January 2012 Archives

College: Sleep, Grades, Life (Pick two)



I am sure many of us have seen this cartoon and can relate to it tremendously. Between grades, money, sleep, and a social life, there really just is not enough time. College is stressful. How we deal with our stress can be a problem- especially college kids.
College is known for drinking, smoking, "freshman fifteen", and living of ramen noddle's and pizza. However our lifestyle to cope with our stress and be a college student actually adds to our stress according to the book. The book talks about to be less stressed one needs to live a healthy lifestyle. The four healthy behaviors suggested are; stop smoking, less drinking, achieve a healthy weight, and exercise. Majority of college students reading this would say "ops". Reading this is almost a bit humorous don't you think? I mean the average college student is not only living in stress but also making it worse and doing the exact opposite of what needs to be done to achieve a stress free life.

The Ouiji Board Phenomenon

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Upon reading chapter two in the course textbook about research methods, I came across the section about facilitated communication. With facilitated communication, the facilitators unknowingly guided the fingers of the children toward the keyboard, and the resulting words were coming from the facilitator's minds, not the minds of the children. I enjoyed reading about the various examples, but the one which struck me as the most interesting was the part about Ouiji Boards. According to the textbook, a Ouiji Board is "a popular device used by spiritualists to communicate with the dead." I consider a Ouiji Board as a fun and interesting game to play with my friends when we are bored. When using a Ouiji Board, everyone puts their hands on a central pointer which is guided around to spell various things like names, ages, and anything else a "spirit" wants to tell the participants. I myself have never been able to successfully communicate with the dead with a Ouiji Board but a group of people I know were able to "successfully" contact the dead when they tried. When I asked them about it they were all convinced that they had reached another world. I admit, the stories that they told me were so elaborate and they were so convinced, that it was hard for me not to believe them. Although there are no studies which can prove that Ouiji Boards are real, or that it is even possible for a spiritualist to contact the dead, when others tell stories about their experiences, it is hard not to get wrapped up in the excitement. The excitement is what often helps guide the central pointer and even though the participants may think that there is another force guiding the pointer, it is the participants who are doing all of the work. Here is an example of a man who had an experience in which he was able to contact a spirit and when you watch his account it is very tempting to believe him even though there is no research to back it up.

Does anyone else agree with me that it is easy to get caught up in all of the anecdotes and believe something as unbelievable as Ouiji Boards?

Does anyone have any accounts of being able to successfully contact the dead?

Chapter 15 Mood disorders and Suicide


I've always been interested in mental disorders since I was younger. Chapter 15 really caught my interest. Particularly, bipolar disorders in chapter 15 caught my interest because my mom was diagnosed with this when my parents divorced when I was a child. I've always wondered what cause such a disorder and if it was genetically passed on. In this chapter, I noticed that the author states that it is the most genetically influenced of all disorders. This frightened me a bit so I started looking at what the symptoms are. In this article called, Bipolar disorder in Medline plus, they stated that Some of the symptoms included being easily distracted, little need for sleep, poor judgment, and poor temper control. I am very easily distracted, have poor judgment, and lately I didn't have a need for sleep. I started to think that there was something wrong with me but there is more to the disorder than I thought. I realized I was just overreacting. I don't sleep a lot because I choose not to. I could be very distracted for many reasons especially because I am in college and it is a new environment. Additionally, poor judgment is probably just because I am a teenager trying to learn from my own mistakes. In conclusion, I learned more about the bipolar disorder from skimming through chapter 15 and it taught me more about myself.

Influnce of society and smell on taste ( Chapter 4)


In chapter four there was a section about the influence of smell on taste and how the two are connected. Before a person eats however, he/she is influenced by certain social factors. For instance, a food may be connected to a particular memory causing it to be appealing. Similarly, if a person is taught to not enjoy some dish, then he/she will be less likely to enjoy it. In this culture, chicken or beef is perfectly fine but insects, taurantuals and dogs are not suitable forms of protein. Once food touches the tounge, the taste buds transmit information to the brain. Number of taste buds varies from person to person, yet there are five basic tastes. Many have heard of the "sweet, sour, salty, bitter" but there is another taste "umami". This is typically what picks up glutamate or MSG. Some believe there are certain spots on the tounge where a particular taste is determined, but it is not true. "Sweet" receptors are more likely to be at the tip of the tounge, however the tip can still determine salty or sour foods. Research also indicates that placing fat anywhere on the tongue will cause the blood levels of fat to rise, regardless of smell. Smell does enable people to taste many different flavors. Have you ever not been hungry, smelled food and started to want it? The chemical odors enter the nasal cavity and then go to the orbitofrontal cortex and meet with the signals from the taste buds. Try pinching your nose so you cannot smell. Pick up a piece of either potato or apple, put it in your mouth, and try to determine which it is.
Source : Psychology - Inquiry to understanding ( Scott Lilienfeld)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E15hF1Em6RE&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLF307776A171EC838 ( Just a funny link about taste and smell)

Brain and Body


Skimming through chapter 12 I came across a section talking about how suggestion alone can cause skin rash that is similar to those produced by poison ivy. The study was done in 1962 by two Japanese physicians. They select 13 boys who have itchy red skin reaction when touched by poison ivy. In the first phase they touch the boys with harmless leaves but told them they were using poison leaves. The second phase the condition is reversed. Poison leaves were used but was told to be harmless. The result is that phase 1 causes all 13 kids skins rash because they were told they were touched by poison leaves. Phase 2 however only 2 out 13 boys show skin rash. I found this very interesting because this demonstrate the nocebo effect, beliefs can create reality. After reading this I've been wondering how far can this effect go? I mean does it only limits to poison leaves and skin rashes or it can apply to crazy thing like believing you're not sick and be cured just by believing.

Short Term and Long Term Memory (Chapter 7)

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I've always wondered which memories our brain chooses to retain and what memories it decides not to keep. For example, how does our brain decide to pick certain childhood to keep and others to throw away? Or how come we so easily forget information for exams and tests even though we could have been studying only an hour ago? In chapter seven of our textbook, the thought and memory process is discussed and we learn about how the brain processes what we are learning and experiencing in life.
One of the subjects discussed in chapter seven that stuck out to me is the three different process of memory and how long our short term and long term memories can last. When we go in depth learning about the three processes of memory, we learn about things such as how we recall memories, finding old memories where we left them, and where memories themselves are stored in our brain. To me this chapter is very intriguing and I've always wondered how our memory system works and i cannot wait till we discuss this more in-depth in class

Media's Grip on Eating Disorders

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I have always taken an interest to eating disorders. I found eating disorders intriguing because of how society and eating disorders intermingle. I have mostly blamed eating disorders on the media. Advertisements, movies, television shows and all sorts of other aspects of media show young, sexy, skinny people getting whatever they want, which promotes the same lifestyle to today's youth.

Eating disorders suddenly became reality when my cousin was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. She was admitted into the hospital with other people who struggled with eating disorders. Some were diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating. At the hospital the patients were not allowed to look in the mirror or watch movies or television shows. In addition, all magazines or anything with pictures of thin, sexy people were banned. All were admitted into classes to help them develop healthy lifestyles and teach them not to focus on the media's portrayal of society.

According to chapter 11, when American and British television was introduced to the Pacific island of Fiji eating disorders in young girls increased by fivefold within four years (Lilienfeld 436). If television alone has that much influence on eating disorders what do magazines and Hollywood do to the body images of today's youth? How can we survive this epidemic when mass media continues to grow as an industry? It is impossible to stay away from media all together but how can we change the mindset of the youth to not buy into the thin, model-like body image and strive for a healthy body image? Eating disorders are difficult for everyone involved in the situation. Unfortunately, the western society is making more and more people aware of its monstrous effects up close and in person.

Source: Lilienfeld, Scott O. "Emotions and Motivation." Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding. Boston: Pearson/Allyn Bacon, 2009. 436-37. Print.

The nurtured nature of homosexuality



"No one is born homosexual, its a choice."
"Being born homosexual is not a choice, that is just the way some people are made."
These two statements are two of the most often statements made in debates about homosexuality; whether it is biological trait or a person choice created from a lifestyle and culture. From the text in chapter 11, it touches upon different facts and findings that create sexuality and the history and societal affects homosexuality has had on individuals. Some interesting facts scientists have discovered in this debate of nature vs nurture is that homosexuality is found in all cultures and within 450 different species. In the early 20th century experiments were done to try and cure homosexuality. The results, only 11% men and 37% women said it worked. Many supporters of homosexuality said the only reason the numbers were even that high was because they didn't account for bisexuals (attracted to both men and women.) Many people believe that it is not right for homosexuals to raise a family, because they believe it is a disease. Individuals have suffered from depression and suppression because of this oppressing view in society. Either nature or nurture that intolerance seems to be the real disease.

"We are memories" (chapter 7)


Honestly, how much do you think your memory can hold? A textbook shows that a typical person's memory can hold as much info as 500 complete sets of Encyclopedia Britannica. Personally, I've always taken the ability of memories for granted. However, I was totally mistaken. There are real-life examples of people that show the greatness of our memories. Here is a woman who remembers every second of her life
Woman remembers EVERYTHING.flvhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2wYcFnTkgo&feature=related and another man, Kim Peek, has an extraordinary memorizing ability:
The real Rain man - Kim Peek.flvhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZBucCevSeE .

I remember how I came out from my mother's womb: Remembering the event of birth would be completely flabbergasting, but in real life, our memory cannot recall as far as that. This is called 'Infantile Amnesia' which is due to underdeveloped Hippocampus in our brains during infancy. It's amazing how memories are actually stored in a physical part of our brains.

Similarly, emotional components, especially fear, are stored in Amygdala of our brains. So if these parts are damaged, we literally lose our memories which sometimes may come handy when we want to start from scratch. Furthermore, evidence from the textbook shows that propranolol can inhibit adrenaline and prevent individuals from remembering painful or emotionally arousing memories. I'll ask you a question at this point. Would you erase your memories if you had the choice to?

"We are memories." Whether we like it or not, memories will not completely disappear, but only fade away.

I read chapter 5 and found the section on "hypnosis" to be most interesting. Before reading, I did not believe in hypnosis at all, but apparently research has shown otherwise. Scientists have found that 60-70% of people pass 5-8 out of 12 suggestions. It is even regarded as "the mainstream of science and clinical practice" nowadays. One myth of hypnosis is that hypnotic phenomena are unique. Surprisingly, people are able to receive suggestions without hypnosis. Another myth is that people are not aware of their surroundings during the process. In fact, they are completely aware and can even recall little details.

There have been many theories trying to explain how people respond differently to suggestions. The sociocognitive theory states that "peoples' expectations of whether they'll respond to hypnotic suggestions are correlated with how they respond." I agree with this theory- if one believes that hypnosis works, then they will make it work. Though it may have worked in some cases, I am still very skeptical about it.


^Here is a link to a website that was shown when I looked "hypnosis" up on Google. On the website it explains how hypnosis can help you become a non-smoker and can even help you lose weight. Beside from seeming unbelievable, there is no way to really test them because there are so many other factors that can play into the results. Therefore, it makes it difficult to tell when hypnosis actually works or not.

-Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding

The disorders of sleep


Bizkit the Sleep Walking Dog.flv


Here is an interesting video here that shows the dog having the disorder of sleep particularly sleepwalking. I personally think this video is very interesting since it surprises us by showing that even animals undergo the disorder of sleep just like the humans do.

The disorders of sleep take various forms which are insomnia which is the most common, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, night terror, and sleep walking. When I thought of sleep, I considered it as resting. However, I found out that there are people who struggle falling asleep and staying asleep due to the disorders of sleep, and it was surprising to see how common they are. The textbook addresses that "30 to 50 percent of people" are involved in sleep problems. These problems are usually harmless but are indeed very distressful.
Have you ever deprived of few nights of sleep from load of work? I am sure many of you guys have experienced such stressful situation. However do you know that the few nights of sleep deprivation can lead to many negative consequences such as decrease in ability of daily functioning, depression, having trouble paying attention, and weight gain? I actually never thought that the absence of sleep can bring serious problems to both physical and mental states. Therefore, I think it is important for all of us to keep in mind that getting enough sleep is very essential for maintaining the health and daily routine.

Sleep bathroom?

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Chapter 5 has seemed to be a fairly popular chapter that has to do with sleep disorders. This particular topic took out to me because it pertains to my personal situation. According to my parents, I am a sleepwalker as well as a sleep talker. The book says that up to 30 percent of children have sleepwalked at least once. Some very dangerous things can happen while sleepwalking such as driving, jumping out windows and even in some cases, murder. My personal situation has not proven to be dangerous, but just somewhat messy. I have sleepwalked downstairs in our living room and what I must have unconsciously thought was a bathroom. To put this thing lightly, I made use of the facilities, in our living room. Fortunately, this happened only once, most likely due to the fact that I had to clean up my mess. Since I got to high school I have grown out of my sleepwalking phase and now, according to my roommate, I occasionally have sleep talking conversations that of course make no sense.


Changed Personality

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I was skimming through chapter 10 reading about the development of personality and I noticed something that seemed applicable to my life. A few weeks ago some of you may have read or heard about the death of Brother Michael Collins, the late president of DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis. I went to DeLaSalle and I am proud to say that I knew Brother Michael, and he knew me. He was always asking me questions about my athletic and academic endeavors and was very interested in where I was going to go to college he even offered to write a recommendation for me. I went to his funeral only a couple weeks ago and since then I have noticed some changes in my behavior. I am calmer, a little more contemplative, and whenever I can I am listening to music, hating the silence. I even pray more. As I think about these changes I wonder if they are just temporary, fleeting symptoms of sadness caused by my loss. Or are they more permanent than I think, occurring at an impressionable age where many life habits are formed. Will these changes be permanent just because of timing, or am I still just mourning the passing of my friend?

Freud, Dreams, and Keira Knightley

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I recently saw A Dangerous Method, a quasi-historical movie featuring Michael Fassbender (swoon) as Carl Jung and Viggo Mortenson as Sigmund Freud. I'll be honest, the movie was pretty weird overall, but Fassbender and Mortenson were brilliant as Jung and Freud. Their conversations are what make the movie worth watching.

Several of the conversations centered around their dreams and their interpretations of them, so I very was pleased to find Freud's Dream Protection Theory in chapter 5 of the textbook, which offered more insight into the actual theory behind the discussion.

In one of the conversations in the film, Jung describes a dream in which there is a horse being held back by a large log attached to the harness. Freud suggests that the horse represents Jung, and the log represents Jung's penis. Watching the movie with zero background on the subject I was taken aback, but it was less weird when I read the information in the book. Freud's theory states that during sleep the ego is unable to repress sexual instincts, which are transformed into symbols within the dream. The horse and the log, in this case, were the manifest content and Freud's interpretation was the latent content (the true meaning of the dream).

If you are interesting in seeing the movie, read up on Freud and Jung before you go. Knowing the theory behind their thoughts would make their conversations even more interesting. Unfortunately, Keira Knightley is terrible, but that was sort of expected.


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I read through parts of chapter 5 and I found the section about dreaming to be really interesting. The book provided a few theories on why we dream and why we dream the way we do. Personally, I never remember my dreams, so I did wonder and how they collected data, assuming many others have trouble remembering their dreams also. The two theories they discussed on dreams were quite different. Freud's Dream Protection Theory was based on human sexual desires and wish fulfillment. The other theory, Activation-Synthesis, is much more popular among psychologists and the basis is that dreams a compilation memories and experiences. The book also highlighted common themes in dreams. The most common dream is being chased or pursued with being lost/trapped and falling following on the list. Applying those common dreams to the Activation-Synthesis theory is kind of strange since those are not usual daily activities.

Pop A Pill At Your Own Will

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Many people across the world wake up in the morning and go through their daily morning routines. Within this routine, many people take vitamins, herbs, and food supplements. Although, many of these vitamins, herbs, and food supplements are said to have little to no health benefits but have false findings backed behind them.

Could us American's, who spend over $22 billion each year for herbal treatments of uncertain effects, be too worried about our overall health? Or could these supplements, vitamins, and herbal remedies have different effects depending on the person? As of 1999, the FDA no longer monitors the safety, purity, or effectiveness of these health products. So how are we to know the truth when there are multiple opinions on the effectiveness of a supplement such as kava? Kava is said to help anxiety and insomnia, but on the other hand, is also said to cause liver damage.

From a health standpoint, what is the point of taking an abstract supplement like kava to help with anxiety and insomnia, when if you have a problem, you can see a doctor and obtain medicine? Maybe too many people are caught up in the over-the-top healthy lifestyle with these abstract supplements. A healthy diet with a multivitamin everyday will lead to a healthy future. It is the risk and reward factor that many supplement takers are chancing. It could be worth the try, although there is no guarantee on a product's claims.

Sources: Lilienfeld, Scott O. "Stress, Coping, and Health." Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding. Boston: Pearson/Allyn Bacon, 2009. 482-83. Print.

Sleep Apnea

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While reading about sleep disordering is Chapter 5 I came across a section that I found particularly interesting. The section was on sleep apnea, which is a disorder that causes people to stop breathing in their sleep and wake up frequently throughout the night. According to the book, sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of airways during sleep, but I also read in my second source that another cause of this can be from the brain failing to send signals to the muscles to breath.
sleep apnea.jpg
This disorder strikes particularly close to home because my family has a long history of sleep apnea. For years we've known my grandfather, aunt, and a few uncles have this disorder, but recently my father was diagnosed as well.

The book describes symptoms of sleep apnea as snoring loudly, gasping, and sometimes stopping breathing for more than 20 seconds. My father snores louder than anyone else I've ever met and when we finally coerced him into doing a sleep study we fully expected his diagnosis of sleep apnea. What we didn't expect was the extent to which he has it. He was informed that he stops breathing 138 times and wakes up 145 times an hour! Although the book mentions people with this disorder can stop breathing hundreds of times a night it's still hard to grasp this kind of frequency. He was told that to be diagnosed with sleep apnea you have to stop breathing for more than 10 seconds 20 times an hour. Needless to say he far exceeds the minimum. I find it fascinating that a person can stop breathing over twice a minutes and remain completely unaware of it.

Textbook:Psychology-From Inquiry to Understanding

Mind Over Matter? Reality vs. Perception


Chapter 4 in our text discusses sensation (including the anatomy and physiology of the sensory organs) and perception. The chapter begins by explaining the difference in sensation--detecting physical energy with our sensory organs--and perception--the brain's interpretation of these "raw sensory inputs". This distinction is important because our senses are being assailed with sights, smells, and noises all day, every day, but it is how our brains process these things that is vital; truly, perception is everything.

One interesting application of "sensation vs. perception" is the use of psychic healing on chronic pain. Many people think of this as "mind over matter" and believe that the mental state and positivity is a large part of healing. When I broke my foot (a particularly notorious fracture, known for slow healing) people continually lectured me that I had to believe the bone would heal and keep a positive attitude. It sounds corny, but every night I would picture healing energy going into my foot and the bone repairing itself. Sure enough, the bone healed without complication. Or so we thought. I found out a year and a half later that the bone was still broken and had never healed in the first place. But I had felt the bone healing and getting stronger, hadn't I?

In short, the answer would seem to be no. A double-blind study performed at the University of Bond (as discussed in the text) found no correlation between psychic healing and decreased pain. However, they did find a correlation between decreases in reported pain and belief in paranormal phenomena. This would lend itself to an explanation including the "placebo effect". If people believed in the treatment they were receiving, they had less pain.

Insomnia: The Struggle of Sleep

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Insomnia is defined as when a person has trouble falling asleep, waking up too early in the morning, waking up during the night and having trouble returning to sleep. A friend of mine was diagnosed with insomnia in seventh grade. He would go days and almost weeks, without sleeping. There were moments where I witnessed him fall asleep with his eyes open. His case of insomnia was considered severe and needed to be treated medically. After taking medication for about 2 years, he was no longer an insomniac and was off sleeping medication.

Insomnia is the most common sleep disturbance amongst humans. About 9 to 15 percent of people have severe cases of insomnia. Short term episodes or "Acute Insomnia" are considered to last for a few weeks and long term episodes or "Chronic Insomnia" are considered long-lasting. Acute insomnia can occur during significant amounts of stress, illness, emotional or physical discomfort and as a result of some medications. Chronic insomnia is caused by more serious occurrences, like depression. Treatments include various forms of medication, like Ambien or similar treatments. Research shows that psychotherapy is the best remedy.
Do you feel like you or someone you know possibly has insomnia?

Friend Interview: Andrew Dorsey

Children's Attachment Styles

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I read over Chapter 10 and primarily focused on children's attachment styles. I found this intriguing to read and insightful, as I have a part-time job in childcare at a gym. I am constantly having to work with children who have varying levels of attachment issues when their parents leave. I find that most children I work with have secure attachment with their parents ("an infant reacts to a mom's departure by becoming upset and greets her return with joy" Lilienfeld, pg. 386). However, with progression of time, children eventually become comfortable and familiar with the childcare environment and gradually do not struggle, cry, or become emotionally upset. I have found a pattern in most children that when they are brought when they are very young (anywhere from 2 months to 18 months), there is usually not a struggle when their parents leave. However, around the age of 2, children who usually have been comfortable in the childcare environment realize that their parents are leaving and struggle. This occurrence usually causes a child to come less frequently. I would be curious to know what psychologists have found out about this and if there is any more information on such an idea.

Birth Order and Personality

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The 14th chapter is all about theories on how one's personality is formed. The part that I found to be most interesting about this chapter was the topic on birth order affecting your personality. Being the youngest of four and all being only a year apart, I can see the birth order trait connections that Leman discussed. They are especially evident when I compare my siblings to myself; I am the risk taker where my older brother is more goal-oriented and achieving. Although the book brings this up, it also states that this connection lacks evidence. Last year my teacher made us all take an online personality test and compare the results to the theorized birth order traits and mine were spot on. I think it is only a matter of time before research and experiments can prove that this link is very prevalent and does define one's personality.

Animal-Related Research

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In chapter two (Research Methods) of Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, one topic was Animal Research. The authors wrote about how there are ethical issues involved in animal research and that it is a controversial subject. However, the point that was made that really stood out to me was that "...animal research has led to direct benefit to humans, as well as immensely useful knowledge in its own right." (Lilienfeld pg. 69). Excellent examples of animal-related research that can benefit society can even be found here at the University of Minnesota. I encourage you to check out this link to an article and photo about the fistulated cow projects going on here at our school.

Chapter 14 Personality explores the possible cause--gene or environment, structure, measurement of personality by the overview of a lot of controversial theory like stages of psychosexual development, determinism, self-actualization and so on.
I am most interested in Rogers's self-actualization that we could all achieve our full potential for emotional fulfillment if only society allowed it. Because I am a Buddhist and I found that point is related to the Buddhism especially the realization of emotional fulfillment plays an incredible essential role in the fulfillment of our full potential. To me the emotional fulfillment means a peaceful mind, for it needs people to accept all the things in the world, which includes beauty and ugliness, success and failure, thoughtful and superficial and most importantly himself/herself. When we can treat good things and bad things equally, we will no longer bother by all the change and worries, our heart will reach the state of peace. According to scientific research, when we are angry, anxious or nervous, there is no ALPHA wave in our brain; the wave will only appear or increase when we are peaceful or happy. (ALPHA wave is what makes people be concentrated, happy and have a good memory to help them work more efficiently.) I think that might account for how we can fulfill all our potential.

I agree that maybe there are already some bad things inherited in us when we are born but I strongly believe everyone can be like their innate potentially. There are definitely a lot of factors in the society today which will hinder us to back to our innate but we are just like the antelope in the forest, without the attack of wolf, we will also lack will to fight. We should also be positive and grateful.
The part that struck me is I don't understand what Carl Roger meant by his explanation of the decreasing difference over the course of psychotherapy - the lessening of condition of worth. 潜意识音乐疗法-滴落的星子.flv

Sleepwalking-Fact vs Myth


Sleepwalking is a phenomenon that has interested humans for thousands of years and as a result of such attention people have created many myths surrounding the topic. I am very interested in sleepwalking and think it is important to separate facts vs. fiction surrounding sleepwalking. Sleepwalking is actually very common in children since about 30% of children will sleepwalk at least once. It is much less common in adults, only 4-5% of adults sleepwalk. Most people picture sleepwalkers with their hands extended in front of them like zombies. This is a myth since sleepwalkers often clumsily roam with their eyes open, with a very glassy stare, and some times perform routine tasks. They have no recollection of their actions and, if talking is present, it is usually random and incomprehensible slurs.

The most common myth is to never wake up a sleepwalker because they will attack you, the comedic video below provides an example of this. In reality, it is very safe to awaken sleepwalkers. They will usually be disoriented and confused but will not attack. However, there have been cases where sleepwalkers have performed complex tasks and even committed murder. There have been several cases of murder where the defendant pleads temporary insanity on the grounds he or she was sleepwalking and has no recollection of the crime.

Hopefully the facts can be set straight now and this will better help people's understanding of sleepwalking. Try watching the video and separate fact vs. myth in the clip from Step Brothers.


Nacolepsy (Chapter 5)

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For most of us, sleep is a pretty average activity. When sleep problems affect our health, ability to function at work or school, and recur, it can be a sign of something more serious. Narcolepsy is one of a few sleep disorders that can affect us. It is a chronic disorder of the central nervous system characterized by the brain's inability to control sleep-wake cycles. The most common symptom is excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), which is described as a persistent sense of mental cloudiness, a lack of energy, a depressed mood, or extreme exhaustion. Other symptoms include cataplexy (feelings of weakness and a loss of voluntary muscle control, sleep paralysis (temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking), hallucinations, and obesity. Narcolepsy can affect humans and animals, and equally affects both males and females. When cataplexy is present (about 70% of people with narcolepsy have this symptom), narcolepsy is almost always caused by the lack of a brain neurotransmitter called hypocretin, which helps regulate sleep. The reason for this loss of hypocretin is unknown. Narcolepsy cannot be cured yet, but a variety of drug treatments can control both EDS and cataplexy.

(All information found from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke's website)

Drop the Adderall pills and try the drug "Mozart"


The drug Adderall, also known as "the study drug", has ignited increased interest on college campuses around the world. But most students have underestimated the potent effects that listening to an excerpt of any one of Mozart's classical sonatas can have on the human brain. According to a 1993 University of California study by Frances H. Rauscher, this musical stimulus has been proven to induce a short-term memory improvement, important for studying for the big test. Also, he concluded that listening can help spatial-temporal reasoning, a skill the brain has for solving abstract problems. Through the investigation of Rauscher, he found that participants scored the highest on the Stanford-Binet IQ Test when exposed to Mozart rather than pure silence.

I have always felt it is important to not only find a quiet place to study, but to incorporate some type of soothing music that can keep me relaxed and focused on the material I am studying. Therefore, when researching about this phenomenon I was curious on one particular aspect of the Mozart Theory. Is it specifically Mozart's sonatas that facilitate this increase in cognitive thinking or does it depend on the musical taste of the individual? I wondered if listening to heavy metal or rap music, genres that are not considered ambient and calming, can actually have a positive effect on those individuals who find the music most appealing. It is an angle worth investigating! Fire away with what you believe.

In conclusion, next time your thinking of buying the pill, look for the guy on the corner selling the Mozart CD instead. I've included a fresh sample of the product below.


College students take ADHD drugs for better grades - http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/01/health/drugs-adderall-concentration/index.html

Mozart effect- http://www.skepdic.com/mozart.html

The Personalities

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Chapter 14 is all about personalities, and how they make us who we are. Personality is people's typical ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. What struck me most about this chapter was a part about personality traits changing. The book talks about studies that demonstrate that a person traits can change prior to the age of 30, but after 30 they do not change much at all. This number made me think a little bit of why it is 30 instead of 40, and why is it that at that age we don't change anymore. I think it has something to do with our maturity as human beings and the fact that as we grow older we become more wise, and we start to understand who we really our as people. Also I feel that this number represents the age were we really start to understand who we are, and realize our true virtues in life.

Another thing that got my attention was the parts about personality assessments. There have been many errors in these tests, but they also help us to understand who we are as people. One example about the flaw in one of the personality tests was William Sheldon's test. He believed that you could tell so much about a person's personality by how their body was shaped. This seems quite funny to me but was probably quite serious at the time.

Our amazing memory

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Once in a while, a friend of mine asked me about my childhood, I think about it and just remember things happened in my primary school, but I'm kind of lost all mine memory about my life in kindergarten. I do not know whether your guys meet these same weird things as I do, or just me. That is one reason why I have lots of interested in chapter 7, which tells me how memory changes over time in most cases. It seems like that there is a span of memory, which means that young adults have best memory ability, followed by old adults, then infant. It is kind like a universal commons. However, I think everyone has different growth rate, each individual go through different experiences. What's more, memory require us to storage it, otherwise, it cannot be called memory, and we can classify memory into two categories, that is, short-term memory and long-term memory. It is very obvious that people always forget something, even they try to memorize it several minutes ago, why people forget things so quickly, let along the things we do not try to remember. Psychologists call this phenomenon as decay, that is, fade away over time. ( Lilienfeld et al. 247). How about the memory during our dreams? Why most of the time we forget them when we wake up?
Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding by Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Lynn, Laura Namy, and Nancy Woolf (Chapter 7, p. 243-280).

The Power of the Placebo

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A major portion of chapter 2 refers to experimental designs and the use of placebos for the control group. According to the medical dictionary a placebo is "An inactive substance with no pharmacological action that is administered to some patients in clinical trials to determine the relative effectiveness of another drug administered to a second group of patients." When one thinks of a placebo, they simply think of a sugar pill however the concept has been applied to almost all types of medications IV's for chemotherapy placebos, creams for skin care placebos, and even more elaborate methods which are all pharmaceutically inactive. The power of placebos is that when administered properly the patients begin to emotionally and sometimes even physiologically expect the desired outcome (ie pain reduction for morphine, or hair loss for chemotherapy). A simple example would be to give a friend a cup of decaf coffee in the morning when they are tired and tell them it has a double shot of espresso. More likely than not they will begin to "feel" more awake. In drug studies the use of placebos has been a vital source of comparison with dramatic effects - 54% effectiveness against aspirin (9 double blind studies), and 56% effectiveness against morphine (6 double blind studies). While these figures are incredible it brings about the question of whether or not placebos should be used outside of clinical studies (as they are now). On one side you can eliminate pain problems and identify addictions for patients without using active drugs, while on the other side you are withholding beneficial medicine from patients as well as making them less effective in the long run if patients begin to think that their doctors are giving them placebos instead of the regular medication.


Why are dreams frequently the subject of movies?

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After reading Chapter 5 about consciousness and dreaming led me to realize that some of my favorite movies are about these subjects. An example of this was the sci-fi movie "Inception" in which the main character (Leonardo DiCaprio) engages in espionage by entering dreams of his targets and extracting the information. In the dreams DiCaprio's character is able to control what is happening in the dream in order to get what he needs, this concept is completely based in reality and is called lucid dreaming. While reflecting on this, it made a whole lot of sense, dreams and consciousness is something that we all experience pretty much every day of our lives but we don't really know what is really happening or why... until now (kind of).

Today, like every day, I've promised not to forget some important information and already have. It's easy to see how our memories fail us. However, our minds are exceptional: short- and long-term memories can be created, stored, and recalled instantly. Chapter 7 calls this perplexing situation the paradox of memory: "The same memory mechanisms that serve us well in most circumstances can sometimes cause us problems in others" (Lilienfeld et al. 242). Being a forgetful person, I was most interested in this chapter's explanation of what goes wrong with short-term memories and ways to improve its function.

One instance where our memories fail us is memory illusion: when we recall false but compelling memories (Lilienfeld et al. 244). By relying of our best guesses to make sense of the fragments of memories we retain, we can sometimes be misled into memory illusions. Another issue with memory retention is the complex system of three memories: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Only some of the raw information we gather with our senses at the sensory stage is passed on to the short-term memory, and even less is subsequently relayed to the long-term memory. The longer we wait to recall short-term memories, the more they decay over time. I learned about using mnemonics, the Magic Number, and chunking to improve my short-term memory. I really hope these devices help me retain my memories better in the future!

Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding by Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Lynn, Laura Namy, and Nancy Woolf (Chapter 7, p. 243-9).

Birth Order: Does it influence one's personality?

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Birth Order is an important nonshared environmental factor that plays a key role in shaping one's personality. In a family where individuals share the same genetics, it is the nonshared environmental factors that differentiate their personality and makes them less alike. Birth Order is one such important factor. And personally, this argument that Birth Orders influences and differentiates personality among the individuals of the same family is very interesting and important to me. In my family I am the first born child and my brother, who was born four years after me, is the last born child, and even though we share most of the same genes there are some distinct personality differences between us that I believe can be explained is, at least partially, a result of Birth Order. A study done by three psychologists Carette, Anseel, and Van Yperen, reports that the firstborn child of a family is independent and self-driven whereas the later born child is more dependent and relies on the motivations of others in pursuit of goals (Carette, Anseel, and Van Yperen). This rings true in my family. My brother has always been very dependent on my mother, he yearns for more love and care from her even though he is 14 years old now. And as the elder sibling, he continually relies on me for advice and support. However, I on the other hand have had to learn to be independent, responsible and lead the way in my family. My parents have always expected me to take care of my brother and be a good role model for him. Hence I have become more self-driven and have become the person that takes care of others. I don't rely on my parents for everything. Therefore, I believe that the nonshared environmental factor, Birth Order, has not only had a significant role in shaping my personality but it has also influenced who I am as a person and what I become in the future, and the same goes for my brother. So, for those of you with siblings out there, here is a question to wonder about, how has your Birth Order shaped your personality and YOU....what about your siblings?

work cited:
Carette, B., Anseel, F., & Van Yperen, N. W. (2011). Born to learn or born to win? Birth order effects on achievement goals. Journal Of Research In Personality, 45(5), 500-503. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2011.06.008

visual: it shows how my brother is the center of our lives, we all take care of him as he is the youngest!
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visual: my family!
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Alternative Ways of Coping With Stress

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There are many different ways of dealing with the usual stress that occurs in life. Some individuals develop unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking an excessive amount of caffeine to get by on a day-to-day basis. I personally drink Diet Coke to an unhealthy extent, because I have somehow come to the conclusion (wrongly) that I need the caffeine to deal with my daily stressors.

It would be much more beneficial to find a means of coping that did not have a negative impact on physical health. Exercise, for example, is good for personal fitness and can even relieve depression (479). Using a journal provides a means of emotional control. In a study, students who wrote about personal issues compared to those who wrote about trivial things showed greater signs of improved immune functioning (471). Although it is not clear if meditation and decreased stress level have a correlated or cause-and-effect relationship, if you find meditation to be personally beneficial it may be a good alternative way of coping with stress (484).

What unhealthy habits are you using to deal with stress? The point that I am trying to get across is that there are many alternative ways of handling the stress that occurs in daily life.

The What if Factor

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In chapter 2 we are introduced to the topic of Illusory correlation: the perception of statistical association between two variables where none exists. This age old phenomenon is seen in many different shapes and forms in our lives today. As I read this section of the book I couldn't help but think of the many examples of illusory correlation I fall prey to in my own life. Illusory correlation forms the bias for many superstitions. The marvel that is Friday the 13th holds a strong presence in my life and the lives of thousands of people. During every occurrence of the date I over-evaluate my plans, even to the extent that I may change my schedule to avoid something that may go wrong. Another major example that is discussed in the book is the negative correlation between latter's and bad luck. This is another example displayed in my own life. I avoid latter's like the plague, taking an extra-long route to avoid having to walk under a latter in fear of obtaining bad luck. The illusory correlation is seen in a gamut of forms in our lives today, but each one looming with the question of what if. What if I walk under the latter, or take a test on Friday the 13th? Will I have bad luck? Will I not do as well? The fear of the unknown is encompassed within this psychological term, and forces many to fall prey to it. The book explains that our minds our not good at remembering "nonevents" , things that don't happen, and instead focus on the few occurrences in which a negative view is perceived. It is difficult to break your mind from the expectations it has built around specific events. So I leave you with this question. In what capacity does illusory correlation play a part in your life?


Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding by: Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Lynn, Laura Namy, Nacy Woolf

Love: Fate or Convenience?

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Many people in relationships believe they are destined to be with their partner, and that they are soul mates who found one another through an act of destiny. With a world population of over 7 billion and growing, it is likely there will be at least one person whose path you cross with whom you can connect and build a romantic relationship. Proximity, or physical nearness, makes it easier and more convenient for two people to become involved. Being close on a regular basis allows people to get to know each other, increases comfortability, and encourages romantic inclinations as thoughts of that certain someone are usually somewhere in the back of one's mind, fueled by being together often.
The concept of proximity influencing attraction is represented in popular culture. In the Taylor Swift music video "You Belong With Me," next-door neighbors fall in love as a result of writing to each other from their windows. In the movie "What's Your Number?" Colin and Ally live across the hall from one another, so he uses her apartment as a hideout from his one-night-stands. This causes them to spend a lot of time together and ultimately fall in love. In "Teenage Dirtbag," two students who sit at the same table in study hall end up falling in love after passing notes every day. Viewing proximity from another angle, long-distance relationships are generally less successful than short-distance ones. Whether it's the extra effort needed to communicate, lack of interaction, or attraction to someone who is more accessible, relationships involving physical separation tend to be more difficult.

Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, Chapter 11, Page 444


Giving up Self-Control

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Many of us have experienced situations when it seems that nothing happens according to our own design: your car breaks down on the way to work or school, your laptop gets stolen when someone broke into your house, a computer code is not being correctly compiled, and an assortment of other things that we attribute to bad luck. And sometimes, when someone is unsuccessful, we try to comfort them by saying that they have "had a run of bad luck". However, is it possible to prevent all of these through a correct exercise of self control?
It is easy to fall into melancholy and go on and on about how certain failures of ours are influenced by factors that are out of our control. However, I have seen that the most successful people are the ones who seem to spend an extraordinary amount of time preparing for each significant task. This amount of preparation is described as our measure of self-control, as evident from Walter Mischel's delay-of-gratification experiment which rewarded small children with bigger rewards when refusing a small one up front (Lilienfield, 391). The most successful people are the ones who had to overcome the situations in which the circumstances were unhelpful. This connection was also established by numerous other analysts, as Lilienfield lists. So, the question is this: does everyone have the ability to succeed when taught self-control? Or can self-control not be taught and is our position in the social hierarchy determined before birth?

Bootcamp, Uggs, and Social Influence

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95% of people that find out I'm in the military tell me "Wow! I couldn't do that." Most people seem to think that they're too opposed to authority, too stubborn - too something, that would keep them from succeeding. I disagree with at least 50% of those people.

Humans are a highly social species generally forming social groups of 150 people. We look to others for clues on how to behave in unfamiliar situations, tempering our reactions with those that we observe around us. Why is it most women own a pair of black leggings and Ugg boots? Comfort? Style? Or is it Social conformity?

Social influence (to include conformity) has been studied for over 50 years, with results showing that we tend to play follow the leader. Ask a room full of people 5+7. You know the answer! You're excited! Strangle enough the 10 people before you answer incorrectly. As a general "rule" you will start to doubt yourself and your logic and quite possibly give the incorrect answer as well.

I was (am) stubborn and I like to do things my own way. Why did I do well at bootcamp? I followed everyone else. I didn't want to draw the drill instructors attention my way - and I bet if you were there too - you wouldn't want to either.


Sources: Lilienfeld textbook chapter 13
Image via: http://pauljenkins.tv/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/DrillInstructor.jpg

DISCRIMINATION. It's all around us and chances are, you or someone that you know have experienced it at least once in your lifetime. I personally have experienced discrimination, not only once, but many times throughout my lifetime. But the focus of this will not be one huge sob story over discrimination, rather it will be on something far more interesting and baffling --the idea of interracial discrimination.

Every two years or so, my family and I will visit our family in India for months on end. Though I love the country, there is one thing in particular that always makes my blood curdle--the belief by the majority of the Indian public that lighter skin is far more superior than darker skin. This particular belief is clearly seen in the mainstream Indian media through commercials for a skin-lightening cream called Fair and Lovely. In these particular commercials, the darker Indian women are seen as being at a disadvantage because of their darker complexion. For example, in the Fair and Lovely ad below, since they the woman is too "dark", she initially isn't given her desired job. However, once she discovers Fair and Lovely and starts using the product, her skin miraculously becomes lighter, she instantly becomes more beautiful, and once this happens, she automatically gets her desired job.

I mean, are you kidding me? Since when did people stop looking at credentials, and start looking at the darkness of one's skin in order to determine whether or not they get a job? How does this even make sense in a country where all people are colored? Unfortunately, this idea, though quite sad, is very prominent in India and unfortunately, is even seen in my family. When my aunt came to the U.S. for the first time from India, she paid a quick visit to my family and I here in Minnesota. A big part of Indian culture is the idea of arranged marriages and with this in mind, my aunt was looking for potential matches for her son (my cousin) on an Indian dating website (I know, I know, it's weird, but that's Indian culture). As she was browsing through the website, she came across a specific girl with GREAT credentials--she was well educated and seemed to come from a great family. This girl, I thought, is perfect for my cousin. However, just as I thought that, my aunt quickly said, "NO! No, not this one. She is just too dark." I am the first one to admit how ashamed I am that my aunt even said this because for one thing, being dark, or should I say darker, does not put anyone at a disadvantage nor should it make them inferior. The idea is just wrong, and no matter how much I dislike that my most of my culture believes in this, I cannot change the fact that they do.

So, what do you guys think of this issue? Is it baffling for you or do you think it is a natural thing that happens within races? Does it bother you?

Forget Me Not? - Erasing Memories

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Telling someone, "I won't forget!" seems like such a simple statement. Yet in reality, our memories fail us constantly. Chapter 7 focuses on how our brain creates, retains, and recalls memories. This process is not perfect, as information can be lost rather quickly. As the textbook elaborates, "The same memory mechanisms that serve us well in most circumstances can sometimes cause us problems in others" (Lilienfeld 242). One question remains, what if we purposely want to forget a certain memory?

This question is very intriguing, as people are often confronted with memories that they would much rather erase. Death, rape, fear, bad relationships, abuse, and other experiences can create memories that one does not want to recall. The textbook details that memories that involve much emotion are the most persistent. The release of adrenaline and norepinephrine, two hormones, during times of stress stimulates protein receptors on nerve cells. This process causes emotional memories to solidify. The textbook also offers evidence of a study that could potentially affect the way emotional memories are handled. The study proved that propranolol, a drug, could keep adrenaline from affecting the protein receptors. Essentially, this drug can blur the emotional memories that people are weighted down by. One might ask, is this even ethical? As with many scientific findings, people may argue that emotional memories are important as they are learning opportunities. Others insist that having the ability to erase pain is necessary.

What implications will these developments have in the coming years? More recent information shows that other drugs are also being tested that may have the same effects as propranolol on memories. The following YouTube video describes the work scientists are doing with these drugs and the benefits these drugs may have on society, such as helping war veterans cope with traumatic memories.


From Inquiry to Understanding by Scott Lilienfeld
YouTube video, listed above

Science, and ethical issues


holiday-icon.gif Chapter 2 mostly addresses research methods in relation to science. This was interesting for me to turn my own definition of psychology: Psychological study is quiet independent from science. As science designs research models, psychology also constructs research methods identically. Experimental designs, correlation designs, observation, and case studies are the examples that are discussed in the book. I thought this is significant foundation to understand the rest of the concepts in this text. Even the author consistently declares psychology as the scientific study of the mind, brain, and behaviors (Lilienfield 2010).
However, there were concerns in me when it began to discuss the ethical issues of animal research. Actually, it is hard to say we should stop put animals into the experiment. However, on the other hand, it is somewhat necessary since there are hard things to experiment on human. I carefully think that as if psychology cannot cover the entire phenomenon in human like metaphysical claims, scientific research cannot take all the emerging issues of rights of living organisms. As IRB had been built for setting the ethical guidelines, it can be useful to have similar agency that can reduce the controversies between scientists and animal rights activists.


Lilienfeld, S., Lynn, S., Namy, L., and Woolf, N. (2010). Psychology from inquiry to understanding. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions

Retrieved from: http://www.peta2.com/outthere/o-bizarro.asp

What ACTUALLY determines personality?!

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Chapter 14 focuses on what factors influences our personalities and behaviors. Studies on twins and adoption cases suggest that many personality traits are hereditary but that doesn't mean that environmental roles don't play a factor increasing the nature vs. nurture debate. Sigmund Freud's lasting impression on psychology is based on the principles on psychic determination, symbolic determination, and unconscious motivation that is still widely controversial today. Critics of his psychoanalytic theory question the lack of evidence, lack of falsifiability, and failed predictions among other things. However, Freud's legacy with the unconscious is one of the most known theories.

In addition, there are also behavioral and social learning theories of personality. Behaviorists believe in the unconscious processing but deny the existence of the unconscious. They believe that genetics and the environment determine personality. Social learners believe the central role of thinking determines personality.

So like with many things in psychology, there is not one cutthroat answer to what determines personality. It is a combination of many factors that establishes who we are which ultimately adds to the uniqueness of every individual. So, be you because no one else can do it better!

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Autism- diagnostic problems or?

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Chapter 15 is all about Psychological disorders. It gives origins, conditions, treatments, and possible causes for many disorders such as: depression, anxiety, panics, phobias, post traumatic stress, moods, suicide, etc. Although each of these disorders have their unique and interesting descriptions, autism (or infantile autism) is a disorder I found very amusing. Autism is a disorder usually children develop around age 2. It is typically associated with mental retardation and has severe deficits in language, social bonding, and imagination. Autistic disorder has "skyrocketed" in the amount of individuals that are diagnosed. However, the biggest controversy involved with autism is its causes. Many parents of autistic children believe that their child's case is due to vaccinations. They have found that many individuals with this disorder developed autism around the same time as their vaccinations for diseases such as mumps, measles, and rubella. This also leads to their reasoning on the "skyrocketing" of the autism "epidemic". On contrary, others believe the existence of the autism "skyrocketing" is due to changes in diagnostic practices- especially in mild autistic cases. Whichever the case may be, shouldn't the point of all this debating be to find a cure to this skyrocketing disorder?

This diagram shows the increase in Autism diagnosis over nine years in the U.S. alone. As you can see, the graph increases exponentially as opposed to a linear graph:

Source: Lilienfeld's, Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding, page 625-626 and

Psychosexuality-was Freud onto something?

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In the Lilienfield text, it states that "No aspect of Freud's theory is more controversial than his model of psychosexual development. Nor has any aspect of his theory been more widely criticized as pseudoscientific (Cioffi, 1998)." I believe he may have been onto something. Freud believed that individuals developed psychologically through sexual relief at developmental life stages, and that the successful completion of each stage was imperative to crucial to how one would develop psychologically.

The stages are the Oral stage, which tends to end in excessive drinking, eating, and smoking; the Anal stage, which tends to result in excessive neatness, stinginess, and stubbornness; the Phallic stage, which tends to exhibit the Oedipus complex in boys and if not successfully resolved, psychological problems later in life, and the Electra complex in girls, which exhibited penis envy (this stage is the most highly criticized for lack of research and evidence); the Latency stage, when boys and girls are gross; and the Genital stage, where people learn how to make lasting, intimate, romantic relationships work.

The main one I wish to address is the Phallic stage, regarding the Oedipus complex and the Electra complex, because I know I myself have been guilty of penis envy, although not for entirely the same reasons as Freud listed. He said that girls felt inferior for their missing appendage, but honestly? I am just curious, and I know I'm not the only one. I have spoken to people of both genders that are genuinely curious about what it would be like to be the opposite gender for a day. There are so many things that people of both genders can enjoy, except quite simply, what it's like to be the other gender.

Can you honestly tell me that you haven't wondered what it would be like to be the opposite gender for a day?
penis envy.png

Stress and the Slippery Slope

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Have you ever had a close family member die? A friend commit suicide? Have you ever felt hopeless? As people grow, we are constantly bombarded with challenges and obstacles. With this in mind, it is essential that you have the right tools to combat these challenges ahead of time. Chapter 12 presents us with the idea of stress, the effects of stress and ways to counter stress. This is a topic that I am very familiar with, watch this trailer...it's a GREAT movie, and describes my point.


When I started high school, I had the mindset that I was invincible. I had a plethora of friends, was the member of several different clubs, was part of the school orchestra, had a steady job, had a loving family and girlfriend. Everything seemed like it was working perfectly, or so it seemed. I don't remember when it exactly started happening, but my friends started to disappear. A lot moved away, a few dropped out, some became so addicted to drugs that they were moving shells. This began to take a hold of mind. At my lowest point, I had a family suicide, another family death, two friend suicides, the loss of my job and a rough breakup...all within about 6 months. I ended up being put into a 2 week watch period at the local hospital psych-ward, where I learned about recovery and coping, and about the importance of talking and finding a balance point.

I'll end with a final thought: how you cope?

Lilienfeld, Scott. "Stress, Coping, and Health." Psychology: From Inquiry to Understand. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2011. 454-87. Print.
*Image citation on photo
*video citation from youtube

Classical Conditioning

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In chapter 6, Pavlov describes how we can become conditioned to respond to a neutral stimulus that would have otherwise gone unnoticed until it is linked with another unconditioned stimulus. Which got me to thinking, have I ever been classically conditioned?

Before owning an iPhone I was unaware of the text message notifications that rang whenever some one received a text. It would go unnoticed and I would hardly react beyond being slightly disturbed by the noise. But after recently receiving an iPhone, I have been conditioned to the sound, so now when I hear the distinct ring of an iPhone text message I automatically assume it was me who received a text, along with every other iPhone user in the room. The ring started out as a neutral stimulus, then became paired with getting text messages (unconditioned stimulus), resulting in the unconditioned response to check my phone. Now when I hear the ring it has became a conditioned stimulus, that elicits a conditioned response that had previously not existed. So the next time any of you iPhone user hear the notification in a room full people and without a second thought check your phone. Pause and consider that maybe you have been classically conditioned and are no better than Pavlov's dog.

Birth order: does it matter?


I read the sec ion in chapter 14 about birth order. I found this topic to be interesting. I grew up as the youngest child out of two children, however, I now have a kid sister, which places me as a middle child. There is so much different criteria on the characteristics of birth order. In the reading, it seems that birth order is important, however, I don't believe it is. I, myself, contain the characteristics of a first born, whereas that shouldn't be the case. Personally, I am a skeptic on psychology, however I did find that this article sparked my creative thinking. I think that perhaps birth order isn't as important, but rather the year/generation that one was born in.

Of Course I Remember!

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Chapter 7 focuses solely on the construction, recollection, and deterioration of human memory, along with the many complications involved in each stage. What most interested me, then, was the "development" of implanted and impossible memories by individuals. Implanted memories, or memories of an event that subjects were told had happened but never had, had been studied by the Loftus's "lost in the mall study". The obvious distress with this experiment and its outcomes is that there is a strong potential that many individuals, including ones in our class, have memories of events that had never happened to them, but had perhaps been implanted by a person or media entity. What's more, the Wade experiment on impossible memories proves that some fifty percent of individuals recall false memories about an even after seeing a photoshopped picture of themselves in a hot air balloon as a child. In both cases and both studies, neither of the events had happened but a mere mention or picture was able to persuade people that it had occurred and pushed their brains to develop a false memory for it.

Now, I find this interesting for two reasons: the first is that I'm a pretty big fan of Dr. Who and these phenomenon occur throughout the show, along with some of the other memory complications outlined in the chapter, but my second reason is that these two events shed even more light on one of my favorite novels, 1984. Both implanted and impossible memories play a key role in Orwell's dystopian society through doctored magazines, photographs; basically anything Winston is told to do, and it's pretty awesome to see exactly the basis for Orwell's ideas in our psychology book. It makes psychology easier and more enjoyable to learn, I think, when the content is applied outside of the psychiatrists' offices and school counselors, and in our own personal media favorites.

Am I Girl?...Or a Boy?..Or Nothing?

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When my friend from a former university asked me to use 'gender-neutral pronouns' around her, I wasn't exactly sure what she meant. Later, I found out that she doesn't identity with being a male or female. That is, she would rather be called by her name than by pronouns that indicate what sex she was born as. She didn't feel comfortable being called the typical "he" or "she" (etc.) because she expressed that she couldn't "be a female or a male" one hundred percent. Some days, she would believe herself to be male, and other days she would consider herself to be female. It was always different everyday and many times, very confusing for Kelly [*Name changed].

Looking at this experience, I find it difficult to read a small segment in chapter ten which presents the development of gender identity. During a study, it was shown that children aged one year or less have a natural tendency to play with toys that suggest their gender (i.e. girls play with dolls and boys play with toy trucks). Even when children are of age three, "boys prefer to hang out with other boys, and girls with other girls." Despite this being "natural" how does this explain individuals like my friend or those who have 'gender identity disorder?'

A segment on Dr. Phil reveals the story of a mother who has a son, but wants to become a female. This story, as well as countless individuals who feel the way my friend does (or are transgender) cannot sympathize with studies like these. I know that the amount of individuals who have issues with gender identity are less than those who understand their gender, but how can we describe individuals who don't know what gender they are [if they feel that they are one sex/gender at all]? Where do they fit into the box? Can it be explained by biological differences? How can psychology explain those who simply don't fit the bill? This is what needs to be addressed.

-I did use gender-pronouns to make my friend's story more clear. Normally, I don't use them around her or those who prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
-Friend's name is changed.

-Psychology, From Inquiry to Understanding (Textbook)
-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8Iq3E85-VY (Dr. Phil Segment)

Discovering The Martians??

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Chapter one introduces you to psychology and scientific thinking. Most people come into psychology thinking they already know a lot about the subject, but when taking the knowledge test most get it wrong. One subject that stuck out in this subject was pareidolia, which means siding meaningful images in meaningless visual stimuli. In 1976, the Mars Viking Orbiter took a snapshot of Mars. The image displayed a face on the surface of Mars. This lead to many thinking that there were actually Martians living on Mars. But in a later study in 2001, the Mars Global Surveyor confirmed that it was just rocks and the angle of the shot that gave the visual of a Martians face.


Let's protect our health!


Actually, I have no experience of learning about psychology before, so I even didn't know about the approximate outline of the contents of psychology. However, I'm getting interested in the field of psychology more and more after reading some books whose subject is mainly psychology including the textbook. According to the Lilienfeld textbook, a variety of ways are used to analyze our behavior. On the other hand, all of our behaviors can be seen in the action of human's brain. Also, this book teaches that there are some regular types of human development from children to adult. Like this, there are various chapters in the book. However, I was particularly interested in chapter 12 dealing with our stress and health.
I think my interest is related to my situation that I am a student and living alone. Actually, many students feel stress and the excessive workload can affect the students' health, so we need to know how to deal with it. According to the book, the stress is expressed along with the various categories such as attitudes, beliefs and personality. In this chapter, the ways of protecting with our health are written. I think they will be helpful for us.

I did WHAT?

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Chapter 5 is all about consciousness, our subjective experience of the world and ourselves. This is an incredibly interesting chapter that talks about phenomena related to consciousness such as sleep, dreams, hypnosis and drugs.
Dreaming occurs mostly during REM sleep, a stage of sleep that involves extra brain activity and "rapid-eye movement" (hence the name REM), and sometimes in non-REM sleep. The chapter also covers disorders related to sleep, including sleep-walking. Sleepwalkers don't remember details of their seemingly conscious experiences, which include (but are not limited to) driving, using computers, having sex and other such things, leading to reactions like "I did WHAT when I was sleepwalking?"
Hypnosis is another popular conscious-altered state. It can be defined as a set of techniques that provides people with suggestions for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Lilienfield 2010). Once thought to be another form of pseudoscience, hypnosis has many myths and theories associated with it. One such myth is that it is a trance. The trance-like state that hypnotees experience is simply the ease of response to suggestions.
The final main topic of this interesting chapter covers psychoactive drugs and their effects on our consciousness. These types of drugs contain mind-altering chemicals which are naturally in our brains. Depressants slow down or calm our senses, stimulants "rev up our central nervous system," narcotics take pain away, and psychedelics have similar effects on our consciousness as dreams (Lilienfeld 2010).
All in all, our consciousness and the seemingly supernatural experiences we have are still studied and debated today and, at least for me, are topics that I am very interested in.

Sorry, Mom.

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When I was younger, every time I got a bloody nose, I was convinced that I had Leukemia (thanks to A Walk to Remember and K-dramas). My mother assured me that I didn't have cancer but also remarked that I was being a hypochondriac.

A hypochondriac is a person who suffers from hypochondriasis (more commonly referred to as hypochondria)--a somatoform disorder that gives one the belief that they are suffering from a severe physical ailment (Lillienfeld 598). A somataformawhata? Simply put, a somatoform disorder is a mental illness that causes unexplained physical pain and is often linked with other psychotic disorders such as mood, anxiety, personality, and eating disorders (Oyama).

There are three criteria that symptoms must meet for a patient to be diagnosed with somatoform disorder: (1) cannot be explained as the effects of a substance, a general medical condition, or another mental illness; (2) cannot be outcomes of a factitious disorder--unconscious claims for internal gains such as wanting to be sick--or malingering--unconscious claims for external gains such as financial or legal benefits; and (3) must pose a significant strain on the patients' livelihood (social, occupational, ect.) (Oyama). In theory, this should minimize fraudulent claims.

To summarize: Hypochondriasis is a somatoform disorder and my mom was exaggerating when she called me a Hypochondriac. My bloody noses did not effect my childhood more than a few bloody stains on T-shirts and pillowcases, and I did not get any other severe symptoms that were unexplainable--the bloody noses could have easily been due to dry air. Aha! Mother is not always right.

Oyama, Oliver, Catherine Paltoo, and Juliane Greengold. Somataform Disorders. American Family Physician, 2007. Web. 25 Jan. 2012.
Lilienfeld, Scott, et al. Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, Second Edition. Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon, 2010.

It is human nature to be affected by those around us, which lead to the study of social psychology. I choose Chapter 13 (Social Psychology) as the subject of my first blog entry. What I found most interesting when reading through this chapter were the different experiments dealing with the study of social psychology, one in particular was the Stanford Prison Study. In this study Philip Zimbardo and his colleagues set up a prison scenario using 24 volunteers, 12 "prisoners" and 12 "guards." Within six days of the start of the experiment it was shut down due to the how the prisoners were being treated. The guards became so drunk with power that they went beyond just keeping the prisoners contained and under control, they began to treat the prisoners extremely cruel and subject them to sever punishment.
The results of this experiment make you wonder what was triggered in the minds of the guards that would cause them to force these "prisoners" into such harsh conditions. When the guards were given power over the prisoners some instinctive animalistic trait surfaced causing them to have the drive to torment these prisoners. Our book refers to this experiment as more of a "demonstration," and I agree with this conjecture; this experiment was more of an observation of how the human race changes when simply given power over others. In my opinion because these guards were given a power over these other individuals, a power without much structure there to guide the direction it should be executed, it became easy to abuse. The human race needs structure to survive.

Are we what we eat?

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Chapter six explains that learning and how nurture can change us as people. One topic discussed is the myth that we are what we eat. In the 1950's, James McConnell put this to the test by performing an experiment on planaria worms. He trained the worms to scrunch their body under light by using an electric shock. Once the worms naturally scrunched under light without a shock, he cut them into tiny pieces and fed the trained worms to untrained planaira worms (disgusting, right). What he found is that these new worms reacted the same as the trained worms under the light, there-for solving the myth that we are what we eat, right?

you are what you eat.jpg

Not so fast. Other psychologist were not able to replicate the same data and many believed that the light itself was the reason they scrunched up and not because the untrained worms ate the trained worms. McConnell argued his case all he could but it's clear why we should always think scientifically whenever possible.
In the end, neither a black or white answer has come about about whether or not we can chemically transfer memory. Many people had and still have McConnell's back such as Georges Ungar. He who believed "memories could be chemically transferred in mammals" (http://www.quasar.ualberta.ca). It is a very interesting topic but I do not see enough evidence in the matter to believe that we really are what we eat.

Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding

Cocaine in your COKE?!?


Chapter 5 on consciousness explains the many boundaries of psychological analysis. In the section on stimulants, I found the information on cocaine to be the most interesting. Cocaine is the most powerful natural stimulant. Users commonly experience euphoria, enhanced mental and physical capacity, a decrease in hunger, indifference to pain, and a sense of well-being.

One part in the book took me by surprise as I read that the soft drink Coca-Cola used to contain small amounts of cocaine, and was advertised to "cure your headache and relieve fatigue for only 5 cents," (pg. 192). I had heard rumors of cocaine being in my favorite pop, but never really believed it until now. It was easy to see why cocaine was used in common products like soft drinks, because back then when cocaine was a new drug in the market in the late 1800s, doctors hailed cocaine as a cure-all and prescribed it for a wide range of illnesses. I'm sure when a medical doctor says a new drug is "all-curing" it's hard not to believe so.

Even the great Sigmund Freud supported the use of cocaine to treat morphine addiction and he used cocaine to improve his mood. However, he changed his ideas and disapproved of its use when he had dependence problems. Cocaine came under strict government control in the United States in 1906.

Color Perception and Color Blindness

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Chapter four introduces many interesting concepts relating to our sensation and perception. Color perception is a vital aspect to our every day lives as we rely on it to enjoy everything in the world.

How we perceive color is a debatable topic that can be explained by two different theories: Trichromatic Theory and Opponent Process Theory. Opponent Process Theory describes our perception in pairs: either red or green, blue or yellow, or black or white. In contrast,Trichromatic Theory is defined as the idea that color vision is based on our sensitivity to three primary colors (blue, green, and red).

Color blindness is a very intriguing topic that can be described by the Trichromatic because the majority of color blindness is the inability to distinguish between reds (known as red-green dichromats). The Ishihara Test for Red-Green Color Blindness is a common test for color blindness:


If you can't see the number in the image above, you most likely suffer from red-green color blindness.

The Mayo Clinic explains that the causes of color blindess range from: inherited genetic disorder, medications, and even aging. Thus, color blindness can inflict anyone, which is one of the main reasons why it is such an interesting topic to research. Currently there are no known treatments for color blindness, but The Mayo Clinic suggests that some cases may qualify for gene replacement treatments that may become available in the future.

Lilienfeld, Scott, et al. Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding. Boston, Massachusetts. 2010. Print.

Can you control what you dream?

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Chapter Five tells us all about sleep, including dreaming, sleep disorders, and unusual experiences such as out-of-body and near-death experiences. The part I found most interesting was the part on lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is the experience of being aware that you are dreaming. This type of dreaming opens up the possibility of being able to control your dreams.

Have you ever wanted to consistently have good dreams? Or realize the nightmare you're in is just a dream while still asleep? If your answer is yes, there are simple steps to follow to increase your ability to dream lucidly.

If you're like me, you always wake up in a dream just when it is getting good. You'll try desperately to go back to sleep and back to the dream, but there are ways to stop yourself from waking up.

To find out how, here is a YouTube video you can watch with simple steps to follow, and you may be on your way to a lucid dream!

How to Lucid Dream: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llw717IARpQ

Fear of Being Trapped

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Agoraphobia - "fear of being in a place or situation from which escape is difficult or embarrassing, or in which help is unavailable in the event of a panic attack." That definition came from the text book on page 599. Before reading that I thought that agoraphobia meant fear of crowds or public places. It is said that this phobia typically develops in the midteens and comes from panic disorder. One of my friends back in high school had this disorder and he was afraid of places such as the mall and the movie theater. Agoraphobia can become so intense that one 65 year old lady never left her house for 25 year (Jensvold & Turner, 1988). According to the Mayo Clinic, this disorder can be very hard to treat because it means confronting your fears, but with medications and psychotherapy, it can be treated and help the patient.
Helpful image below:


"Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding." By Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Lynn, Laura Namy, and Nancy Woolf.


Chapter 12: Focusing on Stress

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Stress is a reaction, a response to things that may happen to someone throughout the day or their lifetime. It consists of tension, discomfort, physical symptoms. It is caused by stressors that make you become stressed. (Page 457) I think that stress is one of the worst feelings in the world, as I suffer numerous amounts of it due to the fact that I have to balance a ridiculous amount of credits, being a brother in a fraternity, and also being a drummer in the marching/pep bands. No type of stress is alike however. Some happen because of major events that have occurred earlier in a persons life that come back into their mind. Others are caused based on events that are happening currently in a persons life. Stress can happen to anyone and at anytime in a persons life. The key to stress is to learn what your specific stressors are and to learn how to control them.

Chapter 13 Social Psych - Michael Moore

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For my first blog of the semester I decided to choose Chapter 13 due to the interest I have in social psychology. It has always interested me greatly how we train our mind to follow the social norm and Chapter 13 covered my interests in depth. Throughout the chapter the author referred to the conformity we frequently have in our everyday life, along with attitudes and their origins, and concluded with stereotypes. As I read this it continued to intrigue me how much as human beings we stick to what you "should do." With a little research I found a study a group put together showing how humans follow what they see. The experiment was to place a picture of a male on one door at the entrance and a picture of a female on the other (much like a bathroom door). Just as you may, or may not have expected, the students walking through the doors followed the segregated doors to the point where a male and female friend would split to walk through the correct doors. This personally blew my mind to see how students follow the social norm even if it brings inconvenience.

The video of the experiment is listed here in case of URL issues below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a71h6LZKXTc

Lucid Dreaming



Lucid dreaming is a phenomenon where you are aware that you're dreaming, and it is unknown whether you are conscious or fully asleep during it. While having a lucid dream, some people report that they can control their dreams and what occurs during them. A good example of lucid dreaming can be found in the movie "Inception".


The possibilities of lucid dreaming are thought to be limitless. Researchers believe that anything you can conceive of during a lucid dream can come true, from flying over cities like Superman to re-living your oldest childhood memories. Most of us will experience at least one lucid dream in our lifetime, and one-fifth of Americans say they lucid dream on a monthly basis.

Personally, I have experienced a few lucid dreams, mainly in the last couple years. For those who have never had this experience, it is a feeling that cant really be compared to anything. It feels surreal during the dream, and when you wake up you aren't quite sure what just happened. That was my experience, at least.


Linguistic Relativity

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Linguistic Relativity is the study of language and the connection that it has with our thought processes. Also known as the Sapir -Whorf hypothesis, after two researchers who proposed it, the idea of linguistic relativity states that language shapes a few aspects of perception, memory, and thought.
This is a less radical perspective opposed to linguistic determinism, or the idea that language and its structures limit human knowledge and thoughts rather than shape them. Speakers conceptualize the world based upon their respective language.
As described in the text, a study was able to show that Russians who had moved to the US and had learned English were able to recall events in Russia better when speaking Russian while they were able to recover memories of the US more so when speaking in English. Another example of differences of thought processes stem from colors. For example, the Dani language only uses words such as "dark" and "bright" rather than the individual color names.
I believe that these theories hold great truths, but there are certainly claims against such ideas including: the brain holding secrets that we have yet to unlock, or perhaps other external influences that would alter thought processes?

Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding

Halo Effect

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The halo effect is a cognitive bias where a trait (characteristic of a person or object) influences another trait or traits of that person or object. The halo effect is very common among physically attractive individuals. Physically attractive individuals are assumed to possess more socially desirable traits, live happier lives, and become more successful than unattractive people.
Edward Thorndike was the first to support the halo effect with empirical research.Thorndike's first study of the halo effect was published in 1920. The study included two commanding officers that were asked to evaluate particular qualities of their soldiers. The point of this study was for Thorndike to see how the results of one characteristic affected another characteristic result.The correlation in the halo effect experiment was concluded to be a halo error. The halo error shows that the officers relied mainly on general perception of certain characteristics that determined the results of their answers.
Dion and Berscheid (1972) conducted a study to reconfirm if Thorndike's research about the halo effect was correct. The research was done at U of M.
Landy's Task Evaluation as a Function of the Performers Physical Attractivenes also reconfirmed Dion's and Thorndike's results about the halo effect. The author's expected that physical attractiveness would influence the evaluation of an individual's performance on a given task even when the task isn't related to physical appearance.

A corollary to the halo effect is the reverse halo effect where individuals, brands or other things judged to have a single undesirable trait are subsequently judged to have many poor traits, allowing a single weak point or negative trait to influence others' perception of the person, brand or other thing in general.

Two consultants, Melvin Scorcher and James Brant, wrote in Harvard Business Review in 2002:
"In our experience, CEOs, presidents, executive VPs and other top-level people often fall into the trap of making decisions about candidates based on lopsided or distorted information ... Frequently they fall prey to the halo effect: overvaluing certain attributes while undervaluing others."

This is to consider the halo effect in the context of recruitment. But the effect also influences other areas of business. Car companies, for instance, will roll out what they call a halo vehicle, a particular model with special features that helps to sell all the other models in the range.


Operant Conditioning.jpg

The idea of positive or negative reinforcement is present not only in history but our everyday lives. This is where one is rewarded if a certain action is completed, and only upon completing the action can the reward be given. There may also be a punishment, negative reinforcement, for the incompletion of the task. In the Lilienfeld "Psychology" textbook, and by many other psychologists, it is known as "operant conditioning."

The "law of effect" is the basis to operant conditioning and an important concept when it was being tested. Psychologist, E. L. Thorndike explains, "If a response, in the presence of a stimulus, is followed by a satisfying state of affairs, the bond between stimulus and response will be strengthened." He discovers this in an experiment constructed in 1898.

A hungry cat was placed in a box with fish outside of it, in sight of the cat. To escape, the cat needed to press a lever or pull a string inside the box. This experiment went through sixty trials. The cat learned by trial and error how to escape. Eventually, the time it took for the cat to escape drastically decreased gradually. (See page 212, chapter 6)

This is a concept that brought up a memory of mine in the past, displayed on a television show, "The Big Bang Theory". Not only can the concept teach cats how to escape a box, but also it can potentially create "a better girlfriend".


Psychology, From Inquiry to Understanding. Scott Lilienfeld
The Big Bang Theory. Created by Chuck Lorre & Bill Prady

Racism, Can it be measured? (Chap13 pp.530)

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Prejudice, we all have seen, heard, or felt it. Certain stereotypes exist due to the differences in how one dresses, or the color of our skin, hair, and/or eyes.
An Implicit Association Test (IAT) on the Harvard website (Try it out yourself!) is known for its ability to measure one's implicit cognitions such as attitude and stereotypes. (Greenwald et. al 1998) Or does it? The test has shown that the most people (all races alike) tend to show association of white Caucasians with good whereas African Americans were associated with bad. Does this mean all the people who have taken the test are racist?
A study done in 2009 regards to IAT has shown varied results throughout different cultures (Andrew C. H. Szeto, 2009). This seems to suggest that the IAT may measure the culture views on different stereotypes. For example a student who grew up watching different movies that portray a Caucasian male as protagonist and an African American male as antagonist will associate them to good and bad respectively, or vice versa.
This evidence suggests that the test seems to measure the cultural views on which the test taker was grown in not their personal views or prejudice towards another race.

Andrew C. H. Szeto, R. M. (2009). Using the Implicit Association Test across Cultures: A Case of Implicit Self-esteem in Japan and Canada. Asian Journal of Social Psychology , 12 (3), 211-220.
Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D.E., & Schwartz, J. L. K. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The Implicit Association Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464-1480.

Psyc Blog Entry #1

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On page 417 of Chapter 11 we are introduced to the idea of proxemics - the study of personal space. Here in the Midwest, and in America abroad, we are generally pretty "cold" (no pun intended to the weather lately); Minnesota nice doesn't necessarily mean Minnesotans don't have personal space issues. A classic example is if a full table of 4, 5, or even 6 chairs only has one person sitting at it, you would be hard pressed to find someone else (a total stranger) sitting at that same table too. Only in extenuating circumstances could you find this. I found the idea of the personal bubble to be nonexistent in the 3.5 months I lived and studied in Brazil this past semester.

Brazilians have little or no sense of personal bubble. In the culture it is not only not considered rude to look people in the eyes while walking down the street, but it is also an expected politeness. While I lived there among the Brazilians I found most conversations to invade my bubble. If they were a stranger it was kept at an uncomfortable 3 feet; if they knew me more personally it could get as close as 1.5 feet (considered by the textbook as "intimate distance"). This took me some time to get used to, but given my awkward grasp on the language (Portuguese) the loss of my personal bubble caused minimal stress to me after a period of adjustment.

Basic blogging

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Hi everyone,

A fellow student of yours created this helpful guide for blogging .

If you don't know how to put in pictures, links, and videos, or are generally having trouble, be sure to check it out!

Blogging 101

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Hi everyone,

This is the website you need to post your blog assignments. Here are some general tips to get you started:

What to write about:
A blog post is a specific form of writing, but one that is easily adapted to other settings. A good post starts with some prompt--an idea, a claim, an article, an experience--and the post responds to this prompt by providing evidence to support or rebut the prompt, in writing that is brief, focused and interesting. One of our goals in Psy 1001 is to help you develop critical thinking skills and a blog post is an excellent way to practice critical thinking as you write. Behaviorally, writing that reflects critical thinking has these features: the author a) asks questions and is willing to wonder; b) defines problems clearly; c) examines evidence; d) analyzes assumptions and biases; e) avoids emotional reasoning; f) avoids oversimplification; g) considers alternative interpretations; h) tolerates uncertainty. (from Wade, C. (1995). Using writing to develop and assess critical thinking. Teaching of Psychology, 22. 24-28.) I would add to this list, i) takes the perspective of others.

Generic prompts:
We have several general topics that can be used for any of your posts, 1-6. In addition, we will provide articles, questions and readings on the discussion page on the website to which you can respond if one of these don't work for you.

1) Identify one important concept, research finding, theory or idea from Psy 1001 lectures or the Lilienfeld text from the past two weeks. Summarize the concept in your own words and explain why you believe this concept research finding, theory or idea is important. Apply this to some aspect of your life (real life example are an excellent way to learn. Photos, You-tube videos, etc. are encouraged.) As you reflect on this concept, research finding, theory or other idea, what other questions occur to you? What are you still wondering about?

2) Provide a link to an article, hoax or claim that has been made in the media and evaluate the claim using one or more of the six principles of critical thinking. Apply a concept, research finding, theory or idea that you have learned about in Psychology to provide an alternative explanation. Which principle is most useful for evaluating this particular claim? Remember to cite your sources.

3) If you can think of a different explanation or want to support something one of your classmates has posted, you can respond with a post of your own. Be sure to provide evidence to support your response.

Grading criteria: Each post is worth up to six points.
Concepts, 0-3 points: Have you followed instructions? Have you provided a relevant concept or prompt? How well have you summarized the psychological concept or applied the six principles of critical thinking? Are you thinking "beyond" the example, that is, making inference and forming connections? Have you provided an original insight? Have you provided evidence to support your claims? Is this post worth reading? Are you demonstrating behaviorally that you are thinking critically? (See above.)
Mechanics: 0-1.5 points. Have you used paragraphs to divide your thoughts? Is your post visually interesting? Have you used correct grammar, spelling, and standard speech (not slang, not jargon)? Is your post easy to read? Have you cited your sources or provided links?
Clarity of writing, 0-1.5 points: Is your writing crisp? Clear? Engaging? Are you using words precisely? Do you have words that are unnecessary or filler words? Are you on-topic? Have you provided clear transitions and a clear flow of logic?

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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