saly0015: November 2011 Archives

Sleepiness & Honesty

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When reading chapter 11 I was interested in the section about humans as lie detectors. I have seen the show "Lie to Me" and did doubt whether it was as accurate as the show made it out to be. I deduced that it wasn't, because they make far stretches to come to a conclusion, and it's a television show- of course they're going to add more drama. However I was curious as to whether or not some of those 'lie cues' could work in real life. After trying out some of the simplest ones on my friends (such as minimal eye contact, fidgeting, touching of the face, looking down to the left, fake smiles-Duchenne smile) and realized that it was more difficult to spot a lie than I had previously thought, and signs could be easily faked.

Later on that day, I was talking to one of my friends on the phone late at night and we were both getting sleepy. I was still awake, but as she was getting sleepier I realized that she was becoming a lot more open with some of the stuff she was telling me. We're good friends, but when I asked questions, she answered them right away in a very straight forward and honest manner, instead of usually when people think for a moment of how best to answer something. I realized that perhaps, when someone's sleepy, they tell the truth! When I researched this, it hit me that it may not be the sleepiness, but the fact that when someone is drifting off to sleep, their brain starts to slow down many sensory areas as well, while different neurons become active. One becomes a lot less guarded and is less aware of their surroundings and understanding of what is happening, and respond by doing things very straightforward, or automatically and without much deep thought.

Much to my surprise, when I told my friend about this a couple days later, she said I've done the same thing myself! At a sleepover during the summer she swore that I hadn't fallen asleep yet and was answering every one of her questions honestly. But just as she didn't remember anything she had said when I was questioning her, I don't remember anything about answering questions during that sleepover either- we decided that we must have been so sleepy, perhaps we either forgot about it or thought it was a dream.

I believe that perhaps there is some sort of link between telling the truth while being sleepy, and just as some of those simple clues to find out when a person is lying, perhaps being sleepy works as well. This could be easily falsified with many claims. Perhaps it holds no reliability and was a one-time deal, perhaps other side effects from the day such as being stressed, etc., led to us opening up and perhaps we can use Occam's razor and simply say that we were too tired to do anything but tell the truth. However, I still believe that there might be some correlation between sleepiness and telling the truth. For those of you interested, try it out on your own friends!


Phobias and Emotion

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The textbook describes phobias as, "intense, irrational fears" and continues that many phobias such as fear of spiders, snakes, the dark, etc., are common place, most of the time without a frightening encounter. I myself have arachnophobia and the rest of my family doesn't understand why, if I've never or had a bad experience with a spider.

I compare this with my mother's fear of worms but she always defends herself with the argument that she's had a bad experience with worms when she was younger. I've heard this story multiple times: when she was in grade school her friends (young and foolish) decided to gross her out (psych terms- produce a reaction of disgust) and collected a bucket of worms on a rainy day. Mind you, previous to this, my mother had no problem with worms. Her friends rang the doorbell to her house and when she answered, they dumped the bucket of worms all over her head. My mother was absolutely horrified and since then has not been able to see or be near worms without getting extremely disgusted and uncomfortable. This argument of spiders versus worms often gets jokingly brought up and it was only after reading chapter 11 that I noticed one part of the story I had previously dismissed.
My mom always starts off with explaining in detail how she'd already had a bad day because my very strict grandparents had told her to clean her room and it didn't get done on time, which means she got in trouble. When her friends were at the front door, they rang the doorbell multiple times in a row and my mom was afraid she'd get into even more trouble and ran to get the door.

This brings me to the two factor theory of emotion, by Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer. Perhaps the reason my mom developed an actual phobia of worms was because she experienced a state of fear (from the amygdala) and used a labeling process of fear to worms. However, a possible reason the reaction was so strong was because my mom was already in trouble and possibly could have had a rush of adrenaline when the doorbell was constantly rung, in fearful excitement of getting into even more trouble with serious consequences.

This possibility is backed by the famous Dutton and Aron experiment of 1974, and I think could possibly explain what happened with my mom. Due to the stress of previously being scolded mixed with the adrenaline and annoyance of getting in trouble again (when the doorbell was being constantly rung) her reaction to the worms being thrown on her was an extreme one, and produced more fear than if she hadn't been on the verge of getting in trouble again. However, nothing is concrete and this is just a possibility, which could be easily falsified. For example, many 'flashbulb memories' are remembered with elaborate details that actually didn't take place, and perhaps my mom is mistaken, which is a possibility, along with the possibility that all of the theories of emotion hold some small truth.

To end with, I think phobias are incredibly interesting and often give an insight to the person in question. There are many phobias in the world, and plenty of them are not irrational!

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