Things are never as simple as they seem

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A few days ago, my parents and I began discussing the latest episode of "The Celebrity Apprentice", a reality show that features two teams of celebrities competing in business related tasks in order to raise money for charity. As with any reality television show, most of the entertainment comes from contestants clashing with each other for any number of reasons. Every one of the contestants take a different approach in how they deal with people, some act loud and controlling in order to get their point across while others play it low, not wanting to draw attention to themselves.

Continuing with the story, my parents and I were talking about one contestant in particular, Aubrey O'Day, someone known on the show as being very controlling and a "shady" player in general. Both of my parents commented that they think she is a sociopath due to her behavior on the show and that she probably acts that way due to a traumatic experience she had in the past. While I do agree that she acts very cut-throat on the show I reminded them of one of the most important things I've learned in psychology, there's never a one reason explanation to something. Firstly, I'm not sure if someone could become a sociopath through one traumatic experience alone. Secondly, there are a number of alternative explanations that could explain her behavior such as the idea that she only acts this way on the show because she is trying to win, she might be in an unfamiliar setting and doesn't know how to react, etc. I think everyone should try to consider issues from multiple points of view and not fall prey to simplistic explanations for human behavior.

If you'd like to find out more about "The Apprentice", visit



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You show a good application of psychological principles, especially the principle of explaining other hypotheses. The way you spoke up to show your parents another viewpoint is a great application of the topics covered in psych 1001, and something I will keep in mind for the future.

I totally agree with you that remembering to look at every aspect and perspective is important. People are the way they are due to their nature and multiple experiences they've had in the past. It's not easy to pick out just one thing that influences the behavior of a person. It's a lot more complex than that.

Great blog! Although I do not watch this show, I do have an understanding of it and realized that it is somewhat designed to be a cutthroat competition. In your argument to your parents, you should a good understanding of the fundamental attribution error and how the situation that someone is put in may allow for them to perform in ways that they would have never before. How they act is not always directly correlated with their persistent personality.

Looking at different aspects is very important. If you only look at things one way, you are limited in improvement. It also helps you become talented in different ways. Looking at different aspects is crucial in business. Studies have shown that when you change the work environment just a little, people work harder with change.

Great job discerning between causation and seemingly related events. I have often wondered why people act the way they do on television shows because I don't usually see people acting aggressivly cut-throat or shadey when I work in groups. Nice job applying what we learned in class to real life.

Sounds like they were making the fundamental attribution error!

Great idea using a character from The Apprentice in order to illustrate the concept of correlation vs causation. Just based on my personal experiences I have found that this is the most commonly seen logical fallacy. After learning about the different logical fallacies in psych 1001 I have gotten much more adept at critical thinking.

I totally agree. Never over simplify is a lesson I will definitely take from this course, always take the time to research and rule out rival hypotheses. In the case of reality tv though better not to analyze at all. Nothing can be proved, you believe what you do because of careful editing.

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This page contains a single entry by lindm049 published on April 29, 2012 10:35 PM.

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