Report on Psychology Group Meeting - Meeting, Friday, 16 December 2016

I began our meeting our meeting by describing how I had made contact with the leaders of the three psychology groups currently running in the Wetherby U3A. Our previous psychology group had put out such feelers and Peter Wilson did attend two of our meetings but to the best of my knowledge there was no further contact. I do believe, though, there is mutual benefit to be gained by groups who are working in the same general area sharing the ideas and resources that they have built up over time. To this end I’ve arranged to meet Peter Wilson in January to discuss what we can beneficially share of the materials we have accumulated and to discuss the approaches that we and the three Wetherby groups have taken to the exploration of psychology. In this way I hope that we can all learn something useful from one another.

We then moved on to the main topic of our meeting which was to discuss the questions of whether psychology can find any significant differences between the so called ‘male’ and ‘female’ brain, how that might affect our behaviour and what the origins of such differences might be. We approached this by first watching a fascinating Horizon programme asking such questions made by Prof Alice Roberts and Dr Michael Mosely. They showed a number of very interesting experiments carried out by psychologists both physiological and behavioural that tried to answer the above questions.

Before making the programme they both agreed that their appeared to be some differences between the male and female brain but Michael believed that these were mainly fixed and of genetic and hormonal origin whilst Alice thought that they were mainly a product of culture and demonstrated the plasticity of the brain. At the end of the programme they discussed their conclusions and agreed that they had both moved rather closer to the others point of view and agreed that there was considerable overlap between their two perspectives and what differences there were should not form the basis of any discriminatory social or economic policies.

I think that we all found this a very interesting topic but we ran out of time which was unfortunate as I’m aware that at least one member had a very interesting point to make based on personal experience but we shall certainly discuss this under matters arising at our next meeting on the 20th January. I look forward to seeing everyone again then in our usual venue and at the usual time.

John Moore – Group Leader.
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