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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.

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.

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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 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.

The five stages of dream

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sleep stages 1.JPG
By reading the chapter 5, the most interesting concept for me is the stages of sleep. Do you think mostly the time of sleeping occur in olny a few mintues? Even, you can't distinguish dream and reality when you wake up. But actually, we experience five stages and each cycle lasts about 90 minutes,thereinto REM sleep is fifth stage in our sleeping and REM means rapid eye movement (Aserinsky and Kleitman,1953) and many REM are emotional, illogical, nd prone to sudden shifts in"plot (Foulks,1962;Hobson,Pace-Schott,&Stickgold,200). In contrast, Non-REM tend to real life and it is shorter.

I just found an interesting video about a sleeper has REM. It seems that the brain of the sleeper is acting actively. I think it is very amazing, we don't have any feelings about our body behaviors during sleeping, I can't image it is truth that my eyes are still moving while I am sleeping. Anyway I believe sleeping is an indispensable and significantly behavior during our life.

Social psychology

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At the beginning of this chapter, we read a example about the success of the film The War of the Worlds. After that, the book introduce a new concept:social psychology. As we all know, social is consist of many people.People have effects on the others. Such as on behavior,attitude, beliefs. These influence has both bad and good sides. Social psychology is a science to study how people affect others.
I find the concept is interesting and important because we all a part of social. We all influence or are influences the others. For example, there is an adage in China says that:" If you close to the vermilion,you will change to the red; if you close to the ink, you will change to the black. " That means you may change to that kind of person who you often stay with. Social psychology can help us to understand this phenomena and help us form a nice character. So that's the reason why I think the concept of social psychology is so important that people should know it.

While the idea of adolescent minds being fundamentally different from those of adults is not foreign to us, only in relatively recent history has the theory developed. In the early 1900's, a Swiss psychologist named Jean Piaget conducted research on a massive scale that sought to confirm or refute whether cognitive abilities in children and adolescents developed in a step-wise fashion. The end result of his work is a widely honored (yet sometimes refuted) series of cognitive "stages" that highlight important steps on the way to mature thinking.

The first of these stages, dubbed the "sensorimotor stage", is characterized by an inability to understand object permanence. In other words, all learning and thinking occurs only when directly interacting with the world. Once object permanence is recognized (usually after two years of life) the "preoperational stage" begins. Here, using mental representations of objects that exist but cannot be seen, children can think beyond the "here and now" and recognize the world as being larger than the immediately adjacent space. However, applying these thoughts to performing constructive and conservative task won't consistently begin until the "concrete operational stage". In this stage, between the ages of seven and eleven years old, children can use physical objects to recreate mental problems and act out situations, but have difficulty tackling hypothetical or purely mental conundrums. By the time they reach the "formal operations stage" as adolescents, those children can use hypotheses to explain outcomes, recognize cause-effect relationships, and act on that logic.


Jean Piaget had his own ideas about the development of learning in children.

While certain elements of Piaget's findings have been refuted in recent years, I believe that developmental stages, especially in the realm of learning and critical thinking, are extremely important considerations for parents and teachers alike. Adapting preschool and kindergarten programs to foster the abilities we know children have and easing their transition to new ones could play a major role in developmental health. The same could hold true in the home, where parents and older siblings could monitor the health of the child by matching their behavior with Piaget's stages. Recognizing the difference between children and adults is crucially important to fair emotional treatment, and I'm confident that the class will agree when we arrive at Chapter 10 later this semester.

Is it true that as English speakers we can view an object differently than a person who speaks German?
I recently have been intrigued by the correlation between language and thought. Chapter 8 discusses language, thinking, and reasoning, but my favorite part of the chapter is how language impacts our thoughts. The book gives an interesting example that the Inuits have approximately a thousand words for snow, so therefore they see minute differences among types of snow, unlike non-Inuits who would not perceive these variances. It is strange to think that just because Inuits have a plethora of words for snow, they are able to see things that we are not! The book debates whether this is in fact true, but nonetheless, the topic is fascinating! snowww.jpg
Can the Inuits see something that we cannot???
I think this chapter will be interesting to understand the association between language and thought.

Smart Phone in My Head

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If you're like me, when you hear the word "multitasking", you probably think of the awesomeness that modern day smart phones have brought. Talking AND surfing the web? Genius!!

I think everyone is concerned with multitasking, if you can do more than one thing at the same time, productivity goes up right? Well it turns out our brain has already beat us to the punch, it is constantly multitasking through parallel processing of sensual stimuli. Basically our brain will create a perception of a stimulus and either superimpose our perceptions and biases to form a concept or construct the whole concept from its parts. I think everyone is intrigued by the concept of multitasking, whether it is a real-life application to get more done quicker or sharpening our brain power by capitalizing on parallel processing.


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Pseudoscience is a term that I had never heard of before I read this chapter, even though it's something that I have experienced and witnessed a lot. The place that I have seen it most is on TV in the form of infomercials, every product swears that they are the best and will show you people that have succeeded while using the product, like one man losing a ridiculous amount of weight within the first month of being on some new pill. I find it interesting because not everyone buys into the ideas that these people are trying to make money off of enough people do so that these companies can profit. That's something that I find interesting, how all of these companies claim the exact same thing and people continue to buy into them. I have attached a link to an article that talks about how Simon Cowell is under scrutiny for backing a product. As well as a picture of an ad.


Hypnosis has fascinated scientists and everyday citizens for centuries. I have always been skeptical of hypnosis: Should "amazing" things happen while hypnotized? Why are certain people prone to hypnosis?
During my high-school senior class party a hypnotist performed a show: eight students were chosen to come up on stage and be hypnotized. I thought, "Oh this can't possibly work". Surprisingly all of the students reacted to the prompts the hypnotist said. However, hypnosis doesn't have a great impact on suggestibility and it doesn't turn people into robots. A person who responds to 6/12 suggestions without being hypnotized might respond to 7 or 8 after hypnosis (Lilienfeld, pg. 182). And yet hypnotized people don't show similar brain waves to those who are asleep. So while you can push aside the fact that this can't happen or if you fully believe in hypnosis researchers continue to attempt to explain the hypnosis phenomena.

When you hear the term "sleepwalker" what do you picture? Most imagine a person with eyes closed and arms stretched out, "zombie style". In reality, this image of a sleepwalking person is a myth. Sleepwalkers, or somnambulists, actually act just like a fully awake, overly clumsy person. Many sleepwalkers perform activities that one would do when they were awake such as walking and even driving cars. Also, the majority of sleepwalking occurs in childhood, as almost 1/3 of kids have sleepwalked.

The most interesting thing I have found about sleepwalking is that it can be used as an explanation for murdering someone. As told in our book, a man drove his car, took a tire iron, and killed his mother -in-law and injured his father-in-law. Interesting enough, the jury found this a plausible defense and declared the man innocent. That doesn't sound like a good excuse to me.

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