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Hare’s Idea of a Psychopath

What Is A Psychopath? Psychopath is a term used to describe a person with a certain cluster of psychological, interpersonal, and neurophysiological traits, distinguishing them from the rest of the population. Robert Hare, an expert in psychopathy, describes these individuals as: “…social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and empathy, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of regret. Hare also separated psychopaths into three distinct categories: the primary psychopath, the neurotic psychopath (also known as secondary), and the dyssocial psychopath. What is a Primary Psychopath? According to Hare, the primary psychopath is the “true” psychopath; secondary and dyssocial psychopaths have little in common physiologically with that of a primary psychopath. A primary psychopath has certain cognitive, psychological, emotional, and neurophysiological differences that separate them from the other types of psychopaths, and the general public. These individuals are believed to be charming, and are often above average in intelligence. Genetics is believed to… Read More

Alcohol & Mind Wandering | DUI

DUI | Alcohol and Mind Wandering Alcohol has been shown to be one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents; around 58% of drivers involved in fatal crashes were found to be driving under the influence of alcohol in a research review article. An article written by Michael Sayette and colleagues in Psychological Science, suggests a factor contributing to the commonality of DUI arrests: mind wandering. What is Mind Wandering? Mind wandering can be defined as an experience in which an individual is unable to focus on a single topic or activity; the ability to stay focused is important, especially when engaged in an attention-demanding task like driving a vehicle. Sometimes, you may be able to catch yourself mind wandering, and will be able to consciously re-focus your attention on the task at hand. Other times, you may not be able to catch yourself for a certain amount of time. Generally, the older the individual, the longer it takes to catch mind wandering. Half of the participants reached a .05% blood alcohol level before starting the study, and the other half drank a placebo that had… Read More

DUI & DWI | Fatal Car Accident

Probabilities Of a Fatal Car Accident |  DUI & DWI The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs publishes peer-reviewed research studies and review articles with various topics involving alcohol and other illicit substances. In an article written by Eduardo Romano and his colleagues titled Drugs and Alcohol: Their Relative Crash Risk, the effects drugs and alcohol on the probability of being involved in a fatal car accident are compared. Two studies were conducted with the help of data from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the National Roadside Survey. One study compares the risks of alcohol to the risk of various other drugs. The second study separated marijuana from the drug category, and compares the risks of all three: alcohol, marijuana, and various other drugs. What did the Researchers Find? Around 58% of drivers that were involved in fatal accidents were driving under the influence of alcohol. Another 20% of drivers involved in traffic fatalities tested positive for other various drugs. Researchers also found statistically significant unadjusted Odds Ratios for both alcohol and drugs. “The unadjusted Odds Ratio of a drugged driver being involved in… Read More

Parental Alienation Syndrome | How Common Is It?

Parental Alienation Syndrome During a divorce, most reasonable parents will believe that it is in the best interest of the child if they have a healthy relationship with both parents. What may seem more important at the time is the strengthening of their own parent-child relationship. Parental alienation syndrome occurs when one parent unconsciously, or in many cases consciously, manipulates their child into disliking the other parent. Even if both parents have good intentions, one may unintentionally bad-mouth or make negative comments about the other parent; the child may begin to side with one or the other, and in the most severe cases, will refuse to see or talk to the “alienated” parent. Cases of alienation have been reported even in “friendly” divorces. As cases of divorce have been increasing in recent years, parental alienation has also become more common. Many mild cases, in which the disturbance between the alienated parent and child is subtle, may be misinterpreted as normal part of adjusting to the divorce; many cases of parental alienation and PAS go unreported. Parental alienation is a term, which is focused on the parent’s behavior;… Read More

Displaced Aggression Theory | Road Rage

Displaced Aggression Theory What is Displaced Aggression? Displaced aggression can occur when someone cannot aggress towards the source of incitement or provocation, so instead takes it out on something else and behaves aggressively towards another individual that had nothing to do with the initial conflict. According to Bushman in a 2005 study, “Aggression is displaced when the target is innocent of any wrongdoing but is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.” The individual may need to constrain any aggression when dealing with a coworker or a boss for example, and will direct it towards someone or something else, such as a pet, whenever any mildly annoyance is perceived. Specifically this phenomenon can be referred to as triggered displaced aggression. “Following an initial provocation, the target commits a minor provocation, the triggering event, which in turn prompts an aggressive response.” Anyone objectively observing this aggressive response may perceive it as being far more excessive than what one might expect from a minor provocation. Displaced Aggression and Road Rage Aggressive driving and road rage are good examples of real life scenarios in which the displaced aggression… Read More

Risk Factors For Criminal Behavior | A Child’s Preschool Experience

Preschool Experience Over the last forty years or so, children have been gradually shifting from parental home care, to nursery school or other types of day care. The percentage of mothers with children under the age of 6, and working full time jobs outside of the home, increased from 12% in 1947, to over 70% as of today. About 15-20% of these children are actually in two or more different forms of day care throughout the week. Due to the high employment turnover and the low pay offered to day care providers, the average nursery or after school day care center in the United States is arguably mediocre at best; although there are certainly exceptions to this statement. It has been shown by researchers that average and below average child care puts a child at risk for developmental delays or impairments in language abilities, cognitive development, as well as lower ratings on a scale of emotional and social wellbeing; those in non-parental care for more than thirty hours a week are also at an increased risk for stress-related behavioral problems later on in life. Children with families living in… Read More

Eyewitness Testimony | Is Identification Reliable?

Eyewitness Testimony : Identification One of the main goals for law enforcement is to solve crimes; police strive to “clear” these crimes. They have a much higher chances of clearing the crime if the offender is caught within a few minutes, or an eyewitness provides specific information that is considered relevant to the case. Researchers have shown that if neither of these are available to police, there is less than a 10% chance that the crime will be solved, or “cleared”. This is the first of many future posts which will be exploring the problems with allowing eyewitness identification testimony into evidence during a criminal trial. Eyewitness testimony that incriminates the defendant is arguably one of the most valuable and influential pieces of evidence that the prosecution can attain, aside from a confession. Even when there is a seemingly large amount of evidence favoring the defendant’s claim of innocence, there have been cases where the individual is convicted solely based on the testimony. In the field of psychology, it has been concluded that errors in eyewitness testimony are the leading cause of wrongful convictions. In 2000, it was estimated that… Read More

Capgras Syndrome | Is Delusion a Defense?

 Capgras Syndrome Capgras syndrome is a delusional disorder, which results in those afflicted believing an impostor has replaced someone or something close to them. Capgras syndrome (CS) is one of four variations of delusional misidentification syndrome, a group of disorders in which the identity of someone or something close to the patient is believed to have changed. Capgras syndrome, the focus of this post, will be explored in greater detail in terms what it may be like to live with this condition and will mention any similar disorders as they relate to the discussion of the topic. The purpose of this is to explore the cognitive theories that have been devised to explain why delusional disorders such as Capgras develop, and how they are maintained, including: The Impostor and Brain Damage hypotheses, both one-stage models, along with different variations of the two-stage model, ending with the Interactionist model. Delusional misidentification syndrome consists of a group of delusional disorders all involving dysfunctional affective responses to external stimuli. Researchers are able to measure covert, or unconscious, familiarity through skin conductance response (SCR) tests. These disorders are worth mentioning because… Read More

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder: The Highs and the Lows Bipolar disorder (BD) is a mental illness affecting people from different areas all over the world, in which a person experiences what many would call extreme mood fluctuations often for no apparent reason. Ranked seventh on the list of non-fatal illnesses, it is considered one of the most costly disorders to affect humans. This post will explore topics such as: the differences between BD I, BD II, and other similar mental illnesses such as borderline personality disorder and cyclothymic disorder, what it is like to live with this illness, the structural differences of an afflicted brain, the benefits of treatment, and the prognosis of the disorder. People with BD tend to change moods more rapidly than someone in the general population, many times without warning. Many psychiatrists will refer to this as a patient’s lability. This cycling of “highs” and “lows” is a trademark symptom of someone with BD, but does not automatically mean someone meets the diagnostic criteria. Many times this might not be very noticeable; depending on the person, these moods may last for days, or even months. Both… Read More

Psychopathy & Altruism | Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

Biological Basis of Psychopathy and Altruism Origins of Social and Antisocial Behavior Psychopathy is a personality disorder believed to be affecting 1-2% of the world’s population. Those afflicted have certain personality characteristics: Shallow emotions, superficial charm, impulsiveness, and lacking any empathy or remorse, often leading to antisocial behaviors and criminal activity. The general consensus among psychologists is that most people fall towards the center of a continuum of personality traits, with the extreme cases on opposite ends. Considering one extreme to be those psychopathic traits, the other extreme, some may argue, would consist of traits relating to an altruist, someone with a sincere, unselfish concern for others. This post will review the methods, and compare the findings of two studies: “The Neural Signatures of Distinct Psychopathic Traits”, which explores the relationship of brain structure and function with self-reported psychopathic traits, as well as “Neural and Cognitive Characteristics of Extraordinary Altruists”, which explores the structural and functional differences of the typical brain to that of extraordinary altruists, defined in the study as: An altruistic kidney donor who volunteered to donate a kidney to a stranger. Researchers Carre, Hyde, Neumann,… Read More

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