Psychology Seminar: Emre Özgen (Yaşar Üniversitesi)

Friday, April 4, 2014 13:30 FASS 2034

Perception as a Flexible Adaptable Bridge between the Mental and the Physical

We perceive the world not as passive observers but active, calculating, constructing, comparing information systems. Very little of what we perceive flows in a one-way, bottom-up traffic. What we know, what we need, expect, or want all have an influence on how we make sense of the influx of information that surrounds us. Perception is the immensely complicated process that makes this possible by continually learning and adapting. Like any bridge, it needs to bend and sway maintaining a good level of flexibility. In this talk, I will summarise research from our labs that demonstrates such flexibility in very low-level perceptual abilities. We have observed for example that culture, more specifically language can help shape colour discrimination. Most recent findings in this area will be included in the talk. We have also shown that the most fundamental building blocks of visual perception in the form of spatial frequency processing can be influenced by our expectations. The talk will also touch upon this research.

Psychology Seminar: Rongjun Yu (Harvard Medical School)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 13:30 FASS 2034

The Psychology of Predictably Irrational Decision Making

Every day, people are inundated with decisions, ranging from the most trivial ones (“Tea or coffee?”) to the most important choices (“Shall I get married now?”). Traditional economic theories assume that an individual acts as if balancing costs against benefits to reach a decision that maximizes personal advantage. However, even very smart people make decisions that deviate from these theoretical predictions. Such systematic ‘errors’ are known as decision biases. I use novel behavioral paradigms combined with neuroimaging methods to study why people fall prey to biases, such as defaults biases, sunk costs, inequity aversion, and placebo effect. My research suggests that the processing of cost/benefit information is heavily susceptible to contextual information rather than determined by objective values. Analytic, rational thinking can be dominated by strong anticipatory feelings and social emotions, which can elicit suboptimal decisions.These findings may enhance the understanding of decision biases and can be used to help nudge people to make better choices.

Psychology Seminar: Deniz Atalayer (Columbia University)

Friday, March 28, 2014, 11:00-12:30 FASS 2034

Obesity: A Multifactorial Conundrum

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions and is reported to be a major risk for noncommunicable diseases (e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular disease etc) and the 5th leading risk for global deaths by the World Health Organization. Contrary to the popular view that obesity is caused solely by either genetic mutations or lack of will power of obese individuals, today there is growing evidence that obesity has a multifactorial etiology which, in addition to its genetic and psychological substrates, includes neurochemical, environmental, physiological and cognitive factors as well that are also not always easily dissociable from one another. Thus, a combined approach is needed to understand the underlying mechanisms involved in the etiology of obesity. This may lead successful public health prevention strategies, anti-obesity treatments (e.g. surgical, cognitive, pharmacotherapy etc) and prognoses geared towards individuals. In this talk, various aspects of obesity and eating behavior, including a wide array of studies; from pre-clinical/basic research with animals models to clinical trials and neuroimaging studies in humans, will be discussed. In addition to having a snapshot of the multivariate nature of obesity etiology, the audience will also gain insights on how obesity is a great research tool to understand about the brain and its communication with the periphery and the complexity of how much our brain is involved in this epidemic phenomenon.

Psychology Seminar: Nida Bikmen (Denison University)

Tuesday, 18 March, 2014 15:00 FASS 2034

Changing the Group Narrative: Effects of Representations of Group History on Intellectual Performance


Psychology Seminar: Derya Güngör De Bruyn

Friday, 14 March, 2014 14:00 FASS 2034

Beyond Interdependence: The Forms and Consequences of Relatedness Across Cultures

The dichotomy between independence and interdependence, while useful as a heuristic to investigate cultural influences on human behavior, has also led to an over-simplification of “interdependence”. The aim of my talk is to introduce a line of cross-cultural comparative research that uncovers the diversity within interdependence by exploring (1) the culture-specific ways of relating to others as well as (2) their implications for well-being and emotions.

Human Library 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 16:00 - 20:00 SU Club


31/08/13 Psychology Seminar: Yasemin Kisbu-Sakarya (Arizona State University)

Saturday, August 31, 2013, 11:00 FASS 2054

Investigating Causal Mechanisms: Advances in Statistical Mediation Analysis

Statistical mediation analysis allows researchers to investigate the mechanisms by which a predictor variable affects an outcome variable. A mediator differs from other third variables such as a confounder or moderator in that the mediator is intermediate in the causal process such that predictor causally influences the mediator, which in turn causally influences the outcome. This presentation will first address the theory and examples of mediators in psychological research, and then implications of the use of mediation analysis in treatment and prevention research. The single mediator model including estimation and model assumptions will be overviewed. Selected topics in estimating mediation including product of coefficients and its distribution, multiple mediator models, longitudinal models of mediation, and latent variable models will then be described by addressing the recent studies in each topic. Furthermore, developments in sensitivity analysis and statistical methods to improve the causal interpretation of mediation relations will be addressed.

18/04/13 Psychology Seminar: Albert Lee (Queen's University)

Thursday, April 18, 2013, 14:30 FASS 2034

People across cultures are frequently exposed to notions related to god(s) or religion. Recent experimental work has shown reliable connections between religious concepts and prosocial behaviors. Along this line, I have conducted research on how religious concepts boost self-control – the basic regulatory capacity that people have for fending off temptations and bringing themselves in line with social standards. Across three experiments, subtle exposure to religious ideas was shown to make people better at delaying gratification, enduring an unsavory tasting task, and overriding habitual impulses. Taken together, the findings attested to the causal role of religious concepts on enhancing self-control. The enhancing effects on self-control may offer an overarching explanation for the cognitive and behavioral outcomes triggered by religious concepts. Practical implications and future directions will be discussed.

17/04/13 Psychology Seminar: James D. Herbert (Drexel University)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 15:30 FASS 2034

The “Third Wave” of Behavior Therapy: The Rise of Mindfulness and Acceptance-Based Models

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT; broadly defined) is overtaking psychoanalysis as the dominant model of psychotherapy across the world. The evolution of CBT can be traced into three distinct generations or “waves,” including early behavior therapy beginning in the 1950s, cognitive therapy beginning in the 1970s, and approaches that highlight mindfulness and psychological acceptance beginning in the 1990s. Mindfulness-based approaches arose in part from limitations of traditional cognitive models of CBT, but controversy continues regarding their degree of uniqueness in terms of theory, technique, and efficacy. Research over the past decade suggests that these models are indeed distinctive from earlier approaches, and may offer new approaches to the treatment of difficult clinical disorders, as well as insights into novel interventions targeting broader social problems (e.g., discrimination, stigma). In this talk, I will briefly review the history of behavior therapy, followed by the theory and research on these newer approaches to CBT. The “third wave” model that has attracted the most attention from both clinicians and scholars, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, will be highlighted.

15/04/13 Psychology Public Lecture: James D. Herbert (Drexel University)

Monday, April 15, 2013 13:00-15:00 FASS 2034

Science and Pseudoscience in Psychology and Related Fields: Why Learning to Think Scientifically is Hard, but Essential

The subject matter of psychology is inherently interesting to most people. As scientific approaches to psychology have expanded, growing tensions have emerged with traditional, pre-scientific understandings of human behavior. Some approaches make no pretense of being scientific, but pseudoscientific theories and technologies adopt the trappings and appearances of science but without its substance. Occasionally pseudoscience is the result of fraud, but more commonly, it results from a fundamental lack of understanding of what science is and how it differs from other “ways of knowing.” In this talk, I will examine common ways in which human cognition leads people to believe strange things, and to maintain these beliefs even in the face of contradictory evidence. The scientific method will be discussed as a unique tool for overcoming cognitive biases. The distinctions between science and pseudoscience will be explored, using examples from the field of clinical psychology. Specific topics to be explored may include extrasensory perception (ESP), “recovered memories” of childhood sexual abuse and alien abduction, multiple personality disorder, questionable psychological assessment methods (e.g., the Rorschach inkblot test), and controversial treatment methods (e.g., rebirthing, facilitated communication, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, tapping therapies). I will conclude by examining why learning to think like a scientist, including balancing open-mindedness and healthy skepticism, is critical to addressing problems in today’s world.

25/03/13 Psychology Public Lecture Series: Gerd Gigerenzer (Max Planck Institute)


Wednesday, March 25, 2013 13:30 UC G030

Decision Making Under Risk and Uncertainty

There are risks that are known, and others that are unknown. In worlds of known risks, statistical thinking can provide the optimal course of action. The challenge here is in the art of risk communication, which is rarely taught. For instance, most doctors do not understand the outcomes of their tests. We have developed simple tools that help both doctors and patients to understand health statistics. In worlds of unknown risks, however, understanding statistics is not enough. Here, simple heuristics and good intuition are needed. A heuristic can find smart solutions by focusing on only a few cues and ignoring the rest. I will explain how heuristics work. They are embodied in the sense that they can exploit capacities of the human mind (such as recognition memory), which facilitates quick judgments. They are anchored in the environment in the sense that they can exploit statistical or social structures (such as signal-to-noise ratio). The study of the ecological rationality of heuristics provides a novel and general account to understand why and when less can be more.   


20/03/13 Psychology Seminar: Şeyda Özçalışkan (Georgia State University)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 13:30 FASS 2034

Learning Language by Hand: Gesture’s Contribution to Language Learning across Developmental Milestones

When people talk, they gesture. Even children, from the earliest stages of language learning, use their hands when they speak. Research has made it clear that gesture is integrated both temporally and semantically to the speech it accompanies, and can convey substantive information not captured by speech. As such, gesture might offer insight into children’s conceptual understanding of language before this understanding becomes explicit in speech. My research focuses on children’s earliest linguistic abilities and examines whether precursors of these abilities can be found in children’s gestures. More specifically, I examine whether and how gesture can inform us about language learning, from the onset of first words and first sentences to the emergence of first narratives and explanations. I approach this question from a wide variety of angles, by studying both typically- and atypically-developing children, as well as children who are exposed to structurally different languages. Overall, my research places gesture at the cutting edge of language development—gesture both presages oncoming changes in children’s speech and also serves as a forerunner of linguistic advances; it also remains a robust aspect of the language-learning process, remaining preserved across different learners and linguistic environments.

18/02/13 Psychology Seminar: Achille Pasqualotto (School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London)

Monday, February 18, 2013 14:30 FASS 2034

The Role of Visual Experience in Space and Numbers Representation

Representing the position of the objects independently from our own position is a fundamental cognitive ability, which also influences numbers representation. In fact, in cultures where writing proceeds from-left-to-right, numbers are spatially represented according to an equivalently oriented small-to-large ‘number line’. In a series of studies we investigated whether spatial and numeric representation depends on visual experience. We tested congenitally blind, late blind and blindfolded sighted participants who haptically learnt table-top or room-sized regularly shaped arrays of objects to determine which spatial reference frame was used. Additionally, to determine the role of developmental vision on number representation the same three groups were tested in a random number generation task where they had to alternately turn their head left or right before generating a number. In the spatial tasks, we found that blindfolded sighted and late blind participants that is, those with visual experience, showed a preferential use of the object-based or ‘allocentric’ reference frame. On the contrary, congenitally blind participants preferred a self-based, or ‘egocentric’, reference frame. In the numeric task, consistently with the standard number-line participants with visual experience preferred to generate smaller numbers when looking left and larger numbers when looking right. In contrast, participants without any visual experience showed the opposite pattern of results. These results suggest a role for visual experience in the development of spatial and numerical representations by fostering allocentric spatial representation, and provide converging evidence for visually-driven development of the parietal cortex.

12/12/12 Psychology Seminar: Nilüfer Kahraman (National Board of Medical Examiners)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 13:00 FASS 2034

Evaluating rated-related psychometric characteristics of performance tasks using latent trait models; a Clinical Skills Examination application

05/12/12 Human Library was organized at Sabanci University on 05 December 2012 by psychology faculty and student volunteers.

Human Library is a project dedicated to the diversity in our society. Human Library works the same way as a normal library; Readers come to fill a library card, choose a Book and borrow it for reading for some time. Then they return the Book back to the Library, and if they want, they take another one. The only difference is that the Book in Human Library is a real person, while reading is a conversation. Books are people who are willing to share their personal history, experience and knowledge, and respond honestly to the questions of Readers. Books are real members of social groups and professions that often experience stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. This project allows both Readers and Books to understand each other on a personal level and explore their differences and similarities. Please, read more about the project and how to join it here:

25/09/12 Meeting with students: “Everything you want to know about the psychology minor”.