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Blog #1- Chapter 11

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While reading chapter 11 the section that I found most interesting was the "Importance of Nonverbal Cues" and "Body Language and Gestures". This caught my attention because I feel that you can learn a lot about a person based on how they carry themselves as well as their body language. Many times, you can detect how someone is feeling based on their facial expression even if they are trying not to show it. For example, if someone is trying to figure out a difficult math problem they may feel that they are thinking hard but look expressionless. However, someone watching them finish the math problem may see them with a puzzled face or tapping their pencil on the desk and perceive the person as being confused. Also, often times people are judged based on their body language such as during a job interview. Employers look for someone that is confident and now slouching down in their chair. A weak hand shake to an employer or a lack of eye contact may represent that you are intimidated or nervous. As you can see, body language plays a large role in presenting yourself and first impressions. It is important to be conscious about how you portray yourself when in certain situations. Below is a link to a website with further examples of decoding body language.

http://www.forbes.com/2009/06/23/body-language-first-impression-forbes-woman-leadership-communication.html

chapter 5

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Chapter 5 focused on the consciousness of the human brain. The first half of the chapter discusses sleeping and dreams. First they describe the different stages of sleep (stage1o stage 5, from light sleeping to rapid eye movement). There is a long part where they try to give us information about what dreams mean and how people experience them. In my opinion one of the most interesting parts in this section was about lucid dreaming. A lucid dream is when you are dreaming and you recognize you are in a dream. The cool part about it is that once you come to that realization you can do anything you put your mind to in that dream. I personally have had lucid dreams before and the experience is like no other. Where most of my dreams are blurry these ones are vivid with extreme detail and a sense of realness to them. Someone can train themselves to have lucid dreams by repetitively doing a simple action like flicking your bedroom light switch a few times before going to bed. If you flick a light switch in a dream most of the time the lights won't turn on (at least not right away) and you might be able to realize that you are in a dream. However when most people experience a lucid dream for their first time they may wake up right after they realize they are in a dream because their mind gets startled. One of the benefits of being able to have lucid dreams is that you can change the outcome of a bad dream and have less nightmares.

This chapter also dedicates a section to drugs and consciousness. They describe the different effects depressants, stimulants, opiates, and psychedelics have on the brain. A misconception that most people have is that a drug can be addictive and dangerous only if it is illegal. But that fact is that even legal drugs such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and pain killers can be destructive and addicting if not taken with care. Also we have all heard that there are families that are more prone to developing issues like alcoholism because of genetic traits. But What I hadn't really thought about is that there are families that have very low chances of having addictive problems. For example 40% of people of Asian decent have a genetic mutation called aldehyde 2 which, if alcohol is consumed causes red flushing in the face, nausea, and a faster paced heart beat. While it may be hard to systematically prove that culture can have a direct effect on genetic mutation, most of the observations seem to hint that it does

When being assigned to read this chapter, I was confused at first. Shouldn't we start at the beginning of the book, and move on from there? But then I realized that psychologists appreciate well-rounded individuals, and I think that learning this way is a good way to just be submerged in the entire subject of psychology. Anyway, going over this chapter was very interesting to me. I really enjoy learning the history of psychological disorders, and the improvements to treat them that we have made over the years. It really struck me in the first few pages, when we read about how tortured people were in the past for having any kind of psychological disorders. Many were thought to be witches, others were considered to have "too much blood" in their system, so their blood was drained, many times killing the individual. Even though society has made a lot of progress since these dark times, one underlying factor remains the same to be something we still struggle with today: people who are different from "the norm" have yet to be completely treated as equals. High schools have cliques, society has classes, and everyone is constantly being divided. Many people don't realize what kind of struggles people can go through through simple classifications of society. It is really important that we continue to evolve from these awful stereotypes and divisions in society.

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Chapter 9 - The Flynn Effect

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The Flynn effect is a phenomenon that James Flynn observed in the 1980's. He observed that the average IQ increases by three points every decade. When looking back in time to past generations, this is a strong distinction between the IQ's of modern society, and the IQ's of ancestors. Flynn concluded that the genetic make-up of human intellect did not change significantly enough over such a time period to account for these changes in IQ. Because of this, the Flynn effect holds environmental changes accountable for increases in IQ.
Four main environmental influences Flynn recognizes are an increase in test-taking ability, an increase in technology, better diet, and modernization of home life and education systems. The Flynn effect recognizes these external influences as the cause for an overall upward trend in intellect. According to the Flynn effect, external influences in society create a visible impact on the intellect of generation after generation. The Flynn effect represents societies with such upward trends, although some psychologists believe that the recent trend has not been moving up, but rather reversing.
I agree with the notion that intellect is influenced by external factors, rather than biological or genetic make-up. As society changes and develops, the people that make up the society must change as well. The most outstanding of the four main influences on the increase of IQ over the past several generations is the change in technology. I see this as the strongest external influence on education systems, and overall attitude that children have on learning. For example, education games and toys are marketed towards children as fun and modern. The LeapFrog LeapPad is an interactive learning device similar in appearance to an iPad. It has apps for math and reading. The technological appeal to kids, and parents is said to be "a new way to learn, a new way to play." This is an observable aspect of the Flynn effect, as it demonstrates how the external influence of technology on intellect begins as attitudes are changed.

http://www.leapfrog.com/leappad/index.html
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Chapter 4 is about sensation and perception. Here is an interesting concept called extrasensory perception (ESP). According to the textbook, extrasensory perception is divided into three types, which are precognition, telepathy and clairvoyance. Precognition is an ability to predict what will happen in the future. Telepathy is like mind reading. People with clairvoyance have "x-ray" eyes, which help them detect hidden things. The three types of phenomena sound like supernatural powers. However, the examples of extrasensory perception are everywhere in daily life. I went to Madison during the winter break for the first time. One night, I went out to buy some fruits but I lost my way. I did not bring my phone and I could not find anyone for help. I was about to cry. Interestingly, I felt I was under the same circumstances in one of my dreams. I found myself standing in a strange street and I was so scared that I woke up immediately. This experience was amazing and unbelievable. This might be an example of precognition and it is called déjà vu referred to a subsequent chapter. Another example of precognition mentioned in the textbook is some people know what others are going to say. I have to admit it happens a lot but as the textbook explained, this kind of situations only happens to intimate people. A similar case would be my mother even gets what I am saying when I brush my teeth at the same time. None of my words are pronounced correctly. I do not think her right understanding is due to extrasensory perception. However, it is because my mother knows me so well that she understands me by my body language and facial expressions. Perhaps that people you just meet can also have an idea about what you mean or going to say. Yet as the book says, you do not notice times they have no idea happen much more often. Prediction.jpg

Chapter 11, Emotion and Motivation, describes how our emotions and motivations influence our thoughts and actions. Emotions; mental states or feelings associated with our evaluation of our experiences; influence us to respond in specific ways, and to make decisions in our everyday lives. Chapter 11 discusses emotions, how we express them, where emotions originate from, and how cultures view emotions. It explains the various theories (cognitive, James-Lange, somatic marker, Cannon-Bard, two-factor) of how emotion and action coincide. The general consensus is that the James-Lange theory, that emotions result from bodily actions, seems to be the most accepted in the psychology world.

This chapter also discusses happiness, and the misconceptions based on general opinions. The misconceptions are that happiness is determined by what happens to us, money makes us happy, happiness decreases with age, and people from the West Coast are happiest. All of these assumptions are inaccurate. What makes people the happiest (which could be due to correlation of success) include: marriage, friendships, attending college, religious beliefs, political affiliation, exercise, gratitude, giving to others, and having a life that flows smoothly. With affective forecasting, a technique we use to predict the happiness of ourselves and others, we are consistently wrong. Instead, it is better to get to know someone in order to determine their happiness, which is important within motivation. Happiness is a strong motivation, which is a drive that leads us in certain directions. A general consensus is that our motivations generally coincide with Maslow's hierarchy (above) , though this is just a generalization, or a rough template. The basics of chapter 11 describe emotions, happiness, motivations, love, hatred and the importance of emotions and motivations in our daily lives.

Chp. 5 Consciousness

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Have you been sleeping and known for a fact you were dreaming? If I have, I don't remember it. The phenomenon is called lucid dreaming, which means the experience of becoming aware that one is dreaming. Scientists say most people have experienced lucid dreaming at least once in their lifetime and some even experience this phenomenon monthly. When I awake from my sleep I am lucky to even remember if I had I had a dream or not. It is said that the thing that tips lucid dreamers off, that it is a dream they are experiencing is anything truly out of the ordinary or so crazy that it could not be real.
One point that was made in the chapter really caught my attention and intrigued me. "Lucid dreaming opens up the possibility of controlling our dreams" (171). The ability to control what we dream is almost like a superpower in some way. Well, maybe not but it is for sure an incredible gift. Lucid dreaming is just one of the topics covered in chapter 5. Throughout the chapter there is a vast amount of extraordinary concepts they cover such as stages of sleep, disorders of sleep, and hypnosis.


Chapter 10 Human development

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Approximately 80 years ago, quadruplets Nora, Iris, Myra, and Hester Genain were born. All four sisters were diagnosed with schizophrenia. This scenario highlights some key points in the battle of nature vs. nurture. Even though they were identical sisters, they varied in weight. Two of them, Iris and Hester, weighed significantly less than the other two, Nora and Myra. Three of the four sisters were hospitalized due to their disorders, leaving Nora to be the only "strong" sister. Whether it was because Iris and Hester severely weighed less or not, their mother favored Nora and Myra. She would even go to the extent of punishing Iris and Hester for inappropriate behavior. Myra was her favorite though, to the point where she said that she thought Myra was psychologically healthier and smarter than the other three. Myra went on to get married and held a job position for many years. I see different ways of nurture every day. Had the Genain family only had twins or triplets, the way they raised them would have been very different. Had Myra not been born, the parents would have treated each of the other three daughters a lot better, and not have caused as muc stress on them later in life. My brother and I are, even though a few years apart, very similar. We are about the same height, have similar personalities, and like many of the same things, but we act differently because of how our parents raised us with the knowledge they had. He is older than me, so my parents had a few years to raise him before I was born. They learned things while raising him that they did differently with me. Humans develop differently based on their nature and nurture, and no person can be raised the exact same way.

Cognitive Biases are a very common part of our everyday lives. It can be broken down into a couple different categories. The first one i want to point out is the "Hindsight Bias". The Hindsight Bias brings out a couple of really interesting points. First, it points out that we tend to overestimate how well we could have successfully forecasted known outcomes. I thought it was really interesting how they tied this back into the 9/11 terrorist attacks and how everyone was very quick to point fingers at people who "knew" how to avoid it, but did not. Another aspect the cognitive bias is overconfidence. The book showed a study on how a survey revealed that 94% of college professors believed that they were better scholars than their colleagues. This goes to show that the majority of people believe that they are "above average" when, by definition, only 50% of people can technically be above average. Biases can make us sure that we are right when in-fact we are not. This leads us to not only draw false conclusions, but even become convinced of them. The scientific method accounts for these naturally misleading factors and allows us to draw better conclusions.

Chapter 5

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Hallucinations: Experiencing something that isn't present. Hallucinations are realistic perceptions by a person with the absence of any external stimulant. When someone is under the influence of a hallucination, their brain is just as active as it would be if it were physically engaging with such reality.
If a person experiences a hallucination, they may be deemed as psychologically disturbed, but as research shows this is not the case. Some cultures even go out of their way to induce such experience upon themselves.
These perceived realities are much more common than one would expect. Surveys reveal that 10 to 14 percent (and even as high as 39 percent) of college students have hallucinated once during the day without assistance of drugs or other forces.
So besides drugs, what causes one to hallucinate? Visual hallucination can be brought upon the lack of oxygen and senses. For example, people are known to float in warm water in dark silence. What this does is it completely deprives you of your senses so you hallucinate to compensate for the lack of sensory stimulation.

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