March 2012 Archives

East vs. West

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The certain way someone conducts managerial decisions are usually results of the cultural norms of the country in which the business is operating. Western managers, such as managers here in America, are said to rush their decisions, while Eastern managers, such as those in Japan, take much more time and think through their decisions. These decisions can have lasting impacts on the issue or issues at hand in the workplace. Is it bad that Western managers rush their decisions or is it worse to take more time to make a decision, such as Eastern managers do?
Either style is tough to choose. American managers are much more individualistic than Japanese managers, and therefore do not consult with others on decision making as much. These managers often are more optimistic about their own ability and revert to their individual freedom to make decisions. Managers in the East are much more group-oriented, and therefore consult with others more often before making a decision.
When making decisions myself, I prefer to trust my own decision rather than talking it over with a group. This can often hurt me in the end because consulting issues with a group will help to understand more views points of certain issues that I may not see. Therefore, I believe that the Eastern management style serves the best for making tough decisions not only in business, but in life.

Why We Procrastinate


Most of us are guilty of procrastination. It's a bad habit. We all know this, so why do we continue to do it? Research done in Germany at the University of Konstanz showed that we are more likely to put things off when we think of them abstractly rather than when we think of them concretely. This actually makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? I never thought about it before and prior to reading the article I made a point to come up with my own hypothesis as to why we procrastinate, but I couldn't come up with anything!

When doing research, psychologists handed out a questionnaire to students who were being paid to complete the study. They had three weeks to respond, by e-mail, about "mundane tasks" (i.e. opening a bank account and keeping a diary) but some were asked to respond about the types of people who generally complete the given task and what it implies about them (abstract) while others were asked to describe the technical aspects of how you would go about completing each task and what one would expect to happen from there on (concrete). Those given the abstract option took much longer to respond, some not even completing the assignment, while those given the concrete option had little delay.

After I read the study, I was dumbfounded. It was such a simple plot but it made so much sense! Apparently, thinking about the task more concretely makes it feel more urgent and necessary to complete. So perhaps abstract thinking results in procrastination because nothing is anchoring it down in your brain if you're just throwing around ideas...? Just an idea. What do you think? Can you think of any alternative explanations?

The diagrams below give simple visuals of procrastination and how it translates into payoffs (top) and pain (bottom). The site I got the images from makes another interesting point that maybe we procrastinate because avoiding strenuous situations (pain) is part of human nature. Just keep in mind that this site didn't provide much concerning scientific evidence and could be a display of confirmation bias at work.

So which idea do you think is more parsimonious? Maybe you have a completely different hypothesis for this phenomena, why do you think that is more sensible?

Just a little note: By definition, procrastination is "the deferment or avoidance of an action or task which requires completion by focusing on some other action or task" (Science Daily).


No Feelings, No Worries.........Right?


If we had a life with no feelings, wouldn't life be so much easier? If we didn't have to worry about school, our relationships or financial issues, along with having no fears, wouldn't that be the happiest life ever? But wait a second. If you didn't have feelings then you couldn't feel happiness, nor could you feel pleasure, desire, hope, or even love. This phenomenon was found to be developed in Elliot, a boy with a tumor in his frontal lobe that inhibits his ability to express any emotional response. He is not able to express his inner desires nor can he make rational decisions in his everyday life. He feels no remorse for the dead while feeling no sense of triumph in moments of victory.

Chapter 11 of the textbook describes the many important uses our emotions have in our daily lives including communication, thinking reasonably, and expressing opinons and beliefs. Without this vital function, it is hard to live in society as a normal functioning person. Yes, it can be noted that all the pain in our lives would be taken away, but pain is how we develop as human beings and strive to improve. Moreover, pain passes and we are able to adapt back to a normal life with newly discovered insights.

Coming from a family where my mom has been diagnosed with cancer, it has been hard dealing with the emotional stress that comes with the disease. However, the heartache has united our family and created an even stronger bond between us that most normal families do not have. That is why it is important for negative emotions to seep into our lives in order to teach us valuable lessons and become stronger individuals.

Do you believe we could actually have a functional world without the presence of worries and disasters? Or, do you think that we shouldn't have any worries?

On the bright side, if you didn't have emotions you would not let something as small as being tapped on the head bother you like this crazy kid.

Sources: Textbook

How Do You Go About Your Problems?

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Unfortunately, I struggle with the problem solving obstacle "mental sets" quite often. Most of the time it is a small struggle, like having trouble coming up with a topic for a paper after a professor has already thrown out some good ideas. Other times, I find myself struggling with mental sets in a difficult situation, like my traumatizing wave runner experience six summers ago.

It was just a normal, summer day that I decided to go out on the lake, to cruise on my wave runner. After a half hour had passed, the wave runner stopped moving and turned off immediately afterwards. This was not a big deal to me, because seaweed always gets stuck in the engine, causing the wave runner to power off. Though, after several attempts reaching by the engine, I still could not find any seaweed. I figured I just couldn't reach far enough, so I called my family to come help me, but they have just too much fun torturing me. As usual, they gave me the "you're a big girl, you can figure it out on your own" speech, and left me out there to suffer. After an hour or so passed, I waved down safety patrol, who told me within five minutes that my wave runner was out of gas. I realized that I was so used to fixing it by unclogging the engine that I didn't think of other solutions (it didn't help that the gas gauge was about the size of a quarter). I have definitely learned from this to think outside of my mental set, so that I do not end up in another embarrassing situation like this one.

Another barrier to problem solving is "functional fixedness". The lesson we did in class on how to survive a plane crash had a good example of this. Most people didn't think the tin of food was high of importance, because we can go without food for over a month. We didn't think of its possible use to signal for help.

Research suggests that to improve problem solving, we need to "alter our focus". When we get too stressed, parts of our brain will shut down and further complicate the problem. Therefore, in times of stress, we should focus on another activity for a little, allowing our minds to relax and eventually be able to generate these ideas needed to solve the problem.

Anyone else havethinking-outside-the-box-solving-problems (1).jpg good problem stories they would like to share?

-Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding

To Lie or Not to Lie- That is the Question


Have you ever been able to tell that someone is lying by their facial expression or external movements? Well, many of these external cues can help to determine whether or not a person is actually lying. The Fox show, Lie to Me (aired from January 2009-January 2011), used applied psychology to determine if people were lying by analyzing their facial expressions and body language. In the show, Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) would carefully analyze suspects facial expressions and body languages and be able to determine if, in fact, they were lying, or perhaps even telling the truth. describes Cal Lightman and his team as a "human polygraph machine, and no truth can be concealed from them."


Our textbook explains that the polygraph test, or lie detection test, relies on what is known as the "Pinocchio Response"- a perfect physiological or behavioral indicator of lying (419). The CQT, or Controlled Question Test, is the typical format associated with the polygraph test, and it asks three types of questions: relevant questions (having to do with the crime), irrelevant questions (don't have to do with the crime), and control questions (probably will produce lie, in order to determine a baseline for measuring bodily responses that are lies).

However convincing the polygraph test may seem in movies or television, there has been convincing research that the polygraph may not be as reliable as we once thought. According to our textbook, the problem with the test is that it confuses arousal with evidence of guilt. It's basically an "arousal" detector as it measures increases in blood pressure, respiration, skin conductance, and palm sweating. Although these may be indicators of lying, a suspect may show signs of all of these responses not because they are guilty, but because they are nervous about being questioned about a crime they didn't commit.

You may be wondering, as I was, if the polygraph test is invalid, why do people still us it as a means of detecting lies. Well, it turns out the test is actually effective in making suspects confess to their crimes...especially when they fail the test.
The use of polygraph testing in court is extremely controversial due to the mixed results they often produce. The United States Supreme Court deemed individual courts jurisdictions to be responsible for determining if a polygraph test should be used as evidence in cases. Interestingly, in five states (Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware) it is illegal for an employer to administer a polygraph test to an employee that is suspected of committing a crime while on the job.

Polygraph Simpsons.jpg

I always thought polygraph tests were really interesting as I recall seeing them on news reports on TV and by watching Lie to Me. I think it would be very interesting to watch a polygraph test be administered, or even to take one! What are your thoughts?

Check out this trailer for the show Lie to Me, starring Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman!


Functional Fixedness = Common Sense?

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First watch the YouTube video above. Functional Fixedness is not being able to think of a purpose for something other that what it is designed to do. When you are on the other side functional fixedness ie. you see the result, it may seem easy to have also thought of that solution. However when in the moment is may seem hard to fix some problems, for not only do you have to think of an object to be used for a different purpose, but also you have to think of that object. So maybe in the case of fixing something you're mental process is think about something that is similar to what is being used and then using that object to fix the solution.
Many people believe that being able to fix things only takes common sense. You have to have sense of how things work and it is easy to find a solution with common knowledge.

In the case of fixing something, how do you think people go about that process?
Do you think that functional fixedness could go hand in hand with common sense?

You Gotta be Lyin'


Can you really ever be sure if someone is lying to you? According to research from the text, we are only able to tell 50% of the time. With a small portion of us able to exceed 70% of the time. But beyond that it appears that there are no lie-detection test that are accurate without discriminating against the innocent and truthful. The most effective way would appear to be the verbal responses of people. But even this has its flaws as anybody who is decent with words could get away with lying. So can we ever truly be sure if someone is lying or telling the truth?

Apes, Birds and Children

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Contact comfort theory was pioneering in the 1950's but now it seems to be common knowledge. It makes sense yet there are still multiple theories as to why children and other animals instinctively want comfort. A person would think that children bonds to who feeds them. As the book mentioned this is not the case for children and it is not the case for animals. My sister has five birds, a species researchers nickname " 2 year olds with can openers on their face". The birds are always fed by our mother , however when their cages are opened they fly towards our ( me and sister ) dad. Our dad gives them attention, and kisses , and pets their feathers while they perch on his shoulder for hours. The birds gets playtime from him and nothing but food and water from mom. In other words birds, monkeys and toddlers react similarly to parental figures. One question is not answered by the theory. Why don't babies bond with their mothers more than fathers if they are first and foremost held by mothers? More importantly why does the bond of mother and child rapidly decline after 18 months? It makes me wonder if children know, on some level, that the parent they hug would step with nourishment if the caregiver with the food disappeared.

Which Family Style Did You Grow Up With?

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Growing up in an extremely suburban community, full of middle to upper-class Caucasian families, I get to see, witness and even experience all three of the parenting styles: permissive (lenient), authoritarian (strict), and authoritative (in the middle). My sister and I grew up in a pretty authoritative family. My parents showed lots of support at soccer games, basketball games, golf matches and other events, but they also ran the household in a fairly strict manner. We had set curfews, had to get good grades, had to learn to be polite, have manners and be respectful. We also had to be responsible for all of our things as well as chores around the house. My sister and I were fortunate but not spoiled; we never had the top brands unless we paid for them with our own money. I would say so far my sister and I have matured nicely and have turned out well. I also have friends that live in both an authoritarian family and a permissive family. One of my friends grows up in an extremely permissive family. She could get away with anything she wanted and never get into trouble even when caught. She has all the top brands and hasn't learned responsibility yet. As she grew up she experimented with many things and never had any consequences, therefore she is still intrigued and interested in these behaviors. Not to say she hasn't matured nicely, but going into the real world will be a struggle for people growing up in these types of families. The real world does have consequences and they are harsher than many parent consequences. I also have a friend who grew up in an authoritarian family. She always got good grades but she was socially awkward in many settings because of how sheltered she was from the real world; she never had the chance to learn or experience anything. I feel like people from all three of these types of family styles do grow up fine, they just all have different paths to travel; some are just longer than others.

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

Parenting... for Someone Else

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Parents (even the only marginally involved ones) question what factors affect their children's development, and in which ways, so that they can decide whether they should allow the exposure of their kids to these factors. However, that intent seems to stop at questioning; once comments are made and the situation evaluated, any further involvement seems minimal in most cases. For example, many of my parents' friends who have children of their own discuss the modern day culture among themselves, and, being a kid at one point, I could not help but listen in. At the time, my opinions were that this was tyranny; how could my friends' parents decide what they should and should not watch on TV? But, even though the parents seem to lament on the amount of violence and sexual content in movies, the content of their DVD collections seems to indicate that they do not care about it as much as they say they do. So, the question is, whose job is it to regulate content? The government's, which was created with the goal of the protection of the freedom of speech, or the parents', whose judgment (hopefully) is much more developed on the issues of child development?

The Most Crucial Reaction

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Lawrence Kohlberg was a famous psychologist who came up with the three stages of moral reasoning: Preconventional morality, conventional morality, and postconventional. Kohlberg believed that the human reasoning process followed this exact order of the three stages. At the first stage, preconventioal morality, we weigh part of our decision on punishment and reward. In the second stage, conventional morality, a human weighs another part of the decision on what society believes is right or wrong. Lastly, postconventional morality, the decision maker weighs the last part of the decision on one's moral principles that can "overrule" what society views as right or wrong.
Although this reasoning process is well known in the psychology world, many refute Kohlberg's reasoning process. One argument against his psychological process that I believe to be true is women tend to "care" when men tend to adopt a "justice" orientation. The argument is supported in Shelley Taylor's studies on women's decisions under stressful situations which concluded, "the adaptive value of fighting or fleeing may be lower for females, who often have dependent young and so risk more in terms of reproductive success if injured or dislocated" (Dess 1). A second argument against Kohlberg that I believe to be supported strongly by society and psychology is that the stage of moral belief should not precede emotional belief. As stated by Scott Lilienfled, Steven Lynn, Laura Namy, and Nancy Wolf in our psychology book, why can we know something isn't morally right without being able to explain why? For example, incest, we all know it's wrong, but does anyone know why?
In my opinion, Kolhberg's reasoning process has a good basis to what one's moral reasoning process actually is. Even though there are many who act against some certain stages, I can not see how a human can overlook a majority of Kohlberg's moral concepts in their decision making process.


Dess, Nancy K. "Tend and Befriend." Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness Find a Therapist. 1 Sept. 2000. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. .

Uninvolved or Unwanted?

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When I read about the types of parenting I was immediately brought back to a debate we had in high school, if people know the parenting styles and psychologist lean more towards authoritative parenting as the best, then why don't most parents use that parenting style?

Well as I learn more and get older I understand that parenting styles differ for multiple reasons, like culture, how they were raised, religion, education level, family size, etc. I get that authoritarian parents like control, and think that those who grow up with many rules and respect those in charge will do better in our world. I also understand the permissive style for they think that a child should grow up on their own and make mistakes and what not. What I have a hard time really understanding now is the uninvolved parenting. I know some of the reasons like work, illness, that was how the parent was raised but I feel like this could possibly be more than that. I feel that parents who are uninvolved and simply going through the motions maybe did not have a strong desire for the child in the first place.

Do you think that uninvolved parents are the way they are because maybe they didn't want the child in the first place?

Draw Something


Two weeks ago I started to play the popular mobile game "Draw Something" which is in essence pictionary but instead of having to completely produce the word it is presented kind of like hangman where you are given letters to work with and you have to fill in the blanks. The game itself is pretty awesome because of its ease of use and its ability to play your friends through Facebook. Anyways, I was sent a picture of what was obviously a bird by my cousin however I could not for life of me figure out the exact word. I came back to this picture every day for three days straight waiting for some of my lectures to start and up until the last time I had absolutely not figure out what the word was supposed to be, and then I opened up the picture and instantly i realized that it was supposed to be a seagull. I quickly realized that this was a pretty solid example of mental blocking. My thoughts on this in retrospect are what caused my brain to see this image in a completely different way after so many times and how could something like this be studied?

In Chapter 10, the Human Development chapter in our text, egocentrism and theory of mind are discussed. I think that these concepts go hand in hand. Egocentrism is the inability to see the world from other people's perspectives. Theory of mind is the ability to reason about what other people know or believe. Specifically, these concepts are related back to children, especially those in Piaget's "Preoperational Stage" lasting from age two to age seven. Children in this stage are usually very egocentric, thinking of themselves as the center of the universe, and with this comes their inability to understand that other people don't know the same things as them. In their simple, "me-centered" view of the world, if they know something, everyone must know the same thing.

I have a lot of experience working with kids in the preoperational stage through work and volunteering experiences. Last summer, I was a teacher to a group of four-year-olds, right on the cusp of realizing that they didn't know the same things as others. Sometimes I would ask one of them a question, and they would look at me like I was crazy. They simply didn't understand that I didn't know something just because they did. It almost seemed that they were applying Occam's Razor without realizing it, simplifying their thinking down to "if I know it, you must know it." This can create some funny misunderstandings in this age group. Below is a picture that tests children's theory of mind. Those with theory of mind would understand that Sally doesn't know where the ball is, while those without may wrongly assume that Sally will look in the box, since they know that is where the ball is.


Polygraphs: A False Truth


I thought that it was interesting to find out that even though polygraphs are the tool that is used most to find out if someone is telling the truth, there is a high percentage of results that are "false positives". That is that a person could be telling the truth but because of being nervous there is a huge chance that the truth could still make the machine say that the person is lying. There is also ways to get around polygraphs. If you can stay relaxed and keep your heart rate under control, it is very possible to make the polygraph believe that you are telling the truth even if you are lying about your answer. Why would we still use a machine that is so inconsistent? Why would we use a machine that is "biased against the innocent"? (pg. 419)

Conquering Functional Fixedness

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Just recently, I was baking brownies and realized halfway into it that we had no oil. I was in a hurry to get these into the oven, so I had no time to run to the grocery store. Looking through all of our cupboards, in the closet, and through the refrigerator, I made one last attempt to find a bottle of oil that would solve my problem. Unfortunately I only found crackers, cereal, applesauce, jelly, and an assortment of other foods... none of which were oil. For a time I suffered from functional fixedness, disregarding any other options that could serve the same purpose as oil. Thankfully, my mom, being a more experienced cook, stepped in and immediately told me that applesauce could be a substitute. I was reluctant (as a result of functional fixedness), but after looking it up online I discovered that applesauce prevents the development of gluten, which is exactly what oil does. In the end, the brownies turned out to be very similar to what "normal" brownies taste like (though I do still prefer brownies with oil).

Functional fixedness is even exemplified in numerous movies. One of the best examples is in Apollo 13 when Mission Control had to create a filter that would allow the astronauts to survive with only the items that were on the spacecraft. There were limited items available to use, but in the end Mission Control did not suffer from functional fixedness, resulting in the survival of the astronauts onboard. Not only was this a movie, but this was a real life problem that people had to solve under pressure. The following link shows this scene from Apollo 13.

Another example occurs when Jack Sparrow, in Pirates of the Caribbean, overcomes functional fixedness by using his resources to get a cannon to explode. The following 30-second clip reveals the way Jack Sparrow solves the problem at hand and how he does not suffer from functional fixedness to find a solution.

Many websites define 4 easy steps to problem solving:
1) Define the problem.
2) Find alternatives.
3) Evaluate alternatives.
4) Implement solution.


While this may appear to be a simple task, problems vary greatly. One may be figuring out how to handle large sums of money, or simply what pair of shoes to wear. Either way, problem solving requires knowledge and practice in many situations.

Problems with thinking outside "the box"

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Have you ever had a difficult time coming up with a topic for a certain assignment in class? I definitely have. During the Fall 2010 semester, I was taking freshman composition writing class. I was given an assignment to write a research paper on any topic I wanted as long as II could back up my information with research and the topic was not general. This quickly became a problem for a few reasons. First, I had to think creatively about a topic that I could have enough information to support my paper but I also had to find a topic on a specific aspect of a certain subject. Although these reasons were difficult, I also had the problem of mental sets. A mental is the phenomenon of becoming stuck in a specific problem-solving strategy, inhibiting our ability to generate alternatives (Lilienfeld, pg 310). When my professor gave us examples such as: should the drinking age be lowered to 18 years old or should there be parental consent to an abortion for topics to research it was hard to think of my own creative topic. This was an example of a mental set, or thinking "outside the box" in problem solving. However, after 2 weeks of generating ideas, I finally came up with a topic on whether or not the electric chair should be used as a form of capital punishment. In order to solve this problem I could use various strategies found here: thinking-outside-the-box-solving-problems.jpg

Sources: Scott Lilienfield Psychology Textbook Chapter 8 page 310

Divorce: Unclear Outcomes


Divorce is a pressing issue in America today. estimates in 2012 that the lifelong probability of a marriage ending in divorce is 40%-50%. Lilienfeld discusses the effects of divorce on children in Chapter 10 of his book. As I read this section of the book I was intrigued. I myself am not a child of a divorced family however I know many friends and family members who have been directly affected. One of the major problems in the dispute over the effects of divorce on children derives from the wide range of outside factors surrounding the divorce.

In an article written by Dr. Lesley Foulkes-Jamison, she describes the influence of age to be a major contributor. She suggests the difference in effects on a preschooler verses an adolescent to be astonishing. As I looked at her findings and studies I began relating it to our lecture from this past week on cognitive ability. The limited cognitive abilities of a preschooler may lead to diminished responses in the ability to cope with the events of the divorce. On the other hand Dr. Foulkes-Jamison discussed the ability for adolescents to fully comprehend the detrimental effects of the divorce. She points out the integration process that is necessary into the adolescent's life which will therefor adversely affect their own identity. This aspect of the article also got me pondering the section in chapter 10 surrounding gender identity. I had never looked at a divorce as imposing a debilitating factor in the identity of someone other than the two individuals actually getting the divorce. Dr. Foulkes Jamison however suggested it to be just as traumatizing to the child as well as the parent.

Another intriguing facet of the article compares the effects of gender on the behavior of a child experiencing the effects of a divorce. Foulkes-Jamison displays a girl's behavior as becoming increasingly anxious and potentially withdrawn from society as a result of the divorce. On the other hand boys may display aggression or disobedience as a coping mechanism. Differences is gender along with age, vary the effects of divorce on the child, therefor creating a more diverse nature in the study of divorce and its consequences.

The article helped me to understand that the effects of a divorce on children are not all the same, but continually changing based on many outside factors. Dr. Lesley Foulkes-Jamison offered insight into the psychological differences that may occur based on the essence of development, and tied nicely into many aspect of this chapter. It also helped me to realize all of her findings are generalizations, and not concrete descriptions of every child's response to the event of a divorce. The article left me wondering what other individual characteristics are called into question as children experience a divorce. May it be culture, income level, or birth order there must be some other explanations.

Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding By: Scott Lilienfeld

"I Can Do Anything Better Than You Can!" Men vs. Women

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The great debate. Our textbook describes the topic of group differences as "perhaps the most bitterly disputed in all psychology." It truly is a touchy subject, but to deny intellectual differences between men and women is ignorant.
Each group has their own cognitive strengths. In addition to the textbook, Dr. Christopher Badcock noted that males generally do better in tests of mathematical reasoning and spatial skills. He also noted that males do better at geography tests. He went on to talk about females intellectual strengths, which include aspects of social judgement, empathy and language skills. The textbook says that overall, men generally score 3-5 points higher on IQ tests.
While checking out this topic online, I read that David Wechsler, creator of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, mentioned that he had a "sneaking suspicion that the female of the species is not only more deadly than the male, but also more intelligent"
Indeed, I've noticed while watching Nature documentaries that non-human females tend to be the dominant member of the relationship; female lions hunt while the males stay at home, etc. This got me wondering: are males deemed "smarter" than females in human society because of the whole male dominance idea developed by humans? Just the fact that I, as a male, mentioned the facts about males first in this post demonstrates a subtle underlying male dominance factor.
Is Wechsler's suspicion true and women are, in fact, the deadlier and smarter half of the population and have been fooling the men the entire time?

That Disgusting Purple Drink

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Is there a certain food or drink from your past that once made you sick and you now avoid? I can think of many. This developed avoidance reaction to the taste of a certain food is called conditioned taste aversion (Lilienfeld, 229). For me, I have terrible memories of taking cough medicine when I was younger. I remember a certain grape cough syrup that was especially traumatizing for me. Before bed on nights when I had a terrible cough, by parents would practically have to force-feed me that nasty purple drink. Often times I wouldn't swallow it, I would spit it out when they weren't looking, or I would get so worked up about the syrup that I would throw it up. I began to associate that grape flavor with the terrible cough medicine and throwing up. I have been classically conditioned to hate taking cough medicine (even if it drives my roommate crazy) and to especially hate artificial grape flavoring like the syrup I had to take when I was younger. It is to the point where even smelling that grape flavor makes me gag. According to one psychology website, in classical conditioning, conditioned taste aversions are examples of single-trial learning ( This means that it would only require someone to have one pairing of the previously neutral stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus to establish and automatic response. This may explain why when I would be forced to take the syrup; I would throw it up right away, it was a conditioned response. Is there anyone else who can't stand taking cough medicine? What are some foods that people especially avoid because of bad experiences in the past? psychology.jpg

A Tale of Two Brothers


About 14 years ago, when I was 5 and my brother was 7, an incident happened at our house that was more drastic than any of its time. As I recall, my brother and I were playing a game where I was a traffic conductor, standing atop a bucket, and my brother was supposed to act as cars passing by. My parents were out to dinner and the babysitter had little control of the situation. I remember my brother speeding around the corner yelling "I'm gonna get you" as he smashed directly into me. Consequently, my parents had to come home to drive me to the hospital where I found out my brother broke my ankle.
My brother has a much different memory of the incident. He remembered playing cops and robbers instead. He thought I was the robber and decided to tackle me as he was running frantically around the house. He said he did not remember me standing on a bucket but he did remember saying "I'm gonna get you." He claimed I went to bed and did not go to the hospital until the morning.
It is understood that we actively reconstruct our memories in an attempt to recall them. Therefore, some sort of bias can influence what we recall. Americans are more likely to experience field memory, meaning we see the world through our own visual field when recalling memories. Because of this I think we reconstructed the memory to make the other person look bad in an attempt to save our own skin. According to my parents I did not go to the hospital until the next morning so my brother was right. However, they were not there for the actual incident so we will never know what actually happened that night.

Memory of a Tragedy

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We all remember the tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and after some thought I decided to compare the accounts of my family members to see what elements of their memories they focused on and how that affected them. My father recalls that he was arriving at work just as the news first broke out and he was very particular about how the people around him reacted when they heard the news; he saw two women crying, a man who seemed to be in shock, staring straight at the television uncomprehendingly, complete strangers hugging and praying together. He does not seem to recall his particular emotions or actions and described being much more aware of others. My sister on the other hand has vivid memories of her emotions and her understandable fear and confusion, with almost no memories of how others around her were reacting. After reading a study about how different cultures tend to store memories differently; People from eastern cultures recall their memories in the context of the other people around them, while people of western cultures tend to base their memories on themselves and their personal experiences. I thought it was very interesting that my father was more similar to eastern cultures when recalling memory, while my sister exhibited the more euro-american cultures in her recollection. My Dad has always told me that he was of france/irish descent was there something he left out?

Forgetting who you are, Forgetting who you love.



How would you feel if one day you woke up and could not remember who you were or who you loved? Well, that is the case with Paige and Leo, two main characters from "The Vow." After a tragic accident, Paige, wife of Leo, cannot remember who Leo is and her past memories of her most recent self. Art, which was once her passion, now seems to be a mysterious hobby. Furthermore, her relationship with Leo becomes torn as she gravitates towards the life she knows...the one with her upper-class family and old boyfriend. The permanent damage done to Paige's hippocampus leads Paige to gradually wander off from Leo. Fortunately, when the life between Leo and Paige break off for good, Paige starts to remember little snips of her past life. This, in turn, leads her to make the same actions (dropping out of law school, etc.) and reunite with Leo in the same coffee shop where they had first met. Ultimately (Warning: Spoiler!!!), Leo and Paige get back together again. At the end of the movie, it is revealed that the movie is based on a real life couple where the woman never gains her long term memory back. However, she does continue to live a happy life with her husband and kids.

Personally, I could not imagine being in Paige or Leo's situation. One cannot remember who they were and the other cannot be remembered at all. Although, I would feel that Paige's situation would be much more severe as she cannot recall any of those priceless memories made in the recent/non-recent past. Moreover, it would be quite frustrating to not know or understand who you are and who the most important people are in your life. Comparing long and short term memory, I believe your long term memory is more important. I mean, what would you do if you couldn't remember your place and life in this world and those most important to you? You'd feel frustrated, overwhelmed, scared, and a host of other emotions caused by your inability to remember. If I had to choose between Leo and Paige's situation, I would choose Leo's because it would be more than frustrating not being able to have those precious memories and not knowing who you are. Although there is heartache in Leo's situation, it's not nearly as severe as Paige's. So, if you were to choose between Paige or Leo's situation, whose situation would you choose? And if you were in their situation, how would you (supposedly) feel and handle it? Lastly, do you feel your short term or your long term memory plays a more significant part in your life today?

Can we remember what happened in our previous life?


Are you kidding me? How could that lady retrieve the memory of being trapped as an egg in her mother's fallopian tube prior to fertilization? That sounds impossible! For me I have no idea about what happened before I turned to 3, even though there might be some memory for that period, I do not know where I stored them.

However, there are more amazing people according to the articles I read. Do you believe people can remember what happened in their previous life or recover those memories with the aid of hypnosis? Brian L. Weiss was the Chairman of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami. The story of one of his patient, Catherine, can be a compelling example.

Catherine had a very serious issue with her anxiety. "She feared water, feared choking to the extent that she could not swallow pills, feared airplanes, feared the dark, and she was terrified of dying." As Brian did to most of his patients who suffered from the anxiety, he decided to find the original sources of her problems from her childhood. However, recalling the painful memory did not stop her terror and nightmare or say did not help her anxiety at all.

"I could not understand what was wrong. Could something have happened earlier than age three?" Brian wrote that in his book.

They began the hypnosis again. And after Brian's instruction, go back to
the time from which your symptoms arise, unbelievable things happened! Catherine began to describe herself as a girl called Aronda, who lived in a sandy and barren area. And with further and further the hypnosis went, she gradually recalled that she was a prostitute when she was a Spanish in 1756 and a boy who only wear animal skin in 1473 and other different identities in different periods. The more memory she recovered, the less anxiety she suffered and finally she got completely cured.

Do all these memory really come from her previous life or just something in her subconscious? If these "memories" are all hallucination, how can all the painful reactions Catherine had during the hypnosis be explained? If what Catherine truly recalled were the memory of her previous life, then where does the memory store?

the information of the girl who has the memory of being in her mother's egg comes from the textbook page265
the Catherine's story is stated with more detail in Dr. Brian I. Weiss's book < Many Lives Many Masters>
All sentences in quote mark came from Dr. Brian I. Weiss's book < Many Lives Many Masters>
picture:from the powerpoint of my art class: PsTL 1312 made by Heather Dorsey

Flashbulb Memories in Relation to Large News Events


When I began to research flashbulb memory more, I found many interesting facts that make me question much of my memories that I was previously confident in. Flashbulb memories relate to snapshots of memory from moments of large surprise or emotional arousal. The most famous of these types of memories for Americans is the tragedy of September 11th, 2001. Most Americans claim that their memory of September 11th is very vivid and that they are quite confident of its accuracy, but the truth is that their memory of this event that will be coming on its 11th anniversary this year is actually very false from what really happened. Numerous studies have been done on this particular flashbulb memory. They all consist of asking people their memory of the day close to the actual date it happened and then coming back later to see how closely the two match up. Very few people retain the same memory. The same has been shown with other largely covered news events like the trail of OJ Simpson, Assignations of important figures in American history, and natural disasters. Although these memories seem to just be for important dates in history for the country, they can also be more personal. Anything that has the same meaning for you personally can jumpstart a flashbulb memory. These are called autobiography memories.


Henry: It's gonna be alright, Luce.
Lucy: [to Henry] Don't call me Luce. I barely know you.
Marlin: Sweetie, you're sorta dating him.
[Lucy looks at Henry]
Henry: Sorry I'm not better looking.

Do you think there will be a person that would make you fall in love with them again every single day just as if it were day one? In the movie 50 First dates, yes.

Henry Roth starred by Adam Sandler meets Lucy Whitmore starred by Drew Barrymore in a café and is instantly drawn to her. Everything went well and they agree to meet again the next day, but Henry is shocked to find that Lucy does not remember a trace of him. He later learns that Lucy is suffering from a 'Goldfish syndrome' and that all the events that happened during the day disappear overnight. However, Henry does not give up on her easily. He does everything he can do, whatever it takes to keep their relationship going.

The 'Goldfish syndrome' is a fictional version of anterograde amnesia. This is the loss of the capacity to form new memories from the day that caused the amnesia. Anterograde amnesia is caused by the damage to hippocampus located in our temporal lobe. Damage to hippocampus causes problems with forming new memories, while leaving old memories intact.

It is such a tragedy having to suffer from any sort of amnesia whether it is the anterograde amnesia or the retrograde amnesia which we lose some memories of our past. Memories of our past can sometimes haunt us and sometimes people just don't want to remember certain events, but it is surely more terrifying not being able to remember against ones will. I guess it is painful for the person themselves, but it is definitely as painful for the people around them for the fact that they cannot be remembered. This is why Henry in 50 First dates personally seems like the most romantic guy that can exist.

Recovery From Memory Loss, Possible?

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The single most important advantage that humans have over animals is our abilities to recall memories. How else would we be able to communicate or even think of such simple invention such as a wheel? It is our recollection of the time when we struggled to accomplish simple tasks that drives us to come up with new inventions to better our lives. But who said it would always be peachy? Memory loss is regarded as losing several years of your life. The thought of losing 30-40 or more years of your life is terrifying, and this is why Hollywood loves to make movies from memory loss.
One of the longest movies I have ever seen (in my honest opinion) was the Notebook. This movie circles around the life of one couple, Ally and Noah. What happens is that Ally loses her memory (Alzheimer's) so Noah reads her a diary of their lives and in the end her memory returns for brief moment. As we all know it is near impossible that she has actually remembered their memories. Biochemically, Alzheimer's is caused by abnormal gathering of proteins known as amyloid-beta in the brain causing cell death (Hashimoto et al., 2003). Even if the neural cells had regenerated, it would not have the memory information that the previous cell contained, hence the memories are lost forever. The most logical explanation of the events that take place in the movie is that as Noah reads Ally the stories of their lives with all the subliminal hints that it is indeed the story of Ally's life he is reading, Ally starts believing that it is her past.
The similar situation is seen from the story of Paul Ingram. In that story Paul believes that he had sexually molested his daughters due to several environmental factors such as his daughters, religion, and authorities. In addition, he begins to disregard all the evidences that lead him to believe otherwise. Similarly, Noah's persistence in engraving the stories in Ally's head leads her to believe those things did happen, not that Ally had actually recalled the memories of her past.

Hashimoto, Makoto, Edward Rockenstein, Leslie Crews, and Eliezer Masliah. "Role of Protein Aggregation in Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases." NeuroMolecular Medicine 4.1-2 (2003): 21-36. Print.

Communicating with animals


Over the tens of thousands of years that humans have been living with and domesticating animals, we have grown to be a species that is very intertwined with our pets and other domesticated animals. Much of these bonds come from the apparent communication that occurs between people and their pets, but is this true communication? There have been many animals to learn some form of communication with their handlers, but in many cases it would appear to be a simple case of conditioning, when the animal does something, they are rewarded. On the other hand, there are instances of animals actually communicating, through body language and/or noises. Can you really argue that a cat hissing at you ferociously, while puffing up, backing into a corner, and swiping at you, is not trying to tell you that it is upset? Can you really say that a dog grabbing his ball and dropping it in your lap is not a dog telling you that it wants to play? Communication and language don't necessarily mean words and letters specifically. There are completely understandable ways of communicating without using words, one can go their entire life communicating effectively without ever muttering a word. Why does that have to be any different regarding communication between animals and humans?

Clearly unhappy cat
Mishka the "talking" dog

Alzheimer's Disease


Today 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimer's disease, and 14.9 million family and friends have provided 17 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer's and other dementias. Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative disease (gets worse with time) that is caused by protein complexes called plaques and tangles which develop in the brain and cause the cells to die. The disease has a distinctive pattern that is defined by the area it affects. The diseases starts in the hippocampus where new memories are formed, then travels to the region where language is processed, from there it moves to the frontal lobe, next it travels to the place where emotions are regulated, and continues until it destroys the part of the brain that coordinates the lungs and heart. Currently it is the 6th leading cause of death with an average span of 7-8 years and is the only one of the top 10 most deadly diseases that cannot be prevented, treated or cured. Current medications attempt to treat the memory loss and behavior changes that are caused by the disease. The current medication Aricpet is the leader in the treatment, and is extremely expensive and shows no significant improvement in functional outcome, quality of life, behavioral symptoms (UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence). Research at many major universities and companies worldwide (including the U of M), are looking for clues that will provide insight for treatments and hopefully one day a cure.
(an event I am hosting through my fraternity, to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer's)

A Lifetime Forgotten

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Though simple, this advertisement communicates something very powerful its audience--the emotional, yet frightening effects of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease, affects over 5 million Americans over the age of 65 ("Facts"), is the most common form of dementia that causes a significant loss in cognitive functions such as memory, thinking, and behavior. This non-curable, "progressive" disease "usually develops slowly and get worse over time," eventually leading to death as time progresses ("Alzheimer's"). Though Alzheimer's is one of the world's most well-known diseases, no official cure for this disease has been found, as of now. However, scientists believe that the development of Alzheimer's is linked to "a complex result of multiple factors," amongst which are age and genetics. Furthermore, many people wrongly infer that Alzheimer's is a disease something that humans naturally develop as we get older; this is far from the truth. However, the risk of developing this disease increases as we get older ("Dementia"). In fact, scientists have discovered that our risk of getting Alzheimer's nearly doubles every five years after the age of 65, which is quite the frightening statistic ("Dementia").

Despite the fact that there are no known cures for this disease, research has shown ways to both treat and prevent this disease from occurring. Many treatments are currently available that would help with controlling some of the "cognitive and behavioral symptoms" associated with Alzheimer's disease ("Alzheimer's"). As the disease develops over time, many of the cells within our brain begin to deteriorate and die over time, leading to such cognitive symptoms as memory loss because the connections between individual cells have been broken. Though they are not able to completely stop damage to the brain cells, medications such as Namenda have been made available by the FDA that control and "stabilize" these effects for some time ("Alzheimer's"). The treatment for the behavioral side effects of Alzheimer's has been known to be tough. Despite this, some researchers suggest that a change of environment might be beneficial to some of these patients, as they have found that discomfort within a given environment triggers many emotional symptoms such as anger and depression within a person with Alzheimer's. They also suggest the use medications as a way to managing these symptoms, though they are known to have many side-effects ("Alzheimer's). Finally, though it is not absolute, research has shown that the best way to prevent Alzheimer's disease is to lower your chances of getting heart disease, as "many of the same factors that increase your risk of heart disease can also increase your risk of getting Alzheimer's disease [...]" (Mayo Clinic). So by controlling such factors as high blood pressure, cholesterol, excess weight gain, and diabetes by staying "physically, mentally, and socially" active, we can potentially reduce our chances of getting this wretched disease (Mayo Clinic).

Yes, I know... this blog post was VERY long and informative, but discussing this is a great way to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease. Anyone who knows someone with this disease knows how emotionally daunting it is and would do anything they can to prevent this disease. I mean, just think about it. How would you feel if one day, you went to visit your father 10 years down the line and he couldn't remember you? I know I would absolutely hate that, because quite frankly, it would just be cruel and unfair. I can only pray that this never happens. So what do you guys think about this disease? Do you know anybody who has Alzheimer's disease and if so, how has this impacted you? Feel free to share your thoughts!

"The Facts on Alzheimer's Disease." American Health Assistance Foundation. 10 Jan. 2012. Web. 01 Mar. 2012. .
"Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia Guide." Alzheimer's Association. Web. 01 Mar. 2012.
"Alzheimer's & Dementia Causes." Alzheimer's Association. Web. 01 Mar. 2012.
Mayo Clinic Staff. "Prevention." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and
Research, 18 Jan. 2011. Web. 01 Mar. 2012. .

Losing Your Memory


Alzheimer's Disease is a serious disease. It affects ones memory, thinking, and behavior. It is serious because it gets worse and worse over time, and can eventually lead to death. You might think that because this is such a serious disease, that scientists would have a pretty good hand at what causes it and how to stop it. However, scientists are not fully aware of what exactly causes the disease. They believe is could come from three things: ones lifestyle, genetics, and the environment.
There is no cure for Alzheimer's but there are ways to treat it and slow it down. There are medications one can take and certain exercises to do to. Some of the medications include Donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine.The goals of these treatments are to manage the symptoms, change the environment in which one lives, and slow the progression of the disease.
Now if you are getting worried about getting this disease, it will be fine because there are ways to minimize your chances of losing your memory, however they are not proven. Some of these include eating a low-fat diet, maintaining low blood pressure, staying mentally and socially active throughout your life, and eating cold water fish. These are just a few ways but you can find out more at

Here's a cartoon that you might enjoy!

Losing Your Memory

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Alzheimer's Disease is a serious disease. It affects ones memory, thinking, and behavior. It is serious because it gets worse and worse over time, and can eventually lead to death. You might think that because this is such a serious disease, that scientists would have a pretty good hand at what causes it and how to stop it. However, scientists are not fully aware of what exactly causes the disease. They believe is could come from three things: ones lifestyle, genetics, and the environment.
There is no cure for Alzheimer's but there are ways to treat it and slow it down. There are medications one can take and certain exercises to do to. Some of the medications include Donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine.The goals of these treatments are to manage the symptoms, change the environment in which one lives, and slow the progression of the disease.
Now if you are getting worried about getting this disease, it will be fine because there are ways to minimize your chances of losing your memory, however they are not proven. Some of these include eating a low-fat diet, maintaining low blood pressure, staying mentally and socially active throughout your life, and eating cold water fish. These are just a few ways but you can find out more at

Here's a cartoon that you might enjoy!

Alzheimer's Disease

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Alzheimer's disease, or Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer Type, is a progressive neurological disease within the brain leading to the loss of neurons as well as intellectual abilities. Included is memory and reasoning which become so severe that they disrupt social or occupational functioning. There are essentially three phases that individuals pass through which include mild, moderate, and severe stage. In the mild stage, people may begin having trouble with memory and thinking. During the moderate stage people become more forgetful and confused, hence relying on more help with daily routines and activities such as going to the bathroom. In the late stage we are able to see that people may lose the ability to speak and experience a decline in physical abilities. Other disorders also included amongst these three stages are: arguing more often, trouble distinguishing shapes and colors as well as family, compulsive or repetitive behavior, and many more symptoms. Alzheimer's is a terminal disease or one that inevitably leads to death. However, there are many researches underway for the prevention of the disease. While there is little to nothing that can be done to cure it there are still ways in which scientists are trying to treat certain symptoms. In prevention, scientists have uncovered that certain foods, blood pressure drugs, and regular exercise and resistance training may all help prevent Alzheimer's disease. These are strictly scientific theories and in no way have been explicitly proven. The same goes for the cures or rather the ways in which to lessen the side effects of the disease since there is essentially no cure. Prescription medications for anxiety and that fight hallucination may b of great impact over those who are suffering. In the meantime scientists are researching many other windows of opportunity that may have positive effects on those diagnosed by this lethal disease. Families and patients around the world have been struggling with this disease, as over 5.2 million diagnosed are in the U.S. alone. This is a disease in need of a cure. - video of a patient with Alzheimer's.

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