Lie to Me

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When commenting on the blogs, I realized that my previous post had not been posted, so here it is, much later than intended!
One of the things that will really stick with me is the information on facial expressions and how to identify them, because I have recently gotten into the show Lie to Me. It got canceled after 3 seasons, probably for good reason, but I still like it. I had a long bus ride and only a phone with Netflix to entertain me. One of the recommended TV shows was Lie to Me so I gave it a shot and it was actually interesting and it really connected the facial expressions to something real--lie detection.

In the show, the detectives use minute facial expressions to tell if individuals are lying. A lot of the ones that are usually used are disgust and anger. Disgust is especially used because it is evidently the greatest indicator of hatred, not anger. I put a video clip in here about the show. It's a little preview part to show some of the things that are actually addressed in some of the episodes.

Now I'm just that weird person who's attempting to use TV show concepts in real life and turn myself into a human lie detector, but it is genuinely applicable. Because of the show, I now have a connection to a concept, and it will probably stick with me in my new endeavor to become a lie detector. I'll always remember this psych class when I'm trying to see if someone's being deceptive, although I will most likely fail at my goal.

Throughout this semester in psychology, one unit in particular got my attention more than others, this being sensation and perception. The world around us is different for each and every person, all of us perceive the world in our own unique ways. I even watched a video earlier this week that pushed on the idea of God being within the neurons. This video got me thinking how much things require sensation and perception. The mind is complex and the parts of brain/body that are responsible for taking in the world around us. Sensation is everywhere. It dictates the way we see art, taste food, and act. It is what makes each and every person unique. Something that takes that much purpose in the lives of everyone on Earth, should be something of importance. Within the unit of sensation the one thing I found most interesting would be the end step within the process of sensation, sensation integration. This is the main event of how we take in the world around us. It controls our emotions and our actions in many senses as well. The final step, sensation integration, is the key to decoding the world around us.

How can you not?

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It was stated in our book that if you are exposed to something many times, we are more likely to remember that thing. This being said, the thing I will remember most about psychology from this class are those damn five principles of scientific thinking. I mean, lets be honest here, I had to encounter those being drilled into my head at bare minimum, 3 times a week. Not only did I come across these multiple times a week, but their magnitude of importance in Psych 1001 made me create tricks to remember each of them. It was stated in our book that by creating tricks and mnemonic devices we remember things much better. It is no surprise then that I will probably remember these terms more than anything else. Another learning technique described in our book was the fact that learning over a long period of time, as opposed to cramming, tends to lead to more remembrance long term. Considering that I learned and continued to use these over the course of a whole semester, I will most likely remember them for some time down the road. The combination of these three learning techniques, along with others, is plenty of evidence that I will be stuck with the burdensome task of always asking myself, "Correlation vs. Causation?" Thank you Psych 1001 for ensuring that I never forget to check my 5 principles. My life is now complete.

A nice pen? Maybe just a card. These days, it has become common custom to present business partners with a gift after a deal. However, that is where the similarities seem to end, as what gifts to give varies greatly with each culture. Write a letter to a partner in China with red ink and you'll be sure never to hear back from them as this signifies their death. Now, business theorists have been writing about the great differences not only in gift giving, but in many other aspects of business and their managers. The differences in problem solving between Western and Eastern business culture is almost night and day at times.

When it comes to problem solving, Western businessmen tend to go into things headfirst without thinking it over as much, This make sense however, when we look at a book written by Zelmer-Bruhn, which relates this to the large amount of individual independence shown in Western cultures.In Eastern culture on the other hand, businessmen problem solve extensively before taking action on business measures. This is in turn due to the strict authority figures and lack of risk taking in their cultures. These differences strike me because I didn't think that different cultures could create such a discrepancy in how businesses are run. This could lead to many issues when dealing with companies from other countries.

Psychology & Me

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So here we all are, after a long semester filled with pages and pages of reading, countless hours of studying, and last but certainly not least, exams. There's a lot we all learn about psychology throughout this semester, and each one of us retains it all differently, and what we retain is unique as well.

For me, I felt that what I'll keep most in mind in the coming years are things such as the availability heuristic, and representative heuristics, and most of the heuristics that define our everyday lives. I feel I'll remember these most because they exist to correct our thinking in a way to better ourselves, and seek to make us question the world around us.

I think the heuristics are an important aspect of Psychology that hopefully we'll all hold on to and utilize in our everyday lives. Without them, we may still be projecting out feelings on to others rather than inquiring about what's on the outside that's changing the inside; we may still be over simplifying situations that require explanations that go above and beyond what we can see with our own eyes; we may be going about life blindly with all these misconceptions bogging us down.


In all honesty, I entered Psychology 1001 reluctantly, because I had to and not expecting to encounter any particularly influential ideas. However, I was surprised when learning about psychology changed my worldview in a number of ways. The most significant of these was my concept of morality. A short time ago I believed humans' moral instincts were perhaps divinely inspired, or at least of more significance than simple science. However, psychology reveals that morality is in fact perfectly explainable with evolutionary theory. They are created in people when they associate actions perceived as immoral with punishment; later immorality is associated with fear and, later still, immorality is a negative stimulus all by itself. This revelation has a vast number of implications. For example, if one were a perfectly logical person, one could arguably use this information to commit any immoral act without reservation. I don't think I could ever be such a cold person, since my morals are too deeply ingrained in me and to break them would cause me too much psychological pain for it to be worth it. However, after this new knowledge I will be sure not to judge too harshly people I consider to be immoral, because it's not necessarily their fault, but the fault of the environment in which they grew up. In any case, there is no way I will forget this information in five years, or ever.

Snow Globed World

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"Naïve realism: the belief that we see the world precisely as it is." Upon taking Psychology this semester, I have learned so many fascinating things about the human mind and how we interact with each other. But Naïve realism, as defined in the first chapter of our textbook was one of the topics that first caught my attention. Initially after learning a bit more about naïve realism, it helped me to understand the stories that my grandparents used to tell me of their beliefs and perceptions in their culture before they immigrated here to the United States. One in particular was of how you could walk to the end of the horizon and touch the blue skies, because the world was indeed flat and fitted into a dome size snow globe.


In all Honesty

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IIn all honesty, I really won't remember most of what we covered this semester because it's not in my major, and I won't remember specific sections or specific concepts. I will remember little snip-its, though. This class hasn't been at the top of my "to do list" this semester, but what I have retained will probably impact some part of my life five years from now. I'll probably remember how short term information gets stored in the brain and becomes long term information. I'll probably remember OCEAN for the rest of my life too. I'll probably be sitting down at a table to some dinner in the future and study peoples personalities. Not in a creepy sort of way, but just so I can get to know them. Another thing I'll probably remember five years from now is how a baby can learn different languages, and they are able to detect subtle differences in any language. I'll probably look at my future infant child and speak random German to it and study its reaction. I'll probably look at that child and wonder how much information it has retained too. Just little bits of information like that will stay with me five years from now or even longer.

Pet Training and Me

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I'll be completely honest. In 5 years, I can guarantee with nearly 100% certainty that I will have forgotten about B.F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, and Ivan Pavlov. Chances are pretty good that I'll have forgotten much of the terminology I've learned over the year as well. But I think for sure that one of the things that I'll retain is the knowledge of classical conditioning.

About 3 years ago, my family adopted an Alaskan Husky from the pound. My brother and I grew up with a Lab and when we pictured a dog, we naturally assumed that it would be mellow and easily trained, common characteristics amongst Labs. It quickly became very clear that, while a very sweet dog, she would take some serious training. My Mom, Dad, brother and I took turns trying to train her to sit, come, and lay down. 3 years later, she's come a long way but still has a long way to go, and up until this class, I always assumed that it was her and not us. After the chapter on classical conditioning, however, I'm not so sure. I quickly realized that we weren't consistent with our conditioned stimuli, so naturally, the conditioned response took much longer, and wasn't nearly as consistent as it should be.

Now that I know the basic principles of classical conditioning, I'm looking forward to trying it out on my dog, and I'm noticing it in everyday life. I just watched this show of The Office the other day, wherein Jim demonstrates the merits of classical conditioning on Dwight. Enjoy!!!

Mind the Jackelopes

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My friend thought the jackelope was a real creature. It isn't that absurd, we all fall prey to loopholes in our thinking.


As this semester has progressed and my understanding of psychology has grown, I have also gained an understanding of the importance of scientific thinking. This theme of scientific thinking is one of the most crucial components of psychology, hence the first question of each chapter quiz. It was difficult at first to identify the heuristics and loopholes of our human thought processes, but I have gained a solid understanding now that our semester is coming to a close. These basic keys of scientific thinking are useful in everyday life.
It is important to be skeptical of surroundings and to trust instincts and interpretations. Understanding the ways of scientific thinking has made me incredibly aware of the potential faults of my interpretations of the world. In a modern world in which it is nearly impossible to avoid the intrusive bombardment of media and advertisement, I believe it is important to have a strong mind that can identify faults in the claims made by corporations and agencies. The world is threatened by the ease at which one can become a cognitive miser. Being aware of lazy thinking and simple shortcuts has made me more able to interpret the world in a genuine way.

Language and Human

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I've learned a lot of interesting things in the Psychology class. What I found the most memorable among the course is the formation of Language. I've always been ambitious in different kinds of language. In order to learn a language well, I have to understand the words. However, It's been very disappointed to found out the Critical Periods in book p295, Proficiency in Second Language Depends on the Age of Exposure. Since I lived in chinese environment for the past 18 years, my ability to learn a new language well has drop to the lowest level, the same as the age 39.
Another interesting things about language is Linguistic Determinism, which explained by the book as the view that all thought is represented verbally and that, as a result, our language defines our thinking. This might explain why sometimes, or most of the time, I don't know what I'm talking about. I just express myself in the way that my thoughts admit, before myself even aware of those words coming out of my mouth.

IQ Testing

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The topic I most found interesting and memorable this semester in Psychology was when we learned about the different components of intelligence. I enjoyed both the lectures on the subject and the discussion section for the topic of that week. Intelligence can be so variant from person to person, and I thought it was important to realize the causes and examples of different types of intelligence. As the text states, there is the concept of g, or general intelligence, but there are also nine different forms of intelligence that psychologist Howard Gardner narrowed down to define the different ways a person can have intelligence. For example, there is linguistic intelligence, where a person can write and speak well, musical intelligence where an individual is musically inclined, or spatial where a person can reasonably and easily think about an area or space. Intelligence or how people are perceived based on their intelligence also varies between cultures. An "intelligent" act in one culture could be construed as something completely different in another. Because of these different types of intelligences, there has never been an IQ test developed that reasonably and fairly, without bias can test a person's intelligence. I also found it interesting this semester learning how much genetic influences have on IQ, or if intelligence is more largely based on the environment a person was raised. Twin studies were an interesting example when learning further on this subject as it showed there was a high correlation of the level of intelligence twins shared, especially if they are monozygotic. This shows that genetic influences do play a large part on the IQ of a human being.

Twin Study

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Looking back at what I have learned over the semester, one thing that comes to mind is the twin study that was conducted here at the University of Minnesota. In the study, 130 identical and fraternal twins were reunited after being separated immediately after birth and growing up in different families. When comparing the personalities of each twin, researchers found that identical twins who did not grow up together in the same environment were no more alike in personality than identical twins who did grow up in a shared environment. Researchers were able to conclude that shared environment plays very little role in the type of personality a person will have as an adult.


This finding was very surprising to me. I had always figured that how a person is raised and the type of environment that person is raised in would be a very important factor in determining a person's personality, but this is not the case. So when we want to claim that a person's personality is what it is because of how that person was raised as a child, we should think twice and consider other factors. The results also show the importance of genetic factors on personality, so we should also keep that in mind. I think the twin study is definitely something I'll remember five years from now.

Going into this class, I figured that I would just try and get through it with as little effort as possible. However, over the weeks I found myself stimulated and interested in the course material. I will take away many things from this course, but the biggest thing that I think I will remember in the next five years is the personality unit. In particular, I think that the Projective Tests will be the thing that I remember the most. These tests include the Rorschach Inkblot Test and the Thematic Apperception Test. I find this very interesting because you can find out a lot about people with something so basic.

I enjoy trying to "read" people to try to gain insight on others' perspectives so I can attempt to see things from all angles. I think that this could be useful to figure out how people are feeling based on their reactions and descriptions of basic, ambiguous objects or situations. Figuring out these slight cues in their words and actions may be helpful in determining how I decide to go about interacting with them for the remainder of the time being spent with them. This is just one of the many things that I will remember, but this will probably be the most helpful thing I will utilize in social situations.

The following video shows some examples of Rorschach Inkblot Test:

Lately while at work, our radio station has been set to the sounds of the late 50's and early 60's. As I go about my job, I often find myself humming along to songs from The Temptations or The Supremes but lately I've had one song stuck inside my head and oddly enough, its about personality. What does this have to do with psychology you might ask? Well, it got me thinking about the relationship between personality and behavior. During class I was placed in the "artist" group otherwise known as the introverts. Generally, I consider myself an introvert but I'm always thinking about how I act when meeting new people, which is shy and quiet but when I'm with people I know, I have no problem being loud, funny and the life of the party. Which makes me think, while I may score like an introvert, it doesn't last for very long once you get to know me. My personality might be described as quiet, flighty or unaware but certain circumstances in life have shaped my behavior to be more like an extrovert in some cases and more of an introvert in others. Either way, my personality defines me in the broadest of terms but like Lloyd Price says "I'll be a fool for you, 'cause you got, personality!" and that is something I'll take with me when I graduate.

If there is ever a date I wish I were alive on, it would have to be October 30, 1938. That evening, Orson Welles intentionally made the United States temporarily lose its grip on reality by broadcasting a phony adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds over numerous radio broadcasts. It was with this ingenious prank that the chapter based on Social Psychology was introduced and it was indeed a memorable example specific to both social contagion and the fundamental attribution theory.

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To understand the influence of society upon our own, otherwise rational decisions, we must experience the unintentional intentions of society. Given a moment of panic, how would you react? It's a question that we seemingly root our dispositional influences, or enduring characteristics such as intelligence and personality, to. It is with this knowledge of ourselves that gives us the confidence in proclaiming "I'd never have acted that way". However, to speak theoretically upon a situation that we've never actually experienced is much easier then speaking realistically about the same situation. It's this inability to fathom that is responsible for a proclamation that underestimates the influence of society upon our behaviors.
Now the book states, "just as we often turn to others to better understand ourselves, we often look to them when a situation is ambiguous to figure out what to believe, and how to act", and as exemplified in Orson's prank, social contagion can indeed influence our interpretations of reality. To make the familiar seem unfamiliar can cause an occurrence of ridiculous irrationality.

"Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding". Chapter 13. Pages 495-499. Print. April 29, 2012.

"You Can't Always Get What You Want" by The Rolling Stones perfectly describes why my personal favorite unit, Mental Disorders, didn't arrive until the very end of our PSY 1001 class. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that the myths and misconceptions that our textbook and lectures sought to shatter will never affect me again. I have had the great fortune of knowing and interacting with several people diagnosed with mental illnesses in the last few years, and the time spent with each has been illuminating for me. Learning about several of these conditions in greater detail, along with receiving an emotional glimpse at the afflicted, will allow me to stay mindful of the environmental and genetic factors working against both diagnosed and untreated individuals. I can only hope that my next five years brings me into contact with others in similar situations. In these interactions, I hope that I can use my PSY 1001 knowledge to make each situation more comfortable for the other person.


There are few greater human pursuits than cooperation with and the betterment of our fellow man. Resorting to social ignorance and avoidance tactics to make ourselves feel more comfortable in the presence of the afflicted might be the easy way, but it is also the destructive way. Mankind cannot sustain itself except through understanding. Cultures, beliefs, and even psychological conditions are the barriers that separate us, and the same walls must be overcome for the good of our world.

"Treat others as you would treat yourself."

If there is one thing that I have learned in Psych that will stay with me, it is personality and the "Big 5 Model" in particular. It is amazing how different every individual is, and being able to understand personality gives us a better grasp of who a person is. I think being able to read people and being able to understand a person's personality is a necessity in life. When meeting new people, I realized that I now think back to the Big 5 Model and try to figure out peoples levels of things like extraversion and agreeableness. Without the understanding of personality how would we understand who a good potential friend or partner may be? We size people up everyday, and being able to read people is extremely important, especially in many careers. In any sales job, the ability to figure out the customer is vital. Personality is something that is such an important part of a person and I think that this concept is something that I will carry with me for a long time.

Remembering to Remember

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memory-cartoon.jpgThe thing I will remember the most from PSY1001 5 years down the road will have to be about how our memory works. It should have seemed obvious that our different senses remember things differently, like our iconic (visual) and echoic (sound) memories remember things for different periods of time. Also, the concept of how our short-term memory works. The diagram in the textbook of the three-memory model made a lot of sense to me. Unless we make something in our short-term memory meaningful, we either can constantly rehearse it, or we forget it. I have already began to incorporate strategy like chunking, or elaborative rehearsal to remember small things in my daily life, like picturing the hands of a clock in my mind to remember when something starts, instead of just the number. Just having a basic understanding of how your brain retains memories can save you a lot of stress if you know how to efficiently remember important things in your daily life. And for this reason PSY1001, I thank you. memory-cartoon.jpg

What Moves Us

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Psychology has been a very interesting class to me. I think I will remember many things that I have learned over the course of this semester. If I had to pick just one that would be most memorable to me I would have to pick Emotion and Motivation from chapter 11. I find it fascinating to understand why we do the things that we do. I think that the different theories of emotion, such as the James-Lange theory of emotion, the Two Factor theory of emotion, and Cannon-Bard theory of emotion are very interesting. I am also astonished at how powerful and important non-verbals are. It is interesting that most of our everyday communication is non verbal and how much information you can interpret from the cues. The most fascinating concept to me, however, is that of Motivation. I loved learning about what motivates us in our behaviors and pursuits in our everyday lives. I think Attraction and everything that has an effect on it is extremely interesting such as things like what makes us attracted to someone and the factors that can affect that like reciprocity, similarity, proximity etc. Understanding the concepts in emotion and motivation can be extremely helpful and insightful in real life. I am grateful to have been in this class and for the opportunity to learn about psychology.

The Scientific Method

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The most important thing I learned in this class was the importance of using the scientific method when evaluating claims. To me this means using these ideas whenever possible. If somebody describes a story, il say something like "You're wrong! thats anecdotal evidence and violates the scientific principle of replicability". If somebody proposes a very elaborate explanation of an event I interject and say "You're forgetting about Occam's Razor". Because of how often I use aspects of the scientific method with my friends, I know that it will be with me for a very long time. Hopefully through my continuous, and sometimes annoying, use of the method more people will start to think more scientifically.

Throughout the semester, my favorite topic was personality. Learning about the "Big Five" personality traits was really interesting. It really surprised me how accurate a simple personality test was at describing my personality. I was placed in the "scholars" group during discussion, which was low in extraversion and high in conscientiousness. The description of this personality type was quiet, reserved, hard-working, and well-organized. I would use all of those words to describe myself. When I applied the "Big Five" personality characteristics to my friends and family, it was interesting to see the differences between them.


Another reason this topic was my favorite is that I learned that personality is something we can't really change about ourselves; it's a part of who we are. Personality can justify why people are a certain way and can help predict the actions of others based on their personality. For example, my sister is high in extraversion and low in conscientiousness. Based on her personality, I wouldn't expect her to sit quietly at a family gathering; I would predict that she would be highly social and outgoing. Learning about different personality types can be a very useful tool in life and can help in understanding other people.

While reflecting back on my semester in psychology and thinking about what we learned that has been most useful to me, I realized it was one of the earliest and most simple concepts that has helped me the most. While seemingly basic, the Scientific Thinking Principles are actually probably the most important concepts one learns in psychology. Without them, we would not have a set of guidelines to use for effectively evaluating claims.
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I realized the usefulness of these principles while I was writing an argumentative research paper a few weeks ago. I was able to use the principles to make sure I was supporting my argument in an effective manner. In addition to doing research, learning these principles can help us evaluate the loads of media messages we are bombarded with on a daily basis, as well as find solutions to everyday problems. These thinking principles remind us to look for alternate explanations, remember that 'A' doesn't necessarily always cause 'B', check to see if the claim can be disproved, find out if results can be replicated, evaluate that the evidence is as strong as the claim, and always be sure that a simpler explanation doesn't fit the data just as well as a complicated one.

Right or Left?

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A topic that I will remember most is about how our brains think (biological psychology). It is interesting that the right hemisphere of the brain works for the left side and the left hemisphere works for the right side of the body. I always found that to be interesting, although it may be an awkward concept to keep in mind, but I find that it actually might come in handy for the future. I say this because I know that as you grow older, there will probably be more troubles to your body such as strokes, brain damage and such. An example of this is when a patient goes through split-brain surgery and they become "blinded" to some things on the left or opposite side. Also with people who have brain damage on a certain hemisphere, it would be helpful to know what body part or function in your body won't be working.


If I had to damage a side of my brain it would probably be the right hemisphere which functions the coarse language skills and visuospatial skills because I rather keel the actions. The brain has so carries so much information it could be an endless conversation. Of course, there are many interesting things that we should all know about the brain and this is just one tiny bit of information.

Perceptual Blindness

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Perceptual blindness is an effect when someone is concentrating on something and passively ignore other details or actions that are in their sight. Perceptual blindness happens all the time, but of course, if you are experiencing it, you won't remember it. I remember the first time when I heard about perceptual blindness, I, myself was a victim in the experiment. But after learning about perceptual blindness I found myself to pay attention more to my surroundings and to my own actions.

I used to think that in movies, why do the protagonists always drive pass each other, or miss small details in critical scenes, where they are actually looking for each other or something important. After learning about perceptual blindness, it makes sense that the protagonists are too concentrated on something else that they miss certain details. People, who are experiencing perceptual blindness, probably won't notice that they are experiencing it until someone else informs them. Perceptual blindness is probably one of the most interesting subjects in psychology that I learned. Below is one of my favorite perceptual blindness video, as much as I would like to tell you about the video, it is best if you watch it yourself.

I can almost be positive that I will not retain a lot of the fine details of this course in the next 5 to 10 years unless I take another psychology class. The one thing however that I will retain is that correlation does not equal causation. It seems that on every test or in every chapter a section in the book would hammer this point into my brain. So I can easily say I will not forget this lesson. This concept has helped me think of events in a different light because there is often more then one answer to a question or problem. Also although it is not a specific thing, the way I think of events in general will never be the same. Psychology has taught me to delve deeper into explanations and use things like Occam's Razor, falsifiability, ruling out rival hypothesis, and ofcourse, correlation does not equal causation. Needless to say this course has changed many of my perspectives, yet it saddens me to say that I will not retain many of the fine details. I am comforted because psychology has shown me how short term memory could have contributed to this loss in memory.

Classical Conditioning

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Nearing the end of Psychology 1001, I am almost shocked that I made it through the thick textbook, never ending exams, blog posts, weekly quizzes and lab discussions in one piece. There have definitely been some times or 'aha' moments throughout this semester when I have realized that I had just related some part of my daily life and routine (whether big or small) to something that I learned in this class.

Thinking ahead, I definitely do not know much about where I am going to be in the next 5 years, but I will definitely remember some of the theories that have been engrained in my brain through this course. One of the things I will never forget learning about is Pavlov's classical conditioning. I believe that because classical conditioning made so much sense to me when I learned about it in class, it is one of the things that I won't have a hard time remembering. The concept of acquisition, extinction, spontaneous recovery, stimulus generalization, discrimination, and more apply to so many real life experiences and the theory of classical conditioning almost always holds true to the situation. It helps to explain so much of our actions that most of the times go unnoticed, which is something I have and always will find very interesting.

Overall, I believe I will remember much more than this concept alone, but taking this class is only the beginning of my psychology studies in college. It has been a great start to the rest of my major-credit classes and I can't wait to learn more.

Memory Aids

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When I look back on my Psychology 1001 experience in five years, the concept I am going to remember and use the most are memory aids such mnemonics and the Method of Loci (oh the irony of remembering learning tricks). The first reason I'm am going to remember these ideas because they are extremely simple (I've been using mnemonics since I was a young child). The usefulness of mnemonics stretches from when I started learning the music staff for piano (Every Good Boy Does Fine!) at age seven up to now, memorizing concepts and keywords for classes. The second reason I know I will remember these techniques is their everyday usefulness in school, work, and everyday random activities. For example, the method of Loci is ideal for perfecting that long presentation or speech for class or the important business meeting. As a whole, remembering these memory techniques (enough with the irony already) will help me gain a competitive edge by allowing me to recall ideas and information easier, faster, and more accurately, thus giving me a competitive edge in life, school, and ultimately the workplace. 536671_f520.jpg

Through the whole course, there were so many examples about how human's functions been affected by biological factors rather than psychological factor itself, or the two factors function together to result a phenomenon. This is very important for people to understand what they have experienced were really come from other than the clear evidence in front of their eyes.
There are certainly some other important and interesting topics in the course; the chapter of memory and the chapter of human development have all gave me some very interesting ideas. However, these are interesting knowledge at the front, not the ones would help people improve and extend learning and critical thinking skills. Compare to those, the idea of thinking about psychology along with biology was particularly important to me.
We have learned about some topics like the drugs' effects to the brain and dreams relation to biological activities. Before, I only considered our thinking process as part of consciousness, did not really noticed anything happened without awareness. Also, I have not been thinking about how biological activities in our body will affect our brain and our thinking. This helped me built a way of thinking which lead me to consider and connect the major evident factors with other factors in the deep environment. I would say this is the most important thing I learned in the course.

Who We Are

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What defines who we are? How do people develop their individual characteristics and what influences their behavior?

Psychology and theatre has always been an interesting topic to me. I have always been intrigued in what influenced people's actions and attitudes, and I always found it fascinating how actors can transform into different characters from role to role - sometimes transforming from being the protagonist in one production to being the antagonist in another production. Although I enjoy the whole psychology field, I tend to focus on personality psychology. Thus, I enjoyed Chapter 13: Social Psychology and Chapter 14: Personality the most, along with the corresponding lectures.

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One of the topics that I enjoyed reading was the twin studies as well as the adoption studies. After research about twin studies, I found the finding that the environment played a very small influence in adult personalities. There were many examples presented of twins who were raised in different environments, but shared the some of the same personality traits.

Another topic that I enjoyed was the discussion about the Big Five Model of Personality and the personality quizzes/tests that we took for lecture and for our discussion sections. This model is an easy way to characterize people and even fictitious characters.

Psychology is a great field. It tells you a lot about other people. I love analyzing and watching people and this course has helped me to decode some of people's behaviors and attitudes. I will definitely remember what I have learned from this course!

Memorizing Memory

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Ironically enough the topic that I think I will remember the most is memory. I think the process of how the brain stores information is really interesting. I never really acknowledged the difference between short and long term memory; I always just thought of memory as one general concept but it has much more depth than that. Everyone is always trying to remember things throughout their life and knowing how to to maximize your memory is important. It is very useful to know how to make information easier to remember with tactics such as chunking and using mnemonic devices. The other thing about memory that I think is really cool is the amount of space the brain has to store long term memory. It pretty much has unlimited space for storage even though we aren't conscience of all of it. The uncertainties of memory also make it a very intriguing topic and I look forward to hearing more about it as research continues to investigate the mysteries of memory such as where in the brain all of it is stored. Diseases such as dementia leave scientists and doctors baffled and we don't know much about how and why this terrifying transformation of the brain takes place.

When going over the section in the book entitled Emotion and Motivation, I was struck by the universality of emotion over different cultures. I was amazed by the study done by Paul Ekman in which cultures who had never been exposed to Western Culture before could still recognize emotions in westerners faces fairly accurately.

This shows that emotions are fairly universal over cultures and also that emotions have an evolutionary base. I found it fascinating that all emotions can be broken down into seven basic emotions: happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, disgust, fear and contempt. I also found the two factor theory of emotion very interesting. Before taking psychology, I had never really thought about how emotions were created, I just took them as an inevitability, and now that I had learned about emotion, I could better understand my emotions. Psychology has taught me this lesson in many factors of my life. I had always taken many aspects of psychology as inevitabilities. Now that I am aware of psychological phenomena, I am more aware of my surroundings and can more effectively react to and think about the world.

Blog 4

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When thinking ahead to 5 years from now and what concepts we have talked about in psychology and still be really relevant to me it is hard to choose just one. But the one that would be relate-able to everyday life would be our topic of personality. Specifically I think of our discussion when we were put into different groups with people that matched our personalities according to a survey that was taken. I think it is very important to be aware of the personality of people that you are with a lot, specifically in five years I think it would be most helpful pertaining to my coworkers. I feel as though the better you know one another personality the better you will be able to get along with them, and be able to figure out better ways for you to get along. Also just when we would talk about personality in either lecture or discussion it was just the most interesting topic I thought that we had covered. So I think that it will make it more likely to be a topic that I think about five years in the future. So among the many topics that have been covered this past semester I feel personality will be the one that is looked back upon the most.


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Learning more about personality was the most interesting topic this semester and what I will remember most. Learning about identifying traits with the Big Five Model of Personality caught my attention because I like learning about different people and personality types. I really enjoyed the activity in discussion when we were split into groups based on personality and had to plan a trip. Just by taking a simple survey and examining the groups it was easy to identify the different groups and I find it very interesting that most people can be put into groups based off of five different personality traits, openness to experience, conscientious, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Another thing about personality that I found interesting was all of the different types of tests and ways to categorize people and their personalities. I thought the graphology was a unique way to detect different personality types. There is so much more about personality that I enjoyed learning about this topic. Personality is such a complicated topic because personalities are so different, but overall most people can be placed in one of five different categories that really help explain who people are.

Study Skills and Memory

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The concept that I think will definitely be relevant for the next five years is the concept of memory retention. Mastering memory retention skills such as chunking, rehearsal and the use of mnemonics are of utmost importance to me in order to be successful for the rest of college. In chapter seven I learned many different strategies that will help me retain information for tests more effectively. One of the most important strategies is spreading out my studying more rather than cramming. Before I read chapter 7, I thought it was equally effective studying really hard the night before the test and I ignored all of my teachers' advice of studying early and often.

I also thought that the reading on short-term memory was fascinating. It is interesting how some things such as emotional memories are so easy to retain and how it can be seemingly impossible to remember factual information for a test. It is also surprising how it's possible to plant ideas into other people's minds and how the brain automatically fills in blank spots in certain memories. Some people can be lead to believe things that never happened just like the girl who after a talk with a superstitious summer camp leader falsely accused her own father of sexually abusing her when it had never actually happened.

Baby Brains

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There are plenty of psychology concepts that I will need to use later in life: the theories of learning for teaching and raising children, the "Big Five" personality traits, and the three stage theory of memory. But what interests me most on a purely "cool" level is the development of infant psychology.

Meanwhile, watch this cute baby use sticky mittens. It's cute because it is hilariously uncoordinated.

I find it completely fascinating at how simple tasks are impossible for infants and even young children. It's hard for us to imagine not having a "theory of mind" to understand other points of view. Equally as astonishing is how fast these mental abilities develop in children and how relatively universal the age is that these developments unfold at. My niece is still a baby, and it will be interesting to watch her develop when I know certain milestones that occur.

While I feel that infants are very simple in regards to my previous examples, I can still marvel at how complex of a learning machine they are. The study of universal adaptability towards phonemes shows how powerful the human brain is even at a young age. From now on, I won't look at a baby as a small, babbling ball of soft flesh. It is a learning machine, just as complex as we are.

everlast.jpgPunching bags have become a real money maker in today's market. In fact company's like Everlast, have grown into international corporations around items like punching bags and boxing gloves. But why are such items so popular? The answer can be found in a psychological concept known as displacement. Displacement is the act in which we direct an impulse from a socially unacceptable target onto a safer and more socially acceptable target. A life without frustrations is next to impossible in today's world. Our society however has learned to use displacement however, to direct our anger away from our boss or from all the other cars jamming up the freeway and towards things like punching bags. I think it's safe to say that most people would agree that society as a whole directing its physical aggression towards these punching bags and boxing gloves is probably the better alternative. And multi-million dollar corporations like Everlast and Mizuno would most likely agree.


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Personally, my favorite unit of this semester is chapter five, consciousness. From the beginning of the semester I was especially interested in the stages of sleep and was eager to learn about dreams. This chapter also intrigued me with déjà vu, as well as paradoxical sleep and lucid dreaming.

When I was younger, I remembering noticing how my older sister's eyes were darting underneath her eyelids when she would take her naps. It frightened me at first, but as I got older I started to understand that she was undergoing REM. Before my parents explained to me what REM was, I always came to the conclusion that my sister's eyes were darting because she was having a crazy dream.

Prior to learning about paradoxical sleep, I wasn't aware of it and it didn't ever occur to me. It is quite ironic because a week or two after reading the section on paradoxical sleep, I myself experienced an episode. I felt that my eyes were glued shut and it was extremely frustrating. It only occurred during my naps, though. I felt extremely tired and wanted to open my eyes and move my body, but I could not gather the strength to do so.


Psychology 1001 opened my eyes to many things that I am now aware of, and I really do feel that despite my grade in the class (I will withhold from saying what it is), I learned a lot and can apply so much new knowledge to my every day life.


What will I remember most? What still stick with me the most? The first thing I thought was that we've learned a million things, there's no way I can think back and pick just one!! That's crazy!! But when I actually sat back and thought about this, I was shocked to see that I could think of one thing that stuck with me the most over this semester.

This topic was a broader topic that we learned about, and really can relate to anyone in our class. The topic I'm talking about is personality. Specifically, the five different categories of personality. The categories are, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. By taking a personality quiz, we each found out where we fit in the most.

I was more on the extraversion side. This was interesting to me because that does explain my personality, but even more interesting, is that I never used to be like that. Due to my dance career and performing on stage my personality has changed into what it is today. The reason I found this topic so interesting was because there are so many people in this world. By no means is everyone the same, or should everyone be the same. The fact that there are different personalities and different personality categories, greatly explains the diversity and uniqueness our world consists of. That's so great that we can all function and live our own life with our very own personality. Where would we be if everyone had similar personalities?? The world functions the way it does because we work off of others and learn from ourselves and from other people personalities everyday.

The fact that some people are organized, or conscientious, or caring, or easy to get along with, or adventurous, allows us to take full advantage of what we enjoy most. It doesn't matter if you are one type of personality or another. It is the fact that we can accept our personality and have the ability to categorize it, that allows us to learn more about ourselves!! It really is interesting!!

Five Years From Now

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images.jpegWhen thinking about which psychology term I will remember in five years, I was trying to figure out which one I could apply to my every day life. After much deliberation, I finally settled with Pavlov's very own, classical conditioning. As a declared marketing major, I feel like I will have the opportunity to incorporate different aspects of classical conditioning throughout my academic career as well as my career. It is one that can have such a strong influence on people; yet, more often then not, goes unnoticed since it is almost always down subliminally through advertising.

Similar to classical conditioning, I also think that I will be able to incorporate Skinner's operant conditioning methods when raising my kids and interacting with coworkers on a day-to-day basis. Much like classical conditioning, although we do not really think about the term at the time, in some way or another, we are almost always engaging in some sort of conditioning throughout our daily interactions. Whether that be offering to help someone and expecting something in return, or intentionally avoiding something due to past experience, both classical and operant conditioning play major roles throughout our lives. Unknown.jpeg

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Have you ever wondered how accurate are these personality tests? I thought they would not be accurate at all before I took any. I then took the Big 5 test in lecture and was very surprised how accurate it was. I then compared it to my Strength Finder test I needed to take as a freshman. They were very similar for example I scored high in Consciences on the Big 5 test and then scored high in Responsibility on the Strength Finder test. These similarities were only supported by one of the six principles of scientific thinking, replicability because two tests scored the same category. This may not be an exact match since they were different tests so there would be many different independent variables like the questions but the dependent variables are very similar strengths and personality. I think personality tests are very accurate and extremely helpful in life. These tests can be used in companies to match certain employees up on an assignment. They could also be used to assign duties which fit their personality or strength. Furthermore they can benefit individuals by allowing them to give back to their community using their strength for example a person who scored high in extraversion could rally their neighbors for a food drive.

Big Five Forever

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Five years from now I see myself sitting on a couch somewhere and watching re-runs of That 70s Show. Some may think that first sentence has nothing to do with this blog post, but it definitely does. When I look back on my time spent on the course Psychology 1001 there will always be that one topic that I will never forget. For me, that one topic is the Big Five Model of Personality, and I found out the other day while watching That 70's Show, that it's engraved in my brain forever now.
After learning about the Big Five Model of Personality it was so much easier to place the name-tags of Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism on each of the main characters in That 70s Show. Each of them is unique in their own way, especially one in particular, Michael Kelso. Kelso is highly extraverted and open to new experiences, and extremely low in the conscientiousness category of the Big Five Model. Kelso likes to try new things and tries to get as many girls as possible, while also getting people to like him at the same time. He also is very irresponsible when it comes to school and in one aspect in particular when he accidentally gets a girl pregnant.
Overall what I'm trying to say is that not only can I relate the Big Five Model of Personality to some television show that I watch every day, but I also feel like I will use this for many other things I come across in my life to try and identify people better. I definitely think that this topic of the Psychology course will stick with me for a long time. If this topic just sprang into my head while watching this television show, then I know it will always be in my mind in case I need it to identify people's trait's in other situations as well.

Do you remember...

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The topic that I have found to be most memorable this semester was learning about the ways in which we remember things. This concept is extremely pertinent to all college students, as we are asked to recall and recognize a wide body of knowledge for various classes. Learning memory techniques, such as chunking and mnemonics, has proven to be an effective way to study. I can remember a greater amount of information in a smaller amount of time by using these techniques. I found the lectures that included slides of numbers that we were asked to memorize for a short period of time to be particularly interesting.
Learning about the ways that the brain encodes, stores, and retrieves information can affect the processes of learning. That is to say that we can consciously affect what we remember by knowing how we remember things and how our memory works. For instance, if one wants to remember a famous quote, one could repeat the quote a few times to move the sentence from sensory memory to short-term memory, and continuously reviewing the quote could move it to long-term memory. Thus, we have the knowledge to go about remembering something in a more informed manner.
As the picture shows, mnemonic devices can help us to chunk information into units that are easier to remember. The information that we have learned about how our memory works is something that I will remember for quite some time.
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Five years from now, ideally, I would be a multi millionaire living with my family, good friends, never having to work again a day in my life. I'd be sitting in Dubai already retired at 24, author, musician, NBA player, entrepreneur, etc. I would probably also want to have Siri (from the iPhone) remind me every Friday that it happens to be payday. Also, Natalie Portman and/or Olivia Wilde would be my wife...
Anyways, psychologically speaking (Psych 1001 I mean), I believe I would most likely remember the concept from Pavlov's classical conditioning. It was remarkable to me that associating something with a pleasurable want would have a great affect on the associate. So in this case, ideally, I would pretty much love to hear Siri's voice considering that it would remind me of the ensuing million dollar paycheck I would have coming into my hands. Good plan, right?

1 of 7 Billion

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Have you ever thought about what makes you different from every other person on Earth? How is it possible that out of nearly seven billion people, each person still manages to have unique characteristics? It is all summed up with one simple word, personality. Personality is an extremely interesting concept because it consists of different qualities that make an individual unique. Basically, a personality is a set of qualities that defines a person and makes him different from everyone else.

I was curious about studying personalities and applying this knowledge to myself and my relationships. When we took the survey to measure ourselves on the "Big 5" traits, I really took it seriously. I found that I scored extremely high in extroversion and conscientiousness. I have always known that I am a social and organized person, but this test showed me that these qualities are actually large components of my personality. After learning more about my own personality, I tried to assess and evaluate the personalities of my friends and families. I realized that I can relate much better to those who are highly extroverted because there are no boundaries in conversation and it is effortless. I also realized that I have a hard time relating to people with low conscientiousness because they are much more risky and I don't understand their logic.

When I really try to relate something I have learned in school to my everyday life, I find that I remember it for a very long time. Studying personality is very applicable to my life. I will continuously use the "Big 5" traits to try to understand others and work on relating to different types of people. By applying this knowledge to real-world experiences, I know I will remember the OCEAN acronym for a very long time.

Dear Psychology,

What an adventure you and I have gone on this semester. From filling my brain with knowledge about...the brain... to explaining basic human behaviors. I have learned so much. The thing I found most fascinating was what you taught me about personality.

The three levels of consciousness Freud postulated called the ID, ego, and superego, was a fascinating way to describe every human.


I really like the idea that we have base impulses that fuel us (id), and then our ego, and superego translate our actions to tell us of what we did was right or wrong. It makes it sound like your brain is watching you act and trying to make sense of it all. Which I think explains why we blurt things out loud.....which I do often.... so it was interesting to see a reason as to why.

It will be interesting to see how I now perceive and analyze situations in my life from here on out, thanks to you psychology.


" It's 2 am, why I still can't sleep?'
"It's 3 am, Oh my goddess, I really want to sleep!"
"Oh no! 4 am, seriously? I'm still awake? Well, I lose my hope..."
I used to talk those sentences to myself when I turned over again and again on the bed in midnight. Yes, I was a insomniac. You can't imagine how miserable it was when I struggled every night. Fortunately, I studied chapter 5 which talked about sleeping. One point is about insomnia and how to cure it.Honestly speaking, it's really saved me and I'll never forget this knowledge.
I always felt nervous when I went to bed. I'll think, what if I can't sleep this time. Therefore I was often in an anxious situation. As what this chapter says:" Many people don't realize that even most "good sleeper" take 15-20 minutes to fall asleep". I always worried about the time and felt more and more clear-headed. Then after I finished reading, I obey the advice which was put forward by James Maas. He suggested that people need to hide the clock. At the same, I stop dinking coffee and napping during the day. Then I felt tired and want to sleep in the night. I become more relaxed as well. Finally, I successfully fell asleep and had a nice dream.
After that, I realize how important the psychology is and it's really useful in every daily life. I think it's really a right decision to choose psychology this semester.

The Best of Psychology

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It goes without saying that Psychology 1001 caught me off guard with the amount of work that I would be doing. The countless hours that needed to be read to understand what was going on in the class room, the quizzes, and the strenuous exams. It was an endless amount of work but to be honest, it was all worth it because of how much I learned this semester and how much I will be able to keep with me as I continue my college career.
The concept that I found most interesting was all the information discussed on IQ testing because I really did not know there was so much to cover on the subject. What I thought was most interesting was how an IQ score can determine your mental age compared to your chronological age, whether you are average, a genius, or struggle with some sort of a mental disability.

It is to be expected that there are some flaws to IQ testing and that some people may have their own thoughts on the matter but overall they are more helpful than not. They are a helpful way of determining intelligence while among other things such as what subjects one may be strongest at compared to what subject they may be weakest at or in need of more improvement.

Out of all the things that I have learned in psychology this year, the topic that stands out the most for me is the bystander effect. This means that when there is an public emergency situation, people often find themselves wanting to help, but they become frozen in place and unable to help. I have witnessed this firsthand when I was on an airplane to Europe a few years ago with my family. A flight attendant came over the loudspeaker in the middle of the flight and asked if there was a doctor on the plane. My dad is a doctor, but he was hesitant to get up and help because he figured that there would be many other people that would offer their help. However, after no one got up to do anything my dad stood up to help the person in trouble. I think that this is interesting because even though my dad is a doctor and deals with patients everyday, he was still hesitant to help the person on the plane because he believed that there would be plenty of other people to help. In this case, it was good that he decided to help the woman because no one else offered their help. Also, one would think that on commercial flight there would be more than one doctor on the whole plane. As the textbook states, there is a danger rather than a safety in numbers. This could be due to the diffusion of responsibility. This means that when there are other people around, people feel less responsible for the outcome of the situation. If my dad had not helped the person on the plane and she ended up getting more sick or even dying, he could have felt that it was not his fault since no one else had helped either. I know I can speak for most people when I say that we all want to believe that we would not fall victim to the bystander effect, but chances are most of us would.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will remember many of the lessons I have learned in psychology this semester throughout the rest of my life. However, the section on thinking and reasoning, specifically the use of heuristics, was especially interesting in my opinion.

It never occurred to me how much thinking I do every single day. Most people do not factor in all of the little things that you have to remember to do every day such as knowing what time it is, trying to avoid obstacles in your way, and planning on what you are going to put on all while making sure that you are out the door on time. Thank goodness for these mental shortcuts our brain has otherwise according to the textbook, we would be psychologically paralyzed.

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Not only are heuristics useful for the sake of our thinking process, we also use them to draw inferences about what was going on. I never would have thought that my brain was using a shortcut to come to the conclusion that my parents were home when I saw their keys on the table or when I decided not to drink the funky smelling milk in the refrigerator. If my brain did not use heuristics I could find myself in some not so pleasant situations.

All in all, I am grateful and amazed for the way that the brain thinks. It is an amazing thing that will continue to puzzle me and astound me throughout my entire life.

Bystander no more!

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My last blog was also about the bystander effect and how it amazes me that people witnessing an emergency or what not, especially when in a big group, are actually less likely to help the person in the possibly dangerous situation. This concept or lack of action, has been one of the most interesting scenarios that I have learned more about this semester. After reading more about the bystander effect in our text book and other sources, it mentions how people reading or learning about it don't think they would act in such a way when witnessing any sort of emergency, but most likely when the situation comes about people find themselves as part of the audience to a critical situation rather than helping the individual in need.

The text book also mentions that once informed about the bystander effect, people are more likely to help in the future rather than just be that helpless bystander. I have actually been one of those people. After reading about the bystander effect I could remember scenarios where I have been both the bystander and the lone individual in need of help, and I didn't want to he that helpless person anymore. I was shopping at a store this past week when a lady knocked down a bunch of shoes accidentally. There were quite a few people that just watched, but didn't help. I on the other hand wasn't going to be one of the observers, so I went over and helped they lady. She truly appreciated it and it felt great to help someone and not be a part of the common bystander effect. I hope all the Psych students disengage in the bystander effect and instead become one of the brave souls, helping those in need.

As a student, it is very exciting when a class topic excites you or is something you are passionate about. I have always been a big advocate of gay rights, and because of this, the concept that will stick with me most from this semester of psychology is the genetic component behind homosexuality. I have always believed homosexuality to lie within a person's genetic makeup; however there are so many people who go to great lengths to claim that it is a choice, and even some who will then condemn people for that choice.

Of course, it is a very large issue in our society today as well as in the world of politics. This is one of the reasons why this component of the course will be something I will never forget. While reading the textbook, I could not help but think to myself that I was so glad all at least all of the students in my class would read this and be provided with real information that made a claim against homosexuality being a choice, and that maybe if this class and that information effected enough people's lives, we could come one step closer to change, but more importantly equality and tolerance.

What to Do?

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I think the part of psychology that I will be most useful to me in the future is the section on problem solving. It will help me to refrain from or at least realize common mistakes when I approach my problems. Some common mistakes we learned to avoid are salience of solution, mental sets, and functional fixedness.


The salience of solution refers to the error of looking at only the surface of a problem and trying to use previous methods that worked for problems that are actually very different fundamentally. The mental sets error refers to being stuck on one way of solving a problem even when it's clear that it won't work and being unable to come up with alternative solutions. Functional fixedness is the inability to realize any other uses for objects than their originally intended use. Of these errors, I think the one that I make most often is the mental sets error. Once I start thinking that I can solve a problem a certain way, it's hard for me to come up with any other alternative solutions because I get so focused on my original solution. I also often have a problem with salience of solution. I tend to look at problems and try to think of ways to solve it that have worked for me in the past rather than coming up with new methods. However, hopefully knowing these things will help me to feel less stressed when I am faced with a problem and help me to handle it to the best of my abilities.

Understanding my BIG 5

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Everyone always says, "You figure out who you really are in college". Parents, teachers, and high school councilors all told me that college would be a time of personal, social, and emotional growth. I guess I didn't really believe them. That is, until I started looking back and realized how different I had become in the last 9 months. The"Big 5", that we learned about in Psychology, helped me to understand more about myself, and why I've changed so much. When we took the test in lab, and then analyzed our results on the Big 5 test I was shocked. I didn't get the score that I had expected to receive. I found out that I score low on the scale of extroversion, high on consciousness, high on openness to experience, high on agreeableness and low on neuroticism (which pretty much means I get stressed out a lot). I had been expecting a high score on extroversion, but when I really considered it, I found that I personally get the most joy out of being with small groups of people. The Big 5 also has helped me to manage my stress levels better. Before the test, I thought my stress and anxiety levels were normal, but after scoring a 7 (that's about as low as you can do), I decided to get help in managing my stress. The Big 5 has really helped me to understand myself as a person and as a college student, and I know that I will continue to change and grow as the years go on. I can use the Big 5 as a tool to understand why I am the way I am. And it's the concept that I will remember 5 years from now.

The idea/concept that I will remember the most and continue to use to most from this class are the six principals of scientific thinking. They are as you probably know ruling out rival hypotheses, correlation vs. causation, falsifiability, replica ability, extraordinary claims, and Occam's razor. These concepts will still be present for me after this class because they are general ideas that should apply to everything. This class taught me to question what I hear frequently and to find proof to support ideas. The six of these principals I can apply to everyday situations as a move forward. We used these principals in class to make sense of some ideas and to prove things about studies and I can do the same in my personal life. Looking back I have been using these concepts all of my life without knowing it. One example of this is when I was growing up and still to this day I play the basketball game HORSE, and when you get to the last shot if you miss the shot on your first try you can either choose to shoot again or make the other person shoot again. This uses the concept of replica ability. These concepts have been around me my whole life and will continue to be after this class is over.

Go away please

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When the weekend finally rolls around, most people seem excited to get together with friends to go out and have a good time. While I too like spending time with my friends, my idea of a great weekend usually involves spending a lot of time alone, usually with a good book. I've always known that I am more introverted, but growing up in a society where withdrawn people are seen as weird, and being part of a family where openness and constant chatter are basically required, I often felt like there might be something wrong with me. I started to force myself to talk to people more, and go to more parties, but it didn't make me very happy.

During the personality lectures, the discussion about introverts needing to shut out external stimulation really hit home for me. It may be hard for others to understand that sometimes we would rather daydream than hold a conversation or eat alone in peace than keep up our polite façade. I think it's important to realize that this is normal for us, and introverts don't need to change their personality just because our silence might make others uncomfortable.

Here is a great article, "10 Myths About Introverts," that other introverts might identify with. And maybe you extroverts might learn a little something us, too!


After reading all about IQ and tests to give you a proper intelligence result, the more I realized how non-valid it can be. I realize there are many correlations that show it shows the potential success and job success, but it does not do it entirely. What really grinds my gears is the fact that all college institutions, including IVY League schools rely on such tests as ACT and SAT. Also, the fact that there are programs out there to "boost" your ACT or SAT score by the means of attending a class for a month shows that it can be pretty easy to learn a concept that the test covers pretty easily. These IQ tests are suppose to be tests of what you learned your whole entire life, not what you learned in 4 weeks. I am glad that GPA is another factor that schools look into which shows work ethic, not just intelligence. In the job industry, you could have a worker who is naturally gifted academically, but won't work at all, so no work gets done. I really hope psychologists find a different method of IQ testing that is more valid than the ones now, or find a different system for colleges to accept students in for.

Teach or Be Taught

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I think the concepts that I will remember most in five years is everything related to teaching and learning. I am currently studying to be a high school teacher, as a result, I will be practicing these teaching concepts daily. Obviously I will have much more training on current teaching methods and how these concepts apply to practical teaching, but it is something that I think I will remember.
Ideally I will be able to take these concepts and use them in a practical way in my future. I am fully aware that I will most likely not explicitly remember these concepts, it's not like I will be able to think back, "Oh yeah, that was on page 456 of my psych book!", but rather the concepts will be ingrained into my teaching, personality, and mindset. It truly is applied psychology, here I will be taking something that I have learned about and almost unconsciously apply it to my life and career. I fully believe that some of the best work in any field has come from people that don't know enough to know just how special what they are doing is. It's almost as if the formal terms trip you up, sometimes the less you know, the better.

This is who I am

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There are over 7 billion people living in this world, all of whom have different personalities. Whether you are talkative, sympathetic, organized, relaxed, or creative, everyone has a unique personality that is special to themselves. We've developed our personality through genetics, as well as through our daily experiences, which have helped shape who we are today. For this reason, I believe the topic on personality is the most valuable subject we learned about this semester, and will deeply remain in my long term memory.


Each individual has goals in the life, whether it's to become a great engineer and work at power plants, or to become a veterinarian and take care of animals. Our personality is a main factor that will guide us towards our desired futures. My favorite thing we learned in the personality unit was about the Big Five Model because of how applicable it is to finding out what kind of person we are. I would consider myself as extroverted, which could possibly be the reason I am seeking a career in the field of business. So no matter where we end up in the future, we will always hold onto one essential trait, our personality.

Last post, so sad

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As the year is winding down and I look back at the wide range of topics we covered I would have to say that behavior and social behavior has been the most interesting topic. I think it is interesting to look into what makes a person who they are and see how they act in a group of people and why. I've always had some clue as to what kind of person I am. Happy, talkative, energetic.. well depending on sleep, and a risk taker. But it was nice to finally see this while taking the Big 5 personality test, it showed I was high on extroversion, which explains how i used to always get in trouble for talking, and agreeableness. I was surprised I was not very high but still slightly above average on Conscientiousness and openness to experience. I found my traits very interesting, anyone else?

Stress, at least for me, is a part of our daily lives and during the college years the stress of finals, interviews and social events seems never-ending. Whether it's the little hassles in life or the large events, stress plays an important role.

That's why I think the topic of stress is the most important topic we learned about in psychology and learning how to cope with stress is something I know I will use in the future.

I have always looked at meditation and thought, why would I ever do that? When I was 12 years old my soccer coach made it a team ritual to meditate before our state games. I remember sitting in the grass and thinking well this is boring and pointless. However, after reading about it in Psychology I learned that meditation helps to train attention and awareness. It actually heightens creativity, empathy, alertness and decreases anxiety and recurrences of depression. Although scientists are unsure why meditation has these positive effects, many people seem to benefit from it.

So now, rather than isolating myself or under-eating when I'm stressed out, I have the knowledge to seek out other stress coping activities... like meditation!

One of the most interesting topics covered this semester in Psychology that I feel is extremely important to many people as they become adults and start families is the information surrounding the attachment theory - the belief that humans have a strong need to form and maintain stable relationships. The attachment theory focuses on two areas of life I find and will find to be incredibly important to me: the roles in a romantic partnership, and the development of an child based on how he or she was raised, respectively.

The book goes into some detail about the attachment theory, but I found Dr. Simpson's lecture on it much more engaging and much more interesting. Having learned the different forms of attachment through his lecture (secure, avoidant, and anxious-ambivalent), I find myself retrospectively placing people I once knew into these categories, as well as categorizing characters from movies, shows and books, allowing me to become more immersed in the narration as I find the characters' actions and thoughts towards other people becoming more salient.


Though I knew that relationship between a child and his or her parent was important, I was surprised to hear how truly important the type of care the parent gave to his or her child in determining how the child would see relationships in the future. Giving myself the self-diagnosis of responding to relationships in a secure manner, I appreciate how supportive my parents were through my childhood development and I know that I can rely on them to give me genuinely helpful advice on how to raise my child when I start a family.

ADHD is Personal to Me

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Impulsive, inattentive, does not sit still, does not play well with others, and throws a lot of temper tantrums are all symptoms that my step-bother has had for years. They are also common symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder. Children with this disorder are diagnosed with or without hyperactivity. My step-brother definitely has the hyperactivity part of the disorder.

I will remember this concept from psychology because I never really knew what it meant to have ADHD until I came across the definition of it the text book. My step-brother takes medication for the disorder, and the disorder has also gotten better with age, just as the text book says it might do. My step-brother still has trouble in school and in learning and still has bad balance and coordination. He also lacks commonsense. Other than those issues, most of his symptoms simmer down when he takes his medication on a daily basis.

My step-brother's first boy cousin, too, has ADHD. Studies have shown heritability is as high as .80. The boys' grandpa also has symptoms of the disorder and had a lot of troubles growing up. Because I can associate the concept with my life, I will remember the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder and the statistics about it for many years to come.

Nazca lines

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This video describes the supernatural patterns in the Nazca of Southern Peru. The Nazca lines spread over the whole plain, which is unwatered and some even stretch for several miles. These patterns include the geometric figures, animals,plants and others. "The geometric ones could indicate the flow of water or be connected to rituals to summon water. The spiders, birds, and plants could be fertility symbols. Other possible explanations include: irrigation schemes or giant astronomical calendars."(Brown, Cynthia Stokes ,2007). Because these lines seem to be extraordinary claims, some people believe that Aliens did them. And the most famous and unexplained patterns look like an astronaut and airstrip. Also, people think the ancient Nazca people didn't have enough knowledge and technology, especially they did not have tools to check the patterns. As a result, Nazca lines become more mysterious. But many local Nazca people believe that their ancient made the lines. For me, I think these amazing patterns could be made by human. Because, I can't understand the purposes if the Aliens did them. Why the Aliens made them in our Earth? I agree that ancient Nazca people might made these lines to find water or hold pray rain activities because of their geographical locations. It could be coincidence or unaware to draw an astronaut and airstrip. Moreover, these pictures are imagined and called "astronaut" and "airstrip", they are subjective ideas. Whatever, I'm so interested in landscapes. I believe that we can find the real answers in the future. The reason I chose this topic because in chapter 2 I leart that we need find reliable evdiences to explor unknow things. I believe that I will remember to use scientific method to understand things in the future.

Brown, Cynthia Stokes (2007). Big History. New York: The New Press. pp. 167. ISBN 978-1-59558-196-9.


Psychology is present in our lives whether we like it or not. Rather than ignore this fact, I decided to make good use of psychology this year in college. One of the major things that I struggled with on my transition to college was that I did not know exactly how to study for my exams. I especially looked forward to the memory portion of our class, hoping that I would learn some useful tricks and tools to studying for tests. When we came to this section I read the chapter and was happy to find some useful concepts to apply to my studying. One of the major concepts that I used was the distributed versus mass studying. Instead of cramming for a test the night before, I decided to distribute my studying throughout the week before the test. Thanks to this, I earned a much better grade on my Biology test than I had before I learned this method. Another concept that I found to be prevalent in my studies was the testing effect. I noticed this greatly in none other than my Psychology class! Throughout the chapters there are short true or false quizzes, after reading the chapter there are chapter quizzes, and before the exam there are practice quizzes. After taking each of these and testing myself as much as possible, I was able to retain much more information and do better on the exams. Over all, psychology has been an ever-present force in my studies and has allowed me to do my best in my classes.

Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding PG 261

One of my favorite television shows still airing is Family Guy. Needless to say the most commonly known character from the show is Peter Griffin. Despite being on television for close to a decade, Peter displays a wide range of personality characteristics which makes it hard to categorized him in Allport's list of five. However I will try. It is easy to say that Peter Griffin is high in extraversion considering he is always socializing and talking with every other character on the show. He is also for the most part friendly, just not to Meg. As far as agreeableness goes, Peter seems to lack the ability to cooperate with others because he is so immature and is always getting what he wants. He is far from being trustworthy, since he is always lying to his wife Lois so he does not get in trouble. Conscientiousness is not something Peter is strong in since he is very careless and reckless. For example a bit that keeps showing up in the show is when Peter buys random vehicles and operates, but usually crashes all of them. To list a few the hindenpeter, petercopter, and the peter-rang. I cannot really pin point where he is in neuroticism since he is not really anxious, moody or tense or on the other end, relaxed poised, or steady. This is one characteristic that depends on what flashback or situation he is in, so it contributes to the situation part of the debate. Finally, needless to say Peter is very open to experience. This is easy to see since he is very impulsive and the situations he gets himself into are almost always to due curiosity.Peter.jpg

Perhaps one of the most complex (and hilarious) characters on television is Dr. Cox from the television show Scrubs. When viewed through the different facets of the Big 5, we come to see just home complex of a character he really is. As shown in the clip above, Dr. Cox feels the need to always be right. In this way, and in the way that he talks to Elliot, he shows a very low level of Agreeableness. He also scores low on Openness because he was unresponsive to Elliot's ideas. He is very stuck in his ways, from experience and out of habit. The one quality that sets Dr. Cox apart from all of the other doctors as Sacred Heart, is his extremely high level of Extroversion. Dr. Cox possesses the ability to talk to anyone, and even though he doesn't seem to show it, he needs to company of others to be happy. Again, illustrated by the clip above, Dr. Cox would score extremely low on the Big 5 scale for Concientiousness. When he is advising Eliot, he doesn't take into account her feelings, and doesn't consider anyone else. And finally, Dr. Cox is not very Neurotic, he doesn't worry about what other people think about him, and he doesn't exhibit signs of stress from a profession that is very stressful.


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Because there were vocabulary words I knew beforehand, I chose a psychology term I learned this semester. The word I will remember five years from now is conditioned. There were plenty of types of conditioning and countless experiments based on conditioning. In and of itself, the term is quite interesting to me. It can effect many people, no matter what the age, as well as animals.

An easy definition is to make a person or animal behave in a certain way by manipulating the way they think. This is done using a particular sense. The sense of sound was used when Pavlov rang a bell before feeding a dog. He then varied ringing the bell, feeding the dog and when they would go together. He noted the dogs salivation. This experiment was really interesting to me which helps me to remember conditioning.

Conditioning can lead to many different outcomes and can vary if one is using classical or operant. Voluntary and involuntary behaviors amaze me. I think it is intriguing how the brain works to respond to different situations and stimuli. Below is a cartoon mouse displaying a great example of conditioning.


While reading Chapter 9 in our psych books, which covers intelligence and IQ testing, I couldn't help but take a particular interest in the section about college admission tests, such as the ACT and SAT. Since we are students at the U, it is safe to assume all of us have taken the ACT, SAT, or maybe even both. This section stood out to me because I am a firm believer that these tests do nothing but cause extra stress, pressure, and cost us money, without actually producing any significant results. There are so many factors that have to be taken into account, I just don't see how these tests can be trusted to accurately measure anyone's success rate. They are a snapshot of one day in a student's life, using material that they may or not even be familiar with. In addition, they leave test-takers with limited time to complete the questions, which seems a little unfair considering these tests are supposedly measuring our success in the future.
Psychologists designed these tests to forecast performance in undergraduate courses. Yet, according to our books, the correlations between these tests and college grades are often below .5 and I a few cases close to zero. Although these tests tend to predict first-year grades at reasonable levels, they generally do a worse job of predicting performance in later years of college. With facts like this, a person has to wonder: What is the point?


It is quite evident that in this world, there exist numerous systems of discrimination that include massive amounts of constructs that function to stereotypically marginalize the groups incorporated to these constructs. This process can be referred to as exclusion and it is this lack of inclusion, or inclusive engagement, toward different groups of people that do the marginalizing. It's not the people themselves that discriminate but rather, their lack of knowledge concerning "outside" groups and what they entail. Now, there is this new approach that a recently published report from the APA has introduced. In this report, this discrimination prompted by lack of knowledge can easily be repaired if such knowledge was instituted through certain subjects, which could include cultural studies taught in post-secondary institutions. Such classes, based solely upon incorporating the knowledge of the given culture, can easily promote a "culture lens" that would generate a comprehensive understanding of a different people. It would seem that according to what discrimination is based upon, this could serve as the cure.

Now, this discussion of discrimination is taken on a lighter scale leaving out the situational factors of one's opinion. However, this "cure" is deemed contradictory if a person's reasoning is omitted. This lack of knowledge is what discrimination is, and not taking into account a person's opinion is a major situational factor that can't be ignored because doing so produces discrimination. This cure is based upon producing an understanding that is too generalized to have any affect.

Am I the Only One?

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One of the more interesting phenomena in the arena of social psychology is the bystander effect. In 1968, psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latané tried to find the factors that resulted in these occurrences. Their first hypothesized factor is pluralistic ignorance. As defined in the textbook, this is when people make the error of assuming that no one in the group perceives things as we do.

I, myself, have fallen under this influence many times, thinking when something is wrong that I must be seeing it wrong, since no one else is doing anything. I find the example in the text book particularly interesting, since I have experienced this situation many times and usually I do not do anything. The example paints a scenario of walking to class and you happen to walk by a student lying on a bench, dirty and poorly clothed. As you walk by, you experience a number of thoughts. I often wonder to myself: is the person homeless? Sleeping? Drunk? (After all, it is college). Since everyone around me walks by, I usually do the same. In situations that seem odd to us, people tend to look around and observe what others are doing as a cue for how we should act. If everyone else walks by and does nothing, there must not be anything wrong. The video clip below, I'll admit, is cheesy but makes the point. In this case however, people do actually help out. [Notice that when later passersby see others helping, they feel something is wrong (spilled coins) and try to help]

Mr Darcy.jpg

Off all the classic literature that is available, most of the population has come into contact with Pride and Prejudice. It could have been through the book, the BBC's six hour long television special with Colin Firth or the most recent re-make starring Kiera Knightley and Matthew McFadyen. Either way, ladies left and right, (me included at times) swoon over the character of Mr. Darcy. Is it because he's rich? A good big brother? Or is it because we all secretly want the "Hate turns into love" relationship? Well, if we took Mr. D from a psychological standpoint, I think many of us ladies (or gentlemen) would be having second thoughts. So let's test the big 5 out shall we? First, Mr. Darcy isn't very open to new things. He hates dancing and finds people kind of boring. So minus points in the openness category. However, Mr. D is very conscientious because of his amazing self discipline and the fact that he acts how society would have him act, which is the first reason he gives on why he shouldn't get involved with Elizabeth. He's not very extroverted and he's not very agreeable either. In fact, many of the other characters in the book talk about how they can't stand him because he comes across as mean. But he isn't very neurotic. He keeps control of his emotions very well (especially where his sister is concerned) and if we didn't know any better, we would probably think he is devoid of all emotion. So let me recap, if you like a guy who hates new things, hates socializing, will eagerly do what he's told, isn't trapped in a glass case of emotion and takes a while to warm up to, then Mr. Darcy is still your man. I however, may start looking elsewhere.

Why are people so likely to conform? What are social influences on conformity? Solomon Asch conducted one of the more well known studies of conformity in the 1950's. This was a "study of perceptual judgements" where participants were asked to compare a standard line with 3 other lines. The fifth person in order was always the one being tested, all the others in the room were in on the gig. Early on in the study, the confederates in on the study would give the right answer so that the participant being tested would feel comfortable and think that the study would be easy. However, the people in on the experiment started to purposely give the wrong answer. So, the person being tested had to decide what to do. Would they say what they knew was right? Or would they conform? Solomon Asch and other researchers studied the social influences on conformity and came to the conclusion that conformity was influenced by a few different factors. One of these is called "Unanimity". The influence of unanimity is defined that "if all confederates (people in on the study) give the wrong answer, the participant is more likely to conform. Nevertheless, if one confederate gave the correct response, the level of conformity plummeted by three-fourths." So the likeliness that someone would conform can be very much dependent on how many people give what answers. The size also plays a factor somewhat. People are more likely to conform if there are more people giving the same answer. However, this only goes up to about 5-6 people giving the same answer. After hitting 5-6 people and going up there's enough that people will conform. Then, there is also "Difference in the wrong answer" which is "knowing that someone else differs from the majority makes the participant less likely to conform." This seems to correlate with Unanimity that if even one person gives the correct answer, conformity severely drops.
I see conformity happening all the time in classes. People will raise their hands because the rest of the class already has. Even thought the individual may not agree with what they are raising there hand for, they still will. This is such a sad thing to see because it takes away from individuality. There is such great worth, creativity, talent, uniqueness, etc. in every person that I hate to see that be thrown away by people conforming.

Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding
Chapter 13, Page 500-502, "Social Influence: Conformity and Obedience"

Neurotic Men

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I was sitting watching the new episode of Mad Men and I wondered where the notorious womanizer Roger Sterling would fall on the Big Five personality inventory:

Roger is an extremely extraverted person, always seen flirting with women and schmoozing clients. As if he couldn't get any more extraverted, he becomes even more so after a few drinks, which tends to be the majority of the time.

Roger is without a doubt an entertainer because in addition to having high extraversion, he has very low conscientiousness. He often times rushes into things, doesn't think through all the details and often refuses to accept responsibility.

Roger is moderate on Openness to Experience. This is apparent through his work habits which consist of show up to work, drink and smoke heavily, hit on women, sleep, and repeat. Roger continues his habits even after being told to quit by his doctor in the wake of two almost fatal heart attacks. However, Roger does go through a divorce and remarriage to a significantly younger spouse, although a new experience probably isn't the primary cause.

Agreeableness is a category Roger is severely lacking in. He tends to be easily angered especially when someone takes shots at his ego and sees things as "my way or the highway" (agree with me or I will fire you). Roger's tends to be emotionally cold, but occasionally has neurotic periods where his mood swings rapidly especially with his quick and eccentric temper.

Of the concepts learned in the social psychology chapter of this book, one of the most potentially dangerous phenomena is the "bystander effect", in which a situation occurs where immediate intervention or attention needs to occur, but due various reasons, witnesses do not provide or send for assistance. The book provides two shocking anecdotes, one of a young woman being stabbed multiple times at night over a 35-minute time span with several people watching the event unfold in their apartments, but the woman succumbed to the blood loss and the perpetrator fled well before anyone called the police. The other chilling story occurred in 2009 when as many as 20 bystanders simply stared while a teenage girl was gang-raped for over two hours outside a school dance, where the police weren't summoned at all.

NBC discussed a study that shocked many of those involved in the social psychology experiment. A man seized a young girl at a busy intersection pretending to be her father, and the girl would scream for help and exclaim that the man was not her parent. The clip displayed that people would simply walk by despite the ongoing distress of the girl. It was only after twenty minutes that two young men who passed by decided to turn around and confront the kidnapper.

Why do such tragic events occur, despite overwhelming evidence that something is seriously wrong? One reason could be pluralistic ignorance, where a witness assumes no one perceives the situation as they do. They see others walk by the attempted kidnapping, and think the others know the situation does not need to be confronted, so those who are hesitant to intervene are more reluctant to avoid looking foolish. This phenomenon is perhaps even more valid considering how ambiguous the NBC experiment was; the child could simply be disobedient to her father and is desperately trying to get out of his grasp.

Another reason for the bystander effect to occur is what is coined the diffusion of responsibility: the presence of other people makes each person feel less responsible for the outcome. So witnesses to this kidnapping may rationalize that even if that was a genuine kidnapping, their lack of intervention would seem trivial compared to the other multitudes of people who simply pass by as well.

When I was working at Cub Foods, several people (including myself) witnessed a man who was probably intoxicated drive his car into the cart station and other cars in the parking lot, then drive away as fast as he could. Fortunately, the bystander effect did not occur as several people called the police immediately after the man fled, and one jumped into his car to chase after the man.


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Arguably, the best part of the Harry Potter series is it's rich and diverse cast of characters. Although everyone can agree that the main antagonist, Voldemort, was evil, there is far more to his personality than what you see at the surface level.


Openness: moderate-high

Voldemort scores high in this area in the sense that he is extremely smart and intellectual. He was hungry for knowledge and power, and not afraid to go to the darkest corners of the world to find what he wanted. However, he has a deep-seated hatred for muggles, showed him to be close-minded.

Conscientiousness: very high

Voldemort had great self-discipline and went to great lengths to plan every detail of his schemes. Although he had no regard for the rules, while a student at Hogwarts he showed he was able to achieve great academic success and to follow the rules carefully, even rising to the role of prefect.

Extroversion: low

In public, Voldemort may have seemed extroverted. However, most of his plans were known only to himself. Because he hated others, he did not enjoy their company, and spent much of his time scheming alone. His most prized possessions were his horcruxes, which in fact were extensions of his own self.

Agreeableness: very low

When it suited his way, Voldemort was able to act agreeable in order to manipulate others. However, he was actually a very cold and calculating person. He had no regard for others' feelings, and treated them as disposable objects. In this sense, Voldemort was almost on the level of a psychopath.

Neuroticism: moderate-high

Voldemort was usually able to keep his emotions well hidden from others. However, he was prone to bursts of rage when things did not go his way. He also often let his true fear slip, especially during times when Harry Potter got the upper hand.

I think that the biological drive that we have to form groups also has a direct correlation with conformity. The need to belong or form groups seems ridiculous when we look at it from outside of any given situation because we want to believe that we are independent individuals. In the book, it says that the threat of social isolation can lead us to behave in self-destructive ways and even impair our mental functioning. When I first read this, I thought that statement seemed a bit exaggerated, however, after thinking about it, I realized just how rarely I do things by myself. Even something as simple as going to the bathroom at a sporting event or party, most people, including myself, almost always ask the people they are with if anybody else has to go.

Although it may seem unnecessary looking back, asking someone to accompany you to the bathroom is a harmless act. Unfortunately, sometimes a group setting can involve very harmful acts as well. For instance, the art of peer pressure and conformity when it comes to deciding whether or not you want to participate in an illegal activity with a group of friends. Your conscious tells you not to, however, your desire for acceptance takes over and you find yourself doing things you would not normally do.

Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding
Chapter 13, Page 495, "The Need to Belong: Why We Form Groups"

Does Birth Order Matter?

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Is it true that in large families the latter born children are less intelligent? Many studies have suggested birth order can affect a person's personality, however is this a valid statement? Studies suggest that first born children are more likely to reach achievement, middle borns are more likely to have a knack for dealing with people, and third borns are more likely to be risk takers. In my family there are three children including myself. My brother has been known for his intelligence and has always been a high achiever. I am the third child in my family and I do tend to be the most adventurous. However, just because I sometimes engage in risky activities does not mean that I will not achieve or just because my brother is smart does not mean he will not engage in risky activities. Many researchers have recently wondered whether being a first born or third born really matters, or if it depends on the number of children in your family. Researchers have found that the more children there are in a family, the more likely that the latter born children are going to be less intelligent than the first-born children. This may be due to genetics or environmental factors. Going along with the first claim, a study in Norway found that first born children are more likely to gravitate towards other first born children, middle born children are more likely to gravitate towards other middle born children, and third born children are more likely to gravitate towards other third born children. Many say that people are more likely to spend time with people of similar interests as them. Their study suggests that people of the same birth orders are likely to be friends with each other because their personalities are similar. In this case, they are suggesting that correlation does imply causation, however there is not enough evidence to support these claims. It seems to me that these claims are so popular because of coincidences. Do you think that birth order affects personality?

rapunzel.jpgWhy are fictional characters always so relatable? We might not necessarily relate them to ourselves (although that is often what we do), but relate them to other people we know as well. A famous psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung, has an explanation. Carl Jung created and promoted a concept known as archetypes. Jung believed that the collective unconscious contains numerous archetypes, or cross-culturally universal symbols. A little more explicitly, Jung believed that there were five main archetypes. Those were the Self, the Shadow, the Anima, the Animus, and the Persona. Others have expanded upon Jung's ideas to create a few more recurring archetypal images including, the child, the hero, the martyr, the wise old man, the damsel in distress, and many more. If one analyzes most fictional stories, it isn't hard to find examples of these archetypes within them. The story of Rapunzel for example, which most of us know from its modern Disney remake, is the story of a maiden who is locked at the top of a tower and a hero who comes along and saves her. It isn't hard to see the archetypes in which those two characters fit. It isn't hard to see a bit of ourselves or our friends within each of these archetypes as well. When a character models an individual archetype so easily, it is just as easy to relate that part of ourselves to them.

It's unbelievable to me how people can just stand nearby and watch others suffer, whether it is from a sudden body reaction such as a heart attack or from physical abuse they are witnessing, like rape. According to the bystander effect, the phenomenon where the greater number of people present, the less likely they are going to help the person in distress, this is not uncommon in the world today. As we can see in the video posted, nobody was willing to help the boy lying on the ground, seeming to be unconscious. Many people walked by him, some even stopped, looked at him for a few seconds and then kept on going. It wasn't until a little bit later when an authority figure, a teacher, took the initiative to help the young boy.
There may have been some alternative reasons for this aside from the bystander effect or as our book would say, some alternative hypotheses, so we need to rule them out. Some of the students may have recognized this being an experiment and just kept on going with their day, not wanting to get involved. Others may have known this student to be a "class clown" and thought he was just trying to be funny, yet there had to be a few students who walked by and thought something was wrong, but still didn't do anything.

I myself have been part of the bystander effect, but not as a bystander, instead as the helpless victim of an accident. I was going up for a rebound in basketball at the same time a girl over six feet was. I was 5'3", so you can guess who jumped higher and got the rebound. Unfortunately for me, not only did I miss the rebound, but the girl's elbow came down straight into my eye, which had me running off the court screaming. I remember everybody staring at me and nobody came to me help. I was thinking "what the heck, isn't somebody going to help me?" Thankfully my coach finally ran to help me, but it took a minute or two for it to finally kick in to him. I wonder what everyone one else was thinking. I just hope now that we have read and learned about this phenomenon in class, that we don't take part as a bystander, but rather as the hero who helps save the day.

The Bigger The Better

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After watching both of the videos of women in Mauritania, I was pretty shocked to see how different they were than the standards or views in America. The videos portray a long history in Mauritanian culture of a male preference for larger "fat" women. When girls are young, before puberty, parents will even begin to force feed their daughters to make them more desirable for marriage.

These preferences for a larger body weight differ greatly from what the textbook says is conventionally physical attractive for women. This larger body weight also has more concerns besides the aesthetic side. I would imagine the careers of these women would suffer greatly from dedicating yourself to becoming fat. This women who have done this, do so to wed a successful man, which probably eliminates any motivation for a career of their own. Physical labor becomes extremely strenuous, and the health risks as anyone knows, begin to pile up with the increase in unnecessary weight.

It is hard for me to imagine why this is attractive for men in Mauritania. Because of the strain these women are putting on their health, I would imagine that their husbands would outlive their spouse, which I would find very undesirable. This excess weight also would probably have some negative affects on the children of these mothers from pregnancy as well.

The bigger the better

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After watching both of the videos of women in Mauritania, I was pretty shocked to see how different they were than the standards or views in America. The videos portray a long history in Mauritanian culture of a male preference for larger "fat" women. When girls are young, before puberty, parents will even begin to force feed their daughters to make them more desirable for marriage.

These preferences for a larger body weight differ greatly from what the textbook says is conventionally physical attractive for women. This larger body weight also has more concerns besides the aesthetic side. I would imagine the careers of these women would suffer greatly from dedicating yourself to becoming fat. This women who have done this, do so to wed a successful man, which probably eliminates any motivation for a career of their own. Physical labor becomes extremely strenuous, and the health risks as anyone knows, begin to pile up with the increase in unnecessary weight.

It is hard for me to imagine why this is attractive for men in Mauritania. Because of the strain these women are putting on their health, I would imagine that their husbands would outlive their spouse, which I would find very undesirable. This excess weight also would probably have some negative affects on the children of these mothers from pregnancy as well.

For the last few years, one of the most hotly debated topics in America has been the question of whether homosexual couples should be able to get married. Specifically I will discuss the issue of whether or not homosexuality is a choice, as it has become a major part of the debate. If it were a choice, then gay marriage would arguably be unnatural and banning it would be more defendable. However, I believe that the idea of homosexuality being a choice is ridiculous. True, one's sexuality is likely not entirely determined by one's genes. The textbook tells of an experiment which shows that even identical twins, with 100% identical genomes, can often have different sexualities. However, this only proves that sexuality is more complicated than simple DNA, which has nothing to do with choice. Even if sexuality were entirely determined by environment, it would still be chance and not the decision of the person in question. I have never heard of a person of any sexuality who chose to be that way, and I am fairly certain that few such people ever existed. Even the stories in textbook of gay men who were 'corrected' to be straight turned gay again within a matter of years. So I don't think there can be any debate about the fact that homosexuality is not a

The Hunger Games

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The release of the new movie The Hunger Games has been highly anticipated by children, teens and adults around the world this past week. Based on the inspiring novel by Suzanne Collins, it is predicted to be almost as popular as the Harry Potter movie among children and teens around the world. Yet, it's PG-13 rating for its high level of violence has parents wondering: is it too violent for my kids?

Some experts say that the subject matter is much too heavy for children, while others saying that it depends on the child's age and temperament. Child psychologist Richard Freed is a strong believer that "images are much more powerful than written words."

This holds true to what we learned about in our discussion as well. Viewing violent content at a young age can have both short and long term effects on a child. Violent media has been found to cause agression, anxiety and a number of other problems for young children. Each child reacts differently to the things they see on television or in the media. Ultimately, it is up to the parents to decide wether their child can be exposed to violence and wether they should take them to the new Hunger Games movie as well.

Charlie Bit my Finger- What makes an Online Video go viral? by Charlie Pieper
I'm sure that most people have seen this video-
Its been viewed nearly 450 million times. But what makes this video so popular? If you think about from a purely rational sense it's rather stupid, a kid bites someone but then it all ends up okay. According to Jonah Berger from U Penn Its because of all the different emotions it showcases. This is a good explanation of why it is popular, but what made people want to share it so much? This is also an easy explanation, the video creates state of emotional arousal, and when you are aroused you are more likely to want to share the source of the arousal. According to Mr. berger "We don't want to share facts--we want to share feelings." This is also evident in the Kony 2012 video, which is considered to be the most viral video of all time. One of he reasons why it was so successful was that it made people angry, and this caused people to want to share it. However as psychology students we have to remember the principle of correlation versus causation so we cant say for sure.


How to Detect a Lie

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Paul Ekman published a study in 1991 in which much was learned about lying and people's accuracy when detecting lies. In the study, participants were shown video clips of people talking and were asked to judge whether or not the people were lying in the video clip. Ekman tested certain groups of people including the Secret service, federal polygraphers, robbery investigators, judges, psychiatrists, and college students.

The results indicated that the only group that performed significantly better than the rest at detecting lies was the Secret Service. Ekman's explanation of this was that the Secret Service spends a lot of time scanning crowds and reading body language. Paying attention to non-verbal cues is very important in detecting lies.

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Liars tend to show nervous behavior such as crossing their arms, tapping their fingers, and leaning back in their chairs while they are fibbing. They also tend to speak in a slightly higher tone while lying. Shifty eyes may also be indicative of a lie.

Better lie detectors rely on both verbal and non-verbal cues and are better able to detect subtle facial expressions. It was also found that neither gender out-performed the other in the study.

Harmful Ideals

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It is interesting to compare standards of beauty in different cultures. I discovered an article from BBC news that described the culture of the African country Mauritania. Traditionally, women that are considered attractive are significantly obese. From a young age, girls are encouraged, and sometimes forced, to overeat, often receiving a greater amount of food than males. Although the prevalence of this practice is dwindling, the origins of this attraction stem from obesity being a symbol of wealth. It is interesting how ideals of beauty in many cultures are blown out of proportion, sometimes resulting in the physical harm of an individual striving to fit a social norm. In Mauritania, this is the force-feeding of women from a young age to reach an extreme.

When comparing this to standards of beauty in the US, it is interesting to find connections with the standards in Mauritania. Obesity is a growing problem in the US. Many individuals that suffer from obesity develop serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. Obesity is often linked to poverty, where individuals do not have adequate access to, or understanding of, healthy food choices. Women that are considered healthy in the US are often thin. Sadly, this obsession takes a different direction than in Mauritania, where women here may develop severe eating disorders to reach a different extreme.

On a different note, it is interesting to look at Mauritania's unique social ideal from an alternative, evolutionary viewpoint. Perhaps the fact that many Mauritanian men are attracted to obese women stems from genetic factors. Perhaps fathers that are attracted to this type of women pass on their genes, and therefore their offspring share this preference. In a community that lacks access to food, these women are more likely to survive and produce healthy offspring. It is possible that men who were attracted to thin or unhealthy women had fewer offspring, therefore not passing on this preference.

First of all, I should mention that myself have experienced some situation when I found someone is very attractive but not anyone else agreed. I am an international student, since the first time I went abroad, my friends and I always find there are many examples showing that people from different cultures, different geographical locations, or different races may have different judgement of what is beautiful to them. Sometimes, some girl not seem to be attractive to me could be very attractive to someone else from other countries. This situation should have been well explained by the texts on textbook about physical attractiveness. As been explained in the textbook, the results are most likely due to the similarity between the person and whom the person find is beautiful.
There are also some other examples and survey results been found on the internet. In one article, the author talked about many different beauty standards around the world. (the link is: Some of them are very or somehow familiar to me, a few seem to be very shocking when the first time I saw them.
The image above showing a kind of make up that was very common the ancient China. People from other countries may find this to be unacceptable or even scary. Myself found the picture with two people with dots on their body is not very easy to accept as beautiful. Based on the cultural influence, I would prefer the human skin to be clean and smooth, even for the males.

Is Being Gay A Choice?

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Do you think being gay is a choice? According to The New Civil Rights Movement, 47% of Americans believe that being gay is a choice. That is almost half of the population. I believe that being gay is not a choice. Let me tell you a story of a personal experience from a friend.

My friend is a homosexual. She started out as a tomboy which is a girl who dresses like a boy and usually hangs out and engage in the activities that boys play. As she grew older, she started realizing that she is attracted to girls. She was starting to feel confused about her sexual orientation, soon enough, her parents started to wonder if she was confused too. So, as she and her parents panicked about her being different, she decided to not be homosexual and to be straight. She went ahead and dated a boy to prove that she was not homosexual. Just a few moments in, she can feel that this kind of relationship is wrong for her, but she forced herself to keep going for a couple a days. Finally, after suffering from emotional distress, she called it quits and ended the relationship. Now, she is happily displaying her true sexual orientation in public without feeling ashamed or guilty.

My friend thought that being gay was a choice so she tried to choose being straight, but as it turns out, being gay is not a choice. She cannot fight what she truly feels.

All throughout high school many people have thought of me as being the stereotypical "dumb blonde" even though test scores, class participation, and other aspects of a good grade did not show otherwise. In actuality, I worked really hard, and enjoyed receiving decent grades. I rarely slacked up, if it was between homework or a party I usually selected homework. I was almost the opposite of a dumb blonde even though I had blonde hair. In class I was often called Barbie or plastic. I usually took these cruel words as motivation to do bette, and that is exactly what I did. I began thinking, who has any right to judge intelligence? There are so many different forms, it is near impossible.


In this decade so many different tests determine intelligence, such as the ACT, SAT, IQ tests and other more selective tests. The ACT and SAT can determine what college you go to, the amount of money you will pay for that college, and sometimes the programs you will be allowed into versus the programs you will not be allowed into. For young adults who do not test well it is a vicious cycle of feeling like a failure. Is this really fair though? I for one am not a good test taker but I am personable and I am able to carry on a conversation with just about anyone. I may lack in common sense but I make up for it in other areas of intelligence.


This leads me to a question that has been bothering me. Who has the right to decide who is intelligent and who is not? I am a firm believer that every individual is intelligent in his or her own way. Everyone has certain things they are good at just like everyone has something they are bad at. Truth be told, there are so many different forms of intelligence that not one person should ever be considered/ called "stupid" or "dumb" or "an idiot." It all depends how you utilize your intelligence and how you deal with the areas in which you may have struggle with.


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Aggression has always been a popular subject to portray in the media. From guys involved in fights to girls spreading rumors and excluding people, people have had a fascination with this issue. What interests me is the topic of how people become who they are. Is there a biological explanation or is a trait influenced more by the social environment? Aggression is one trait that many television shows and movies depict, such as Fight Club and Gossip Girl. Physically violent behavior is depicted more often in males, while relational aggression (indirect aggression) is more commonly shown in females.

The textbook explains that some scientists believe that higher aggression correlates to higher testosterone levels, but this is under debate since the correlation may also be true in the opposite direction. The textbook also details that female hyenas are more aggressive than their male counterparts. This supports the idea that aggression is related to testosterone levels since female hyenas show higher levels of a testosterone-related hormone, suggesting that testosterone does play a factor in aggression. But what are some other hypotheses that scientists have developed to explain aggression differences in males and females?

An article on Science Daily's website, "Why Men Are More Aggressive: What a Mother Should Know," suggests that the levels of aggression may be caused by the genes that are responsible for the neurotransmitter serotonin. In a study with Rhesus monkeys, a species of Old World monkeys who are known to be aggressive, show low levels of serotonin.

These are only a couple of a number of explanations for what causes aggression. These articles and explanations are all interesting I have is how I believe that aggression can be caused by genes as well as social pressures. However, the cause of aggression is still under research and will likely remain a controversial issue until more results from other studies are presented.

Intelligence > Media

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These days, the media try to exploit intelligence in any way possible because they think it is the greatest story ever. One way in which intelligence is portrayed is through the use of many different Hollywood movies. In these movies, each deal with showing a different type of intelligence, as stated by Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences.

I'd like to discuss one in particular that correlates with Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences theory. The movie that portrays a character of having a high intelligence level is that of Rain Man starring Dustin Hoffman as a severely disabled autistic man who has great mathematical/thinking abilities. This connects with Gardner's Intelligence Type, stating that Hoffman's character has Logico-mathematical and Naturalistic abilities because he can remember so much information about books, geography, history, and other living things, while also acting as a human speed calculator at the same time. The movies portray this in a way as if Hoffman's character is a genius so he is better-off. It turns out that that is not true at all. Being autistic is hard enough to live with, and just because he has this level of intelligence does not mean that he can live a normal lifestyle.
The point I'm trying to make is that intelligence in real-life, and how it is portrayed through the media are two completely different things. Even in the book it makes the reference about "Good Will Hunting," and it says how this would definitely never happen in the real world. It would take a person with Will Hunting's intelligence level in the real world a lot longer time to figure out these complex problems that Damon's character figures out in a few days span. So overall, the way the media represents intelligence is not entirely true of how it is presented in the real world. The video above is just an example of how Hoffman's character tries to use his intelligence.

Baby Storm is four months old; it lives in Toronto, Canada.... wait... "it"? Yes, "it." Storm's parents are keeping the infant's sex a secret from everyone but the immediate family and a handful of others in an effort to provide the child freedom to eventually decide on a gender identity, without the influence of societal expectation and traditional gender roles. In today's society we are affected at an early age, perhaps before birth, based on our gender. While Storm will be given the opportunity to decide on his/her gender, is it appropriate and socially acceptable? I think gender is a part of who we are, even though sometimes we wish it wasn't. Taking that away from a child confuses them even more and may greatly influence their personality later in life. However, others say that we live in a world where people aren't able to make personal decisions on who they are. So is Storm's situation and experiment unhealthy? Or is it something that our society should start implementing in order to give children the freedom to choose who they want to be?

IQ isn't Limitless

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Essentially ever since its inception, the study of IQ has fascinated social culture. The audacity of the very concept of IQ; the idea that you can boil down every facet of human intelligence into one number (hopefully a 3-digit one), in itself is daring. There are so incredibly many types of genius that, to me at least, it seems a bit ridiculous for one number to sum up every measure of intelligence. How can you possibly compare the genius of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Martin Luther King Jr., Pablo Picasso, and Ralph Waldo Emerson?

Naturally, once people know their IQ, the next thing they want to know is how they got it. Is it pre-determined, a result of cumulative life experiences, or a combination of both? Most of the available data supports the notion that IQ is probably a combination of both Nature and Nurture, meaning that there appears to be some variability, but that a large part of IQ may be determined in the womb, an unsettling idea for many people who believe "that all men were created equal".

The inherent mystique of genius naturally makes it a popular topic in Hollywood. One of my favorite recent releases, "Limitless" is about a writer who discovers a pill which allows him access to instant genius. He uses this pill to write a book, learn new languages, and gain overnight success on Wall Street. I won't say any more about the plot, so I don't ruin the movie for those who haven't seen it, but I really enjoyed it, so if you have any free time this weekend, it comes highly recommended.

When I came across the story of Chris Langan in chapter nine I could not help but be reminded of a movie I saw a while back. Langan is considered the smartest man in america with an IQ of between 195 and 210. Despite his amazing cognitive abilities, he has worked many labor intensive jobs including a 20 year stint as a bouncer on Long Island. Langan has published a paper on his theory called the Cognitive Theory Model of the Universe and has started a foundation with his wife called the Mega Foundation which strives to assist and support individuals with extreme cognitive abilities like Chris.

When I heard this story I was reminded of this scene from Good Will Hunting where Will, a character with very similar cognitive abilities to Chris, explains why he does not want to work in a job which would take full advantage of his abilities. These two stories bring up an interesting question regarding the meaning of life. If these individuals who are supposedly so much smarter than your average person are living an average blue collar lifestyle, perhaps that is the best way to be happy in life.


Looking around on the Internet, I see a number of differences in what is considered "beautiful" in different cultures. I the Chinese culture, for example, a woman is only considered beautiful if she is very VERY thin. Although this is not much different than out culture (girls wanting to be "model skinny"), it does contradict the Latina culture, which believes that the more curvaceous a woman is, the better. Another aspect that is found beautiful in the Chinese culture is white skin. In the summer, the women wear loads of sunscreen and use umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun. Although this is essentially a healthy habit, it differs greatly from that of American culture. Americans seem to admire the "bronze goddesses", freshly baked from the tanning bed. It's extremely interesting to see the large number of differences in the concept of beauty across cultures.
Though there are some differences, in the book it says that generally, across a variety of cultures, people prefer average looking faces. I'm not sure if being skinny and white skinned, and having large eyes is average in China, but in my personal experience, I have found this concept to be true. In discussion we were shown pictures of non-average faces and gradually a number of faces were averaged together. As more and more faces were averaged, I thought the person became more and more attractive. Do you agree? The different ways beauty is perceived in different cultures may affirm the possibility that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or is it that our cultures have shown us what is considered beautiful rather than allowing us to decide for ourselves?

The more I learn about IQ and psychology in general, the less and less respect I have for the testing and for the profession. The whole IQ testing controversy stems from one simple idea: Humans are gods and can (certainly deserve to) know exactly how intelligence works. As we have seen from the eugenics movement, this idea can have disastrous results. Nevertheless nature (pun totally intended) seems to have won again and keeps throwing us curveballs. Whenever humans "think" we've reached a conclusion, nature goes ahead and shows us a different result. No matter what we may do, there's always an alternative explanation or some other reason. Who knows, maybe there is a great big spot on the brain saying exactly this: "Yeah Right".


It seems that psychology is certainly treading on thin ice here. When an entire profession can't agree on what is important, or even what is considered to be right something is wrong. People will argue that this is the case with every scientific branch, occupation, or other aspect of life, but in my opinion, psychology is especially apt to be 'wishy-washy' giving no definitive answers. Just my personal opinion, but I have a hard time lending any credibility to something that is so ambiguous and undefinitive.


What emotion is this person feeling?
A. Happy
B. Sad
C. Angry

I took an online emotional intelligence test and it asked questions like this, along with questions about what I would do in certain situations.

Emotional intelligence, in the book, is defined as the "ability to understand our own emotions and those of others, and to apply this information to our daily lives". I didn't really think about the actual definition as I was first reading, but after reading more about emotional intelligence online, I now have a better understanding of what it is. This link has really useful articles to the ins and outs of emotional intelligence.


The one article I found most helpful was, "What Emotional Intelligence Is and Is Not". This article explains that emotional intelligence is not personality traits. It says people with high emotional intelligence understand the meanings that emotions convey and can use emotional episodes in their lives to promote specific types of thinking. I found these things in the article especially interesting.

The other article I found interesting was "10 Ways to Enhance Your Emotional Intelligence". The article outlines things you can do to improve emotional intelligence such as write thoughts and feelings down and tune into your unconscious feelings. Recently, employers have implemented training to boost their employee's emotional intelligence. Does this formal training method actually work? I guess we will have to wait for more research to be done in order to find out.

Many married couples these days are the couples who met in high school or college; in general they are people who have been around each other a lot (anywhere), even unknowingly. There have been instances where attraction with another person happened right in that same classroom all the way back in high school or just being in the same place in time. This is known as "proximity" where the physical nearness of those two people from a relationship. Just sitting next to or beside or in front of this person may cause you to have more of a chance for a relationship (of course it's not that easy though). This is a very interesting concept because although it may sound silly, it happens to a lot of people. An example of this in the real world could be where the actors fall in love with their co-actors because they are the always near each other even if they have just recently gotten introduced to each other on set and know only a little about each other.


For myself, I guess you could say the same thing happened to me. I have been with my boyfriend currently for about four years now and we met in high school. To be specific we met in my Chinese class, where he sat only a row or so away from me. Somehow we just started interacting with each other and connected. I would definitely have to say because we were sitting in the same area, that was one way we started off (because honestly I would say that he was not really my type in looks and attitude). The concept of physical proximity is seriously something I would consider happening a lot.

Campfield (et al. 1996) and van Litalie (1990) have developed a theory promptly titled the "glucostatic theory". This theory states that, "when our blood glucose levels drop, hunger creates a drive to eat to restore the proper level of glucose". This theory should be changed to law, especially in the medical field. Type 1 Diabetics, or juvenile diabetics, know too well what happens when your glucose level falls below the normal rage. You turn into an animal seeking anything that is made with sugar or anything that is made mostly out of carbohydrates. Knowing from personal experience, your brain tells you to eat excess amounts of sugar and carbohydrates in order to raise your blood glucose back within the normal range. It sucks too, because it personally wakes me in the middle of the night, blood glucose level is at, like, 50 (when it should be at 100-130), my vision is blurred, my arms and legs feel like Jell-O and I have this animalistic drive to eat everything in my fridge. This provided link gives some indication of what it feels like to have a low blood sugar:

Everyone experiences a low blood sugar differently, but this theory is very real, and shouldn't be taken lightly.

Sorry if the link doesn't work. I was having technical difficulties all night.


I have been really interested in learning about relationships and the many aspects that play a role in attractiveness. One things I found fascinating is that people tend to find a relationship with, whether it's friends or more, with people they are in closer proximity to. While reading this, I found that I have experienced this is my own life. In school when I was younger we have homeroom. In my homeroom were people with last names that were closest to mine. I ended up being good friends with the people in my homeroom. It seems like when you are put by people and in close contact with them you can form relationships based on that. People have certain things that attract them to others. Everyone is different and it's interesting what people look for in a mate. I used to think that maybe it's true that opposites attract, but now with more knowledge and experience I don't know if that has much truth to it, does it?! think about it in your experience. With me people I have liked or have been in relationships with actually have similar values and personalities as I do. It helps me get along with them and have more in common, which in turn attracts me to them more!! For me, I like to think I look at the person as a whole when I am judging them. But it is true, like the book says, that we do look at the physical factors first. My question is, what makes a person more attractive? Isn't it objective?? One person might think a person is beautiful while someone else thinks that person is not attractive in the least bit. It's something to think about because it tests our whole way of thinking about what is attractive!!

Looking to cope with my Sunday night boredom, I decided to escape to the ever so popular website A website devoted to helping people over come their boredom as well as teaching people a thing or two. On this particular Sunday night I stumbled upon an article that has forever made me immune to humanities weak attempts of lies and deviations. "How to Detect Lies" an article found on was an article that may not be "reference material" but it is something I came upon in my daily life that is psychology related and reminded me of the text from last weeks discussion.
The website made me aware of many gestures that people make while socializing that very well may be signs of a liar in disguise. Things such as hand, arm and leg movements are toward their own body, hands will be touching their faces, throat or mouth, gestures and expressions will not match their verbal statements, and the guilty person will often get defensive. An innocent person will go on the offensive side of the situation. Other verbal signals were also noted within the article, a liar may use words you used in the previous question to make an answer a question, the guilty person may speak more than natural, and will tend to add unnecessary details to convince you, and they are not comfortable with silence or pauses in the conversation. Now, as you take this information I gracefully decided to share with you, think about how often or how reliable these methods of lie detection are seen in real life? Do you find that non verbal and verbal gestures can be used to identify lies?

Nourishment or Touch?

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Infants begin to form attachments to their parents very early on in life. Are these attachments simply made with those who provide nourishment for the infant, or are there other important factors to consider? Harry Harlow helped answer this question in a study he performed in the 1950s, which I find rather interesting. He used infant rhesus monkeys (which he separated from their mothers soon after birth) and placed them in a cage with two figures that represented their mothers. One of the mothers was made out of uncomfortable metal wires and had an angular face, but was also the source of nourishment and had a bottle of milk. The other mother was made out of a heated, comfortable terry cloth and had a rounded face, but did not have a bottle of milk.


Harlow found that the infant monkeys went to the wire mothers for milk, but spent more time with the mothers made of terry cloth. When the baby monkeys were confronted with a scary stimulus, most would attach themselves to the terry cloth mother. This was later called contact comfort, the positive emotions afforded by touch. So, while you may think nourishment plays the larger role in forming attachments, it is actually touch that has more of an effect. It is important to understand how important this bond is for infants and children.

The Strange Situation

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"The Strange Situation is a laboratory procedure for examining one-year-olds' reactions to separation from their attachment figures, usually their mothers." (pg. 386 in textbook)


The process: (pg. 386)

"First researchers place the infant in an unfamiliar room with his or her mother. The room is loaded with all kinds of interesting toys, and the mother gives the infant the chance to play with them. Then a stranger enters. On two different occasions, the mother exits the room, leaving the infant alone with the stranger before reuniting with her infant. The Strange Situation takes advantage of infants' stranger anxiety, which as we've learned tends to peak at about one year."

There are four different categories in which infants' behaviors fall into.

-The first category is called secure attachment. This is where the infant becomes upset when the mother leaves, but once she returns the infant greets her with joy.

-The second category is called insecure-avoidance attachment. This is where the infant reacts with indifference when the mother leaves and shows little reaction once she returns.

-The third category is called insecure-anxious attachment. This is where the infant panics when the mother leaves the room and reacts with mixed emotions when she returns.

-The last category is called disorganized attachment. This is where the infant reacts with confusion and once the mother returns, the infant appears to be dazed.


Those of us who have babysat before know how this goes. Some of the kids you babysit may be the rare, perfect ones who don't show much of a reaction to their mother's departure. On the other hand, some kids are kicking and screaming and uncontrollable! We all know those ones can be extremely difficult to handle. Let us be thankful that most of the children cry themselves to sleep and get to wake up in the morning in the comfort of their mother's arms.

Jonathon Haidt is an influential psychologist and author of a recent book, titled "The Happiness Hypothesis." The book features eleven steps to achieving happiness. One of the chapters, "The felicity of virtue," talks about the loss of virtuous qualities in contemporary society and how we, as a country, can return those values to everyday life, ultimately improving our general level of happiness. For, Haidt argues, simply acting in a virtuous manner makes us happy.

One might ask, then, why do we praise things that are not virtuous; doesn't it reduce our happiness? We have to look no further than Jersey Shore and South Park to find shows that thrive mainly on partying and (generally) offensive jokes, two things often not associated with being virtuous. So why is it that many people are happy when watching such shows? Aren't we seeing an extension of ourselves and our thoughts through the less-than-virtuous characters displayed in these and other shows?

Haidt would argue that giving up these shows that many people, myself included, find entertaining. In fact, Haidt reasoned that "we've reduced virtue to just being nice," thus losing most other virtues. So how do we get back to being a virtuous society?

Jonathon Haidt is an influential psychologist and author of a recent book, titled "The Happiness Hypothesis." The book features eleven steps to achieving happiness. One of the chapters, "The felicity of virtue," talks about the loss of virtuous qualities in contemporary society and how we, as a country, can return those values to everyday life, ultimately improving our general level of happiness. For, Haidt argues, simply acting in a virtuous manner makes us happy.

One might ask, then, why do we praise things that are not virtuous; doesn't it reduce our happiness? We have to look no further than Jersey Shore and South Park to find shows that thrive mainly on partying and (generally) offensive jokes, two things often not associated with being virtuous. So why is it that many people are happy when watching such shows? Aren't we seeing an extension of ourselves and our thoughts through the less-than-virtuous characters displayed in these and other shows?

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People detecting lies

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I think that many people often maybe even everyday can think of a time when they thought that they know when someone is lying to them. Although as shown by Ekman there is very little or no correlation between somebody's confidence in there ability to detect lies and their accuracy. Which really is surprising because plenty of us have been in the position where we were one hundred percent sure that we could tell that someone is lying only to be proved wrong at a later point. As stated in the text book these feelings of confidence in detecting a lie could really become a problem in court case. Where one juror may feel very strongly that someone is lying when giving an oath. It could or often does send people into incarceration wrongly. This often can create a problem when it is involved in a court case, if a juror decides that the a witness is lying and are very confident of it they very well could be wrong and have a part in incarcerating an innocent person. Most likely most of us thinking someone is lying without a doubt is not as major of a deal as sending someone into jail. Next time you decide that someone is lying remember that you might not be right, and hopefully that helps you not be embarrassed by being wrong or even worse.

peek a boo

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Growing up people probably played peek a boo with you when you were little. Chances are that you were so young that you don't even remember playing the game. But as you got older and began to be around young kids you probably were on the other end of the game and you were the one that was hiding behind your face behind something and then popping out and surprising a little kid. Peek a boo can provide entertainment and laughter for hours at a time. As you know the game is simple and can be played pretty much anywhere but why does this work? After reading I found the answer, it has to do with the concept of object permanence. Object permanence is an idea that little kids lack, it is the concept that an object is present even when it is hiding behind another object. When little kids see something that is covered by something they do not realize that it is still there they believe that it has disappeared. What this means for little kids is that when you are playing peek a boo when you hide your face behind something to them it is like your face has vanished. When you uncover your face it's a shock to them. To little kids it seems as though your face has appeared out of nowhere. Even adults would be entertained by this however as we get older we develop our object permanence and we realize that even when a person's face is covered that it is still behind the object that is covering it. peek-a-boo.jpg

Lying, it is apart of everyone's lives even though it is so frowned upon in society. It is moral's worst enemy. Studies have shown that college students will tell about two lies per day! So, when can we tell if someone really is telling a lie? There is no right answer, research shows that there is only about a 50-50 chance of being right, but average population shows about 55% accuracy. With these statistics, how are polygraph testers a whopping 98% accurate? It turns out that these can actually be quite misconstrued. Keanu(3).jpg In fact, it can pick up false positives (innocent people who are labeled as guilty, even when innocent). In addition, a polygraph test can confuse arousal with guilt, which jokingly got its name as the "arousal detector" rather than the "lie detector". So a suspect to a crime could be feeling an emotion other than guilt like anxiety when answering a question and the polygraph would pick up on it as a lie rather than just anxiety in itself. It also picks up on false negatives (people labeled as innocent even though they are guilty). So, if there are so many problems with this, then why do so many examiners insist on using such a non-liable piece of equipment? This can be answered by the sole fact that a polygraph elicits confessions, especially when the victim is guilty. It is a shame that it is still used though due to the fact that all of its results lead to the fact of how unfalsifiable it really is.

Is sugar a drug?

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There was a story on 60 minutes tonight discussing how sugar is having a negative impact on our society. The story started out talking about the health issues that come along with too much sugar consumption. These included heart disease and diabetes which are all increasing among Americans. Is it a matter of simply not consuming sugar anymore? That sounds a lot easier than it actually is though. In studies that look at sugar's effect on the brain participants were given sugar while having their brain scanned in an fMRI machine. As soon as the sugar touched the tongue of the participant, the brain's reward system activated and dopamine was released. This is the same process that happens when somebody uses drugs such as cocaine. The scientists conducting this study said that they believed that sugar was just as addicting as cocaine. Interestingly enough you can even build up tolerance to sugar just like other drugs causing people to consume more sugar to get the same affects as before. Sugar may not be as dangerous as cocaine in the short run, but as people continue to consume it in large quantities, the health of millions of Americans could be at risk.



Have you ever seen diet ads promising to help you lose tons of weight in barely any time? I have too. However, unlike most I do not fall for these unlikely hoaxes. In fact, if you look carefully it is almost laughable at the results they guarantee. Let's take the Grapefruit Diet for example.

This diet is one of my favorites because it promises to help you lose up to 10 pounds in 12 days simply by eating grapefruit before every meal. That comes out to almost one pound a day or 3500 calories. Once you look at the numbers you can see that there is no way that is a healthy diet. A normal human usually burns 1700-1800 calories daily but in order to lose the weight guaranteed on the grapefruit diet, one must burn twice that. That seems a bit far-fetched to me.

If you agree, yet are as intrigued as I was here is the website to learn more:

In the book, it states that as Americans we are always looking for quick ways to lose weight in order to fit the American "ideal". It seems as though the health and fitness industry have been playing off these goals. There are constantly new and extraordinary claims to new diets that compete for your attention by promising nearly impossible results. It is important to remember that these are exactly what they are called: claims. The descriptions never mention health risks or side effects that could go along with rapidly losing high amounts of weight.

In my opinion, people should just stick to the old fashioned way of losing weight. Eat right and exercise and you simply cannot go wrong.

For a moment, please think back to everything you've ever learned in a biology course. The details may elude you, but if you're anything like me, there's one abstract idea that sticks out above the others. The theory of evolution is as close to unanimous acceptance as the worldwide community of biologists, ecologists, and psychologists will ever allow. With it comes the underlying notion that species change over time in such a way as to carry forth the traits that best enhance survival and reproduction.

This classic idea behind the origins of life as we know it came to mind as I read about attachment styles in Chapter 10. It stands to reason that rhesus monkeys, the subjects of Harry Harlow's experiments on reinforcement, might be biologically inclined to jump immediately to the surrogate mother with an available food source when a frightening stimulus comes along. Theoretically, the monkeys who could quickly reach and claim food sources would be in a better position to pass on their genes. However, as Harlow identified, the warmth and soft texture of the cloth-wrapped surrogate mother proved to be a much more appealing companion in frightening moments, even with a food-supplied mother nearby.


Harlow's discovery and coining of "contact comfort" was used as a contradiction to the single-minded focus on reinforcement that behaviorism trumpeted. However, I see his discovery as more of an affront to evolution itself. There's no evolutionary reason to believe that a rhesus monkey would favor the more comfortable surrogate mother over the wire mother with food. Therefore, I believe that "contact comfort" demonstrates the power of emotions in directing our behavior. As the rhesus monkeys show us, this phenomenon is even powerful enough to override our evolutionary coding. This makes me wonder how often the same rule applies to myself and other human beings. How often do we allow our emotions to rule over what our genes are pushing us to do? Does genetic influence even matter to mankind anymore? The most important question is whether we are influencing our own evolutionary trajectory, wherein the emotional decisions we make affect reproductive success and which genes are carried forth. How do the warm feelings and positive emotions that characterize "contact comfort" increase our survival or reproductive success?

(full disclaimer: I am a Biochemistry major with experience in evolutionary biology courses.)

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After rereading the Pages 383 to 392 in the textbook, I thought about how my parents stack up to the different parenting styles. I thought my parents would fall in the strictest group of authoritarian because my whole life it seemed they would not let me do what I wanted to do. I just remember the times they said nowhere they said yes a lot and I just was expecting them to say yes and was not as emotional about the decision. They still had a give and take perspective and set limits but let me figure out stuff on my own. This would most resemble authoritative because it shows they had rules and allowed for me to be independent. This was very interesting for me to understand what parenting style my parents used with me and which parenting style I will try to use when the time comes. So there was not a definite answer to who has the best parents but through reading about the four different styles of parenting: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful, I found authoritative parenting would be the best parenting style. This style is a mix between authoritarian (very strict, teaching rule following) and permissive (few rules, allowing for freedom and independence) parenting.

Who has the best parents!

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After rereading the Pages 383 to 392 in the textbook, I thought about how my parents stack up to the different parenting styles. I thought my parents would fall in the strictest group of authoritarian because my whole life it seemed they would not let me do what I wanted to do. I just remember the times they said nowhere they said yes a lot and I just was expecting them to say yes and was not as emotional about the decision. They still had a give and take perspective and set limits but let me figure out stuff on my own. This would most resemble authoritative because it shows they had rules and allowed for me to be independent. This was very interesting for me to understand what parenting style my parents used with me and which parenting style I will try to use when the time comes. So there was not a definite answer to who has the best parents but through reading about the four different styles of parenting: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful, I found authoritative parenting would be the best parenting style. This style is a mix between authoritarian (very strict, teaching rule following) and permissive (few rules, allowing for freedom and independence) parenting.Cool parents.png

Growing up, I never gave much thought to the fact that I knew how to fluently speak two languages. I was really quite convinced that it was totally normal and even expected for kids my age to know how to speak English AND their native language. This type of mindset never made me think twice about what it meant to be bilingual. That was until I read up on the different cognitive features of language in the psychology text.

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As researched in the text, many kids (including I) who grow up actively learning two languages may experience syntax impairment, or confusion in the arrangement of words and sentences probably due to the blending of both languages together from time to time. But this is a very minor obstacle that always results into rewarding long-term benefits. Benefits that I notice in myself today, such as my metalinguistic skills, and abilities to understand more than one culture or ethnic group, let alone be a part of it. I have learned that language can really allow you to join and be a part of different communities whether raised bilingual or not.
But I do have to admit, being taught at a young age by my parents was what allowed me to absorb another language faster and more effectively, as it is proven, "the earlier, the better". But should that really hold anyone back from potentially also becoming bilingual? Even at an older age? For many older folks, age IS the factor holding them back.


When I was in high school, I was an active member of my schools student council. Now, like most student councils, we were in charge of organizing a lot of events: dances, pre-game parties, pep rallies, prom, senior banquet, state convention- you name it. As a council of 35 like-minded students, it was often difficult to arrange events that were unique from what had been done in the past. We faced this problem a lot. When it came to themes, we had 3 or 4 'cornerstone' themes that we almost always used; when it came to decorations, we had a closet full of decorations we used every year; and when it came to games, well, you can guess that it all got pretty old after a while.
Our biggest issue wasn't that we had such huge undertakings, but it was that we simply could not think of any new ideas, and because of it, school spirit suffered. I wish I could say that we got out of our funk of having too familiar of mental sets, but unfortunately, and apparently, we hadn't been studying up on our psychology.

However, it's important to note that despite how much hard work goes into large events, they can still fail regardless of the efforts of those involved. So for all of you who can think back to high school, and how boring some of your pep rallies were, remember: it's hard to please everyone and always keep ideas flowing!

Despite this, and now that we've all read up on our psychology, the best way to counter a mental set is to just take a step back and take a break. You'll find that when you return to whatever you're working on, you'll be able to think a lot clearer!


I'm sure many of you, even today, have run into a problem or were assigned a problem in which you had to find a solution. Last semester I took Calculus I, where I ran into numerous math problems where I got stuck and didn't know how to solve it. Sometimes I spent hours on one problem, repeatedly trying to solve it in different ways. I would try using different algorithms to help lead me to the correct solution. Once in awhile, I would find myself in a mental set, where I come across a math problem and assume to incorporate the most recently learned formula, when really I can solve the problem without it. Fully understanding the idea of the problem before solving it would have helped me avoid this barrier.


In an article I read, there was a study done on algebra students to see if there was a correlation between writing about a problem while solving it and the students overall performance in solving the problem. In the study, the students were asked to solve a difficult problem that required much more than a simple use of equations and formulas. The experimental group was told to write down the steps they took during the process of solving the problem. On the other hand, the control group was just simply told to solve the problem. The results in fact showed the scores of the experimental group to be significantly higher than the control group.

In the article, Kenneth Williams concludes that "writing about a mathematical concept helps students to organize their thought processes about that concept, focus on difficult points and more clearly understand the concept." The writing procedure helped the students' organization, as well as giving them guidance through more difficult problems. Overall, this research suggests students to write down the steps taken in the process of problem solving, as it has been evidenced to be advantageous to their learning.


I have a 2 and a half year old sister named Addison. She is very smart for her age because she has 5 older siblings, a mom, and dad who are always holding a conversation with her. Since Since she is two and half she is under the preoperational stage, which means the child has the ability to construct mental representations of experience- they are able to think beyond here and now, but egocentric and unable to perform mental transformations.

After watching the experiment of the water/cup experiment in lecture, I decided to do a conservation experiment with Addison, somewhat like that but using a small paper plate of ice cream and a regular bowl of ice cream. I measured out the amount of ice cream and put them on the plate and in the bowl. I asked Addison which one she watched and she said the bowl. I asked her why and she said, "Because it has more," and I replied are you sure. She still went for the bowl and kept saying she wanted the one with the most ice cream. Then I got another bowl (smaller size) and put the ice cream on the plate into the bowl. The ice cream filled up the bowl and Addison soon wanted that one, because she said more ice cream was in because it was over flowing; so she thought it there had to be more ice cream. After she took that bowl and was certain that had more I got another bowl (same size) and poured the ice cream in there and put the bowls side by side. She looked at both of them and wasn't sure what bowl had more ice cream. I then explained to her that all along there was the same amount of ice cream for her and me. She then grabbed one of the bowls and I asked her why she took it and she said, "Because I want the blue one."


I have always thought that divorce can have a very negative impact on children and cause emotional problems throughout their lives. I know people who grew up with divorced parents and were very angry and bitter about it. On the other hand, I also know people who are completely okay with having divorced parents. However, after reading the section of the textbook where it talks about the effects of divorce on children, I realized that, contrary to what I had previously thought, most children don't end up with long-term emotional damage from their parents' divorce.


Most people would think that the more the parents fought before the divorce, the more emotional problems would be present in their children. However, as stated in the textbook, less conflict leads to more emotional problems in the children than more fighting. This especially surprised me because I think it would upset children more than if the parents fought less. I think this might be because for children with parents who didn't argue very often, the divorce might be much more shocking than if the parents fought all the time. According to an article by the University of New Hampshire (found at this link:, other factors such as the child's age and gender may also influence how the divorce impacts them.

Learning more about the impact divorce can have on children left me wondering whether or not other aspects of the child's life, such as the number of children in the family, can influence the emotional impact the divorce has on them.

The reasoning behind why a baby bonds to their parents was often assumed to be related to the fact the mother is the one supplying food to the baby. So through reinforcement of food, the baby grows fond of the parents. Harry Harlow went forth in life to disprove this. By examining a baby monkey, he found it prefer ed going to a "comfortably" fake mother with no food, instead of a rigid and rough fake mother with food.
My god! What does this mean?
This shows that the comfort a baby has comes more from the physical touch than the knowledge of food or comfort of survival by affiliating with people. So next time you have a baby, wear a comfy sweater to hold it instead of that plate mail you normally dance around in. You will be more liked.

Does this apply to older people as well? When people have a bad day, full of tears and sad songs. Human contact is usually the best medicine, in the form of a hug. But people also indulge on things like snack treats to calm themselves. So what has a better effect?

Also as we get older, a random person touching us may seem weird. So do you not just randomly start touching strangers. First introduce yourself. Don't hide behind bushes.


728-naughty-children.jpg The minds of children are like sponges because they are constantly absorbing knowledge of the everyday world. This is a fascinating age, yet it can be very delicate. Children pay attention to every answer and every reaction a parent gives. So when a child makes a mistake or behaves badly, they naturally absorb the reaction of the adults around them. This absorption can affect the probability of the child behaving badly again. So as a parent or guardian, how do you react?
According to Piaget, children between 7 and 11 focus more on the amount of damage done, rather than the motives or intentions. This is due to moral development being inhibited by cognitive development. Although over time the children will focus more on the intentions, what do parents do in the meantime? Parents generally want to raise their children to be kind and gentle people, yet Piaget claims that during this certain age gap, children are cognitively unable to understand the severity of minimal yet intentional damage. This makes it extremely difficult to discipline bad behavior at this age. Should parents still try to instill these good morals in their children who are in this age group? Should they do this by setting good examples or by disciplining their children? If they choose the latter of the two methods, is this morally acceptable of the parents since understanding the punishment is beyond the child's cognitive development?

We all had that one person in High School we just could not stand, correct? No matter what they did, what they said, or how they acted, you always felt a little annoyed. But if it ever involved you, you made sure to put him/her in their place. I'm sure you all have someone in mind right now for various different reasons. My reason was because ever since high school, this kid would always just bully people whether it be about race, their friends, etc. Anyways, it was the final month of Senior Year and he had just gone on a rampage of bullying. I saw him talking to the girl I was going to Prom with, and decided this would be my chance for revenge. Me and a couple friends were always recording music, and when I arrived at the two of them talking, I heard him trying to impress her with his apparent knowledge about music. I intervened, saying: "Hey ____, did you hear that new Tupac and Biggie and Jay Z and Kanye West song they just remade?". For those who don't know a song like this never existed, but obviously he wasn't aware because after this he said something along the lines of "HELL YEAH. What do I look like? For real girl, you're going to Prom with this dude? I've known about that song for like a month". After that, I simply said "Dude, that song never happened. There is no Kanye, Jay-Z, Tupac, Biggie song".
Now you might be wondering, how does this have to do anything with Psychology? Well, in the previous unit I learned it did! The suggestion of the song by me that ended up making this kid feel really awkard, turned out to be known as the Suggestive Memory Technique. Hey, I might have been a bully for just that instant, but it was worth it. So next time you have someone you dislike: have a "dude, that never happened" story, just please don't use it on me.

There is evidence of culture differences in the tendency toward bias or distortion in probability assessments.
On the one hand, Wright G.N, who wrote the article "Organizational, group and individual decision making in cross-cultural perspective", suggests that in making decisions under uncertainty, Westerners adopt a probabilistic set and make relatively fine discriminations or "calibrations" in assessment of probability of outcomes. However, Asians tend to adopt a non-probabilistic set that leads them to see outcomes as either certain or uncertain.
On the other hand, A group of scholars used the Melbourne Decision Making Questionnaire to test for similarities and differences between culture samples in self-reported tendencies to use the decision coping patterns and decision self-esteem. The subjects consisted of undergraduate university students in psychology/behavioral science courses in six countries: USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Student were told that the questionnaires measure the way people usually approach decision making and therefore the answer that is true for them is the correct answer. The result showed in Table 1 represents the means and standard deviations for decision self-esteem, vigilance, hyper-vigilance, buckpassing, and procrastination by country and gender. Take Decision self-esteem as an example, the score for Western countries is generally higher than that of Eastern countries. Also, across culture samples, males expressed greater confidence in their decision-making ability than females. However, after analyzing all the data in the table, you can see the difference are not very high. After more studies, the conclusion from the questionnaire is that despite cross-cultural differences in confidence in decision making and in buskpassing, procrastination, and hyper vigilance, Western and East Asian students are more alike in their self-reported decision styles than different.

While reading Chapter 10 in the psych textbook this week, one topic that really stuck with me and got me asking questions was Kohlberg's scheme of moral development. He came up with three levels that were to describe the reasoning process people took when arriving at an answer to a certain dilemma. Kohlberg came up with three levels--preconvential morality, conventional morality, and postconventional morality. I decided to look deeper into these levels and found an article that broke them down into two stages inside of each level. Following this link will provide you with a table to see this different sub stages, Not only did I find it interesting that there these sub stages existed, I was more fasicinated by the claim that once on a certain level, a person can only comprehend up to one stage ahead of their current stage.
I found this to be particularly interesting, because through my experience with people, it seems as if individuals think that they are on a higher moral ground than their reasoning process is in reality. This article states that "movement through these stages are not natural, that is people do not automatically move from one stage to the next as they mature". Kohlberg himself too thought that most adults never actually reach postconventional morality and are stuck in conventional morality. Contrary to this claim, I believe that most adults and young adults would classify themselves as reasoning at the postconventional morality level, even though Kohlberg's findings show that this is not the case. What do you think? What level of moral development do you think the majority of the population would classify themselves at versus where they are in reality?

Clean the dirty pot

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During the spring break, I made a decision that I would cook for myself. Unfortunately, I failed in my first dish. I tried to fry some meat and vegetable, but they were burning finally. There were some dirty things stuck on the bottom of the pot. I had to clean them all.
I knew it's good to wash the oily pot by soaking it in the mixture of warm water and cleanser essence, therefore I believed this method still worked in this situation. However I got stuck in the mental set. I did not consider a lot and try to alter my thought. As a result, after 1 hour, I used sponge to clean the pot's bottom, but the dirty things were still hard to wash.

I felt really upset and decided to calm down. At the same time I started to look around to see if there were something helpful. Suddenly I noticed a steel scrubber, which is very often to find in Chinese kitchen to clean the dishes and pot. It was just next to me but I never noticed it when I was busy in washing. Because of my stubbornness, I ignored the environment around me and just stock on my own opinion.

Finally I use the steel scrubber to make the pot clean. The mental set made me become stubborn and couldn't notice the other things. To overcome the problem ,we need to get away the origin thought and find out new ways.

I am proud to say that I recently have overcome a serious case of functional fixedness and a mental set at the same time!


By now, the Zynga game "Words With Friends" has become extremely popular on facebook. It is a board game that involves scoring points by making words crossword-style while also using bonus spaces that boost the points, either for an individual letter or for an entire word. Rarely used letters are worth more points, but clever use of the bonus spaces can equally boost your score. So there are multiple options to solve the problem of scoring a whole load of points and beating your friends.

Here was my situation: My letters were arranged in front of me to form the word "vessel" in combination with letters already on the board. V is worth 5 points, and the word used up a lot of letters. However, I couldn't play this word with the V on a "double letter tile." I stared at the board for 10 minutes, trying to find a good word to use V in, since it scores so high. I scrambled the letters in front of me, and saw that I could make "saddles." Now this would score a lot less (the entire word is only worth 10 points), but I could play it over two "double word" tiles, which quadruples my score to 40 points!

In this example, the letter V was part of my mental set. I was convinced I had to use it. The functional fixedness was on the ordering of the letters. Because I had started thinking with words beginning with V, I never thought to start a word with S until I scrambled them up. I find that when coming up with words, whether for a board game, an essay, or a poem, the longer I have to think about it, the more problems I have with mental sets and functional fixedness.

What were they thinking?

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I often wonder how people can make some of the decisions they make when the right moral decision seems so obvious. Lawrence Kohlberg attempts to answer this question by studying how people answer questions that do not have clear cut morally right or wrong answers. From his studies he came up with 3 levels of moral thinking, including preconventional, conventional, and postconventional morality. He believes that everyone passes through the three stages in the order listed, but at varying speeds, some never reaching the postconventional level. At the preconventional level, people decide that something is right if it will result in reward and wrong if it will result in punishment. The conventional level is when people think something is right if it's socially acceptable and wrong if not. At the last level, postconventional, people decide what's right or wrong based on internal moral principles. This gives a wide variety of ways that people might be making decisions. Then there's also the fact that we don't know what underlying reasons people are considering when making the decisions. An example given by Kohlberg is of a person stealing a jacket. From an outside view, this looks to most of us like someone who has poor moral judgement and just wants a new jacket. However, they could have a better reason for wanting to steal it. Maybe they're trying to keep their homeless family warm. It's a little harder to look down on their decision if this is the case.


Although Kohlberg's explanation may cover a wide range of bases, it doesn't account for everything, like emotional decision making. It seems easy to look at a scenario and say that you would react and feel a certain way, but being put in a situation may cause us to do things that we didn't think we would do because of how we feel emotionally. However, Kohlberg's theory still helps us to understand why people do the things that they do a little better. It's probably best to reserve judgement on other's actions since it's highly unlikely that we actually know what they are dealing with or considering when making their decisions.


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In chapter 10, I read one concept which I think it's pretty attractive. It's Prematurity. My mother told me I was a preterm birth baby, so I have more interesting on this content. Premature infants are those born at fewer than 36 week's gestation. There is a positive correlation between infant survivability rate and gestation week, and it's negative between odds of fetal survival and the odds of developmental disorders. Unfortunately, babies who under 21 weeks are 0% survival rate now. According to the : An infant who could be the youngest surviving premature baby in the word...was born in early November at 21 weeks and five days into the mother's pregnancy, weighting just one pound ( NewsCore, published April 21,2011). I think It's amazing that this baby survived. Obviously, a preterm birth baby might have some problems of their cognitive and physical development because they have underdeveloped organs when they were born. In my opinion, we should avoid preterm birth baby as possible as we can. Pregnant women should visit doctors on time. In addition, it would be better to create a pleasure environment when you are pregnant, especially near your expected date of confinement (EDC).

After Tiger Woods had the scandal involving his sex addiction, car crash, and divorce his image was obviously suffering. As a fan of golf, especially American golf, I was devastated to see one of my idols name being dragged through the mud. I was, therefore hopeful that Tiger would be able to get his life back on the right track and return to golf. Therefore, when I saw this Nike commercial it probably affected me more than the average person, but I still think the commercial does an excellent job of trying to reconstruct Tiger's image.

The voice is of Tiger's father who died several years ago. He was Tiger's largest mentor, and Tiger was devastated when he died. This is meant to evoke a response of empathy for Tiger. Earl's appeal to Tiger is the US, and our empathy is the UCR. The conditioned stimulus is Nike and Tiger, and the CR then is feeling that Tiger has rehabilitated himself, and therefore people will continue to buy Nike. It appears that Nike's gargantuan advertising budget has avoided a crisis through classic conditioning.


We've all had those moments where we forget where we've just put our keys, or walk into a room just to forget why we went in there in the first place. These forgetful moments are a normal part of everyday life. But what if your brain constantly committed these memory "slip ups"? What if you could never remember where you put your keys? Or be unable to remember the face of a family member.

That is the reality for a person suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a form of dementia, and is characterized by memory loss, severe changes in emotional behavior or personality, changes to thinking and judgment, and eventual language loss.

AD is caused by the build up of plaques and tangles in the brain. These structures cause the brain cells to slowly die off. It is also believed that patients with AD have a deficiency in the levels of some vital brain chemicals which are involved with neurotransmitters.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for AD. Drugs do exist that are believe to help slow the progression of AD but the most common treatment is helping to cope with the effects of the disease. To prevent Alzheimer's disease, it is recommended that adults stay mentally and socially active, eat a low fat, high protein diet and have a healthy blood pressure.

My boyfriend's grandmother suffers from this disease, and I have seen how devastating it is for people who suffer from it and their families. Watching a loved one slowly lose mental function, the ability to speak, and there memory is a terrible experience. Our best hope is that one day a cure will be found, so that no one else will have to suffer from Alzheimer's disease.

To steal or not to steal

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We have all been taught that stealing something that is not yours is bad. But what if a loved ones life depended on it? This is a scenario that Lawrence Kohlberg presented on page 395 in the book. To sum it up a man couldn't afford a drug to save his wife's life, so as the last option he stole the drug. Is this acceptable? Should he get in trouble? It's interesting to hear what you all think but i think he should. Even though i believe that it is wrong to steal I would have stolen the drug, willing to face the consequences of the action. Maybe a reduced or minimal punishment due to the circumstances but there should be a punishment for doing something against the law but perhaps morally correct.


I was thinking of a few movies I have seen which involved memory and one in particular came in mind. I recently watched shutter island and those who have not seen it should watch it immediately. Anyways it got me thinking of the case of Paul Ingram who seemed to have memories almost placed into his head. Shutter island reminded me of almost the opposite of what happened to Paul Ingram. First Paul is an innocent man who is convinced to think he is evil and has done unspeakable things to his daughters. In shutter island Leonardo DiCaprio is a murderer who thinks he has done nothing wrong and in fact thinks he is trying to solve a case like he is a detective. The movie involves a lot of cinematic elements that are used to attract an audience and not portray accuracy. This is unlike Paul's case, which was not made up. However there are definite parallels in that both create false memories in order to mask the events that transpired. The main difference between the two is that Paul's false memories are a result of his trust in his kids and the opinions given by close friends. Whereas Leo DiCaprio is almost blinded by his actions since he killed his wife because she killed their daughters. The results of both the movie and Paul's trial had negative outcomes. Paul actually admitted to something he did not do and was given prison time. In shutter island Leo is almost forced to remember killing his wife before he is given a lobotomy. I know that this comparison is not spot on, but I felt like I could draw a lot of parallels between the movie and an actual case.

Twin Telepathy?

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I came across the video below a bit ago, and thought it was relevant to languages of different animals, but rather in children too young to formulate true sentences.
Click here to get to the link for the video (The video itself was formatted to prevent embedding)

In the video, it features two twin brothers having what appears to be a conversation, but without any true words. They are merely speaking to each other in sounds, and it brings the question, are they really talking, and can they truly understand what the other is saying? From the video, it does appear that there is some sort of established communication going on between the two, and they are able to converse with one another about things that others cannot comprehend. As cute as it is to see, it's strange to think that they have something important to tell one another, and we have no idea what they could possibly be saying. Although some can deem it twin telepathy, as they do seem to have the ability to sense what the other is thinking more than other siblings would, it appears to just be some form of language that the two made up and are able to understand. There are plenty of other videos in which the same can be seen by other twins.
Comparable to the songs of birds or the other sounds that animals make, the incoherent noises that the twins are making are examples of language, and how the brain allows for different individuals and different species to come up with their own efficient way of communication, whether it be the low frequency noises of the elephants or the screeching of one twin boy attempting to tell the other something about the refrigerator. It can ultimately be seen as some sort of language.

Do You Know Who You Are?

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wake up one morning and forget everything about yourself? Pretty scary when you think about it, huh? But for some people, amnesia is very real and for those who suffer from it, it can have a huge impact on their life. Hollywood tends to use this condition and dramatize it to make compelling movies about people who forget who they are. One of my personal favorites is The Bourne Identity.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Jason Bourne is a CIA agent who was once a contract assassin who is found lost at sea with no recollection of who he is. The plot of the movie revolves around him trying to reclaim his memory and find out his true identity, with lots of action scenes mixed in. Bourne's amnesia would be classified as "general amnesia"; however, this is very rare. More common cases of amnesia are retrograde amnesia, losing memories from the past, and anterograde amnesia, being unable to form new memories. In these cases, people do not completely lose everything, as the case with Bourne, but it is quite difficult to recall or create memories.

So Hollywood may have embellished on the realities of amnesia, but in all honesty, who cares. It makes for an exciting movie and it is at least close enough to be somewhat realistic (his traumatizing past may play a role, increasing his chances for general amnesia). Below is one of my personal favorite scenes in the movie that illustrates Bourne's condition.


Memory is a placebo, controlled by our personal bias. We unconsciously implement certain aspects of a memory and manipulate it to make it interesting or memorable. Personally, I remember up to the age of twelve, a memory that made Mariah Carey my biological mother. The memory was simple; I was six and my mother and I were driving in a red Honda Civic singing along to a Mariah Carey song. My mother had a slight facial resemblance to Mariah Carey and this combined with the singing prompted me to begin remembering her as Mariah Carey. It was a comfortable haven that made my mother distinct and important to me, despite her abandoning me. My memory was false and my sister corrected it because she was present during that moment in time. We had never owned a red Honda Civic and my mother abandoned me at age four. I had created this memory due to my mother's absence during my childhood. Mariah Carey's presence, vocally, made it seem that my mother was present, even though she wasn't. Memories are expected to be true and genuine and this false memory proves that they are indeed malleable. So, do we create in order to understand? If and when we gain this understanding, do we solidify the memory as true and genuine, thus creating false memories?

Do they really work?

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As a first year college student, I have been introduced to many new things that I had never really experienced before. You always here of athletes trying to better their performance through illegal substances such as steroids, but what about students? Is there such thing as a performance enhancing amphetamine? Surveys have shown that up to twenty-five percent of college students have used drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, or Concerta, with the expectation that they will increase their studying and retention capabilities. For those unaware of what these drugs are, Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta are all drugs that are commonly associated with Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity Disorder and are thought to help one focus and concentrate while studying or taking an exam. However, are these drugs really considered "performance enhancing amphetamines"? Researchers did a study comparing students taking the SAT. Some students believed they were taking Ritalin and the others believed they were taking a dummy pill. The students who believed they were taking Ritalin reported having better mental functioning and attention; however, their SAT scores were no higher. Many researchers are saying that the pill is simply a placebo effect that makes the students feel like they are more focused. Similar to the controversy surrounding performance enhancing amphetamines is that of a product called Ginkgo, a supposed memory enhancing drug. Although Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on this product, studies have once again shown that when comparing the drug to a placebo, the increase in memory is minimal if not nonexistent. Yet, we will still go on to spend whatever it takes to get that extra edge on our competition.

About 10 years ago my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It started out with little things, like her forgetting short term memory things such as where she put her keys or what she needed from the grocery store. But as the years progressed it has gotten worse and worse. It has gotten to the point where she still remembers the name of her kids names but she doesn't remember my name or any other of her grandchildren's names. That's why I am going to inform some of you on what and how Alzheimer's effects lives.
Alzheimer's begins to develop 20 years before before symptoms emerge. Alzheimer's affects many parts of the brain such as the Amygdala, the Brain Stem, the Frontal Lobe, the Hippocampus, the Parietal Lobe and the Temporal Lobe. It is a type of dementia that begins to slowly get worse over time beginning with short term memory and eventually affecting the individuals long term memory. Changes in the brain include expanding of the ventricles and also significant loss in the cortex areas. These areas manage language and memories. I have personally been a witness to the affects Alzheimer's disease and it's not a walk in the park. Alzheimer's is a serious condition and shouldn't be taken lightly.

We are required as college students to learn a second language during our short period of time here at the U and the choices are limitless. Many of us take the 4 required semesters and then we stop and our language skills fall out of use. But what about the ones who don't stop and keep learning another language and another and another. Meet the polyglot, a person who is able to speak multiple languages fluently. Take the extraordinary man known as Emil Krebs born in 1867 in Germany. By the end of his lifetime he could speak and write(supposedly) in 68 other languages. I don't know about you but I can't even name 68 languages. What makes Krebs interesting is that his brain was studied by German neuroscientists Karl Zilles and Katrin Amunts in 2002 and they found that his Broca's area was arranged differently than a monolingual man's. Which begs the question, are we born with this difference in the Broca's area or will training the brain in a certain way change the brain?

Now its your turn to see if you can become a polyglot, click here and see how many languages you can learn to say hello in.

One boring Saturday afternoon I was scrolling down the CNN page I ended up in their video gallery. Eventually, a video came up talking about Vladimir Putin and his bid for re-election in Russia this weekend and it featured this ad. Although psychological conditioning and its uses in marketing were covered over a week ago, I found this advertisement to be relevant to our age demographic this year. The political ad begins with a college age girl asking a fortune teller who it will be her first time. Then the fortune teller flips a card with Vladimir Putin's photograph on it and then ad concludes with the girl walking to a voting station.
The ad uses classical conditioning to form "affection" for Vladimir Putin and ultimately a vote. The ad plays on arousal, affection, and the nostalgia of the "first time." The ad also is geared towards our age demographic and poses the question if first time voters will be specifically targeted in the coming United States presidential election and what kind of advertisement techniques will be used. The original advertisement is provided below with english subtitles.

Dolphin Language

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Have you ever wondered if animals can talk to each other? There is also the question of whether this communication can be considered language or not. An aquarium in Hawaii decided to see if they really can talk to each other. They put a mother dolphin and her baby in two separate tanks and used an audio device to see whether they would talk back and forth to each other. And they did! But exactly what they were saying, experts are not sure. Scientists do believe that the mother and her baby knew they were talking to each other since their responses were going back and forth pretty quickly. Dolphins seem to have their own secret language that scientists haven't been able to decode. Dolphins communicate by squawking, whistling, clicking, and squeaking. Scientists around the world have noticed that when one dolphin starts talking, other dolphins seem to answer whatever they are saying. Dolphins also seem to communicate through posture, jaw clapping, bubble blowing, and fin caresses. Dolphins also seem to be able to communicate with one another even when they are nowhere near one another. For instance, if one dolphin is in danger, they will call to other dolphins to come help them. For scientists that have studied dolphin language, they find it very difficult. This is because dolphins can stay underwater for up to 10 minutes, so locating the dolphins once they have been underwater for a long time can be very tricky. Dolphin language is also difficult to study because it changes depending on what they are doing. They could be feeding, fighting, or playing and different calls can mean different things at different times. So, when asked the question if the communication among animals can be described as language, I think that it can. I think that animal language is very similar to other groups of people speaking different languages. Just because we do not know what animals are saying does not mean that what they are saying is not considered language.

stressed-student.jpgWith the stress of midterms setting in, do you find yourself forgetting some of the most basic things? Things like meeting times or plans for the week can be harder to remember as more and more things get put on our academic plate and increase our levels of stress. For a while now, researchers have known that severe stress lasting months can have harmful effects on our cell's communication with themselves. A study from the University of California, Irvine however shows that short term stress can have similar effects on our body. Researchers found that short term acute stress activated selective molecules called corticotropin releasing hormones, which disrupted the process by which the brain collects and stores memories. Learning and memory take place at synapses in our brain. Through rat and mouse studies, it was found that an increase in corticotropin led to the rapid disintegration of dendritic spines, which then in turn, led to a decrease in the ability of the synapses to collect information. The news isn't all bad however, once the corticotropin was removed, the spines seemed to grow back as if nothing happened. So while short term stress does harm your short term memory, the damage doesn't seem to be permanent.


Are you one of the many in our world that speaks two languages, better known as bilingualism, or furthermore are you a polygot and speak multiple languages? It turns out that over 75 percent of Americans claim to be fairly good at or they are fluent in Spanish, so chances are that many of us in Psych 1001 are bilingual, or atleast working towards it. I'm not saying that Spanish is the only language that people master as a first or second language, especially considering that Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world. It's just becoming more common for people to be bilingual in our world today with all the opportunities a second language entails, though there are some negatives to bilingualism as well.
First, we will begin with the positives, learning a second language is a plus in one's life. It's best to learn at a younger age, as stated our text book that "the earlier, the better", for children have an easier time grasping a second language than do adults. The drop off for older teens or adults learning a second language is gradual, so one shouldn't lose all hope when it comes to learning a second language. Once one was mastered or close to mastered a second language they will most likely encounter numerous advantages in their life, such as being able to communicate with people of multiple cultures and ethnicites. They will be able to translate information between the two cultures of the languages they know. They can showoff their bilingualism when traveling abroad or maybe even trick their friends into saying some sort of phrase in their other language without their friends knowing what they are saying. Also more job offers would be open to hiring those who are bilingual, especially in business affairs internationally. The list goes on and on, but there are also some not so positive aspects to bilingualism. Learning a second language can be quite costly, especially if children start out at a young age in immersion school. Many minority-language speakers feel they will lose their identities with another language, usually English, and fear the thought of assimilation. Bilingualism in one could also be difficult if they have a speech impediment, for the speech impediment will need to be treated separately in both languages, which could get tricky.
I think overall though, that bilingualism has more advantages than disadvantages, especially in our society where it's almost more common for one to speak two or more languages than not to. I'm actually working towards my fluency in a second language, Spanish that is. I hope to minor in it, like many of the students here at the University, for I see the job oppotunities that a second language could give me as well as just the fact of speaking another language. I really wish I attended an immersion school for Spanish, for I have some friends who did and they are fairly well English and Spanish speakers. I have improved my Spanish speaking skills from, well the obvious, speaking it, but really trying to grasp the language as I speak it and learn from those who are native Spanish speakers. I actually had two Colombian exchange students stay with me during highschool and that really accelerated my Spanish speaking. I plan on traveling abroad to Spain as well, which I have heard from Spanish majors and minors that it really expands one's vocabulary and gets us that much closer, if not already, to fluency. The opportunities with bilingualism are endless, having the motivation to keep at will only further our success in the world.

Animal Talk

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It's clear that animals have their own, simple ways of communicating: pheromones, mating calls, body language, to name a few. But can they communicate using human language? Sure, pets and show animals can be trained using verbal commands, but do they really understand what is being said? One remarkable example of human-animal communication is Alex, an African Gray Parrot.

Alex was able to count and identify colors, shapes, and sizes of objects. He was able to ask for certain foods and even made up a word for apples, "banerry," because they taste like bananas but look like cherries. By the time he died, Alex could speak almost one hundred human words.

What is striking about Alex is not that he was physically capable of forming words or that he had the ability to memorize them, but that he was cognitively capable of using words to communicate desires, solve simple logic problems, and answer questions. This last point is especially extraordinary, because answering a question requires one to actually understand what is being said. Looking at Alex and many other examples, humans may not be the only ones capable of using language as we once thought.

Morell, Virginia. "Animal Minds." National Geographic Mar. 2008. National Geographic. National Geographic Society. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. .

For most students who attend our Psychology class this semester, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center that took place on September 11, 2001 - also referred to as "9-11" - was the most significant and harrowing national event that occurred in our lifetime. It seemed like the entire nation collectively held its breath as the second twin tower was struck on live television, and due to the accessibility of such traumatic imagery, almost every American was swept with emotion. Due to the emotional magnitude of this event, most Americans say they can vividly remember what they were doing and where they were when they heard the terrible news, and believe that the memory has not eroded at all despite the decade that has passed since the event transpired. I remember I had just arrived to my 4th grade classroom at Andover Elementary School when my teacher, Mrs. Berrini, briskly walked into the room and promptly turned on the television to the news, with tears welled up in her eyes as we witnessed the immediate aftermath of the devastating event. I'm sure many of you reading this can recollect at least that much information about what you were doing on that significant day.

But how does the accuracy of these emotional memories compare to what you were actually doing as the event occurred? Despite how vivid and photographic these memories still seem, these "flashbulb memories" - as coined in Chapter 7 of our psychology book - may not be as accurate as we think, and there's ample probability that our memories have changed dramatically! The video attached to this blog tells the story of Matthew Phallinsky who was incredibly close to the towers as they collapsed. A CT Scan (Computed Tomography, as explained in Chapter 3 of the book) was conducted on people similar to Matt - New Yorkers who witnessed the terrorist attacks firsthand - and compared brain activity to participants who were not in close proximity to the twin towers when they were struck. When participants remembered the terrorist attacks (these scans being 3 years after the event occurred), activity in the hippocampus - an important region for contextual memory as discussed in Chapter 3 - was evident. However, participants who were near the towers when they collapsed as well as participants who had a deep emotional collection to the event - an example being the loss of a close family member during the attack - also had activity in their amygdala, the brain structure that deals with excitement, arousal and fear, which is housed in the limbic system, the region dedicated to emotion. As such, the participants whose amygdala lit up during the CT Scans could more accurately recall the event and could give a more emotional and sensational description (that is, they could recollect sensory details more easily). The study concluded that the participants' proximity to the event seemed to affect how accurately they could recall what they were doing when the towers fell. This is why flashbulb memories seem to be more vivid than normal memories, because the emotional memory in the amygdala is reinforcing the contextual memory of the hippocampus.

Despite the vividness of these memories, research suggests that flashbulb memories deteriorate just like any other memory, but the emotional impact of the event seems to relate to how vivid and accurate these memories still are. As a 10 year old who was fortunate enough to not lose anything or anyone close to me from this event when it took place, perhaps my memory of it has faded, however much it seems that it remains as vivid as it was over a decade ago.

Article Source (which complements the video):
Law, Bridget Murray. "Seared in Our Memories". September 2011, Vol. 42, No. 8.

Nomophobia.... a real scare?

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Do you feel anxious if your cellphone isn't nearby?
Does just the thought of losing your phone make your heart pound?
Do you keep an extra phone on hand, just in case your primary phone breaks?
Do you sometimes take it to bed with you?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you may be a nomophobe, and you are not alone. Nomophobia- the fear of being without your cellphone- is on the rise according to a study sponsored by SecurEnvoy according to a LA Times article from February 17, 2012. People aged 18-24 tend to be the most nomophobic (77%), followed by people aged 25-34 (68%). The third most nomophobic group is 55 and older.

According to our psychology book "... People acquire phobias by means of classical conditioning" (Lilienfeld, pg. 22). Once an individual has a phobia they start to avoid their feared stimulus as much as possible. Ironically they are operantly conditioning themselves to make their fears more likely to occur.

The concept of operantly conditioning oneself to fear the phobia even more tends to make sense but how much does society play a role? This phobia would have not existed 100 years... there were no cell phones. What prompts this phobia to start? Is it possible that the media and society can cause this extra, not needed stress? And more importantly can we use information like this to stop these so called "random" phobias. I believe that society itself has a larger impact on us then we can imagine and psychologists can use this to analyze behavior and help find "cures" for things such as nomophobia.


Don't Wake up in a roadside ditch

Throughout the course of the Super Bowl, one thing that both avid football fans and those lesser in tune to America's game look forward to the commercials. In recent years, the Super Bowl has become less about the game itself, and more about the surrounding hoopla, namely the commercials. Indeed, the Super Bowl has become the iconic climactic moment for Corporate America to spread its message far and wide.

One of my favorite commercials from this year's Super Bowl was a certain DirecTV commercial. This commercial features a string of cause-and-effect relationships. The causes and effects at the beginning of the commercial were pretty believable, but rapidly begin to become more and more ridiculous as the commercial progresses. At the end of the commercial, what once was a dissatisfied cable customer has now acquired an eye patch and is shown waking up in a roadside ditch.

While thoroughly outlandish and completely ridiculous, one would be hard-pressed not to appreciate the creativity and ingenuity that went into making this commercial what it is. By producing this commercial, consumers subconsciously associate the feeling that this ad engenders with the brand itself. In addition, although the commercial is obviously hyperbolic, DirecTV nonetheless instills a sense of doubt about their competitors' ability to produce a good product. In psychologist lingo, essenttially DirecTV is trying to create contrasting conditioned responses, both to DirecTV's product as well as its competitors.

Here's the link to the video. Hope y'all enjoy it as much as I did. And remember, don't wake up in a roadside ditch.

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The question of when we become aware of our own selves is surprisingly more complex than what I assumed. I obviously do not remember not knowing about myself, because I wouldn't have thought about it. The most surprising thing to self awareness experiments, is that only great apes and humans are self aware, and humans don't become self aware till around 18-24 months old. Watching the mirror experiment on video was fascinating because the results were very clear. When you are aware of your own being, the child recognized itself in the mirror, and were able to identify a sticker that was placed on their cheek, almost instantaneously. This makes me wonder what the transition is like to become aware of yourself. Is it a one second thing, where you make that realization or is it a gradual shift? Is being self-aware the characteristic that is the difference between intelligence species and non-intelligent species? Is this what makes our brains truly special compared to lesser species? This also leads me to think that it is why we do not remember any events in our early lives; perhaps it is because we did not process information with a sense of self. Could we have just been thinking, "What happened today" instead of "What did I do today"?

We have all seen examples of people acting very stupid on Facebook and other social networking sites. They post and talk about things no seemingly normal person would ever admit. One argument is that these sites just make us act dumber, but there is evidence that seeks to explain this phenomena using basic scientific and psychological theories. Throughout the evolution of species avoiding confrontation has had significant advantages, it can prevent you from getting killed by something that is more fit than you. This evolutionary adaptation continues to effect us in social settings. Someone may have an idea but be afraid of confronting the group or the leader because of a natural adaptation to avoid confrontation. The idea is that social sites remove some of the social stigma of acting stupid and going against the group. When less-intelligent people post ignorant statuses they lack the intuition to realize the social implications of their posts. This phenomena is called the online disinhibition effect and was first discovered by John Suler of . While it is possible that these statuses are going to ruin us, in my opinion all that is really happening is that people are becoming more honest and open about their beliefs which is important for society in the long run.

Have you heard the hype behind the claim that autism can be caused by vaccinations? According to an editorial released by the British Medical Journal, there is no truth to this claim. Turns out that claim was a result of a classic case of confirmation bias.

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Dr.Andrew Wakefield, a former surgeon published research in 1998 which drew a connection between vaccines given to young children and autism. Reports say that Wakefield skewed patients' medical records in order to support his hypothesis that the commonly used measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine was causing autism and irritable bowl syndrome.

Wakefield gained financially from his findings, with most of his compensation coming from lawsuits filed against MMR vaccine manufacturers. He was hired by lawyers trying to sue these companies and according to British news reports he received over $750,000 dollars in compensation.

This false claim can be dangerous. Some people really took his findings seriously and have not given their kids any vaccinations. This puts their children at risk of getting sick with these dangerous diseases that could have been easily preventable with vaccinations. "The damage that occurred over those years as a result of these concerns--outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases and in some cases, deaths-- cannot be reversed," said Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, TX, and author of the "Expecting 411" book series. This kind of scandal is dangerous and detrimental to the integrity of science.

Mischievous Magellan

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Two weeks ago, I noticed my cat, Boris, had a terrible limp. I figured he had gotten his paw stepped on and he would heal soon. Days later, Boris was still limping. Concerned, I took him to see the veterinarian. Much to my dismay, Boris was suffering from a broken hipbone and required a $1,300 operation to fix! Without hesitation (against my mother's advice), I scheduled an appointment for the surgery the following week. My boyfriend and I split the cost, and we fashioned a personal recovery den for Boris in a large closet in our house.
Boris spent much of the next days lying in his cat bed with a lampshade on his head, strung out on kitty narcotics. I noticed something strange. Every time I went to check on him, his food bowl was under the rug in his den. I moved it across the closet and it still ended up under the rug! Replicable, indeed! I decided to do a bit of naturalistic observation. What I discovered was that our other cat, Magellan, was sneaking into the closet and "hiding" the food underneath the rug. When I moved the rug and put the bowl atop a large blanket, she wrapped it up like a taco. I was surprised by this, and a bit disappointed in Magellan. It was obvious to me that she had found poor recovering Boris a threat to her food resources (although she had a bowl downstairs all to herself). Her behavior was very strange. Although this behavior does not truly apply to "preparedness", as it does not involve fear or phobias, Magellan was partaking in a behavior that would increase her chance of survival in her environment. She was not starving; hiding the cat food was a natural urge that could very well have increased the fitness of many of her cat ancestors. Perhaps sick Boris getting the majority of our attention and resources was a stimulus that triggered this bizarre behavior.
What do you think? Was Magellan aware of what she was doing? Was she indeed trying to prevent Boris from consuming the food? Why would she do this when she has never been malnourished or starved?

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This is an image of the procedure Boris had called an FHO.

Little Albert.jpg

In one of the more famous experiments in psychology, J.B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner took a baby to disprove Freud's belief that phobia originated from the unconscious. Using a 9-month baby, they conditioned to fear what he once had little or positive reactions towards.

After a month of Watson's experiment, Little Albert was never unconditioned since his mother pulled him out of the study. No one knew what happened to Little Albert for a long time, and many questions were raised concerning Little Albert's life after the traumatic experiment. Did Little Albert continue to display fear for furry objects or did his response lessen in intensity after time?

However, according to an American Psychological Association article, after years of research, Little Albert has been identified as Douglas Merritte. Unfortunately, Douglas died when he was 6 years old of hydrocephalus, or an accumulation of fluid inside the brain.

But new questions and speculations have risen in light since the finding of even more new information about Watson's controversial experiment. Although Little Albert was said to be healthy in Watson's experiment, new findings may indicate that Little Albert may not have been all that healthy as Watson had written in his report. According to medical records for Douglas Merritte, he was showing signs of "neurological" damage before the experiment. Relatives of Douglas also say that Douglas never learned to walk or to talk.

In conclusion, if these new findings are true, the next step would be to determine if Watson was aware of the baby's medical condition. After reading the articles (links provided at the end of this entry), what are your thoughts about the Little Albert experiment? Was Little Albert a healthy baby, or did his neurological impairments sway the results of the experiment?

Human Meat

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I found this advertisement to be particularly interesting. Instead of the advertiser trying to sell the product, the advertiser is instead trying to make the onlooker not buy the product, meat. By comparing a human to an animal the onlooker gets a sense of disturbance. I know when I first came across this advertisement I felt a little on uneasy about what I was looking at. I understood that it was a protest to reduce the amount of meat that is consumed in our everyday lives but I thought how strange for these advertisers to be using humans to do so. To some people this could almost seem a bit dramatic but nonetheless the point has definitely been proven. The point being, why is it okay to eat innocent animals but not okay to eat innocent people? Seems kind of ridiculous when said out loud but the advertisement is making a strong connection between humans and animals. We both are living organisms so connecting the two to make a bold statement is there. This advertisement instantly grabs the onlooker's attention and instantly makes the onlooker think. Although it is strange, it does an excellent job of getting its point across and making it known how the advertiser feels about this particular subject.

Animal Training- Air Bud

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Let's take a stroll down memory lane shall we? Everyone remembers the good old days, when the hardest part of the day was going to be deciding on which picture to color after dinner, or which cartoon to watch the next morning. As odd as it sounds, I never realized this until this year, but psychology has played a huge role in my younger life than I ever thought imaginable.
Everyone I hope has seen the movie "Air Bud." If so, then you know that the main character, a golden retriever named Buddy, was trained to play basketball in the movie. This goes along with the animal training we've recently learned about in class. The dog's real name is Zack, and he was trained by trainers who taught this dog to play basketball by using a clicker, basketball, and doggie treat. At first the trainers gave Zack a treat after every time they used the clicker. Eventually they introduced a basketball whenever they used the clicker, and whenever Zack nudged the ball with his nose, they would give him a treat and use the clicker. Eventually the trainers dropped the ball on Zack's nose until he finally figured out how to get it to the hoop to receive the treat (this step is painfully difficult and may take hours upon hours because the dog will not know what to do at first).
This example of Zack being trained to play basketball is basically a prime example of Operant Conditioning. The trainers only reinforced the good behavior of Zack every once in a while when he would make a basket. This also falls under B.F. Skinner's principle of partial reinforcement. So as it turns out, child-hood movies had a stronger connection to psychology principles than any of us ever thought, especially one about training a dog to play basketball.

Many individual game developers were used to claim that their perfectly designed graphics would not ever attract as much players as they had expected. For very long time, I was also confused with such an issue until I found the reason inside of it. The causation is actually very simple, those people did not do a good job on the color control.
When breaking down the problem, it is not too hard to find that for most people, the first thing they observe is not the actual content, it is the color. If one interesting design has very bad color mixing, big amount of audiences are very likely to get away.
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It is a really interesting problem, because this explains the concepts of sensation and perception; it points out the idea that sensation happens before perception, and it will give people the first impression of what they see.

Smelling Axey

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Have you ever seen an overly exaggerated commercial that caught your attention? There are many commercials that have misled the general people with extra affects that are only meant to attract customers. For example, the commercials of Axe products exaggerates the ability of their deodorants by showing how their products attract the opposite sex. One of their newest commercial advertises their new product, Axe Anarchy for men and women. This commercial tries to manipulate the audience's way of thinking by showing how their product can boost one's sexual attractiveness. In this advertisement, they chose two models with ideal bodies to grab the audience's attention. By doing so, the commercial gives the audience, a sense of thinking that they can feel as attractive as the models in the commercial. By showing how attractive each models is to each other when wearing Axe, it makes the audience believe that they can boost their sex appeal, if they wore Axe too. The commercial also showed the amount of distance, each model ran to find each other. This part of the commercial is also a manipulation technique, used to show how strong the product is and how it can attract another person from that distance. The company manipulate their costumers emotions by exaggerating the affects of their products, and by doing so they attract more customers.

Teaching animals cool tricks is fun and exciting, but can we teach our children just like we teach our dogs? One way to train pets is clicker training. Clicker training is using short clicking noises when an animal does something right and is combined with positive reinforcement. It is effective and doesn't harm animals. Here is a video of some clicker trained animals:

It seems so simple to teach the animals to do cool things when you watch the video, and with the right training, you can even do it too. Karen Pryor is one of the leading figures in clicker training. Here is the link to Pryor's clicker training website with lots of cool information about clicker training.


Clicker training is on the rise, and Karen Pryor most certainly swears by it. Some people even say you can clicker train young athletes, but will parents agree with the new method of teaching their children like they teach their dogs? What's next--clicker training in school, the work place, and with your husband or wife?

I know one thing: If I ever clicker train my children, I need to see positive research results first. Humans are obviously smarter than animals, but clicker training seems hardly any different than when we say "good boy" after a child uses a toilet for the first time. I guess we'll see in the future whether or not clicker training is effective. Until then, I won't be clicker training any of my children.

Needing and Getting

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Ok so the following is not an explicit advertisement, but once you watch it I believe you will be easily able to identify what it is.

This OK Go song and video was featured in a Super Bowl commercial for the Chevy car the band drives. The most of you, like me, were able to quickly identify what the song is from and what they were trying to sell. I found this very interesting. Here I was able to see a thirty second clip of a song from a relatively high profile pop culture icon (OK Go) and instantly associate the car even when watching the full video with even a mention of trying to sell the car. Hopefully as a result of liking OK Go and their crazy music videos a person would associate the happy feeling with the car and thus want to purchase the car. If you're like me this commercial did a very good job of it, judging by the fact that I can still associate the full music video with the commercial and the car. With a little more digging you can find a whole string of commercials produced by Chevy for this car with other icons. My question for you is this: Has there ever been a more successful ad campaign capitalizing on a pop culture icon?

From Rats to Cats

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From rats to cats and chimps to pigs, Michael Boxer has successfully trained over 60 different species of animals for Hollywood Cinema. Appearing in numerous movies, such as Babe 2 and The Jungle Book, these animals have displayed outstanding abilities in the art of "acting". But it makes one wonder, are all these animals smart and easy to train? Boxer states that some of the animals, such as various reptiles, are "not as smart" and in fact are more difficult to train.

I find it extremely intriguing that so many different species of animals can be trained to do such amazing tricks. The monkey in the video is one of my favorites as he plays along with the sarcasm and humor of Boxer, without missing a beat.

But, I wonder exactly how these animals are trained. Boxer states that he begins training with chimps at the age of three and continues on throughout their lives, while only taking 9 months to a year to train a dog. Is this because of the old adage "You can't teach old dogs new tricks"? I personally am not sure that I believe in this, as I have two dogs that I know will be able to learn tricks until the day they die (although I may be a bit biased). But in terms of training I believe it is possible that Boxer made use of Pavlov's classical conditioning in which he provided a conditioned stimulus (such as a hand signal), which in turn caused a conditioned response (the trick). Or is it possible that Boxer made use of Skinner's "clicker training" as described by Professor Peterson in lecture to induce "shaping"? Overall, no matter what method of training Boxer used, the animals show amazing capabilities to perform.

Street Art

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Ever come across a 3-D work of art on the sidewalk?Does it ever take you by surprise? It's because those chalk works mess with one's depth perception. Take the work "The Dungeon" (picture at the bottom of this paragraph) for example; people are crawling from ropes and scaling walls to try and escape this horrid place. This is all done by drawing shadows and creating angles in the picture that would mess with your mind. The art is also "interacting" with the public. A man climbing to safety by rope is drawn on the sidewalk. A man has approached the rope and is "helping" the man climb to safety. Whether the man is the artist of this work or not, we do not know, but we know he is interacting with the art. This messes with the mind of the people who are watching. First, they see it as a 3-D image, which confuses people. We believe it's real and we can interact with such things. With the addition of the man and the rope, we become further confused and actually believe we can physically interact with the art (rather than just stepping on it).


The beauty of this trick is to view it from the right angle. If viewing a 3-D image from the wrong angle, the drawing looks elongated. If viewed through the right angle, though, people can see a whole new image.

Wrong angle:
Right angle:

Hopefully no one approaches a vicious shark from the right angle!

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It can be amusing and perhaps, at times, frustrating how our mind plays tricks on us and causes us to perceive something that isn't exactly reality. An illusion that I find quite fascinating is the moon illusion. The moon illusion is the illusion that the moon appears larger when it's near the horizon than high in the sky. As I'm sure has happened to anyone reading this, there have been many instances where I look just above the horizon at night and stare in awe at an orange moon that appears to be incredibly large compared to others nights when it was higher in the sky. Every time I experience one of these moments I am always amazed at how big the moon can look, but I have never wondered why the moon may appear this way some nights.

Moon illusion.jpg

So, why do we perceive the moon to be larger at the horizon? There are a few possible explanations, but one explanation for the illusion is that we humans are not able to judge the very long distance of the moon. The moon is about 240,000 miles away from Earth, so when we see the moon high in the sky, there is not much to compare it to. On the other hand, when the moon is near the horizon we perceive it as larger because of what we compare it to along the horizon, such as trees or buildings. Even though I am aware that this is an illusion, it still fascinates me that the moon appears this way at the horizon.

"Dancing in the Dark"

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There are many disorders of sleep that may happen to a person during the day or night. The disorders are insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, night terrors, and SLEEP WALKING. I will be focusing more on sleepwalking because I find that topic more interesting than the others; although they are all pretty interesting.

Sleepwalking can basically occur whenever and to whomever. The percentage of a child sleepwalking is about 15 to 30 percent while for an adult it is 4 to 5 percent (Lilienfeld 173). It is not as dangerous for a child to sleep walk, but I think it is very dangerous when an adult sleep walks because of the age difference. Sleepwalkers are people who are asleep but act as a person who is fully awake. I think that concept it quite interesting because when a person is sleepwalking they don't realize it and it just happens. The events that the person may go through are to be said relatively similar to what they would do in real life.

A person may sleepwalk because they haven't gotten enough sleep the night before, because of a medical condition, alcohol or other factors. There have been many cases of people who have sleepwalked and caused harmful situations such as driving with others in the car. I have never sleepwalked before, but I bet if I did, I would be going out to the mall and shopping, or more like "shoplifting" because I wouldn't have the senses to be awake enough to pay.

Here is a short clip of an example of sleepwalking that I found interesting:

Or a link for the video is here:

Sleepwalking is quite dangerous and I wondered if it was safe to wake up a person who was sleepwalking. This means, college students, get your sleep! And do not be sleep deprived anymore so we won't be hearing about sleepwalkers on campus. In some links below, you can find the answer to this and also know a little more about sleepwalking if interested.

As a typical college student, my Sundays consist of recovery and procrastination. Many times my procrastination is aided by the every so great invention of television. Today it consisted of an epic marathon of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, lets just say I was very lucky to have completed this blog. While watch one episode in particular there was a situation where one man had such an influence on others in their so called "group" of religious background that they refused to give information to the police that had the potential to save a life. This episode reminded me of the psychology theory of Group Think (see the link below for information). In short is the idea that a group will stick to their beliefs no matter what, as a group their ideas become more concrete to them and they tend to neglect what others say or try to explain to them. Take the following cartoon for an example.GroupThink.gif
One man in this picture says ONE thing and everyone goes with it. One can see the dangers of group think in the cartoon. I found this topic particularly interesting because it makes me wonder how often group think influences the way we act on a day to day basis. How often are we truly influenced by group think? Now, I understand the that the law in order example was a little extreme, but I am sure everyone is familiar with the beginning of Law and Order......
Seems pretty real to me just saying. That point I was trying to get at with this blog, was to spark a discussion on how often you feel like Group Think affects your life?

Active Sleeping

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Over the last week or so, I've been fascinated learning about sleep, dreaming, and disorders of sleep in chapter five of our textbooks. Perhaps I find this topic so intriguing because I come from what I consider a family of very "active" sleepers. My father has snored with a decibel level comparable to a freight train for as long as I can remember. He would also twitch and snort himself out of a sound sleep, which we found out later is due to sleep apnea. My sister is known to talk and walk in her sleep. She's recited school presentations, pulled all the bedding off of her bed and dragged it downstairs to sleep on the couch, and my personal favorite, "rock climbed" over the footboard of her bed. My mother sort of hits the opposite end of the spectrum; she is a very light sleeper. She even claims she woke up one night because she felt our dog standing by her bed staring at her. My sleeping habits are slightly less exciting in comparison. I'm told I do talk in my sleep quite frequently. I'm not so sure I want to know what I say...
With my family's sleep history in mind, the section of the book about sleepwalking caught my attention. The book states that sleepwalkers have been known to drive cars, turn on computers, or even have sexual intercourse while asleep. Even more than that, a few people have actually used sleepwalking as a legal defense for committing murder. For example, the book mentions a case in which a young man drove almost 20 miles, removed a tire iron from a car, and killed his mother-in-law and seriously injured his father-in-law with a knife. In a controversial decision, the man was declared innocent because he maintained that he slept through the whole event and was not responsible for his behavior.
Although I'm very familiar with strange events happening throughout the night that we maintain no recollection of in the morning, this information was hard for me to wrap my head around. It makes me wonder how it's possible for us to commit horrifying acts that would seemingly require much thought and planning, all while still unconscious. What allows us to completely block out these events? And furthermore, what do these acts say about us as people?

Is This the Right Aim?

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Have you ever held a toy nerf gun and tried to aim through one eye? You shoot the gun and sadly you miss the target. So, a great idea hits you, why not try to aim with the other eye! So you try the same thing but to your surprise your aim is totally off! You then have to adjust and move your arm/aim to a different point. This weird phenomena is known as binocular disparity. This can be explained by the fact that each eye sees the world a big differently, but our brains adaptively use this to judge depth when looking through both eyes. Unfortunately for me I sucked at aiming in general so neither helped me.


Another great example are a pair of binoculars. When we see near, our left and right eye induce the information quite different than that of far objects. Binoculars help put these depths into focus. Without disparity, our judgment of depth would be horrendously poor.

When I watched the BBC Horizon video I came in thinking there was no way the fMRI could tell which decision Marcus was going to make. The part I found most interesting was the very end when Marcus would as randomly as he could pick which hand to squeeze the button. The fMRI could tell six seconds before Marcus squeezed the button which hand he would squeeze. Marcus was just as surprised to find this information out as I was because he seemed very confident he was in charge of his decision making and movements.
I thought about this and was wondering what is really under our control is what we do just effected by stimulus or do we make the decisions before we know we have and is really still freewill? This video was very helpful in explaining what the fMRI exactly can measure. Can the fMRI be used in new ways to help us better understand the brain and how exactly stimulus and action can be related. Also would you be willing to donate your brain after you die to research? In summary the brain is still so unknown to us that we are still figuring out what its capabilities are and how to account for situations that we consider common sense but have no exact link to the brain.
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When I watched the BBC Horizon video I came in thinking there was no way the fMRI could tell which decision Marcus was going to make. The part I found most interesting was the very end when Marcus would as randomly as he could pick which hand to squeeze the button. The fMRI could tell six seconds before Marcus squeezed the button which hand he would squeeze. Marcus was just as surprised to find this information out as I was because he seemed very confident he was in charge of his decision making and movements.
I thought about this and was wondering what is really under our control is what we do just effected by stimulus or do we make the decisions before we know we have and is really still freewill? This video was very helpful in explaining what the fMRI exactly can measure. Can the fMRI be used in new ways to help us better understand the brain and how exactly stimulus and action can be related. Also would you be willing to donate your brain after you die to research? In summary the brain is still so unknown to us that we are still figuring out what its capabilities are and how to account for situations that we consider common sense but have no exact link to the brain.
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Like many other people have most likely experienced, I sometimes feel like I can predict the future through my dreams. Occasionally I will dream about getting an A on a test or getting a small injury, and then I will find that a few days later the dreams will come true. These experiences can begin to raise a lot of thought. Do I really have the ability to predict some instances in my future? Or is this just a figment of my imagination that later becomes true simply because of a coincidence.

As it turns out, the purpose of dreams is still up for debate in the world of psychology. The infamous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud has pegged dreams as a gateway to our unconscious desires. He believes that we dream of things that we desire for that we may not even be aware of. Others believe that dreams are a way for our brain to prepare us for a better reaction in real life scenarios such as being in a car accident. That our brains are simply prepping us to have calmer reactions and not be as panicked. However, most psychologists believe that dreams are simply meaningless images that our brain produces during the REM phase of our sleep cycle. They believe that the dreams we have that some may confuse with having psychic abilities are actually just the brain making use of all of the electrical signals it receives throughout the day and puts them into a relatively meaningless story that sometimes may contain emotions or fears we have on a daily basis.

So as it seems dreams are not ways to channel our inner psychic, and are in fact rather meaningless. As disappointing as it may be that the dream you had about finding $20.00 on the street may not come true, it can be rather comforting to know that your brain is always working hard and trying to make sense of the world, even as you sleep.

Gravity and Relativity

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It's not often we consider gravity in our everyday life, and maybe even less often when looking at a piece of art; in both contexts, heuristics are often used. The picture below provides a contradiction to natural thoughts and experiences, for certain things in the picture are not physically possible, such as the people walking on the upside down staircases.
Because of the way we are accustomed to see, it's likely that a viewer's eyes will follow the staircases in an attempt to find the plane in which the artwork was created. However, the artist did not use a standard single plane, but rather many different planes. Some aspects seem to be upright, others upside down, and some at perplexing angles that can confuse the viewer. The picture seems no more (nor less) rational rotated one quarter turn.
There are many perceptional tricks happening in this picture, but I will only cover one. We don't perceive linear perspective because there isn't a vanishing point in the picture due to the aforementioned multi-plane characteristic. If you rotate your head and view the picture from different angles, the stairs don't appear to converge as distance increases. Rather, there are three rough spots forming a triangle where the main staircases come together. This perception creates the illusion that certain aspects of the picture seem to defy gravitational laws.
crazy art.jpg

I don't see how I see!!

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This illusion is crazy if you really think about it!! It's called the checkershadow illusion. It looks like all the boxes are different shades of gray. Yet the box A and the box B are actually identical shades of gray. To put it simply, because of the shadowing and the light coming from the image that is making it look 3d, the shades of color look different.

For the shadow part of the illusion, our visual system needs to determine the color of objects in the world. The issue here is to determine the gray shade of the checks on the floor. By only measuring the light coming from a surface is not enough. The cast shadow will dim a surface. A white surface in shadow may be reflecting less light than a black surface in full light. Our visual system uses tricks to determine where the shadows are and how to compensate for them, in order to determine the shade of gray "paint" that belongs to the surface.

Sooooo what now??!! To explain further the checks may look lighter due to the position and color of their neighboring checks. Check B looks way lighter than check A because of the checks surrounding it being so dark. Also, our visual system tends to ignore gradual changes in light level.

This illusion also uses light and shadow cues. This creates a three dimensional form. To detect colors we use the lower visual pathway leading to the temporal lobe. The contrast we see of shades of gray makes us perceive different colors.

There are other images that create this same illusion. For example, the Chubb illuision also uses shades of gray that make us perceive two circles to be different colors, when really they are identical. This really interested me because due to contrast in the world we see things differently than they appear. Shadows also play a role. It's something to really think about!!

Sex, Penis, and Vagina

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The title got your attention didn't it? That was the point. This relates to the cocktail effect. The cocktail effect is when you aren't paying attention but are able to pick out words from a conversation going on around you that will grab your attention. When I was in high school my health teacher would say things like sex, penis, and vagina to get the classes attention. It worked every time. Our whole class would not be paying attention and talking to the people next to us and then we would pick out these words and would perk up to see what the teacher was talking about. While my teacher used these words saying someone's name works too.

It got its name as the cocktail effect because people are able to pick out select words that will grab their attention even while there is a lot of stuff going on. So next time you try grabbing someone's attention try using words that will make the person look to see what's going on.


By looking at the image above, as well as the title of this post, you may assume that the larger the dog's ears, the better their hearing is. This correlation has no relation, I chose this picture solely because it's funny to look at.

Below are some facts on the difference between Human and Dog hearing:

- Humans can hear sounds approximately within the frequencies of 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz.
- Anything below 20 Hz, typically cannot be heard although it can be felt.
(this can be experienced to when you feel the bass of a song)
- Frequency range of dog hearing = approximately 40 Hz to 60,000 Hz.
(of course depending on the breed of dog as well as its age)
- Like humans, dogs can begin to go deaf as they become older.
- When dogs become aware of a sound they've heard their ears will prick up and move around.
- Part of the reason why dogs can hear better than humans is that their ears have more mobility which enable it to maximize its ability to ear.
- The shape of a dog's ear also helps it hear more proficiently.
- As we cup our ears, some dogs ears are already in that position.

My story:

I have a pet dog, named Putter, who is an adorable Yorkshire Terrior. He is in love with my mother and follows her everywhere, watching her every move. He will listen to my mother's voice whenever she may call him to her bedroom or wherever she might be, and he will immediately flee the area to crawl next to her. On the other hand, I have a father, two sisters, and a brother, and Putter rarely listens to any of us. Of course this isn't a display of Putter's hearing, it is more so that my dog has chosen a favorite, which isn't fair! He is completely obsessed with my mom and it's too the point where if my parents leave for vacation, Putter will lay by the back door, mope around the house, sit with his head down, looking adorable as ever, but feeling so sad. He has such a strong emotional attachment to my mother, and I, to say the least, am jealous. You're probably wondering where I am going with this story, but, trust me, I have a point!

This is where the hearing part comes into play...

Let's say my parents had gone to dinner with a few other couples. Putter would be fine in that case because he somehow knows they will be coming back later that night (he doesn't see any luggage, so that is how he knows). In this case, he doesn't lay by the back door or sulk around the house. Instead, he wanders happily, and if I'm lucky he'll come watch TV with me.

A few hours pass, and Putter has fallen asleep. All of the sudden, he jolts up and races downstairs to the back door. At this point I am confused, wondering if there is an intruder in our home. Putter, being 7 pounds, couldn't really hold off an intruder, so I then got up and went downstairs after him. Lo and behold, my parents walk in. Putter had heard the garage door opening as my parents pulled into the driveway. I didn't hear a thing. It's crazy how good of hearing dogs have.

Bistable Images Around Us

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Illusions of all kinds serve to demonstrate how a particular stimulus can trigger multiple perceptions after the stimulus has been transduced and processed in our brains. Examples include Rubin's Vase and the Necker cube. Each of these can be perceived in two different ways, and neither way is the "correct" one. I found that the way bistable images like these represent the difference between sensation and perception was highly interesting. In fact, the idea of two possible perceived realities got me thinking about the world around us and how unintentional bistable imagery might influence the reality that we experience every day. Surely my thoughts are taking this fundamental psychological concept and applying it to the abstract, but since the Gestalt principles are so applicable to our daily lives, doesn't the existence of bistable imagery stand to reason?

The more I think about whether bistable imagery might be present in our daily lives, the more I see that actually discovering it might be a daunting task. I expect that most of us are so heavily adapted to our perceptions of mundane objects that trying to see them in any other light might be futile. A book is a book; a pillow is a pillow. I'm not sure that I or anyone else will be able to break away from what we "know" is there to see something else, but I will try and demonstrate the idea here. I've photographed two different arrangements with the intent of producing a bistable image.

face cropped.jpg

Is it a shadow from the stack of books, or a face (perhaps with a hat)?

shelf cropped.jpg

Is it a shelf attached to the wall, or a wireless keyboard receiver?

Let me know if any of you are able to spot the intended bistable imagery. Is it possible that alternate perceptions of the same stimulus can influence the way we see our world in any meaningful way?

Split brained people

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I thought the lecture that professor Peterson gave on split brained people was very interesting. Separating the two hemispheres by severing the corpus callosum is a treatment often used as a last resort to help people that suffer from severe seizures. This procedure disconnects the two sides of the brain and they can no longer communicate. I think it is really interesting how after the surgery, patients will do things without knowing that they are doing it such as taking an article of clothing off after just putting it on with the other hand. The plasticity of the brain however eventually fixes that and they are able to carry on just as anyone else does with less seizures. Or can they? Since the two hemispheres of their brain can no longer communicate with each other anything that only enters the right side of their brain is rendered unknown by the person. As long as something enters both sides of the brain though the person can recognize it just as anyone else does. I was just curious as to whether or not they have any other side affects from this procedure other than not being able to recognize things that solely enter the right brain.


Split brained people

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I thought the lecture that professor Peterson gave on split brained people was very interesting. Separating the two hemispheres by severing the corpus callosum is a treatment often used as a last resort to help people that suffer from severe seizures. This procedure disconnects the two sides of the brain and they can no longer communicate. I think it is really interesting how after the surgery, patients will do things without knowing that they are doing it such as taking an article of clothing off after just putting it on with the other hand. The plasticity of the brain however eventually fixes that and they are able to carry on just as anyone else does with less seizures. Or can they? Since the two hemispheres of their brain can no longer communicate with each other anything that only enters the right side of their brain is rendered unknown by the person. As long as something enters both sides of the brain though the person can recognize it just as anyone else does. I was just curious as to whether or not they have any other side affects from this procedure other than not being able to recognize things that solely enter the right brain.


This is one question raised by, about 67% of users agreed that modern medicine is better than the traditions. Though the results on-line have low reliability because it's the survey that didn't based on random selection, but you can still see generally a large amount of people agreed the better function of modern medicine. In the article posted on Midland Daily News, January 23rd, Kari Atkinson stated the short life of modern medicine which just occurred at least 70 years old to no more than 100 years old, but people usually think it's centuries old. He also mentioned that once you are given a drug you usually end up needing to take additional drugs because of side effects from the previous drug and proved his idea by an experiment on himself.
If we have to evaluate the accuracy of the article, you always analyze in two ways, reliability and validity. The former point about the history of modern medicine have low reliability cause you have to provide evidence like lab experiment or survey results to prove people do think in that way, but the latter one is more reliable than the prior claim cause it proved by self experience. Moreover, I think both claims are valid.
According to the article posted by Kyle Hill in Medicine, pseudo-science of Science Myths. He claimed that people in the past had no idea of illness or of chemistry or biochemistry. They believe every plants came to the earth with certain role. Traditional medicine is people trying to find a way of using the poisons in plants to our advantage. However, you cannot avoid the side effect of herbs either, cause there is no proper long-term check on the side effects.
People have faith on things they want to believe or already believe, so this question don't have the answer at the first place.

Subtle Observations

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During the previous weeks, we have discussed how something as simple as a smile increases the likelihood of us finding something funny or amusing. Unfortunately, women still don't find my jokes funny even after I see them smiling.
Regardless, this research finding has recently had me wondering if there were correlations between other actions I witnessed from people in everyday life. I attended a CA workshop/interview this Saturday and Sunday for fourteen hours total in which seventeen other students and I were asked what we would do in a series of hypothetical situations that were all very different and complex. After hearing the responses given, I found myself questioning if student's future responses and attitude would be altered based on the indirect feedback given following the previous answer they shared (i.e: smiles and nods from others compared to no eye contact, disconnection with speaker, etc.). It seemed to me that something as simple as a nod or a smile increased the likelihood of a previous student who responded to answer yet another question (very confidently I might add), while the students who were simply nodded at, or those who were given no feedback seemed hesitant to answer in the future. Questions that occurred to me and what I am still curious about is if the correlation I made between body language and feedback does in fact have an affect on those who wish to answer future questions.


Are you more inclined to commit a crime if it's pre-hardwired in your genes to do so? A recently released research paper by criminologist, J.C. Barnes (Ph.D) suggests that your genes do in fact play a role in whether you end up committing a crime or not during your lifetime. Barnes and his colleagues from Florida State University studied lifelong criminals, juvenile offenders and those who never committed a crime in their lifetime, a total of about 4,000 people overall to try and pinpoint just what had caused them to act (or not act) out criminally. The people were placed into three different categories: life-course persistent offenders, adolescence-limited offenders or abstainers (no crime). These three groups, otherwise known as the "three pathways found in population," were originally derived from Dr. Terri Moffitt's research in 2007, which is part of the reason for Barnes' interest in testing this theory in the first place. Moffitt's theory from her studies in assessing the psychology of crime suggests that "genetic factors will play a larger role for the life course offender as compared to the adolescent limited offender."

After doing their research and studying the results, Barnes' findings do support Moffitt's theory. The study showed that in life-long offenders, genes do play a more influential role than the environment. For the abstainers, the genetic and environmental factors were equally shared, and for adolescent offenders the environment played a bigger role. They found that although there is no gene that actually causes someone to commit a crime, there are likely hundreds or thousands of genes that incrementally increase your likelihood of committing a crime. Even though that could make up to about one percent, it still has it's affect on the brain.

I found this study highly interesting first off because of the nature-nurture debate that we have been learning about so much and secondly because I myself have always wondered if genes had something to do with people committing criminal acts. I believe that in this case as well as many others it is crucial to take into account the specific subject's background information and use it to delve further into the nature nurture debate. For the future, it will be interesting to see if the scientists can pinpoint exactly what genes are causing these behaviors, so that we can further understand why people act on their deviant thoughts and behaviors as adults and maybe possibly stop some of these vicious acts before they ever happen in the first place.

Article Link:

Football, Worth it or not?

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As an average Midwestern American kid, I grew up around football my whole life. The Super Bowl this past weekend proves its significance in our culture.That being said, I still don't recognize the names Andre Waters, Dave Duersons, or George Visger. The reason is simple, none of them was able to play to their full potential because concussions sidelined them early in their careers and even led to suicide in an extreme cases. With recent advancements in science, doctors are now realizing the lasting, harmful impacts that concussions can leave on their victims.

According to a CNN article published in 2011 over a million sports related concussions will occur this year alone, and many of them will go undiagnosed. The epidemic continues to leave players like George Visgers in extreme medical conditions. Another article published by CNN explains how a hit almost killed Visgers and has forever changed his life. He has no memory and has to write down everything in a notebook to serve as his makeshift memory. Scientists have consistently pointed to the harmful after effects NFL players see after retiring from their many years of violent hits, stating that concussions can even lead to suicide in the case of Andre Waters.

The ultimate question however remains, are these freak examples or is this a true epidemic? Most answers point to the latter as being the truth. Just today, 4 more former NFL players sued the National Football League for failing to address head injuries properly, and they are not the first. According to ESPN, an extensive article published with great research to back it up comes to the basic conclusion that males are simply being passed up in school by females. Psychology class has taught us that this can't simply be attributed to one cause, Aka football, but it does play a role. A neurosurgery journal article links more competitors in football with declining success of males in secondary schools including high school and college.

Being an avid football fan myself, it was hard to accept all the facts against one of my favorite sports, but the evidence is there. Football related concussions are the cause of many debilitating lifelong consequences to athletes. Ultimately, something must be done. So ask yourself, should our country continue to play this brutal sport at the cost of the minds of our future young men and women?

Nature versus Nurture

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The Nature verse nurture is one of the oldest debates in psychology. It questions whether our personal experiences or characteristics qualities play a bigger role in which we are about our behavioral and physical traits; the nature aspect of our genes, whereas nurture relates to the situations we have. Do we have free will, the power to make our choices, or is it determinism, which are actions and decisions are unavoidable?


A 2010 article I read about nature versus nurture, the debate was if aggressive driving was due to her family chain of aggressive driving. The woman in the article stated that since being in the car with her family members who were all aggressive drivers, she said that it was all she knew. She thought it was normal to make comments to other drivers while passing other vehicles. Her father and Uncle also have aggression when driving, making comment about the slow drivers in the surrounding areas. The women in the article, says her sister is the worst at driving, and will swerve around the car and nearly run him off the road; and she believes that the swearing, gestures, and the aggressive driving habits is due to nature.
My reaction to this article is that it could be nature because she made the point that aggressive driving was all she never knew, which would make sense for her to be an aggressive driver because she thought that was the way she was supposed to drive.

There may be a new theory that solves the debate of nature vs. nurture. On, an article called Beyond Nature Vs. Nurture: Parental Guidance Boosts Child's Strengths, Shapes Development describes a new theory that may explain how nature and nurture both influence the development of children. Previously, many researchers debated whether genes or environment are responsible for how a child develops and who they turn out to be. The new theory described in the article explains the importance of parent guidance in the development of children. Every decision parents make has an effect on the development of children. The article states that "effective parents are taking nature into account in their nurturing." According the article, this happens when parents "observe, recognize, and assess their child's individual genetic characteristics, then cultivate their child's strengths." There are four ways that parents can guide the development of their children: 1) by steering their child toward a certain path; 2) by encouraging the child for the current path they are on; 3) help steer the child away from negative paths; and 4) by reacting to paths initiated by the child.

which path.jpg

This article was really interesting to me. I reacted to the article by reflecting on my own development and the role my parents played in it. I think this theory for child development makes a lot of sense because if your parents are encouraging you to follow a certain path in life, I think it is more likely that you will follow that path than if they are discouraging you. However, other factors to consider that may play a role in child development including family environment and other obstacles such as drug abuse.

The link to the article:

It was a typical Saturday morning, as I was channeling through all the TV specials and ads. I then came upon a commercial for the new show, "Finding Bigfoot" on Animal Planet. The duration of that minute preview left me in awe as I scrunched my face unable to comprehend the "seriousness" of this reality TV show. I truly didn't know what to think, but to question: Is Bigfoot real? There are certainly a handful of researchers and witnesses (Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization) who seem to believe so. But all I was really interested in was actual PROOF that made this claim valid.

Exercise? How Much?

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In order to get their daily exercise, some people may go work out at the gym, get together for a game of basketball, or go outside for a nice long jog. Others might just take a quick stroll around the neighborhood. There are plenty of ways to get out and be active, but how much exercise should we get every day? As college students, a good amount of our day is spent by walking to places such as classes, the library, and the cafeteria. Is this enough for our daily exercise?

In the article, "Getting Exercise in College", it is recommended that we get at least an hour of exercise on most days of the week. I read two more articles, "How Much Should You Exercise?" and "How much should the average adult exercise every day", and both seem to give slightly different insight than the first article. A Mayo Clinic expert suggests a daily goal of 30 minutes of physical activity and a CBS News study proposes 30 minutes to 60 minutes of exercise every day. Why do the three articles differ in their responses?

The recommended amount of physical activity differs because they are speaking as an average. For example, a fit cross country runner might not need as much exercise as someone who is overweight and watches television all day. The first article, "Getting Exercise in College", is centered towards college students which could be the reason more physical activity is suggested than in the other two articles. Since college students have a tendency to gain weight due to the lack of exercise and poor diet, the article stresses the importance of staying active.


Daily exercise is a helpful way to reduce stress, boost confidence, lower blood pressure, lower the risk of diseases, etc. Even just a brisk walk or jog is considered exercise, as long as you get your heart rate moving. So if you have a class on West Bank and walk back and fourth over the Washington Bridge, chances are you already covered your recommended amount of daily activity. All this walking we do in college is beneficial to our health and isn't actually so bad after all.

Here are the links for each of the articles:

This article is an in-depth view of whether a religious belief in an higher power is found in particular genes or not.

It has some useful exerts, in which many psychologist have done studies across the board in the attempts to identify in religion is found in our genes. Particular studies have identified that the deeper people go into meditation or prayer, the frontal lobes and the limbic system become much more active, while the parietal lobe goes dim. For those who don't quite remember the functions of these regions, the frontal lobe is a "seat of concentration and attention"; the limbic system is where one find intensive feelings; the parietal lobe "orients the individual in time space."

These experiences all together create a feeling that is "profoundly religious," because it disconnects a person from their sense self and gives them an out of body experience of sorts.

However, regardless of whether the brain or genes can be connected with spiritual feelings, it's questionable if this is connected with how religious a person actually is.

This article also mentions the U of M twin studies, in which identical twins had very similar levels of spirituality, but not necessarily similar levels or religious participation.

Not only is this all a question of nature vs. nurture, is also hits on the disputes of God. Can one really include the use of God in some sort of psychological study, when clearly it is an extraordinary claim, and isn't necessarily able to be falsifiable?

At any rate, I would encourage all of you to further read the article itself, as it entails much more than a blog post can do it justice.


Daniel Williams, et al. "Is God In Our Genes? (Cover Story)." Time 164.17 (2004): 62-72.

Real life "Parent Trap"

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I must admit, one of my guilty pleasures is the movie "The Parent Trap." I was always fascinated by how two girls could just meet up at summer camp and realize "Oh my gosh! We are twins!" parent-trap_lindsay-lohan.jpg
It seemed nearly impossible for an event like this to happen, but in actuality events like this actually have occurred! What they don't realize in "The Parent Trap" is that this event of "identical strangers" is the perfect opportunity to get a closer look into the nature versus nurture debate. As read in the article linked below, Paula and Elyse were separated at birth until they were reunited at the age of 35.
news-graphics-2007-_649121a.jpg Although they were different in many ways, they had a number of uncanny things in common, such as the same taste in movies. The twin study was not able to make any conclusive evidence about the extent in which nature and nurture influenced these twins, but I find it obvious based of this study that nature absolutely plays a role in our interests and behavior. It seems more than just a coincidence that two people that have never interacted would just so happen to have studied the same thing in college and both been editors of the school paper. At the same time, nurture is also evident in this twins study. I think that nature and nurture are both responsible for influencing a being, but to what extent each one influences someone is something that still remains a mystery.
Written by Emily Palmer

America's Most Powerful

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Nowhere in American history will you find a man as influential as the late J. Edgar Hoover. He was the director, the founder, the entire force behind the Federal Bureau of Investigation from the year 1924until his death in the early seventies, fighting off incoming presidents who had every intention of shutting down the Bureau as soon as they stepped through the White House door, and through his ambition he irrevocably changed the course of criminal profiling and investigating in this country forever. He was a fiercely powerful man, vindictive and secretive, but years later we are surprised to learn that he was rumored by many people, even by some within his extremely tight knit social circle, to be a homosexual.
How could this be?
One of the most powerful men in early twentieth century America, gay?
Back then it would have been shocking and unheard of (indeed, still today, how many gay politicians do you see running for office?), and if the public had ever caught wind of it there is no doubt in my mind it would have cost Hoover his job and the Bureau it's entire reputation. Couldn't he just simply have chosen not to be gay?
The movie J. Edgar starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Hoover paints an interesting picture of nature contrasted with nurture. J. Edgar was bred to be an ambitious man by his mother, whom he lived with until her death. He was raised to be "strong, not to wilt like a little flower," to be successful in politics, and yet through it all there was this terrible little secret he had, threatening to destroy him at every turn. He must have known it; he must have known that his essential nature was in conflict with the way he had been nurtured. The result was a lonely life, lived in the shadows of our great country.
So what do you guys think? How would you feel if you were J. Edgar Hoover?

Paranormal or Paranoia?

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Our culture has developed a deep fascination for the idea of paranormal existence in the past few years. There have been countless movies blowing up the box office about ghosts and demons. I didn't understand this craze because I thought that as technology and knowledge improve, these beliefs would seem juvenile. With so little evidence to support it, why do so many people believe in the paranormal?

After learning about terror management theory though, I am starting to understand. This theory states that the realization that death is inevitable sparks an underlying sense of terror. To cope with this fear, we adopt beliefs to make our lives seem meaningful and purposeful. Many times people find comfort in believing that there is some sort of life after death. This could explain the strange fascination with paranormal activity.

The latest hype has been about evil demons and ghosts, like in the Paranormal Activity movies. A lot of people are genuinely scared after watching these movies and are afraid that a demon will come in their house, bang around some pots and pans, drag them down a hallway, and then possess their body. Sounds crazy, right? But this just shows the intensity of some beliefs in the paranormal.

This makes me wonder if the fear of demons is related to the terror management theory as well. Do people fear demons because it is easier to fear than death? Is it scarier to believe that there is no afterlife than to believe that there is a paranormal existence, even if it is evil?

In the article, "Beyond Nature vs. Nurture: Parental Guidance Boosts Child's Strengths, Shapes Development" published by Science Daily, researchers claim to have uncovered a solution to the nature vs. nurture debate by parents incorporating nature into the way that they nurture their children. After reading and analyzing this article, it is clear that some interesting points are made however; there are many questions to be asked as well. First, the article states that the parents are able to guide their children by nurturing their genetic characteristics and developing them into great strengths. What the article fails to identify is the issue of the genetic characteristics and personality traits being negative ones, such as aggression, that are difficult to nurture into strengths. Another extremely important possibility to consider is the natural behavior of children, and the fact that often, kids stray from what their parents enforce on purpose. With this in mind, parental guidance in one direction could easily backfire and cause the children to try and develop in the opposite direction.
Personally, my initial reaction to the article was that it is a new approach to the timeless debate, and while there are several questions brought up, there is some truth to the claims. I appreciated that instead of trying to push for one side of a debate that is extremely common, these researchers combined evidence from both sides to come up with an intriguing hypothesis.

Our bodies have the ability to quickly recognize events happening around us, such as our rapid fast reactions to a bear attack. The speed at which our brains comprehend and analyze the things we see is astounding.


Whether we know it or not, our peripheral vision is always at work analyzing our visual field. This is called spacial attention. Spacial Attention is the images our brain analyzes even before our eyes move to focus on a specific region. It's why if someone throws a giant rubber ball at our head, we have a split second inclination to move even before we fully see the ball soaring majestically towards us. These rapid responses have probably saved man kind thousands upon thousands of times.


Life motion is another function of our brains to process the things we see. By recognizing specific patterns such as the motion of a human body, or the flow of a liquid, our brain instinctively gives us an immediate idea of what we are seeing. So at night if I see to globes of light moving towards me, I would naturally be inclined to think a vehicle is barreling at me.

I personally experience this when I awake at night because the outline I can see of my backpack looks like a hunched over old man. So I go "Ahhh, there is an old man in my room!", but in actuality its just my perception based on the generic shape. Without detail in an image our brain fills in what we are seeing.


This raises the question of how our minds direct these intuitions and what objects we choose to identify with. Like human motion in a series of dots, demonstrated in lecture. Do we identify something because we see it in a large magnitude, or because its something we saw early on in our lives? So it acts as like a reference point? It would be interesting to see what various people see, within certain random objects, similar to a Rorschach test.

The Placebo Effect

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In a world where medical advancement, research, and attention are increasingly important and always developing, I found the placebo effect to be a surprising pitfall in experimental design. To summarize, the placebo effect is simply when people see improvement in a condition because of the expectation that there will be improvement. A common example of this is when patients are given "dummy pills" or sugar pills to treat an ailment, and they see results solely from the pill being given to them.
I find this concept extremely interesting and relevant, because almost everyone goes in for medical treatment at one time or another in their lives. Being aware of the placebo effect and avoiding it are steps everyone should take. While the placebo effect has shown effectiveness in subjective conditions such as types of depression, it is not always effective in severe cases, and even when it is, the effects are not as long lasting as real medication.

Decisions or Not?

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When I first started reading the article "Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don't," I was convinced that there's no way people's decisions are pre-determined. However a few points were made that led me to at least consider the possibility of determinism. The article reminds readers that we are nothing more than a bunch of particles combined to form things like the cells and organs that make up a human being. If the particles from which we are made act randomly, as all particles of the universe are believed to do, how can we say that we are in control when that is what we are made from?


Another part of the article that I found thought provoking was the results of an experiment that tested brain activity. In the experiment, volunteers were wired up to an electroencephalogram and told to make random movements while the physiologist marked the time on the clock. The results seemed to show that the volunteer's brain activities went from perception of motion to decision because the brain signals associated with making the decisions actually came half of a second before the subject was conscious of making them. Therefore, it's possible that in other situations people may think they're making decisions when actually they aren't aware of what they're doing until they've already begun.

I still don't know if I believe that determinism is completely responsible for people's actions and decisions. It could even be a little of both free will and random determination. Perhaps we are able to make long-term decisions, but other decisions are more random and happen to quickly for us to actually decide. Or, maybe we don't understand how the human brain works and which parts of it perform particular functions well enough to trust the results of the experiment. Whatever the case is, I am open to new information and ideas to evolve my opinion on whether we are driven by free will or determinism, or both.

Below is a link to the article, "Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don't"

Is genius genetic or it is nurtured
Is genius genetic or it is nurtured? We have been controverting this question for a long time. It seems very hard to decide which one effects human to be talented; however, modern psychologists have come to recognize that human behavior is attributable not only to our environment but to our genetic. (Bouchard, 2004; Harris,2002; Pinker, 2002). Although many people think both of them affect us in many fields, like mathematics, art, music, some people still think many historical geniuses were genetic. For example, Mozart was a distinguished musician. When he is a child, he had showed his musical talent. As we know, his father was also a good violinist; therefore, people think Mozart inherited musical genes from his father. mozart.jpg

It looks to be a good thought, but I think environment is also an essential element. When we are birth, we start to touch this world and we also be affected by our environment. Our parents create different kinds of living and educational environment for us. As Mozart, his father had
taught him musical before he found Mozart had a musical talent. So, Mozart also grew up under nurture of his father. In my opinion, whatever genes or environment, neither of them can play an important role alone on being geniuses.

The debate of is nature or nurture determines human behavior never stop.In my opinion, nature affects like the gene play an important role in human behavior. However, as a matter of fact, the nurture element is most crucial.
For example,if twins raised separately,to another words, make the twins live in different family, different environment. Maybe let one grow up in a Asian city the other grow up in a American city. As a result, they will have different features and different behaviors.
Another example is the wolf boy.

This boy who was raised by wolfs at 4 years old was rescued.He has human gene but he behaves like a little wolf. He forgot how to speak English and his real family.When he feels angry, he will try to bite people. His only way to communicate others is howling like a wolf.
So what can we know from those example? I think nurture is the major affect to influence a person. The environments where the children grow up almost determine their whole lives . The way they behave will be changed a lot. Like the wolf boy. Although he was born in a human beings family, he was caught by wolfs and lived with wolfs for the long time. Thus he likes a wolf as well.

It seems like a no-brainer, that we are humans by birth and until death. But perhaps we can turn out to be a whole variety of things. Take the Oxana Malaya for example.

Oxana was abandoned at 3 years old and was raised by wild dogs until she was 8 years old. In the video, she is actually 22 years old, and is showing what she "learned" and how she lived. She is what psychologists call a feral child, "one who, from a very young age, has lived in isolation from human contact, unaware of human social behaviour and unexposed to language," (Grice, 2006). It's easy to see why these feral children are an important part of the nature versus nurture debate. At the time the article cited above was written, Oxana was living in a community living home for the mentally disabled. She had to re-learn how to walk, eat, and speak.

Do you consider Oxana a human being? In my opinion, she isn't completely human. And when she was found, I don't think she could even be considered human. She has been so far removed from the psychological norm for humans, that I don't think she can ever be human like us. While nature is definitely a strong factor in creating us as individuals, the power of nurture should not be underestimated.

If the case of Oxana Malaya interests you, I suggest reading the article I have linked. And if you are interested in other cases of feral children, there is an entire National Geographic special on youtube. Part 1 is found here.


The nature vs. nurture argument has been going on for a rather long time. It is known that one gets some of their traits from their parents, but how can one describe someone's obvious natural skill at sports when their parents are accountants? The answer is that both nature and nurture play roles in the development of kids. My parents are responsible for passing on the wonderful trait of being a redhead through their recessive genes; they are also responsible for my kind soul because that is how they have taught me to treat others.

The article linked at the bottom of this post explains this further as well as explains how some scientists still argue over this point. Both sides have many experiments and evidence to support their hypothesis to what causes us to be how we are. After reading the article I believe that these two sides coexist with each other. While we have some traits mapped out genetically there are some of these that can be altered through how you are raised. The family of criminals that we discussed in class may have genetically predetermined to have elevated aggression, but if they had better role models than I believe they may have been able to become functional citizens instead of criminals.

Overall I think this is a rather interesting topic, so feel free to ask questions and leave comments on your thoughts as well.

View article here.


What do we really remember?

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Chapter seven is titled "constructing and reconstructing our pasts". The chapter aims to explain how our memory works from biological, mechanical and psychological points of view. Most importantly, the chapter targets "the paradox of memory" or in other words why our memory works so well in some situations but works so poorly in others. What I found to be the most interesting is the section on false memories. Particularly, I was very interested in flashbulb memories and how they can decay over time. Everybody seems to have a story about where they were and what they were doing on September eleventh. For example: I was walking down the eighth-grade wing of my school going to music class when a classmate, Evan Hahn, ran down the hall yelling about how the Pentagon had been blown up. I'm nearly positive that's where I was during that event but after reading this section I can't say with 100% certainty because it's clear that our memories sometime fool us. However, I feel like I can also be pretty sure that was the case because of the effect of long term potentiation, a biological process described in the chapter as the "gradual strengthening of the connections among neurons from repetitive stimulation", essentially making us remember things better. I would hypothesize that because the events of September eleventh were the first really big event in most of our lives and because they have played such a crucial role every year in the lives of young people, the memories from that day have been strengthened so much that we remember them fairly accurately at this point.

As defined in Lilienfeld's Psychology textbook, heuristics are mental shortcuts or rules of thumb. They help us make sense of our world. Essentially, what heuristics do is make things much easier for humans to grasp. With out them, humans would have too much to think about and could not handle all of the information that is obtained in a day. Although very helpful in making sense of what seems to be an easy thought to grasp, heuristics could also make humans oversimplify things. Shown as an example in the textbook, the fact that most people assume that Reno is northeast of San Diego when it is actually northwest of San Diego, is an example of a heuristic that is oversimplifying one's thoughts.9926108-confused-cartoon-guy-scratching-his-head.jpg


The study of psychology is partially based on our opinion but that only gives birth to ideas that science must reaffirm. "Psychology is the mind + the sciences." (Kathleen Briggs, "Intro to Psych") Now, the study of psychology isn't entirely opinion based but these thoughts play a major role. However, any student in this study must make certain their opinion is refined by the science within the study of psychology, simply to diminish any bias the proposed opinion holds. Now, people can't adhere to this basic rule of refinement because this intentional bias is established by the misconception that our personal opinions are the foundation of this study. It is these types of opinions that take less effort to formulate and are easier to prove because "it's my opinion" and we are all "entitled to our opinion". These opinions are what make us experts on the study of psychology. However, we are not experts on this study because the bias we hold for our personal opinions remain present due to the idea that our thoughts are the forebearers of psychology. It's interesting that even in this complex science, we make room to be proud human beings. As students, we must adhere to the science in the study of psychology, but who wants to hear that their opinion is wrong?

Briggs, Kathleen. "Intro to Psych." University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Willey Hall 175. 19 January 2012.


Many people throughout history have tried to establish why we act the way we do. Is it because we were born this way or has our environment carved us into the person we are today? The nurture vs. nature debate has been a controversial issue that tries to discern if our behaviors are endorsed primarly from our genes or the environment that we are placed into. Early researchers, such as philosopher John Locke, believed that when a child is born the mind is tabula rasa (meaning "blank slate") and our environment was the primary contribution to an individual's mannerisms and characteristics. It wasn't till the later 20th century, due to the contribution of research on twins separated at birth along with adoption studies, that our behavior can also be interlocked with our genes as well (such as intelligence, interests, personality, and mental illness).
This issue has fascinated me ever since I read the novel "Lord of the Flies" in sixth grade. The author, William Golding, places a group of well-behaved boys on a desert island, whereas they are taken out of society's light of strict standards and given no rules. A theme of the story is that naturally we are savages and society is what crafts us into civility, yet it still poses the conflicting idea (due that certain characters in the story remained non-violent) that not all people are naturally born to cause destruction. Thus leaving a reader a mixed review on what shapes our behaviors.
As for me, I walk the line of the equilibrium and believe that both nurture and nature has crafts the personality of individuals. Yet, for those who disagree I am always open for discussion...

-Kathryn Petzel

As you sit in class today pay attention to some of the thoughts you may be having and the things may be doing. Are they any different then the things you may be thinking or doing when you are at home alone or with familiar faces? Well they should be, based off this Chapter being in group situations affects the way we behave. Social Psychologist aim to help us understand why we do certain things given certain circumstances or situations in society. Such as why we aim to form groups rather than being alone? Much of social psychology is based off of what happens when people find themselves in groups. I found most interesting within this chapter to be the sections on Cults and Mass Hysteria. Mass hysteria is kind of like an outbreak of the flu, but instead of the flu it consists of irrational behavior. This is a type of social contagion, as the word social contagion suggests, social behavior is contagious. The example given in the book is very interesting, that of the mass hysteria outbreak of UFOs. It is shown by graphs in the book that a greater amount of UFO sightings were reported around the time society became more aware of space travel. Newspapers didn't even get the right description of UFOs down, for during one of the first sightings they were described as being shaped like

Cults are extreme cases of groupthinking, an example of a well known cult would be Heavens gate, where 39 people commited suicide in hope of being taken in the after life to a spaceship the was trailing a comet that was approaching earth. This idea is obviously irrational, yet 39 people killed themselves over just because a person told them it was the truth. I found the ways cults promoted groupthink to be very interesting. These are having a persuasive leader who fosters loyalty; disconnecting group members from the outside world; discouraging questioning of the groups assumptions; and establishing training practices the gradually indoctrinate members.moonwedding.jpg

It's very typical for anyone to think of the, "watch in hand, swinging back-and-forth" when the subject of hypnosis is brought up. These are the images that are usually linked to this method of psychological state of mind that we still today, do not completely understand. But what is hypnosis? And how can we use it?

Hypnosis uses the particular techniques of altering the conscious mind to feel and see certain things. Hypnotists throughout the centuries have continued to use the same methods, due to the suggestion that hypnotic effect has been able to treat many psychological conditions such as anything from emotional pain to smoking cessation. Although these therapeutic benefits suggest that hypnosis is more than just a pseudoscience, many professional hypnotists have transformed this clinical practice into a source of entertainment. Throughout history, hypnotism has not been just sought out for psychological treatment, but for laughs and fascination among good company.hypnosis 2.jpg

Most people probably realize that animals and even humans can be conditioned to do things using positive and negative reinforcement. This idea of learning from implied benefits can be classified as operant conditioning. Another type of conditioning is classical conditioning. In this case, people or animals are repeatedly given two specific things together, causing them to subconsciously relate those two things whether they are similar or not. When one of the two items is presented, the person will automatically respond as if both items were present. This is different from operant conditioning, where the response is voluntary. There are also biological influences on learning such as taste aversions and phobias. Many learning fads exist as well, but whether they work or not is a hard question to answer. All individuals tend to have their own way of learning, thus making it difficult to pinpoint any one way of learning to be the best.


One thing I found interesting about this chapter was the results of a study about heroine addiction. It found that of a group of 451 people who became addicted to heroine while in Vietnam, 86% of them overcame the addiction shortly after returning to America. That leaves only 14% that remained addicted. I find this study hard to believe considering that heroine is not only a physical, but also a medical addiction. However, I can think of times in my own life when a particular place or occasion has an affect on the way I feel or act. For example, I have experienced times when I have been really upset about something at school and then when I get home it almost seems as if the problem no longer exists. This leads me to believe that I subconsciously associate my bad experiences with the place that I am at when they occur.

You're Only Fooling Yourself

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Have you ever gone to the doctor for an injury, but were told it was just minor and there was nothing they could do for you, yet you seemed to be in less pain afterwards? If you have, you're not alone. Although you may not have received any treatment, the pain may have seemed less intense than before seeing the doctor. This can be explained by a phenomenon called retrospective rewriting of the past. Since you were expecting to feel better after seeing the doctor, your memory of the pain before arriving changes to make it seem like the pain was worse before. However, you may be fooling yourself into believing you got better after seeing a doctor.

Some people treated with psychotherapies have similar experiences. It is interesting how people can trick themselves into believing they have improved and therapy worked, when in reality it did not. Understanding this phenomenon is important for therapists in deciding which therapies are effective and which ones are not.

ken-jennings-overlords.jpg So what if I asked you who is more intelligent, the most successful Jeopardy contestant ever or one of the greatest pioneers in the physical sciences? Actually, it is a trick question, both Jennings and Einstein are geniuses, but in different types of intelligence. Jennings ability to quickly recall seemingly useless facts and tidbits of knowledge is an example of his excellent crystallized intelligence. However, Einstein demonstrates an ability to find new ways of solving and answering problems. This ability to solve totally new problems is fluid intelligence. It is important to understand the different types of intelligence because it broadens the spectrum of who is considered a genius and what is considered knowledge and expertise.

The amount of known mental disorders grows yearly and the amount of medicines and treatments to solve or dissipate the effects of them grows even faster. Public perceptions and treatment of people with these disorders has changed greatly as society has evolved. Beliefs of demons and resulting persecution and isolation were ushered out to create more common methods of help and deinstitutionalization in the 1960's. This led to the common practices of diagnosis and treatment to help people inflicted by psychological disorders.

A piece that was very interesting to me was the differences seen in these diseases as psychologists look across cultures, known as culture-bond disorders. The case of periodic outbreaks of Koro was listed in the book as only been seen in asian countries such as India and China, while much of the Western world has not seen this disorder. However, most psychological disorders appear in many cultures.

Also interesting was the fact stated that many anxiety disorders have been proven to be genetically influenced. Certain people inherit genes that influence their level of neuroticism. This makes them more high strung more likely to creates a situation for excessive worrying. The thought that this could be passed down was foreign to me.

Furthermore, the sheer amount of disorders (over 50 listed in the book alone) was hard to miss. Whether it be mood, anxiety, eating, sleep, personality, adjustment, or substance related disorders, it was just shocking to see how many disorders are out there. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, every year 25% of the US adult, and 20% of teen population is treated or diagnosed with a psychological disorder. That doesn't even include those who have one and aren't diagnosed. The numbers don't lie and they were represented well in chapter 15.

In psychology, many things can be considered psychological disorders, whether it be something very severe such as being bipolar, or something as everyday as having anxiety. There are many different kinds and causes to take into account when determining psychological disorders, and chapter 15 explores many of them. The idea and treatment of mental illnesses have changed throughout time, and now many other illnesses are recognized as being problematic. One of the disorders that is particularly well described is OCD, which is something that has been very popularized by TV, and has been made out recently to not be as severe as it possibly can be. One of the TV shows that captures the life of someone with true OCD is A&E's obsessed. The beginning of the video below is one that shows the life of someone with ritual OCD and how it truly controls his everyday life.

Chapter 3

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686px-PLoSBiol4.e126.Fig6fNeuron.jpgChapter 3 is essentially an overview of the biological aspect of psychology. It discusses synapses, neurons, and basically just discusses the chemistry of the brain, as well as the brain's cellular composition. It discusses the brain's various lobes and cortexes, and goes over their respective roles. One of the more disappointing discoveries I made when scanning this chapter is that contrary to popular belief, the brain is often running at its full capacity. Unfortunately, this discovery renders the movie "Limitless" pretty much useless. I also thought that the part discussing the Nature vs. Nurture debate was interesting. The Nature vs. Nurture debate is based around who has a greater influence in deciding the person that you will become. Is it predestined (nature)? Or are your interests and personality determined by your parents (nurture)? While the popular sentiment is the both play a role in dictating who a person becomes, the scientific community remains far from a consensus.

Generally, humans are quite a judgmental species, always trying to understand others before getting a chance to really get to know them. The technical term for these mental shortcuts is "heuristics." In most cases, heuristics are quite helpful and allow you to make sense of what is going on around you. But when applying heuristics to humans, you shouldn't be so quick to judge.

The first type of heuristic is the "representativeness heuristic." This heuristic involves people judging the probability of an event based on what we have seen in similar events. The textbook gives an example of guessing someone's major based on their personal characteristics, despite the base rate of the two majors (i.e. psychology and Asian American Studies). The base rate is how common a characteristic is.

The other type of heuristic is the "availability heuristic." This essentially means we estimate the likelihood of an event based on how easy it comes to our minds. One example is estimating the number of murders in Michigan vs. the number of murders in Detroit. Astonishingly, people estimate more murders in one city in Michigan than the entire state! Here is a video that many teens can relate to.

bayerlarge.jpgOne of the main issues discussed in Chapter Two is the importance of sound research methods. The field of psychology is ever changing, so when psychologists conduct experiments they must make sure that the experiments follow a few simple rules. A few of these rules are that experiments must be valid, they must be reliable, be free of cognitive biases, and have good data.

What does this all mean? Well validity simply means that the measurements used assesses what it was intended or claimed to measure. Reliability may seem like the same thing as validity but it actually is not. Reliability has to do with how consistently something is measured. Finally, cognitive biases are systematic errors in the way that we think. They can include overconfidence about the data collected, or about what the end result of the experiment will be. This cognitive bias can have a great affect on the outcomes of experiments.

A new article that was just published in the New York Times illustrates the importance of scientists reporting unbiased and sound data. This article is titled Daily Aspirin Is Not for Everyone, Study Suggests. This study shows that the original experiment of taking Asprin to prevent headaches was flawed. The study did not follow some of the most basic research methods that are covered in out textbook. The article and new study suggest that there was not enough random selection in this experiment, that it was not valid, and because some drug industries were backing it, the original study could have cognitive biases. The article concludes with the warning that taking Asprin too much can actually harm people more than help them.

For the science of psychology to advance scientists must be honest, skeptical, and take good data. If they do not follow basic research methods many individuals could be hurt.

body language

Along with other general types of communication, the body language has also being considered as one of the richest way to express human emotions. In some situation, it could even be selected as the best way for expression. In the textbook, there was a discussion about the importance of nonverbal cues which including the body language. The author suggested that there is a possibility for embarrassing communication to arise if no nonverbal expressions exist in our life. But this does not particularly refers to body language. For some reason, its position seemed to be challenged by other types of cues.
One reason could be the differences in understanding for different groups of people. Same as other types of expressions, the body language also has its cultural differences cross countries and areas. The assignment of meaning to the body movements is based on the culture's tradition. Therefore, the body language may not accurately reflect our actual emotion, and would cause a misunderstanding. The second reason is that some other nonverbal cues may be easier to be used in today's main communicating medias.
From my point of view, the body language played an major role in the old time, and it is necessary to use it in the modern times as well. Its special functions enriched our lifetime communication to avoid embarrassment in some situation. Although it seems that other nonverbal cues have taken more advantages in new medias like online-chat and email, body language still plays an important role, because people still have to have face-to-face communications.

Chapter three deals with several interesting topics: transmission of neurons inside of the brain, the functional roles inside of the brain and how they are related to specific parts of the body, and human genetics. Each of the lobes of the brain are described in detail, as well as each component of the central nervous system.
The concept that I found most intriguing in this chapter is the idea of lateralization in the brain--that is, the separation of cognitive functions to one hemisphere of the brain or the other. What was really interesting, though, is the idea that a person may be able to fully function with only one hemisphere in the brain. Page 112 talks about the ability for children that undergo such a surgery--that is, removing half of their brain--are sometimes able to teach, in essence, the remaining hemisphere of the brain how to perform the functions performed by the removed hemisphere. This was a shocking, yet cheerful, thing to read about.

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We do indeed start the process of language-learning while still in our mother's womb. This tends to happen by about the fifth month of pregnancy. At this point in time our auditory systems are well enough developed to start this process. With our auditory systems developed we start to recognize our mother's voice. We recognize certain characteristics of it. That is pretty crazy. It gets even crazier. We can start to even recognize things like stories and songs that they have heard repeatedly.

Researchers found this out by testing newborn infants on their ability to make out and distinguish sounds. One of methods they use id referred to as the "high amplitude sucking procedure". It is a common behavior for newborn infants to suck, that's why we give them pacifiers. Sucking directly correlates to familiarity. Research shows that even at only two days of life, newborn infants suck more on a pacifier when they hear their mother's voice and native language. Even though it is at such an early age, newborns already prefer their mother's native language. It is an incredible thing that we do all of this so early on.

This theory describes a correlation between emotions and bodily functions. And says that an emotion-provoking event leads to both an emotion and bodily reactions occurring at the exact same moment. So if the stimulus is seeing someone you have not seen in a while you may feel happy and smile simultaneously. I think this is an interesting theory as emotion-provoking events are often memories that people will remember for a long time.

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ADHD, OCD, insanity...between the media and the public, having a psychological disorder seems to be the next most popular fact in a person's life. Comedies and reality programs often take these serious topics and turn them into entertainment for their audiences. In the age where people can easily be influence by the public, it seems that everyone has some abnormal behavior.

Obsessive compulsion disorder (OCD) - the irrational need to do something repetitively - is one of the more popularized psychological disorders, often highlighted in the news and on the screen. One example is the television show, Monk, which chronicles the life of an ex-police detective, Adrian Monk, who has OCD. Although meant to be comical, the show addresses many topics that people with OCD can relate to such as needing everything to be in a specific order or becoming overly fearful of germs.

With all of this attention, does the media spotlight these psychological disorders for all the right or for all the wrong reasons?

It has not always been known that the brain is the organ which creates our thoughts. Many ancient cultures thought that the heart was the organ which created mental activity. We now understand that the brain is a wonderful and complicated organ which is made up of neurons. These neurons communicate with each other through chemical reactions, and communicate within themselves through electric activity. These communications are what we commonly call thought.

It is generally accepted in psychology that our nervous systems have the ability to change and grow. These changes are most likely to occur during early childhood years as the brain has yet to fully develop.
The central nervous system encompasses the brain and spinal cord. Scientists divide it into six different sections which all do different things to control the body. These six sections are: the cortex, the basal ganglia, the limbic system, the cerebellum, the brain stem and the spinal cord.
A system similar to, but not connected with the nervous system is the endocrine system. This system controls the release of hormones and molecules which control certain organs. Three main types of glands including the pituitary glands, the adrenal glands and the sexual reproductive glands supply many of the most essential hormones which tell our body what to do.

How Should I Greet You?

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How would you greet a stranger when you meet in another country? With a wave? A kiss? A hug? What is the most appropriate answer? The answer varies within different cultures. Different cultures reacts differently to each gestures because of the different emotions associated with the gestures you make. A greeting can also be a tradition practice within the culture. It is important to know when to apply the appropriate greeting because using the wrong greeting can sometimes be considered offensive. When traveling to another country with different cultures, you should research the greeting etiquette so that you will know how to properly greet others in different cultures.

Gene Expression

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For most of us, our knowledge of genes is pretty slim. The extent of what we know is that they are passed down to us from our parents, they make up characteristics of our behavior and appearance, and we cannot control them. Whether it be your father's temper, or your mothers "good looks", everyone deals with the positive and negative affects genes bring sooner or later in life. Every one of the roughly 100 trillion cells in our bodies contains every one of our genes. I always assumed that since genes are always present, they are always in action. However, I was wrong.
As it turns out, environmental experiences actually turn genes on and off throughout development. This phenomenon is called gene expression; it is considered one of the most significant discoveries in psychology over the past several decades. Our genes act as an "on" and "off" switch. Only some of them are active at any given time, and it sometimes takes environmental experiences to flip their switches to "on."
Our text books shares an example of this. Children with genes that predispose them to anxiety may never become anxious unless a highly stressful event, like the death of a family member in early development, triggers these genes to become active.

therapy.jpgTherapy for the body has been practiced essentially since the beginning of human history, but therapy for the mind, or psychotherapy, has only been practiced seriously since the early twentieth century. In many ways, the stereotypes of psychotherapy sessions are correct: a patient laying on a couch talking about his past while a therapist sits behind him trying to make sense of the patient's memories. Although there may not be a couch, this stereotype encompasses the general process of a psychotherapy session. The patient is encouraged to talk about whatever comes to his mind, a process called 'free association.' The therapist then attempts to interpret these thoughts, along with the patient's dreams, and deduce what is disturbing the patient. The patient may initially resist the process, and may even project emotions from their past onto the therapist. Eventually, though, the process is usually very effective.

Ink My Whole Body?

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Ever wonder how that last rap artist you listened to managed to cover his body with tattoos and live to tell the tale after the pain of your first tattoo? The answer lies in a psychological concept known as sensory adaptation. Sensory adaptation means that activation is greatest when a stimulus is first detected. Sure, that first tattoo hurt, but as one gets more and more tattoos, their absolute threshold level, or the lowest level of a stimulus needed for the nervous system to detect a change 50 percent of the time, is increased. So by the time Wiz Khalifa or Lil' Wayne was getting their latest tattoo, they barely felt a thing.wiz22.jpg

This chapter answers the age-old question of what causes us to form social groups and why they are important. Social acceptance and interactions were crucial to our evolution but not all aspects of it are helpful. Consider UFO sightings

This a great example of what can go wrong when you rely on the group too much. The group assumes that UFO's exists and through the use of confirmation bias they discount data that proves them wrong ( satellites, other planets, military aircraft, etc.)

However there are other times when it makes sense to listen to the group. If you are less informed on an issue and the group is more informed it makes sense for you to listen to them over yourself even if they might be wrong. psychology teaches us how to evaluate the situation and whether we should support the group or dissent.

Professor say what??

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So you are sitting in your 8am class surrounded by other students. You're kind of tired and you didn't do the reading last night because you were too busy catching up on your Netflix queue. Your professor keeps talking and talking and you are staring at the clock lost in your own thoughts. When suddenly, you hear your name and you find the whole class and the professor staring at you, anxiously waiting for a response that you don't have.

Has this ever happened to you? Ever wonder why you can't remember what your professor just asked you?

Well, you've been a victim of selective attention. What is that you may ask? Selective attention is what allows us to tune things in or out, like a radio. It's why In class you may tune into the students having a side conversation about the Kardashians but have absolutely no clue what the professor asks you 2 seconds later. Selective attention is our way of managing all the stimuli that gets thrown at us on a daily basis by filtering out the important from the unimportant.

So next time you are in class, try to tune your selective attention to the professor (even if the subject is boring) so you won't get caught being lost in your thoughts.

For a bit of fun, test your selective attention with this video.

Although it may be a phrase that can probably be highly contested considering what we've normally considered it to be- common sense; it still exists within psychology. I bring this up because I always had hunch that if you want to be right, you're going to make sure you're right no matter what. People won't often just give up on an argument even if they are being terribly beaten. However, upon reading more about the confirmation bias in CH 1, I've begun to notice it more often in myself and in others.

I won't go into specifics, but because of our belief perseverance, confirmation bias just kind of comes as second nature to all of us, which is understandable. I've noticed though, that in noticing this about myself, I've done more in depth thinking about critical issues or even, petty issues, that I previously had not done before. I find this to be pretty interesting, and also falling along the lines of the fundamental attribution error (which I learned about in Global Politics last semester, but I'm certain we'll cover it in Psy 1001) which is basically that when looking at the world and what and how people do things, others do things because of who they are, and your own self does things because of a situation.

Anyway, I found those connections to be interesting; it seems that one's own subconscious mind will go to many lengths to confirm what one thinks.


Many of us have had those moments where you come across a place or done something that seems awful familiar even though you are sure you have never been there or done that before. That extremely odd sensation you feel is Deja Vu.

The world Deja Vu is French for "already seen". More than two-thirds of us have had this feeling one or more times. Studies have shown that instances of Deja Vu are more frequently reported by people who remember their dreams, travel frequently, are young, have a college education, and a high income.

There are a few different explanations for this sensation. One possible cause of Deja Vu is when a situation in the present resembles a previous one. The feeling of familiarity comes onto us because we do not consciously remember the previous situation, which could have happened when we are not paying close attention to what we're seeing and therefore we would not remember it consciously. A surplus of the neurotransmitter dopamine is also believed to play a role in Deja Vu experiences. Some believe that Deja Vu is a memory from a past life, but this cause cannot be tested by science.

A Problem in Aviation

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It is unbelievable that we trust pilots to take people to locations from point a to point b safely everyday when in fact most pilots fail to notice another plane taxiing across the runway as they are trying to land. Sounds pretty hazardous to me.

This weird phenomenon is also known as change blindness: a failure to detect obvious changes in one's environment. Gratefully special psychologists are with aviation to reduce this problem from getting worse. In addition, inattentional blindness: lack of detecting stimuli in plain sight when our attention is focused elsewhere, goes hand in hand with change blindness. Studies, as the picture above displays, have shown that people could not even see a moonwalking monkey go across the frame as the viewer were to focus and count on the number of passes being tossed around. Although this does display some sort of inattentional blindness, does the fact that the monkey was black as was the black team a sort of disguise and therefore even harder to spot? Does this interfere with the test data? And is this a serious problem in today's society?

Have you ever wondered if you could have turned out to be a different person just by living in another state or country?

happy-kids.jpg Let's say growing up you may genetically be born with a disease but still be a perfect person as long as the environment you lived in was not harmful. But imagine you were living in a malnourished environment where physical abuse is present and your parents treated you poorly as well. That disease could potentially become your worst nightmare in effect.

Psychologists have come to a conclusion that nature and nurture go almost always hand in hand, which means that you are the person you have become because of the environment you grew up in and because of your heritage. Although this doesn't mean that there aren't other factors, it just means there's a lot that contributes to human development.

This is an interesting concept because in my own experience, my sister and I also are really different people even though we both grew up together but the big difference was that we went to different schools and had a two year age gap in between so we saw things differently. Therefore that had more to do with nurture than nature.

Looking at a person or a picture, one is usually to judge about how they see a person or a picture. Sometimes we can usually pinpoint some, if not most characteristics of a person or picture. Naïve realism is the concept that I think is most interesting in this chapter. This picture, found in the book, caught and kept my attention after reading this chapter.


This picture looks completely normal because of naïve realism. Naïve realism means that we see things how we think we see them. Looking at this picture it looks almost the same but when you flip it around it is completely different. I find naïve realism interesting because everyone looks at a person or picture and thinks they really know all the answers, but when looked at more carefully, it can turn out to be opposite.


It is important to see that there are many different ways to cope with stress because different coping methods do not work the same for different people. One way to cope with stress is by using social support. Social support provides comfort for people by encompanying interpersonal relationships with people in the community. Through several studies researchers found that the less social support that people had in their life, the more likely they were to die earlier on. Social support is important because it shows people that they are not alone and other people are dealing with the same problems that they are.

Another coping method is gaining control. There are five types of control included in gaining control according to the textbook "Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding," and those include: Behavioral, Cognitive, Decisional, Informational, and Emotional control. Behavioral control involves being able to reduce stressful situations or preventing it all together. Cognitive control is the ability to think of negative situations in a different manner. Decisional control is the ability to choose different methods of coping. Informational control is the ability to learn more about stressful events and how to handle them. Emotional control is the ability to share emotions. Also, catharsis can be beneficial in coping with stress. Catharsis means sharing painful feelings. It can help people because it helps people make situations better, but it can also make people feel helpless because they might see they cannot fix their situation. People can also cope with stress by being optimistic, having core spiritual values, and being hardy.


Over 50,000 students study at the University of Minnesota, with each student [hopefully] feeling accomplished even being accepted in an institution with such high standards for acceptance. Although we may not realize, our Intelligence was tested, scored, stored, and most probably a deciding factor in our admission decision. Measures of intelligence are incorporated into placement tests, ACT's and SAT's and several other forms of testing. I find this interesting because these simple tests can provide insight as to how well a student can preform in their courses. Also, influences in our environment can raise our Intelligence. With correlations between how well we can do, and potentially raising IQ's from a very young age, future generations potential have no cap upon them.

You betcha

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Minnesota. The beautiful state we live in. If you're from here, you might pronounce "Minnesota" with more emphasis on the "o" than someone from another state. Different dialects of English are spoken all around the United States and the world. A dialect is a difference in the same language between one place and another. The differences can be in how you say a word or what word you call something. For example, different dialects use different words for things like carbonated beverages: pop, soda, Coke, and tonic.

Speakers of dialects other than the most common version are not saying anything wrong. They are following patterns in their speech, just as the "mainstream" dialect of English does. Just because someone talks a little slower than you does not mean they are a little slower. Dialects are fun and interesting. They make people different. Different is good.

In Chapter 7, I found it very interesting how humans retain information differently, depending on how it is perceived. People are typically more capable of retaining echoic memories (sound) for longer (about 5 to 10 seconds), compared to iconic memory (visual) in which people only hold onto for a second.

Also, once these things are in our short-term memory, which again is brief, they begin to decay, and be interfered with by new incoming memories. In order to retain information longer, "chunking" and "rehearsal" methods can be used. I found this part the most informative, because I find myself using an "elaborative rehearsal" technique it for schoolwork concepts. This technique utilizes relating or manipulating the new information to other information stored. Once you understand how your brain and how it remembers information, you can better retain information for future tests!

There are exceptions to normal human memory, one case is of a man who is autistic but displays a skill of eidetic imagery, or photographic memory.

There are many different types of therapy that are used to treat people with psychological disorders such as depression. An extreme treatment that is usually only used when nothing else has worked is called electroconvulsive therapy. This therapy consists of giving the patient a muscle relaxer and an anesthetic and then delivering brief electrical pulses to their brain. This process increases serotonin levels in the brain and helps treat severe depression that other treatments could not help. I think this treatment is really interesting because many people believe that it is scary and not healthy. In reality many patients said that their experiences with ECT were no scarier than a trip to the dentist office. The film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" shows an old version of electroconvulsive therapy which makes it look like a negative unwanted treatment. This clip along with the thought that it is unhealthy, both contribute to why there is such a negative feeling towards this treatment.


Chapter thirteen begins to go over the field of social psychology and what it entails. One key aspect of this chapter is the art of obedience and the psychology behind following orders. Stanley Milgram played a key role in the understanding of the principles underlying irrational group behavior. One of his most famous and controversial experiments emphasized the obedience of authority and shed some light on how a man like Adolf Hitler could convince so many people to commit unspeakable crimes. In the experiment, a "learner" would walk into a room and strap his arm to a shock plate. Then, a person that the experiment was testing would read a question. If the "learner" answered the question correctly, the reader would do nothing. If the "learner" answered incorrectly, the reader was to shock the "learner" using a shock generator, increasing the voltage for each wrong answer. Although the "reader" could not see the "learner" being shocked, sounds of agony could be heard through the wall. Due to the "doctors" reassurance, every single person being tested went up to at least 150 volts, and three out of every five people showed complete compliance by going all the way up to 450 volts.


In chapter 6 the textbook briefly explains operant conditioning. Operant conditioning basically means learning controlled by the consequences of the organism's behavior. I am mainly focusing on superstitious behavior. Superstitious behavior means actions linked to reinforcement by sheer coincidence. Athletes are more prone to superstitions than other people. This is likely because many sporting events depend heavily on chance. Although operant conditioning isn't entirely responsible for superstitions, it definitely plays an important role.



How many of the following behaviors do you perform?
- Never opening an umbrella indoors
- Not walking under a ladder
- Crossing the street whenever you see a black cat
- Carrying a lucky charm or necklace
- Going out of your way not to step on cracks in a sidewalk
- Knocking on wood
- Crossing your fingers
- Avoiding the number 13

According to the textbook, 12 percent of Americans are afraid of walking under a ladder, while 14 percent are afraid of crossing paths with a black cat. When I read through these superstitions I realized that I am more superstitious than I thought. Out of the eight superstitions above, I perform five. I didn't find it surprising that many athletes are extremely superstitious. I grew up watching and playing several sports so that gave me a lot of insight on how players acted on and off the field, rink, etc. I myself am guilty of superstitious behavior as an athlete. It is truly fascinating the tremendous array of "games" our minds play with us, telling us to do or not to do a certain thing because it could potentially control the outcome.

One of the things I found interesting in Chapter 9 was how IQ tests have changed the Psychology world since they were developed. So much so that the American Academy for the Advancement of Science listed the IQ test in the top 20 of greatest scientific achievements in the twentieth century. The IQ tests have become so popular that they have even spread into preschools. If you would like, you could have your child take the WPPSI test, pronounced WHIP-see. The reason I find all of this interesting is because it amazes me that we have reached a point in science where we are able to evaluate a persons intelligence. Imagine if we could do that for other things such as put a number on how exactly athletic someone is or how caring one person is compared to another. I think I would agree that IQ tests are one of the biggest scientific achievements of all time.

What's your personality?

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How do you typically think, feel, and behave? Personality can be measured using the Big Five which consist of 5 main traits; Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. These traits are used to predict personalities all around the world. One main thing I found to be fascinating was the case study of Jack and Oskar, two identical twins that were separated at birth. They reunited many years later and found their personalities to be almost identical but their political views differed greatly. Where they born with these similar personality traits? If so, how did they maintain such similar traits when they were apart for so long? These are questions that arise and are answered as you read through chapter 14.


The Fascinating Brain

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The brain is probably the most complicated part of our body. It is our brain that makes our entire body function and is the machine causing all of our decisions and actions. However, what many people may not know is that the actions and decisions we make are constructed in different regions of the brain. And not all parts of the brain are working at the same time. For different types of activities people do, different parts of the brain are stimulated. Take listening to music for example, listening to inspiring music leads to more activity in the amygdala and other limbic regions of the brain then anywhere else.
This is not the only time that the brain works in mysterious ways. Contrary to what one might think, the right side of the body is controlled by the left side of the brain and the left side of the body is controlled by the right side of the brain. Interesting to think that when I close my left eye, the image I see with my right eye is actually being seen in the left side of my brain. These split hemispheres also can work amazing miracles. There have been multiple cases of accidents were one of the brain's hemispheres has been destroyed, yet the individual has been able to continue to survive through the other hemisphere of the brain. For an example of this here is a video about a little girl named Cameron who is surviving with only half a brain:
As you can see the brain is one of, if not the most, extraordinary parts of the body. It is the key to our decision making and actions and it has fascinating ways of working.

Who would have thought there was more to sleeping than a blanket a pair of good underpants and maybe a pillow (for those who like support on their necks).
A bunch of psychologists decided to watch people sleep, and thus the truths about sleep and our consciousness came to being.


Sleeping is a multistage process, five in total. Ranging from being on the brink of being asleep to being in deep slumbers. The interesting thing is we fluctuate between these stages while sleeping.

People experience sleep disorders, like insomnia where they are unable to sleep, or Narcolepsy where people just fall asleep suddenly.

Dreams are an important part of sleep, and various ideas express their purpose. Freud described them as "Repressed Uncontentious Wishes" while the Activation-Synthesis Theory suggests that dreams are merely from brain activity while sleeping, so the signals are incomplete.


Between the basic understanding of the human sleep process, to the various disorders effecting beneficial rest, chapter 5 of our consciousness should be a eye opening adventure.

Wether it be your habit to go off on an anger rant, feel alienated in large groups or feel anxious during stressful situations, these habits are part of your daily behavioral patterns and at often times difficult to change. Your daily habits reflect your personality, as well as your typical way of thinking, feeling and behaving in society. Some of these habits come from a cluster of predispositions called traits, which influence consistencies in our behavior that make us the unique beings that we are.

So, the next question is, are these personality traits shaped directly from our environment in which we were raised? The famous University of Minnesota twin studies examined about 130 pairs of twins to identify wether personality is a result of shared environmental factors- experiences that make individuals within the same family more alike, or nonshared environmental factors- experiences that make individuals in the same family less alike. Psychologists found that the shared environment of the identical or fraternal twins reared apart often plays little or no role in adult personality, indicating that personality is in fact primarily hereditary, just like height and eye color.

For example, Gerald Levey and Mark Newman, two identical twins separated at birth both show striking similarities in personality and daily habits after 32 years living apart. The first three minutes of the video below shows the uncanny parallelity of their lives after they finally meet each other .

This mind boggling study in psychology is one that has surprised psychologists all over the world. Gerald and Mark are just one example of two twins separated at birth, yet there continue to be people living all over the world who have an unknown counterpart living a similar lifestyle. As this course progresses I hope to delve deeper into the fascinating phenomenon of personality traits and this world famous study that was created right here at the University of Minnesota many years ago.

Pay Attention!

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Memory is a fascinating subject to think about and discuss. While our memories can come in very handy in certain situations, there are many times when we are distracted or do not take the time to process information around us, leading us to forget people's names or other important things they tell us. For example, perhaps you never did the dishes like your parents asked to you because you were busy thinking about your plans for the weekend. Or perhaps you couldn't come up with an answer when a teacher called on you in class because you were nervous about being called on in the first place. Distractions, such as our nerves or excitement, can keep us from paying attention to what is around us. The first process of memory, which is called encoding, never actually happens in these types of situations. The encoding process is getting information into the memory.

Here is a popular memory activity called "Common Cents"

This test shows how our memories can be tricky. When I first tried it I was rather confident in which penny I thought was the real one, but I ended up being wrong. It demonstrates how our minds do not always pay attention to details, even when it pertains to an object we see in everyday life.

I think it is important to understand the role of attention in memory because it is very easy to become distracted in our everyday lives. We are constantly being distracted by our cell phones and computers, that many times it causes us not to pay attention to our environments, or even conversations that we are a part of. Although I know it would be very difficult to eliminate all distractions, especially when these distractions are our own emotions, being aware of this information can help us to pay better attention, and perhaps improve our memories.

In this Chapter, we talked about stress, how to deal with it and the related health issue. There are few interesting points in this chapter. First, stress is not just a negative effect in all kinds of circumstances. Some stressful situations that touch the lives of an entire community can increase social awareness and cement interpersonal bonds. Second, people really discovered certain scales to evaluate different stages of stress, according to major life events and hassles. I find out that people really get stressed all the time from everywhere. Which lead us to the third interesting point. People actually heal themselves when they feel stressful unconsciously. Simply from distract ourselves by doing many work, talking more with our friends to writing the diary, doing meditation orderly, these are all the ways people coping with stress.

Chapter Nine

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The topic discussed in chapter nine of the book is "Intelligence and IQ testing." As you can assume this chapter talks about what intelligence is defined as, the different types of intelligence and the history of IQ testing.
The different intelligence types and history of IQ testing explains that even though we have come a long way in this field of study, there is still a lot that is theory or unknown. It is important to study this field so we can know exactly what intelligence is and how we can accurately determine what type of intelligence each person possesses and why. If we could determine what percentage of logic each person had between analytical, practical or creative, that would be very helpful so students know how they should study to best understand the material. Analytical is reasoning logic, practical is used to solve real world problems and creative is used to come up with answers to questions.

Greg Garrison


Chapter 1:

Experimenting through research is supposedly the deciding factor in disproving or supporting a theory. So this would mean that research is completely scientific and unbiased, right? In reality though, this is not the case. A big problem that researchers face is confirmation bias, which is the tendency to pay more attention to evidence that supports a certain theory and to twist evidence that may contradict the theory.

Confirmation bias is a difficult obstacle to overcome because it is present in our everyday lives. We experience this type of bias when we are considering politicians for a position in office. Our preconceptions about the candidates make us view their mistakes as either horrible or forgivable depending on our previous opinions. Confirmation bias is also present when we are watching a game between two rival teams. Fans of the different teams could watch the same game and have completely different opinions about the performance of each team.

This idea is intriguing because confirmation bias is present in a variety of areas in our lives. This raises the question, how can anyone claim that a "fact" is truly indisputable? Because of confirmation bias it may be wise to reconsider some of the facts that we know today. It is possible that the reason they have not been disproven is that we have prejudices about these facts. We believe that facts must be true and therefore we disregard any abstract way of viewing evidence that could potentially disprove a fact.

Learning with Learning Fads

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Chapter 6: Learning Fads
Learning is a process that takes time and effort. Mental health professionals have come up with numerous techniques that are meant to assist is learning at a quicker and simpler pace. There are four techniques they came up with.
Sleep-assisted learning is learning new material as you sleep. Some studies have shown positive results but they did find that while fully asleep, people didn't learn any different from those who learn regularly.
Accelerated learning is using small techniques to allow yourself to learn faster than normal. These techniques are telling people they will learn more quickly, visualizing information, and breathing in a regular rhythm.
Discovery learning is giving an experimental material and asking the person to figure out the scientific principles on their own. Discovery can help people to educate themselves and learn in a more thorough way.
Learning Styles are one's own preferred means of learning information. (Holistic, verbal, analytical). It can help to use the best way of learning for each person, but does not greatly affect learning all together.

I wanted to blog about this because from experience, learning is a broad category. People learn in different ways. I'm more of a straight forward learning that likes to be told the information but also see visuals. Then I can go back and learn in more depth by myself. While it's always good to find new techniques to improve learning, I believe it is a mixture of different techniques along with the type of person you are dealing with.

Tip-Of-The-Tongue Phenomenon

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In order to best explain the TOT phenomenon, it is best that I show a simple example of this first:
Teacher says, "Trent, what is the name of the gigantic Ferris wheel in London?"
Trent says, "Ah, I know it, I know it! (Looks up at the ceiling and ponders for several minutes) For some reason I just can't think of it, it's just on the tip-of-my-tongue though!"

Now I'm sure most or all of you have had a similar experience like this, one time in your life, and just feel like complete idiots for not being able to retrieve the answer you are looking for in the back of your mind. Once again, this is most commonly referred to as the Tip-Of-The-Tongue Phenomenon. This is the feeling a person gets when they are certain they know what the word, person, or place is, but they are unable to recall or say it. TOT appears to be present in just about any person out there today, but the interesting fact I found was that TOT is really age-dependable, which means that it is more common in older than younger people. This is why some scientists believe that TOT is connected to the mental diseases known as Alzheimer's and Dementia. There is not one common explanation for this phenomenon, but some believe TOT is connected to the Semantic memory portion of our brains, which deals with the interpretation of the meaning of words.

tip of tongue.jpg

What I found most interesting was that there are actually different tests to do to test for TOT phenomenon. I thought people would like to know about this because I'm sure they have had this experience at least once in their lifetime and did not actually know that this was a legitimate psychological theory. I also bet most of my classmates did not know that the TOT phenomenon occurs at least once a week for them also! The picture at the top represents my personal experience with the TOT phenomenon because I saw the movie Accepted with Justin Long and knew I had seen him in another movie before but I just could not recall what movie it was.

Chapter Six Learning

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We have grown up with many forms of conditioning from your parents scolding us to when we watch TV commercials. This leads me to wonder is there one form of conditioning that works best? Classical conditioning is one large issue in learning which shows how people can have a conditioned response from a conditioned stimulus. Ivan Pavlov was the first to discover this reaction. He found that a normally unconditioned response from a unconditioned stimulus added to a conditioned response like salivating before eating can add that response to hearing the sound of a bell if the bell was rung the same time as the food was brought out. Later the food can be taken away and you will still salivate when you hear the bell. This is called acquisition. When the bell is rung without the smell of food over a matter of time the person or in Pavlov's case the dog would stop salivating. This is called extinction because the conditioned response is no more. There is an exception to this with something called spontaneous recovery which is when the conditioned stimulus has the effect of the conditioned response after extinction.

The other most known type of conditioning is operant conditioning which is based on reinforcement and punishment. There are positive and negative forms of punishment and reinforcement. Reinforcement increases the subject's behavior while punishment decreases the subject's behavior. If one is positive the subject is given something and if one is negative something is taken away from the subject. This type of conditioning has the famous Skinner Box which was invented by B. F. Skinner. This box gave out rewards which were assigned by a light and could be recorded without human contact. After looking at the different types of conditioning I am still unsure which form is best because each has a different approach which leads to different results.

Sweet Dreams

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The internet is filled with personality tests that will tell you who you are based on your favorite color, whether or not you are messy, or if you like dogs or cats. Internet quizzes generally aren't very dependable. However, finding a reliable system is important, since psychologists use personality assessments to predict behavior patterns or to diagnose patients with potential mental disorders. One method is dream analysis; it is a technique that Sigmund Freud believed could show us our deepest desires and feelings. Let's see if we can analyze my personality using one of my recent dreams:

An unidentified person gives a few people and myself necklaces while we are at a school. When they put them on, they turn into dragons and proceed to destroy the school.

Here are some possible explanations from the extremely "scientific" source of

Dragon: "To dream that you are a dragon and breathing fire suggests that you are using your anger to get your own way."

Necklace: "To see or wear a necklace in your dream represents unsatisfied desires."

School: "To dream that your childhood school is in ruins suggests that you are dwelling on some unresolved childhood issue."

Conclusion: I'm angry because I have unsatisfied desires about some unresolved childhood issue (Freud would be proud). Wow, I didn't even know I was angry!

Dream analysis is still widely used today, although the specifics are widely debated. The symbolism in dreams (if it can be relied upon) can be different for each person, and each "symbol" may or may not actually be significant to the dreamer's everyday life. Even though the credibility of the process is still dubious, analyzing dreams may still provide some insight into our innermost thoughts.

Language: Intuition or Not?

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Being able to produce complex languages is one of the key aspects that differentiate us from other animals. It is responsible for our ability of creating knowledge and storing it. It's how we are able to write expensive Psychology text books and study them. But how did language develop? Was it part of our intuition or completely fabricated by our developing social structures?

The image below recreates an example of sound symbolism in the course text book. Which of the images would you say is a "takete?" Which is a "maluma?"

takete maluma.jpg

You probably labeled the top image as the "maluma" and the bottom as the "takete." But do we make these connections from gibberish to an image because of our already present knowledge of language or because they play to our intuition?

A video shown in my Linguistics class illustrates a similar point. Do you understand what the porcupine is "saying?" What do you think it is trying to communicate? Why do you think that way?

Have you ever heard an advertisement on the radio that sounds reliable, that their product will actually work, but in reality the company just knows the scientific terminology to sell products? This is something that can be referred to as "psychobabble." One of the many warning signs of a psychology term called pseudoscience. Pseudoscience is a set of claims that seem to be scientific but in actuality are not. It is said to be an imposter of science. Yes, we can test pseudoscientific claims, but often times the proponents avoid harsh examination.

Pseudoscience tends to rely heavily on anecdotal evidence, taking the most dramatic claims of one or two individuals instead of looking at the scientific evidence. For an example, when doing a weight loss program one person lost 78 pounds and another lost 84 pounds, but those were the only successful weight losses recorded the advertiser would only focus on those to people, avoiding the people who did not have as much success.

Every one of us has fallen victim to pseudoscience without even realizing it. It is important to pay attention to these warning signs to avoid taking part in something that is not as reliable as people may say.

Considering the various ways to cope with stress, many individuals feel that "letting it all out" - that is, expressing their problems in a vocal or physical way - is a very productive way to deal with stressful events. They may be surprised to find that an individual who expresses painful feelings, which is defined as catharsis, may actually exacerbate his or her stress from a troubling situation.
Catharsis is a technique that fits under emotional control, a type of stress management, which is discussed in great detail in Chapter 12 of the textbook. Yelling, punching pillows and throwing balls against the wall, as well as the aforementioned "venting" are all forms of catharsis. As the textbook explains, catharsis can be beneficial when expressed in a constructive way, such as brainstorming ways to solve the problem at hand. But when used for problems with no solutions, catharsis can reinforce a sense of helplessness, which could effectively heighten anxiety or anger in the long run.
I find this very interesting because I've been told by many to simply "vent" out my problems, and I'm sure many out there have been told the same thing. But simply expressing nothing can be done at maximum volume and punching a pillow, though temporarily relieving, may be ineffective at eliminating stress.


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Memory photo!.jpg

The human brain is a fascinating organ, but what I find even more fascinating is the brain's ability to remember things, also known as memory. We have three systems of memory, sensory, short-term, and long-term, though researchers do believe there are other memory systems as well. Each of these memory systems differs based on two pieces. One of these pieces is span, which is the amount of information that can be held and the other piece is duration, the amount of time that information can be held.
All of the memory systems listed above are quite intriguing, but I am especially interested in the short-term memory system and its abilities. The short-term memory is said to have duration of up to 20 seconds, but usually tends to be closer to 10-15 seconds. Many people, I can admit that I am one of them, may claim they have short-term memory when they can't remember an activity they recently participated in or what they did a few days ago. If that were the case short-term memory wouldn't be so short.
The short-term memory system is said to have a "magic number" when it comes to its capacity. The magic number is claimed to be seven plus or minus two. I can agree with this claim from my experience as a test subject years ago. I, along with some of my fellow classmates, was shown many lists of numbers and after we were shown each list the instructor would tell us to write down as many numbers as we could remember. It was easy in the beginning, as there were only a few numbers to remember, but as the lists got longer than seven, we started to struggle to remember what came next. This holds true for other experiments as well and is the reason why many phone numbers have seven digits. It does mention in the text that some European phone numbers are a little longer, but nothing more than nine digits. I wonder if they have as many phone numbers memorized as the average American with the slight addition of digits.
I am excited to learn more about the human memory and would really like to know how the memory systems of those claimed to have photographic memories operate as well.


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The human brain is a fascinating organ, but what I find even more fascinating is the brain's ability to remember things, also known as memory. We have three systems of memory, sensory, short-term, and long-term, though researchers do believe there are other memory systems as well. Each of these memory systems differs based on two pieces. One of these pieces is span, which is the amount of information that can be held and the other piece is duration, the amount of time that information can be held.
All of the memory systems listed above are quite intriguing, but I am especially interested in the short-term memory system and its abilities. The short-term memory is said to have duration of up to 20 seconds, but usually tends to be closer to 10-15 seconds. Many people, I can admit that I am one of them, may claim they have short-term memory when they can't remember an activity they recently participated in or what they did a few days ago. If that were the case short-term memory wouldn't be so short.
The short-term memory system is said to have a "magic number" when it comes to its capacity. The magic number is claimed to be seven plus or minus two. I can agree with this claim from my experience as a test subject years ago. I, along with some of my fellow classmates, was shown many lists of numbers and after we were shown each list the instructor would tell us to write down as many numbers as we could remember. It was easy in the beginning, as there were only a few numbers to remember, but as the lists got longer than seven, we started to struggle to remember what came next. This holds true for other experiments as well and is the reason why many phone numbers have seven digits. It does mention in the text that some European phone numbers are a little longer, but nothing more than nine digits. I wonder if they have as many phone numbers memorized as the average American with the slight addition of digits.
I am excited to learn more about the human memory and would really like to know how the memory systems of those claimed to have photographic memories operate as well.