that the problem is not being dealt with. But if the general public opinion is such that women are automatically disbelieved when they report a rape, they are going to tend to keep quiet. Why, for apparently a third of people in this country, is it their instinct to blame the victim?


November 20, 2005

Appropriate politeness?

Follow-up to Gentlemanliness and whether it has a place nowadays from Musings of a blonde

Having started a longish debate about gentlemanliness recently, the other morning I was caused to think about politeness in general, and how you make your responses appropriate to the people you meet.

There is a blind man with whom I often share a bus from Leamington to campus at about 9 am in the morning. On the morning in question, I was sitting by the window and he came and sat next to me. As I am a biologist, I had to get off the bus at Gibbet Hill. As soon as the man sensed me moving he turned so that I could get past. I thanked him, but through some deeply-ingrained reflex I thanked him in an obviously more enthusiastic way than I would ever thank someone without a disability.

Now what was his reaction to this? It annoys me that I don't know. Do disabled people appreciate being treated with extra care because it makes life easier, or do they just want to be treated as 'normal'? And probably, in the case of the gentlemanliness debate, it completely depends on the person. But how do you ever know how to avoid annoying people?


November 07, 2005

How scared should we be?

Walking home from the shops in the dark the other evening it occurred to me: how much should we change our behaviour for fear of the action of others?

This particular evening I had been followed down the road to Costcutters by two teenage boys who had tried to talk to me but I had ignored. In this case I wasn't too worried as I'm sure I could have done both of them a fair amount of damage as they can't have been more than 15.

I am always aware when walking on my own of any potential threats from the people around me: I know of people who've been mugged not very far from where I live. I personally wouldn't let concerns like this change my behaviour (not that I really have a choice as I have to walk back from the bus stop in the dark every night), but I'm sure there are women who don't go out alone for fear of this.

But would I feel differently if I or a close friend was attacked? And should we change our behaviour in response to a possible but relatively unlikely risk?


November 01, 2005

Underage sex and confidentiality.

I'm sure I'm not be the only person who's worried about these potential changes in the law regarding the confidentiality of healthcare for children indulging in underage sex.

If we think that children under 16 don't have the right to choose whether they engage in sexual relations or smoke nicotine, why should we think that they have the maturity to decide whether to let on about their sexual relations? But aren't we then interfering with their fundamental human rights by stopping them from making independent decisions about their own bodies – if they've made the decision to go through with an 'adult' act with a possibly result being parenthood shouldn't they then be treated as adults? Yes, is is important to protect children from any potential dangers, but will it actually make them feel more protected if they are more scared of confessing their actions?

It seems that these changes are stimulated to a large extent by the Ian Huntley murders. Yes, these murders were terrible and future tragedies of a similar nature should be avoided. However, there were mistakes made in the investigation that would not have been rectified if the laws on confidentiality had been changed, and in any case this is a one-in-a-million event. Should the laws be changed in the hope of altering the outcome of a tiny minority of cases when the possible detrimental outcomes for the general population are so significant?

It is naive to think that getting rid of a confidential medical service will improve the rate of teenage pregnancy. Many people who are pro a change in the law are ignoring a fundamental factor. Children who are engaging in underage sex are far less likely to go to find help if they know it will not remain secret, but there's no guarantee that they'll be discouraged from the act itself as a result. A lack of a confidential service may discourage a small number from engaging in underage sex, but the effect it has on those who still choose to break the law I feel may well outweigh these benefits. I think many, many more teenagers will, as a result, suffer their problems alone (might this even increase the rate of cases of depression or attempted suicide)? And you might ask the parents demanding that the laws be changed to instead assess their relationships with their children: if a child is so scared of telling their parents about crucial life-changing decisions is the problem more with the relationship rather than the laws of the country?

I agree that ideally we should be able to conduct full investigation in to all possible incidents of child abuse. However, we must be realistic – if, as a result, less children speak out about their experiences the situation will not improve. I honestly don't think the high teenage pregnancy rate in the UK will be lowered by a change like this – the issue is far more deeply-rooted.


October 31, 2005

White lies?

When does lying become wrong?

Almost all parents tell their children the story of Santa Claus and how he brings them their presents at Christmas. An enjoyable fable that brings children joy? Or is it a problem that they might be crestfallen when their parents reveal the truth?

When I was working for a year at a high school before I came to Uni children used to swear blind that they hadn't done things they had just seen me watch them do. This was an alarmingly regular occurrence. Is lying becoming more frequent nowadays? And if so, why?


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