Recently in Writing 1; Section 4 Category

Classical Conditioning

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One concept that I have learned this year in Psychology that I will remember five years down the road will probably have to do with Pavlov's research and discoveries regarding classical conditioning. When I first learned about Pavlov's experiments with German shepherds it made me think of my own dog and how we got her to learn tricks. It's funny, sometimes when I make her do tricks I even think of Pavlonian conditioning and how she was able to learn how to do the trick because of the conditioning process.
The thing about classical conditioning that I think is unique is that it doesn't only apply to dogs. It applies to humans too, and in more ways than I thought. As a refresher, classical conditioning is based on acquisition-the learning phase that a conditioned response is established, and extinction-the gradual reduction and elimination of the conditioned response.
Phobias and addiction to drugs are hugely based on classical conditioning. A person can overcome their fear when they are repeatedly presented with the conditioned stimulus. The conditioned response may be large at first but overtime it will gradually get smaller (extinction). And when dealing with drugs, we saw that when an individual is exposed to the drug and does not take it to receive the effects, eventually their desire and craving to use the drug will diminish.
I've learned a lot about human behavior and how we function in this psychology class, but I think that a lot of our behaviors come back to the idea of classical conditioning. And I don't think I'll be forgetting it anytime soon.

Stranger Anxiety

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The first thing I saw when I entered my dorm room at Sanford Hall last year was my roommate, we'll call him The Zellmenator. I was a bit taken aback because his eyes were glued to his computer screen, he barley acknowledged my presence. After a while this type of behavior didn't surprise me in the slightest, it did however create interesting reactions from friends that I brought to the room. Every time I brought someone new to the room i would introduce them to The Zellmenator and every time he could hardly bring himself to look away from his computer screen for one second to greet a new stranger. At times I found this amusing, at others I found it quite maddening.
At around eight months infants begin to display stranger anxiety a phenomenon where babies exhibit extreme fear and other negative reactions when met with a stranger. The funny thing is two months earlier the same baby would have been over joyed to meet a new person. Stranger anxiety might serve as an evolutionary defense mechanism because at eight months infants begin to learn to crawl on their own, and maybe get into trouble. This anxiety might help to protect them from dangers like unknown adults. Behavior like this gets worse until 12 to 15 months of age and declines as life goes on.
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So my question is why would a seemingly fully developed college freshman show such strong signs of stranger anxiety? I'm sure the Zellmenator had meeting strangers his whole life and I would think that he'd be able to realize there is nothing to fear, because after all according to the research he should have lost this fear years ago. What could be an explanation for his fear of strangers at Sanford? Was it just the overwhelming rush of the socialization that happens during freshman year or is there a psychological explanation for his reactions to new people?

Our memories...

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False memory phenomena, also known as false memory syndrome, recovered memory, pseudomemory or memory distortion is the belief that certain events, usually traumatic events, have occurred when they actually have not. Traumatic events would usually be acts of abuse or violence during childhood. In the Paul Ingram case, Paul's daughters Ericka and Julie accuses him of sexually assaulting them and even though their stories were not consistent, Paul confessed that he did commit this crime. He first made himself believe that he did such a thing, which came from the idea that the police told him to do called "experimental confession." Experimental confession is the idea that if you confess of something you did then eventually you will remember what really happened. This caused Paul to believe to the end and it cost him 20 years in prison.

In a less traumatic study, people were convinced that they saw a demonic possession some time during their childhood. Some were given false feedback and others would not. As a result, those who were given feedback were more confident that they did see a demonic possession as a child.

I find it striking how easy false memories can be planted in our minds and change what we remember or believe to be true just from a suggestion someone else recalls. False memory phenomenon also makes me think of the times when I try to recall a memory and suggestions from other people or false memories that might have been created from our imagination convinces me that something occurred when it really did not or it is more of an extracted truth because of the false memories planted. Not that this occurs a lot but I always doubt memories that are more vivid. Yet, studies say that some of the memories we are more confident about can still be false memories...

Instinctive Drift!

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Instinctive drift is the tendency to return to an evolutionary selected behavior following repeated reinforcement. This can be seen in many mammals form pigeons to chickens to raccoon, pigs and many other animals that can be trained with operant conditioning. The example the book gave was of a cute little story where animal trainers Marian and Keller Breland taught animals such as a raccoon to do tricks like dropping coins into a piggy bank. What they soon found was even after conditioning the raccoon would start to rub the coins together and dip them into the piggy bank but not drop them. He had reverted back to his instinct of washing seeds in a stream to clean before eating. Another example is a pig that was taught to bring wooden disks into a piggybank that after being conditioned would spontaneously drop the disks and push them with its nose in a rooting fashion. These odd occurrences were explained by instinctive drift. The raccoon reverted back to washing the "seeds" (coins) and the pig went back to rooting (dropping and nosing the disks). This shows that our instincts can be very strong and in situations similar to our instincts we can in a way "unlearn" what has been taught to us. Not necessarily unlearn but have our instincts take over us. Instinctive drift maybe some of the reasons why some people cheat. The institution of marriage or a relationship is a learnt process where our instinct is to compete and mate with the best to procreate and therefore pass our genes down as much as possible. Murder may fall into this case as many animals fight and kill each other over territory and mates. The real question is can we blame what is in our nature?raccoon_in_stream.20112019_std.jpg

As human beings, we take for granted our sense of being, our personality, what makes us, well, us! We don't wake up every day asking ourselves, "How did I just wake up?" "What is guiding me?" "What drives me to do the things I do?" But the BBC video with Marcus de Sautoy gave me a new, unique view on our own consciousness. Whenever we do something, our brain is acting in coordinance with our sense of self... our "consciousness." But where exactly does this consciousness come from? And who is in charge of it?
The right button/left button test that Sautoy underwent fascinated me. The fact that scientists could predict which button Sautoy pressed 6 seconds before he actually did it was astounding. It made me wonder though, how could this happen? It is kind of scary to think about this concept of how someone could consciously know what we are going to do without us being aware of it. It brought me to a much larger epistemological question of "How do we know what we think we know?" The entire video tries to answer this question, but in my mind, I don't think we will ever discover the true mysteries of our consciousness. How can we solve our own inner mechanisms, our beliefs, our desires? The very thought of all this burns out my brain and makes me want to just not think about it because it is so unbelievably mystifying.
Furthermore, the red dot test that Sautoy surveyed also led me to an interesting question. If the little girl doesn't pass the consciousness test, who is she as a person? Is she conscious? Is she aimlessly viewing the world as a completely different individual? Is there a "switch" that at some age we turn on and then we are conscious? This video led me to so many abstract questions about our internal "self." We as humans strive to solve so many problems in our external world, but have we even decoded our very own being? Do we even know who we are?consciousness.jpg

nature_vs_nurture2.jpg I found an article on Science Daily that talks of a study conducted by Dr. Michael Craig and Dr. Marco Catani from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London that says sociopathy is linked to certain deficiencies in the brain. This article supports the belief that nature holds more of the responsibility for the construction of ones character as opposed to a person's environment. However Doctors Michael Craig and Marco Catani have also said that if these findings are repeated it will be hard to underestimate them. So as of right now we cannot know for sure if this study is scientifically valid. This study is interesting because it shows that people who become sociopaths were predisposed biologically to behave that way, and that traumatic experiences during childhood might not play such a large role as many people once believed.
Personally I believe that the findings of the Craig's and Catani's study will hold because they found the deficiencies using the powerful imaging technique of DT-MRI to locate the differences in the sociopathic brains, which sounds to me like a pretty reliable source for information. I do however believe that nurture can play a part. If someone who is predisposed to becoming a sociopath never experiences a traumatic event that triggers that certain part of their brain they may never become crazy, whereas someone without these odd tendencies of the brain might see something awful as a child and simply snap. While still can't know for sure the answer to this great debate the work done at King's College in London make a good case for nature.

This is Dexter he is sociopathic killer, who also happens to solve crimes for the police and who grew up with a father who loves him, his brain however is compelled to kill.

In chapter 10, I can see that how experience, especially early experience, and gene affect the growth and development of children. The chapter describes the procedure a child grows up and how his/her brain comes to be maturer.
Because of the fast growing of children in their childhood, experiences have important influences than later experiences in shaping them as adults. What interested me is that the what is the causation bewteen experiences and personality. Like what Lilienfeld mentioned in the book that suffered highly fearful tend to seek out environments that protect them from their anxieties. However, those children could take more anxious when they grow up than those who grow up in safe environments. That is, the danger environment one grows up in, the safer environment she/he would seek out as he/she grows older. We can see how experiences affect rest of people's life.
I can relate this with my friend's experience. She growed up in a family full of fights, her father and mother quarreled with each other everyday and in the end they got a divorce. With this experience, she is afraid of marrage after grown up and does not trust men whatsoever. This is a tragedy of her and I can see that how important that the influences of early experiences are.

Forecasting Happiness

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I had to read chapter 11 of the textbook, and this chapter had to do with "emotions and motivation." The thing that I found most interesting in this chapter is the section of forecasting happiness. According to this section, we are all fairly poor at predicting our happiness. According to the theory of forecasting happiness, we tend to overestimate the impact of events on our moods long-term (Lilienfeld, 426). The most remarkable thing about this section, is that ther have been studies that show when people become paraplegic, their baseline level of happiness return to normal after a few months. Adversely, when someone wins the jackpot for the lottery, their happiness shoots sky high immediately after they win. But then a couple months later, their baseline happiness returns to normal, as well. This all relates to the "hedonic treadmill" hypothesis (Lilienfeld, 427). This is the idea that we all adjust to our baseline level of happiness and unhappiness. So, in the end, this section of the chapter talked about how one cannot accurately forecast happiness, and that our baseline levels of happiness and unhappiness can adjust very quickly. Lottery.jpg

Chapter 9 IQ test storm

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The chapter 9 is talking about intelligence and IQ testing which is divided into 5 small topics. At first, the book gives us the definition and then talks about intelligence testing, external factors' and group influence on IQ and other dimensions. (Chapter 9 Page 316)

It struck me when I get to know that the simple word intelligence has so many different definitions and comprehensions according to different psychologists. The concept becomes more and more accurate and complete after the hypothesis and research raised by psychologists in different generations. When I saw the new words fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence, I am so excited because they are quite new to me. Then, I realized that the friends around me who are easier to learn new knowledge and learn faster are better in fluid intelligence. On the contrary, the friends who can remember words and history dynasty quicker are good in crystalized intelligence. The distinction of two concepts helps me understand my friends and myself better.

The content attracts me the most is the way to calculate IQ. To be honest, I am really curious about my IQ and did some so-called authoritative tests before. But when I was doing the test, I felt something might be wrong although I always got high scores at end. Besides, I think there are a lot of knowledge and statistics in calculating IQ. According to the book, the way to calculate IQ for children and adult are different. Because once we are 16, our performance on IQ test items doesn't increase too much. (Page 327, 3rd paragraph) Besides, in order to compare our IQ to others, the system of IQ testing needs a set of dorms. That is what Terman contributed to us. As a matter of fact, nowadays, IQ testing has been misused which cause big damage to the society. They are used in business rather than helping schoolchildren who need special help. (Page 327)

Read it and Weep

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Chapter 16 focuses mainly on psychological and biological treatments. Psychotherapy is a psychological intervention designed to help people resolve emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal problems and improve the quality of their lives. A poll found that about 20 percent of Americans have received psychological treatment at some point in their life; however, some people choose to do "personal psychological treatment" as well. Every year Americans spend over $650 million on over 3,500 new published self-help books that promise everything from happiness, to wealth, to weightless, and more. Researchers refer to this as "bibliotherapy," (the effects of reading self-help books).


Only a small number of studies have been conducted to suggest that bibliotherapy can actually lead to improvements. In fact, the majority of self-help books are untested and they usually only address everyday minor problems. Often times self-help books promise unrealistic or far stretched solutions, which in return cause readers to feel like they "failed." Because of this Hal Arkowitz and Scott Lilienfeld offered the following recommendations about selecting self-help books...
- Use books based on valid principles of change and that have research support.
- Evaluate the author's credentials.
- Be wary of books that make far-fetched promises.
- Beware of books that rely on a "one size fits all" approach.
- Seek professional help rather then self-help alone when it comes to more serious problems
Self-help books and bibliotherapy should not be disregarded completely, but rather, people should be cautious about how much they can actually help with problems. Although bibliotherapy is better than no treatment at all, psychotherapy is best for dealing with more serious issues.


More than Words

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"60% of all human communication is nonverbal body language; 30% is your tone, so that means 90% of what you're saying ain't coming out of your mouth." - Alex "Hitch" Hitchens from "Hitch"

(Statistics above may or may not be correct, examples used are for qualitative purposes only in order to demonstrate a point, actual figures may vary.)

Chapter 8 begins with the unrealized complexities of communication such as word and sentence composition, dialects, physical gestures, volumes, tones, and expressions. It then talks about learning languages as either your first or additional languages.

What particularly struck out to me was extralinguistic information. This says that, although language is thought to be self-explanatory, there are many things involved in communication that is completely separate from the actual words used.

This reinforces a topic I often rant about; texting. I'm not saying that these should be eliminated because it has its time and place and has benefitted me greatly over there years. However, such forms of communication can turn simple sarcasm or jokes into a potential nightmare.

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So much of communication is eliminated in such a format. Smiles, chuckles, rolling eyes, and obvious joy is stripped from the words leaving plain text which is far too little information for interpretation of what is actually meant. This leaves these methods to require careful treading if relationships are to be maintained. So next time a serious conversation begins, let it be in person and don't underestimate the power of body language for it just may save the day from heartbreak.

Good Communication = Happy Relationship

The first half of chapter three begins talking about the nerve cells. The biology and chemistry of how nerves communicate with each other as well as how the brain has plastic properties, meaning it can change. The chapter continues on by introducing both nervous systems; the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Next, section three describes the endocrine system and what hormones are along with how they affect behavior. Lastly, section four covers techniques on brain simulating, recording, and imaging.

Upon glancing over the chapter, the part that stuck out the most to me was the left-brained vs. right-brained people. The misconception states that left-brained people are logical, scholarly, and analytical. While right-brained people are artistic, creative, and emotional. However, both sides work together in a complimentary way. The corpus callosum connects the two hemispheres to ensure they work together.

Chapter 15 begins with an overview of abnormal psychology, addressing the history of views of mental illness and discusses the complicated issue of defining mental illness. In so doing, it introduces the concept of a "family resemblance view" rather than a strict definition. This seems to be a very useful view as it works well with the fact that mental disorders may have several similar features rather than any defining characteristic common to all of them. From there it summarizes specific mental disorders such as anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, mood disorders, and culturally specific disorders.

In its discussion of defining a concept of mental illness, the book touches on many misconceptions held by the general public. As a subject which is difficult to define and classify for experts, it makes sense that the rest of the population would hold many erroneous beliefs about mental illness; however, many of these seem to stem from much simpler misconceptions such as those discussed at the beginning of the textbook. People may see pop psychology labels or "dueling expert witnesses" and conclude that diagnoses are meaningless. Some also deny the existence of mental illness entirely perhaps because of a belief that the mind exists in a magical realm entirely outside the brain similar to historical beliefs about the spiritual nature of mental illness.

Stress, the strain of change

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Chapter 12 is about stress, coping and health. Stress is a response to an event that is difficult to cope with. Not all stress originates from negative events and not all stress is a bad, but it is generally a good idea to have lower levels of stress. How stressful an event is varies from person to person, but major changes in someone's life will always cause stress to some degree.

High amounts of stress can be problematic because they tend to increase the risk of health problems. Several studies have shown that higher levels of stress increase the chance of catching a cold or heart disease. While stress itself may not be the direct cause of these problems, it could cause other activities that weaken the body and make the body more susceptible to disease.

Coping with stress is important because it determines how we react to the stress we are under. There are many ways to cope with stress and choosing the best way for each situation is the best way to reduce stress. Not all methods of coping may be useful in every situation. If a coping method is ineffective it may cause more stress stemming from an inability to reduce stress.

Stress is a part of everyone's life, and how people deal with stress is important because it has an effect on the mental and physical health of the person.

Whoops! Freshman year...

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It seems to be a time when a lot of people lose their way.


The phenomenon of freshman year was the first thing that came to my mind when reading about deindividuation- the tendency of people to engage in atypical behavior when stripped of their usual identities (Lilienfeld, p. 502). To some degree, we are all displaced our first year at college. Freshman year forces kids to go through the exact process of deindividuation. Nobody knows who we are, and we have lost our reputations completely. It makes sense that someone like the football team captain from high school could feel displaced going to college where his reputation no longer holds any weight. And the quiet girl, who is just as anonymous as any other freshman at college, can be equally as vulnerable to college social influences like drinking and partying as the girls who used to blow off their studies in high school.

A lot of people admit to making mistakes their freshman year, even warning you about what's to come. So often we hear people say, "I had to work really hard to make up for my freshman year" and "Don't make the same mistakes I did freshman year". Entire books and websites are dedicated to helping freshman survive their first year.
We generally boil it down to the transition; having to make all new friends, living somewhere completely different and not necessarily nicer, and a huge work load. These can all be causes of deindividuation. Think it's happening to you? Not to worry, check out this website and get some advice on how not to lose your mind freshman year.

chapter 6,learning,

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Hi everyone, my name is Meng. It is my first time to learn psychology. In the entire book to see the brief contents I am very interesting in "learning". Whether human or animal, get learning or trained the result is not the same; dogs in circus know how to successful dump ring of fire; breeder taught dolphin how to applaud, they know how to listen to arrange to do some action. When I was a child, I heard a story. The nature of the wolf is eating sheep but someone put Lithium oxide in lamb burgers Will produce a very disgusting taste. They put lithium oxide in the sheep. Let sheep walk in wolf's place, A miracle happened, the wolf is close to the sheep, but the attack did not happen. Why? So amazing! What has changed is the nature of the wolf?
Through the five parts of this chapter let us know. What is learning; Classical conditioning; operant conditioning and cognitive-social theory. The Definition of learning is learning refers to any enduring change in the way an organism responds based on its experience. The Pavlovian conditioning is a form of learning in which animals come to respond to a previously neutral stimulus that had been paired with another stimulus that elicits an automatic response. The organism learns to associate CS with UCS, we should remember what is UCS, UCR, CR and CS. For example dog is NS; jump is UCR. What has changed is the nature of the wolf. That's the chapter 6 interesting thing.

Has this statement ever crossed your mind during finals week? For me personally, this is one of my worst fears come test time. But why is it that we always seem to be under the weather during the most important week of our college careers? Well according to our Psychology book, it states that "Many people believe they're more likely to get a cold when they're really stressed out-and they're right." So it is very plausible for us humans to get a cold due to the large amounts of stress we're handed a few nights before the big exam.

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There is a definite scientific explanation for sickness, but stressors do happen to play a part of the process. These illnesses are given a rather long term, psychophysiological. This is defined as illnesses such as asthma and ulcers in which emotions and stress contribute to, maintain, or aggravate the physical condition. So although a small amount of stress may be good for us, constant stress could possibly have damaging effects on our bodies, especially the heart. According to scientists, coronary heart disease (CHD), which is the complete or partial blockage of the arteries that provide oxygen to the heart, is directly correlated with psychological factors including stress (Lilienfeld, 467).

All this talk on stress and illness can be depressing, but good news is that positive emotions and social support can fortify our immune systems (Esterling, Kiecolt-Glaser, and Glaser, 1996; Kennedy, Kiecolt-Glaser, and Glaser, 1990). So it's very important to learn to cope with our stress effectively so we can all be happy and healthy!

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Bystander Nonintervention

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A topic I found interesting was Bystander Nonintervention. This is the name given to situations in which there is an emergency or something that requires help, and the more people that are present means it is less likely that one of those people will help with the situation. This phenomenon is due primarily to two different reasons. The first is called Pluralistic Ignorance, which is the feeling that if everybody else does not mind something, I should not mind it either. The second reason is Diffusion of responsibility. Because there are more people present, each person feels less guilty about the situation because everybody else could have helped too.
I found this very surprising and interesting because it is very ironic and goes against what most people would think. It is surprising to think that when more people are present at an emergency, the less likely the people are to help.

Chapter 13 focuses on social psychology. Lilienfeld opens the chapter with the story of Orson Welles famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast that sent our nation into a frenzy. This is an intriguing bit of history to begin the chapter because it is a great example of the way our species can be so easily deceived by such comically false information delivered through a socially accepted medium.
Throughout the chapter the author talks of the many different ways in which an individuals' behavior is influenced by the social setting in which they are placed. I found the section on social facilitation interesting because both humans and cockroaches completed a race faster when they were watched by a group of their peers. Another section that caught my attention were the Asch Studies on conformity. These studies showed that when the confederates of a group gave the wrong answer to a question the participant is likely to conform to the answers of the confederates even if they think the answer is wrong. This study intrigued me because as a student I have responded the same way when given a question in a group setting. It is scary to think how different social settings can have such a big impact on the way we choose to act and I am excited to learn more about the reasons behind these phenomena.

Writing 1, Section 4

Chapter 11 delves into the mysteries of human emotion and motivation. This chapter begins with the story of a man who had a brain tumor removed, and part of his brain. This resulted in him losing his ability to feel any sort of emotion. The next portion of the chapter demonstrates how important it is to have both emotion and rationality. The rest of the chapter breaks down the theories on why emotion is important and the reason why we have it. The chapter talks about verbal and nonverbal cues, and how both are essential to effectively communicating our emotions. Happiness and self-esteem are also touched on in this chapter, showing how much those two subjects influence our everyday life. Later we find out what are our motivators, and why. Lastly the tricky topic of love is discussed and we find out different styles of love and attraction.
What stuck out the most for me in this chapter was the section on what triggers emotions. The debates on what causes our psychological responses versus physical responses were fascinating. Similarly the debates on what comes first, psychological responses or physical responses were equally as interesting. This interests me because I enjoy finding out what triggers emotional responses and this chapter definitely gave me a better insight- especially with the extensive bear-based scenarios.

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