Recently in Writing 1 Category

oops.jpgMy favorite area in psychology is social psychology. Social psychology is a discipline that uses scientific methods "to understand and explain how the thought, feeling and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of other human beings" (Gordon Allport, 1985). It helps us how to keep relations with others, which is extremely important in our daily social networking.

One concept enlightened me in the Lilienfeld text is belief perseverance. The belief perseverance is a trap that even when evidences deny the belief we hold before, we will still prone to keep it. We are reluctant to admit our error, especially in front of the public. Sometimes we even spend time on it just because we don't want to be proved wrong; it makes us feel embarrassed. Perhaps every one has fallen prey onto it.

Let's put ourselves in others' shoes. A person's reflection and behavior will be influenced by social environment and group interaction, both in positive and negative ways. If we point out others' mistake publicly, it may lead to an endless debate, and obviously, it will also hurt others' self-esteem. In this situation, our opinions will be difficult to be accepted. What's more, we will look unfriendly and impolite. Therefore, keep in mind, next time if you want to indicate someone else's mistake, pointing it out publicly will never be wise.

I think the process of studying psychology is the one to do self-analysis and self-reflection. I can look through myself deeper than before by using scientific thinking method. Only when I understand my weakness can I improve myself in proper way.

Biology and confirmation Bias

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I am a biologist. I have been trained to think like a biologist and to explore every possible option in research as well as to observe every thing within an experiment. When learning about confirmation Bias in the book and lectures it got me considering how well I have or anyone has actually done this. In research we always think that we take everything into account and we account for everything but are we really or are we just thinking about the things that will help our research reach the outcome we so desire. For me psychology and how the brain functions is impressive and exciting as well as foreign so the thought that I might be subconsciously directing my research toward the outcome that would prove my hypothesis correct is to an extent mind blowing. For many researchers I can see how after so much time has gone by working on one project it means so much more to them that the data come out to support their hypothesis or theory but I worry if that desire over rides their scientific thought and directs them to only collect or account for the things that support their work and not absolutely everything. It makes you second guess a lot of the big scientific finds because who knows if they are really real or if the desire of the scientist to get an outcome guided the results of the study.
For me this is the biggest concept that has me concerned as a biologist but many other aspects discussed have my thinking. Metaphysical claims also have me thinking because again as a scientist we don't like the unexplainable and they are talking that there are just things that can't be tested or investigated. How do people then know anything about that subject if it can't be tested? More importantly to me is how do other people just let it set with the idea that there is a subject that simply can't be tested or explored and it is what it is and we might not know exactly what it is. I don't know if that has to do strictly with me or my experience as a biologist that has me being uncomfortable with not knowing. I look forward to exploring things like this more as the semester goes on in order to get a firmer grasp on the whole subject.

How to Blog

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Apparently, many of you had questions and/or problems trying to post the first writing assignment to the blog. To those of you who figured it out: congrats! But for those of you who haven't posted blog 1 yet (roughly half of you) or ran into some issues, here is a refresher.

First, you should post your entry to our section's site (Section 23 PSY1001 Fall 2011). You do not have to create your own blog, but if you did, I commend you on your effort! To be able to post entries, you have to log into the library's UThink web site. Once you are logged in, you will come to a screen called "Dashboard." At the top of this page, there is a "System Overview" pull-down menu. From that menu, you should choose our section's site. That will take you to a new page; on that page, you should go to the "Create" pull-down menu and select "Entry." Then, start writing!

A few helpful tips...


  • In order to post a picture, you need to have the picture saved in some way first. Then, go to the spot in your entry where you roughly would like the picture. Click on the "Insert Image Icon" (the one that sort of looks like a house with a sun over it; second from the right on the toolbar). Follow the directions from there...


  • To insert a link as text, copy the link location. (I find it easiest to have the link open in another tab or window to do this.) Highlight the text that you would like to use as the link. Then, click on the link icon on the toolbar (looks like a chain), paste your link in the box and go from there.


  • To embed video, you have two options. (1) Insert the video as a link, using the above directions for inserting a link as text. (2) Actually embed the video (you'll see a still of the video in your finished entry). To do this, whatever system you use (e.g., YouTube), should have a "share" option. Click on this and you should be able to either get the HTML code for linking to the video or a button that says "Embed." If you click on "Embed," you will get the HTML code that you need to cut and paste into your entry to embed the video.



NOTE: for links, pictures, and video, you will NOT see the images in the "Create Entry" box. To make sure you've done things correctly, you should preview your entry before publishing it. Once you've saved, your entry will be published, unless you have "Draft" selected in the Published window to the left of the Create Entry box. If you write in draft mode, be sure that you eventually publish your entry so that you can received credit!

To those of you who have not published yet, get those posts up ASAP. Be sure to categorize your entry as "Writing 1." Writing 2 is due next Sunday night (10/9)! The prompts are the same as Writing 1, but you have not had much new material since the last writing was due. Therefore, you may include sensation and perception concepts, as well as consciousness, if you choose the first option (see syllabus for prompt or my earlier post about writing 1). Good luck and please let me know if you run into any problems or have any questions!

Update: A student from another section posted this very nice explanation on how to blog. If you are a visual learner, this has step-by-step pictures to guide you through the process. (Keep in mind that you need to post to our section's blog and not to Section 24's!)

Occam Assesses Aliens

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A mystery that has been troubling our societies for some 50 years now is whether or not there are other beings outside our galaxy. Many have claimed to see or interact with these beings and there are many pictures available of strange craft that no one can conveniently confirm or deny the fact of whether or not these pictures are fake. Those that want the existence of other life forms in space even show a great deal of confirmation bias when it is presented to them that there is no actual hard evidence proving that extraterrestrials actually exist. They have convinced themselves that there must be no evidence proving their existence because the government has come in and wiped all evidence away.
http://www.latest-ufo-sightings.net/
Here is a link that shows CIA files that have been recently released "dealing" with accounts of extraterrestrials. The point of the article is to show that the government has in fact been meddling with evidence of the existence of other worldly beings, however the article itself even states that although extraterrestrials are mentioned in the files, there "is no specific mention of extraterrestrials, or crashed alien spaceships." All the accounts are of something someone saw that may have been a UFO, which is a very big claim, but it might have burned up before it hit the ground, or it occurred in an isolated location so only one person bore witness to it. So, for all the amazing claims that these witnesses have, there appears to be no hard evidence whatsoever to back any of it up.
Besides the outrageous claims made by these people, there are much simpler explanations for almost all of these sightings. The article mentions that the majority of these cases occurred during the time of the cold war, when our technology was advancing very rapidly. Is it not possible that these aliens could actually be a new form of flight developed by the military for the military? This was a time when our government was trying to beat out the USSR's military in a race of arms, so these alien sightings may just have been someone mistaking a new form of airborne craft for something other worldly.
As far as the matter of UFO's goes, the claims themselves are much larger then the amount of evidence backing them up, and there is usually a much simpler explanation for what someone might have seen.

Violence and Video Games: Correlation vs. Causation

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Original article http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_and_video_games_playing_with_violence

One claim that has been made in today's society is that video games, especially violent ones, are detrimental to children's mental capacity, saying that they become immune to the effects of aggressive behavior and criminal activity, therefore morphing their morals at a young age. With this claim, there is no real way to test that the violence in adolescents in modern times derives from any form of violent video game. There are other factors that come into play in the equation; this claim falls into the scientific thinking principle number two which states that correlation isn't causation, and illusory correlation. Also, there is no way to prove that violence in adolescents derives from video games, therefore the theory is not falsifiable. This theory could possibly be developed from simple heuristics, or shortcuts that the mind takes to make sense of things. To explain, adults in general would like to find an explanation for the increase in violence in today's youth, therefore they found something to blame it upon: video games. There could be many reasons why there is an abundance of violence and aggression in today's adolescents, therefore to evaluate this particular claim one should use the principle of replicability, and prove without a doubt that the correlation between violence and video games is definitely caused by the other.

Nature and Nuture

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In my opinion, Psychology is an abstract subject. As psychologist, they do a lot on the mind and behavior for human beings. The most interesting thing for me is that they can figure out what you you are thinking about through your behavior. Is it interesting? They can guess what you are thinking about, what you will do next almost correct. That is why I inspect them so much.
In this class, I want to learn more about the human behavior. Like nature and nurture. Which has a bigger influence on human behivor? That really makes me excited. The link I showed is talking about the homosexuality. The twins one is homo and the other is not, and they have same DNA. The psychologist said it is not complete genic problem but environmental problem. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Osw05HGe5I) From the beginning of the video, we can see the rooms the twins have. One is like general boy, and the other makes himself like a girl. This maybe influence them a lot.
And the last class- the visual system. Which is also interested, what you see maybe not true. And the apple pie Penny gave us is another example. It surprised me a lot. This pie is not made by apple!!!
I am interested in this class. I think I will learn more funny thing in future class.

Emotion and Motivation

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The area of psychology that interests me most is emotion and motivation. There are so many ways to influence people's emotion and motivation. And there is a connection between them. My cousin had a baby girl last year. I went to my cousin's home and visited her and her families this summer vacation in Ningbo. When I first went into their home, the baby girl was very happy to welcome me coming to their home. She put all her attention on her mother, her father and me. After talking with my cousin and her husband for a while, the baby girl felt unhappy and tried to stand up on her bed to see what we were doing. My cousin felt that her baby girl was unhappy and went to check out, but it was seem like no problem with baby girl. We continued talking and then we heard my cousin's baby girl crying. She could not put all her attention on her mother, her father, and me anymore. My cousin guessed her baby was hungry, so she prepared something for her. When my cousin's baby girl saw the food that her mother prepared for her and ate it, she began stop crying and put all her attention on us again. I found this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bm19EYKJFNE about baby stop crying when giving them food. From this experience, I found there is a connection between emotion and motivation. Emotion can influence people's motivation and hunger is one of determinants for motivation.

baby girl

I am looking forward to learning more about emotion and motivation. I also want to learn more about other determinants of motivation and what other factors can influence people's emotion. I am thinking about is there any connection between happiness and self-esteem. What causes people's feelings and emotion?


Memories or Megabytes?

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A fairly recent study put on by researchers at Columbia, Harvard and the University of Wisconsin sought to test the effects of internet/computer use to see if it is changing the way people remember information. For one part of the experiment, participants were asked type 40 different bits of trivia into a computer. One example of such trivia was "an ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain." Half of these participants were told the computer would save what they typed in, while the other half were told their items would be erased.memory-capacity.jpg The study found that the participants who were told their items would not be saved were better able to recall what they typed as opposed to the participants who thought their items would be saved. In essence, the people who thought they could simply check the computer later did not make as much as an effort to remember what they typed. The experiment toys with the notion of transactive memory and our growing reliance on computers and internet. The idea behind transactive memory is that we rely on other people and materials in our lives to help recall information. The advent of computers and internet has increased our reliance on accessing information transactively. In this day and age we don't need to remember everything anymore. Google has become a household term, with the click of a mouse we can pretty much find anything we want. The validity of this experiment seems legitimate, except we aren't told how these participants were selected - some people may be better at remembering information. If you tell people something won't be saved, of course they are going to pay closer attention to the details. While people argue that the "Google Effect" is making us dumber, I have to disagree. Aren't we taking advantage of our resources? Isn't it making us more productive? Why spend three hours looking for a formula in a dusty book when I could find it instantly on Google? I argue that with the "Google Effect" we have more time to work rather than waste valuable time recalling information. There is in fact successful replicability of this experiment. All in all, there is still a lot to explore, but is this phenomenon good or bad?

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/15/health/15memory.html?ref=memory

wonders for your feet.jpgOne of the nurses I work with is concerned about her cousin, who's on a "human growth hormone diet." Apparently people are taking mail-order growth hormone to lose weight, which sounds pretty sketchy on several levels. Human growth hormone (HGH) is a serious drug; you have to inject it, and it can have serious side effects (see: acromegaly).

It's FDA-approved to treat growth hormone deficiency and a few other conditions in children and adults. I did a web search on HGH, and apparently this is a seriously big "health" fad.

HGHbod.jpg
It's illegal to sell real HGH without a prescription, so none of the "supplements" that turn up in a casual web search actually claim to contain any HGH, they only claim to induce your body to produce more of its own HGH. Oh, and they can be taken orally. But apparently these products, by tricking your body into producing extra growth hormone, are supposed to help you build muscle, lose weight, boost your energy...all these things to make your body all young and strong.

Sounds like a wonder drug...so how does it measure up scientifically?

Many of these advertisements are, interestingly enough, written from the perspective of a "skeptic" (example: http://hghlook.com/), so they do pay lip service to a few principles of scientific thinking. I found one page that summarized a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine; it claimed that this study controlled for other variables that could account for the subjects' weight loss and renewed energy (exercise, diet, etc.). This page did not link to the study, nor did it provide its title or the full name of its primary author, but who has time to look that stuff up, anyway? Numerous pages "helpfully" guide you through the morass of hoaxes and unacceptable options out there, guiding you to the supposedly safe and effective products they advertise.

Several of these products invoke a correlation between aging and a decline in growth hormone levels, implying (or, in most cases, stating) that a deficiency of growth hormone actually causes aging, and that restoring growth hormone will restore your youthful vigor. The advertisers are relying on us to forget that graying hair is also a symptom of aging, and that dyeing it back to its youthful hue won't actually make you younger.

hgh old people.jpg
Source: http://www.genf20.com/
Many of the pages dismiss real growth hormone as an unacceptable option because it is "synthetic," whereas their own products are proprietary blends of herbs and amino acids, and, in at least one case (http://xtreme-hgh.com/), GABA and L-Dopa...holy crap. They attribute the side effects of real HGH to its being "synthetic." bottle.jpgThe public should know that if these products really do raise your HGH, they would have the same side effects as the "synthetic" stuff (and probably a few more besides).

The "evidence" given for these products amounts to a large number of anecdotes; it's likely that individuals reporting positive results have experienced the placebo effect, or have misattributed the beneficial effects of other lifestyle changes to the supplement.

The funny thing is, there is a grain of truth in all of this growth-hormone replacement business. Though growth hormone deficiency gets more attention when it occurs in childhood, the condition can also develop in adulthood and cause some of the symptoms these products purport to treat: reduced muscle mass, low bone density, hair loss, reduced energy, high cholesterol. Of course, not everyone who has these symptoms has an actual growth hormone deficiency, and those who do will be better off getting real medical attention.

Is Google Making Us Stupid? - Replicability

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Link to Original Article: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/6868/

1_google_logo.jpg

This article is about the Internet and how all of our exposure to it has actually reprogrammed, in a way, our brain's ability to think deeply and really take in all that we read. As the author of the article described how he was no longer able to concentrate on long pieces of literature, he also found himself skimming over most of the words, looking to get the gist of the entire piece rather than taking it all in and really thinking about it. What he was experiencing has actually been documented and studied before, so it is replicable.

As a result of using the Internet for all of our information, the modern-day human has become less of a "deep thinker" and more a information skimmer. Even I have experienced this change in thinking over the past couple years, as I have spent more and more time online instead of reading books and articles. In essence, the entire advent of the Internet is reprogramming our minds to simply look for answers and concrete evidence instead of opening up doors for deliberation and deep thought. It has reduced our ability to stay focused on one thing by bombarding us with multiple types of unrelated information on one web page, one of the studies in the article says.

This "new way" of thinking has been unknowingly adopted by many people over the last 10 or so years with the advent of Google. Instead of pouring over books and articles to find information we need, we have become accustomed to putting in a few key words and finding the answers to our questions almost immediately.

The change in our brain's capacity to interpret data is also seen in how people write articles and distribute information online. Instead of having lengthy articles that take 20 minutes or so to read, we have now become accustomed to reading 1-4 paragraphs and having all of the information. Some great examples of this are Twitter and pretty much any other blog out there.

Twitter-Logo.png

In conclusion, Google and the Internet as a whole have been slowly but surely reprogramming the way we think and interpret information. This has been found to be true through many studies that monitor online patterns in people who are browsing the internet. Thus, the findings have been replicable.

Ruling Out Rival Hypothesis - Creation vs. Evolution

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One of the six principles of scientific thinking is "Ruling out rival hypothesis". This means when evaluating a claim, we need to make sure we have considered other possible explanations for the claim. I think this principle is important because it helps avoid jumping to erroneous conclusions. I would like to address this principle using the theory of evolution. Often evolution is presented as fact; even in a recent psychology lecture, a professor stated the visual systems of different animals were not designed by God but were evolved. However, he failed to ask himself and present other possible explanations. Creation is absolutely another plausible explanation.

Anyone who wants to deny the existence of God has to provide an answer to the question: Where did the universe come from? Evolutionists claim it came from a speck of matter. When they are asked where the speck of dust came from, they talk about the universe exploding into existence and the spontaneous generation of matter and any other psychobabble that they can think of. Scientists have been unable to dispute the simple truth that nothing comes from nothing.

I'd like to list the many evidences of God as the creator of the universe, but the lists are much too long to include in a simple blog. I will start however with two paragraphs from the book Evidence and Truth written by Robert J. Morgan.

The universe is a cosmos, not a chaos. It has order and design, and I would like to explore this theme further. Perhaps you are reading this book in the glow of an electric light. That electricity is produced in enormous generators, harnessed at a power plant, and transmitted through a complex system of public utility wires that flash it into your room. Would anyone suggest that the utility systems of your city happened by blind accident or by random chance?

Yet in the muddy waters of the Amazon lives an olive-brown eel that grows eight feet long and has six built-in electric generators composed of thousands of modified muscle cells called electroplaques. It can produce enough electricity to stun and even kill those it touches, its electrical circuitry being far more complex and intricate than the wiring of my house or yours. Is it chance or design?

If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to watch the video link attached. The video talks about how science confirms the Bible is true. It is presented by Dr. Jason Lisle who has a Ph.D. in astrophysics. Just copy and paste this link onto your browser: http://youtu.be/SxdjV1ATJ-Y.

I'm curious why, if you aren't able to rule out a rival hypothesis, why is it that only one view is can be emphasized without equal explanations of both views?

Please leave your comments.

Ghost Hunters are Victims of Confirmation Bias

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In the last couple years there have been a series of new ghost and paranormal TV shows. I find the shows interesting, but I am also a skeptic. Lilienfeld pointed out in our book the concept of Confirmation Bias and I believe the hosts/viewers of these shows have fallen victim to it.

taps1.jpg

Confirmation bias as defined by Lilienfeld is "The tendency to seek out evidence that supports our beliefs and deny, dismiss, or distort evidence that contradicts them."

In the case of Ghost Hunters the hosts of the shows tend to point out the smallest anomalies on audio and videotapes. Most of these video anomalies can be explained by lens defects, dust, and digital malfunctions. The hosts however, take what can be explained by normal incidents and present the "evidence" as proof that ghosts exist because it supports their beliefs.

The hosts are also showing signs of overconfidence by thinking that their video and audio evidence is perfect proof that paranormal events exist. In reality many more tests especially in controlled situations would need to be conducted.

Although it is obvious to me that the hosts have become victims of confirmation bias I am not sure how they could test their beliefs in paranormal activities. Part of their belief is that paranormal activities can only happen in specific locations. By conducting an experiment in a location that is rumored to be haunted brings in bias to the experiment.

Nature versus nurture: what a depressing debate!

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The debate about nature and nurture excite my curiosity. Is our behavior more influenced by our genes than by the environment in which we grow up? Or is it the opposite? In both cases it is depressing to know that our free will does not really exist! To illustrate this debate, we can focus on only one domain of study: intelligence; and try to answer the two previous questions in the domain of intelligence. What would be your answer?

If you answer yes at the first question, you think that intelligence is mostly influenced by our genes. And you can make a good case for this assumption. You can use the IQ test studies made by Thomas Bouchard from the University of Minnesota and computed by Ridley in his book Genome: The autobiography of a species in 23 chapters. We know from these studies that twins reared together or apart have almost the same scores, whereas adopted children living together have totally different scores. Some studies also show that our spatial and reasoning abilities are mostly due to our genes. So if we take logic to extremes we could say that we cannot do anything to improve our school scores. Bad luck if the nature has not been nice with our brain capacities.

But if you answer yes to the second question, you also have good arguments to support your idea. And you can show us the work of Bouchard and Segal (Handbook of Intelligence: Theories, Measurements, and Applications, 1985) and Liungman (What is IQ? Intelligence, Heredity and Environment, 1975). They both found that intelligence varies with at least 21 factors. Among these 21 factors, there are the social group of the parental home, the average of books read, the degree of parental rigidity, or the number of siblings. So it is not all over at the birth. Everybody can improve his brain capacities; intelligence seems to have a large reaction range. But which are your chances to get high scores at the IQ test if you live in a poor family, socially disadvantaged, with no books at home and parents who are lax with you? They are low. Therefore kids living in socially disadvantaged families have fewer chances to get good results at school than other kids from families with a higher social status.

So the tabula rasa theorem of John Locke is finally maybe not better for the human being than the behavior geneticists' point of view.

That video that I found on Youtube shifts the nature/nurture debate in the domain of criminal behavior: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiUfQ9TXwBw

Sources:
http://wilderdom.com/personality/L4-1IntelligenceNatureVsNurture.html
Bouchard, T. J., & Segal, N. L. (1985). Environment and IQ. In B.B. Wolman (Ed.). Handbook of Intelligence: Theories, Measurements, and Applications (pp. 391-464). New York: John Wiley.
Liungman, C.G. (1975). What is IQ? Intelligence, Heredity and Environment. London: Gordon Cremonesi.
Ridley, M. (1999). Genome: The autobiography of a species in 23 chapters. London: Fourth Estate Ltd.


Twitter Says

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An article was posted today on Yahoo news by blogger Adriana Diaz claiming that "Study Says Twitter Can Gauge Moods." The evidence for this claim came from researchers at Cornell University who examined 500 million tweets from more than 2 million people in 84 countries. The article indicated that between the hours of 6 am and 9 am people are very positive, that moods decline throughout the day and at around 4 pm moods pick up, weekends included. They determined this claim through the words people used in their tweets such as "awesome," "agree," "annoyed," and "afraid," swear words as well.
This claim however cannot be proven fact because it does not follow all principles of scientific thinking that are crucial when determining how reliable a claim is. The first principle it defies is ruling out rival hypothesis. Researchers do not know whether or not another variable could have caused these emotions; whether it is that they drank caffeine in the morning that boosted their mood, or whether the morning and nighttime is the only time of day they were presented with an opportunity to tweet. For that, we are not able to reject other probable explanations. Secondly, this claim goes against the principle of correlation isn't causation. The argument that the words people use in their tweets determine the mood they are in is not necessary true for many reasons. First, Tweeter is a social media network that connects individuals over the Internet, which means anything can be said behind closed doors whether or not it is truthful. Secondly, because certain words are used at certain times of the day does not accurately display one's mood. There is no operational definition or factually for what words represent what moods; words can have many different meanings and the tone of these words are unknown. Thus, the connection between moods and words over an Internet site cannot be truly demonstrated.
One alternate explanation for the findings could be that individuals tweet what they think their followers would like to hear. Harvard psychologist, Dan Gildbert, states that "Tweets may tell us more about what the tweeter thinks the follower wants to hear than about what the tweeter is actually feeling" (The New York Times). The principle that is most useful for evaluating this claim is falsiability. This claim does not try and explain every tweet but instead can be used as a testable hypothesis.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/trending-now/study-says-twitter-gauge-moods-store-shocking-letter-161015051.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/30/science/30twitter.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Thinking Sick, Be Sick?

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After reading the materials on placebo phenomenon, I was impressed by the fact that some people's believe of taking the "real medicine" can actually result improvement to their condition. And patients' reactions after taking the "dummy pill" can be greatly influence by the suggestions and cautions on its effectiveness given by the experimenters, just as a sugar pill may cure your headache simply because someone told you it's going to work, it may makes your symptoms worse if you were told otherwise, in other words, "thinking sick, be sick."side effect.jpgOpposite to the placebo effect, a nocebo effect is an ill-effect caused by the suggestion or belief that something is harmful. An experiment showed that more than two-thirds of 34 college students developed headaches when told that a non-existent electrical current passing through their heads could produce a headache. In another experiment, about 20% of patients report uncomfortable side effects after taking a sugar pill in controlled clinical trials of a drug -- "and even higher percentage if they are asked."

But I fail to see whether there is enough indications in these two examples show that the ill-reactions are actually cause by the non-existent electrical current and the sugar pill. Participants' discomfort may due to other factors such as the different experiment environment, warning from experimenters, insufficient lighting, etc. Anything perceive by the participants of a study "may be imbued with rich meaning for them and have profound effects for good or for ill on their response to treatment." As an important scientific thinking principle reminds us: "Correlation Isn't Causation." In my opinion, "thinking sick, be sick" is not that simple as it may appear.

My question remained after the reading is: what measures can we take to prevent the placebo/nocebo effect from happening or minimize its influence?

"nocebo and nocebo effect", unknown author, http://www.skepdic.com/nocebo.html, Last updated on 01-Mar-2011
"The Flip Side of Placebos: The Nocebo Effect", By John Cloud
"The nocebo response" (This article was first printed in the March 2005 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.)

Shaving Hair Makes It Grow Thicker

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shaving-legs.jpgI have had this told to me since I can remember - that shaving your hair makes it grow back thicker. It's a myth that has caused many women to turn to alternative hair removal methods for fear of growing thicker hair. I have also found it on Snopes. After doing some research, I have found that this is,indeed, a myth. However, the hairs do grow back more noticeable than before. It is true that after shaving your body hair, it may feel slightly rougher or coarser than you remember. This is due to the fact that hair that grows naturally have a wispy, tapered tip whereas hair that grows after being shaved have a rectangular, blunt tip. This makes the hair seem thicker and darker than before you shaved even though in truth, the width of the hair is the same. According to scientific thinking principle 3, a claim is only meaningful if it is falsifiable. In this case, the claim is falsifiable because it can be tested. In fact, it has been tested and proven otherwise. Apart from that, the study is replicable as all findings based on the matter have been the same.

Other than that, in my opinion, having hair grow after a few days of not having hair at all will definitely make the hair seem more noticeable. An analogy for that is coming out into a bright area from a dark room. Everything will seem extremely bright because your eyes aren't accustomed to the light yet. In the same way, you are used to having no hair so that when hair grows, it seems extremely coarse and dark relative to what it was before. This could be another explanation as to why hair SEEMS to grow back thicker after it's shaved.

Right or Left Brained?

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One article I found interesting in the text is whether or not a person can be right or left brained. If a person was right brained, they were thought to be more creative, artistic, and emotional. If a person was considered to be left brained, they were more logical, scholarly, and analytical. The book even notes that people have tried to make political comparisons to this theory. According to the text, much more research needs to be done before this claim can be supported. I personally believe that there is a correlation between how your brain works and what kind of personality you have. For me, I am extremely creative and artistic, and I don't like to over analyze things. My friend however, loves math and science and she thinks critically about everything. I believe that there has to be some sort of connection between your brain and the way you think and act. Whether or not its right vs left I am not sure, but there has to be something!

I found this fun little quiz that can tell you if you are right and left brained. Were the results what you thought they would be? (Mine were - I always knew I was "right brained")

http://www.blogthings.com/areyourightorleftbrainedquiz/

Bryan Tabery, Placebo Effect and its use in the Medical Field

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The placebo effect has been researched extensively within the medical field and many breakthroughs have been made. First, the placebo effect is improvement just from the expectation of improvement. In 1957, a patient known as Mr. Wright by the doctors had cancer the size of oranges in his lymph nodes, and every treatment had previously been unsuccessful. As a last resort they gave him Krebiozen, an anti-cancer cure shot. Three days late his cancer in his lymph nodes' size had been cut in half. They tried Krebiozen to many other cancer patients, but to no avail (Niemi par. 2).ff_placebo_effect_f.jpg The placebo effects can be just as successful, if not more, than of actual drugs. While reading an article from NaturalNews, "Placebo effect should be embraced as real medicine." I was introduced to some the astounding breakthroughs with the placebo effect being used at medicine. "In the last 10 years we've made tremendous strides in demonstrating the biological veracity of the placebo effect," said Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard Medical School. "The frontier is, how do we utilize what is clearly an important phenomenon in a way that's consistent with patient-practitioner trust, and informed consent (Gutierrez par. 2)? In most aspects, it can be very unethical and dangerous for doctors to prescribe placebo instead of actual medicine. Obviously, you can't tell them you're giving the patient fake pills and have the patient sign consent. My main question after reading this article is; what is the solution to being able to give patients placebo pills, which can cure faster than regular prescriptions, instead of regular medicine while being legal?

Gutierrez, David. "Placebo Effect Should Be Embraced as Real Medicine." Natural Health News. 16 Oct. 2010. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. .
Niemi, Maj-Britt. "Placebo Effect: A Cure in the Mind: Scientific American." Science News, Articles and Information | Scientific American. 25 Feb. 2009. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. .

Blog 1 Example 2

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How I would respond to the prompt today (as promised in Example 1 that I posted last week):

chickenmultiple.jpgThe area of psychology that interests me most is psychometrics (testing and measurement), followed by personality and clinical psychology. Individual differences underlie all three of these areas. If there was no variation in behavior, there would be no reason to study psychology! I am most interested in applied testing and measurement. I have worked on studies assessing the psychometric properties of alcohol abuse and dependence scales for men and women (and men vs. women), psychopathy scales,and ability tests. My most recent work has been on determining the dimensionality of items and tests. In testing, it would be more efficient (and more realistic) to measure more than one ability at a time with an item or test, but many popular psychometric techniques assume primarily single dimension (or unidimensional) items and/or tests.

My interest in psychometrics began at an early age. I was a very good math student and wondering why classmates struggled with math or experienced great anxiety over math tests. This lead me to wonder why differences in ability exist and how one could best measure these differences. I am still fascinated by the constructs of math and test anxiety. Although my siblings and I all are good at math, our mother experiences great anxiety over the simplest of math problems! From having students discuss math anxiety in previous classes, it sounds like the causes are primarily situational (e.g., having a bad teacher or bad experience with math). This video seems to agree:
I would love to do research on math and test anxiety and am filing that away for a later time!

One thing that has surprised me most about this class is that even though it has been a long time since I've taken intro psych, the core concepts and definitions are the same. I'm looking forward to reacquainting myself with the overall field of psychology and getting out of my specialized psychometric bubble!

Blog 1 example 1

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This is how I would have written blog 1 as my 18-year-old, second semester freshman self taking PSY101 (I'll also write an example as to how my current self would reply to the prompt):

baby girl.jpgThe area of psychology that interests me most is developmental psychology. I have a baby cousin that I babysit occasionally when I go home. It has been enjoyable to watch her change in between visits home. I found this video about object permanence; while my cousin is not quite old enough to exhibit object permanence, I look forward to testing out the concept the next time I visit her! It might be fun to hide objects on her and watch her reaction. At her age (approximately 8 months old), if I replicated an object permanence "experiment" over and over, I should get the same result. She simply is not old enough to realize that out of sight does not mean the object disappears! It amazes me that babies can be "fooled" by the world and watching them learn and change over time is fascinating!

I am looking forward to learning more about development, intelligence, and personality in this course. Differences among people in areas such as intelligence and personality intrigue me. I wonder what causes the differences and how such differences contribute to decision-making. Are these differences due to biological causes, environmental causes, or both? How do intelligence and personality change over the lifespan? Can they change much or is there a fixed-point value for people? How do psychologist measure intelligence and personality, especially because these concepts seem to have multiple components?

*Of course, now my interest in developmental psychology mainly is due to this guy: rsd4.jpg

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