Recently in Writing #6 Category

Remembering Psychology

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While there are many interesting topics in psychology, I think that the one I will remember most is the concept of scientific thinking. This will be the most useful in the future because it can help me identify whether an idea is accurate or if it is illogical.
This concept will help me with many things. It can help me identify many things. In popular culture today, there are many claims made about various things, such as politics, new products, and other various advertisements. By ruling out rival hypotheses, and considering correlation vs. causation, falsifiability, replicability, extraordinary claims, and occam's razor. By using these concepts, I will be able to prevent myself from believing many untrue claims. This could save me money as well, since I would be much less likely to fall for claims that are untrue, hard to believe, or not replicable. I can also then decide whether the evidence is actually causing the claim, or if the relation is merely a correlation.
This concept in psychology seems most useful to me. I think that I am more likely to remember this idea in five years because I would be likely to use it and practice it.

Don't Judge Me

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Here I sit, writing my final blog post a day late, trying to rationalize my sheer stupidity by making excuses for my forgetfulness. Of course, I have no trouble coming up with my justification: I'm the fiddler for The Lundstrom's Country Christmas Celebration, and this last weekend was opening weekend, which means I spent the entire time on stage. However, I can't help but notice an inconsistency in my reasoning. If someone else had forgotten about their blog post, I would have been quick to label him as lazy or irresponsible.

Funnily enough, my blunder is a perfect example of what I will remember most about psychology: The Fundamental Attribution Error. We're often quick to attribute others' failures to an underlying personality trait, but we rarely reflect the same harsh judgements on ourselves because we have a "good" reason for "why" we failed.

5 years is a long time. By then, I will be out of college and completely on my own, which is a reality completely altered from what I live now (a PSEO student living at home). But I'm positive I will remember the Fundamental Attribution Error not only because it's an incredibly fascinating phenomenon, but because it's fully-applicable to everyday life. Everyone makes justifications for themselves and judgements of others, yet simply in knowing that, it becomes a lot easier to look past one's own biases and see a situation in a whole new light. This changed perspective, this objective clarity, is what I truly hope to take away from Psychology 1001.

When do we Start Learning

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It is commonly asked through out the field of psychology "When does learning begin?". Our text book suggests that it is very shortly after birth that children begin to learn and the development of cognitive abilities ensues. However, very recent findings suggest otherwise. As discussed in this video, learning may indeed begin prior to birth. These findings would go as far as to say that many crucial things are taught through fetal learning. A study preformed showed that babies, immediately after birth, cry in the accent that they were raised amongst. This would mean that children can hear us speaking while in the room. In the video they proclaim that they hear their mothers voice most clearly and that it resonates with them, causing them to prefer it to other females voices after birth. The biggest and most interesting claim made by the lecturer is the reasoning given for why why children begin learning as fetuses. She claims that is is too prepare them for the environment that they will soon inhabit. The mothers diet and stress level directly influence the child. If the mother is not under stress and eats well, the baby can be prepared for a similar style of living, but if she leads a very stressed life and/or is malnourished, the baby learns that that is the life that is will have to become accustom to.

Graphology: Interpreting Handwriting

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I have always thought that graphology was real until I read about it in the psychology textbook. Graphology is the psychological interpretation of handwriting. Before that, I have often wondered if my handwriting really reflected my personality. What did the direction of strokes indicate? Did the size of my letters matter? So I did some research, and found that graphology was not reliable at all.
Graphologists examine handwriting in terms of loops, dotted "I's" and crossed "t's," letter spacing, slants, heights, ending strokes, upslant pressure, downslant pressure, etc. They believe that these are useful to help understand health issues, personality, mental problems and even hidden talents. For example, tall letters show pride and ambition, and dotted "I's" and "t's" show discipline.
However, these claims are not supported when they were put to the test. In studies where participants copied writing samples instead of providing samples from thought, graphologists did no better than chance at predicting traits. One explanation for this failure is because graphologists may have based their interpretations on the content of participants' autobiographies rather than their handwriting. Although graphology is not reliable, it is still widely used. I think it is still popular because people often try to find ways to predict others' personality based on surface information, falling prey to the representative heuristic. When it comes to personality analysis, it takes more than one aspect, such as handwriting, for indication.

Here is a video showing how graphologists interpreted handwriting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL0R3mhqBv0

Culture and Social Psychology

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http://www.ted.com/talks/sheena_iyengar_on_the_art_of_choosing.html


This video explores different cultures and how they perceive and react to choices when presented or not presented with them. This woman claimed that Americans are not as happy or satisfied overall due to the amount of choices they are presented with, and also pushed that choices should be withheld, rather people should look at situations in different ways. The presenter in the video was very absolute about her experiments though and what their findings definitely meant.

This bothered me first of all, but second of all made me wonder how much our reaction to choices was altered by the culture we were raised in. It would be interesting for me to see how differed the results of social psychology tests would be depending on where these tests are produced. I wonder if there are completely different social psychology institutions around the world that come up with completely different theories.

Secondly, this woman was very absolute in what she was saying the findings must mean about the world. This bothered me because there are many confounding variables that she didn't decide to mention, so in my opinion, everything that she was saying, even when paired with all the studies presented, were just inconclusive. There are way too many confounding variables.

In the end, I just wonder how exactly social psychologists come up with any sort of conclusions because reactions to certain stimuli have so much to do with background culture and the exact situation in which it was presented. I also wonder how different the findings are depending on region of the world. I also wonder why Americans are so similar according to the presenter if we have such a diverse culture.

It Sparked My Interest

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It has been a very interesting year in my psychology class, but the concept I will most remember in the future is how the corpus callosum is so important for the transfer of information between the two halves of our brain. However, I especially will remember the split brain effect. I found it extremely intriguing that one of the studies in our book found that even though we see both of the presented images, our interpretations and speech are influenced due to what functions are controlled in each hemisphere of our brain. Since speech is controlled in our left hemisphere, whatever goes to our right hemisphere must be transferred to our left hemisphere via the corpus callosum in order for us to talk about that information. I feel that I will remember this in the future because of how easy the concept is and how interesting it is to me. I took for granted how complex our brain really is and how completing a seemingly easy task requires many steps to ensure that it is performed smoothly. I have always wanted to know how the brain works, and the transfer of information between the two hemispheres of our brain is a crucial component to learning about how our brain works.

STRESS!!

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Everybody goes through periods of time in their life where they are connected with high levels of stress. Lilienfeld defines stress as a type of response that consists of the tension, discomfort, or physical symptoms that arise when a situation strains our ability to cope effectively. Meaning how an individual reacts to a tough/dangerous situation, both mentally and physically. Since everyone is involved with stress, whether it's as big as the loss of a loved one or as little as going on a date, the importance of low stress lifestyles is becoming more significant.
How an individual handles the stress thrown at them is how most people differ. People, especially students, tend to find little ways or techniques to deal with the stress that they are given. The thing is, nobody really understands the importance of lowering your stress. When you're under high loads of stress your body gives off toxins and hormones that throw off your bodily balance. High levels of these toxins can lead to an endless list of effects such as; hair loss, an imbalance in the digestive system, an increase in cardiovascular disease and is even known to increase the risk of asthma and diabetes. The health problems associated with high levels of stress are extremely alarming, especially with the constant increase of obesity in the United States. If a child develops asthma at a young age due to continuous high levels of stress, he/she is more likely to not get adequate time of physical activity everyday. Which will lead to an increased risk of becoming obese down the road. Obesity is nothing to joke about and is on the rise, showing little evidence of when the numbers may plateau. Overall, stress is everywhere you go, you just need to take one step back and think about what is going on. Try to use any method possible to reduce extended periods of stress because you only live once, why waste it with health problems due to high stress levels.

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Writing 6

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I am going to be talking about two of my favorite tv shows and how they relate to psychological topics I've read in the lillenfeld text this semester. The two shows are It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League. Both shows are almost entirely based on dialogue and Person to Person interactions. Also both are comedies about adults who are somewhat immature. Both shows showcase many psychological constructs.
One concept from psychology that both shows refute is the like likes like hypothesis. This basically states that we like those that like us and are nice to us and dislike those that dislike us and are mean to us. In Sunny one of the main characters Dee is almost always nice to everybody else but they all rag on her all day and none of them like her, even though one character is her brother and one is her father. In The League one of the main characters Andre is by far and away the nicest guy in the group and goes out of his way to do nice things for the others, they react to this by being the most mean to him and using him consistently. Both cases show that like likes like may actually not be true.
There are also psychological constructs that seem to be supported in the shows. In an episode of The League one of the main characters Kevin is being trained secretly by many of the other individuals. His wife stomps her foot when she wants him to do something and one of his friends clicks a pen to get what he wants. Kevin is completely oblivious to this but is conditioned to do what they want after the stimulus. In Sunny there is an episode that is focused on addiction studies and how Dee and Charlie get addicted to cocaine. It follows many things outlined in the text.

Scientific Thinking Principles

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In five years I think I will still remember what I learned about the six scientific principles of psychology. These principles will stick with me because they can be applied to multiple aspects of life. For instance falsifiability will be helpful when pseudoscience is prevalent. When ads appear on television I will now know if they can be trusted or not. I've learned that many of these ads do not have replicated studies to back them. The ads also have a lot of reliance on anecdotes. These results can vary from person to person and do not guarantee the same results for everyone.

Another scientific principle that will come in handy would be correlation verse causation. Just because two things are correlated does not mean that one of the events causes another event. I think this will be helpful when making assumptions about either how people act or about certain situations. All of these scientific principles will be helpful in the future when dealing with the life experiences that are sure to come.

Future Psychology Nostalgia

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In five years from now I hope to be holding down a job at a company I love to work for, making money, and living the "American Dream". In five years from now I will also be looking at those four golden years of college and remembering my Psychology 1001 class I took Freshman year. Although many concepts were discussed, there is one concept I won't forget: the James-Lange Theory.

Although this may seem like a very interesting theory to select, it is the one theory I learned this year that completely challenged what I thought I knew to be true. I had always thought that when I get into certain situations of anxiety or fear that my physical reactions stemmed from my emotions. To James and Lange, my preconceptions would be false: they say that my emotions stem from my physiological reactions to stimulus.

It is because of this very theory that every single situation I enter I always think about how my body is reacting and the emotions I am feeling. I challenge myself to consider which came first and whether or not my emotions are realized before or after the physiological reaction occurs. This is a concept that will continue to perplex me for the rest of my life, and certainly is a topic I will be thinking about every day 5 years from now.

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