Learning styles: fact or myth?

Having worked now for several years in the field of learning and development in the corporate world, I’m used to seeing psychological concepts being used and abused, distorted or just over-simplifed. Most of the times it happens with theories that are intuitively appealing, but have now been proven incorrect, or with findings that have been taken out of context to create a best selling book on a certain business topic.

One of the things I do as part of my job is to develop and deliver content that other trainers will use with their learners. This means that a great deal of care goes into justifying the methods I choose to deliver the content. For example, I will tell the trainers why I chose to use a role-play activity to explain a certain subject instead of presenting a diagram or a video. And every so often comes the discussion around “learning styles” – which I came to realise many trainers assume is a tested and proven psychological theory.

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It’s Kind of a Funny Story

It's a Kind of Funny Story


Over the weekend I got to see an interesting film called It’s Kind of a Funny Story. It tells the story of  Craig (Keir Gilchrist) a teenager who – struggling with suicidal thoughts  – checks himself into psychiatric ward.  What he did not expect is that he would have to spend 5 days in the adults’ psychiatric ward.

As I said the film is interesting, but very early on you start to guess that the plot will show Craig going through some kind of life changing experience. It’s not, I would say, a “true” coming of age film: the psychological changes undergone by Craig during those five days are not complete and thouroghly profound; we would need to see what happened to Craig after the film has ended. Even so, the actors are credible and they give life to a set of atractive characters. So as time goes by you also want to see (you already guess this will happen) what kind of marks Craig will imprint on each patients’ lives.

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The Skeleton Cupboard

The Skeleton Cupboard, Tanya Byron, 2014
The Skeleton Cupboard, Tanya Byron, 2014


I’m lucky to share my life with a person that not only knows me well, but also puts a lot care in every gift she chooses. I got this book for my birthday so I had good reasons to believe I would enjoy reading it. However, after going through the first few pages, I started to worry: the descriptions of characters, their afflictions and diagnostic seemed to indicate the book was going to be made of pre-conceptions.

This said, after having read all the book, I’m happy to confirm that Tanya Byron’s The Skeleton Cupboard is very much worth reading.

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The Elephant in the Room

I was half way through my Engineering degree when I realised that I should have been doing something else. I probably felt it as an epiphany, but looking back I can definitely say it was just another case of the elephant in the room. I had always known I should be doing something else and that something else was Psychology, but I had chosen to ignore it until it was no longer possible… Well, no longer possible is a clear overstatement, because I not only ended up finishing my Engineering degree, but I’ve managed to work several years as an Engineer.

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A Patient Information Resource on Fibromyalgia

Dear Dr. <Name>,

I would like to kindly ask your attention to the information leaflet enclosed developed to give Fibromyalgia (FM) patients the latest information on how to cope with their condition. The current guidelines to managing and treating FM clearly recommend that patients (and their relatives) should learn as much as possible about it, as this is likely to help reduce any fear and anxiety it might generate (e.g., Arthritis Care, 2013; Arthritis Research, 2011). In this sense, this leaflet explains what Fibromyalgia is, what its main physical and psychological symptoms are and what treatment alternatives are currently available.

[Click to view the Fibromyalgia Leaflet]


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The Neuropsychology of Alzheimer’s Disease

A Review for A-Level Students (Wiki Transcript)

 1. What is Dementia?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, Dementia is the 18th century evolution of the word dement, the Latin word the concept of “being out of one’s mind”. In neuropsychology, dementia designates an acquired and persistent syndrome characterised by an intellectual impairment that affects higher brain functions (Kolb and Whishaw, 2009), including memory, thinking, comprehension, judgement, calculation, learning capacity, orientation and language (World Health Organization, 2015). These impairments are frequently accompanied by a reduction in emotional control, social behaviour, or motivation.

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Using DBT for the treatment of Self-harm

1. Introduction

Characterising self-harm and implications for empirical research

1.1 What is Self-harm?

The NICE guidelines define self-harm as self-poisoning or self-injury, irrespective of the apparent purpose of the act. Other authors (e.g Whitlock, 2010) define self-harm as acts of deliberate, self-inflicted physical damage with no explicit intention of committing suicide and for reasons not socially accepted. Although self-cutting is probably the best well known method of self-harm, other methods include self-hitting (battery), pinching, scratching, biting or even burning (Greydanus and Shek, 2009). Moreover, the part of the body where self-harm is conducted varies significantly. Injuries inflicted on the face, eyes, jugular area, breast, or genitals are particularly important as they hint a greater level of psychological distress and, potentially, indicate a worse prognosis for treatment (Whitlock, 2010). Effectively, this suggests a point for consideration when analysing the effectiveness of psychological therapies.

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Theory of Mind development in both autistic and typically-developing children

(A Critical Discussion)


The development of Theory of the Mind (ToM) during the first five years of life is a fundamental process in typical childhood development. The term Theory of Mind describes the ability to understand people as mental beings and having mental states that do not necessarily coincide with ours (Astington and Edward, 2010).

Although research on ToM is profuse, there are still many areas where research has been unable to find satisfactory answers and many findings where the interpretation is not consensual. Such is the case of the development of ToM is children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children in ASD show evidence of having an impaired ToM, but a body of research is now challenging this mainstream view (e.g. Chevallier, Parish-Morris, Tonge, Miller and Schultz, 2014), either proposing alternative interpretations, questioning the methodology used in tasks designed to evaluate the existence of ToM, or expanding the theory to encompass additional features of ASD.

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Wanting Less

The event is called La Ciudad de Las Ideas (The City of Ideas, in English) and it takes place every year in Puebla, México. Here a few of the most brilliant minds of the planet get together to debate new ideas and paradigms.

One of the 2011 presentations was about the “paradox of choice“. In this, the psychologist Barry J. Schwartz introduced the concepts of maximisers and satisficers to distinguish to types of people. The so-called maximisers are never happy with the options that take and always look for more and better alternatives. These people earn more money and get to top positions in their careers. On the other hand, they are more restless and unhappy. On the other side, the satisficers do not look for the best option, but simply one that satisfies them. Their salaries and job positions are lower, but they are, in general, happier.

This is maybe just an old idea dressed with new clothes. It is, in any case, a brilliant idea that should be kept alive.

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(Note: this post was initially published in Portuguese in http://www.150palavras.blogspot.com)

Me and Myself

In 1984 Piaget developed the Three Mountain Task to test up to what age children have an egocentric view of the world. In this task children are shown a model with three mountains of different sizes and a doll seated at one of the sides. Next, children are asked to select among different drawings that drawing that represents what the doll sees. Piaget found out that children up to seven years of age select the drawing that represents their own point of view.

As adults we are able to imagine what other people see; we know that different positions generate different perspectives. However, everything seems to change when we need to imagine how others think and feel. In this case, we often act like Piaget’s children and imagine that others think and feel the same we do. If, on one side, this egocentrism avoids the paralysis of analysis, on the other side it drive us to take decisions that quickly convert, at the eyes of others, in bad intentions.

Three Mountain Task
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(Note: this post was initially published in Portuguese in http://www.150palavras.blogspot.com)