Mastering APA style #2: In-text Citations

With referencing, in-text citations are pretty much literal as it gets.  In-text citations are written "within text" and are used to "cite" sources.  However, always remember, you have to include all the references you cited (in the in-text citations) in the reference list at the back of your paper!

But firstly how do you do the in-text citations?
The most basic one of all is (name, year), with the names for in-text citations being the author's last names or surnames of the authors.  However it get complicated depending on the number of authors and how you use the in-text citations.

Image credit: http://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/basics/index.htm
The table above shows the different combinations that you might have for your citations.  I will explain in the following steps of help you how to understand and use this table to write your own citations.

Step 1: Identity the "type of citation" you have.
From your original article, you have find out how many authors wrote that article.  If you have the reference, it is quite straightforward.  However if you are looking at the article, you need to locate the list of authors (usually on the first page of the article) and their order.
You only need to know (a) how many authors wrote that article, and (b) the year it was published.

An easy way to break down this above table is to group the rows of  "one" and "two"authors as one group, "three" to "five" authors as another group, and "six" authors as another one.  For "groups" as mentioned above, they are usually institutions or organisations, hence the names of the institutions or organisations can just be used directly as per the logic for citing "one" author .

Step 2: First and Subsequent citations
Please refer to the second column ("First citation in text") and fourth column ("Parenthetical format, first citation in text") in the table for the in-text citations being used for the very first time.
After that, there will be some differences as shown in the third and fifth column for subsequent  in-text citations.

Continuing from Step 1: [compare the second and third columns (or fourth and fifth column) as you read the following] 
(a)  For "one" and "two authors":  There is no difference between the first citation and subsequent citations. Just write out all the authors' name for the first time and subsequent times.
(b)  For "three to five authors":  Write out all the authors' name for the first time.  For subsequent times when the authors are cited, make sure to only keep the first author's name and substitute the other authors' name with "et al.".  You do not need an "and" (e.g. "Bradley and et al.") between them; there is a space between "et" and "al."; and there is a period (or full-stop) after "al".
(c)  For "six (or more) authors":  You may just use "et al." (e.g. "Bradley et al.") for both the first and subsequent citations.

Step 3:  Knowing how in-text citations are written.
There are mainly two methods of writing of in-text citations: (a) the authors' name as part of or within the sentence, or (b) the authors' names in the parentheses [referring to "(  )"].
Example:
A common definition some researchers use is one developed by Jones, Hanton, and Connaughton (2002), which is .....  This definition is also under some debate (Andersen, 2011).  
In the first sentence, the authors' names are involved within the sentence, hence the parentheses only included the year.  However, in the second sentence, it did not involved the author but only made reference to it, hence the author's last name and year are both in parentheses.  It is really up to your writing style and sentence construction of when you wish to involve the author's or authors' names within the sentences.
This is the main difference between the second  and the fourth columnsas well as the third and fifth columns.  Do note the placement of the "&" and "and".  If the authors' name are (a) within the text, you should use "and" between their names;  if the authors' name are (b) in the parentheses, make sure to use "&" between the authors' names.  Many students do make this (very common) mistake!

In-text citations are actually the easiest to master in APA style, and once you understand and know how to use the above table, it is actually very easy!!

Miss Psychobabble: How Junk Food Control Our Eating Behavior


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Image Credits: Νick Perrone via Flickr
Obesity has become a greater health problem than hunger worldwide.  Most cases are attributed from one's sedentary lifestyle - lack of physical activity and indulgence on unhealthy food.  Little do you know that junk food not only causes you to gain weight but it also causes you to stick to fixed eating preferences.

According to a recent study by Reichelt and her colleagues, people lose their innate desire for different kinds of food once they eat unhealthily on a frequent basis.  Our brains are wired to seek nutritional diversity so that we do not overeat.  But exposure to "obesogenic diets" for only two weeks altered the brains' neurological circuits in the male rodents.  Researchers also added that alterations in the brain happened by impairing the sensory-specific satiety following the consumption of the high calorie solution.

Why it is essential to know this


All of us had overindulged at one point, whether it’s during a lavish occasion or a tough break-up, cake, ice cream, and chips are truly delicious.  It is no surprise that companies spend money, time, and effort just to perfect the process of the flavor and packaging.  As Jeffrey Dunn, former Coca-Cola executive, once said:  "We are [a nation of] pro-junk-food behavior…the selling of food matters as much as the food itself."

However, our brains are naturally designed to recognize when we had too much to eat, so when the next tempting treat comes along, we are simply are not interested.  But letting regular junk food habit will lead to preferring burger and all the high calorie food - all the time.  So, mix up your diet.  Keep healthy bites such as apples and nuts handy so you can snack on them and make different recipes for vegetables or fish.

Current Trends in Psychology

In the early 1900s, it was psychoanalysis, also dubbed the "talking cure", spearheaded by Sigmund Freud.  In the 1950s, it was humanistic psychology, also referred to the "third force" alongside with psychoanalysis and behaviourism.

What about now??

1. Positive psychology and happiness


TED Video: "The new era of positive psychology" featuring Martin Seligman

Positive psychology research was led by psychologists Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihaly and this has been looked at in detail for the last 15 years.  Here is one of the early APA posts from 2001 regarding positive psychology.
These have give rise to many other topics, such as mental toughness and grit, and improving overall mental health.  This has also led to psychology being more accepted in other areas and industries, such as business, organisations and sport.

TED Video: "The key to success? Grit" featuring Angela Lee Duckworth

With people starting to be more self-reflective after the introduction of humanistic psychology, the main question that most will ask themselves is: "What do I want in my life?"  The answer (for most) would be: "Happiness".  However, the next question is "how do we be more happy?"  Here's the science to it:

TED video: "The surprising science of happiness" featuring Dan Gilbert

In a nutshell, the happiness you get from a past or present or future action / event / occasion depends on your current perception of the action / event / occasion, and it will change with time because your perception might change with time.

2. Eastern philosophy approaches to psychology


With the pursue of happiness, science has start to turn towards the eastern approaches, i.e. Buddhism.  This is especially attributed to news of brain scans finding that Matthieu Ricard, a French scientist-turned-Buddhist-monk, has the largest capacity for happiness and joy.  This was said to be attributed to his many years of meditation, which in the modern and psychological context was termed as "mindfulness".  This created quite a spark in different areas of research and applied practice, such that a talk was given on 06 November 2013 at NUS, with an attendance of more than 1800 people.  I had also covered it in my summary post of "Psychology Happenings in Singapore 2013".

With mindfulness being in trend, it has led to the rise of a new type of psychotherapy: Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.  Is this new type of psychotherapy effective?
Based on a 2010 meta-analysis published in Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the authors found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is moderately effective for anxiety and mood disorders.  Another 2013 meta-analysis published in Clinical Psychology Review concluded that it "is an effective treatment for a variety of psychological problems, and is especially effective for reducing anxiety, depression, and stress" (p. 763).

3. Internet-based research and provision of treatment 


As technology tends towards the use of computers and the Internet, there is a lot of things that has been changed to fit this trend.  With the Internet, it has definitely brought people "closer", allowing researchers and academics who are in different countries or different regions to conduct research together, or even allow a therapist to help a client, who might be in a different area, face-to-face and in real time.
In developed countries, there are very few people without a smartphone.  This have led to mobile apps that are specifically used for and by psychologists and their clients.  APA has also embarked and accepted the idea of mobile psychology.  This topic will also be covered in the upcoming SPS pre-AGM (Annual General Meeting) talk by Maureen Neihart and Gloria Law, titled: "Mobile Behavioural Health: The Future of Intervention?" (p. 22 of the SPS eZine)

However, with positives that are brought on with this new smart technology, there are also the negatives:
-  Blurring of ethics for online research
Ethics is a very big and essential component in research, with the protection of the participants' confidentiality and safety being of utmost importance.  Another part of ethics is informed consent, where participant consent to participating in the research and will be allowed to withdraw from it at any point of time.
The use of internet as a medium to do research is so common now that universities, such as Stanford University, and even BPS have written up ethical guidelines for internet research.  However this is still non-existent in Singapore.

A huge issue was made when Facebook allowed some researchers to manipulate the news-feed content of about 700,000 Facebook users in January 2012, in order to investigate if "people's moods could spread like an 'emotional contagion' depending on the type of the content that they were reading".  The conclusion of the study was that people were more likely to post negative updates about their lives after a reduction in volume of positive information appearing in their Facebook feeds.  Although the results of the study was very substantial with more than 700,000 participants, it created a huge outcry by Facebook users as there was no consent given by the participants to Facebook to do such a study.

-  Internet addiction
This is the latest type of addiction, as a result of too much Internet usage, with its main population being youths.  It is currently not in the DSM-V, and psychiatrists are debating on whether it should be classified as a addiction, as it is difficult to measure and classify the negative effects of internet use.  However, the symptoms are as real as any other addiction.  Probably more time is needed to do more research on this topic.

4. Tackling Mental Health Stigma


ChannelNewsAsia video: Interview on Mental Health (06/11/2013)

In recent years, this is a common topic that has been discussed in Singapore.  With the establishment of CHAT (Community Health Assessment Team) by IMH, this has started a trend with different initiations being set up to reduce the stigma in mental health issues and disorders. These include:
  • The Tapestry Project SG:  An independent platform aimed at restoring hope and reclaiming dignity among individuals with mental health challenges.
  • EmbraceD:  A social campaign aimed at raising awareness of depression and empowering friends and family to be caregivers to those sick with depression.
  • Drop That Label:  An NUS student-led initiative by CHAT to get our NUS peers to drop the labels of stigma we place on those with mental health issues.
  • Speak Your Mind SG:  An initiative to improve the mental well-being of teachers
Disclaimer: The information about the initiations are from their respective websites or Facebook pages.

There are actually others out there, helping to reduce mental health stigma, and some in their own ways and methods.  One example is "The Days that We Wander/Wonder", a visual arts exhibition promoting mental well-being through art.  This exhibition is held over the course of March to May in 2015.  Visit their Facebook Event Page to know where and what is being featured!

A personal note: SG Psych Stuff is a supporter of these initiatives to tackle mental health stigma.  I believe that with more knowledge, we will truly learn about them.  Hence it is very important to accept those with mental health issues and disorders and learn more about them and their lives, rather than to just reject and label them from the very beginning.

Miss Psychobabble: 5 Interesting Facts about Memory

It is often said that your experience is what shapes the whole you.  Despite this, many have a poor understanding of memory since the nature of human memory is complex.

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(Image Credits: 드림포유 via Flickr)
In psychology, memory is defined as the process when the information is encoded, stored, and retrieved.  Alongside this, here are 5 interesting facts about Memory…

1. Memory does not decay

Many believe that as we start to forget, it is a indication that our memory is starting to decay.

As quoted from John Irving:
"Your memory is a monster; you forget - it doesn't. It simply files things away.  It keeps things for you, or hides things from you - and summons them to your recall with a will of its own.  You think you have a memory; but it has you!" 
Memory does not go away in a sense that everything is stored but without rehearsal, memories are harder to access.

2. "Suppressed or Lost" memories can relive again

Since memory doesn't decay, even the least accessible experience can be retrieved.  Research has shown that information that has long become inaccessible can still be revived.  In fact, they are more quickly learned than new information.

3. Memory is unsteady

The simple act of recall can change memory due to "false memories".  False memory is a phenomenon in which a person recalls a memory that did not actually occur.
Majority may think that memory is stable but we forget what we forget.  This only means that it requires more effort to commit a material to the memory.

4. Forgetting helps learning

It may seem counter-intuitive but if your brain remembered and recalled everything, it may troubleshoot.  Memories of recent events are usually more important than the ones that happened decades ago.  This is why the brain "forgets" (only makes it inaccessible) less relevant information and leaves the information that is relevant to our survival.

5. Learning is in your command

When information is recalled quickly, there is little to no learning that occurred.  It may just be information that we know due to routines.  This is why learning is important.  Luckily, we can control the learning process.

People tend to think that past events can't be fixed but it can be changed.  Research has shown that people can expel painful memories by focusing on more positive ones (Levy & Anderson, 2008).  Re-interpreting past memories that are sad by focusing on its other positive aspects can transform the memories.

Are you mentally prepared for your exams? Tips included!

How do you normally prepare for your exams?

Before you start, I would advise that you read my "How to study for my psychology exams?" Series 1, 2, and 3.  This should help you to understand your studying patterns and to better study for your exams.
However if you think all you need to do to prepare for the exams is to just study (or pure reading) your notes (as shown in the series above), you are so wrong...


With your "firepower" and "ammunition" (i.e. your study materials including textbooks, revision papers, past year papers, etc.) well-prepared and checked, you think you might be ready for this big "war" (i.e. your exams).  But you need more than that.  However, do note that your "ammunition" is always an essential equipment, as without the "ammunition", you have nothing to fight the "war".

Here are some methods to help you better manage your thoughts and have better mental preparation for the exams: 

1.  Create a study schedule
This has been taught in your time in secondary school (and maybe in primary school).  But during those times, a lot of students fail at keeping at the schedule.  For a study schedule more focused for the exam period, it has been explained before in Strategy 2 of "How to study for my psychology exams? Part 3".  This is very helpful as it helps to make sure that you cover all the materials a few times before the exams, which also makes you feel that you are well-prepared.

2.  Have a exam routine
Manage your routine, and you can manage your mood.  The time during the exams are a very busy and stressed period, hence it is very important that you can manage your mood properly in order to perform well.  It also help you focus better, as you do not have to think too much about what you have to do.


All experts who have the abilities to work under pressure and stress have their "little" routines that they have to perform, to make sure that things are in check.  What are the things that you can include in your exam routine?  They include:
  • Checking the items to bring, e.g. stationary, calculator, notes, little charms, etc., 
  • Having a certain routine, e.g. being at the venue early or on time, or certain "ritual-like" routines (like Nadal in the video above),
  • Things you prepare to have on the exam desk, or 
  • Certain things to do during the exam, e.g. checking that all pages are present or checking all pages are done before submission.
Methods 1 and 2 are really good to use before the exams, while methods 3 and 4 are things that you might do during or in preparation for the exam.

3.  Practice relaxation techniques
In times of stress, make sure you learn to relax.  Relaxation techniques will help you calm your nerves and put you in the right state of mind to perform at your best for the exam.  You can use these techniques when you are studying or during the exams.

First and foremost, you have to learn how to do diaphragmatic breathing (or deep breathing), as this is the most basic way to relax;  the first video teaches how to do this diaphragmatic breathing.


After which, if that is not enough, you can also do this progressive muscle relaxation (in a seated position).  If you have 6 minutes to spare during your exam, you can also do this before or during your paper.


4.  Positive self-talk
Lastly, you need to give yourself positive self-talk.
"What we tell ourselves will decide how we do it."
If you keep telling yourself "I can't do it", there will be a high chance that you will not be able to do it.  So remember to keep telling yourself good things before and during the exams!
These good things include:
  • "You can do it!"
  • "Hang in it!"
  • "You are well-prepared!"
  • "Just do your best!"
  • Any others that are applicable and relevant to yourself

With your physical preparation (through studying your notes) and mental preparation (through the above methods),  make sure you practice the methods as you revise your notes , and you will be fully prepared for your exams!  Good Luck!