Tuesday, June 30, 2015


“The psychological quirks that make it tricky to get an accurate read on someone’s emotions”
By: Emily Esfahani Smith
Level of difficulty: **
·         Watch the following video carefully: “Facial Expression Tutorial by Khappucino”
·         Now listen to the following talk and take notes:

1.       Read as far as “To Halverson”. What conclusion did Tim draw from this incident?
·         I am not getting across to them as well as I thought I was
·         How awful they have been thinking I am a jerk
·         They must think I am terribly bad tempered
·         They must think I am completely unapproachable
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
2.       What conclusion did Tim’s team draw from the same incident?
·         He can pretend all he likes; we know his type
·         Maybe he is not as bad as we thought; this could work
·         Active listening my foot; he is a bad tempered old sod
·         He needs to get out more and learn about facial expressions
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
3.       What conclusion can we draw from the additional examples provided in the text?  Circle the adjective(s) that won’t fit according to the text.  Complete misunderstanding of another person’s intention in saying or doing something is  quite infrequent/quite common / relatively widespread / universal / exceptional
4.       All the examples studied so far prove that………………………………………………………………………………
5.       Read the section on the transparency gap and decide whether the following conclusions are true or false according to the text:
·         We shouldn’t blame others for not seeing us for what we are
·         If people choose not to understand that is their own fault
·         We should express ourselves clearly and not expect people to read our minds
·         If we want people to understand us we should help them to
·         Hiding your feelings and expecting people to read your mind is stupid
6.       The main reason why people misread other people is the fact that …………………………………………
7.       A staff member is confused and flustered on his first few days on a new job.  Mark True or False
·         This impression will be remedied as soon as he performs better
·         This impression may prevent his future promotion
·         This impression may affect the amount of responsibility he gets given
·         People will understand that he didn’t know the job and revise their opinion at once
8.       What would happen if the above staff member consistently received a lot of praise from clients?
9.       Why are people loath to resort to system 2 thinking?
10.   What is the ultimate result of sticking to system 1 thinking?
11.   Read Dan Gilbert’s experiment to the end. When the subjects were allowed to move on from their first impression, they labeled / didn’t label the subject as an anxious person.
12.    In the same experiment preoccupation seemed to prevent the subject from reaching the correct result / encourage the subject to reach the correct result. The conclusion we can draw is that in order to accurately assess a situation it is enough to form an impression / it is necessary to focus. The rule of thumb is that first impressions are always wrong / can be wrong / are never wrong.
13.    A person with high self esteem is likely to judge another person…………………………………….because …………………………………………………………………………………………….
14.   What conclusion can we draw from the 1998 study published in “Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin”?
15.   Sending clear signals comes with an additional bonus:
Use the text and the videos you have watched to discuss the reasons why we  often misunderstand each other. Although you will need to use what you learnt in the text, you must use your own words and your own examples while completing the task.
In your introduction: discuss the transparency illusion
In your development: discuss the reasons:
·         People are cognitive misers or lazy thinkers
·         Perception is influenced by the perceiver’s experiences, emotions and biases
In your conclusion: suggest solutions; use the text and your own experience
This task comes with some interesting videos and a writing task so it is all inclusive. The text should be appealing in terms of content and lead to lively discussions. Hopefully the lesson will be productive and enjoyable.
1.       All of the above
2.       Other: 2 and 4
3.       Quite infrequent, exceptional
4.       There is a gap between how other people see us and how we see ourselves.
5.       Only the second one is false
6.       They are lazy thinkers.
7.       F, T, T, F
8.       The boss can engage in system 2 thinking and update his impression of the member of staff.
9.       It demands a lot of effort and mental energy
10.   Speed is traded off for accuracy in thinking about others.
11.   They didn’t label the subject as an anxious person
12.   Prevent the subject from reaching the correct result; it is necessary to focus; can be wrong
13.   Less harshly or more favorably; his sense of himself or herself isn’t threatened.
14.   If you want to solve the problem of perception, it is much more practical for you to decide to be a good sender of signals than to hope that the perceiver is going to go into phase 2 of perception.
15.   Such people are ultimately happier and more satisfied with their relationships, careers and lives.

Monday, June 29, 2015


Published: BBC Magazine, June 29, 2015; http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33287727
Level of difficulty: **
  • What is Empathy?
  • Now do the following test designed by Simon Baron-Cohen to determine how good you are at reading people. You will learn the significance of this test when you read the text.
  • Now watch the following video:
  1. What word could you substitute for the word “integral” in the subtitle?
  2. What does “this message” refer to in the sentence “Humans are naturally primed to embrace this message”
  • Empathy is written into our genetic code; i.e. it is inherited
  • It is important to put yourself in someone else’s shoes
  • It is not possible to understand someone unless you love them
  • It is possible to understand people if you share their life.
  1. Could Hannibal Lector understand “this message”? Why?
  2. What conclusion can we draw from the example of the mother, the earthquake, the six year-old twins and the writer’s partner?
  3. Does the conclusion Cohen reached at the end of his research tally with the writer’s view expressed earlier in the text?
  4. Interrupting a person halfway through his account of a problem to take words out of his mouth and finish his story for him because you think you know what he is going to say is right / wrong because  ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  5. Read the example of conflict resolution. Repeating what the staff member said gives the message that:
  • The boss knows what the staff member is talking about
  • The boss wants to correct the staff member if necessary
  • The boss has actually listened to the staff member
  • The boss has actually understood the staff member
  • All of the above
  • None of the above
  • Other: please specify
  1. Read the wonderful poem by Bertolt Brecht and state clearly what the message is. Begin as follows: It is important to
A Worker Reads History By Bertolt Brecht
Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
And Babylon, so many times destroyed.
Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima's houses,
That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
Where did the masons go? Imperial Rome
Is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song.
Were all her dwellings palaces? And even in Atlantis of the legend
The night the seas rushed in,
The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.

Young Alexander conquered India.
He alone?
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Was there not even a cook in his army?
Phillip of Spain wept as his fleet
was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?
Frederick the Great triumphed in the Seven Years War.
Who triumphed with him?

Each page a victory
At whose expense the victory ball?
Every ten years a great man,
Who paid the piper?

So many particulars.
So many questions.

  1. What are the advantages of chatting to strangers?
  2. Go to the following link and watch the video: http://empathymuseum.com/video . The message the museum is trying to give is that: …………………………………………………………………………………
Write an essay or paragraph were you discuss the ways in which mutual understanding can be improved.
  1. Radical listening
  2. Look for the human behind everything
  3. Become curious about strangers.
This wonderful little text comes with a couple of self explanatory videos and a test. It should lead to a fruitful discussion and a reading into writing activity. The good thing is that the text addresses a very complex issue but discusses it at a relatively simple level.
  1. Very important or necessary
  2. The second
  3. No, he was a psychopath and incapable of feeling empathy
  4. Most don’t tap into their full empathic potential in everyday life (The empathy gap can appear in personal relationships too will not do as it doesn’t cover the first two examples; the empathy gap on its own is grammatically not possible)
  5. Yes it does.
  6. Wrong; it doesn’t give them the feeling of being understood
  7. Other: 3 and 4
  8. Deepen empathic concern for others by developing an awareness of all those individuals hidden behind the surface of our daily lives (on whom we may depend on some way)
  9. It opens up our empathic minds, we can meet fascinating people , we can challenge the assumptions and prejudices that we have.
  10. Empathy is the cornerstone of healthy human relationships.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


The normal place for a child to live is with his family where he is loved and cared for yet there are many children who are denied this opportunity all over the world and live on the streets. Some have lost their parents in conflict or due to AIDS as in Africa; others have escaped domestic violence, abuse, drugs and alcohol as in the Western world. These children are denied all the basic rights which their peers enjoy, and if nothing is done to help them, they will constitute a lost generation and be of no use to anyone. A welfare state can take various measures to help the street children.

First and foremost, these children need to be provided with basic shelter where they can be cared for, fed and clothed. More shelters of this sort should be provided by the state and charity organizations. In the past there have been cases of abuse or mistreatment in these places so appropriate checks and measures should be put in place as well. These institutions should also encourage foster families to take on children so that they can be given a taste of the family life they have been denied. All this requires careful organization and cooperation so a special department should be set up to deal with the issue. In short where there is a will there is a way.

Second of all, it must be remembered that most of these children have been seriously traumatized: they have witnessed bloodshed, murder, torture and the like; they have been victims of abuse; they have been raped and much more besides. Just giving them a bath, a warm bed and hot food is not going to do the trick; their spirits also need to be healed. Therefore, regular counselors should be appointed to the shelters in adequate numbers and children should have long term access to them. These children need to work through the trauma they have suffered to be able to move on with their lives. In short psychological help is just as important as physical care.

Thirdly, these children need to be assured that they will not be turned out on the street at 16 and will be educated and trained. Children are not plants; they need to go to school to develop their minds and their cognitive skills. They need to broaden their horizons and discover their talents and proclivities. Having done so, they should be provided with the opportunity to pursue them by going to university or getting training for a job. Only when all this has been done, can we really claim that the street child has been helped.

To sum up, helping the street children is a costly, difficult and long term project. Any effort to provide long term help for street children requires dedication and perseverance but the reward will be worth it: nothing could be more rewarding than seeing a child who was pulled off the street graduating from university and making his way in the world.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Learning is an activity that begins in childhood and continues for a life time. The most important period of learning is the years spent at school. Until quite recently, schools were the places where schooling took place and teachers were the specialists who delivered the information. However, with the advent of technology and especially the internet, that is beginning to change: although teachers are the best guides, students can do a lot more on their own especially if they are older.

In primary school, children are right at the start of the journey and have nothing to fall back on. The whole school experience is completely new so they need plenty of guidance from the teacher who will instruct them in basic reading and writing skills and the like. Yet even at this stage, technology is introduced and flipped learning is practiced: smart boards have replaced black boards and students do a lot preparation on their own with the computer before class thus sharpening their computer skills in preparation for the years to come. Independence comes with age and proficiency: the older a learner is and the more mature he is the more he can do on his own. Claiming that children should learn on their own, in a state of nature, is misguided and downright dangerous.

In secondary school, the students are older, more adept at using the computer, familiar with the opportunities presented on the internet and ready to strike out on their own. In the modern classroom the teacher should be more like a facilitator and let students take control. Projects requiring targeted research involving the capabilities of the internet can raise intellectual curiosity and promote active learning. With all the apps and web sites available today and all the lectures on the internet requiring students to listen to one person, the teacher, to the exclusion of all this is the sign of an ego the size of a football pitch. In a world where some of the best known experts, the best lecturers and celebrities post their material on ted.com for example, it is foolish to insist that the teacher knows best.

At university level, the tables are being turned at a more radical level: there are completely online universities like udacity.com; the best universities offer courses online free of charge on courser or edX. This egalitarian, humanistic and democratic venture is making tertiary education possible for the masses no matter where they live. This doesn’t mean the university in the classic sense is dead; it is not as evidenced by all the good universities catering to millions of students but it does mean that the classic system now has a rival competing with it.

In short, there are far more opportunities in terms of education in the modern world, and denying this is impossible. The old fashioned classroom is changing and technology is creeping in bringing with it all the opportunities provided by the World Wide Web. Students are also changing and sharing the role of the teacher who in turn is learning to stand back and share the teaching experience. The world of the future will make education even more exciting.


Every adult in society needs to be able to make a living to maintain a certain standard of living and enjoy a certain quality of life. In the past, it was the duty of men to work outside the home and put food on the table; women were expected to tend the house and take care of the children. Things are changing in the modern world however and more and more women are entering the business world at all levels and this trend will continue. The times are changing and so are people; in the modern world, women can certainly be the equals of men in the business world.

Women started entering the work force in large numbers after they were allowed to receive a university education and during the Second World War. The former allowed women to gain the qualifications necessary to become lawyers, doctors and the like. The latter made it absolutely essential for women to man the factories and make sure that industry didn’t suffer. These women proved that the social role of caregiver and homemaker that had been assigned to them by society didn’t mean they were incapable of doing anything else. The UK economy would have collapsed if it hadn’t been for women. All women need is for men to give them a chance and give up on the macho culture that claims women’s place is in the home.

The idea that it is women’s duty to do housework and take care of the children is completely unfounded. Nowadays, there are machines to do everything in the house and children go to kindergarten; what is the woman to do all day? Women have the same mental abilities and cognitive skills as men, they are well educated and often better students and they wish to and can become useful members of society and give something back. The only thing standing in their way is men’s feelings of insecurity and their threatened egos. In the modern world, all things being equal it should be aptitude that determines who gets ahead in the business world not gender. The latter is an outdated view that dates back to the middle ages when women were considered to be mentally incapable of doing the kind of work men do.

In short, men should open their eyes and see the changes that are taking place; they should stand aside and let women join them in the boardrooms where they can work shoulder to shoulder for the good of the country. Doing so will not make them lesser human beings.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


The animal kingdom has always fascinated people; they have wanted to learn about their features and habits. This is the underlying reason for the establishment of zoos; places where animals are kept in enclosures or cages and are visited by the public. Zoos have been the first place for families to visit on a Sunday until recently when the tide turned: people are now much more concerned about animals’ welfare. As a result, whereas zoos were considered harmless entertainment in the past, they are seen as cruel and inhuman today. Public opinion is definitely right: zoos should be closed and more nature reserves should be established instead.

One of the major purposes of zoos is providing a learning experience. Since not everyone can go and see these animals in the wild, they can see them in zoos and get to know them. Undeniably, becoming more familiar with these animals raises awareness and this is a good thing: animal species can be preserved. Yet zoos are no longer the way to achieve this purpose: technology has developed allowing wonderful documentaries to be filmed bringing the African Savannah to our living rooms. Why put the animals in cages to learn about them when we can watch them on film? In fact, far more species have become household names thanks to David Attenborough’s fantastic wildlife documentaries.

A second major purpose of zoos is the preservation of species. As natural habitats dwindle, animals in the wild have more and more trouble surviving and zoos provide a home for them. Looking at the issue this way, makes one think that zoos are a humanitarian mission but they are not: they are prisons where huge animals like the big cats and great apes that wander over miles of forest during one day are confined to tiny cages. Animals have minds and can think; they have feelings and experience trauma. Do we have the right to torture different life forms just because they are not human? The answer is nature reserves like in Kenya and Namibia where animals roam freely over a wide area, are protected by rangers and visited by tourists.

The role that zoos used to fill can more successfully be filled by nature reserves and documentaries in the modern world. Animals have the right to live freely and happily just like we do. They have not been created for our own amusement. The world is a much better place with them wandering the forests.

Monday, June 22, 2015

SHOULD FAMILIES HAVE A SAY? Argumentative essay

Families are the basic unit in society; therefore, the decision to form one is one of the most important changes one can make in one’s life. There are many marriage customs all over the world and they have been changing with time. In the past for example, most marriages were arranged by families and the young people often saw each other for the first time at their wedding. Times are changing however and nowadays, men and women interact openly in social life and in the business world. They meet each other, form friendships and fall in love. Eventually, they may decide to get married. Their decision does, however, need to involve their families as well although the young people should have the last word.

Marriage is a very difficult situation: two people who have grown up in completely different families and have a completely different set of experiences decide to spend the rest of their lives together sharing everything. Marriage, therefore, is not a decision to be taken lightly. The better young people know each other and the more they share, the easier this will be. Therefore, it is essential that they spend sometime getting to know each other and make their own decision concerning marriage. Yet the family should be involved when the young people decide to set up house as they have more experience of life and know their child very well.  It has to be accepted that a marriage brings two separate families together; it involves more that the bride and the groom. Therefore, it is much easier if everyone gets along with each other.

In modern day Turkey, which is a transition society, family backgrounds can vary a lot: levels of education, cultural and social background may all be very different. All this makes it much harder for families to get to like each other and get along although the young people like each other. This could be an obstacle to marriage if the families have the final word. The problem can be overcome with mutual understanding, tolerance and good will. After all, it is the personality of a person that is important. So long as people are open minded and understanding, very different families can come together through the marriage of their son and daughter. In short, the family should definitely be involved when a young person decides to get married but they need to remember that in the modern world the young person has the final word.

In conclusion, love conquers all and where there is mutual good will and understanding, nothing needs to come between two people who love each other and wish to get married. Families should remember that their role is to facilitate and not to obstruct. After all if an individual is legally an adult, is old enough to vote, to join the army, to get a driving license and the like, he is old enough to make his own decisions. The gesture made by involving the families is one of respect and doesn’t give families the right to be a hindrance.

A HIGH IQ Advatages and disadvantages essay

No one in society is the same although they may share certain features: everyone is born different physically and in terms of personality. They have different talents and different proclivities; some are artists, some excel in music, others have more manual dexterity and yet others are good public speakers; the list is endless. One area where there is a marked difference between individuals is IQ levels: while some are geniuses others are idiots or anything in between. At first glance, a high IQ may seem like a blessing but nothing could be further than the truth; a high IQ has both advantages and disadvantages throughout life.

In childhood, a high IQ means the child develops certain cognitive skills much faster than his peers: he teaches himself how to read and write, is a wiz at math and seems to be able to do puzzles faster than other children his own age. In short, many intellectual skills require minimum effort. He is, therefore, easy to teach but this doesn’t mean life is plain sailing for such kids: he has to wait for classmates to catch up with him. Tasks that come easily to him are like pulling teeth for others. Boredom sets in and this can trigger all manner of problems: there could be discipline problems and general unruliness for instance. The solution could be moving the child up into the next class where he would be on an equal footing as his classmates. This would solve the issue of boredom as the child would be on an equal footing with his classmates intellectually. However, it would create new problems as the child’s emotional development will not be on a par with his IQ. Psychological problems and loneliness resulting from this situation makes one wonder if, in fact, it is not better to be just normal.

A high IQ becomes less of a problem in adulthood as it enables the individual to get ahead in his career and to become an expert at his job. Dr. Steven Hawking is a genius, who despite crippling disabilities has excelled in his chosen field. Reaching such heights guarantees a high salary and the life style to go with it. In short the future is rosy that is assuming all is well on the emotional front. A high IQ doesn’t mean the person has a high EQ as well and is the latter that is more important in social relations. Any psychological problems which have not been properly dealt with in childhood may continue to hamper social relationships. Spencer, in the television series Criminal Minds is just such a genius: he is socially inept yet has a very high IQ.

Any feature that deviates from the norm requires special attention and this is true for a high IQ as well. A high IQ is definitely a mixed blessing but the impact of the disadvantages can be reduced with proper care and attention by parents and teachers. Thus these individuals can be raised to become happy, well adjusted and productive members of society.