A thinking starter for each AS topic: “would you rather…?”

Evaluation with a twist

“Would you rather…?” is a game played in social and educational settings. It involves having to choose between 2 options where there is an element of difficulty in making the choice and where there is likely to be a difference of opinion (for example: would you rather be the most attractive person in the world or the richest person in the world?). These questions often require students to reflect on their values and think through the consequences of their choices.

This is a good activity for developing “thinking skills” as it requires evaluation (weighing up the pros and cons of each option), justification of choices and reflection. It works well when students are encouraged to challenge each other and someone plays devil’s advocate. This is very similar to a “thunk” style activity but each question shares the same starter (see earlier posts for more on these).

In the A Level Psychology classroom

I have put together a “would you rather…?” question for each of the AS (AQA A) topics in Unit 1 and 2. These make perfect lesson starters, plenaries, an interlude between activities or can even be used as a full set for revision at the end of the course. Clearly there are no right answers to these questions and students should be encouraged to think deeply rather than giving a gut reaction answer.

AS Unit 1: Memory

Would you rather be able to remember everything without trying or forget at will?

This might make a nice ice-breaking starter or a stretching plenary as it will inevitably go beyond the specification content. Concepts that may arise for discussion include:

  • The capacity and duration of LTM
  • A Channel 4 documentary recently covered the phenomenon of people who remember an extraordinary amount about the things that happen to them. Students who saw this might draw on this to inform their choice.
  • Repression, unwittingly forgetting anxiety provoking events
  • Free will versus determinism
  • When we “forget” things are they really gone?
  • The organisation of memory

AS Unit 1: Early social development (Attachments)

Would you rather be one of Lorenz’s goslings or Harlow and Harlow’s monkeys?

This might be a good way to introduce the issues surrounding the use of animals which will be useful for A2.

AS Unit 2: Psychopathology

Would you rather have ECT or Psychosurgery?

This would work best after students have studied the biological therapies. Ask students if their answer would depend on whether they were asked this question now or in the 1940’s, when these treatments were a bit more risky. If you’ve told them about the “ice pick” lobotomies (although psychosurgery is not named in the specification, I love the shock factor of this treatment and I find it really engages students) they may prefer ECT!

AS Unit 2: Social influence

Would you rather have a strong external locus of control or a strong internal locus of control?

Students might discuss this in the context of whether being independent (possibly associated with being more internal) is desirable and the pros and cons of each end of the scale.

AS Unit 2: Stress

Would you rather be responsible for discovering a cure for stress or a cure for cancer?

Students might consider the concept of cure and its implications for stress as a Psychological phenomenon. Stress has been linked to a variety of health problems including development and recovery from some types of cancers which may influence student’s decisions.



One thought on “A thinking starter for each AS topic: “would you rather…?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s