News & Features

Psychology Professor Chooses Sides

If you’ve ever argued a side in a classroom debate, you’ll understand the topic of a new book coauthored by Dr. Laurel Newman, “Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Personality Disorders.” Newman, an assistant psychology professor and director of Fontbonne’s psychology program, was inspired by a research project she conducted with then-student Molly Lancaster ‘09.
“We explored whether assigning students to argue one side of a topic in a ‘debate,’ which is a common tactic used by instructors, might actually leave students with attitudes that are more aligned with the side they were assigned to argue,” she said. “In other words, does forcing a student to argue one side of an issue actually change his/her attitude toward the topic?"

Newman and Lancaster discovered that it actually does to some extent. Newman contacted McGraw-Hill, the publisher of “Taking Sides,” a series of books that explores both sides of controversial issues in different fields. She and Dr. Randy Larsen, chair of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, put together a proposal for the book as part of the series. “Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Personality Disorders” was published in April of this year, and it will debut in classrooms this fall.

Learn more about psychology at Fontbonne.