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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.

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]

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.


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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.

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.

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.

Lie Detection by Group.png

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?

South Park.jpg

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.)

Cool parents.png
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.

Second Language Motivation Comic.jpg

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 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.

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.


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