December 2011 Archives

The Milgram Experiment in Business

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I believe a concept in psychology that I will remember is the Milgram experiment. This experiment fascinated me and also has great relevance to my career aspirations. The experiment showed that a large percentage of people would be obedient to an authority figure even if they were asked to do tasks against their moral values. The results, that 65% of participants administered lethal shocks, were surprising. The results help explain why some horrific events in human history occurred, but also offer valuable information for business leaders.
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I desire to have a leadership position in business one day and I think the Milgram experiment offers an important lesson for me. As a leader you can have a great deal of power, but you want to be careful to not completely control your employees. In business, challenging ideas is important in order to find the best solution. If you are a manager operating in a very tense culture you could exert too much authority onto your employees and essentially command them what to do. If you were to be over authoritative you would not only be micromanaging, but your employees would not be very efficient at problem solving. I would want the other 35% of participants in the study that will say no when they think it is appropriate to say no.

For information on the milgram study visit: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/abn/67/4/371/

Life on Mars

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For many years there has been talk about potential life forms on other planets. People are skeptical without evidence of such a claim, reinforcing the important psychological idea that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. According to this article posted by Forbes, some of these skeptics may now have reason to believe this "out of this world" claim.

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The Martian Rover Opportunity has been travelling around the Endeavor Crater on Mars waiting for Curiosity, an additional rover to join in the effort to gather important information about the foreign planet. Curiosity has used a number of tools and instruments, including an X-Ray spectrometer and microscopic imager, that discovered veins of gypsum on Mars' surface. This is the same gypsum used on our planet for creating building tools like drywall and plaster. It also is evidence that there was flowing water on Mars because gypsum is created when water dissolves calcium and combines with sulfur. It is also the strongest evidence thus far that scientists and researchers have discovered to support the claim.

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According to one of the Opportunity scientists, "This tells a slam-dunk story that water flowed through underground fractures in the rock."

Finding this evidence does not only help prove the "water on Mars" theory, but is also a step to discovering other vital information that could help ideas become theories as well prompt more claims about foreign planets and their histories. This is a "giant leap for mankind" as Neil Armstrong said on his mission to the moon.

Reflections on the Benefits of Being a Social Animal

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Among the emerging concepts that I have found most interesting and, at times, challenging during the course of my PSY 1001 experience is the idea that our position as social creatures is indeed double-edged. As covered in last week's discussion, our pronounced tendency towards sociability (at least when compared with a number of other creatures) has both benefits and drawbacks. Social organization increases chances of survival, as organisms (in this case, people) can provide assistance to each other and can engage in a division of labor which allows for specialization and thus allows specific individuals to hone higher levels of skill in specific areas.


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While humans indeed have a range of sociability, as we have discovered both through personal experience and the study of personality psychology, as a species we tend to fall towards the social end of the spectrum. We are thus social animals. Compared to say, reptiles or certain kinds of fishes, all but the most reclusive humans show a need or desire to be with members of their own species in varying degrees. Yet there is indeed variation within the human race. While some people prefer to live with others in the midst of a teeming city, still others choose a life of relative isolation and live in the wilderness with few contacts.

This built-in dependence on associating with others has both its benefits, as described above, and its faults. We have discussed the pitfalls of conformity and obedience, in terms of behavior that ranges from the silly (following certain fashion trends that in restrospect are aesthetically appallingl) to the truly horrifying (the massive organized violence - from lynch mobs to the GULAG to death camps - in the twentieth century). As social creatures, we have the capacity, when making numerous decisions as members of a group of when led by a powerful and charismatic leader, to exhibit cruelty upon others of our kind.

Yet for all its possible evils, our social nature, combined with our ability to use tools and think abstractly, is what has allowed us to develop from hunter-gatherers to people who use technology and social engineering to alter our world. Were humans more isolationist in nature, it is unlikely the the social bonds necessary to build cities or form governments could ever have come into being. Indeed, it is the social nature of humans, augmented by our ability to communicate in a remarkably detailed manner, that has allowed for the division of labor that allows some of us to engage in survival activities (agriculture or medicine for example) while others can devote their working lives to quality of life activities (art and music among others). Despite the violence and stupidity that social pressures can lead to, without our need for interacting with each other, we would never have crossed the oceans or erected great cities or left our own planet. We are social creatures, for worse, but mostly for better.

Our Belief Live On -- Despite The Evidence

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220px-Notintoyouposter.jpgAs this is my last blog, I'd like to write something interesting. I watched a movie named "He's just not that into you" several days before, and it was interesting because I found some signs of what is called belief perseverance. I think I will keep belief perseverance in mind for a long time because it is easy to fell into its trap. Belief perseverance is the tendency to stick to our initial belief even when evidence contradicts them. (Lilienfild 9) Here's case. Let see the beginning of the movie.

All girls who suffer from heartbreaking in the movie are not willing to accept the facts of "he's not that into you". They are trying to seek out explanations, such as "he doesn't have time", "he lost my number" or " he is too busy", to support their beliefs even when evidences do contradict them. It is so common that lots of my friends have gone through similar situations.

Also, in this video, even after all the facts were explained to Winston, and after he appeared to agree that the facts were right, he still held doubts that President Obama was born in this country. This video is a good evidence of belief perseverance.

So, what is the causation of it? In this article, Craig A. Anderson thought that causal thinking was an important determination of belief perseverance. From prior studies, some conditions were designed to reduce or prevent causal thinking. As expected, inhibiting causal thinking can reduce the amount of perseverance obtained, whereas the replication conditions yielded considerable perseverance. It was an evidence of Craig's hypothesis.

I will remember belief perseverance in my daily life and always consider opposite to keep myself away from it.

Operant Conditioning

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pigeon-2.jpgFive years from now I believe the most prominent aspect of psychology that I will probably remember best is Skinner's theory of operant conditioning. Even now I am relating my own personal reactions to something that I picked up through repeated rewards or punishments. The theory itself is intriguing in its simplicity. The ability to create a habit by simply giving repeated rewards whenever the subject moves in such a way that resembles the habit that is wanted. In this video the tested is able to teach a pigeon to spin in a circle in about a minute. Such a simple technique that teaches habit in only minutes is fascinating. This article explains how Skinner was able to create the first guided bombs with operant conditioning by teaching the pigeons to guide the bomb by pecking from inside the bomb at selected targets. The ability to direct bombs simply through the conditioning of pigeons by teaching them to identify target buildings in a city is simply fascinating.
I myself have developed habits that affect my very academics. Operant conditioning has taught me to study more for tests because when I study more I am rewarded with better grades and learn to study more for each test and not studying is punished by taking away my bad grades.

Classical and Operant Conditioning

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In five years, psychology will be of my past and I will have moved on to different classes, possibly have graduated, and most likely be starting graduate school. If anything sticks with me throughout that time it will most likely be the concepts of classical and operant conditioning. Classical and operant conditioning are very relevant to other concepts in life due to the fact that they can help train yourself to do certain activities or behaviors. For example, when studying, you can use positive reinforcement using rewards to train yourself to be able to study longer and harder. Also, it sticks with me because it is relevant to situations like phobias. I have a great fear of roller coasters, but due to understanding conditioning I now understand why I am so afraid of them, and hopefully I can condition myself to not be afraid of them. Also, combining the two says a lot about how children learn and grow, and so if I'm babysitting or even have my own child, I now know which are the most effective ways that babies learn develop their behaviors.

Psychology was a very interesting course, and I believe that a lot of it will stick with me throughout the rest of my college career and through other life situations. I found Classical and Operant conditioning to be very interesting, especially when combined, and I feel that they are very easily applied to relevant life situations.

Behaviorism and Me

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circusmice.jpg I think, five years from now, I will have pets of my own, and they will be very well-educated thanks to operant conditioning techniques. I definitely was a lot more fascinated by behaviorism as presented in this course than I've ever been before. I was even inspired to tell my mother about my plans to bring mice into the house and train them to be circus performers, but for some reason she was not supportive.
I used to think behaviorism grossly oversimplifies psychology (there's a lot more to dogs than the drooling-when-they-hear-the-tone phenomenon). Now I think that even though conditioning isn't the whole story, it taps into really basic concepts of learning and helps us understand our roots as members of the animal kingdom (since conditioning works quite well on humans, too!)

Applications of conditioning in humans range all over the map, from clicker-training small children to tolerate their medical nasal spray...

...to helping adults recover from drug addictions (like we saw in the video in lecture).

Behaviorism can also be used in advertising that works consumers into a holiday-shopping frenzy, negative political ads that manipulate people into feeling an irrational sense of fear and unease when a candidate's name is mentioned, and wartime propaganda.

Knowledge of classical and operant conditioning can hopefully empower citizens to educate themselves and others more effectively, but to also realize when they themselves are being subjected to conditioning so that they can also employ more conscious, critical processes of learning.

Damaging Obedience

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Before taking this class, I was unaware of the Milgram experiment. And yet, I think it is incredible that prior to the testing, the psychology faculty at Yale predicted that less than 1% of individuals would continue to shock the "learner" despite their repeating screams of pain. However, Milgram proved them wrong. What he found was that a large percentage of participants continued to shock - approximately 62% followed his orders with complete compliance.

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Secondly, we can see how science (or the scientific method) is not only beneficial, but crucial for innovation. It wasn't until Milgram questioned the power of conformity in humans. What if he would have simply gone along with the faculty's original thoughts? As we recently learned, conformity in humans is very evident. Milgram himself could have easily conformed to match the view of the faculty, but he went out on a limb and tried something new. And in doing so, unraveled a critical part for understanding destructive obedience.

I believe this experiment shows us relatively how little we know about human psychology. Yes - we are learning and developing our knowledge, but we must never stop questioning "why." Even if it is blatantly obvious. Just like in this experiment, one would assume that people would For better or worse, the results showed us that humans can do cruel things. I will remember this experiment because it exemplifies the frightening power of persuasion.

Cognitive Biases in Everyday Life

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We learned about cognitive biases early in the year, and since then, I have found myself applying the concepts to occurrences in everyday life. This article gives a good summary of common cognitive biases and some examples. Previous to this course, I wasn't as aware of how common these false "beliefs" appear in my life. When reading articles or listening to the news, I definitely second guess the information more than I use to. I pay attention to evidence that is used and what the information is being referenced from because I now know just how important that knowledge can be. I will probably always remember at least the basic ideas of these biases for the rest of my life because they can be applied to so many things. There will always be stories and new findings presented to me through articles, television and other people. Through the psychology 1001 course, I have now obtained better information and a strategy that can be used to decipher what is actually valid in the information given and whether or not I should completely believe everything I am hearing.

One great example of a situation where I try to keep the cognitive biases in mind is pop culture magazine. Reading a magazine such as "People," I frequently come across claims or studies that seem strange. After reading an article, I am often reminded of the confirmation and other similar biases. The evidence that is given for such claims often doesn't include finding or results that go against the claim. And, through this course, I have learned the correct way to find the important results of the articles found in such magazines.

This video has a song that can be used as a fun way to remember the cognitive biases and what each means.

Facial Feedback

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This semester in Psychology, we have learned about countless different theories, some of which have stuck with me, and some of which haven't. Five years from now, I think there is one theory in particular that I will remember. This theory is the facial feedback hypothesis, just because of the experiment we did earlier this year.
One of the first experiments we did this year was the cartoon study. I didn't think much of it; in fact I thought it was pretty dumb when I had to hold a pencil in my mouth. I had no idea why I was being forced to shove a pencil in my mouth and hold it together with my teeth, and how it had anything to do with humor. The following image shows a demonstration of this exercise.
When I arrived at my discussion section, we were told to share our results within our teams. As we discussed our scores, it was determined that our facial expression affected how funny we thought the cartoons were. According to the facial feedback hypothesis, the blood vessels in our face feed back temperature information in the brain, which affects our emotions.
I think in five years I will remember this theory because of how I felt when I first figured it out. First I was overwhelmed with surprise, then shock, then genuine embarrassment that I didn't realize it myself. It was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced, and gave me true insight into what psychology really is.
I also think that this theory will stick with me because of the thoughts I have had regarding the future. Will smiling more make me a happier person? Allison Nelson addresses this in her article, and this is definitely something that I will continue to think about even when the semester is over. Also, the following video shows some of the funny faces that come to mind when thinking of facial expressions. Will these have an impact on how I feel, or is this just a theory?

Classical Conditioning

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The psychological concept that I will remember in five years is classical conditioning, also known as Pavlovian conditioning. It was discovered by a Russian scientist by the name of Ian Pavlov, whose primary research was on digestion in dogs. However, he discovered that dogs began salivating more when there was meat powder present. This also did not only happen when there was just meat powder present, it happened when the stimuli presented before the meat powder was present as well.

Pavlov determined his observation by first presenting neutral stimuli and recording the salivation of the dogs. He then paired the stimulus with the meat powder and recorded the salivation of the dogs. Finally, he presented only the stimulus to the dogs and noted that the dogs salivated more to the stimulus than before it was paired with the meat powder.

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The reason I will remember this concept is because this is an extremely interesting to me, especially in the area of advertising. I find it fascinating that advertisers are able to subtly influence the mind of consumers by high-order classical conditioning, which is to develop a conditioned response to a conditioned stimulus by virtue of its association with another conditioned stimulus. This interesting concept will definitely not be forgotten anytime soon and I will try to find out as much as i can about the topic.

In the above commercial, Axe Deodorant is associated with hot women, which is associated with pleasure. The advertisers are using high order conditioning to condition consumers to buy Axe Deodorant spray.

Other types of conditioning can be found in this article.

Five years from now

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The concept from this Psychology course that I will remember the most is the debate about Nature vs. Nurture. It seems like this topic is consistently brought up in the textbook and relates to so many psychology concepts. I can't understand how some scientists believe that only nature or only how we're nurtured shapes our individual identities. It's clear that both play significant roles. However, one of the most controversial issues around this debate is using the "nurture" side as an excuse for criminal acts or other unacceptable behavior. I believe that even if a person has a legitimate argument that points the finger at their environment then that person still should be punished or removed from society.
With that said, I believe that nature has more influence in people than nurture. How else can you explain major differences between siblings or parents and children? I have sister who is 2 years older than me and we obviously had the same upbringing, but our personalities and general outlook on life are drastically different. She has always been a little reserved and could easily be embarrassed by trivial things. I on the other hand have always been loud and never really cared about the opinions of others.
I know that when I decide to find someone I could spend my life with she better have some pretty impeccable genetics. In fact, this may sound superficial, but I am extremely judgmental when it comes to women. I pick up on all the little things in their appearance and personality and that like and dislike.

What makes us different from each other.

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For me, it looked little silly to grouping people and their personalities into certain types such as blood types or MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator).Therefore when I first read about the big five model, the generalized personality traits, I doubted its value. However I took personality psychology class and had a chance to know more about the big five model. Also I have been taking three psychology classes and all of the professors had time to covering the model. Now I know why they did, because it is important and interesting subject in psychology.

The big five personality traits were from a combine of a lexical approach and a statistical approach. Since 20 century, it has become an important basis on understanding human nature. From the dictionary study which was conducted by Allport & Odbert to Costa & McCara, many other psychologists and scholars have confirmed there are universal traits on human personality. Even though there are some controversies on how many traits are there, mostly psychologist refers them as extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism and openness.



This video shows typical people with each of traits. It portraits how people look like and what kinds of job they are more likely to have with high extraversion or openness and so on. But these are examples to show it clearly. Traits are not like that. Then each of traits has more sub-traits and those are related to specific behaviors. It has hierarchical structure and one of the examples is like below.

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I took the personality psychology class and it was one of the professor's slides. The first one is Eysenck's sub-traits and the next one is from a study of Costa&McCrae. There is one of the five traits, and it has multiple sub-traits. On Eysenck's structure, each of those six sub-traits has its own scale to be measured. Generally, people with high extraversion are assertive, sociable but also dominant. According to the model, all people have somewhat extraverted trait anyway. But it is different when it comes to how much they are extraverted. It is same with other traits. Therefore one's personality can be considered a specific combination of five traits. There are more than millions of combinations and explanations of individuals' personalities. That why I found it fascinating. It is like a language. With limited traits, the model let us explain and analyze one's tendency to behave and think in a way the person does. I spent this semester to study basic knowledge of the big five model, and the discussion in psy1001 class was so much fun for me. It gave me an impression a lot and I wouldn't forget it for a while.

Split-Brain Studies

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I had already been exposed to most of the topics discussed in this psychology course in my high-school class; though in much less depth. Because of this, the most interesting and likely the most memorable topic discussed in this class was one that I had no previous exposure to, split-brain studies.

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Split-brain studies are carried out on patients with an extreme form of epilepsy. To combat severe seizures, patients have the corpus callosum (neuron fibers connecting their right and left hemispheres of their brains) severed. The results puts an end to the debilitating seizures and gave researches the unique opportunity to study the different functions of each hemisphere of the brain. What I found particularly interesting was the role of speech comprehension and the "little voice in our head."

To study the effects, scientists set up experiments that asked split-brain patients to recognize images in their left field of vision. The images were sent to the right hemisphere of the brain but since the corpus callosum is severed, it is unable to share what it sees with the left hemisphere which controls speech comprehension. The result is that the patient is unable to say what it is exactly they see yet the information is still stored in their brain. Later when asked to draw what they saw with their left hand (which is controlled by the right side of their brain which "saw" the image) they draw similar images to what was in their field of vision. When asked to explain what they were drawing, the subjects often made up stories.


This video was shown in class and does a very good job explaining how the experiments work.

What I took away from these studies was that the little voice in our head isn't what's really in control. It is simply rationalizing and explaining what is going on in the other parts of our brain which are really making the decisions.

Here is a link where you can play a split-brain game!

5 Years From Now

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The concept I will remember most 5 years from now is definitely classical conditioning. This video explains classical conditioning:

This article gives several real world examples of classical conditioning, but the one I'm going to remember most is how it's used in advertising. As someone who is going into retail and the apparel industry, I find advertising for clothing to be very interesting. It seems like the most popular way to advertise clothing is to advertise it with sex. Advertising the product with sex works because sex elicits a good feeling, and so sex would be the unconditioned stimulus and feeling good would be the unconditioned response. Pairing sex with apparel would cause the apparel to become a conditioned stimulus and feeling good to be a conditioned response.

guess.jpg I'm going to remember classical conditioning 5 years from now because at that time I'll be making decisions about how to advertise my own apparel. Right now I don't believe using classical conditioning to advertise is very ethical, because the product isn't selling itself and consumers are almost being tricked into purchasing some things. This idea has been reinforced in my Retail Merchandising course, though it's never been explained in terms of classical conditioning. Classical conditioning in advertising is huge in the industry I'm planning on working in, but no matter what happens in the future, I'll still encounter it everyday while seeing and hearing advertisements all around me.

Five years from now...

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Five years from now, I think I will remember a lot of different psychology concepts, although there are definitely two thought that I believe will stick with me the longest. The first one being classical conditioning. I know this sounds silly, but I will honestly never forget this concept because of the funny clip of this concept featured in The Office. I talked about this concept in my first blog. This just proves how powerful social media can be when it comes to education. I will forever member Dwight, Jim, and the Altoids and what it means to classically condition someone. The second concept I will always remember is one we just learned about, which is conformity. I found the videos of the men in elevator fascinating. It really proves how eager we are to conform to what others are doing out of fear of being an outsider. I think that this concept can be found everywhere and everyday, and I hope that someday people learn that is okay to be your own person! Conformity is something that we each have control over.

When will Psychology be important to me?

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I know that this was the topic of my last blog entry but I feel that the idea of defense mechanisms is something that could potentially stay with me for a while. I used to suffer from severe anxiety when I was younger, from fourth grade until about eighth grade. I was able to gain control over it with the help of counseling, medication, and of course the love and encouragement from my parents. Today, although it my anxiety is still very much under control there are everyday anxieties or stressors that can trigger a slight panic, this can happen to even the most "normal" of people. As Freud stated there are two extremes to the spectrum of defense mechanisms - the people who have none and are plagued with constant anxiety and fear, and the other end where people focus on one or two of the defense mechanisms and are what Freud called pathological. As with anything in life, it is essential to find that happy medium. This video offers real life examples from popular movies where defense mechanisms can be useful.
This article further explains a few defense mechanisms but through a different point a view. He talks about them through God and how even the Bible stated we generally don't understand some things we feel.
I feel that most defense mechanisms are generally a positive way to cope with anxious, fearful, or angry emotions that arise in everyday life. Defense mechanisms like displacement, regression, sublimation, identifying with the aggressor, or reaction- formation I believe are all a way to usually positively deal with different anxieties. Of course there are defense mechanisms that can potentially have harmful effects on the person "using" them or the aggressor. Denial can sometimes cause long term psychological damage and also projection, which can lead people to believe that whatever they feel such as a want to harm others, is projected onto them as other people wanting to hurt them, resulting in paranoia.
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Social Psychology and "Just-World Phenomenon"

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I found the recent topics in social psychology to be particularly interesting, and I think I will retain what I learned for an extended period of time. The social psychology field offers insights which are relevant and practical to our daily lives. I was particularly influenced by the intracranial perspective to social behavior. The distinction between automatic and controlled processing illustrated to me the variability and complexity of human behavior. This perspective has helped me appreciate the importance of both situational and personality forces in causing social behavior.
The fundamental attribution error and actor-observer bias depict two ways our cognitive biases misguide our social cognition. In particular, they show how we can misjudge the causes of social behavior. The fundamental attribution error is a tendency to overestimate the influence of personal characteristics in the behavior of others. The actor-observer bias is the tendency to overestimate the influence of situational factors on our own behavior. Melvin Lerner provides an interesting explanation for these two biases. He developed the "Just-World Phenomenon" (1977), which hypothesizes that the fundamental attribution error and actor-observer bias are defense mechanisms. According to this theory, we attribute failures of others to their personal faults because this conforms to our view that "bad things are due to the faults in others". People interpret observed behavior in such a way that conveys to them the order and justice of the universe; if people had to believe that the situational variables determined the behavior of individuals, this would convey to them a disturbing and order-less picture of the universe. They are guilty of fundamental attribution error because they are trying to reduce the stress associated with such a troubling worldview. On the other hand, people want to believe in their personal autonomy, so they attribute their own failures to external forces.


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http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v3n2/justworld.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_psychology

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_hypothesis

Social Psychology and "Just-World Phenomenon"

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I found the recent topics in social psychology to be particularly interesting, and I think I will retain what I learned for an extended period of time. The social psychology field offers insights which are relevant and practical to our daily lives. I was particularly influenced by the intracranial perspective to social behavior. The distinction between automatic and controlled processing illustrated to me the variability and complexity of human behavior. This perspective has helped me appreciate the importance of both situational and personality forces in causing social behavior.
The fundamental attribution error and actor-observer bias depict two ways our cognitive biases misguide our social cognition. In particular, they show how we can misjudge the causes of social behavior. The fundamental attribution error is a tendency to overestimate the influence of personal characteristics in the behavior of others. The actor-observer bias is the tendency to overestimate the influence of situational factors on our own behavior. Melvin Lerner provides an interesting explanation for these two biases. He developed the "Just-World Phenomenon" (1977), which hypothesizes that the fundamental attribution error and actor-observer bias are defense mechanisms. According to this theory, we attribute failures of others to their personal faults because this conforms to our view that "bad things are due to the faults in others". People interpret observed behavior in such a way that conveys to them the order and justice of the universe; if people had to believe that the situational variables determined the behavior of individuals, this would convey to them a disturbing and order-less picture of the universe. They are guilty of fundamental attribution error because they are trying to reduce the stress associated with such a troubling worldview. On the other hand, people want to believe in their personal autonomy, so they attribute their own failures to external forces.


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http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v3n2/justworld.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_hypothesis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_psychology

Bystander Effect - I've Learned to Be an Active Bystander

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wheelchair2.jpgJust this past Thanksgiving (prior to reading Chapter 13 from our psychology text book), I was in the grocery store and noticed a woman struggling to get back into her wheelchair. I watched from nearby, trying to assess the situation. I noticed employees right next to her, putting up Christmas displays and thought surely they would help her if she needed it. So, I went about my shopping, constantly looking back to see if she really needed help or if someone else was going to help her. No one did. After much struggle, she eventually made it back onto her wheel chair safely.

Upon returning to school, and back to my psych 1001 book, I read about the "Bystander Effect" and found that I had become a text book example. The "Bystander Effect" suggests that if other people are around, a bystander is less likely to help someone in need. Specifically bystander nonintervention is the lack of action from a bystander either because of pluralistic ignorance or diffusion of responsibility. In my case, it was both. I thought since the employees weren't paying much attention to the woman, she must not have really needed help (Pluralistic ignorance: assuming the employees saw it differently than I did and that they knew whether she needed help or not); AND if she really needed help, surely they would step in, isn't that part of their job as customer service employees? (Diffusion of responsibility: feeling the employees would have more of a responsibility to help than me).

Psych 1001 taught me to be aware of these pitfalls. So five years from now I'm still going to remember these concepts and I will be the one offering to help. This news report shows the importance of being an active bystander (PayNoMind416).


You can avoid bystander nonintervention. At the bottom of this article are some tips on how to be an active bystander ("Be An Active Bystander").

Works Cited:

PayNoMind416. "The Bystander Effect: No One Cares" YouTube. 27 Apr. 2010. Web.
4 Dec. 2011.

"Be An Active Bystander." Third Sector New England. 2011. Web. 4 Dec. 2011.

The Limitations of Short Term Memory

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Of all the concepts we learned in this class, the one that interested me the most was memory. In particular, I found the concept of the capacity of short term memory to be quite fascinating. According to famous psychologist George Miller, within the span of short term memory, a person can only remember seven (plus or minus two) pieces of information. This number is known as the Magic Number. (Here's a link to the original paper.) What this concept says to me is that all the cramming I have always done immediately before a test had been nothing but exercises in futility, because there was no way that I could have remembered all of that information.

Interestingly, my capacity of short term memory was put to the test during a marching band rehearsal a couple weeks ago. During that rehearsal we had a competition between all the members of the band where the director called out a series of commands and we had to do what he said. If you messed up you were out, and everyone who followed the commands correctly proceeded to the next round. The director gave out about five to ten commands in each series, which is within the Magic Number range. As the rounds progressed, the number of band members still in the competition dwindled down to two (I was not one of them). At that point, the director decided to be cruel and give a series of about fifteen commands. Because of my knowledge of the Magic Number, I knew at this point that there was no way either of them would remember every command. The winner of the competition was the one who didn't mess up first.

I think that the Magic Number is a concept that I will remember at least five years from now. This concept helps me understand my own limitations in memory. The techniques described in the book for assisting in short term memory, such as chunking and rehearsal, are also concepts that I will remember in five years.

200 Words - Classical Conditioning

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One concept that I will remember 5 years from now is Pavlovian conditioning. I think I will remember it 5 years from now because of the brilliance of it, and how it could actually be used to better my life. In the future, I plan to own a dog. By performing classical conditioning on the dog, I will be able to make it behave the way I want and when I want just by utilizing the conditioned and unconditioned stimuli and responses. The concepts, when utilized correctly, will most likely help me keep control of the dog and help foster a good relationship between the two of us. I look forward to owning a dog, even though teaching them is sometimes quite a hassle. The use of classical conditioning will be beneficial when raising a dog because the earliest studies done on it were performed on dogs, so we know it works on them. I also look forward to teaching my dog tricks through the use of classical conditioning, and maybe even teach it to "talk" like in this video (I kid, of course).

People always say that a dog is man's best friend, but not without classical conditioning!

A Solution to The Perfect Child?

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As a female, I have thought about parenting in my future. Since I was little, I have dreamed of being the perfect mother. In psychology this semester, I was able to learn valuable information that I am going to remember well beyond five years into my future.

There are three different major styles of parenting. This video shows examples of each of the styles in a situation where the child has to clean up her mess. Permissive parents show little affection towards the child which causes the child to rebel in their later years. When parents use the authoritarian style, they are very strict with their children while showing little affection and use an excessive amount of discipline. Children result in lower levels of happiness and also show more hostility and anger. The authoritative parenting style takes the most important aspects of the authoritarian and permissive styles. In the authoritative approach, the parents support their children while setting limits at the same time. The child then grows up in an environment where they feel happy and confident. These children generally engage in more social activities and tend to be considered "well-rounded".

Regarding my dream of being the perfect mother, I started questioning why every mother didn't use the authoritative parenting style if it has been proven to be the most effective. I found an article which stood out to me because, at the bottom, it brought to my attention the different reasons that parenting isn't as easy as following simple rules. Parenting can change across cultures, education levels, religions, family size, and even demographical regions. Parenting is a choice that is completely up to the mother and father of a child. Yet I find it very important for adults to recognize that there are different ways of approaching parenting. The simple actions that you make when a child is growing up can greatly impact their future. It can cause them trouble in the future if you're too close of a friend. It can also cause problems if you're too strict. Considering the large amount of parenting books that are purchased each year, I'm curious what the percentages are of the different parenting styles used today. How strong is the differences among styles between religion, family size, or any other altering factor?

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What I'll Remember Best: Nature vs. Nurture

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The psychology concept that I will remember the best in years to come is the nature vs. nurture debate. This debate has gone on for 100 years and explores the question, are our behaviors attributable mostly to our genes (Nature) or mostly to our rearing environments (nurture)? Family and friends are the two most important things in my life and as scary as it is in five years I'll be looking at having a family of my own. In the back of my head I'll probably have ideas of the nature vs nurture debate and have to take in both concepts when choosing how to raise my family. Though I already know the answer to that question and it is that nature only goes so far and nurture is what really shapes a person. Those are my own thoughts on the 100 year debate on nature vs nurture. On the same note I think the study that will stick in my mind the longest is the Bogel family. The case of the Bogel family fascinated me because of how many people in the family had lives of crime. It showed that both rearing environment and genetics play a role in how we end up, as people.

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Obedience: are people sheep?

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I think that five years from now I will remember the studies about obedience, especially the one conducted by Stanley Milgram. Before explaining why this psychological concept is important to me, I want to remind you what was this experiment.

dd_manwhoshocked.jpgIn the 1960s Milgram wanted to know if people in his study were able to deliver increasingly painful electric shocks to another partcipant when this one was giving wrong answers. In fact the "learner" was a confederate, and he did not receive any shocks during the experiment. He only simulated pain. However the "teacher" did not know that, and Milgram was interested to know until which voltage level the participant was able to go before stopping the experiment. The results were pretty surprising: they showed that people went far in the experiment, which means that even if their actions caused pain they continued because a higher authority (the man who conducted the experiment) told them to do so.

To me this experiment is one of the most important in the field of psychology. Indeed it shows how people react when they face a dilemma concerning an order: should I follow the order, even if it is stupid or dangerous, or should I disobey and take the risk to be punished by the person who gave me the order. This study can for instance help to explain the behavior of the German citizens during World War II.

An article which appeared in the New York Times tells us that this study is still accurate today. Indeed a postdoctoral student at Ohio State University conducted almost the same experiment than Milgram, and got the same results. So we have to be careful and stay conscious that, even if we are well-intentioned citizens, there is still a risk that we do bad things under a higher authority or a group pressure. One movie, The Wave, illustrate it well, as well as a french TV show that exactly reproduced the Milgram study.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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