larwa002: November 2011 Archives

Correlation vs. Causation

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Five years from now, and for the rest of my life for that matter, I will be incorporating the concept of correlation and causation into my everyday life. As I have matured as a psychologist, I have discovered the importance to identify when correlation does not necessarily mean causation. You do not have to look hard in your day-to-day adventures to find an event where just because two things may appear to be related to one another, it does not mean one caused the other to occur.

Five years from now I am hoping to be working in finance at a large corporation or in the midst of starting my own business, both of which will require many difficult decisions regarding how to spend money. For example, I cannot simply assume that because my company or the company I am working for has a good month of June that the month of June is directly correlated with good profits and therefor we should increase spending and inventory during all June months. There are many third variables that may have come into play. Maybe a new product was released, or maybe the economy was on a rise, neither of which has to do with the month of June. Because of my psychology class I realize this, and I will now be more careful and aware of this common fallacy.

How Old Are They?

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As we read in the textbook, chronological age doesn't necessarily forecast the behavioral or biological changes that accompany aging. My grandparents are living examples of this. Given the way they act, communicate, and live one would assume them to be a good 15 years younger than their chronological age would indicate. Lets look at some other ways to measure their age.
According to the doctors, my grandparents are as healthy as 70-year-olds can be. They regularly take their required vitamins, have a diet that would seem to come straight from Oprah, and are careful with everything they do. Their biological age, or age in terms of biological functioning, is well below their chronological age.
Next, lets look at psychological age, or their mental attitudes and agility. For the nearly twenty years I have known my grandparents, there is not one change I have noticed in terms of their attitudes or ability to learn. They are more willing than ever to learn new things. Every year they vacation somewhere extravagant, where they bring back lots of memories and newly learned facts about the place they went to. For example, last year they went to Hawaii for a month, and it took hours for them to tell us everything they did and learned.
Functional age refers to a person's ability to function in given roles in society. This is a touchy subject for my grandfather, as he was recently forced into retirement from IBM, not for his lack of functioning skills, but because of the hard economic times. If it were up to my grandpa, he would be working until he could work no more.
Social age refers to whether people behave in accord with the social behaviors appropriate for their age. My grandma's social age does not respond to her chronological age what so ever. If you went to her house right now she is probably sitting in designer clothes commenting on people's Facebook statuses; not something you would expect from a 70 year-old.
With all that being said, I completely agree that there are various ways of measuring age other than chronological age that capture the impact of changes in later life. I think people often stereotype grandparents or people in their later years as individuals unable to perform everyday functions and keep up with the younger generations. My grandparents prove this to be nothing more than a stereotype.

It is evident that the traditional family has had some major transformations over the recent years. The video above shares interesting facts on the changing family of today. Irma Zandl from the video states, "There are 30% fewer 30-40 year olds married today than were in the 70s. Marriage and parenthood are also drifting apart, with only four in ten births in this country to married women." I found these statistics very interesting because these changes directly affect the environment in which children are growing up. So how exactly have these changes affected children?
Lucky for me I have learned all about this in my exceptionally informational psychology class. First of all, the absence of a father would have a large impact since the role of a father is very important. Fathers often engage in more physical play than mothers, which is great when developing a child. Also, boys and girls tend to choose their fathers over mothers as playmate. According to the video, six in ten children are born without a father, who is the figure children look to when wanting to play. According to our psychology book on page 389, "Children benefit from warm, close relationships with their father regardless of how much time they spend with him."
We have also learned that children from single-parent families have more behavior problems, such as aggression and impulsivity, than do children from two parent families. "There risk for crime is about seven times higher than for children in two-parent families" (Lilienfeld 390). Although we are given this information, it only shows a correlation. We cannot simply say that single mothers cause children to be aggressive or be criminals. However, from the statistics provided in the video about the changes occurring in family structure, we can observe and hypothesize the affects these changes can have on children.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by larwa002 in November 2011.

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