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”.