Friday Fun: Can movies improve test performance?

HistoryI’m a fan of historical movies. And when I look at movies and TV shows over the past few years – Elizabeth I, The Tudors, John Adams, Rome, even 300 – it looks like I’m not alone. Obviously, though, the primary goal of these dramas is entertainment rather than education, and the information presented may not be entirely accurate. This raises the question: Do historical dramas improve or interfere with students’ learning?

A new study published in the current issue of Psychological Science tested students’ recall of historical facts after watching short clips from a number of films. The participants watched parts of movies containing a mixture of facts and misinformation. For example, in The Last Samurai, an American military adviser is hired by the Japanese to combat a rebellion; in reality, French advisers were hired. The students were also given a short passage to read containing factual information about the subject covered in the film clip; they were asked to study the text because they were to be tested on it one week later. Subjects were given general warnings that filmmakers often take liberties with historical facts, or specific information about the inaccuracies in the material.

Bullying – The Family Connection

Research presented at the American Sociological Association suggests a connection between parenting style and bullying. Elizabeth Sweeney reviewed studies of bullying among 9 to 16 year-olds in 6 countries. She found that children of authoritarian parents – those who are unresponsive and emphasize obedience – were significantly more likely to engage in bullying behaviour. Tolerance of bullying also contributed to its persistence.

You can read more here.

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Half of Depressed Teens Likely to Relapse

Teen Angst by Nathan Csonga
Teen Angst by Nathan Csonga

Teen Angst by Nathan Csonga

Depression among adolescents is, unfortunately, a common problem, affecting nearly 5% of boys and almost 6% of girls. Although research has identified effective treatment, long-term outcomes are rarely examined. A study published online in the Archives of General Psychiatry (a JAMA journal) suggests that, even after receiving treatment, nearly half of depressed teens are likely to experience a relapse within 5 years.

Dr. John Curry and his colleagues tracked depressed adolescents over a 5 year period following treatment with medication, therapy, a combination of the two, or a placebo.

Anatomy of Three Things (FA Retro)


three-thingsWhile the doctors are on vacation, here’s a vintage Top Three Things that includes a story about summer jobs.

Doctors Brian and Giuseppe discuss three stories that were recent when this episode was recorded in 2009:

  1. Should you let your kids win when you play games?
  2. Anti-psychotic meds may be overprescribed for kids without psychotic symptoms.
  3. Summer jobs protect against suicide.

Listen here:


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Note: Posts on Family Anatomy are for education only, and are not intended to replace professional or medical advice. If you need to talk to someone about family or mental health issues, you can get a referral from your family doctor. Doctors Brian and Giuseppe discussed kids in general in this episode, but every child is unique; your experience may vary from that discussed in this episode.