April 2012 Archives

One of the concepts that we have learned this past semester is the fundamental attribution error, which is over valuing dispositional or personality based behaviors for an observed behavior and under valuing situational explanations for that behavior. This is one concept that I can see myself remembering for the next five years to come. I believe I will remember this concept because it was one that I really related to my own life. I am definitely guilty of doing this a multitude of times and I would hope now that after learning about it I will be able to keep myself from jumping to conclusions about someone's personality. This will be a useful characteristic in creating new relationships with people because it will keep me from assuming something about their personality that would otherwise keep me from giving them a second chance. It is true that first impressions are everything, but perhaps we all jump to conclusions too quickly on the first impressions we get. If everyone were to take the fundamental attribution error into account, I believe it would keep everyone from making quick assumptions and allow for everyone to be rightfully judged.

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The statistic of one in two marriages ending in divorce today has brought the subject of how divorce affects children into the eye of popular psychology. Many say that children with divorced parents are prone to long-term emotional damage and unable to maintain a meaningful romantic relationship. A twin study revealed that the children of the twin that had a divorce had higher levels of depression and were more likely to have substance abuse problems. These findings suggest that these circumstances would lead the child of divorce to be twice as likely to get a divorce themselves, continuing the cycle. However, studies have shown that the majority of kids get through their parent's divorce and can live their lives normally. Although studies suggest that the likelihood of the child being emotionally damaged depends on the amount of conflict between the parents before, during, and after the divorce. Personally, as a child of divorce myself, I believe that the parent's relationship and the level of negativity and cooperativeness in it greatly determines the child's emotional outcome. I have never had any emotional or behavioral problems and my schoolwork never suffered as a result of my parent's divorce (contrary to popular belief).

http://parenting247.org/article.cfm?ContentID=646

Personality

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I found the concepts in Chapter 14, Personality, the most intriguing. Among these concepts were how people express anxiety and use defense mechanisms (repression, denial, regression, reaction-formation, projection, displacement, rationalization, intellectualization, identification with the aggressor, and sublimation), Freud's idea of Psychoanalytic Theory, The Big Five Model of Personality, and graphology (the psychological interpretation of handwriting). However, the structure of personality is particularly interesting. Freud identified the personality as consisting of three parts, the id, ego, and superego. The id is the reservoir of our most primitive impulses; the ego is the psyche's executive and principal decision maker; the superego is our sense of morality. It is explained in the book with the analogy of an iceberg with the ego the most visible, the superego partly visible and the id completely hidden from sight. You can see many examples of this concept in pop culture movies in which a character is in conflict. The ego is represented by the person in conflict. Then suddenly, two miniature characters appear on the shoulders of the ego. The id is the devil who is only interested in their own wants and needs and the angel on the opposing shoulder is the superego which advocates for the ego to make the morally correct decision.
Example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnMGCUH-lLY

As a Child Psychology major, it is hard to place more importance on one aspect of psychology over another. So much of what I have read in the text and heard in lecture applies to my major in one way or another that to forget any of it would be unwise. But from a purely leisurely standpoint, I will remember best the different forms of conditioning. Conditioning is responsible for many of the negative behaviors children perform, and conditioning can be used to in something like ABA therapy to "cure" autism. Parents of children with ODD inadvertently reinforce negative behaviors, and through behavioral therapy, families can be taught to get along better. I'd also like to help children who are having difficulty with their peers, and using operant conditioning and behavioral therapy can solve that dilemma as well.
Conditioning can also be used to modify the behaviors of: pets, yourself, coworkers, your boss, your annoying neighbor, your girlfriend/ boyfriend, and many more! The ability to subtly control everyone could be quite evil useful. That is the thing I will remember most, and try to apply to my everyday life.

I have learned about so many interesting topics this year in Psychology 1001, it is hard to choose just one that will be the most memorable for me. However, I do know that I found the human development section most interesting and will likely remember a lot of what I learned about it for long to come.

I was so fascinated by this topic because I never really thought about how a child's brain develops or how different a child's brain is compared to an adult's. While I knew that children were unable to understand many puzzles and tasks that someone even two years older than them could complete with ease, I never understood why this was or how they developed these thinking abilities.

Specifically, the idea of self concept and theory of mind, or our ability to reason about what other people know of belief really stick out in my mind. It is so interesting how most children at age 3 are unable to knowingly deceive someone, but then usually around age four, children are able to. I specifically remember my older sister tricking me into believing that a penny was worth more than a dollar, so I traded her all of my one dollar bills for pennies!

This hilarious video goes to show how easily young children can be deceived by adults, check it out for a good, quick study break!

We tend to think of causation as a phenomenon that occurs in one direction. "A" causes "B". The cueball strikes the eightball at a certain angle and velocity, and we can precisely map the eightball's subsequent motion using mathematical formulas. The universe is rational and deterministic: laws govern reality as it plays out in an orderly and predictable cascade of events.

That's why the concept of "nature via nurture" is so memorable, and so striking. It forces us to alter certain cherished paradigms, to shift our "natural" views of cause and effect. "Nature via nurture" describes the mechanism by which genes shape the development of the self. It refers to the principle that our natural inclinations and talents tend to influence our environment, which in turn influences our inclinations and talents. It also describes a system within which causation is bi-directional: "A" causes "B" while "B" simultaneously causes "A".

I used to worry that there was a person inside of us, defined by our genes, that we were meant to become. I worried that personal development could be hijacked by environmental circumstances, generating a false, misshapen self--that is, a self tragically at odds with our genetic destiny. Of course these views were naively teleological, and a touch grotesque. Still, I couldn't help but harbor a certain anxiety that I had been betrayed by my upbringing, which operated as a kind of alien imposition on the self. The principle of "nature via nurture" functions as a nice corrective for these fears. It states, in short, that we shape the environment that shapes us; that whatever circumstances contribute to our development already bear the mark of the self's influence.

Final Blog!

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There are two things for sure that I will remember. One is nature V. nurture and the second is correlation V. causation.
When it comes to nature V. nurture I will remember that they both play an important role in everything. For example when it comes to children and their behaviors it could be a result from both nature and nurture. Meaning biological and the environmental conditions could have played a role.
Correlation V. causation has me think about things and how they could have a correlation but not be the cause of each other. When two things happen at the same time it does not mean one causes the other and this concept tries to prove this fact.
I will remember many other things I have learned in this class but these two are the ones I feel like I catch myself using the most. I like all the sleep cycles and the freudian beliefs too.

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Although this may not be the most useful theory in psychology, Sigmund Freud's ideas about psychosexual development are very interesting and memorable. This theory is a bit controversial and believed to be pseudoscientific, but Freud thought of it as a way to explain personality development through a series of stages around the erogenous zones. Freud believed that infants experienced sexuality, and without sexual gratification, children could become fixated on a certain stage. The first stage is the oral stage, which focuses on sexual pleasure in the mouth. Infants satisfy themselves with drinking and sucking. The second stage is the anal stage. Children are able to experience pleasure by moving their bowels. This also teaches them to learn to do so at the appropriate time and place. The next step, the Phallic stage, focuses on the child's genitals. The child will become sexually attracted to the opposite sex parent, and feel a rivalry with the same sex parent. For boys this is the Oedipus complex and for girls it is the Electra complex. This part of Freud's theory is the most criticized. The Latency stage is next, during which sexual impulses occur unconsciously. The final stage is the genital stage and sexual impulses become conscious again and mature romantic relationships are possible. These different steps are one of Freud's most interesting theories. However, the lack of research and evidence makes most modern psychologists skeptical.

Memorable Memory

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The most memorable concept in psychology for me to learn about was memory. I thought that it was so interesting that our memories are not as accurate as we would like to think they are and that there are ways to make someone believe that they remember something that happened, even if it did not. Memory was an interesting topic for me to read about because I have played piano since I was four years old and growing up, I always had to memorize my music pieces and perform them from memory. This skill has helped me in school since I was a kid, so I was interested right away in learning about memory.
I think I will still remember facts about the human memory in five years because I will still be aware that people's flashbulb memories can change over time, short-term memory only lasts between 10-15 seconds, and since I will still be in school in five years, I know that facts on memory relating to study skills will still be relevant to me. One concept in our reading about memory that stood out to me was that remembering is hardly ever exact and involves imaginative reconstruction that consequently makes humans create their memories instead of reconstruct them. We often think that we remember events in the exact way that they happened, but that usually is not the case!
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Final Blog: The Big FIve

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The concept of psychology that will stay with me beyond this semester is The Big Five. The Big Five traits of personality being extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. This lecture and discussion stood out to me because when I took the survey I got exactly what I thought I should in all of the categories which proves to me that the test is very accurate. The Big Five are also very simple and straight forward so the concept is easily understood. On top of the simplicity the Big Five apply to every single person unlike some disorders and a lot of other concepts that we have looked at. The Big Five is consistent across all countries and anyone can be measured on these five characteristics. The activity we did in discussion with us grouped by our characteristics is another reason this concept of psychology will stay with me. The activity showed how much our traits stood out and how obviously they are. There are a lot of psychology concepts learned that were much more complicated and also more interesting but this is one that stuck with me and I will remember in years to come.

The most important thing that I will take away from the class, is to reminded constantly of the correlation vs. causation aspect of psychology.

Not everything that we see, read, or hear about is true. We need to be able to turn on our filters, and really sift through all of the garbage that is thrown at us on a daily basis. We need to look behind the curtain, so to speak, and see if what we are being told is honest and true, done with well thought out experiments, and not just thrown at us to shock us into believing.

especially with election season right around the corner.

I really enjoyed the class, and getting to know some of you over the semester. I wish everyone well with their future life goals. Keep dreaming, and never settle.

I will leave by posting the sleep of reason by Goya. to remind us to be ever conscious of the world around us, and not to let monster come to life by failing to question reason.


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"the sleep of reason, creates monsters"

Years from now the thing I will remember most from taking psychology is classic and operant conditioning. While the tests required a lot of pointless memorization of definitions and knowing what research belonged to which psychologist, the ideas of conditioning was one of the practical things we learned this year. Knowing how classic and operant conditioning affects our subconscious sheds light on why people make some of their choices. I've found that having competence in these two things has produced awareness in my own life as to what may subconsciously affecting me. Knowing how people learn and why they behave the way they do can be applied to one's own life in order to get rid of unwanted behaviors, such as bad habits, and internalize behaviors that are more desirable. It also sheds light onto how advertisement may be shaping the choices we make. I've found that it's interesting to watch commercials and notice what stimulus is that they're trying to connect to the desired response. Classic and operant conditioning are two of the more practical ideas I learned this year and will remember years from now.

Conditioned Responses

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When I look back on this class in five years, I will have many thoughts and feelings about what i learned, but the one concept that will stick in my mind is how we learn. I remember reading the chapter on learning and being interested in how our brain takes in information. The thing that I will remember the most is Pavolv's dogs. I was amazed at the fact he was able to get the conditioned response of the dogs salivating at the sound of a bell. The most interesting part that I read was the story of little Albert. I think it's interesting to see that we can make people afraid of certain objects because they remind us of something else. Stimulus generalization little Albert showed was interesting to me because he grew a fear of anything that resembled a rat. This got me wondering whether we can get people to become afraid of completely random things like a microwave or a cell phone.
Now as the semester comes to an end and this class is over, I will always remember how can develop feelings about things for no reason whatsoever. And if someone asks me about psych 1001, I will tell them about those experiments.
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Final Blog: Babies

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The thing I believe I will always remember is the stuff we learned about babies. Since I want to have kids of my own one day, I thought it was very interesting of all the things that they are equipped with when they are born. For example, the infant child already has reflexes such as grasping and suckling. When they get older, there mind starts to get more developed as well but I did not realize the baby could understand basic impossible outcomes like the 1+1=2 project. I did not even think there was a way for scientist to measure if a baby could really understand what is going on. What also intrigued me was the fact that if one is playing with a baby and hides a ball behind their back, the baby thinks it is actually gone and does not understand where the object is. I found that was interesting that people could measure that as well.
As the child develops, so does their cognitive thinking ability. Soon, a child will be able to understand representation and will be able to understand lying, which may or may not be a good thing. A child will also begin to understand spatial differences and similarities like the experiment where the child has to compare the same amount of an object, like 5 coins, but it is a different arrangement so it would make it look like a larger amount. All these points and many more make having a child a little more in depth now to me than it did before.
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Personalities Matter

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One part of Psychology 1001 that I found particularly interesting was the section on personalities. My interest in this had a lot to do with the activity we did in our discussion section where we had to plan a vacation for our group. We were placed in in groups based on our levels of extroversion and conscientiousness. Seeing how differently all the groups' planning strategies were was incredibly interesting. The groups with high conscientiousness carefully thought out details, while the group with high extroversion and low conscientiousness made decisions more on impulse, without much attention to detail. The reason I think I will remember this is because of how pertinent it is to daily life. Whether it is work, school, or just social life, knowing both your personality and the personality of those around you can be extremely important, mostly for situations like we had in discussion. When you're working with a group toward a common goal, it is important to understand where peoples' opinions are coming from, and how that can affect the group as a whole. The best example of this that I can think of is noticing when someone in your group suggests something that might give them an advantage in some way, rather than being a positive decision for the group. Being aware of the motives and personality types in others can make a huge difference! As an example of why it is so important to be aware of these different personality types, enjoy this video of one of the strangest personalities on television:

http://youtu.be/_eD8RhPDU5Y

P.S. My apologies for the non-video. The embedding feature was disabled on this video, but it's a funny one.

Drugs are Bad

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The main concept that I am going to remember after taking Psych 1001 is that there is more to drug addiction than just deciding whether or not to take a drug. I have learned how drugs alter neurotransmitters that are released in the brain and that it is because of that reason that drug addiction is such a hard thing to overcome. I am very happy that I now know this information because after learning about it in lecture, and about ways that can be used to successfully end an addiction, I spent time learning more about drug addiction and learned about different ways that it can be fought. Since the brain gets habituated to the changes brought on by the drugs, more and more of the drug is eventually needed in order for the user to experience the same high that he or she once got. This is another reason why drug addiction is so hard to treat, sometimes a user cannot just quit, they need to slowly decrease the amount of the drug that they use until they are clean or receive a healthier substitute drug. Substituting drugs makes it so that the user is not at such a high risk for a drug related death, which is what occurs to heroin addicts when they switch to methadone.

Here the trailer to the movie Requiem for a Dream, which is a movie about heroin and cocaine addicts in New York.

This semester in Psychology 1001 has been very interesting and full of many topics that I hope to carry with me throughout my life. There are a few things, however, that I am certain I will remember after at least the next five years.

Social psychology is really interesting to me because it directly applies to everyday life.
Everyone is affected by the influence of society. In some way or another we all conform and I find it really interesting to see how we usually do not even realize how much society is influencing us. We consider ourselves individuals, but through being individuals, that gives us all something in common essentially taking away our individuality.

The reason that I know that I will remember this for the next five years is because I have always tried to stray away from social influences, but now I know that it is not necessarily a bad thing. If we were all dramatically different, there would never be any compromise in the world. On the other hand, we must be aware of social influences and not blindly follow what others want us to do. Therefore, I think that from now on, I will always be aware of how society influences me.

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Shaping

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One of my childhood dreams is to train animals to do tricks, and this dream has come true.
My favorite part in this semester is shaping, which has been proved to be useful after I trained my cat successfully. Shaping is a way to shape a specific behavior by the way of operant conditioning. Basically it gives a signal or treat when a human or animal dose the specific behavior, and the treat or signal serves as a reinforcer.
A classical example that shapes behaviors of animals by the way of shaping is to train a dog by clicker. For example, if you want to train a dog to stand up, you simply begin from the simplest step, like when the dog raises his head. When the dog raises his head, you click the clicker to let the dog know he is doing the right thing, and the dog will do this more often. Once the dog learns to raise his left paw, you can move to the next level, and in the end the dog will learn to stand up when you click the clicker.
I tried the whole process during the last two months. I bought a clicker to train my cat to raise his hand. I raised his hand whenever he raised his paw, like when he was walking or licking his paw. As time passed, he learns to raise his paw whenever I click.
Training my cat was a lot of fun, and I will keep doing this in the future to teach him more tricks, and that's why I believe I will remember this concept in the following five years, or even longer than that.

People and Personalities!

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I found a few things to be quite memorable from this semester! One thing that I found memorable was how people are attracted to one another. The fact that it's normalness and symmetry that attracts people just blew my mind because so many people in our world fight to be unique in order to be loved and that's not even what people want! And of course it stuck out to me that women are more attractive and symmetrical while ovulating... who knew, right? Well, I'm glad I know now! Another chapter I found very interesting was the whole personality section. People's various personalities interest me so much! We are all so different in how we act and react and feel that I just love seeing the differences. Now I find myself comparing people's extroversion or agreeableness from the Big 5 and I started thinking about the Myers-Briggs test and how all of those types vary between my own friends. (I'm ESFJ by the way) Not to mention the strength's finder stuff. Learning about all of that was just riveting for me, plus a lot of fun to take the quizzes and have them put into words how I act more one way or another. Watch this video and try to figure out what you are:

Then take the Myers-Briggs test and learn what you are in percentages and see if it matches up!!
http://similarminds.com/jung.html

After the semester learning about psychology, I think the most impressive part may be the Oedipus complex. I think I will remember it at least five years from now. The term oedipus complex generally means the concentrate upon a boy's desire to sexually poccess his mother and kill his father.Also the oedipus complex occurs during the third stage of the development process which is called the phallic stage. It usually occurs to the children who are three to six years old and also during the formation of the ego. Thinking back to my childhood, I can feel a little bit of my thought about the issue. Actually, it proves that it is true. I am so amazed that children can develop those kind of thoughts in such a young age. While Sigmund Frued proposed that the Oedipus complex is psychologically universal, he generated the Fruedian psychology as well as the treating method. All in all, Frued contributed so much to the area of psychology and we should always memorize his contributions and great discoveries as well.
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I think the main thing that I will remember five years from now that we have learned in psychology is the difference between correlation and causation. Many newspapers and other sources often get these confused and use them interchangeably. This can cause people to believe that those crazy correlations that we see in the news stories are actually causations. For example, if there is a correlation between playing more video games and a higher grade point average, people who are misinformed will think that all they have to do is play more video games and their grades will increase. It is very difficult to actually prove that one thing causes another thing mainly because it is tough to eliminate other variables that can have an effect on the process. After learning this in the introductory psychology course, I will be better informed and educated for when I am reading stories and articles in the future and it will help me avoid the correlation vs. causation trap that so many people fall into without even knowing it. I learned a lot in this class, but I think this is what I will remember the most.
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Perhaps the most striking concept talked about in Psychology 1001 was the segments about the self-consciousness. Despite the countless psychologists and philosophers who have investigated the source, nature, and workings of the consciousness, none have really made too many conclusive or comprehensive findings. Further, because the human experience is itself predicated on operation through the consciousness maybe we'll never really know the specifics or source of the consciousness. However, the segment presented in class was particularly fascinating because it made strides in pinpointing the location of the consciousness in the brain, and suggested that a unified consciousness controlling the entire body could just be an illusion. In particular, I don't think I can ever forget that the subject in the experiment wasn't able to name certain objects he was supposed to find, and yet his left hand and left eye were able to locate the object. This perhaps even suggests that there are multiple "consciousness" mechanisms working in the brain. Even when what we think of traditionally of the consciousness, controlled by the Wernicke's area, doesn't know the answer to something, the other, severed hemisphere of the brain was still able to take control and find what it was asked to find.

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Over the course of the semester, we have been able to learn about all kinds of different studies, disorders, and people. I believe five years from now that I will most remember the lecture on evolutionary psychology. I am biology major, and evolution is an extremely important topic in that field. Having some background knowledge about the psychological side to evolution will be extremely helpful in my future classes.
Learning about how males and females pick mates was a particularly interesting part of this topic. The lecture talked about how females picked males who were going to be the best providers. On the other hand, males would pick females who were young and could have the best offspring. Even though this all happened far in the past, it can still be seen today with older men desiring younger women.
Another interesting part about the evolutionary theory lecture is how stepparents treat their stepchildren. Stepfathers are more likely to injure or harm children who are not their biological children. This causes me to think about how in other species how rival males will kill the offspring of another male. This shows how in some ways we are more similar to animals than what we sometimes would hope to be.

Final Blog: Free Will

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In five years from now, I'd like to still remember that everything that I do is not exactly the result of my choice. There are a lot of reasons my body and brain connect me to my choices, that I'll never truly understand. With that being said, it will be important to me to listen to my instinctive choices and use my free will to decide how appropriate they are to my current situation. Our minds make us do some funny things, but they have withstood the test of time through our evolution. In some way, they must know what the right decisions are. Listen to your body, mind, and heart once in awhile, they've been operating correctly a lot longer than the information in any of our text books.

The BRAIN!

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I think one of the most useful topics we discussed in this psychology class was the areas of the brain, and their functions. The brain is so complex, and the book was able to label the brain into an easy way to understand all of the functions and area of the brain. I gained a lot of knowledge from this part of the class, and when I'm older this information will also be useful. I think the main reason why I will remember all the areas of the brain, and where they are in the brain is because I spent so much time studying for this part of the test. The most interesting part of the brain for me was the occipital lobe, and how it relates to visualizing information. One of the most surprising things I learned while reading the book was that each part of the brain, while it still interrelates, it still all has different functions. I was also very interested by Broca's area of the brain, and Wernicke's area. It was very surprising that such different areas could be used for different aspects of speech. Since all of this information was interesting to me I will remember for years to come. brain.gif

Final Entry: Memory

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One concept that I think I will remember 5 years from now is what we learned about memory. I found it very interesting that over time if you tell yourself something happened one way your memory will be that that is exactly how it happened even if it actually happened in a totally different way. This is something that I have encountered many times. Anytime people argue about the way things happened everyone has a little different because through time that is the way that you remember it and that is the way you will always remember it now. You could tell someone that completely wrong story of something that happened to you because through time you have almost formed a new memory through continuously saying something happened one way, when it could have happened in a much different way. Now anytime I have an argument or conflict on remembering how something happened when with a group of friends I will remember this concept. Its almost a little scary to now think when that happens none of us will really know what the real story is because who is to say we don't all have the wrong memory that is just one that we have formed to make it better?

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Do you have student loans? I recommend watching this short clip of President Obama slow jamming the news on Jimmy Fallon last night.

Humor and likability are persuasive ways to get people to vote for you. I think this technique is working well for Obama.

When you first log on to www.BarackObama.com the website asks you for your E-mail address and phone number. This is an example of the Foot-in-the-door technique, and I think that it works well. It is a very small request, with no money or time commitment involved, and may get the person involved sometime after the 2 seconds it takes to give that information over.

Another website that promotes Obama's re-election is his Facebook page. Facebook is a very powerful tool, especially if you're trying to garner the youth vote. One persuasion technique used on this website is the "Characteristics of the Messenger" technique.clooney-and-jpg
Obama is endorsed by and poses with one of the most famous and popular actors in the country George Clooney. Research shows that we're more likely to be persuaded if the message is delivered by attractive people. I think this may be preaching to the choir a bit, but if even the smallest percentage of people are persuaded by this, it would be a worthwhile technique of the campaign.

Final Blog!

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I guess for me the one concept that we have learned about that will stick with me in 5 years from now is going to be on memory and how we store information. Knowing things like the recency effect and how that affects memory will be helpful in tasks I need to complete in everyday life even if its as simple as going to the grocery store and getting food I can use the tecnique we used to make the objects fit into a story to be better remembered. So many more things we interesting to me but that stuck out as most valuable for me.

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bystander-effect.jpgWhile reading the tragic stories of bystander nonintervention, I was appalled on how the bystanders were watching these horrible events, and not doing anything about it. But after reading paragraphs on how safety in numbers is just a hoax, I came to the conclusion that this has happened in my life as well to a certain extent. The causes of bystander noninterventions are pluralistic ignorance, the error of assuming that no one in the group perceives things as we do, and diffusion of responsibility, the presence of others makes each person feel less responsible for the outcome. It has happened many times where I have seen a drunk or homeless person walking the streets, and my first thought is always that they need help, but then I look around and find that no one else is helping them so maybe I'm seeing the situation worse than it really is. Why is it that I feel the need to conform to what other people are thinking, why can't I just believe what my first initial thought was and stick with that thought. I was very interested in reading this part of the textbook, because it really stuck with me that as a bystander we don't help as much or as often as we should. What do you guys make of this picture, and how do you think you would react?

The Bystander Effect

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The bystander effect occurs when individuals do not bother to offer help to victims in an emergency situation while other people are also present. As the number of other people present increases, the likeliness of a bystander helping a victim decreases. One of the explanations for this is that with so many others around, individuals feel less responsible to help the victim. Other explanations include pluralistic ignorance and social influence, where individuals monitor the reactions of the rest of the crowd as the norm reaction. One infamous example of the bystander effect occurred in Paris, France in January 2006. Ilan Halimi, a wealthy French Jew, was kidnapped by a group of Moroccans called "The Barbarians" and tortured for 24 days. The kidnappers did this for the sake of receiving a 450,000 euro ransom. Throughout the 24 days of torture, multiple neighbors heard the commotion, but none called the police. Some instead watched and even joined in the torturing. On February 13, Ilan was left outside of Paris, tied to a tree. Body parts were missing and his body was difficult to even recognize. He was found but he died on the way to the hospital. This may be a severe case, but it shows how powerful the bystander effect can be. So what would you do, ignore the cries and fall in with the crowd or be the Good Samaritan?

What's With This IAT Test?

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I chose to take a demonstration IAT test that was associated with age. The test has the participant put their fingers on two keys on the keyboard, and then has them sort pictures of young and old faces. It then associated the word good with young, and bad with old, then has you again categorize the faces. The terms are then switched to young being associated with bad, and old being associated with good. Your preference is based on how long it took you to categorize them in each trial. After finishing the test, my results were that I have a "moderate preference toward young people." This test, and others like it (some of the other test options were weapons, religions, race, weight, sexuality) are designed to measure some of our unconscious prejudices. In my case, I supposedly prefer young faces to old. Some of the other tests measure a variety of prejudices including racism, sexism, and homophobia. I would encourage you to try one of the tests yourself:

https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/selectatest.html

Keep in mind though, when reviewing your results that it is still unclear as to whether the IAT actually measures stereotypes, or simply the awareness of these stereotypes. So, while these research methods do make some sense in their ability to recognize these prejudices, they still lack complete validity because the scores and their findings could be based on a handful of participants with extreme scores. Nevertheless, it is an interesting and worth while site to visit.

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Those of us who have siblings tend to have mostly friendly rivalries with them. Some, if not most, of us probably believe that we are more intelligent than all of our siblings; however, some research shows that the oldest sibling tends to have the highest aptitude. Now, for all of us who are not the oldest, we shouldn't worry too much. We tend to actually get better grades and be more extroverted. These results were found by surveying 90 pairs of high school siblings. The researchers believe that the oldest siblings tend to be the most intelligent because they received all of their parent's attention for a certain amount of time. They also believe that the younger siblings receive better grades because the older sibling could mentor them.
Some older studies about this particular debate found that the oldest sibling tends to be the most extroverted. This study had adults look back upon their childhood, and some of the people studied may have not remembered their childhood correctly. This study could not be replicated, so it violates the critical thinking principle of replicability.
Many of us may continue to ignore these studies and will still believe that we are the smartest sibling. It is still interesting that studies are able to show the general differences between many siblings.

Reference:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38683279/ns/health-childrens_health/t/sorry-kid-first-borns-really-are-smarter/#.T5RhtErvbLd


Birth Order

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"Firstborns tend toward achievement, middle-borns toward diplomacy, and later-borns towards risk taking." These are sayings that are widely popular but have not been proven. Many researchers have tried coming up with the proper test to see if this statement is true or not. Although their findings are rather inconclusive. First off, if a scientist or researcher found a study which could prove or disprove this claim, it must be able to be replicated otherwise it is not scientifically sound. Also, this claim is open to many other third variables that may cause this personality such as the child's parents were very hard workers so the child follows in his parents' foot-steps. Another third variable could be how the parents treat the firstborn and how they treat the last-born. Parents can change over time and many siblings who are older, say that the parents were much harder on them, which may or may not be true. Another principle to think about is if this statement can be disproved? I believe it can be just because I think there is much more to personality than just when you were born in your family chain. This may have a slight affect on how a person may act to one and other but I believe, all and all, the picture is much more than that.
This idea may be popular just like the statements given at the beginning of the book. Those statements are circulated throughout popular media and they make people think of them over and over again. I failed the test the book gives because that is what I was always told, not just from my parents, but from everything like cartoons. This just may have been said to people with different personality offspring. If they all came from the same place, then why can they be so different? This question may have sprung open this statement. birthorder.jpg

While thinking about Freud Sigmund, there are so many voices about this character. Freud was one of the first scientists to make serious research of the mind and at the same time, he collects so many statistics which helped him a lot building his theories. He did a lot of research and experiments on how we think as well as how we act towards specific issues. The method which he used was generally talking to people and analyzing their ideas by listening to them. Later, he proposed his theories about the three parts of people's mind which are id, ego and superego. It is still widely accepted in today's people's minds and taught by universities to pass on the knowledge. Under the theory, superego acts like a restriction which helps control the id. Ego is more like a intermediate good which helps a lot balancing the portion between the id and superego. It provides us the first reaction to the reality and leaves us a direct imppression on things we see. During that period, he also proposed his own therapy theory but it is not using frequently any more for the reason that the time is long and also the success rate is hard to measure. There are so much to say about Freud but I think I should stop here. But his contributions to the area will never be forget and it will surly be passed on by generations.
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Lying

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While reading the section in the book about lying and lie detection, there were various things that caught my attention. One thing that really surprised me was the statistics about how often people detect lies. Despite confidence and other factors, people actually only have a 55 percent chance of being correct when detecting lies. This was really surprising to me because I feel like I am better at detecting lies than only half of the time. Granted, most of the time, I cannot prove that someone is or is not lying to me, so I would never actually know if I am good at it.
Another concept that was really surprising to me was that the polygraph test is not as reliable as once thought. The reason behind this is that it relies on the Pinocchio response, which states that people's body's react when they lie and it also measures emotional arousal. I know from personal experience that I am a terrible liar and that people can probably tell from my body language, but according to the textbook, measuring the Pinocchio response, along with others, yield a high rate of false positives with the polygraph test. In addition, the main problem with polygraph tests is that they confuse arousal with signs of guilt. When I was little, we were taught to fear the polygraph test because people believed that it would reveal when someone was lying all of the time.
All in all, typical lie-detecting methods tend to be unreliable, but we rely on them anyway probably as a source of comfort more than anything.
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Trait Troubles

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Trait theorists conceptualize the self as a series of attributes. Individuals receive a set of scores based on the degree to which they possess the attribute in question: conscientiousness level 22, neuroticism level 15, etc. But can the self be reduced to a series of dimensions? There is an argument to be made that it cannot. The self as a collection of attributes is inert, passive, still. But, after all, consciousness is dynamic and protean; it can conceive of attributes and then decide to embody/imitate them.

But perhaps there are limits to the self's mutability. Individual differences exist that can be extrapolated from the self's movements and behaviors, even if they don't strictly bind the "I" like a rigid protocol or list of ingredients. Attributes can be inferred.

The question is, what do our "attributes" actually describe. Do they refer to a pattern of behaviors? Or do they point to qualities of consciousness, qualities of subjectivity? Does it feel different to inhabit a neurotic mind than it does to occupy a non-neurotic mind (o.k. the answer to that one is easy)? If we were to express an individual's instantaneous consciousness as a picture, would the picture look different if we increased his or her extraversion score by a couple of points?

Of course, the answer is that our attributes have both an external and an internal component. Still, I think we each have an idea of there being a "self" that's held in reserve, a self that's free of descriptors: the self as force, or will. The thought that even this self can be hemmed in and pinned down by a set of "attributes", I think, is somehow difficult to fathom.

Body Image

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My brother's girlfriend is a trainer and just graduated with a degree in nutrition. She constantly guides my family through what is healthy and necessary and what is not. Honestly, what I personally see (from experience) eating disorders to be is ignorance paired with insecurity. A lot of people simply do not have the correct information readily available as to how to 'diet' and do it properly. There is one diet I find particularly interesting because it is the diet of some of the most beautiful women of the world, or at least what beauty is considered to be now a days. It is the diet that Supermodel and Victoria's Secret Angel, Adrianna Lima, uses before runway show day. It seems ridiculous, paired with their strenuous workouts, but it is what gives them the final touches to their insane bodies before runway day and makes a lot of young women feel awful about themselves come time for the big day.
It all comes down to what is healthy versus what is sightly. What is in versus what is out. In the long run though, the only thing that should matter is the prize of health and vigor of body paired with self-esteem to match regardless of a man or woman's shape.
http://www.eonline.com/news/hwood_party_girl/adriana_lima_defends_liquid_diet_double/274140 (Here is the article!)

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I'm for it.

first and foremost because I think that two people of the same sex are able to fall in love with each other, and if they want to be with the person the love for the rest of their life, that is their choice.

I really don't see what all of the fuss is about.

Most religions seem to hate homosexuals, so i'm sure someone will comment saying that the bible said that marriage is between a man and a woman.
...well let me stop you right there because I am not a christian, so i really don't care what the bible has to say.

we are talking about people, real human beings with real emotions. Just because you aren't interested in falling in love with a person of the same sex doesn't mean that your neighbor might not be, and i don't think you have the right to condemn them for that.

sexual orientation isn't something you choose, it's the way you are born. By not letting homosexuals get married we are saying that there is something wrong with them for being born that way, and to me, that is ignorant and wrong.

it's as simple as that.

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Is Sugar Bad For You?

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I read three interesting articles on the health effects of sugar, which can be found linked below:

"Is Sugar Toxic:"
"Sweetener Myths:"
"Sugar is bad For Your Health:"


It is generally acknowledged that Americans eat too much sugar. But what types of sugars and how much, if any, is considered good for your health? We go to the internet for the answers, but who can you believe? Our job as scientifically literate citizens is to be able to figure out the accuracy and bias of any new information we come across.

I found "Is Sugar Toxic" to be free of errors or logical fallacies. Everything discussed had clear references to scientific studies, and all the names involved with them. Gary Taubes thoroughness made me confident that what I was reading didn't have a strong bias.

In "Sweetener Myths" I was reading the answer to a question about what the difference was between sucrose, fructose, and other types of sugar. Their answer was "sugars are all the same" at which point they referenced "a New York University nutritionist and author Dr. Marion Nestle admits, "the body can hardly tell them apart." The fact that the doctor had to use the word hardly tells me that there is a difference, and the motivation of the author is to get me to ignore that difference.

When I was reading "Sugar Is Bad For Your Health" I noticed the line "The body's attempt to use [refined sugar] results in the formation of toxic substances such as abnormal molecules containing five carbon atoms." To me, mentioning abnormal molecules is a way to confuse the reader and talk over their heads, thus making them believe your argument without understanding it. This lessens the credibility of this article, whether it's true or not.

I'm not trying to argue one way or the other on this topic, because if everyone approaches the available information scientifically, little argument is needed.

For a more in-depth and scientific look at this topic you can watch a very popular lecture given by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology.

Gender Testing in Sports

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Caster Semenya, a South African middle distance runner, won the World Championship in the 800m run in 2009. Following the championship, Semenya was required to undergo gender testing. Tests showed that Semenya has no ovaries or uterus, and has internal testes that produce extra amounts of testosterone; Semenya was unaware of these findings prior to the tests. Supporters of Semenya have put forth that she has nothing more than a birth defect and should be treated as such. This issue has sparked controversy as to how sexual development disorders should be treated in sports. The most popular solution is that whatever gender a person is raised as and believes them self to be should be the accepted gender. So for example, since Semenya was raised as a female, and believes herself to be one, she should be able to participate in female competition. This has been the predominant way of thinking since the championship controversy, and will most likely be the accepted practice as gender testing is on the decline in athletics. What do you think about this issue?

What influences our IQ

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Think about in television shows and movies where there is an impoverished kid who accomplishes great things. There characters are portrayed as inspirations because they are not supposed to contain high intelligences because of their unfortunate situations. However, is socioeconomic status really that influential in determining one's IQ and future success?
Psychologists have been trying for decades to see if there is an effect on IQ based on if the person is in poverty or not. In the 1970's, Arthur Jensen observed children in a poor part of rural Georgia and saw that there was a cumulative deficit. Over time, these children were reported to have a steady decrease in IQ by 1.5 points each year. They believed that because they were in a poor area, they couldn't develop intellectually compared to those in better learning environments. Another possible reason for this decrease in IQ was their lack of an adequate nutrition. I was surprised to discover that nutrition can influence one's IQ. I have to wonder though, whether these numbers are really caused by nutrition and socioeconomic status, and not some other factor.
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I started watching Say Yes to the Dress just a couple months back, and I have been very hooked ever since. Something about the pristine white dresses and the thought of marriage. The women in the show, I believe, represent a wide spectrum of brides, from the demure and conservative wife-to-be to the all out, "I'm a diva and this is my day" fiancée. Their price ranges go from affordable gowns from $1000 to extraordinarily expenses that the price is not even mentioned, or worth talking about. Point of the matter, every woman wants a dress that they will shine in, that dress that will leave their groom speechless. Of course, the groom is a very important and essential part of the whole show. Based off the episodes that I have watched, most brides seemed to have met their significant other in their own work place, showing the factor of proximity. And of course, since opposition can only attract so much, similarity is another crucial topic. Although people have some degree of differences with their significant other, I can put my money on them having more similarities. Having the same values and beliefs lays down a solid foundation from which their relationship and marriage can flourish.

The Paris Syndrome

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While reading a blog from last week about a student of ours who had come to America after living in their native land for years to notice how we have ways of doing things that may seem normal to us but are not common practice in the rest of the world I was interested about that and while reading up on the topic I came across an article on the Paris Syndrome. Basically this is a mental disorder that has been found to be exclusive to Japanese tourists in Paris when they come to find out their perfect view they have of the city portrayed in movies is false when they are confronted with its hustle and bustle and rude people they may encounter. It is common for the culture because they come from a strong background of respecting authority figures to respect others even if in a case of severe disagreement as was mentioned in the book and lecture which leads to a build up of frustration and anger and this can lead to a mental breakdown. The Japanese embassy there has a hotline just for this case apparently. Anyways it struck me as interesting so I figured I'd share it with everybody.paris-tm.jpg

I found information by an Anthropologist names Helen Fisher who spent the last 30 years researching love and intimate relationships. Her findings suggest the evolutionary background for love of another starts with a drive to feed ones sexual appetite, then the dopamine and serotonin changes in the brain help build a connection with another, and if the connection is reciprocal the brain has mechanisms of keeping these feelings novel and interesting. A common issue with our nuclear family idealism in America is we assume relationships are monogamous when evidence suggests our brains are capable of having the same connection with multiple people. On the bright side of things, Fisher expects divorce rates to decline due to our increasing age of marriage (studies show as couple age, divorce rates decline). Another interesting topic she presents is anti-depressants and love. Fisher explains that long-term anti-depressant use will affect dopamine and serotonin levels enough to hold back the ability to create an intimate connection and to keep that connection going in a relationship. This isn't to say she is against anti-depressants, just as long as they are short-term. I think intimate relationships are a fascinating subject because everyone at some point looks for love, but not one person goes about finding love in the exact same fashion as another. I think by finding universality, we are getting farther from understanding love because relationships are subjective, not mathematics.










Intelligence-based differences in gender has always been a much debated and speculated topic in psychology. A particularly popular theory that has emerged based on modern research is the idea that different genders have different intellectual differences in specific area. Our textbook specifically sites two important studies on this subject: Benbow & Stanley 1980 and 1983.

Both these studies used the MSAT mathematics ability test to collect data about the intellectual ability of both genders in this area. However, while both publications seem to settle on the theory that males are inherent stronger in mathematical reasoning ability, there seems to be a large room for error and alternative hypotheses in the studies.

First, one of the most significant factors that could affect results is the amount of interest that individuals have in mathematics. Neither study makes an attempt to control for how much involvement subjects had with mathematics. While the researcher argues that the age range they took samples from generally had the same mathematical coursework, most higher-level math thinking comes voluntary participation in math competitions or outside-of-class interest in math. This implies that the disparity in test-taking ability in math could have instead come from environmental differences that come inherently with a different gender that causes a disparity in interest in mathematics.

Second, another problem with the study is that it took samples only from the subjects of a talent search, taking subjects who fit into the criteria. However, even if the data was reflective of mathematical ability of this specific population, it still doesn't reflect the general population of all males and females. In fact, referencing previous studies on the IQ level of men and women, men have been showing to have a wider distribution than women. This leads to higher IQ ratings on average towards the higher range, and the same such disparity in the talent search could just be an extension of IQ statistics rather than insight on the physiological differences in math ability. In fact, specific data from the experiment supports this criticism, as the research sited a higher variance in boys' test scores compared to girls.

In addition, brochures were handed out prior to the study specifically stated that boys had performed better in the past, possibly causing a skew in the data. This was also a volunteer-based study, creating potential participation bias. In fact, recent data on this same subject has showed great improvement in female statistics.

In order to make definitive claims on this subject, more research needs to be done to account for the multiple extraneous factors that exist in this area.

Children and objects

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I have been babysitting my neighbors for the past 3 years. The girls, Kate and Lizzy, are now 5 and 3 so I have watched them grow up their entire life. I took an intro psych class in high school that taught me the basics about cognitive development. The most fascinating thing I learned was how infants don't understand object permanence. We learned in class that when a child plays hide and seek they think that if they can't see you, you cannot see them. I always thought that was kind of silly until I witnessed it multiple times where little Kate would hide in the middle of the floor and cover her eyes and think I could not see her. Also the shock on a child's face when you hide an object from them and it shows up two seconds later again. They do not grasp the concept of an object being hidden. The experiment that I am looking forward to trying this summer is starting with a glass of water, pouring it into a different shaped glass and seeing if they know that it is the same amount of water. I haven't ever tried this on a child but I know that most children do not understand that it is the same amount of water. Kate and Lizzy are extremely smart for their age but I am curious to find out if Piaget's theories hold true for them.

Polygraphs tests, or commonly known as a "lie detector" test, are often seen used in movies, television shows, and in real life. This produces the misconception that this test is a foolproof method to see if someone is lying. This test rests on the assumption that bodily reactions supposedly give them away whenever they lie. The test measures physiological signals that often reflect anxiety like blood pressure, respiration, and skin conductance. While this test usually does better than chance for detecting lies, it also comes with a high rate of false positives. False positives potentially put innocent people in jail, which is unacceptable. I think this is something that must be changed as we can't put innocent people in jail because some test, that is only occasionally right, said that they were guilty. This makes me question why the polygraph test is still in use at all because of its inaccuracy. The book mentioned that they use it to get confessions out of victims who think they got caught because the polygraph said they were lying. However, the book also mentioned that when people do not confess but the polygraph came out that they lied, everyone assumes they are guilty. I think this is something that needs to be eliminated from our justice system because of its inaccuracy.

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Emotional Darwin

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Darwin believed that emotions were adapted over time. His researched proved that even people who were blind showed the same type of facial expressions as others, when they were feeling a certain way. Darwin had 3 principles. The first are the habits that are inherited to kids by their parents, habits that we come up with, and the last principle is when we have nervous discharges. He also wanted to prove that humans and animals had similar expressions. I thought this was a really interesting topic. I have always thought of emotions as just being there. I was born and raised in a different country and moving to America I did notice many different forms of communication that people had amongst themselves here. I guess when you are born and raised in the same country you never really notice these cues unless you travel and see others use theirs. Thumbs up: was one of the things that we did not use back in Iran. Showing peace with your hand was another thing I was not really used to seeing. There are many minor things that can be learned really fast when you travel and thinking about it now I don't really remember what things were new to me. They all seem very natural now.

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Emotions and Bombs

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A major criticism of Lawrence Kohlberg's theory on moral reasoning is that his model assumes that our behavior is influenced first by moral reasoning and then by our emotional reasoning. I find this very hard to believe because I think that when making decisions, the moral aspect is secondary to the emotional aspect. An example of where this is evident is with Sara Jane Olson. Sara was a former member of a terrorist organization in the 1970s. She had planned to bomb 2 LAPD police cars because they previously had killed members of her organization. She was not caught until almost 30 years after planting the bombs and it is at this time when Kohlberg's theory begins to fall apart. If moral reasoning had been the most important factor in decision making, then people would not have stood up for her because of how nice she had been later on in her life. Morally, it should make no difference whether a person was caught right after trying to kill 2 police officers and they had been in jail for almost 30 years or if the person didn't get caught until much later. In this case, however, because people became emotionally attached to her, they let their emotions guide their decisions instead of morals.

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