TAKING SIDES: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues
Unit 1 Biological Issues
- Issue 1. Is Addiction a Brain Disease?
YES: National Institute on Drug Abuse, from The Science of Addiction, Drugs, Brain, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction, rev. ed. (National Institutes of Health, 2007)
NO: Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld, from Singing the Brain Disease Blues, AJOB Neuroscience (January 2010)
A publication from the National Institute on Drug Abuse argues that addiction is a brain disease and that scientific information is available about the nature, prevention, and treatment of this disease. Psychiatrist Sally Satel and psychologist Scott O. Lilienfeld object to the brain disease characterization of drug addiction, asserting that addiction is an activity whose course can be altered by its foreseeable consequences.
- Issue 2. Is Homosexuality Biologically Based?
YES: Qazi Rahman, from The Neurodevelopment of Human Sexual Orientation, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews (October 2005)
NO: Stanton L. Jones and Alex W. Kwee, from Scientific Research, Homosexuality, and the Churchs Moral Debate: An Update, Journal of Psychology and Christianity (Winter 2005)
Professor of Psychobiology Qazi Rahman claims that the current research on the biology of homosexuality supports prenatal biological determination and refutes learning models of sexual orientation. Professor of Psychology Stanton L. Jones and Clinical Psychologist Alex W. Kwee claim the current research on the biology of homosexuality provides no firm evidence for biological causation and leaves room for learning models of sexual orientation.
- Issue 3. Is Evolution a Good Explanation for Psychological Concepts?
YES: Glenn Geher, from Evolutionary Psychology Is Not Evil! (...And Heres Why...) Psychological Topics (December 2006)
NO: Edwin E. Gantt and Brent S. Melling, from Evolutionary Psychology Isnt Evil, Its Just Not Any Good, (An Original Essay Written for This Volume, 2009)
Evolutionary psychologist Glenn Geher maintains that evolution provides the best meta-theory for explaining and understanding human psychology. Theoretical psychologists Edwin Gantt and Brent Melling argue that an evolutionary account of psychology omits many important and good things about humans.
Unit 2 Research Issues
- Issue 4. Is American Psychological Research Generalizable to Other Cultures?
YES: Gerald J. Haeffel, Erik D. Thiessen, Matthew W. Campbell, Michael P. Kaschak, and Nicole M. McNeil, from Theory, Not Cultural Context, Will Advance American Psychology, American Psychologist (September 2009)
NO: Jeffrey J. Arnett, from The Neglected 95%, a Challenge to Psychologys Philosophy of Science, American Psychologist (September 2009)
Haeffel and his colleagues believe that psychological studies of American people often generalize to people of other cultures, especially when basic processes are being studied. Jeffrey Arnett, psychological research professor, argues that culture is central to the functioning of humans and thus to psychological findings.
- Issue 5. Are Traditional Empirical Methods Sufficient to Provide Evidence for Psychological Practice?
YES: APA Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice, from Report of the 2005 Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice, American Psychologist (May/June 2006)
NO: Brent D. Slife and Dennis C. Wendt, from The Next Step in the Evidence-Based Practice Movement, APA Convention Presentation (August 2006)
The APA Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice assumes that a variety of traditional empirical methods is sufficient to provide evidence for psychological practices. Psychologist Brent D. Slife and researcher Dennis C. Wendt contend that traditional empirical methods are guided by a single philosophy that limits the diversity of methods.
- Issue 6. Does Teaching Scientific Determinism Lead to Bad Behavior?
YES: Kathleen D. Vohs and Jonathan W. Schooler, from The Value of Believing in Free Will: Encouraging a Belief in Determinism Increases Cheating, Psychological Science (vol. 19, no. 1, 2008)
NO: Eddy Nahmias, from Why Willusionism Leads to Bad Results: Comments on Baumeister, Crescioni, and Alquist, Neuroethics (July 31, 2009)
Marketing professor Kathleen Vohs and psychology professor Jonathan Schooler attempt to demonstrate that a scientific belief in determinism (that humans lack free will) leads to a host of bad behaviors such as lying, cheating, and stealing. Eddy Nahmias, a philosopher with the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University, counters the claim that such scientific beliefs cause bad behavior by arguing that laypersons fail to understand what scientists are actually saying about determinism.
Unit 3 Development Issues
- Issue 7. Are Todays Youth More Self-Centered Than Previous Generations?
YES: Jean M. Twenge, Sara Konrath, Joshua D. Foster, W. Keith Campbell, and Brad J. Bushman, from Egos Inflating Over Time: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, Journal of Personality (August 2008)
NO: Kali H. Trzesniewski, M. Brent Donnellan, and Richard W. Robins, from Do Todays Young People Really Think They Are So Extraordinary? An Examination of Secular Trends in Narcissism and Self-Enhancement, Psychological Science (February 2008)
Psychologist Jean Twenge and colleagues argue that the evidence suggests that young people are more egocentric than the previous generation. Professor Kali Trzesniewski and colleagues maintain that the evidence shows there is no change in the over-all level of narcissism since the previous generation.
- Issue 8. Do Online Friendships Hurt Adolescent Development?
YES: Lauren Donchi and Susan Moore, from Its a Boy Thing: The Role of the Internet in Young Peoples Psychological Wellbeing, Behavior Change (vol. 21, no. 2, 2004)
NO: Patti M. Valkenburg and Jochen Peter, from Online Communication and Adolescent Well-Being: Testing the Stimulation Versus the Displacement Hypothesis, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (vol. 12, issue 4, 2007)
Psychologists Lauren Donchi and Susan Moore report that adolescent males who rate online friendships higher than face-to-face friendships are more likely to be lonely and experience low self-esteem. Professors of communication Patti M. Valkenburg and Jochen Peter maintain that online relationships actually enhance an adolescents face-to-face peer relations and psychological wellbeing.
Unit 4 CognitiveEmotional Issues
- Issue 9. Can Positive Psychology Make Us Happier?
YES: Julia K. Boehm and Sonja Lyubomirsky, from The Promise of Sustainable Happiness. In The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2009)
NO: Laurel C. Newman and Randy J. Larsen, from How Much of Our Happiness Is Within Our Control? An original article written for this text (2009)
Health researcher Julia Boehm and psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky argue that empirical research has established that people can use multiadaptive strategies to increase their levels of happiness. Psychologists Laurel Newman and Randy Larsen challenge the external validity and sustainability of the effects of these strategies, arguing that most of what influences our long-term happiness is outside our control.
- Issue 10. Is Emotional Intelligence Valid?
YES: John D. Mayer, Peter Salovey, and David R. Caruso, from Emotional Intelligence: New Ability or Eclectic Traits? American Psychologist (September 2008)
NO: Edwin A. Locke, from Why Emotional Intelligence Is an Invalid Concept, Journal of Organizational Behavior (January 2005)
Psychologists John Mayer, Peter Salovey, and David Caruso maintain that some individuals have a greater emotional intelligence (EI), a greater capacity than others to carry out sophisticated information processing about emotions. Social science professor Edwin A. Locke argues that emotional intelligence is not a form of intellectual ability.
Unit 5 Mental Health Issues
- Issue 11. Does an Elective Abortion Lead to Negative Psychological Effects?
YES: Priscilla K. Coleman, Catherine T. Coyle, Martha Shuping, and Vincent M. Rue, from Induced Abortion and Anxiety, Mood, and Substance Abuse Disorders: Isolating the Effects of Abortion in the National Comorbidity Survey, Journal of Psychiatric Research (May 2009)
NO: Julia Renee Steinberg and Nancy F. Russo, from Abortion and Anxiety: Whats the Relationship, Social Science & Medicine (July 2008)
Associate Professor Priscilla K. Coleman and colleagues argue that the evidence suggests that abortion is causal to psychological problems. Researchers Julia R. Steinberg and Nancy F. Russo counter that other factors, common to women who abort, are responsible for later psychological problems.
- Issue 12. Is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) a Real Disorder?
YES: National Institute of Mental Health, from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (NIH Publication No. 3572, 2006)
NO: Rogers H. Wright, from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: What It Is and What It Is Not, in Rogers H. Wright and Nicholas A. Cummings, eds., Destructive Trends in Mental Health: The Well Intentioned Path to Harm (Routledge, 2005)
The National Institute of Mental Health asserts that ADHD is a real disorder that merits special consideration and treatment. Psychologist Rogers H. Wright argues that ADHD is not a real disorder, but rather a fad diagnosis that has resulted in the misdiagnosis and overmedication of children.
- Issue 13. Does Facebook Have Generally Positive Psychological Effects?
YES: Amy L. Gonzales and Jeffery T. Hancock, from Mirror, Mirror on My Facebook Wall: Effects of Exposure to Facebook on Self-Esteem, Cyberspcyhology, Behavior, and Social Networking (January/February 2011)
NO: Gwenn Schurgin OKeeffe, Kathleen Clarke-Pearson, and Council on Communications and Media, from Clinical ReportThe Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families, Pediatrics (April 2011)
Social scientists Amy Gonzales and Jeffery Hancock present empirical research suggesting that selective self-presentation, such as Facebook profiles, enhances self-esteem. Pediatricians Gwenn Schurgin OKeeffe and Kathleen Clarke-Pearson caution that inappropriate use of online social networks like Facebook may pose dangers to adolescents, such as isolation and depression.
Unit 6 Psychotherapy Issues
- Issue 14. Are All Psychotherapies Equally Effective?
YES: Benjamin Hansen, from The Dodo Manifesto, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy (December 2005)
NO: Jedidiah Siev, Jonathan D. Huppert, and Dianne L. Chambless, from The Dodo Bird, Treatment Technique, and Disseminating Empirically Supported Treatments, The Behavioral Therapist (April 2009)
Psychologist Benjamin Hansen agrees that psychotherapeutic techniques clearly differ among the various approaches, but he argues that all such psychotherapy techniques produce similar outcomes. Psychologists Jedidiah Siev, Jonathan Huppert, and Dianne Chambless assert that outcomes among the various psychotherapies differ primarily because one technique or therapy is better than another.
- Issue 15. Should Therapists Be Eclectic?
YES: Jean A. Carter, from Theoretical Pluralism and Technical Eclecticism, in Carol D. Goodheart, Alan E. Kazdin, Robert J. Sternberg, eds., Evidence-Based Psychotherapy: Where Practice and Research Meet (APA, 2006)
NO: Don MacDonald and Marcia Webb, from Toward Conceptual Clarity with Psychotherapeutic Theories, Journal of Psychology and Christianity (Spring 2006)
Counseling psychologist Jean Carter insists that the continued improvement and effectiveness of psychotherapy requires that techniques and theories include the different approaches of psychological theory and practice through an eclectic approach. Professors of psychotherapy Don MacDonald and Marcia Webb contend that eclecticism creates an unsystematic theoretical center for psychological ideas and methods that ultimately limits overall therapeutic effectiveness.
Unit 7 Social Issues
- Issue 16. Should Psychologists Abstain from Involvement in Coercive Interrogations?
YES: Mark Costanza, Ellen Gerrity, and M. Brinton Lykes, from Psychologists and the Use of Torture in Interrogations. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy (December 2007)
NO: Kirk M. Hubbard, from Psychologists and Interrogations: Whats Torture Got to Do with It? Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy (December 2007)
Psychologists Mark Costanzo, Ellen Gerrity, and M. Brinton Lykes assert that all psychologists should be banned from any involvement in interrogations that involve torture or other unethical forms of coercion. Psychologist and intelligence consultant Kirk M. Hubbard argues that a ban on a psychologists involvement in coercive interrogations would overly restrict the ways in which psychologists can ethically contribute to their countrys intelligence needs.
- Issue 17. Does the Evidence Support Evolutionary Accounts of Female Mating Preferences?
YES: David M. Buss, from Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind, 3rd Edition (Allyn and Bacon, 2008)
NO: David J. Buller, from Adapting Minds: Evolutionary Psychology and the Persistent Quest for Human Nature (MIT Press, 2005)
Professor of Psychology David M. Buss contends that the research data indicate an evolved female preference for high-status, resource-possessing males. Philosopher of Science David J. Buller argues that the research data support several alternative explanations for Busss findings.
- Issue 18. Can Sex Be Addictive?
YES: Patrick Carnes, from Understanding Sexual Addiction, SIECUS Report (June/July 2003)
NO: Lawrence A. Siegel and Richard M. Siegel, from Sex Addiction: Recovering from a Shady Concept, An Original Essay Written for Taking Sides: Human Sexuality, 10th edition (2007)
Sexual addiction expert Patrick J. Carnes argues not only that sex can be addictive but that sex can be as addictive as drugs, alcohol, or any other chemical substance. Sex therapists Lawrence A. Siegel and Richard M. Siegel believe that while some sexual behaviors might be dysfunctional, calling those behaviors addictive confuses a moralistic ideology with a scientific fact.