January 2012 Archives

Smiles around the World

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charliesheen1.jpgAround the world each culture has developed its own gestures. For example, the hand sign that is used to say OK in the United States means asshole in other countries and in the Middle East showing the bottom of your foot to someone is a serious insult. However, as a species, humans have developed the smile as a universal sign of happiness. I find it extremely interesting that smiles have developed in separate, unconnected cultures to mean the same thing. It makes sense to me that smiles have the same meaning across the world because humans all originated from the same group of people in Africa who developed as a species over millions of years. However, I find it hard to believe that smiles are written into genetic code. At the same time that is the most likely answer because animals and humans are born with knowledge of how to walk, eat, and survive as an infant.
To me, seeing a smile tells me that the person who is smiling is in a good mood. Sometimes just seeing someone smile puts me into a better mood just like yawns make other people yawn and laughter spreads in a group of people.

Don't take Freud too literally

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Despite being discounted by modern science for it's subjectivity, lack of replicability and emphasis on sexuality, the work of Sigmund Freud has been influential both within and outside of the field of psychology. In fact, even less accepted theories (like the Oedipal Complex) are still major points of discussion in looking at literature. The idea of the Unconscious has even been used to question the validity of scientific empiricism itself. I am taking a class where the reading material is based heavily on these assumptions and am curious about how many of Freud's ideas are still thought to be of value in modern practice. Further, our textbook establishes that claims are falsifiable or metaphysical, how are claims which question this binary itself classified? Does Freud's lack of applicability in his own field make the continued use of it by other disciplines a poor choice?

This is the trailer for the mediocre movie about Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud I saw this weekend. It (like psychoanalysis) may focus a bit too much on sex.

One a day... keeps fat away?

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Insert one dollar and 25 cents... that's the easy part, right? So now the question is what to pick? There are the usual options: crush, coke, sprite, water, and diet coke... I personally always chose a diet coke, but could that be affecting my health? I always hear people debate whether or not diet pop is actually worse than regular so I decided to do a bit of research on the subject. I looked at three different articles and opinions on diet pop, and the verdict? Still clueless, everyone says differently.

The first article which I have attached, says pretty bluntly that "diet pop makes you fat". For research, they did a study on people between the ages of 65-74 to test how much weight diet pop can add on. In their study they found that the people who drank diet gained 70% more weight. They also state that the fake sugars in diet cause people to be more hungry than others. Although their research seems legit and it comes from a reputable place- the age group on which the tests were performed doesn't exactly make it relatable for me... you agree?

The second article talks more about the safety of these drinks and it states that diet pop does not cause cancer as some have come to believe. They also discuss the weight gain issue through two different sets of experiments; one on rats, the other on humans. The rats gained weight and the humans didn't.. I think I'm going to put my trust in the second test in this case. They say that in moderation diet drinks will not affect your health OR your weight.

And finally, the third article is very neutral. It is a question and answer style. The question? Will my diet pop affect my health? The answer? It won't harm you if you have one or two a day. Studies have shown that more than that of any type of pop can lead to obesity issues, basically drink in moderation and you should be fine. Or you could drink milk instead.....

Now I don't know about you, but I can see issues with each one of these views. In the first article the group of people tested were seniors and they have a slower metabolism in general, so I believe that there should have been a range of ages in order to get an accurate set of data. The second discussed a test done on rats that turned out negatively and one on humans which was positive. I feel that these two studies were too different to tell what the actual results should be. The third was basically an opinion piece so it mostly needed more research to back it up.

From these three sources, I have concluded that as long as you don't drink more than a diet OR regular pop a day- your weight will not be affected. One a day will keep the doctor away.... and the weight.


How do we talking?

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When we see something you never seen before, you may talk to your friends, "It was amazing" or "it was so interesting". Have you ever think about how your brain acts when you talk to others using your language? Or have you ever think about why you can use language to express your emotion exactly?
In the chapter 8, scientists divide language into four levels: Phonemes, Morphemes, Syntax and Extralinguistic information. Simply, phonemes are the sounds of the language, and the morphemes are the smallest units of a meaningful word. Syntax is rules to construct a sentences and extralinguistic information provide more information to make a sentence more meaningful.
Even a simplest sentence needs collaboration of different complex processing areas of the brain. The picture below marked all language processing areas of the brain.
brain funcation
Also I found two picture can make us easily understand how the brain works when we say the words we heard and when we say the words we read.
When we see some words on book, the message first send to primary visual corte, then deliver to language area on the back including Wernicke's area. Wernicke's area deals with the words to let the person understand the words. After that, the messages are send to Broca's area, which main function is let brain to compose a correct sentence. Finally, the massages arrive primary motor cortex to command the muscle around mouth move and people can talking.

Ariel Rice
disrupting grace.gifOne topic I found very interesting in the text was located in Chapter 3 discussing Nature and Nurture, which is the debate over how genetic inheritance and environment factors contribute to human development. The reason I found this section interesting is because an old family friend had to give up their adopted daughter with reasons pertaining to the nature and nurture debate. Before the family had received their adopted daughter, she had been sexually abused as a very young child. However, the family was unaware of this at the time and adopted her and raised her with nurture and love for six years. The daughter as she grew older was extremely aggressive, disconnected, and unable to show loving emotions. She soon became dangerous that it destroyed the family and tore them apart. They ended up having to give her up because as the mother says in her book she was "broken" and they were unable to help her anymore. This is a representation of nature overcoming nurture. Even though this family gave their adopted daughter love and care, she was unable to overcome the terrifying environment she had been exposed to when she was young. Because of the traumatic events at such a young age, they shaped the young girl for the rest of her life; even through extensive workings with therapists she was not able to overcome her past upbringing. A question to consider is, is it possible to move past a horrific past environment (as seen with this daughter) and be able to move forward and get on a with a normal and healthy life, or does your past environments stay with you the rest of your life?
This is a link to the book written by the mother of the adopted daughter which explains what she went through and how she had to give up her daughter. http://www.disruptinggrace.com/Disrupting_Grace/Home.html

Who Are You?

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Chapter 14 discusses the different structures and theories about personality. Theories such as where our personalities come from, what makes up our personality, differences in personalities, and many other theories. An example is if our personality traits are heritable and in our genes or influenced by the environment. To study this, researchers studied the correlation between fraternal and identical twins who grew up together and those apart. Researchers also address the different kind of tests people take that that claims to tell more about ones personality. This I found very interesting, especially the psychological interpretation of the handwriting (graphology). Many companies rely on this information to identify employees that may be prone to dishonesty and other behaviors, even though investigators have found this method of reading personality trait through handwriting invalid. Participants that wrote brief autobiographies revealed some of their own personality traits through the content, rather than writing identical passages where no personal stories can be read by the graphologist. If a participant wrote a brief autobiography opposite who they are, what would the results yield about his personality? Will the graphologist base the personality traits by the handwriting style or on the fake story's content?

What Scares You?

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Have you ever thought about what scares you? I can think of a few things that make me a little nervous..spiders, for example. However, I see a spider and I just step on it. Easy. Some people cannot just "step on" their fears. There is such a thing as a phobia. People with phobias feel an intense fear of an object or situation that's greatly out of proportion to an actual threat.

Imagine having a social phobia. Being in the Psychology discussion classroom would cause such a panic that you wouldn't be physically able to attend class. My little fear of spiders seems quite basic compared to a fear as great as a phobia. Now I'd like to know...What truly scares you?

Biological Psychology

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If you want to study psychology to understand what people are thinking, trying to figure out how humans' brains work is an important part of it. This is the main content for Chapter 3. It combines biology--the part of humans' brains--with psychology. The signals released from the neurons in our brain decide our behaviors. There are two main nerve systems in our brains to transfer information--the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The central nervous system contains the brain and spinal cord; the peripheral nervous system covers all other nerves existing outside of the CNS.Nervsyst_gubbe-CNS-PNS.png
There are more detailed classification inside these two nervous system:the cerebral cortex, which contains four lobes,basal ganglia, limbic system, cerebellum, brain stem, and spinal cord in the CNS; the somatic nervous system and autonomic nervous system in the PNS. In the CNS, especially in cerebral cortex,different areas control different humans' behavior.cortex2.gif
As the picture showed: prefrontal cortex works for various behavior and personality; motor cortex takes responsibility for movements; visual cortex shows us all images; somatosensory controls sensation; Broca's area helps us speak in front of people; and Wernicke's area gives us the ability to understand language--each area of cerebral cortex has its own responsibility for humans' behavior.

The Way We Think

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Psychology.gifChapter 1 provides us with a brief overview of what psychology encompasses and provides an introduction to the subject. It explains how psychology is just as much of a science as physics, chemistry, and biology. It also provides readers with the six principles of scientific thinking:
1. Ruling out Rival Hypotheses
2. Correlation Isn't Causation
3. Falsifiability
4. Replicability
5. Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence
6. Occam's Razor

The chapter also introduces to the theoretical frameworks of society and the people who are considered the leading figures in these perspectives. The most useful information that I got out of Ch. 1 was table 1.7 which describes the different types of psychologists and what they do differently from each other.

Chapter 7 is completely dedicated to our memories, and if they are actually as effective as we believe them to be. Unless you're Kim Peek, who was said to be a "real life Rain Man", it is easy to admit that we can't remember everything that has happened in our lives. In this chapter, the author discusses many reasons why we remember, and many reasons why we forget. The most interesting part of this chapter to me is when they talk about our brains' great abilities to distort memories, most of which are extremely subconscious. The book deems these qualities the seven sins of memory. This list includes: suggestibility, misattribution, bias, transience, persistence, blocking, and absentmindedness. I thought this was extremely interesting because, while reading through the seven sins, I realize that I am guilty of these actions more than I thought I would be. It's crazy to me that your brain can make these decisions for you, without you even consciously knowing it until after the fact. Below, I have added a cartoon that represents the act of misattribution, which is when suggestions lead us to distort memories.

PSY1001 Memory Pic.jpg

Innocent Liars?

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Have you ever watched The Maury Show and waited for the Lie Detector Test results to come back? On the show, those results are treated like conclusive evidence when in reality, the credibility of polygraph tests is dubious.

How does it work anyways? Polygraph tests measures psychological signals that commonly reflect anxiety, typically changes in respiration, skin conductance, blood pressure, and palm sweating. It relies on the premise that humans have a Pinocchio response, a supposedly perfect physiological or behavioral indicator of lying.


Here's the scary part: Studies have found that polygraph tests are actually biased against the innocent (Iacono & Patrick, 2006)! The obvious flaw with the test is that it is actually an "arousal detector," which does not always correspond with lying; it confuses physiological arousal with evidence of guilt. Those being tested could display physiological arousal for other reasons besides the guilt of lying, for example, nervousness caused by the fear of being incriminated for a crime you did not commit.

Wait a minute! If polygraph tests are so unpredictable, why does Maury Povich and many law enforcement units use them for interrogation and lie detection purposes? The answer is lies within human perception. Oftentimes, when someone's polygraph test detects guilt, it will provoke a confession - sometimes useful, but, varyingly unreliable. This is why most US courts do not accept polygraph tests as evidence.

fuck the police.jpg

So, when you're watching guilty pleasure reality shows like The Maury Show, the shocking lie detector results may not ascertain the guilty party.

After reading about the endocrine system in chapter 3, I found myself very interested in this hormone releasing structure. In search of an intriguing story, I googled "endocrine system." To my pleasant surprise I found numerous articles on the topic, but one jumped out at me immediately--"Are We Programmed to Be Fat?"
In the article, reporter Nancy J. White writes on a documentary by CBC titled "Programmed to Be Fat?" This film explains that while in the womb a fetus is exposed to many man-made chemicals via the mother, chemicals that may lead to obesity. The documentary follows three different scientists who used chemicals on animals in their research and noted unusual obesity in these animals. After digging deeper the scientists discovered that the chemicals used were in fact endocrine-interfering chemicals, which then caused negative developmental affects. The chemicals can be found in everyday items such as plastics, metal cans, flame-retardants, cosmetics, and pesticides.
Of course as our textbook teaches us, we must remain skeptical of all new studies; however, I found the article to be very interesting and thought provoking.

My chapter is about Since 1970, psychopharmacotherapy has become more popular as the pharmaceutical industry has started to develop and produce more medicines for psychological treatments. In 2005, antidepressants were the most prescribed drug in the US causing quite a debate among psychiatrists and researchers alike. Some argue that it is encouraging to see the increasing number of people seeking help for depression while some critique the effectiveness of these antidepressant medications. As a biochemistry major, I am really curious about the mechanisms of the drug on our nervous systems as well as the side effects. Antidepressants have been reported to cause several adverse effects, ranging from headaches or nausea to increasing behavior and thoughts or psychological withdrawal symptom. The interesting thing I found about antidepressant is that the fake happiness it has created. Even though the medicine tries to alleviate the unhappiness for the patients, it doesn't solve the real problems they are facing. The patients will have to reply much on antidepressant and do not try to fix the problems themselves.

doctorhugo.org.jpgOur memories are our best friends and our worst enemy. This paradox doesn't even tell us which level of functionality our memory is operating at when when we experience these personifications. It can be absent when we want to get our closest friend's attention or it can show up when we think back to an embarrassing moment we with we could forget.
Even though our brains seem almost laissez-faire about how it records and regurgitates information there is a system. It reduces most things into 3 categories; sensory, sort term and long term memory. With these three memory types we catalog our sensory stimulus into discernible thoughts that we can use later to our wants. Then, as the situation demands, it calls upon those sensations to solve whatever problem you have presented it. We do this by reconstructing things based upon what can be recalled. In this way it depends on the "power" of the memory. Say you really want to remember a fact, for a test as an example, you will go over the information several times to make it "stick". The memory also might be powerful enough to stick on its own. say for example your favorite birthday party. You didn't have to have the birthday more than once, but the experience was so strong that it sticks with you so you can enjoy it later. These two examples are taking stimulus, sensory input of your eyes and ears, putting it into short term memory so you can react to it in the moment then transferring it to your long term memory so it can be accessed should the need arise.
So where does all this take place in the brain. Well that isn't easy to say. There is evidence that our hippo-campus is the action center where memory takes place, but the truth lies more in the way a smell permeates a room, to take an example straight from
Lilienfield, it is a little everywhere. The true mechanism however is Long Term Potentiation (LTP) or the increasing strength of connections between neurons of the brain.
Memory is a complicated thing that we have to work at, it doesn't happen all by itself and will therefore always have a variable amount of reliability. The take home is that it is as perfect as we are and that is good enough for me

Hello Clarice...

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Maybe all Hannibal Lecter needed was a hug and a friend...

Chapter 16 gives a rundown of the many different biological and psychological approaches to helping people who experience psychological disorders.

One of the most interesting sections (albiet short) that I found in chapter 16 describes a type of therapy called, "Person Centered Therapy." What sets this type of treatment aside from others is that the therapist doesn't try to define/diagnose the client's problems or even suggest a treatment. Rather, the therapist fills the role of a genuine person, that reacts to what the client is relating. The therapist, has to show "unconditional positive regard," expressing empathy and understanding of the client's perspectives and emotions. In other words: the therapist has to be the client's best friend no matter what.

For what classifications of psychological disorders is Person-Centered therapy successful? Where might it fail to produce positive results- or possibly even endager the therapist or client?

So, the next time you come across someone who may have any combination of paranoid schizophrenia, antisocial personality disorder etc., and may have just eaten someone's liver- they might just need a hug and a friend- some good ole fashioned acceptance.

The Master Gland

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Chapter 3 summarizes the basic biology surrounding our psychology. Particularly i found the Endocrine System to be the most interesting because of how it can effect our emotions. More specifically the Pituitary Gland. The pituitary gland fascinates me because of it's many functions. This is why many people refer to it as the "Master Gland". This glands functions include everything from controlling blood pressure to our physical growth. There was a section in the chapter three that discussed a pituitary hormone called oxytocin that has been recorded to cause maternal and romantic love. It also has been known to influence how much we trust each other. In fact men exposed to nasal spray containing oxytocin were more likely to lend their team partners money in an investment game. If only we could all be exposed to a little more oxytocin. how-to-write-a-love-poem.jpg

One really important topic covered in chapter two is the idea of conducting research in an ethical way. Research can almost always be considered a good thing because it results in knowledge. However, there are both good and bad methods of research.


Little Albert's story is one example of an experiment with a poor method of research.

The story found at http://psychology.about.com/od/classicpsychologystudies/a/little-albert-experiment.htm says

"The participant in the experiment was a child that Watson and Raynor called "Albert B.", but is known popularly today as Little Albert. Around the age of nine months, Watson and Raynor exposed the child to a series of stimuli including a white rat, a rabbit, a monkey, masks and burning newspapers and observed the boy's reactions. The boy initially showed no fear of any of the objects he was shown.

The next time Albert was exposed the rat, Watson made a loud noise by hitting a metal pipe with a hammer. Naturally, the child began to cry after hearing the loud noise. After repeatedly pairing the white rat with the loud noise, Albert began to cry simply after seeing the rat. "

This experiment took place in the 1920, and would not be considered an ethical experiment today. The main point of the material covered in the book on this topic is that there are ethical guidelines, especially for human research, that must be followed. This may cause researchers the need to spend more money or to completely redesign an experiment if it does not follow these guidelines. However, these guidelines are extremely important because while research and the pursuit of knowledge is good, the well-being and safety of human beings is much higher valued. In the case of Little Albert, he was a child and did not have a choice in the experiment. The research may have been psychologically damaging to the child and overall, it was not a pleasant experience for the baby. So while Watson and Raynor truly had legitimate questions they wanted to find the answers to, they did not go about it in an ethical manner. Keep in mind that any and all experiments conducted today must be run through an ethical filter. It would certainly be a pity for any other unethical studies to be conducted in the future!

Dangerous and Exciting

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What really caught my eye in Chapter 3 was the section about Adrenaline and the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are found right above the kidneys, and release adrenaline into the body during what one may consider dangerous or exciting. Why I thought this was interesting is because I love adrenaline, although I am not a reckless person. Adrenaline can cause people to do crazy things; in one case, a mother was able to lift an automobile in order to save her trapped baby. Now that's insane! But adrenaline is great for people like me that aren't reckless, because after reading this chapter I learned it can be released doing fun things too, like riding a roller coaster!


Have you ever travelled somewhere you've never previously been and suddenly become overwhelmed by a strange feeling that you'd been there before? Or have you been out with friends having a conversation about something current and felt as though you'd already had that same conversation, in the same place, with the same friends? If you have, you're not alone. More than two thirds of the population have experienced this. It's called Deja Vu. In chapter five, Deja Vu and alterations of consciousness and unusual experiences are discussed. It's that feeling that you're in a situation you've been before even though you actually haven't. Although some parapsychologists think that Deja Vu happens because you actually have experienced that situation, only in a different life, the more widely accepted explanation has to do with an "excess of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the temporal lobes." It happens because we have been in a similar situation before and just not fully remembered it, therefore our brain feels as though it has been there when in reality, it's just been in a similar situation. Weirdly, it is most commonly reported in people who travel often, remember their dreams, have liberal political and religious beliefs, are young (between the ages of 15-25), have a college education and a high income. deja_vu_sign_510595.jpg

Levels of Psychology

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Psycholgoy according to our book is the scientific study of the mind, brain, and behavior. As mentioned some categorize this as common sense, however it is so much more than common sense and there are multiple layers Psychology digs into; from the social level to the molecular level. Humans are naive and our common sense isn't what we can always trust. Here is an article the also discusses common sense vs. psychology.


Chapter 15 discusses physiological disorders, and the one that caught my attention is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is a condition marked by immersing in obsessions or/and compulsions repeatedly for at least an hour a day. Most of the people with OCD tend to think that something is wrong with them and feel that they are "crazy". Most of them also experience compulsion, which is marked by repetitive behaviors for a lengthy time; for example people that have this condition can be washing checking door locks, washing hands, or counting doors repeatedly for lengthy periods during the same day.
I do have this condition, however, I learned to control it without receiving treatment for it. However, sometimes I cannot resist checking things over and over again. But I do not consider this a bad thing, because that helps me never forget any task assigned, and since being a surgeon is my career goal I am sure that OCD will help me to never forget an instrument inside a patient.
What concerns me is that the family dog, has the same condition and cannot stop licking himself. I wish I could get on his little head and see if he realizes that he is "crazy."

Lucid dreaming, is it the answer to living out all of our wildest hopes and dreams? Unfortunately probably not, but it is an exciting topic of Chapter 5 where we learn about topics in the biology of sleep, dreams, alterations of consciousness and unusual experiences, and drugs and consciousness. Lucid dreaming is a dream in which the person is aware that they are having dream, they are neither totally asleep nor totally awake. One survey of lucid dreamers found that 72% could control what was happening in their dreams. Everyone wants to be able to fly, and with with lucid dreaming living out our fantasies in our dreams may be possibility that isn't too far off after all!
Tinker Bell and Peter Pan Fly to Neverland (1).jpg
Another Interesting topic under the section of The Biology of Sleep, is that of sleepwalking. did you know that 15-30% of children and 4-5% of adults sleep walk? Often while sleep walking very few actions may actually take place but in some cases people will drive cars, turn on computers and appliances, and even have sex while asleep!
Other important topics described in the chapter include: stages of sleep, out of body and near death experiences, hypnosis, substance abuse and dependence, depressants, stimulants, and several others.
Found in the section on stimulants i'll end with a fun fact. "Until 1903, Coca-Cola contained small amounts of cocain, and was advertised to cure your headache and relieve fatigue for only 5 cents!"

Pseudoscience has a strange way of popping up in our everyday lives. Or at least elements of pseudoscience do. We, as a society, are constantly bombarded with infomercial offers of miracle weight-loss diets, self-help gurus, and even miracle health cures. How do we distinguish between the truly helpful and the not-so-helpful?

snake-oil.jpg Pseudoscience is one of the focuses of Chapter 1 of the Lillienfield textbook, a chapter that dealt primarily with eliminating the bias from psychology by adopting a scientific approach. As a contrast to real science, pseudoscience--especially in psychology--poses a potentially dangerous threat to society through its unproven methods. Health patients are harmed by the exaggerated claims of pseudoscience when they choose to forgo relevant scientific treatments for alternative "medicines". Especially alarming is the common use of the ad doc immunizing hypothesis in pseudoscience, meaning that it is especially resistant to any methods that would put it under intense scrutiny. And yet, even unproven, a large portion of society still holds these beliefs for the sake of comfort and by the natural functioning of our brain.

So how do we deal with the constant bombardment of pseudoscience so prevalent in our modern lives? I found the various methods to tell pseudoscience apart from real science to be the most striking aspect of the chapter. Any advertisements that feature exaggerated claims, over-reliance on single anecdotes, and the apparent lack of peer-reviewed science are often the tell-tale signs of a false science. It's easy to fall for these traps--even when something claims to be "proven", it doesn't necessarily eliminate the biases that distinguish real from pseudoscience. So next time, when you see ads for the latest miracle cure of sorts, ask yourself this--is it science or is it pseudoscience?

... well of course she doesn't because she's not biologically yours. It's called adoption. But in some cases "Dat baby" might actually look like or act like you. In Chapter Three the topic of adoption studies arose from the concepts of nature vs. nurture. Is it nature, or is it nurture? Because this concept is so hard to study psychologists examine children who are not raised by their biological parents. They look to see whether its genetics or environment that drives a person to how they are. Some psychologists purposely place children in environments closely related to the environments of their biological parents because they believe that some peoples genetic make ups search specifically for certain environments. This can have both a positive and negative effect. If people are driven by their environment, placing a child from an abusive family with a caring and loving family would most definitely be the best choice. Do you think you would be any different if you were raised by the family across the street?

A little song credit to Shawty Put....

Cocktail Party

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I would never have thought a cocktail party could be related to psychology in any way. It turns out in chapter 4 that they do just this.
Chapter 4 consists of an explanation on "how we sense and conceptualize the world." It goes into detail on how the brain reacts to different things and how our senses generally control what we end up seeing and how we react to it.
In this chapter, the authors explain something called the "cocktail party effect" and connect it to our senses by describing how it is a form of selective attention. This effect is when an individual is able to pick up on an important message in a conversation that they are not part of. This is when it is related back to a cocktail party because most people will not notice other conversations going on around them until it is applicable to them. I found this interesting because I honestly experience this phenomenon almost every day. Selective attention occurs almost constantly because there is always more than one thing occurring. It's crazy to think about how people are able to simply turn their attention to something so suddenly.

Chapter 5 is all about consciousness versus unconsciousness. It talks about how our bodies work when we are in a deep sleep, and some of the problems that can arise. Now, I know we all know about sleepwalking; from movies, if not your own personal experiences. I, myself, have been told countless stories of walking into my parents' room as a child and saying things I can merely laugh about the next morning, because I don't remember them ever happening. Well, what I found in our text, were not things to laugh about. What struck me the most was a controversial case of a man who claims to have sleepwalked to his mother-in-law and father-in-law's home, killed his mother-in-law, and seriously injured he father-in-law. He was found innocent. His defense was that he was asleep the entire time and wasn't responsible for his behavior. I was very surprised that this was a valid argument, as it was so extraordinary. Relating back to Chapter 1, there must have been undoubtedly strong evidence to back-up that sort of claim.

Although that was an extreme example, there are many smaller cases of people hurting themselves during one of their dreams or night terrors; which is actually a brief moment of consciousness and confusion before falling back into a deep sleep. One classic example is of Bizkit the dog, who is having a night terror and, well, see for yourself...

Reading over this chapter made me wonder if I have sleepwalked with no one to see it, and therefore no one to tell me about it the next morning. Maybe the saying, "Don't go to bed angry" is really warning us so we don't hurt the ones we love while unconscious.

From Numbers to Behavior

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Research design is a fundamental basis of many studies, including psychology. Chapter 2 mainly talks about the needs, different types, and arising issues of research designs in the field of psychology. In addition, at the end of the chapter, the textbook shows how data and results obtained from studies are analyzed and evaluated.

Before I read the chapter, I thought that research study in psychology is all about generating surveys and compiling the responses, which are then analyzed statistically. In my opinion, psychology is the study of behavior. It has never crossed my mind that the research design might include quantitative measurements. How can behavior be interpreted with numbers?

A type of research design mentioned in the chapter then answered my question. Correlational design is one of the research methods, which utilizes two variables that are associated with each other. Correlation of the two variables means that they relate to each other statistically but not interpersonally. With correlational design, psychologists are able to suggest one's behavior by correlating it with other related factors.

I found an interesting video, which gives a good example to plan a research design. In here, two researchers are debating on the approaches to study children with ADHD.

Same meaning-Different words

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To explain the meaning of the title of this specific blog, I was assigned to look into chapter 8 of the psych textbook which covers language, thinking and reasoning. I personally find this topic interesting as I have enjoyed taking classes in other languages such as Spanish, French and American Sign Language.

In this chapter there will be much discussion on exactly how language came to be, how we learn language, and what makes language special-just name a few of the topics. What I hope that some of you will share interest with, however, is the language and reasoning section from this chapter. I just took a few glances on theories and examples, and I believe that learning about something we use everyday to communicate will let us appreciate our words and how they come about even more.

This chapter seems like it will be an interesting one to study and with that, I leave you, my fellow psych scholars with some language comic relief... I couldn't help myself since I'm not a "Minnesotan", and found that this can kind of relate to what this chapter will further entail. Just a head's up, please excuse the profanity-my apologies.


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Chapter 12 focused on Stress, Coping, and Health. The chapter starts off by going over the different ways to define and approach stress, as well as different ways by which it can be measured. I think one of the most interesting parts of the chapter is on page 459 where there is a diagram listing many different stressful events that can occur in one's life, in order from most stressful to lease stressful, each with a precise point value. My total point value gave me a "moderate" ranking. I find it interesting how this source was able to assign such a precise numerical number to each of the events.
The chapter ends with some helpful insight into things we do in our daily lives that impact our stress levels. Things such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, common activities in the lives of college students, can contribute immensely to stress levels. Also, staying within the right weight range can contribute to stress levels as well. My BMI is 26.8, which is in the overweight range, so that's definitely something I could consider to decrease stress, even though I'm sure BMI isn't completely accurate or representative of proper weight.

I Knew It All Along

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A topic discussed in this chapter that caught my attention is the Cognitive Biases. There are several biases under the cognitive bias category like confirmation bias, hindsight bias and overconfidence. Cognitive biases are influences and can be more broadly labeled as irrationalities. Confirmation bias refers to our tendency to try to find information or evidence that supports our own claims while ignoring that which does not support our beliefs. Another bias is the hindsight bias. This term is very common and we do it in our daily lives, even if we don't want to admit it. Lastly overconfidence is overestimating how likely we are to say statements that are correct. All of these different biases can sometimes overpower us and distract us from learning that actual facts. These biases can be negative if we become too close-minded. I found this topic of biases very interesting because I realized that I myself am guilty of these biases but this helped me learn to become more aware of them.nicholson_hindsight.jpg

Surgery to Treat Disorders

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psych blog 1.jpg The image to the left is usually what comes to most peoples mind when thinking about psychiatrists and the treatment of their patients. Chapter 16 focuses on psychological and biological treatments including ones like the picture. But is that the only way to cure people of their psychological ailments?
Through my glimpse of chapter 16 I've seen that their are a variety of ways to approach the issue such as: group therapy, human therapy, family therapy, learning therapy, watching therapy, brain chemistry work, and even psycho surgery. Different disorders cause for different types of therapy, as well as different personality types respond better to different treatments. A lot of these treatments are actually well known to us, for example group therapy. Alcoholism is a reality some people have to face, to get over this they go to AA meetings, which in fact is a type of group therapy.
What really struck me most about this chapter though is the fact that through the growth of psychology psychosurgery is still used, even if it is used just as a last resort. It was more widely practiced until the 1950 but will still be used in some extreme cases. Personally, I would be very hesitant to put myself under the knife for people to play with the tissues in my brain. Could you imagine doing that? It feels almost Frankenstein like to me, but every person has their own will.
Throughout this chapter you will be sure to learn a lot about ways to improve disorders through the help of treatments.

Yeah Dude

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Have you ever wondered if people who grew up speaking Spanish, German, Bushmen, or Mandarin also think in that language? Have you wondered if that 5 month year-old baby can actually understand what you're saying? Chapter 8 seeks to answer and explain concepts such as these.

This chapter is entitled "Language, Thinking, and Reasoning" and, after skimming most of it and reading the parts that looked interesting, it seems to make a quality attempt at explaining the correlation between these three concepts. The first chunk of the chapter is about how language works; the various processes that go into language. According to the text there are four levels of language: phonemes, morphemes, syntax, and extralinguistic information. The last, extralinguistic information, includes things like body language, whose importance is shown in the cartoon below. The rest of the chapter delves into deeper topics about how language correlates to cognitive ability.


There were several things that I learned or thought were interesting:

  • Before birth babies are able to recognize several things: their native language, their mother's voice, and even specific stories.

  • Even skilled lip-readers can only catch about 30-35 percent of the words being said. This is because much of the work is done by the throat, tongue, and teeth.

  • Many deaf children will initially make their own hand-signs. Especially if their parents are people who don't know how to sign.

Overall this chapter looks quite interesting and I can't wait to read it in detail.

Who Am I?

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Identity.jpgEveryone looks at themselves in a certain way, claiming their persona, or identity. Chapter 10 not only discusses human development from zygote to adulthood, but also examines the "most comprehensive theory" of how we develop our identity (p.393). Touching on body, mind, and personality development through different stages of life as well as special considerations in human development, this chapter describes "The Identity Crisis," a stage in the model of the human development created by Erik Erikson. The model encompasses eight stages beginning with infancy and ending in aging. Each of the stages describes the "psychosocial crisis: a dilemma concerning our relations to other people, be they parents, teachers, friends, or society at large." (p.393). During adolescence the psychosocial crisis becomes "identity verses role confusion." At this time people either achieve a "stable and satisfying sense of role and direction," or confusion that can result in a "borderline personality disorder" (p.394). Though not all of Erikson's claims can be substantiated, it is still enlightening to look back on adolescence, or look at one's life while enduring it, and understand that this is where one should have been, or should be at this point in their lives. This is the time to evaluate and understand who you are and who you'd like to become.


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One of the most interesting things in the fourth chapter was the concept of synesthesia. This is when two senses are linked, and making use of one leads to using the other. So while for most people, the idea of something or someone sounding "yellow" might be baffling, for synesthetes it may be a common occurrence. I had heard of this concept before, but never really thought much of it. After reading the book, I decided to look it up on the internet to learn more about what exactly it was and if there was any scientific backing to it. Naturally, I thought it would be pretty cool to be a synesthete, being able to see music, or hear colors. I'm sure at least one famous artist or musician made millions almost entirely due to some sort of synesthesia. One point of interest I discovered was that synesthesia doesn't necessarily have to be permanent. Large amounts of LSD or mescaline can bring on synesthetic episodes in people. While I would not personally suggest that solution, I am once again sure that at least one famous artist or musician, such as the group "1200 micrograms" has made millions that way.

LSD by 1200 micrograms

Social Comparison

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Ever find yourself sitting in a classroom before the lecture begins watching others come in and sit down? I also bet that after an exam you would find yourself comparing whether you think you did better them or not. Everyone compares themselves to others in some respect. I know that I have a hard time not wondering how I fall in the grade break down compared to my classmates.

There are two different types of social comparison. The first is upward comparison where we compare ourselves with someone who we view as superior to us. The other is downward comparison where we compare ourselves with someone we view as inferior to us. Both types of comparison have the ability to either boost or hurt our self confidence.

Sometimes social comparison can be motivating or inspiring. For example, say my friend that I consider to be fairly comparable to me gets a good internship, that could encourage me to find an internship as well. http://thumbshots.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/social-comparison.png

All in all, social comparison will always be a part of our lives.

Pareidolia & Media

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Chapter 1 dealt mainly with the relationship between aspects of human psychology and its interaction with science, specifically pseudoscience, or claims that my seem scientific but are not. Signs of pseudoscience include exaggeration, a reliance on subjective anecdotes, an absence of multiple or reliable sources, lack of proof or revision, or a dependence on scientific jargon.

The chapter a number of logical fallacies that influence the way we interpret scientific or logical arguments, including the bandwagon fallacy - that something is validated by others belief in it, the "not me" fallacy - that we're unable to have errors in thinking that other people suffer, and the emotional reasoning fallacy - a heavy reliance on emotions.

What struck me about the chapter was the concept of pareidolia, or the idea that humans find meaning in otherwise arbitrary images. As an English and Cultural Studies major I come across many different types of media, which rely on similar concepts, one being cartoon imagery. For example, when we see a simply drawn face, as opposed to something more detailed, we not only recognize it as a face, but we also imprint our own identity onto the shape, which completely changes our reading of the text. The human mind's need to find patterns forces us to interact with images, specifically simple icons, like business logos or ads for example, in a way that makes us more apt to find seemingly arbitrary meaning.

Eric Best

Lucid Dreaming

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Something that really interested in Chapter 5 was lucid dreaming. When someone is dreaming and known that they are dreaming, they are experiencing a lucid dream. In a study cited by the book, 72 percent of the participants claimed to be able to control their dreams (Kunzendorf et al., 2006-2007). This opens up the opportunity for someone to change the outcomes of their dreams, which could go a long way to make them happier in everyday life. There are entire websites dedicated to lucid dreaming, as well as techniques for when you are in a lucid dream. This link gives a lot of information on controlling your dreams and the benefits of lucid dreaming. Popularized by the Inception, the site claims that lucid dreams can answer questions like, "Where should I live?" and "What is my ideal career?" What is your ideal life like? When you dream lucidly, you might get the chance to find out! inception-shared-dreaming.jpg

Isn't it ridiculous how often the bandwagon fallacy affects our society? People shift back and forth between trends, favorite sports teams and beliefs all because their peers' opinions. I thought this part of the first chapter was the most interesting because it has the most impact on our lives. The Detroit Lions of the National Football League is a great example because they used to be an awful team, but this past season they made a drastic turnaround and everyone jumped on their bandwagon, but jumped off when they lost in the playoffs.
Psych Blog 1 Pic Detroit Lions.jpg
Most of chapter one focused on the different theories and theoretical perspectives of the psychological world. The five perspectives were explained in explicit detail and learning about their components and founders brought further clarity and created a sound foundation for the teachings of this class.The chapter also included the history of psychology which was interesting as well because it helps explain almost every human decision ever made.
Psych Blog 1 Pic William James.jpg

Teaching a dog tricks

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I read Chapter Six and I found it really interesting. It was about how humans and animals learn. It was really interesting because there are so many ways of teaching material so someone will remember it. An example of this is when you have little kids and they are about to touch the hot stove, you yell at them to stop and try to explain to them it's hot. Even if they don't understand what you are saying, they realize with that tone you are using that they are doing something they shouldn't be doing. They also gave an example of teaching a dog to do a trick. When teaching the dog how to do the trick, you give them a treat to encourage them to do that trick or action. They realize that when they perform that action, they receive a treat. They then want to perform that trick so they will receive that treat. It is called positive reinforcement.

Chapter 4 talks about our sensations and perceptions, or in other words, "how we sense and conceptualize the world. In this chapter, the book addresses talks about our visual system, our auditory system, our sensual senses (taste and smell), and our body senses (touch, body position and balance) and explains how they work. One thing that stood out as super interesting, for me, was when this chapter addressed extrasensory perception (ESP). I've always wondered whether or not stories of ESP were true. Additionally, I enjoyed this chapter because it reminded me of the importance of our senses, and how much we use them each day.

memory1.gifChapter 7: Memory is mainly about how memory operates, how to retrieve it and how reliable our memories really are. This chapter says our memories are generally reliable. Most people can often recite lyrics to many songs and recognize people from many years ago. Some people, with a condition known as hyperthymestic syndrome have exceedingly memories and can remember accurately almost anything they have experienced. However, most of us are prone to being fooled by our memories. Sometimes someone's account of incident can change drastically over a a period of a few years. For example, when a student was asked where she was at the time when she heard of the challenger explosion, she said she was in her religion class. However, two and a half years later, she said she was in her dorm room when she heard the news. I find this really surprising because I always believe that my memories are accurate but this proves that they aren't always.

The first thing that caught my eye in Chapter 14 was a paragraph on a pair of identical twins separated at birth. Both twins were named "Jim" by their adoptive parents, constructed similar looking tree-houses as children, named their dogs "Toy," and married twice, both to women named Betty and Linda. After reading this story, I was interested in learning more about twins. Chapter 14 focuses on personalities, and the first part of the chapter is centered on twins. In this section I found it remarkable that the correlation of many personality traits between both identical and fraternal twins remains the same regardless if they are raised together or apart.


Twin NFL football players, Tiki and Ronde Barber

Towards the end of the chapter, common pitfalls of personality tests are discussed. Many people claim to be able to determine an individual's personality with various tests. Graphology (handwriting interpretation), criminal profiling, and color tests are all said to be able to assess someone's personality, yet they are not very accurate in doing so. The FBI hires criminal profilers to catch criminals, but they can only do so much. One former FBI profiler was in charge of profiling the famed D.C. Sniper, and he only could predict that he was "self-centered" and "angry" at others. These are both fairly obvious guesses that "non-experts" could have made. As cool as these profilers can be made out to be in TV shows like Criminal Minds, criminal profiling is more of an art than a science.

Right or Left?

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Is there such a thing as being "left-brained" or "right brained?" As I previewed the Lilenfeld text, it has come up several times that the left and right hemisphere of our brain each controls different ways in which we think. The left hemisphere of our brain is known for its fine tune language skills, while the right hemisphere is better known for language skills. Being known as "left brained" means that you are analytical, objective, intellectual, and you look at the pieces before the whole picture. On the other hand, a "right brained" person is more haphazard, artistic, expressive, and tends to look at the whole picture first. Even though being left brained and right brained is thought to be merely a myth, many people revolve their life around it. It helps them understand their learning styles and their strengths. For example, many schools focus on teaching in a left brained manor. They concentrate on the reasoning behind the fundamentals as opposed to the indirect ways to answer a question.
I took a quiz online to see whether I was left brained or right brained, and my results showed me that I was 62% left brained and 38% right brained! I'm not surprised to see this though because I prefer creativity to logic. I am a much more spontaneous and emotional person than I am analytical. Feel free to take this (short) quiz and find out whether you are left brained or right brained.

Deprivation of Langauge

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Imagine your beginning years of your life. Some of the most vivid memories include your parents and their love and nurturing qualities. Now imagine growing up with out this. Not only that, but not being able to speak, language deprivation. The chapter I read, Chapter 8, was about language and pretty much everything dealing with it. The thing that stood out the most though was three paragraphs about language deprivation. There was a case where a young girl named Genie was chained to a potty seat in a back bedroom most of the first 13 years of her life by her parents. She was deprived of language and any social input. When she was finally rescued she was unable to communicate and was unable to become a fluent language user. This was just a very saddening and horrible situation to read about.

However, a psychologist decided to create an experiment to look at the effects of language deprivation to rule out the many explanations that are all over cases like Genie's. Susan Goldin-Meadow decided to study deaf children of parents who did not know any sign language. They were not deprived of any nurturing of a parent and developed accordingly besides in language. She found that the children began to develop signs of their own without guidance of their parents or other, which is now called homesign.

After receiving this assignment, I immediately whipped out my five-pound text book and turned to page 493, only to find the words: Social Psychology. Since I have never taken a psychology course in my educational path, I started blankly at the page without a clue. Once deciding to finally skim through the pages, I had one question continuously running through my head: What is Social Psychology?

Social Psychology is the study of how people influence others behavior, beliefs, and attitudes.

Well there is a start. But while I was looking through the pages full of studies and examples of how others affect us, there was one study that caught my attention immediately: The Milgram Paradigm.

The Milgram Paradigm. began in the early 1960s as an experiment that would provide a window into the causes of obedience. Specifically this study focused on authority figures and harming others.

Here is a clip that, while it isn't the original, give good insight into how this works and can provide more information then me just listing off all the boring details. Enjoy!

Chapter 14 is all about Personalities and what different influences help to make everyone's personality unique. One thing I found particularly interesting, is the theory that geography can affect the development of one's personality. Since I am a Minnesotan, born and bred, I found it intriguing that the stereotype of "Minnesota Nice" may be scientifically explained. The book shows a map of the United States and colored the states based on a scale of high to low extraversion of their citizens. With no surprise, Minnesota ranked among the most extraverted states, proving that people here are more likely to work together and have no problem talking to strangers. 5488823250_57d22f0c19_z.jpg
With no surprise, states like New York rated on the low end of the spectrum, proving the East Coast tough-guy stereotype. Taking the geographical understanding of personalities to a worldwide scale, it would also be interesting to compare people in different countries.

disorder copy.jpg Society usually calls people who suffer from psychological disorders "crazy" because they sometimes behave and think in ways that are not normal or accepted. This statement is true. One of the five criterion listed in chapter 15 for defining a mental disorder is social disapproval, along with statistical rarity, subjective distress, impairment, and biological dysfunction. There is a wide spectrum of variety and severity in mental illness. Some disorders can present themselves in very mild ways, like slight twitches. Others can be more extreme like generalized anxiety disorder. These patients spend 60% of each day worrying. Something that I found interesting was that some conditions are more common in specific cultures. For example, in Asian countries, there is a condition called koro, where the mostly male victims believe that their penis and testicles are disappearing into their abdomen. Government officials went so far as to measure the victims' penises with rulers to prove that they were not receding. However, a plethora of disorders exist in nearly all cultures, and they can begin at random parts during a person's life, even early childhood and old age. No matter how mild or extreme they are, they require constant treatment and attention from medical professionals. Unfortunately, many of the people who suffer from mental disorders also suffer from a stigma that they are "crazy" or "psycho", when in reality, they are normal people who we interact with every day.

Social psychology is the study how people influence others' behavior, beliefs, and attitudes. It suggests reasons for why humans gravitate to each other and have a desire for relationships, why we compare ourselves to others, why we follow others' irrational beliefs, why we conform to others, why we obey or disobey authority, why we help or harm others, why we slack off, and many other social influences. discrimination-against-women-essay.png

Social psychology also study's the reasons behind prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice is to prejudge something negatively, and discrimination is negative behavior toward members of other groups. Some have argued that prejudice is deeply rooted inthe human species, with the belief that this may have developed through natural selection, where humans benefitted from close alliances, and mistrusted outsiders. This mistrusting of others has led to discrimination.

~irish.gifWhereas prejudice refers to negative attitudes toward others, discrimination refers to negative behaviors towards others. Discrimination can easily arise in any situation where there are two different groups, and one group feels a sense of superiority over the other.antilatino.jpg

Does Science Prevent Bias?

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Chapter one of the Lilienfield textbook was about the common misconceptions in psychology. Many people live under the delusion that psychology is based solely on intuition and common sense, when in fact it involves science that is based on authentic research and hard facts.
This emphasis on science in psychology really struck me. The main purpose was that it was supposed to prevent bias and give it legitimacy in contrast to pseudoscience. I felt that many of the claims were correct, but I did feel after reading it, that the chapter was trying to portray that science was the end all to biases and the only way to tell fact from fiction. While this may help, there are still many things that can't be proved by science and experimentation like the existence of love or that George Washington was a real person, but this doesn't make them any less true. In some sense I felt that it was emphasizing that that elements psychology that didn't follow the "scientific method" were not useful and prone to bias. psychology-Freud

Our Ever-Evolving Mind

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Even though we as college students are not that old, we sometimes think back on an event in our life and ask, "what was I thinking". If only I knew what I know now. That is what Chapter 10 is basically about, how and why we develop. Both Erickson's Eight Stages of Development and Piaget's Four Stages of Cognitive Development, as seen above, are included in this chapter to help explain how our way of thinking and looking at things evolved. As infants we can only think about what is happening at that given moment. As we age we can start to think into the future, but we may not be able to fully rationalize things. Piaget proved this through his water conservation tasks where he poured one glass of water into a taller glass and asked the child if there was more, less or the same amount of water. Because the water was now in a taller glass, the child thought there was magically more water. Then, as we continue to grow older our perspective changes and we begin to reason and think of things hypothetically. By the time we are in Erickson's final stage of "Aging" we look back at our life hoping to see a good person with a satisfaction about what we did with our lives. With any luck, whenever we look back at our "what was I thinking" moments we will laugh at how little we knew then.

alternative jpg Complementary and alternative medicines are popular around the world when it comes to treating and preventing illness. Many use these medicines as an alternative to conventional medicine. Examples of these unconventional medicines people probably believe are conventional such as chiropractic, and herbal remedies. Providers of these medicines often claim that they will improve the patients condition, yet they have not yet been proven effective by scientific standards. These medicines are so popular in the United States that Americans spend $34 billion in this industry. 38% of adults and 12% of children reported using these methods in 2008.

The largest area of this industry include the sale of vitamins, herbs, and food supplements. On average Americans spend over $22 billion a year for these treatments with uncertain effectiveness. Many people take vitamins to ensure their health. In my dorm I have my own vitamins and calcium pills which I try to take as often as I can remember, but are these actually helping me? It turns out that my calcium pills do little to prevent bone loss. As for my vitamin pills, the vitamin C does lower the severity and length of colds but the vitamin E can actually increase the risk of death from various causes. These pills also provide "mega doses" so the consumer is receiving amounts of vitamins and minerals much greater than the recommended dose. The label on my vitamin pills states that I am taking between 25%-2000% of the recommended daily value depending on the vitamin or mineral; is this really good for me? This article gives great insight into the harmful sides of vitamins. Experts say that we can get sufficient amounts of what we need just by eating a balanced diet, that seems like a much cheaper and safer alternative to purchasing and consuming vitamin pills.

Almost 20% of Americans have reported seeing a chiropractor in attempts to treat pain and injuries. These health professionals manipulate the spine to treat pain. These doctors cannot perform surgery or prescribe medications to patients in an attempt to ease pain. Many people claim that visiting a chiropractor in fact does help; I have had plenty of friends and family members who would claim this. I have always thought the Chiropractic treatments were a proven method of healing the body. To my surprise there is no scientific support to this practice. It is believed that that some chiropractic procedures may help, they are no better than the results one would receive with exercise, using pain relievers, , physical therapy, and general practitioner care.

After learning about these two types of unconventional medicines that are widely used by Americans and present in my life it makes me wonder if they are worth wild? Both are pricy practices and it seems as if the results are either harmful or a placebo effect. The article linked to this page states a question which I, myself am wondering about. If there is so much information out there about the dangerous effects and ineffectiveness of these treatments, why are they still so highly in use by Americans?

blog post 1.JPGCollege admission tests are designed to test and predict academic success. But could the outcome of these tests also speak for your intelligence? The SAT has been shown to correlate highly with standard measure of intelligence, specifically the Raven's Progressive Matrices, which are "non-verbal multiple choice measures of the reasoning component of g, or general intelligence". This term "general intelligence", however, is hard to fully understand.
Chris Langan, an ex-bar bouncer, has one of the highest IQs in the United States. He scored perfectly on his SAT, but he had trouble in college and easily offended his professors. Although he has a very high general intelligence, he lacks interpersonal skill that some believe to be part of a person's intelligence as well. The idea of multiple intelligences would explain why Chris Langan is extremely smart yet dropped out of college multiple times and never earned a degree. Although one might take an IQ test and score relatively low, they may have musical, spatial, linguistic, or naturalistic intelligence which might not be measured by reasoning alone.
General intelligence is only one type of intelligence that individuals may possess. It is not always a key to success, as in Chris Langan's case. The many other types of intelligence that people have are not tested by the Raven's Progressive Matrices, and therefore the SAT, while it may be a way to measure g, cannot predict overall intelligence and only shows one piece of a much larger puzzle.
(From Chapter 9: Intelligence and IQ Testing)

Chapter 6 focuses on the different ways that people learn. It talks about the development of classical conditioning, operant conditioning, cognitive models of learning, and biological influences on learning. I was most interested in the topic of classical conditioning, which was discovered primarily by the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov. He knew that dogs would salivate at the smell of a meat powder, so he trained the dogs to associate the sound of a bell with the smell of the meat powder. By the end of his experiment, the dogs were salivating simply at the sound of the bell, without the smell of the meat powder also present. This type of conditioning occurs in three phases: acquisition, extinction, and spontaneous recovery. It can also be taken a step further using higher-order conditioning, which is learning to develop conditioned associations to other stimuli in addition to the original stimulus.
Classical conditioning can be seen in everyday life. One example is through advertising. Advertisers often pair pictures of the product they are trying to sell with photos of popular celebrities or attractive people to catch the attention of their audience. Specific examples include one from the book, that of Skyy Blue vodka, which includes a picture of a woman in a bikini holding a bottle of the drink, or the ad for Marc Jacobs' perfume Daisy, which shows a topless woman holding a bottle of the perfume over her chest. That kind of explains why Abercrombie is so popular, doesn't it?

Who Doesn't Love Babies?

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Development is a crucial part to the success of humans and many other creatures. But what is development? It is progression from one stage to another in any way shape or form. Many psychologists try to uncover the secrets of development; whether it be physical, social, emotional, or cognitive, the development process in humans is grandiose in both its scale and complexity. Chapter ten focuses on the development of human beings from conception to death. What I found to be most interesting about the chapter is the section titled "Infant Motor Development: How Babies Get going". I found it shocking that babies are born with several automatic motor behaviors. An example of an automatic reflex is the rooting reflex, where a baby has the natural instinct to find a nipple and begin sucking. Another strange phenomenon with infant motor development is the fact that all children acquire motor milestones in the same order. The answer to this occurrence is not yet proven, however, and remains as one of the many mysteries of human development. Overall, whether it be physical, social, emotional, or cognitive, the development process in humans encompasses a vast expanse of information and undiscovered secrets.

Oh, the joys of research!

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As beginning psychology students, we may wonder why we need to learn about research methods. Chapter 2 not only explains the importance of a good research method, but also the different types of psych.jpg designs a researcher may use. One important thing that makes research designs necessary is all the many biases and errors the human mind can make. Hindsight bias and overconfidence, two examples of cognitive biases that we can make, result in overestimating our abilities during research. Two research designs that the chapter touches on are correlation designs and experimental designs. A correlation research design examines the extent to which two variables are associated, and an experimental research design allows us to draw cause-and-effect conclusions. As the chapter continues, it also talks about ethical issues in research design (both in human and animal research), statistics, and evaluating psychological research. Here is a video that defines some of the key terms used in chapter 2:

Can Our Face Cheat Us?!

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What I am assigned is chapter 11. This chapter is mainly talking about the emotion and motivation that people have in their mind. What attracts me most in this chapter is the emotional expression. According to the textbook, people have seven primary emotions. facial_expressions1.jpgThat is happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, disgust, fear and contempt. These emotion expressions are presented by our face. However, sometimes, our faces "cheat" us--the fake emotion as talked in Lilienfeld's book. When someone is not happy and does not want others to know that, he or she will probably make a happy facial expression which others cannot easily distinguish it. In psychologists' eye, this facial expression can be known as a fake emotion. This part makes me recall a TV series called Lie To Me. Dr. Lightman, the hero in this TV series, has an organization that works to help the police expose people who have fake facial expressions. In this way, the police can know who are not honest to them. Here is a video clip of the TV series' intro:


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memory36969112_crop (1).jpgThe chapter in the textbook that I previewed was chapter 7, which is titled Memory. The first thing that I noticed as I was flipping through the pages was that there are a lot of abstract art clips in this chapter. In addition, there are several vocabulary words scattered throughout the chapter that I am unfamiliar with right now. However, I'm sure that after I finish reading chapter 7, I will have a full grasp of these terms. I am excited to read the sections in the text about different aspects of infant memory. I am hoping it will mention something about why people retain no or very few memories from when they are infants. Furthermore, I am hoping that the text will give me some insight into how our different senses contribute to our memory, and which one has the strongest correlation. Another section that caught my interest was the section titled "The Seven Sins of Memory." I did not read past the title, but it sounds like it will be a very interesting and intriguing topic. After skimming through chapter 7 of the textbook and looking at the pictures, titles, and vocabulary, I am excited to read this chapter about memory.

Display Rules

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Chapter 11 is about emotions and motivations people have and feel. It tells us about how we feel emotions what motivates us to do what we do. The information that struck me most was the James-Lange theory of emotion. According to this theory, "emotion result from our interpretations of our bodily reactions to stimuli." I found most interesting in the cultural differences in emotional expression. The book says that emotional expressions can be different in different cultures because cultures differ in display rules, social guidelines for how and when to express emotions. The study of display rule was really interesting. A group of American students and a group of Japanese students watched same video. When there was no authority figure in the room, both groups reacted similarly. However, when experimenter came into the room, American students stayed same and Japanese students started to smile. It was because of the Japanese culture of how to behave in front of authorities. The emotion both groups had was similar but the expression was different. I thought it was really cool.

IMG_0016.JPGEver since we were little, my younger sister and I have argued about who is the smarter daughter between us. Although we are both good students and get grades that are approved of by our parents, has it finally come to the point that I might actually be smarter? According to recent studies, older siblings have proven to score higher on IQ tests than their younger siblings. In a study at the University of Oslo, the mean IQ of first-born kids was just over 103, second-borns just over 100, and third-borns about 99. Although this might make older children excited, researchers have recently discovered a more accurate reason for higher scores is in fact social upbringing rather than biological birth order. Younger kids tend to be more outgoing and get better grades in the classroom, while the eldest tend to have an overall higher intelligence and sense of professionalism. With that in mind, it's not necessarily being born first that could make you smarter, but rather being raised as the eldest child.

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Chapter seven of the Lillienfeld textbook focuses on memory. It looks at the three types: sensory, short term and long term and the sub categories of each. It also looks at the ways that these interact with each other often creating schemata. Further, it looks at failures of memory including amnesia, Alzheimer's disease, the failure of adults to recall memories from their first two to five years, and the ability to create false memories. I found the idea of early childhood memory failure very interesting because children, even that young, have the physical brain capacity necessary to create memories, but it just does not occur. Memories assumed to be from this stage in life are assumed to be either false memories or to come from a time later in life on face. This leads me to wonder if some people do have these memories and our social expectation that they will not leads to preemptive dismissal. The book raises the question of the moral implications of erasing memories as happens to the characters in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. What do we make of the fact that each person loses those two to five years of memory?

Batting Rituals

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When going over chapter one in our psychology book I found pseudoscience to be very interesting. The word pseudo means false or fake, so that means pseudoscience is not real science, the reason why it is not real science is because the subjects in pseudoscience are not testable and therefore lie outside the realm of science. A type of pseudoscience I found in the book was apophenia; apophenia is a tendency to perceive meaningful connections among unrelated phenomena. When I think about apophenia, the first thing that came to my mind was athletes in Major League Baseball and there Batting Rituals. Each player has some sort of batting ritual. It doesn't matter if you are in the MLB or just playing high school baseball. Players think they have to approach the plate the same way every time or else it is going to be bad luck and they are going to strike out. Even pre-game rituals have to be the same every time or else they would think they weren't ready for the game. When I played high school football my teammates and I would always have to go to subway before a game and listen to a certain country song.

Here is a player and his batting ritual

Why do dogs drool?

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Chapter six focused on the idea of classical conditioning. Classical conditioning was discovered by Ivan Pavlov. He was researching digestion in dogs when he discovered that dogs can become conditioned with food. Basically, the dog pairs a neutral stimulus with another stimulus and it elicits an automatic response. This video explains it a little better:


Classical conditioning is often seen in advertising. One common example is a company showing a famous celebrity using their product and hoping that people will buy their product because people think that the famous celebrity is using it also. Extensive research has shown that this works very well and is a very successful marketing technique. Finally, this chapter talks a little bit about different kinds of reinforcement. Different types of reinforcement such as positive and negative reinforcement have had a huge impact on the type of people that we have become. Often times we don't even realize that types of reinforcement are being used on us. This chapter goes on to explain why we act in certain ways and why people do certain things. Have you witnessed any examples of classical conditioning recently?

Does Intelligence matter?

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intelligence_testing.jpgChapter 9 was the Intelligence and IQ Testing chapter. From what I skimmed over, the chapter is about different types of intelligence and the most effective ways to test intelligence using IQ Testing. What struck me the most in chapter 9 was Robert Sternberg's Triarchic Model. Triarchic Model is the existence of three largely distinct intelligences. The three intelligences are Analytical, Practical, and Creative. Analytical intelligence is the ability to reason logic or "book smarts". Practical Intelligence is the ability to solve real world problems, especially problems involving other people. Creative intelligence is the kind of intelligence we need to find new and effective solutions to problems. These intelligences do not go hand in hand, all of them are established individually.
This was interesting to me because this explains why somebody can have a lot of book smarts and not really have much common sense.

After watching the animated movie Monster House, I started seeing houses as giant faces. After watching American Express' "Don't Take Chances" commercial, it is pointed out to us that we are surrounded by smiley faces everyday!

What I found really fascinating about Chapter 1 is section about noticing patterns in things where no pattern exists (apophenia), and seeing figures places where none really exists (pareidolia). As a retail major, my course load requires us to take a number of design classes. Although I have only taken a couple of introductory design courses, each of them have taught me to look at things with more attention; to look at the finer details in things.

After taking these classes, I would lie in bed at night, looking at the little bumps on my ceiling and make shapes and figures with them. I look at holes and bumps on the walls and create images that clearly do not really exist. Although this chapter shows that noticing these things aren't necessarily the best thing in a scientific point of view, to a designer, it is ways for us to find inspiration. Without apophenia and pareidolia, American Express would not have been able to creat the commercial, and Monster House would never have been produced.

Does Cosmo lie to us?

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Yes, it is the beloved magazine many young women can't wait to read once a month for stories and advice on life, love, health, and beauty. Each edition of the magazine is filled with surveys and polls that often yield interesting and shocking answers that often give its readers insight into their own lives. But can we truly believe in this data? And does it hold up to real life scenarios?
Chapter 2 warns us of false scientific studies and encourages us to stay skeptical of perhaps untrue results. Valid scientific research methods must have random selection, where the population tested is equally representative of the population as a whole. It was at this point that I questioned Cosmo's conclusions.
The magazine tells us up front that many of the survey results were simply from Cosmo readers who answered them in an online questionnaire, but of course that doesn't let them off the hook. Cosmo readers are clearly not an accurate representation of the general population nor are the participants who go online to answer their polls. The number of respondents are often unknown to the readers as well. All of these points against them suggests that we cannot blindly believe in their claims that "Men are 3 times more likely to say 'I love you' first." Or that the fact that "40% of women surveyed have wardrobes full of brand-new, unworn clothes" is an accurate representation of all women. However, just because these polls lack random selection does not mean there isn't at least some truth to them, a larger set of representational participants will tell.

Kathleen Dennis

Thumbnail image for Stress-ZebraStripes-1.gifChapter twelve starts out about stress. The chapter explains what stress is and the different types of stress people experience. Stress is the tension, discomfort, or physical symptoms that arise when a "situation" Strains our ability to cope effectively. The chapter also discusses the creation of the Hassle scale, this scale is used to determine how stressful events are associated with poor health. How one adapts to stress and the challenges associated with change, discusses the different types of responses to stress. How the brain and body reacts to stress, stress can cause a weak immune system or diseases, such as coronary heart disease. An important section is about coping with stress and different strategies offered to help. Also explains how some ways of coping are better for some rather then others. (I've attached a video of how smiling can reduce stress) The chapter also describes how to live a less stressful life. The end of the chapter provides techniques to make living a healthy lifestyle easier. 
What interested me most when reading the chapter was the powerful effects of stress can be linked to physical health issues, like CHD. This caused me to view stress very differently, making me want to live a more stress free life. I also found it interesting how one can measure their stress. By using the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) one can see how stressful events have effected their life and if they are susceptible to illness or mental health problems. It was interesting to see how stressful events can affect the mind.
You can measure your own stress here ==> http://www.stresstips.com/lifeevents.htm

Here is the video on smiling


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Jim Halpert from The Office shows Ivan Pavolv's findings in a hilarious way. My chapter was about learning and how nurture truly changes us. Pavlov's dog experiment interested me most in the chapter because it showed the complete basic instincts that nurture can change with in us. In his experiment he started with a dog and a stimulus that did not create any reaction, a metronome. Next evey time he started the metronome he put meat powder behind a sheet, which caused the dog to salivate. Eventually when Pavlov would start the metronome, which originally caused no response, the dog would salivate even if there was no meat powder. Jim recreated this in his altoid experiment with Dwight. Every time Jim played a tone on his computer he would offer Dwight an altoid eventually when Jim would play the tome Dwight would expect an altoid even if Jim didn't offer him one. I think that Pavlov's findings are extremely interesting and they go to show that nurture can change even the most innate responses in anyone, which asks the question does nature even matter?

We all have seen these personality tests on the internet and have probably taken a few out of curiosity. But are they an accurate assessment of who we are? Of course not. But yet we take them anyway. For example, this test says I am most like images.jpgHarry Potter. Who are you? Not all personality tests are completely useless though. Chapter 14 discusses personality assessments and tests that psychologists use to diagnose mental disorders and gain a greater insight into our personalities. The Minnesota Mulitphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is such a test. Although it is more accurate in diagnosing mental disorders than the Harry Potter test, it is still low in validity. How can we determine personalities or mental disorders from a few simple questions? Psychologists can even use drawings and signatures to determine your personality. But what if I am a terrible artist and my picture of a butterfly and bright and shiny sun looks more like a scene from Saw? Does that mean I am a mentally unstable person? Some tests, such as Rorschbach's Inkblot Test are very widely used, but may not be a great way of evaluating personalities as was once thought. Many of these tests are very low in reliability. So why do psychologists have us take these tests? Or are we truly better off taking random movie character tests online in hopes of discovering our personalty? Is there really any way to ever "know" someone's entire personality? Watch the short video below. How accurate do you think this personality test is?

fortune jpg

Something that caught my eye while looking through Chapter 9, was a section that analyzed the efficiency of college admissions tests in predicting the grades of future college students. This segment seemed to argue that if you take the entire range of all (ACT/SAT) scores from college applications and compare them to college GPAs there is an obvious positive correlation. However, the most interesting part of this section was that if you only look at the higher scores of a more prestigious college, there is close to zero correlation to their college GPA. To me, this information indicated that college admissions tests do a relatively good job of separating good students from students that might struggle, but when they create a pool full of good students, the respective GPAs are quite unpredictable. The book used a term for this called restriction of range, where the correlation decreases as the range of scores decreases. This made me think about my own ACT score and where my GPA is after 5 semesters. I would say an admissions counselor would have seen my score and predicted my GPA to be maybe a little bit higher than where it is now. How does your GPA compare to what you think an admissions counselor would have predicted based on your test score?

Ariel Rice
James-Franco-1.jpg The chapter I was given to look over involved the many different aspects of language. The topics discussed were how language came to be, what it involves, how babies learn a language and many others. It also went into discussing thinking and reasoning, like how we accomplish our goals and the inner workings of our mind. But the topics I found most interesting involved teaching human language to nonhuman animals. I had recently watched the movie The Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It involved a very smart chimpanzee that learned to sign, even though this was a fictional movie I became interested in knowing if it is possible to teach chimpanzees or any other apes to sign. This section in this chapter was able to help me understand that it is very difficult to teach any animal to learn our language. When teaching a chimpanzee the human language, researchers realized that chimpanzees aren't able to master syntactic rules, which is how words are combined to create meaning. They were only able to communicate requests of food or other activities but not to combine words into sentences like it was seen in Planet of the Apes. In the movie the chimpanzee was able to communicate short, but meaningful sentences to the main character. However, there are two different species that are able to learn the language even better. One of the species is the Bonobo, which is even more genetically alike to humans. Unlike chimpanzees they learn through observation and can use symbols to comment in interactions rather than just to receive a treat. The other animal is the African gray parrot, as many people know they are able to mimic words and noises that they hear. However, they can go beyond that. They are able to create combinations words that are meaningful and also master syntactic rules of language. However, they learn through repetition rather than interacting in the world. Language is very complex and has evolved over time and is one of the best ways to communicate complex ideas and thoughts to one another.
Check out this video of a gorilla named Koko who uses sign language to communicate with people. She is learning how to sign butterfly in this video! www.youtube.com:watch?v=U64k_fA2Rcc.webloc


No, I am not about to tell you about the baseball team. That story is much too sad to be told. What I am going to talk about, though, is a study performed at the University of Minnesota researching twins who had been reared apart, both fraternal and identical, and these twins who participated in the study are referred to in the psychology world as the "Minnesota Twins."

Before the study conducted, many scientists believed that there would be almost no resemblance in sets of twins raised apart. Turns out that the skeptics were wrong. The study found that many personality traits of reared apart twins were just as highly correlated as personality traits of twins who were reared together. Out of the 130 sets of twins studied, this article looks at some striking similarities between a pair of reared apart twins. Each person in this pair, James Arthur Springer and James Edward Lewis, divorced a woman named Linda and remarried another woman named Betty. They also both had similar drinking and smoking habits. The video (posted below) of reared apart twins, who were not part of the Minnesota study, shows that the twins have similar tastes, including the exact same favorite movie. These two examples describe identical twins. The Minnesota study found that personality traits of identical twins are more correlated than those of fraternal twins. This provides much evidence to the idea personality traits have genetic influences.

Being that I have a twin brother (a fraternal twin bother), I find studies of twins to be rather interesting. I have sometimes wondered how similar we would be if we were raised by different families. What the Minnesota study showed is that, at least in terms of personality traits, it would not have mattered if we had been raised apart, our personalities would have the same likelihood to be similar.

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.

How to Blog

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blogging101.gifTo be able to post entries, you have to log into the library's UThink web site. Click on "Start Blogging!" to log in with your x500 account information. 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 (PSY 1001 section 22 Spring 2012). 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! Also, in order for your entry to be graded in a timely manner, please click the relevant category box (found to the right of the edit entry section). If you do not see any categories, click on the "+" sign next to the word edit on the same line as "Categories."

      Good luck and please let me know if you run into any problems or have any questions! Remember to preview, preview, preview before publishing your post :-)


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guest-blogging-welcome-sign.jpgWelcome to the blog for PSY 1001, Section 22, Spring 2012! This is where you will be posting your blog entry assignments and making comments on the entries made by your classmates. In addition to your entries, I occasionally will post articles, videos, etc. relevant to the class that might be of interest to you. Also, look here for announcements about the course.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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