Recently in Writing 1; Section 5 Category

Five years from now I think the thing about psychology that I will remember is probably the Milgram experiment on authority obedience. The reason why I will remember this is because this concept really struck me as extremely interesting. The whole thing about how 62 percent of the people in his study killed the subject (if there had been one getting shocked) and how quickly they listened to the man in the lab coat really amazed me. We all think that we would never do something like that but Milgram has proven us all wrong, well 62 percent of us wrong.

Also, another reason why I will remember this is because this was one section that I really studied a lot. Not just because it intrigued me, but because it had a lot of important information about different situations and how we react to them. This section was so interesting to me that I even wrote a whole separate blog post about it!

When I was asked questions on the exam about things that were related to this section I knew them all because I had studied this section so much. I guess the book was right that the more you repetitions of something you do the easier it is to remember/perform. I'm getting at a little two for one here with the Milgram experiment and Long Term memory.

Anyways, Milgram was a super smart dude and he had a very interesting experiment.

Our memories...

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False memory syndrome.jpg

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...

consciousness.jpgAs 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?

A Subject Hidden In Darkness

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A Subject Hidden In Darkness

In our recent lectures we explored a dilema for psychologists that has occured frequently with diseases explored in this field; Nature or Nurture. Is it our biological makeup that we obtain from our parents or the environment in which we are raised that causes us to act the way we do? For many behaviors, an answer has been obtained for their cause but the topic of homosexuality on the other hand is far from having a definitive answer. "...we do not even in the least know the final cause of sexuality. The whole subject is hidden in darkness." - Charles Darwin (Johnson )

The question "Is homosexuality caused by nature or nurture" has been asked since the Ancient Greeks (Johnson) and is more relevant to our society today than ever before. Psychologists are deeply conflicted on this issue as well, both having strong evidence for their arguement.

In 1990, multiple scientists did post-mortem tests on the brains of both declared heterosexual and homosexual men. These scientist did find some differences within the anatomy of the 2 groups of men, specifically regarding to the hypothalamus (Johnson ). The hypothalamus had already been determined to have a direct correlation with a being's sexual functioning. In their findings scientist discovered that areas within homosexual mens' brain tended to be larger as well as a certain section being very similar to that of a heterosexual woman. It was also concluded that social behavior and experiences could have little affect on brain developement, but rather a subject would have been born with the genetic make-up to cause these size differences.

Opposing the "Nature" arguement, social theorists have many beliefs about homosexuality. There are many theories supporing the "Nurture" arguement but each in its own way contradicts the other. However, there are records of homosexual practices being forced onto young men in cultures throughout New Guinea and Crete (Johnson ). These pressures from ones culture express that one's environment can have a direct affect on sexuality.

Personally I believe that one's sexual orientation relies on the combination of both. I grew up in a family setting that did not provide the option of homosexuality and therefor in some way was unsciously forced into a heterosexual lifestyle but it could be in my genes as well. They most common arguements for both theories I have heard have been; "Nobody would choose a lifestyle that would be so difficult" for biological routes and "God created man in his image and homosexuality is a sinful choice" for the enviromental routes.

I just want to express that If i offended anyone I am deeply sorry, I did not mean to. I believe that anyone has the right to be who they are and to be anything other than that is morally wrong.

Johnson, R. D. "Homosexuality: Nature or nurture." allpsych journal. (2003): n. page. 0.

Anatomy of Psychology

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Much of psychology includes the observation of behavior, however what triggers the behavior observed? Everything from the decisions we make, our personalities, movement and emotions can be studied and explained by looking at our brains and central nervous system (CNS). Scientist have been able to 'map' our brains to show which areas can be attributed to our humor, speech pronunciation and movement of our hands, just to name a few. chickenbrainmap.jpg
All of these elements can be traced down to the very neurons (nerve cells that send messages to fulfill brain functions) which account for everything that we do. Right this second, energy is traveling through the tens of millions of axons (extensions of the neurons that receive signals) at speeds of ~220 miles per hour! Disease, injuries, psychoactive drugs can effect these connections which can cause changes in behaviors, mental degeneration/activation even treatment to illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
Many people question how some of their personality and emotional traits came to be which introduces the study of Nature vs. Nurture. It's true that some of our genetic information (genes) can be amplified or turned off (pruned) by the environment that we grow up in. There are also predispositions we may have to traits and diseases which can be attributed to our hereditary. Nevertheless, the study of Nature vs. Nature has been found to be far more intertwined than separate.
FUN FACT: In ancient times, people believed the heart to be the source of mental activity because when we get excited, scared, upset, etc. our heart beats more rapidly!

The main emphasis placed in chapter two is why research methods are so critical to science. As humans we have many tendencies such as being biased towards a certain view and heuristics which are mental shortcuts. One of the more interesting type is a hindsight bias where us as humans seem to think that we should have known the answer before the fact, once we already know the aftermath of the event. This is one of many varying reasons why experiments and good research design is necessary. There are a wide array of tests used to manipulate human bias such as a Naturalistic Observation, observing real-word situations without knowing the ongoing experiment. Other common experiments used are case studies, correlational designs and controls groups, which are more used as more planned and usually already expect certain results. Validity is the main limiting factor in all of these because when people answer untruthfully it creates illegitimate results.tuskegee.jpg

The thing I found interesting between all the different studies is the ethical aspect to them. The line between pain and suffering in human studies versus animal studies is very different. In the early 1900's there was a test known as Tuskegee where humans had syphilis and were to not be treated simply to see what the results would be. The morality of this shocked me and made me question other human studies that have caused pain. Now instead of humans, they often do studies on small animals, which in the eyes of many are almost just as bad.

The importance of research methods and guarding against error in experiments is emphasized in Chapter 2. Humans are influenced by heuristics and biases, which can fool us into believing something that can be proven false through research. In order to guard against these tendencies, researchers must use the appropriate type of research design, which can range from naturalistic observation to experimental design. To guard against error, such as the experimenter expectancy effect where the researcher unintentionally influences the results, researchers must follow guidelines and procedures to ensure the experiment produces accurate results. For example, a double-blind experiment can guard against the experimenter expectancy effect.

While all of these details are interesting, what intrigued me the most was the ethical issues in research design. I don't believe the scientists in the Tuskegee study intentionally wanted to inflict so much pain on the subjects of their study. I believe the pursuit of knowledge consumed them and they justified what they were doing that way. While it is extremely unfortunate that such pain-inflicting studies took place, the research method "silver lining" is that they led to the strict guidelines of today. The pursuit of knowledge does not justify human suffering.

Many students probably have a basic understanding of Pavlov's foray into "classical conditioning," by which the Russian scientist trained dogs to salivate upon the sound of a metronome. But as Chapter 6 tells us, classical conditioning may extend as far as human phobias and fetishes. Each is part of the broader learning process, "learning" defined as "change in an organism's behavior or thought as a result of experience" (202).

While for Pavlov's dogs, the original response to the metronome was neutral, he started inserting meat powder into their salivary glands, upon which they began salivating. However, with the sound of the metronome and the flavor of meat powder combined, the dogs began to elicit the same response from both, and began salivating even when only hearing the metronome, a previously nonexistent response.

The same sort of conditioning may apply in developing phobias and fetishes. I, for one, have a deathly fear of mice, but maybe my phobia became engrained because of another object associated with the mice (like how the metronome became associated with the meat powder).

Fortunately, those who harbor powerful fetishes probably had a more "pleasurable" conditioning experience. Whether we learn through classical conditioning or the consequences of our actions, the learning process is shrouded in deep, dark - perhaps erotic? - secrecies.


In Ch1, I found the section about scientific thinking principles very interesting, especially the principle #2: Correlation isn't Causation and the example that really struck me was the research on teenagers who listen to sexual lyrics have more sexual intercourse than the "typical teen".


This struck me because our society is bombarded with music about sex and other sexual activities, so my first reaction was "of course, this sounds right" but what I didn't take into account was that teens' sexual behavior might also cause teens to listen to such music, other factors such as impulsivity that may lead teens to listen to music with sexual lyrics and engage in sexual behavior. Of course, we can't stop artists from producing such
music but we, as humans have the right to choose to listen or not.

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b5.jpg conclusion, just because there is a correlation between two things, it doesn't automatically mean there is a connection between them.

You would notice if something as absurd as a person in a gorilla suit walking through the middle of the screen while you're watching a movie right? I wouldn't be so sure...


Chapter 4 of the book describes the concepts of Sensation and Perception and how we as humans sense and conceptualize the world. Though we may consider ourselves as very attentive or conscious of our surroundings, we may not be as good as we think. In fact, we're surprisingly poor at detecting stimuli in plain sight when our attention is focused elsewhere (Henderson & Hollingworth, 1999; Levin & Simons, 1997; McConkie & Currie, 1996).

Two psychologists came up with a test to showcase "inattentional blindness", where the subjects were asked to watch a movie of people passing a ball back and forth. The subjects were to count how many times they passed the ball. Midway through the scene, a "gorilla" walks straight through, taking the time to face the camera and beat his chest and proceeded to walk out of picture. Half the subjects failed to notice the gorilla at all! How can this be?

Think of all the things you may have missed...

Looking Through Illusions

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Chapter two introduces the term ideomotor effect. The idea behind the effect is that ideas of a person can influence their actions unbeknownst to themselves. This effect brings the issue of bias to the surface as well as how naive realism clouds judgement and causes people to miss key scientific observations. An example of this was in the use of prefrontal lobotomy as an effective treatment for schizophrenia and other severe mental disorders. Scientists were so in awe at the apparent success of the technique, they failed to notice the treatment was superficial. Scientists did not perform tests for years to prove the effectiveness of the lobotomy. When they performed the experiments, the results were surprising. Not only were none of the previous disorders fixed, but other problems were formed. Scientists inability to look through the illusion of apparent good results caused harmful treatment to be carried out for years.

Shrimp Pasta, No thank you!

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Have you ever eaten a delectable shrimp pasta and hours after thrown it up? And the next time you see or eat that yummy shrimp pasta it makes you want to vomit? That unfortunate situation right there is simply named a taste aversion. That... ladies and gentlemen is one of the ways we, as humans, learn. Throughout chapter six I found this section to be the most interesting!

Before reading about that, I "learned" (haha get it?) that learning occurs through the fun vocab words classical conditioning, conditioned response, unconditioned stimulus, unconditioned response, conditioned response, and conditioned stimulus. Obviously there is more to it then JUST those six statements but basically learning has shown to occur when an animal or person is put through an experiment where they give a response to a stimulus alone or a stimulus that has been paired with another stimulus.

Kind of get the jist of it?

Well if not, go look up those vocabulary definitions and ingrain them into your brain! Thank goodness for flash cards!

Any ways, back to what I thought was interesting. A taste aversion is a different way of learning than the process I just explained. The other experiments that follow those terms are usually repeated multiple times. With taste aversions it takes you ONE time of bad food poisoning to get the response that you don't want to experience that again. This strikes me as interesting because it is different than the way I normally think of learning. I usually have this concrete idea that learning is linked with school lectures and overpriced textbooks. Biologically, this is not the case when we take a look into taste aversions and it is a new way to think of learning in psychology.


Free Will-Determinism

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The free will determinism debate- is human freedom an illusion?
The book had a pretty solid example when it came to the legal system versus the human mind. In my opinion, human freedom is an illusion. All our lives we are told what to do and how to do, and if you don't do it in a particular way then it is considered to be wrong. This also relates to human obedience. Humans are an obedient species so therefore anything that we are told is believable. America is a free country but there are laws stating what we can and cannot do.
We do not always know why we behave the way we do, but these behaviors are triggered by influences of which we are unaware. Even though there is a significant difference between criminals and the common civilian. Are they aware of their behaviors when they make a decision to commit a crime?
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This potato really does look like face, doesn't it? This type of phenomena can be referred to as pareidolia, which means seeing meaningful images in meaningless visual stimuli. In other words it is when people see images in random objects such as toast, fruit, chips, etc. The concept of pareidolia was just one of many interesting introductory topics discussed in chapter one. Chapter one also introduces topics such as scientific thinking, replicability, the major departments of psychology, different types of Psychologists, and Pseudoscience.

Pseudoscience was particularly interesting to me because I myself have believed some pseudoscientific claims! Pseudoscience is a set a claims that seem to be true but in reality they are unable to be backed by scientific evidence. One Pseudoscientic claim that I have heard is "you can lose up to 15 lbs in two weeks!"


Another section in chapter one that I found interesting was the section about apophenia. Apophenia indicates perceiving meaningful connections among unrelated and random phenomena. The example that the textbook provided was about the many similarities between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. Some similarities included that Lincoln was elected president in 1860 and Kennedy was elected president in 1960 and both were succeeded by a president named Johnson. The amount of similarities was very surprising to me; how could these two people have so many similarities?

I thought that the chart that listed a wide variety of job opportunities that involve psychology was informative. I learned that counseling psychology is practically the same as clinical psychology and most forensic psychologists are actually criminal profilers just like people in the FBI.


Working Out Image:

Potato Face Image:

Cartoon Image:

yuck.jpgHow do people come to do the things that they do? Where do phobias, fetishes, and tastes come from? In chapter six, it is pointed out that a lot of it has to do with learning. This may seem like a really obvious fact, but in some cases I was surprised to discover just how much learning, specifically observation as well as conditioning, affect a our day to day lives. One can be conditioned, for example, to find a food distasteful. Everyone has experienced it: you have something for lunch, get sick later on, and as a result cannot even look at that food again. What is really interesting is that people are able to take this knowledge and use it to their advantage in many ways. One example from chapter six is ranchers who place a mild poison in sheep carcasses in order to keep coyotes away from their flock. Any coyote that eats the poisoned sheep will become sick afterward, and consequently avoid eating sheep in the future. It is techniques such as this that show just how useful insight into the psychological learning process can be for our world.

In chapter 7 in our textbook, it mainly talks about the Memory. When I read through the chapter, I am really interested in the section about " The Three Process Of Memory". When we memory some new things like cell phone numbers, or some math equations, we can easily remember it in a very short time. However, after several days or even several hours, we will find that we start to feel not sure about the cell number. That is the feature of the memory.

When human start to memory something, it usually will follow two aspects. First aspect is encoding. It refers to the process of organizing and putting the information into human's memory space. When we start to encoding, pay the highly attention is pretty important. When we pay a lot attention, our brain will easier to remember those memories. Encoding helps to explain the familiar next-in-line effect. When we answer the questions during the class, we always feel that the person answer the question before we did got a better memory than you. However, it is because when you hear the question, you start to focus on the answer, you pay your attention on the answer, not the person before you was saying. Second part of the process is mnemonics, which is the way to help us recall our memory. There are three methods for mnemonics. First one is the Pegword Method, this method often use the rhyming to help us recall the loss memory. Make us easy to read, easy to understand will help us to memory a lot. Second is the Method of Loci, it need us to "think of a path with which you're familiar and can imagine vividly". This method use the imagination of human, to make the things we need to remember become more interesting and easy to accept and remember. Last method is keyword Method. As the name of the method, we use the keyword of the things we need to remember, the keyword is short, that will be much easier to remember, when we remember the keyword, imagine the things related to the keyword will help us to memory the things we want.
In all, memory things need to use specific method, use the right way and right method will make our life, study, work more efficiency and easier.

Chapter 5 talks about topics relating to our consciousness. When looking through the chapter what I found most interesting was the section about Out-of-Body experiences because I have seen them in TV shows and movies but was curious to learn more about them.

An Out-of-Body experiences (OBE) is when one feels that their soul is leaving their body and watching themselves from above. "About 25 percent of college students and 10 percent of the general population report having experienced one or more of them (Alvarado, 2000)." This seems to be quite common however it is questionable whether or not the people are actually leaving their body or if their brains are tricking them. This claim however, is very hard to prove it is wrong because no one knows when they will have an OBE, therefore no one can document to phenomenon. However, H. Henrik Ehrsson used a visual sensory test to try and replicate what happens in OBE and found that when visual sensory is combined with physical sensations it is possible for a person to feel like they are out of their body when really they are not. This experiment suggests that OBE may not be real and it is just has to do with our brain and our situation.


OBEs are found to occur during near death experiences (NDEs). Which are cases when a person almost died or believed they almost did. The people experiencing this phenomenon say that they: were in a tunnel, saw a light, or talked to dead relatives before coming back to themselves. However, studies suggest that what one experiences during a NDE is based on the beliefs a person has on what happens after death. "People from christian and Buddhist cultures frequently report the sensation of moving through a tunnel, but native people in north America, the Pacific Islands and Australia rarely do (Kellehear, 1993)." This suggests that a person reacts to NDEs how they have been taught by their culture to act.

I found the subject of OBEs and NDEs interesting because as its been shown it is hard to prove whether or not these really occur. However, it would be interesting to hear first hand from an individual who "experienced" it because they will give a different view on the matter. They may believe that they really did leave their body and be convinced that scientists do not know what they are talking about. It would be interesting to hear their side of the story because the chapter really only talks about the science of OBEs and NDEs and what it suggests but it is not for sure one hundred percent correct.

The Myth On Brain Usage

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Chapter three focused on the biological aspect of psychology. The key points that were covered were nerve cells, the brain and its use, the endocrine system, and genetics. These things all combine together to make the body function and help us go about our lives.


The thing that I found most interesting in this chapter is a section called "How Much of Our Brain Do We Use?" This section discussed the common myth in psychology that we only use 10% of our brain. A movie called "Limitless" came out in recent years supporting this myth despite it being false. The truth is that we use just about all of our brain capacity. Each part of the brain serves a purpose to help us function. If we were only to have access to 10% of our brain, than many of those purposes would not be fulfilled. The authors discuss that even if a small area of the brain is damaged, we might lose complete function from that area. So if each person was only using 10% of their brain, than the way we function would be completely different and probably result in our body not being able to function.


In chapter 16 of the textbook there is a section that talks about projective tests. A projective test is one that asks the subjects to examine or interpret various ambiguous stimuli. One of these tests is the Rorschach Inkblot Test. This was developed by Hermann Rorschach in the 1920's. It was a simple yes consisting of 10 different inkblots and all you had to do is tell the examiner what you say in the inkblots. The results of these tests widely varied and depending on how you interpreted the inkblots, you could be deemed obsessive compulsive, narcissistic, emotional, and so on. One thing that this test was greatly scrutinized for was for its lack of evidence for incremental validity. Incremental validity is the extent to which a test contributes information beyond other, more easily collected, measures (Lilienfeld, et al. pg. 571). The test itself takes approximately 45 minus and about twice as long to inexpert, so wouldn't it be easier and more time efficient to use another method to get the same answers?
I think that this would be a very interesting test to take because I don't think that by saying what you see in an image can determine you psychological makeup. The results of these tests were ver controversial and I agree with that. Also, the test-retest reliabilities were unknown and often problematic. So does this really work as an effective psychological analysis?

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