Report on Psychology Group Meeting - Meeting, Friday, 20 July 2018

Venue: We met again at Squire’s Café which was very quiet and presented no problems.
Attendance: 4 members were present and Barrie sent apologies

Matters discussed:

1] Intro: After our usual chat about current affairs of interest to us all, including: the social psychology of the, “Brexit”, referendum and its aftermath along with speculation as to the psychology of the “office politics” involved in cabinet government at the moment. We then moved on to our formal agenda.

2] Learning: We did a brief revision after leaving it some time ago of classical and operant conditioning as types of learning theory.

3] Loneliness: Though I had planned to end our work on learning theory with a look at observational learning we decided to look first at a Science Focus magazine article on loneliness. This proved to be of such relevance and interest to us all that it occupied the rest of our meeting.

Loneliness is difficult to define and is different from, but may be caused by, isolation. In other social species such as dogs it is clearly apparent by the distressed behaviour described as separation anxiety. We were surprised by the stats which show that the problem is much more prevalent than most us realised and can have a damaging effect on not only mental health but also on physical health through its adverse long-term effect on the immune system. As one report we read put it, ‘Research shows that experiencing chronic loneliness is as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and worse than obesity’.

The age distribution of those affected also came as something of a surprise. It rises sharply in the teenage years, despite the growth of social media, increases again in the 30s peaks again around 60 and suddenly rises dramatically again after 75. These peaks arise at different reasons at different ages but the rise after retirement and the huge increase beyond 75 were of particular interest to us. The role of the U3A in perhaps ‘immunising’ us against this was food for much discussion.
We had by then, as ever, run out of time and we had to leave a brief discussion of observational learning and the beginning of our exploration of memory until next time.

Next meeting: We agreed to meet again at Squires Café on the 17th August and I look forward to seeing everyone again then.

John More – Group Leader 22-7-18
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