Thursday, September 28, 2017

Is psychology haram?

"Do you think study psychology at university is haram and it goes against Islam?"
Above is a question that I found when Googling something recently.

In my own experience, when I was doing my bachelor degree, I was asked by a Malaysian who whom I met in Canada about my chosen field of study. When I told him it is psychology, his reaction was as if he'd answer "YES" to the question above. He asked me to reconsider my decision and study something else. I just took note and told myself to learn more about psychology to convince myself that my decision is right.

After joining IIUM as a lecturer in 2004, I learned a lot more about psychology and Islam. Alhamdulillah, I can see much more examples of how psychology can help me to be a better Muslim. What I've learned at Guelph University formally, and my (mostly) informal learning at IIUM has made me love Islam and psychology more. For example, I've learned the difference between what psychologists do in terms of stating the fact (descriptive) and giving an advice (prescriptive). Psychology isn't 'haram' for describing negative human behaviours. What could be 'haram' is the promotion of behaviour and thoughts
that are contradictory to the syariat.

For example, social pressure in the form of conformity is described and explained well by social psychologists. People behave the way they are partly because they feel pressured to follow the norm. In Guelph, as a teenage Muslim from Malaysia, I feel out of place. I was aware of the pressure of the Canadian norms - some are excellent and good to follow, some are against the syariat. If I choose to bow to the social pressure, I'd be another case of conformist. Having the Islamic belief system, I chose otherwise. Islam has prescriptions of behaviours. And those prescriptions are good for me; not necessarily put me in a hostile confrontation with the host society.

I remember one female student, with whom I worked on a group project. At the end of the semester, she complimented they way I show adherence to my religious principles. And she respected my beliefs. I felt validated for making the distinction between prescription and description. And now, looking back at that incident, I saw how psychology made my friend a better person.

I hope students of psychology programmes would be able to move from the question on the halal/haram of psychology to something like "How can I use psychology to promote good behavior and discourage bad behavior?"

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Calling Malaysian psychologists

Call for Book Chapters:

Psychology for National Development

Do you feel that psychology is not being recognised enough in Malaysia? Do you still face people who mistook psychology for something else? And do you feel you want to do something about the social ills around us, but the Government agencies are not receptive to genuine psychological interventions?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then we are in the same boat. We at Persatuan Psikologi Malaysia (PSIMA) have had a lot of discussion on this matter. Through the Bureau of National Development and Publication Bureau, PSIMA is now embarking upon a book project. The main goal of the book is to show to the public, and especially the relevant Government agencies, that psychology can help in moving forward national development agenda. This goal was chosen because there is misunderstanding and low level of awareness about the role that psychology can play.  A clear communication about how psychology can help with many problems related to national development is important to raise the professionalism of psychologists.

I cordially invite you to join this project as author of chapter(s). The suggested topics are as follow. You’re welcome to suggest other interesting and suitable topics.

Uniting our Nation
Managing Disasters
Developing our Workforce
Reducing Crime
Cyber Wellness
Improving our Health
Revitalizing our Schools
Caring for our Elderly
Helping our Youth
Eradicating Poverty
Improving Mental Health
Integrity and Professionalism

The chapter’s template is as shown below. The expected word count is between 3,000 to 5,000 words. These guides are not meant as strict requirements. You may invite your colleagues, friends, or students to write a chapter. If there are 5 of you, one author has to write only 1 section!

Start your chapter now by emailing me (Harris Shah Abd Hamid) at

Tell me your chosen chapter title and co-authors (if applicable) by 30th August  2017.


[Chapter’s Title]
[author1, author2, author3 … ]

[Statement of Problem]

This section describes the problem that needs to be solved. The following guiding questions can be used for this section.
- What is the problem?
- Who are affected?
- Where is the problem most serious?
- What are the consequences of the problem?
- When does the problem occur?

     2.   [National Trends/Concerns/Context]

This section highlights macro-level trends (economic, demographic, technological, etc) that shape the problems. These trends are used to predict the severity of the problems if not managed well. They also set the context to understand the problems and link them to other chapters in the book.

   3.   [Existing Evidence]

This section provides an overview of the existing literature on the problems. It may highlight findings in terms of good practices, potential interventions, or gap in understanding the problems.

    4. [Psychology Matters]

In this section, the author can show the role of psychology and psychologists in solving the problems.

    5.   [Call for Action]
In this concluding section, the author proposes scientific-based intervention(s) to manage or solve the problems.




1. Please use APA style.
2. Please use UK English.
3. Timeline for authors will be made available after 30 August 2017.
4. The book editors are Harris Shah Abd Hamid & Rozainee Khairuddin
5. The book will be published by PSIMA. There is a possibility of collaboration with a co-publisher.
6. The faster we get all chapters, the faster the book would be published. How does the end of the year sounds?
7. Yes, undergraduates may write too. In fact, this would be a nice coursework: you earn both course credit and publication record.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

research colloquium

Alhamdulillah. On 3rd July, 5 abstracts that I've co-written were accepted for presentation at the International Postgraduate Research Colloquium.
1. Idealized Celebrity Images, Body Appreciation and Intention to buy Body Slimming Products
2. Predictors of Body Satisfaction among Malay Men
3. Psychometric Properties and Number of Likert Scales’ Response Categories
4. Evaluation of Methods for Handling Bedridden Patients during Emergency Evacuation
5. Two ways to reveal the factor structure of Statistics Anxiety Scale (SAS): Malaysian Undergraduate Students Sample
Thank you to colleagues and students who've contributed greatly to these abstracts. InsyaAllah, I will be personally presenting papers 1 and 2.

PhD Palsu

Ada orang pandai masak rendang, maka dipanggil sifu rendang. Tapi tidaklah pula dia letakkan gelaran 'Sifu' dalam dokumen rasmi dan cetak sijil sendiri.
Ada orang memang pandai bab mengahwinkan pokok-pokok, maka orang menggelarnya Profesor. Tapi tidaklah pula dia meletakkan gelaran Profesor itu pada kad namanya. Gelaran Profesor tu hanya diguna dalam perbualan santai.
Tapi ada orang terlalu mengambil serius gelaran Profesor yang dilemparkan kepadanya, sehingga dia menipu dirinya sendiri bahawa dia betul-betul seorang Profesor. Dan dia menipu orang lain dengan mengakui dirinya Profesor.

Internet troll

Trolling has been described as an antisocial behavior, which is part of counterproductive online behavior.
One study published in 2014 concluded that ".. cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism." 
Ask ourself what are the main drivers of our online behavior? Do we show our sadistic tendency when we interact with other people on social media? Do we write posts on FB and WA group based on the principles of truth and sabar?

Elok kita ingatkan diri dengan surah al-asr bila hendak menulis di media sosial dengan niat berdakwah.
Kalau tidak sabar, dan tidak pula dengan maklumat yang sahih, kemungkinan kita akan berada dalan kerugian.
Rugi masa
Rugi kredibiliti
Rugi emosi
Rugi kesihatan piskologikal

Asyik asyik neuro

Satu lagi produk dengan label 'neuro'. Kononnya ia boleh merangsang saraf otak dengan kuasa elektrik yang dialirkan melalui kulit kepala (transcranial direct current stimulation - tCDS). Kesannya? Ahli sukan boleh bersukan dengan lebih cemerlang.
Di Malaysia ni, dah ada perniagaan alat elektronik untuk 'menyembuhkan' penyakit. Alat berkenaan menggunakan elektrod yang dilekatkan di kepala (atau kepit di topi). Seperti yang didedahkan Pseudoscience Watch, 'terapi' ini palsu. Tak berkesan. Tak ada bukti ia berkesan. Yang pasti ia berkesan mengurangkan duit pesakit.
Halo Neuroscience memasarkan Halo Sport untuk ahli sukan. Bukan pesakit. Agak menarik bila membaca perkataan 'medicine' dalam tajuk berita di The Star. 

Sebelum kita berlumba-lumba membeli alat ini (ada dijual di - harganya RM4,928.81), ataupun sebelum syarikat dengan model perniagaan MLM mula memasarkannya di Malaysia, carilah dahulu bukti keberkesanannya.
"In fact, a meta-analysis of tDCS studies – one of those laborious studies that study the findings of other studies – found the technique had no effect at all on a wide range of cognitive abilities."
Sayangilah otak anda.

beverages jokes

A man, with a bad cough, walked into Starbucks and placed his order. Upon receiving his receipt, he was surprised at the extra charges for his usual cappuccino.
"What's this for?" he asked the barista in between his coughs.
The barista handed him an extra paper napkin and replied, "That's the coffee."

A woman walked into Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and ordered a hot chai. When collecting her order, she was given the chai, and a liquid in a very small container.
"I only ordered the chai," she hesitated in accepting the extra drink.
"This comes with your chai," the staff told her.
"But why is it so small?"
"It is exactly 6% of your chai. It's the GST".

Bad dad jokes

1. Which bank would never go private?
Public Bank.

2. Which bank has a lot of possibilities?

3. Which bank can speak only for itself?

4. Why was the durian not able to solve its problem?
Because it has a thorny issue.

5. What fruit is young and rebellious?

6. Why did the tourist look at the twin tower twice?
Because it was KLCC.

7. Where do the gym clerks go to get their supply of pen and papers?
The stationary bike.

8. Why did the chicken just stand by the road side?
Because it doesn't get the joke.

9. At a shoe store, a mannequin was being moved when the neck was suddenly detached from the body. The head rolled and hit some stilettos. It was the worst case of falling head over heel ever happened at the store.

10. In psychology, what do you call a testable statement that has a lot of spelling errors?

11. What is the difference between a t-test and a malicious apathy?
One is about differences in means, and the other is a mean indifference.
12. Why was the detective not suspicious about the RM1 nasi lemak?
Because there's nothing fishy about it.
(ikan bilis mahal woiii!)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

kaji selidik dalam talian

Salam sejahtera pembaca budiman sekalian.

Ada permintaan daripada pelajar di bawah seliaan saya. Tolong ya.


Nama saya Siti Aminah Binte Surani, pelajar Sarjana Muda daripada Jabatan Psikologi Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia di bawah penyeliaan Dr. Harris Shah Abd. Hamid sedang membuat kajian tentang perbandingan antara lelaki Melayu yang ke gim dan yang tidak ke gim terhadap kepuasan badan. Penyertaan ini adalah secara sukarela.

Dibawah adalah syarat-syarat yang perlu anda penuhi untuk menyertai kajian ini:
(1) Lelaki
(2) Melayu, dan
(3) berumur lebih 18 tahun

Kajian ini akan mengambil lebih kurang 15-20 minit dari masa anda untuk menyelesaikannya. Jika anda mempunyai sebarang pertanyaan, sila hubungi Siti Aminah Surani di: atau di talian 0182488708. .

Sila klik link di bawah untuk menjawab soalan kajian:

Terima Kasih atas masa dan sokongan anda. Penyertaan anda dalam kajian ini amat dihargai

Friday, March 10, 2017

Research problem statements

Example 1
It remains unclear whether street-dancers will have more positive or more negative body image in comparison with non-dancers…. In order to test these contrasting hypotheses, the present study compared actual-ideal weight discrepancy, body appreciation, and media influences between street-dancers and an age-matched sample of non-dancers.

Swami, V., & TovĂ©e, M. J. (2009). A comparison of actual-ideal weight discrepancy, body appreciation, and media influence between street-dancers and non-dancers. Body Image, 6(4), 304-307.

Example 2 
Nevertheless, the BAS’s psychometric properties can be improved….. The original BAS has two additional limitations…. Therefore, in light of recent literature on positive body image and the aforementioned limitations of the original BAS, we revised and updated this scale,

Tylka, T. L., & Wood-Barcalow, N. L. (2015). The Body Appreciation Scale-2: item refinement and psychometric evaluation. Body Image, 12, 53-67.

Example 3 
Less studied is the way in which (if at all) perfectionism relates to the risk factors for eating disorders. ….. Thus further research is required in order to better understand the complexities of which type of perfectionism relates to body dissatisfaction.

Wade, T. D., & Tiggemann, M. (2013). The role of perfectionism in body dissatisfaction. Journal of eating disorders, 1(1), 2.


In example 1, the authors highlighted contradictory predictions based on existing work. That's why they said 'it is unclear'; different theories led to different hypotheses. Therefore, they conducted the study to see which hypothesis would be supported.

In example 2, the problem is the limitations of an existing scale (BAS). based on previous studies, 3 limitations were found. Therefore, to continue using the scale, modifications were suggested and that's why the authors conducted the study.
Notice how the 'lack of study' is used in example 3. The lack of study regarding perfectionism is considered a problem. However, justification were given as to why this problem SHOULD be solved. In fact, several studies were quoted to provide the evidence that different types of perfectionism are related to body dissatisfaction.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Research Problems and Questions

Nak tulis cadangan penyelidikan bukan boleh main-main. Nak cari permasalahan kajian (research problem) pun mungkin ambil masa beberapa semester (ni kisah sebelum GOT menjadi trend). Bukan senang nak cari masalah.
Kadang-kadang masalah tu ada dalam kepala, tapi punyalah payah nak ditulis. Beza antara permasalahan kajian dan soalan kajian (research questions) pun boleh memeningkan. Itulah antara cabaran kesarjanaan.
Cuba lihat contoh di bawah ni. Jelas atau tidak permasalahannya?
Problem: While several management practices have been cited as important components of safety programs, it is not known how much each of the practices lowers injury rates.
Question: how much does each management practices incrementally contribute to injury reduction?
Problem: With limited resources to help reduce occupational injuries, companies struggle with how to best focus these resources to achieve the greatest reduction in injuries for the optimal cost. Safety culture has been identified as a critical factor that sets the tone for importance of safety within an organization.
Question: Which dimensions of safety culture are strongly related to reduction in occupational injuries.

What would be the background issues for those problems? They could be:
1) high injury rates in construction industry
2) high financial cost associated with occupational injuries
3) new legislation regarding occupational injuries
4) spiraling cost of insurance claims and compensation
5) influx of foreign labour into the job market doing 3D jobs
I hope you can see how these issues covers practical, economical, legal, and even political perspectives. This is quite common if you're addressing a real-world problem. Chapter one of the thesis should consider these broad issues. Why is it important? (1) because the issues can help to contextualise the research problems. in other words, you can establish the significance of your research. i.e bukanlah nak buat research yg bersifat syok sendiri; research yang dok sangkut kat menara gading tanpa berpijak ke bumi. (2) In fact, these real world problems can then be translated into your research questions. Or, it can be used to refine a research problem that you've already identify. If you start the proposal with the RP, the background issues can help you to convince yourself that your RP is important. 

Problems and Questions adapted from:
O'Toole, M. (2002). The relationship between employees' perceptions of safety and organizational culture. Journal of Safety Research, 33(2), 231-243.
Vredenburgh, A. G. (2002). Organizational safety: which management practices are most effective in reducing employee injury rates?. Journal of Safety Research, 33(2), 259-276.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Malaysia Ergonomics Bibliography


Human Factors & Ergonomics Journal (HFEMJ)
The Journal of Occupational Safety and Health (JOSH)

Journal Articles

Conference Proceedings