chav0084: October 2011 Archives

black-cat.jpgResearchers from Kansas State University developed three reasons for superstitious behavior: to gain control over uncertainty, to decrease feelings of helplessness, and because it is easier to rely on superstition instead of coping strategies. One of the major discoveries was that people who believe that chance and fate control their lives are more likely to be superstitious.

In the first study done, the researchers conducted questionnaires with 200 undergraduates, asking about how pessimistic they were, whether they believed in chance or fate, if they liked to be in control and other questions. In order for these discoveries to be credible, other researchers should be able to replicate these findings. For the results to be more reliable, the questionnaires could have been sent out to people of different ages, and more than 200 should be used. These suggestions could help to eliminate bias. In the second study, it was found that when faced with death, people are likely to abandon superstition altogether. Thinking about death would make people feel helpless, and would actually reduce their superstitious belief. link to article

In contrast, according to the Lilienfeld text, superstitions are due mostly to operant conditioning. Shown by a study done by Skinner involving pigeons and food, superstitious behavior is caused by actions linked to reinforcement by sheer coincidence. The pigeons received reinforcement no matter what they did, but the behavior that the pigeons performed right before being reinforced was strengthened, so they kept on doing it-thinking that that behavior would increase the chances of receiving the food. This reasoning of operant conditioning could be seen as one of the six principles of critical thinking- Occam's Razor, because it is a more simple explanation.

shadow1big.jpg Hypnosis is a set of tactics that highlights the power of suggestion in people, and can change their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. There is not one "right", or universal theory for explaining hypnosis, although the main theories are the sociocognitive theory (based on people's attitudes, beliefs, and expectations) and the dissociation theory (based on a separation between personality functions that are normally well integrated). Hypnosis is not only for the entertainment of people, it can also be important in other ways. It can be used to treat pain, medical conditions, and some disorders such as an addiction. Hypnosis also improves the effectiveness of therapies for certain conditions. My only experience with hypnosis was at my all night senior party, when a hypnotist visited and hypnotized about 20 of my peers. He was able to change the way people behaved and thought about things. One example is when he told a girl that she was going to forget about the number 7, and then he proceeded to ask her to count her fingers. Each time she would skip the number 7, and then be super confused as to why she suddenly had 11 fingers. Another example is when he told a guy that when he heard music he turned into a ballerina, so as soon as music started playing he spun around slowly in circles with his arms above his head. I am very curious about hypnosis. How exactly does it work? Can you really make someone do anything you asked him or her to do by using hypnosis? To what extent would hypnotism not work?

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