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.
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We all like to think of ourselves as level-headed individuals who can look at things from an even-keeled perspective. We don't think we have biases, because we see things as they are. The thing that stuck out to me the most this year in psychology is how untrue this is. Like Chris French's post about a man who was convinced he had undeniable evidence that there were weird spirits occupying his home, I've come to realize how many things I think are simple facts but really are results of my own biased perspectives. I think a lot of this is from the Correlation vs. Causation fallacy. I see test scores of people who are poor and assume that their lack of intelligence causes them to have no money. I decide to see it this way because it offers me comfort in knowing that my high ACT score will guarantee me success in life. I WANT to see it this way. The reality of the situation is that just because low test-scores are correlated with poverty, the cause probably lies outside both realms. Being born into underprivileged situations denies poor people proper education, health care, and safe environments, all of which are things that contribute to high test-scores and success in life.
An interesting thing I'll remember five years from now is what the placebo effect is. All of my life, I've been given medicines that will "drain out my sinuses", or "cure this headache". After reading chapter 2, I have realized that this is not necessarily the case. As defined by the book, the placebo effect is "improvement resulting from the mere expectation of improvement".
While there are many topics learned this semester that will always stay with me, something I found particularly interesting was the durability bias. The durability bias, as defined in our textbook, is the belief that both our good and bad moods will last longer than they do. This concept particularly stands out to me because I can think of so many examples where this is true.
A classic example is a child on Christmas morning with their presents. For the next week Santa's present might be the greatest, most amazing thing ever; however, two or three weeks later the excitement will likely have worn off. I am sure many people can imagine this scenario, or one like it, in their own lives.
Just as I can think of many Christmases where I thought I would never have a better toy, I can think of many examples of thinking my life was completely ruined by something. At the age of seven I thought I would never get over moving to a new neighborhood. Separated from my best friend and neighbor of six years by at least eight miles, my life was surely over. Again I was tricked by the durability bias. This concept will definitely be one I remember, or hopefully at least, the next time I have a life-ruining event.
In a course that covers so much you have to pick and choose what the main points will be that you take away. One thing that has always been super important to me is having a family and kids. This course brought to me a lot of key points that will help me once I have my own children. The different emotions that babies feel as they grow up was very interesting to me. It was surprising yet relieving the find out that babies do not feel fear till after 3 months. I think that it's important that babies still feel protected at that age. I also would love for my children to be bilingual being able to speak both Laotian (my mothers native tongue) and English. Babies abilities to respond to people talking to them no matter what language is being spoken to them is not only impressive but helpful in this case!
Other interesting facts about children include the time in which they are able to recognize themselves. I will try the dot test on my child and see at what age they are able to see themselves in a mirror. I also think it's super important to understand that by the age of 4 children learn to lie. With that information you spare yourself from being shocked by the things your child says.
Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IkoPUAijXs. It gives a real insight on to how children from different countries still develop these same attributes around the same time and have the same emotions around the same time!
Of the many things that I believe I will remember from psych, I think that some of the most important skills I have taken from this class are how to judge the results of different studies and research; like correlation vs. causation, replicability, falsifiability, occam's razor, and ruling out rival hypotheses. I think that these skills can be very useful when you aredetermining the validity of some type of research. I have already started transferring these skills into areas other than psych. I think that using these skills can be very helpful when you are given information, because you should not believe everything you are told, and you should be able to determine if something is true or not. But overall, I feel that there will be many little things that I learned in this class that will also stay with me for a very long time.
What truly guides attraction and relationship formation? Before taking this course I had an idea, but nothing to back it up. Why was I attracted to certain girls that my friends weren't? And why were they attracted to certain girls that I wasn't? Now, however, I have a much better understanding of attraction.
According to the textbook, proximity, similarity, and reciprocity are the three main principles that cause two people to feel attracted to each other. Personally, I am not in a relationship, but I can obviously see how these principles play a big role in attraction. For this post, however, I will use my friends as an example because the same principles apply. Most of my close friends here at school live close to me in the dorms, so the principle of proximity is in action here. In addition to living near each other, my friends and I have very similar personalities and/or interests (similarity). These two principles are key for friendships, but there is more that goes into relationship formation.
Physical attractiveness also plays a key role in the formation of relationships, but how big of a role? How much does proximity and similarity enhance the attractiveness of another person? And what if proximity or similarity starts the attraction between two people, and then it is later removed, e.g. not having the same class together or starting to like different things, can the relationship last? These are all good questions, and I think the answer will vary depending on the person you ask.
In this psychology book, the concept that I will remember in five years must be the mere exposure effect. Because this concept will always appear and rehearse in my mind when my friends around me tell me that they think they are prettier in the mirror than in the picture! In our psychology book, the mere exposure effect means the "repeated exposure to a stimulus makes us more likely to feel favorably toward it". As this concept helps explain why people think they are prettier in the mirror than in the picture, I will in turn explain this concept to my friends whenever I am told by my friends that they think they are prettier in the mirror than in the picture. Now instead of saying "I think so!" or "I don't know why.", I can tell them with confidence that they have got used to their mirror images than their photo images. I think mere exposure effect is one of the most interesting concepts that I learn in this psychology course during this semester. Actually, before learning this concept, I also have this kind of question as my friends have. Additionally, after I have a lot of rehearsals of telling my friends this concept, I don't think I can easily forget the concept of mere exposure effect in 5 years. And I am pretty sure that it will stay in my long-term memory!
Five years from now there will be a lot of things I will remember from Psych 1001, but to be honest I will probably forget more than I remember. One of the things that I am confident that will stay with me however is all of the biases that we as humans have, even though we never mean to have them. From the durability bias to the representative heuristic to the availability heuristic, our mind sometimes prevents us from seeing reality. As teenagers and young adults we probably have a strong durability bias. We think that the good times and the bad times will last much longer than they do. I can't speak for everybody else but I know I need to learn that "this too shall pass". I think I will remember these biases and heuristics because the examples that the book gave really made me think about them. For example, the book asked which was farther West, Reno or San Diego. Our mind tells us that California is farther West than Nevada and San Diego is in Nevada, so San Diego must be farther West. Our mind has tricked us using a simple heuristic.
Even when we don't intend to, our mind tries to simplify things to much and we must be aware of this and try to consciously correct ourselves before we accept what is not true.
As boring as it sounds, I imagine 5 years from now I will be working for some big corporation with a typical office, with typical business clothing, and with a typical day-to-day. Even though it doesn't sound like I would need to know anything but, let's say, accounting, I have a good feeling that psychology will play a huge role in my job. The concept that will probably stick with me is IQ, especially since we discussed what it would be like if it was the only thing determining whether we got a job or not.
Also, the idea of IQ is a disputed topic especially between different genders and races. I could see people wanting to take a break from work and testing each other's IQ by taking tests online (as lame as that sounds). Whoever had the highest would obviously have bragging rights, which no one minds in a competitive setting like accounting. Even if it's not the most important idea, IQ is brought up in almost every day. It might not be someone talking about "IQ" exactly, but I know I hear the word "smart", "intelligent", or even "genius" AT LEAST once a day. And, who doesn't mind being called intelligent?
Throughout this course of psychology there seems to have been a general trend that reaches across almost every chapter: things are not always as they first seem, and that it may take time to truly understand a situation that you are a part of. Looking back to concepts like inattention blindness, representative heuristics, confirmation bias, etc., it is imperative that we need to stay skeptical and understand that our 'common sense' may prove to be wrong.
Here are some general but interesting facts taken from our textbook:
-Parenting and childhood will have little effect on the personality of an adult.
- People are generally very resilient to stressors as well as traumatic events in their life.
- Most people can remember about 7 things at one time (+/- 2)
- You make most of your decisions unconsciously.
- Memories are not solid replays, we reform and recreate memories every time we recall them.
Many times, for example, we rely on our beliefs of the world to get us through the day. Some people may defend themselves saying they know exactly what they say and do at all times but the simple fact is that this is not really true. Of course, there is a lot we still don't know in the field of psychology, but what has been shown is that reality may be different from the way we perceive it. In five years I will be cautious of biases and heuristics, to take each situation with an open but skeptical mind, and realize that there may have been something I could have missed.
One thing that I think I will remember five years from now is one of the concepts that seemed to come up many times throughout the entire book, which was the scientific thinking principles. These principles are obviously very important in psychology and they can also be applied to everyday life such as the situations that you are put in and the judgements that you have to make. The principle of ruling out rival hypotheses might help me to broaden my perspective and look at other solutions. The theory of correlation versus causation will remind me that one thing does not necessarily cause another.
Falsifiability will remind me not to believe everything that I hear as some things can be made up and there is no way of proving them. Replicability shows how important it is to back up your findings and eliminate any things that may have happened because of chance. Extraordinary claims will remind me to look at the evidence of the claim and make sure that it is reasonable to make that claim. Occam's razor shows me that there may be simpler ways of explaining things and to not get to caught up trying to make a complex argument. These principles are simple and helpful ways to analyze the things you may come across in everyday life which is why I think I will remember them.