Ep 209: If Freud Worked in Tech Support

In this actual fake recording we hear how Freud might have handled your call to an anonymous technical support service. Can you identify each of the following Freudian techniques in this episode?

Defense Mechanisms in this Episode

Ep 202: How To Memorize Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development

Need to memorize Freud’s stages of psychosexual development for a test? Here’s a mnemonic that should do the trick. In this brief video, the founder of psychoanalysis gives you a mnemonic and explains the 5 stages for you. What do orangutans and ogres have to do with Freud’s stages?



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Find out in this episode and make sure to check out these other Psych Files episodes for psychology mnemonics: How to Memorize the Parts of the Brain, How to Memorize Erikson’s Eight Stages, and How to Memorize Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development. I love mnemonics here on The Psych Files so if you need to memorize anything else let me know!


Ep 190: Why Do You Get So Absorbed in that Book (or Movie)?

Have you ever become so immersed in a book or movie that you actually felt like the character? Or you felt the character’s pain or joy? Why does this happen? When does this happen? What is it about the book or the movie and its characters that draws us in like this? It’s amazing isn’t it? To be so moved like this. Psychologists have studied this experience and we have some ideas regarding what factors have to be present in order for this to happen. And would you believe that this understand might help us to combat racism and bullying? Pretty amazing stuff. Join me as I explore what psychologists call “experience taking“.


Experience Taking


Ep: 169 – Validity – How Can You Tell a Good Test from a Bad One?

In episode 168 I discussed reliability but the real test of a test’s “mettle” – or how confident you can be in the results – comes when you subject it to lots of validity tests. You’ll learn a lot about validity if you take a psychology class. High validity is what separates the many fun-to-take but essentially meaningless tests you’ll find on the web, and a truly solid test of your personality.


Some Types of Test Validity

  • Face Validity: does the test measure what it appears to measure? The Distorted Tunes test has high face validity, i.e., it’s pretty obvious what the test is measuring. The Rorshach, on the other hand, has low face validity: it’s not all clear to the test-taker what the test is measuring. Sometimes you want low face validity. If you think people won’t tell the truth, or that they really don’t know what their personality is like, or you’re afraid of the Social Desirability effect (people will give you responses that make them look good) then you might want to use a projective test like the Rorshach or the Thematic Apperception test (TAT).
  • Concurrent validity: do the results of the test agree with other aspects of the person’s current life? If, for example, the results of an achievement test indicate that you have a high achieving personality, then you should probably have high grades in school or you should make a good deal of money in your job. The test should correlate in a predictable way with data this is currently available from you.
  • Predictive validity: do the results of the test predict some future state of your life? If the test says you’re a high achiever, then 10 years from now you should probably be making good money in your job. If the test says you have high musical ability, then 10 years from now you might likely be employed in some way in the music industry.

  • Convergent validity: your test results should agree with other tests that measure similar concepts (or constructs as we often call them in psychology). Example: high achievers are probably outgoing people, so if you score highly on an achievement personality test then you should probably also score highly on a test of extroversion.
  • Divergent validty: your test results should disagree (or not correlate at all) with tests that have nothing to do with the concept the test measures. An achievement-orientation test, for example, probably shouldn’t correlate at all with a test of whether or not you are a “trusting” person. The two ideas really don’t have much to do with one another. Achievement-orientation might, however, correlate negatively (diverge) with a test of your tendency to avoid conflict. High achievers probably don’t avoid conflict – in face, they may enjoy it.

Resources on Personality and Validity


Ep 168: Reliability – the Foundation of Any Good Test

Can you tell your personality from what flavor ice cream you like? There are lots and lots of so called Personality tests on the web. How do you know when you’ve come across a good one? For example, are the inner workings of your personality revealed in the playlists you have on your smartphone or mp3 device?

In this episode we take a look at the first thing you should demand from any test – reliability. If you’re interested in psychology you are going to learn A LOT about the different kinds of reliability.


Some Types of Test Reliability

  • Test-Retest reliability: people should get about the same score every time they take your test. You can’t score highly on an introversion scale one week and then low the next week (well, you could, but then we’d know that the test is no good).
  • Split-Half reliability: if your test had 20 questions (and was measuring just one concept, like shyness) and we correlated the odd questions with the even ones we should get a high positive correlation.
  • Alternate Form reliability: in this scenario, psychologists create two questionnaires, both of which measure the same concept (again, such as shyness). We give you one form one week and the other form a week (or month) later. You should score about the same on both forms.

Resources on Personality and Reliability