menig001: November 2011 Archives

Psychologist Sigmund Freud had developed many fascinating yet controversial ideas throughout his life and career. His theories ranged from the description of our inner psyche and how its components interact to form our personalities to the stages of psychosexual development. Many of his ideas have been criticized as pseudoscientific; they are often unable to be falsified and their effects on our individual personalities often have simpler explanations. However, his unique thinking has influenced many other psychologists in their theories of the role of our unconscious in our decision-making and personalities.

Freud was a believer in psychic determinism, the assumption that all psychological events have a cause. Freudian slips are one topic of psychic determinism. This occurs when something slips out of your mouth that you didn't mean to say. Have you ever had something slip out of your mouth in the middle of a sentence that might have been embarrassing? You probably had no intention of saying this, or weren't even thinking about the word but it still slipped out! According to Freud, this is part of your deep psychological unconsciousness coming up to the surface; the slips serve as a window into our inner conflicts.

Newscasters are known for having Freudian slips every once in awhile. Their slips are probably more noticeable because they are being broadcasted to thousands of people. See the attached link below for a slip by Gene Rayburn, the host from "The Match Game." Freud believed that our unconscious contained many suppressed ideas about sex and these are noticed in our slips. But isn't it possible that our slips in speech are not always about sex? If Gene Rayburn had said a more common word such as ripple instead of nipple, we may not have even noticed it, and wouldn't have classified it as a Freudian slip. So perhaps it only seems our slips are about sex because that is what we notice and remember. Freud's theory that our slips in speech have a cause is difficult to support with evidence, slips can be easily described as just a random mistake in speech. Overall, Freud's ideas are quite controversial and difficult to support with evidence; however, they offer intriguing insight to what may be happening in our minds.

The Match Game - Gene Rayburn slip

Slip pic.jpeg

Detecting Lies

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People lie everyday. Lying has become part of our daily lives, whether we lie to make up an excuse for why we are late to class, or if we are omitting the truth in order to keep a secret. Even the most honest people lie, or choose not to tell the truth, in order to protect others feelings. Obviously, there are more serious lies as well such as claiming innocence to a crime that one actually did commit. We begin to lie at a very young age (4 to 5 years old), and continue to do so throughout our entire lives. As some of use learn how to become better at the fine art of lying, we can also become better at detecting lies from others. Oftentimes we state that we can "just tell" when someone is lying, but aren't able to exactly pinpoint the reason why we think that way. Our detection of lies usually results from evaluating the liar's behavior. This behavior includes the words that they are saying, what kind of words they are using (descriptive, generic, etc.), and their body language and other nonverbal cues that they use when delivering a lie.

There are many website and articles that offer "the key" to identifying lying behaviors and they claim that focusing on body language and eye movements can help us detect lies. These keys to lie detection often do not account for the whole situation and are often very unreliable. Nonetheless, some individuals, including law enforcement and judges, are slightly better than average at detecting these lying cues and catching liars. This could be due to the fact these professionals encounter people who frequently lie in their daily work. The television shows "Lie to Me" and "The Mentalist" feature special detectives that use their extraordinary sense of lie detection to bust the criminals. This extraordinary sense of lie detection is not quite realistic. Scientific research has shown that even professionals such as detectives have very high error rates in detecting lies (Ekman & O'Sullivan 1991).

It seems that if detectives and law enforcement officers have difficulty detecting lies, then others will too. The linked Psychology Today article explains a case where a young man lied on his application and scholarship reports all the way to Harvard. It shows that many people can be fooled by lies. Although becoming an expert at lie detection may help you solve crimes and cases of fraud, would we always want to know when someone is lying to us? Would we want others to know when we are lying to them?

Psychology Today Article


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This page is an archive of recent entries written by menig001 in November 2011.

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