Soviet Psychiatry | Miserable Middle-Aged Men | Satisfied Hairdressers | Jury Psychology

This week, from my psychology notebook…

Soviet psychiatry

The Telegraph has a story suggesting the Russian psychiatric system may be returning to the abusive practices common during Soviet times. The article, called ‘Labelled mad for daring to criticise the Kremlin‘, tells the story of Larisa Arap who has been forcibly treated after publicising systematic abuses of patients at a clinic where she has been held. The Telegraph’s leader column goes on to say:

“Things are different in modern Russia, where, as we report in horrifying detail today, it takes only modest influence to secure the incarceration and chemical torture of a business rival, wealthy relative or prosecution witness, and where the sectioning of citizens hostile to the Kremlin seems set to become once more a fact of political life.”


Miserable middle-aged men?

BBC News reports that ‘middle-aged men are the most miserable‘. How, pray, did our resourceful journos come to this conclusion? Well, every few years in the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs run a survey to measure people’s attitudes towards the environment. It contains questions about transport, energy and water efficiency, recycling and so on. Also, tacked on to the end are a few questions about life satisfaction.

And it’s from these that BBC News comes up with the idea that middle-aged men are the ‘most miserable’. Actually the survey question is couched in positive terms and asks about satisfaction with life. The supposedly ‘miserable’ middle-aged men still scored on average 6.8 out of 10 on the scale compared with 7.7 for those over 65. Headlining the article in this way is obviously completely misleading.

A better question – and this survey only really raises more questions – would be why those over 65 are the most satisfied with life. Could this have something to do with ageing and the positivity effect?

The full survey from which these results are taken is not published until September 2007 but preliminary results are available.

Hairdressers second most satisfied

Moving from life satisfaction to job satisfaction there is evidence from the Workplace Employment Relations Survey (UK) that hairdressers are the second most satisfied occupational group. They are behind only highly paid managers.

Published in the Industrial Relations Journal, the study also finds that computer jobs are, apparently, shedding their erstwhile sexiness and IT workers are heading down the list. Teachers, on the other hand, are on the way up. There’s an entertaining discussion of these findings on the Radio 4 programme ‘Thinking Allowed‘.

Jury psychology

Thanks to a kind post by Emma at the Deception Blog, I came across a great blog about juries and jury trials. The author, Anne Reed, is a trial lawyer and jury consultant and she often writes about fascinating aspects of jury psychology. In a recent series of ‘best of’ posts, Anne asks how beauty affects the jury (and part 2) whether the jurors are asleep and examines the biases that may affect jury selection.

Anne is also the curator of the ‘The American Gallery of Juror Art‘. This contains ‘art done by actual jurors while on actual jury duty’. Proof positive that jury duty can be pretty tedious.

[Brain tattoo picture above via MindHacks.]



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About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 17 August 2007

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