All the tragic gun violence-related events that took place recently and not so recently led not only to grief but to all sorts of speculation on all levels. The topic has become so widely discussed that everyone has something to say on it:
By Christian Jarrett Controversy is essential to scientific progress. Please use the comments to have your say on these controversies, or to highlight provocative studies that you think should have made it onto our list.
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Zimbardo interpreted the events as showing that certain situations inevitably turn good people bad, a theoretical stance he later applied to the acts of abuse that occurred at the Abu Ghraib prison camp in Iraq from to This situationist interpretation has been challengedmost forcibly by the British psychologists Steve Reicher and Alex Haslam.
The pair argue, on the basis of their own BBC Prison study and real-life instances of prisoner resistance, that people do not yield mindlessly to toxic environments. Rather, in any situation, power resides in the group that manages to establish a sense of shared identity.
The debate continues, as does the influence of the SPE on popular culture, so far inspiring at least two feature length movies. Society, 9 6 Study of prisoners and guards in a simulated prison. Naval Research Reviews, 9 Given the instruction from a scientist, many participants applied what they thought were deadly levels of electricity to an innocent person.
The original studies have attracted huge controversynot only because of their ethically dubious nature, but also because of the way they have been interpreted and used to explain historical events such as the supposedly blind obedience to authority in the Nazi era.
Haslam and Reicher have again been at the forefront of counter-arguments. Behavioral study of obedience. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67 4 Ina different lab tried to replicate the elderly words study and failed. Professor Bargh reacted angrily. Ever since, the controversy over his study and other related findings has only intensified.
Highlights of the furore include an open letter from Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman to researchers working in the area, and a mass replication attempt of several studies in social psychology, including social priming effects. Automaticity of social behavior: Direct effects of trait construct and stereotype activation on action.
Journal of personality and social psychology, 71 2 They did this by exposing him to a particular animal, such as a white rat, at the same time as banging a steel bar behind his head. The research is controversial not just because it seems so unethical, but also because the results have tended to be reported in an inaccurate and overly simplified way.
Many textbooks claim the study shows how fears are easily conditioned and generalised to similar stimuli; they say that after being conditioned to fear a white rat, Little Albert subsequently feared all things that were white and fluffy.
In fact, the results were far messier and more inconsistent than that, and the methodology was poorly controlled. Over the last few years, controversy has also developed around the identity of poor Little Albert.
They later claimed that Merritte was neurologically impaired, which if true would only add to the unethical nature of the original research.
However, a new paper published this year by Ben Harris and colleagues argues that Little Albert was actually a child known as Albert Barger. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3 11.
The research and other related findings became hugely controversial because they showed how unreliable and suggestible memory can be.
This is a highly sensitive area and experts continue to debate the nature of false memories, repression and recovered memories. This criticism was refuted in a later study pdf in which Loftus and her colleagues implanted in people the memory of having met Bugs Bunny at Disneyland.
Cartoon aficionados will understand why this memory was definitely false. The formation of false memories. Psychiatric annals, 25 12 Manufacturing false memories using bits of reality.
Implicit memory and metacognition, The reality of repressed memories. American psychologist, 48 5 For instance, in one of his experiments, he found that people performed better at a memory task for words they revised in the future.
Unabashed, Bem published a meta-analysis this year an analysis that collated results from 90 attempts to replicate his findings and he concluded that overall there was solid support for his earlier work. Where will this controversy head next?
Journal of personality and social psychology, 3Jun 11, · List Of Controversial Essay Topics. Learn more how you can use the most controversial essay topics to your own benefit. We offer you the most attractive controversial topics that you might have not heard of.
Your research essay topic may also need to be related to the specific class you are taking. For example, an economics class may require a business research paper, while a class on human behavior may call for a psychology research paper.
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