CAE Reading and Use of English Part 6
You are going to read four reviews on a popular book on upbringing. For questions 37-40, choose from the reviews A-D. The extracts may be chosen more than once.
Learning how children think
Four reviewers comment on scientist Annie Barnes’ book titled Learning how children think.
In her latest book, Annie Barnes covers all of the theories related to the development of human consciousness and concludes that the minds of babies have been significantly underrated. She suggests that, far from being simple, babies’ brains have a special kind of consciousness; they have an innate ability to develop theories about how the world works. She claims a baby’s mind can evaluate theories about everyday happenings and not just simply live through them. One of the book’s most intriguing suggestions is that, while it’s important for adults to be able to imagine unfulfilled or potential outcomes in different situations, it is actually in such so-called ‘thought experiments’ that babies excel.
Barnes’ clear and readable style is aimed at the general reader and she makes a useful comparison to help understand the difference between the consciousness of a baby and that of an adult: the lantern and the spotlight. A baby has a ‘lantern’ consciousness which is wider and more diffuse than an adult’s; this is because it is set to absorb as much as possible from new experiences. Conversely, adults learn to ‘spot’, or focus, in order to function efficiently in the world. Barnes’ descriptions of her working life hint at labs crammed with infants pulling levers and pushing buttons while white-coated scientists follow their eye movements and scan their brains. Yet she also thinks of babies as scientists; she describes them as ‘learning machines’, constantly experimenting on the world and analysing their results with enthusiasm. The basis of child learning seems to be no different from the more conscious and deliberate approach of adults, and this well-informed book provides detailed examples.
One fascinating chapter in Barnes’ book concerns morality. Children seem to have an acute sense of fairness; they know how others feel and can act on that knowledge. In one experiment concerning food described in the book, babies were left with researchers who indicated clearly that they loved the vegetable broccoli but hated crackers. Whatever their own preferences, the toddlers gave the broccoli lovers their ‘preferred’ food rather than the crackers. It seems we are born with a sense of otherness, which experience later knocks out of us; this is something most parents of teenagers are well aware of. One issue Barnes could have addressed is the potential downside to the willingness of young minds to imagine and believe. She only sees this as an advantage. If people in authority say fire hurts, the child believes. However, this does not negate Barnes’ other findings. Her aim is to describe how infant mentality develops and what we can learn from it; this she does, and in analysing how a child’s mind grows, she provides insights into the human mind in general.
Barnes clearly enjoys being around small children and is sympathetic to the deeper philosophical implications of their way of thinking. Her book is absorbing and educative, despite sometimes feeling as if she is spending too much time simply confirming what parents and preschool teachers have long known. There is a well-founded fear that developmental psychologists risk ‘reading-in’, that is, thinking that small children interpret the world intentionally and consciously, as adults do. The experiments reported by Barnes are generally well-designed and sensitive to the danger of misinterpretation. Nevertheless, she sometimes seems to go too far, as when claiming that babies recognise the actions they copy and reproduce. Barnes helpfully says children are like the research and development department of a company, what she means is that they are creative and innovative, though not always correct. She suggests that adults are more like the production and marketing section, focusing on a project and following it through to its logical conclusion. It’s a neat comparison in what is an in-depth volume.
Which reviewer …
37 has a different view to Reviewer A regarding Barnes’ claims about how well babies interpret the world?
38 shares Reviewer D‘s concern about some rather obvious conclusions drawn by psychologists?
39 has a similar opinion to Reviewer В about the way the book compares the baby and adult mind?
40 has a different view to the others about whether the book is comprehensive enough?
CAE Reading and Use of English Part 7
You are going to read an article about facial expressions. Six paragraphs have been removed from the article. Choose from the paragraphs A – G the one which fits each gap (41-46). There is one extra paragraph which you do not need to use.
Do fleeting changes of facial expression show whether someone is telling lies?
Forty years ago, research psychologist Dr Paul Ekman was addressing a group of young psychiatrists in training when he was asked a question whose answer has kept him busy pretty much ever since. Suppose you are working in a psychiatric hospital like this one and a patient who has previously been aggressive comes to you. ‘I’m feeling much better now,’ the patient says. ‘Can I have a pass out for the weekend?’
It set Ekman thinking. As part of his research, he had already recorded a series of twelve-minute interviews with patients at the hospital. In a subsequent conversation, one of the patients told him that she had lied to him. So Ekman sat and looked at the film. Nothing. He slowed it down and looked again. Slowed it further. And suddenly, there, across just two frames, he saw it: a vivid, intense expression of extreme anguish.
Over the course of the next four decades, Ekman successfully demonstrated a proposition first suggested by Charles Darwin: that the ways in which we express anger, disgust, contempt, fear, surprise, happiness and sadness are both innate and universal.
However, particularly when we are lying, ‘micro expressions’ of powerfully felt emotions will invariably flit across our faces before we get a chance to stop them. Fortunately for liars, as many as ninety-nine percent of people will fail to spot these fleeting signals of inner torment. But given a bit of training, Ekman says, almost anyone can develop the skill.
The psychologist’s techniques, he concedes, can only be a starting point for criminal investigators applying them. ‘All they show is that someone’s lying,’ he says. ‘You have to question very carefully because what you really want to know is why they are lying. No expression of emotion, micro or macro, reveals exactly what is triggering it.’ He gives an example.
Plus there are lies and lies. Ekman defines a lie as being a deliberate choice and intent to mislead, and with no notification that this is what is occurring. ‘An actor or a poker player isn’t a liar,’ he says. ‘They’re supposed to be deceiving you – it’s part of the game. I focus on serious lies: where the consequences for the liar are grave if they’re found out.’
Just read micro expressions and subtle expressions correctly, however, and Ekman reckons your accuracy in detecting an attempt at deception will increase dramatically. However, when it comes to spotting really serious lies – those that could, for example, affect national security – he says simply that he ‘does not believe we have solid evidence that anything else works better than chance.’ Is he lying? I couldn’t tell.
A But once he had spotted the first one, he soon found three more examples in that same interview. ‘And that,’ says Ekman, ‘was the discovery of microexpressions; very fast, intense
expressions of concealed emotion.’
В Ekman, incidentally, professes to be ‘a terrible liar’ and observes that although some people
are plainly more accomplished liars than others, he cannot teach anyone how to lie. ‘The ability to detect a lie and the ability to lie successfully are completely unrelated,’ he says. But how can what he has learned help crime-solving?
C But how reliable are Ekman’s methods? ‘Microexpressions,’ he says, ‘are only part of a whole set of possible deception indicators. There are also what we call subtle expressions. A very slight tightening of the lips, for example, is the most reliable sign of anger. You need to study a person’s whole demeanour: gesture, voice, posture, gaze and also, of course, the words themselves.’
D You also know, of course, that psychiatric patients routinely make such claims and that
some, if they are granted temporary leave, will cause harm to themselves or others. But this particular patient swears they are telling the truth. They look, and sound, sincere. So here’s the question; is there any way you can be sure they are telling the truth?
E Generally, though, the lies that interest Ekman are those in which ‘the threat of loss or punishment to the liar is severe: loss of job, loss of reputation, loss of spouse, loss of freedom’.
Also those where the target would feel properly aggrieved if they knew.
F ‘Suppose,’ Ekman posits, ‘my wife has been found murdered in our hotel. How would I react when the police questioned me? My demeanour might well be consistent with a concealed emotion. That could be because I was guilty or because I was extremely angry at being a suspect, yet frightened of showing anger because I knew it might make the police think I was
G The facial muscles triggered by those seven basic emotions are, he has shown, essentially the same, regardless of language and culture, from the US to Japan, Brazil to Papua New Guinea. What is more, expressions of emotion are involuntary; they are almost impossible to suppress or conceal. We can try, of course.