May 2012 Archives

Where Do I Stand?

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On page 496 in our text book, we read about social comparisons and the question "where do I stand?" The text books tells us that by comparing ourselves with those around us, it "helps us to understand ourselves and our social worlds better." Our text book also tells us that there are two different types of social comparisons that we as people do. There is the upward social comparison where we compare ourselves to those who are "above" or "superior" to us in some way. When we compare ourselves in this way though, we often think that if they are able to achieve something really good then we will be able to do the same too. The other way is downward social comparison, we compare ourselves to those who we think are less than us or "inferior" to us. When we meet people who make us feel inferior to them though, we as people often tend to think that they have some exceptional talent and that's why they are able to do what they do.

Personally, I do the upward social comparison a lot. I have a tendency to compare myself to others who are smarter or more successful but instead of letting that discourage me, I use it to motivate myself to be better and to do better. I stop myself from making excuses like "oh, they're just naturally gifted and I'm not." Because saying "I can't" about yourself is just an excuse for yourself. All things are possible if you set your mind to it. But although comparing yourself to others may help to motivate you, it can also hurt you because that may cause you to overlook your self worth, thinking that you aren't good enough or you can't do what those other people are doing. So instead of asking "where do I stand in relation to someone else," ask "where do I stand in relation to where I hope to be."

In ten years....

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A concept of psychology that in ten years I'll hopefully still remember is that though we as individuals think we are strong willed or strong minded and will always do our best to stand up for what we believe in, we are incredibly susceptible to conformity as well. Like the people in the examples we saw in discussion, even though we think that we can stand strong in what we believe in, just like them, there is a very good chance that we will falter and eventually give into conformity when we are the only ones that hold our beliefs or opinions. So we must remember that even when it seems like we are the only ones holding onto our beliefs or our values and most people are against it, we must stand strong and not conform, especially when the conformity will lead us to do bad or hurtful things to other people or groups of people. The need to conform is a strong one but we must stand up for what is right and what is good, even if it seems like we are the only ones doing so. And we must continue to keep standing strong even through the test of time. We all always want to fit in but fitting in isn't necessarily always a good thing. And that, in ten years, is what I will still remember.

As I reflect on the past semester, the topic that most stands out in my mind is the definition of intelligence. The reason this theme stands out in my mind is because of the variability of the definition and how there are so many ways in which it can be perceived. Different psychologists hold different beliefs on how intelligence should be ranked and in which areas they can be ranked. There is Sternberg's triarchic model that looks at practical, creative, and analytical fields of intelligence. The model I find more effective in measuring intelligence is Gardner's Multiple Intelligences; my reasoning behind backing Gardner is because of the wide array of facets he considers in determining an intelligence level. Gardner measures eight different types of intelligence so that people are not limited to one itinerary. It is hard to measure intelligence level because there are so many different ways in which we can be deemed smart. The reason I will remember this lesson of intelligence above all else is because I do not believe that we have fully discovered a universal test of intelligence. Better understanding how people function can help our understanding of intelligence and that can be applicable in making judgments for colleges and jobs.

Looking back at everything that I've learned this semester, there are two major parts of psychology that I will remember. One being part of the learning and operant conditioning, and two, human development.

From the learning and operant conditioning chapter, I will specifically always look back to the section on reinforcement and punishment. While from human developement, I will always keep in mind the information about parenting, the role of the father, and nontraditional families.

Why I will remember reinforcement and punishment mainly is because I am a mom. My daughter is only two years old, where she is at that stage of "testing me" and evolving into herself, with attitude for days! I believe that every parent wants to raise their children right, and use the best ways of punishment/reinforcement to have them well behaved and learn what is acceptable or not for thier future.

Knowing the different ways to approach a tough situation, such as if one doesnt work well, is great to try. Such as either positive or negative reinforcement, which I have used both on my daughter, and actually positive reinforcement works best out of the two for me. As for punishment, I dont believe in positive punishment, and knowing exactly what it is I run from it. I dont believe in hitting a child to make them understand. I use negative punishment, such as taking away something that she wants or likes, and I sit and talk with her about her actions, which i believe works well with my daughter.

Also I will remember the chapter on human developement, focusing on parenting, the role of the father, nontraditional families and divorce. Why?? you guessed it, because I'm a parent! haha.

Parenting styles are important for a child to grow up. I find myself to be an authoritative parent. I definitely set clear and firm limits with my daugher but I am also very supportive of my daughter. Just as the book states the types "too soft", "too hard", "just right", says it all.

From the section "The role of the father", I believe their presents is crucial. I myself had my father around in the household, but he wasnt a 'true dad" may you call it. I dont remember too much interaction with him, no fun play or enough loving as I look at it now being grown up. Having a father interact and be a part of your growing life is needed because they offer that special bond that not all mothers can fullfill. With my daughter, her father travels all the time, he is hardly home which I find in later years will be hard for her. right now she mentions she misses him, but she is so young that she really doesnt know what she is missing fully. She will need that arm close relationship with him for her developement. Also linking to this, I am a single mom, and after reading the "nontraditional families' I want to not be one of those statistics. Where they say that children will have more problems growing up (behavioral) than children who have a mom and a dad. My mom and her 5 siblings were raised by only their mom, they all went to college, never had problems in the public, they are all successfull and married. I also will remember how the book said that single mothers differ from married mothers because they say that "they tend to be poorer, less educated and marked by a higher level of stress in life and move around more than married mothers". I look at that and look at my life where iam graduating from college, I make great money, and I am never stressed.

Overall, anything that relates to children and parenting that was directed in the book was something that I took serious and really took time to learn and read about. Not only five years from now will I remember this information but even down the road 20 years from now.

Although I found many things intriguing this semester in psychology, the attachment theory and three styles of attachment appealed to me the most, and I know I'll refer to them in my relationships over the next few years. In lecture, we learned that people generally embody one of three attachment styles:

Secure-These people seek out comfort when distressed and they trust that others will be there to love and help them.
Avoidant- Avoidant personalities detach from others and often reject comfort when distressed. They tend to be what a large part of the population defines as "strong."
Anxious-Ambivalent-This personality type has a fear of abandonment, and they usually require a lot of attention. There is a fear that their needs will not be met.

The secure attachment pattern is most prevalent in society. However, I know many people with the two latter attachment styles. For me, I know I often become avoidant when forming new friendships. It's a defense mechanism for me; if I don't let myself trust someone, I'm preventing future hurt if the friendship ends badly. But with my family I am more secure, as I have never been burned by them.
Although I don't fit into the anxious-ambivalent attachment style, I know people who do fit into this. I have a close friend who became this way after going through a rough breakup. She doesn't have the anxious-ambivalent attachment style in our friendship, but with guys she doesn't know how to let them "chase" after her.

What attachment style are you, and why do you think you are this way?

I was interested in reading about the different levels in language acquisition based on the age at which a person started learning a new language. From birth until the age of about seven a person has the potential to learn all the language that a native person would know. After this age people do not usually master a language at the level of proficiency as a person who is a native speaker. As a person ages they become less and less likely to master a language. It makes me wonder why in high school everyone needed to take a foreign language. If we were going to take a foreign language we should have started in elementary school since at that age we would be better able to master the language. I remember taking Spanish classes in high school and I think that I have still retained a lot of information from those classes, but much of what I have learned has faded from my memory. Had I started taking classes earlier I would have retained so much more information. I think that all students in the United States should take a second language starting in kindergarten, and then when they reach middle school they should begin studying a third language. I know some of my friends from other parts of the world have a similar education system where they learn two additional languages to their native language. I think learning multiple languages gives students more opportunities in employment later on in their life. And I think that learning different languages is a good exercise for your brain, and helps a person think in different ways.

One product that is being marketed very heavily to people, especially athletes is titanium necklaces and bracelets. The necklaces and bracelets are supposed to be able to boost athletes' performance. The way they work is that the titanium in the necklace is supposed to react with the electric flow in your body and make commutation within nerves more fluid. Because of these necklaces athletes believe they can stay fresh longer and that they can recover quicker. I think it seems impractical for such a little thing to be able to improve performance. If you look at the testing techniques you can see where they went wrong. One would be the scientific principle of correlation vs. causation. When the necklaces and wristbands were originally being tested the test subjects first attempted to complete an obstacle test without the wristbands or necklaces. On the second try the test subjects wore the necklaces and wristbands and completed the course quicker. The company concluded that when wearing the necklace athletes were able to perform better. The company had a confirmation bias because when they got the results they wanted and they accepted them. They should have asked themselves if wearing the necklaces or the wristbands were the true cause of the athletes were performing better. A study done UW-L proves that the necklace company had it wrong in their studies. UW-L had a group with the titanium necklaces and a group with non-titanium necklaces on. Their results concluded that no matter what necklace or bracelet an athlete had on they performed better on the second test because they knew what to expect.

I believe that in 5 years, there will be a lot to remember from this Psychology course. Sadly, this will likely be my only Psychology course, but I feel that there are many incredibly interesting concepts to retain from the course that will be helpful in everyday life. The common biases are something that I will always keep in mind (especially the confirmation bias), because I already consider these biases often when trying to confirm an idea I have. The personality section of the course also had a large impact on me. I learned that I was more introverted based on the Big 5 inventory, which game me insight on why I act the way I do, and to embrace my introverted-ness. I have always preferred more solitary or small group activities to large groups or parties. I also consider trust to be one of the most important things in strong relationships, and because of this I much prefer a small group of tight knit friends to a large amount of acquaintances. The personality inventory really allowed me to explain these personality traits in a way that would not just label my personality as "shy" in large group situations. Lastly, I will also take away the Operant Conditioning procedures, because I plan to use the techniques on my future pets/children.

Milgram Experiment

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In five years looking back on my psychology class I will most likely remember the Milgram Experiment and the concept of listening to people who you think are superior to you. It's really interesting that just because a person in a white coat tells you you need to shock someone that you will most likely obey. I feel it really speaks to how people try to avoid confrontation. People will put other peoples safety on the back burner just because their superior tells them they need to do something. People don't like to disturb the water and will do anything that will get them to slide under the radar and not get in trouble. It also shows that people are in it for themselves. They don't mind if someone else gets hurt as long as it leads to self preservation. This, in my mind, shows the inner selfishness of most humans. It almost seems to add a pessimistic view on my outlook on life. Other people will hurt you to get a head.

I still cannot believe that this is my last Psych 1001 blog post. I never thought this class or semester would be over but Alas, here I am writing my final blog. Five years from now or maybe even 10 years from now, Freud's psychosexual theory will forever be ingrained in my head. I still cannot get over the titles of each stage i.e. oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage and latency stage. Freud believed that infants sucked and drank milk to obtain oral sexual pleasure from their mothers during the oral stage. Also he suggested that during the phallic stage children are OBSESSED with the opposite sex parent because of their penis/clitoris. Maybe Freud's OUTRAGEOUS theory has somewhat accuracy to it, however, it is too far fetched and ridiculous to be taken seriously. Years from now, when I have an infant of my own, no thanks to Freud the oral stage might come to my mind and I'll shake my head and say .. "WOW Freud, consider my blown away".

Taking Psychology 1001 I have realized how important analyzing and observing people is for our society to work. But most of all I have realized how much analyzing myself can help me further myself and push myself to reach higher goals. When I have worried or looked at my work load I have freaked out and thought I wouldn't be able to accomplish anything. Through my studies of psychology I was able to analyze my situation and break down what I was feeling into ways I could deal with it with my strengths.
An example of this would be when I had to find a job during the school year. A step I took to approach this situation was to look at my big five personality scores. One score I noticed that approached the second deviation was my extroverted score, so I decided to explore paths where I could combine my love for technology and my high sense of extroversion. Turns out on the first interview I had I utilized my extroverted self and combined with my love of technology I was able to get the job I wanted and mostly because I utilized one of by predominant big five traits.

What did I learn that I might carry on with me? Honestly it's hard to say...and not because I didn't learn anything, because I did! There were lots of little interesting comparisons, factoids, and tidbits of psych-pop history and color, like a VH-1 Pop Up Video for psych 101. But nothing was super personal or life changing....and not because I wasn't trying. Heck, I love that kind of stuff!!

I just didn't get that much from this class or the book. Mostly because the format for the class and book were so overly generalized and impersonal that I couldn't possibly produce anything other than just that...generalized fluff.

It was jumping through the hoops and I'm not feeling as young and spry as I once was (and I'm not even 30, oofta!). Far from jaded, I think it's perfectly reasonable for me to be a bit peeved that the education I'm paying for isn't really living up to my expectations.

Sure I could make something up about how super awesome it is too be self aware and able to think critically about confirmation bias or affective forecasting. I could probably easily b.s. my way through how important the whole developmental chapter was because I might someday want a family and now I have the tools to understand the stages of my future children. Shucks, I could kill it with a heart breaking story about pain and recovery, family addiction and mental health and end it with a picture of all of us smiling, and it would all be true too.

Really I'm not trying to undermine those stories or ideas, because they are all valid and equally important. Maybe I'm just taking what Gonzales discussed about the dangers and powers of ambiguity and deindividuation and using that to fuel my rant? Maybe I'm breaking the conformity model cause I'm just too damn bored not to (and maybe I'm experiencing a little enlightenment effect?).

I realize this is an entry-level class and book and that the point is to be broad and all-inclusive, but the whole tone of everything was so entirely alienating and sad. And damn do I feel sorry for those who might have had a language barrier in this class. I can only imagine what a whirly ride that's been.

All in all what concept in psychology will I remember five years from now and why? That apathy is contagious, the conditioning caused by the internet is one helluva drug and I'm so so so glad I'm done with generals and giant inattentive lecture halls.274447,xcitefun-facebook-class.jpg

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