Week 25:- Being scared isn’t funny

The fear of clowns is known as Coulrophobia, not being a sufferer myself I wondered what it is about clowns that scare people.

I thought that maybe people had a fear due to the fact that you cannot tell the emotion behind the clowns painted face and therefore making them unpredictable. This is supported by Micheal Quintons 2011 article on coulrohphobia. ( )

Durwin (2004) says that psychologists believe that the phobia of clowns is caused by a traumatic childhood event.  Durwin also believed that those who had not been exposed to clowns personally were exposed to them via the media, which created a hype against “Evil clowns”. A lot of middle aged people with a phobia of clowns can be to blame for Stephen king’s book/ film “IT” displaying pennywise the clown, having the same effect that jaws did to swimming in the water. Or the real life case of “John Wayne Gacy” a murderer and rapist who dressed as “pogo the clown”.

A lot of people I know that claim to suffer Coulrophobia cannot put their finger on why they are so scared of clowns, however you could argue that characters like Santa has the same ideology however not that many people have phobias of santa claus.

For all those coulrophobia sufferers out there here is a website full of sufferers and their stories


Posted by on April 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


Born or made, Bad Seeds or bad parenting

Nature vs nurture what causes a psychopath? Canadian theorist Dr. David Lykken claims that as children psychopaths have a different temperament to other children “They are fearless and probably have a weak behavioural inhibition system” they also display more delinquent behaviours than their classmates.  He believes that only a few psychopaths are born with a predisposition and the rest are due to poor parenting. E.g. absent fathers and inadequate mothers who fail to socialise their child properly this may cause a child to act out.

However some twin studies show that being a sociopath may be hereditary and that having certain traits e.g. fearlessness, aggressiveness, and sensation seeking may lead to antisocial behaviour. Therefore parents must make sure that these attributes are channelled towards positive things, because although having these traits may give the child a predisposition to being a sociopath, if a parent socialises a child right, they will not use these traits negatively.  Studies show on average that children with these traits show a decreased response in fear imagery and threats, so this suggests that they do not worry as much about punishment and therefore carry out antisocial acts more than children without sociopathic tendencies

Although there are many studies that vote for and against nurture/ nature. I believe like most things in psychology it is a mixture of the two.


Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


Week 21:- Out of body experiences, real or not?

Out of body experiences (OBE) refers to the sensation of being awake and seeing your own body from a location outside your physical body. According to Blackmore (1982) about 15-20% of people have experienced this sensation.
There are two kinds naturally occurring OBE’s “parasomatic” which is where you claim to experience “another body” and according to Green (1968) about 20% of OBEs are parasomatic, Or “asomatic” which is where you have no sense of another body. 25% of people who have experienced OBE’s were associated with psychological stress and 12% occurred during sleep.

But OBEs are hard to prove, as there is no way to confirm that it has actually happened you have to believe what people are saying. However some psychologists have claimed they have been able to induce OBE’s artificially (through relaxation, hypnosis, audio-visual stimulation). Tart (1968) induced a OBE whilst the participant sat in one room and asked to identify objects in the other room (out of sight from their physical body) in one experiment “Miss Z” managed to identify a five digit number that was in the other room. However this experiment was reviewed by Alvardo (1982) who claimed that the evidence was too weak although there were some impressive results.

There is very little physical change with regards to OBE, adding to the question of whether they are real or not. The only difference is that subjects appear to be in a relaxed but awake state i.e. they are definitely not dreaming, (Blackmore 1982). However Blanke et al (2002) accidently induced a OBE by stimulating the temporal- parietal junction of a woman who suffered epilepsy in that region. Furthermore after this Blanke et al studied on non epileptic sufferers which also resulted in OBE’s.

Another problem with studying OBE’s is that naturally they are so unpredictable which means you have to artificially induce them, which could result in the experimenter effect. OBE’s can sound like a bit of paranormal magic and are hard to explain why or how they happen.

In my personal opinion I am undecided to whether OBE’s are real, however I believe that if they are then it is a coping strategy for people who are maybe coping with stress or other issues.


Posted by on March 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


Week 18 – Celebrity worship and Intense Fandom

It is evident that people in western society are obsessed with celebrity culture. We have TV shows, magazines and books dedicated to them. This can lead to intense fandom and the development of parasocial relationships.

Parasocial relationships are one sided relationships with somebody that you have not actually met e.g. a celebrity, this can create the illusion of a friendship. Ashe & McCutcheon (2001) believed that people have parasocial relationships because there is no fear of criticism or rejection from the other party.

Schippa et al (2007) stated that you are more likely to form parasocial relationships with celebrities which you consider either attractive, similar to yourself or “real” (probably explaining why Katie price is not liked very much)

Giles and Maltby (2006) identified 3 different levels of fandom:
1) Entertainment social, this is when fans are attracted to their favourite celebrity because is a source of social interaction.
2) Intense personal, this is a intense and compulsive feeling towards a celebrity much like a obsession, they may believe that their chosen celeb is their “soul mate”
3) Borderline – pathological, this is uncontrollable behaviours and fantasies about celebrities e.g. “If I walked through the door of a celebrity’s house they would be happy to see me”. This can lead to anti-social behaviour such as stalking.

There are both negatives and positives to parasocial behaviour. The behaviour could be viewed as dysfunctional e.g. loneliness. However, Sood and Rogers (2000) found that lonliness was not a predictor of parasocial relationships and in fact socially motivated/ active people are more likely to engage in parasocial relationships than those who are not.

However, these relationships may lead to negative behaviour such as eating disorders: Maltby et al (2005) found a relationship between attitudes to celebrities and body image particularly between females aged 14-16 giving them a predisposition to develop disorders such as anorexia nervosa and Bulimia. On the positive side some celebrities have some social benefits, as they can be used as models for social behaviour creating a more harmonious society.


Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


Week 16:- The Importance of Case Studies

Case studies are useful as you can take advantage of a naturally occurring event amongst individual or a group of people without breaking ethical guidelines such as bringing harm to the individual or group, Case studies also let us gain deep empirical evidence especially as most case studies are longitudinal. Case studies and generally done through the form of observation.  For example the Curtiss’ study of Genie; ( Genie spent first 13 years of her life strapped to a chair in her room with little or no social interaction. Although a rare case, Curtiss could study Genie on aspects such as language and emotion. Although this is a horrible case, Psychologists can use this case for to support or disprove theories and start a hypothesis, as it is not possible or ethical for them to recreate a case like this themselves.
on the other hand you must also question whether it was ethical to study on her at all after everything?

However although case studies can be highly useful, it is difficult to generalise from these individuals or groups (not that that’s what all case studies want to do). Also a lot of information may be obtain through word of mouth and memories on past events and therefore can be unreliable. The observer may be bias on their interpretation of what they are observing.


Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Uncategorized


Week 12: Sex and colour preferences

The title of the journal article for Hurlbert and Ling’s (2007) “Biological components of sex difference in colour preference” could be argued is not suitable for a title as the study actually looks at evolutionary factors. Therefore it cannot be justified by the studies design and findings. there are other factors that could explain why females may prefer different colours to boys, this article just focuses on one. However there the article does look at sex difference and colour preferences, so part of the title is supported. Also the fact that this study was carried out in china, and red is a lucky colour, (along with other factors) may have influenced the outcome.

The media can post basically whatever they like, even if it’s not true. The article headline “At last, science discovers why blue is for boys but girls really do prefer pink” is misleading as it doesn’t correlate exactly with the findings. The fact that the title uses the word girls and boys has connotations that the participants are children when they were in fact adults. The females do not just “prefer pink” they prefer colours redder than the background, which yet again, proves the title as misleading.

The media twists the articles findings to be what everyone wanted to hear, that there is a “biological” explanation to support the idea that girls prefer pink and boys prefer blue. However the actual study’s findings are not as simple as that

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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Uncategorized


Week 9 – Media and deindiviuation

With my experience deindividuation is usually associated with Zimbardo’s Stanford prison study and cases like the Abu Ghraib prison. However this blog is going to focus on how the media can cause cases of deindividuation.

Hating celebrities, cyber bullying and rioters occur because of lots of different factors, but people feel like they can do things due to one main factor, Deindividuation.

This can occur more commonly in a crowd, as this is when people feel like they pretty much do or say whatever they like because they are anonymous. For example this is why when people are being evicted from the big brother house they leave to a sea of boo’s.  This can also be related to the “faceless crowd” theory (Mullen 1986).

Cyber bullying is becoming more and more common especially within sites that you cannot be identified, for example; Youtube, people can comment on videos and say whatever they like because there is no way of identifying them, you will never meet them and therefore they will never have to suffer the consequences. However it is also common on sites where you are not anonymous for example social networking sites like Facebook. However, these acts are usually carried out by groups of individuals rather than one person as one key aspect of bullying is sharing the same norms as the group – therefore meaning they have people supporting their views. This theory is also true for prank calls.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, deindividuation can cause also pro-social behaviour, so when somebody gets evicted from the big brother house they leave to people cheering them. This is known as the pro-social model.


Posted by on November 29, 2011 in Uncategorized