Report on Psychology Group Meeting - Psychology Meeting Barkston, Friday, 20 April 2018

Report-Psychology Group meeting 20-4-18

A] Future Venues:

1] We met at The Ash Tree pub in Barkston which I’m afraid I must say yet again may be for the last time. Although we met this time between 1 and 3pm in future any bookings we make have to be between 12.30 and 2.30 pm which is not very convenient for most members. On a suggestion from Dennis I had enquired about the possibility of meeting in future at Squire’s Café Bar in Newthorpe which I hadn’t considered as a venue before but is apparently being used by another group. They say they will welcome us on an informal basis between 2 and 4 pm on Fridays, with the usual proviso the all refreshments are purchased from them. After due discussion we decided to give Squire’s Café a try and will hold our next meeting meet there on the 18th May.

B] General Anaesthesia:

1] As time didn’t allow us last time to discuss general anaesthesia [GA] as part of our topic we began with it as our first item. We had talked about consciousness at length and the level of self-awareness we enjoy above all other species but for the purposes of surgery medicine searched for millennia for a way of safely and temporarily taking away that which evolution had spent many more millennia providing us with. For a psychologist it must seem extraordinary that with a mere syringe full of Temazepam and a breathable supply of Chloroform or Halothane can whisk away all that they spend so much time and effort studying.

2] We discussed the purposes of GA, in layman’s terms, its basic biochemistry, its various stages and finally its possible risks. The blessed benefits of it of course are obvious.

C] Grand Theories:

1] We then moved on to the main topic of the meeting which was learning theories, a major field within psychology which has been of profound interest to its researcher’s throughout its history. In the natural sciences we are accustomed to the notion of a fundamental “grand theory” which at any given time is generally accepted as underlying the way of thinking of everyone working in the field. Examples would be evolutionary theory in biology or relativity theory in physics but to the frustration of psychologists in their incredibly complex field no such theory has arisen whatever some people have tried to claim. This is not to underestimate the vital importance of the cultural transmission of knowledge and skills that makes us humans unique in the natural world.

D] Learning Theories:

1] Conditioning: To begin with we watched an hilarious short video clip of people’s behaviour on entering a lift though all the passengers but one were actors in a psychological experiment. It seemed extraordinary what the actors could persuade the “naïve” passenger to do without saying a word. An example of what would be called “social learning” resulting from observation of one’s other group members. We then watched a video clip which introduced us to two related concepts of what is known as conditioning which means changing behaviour by altering the subject’s environment in order to achieve a desired response. The two methods are known as Classical and Operant Conditioning.

2] We then watched a video which compared these two types of conditioning and saw how they might help us to understand or be applied to situations in everyday life.

E] Closure and next meeting:

1] As we only had time to partly cover our main topic of learning we will hope to conclude tis at our next meeting then move onto the topic of memory.

2] Our next meeting will take place on the 18th May and the venue will be as mentioned above Squire’s Café at Newthorpe on the B1222 between Sherburn and the old A1 road.
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