May 2012 Archives

closed.jpgA few of you have managed to sneak in entries after I finished grading... After this entry posts, I am declaring the blog closed. This mean that if you post any late entries or comments after this time, they will not be graded! Have a great summer!

Take home message

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college lecture_hall_teaching.jpgWow, what a year! Freshman year has had its mix of fun times with friends and pulling all-nighters, eating late-night and booking it to St. Paul for a 9 am class. But what I will take home from PSY 1001 is increased understanding about social interaction - how others affect us and how to better understand others through application of psychological principals.

My favorite lab was the one regarding obedience of social norms, watching a recreation of Solomon Asch's line experiment and the horrifying results of Migram's "electric shock" study. The results of both these experiments were disturbing, but they gave me a new understanding for how much society relies on conventional behavior and adherence to norms. If anything, now I feel like I am more likely to feel comfortable dissenting from groupthink because I can draw upon these examples of how social pressures and norms might lead someone awry rather than the right way.

Also, I now am able to better distinguish pseudoscience from research-based studies and findings. This in itself is a helpful life application of psychology and science in general, because the media does not always report accurate or unbiased information and it is my job to be an informed consumer and citizen.

empty-nest-syndrome.pngEmpty-nest syndrome is a psychological condition usually affecting mothers around the time that their children leave home. This period of adjustment following their children's "flight" is sometimes accompanied by mild depression or feelings of identity less to those parents who defined themselves largely based on their roles as parents.

First world problems...

Interestingly enough, this condition tends to affect a very specific demographic most commonly: Caucasian women who don't work outside the home. However, empty nest syndrome correlates more reliably with socioeconomic status than race or familial status.
When a woman is at the stage in life where her kids are leaving, she may also be going through other major changes, such as dealing with the menopause or trying to cope with dependent elderly parents. It can be a difficult time, and it's natural for a parent to feel some sadness when children leave home.

But, wait a minute!! Why is there an elliptical in my room?!?

Contraray to popular belief, most empty-nesters experience an increase in life satisfaction following their new found flexibility and freedom. women's book clubs and exercise groups are devoted to new empty-nesters. In fact, whole blogs and home improvement websites are devoted to helping empty-nesters figure out what to do with the new "extra bedroom." Most women take up new hobbies or social causes. Personally, my mom is now taking painting classes and my bedroom has easels and oil paints on my desk and dressers.

What do you think aout empty-nest syndrome, real or invented condition? And what is your experience with your parents after moving out for college?

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One thing that I will definitely remember from Psy 1001 is the Six Principles of Scientific Thinking. Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence, Falsifiability, Occam's Razor, Replicability, Ruling out Rival Hypotheses, and Correlation vs. Causation. Learning about these six principles have really changed the way I think about and see things. Although I believe that all of them are very important, the principles that I usually focus on and use in my daily life are Falsifiability, Ruling out Rival Hypotheses, and Correlation vs. Causation, but mostly Correlation vs. Causation. These principles have really helped me to keep my mind open when learning or perceiving new things. Several times I have caught myself falling prey to conventional thinking but because of these principles I was able to stop and reevaluate the situation. Overall, the Six Principles of Scientific Thinking is one thing I found both extremely interesting as well as being able to apply my life intimately.

Although I have learned numerous things during this semester in psychology, I believe that in 5 years what will still be in my mind is the six principles of scientific thinking: Ruling out rival hypotheses, correlation vs. causation, falsifiability, Occam's Razor, extraordinary claims, and replicability. These are principles that I have found can be used in many situations and all throughout life. I will most remember correlation vs. causation, though, because that was one principle that took me a while to understand. When I did understand it, however, it made so much sense to me and can really benefit me and everyone else.

Should IQ tests be used to apply for a job? Why not? Employers want the smartest people to work for them and make their company successful. But is being "smart" the only qualification someone should have? For certain jobs, sure. Being a genius could be the only thing they are looking for. IQ tests, however, can only measure a certain level or type of "smartness". Take Chris Langan as an example. He has one of the highest IQs in the United States, but he can hardly hold a job, and these are not high profile careers. He has worked as a bar bouncer, firefighter, and construction worker. Not exactly jobs you would typically associate with a genius. Chris, however, has people problems. He has dropped out of two colleges and can't hold a steady job. Based on this example, I do not believe IQ tests should be used to determine qualified applicants for a job.

System for Belief

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Skeptical Hippo 2

There are many things I think I will remember from Psych 1001 five years from now. The most frequently applicable topic that sticks out in my mind is from way back at the beginning of the semester when we looked at the chapter about critical thinking and the six principles of scientific thinking... as lame as that sounds. Ruling out rival hypotheses, correlation and causation, falsifiability, simplicity (Occam's Razor), extraordinary claims, replicability- all of these things are, in a general sense, relevant on a daily basis... or at least they should be.

I don't think it was until well into my adolescence that I began really questioning the world around me. This American culture is especially good at presenting everything as fact (remember the section on pseudoscience). Imagination in the way of wondering why things are the way they are isn't entirely or overtly encouraged- even the most basic things, i.e.- why parents follow a certain system of beliefs, why school starts at 7am, why people treat other people badly, why our government is the way it is, why we all want to watch tv all the time, why Mcdonald's makes us happy, why we eat what we eat, why we can't fly etc. etc. I think the six principles are excellent lenses through which we can look at the world- and they should probably be taught from day one (though I'm sure those of you who paid careful attention to the chapter on childhood development might disagree).

They also give me a greater sense of how much I (and the rest of the world) don't know. There are so many possibilities in any (or most) situations that being very careful and thoughtful about the information we're presented with can help us keep our minds open and fair.

The End of Psych 1001

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The photo above is what I remember most from this class... just kidding. It's almost difficult to try and think of something because we learned so much over the past 16 weeks! One concept that probably sticks out most in my mind-as of right now-would be our segment we did with behavior. I think about this one quite often actually, because I'm quite the dog fanatic and it was cool to learn about classical and operant conditioning... Ok, ok it was more fun to learn about Pavlov's dogs.26938_384152195682_531510682_4363538_7837628_n.jpg
So, when I start training my other dogs, I think I'll be able to dub myself master dog trainer, since Psych 1001 has informed me on some new ways to obtain behaviors I want! I could even use the information we learned in class to probably help me learn some new habits, or rid myself of a few undesirable ones ;)

When someone says the word bulimia, it brings about a sort of taboo that most people are afraid to talk about. In reality, bulimia is the most common eating disorder affecting one to three percent of our population. It is described as a pattern of binging and purging. Someone with this eating disorder may eat up to 10,000 calories in one sitting and then use a variety of means to exit the food from their body including vomiting or abusing laxatives. This disease occurs most often in adolescent girls faced with society's pressure to look and to feel thin. The media plays an enormous role in this pressure by showing the glamorous lifestyles that characters on television shows like Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, and The O.C. portray. Every character looks more beautiful and thinner than the last giving girls standards that are next to impossible to compare too. However, the media is not the only factor that may lead to bulimia. Genetics, trauma, and family, among other things are all factors that contribute to the disease.

American Idol runner up, Katherine McPhee, confessed that she suffers from bulimia. McPhee became obsessed with her weight at age thirteen, and ever since, it has been a constant, uphill battle. Through auditioning for American Idol, she has had to learn to cope with multiple triggers including stress. She continued to lose weight throughout the season, and it became evident that McPhee was not healthy. She is now open about her condition and is promoting others suffering with eating disorders towards healthier lifestyles. It was extremely brave of her to be so open about her personal life on such an openly televised show. It opens the door for parents to talk to their children about eating disorders, the pressures that can cause them, and how to avoid these pressures.


From what I heard from my friends about psych, I expected it to be a hard class with material that wasn't interesting and tests that were impossible to do well on. However, neither of those things were true. Psych tests were hard yeah, but with enough work I found that any grade you want can be achieved. I also found that Psychology is one of the most interesting subjects that I have ever studied. Three of the most interesting topics that I found interesting were sleep, classical and operant conditioning and child development.
I found sleep interesting because sleep should take up around a third of your day and its something that I overlooked previously. Learning about the theories behind how we dream was something that I found interesting as well as how sleep schedules work. In all actuality, that was probably one of the most useful thing that i've ever learned in school. Both types of conditioning were very interesting to me as well. I can see how they can be used in work, family, and with animals. The last of the three, child development, is actually the most important thing that I have learned. In the future, I do plan on having children and I definitely see myself using as much of the child development section that i can remember in order to raise my children.
As the semester ends and I review for the final and look over all the material, I get a chance to reflect on what I will take with me after I finish this class.


During this semester, we were introduced to many concepts in psychology, but the on that I will remember five years from now is the idea of intelligence testing. Our textbook explains the changes to the process that have occurred over the last hundred years that have made them more useful in identifying a broader definition of intelligence. Scientists have yet completely define and identify the location of intelligence, but we still attempt to measure it. These tests also have drawbacks as they have been used in eugenics. This is because they look at problem solving skills as well as test taking and fact retention. Because of their application in hiring and other aspects of job performance, I have been reminded of them almost weekly since they were introduced to us. I help a lot with human resources tasks at my job, and we use integrity tests and interviews to make decisions, but my HR manager has had trouble hiring committed workers who are able to quickly learn job duties. Lillienfeld cited studies which show that intelligence tests are actually better predictors of job performance than interviews, but not as good as the integrity tests. Though we found in our discussion section that relying exclusively on intelligence tests is not an effective way to hire, but I do wonder how their use would help with our employee retentionNot-Hiring-The-American.jpg

The topic I believe I will remember most in 5 years is the Big Five personality traits. I was initially surprised to find out that psychologists believed there were such a limited number of crucial features of the human personality. In case anyone needs a reminder, the Big Five personality traits are as follows:
Openness to experience-open people tend to be intellectually curious and unconventional
Conscientiousness-tend to be careful and responsible
Extraversion-tend to be social and lively
Agreeableness-tend to be social and easy to get along with
Neuroticism-tend to be tense and moody.
When we took the survey for class to find out which traits we ranked high or low in, I had no idea where I would be ranked. I was pretty sure I would be highly ranked in extraversion, because I usually am on other personality tests, but otherwise I had no idea. I found out that I am low in neuroticism, high in extraversion and openness to experience, and somewhere in the middle for agreeableness and conscientiousness. I realized that I thought this was actually really accurate for my personality, and was impressed by this fact. If anyone wants to retest themselves for these five traits, here is a link to a test online.
I've also included a video that talks about the five traits, as well as a discussion of the traits celebrities possess, such as Tom Cruise and Paris Hilton.

What traits were you ranked high or low in? Were you surprised by the results?

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

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