Cognitive Psychology

BLOCK 1: CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING
Scenario 1: “She sent him to jail for rape; now they’re friends” (Lecture 2 – Visual
perception and face recognition)
https://www.today.com/news/she-sent-him-jail-rape-now-theyre-friends-1C9016956
Jennifer Thompson-Cannino was attacked by a man who broke into her house.
Jennifer had plenty of time to see and memorise her attacker, and was quickly able
to give police a very detailed verbal description of him to help them draw a composite
sketch (an artist’s drawing based on an eyewitness description). However, when later
asked to select her attacker from two line-ups, she selected the wrong person. With
reference to verbal overshadowing and the own race bias, why might Jennifer
have made such an error?
Scenario 2: “Hands-free phone ban for drivers ‘should be considered’” (Lecture 3 –
Attention and mulitasking)
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49320473
Using hand-held gadgets while driving is illegal in UK, but could hands-free devices
also be a source of driver distraction? The article argues that hands-free phone use
while driving should actually be banned. With reference to research and theory
from the attention literature, is the use of this technology a cause for concern?
Scenario 3: “The best brain training apps to keep your mind sharp” (Lecture 4 –
Executive function and working memory)
https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/best-braintraining-apps-keep-18259911
This website reviews a variety of different brain training apps and games that claim to
improve a variety of cognitive processes, including working memory and
concentration. But are they effective? Can brain training really improve cognitive
processing?
Scenario 4: “Flashbulb memories of dramatic events such as 9/11 aren’t as accurate
as believed” (Lecture 5 – Autobiographical memory)
https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-09-09/flashbulb-memories-of-dramaticevents-such-as-9-11-arent-as-accurate-as-believed
Flashbulb memories are normally defined as extremely detailed and vivid memories
for surprising and significant events. There have been suggestions that flashbulb
memories are in some way special, but this article questions that idea. Are flashbulb
5PS001 Assignment 1 October 2020
4
memories really special or are they no different to other autobiographical
memories?
Scenario 5: “An effortless way to improve your memory” (Lecture 6 – Forgetting)
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180208-an-effortless-way-to-strengthen-yourmemory
This article from BBC Future suggests that simply taking a break after learning new
material can be beneficial to memory. It is suggested that brief periods of rest can aid
memory in both younger and older adults, as well as people with amnesia. But is this
supported by evidence? With reference to the memory and forgetting literature,
can periods of wakeful rest actually reduce forgetting?
BLOCK 2: CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING
Scenario 6: “Music can boost memory and mood” (Lecture 7 – Mood, music and
cognition)
https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/music-can-boost-memory-and-mood
This article reports an idea that listening to music can have impressive positive
effects on individuals with dementia, possibly by changing mood. However, the
example reported comes from case studies. With reference to the academic
literature, can music really improve mood in individuals suffering from
cognitive impairments like dementia?
Scenario 7: “Do masks impede children’s language development?” (Lecture 8 –
Language and communication)
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/14/well/family/Masks-child-development.html
With the increasing need for use of face masks to combat the spread of Coronavirus,
it has been suggested that children’s language development may be impeded. With
reference to the research on language development, is there any evidence that
this idea would be supported?
Scenario 8: “Ofcom: Covid-19 5G theories are ‘most common’ misinformation”
(Lecture 9 – Judgement)
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-52370616
This article reports on the recent vandalization of 5g phone masts due to
misinformation that claims 5G technology is linked to coronavirus. With reference to
the heuristics and biases literature, what might lead people to believe such
misinformation?
Scenario 9: “Coronavirus: How the government hopes to stop you touching your
face” (Lecture 10 – Decision making)
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-51869634
This articles reports on how people in the UK are being asked to improve their
personal hygiene to limit and slow the spread of coronavirus. Nudge theory suggests
that heuristics can be used to deliberately encourage helpful thinking and decisions.
5PS001 Assignment 1 October 2020
5
With reference to appropriate cognitive psychology literature, can
governments change people’s behaviour by subtly changing the judgements
and decisions they make?
Scenario 10: “Alarm as uptake drops for all routine child jabs” (Lecture 11 – Social
cognitive theories)
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-49831581
This article from the BBC suggests that uptake of the first dose of the MMR vaccine
fell from 91.2% to 90.3% in England in 2018-2019 – the fifth year in a row it has
dropped. With reference to the academic literature, how might we apply social
cognition theories to our understanding of why parents are not getting their
children vaccinated against preventable diseases? What does this mean for
interventions to change parents’ vaccination behaviours?

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