Hulme, JA (2018) "Touching a nerve": studying sensitive topics in psychology. Psychology Review, 23 (3).

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Psychology involves learning about every aspect of human life. From birth to death, psychology explores what it means to be human, looking at our development, how we interact in our social world, how we think, what makes us all different, and how biology underpins human behaviour. This makes it an unusual subject; no other academic discipline asks us to think about ourselves in so much detail. Some of the topics we encounter in the psychology curriculum, as a result, deal with painful life experiences. For example, during your course, you are likely to learn about mental health, including topics such as depression, eating disorders and schizophrenia. These are not the only sensitive topics though. Studying gender can be challenging, as some students might be coming to terms with their own sexuality or transgender identity. The study of infant attachment is also thought to be sensitive because research in this area predicts that insecure infant attachment relationships might lead to more problematic adult relationships. This can be understandably worrying for students who have difficult family relationships, who were adopted, or who are living separately from their parents. Almost any psychology topic could be sensitive if it relates to a student’s life. For example, studying memory might seem relatively safe, until someone in the class visits a grandparent with dementia, and the grandparent fails to recognise them. Sensitive topics are not always predictable; they become sensitive only because of an individual’s reaction to them. Therefore ‘sensitive topics’ means any psychological content which can cause upset or distress, because it touches on personal subjects that students, or people they know, may have experienced.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) will be available online via Hodder Education at - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher. This version is provided by special permission of the publisher.
Uncontrolled Keywords: psychological literacy, psychology education, sensitive topics
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2017 16:35
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2018 10:14

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