Would you rather…? Six more starters for AS Psychology and an end of term activity

Some more ideas for “would you rather…?” discussion activity

In my most recent post (see post 9/10/12) I explained how a simple decision making game could have the potential to make an effective lesson starter/plenary or revision activity for developing thinking skills in the context of A Level Psychology.

Evaluation skills

In the game, a choice is made 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, the question simply starts with “Would you rather…?” and can end with anything you like (e.g. “would you rather be the most attractive person in the world or the richest person in the world?”). These questions are great for practising evaluation skills as the pros and cons of the options need to be weighed up before a conclusion, or in this case a choice, can be made and justified. In my previous post I shared one Psychology-related “would you rather” question for each of the AS topic areas in Unit 1 and 2. As I managed to think of some more I thought I’d blog these too. I have included some comments on the discussion that might arise where the direction might not be immediately obvious.

AS Unit 1: Memory

Here are two ideas for memory:

Would you rather have a better recall of the past or be able to predict the future?

The inspiration for this question was a New Scientist special feature on memory (October 2012). The online summary included reference to the idea that memory may have evolved to enable us to predict the future rather than simply recall the past. Students do not need to know this but it interested me so might interest A Level students too and allow a brief discussion of evolutionary ideas as an introduction for later study.

Would you rather the only eye witness to see your car being stolen was an elderly woman or a teenager who was threatened by the perpetrator?

This one is more topic relevant than the first. The threat should make students draw on their knowledge of anxiety and age their impact on EWT. The mixed evidence (e.g. anxiety; it may depend on whether the threat to the teenager was with a weapon) in this area should make for an interesting discussion.

AS Unit 1: Attachments

Would you rather have a single parent who was a Developmental Psychologist or a Paediatrician?

This question might get students thinking about whether knowledge of attachment theory makes for better parenting and initiate a discussion about the importance of physical versus psychological development.

AS Unit 2: Psychopathology

Would you rather be clinically depressed for a year or have schizophrenia for a month?

This question should force students to evaluate the severity of the disorder (if it can be judged) against the duration. Students will need to think about the disorders and their impact on individuals to make their choice. Discussion in this area will obviously need to be handled sensitively.

AS Unit 2: Social influence

Would you rather be a naïve participant in a remake of Zimbardo’s prison simulation experiment or Milgram’s electric shock study?

AS Unit 2: Stress

Would you rather have high stress at work but few stressful life events or low stress at work and many stressful life events?

End of term activity

Collating the questions from this and the last post relevant to AS unit’s you are teaching this term (Autumn, at time of posting) and adding a few of your own could make a fun discussion based end of term activity. Set up “option A” and “option B” stations either side of the room and ask students to move to their preferred choice, then ask students standing in opposite positions to try to convince their partner that their choice is the “correct” one. Alternatively ask students to vote for their choice without seeing each others choices, to avoid conformity, and then ask students to justify their choices. Ask students to come up with their own topic relevant “would you rather…?” questions and pose them to one another.

This would make a fun, active lesson, perhaps prior to Christmas, that requires little preparation but could create opportunities to teach a number of broad Psychology-wide concepts whilst deepening students understanding of the topics and exercising their thinking skills.

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