assignment 1: January 2012 Archives

Chapter 11 deals with our emotions, as well as factors of motivation in our lives. The chapter provides an overview of different types of theories regarding emotion, such as the Discrete Emotions Theory and the Cognitive Theories of Emotion. blog1.jpg Also discussed in the chapter is the presence of non-verbal expressions of emotions, such as body language and gestures. Often we can express our emotions towards a situation without saying a word or actually making a "common" face that registers as a certain emotion. Another thing that stuck out to me is how we use personal space as a means of displaying a message. As we grow, our want for a personal space grows, increasing the distance between us and others we interact with. It was stated that when the need to intimidate occurs, we tend to get closer to the person we wish to intimidate. The chapter ends in a discussion of motivation, along with theories that discuss what exactly it is that drives us forward. Whether it is a positive goal or a need for safety, theories such as incentive and hierarchy of needs, respectively, offer us explanations about why we choose to push forward.

Blog #1 Chapter 2

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This chapter was pretty introductory; what defines an "experiment," common terms and theories behind the practice of experimentation. I was struck most by the idea of a "nocebo" effect. I had heard of placebo before, likely along with the rest of the class, but i was super interested that there was a documented term that describes placebo's opposite effect: expecting harm causes perceived harm. I experience this a lot in daily life; mostly in observing the habits of certain people I would define as pessimistic or nervous. Often they don't have a good time because they didn't expect to--it severely impacts their social interactions.

What drives you

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By being a student at the college level I began to realize more and more just how important being motivated was. What I didn't fully understand was all of the reasons for motivation besides just wanting to do well and the different stimuli that can affect how motivated you are. After skimming through chapter 11 I began to understand these things a little more. The thing that caught my eye right away was that most drives, even though they seem pleasant or satisfactory, are actually unpleasant. To me this seemed counter intuitive because I see things that motivate me as being positive things. After thinking about it in depth I began to realize that many drives that motivate a person to do something really aren't good. They are unpleasant things but as the book states, "that satisfaction of them results in pleasure."
Along with realizing the most drives are negative I also read about the different stimuli that can affect motivation. The most common one was arousal. At first this didn't make much sense to me because I took it at its physical meaning and I didn't think that this affected my motivation for most things. As I kept reading I realized it is more of a mental arousal at doing a complicated task or something along those lines.
These two things really caught my eye but so did many other topics and ideas and I am really looking forward to learning more about the inter working of the mind.

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Chapter 7: Memory

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After skimming through chapter 7, I quickly realized just how complex a human's memory works and just how powerful it is. I particularly found it very interesting that our short-term memory is only capable of recalling 7 digits, give or take 2. The utter complexity of how things are stored into our long term memory is astounding and given the methods used to do so make it incredibly simple with such things as repetition and mnemonic devices. The power of one's mind is heavily portrayed through memory due the subconscious decision to erase a traumatic memory to protect itself. The ability to do this illustrates the extent that memory can damage an individual as well as do them well and I am amazed that people possess the ability to forget the things that damage them.

While previewing chapter twelve I read of the benefits of stress. Yes, I really did just say that stress can be beneficial. I learned that one of the ways in which psychologists study stress among people is from a perspective of "stress as stimuli." This field of study focuses on what effects particular stressful situations, such as pregnancies or natural disasters, can have on groups of people. The textbook highlighted studies concerning the effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on people's personalities.

Selected American citizens completed character strength surveys before and after September 11, 2001. When comparing the results of the subject's characters, positive strengths such as "kindness, teamwork, leadership, gratitude, hope, love, and spirituality" significantly increased.

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There is much that may be learned about stress from these results. I can recall the images of firefighters, the explosions, and Ground Zero that were circulated in the weeks following the attacks. Being young at that time, I can only imagine the magnitude of stress trusted upon our nation's government, families, and citizens. However, it is uncanny how the nation bonded together to combat this unprecedented stressor. This response or "stimuli" to stress was clearly reflected in the results of the strengths survey - proving that stress can indeed produce positive qualities in individuals.

Chapter 2 is all about research methods used in the field of psychology today. Many different types and different methods of research are used. Something in research methods that stick out to me as very interesting is the placebo effect. The placebo effect consistently makes certain experiments very difficult and they can sometimes thwart the entire experiment. In essence, the placebo effect is an improvement in the condition of someone just resulting from the expectation of it. For example, if someone has a cold and a doctor gives them a sugar pill but tells them it is a good pill that will make them feel better, the person sometimes actually feels better and thinks the result is from the pill. Because of this phenomenon, many experiments call for a control group that is told the same thing the experimental group is told. The only difference between these groups is the control group gets a placebo pill. This is called a blind experiment. Due to biases and other things, many times a third group is required to assign which groups which so even the experimenter doesn't know. This does not allow for biases, causing a double-blind experiment. Even with pills to help, some researchers keep consistent with that fact that up to 80 percent of the effectiveness of certain pills, especially anti-depressants, is due to placebo effects. These effects play a huge role in experiments and researchers must keep their mind open and aware to placebo effects when researching.
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While lab experimentation can yield valuable results in regards to the control of an independent variable naturalistic observation is more useful in the way that it allows for scientists to observe behavior without the influence of a lab, or of the associated biases.
Studies that use naturalistic observation often have a higher level of external validity, that is, the amount of information that is valid to real world settings, or that can be applied to the real world. This conflicts with lab work which has a higher rate of internal validity (how often we can draw cause-and-effect inferences), because of the amount of control that can be used in a laboratory study. However, lab work often has a lower level of external validity as it requires very specific settings and controls that sometimes don't apply to the "real world".

Stress is something that every human being goes through constantly. What's interesting is that the idea of stress, when relating to people, didn't come around until recently. The term was used before for structures and how much "stress" they could take before collapsing and the same applies for people: the body and mind has pressures on it and it can collapse as well. Stress can be a helpful thing as well as damaging. Stress can be positive when it motivates us do things but too much of it can be harmful. There are different levels of stress as well; events that can cause long term psychological damage are called traumatic events whereas everyday annoyances are called hassles. How people deal with stress is something that varies. Everybody has the flight or fight reaction but what's interesting in women is that they often use the tend and befriend reaction. This is when the person befriends or turns to others for support, and this is because they have more to lose with child-bearing. Another interesting thing about stress is that it can actually affect our immune system: if you are particularly stressed about something it can lead to sickness or disease (including long term, terminal illnesses) so maintaining a low stress life is essential. FightOrFlight.jpg

Fun with Logical Fallacies

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As we approach the upcoming presidential elections, we are further inundated with political debates and empty rhetoric. Discussions about politics so often turn into heated debates in which neither side seems to gain any ground and arguments are based on emotion rather than logic. Yes friends, it is time for the trench warfare that is politics.
The elections are especially exciting this time because I can finally vote. However, to make a good decision, one must be able to analyze the arguments that politicians are making. This is where the joys of logical fallacy come in to play. The textbook features a table on page 18 that describes numerous logical fallacies and gives examples. Logical fallacies are a huge component of pseudo science (one of the main focuses of the chapter). For example, discounting a scientific theory because of its real world consequences is an example of a logical fallacy. My most graphic example of this logical fallacy in action occurred when I was reading a science article about researchers attempting to identify common facial features of children with autism. Do they share any common traits? Children born with fetal alcohol syndrome often have thinner upper lips and small ears, for example. This proves that the condition is developmental, not purely psychological. Identifying common physical traits between autistic children would prove that its cause lies somewhere between genetics and development- not vaccines. Anyway, one of the comments posted on the article argued against its results (That many autistic children do share common facial traits) because then people would be able to identify autism prenatally and potentially abort their child. It was a stretch- facial features aren't really exact enough to provide a diagnosis. Furthermore, this unlikely consequence is a logical fallacy, according to our textbook. Less than ideal consequences do not make this discovery any less true.
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Stress, Coping, and Health

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As I looked through our Psychology book, I was immediately attracted to Chapter 12, entitled "Stress, Coping, and Health" simply because it seemed to describe my first week of class. In a nut shell, this chapter essentially describes what stress is, how no two stresses are created equal, how stress affects you and your immune system, and how to cope with stress. As I skimmed, I really focused on the effects that stress can have on the body. The term psychophysiological describes illnesses in which stress can contribute to or make worse. Apparently stress can contribute in a major way to our health, for example stress and personality traits can be important risk factors for coronary heart disease which is an extremely serious condition that can cause death and disability. Since stress can cause so many serious implications to one's health, we need to find ways to deal with it in order to not contract CHD or any other stress-related diseases. I found that we can relieve stress by taking control of the situations in life and that there are different types of control that the text describes including behavioral, cognitive, decisional, informational, and emotional control. I identified with most of these different types except cognitive control. I found I need to work harder at restructuring my thoughts regarding negative emotions that arise from events that are stress-provoking. Lastly, another part of this chapter that seemed to jump out at me was the section discussing whether or not to use CAM treatments. From a psychological standpoint, the chapter states we shouldn't dismiss all CAM treatments; we can't conclude that they're all worthless, nor can we simply accept the ideas of medical opinion and advice given by the media. 001stress.jpg

How our minds trick us

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As I was looking through the book for something interesting to write about I stumbled upon some pictures and tests that made me think. Even being predisposed to many of these ideas I still had trouble finding out all the subtle tricks involved in fooling me and many other human minds. These tests were found on pages 128, 129, and 133 in the psychology book if you want to test out your own wits on these perceptual conundrums. If you're just a casual reader there are many optical illusions you can find easily on the internet. The section they were in is titled Sensation and Perception, which is chapter 4. I've always been interested in sensation and perception and how the brain works, and in these cases doesn't work and I look forward to finding these answers in the coming weeks. Though from my short readings on this subject I did pick up a few reasons why we get fooled like we do. One of those reasons we become fooled by these illusions is because of perceptual sets, which form when our expectations influence our perceptions. If you look at the picture below you will see just this happening. The misshapen letter can be seen as either an A or and H depending on the surrounding letters. tHe bAt.png

Bandwagoners: Depart Now

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Aaron Rodgers is a stud. Plain and simple. Over the past few years, he has overcome all the "Favre" hype, brought the Packers to the top of the NFL, and unfortunately, made the Packers a team for band wagoners to flock to. With a high powered, flashy offense combined with a star studded defense, even the Favre faithfuls crawled out of their holes to support the Pack, claiming they have "been super fans all along." And until 11 days ago, these so called "super fans" have bought all sorts of Packers apparel, posted statuses and tweets, and claimed the Packers were God's team. News flash: the Packers are human, therefore they CAN lose (ps God's team is the Broncos...TEBOW). After the heart breaker vs the Giants, these same so called "fans" posted exactly the opposite to what they have been posting for the past year, and as a true Packers fan I am ALMOST (i'd rather have another Super Bowl) satisfied because all the band wagoners will be gone! Whether it's following a team, buying a product, or believing the sun revolves around the earth, just because many people believe and follow, the team/belief is not fail safe. So for all you Packer band wagoners, i have this to say: Au revoir.

The Social World We Live In.

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Our everyday lives are based around how we perceive ourselves as well as how others perceive us. Think this isn't true? Just think about it. Some women...and men can take several hours getting ready for the day.
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Why? It's all about our physical appearance and how we want other people to see us; whether that be truly who that person is or not. This is why Chapter 13 "Social Psychology: How others affect us" caught my attention. It starts off by talking about the natural human instinct to gravitate together in order to get a feeling of acceptance and belonging. Humans hate the feeling of being left out. That is why so many people buy style magazines like GQ or Cosmo or buy Celebrity Gossip magazines such as People or US Weekly. Society is convinced that if you wear the most stylish up-to-date clothes or you drink and eat what celebrities eat and drink, you will be popular and well liked. Many people have studied the human want and need for social acceptance and many interesting discoveries have been made about how the mind works when in countless social situations.

Chapter 5: Consciousness

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While looking through the Psychology textbook I came across Chapter 5: Consciousness. This chapter starts to deal with the mind and other forms of consciousness such as dreaming. I found the section on dreaming especially interesting because the other night I had a lucid dream in which I was in control of what went on in my dream. These types of experiences are one of the weirdest yet exciting feelings imaginable. Being able to control what goes on, how things act, and people behave in your dream is one of the coolest feelings that you may encounter. Not only that but being able to disregard the laws of the natural world you are able to access a different type of creativity in your dreams that cannot be replicated anywhere else. Another part of this section that I found interesting was the section on insomnia. This section relates directly to me as I have mild insomnia and currently prescribed sleeping pills to keep me on a regular sleep pattern. By taking these pills it causes me to enter a deeper REM sleep and I have found that my lucid dreams dramatically increase when kept in this deep REM sleep. Being able to experience these lucid dreams on a bi-weekly basis has resulted in me sleeping longer, waking up feeling refreshed every morning, and improving my mood overall.

While flipping through Chapter 11, which is Emotion and Motivation, the first thing that caught my eye was that there are perhaps seven primary emotions that are cross-culturally universal. I find this interesting because of how many emotions there are, and yet these seven can be found in practically any culture across the globe.
The second thing that caught my attention was the section about nonverbal cues. It's amazing that so much information about how we're feeling can be given away by not saying a single word. Sometimes our body language is more of a clue to what we're actually feeling than any words we could say.
emotions The final thing I found interesting about this chapter was the Lying and Lie detection, specifically the humans as lie detectors. One of my favorite shows was called "Lie to Me." The main characters job was to determine if a person was lying just by looking at their body posture (nonverbal cues) and what they did or did not say. He was also able to determine the answers to questions from their facial expressions. This show fascinated me and for quite some time, I wanted to have the job that he had and do what he did. Of course it was just a show and the storylines were made up and the endings were happy, but it showed me just how informative the human face was based on the emotions it showed.

Emotion in faces

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Chapter Eleven is called "Emotion and Motivation." It addresses all of the emotions people have and more specifically, body language. Body language is something that we experience on a daily basis. Most people react to body language without even noticing it. I particularly liked the diagram of faces that conveyed different emotions. I was surprised by how easy it was for me to detect and identify the emotions displayed. An interesting fact I read was that on average older adults are happier than younger people. I would never have guessed that. Another interesting part of this chapter discussed the origin of love. This surprised me because I never thought of emotions having origins but in the chapter it states that the origin of love was at least 5000 years ago and, no surprise, love is supposed to have originated in Italy. Also in the chapter is the topic of personal space, a concept I have noticed widely varies depending on culture. I often find myself in a situation where someone is way closer to me than I feel comfortable with and it is interesting to read how truly different people view personal space. There is also a section on the average attractive face. The idea there is a general consensus around the world about what is attractive is remarkable to me.


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After looking through the textbook I decided that chapter 7, which had to do with memory, interested me the most. The section pertaining to false memories was particularly interesting. Most of us can recall vague memories from our early childhood, or at least we think that we can. Scientists have been able to use suggestive memory techniques to make people recall memories that they haven't actually experienced. I was surprised to learn that the people in studies that recall these false memories sometimes refuse to accept the memories as false.

This section also described how many people claim to have distinct memories of what they were doing when at the time of a major event in history. But studies have shown that these so-called vivid memories often change over time and people's recollection of the event right after it happened is a completely different story than their account of it years later. The vagueness we feel when trying to recall certain memories is due to source monitoring confusion. It is source monitoring confusion that makes some memories and conversations hard to recall and makes us wonder if the event ever took place at all. These are only a few of many examples that illustrate how complex the the study of memory is.

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Multiple Intelligences

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In different cultures intelligence is measured differently. For example, A Chinese elder versus an American scholar, both could impart wisdom on the people around them, but who is regarded with higher intelligence by their culture? There are different ways of being smart or having intelligence. People can be intelligent linguistically, musically, athletically, or naturalistically. As well as analytically, practically, or creatively. Commonly in the United we hear either book smart or street smart, or even some people are both. In turn, one popular way to calculate how smart someone is, is by having them take an IQ test. IQ tests are one of psychology's most famous tests. Psychologists can use these results and predict life outcomes and predict the situations where the person grew up in based on their results. Although not necessarily extremely valid, the scores do reflect patterns. Whether it is that the person is from a big family or a small family, the eldest in their family or the youngest, and even if their parents have high IQs or not. In popular culture there are lots of widely used and advertised IQ boosters, but it is proven these are not very accurate but yet people still take them.
As important as intelligence arithmetically is creative and emotional intelligence. Emotional psychology today is a popular topic to study. The ability to understand emotion of both yourself and of others and apply it to life is quite astonishing. In many work places they are taking strides to try and boost the emotional intelligence of their employees. As well as the importance of wisdom. Wisdom is more than just intelligence, it is the application of it. Intelligence is more than simply knowing or succeeding in school. People can be intelligent in so many different ways, in some senses it is hard to compare.

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For example, Chris Langan was a child prodigy, got a perfect 1600 on the SAT, won NBC's game "1 vs. 100", and has an IQ test that can only be estimated. Yet, he only yearns to earn a doctorate.

(Chapter 9 of Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding)

The concept of reality seems to be a pretty basic element of daily life. However, the perception of reality may be skewed or broken for individuals suffering from a psychological disorder called Schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia along with several other psychological disorders are discussed throughout chapter 15 in the course textbook. This section grabbed my attention because I have always had an interest in the field of abnormal psychology. Although severe cases of disorders such as Schizophrenia are not extremely common in the population, it is still an extraordinary field that requires a lot of attention to be fully understood. Individuals who suffer from Schizophrenia struggle on a daily basis fighting delusions and other distortions in reality. Having this disorder does not confine you to a psych ward. A great illustration of the struggle with Schizophrenia can be seen in the movie A Beautiful Mind which depicts Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash's life and his ability to overcome the disorder in his daily life. The clip below is a scene that shows Nash's struggle between his reality and the clear hallucinations he sees.



The movie had a big influence on me the first time I saw it, and I am excited to watch it again after learning even more about psychological disorders during this class.

cheesus.jpgIt's a particularly slow news night when all of a sudden, "Something amazing has happened! A women in Missouri has just found Jesus in her Cheetos!" You're intrigued, how could this be possible? On the news report they are astounded by "Cheesus". It's a sign from God they say, proof that he really exists. This is the point in the news article where I stop and think, coincidence or real life phenomenon?
While skimming chapter one, I had to pause at the part where the authors describe pareidolia. Pareidolia being, seeing meaningful images in meaningless visual stimuli. Like the example above, the media is bombarded with 'incredible images' of the spiritual world or anything that looks remotely interesting for that matter. I find pareidolia quite interesting because it really illustrates what the human brain is capable of. Why do we see images in inanimate objects? Is it because we find comfort in believing that there is a higher power out there shaping these objects into these particular forms? Or do we see images because we find creativity intriguing? The answers to these questions is what prompted me to want to learn more about pareidolia.

There's a television series on ShoTime called the United States of Tara. In this show, the mom, Tara has a psychological disorder of multiple personalities. Why would a TV show highlight a psychological disorder? Her disorder along with many others is further explained in chapter 15 of the textbook. The chapter talks about mental illnesses through the ages. In the past, mental illnesses were looked down upon. Now with psychology, they are better understood and more commonly seen; perhaps the reason behind having a show that sheds light on the topic is because it is more known now.
While reading the chapter, students can look forward to learning about psychiatric diagnoses throughout the world, such as the belief their reproductive organs are disappearing or a social anxiety of offending others. However, these different diagnoses aren't contained to one part of the world. A person cannot place the disorder into a certain group, a common misconception. The chapter also elaborates on other diseases such as the most severe mental illness, Schizophrenia, or the "split mind". I was fascinated by the amount of information known about these diseases that once baffled our minds. This chapter helps explain the mental illnesses we see and hear about every day, in the news, in our community, and in primetime television series.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zlBBkKyM_g - The link for the United States of Tara theme song. The theme song shows Tara's different personalities, including Tara, T, and Alice.)

In Chapter 11 Emotion and Motivation, we see the psychology behind emotions, attraction, feelings, and motivations. The main aspects that stuck out to me were the cultural differences of emotional expression, the facial feedback hypothesis, what makes us happy, and the laws of attraction.

The studies showing the differences in emotional expression between cultures was the first thing to catch my eye. Wallace Friesen's study showed that American college students were more apt to show their true emotions when their teacher was present, where as Japanese students simply smiled, and repressed whatever emotions they were actually feeling. This happens because in Japan, students are expected to be more grateful and happy in front of their authority figures.

Another aspect I found interesting, was the facial feedback hypothesis. Apparently, if you smile, you actually feel happier, thinkstock_rf_photo_of_happy_sad_faces.jpg and when you force a frown, your depress your mood. I always assumed this was a silly phrase people were told, so they simply would appear happy, even if they weren't. Over time, "smiles become conditioned stimuli for happiness, frowns for unhappiness" (p415).

The passage titled "What Makes Us Happy" was also very informative. It made me feel a little worried about my future happiness, because most things they claim make people happy, I don't have or disagree with. Such as, marriage, religion, being a republican, etc. It was a little unsettling. It also disproved quite a few assumptions people have about happiness, like, money making us happier, being less happy as we age, and being the most happy if living on the west coast. This is good, because I'm not rich, I get older everyday, AND I live in Minnesota.

Lastly, I found the laws of attraction to be interesting. It proves that average looking people, are usually deemed as most attractive. And well hey, that's great news for me. It also talks about the differences in what men and women look for. Men worry much more about the appearance of their lady and women are more concerned with the wealth of their partner.

I look forward to reading this chapter more in-depth! I believe human emotion is one of the most complicated aspects of psychology and the more I understand it, the more successful I will be in a career, in friendships, and in relationships.

During the 19th century a group of thinkers called the British Associationists believed in the idea that we can attribute practically all of our knowledge to conditioning, by connecting one stimulus with another, such as associating a mother's voice with her face. In the early 1900s Pavlov demonstrated classic conditioning by triggering his dog to salivate to the sound of a metronome. He paired the sound of the metronome, an unconditioned stimulus (UCS), with giving the dog meat powder which normally caused the dog to produce saliva, an unconditioned response (UCR). After repeatedly having the metronome tick and then giving the dog the meat powder, the dog came to expect the meat power when he heard the ticking of the metronome through this conditioning. After being conditioned in this way when the dog merely heard the conditioned stimulus (CS) of the metronome ticking he would begin to salivate which is considered the conditioned response (CR). I found all of this information regarding conditioning and creating a conditioned response from an arbitrary conditioned stimulus to be very interesting within chapter 6.pavlovs dog.gif

The Value of an IQ

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How much weight can you place on IQ's ability to influence your life? While perusing Lilienfeld's Psychology textbook, I found Chapter 9 to be of particular interest, as it addresses this very question. Although IQ testing intends to quantify an individual's level of intelligence, there are several aspects of overall smartness that the test fails to quantify. Perhaps their biggest failing is that they tend to focus on Analytical Intelligence, but ignore the other two forms of intelligence, Practical and Creative. This omission makes the results of such a test fairly useless in predicting life outcomes outside of academics. Perhaps the most relevant example of this given in the text is of Chris Langan, a man with an estimated IQ of 195 who has accomplished relatively little in life due to an inability to tolerate the intricacies of higher education and poor interpersonal skills (pictured below).chris-langan.jpg There are some merits to IQ testing, however. Langan may not have accomplished much in the academic arena, but he won $250,000 on NBC's 1 vs.100 and wrote a book in his spare time titled, Cognitive-Theoretical Model of the Universe.Another example of how IQ can be misunderstood and abused came with the Eugenics movement of the early 20th century, in which a low IQ score could be used to prohibit a person from procreating, or obtaining certain occupations. The rest of the chapter goes on to examine in depth the different ways of measuring various sorts of intelligence, and how they can be quantified, but this portion regarding how a simple number can affect your life grabbed my interest.

From zygote to baby. That phrase, is what covers the main basis of Chapter 10. When looking at the different chapters throughout the textbook, this specific chapter jumped to my attention. It is quite amazing how two human beings can create another, and the deep complicated scientific process that goes into actually creating another human. Everything ranges from genes, brain development, characteristics, and the different stages that a toddler goes through after being born. I mean, everyone has been through it, haven't they? We don't remember pooping our own pants back in the diaper days, but it happened to the best of us. We all went through adolescence and puberty, and this chapter focuses on the study of a human being being created. One of the main concepts throughout the chapter covers premature babies. A mature baby is born around 40 weeks, where a premature baby is born 36 or before. We can all relate to this instance, because if we don't have friends who have had this case when being born, I'm sure we have seen someone who has been prematurely born around campus with 50,000+ people. "Preemies" the term for a premature baby, have underdeveloped lungs and brains and often have harder times being involved in every day activities.


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"We can't always trust our common sense" is a statement I found very interesting in the first chapter. I found this interesting because most of the time our first instinct is to trust our common sense. The book gave some examples of well-known proverbs that deal with human behavior. Two examples are: absence makes the heart grow fonder and out of sight, out of mind. At first glance the majority of people agree with these two statements, but when looking at them more closely, they contradict each other. This shows a good example of why common sense cannot be trusted in psychology. People seem to rely on common sense because we are reliable to naïve realism, which is the belief that the world is perceived exactly how it is. We are taught to trust our perceptions in everyday life, so it is a big change to steer away from this the majority of the time while studying psychology. I think knowing when to trust common sense and when not to is going to be difficult throughout this course because a small percentage of the time it is acceptable to trust common sense in psychology. An example of when common sense is right is, "most people believe that happy employees tend to be more productive on the job than unhappy employees, and research shows that they're right" (Lilienfeld, 5). I have attached a picture of a man not using his common sense.

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Pseudoscience is a concept in Chapter 1 that I found interesting and relates to everyday life. Defined as a set of claims that seem scientific but aren't, pseudoscience is present in our everyday life from news stories, commercials, and advertisements. I think anyone can feel the pressure from the bombardment of promised claims and stories of amazing accomplishments using certain anecdotes. It is so important for anyone connected to social media to be aware of these false claims. I occasionally have considered picking up the phone after hearing promised claims from companies such as Proactive, Magic Bullet, or Peak Pilates. The products or service seem so effective and amazing, yet we all know that they are most likely "too good to be true."
cartoon.pngThe media has a huge role in spreading the effects of pseudoscience, whether positive or negative claims. Hypnosis is a process which has always interested me, claiming to help patients quit smoking or lose weight. Whether ads for real life treatments or what we see in movies and TV shows, this causes people to truly belief in its benefits even though there has been little evidence to show its effectiveness. With a decrease in pseudoscience, I hope that people would try to improve their lives in more natural ways and compare themselves less to others. Each person holds the key to their own happiness and no magic treatment or remedy is going to solve people's problems.

Our Not-So-Sturdy World

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It is remarkable that a three-pound mass of gray matter creates the world around us, and the entire experience of consciousness for every human being. This accurate self-awareness is so critical to our identity as human. Chapter 5 in the Lilienfeld textbook is exclusively about consciousness. The chapter first discusses the most common break in consciousness, which is sleep. It then goes into what I find some of the most interesting topics of psychology, phenomena of alterations of consciousness and other unusual experiences.
The world around us always feels so permanent and sturdy. However, when one thinks of our surroundings as something created from signals being interpreted in the brain, it appear less stable. A small occurrence within the brain can cause people to see and hear things that aren't there. People go through strange events such as mystical and out-of-body experiences and déjà vu more frequently than most of us realize. People have even found ways to alter consciousness, whether it is through practices such as hypnosis or substances like drugs. The phenomenon of human awareness is something so important and so delicate, that it is fascinating to learn about how it can change, and what specifically happens within the brain that cause these things. Learning about the topics covered in this chapter shatter the definition of the world around as an unchanging place. This realization is oddly terrifying, and is probably part of the reason why I find it so interesting.

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A depiction of brain activity during the most common altered state of consciousness, sleep (especially REM sleep). Photo from http://www.understandsleep.com/the-science-of-sleep/

Baby Geniuses

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Skimming through the chapters, I saw the title page for chapter 10 and was immediately intrigued. The chapter on human development talks a lot about nature vs. nurture, social interactions, as well as physical, mental, and social development throughout a lifetime. One section of the book that caught my attention was the psychomythology page, "The Mozart Effect, Baby Einstein, and Creating Superbabies." Parents do just about anything to give their children a competitive advantage over the rest of the world, including making them watch videos or listen to music that they heard boosts their child's intelligence. The authors of this book explain that this notion came from an experiment conducted on college students. When tested again by other researchers, they had a hard time replicating this "Mozart Effect," but when they did, it only yielded short-term results.I really don't think parents have to be worried about their children being intelligent as long as they let their children have fun, "research suggests that babies learn less from videos than from playing actively for the same period." I didn't watch shows created for babies or listen to Mozart and I think I turned out perfectly fine.
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Chapter 16 on psychological and biological treatments was the most appealing to me. This chapter examines the different techniques used to improve the lives of individuals with mental disorders. With all the mental disorders that affect the population, it 's fascinating to discover the innovative treatments.
One interesting part of the chapter was on the Dodo bird verdict, where there was a question as to whether or not psychotherapies actually work. They wondered if a client would progress at the same rate regardless if they were in therapy or not. It was concluded that psychotherapy does work at "alleviating human suffering" according to the text, although there are still some researchers in support of it. It's hard to imagine that all the therapies available to the public could ultimately be a waste of time and money.
Because I work at Fraser Child and Family Center, I get first hand experience with some of the therapies used for people dealing with psychological disorders, in this case, those on the autism spectrum. Some of the common therapies that take place during the day treatment program here are occupational therapy, speech therapy, music therapy, as well as working on individual skills with the children. From my experience here, no intervention has the possibility to result in very little progress or even a regression. It's remarkable to see how these techniques can improve their overall wellbeing.
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A Son's Love For His Mother

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Chapter 11 is all about personality and the way Psychology examines and studies personality to understand better how we function as people. This chapter is going to indulge in the question "who are we?"

Certain subjects that stick out to me are ones such as the "Overview of Twin and Adoption Studies" which takes a look at how our personality is formed either by genetics or the environment in which were raised. Such studies look at identical twins that were split up at birth to see if they are similar to one another years down the road.

Another fascinating topic that I cannot wait to learn about is "Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality". This section identifies the structure of personality and Freud's famous stages of development. Most people have learned about the controversial Oedipus complex which is Freud's explanation of boy's unwilling love for his mother and wanting to kill his father for fear of taking his place. I was always a person that thought this outrageous to even think of so I am interested to learn about these things to better understand the world of psychology.

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As college students, we all inevitably experience stress due to everyday occurrences. While briefly looking through the Psychology 1001 textbook I stumbled upon chapter 12, titled Stress, Coping, and Health. Stress is a type of response that we as humans experience, consisting of the tension and discomfort caused by a situation called a stressor. A stressor is a type of stimulus that strains us from coping effectively to a situation.These situations range over a broad spectrum; stress can be experienced around the time of holidays when extra preparations are a part of the tradition. However, something as emotionally-altering as a divorce or death of a spouse expends very high levels of stress and tends to have a huge responsive impact. Thankfully there are various ways of coping with different levels of stress including social support through interactions with people, adjust coping strategies as the situation demands, differences in individuality, and flexible coping. In order for one to decrease their stress levels, a good place to start is by promoting good health. Quit smoking if you are a smoker, limit alcohol consumption, achieve a healthy weight, and exercise. These four healthy behaviors can benefit an individual immensely in relation to stress levels. And if you are feeling overwhelmed with some of your classwork or other occurrences in your life, take a moment to relax. Listen to some soothing music, it can work wonders!
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Wine-Common Sense

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In the beginning of the text, the topic of common sense will really intrigue anyone who reads it. One in particular is the idea that, "two glasses of wine a day is good for your heart." With this typical "common sense," my mother would always remind me why she is drinking wine in the first place. So why do people trust these medical findings if very few of them are legitimate? I think people will believe these pseudosciences because it makes them more comfortable, and its from years and years of other "common sense" they have grown up with. On the very first page, there was a set of 10 questions of popular psychology beliefs that I found some to be true and some to be false. Yet every single question was false. I was taught the knowledge in these questions ever since I grew up but no one told me otherwise. Instead of just believing what the latest science says, or what others think, people should look up and try to prove it themselves.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for unconscious-freud-v-jung.jpgChapter 5 contains everything from the stages of sleep to how drugs affect our consciousness. However the most interesting part in this chapter has to be about the "Unusual Experiences" of the consciousness. I mean sure, everyone has had a dream at least once in their life, but how many can say they've had an out-of-body experience (OBE)? I surely haven't. Many people during an OBE will simply just float above their bodies just watching themselves. Another part of this chapter discusses déjà vu, which I personally have experience numerous times, and how it is often seen in people who are young, remember their dreams, have a college education, and several other variables. Now, I am relatively young and I do remember my dreams quite well. I still remember a dream I had when I was in elementary school, I was sleeping on the couch and a bunch of witches flew out from underneath it and filled up the whole room like cramming people into an elevator. Sigmund Freud believed that dreams could be interpreted by looking at the hidden meaning, or the latent content of the dream. Now if he could come up with a hidden meaning behind the dream I had, I'd love to hear it.

When skimming through our textbook, chapter fifteen caught my attention. It is titled "Psychological Disorders" and includes descriptions of different mental disorders. It also includes different misconceptions people are prone to believing when it comes to different psychiatric classifications. One thing that I found interesting was one of the side notes in this chapter described how when a clinical psychologist was presented with a patient who was cutting himself/herself she would perceive it as pathological when in fact, some cultures practices include cutting oneself to produce tribal scars, and this is considered to be normal. Another interesting part was the examples in the text of celebrities with psychiatric diagnoses. Although the example in this book, of golfer Tiger Woods and actor David Duchovny who were both treated for "sexual addiction", is not an official psychiatric diagnosis, i still find it interesting how unnoticeable some conditions may be. Lastly, the section on mental illnesses and violence caught my attention. Many people believe that if you are diagnosed with a mental illness you are more likely to act violently. One topic that is very debatable is if a person who committed a crime should be acquitted if they were diagnosed with insanity.

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Actress Catherine Zeta Jones is an example of a celebrity diagnosed with a mental illness, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

While flipping through the psychology textbook, the chapter that really stuck out to me was Chapter 15: Psychological Disorders. This chapter discusses how to define mental illness as well as various misconceptions that people have of mental illness. Personally, I know a few people with psychological disorders who have been misunderstood for most of their lives because of a lack of understanding about mental illness. This chapter also studies the various categories of mental disorders, and tries to give some explanations as to the cause and treatment of various disorders within the categories.
I am most interested in the section on anxiety disorders. They are the most prevalent of all mental disorders and can affect a person's life dramatically. Anxiety is something that all individuals deal with at some point in their lives but for people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) for example, they spend an average of 60 percent of their day worrying. I am a Neuroscience major so I am very interested to learn about the causes of such disorders; especially those caused by physiological and biological factors. I didn't know that some anxiety disorders have a biological influence until reading about it in this chapter. The idea that your genes can affect whether or not you get a psychological disorder and the severity of it is remarkable. - Heidi Keblusek


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After skimming through the chapter, I was immediately impressed to see the amount of interaction the book has with the reader. By providing examples of studies done in the past as well as puzzling challenges for students to work through, the author is able to support the introductory points of the chapter well.
What interests me the most is the examples in the margins of the pages; in particular the one about the four cards containing the numbers and letters (the Wason Selection Test) to illustrate how we, as humans, have a habit of forming confirmation biases or the tendency to look for the evidence that will support our hypothesis and forget about the evidence that contradicts it. Without experiencing this situation first hand, I would not have been able to understand the concept of confirmation biases as easily. It is also a great way to help remember what a confirmation bias is by associating it with the example given.
This example makes me want to know more about how we come in contact with confirmation biases on a daily basis so I can be more aware of them. Because the book has numerous activities and side notes to keep the reader engaged, I am really excited to read on! psych.png

Chapter 7 ~ Memory

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How many of you have to make notes for yourself in order to remember things? As I was flipping though the chapters I found myself drawn to this chapter. I used to have a really good memory, but now I seem to forget everything. I am constantly making notes for myself. As I was skimming the chapter I found a page about smart pills. This intrigued me because my mom has recently told me maybe I should try some kind of supplement to help boost my memory. I wonder if smart pills really do work?

I have never given much thought to how memory works for instance I didn't know about chunking. Chunking has to do with the fact that our short-term memory capacity is only about 9 digits. In order to cope with this our mind organizes material into meaningful groups. I find that this is fascinating and very useful for studying in school. Maybe I can find some good tips to help me improve my memory. It would be nice to not feel like the guy in the comic below anymore!

Danelle Hinde

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Chapter 14 discusses how personality vary. Everything from genes to environmental factors play a role in influencing how one acts and the characteristics they embody. Nature vs. nurture has a lot to do with this debate as well. Genetics has much to do with why we act the way we do. Not only our features but our traits are inherited from both our parents and we express a fraction of what we've inherited through our personality. On the other hand, nurture has a great influence on personality. The way we are born and raised, the morals that are instilled in us, the environment, and personal factors are all contributors to an altered personality. I'm interested to read more about the psychology behind why we act the way we do and how our thinking changes who we are.

Reflection written by Eman Elbarbary

Genetic Pathways and Anxiety

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Chapter 15-p-sychological disorders is my favorite chapter. The chapter carried out in-depth discussion of different kinds of disorders among various age and cultural backgrounds in general. What I found the most interesting is the underlying genetic pathway for many kinds of anxiety disorders mentioned in the chapter.
The inforamtion explained in the textbook reminded me of my EEG lab class where I learned the increased alpha wave related to optimistic personelity type. With the combination of the information on genetic pathways for anxiety pointed by the book, I would like to figure out if clear evidence could also correlate the genetic pathways to the activities of alpha waves on EEG, in order to support the idea of genetic influences on anxiety.alfa-waves-500x500.jpg

After briefly looking through the table of contents, Chapter 12 caught my eye: Stress, Coping, and Health. Within this chapter topics such as how we adapt to stress, how the body reacts to stress, and how we cope with stress are all talked about. I am interested in this chapter because I believe stress is a constant factor in my life and I am curious to learn more about it. In this chapter specifically it talks about the how no two stresses are alike and how I can be particularly difficult to measure. This too intrigues me because I am interested to learn about all the different things that are common to cause stress in other individuals' lives and how they can overcome stressful situations. In addition to the life altering stressors there are everyday hassles that too can cause extreme stress. Overall, I believe this chapter will be the most intriguing because I can personally relate to it. fit59.png

Chapter 1 is essentially a helpful summary of the entire course. It starts off by describing what Psychology is and from there touches on many subjects that appear to be explained more in depth later in the textbook. The chapter peaked my interest when I came to the section entarot-card-1.jpgtitled "What is Pseudoscience?". My mother has always been a firm believer in ideas such as reincarnation, spiritual healing/ alternative medicine, and ESP. I, however, have never felt that there was much truth in her claims. I also believed that it was only my mother who so strongly supported these strange notions. Therefore, I was intrigued when I read the statistic that 41 percent of U.S citizens actually believe in ESP. I was also greatly alarmed when I read about how dangerous believing in pseudoscience can be, since I always viewed my mother's preoccupation as nothing more than quirky. I was also surprised by what a logical explanation the book offered for why people are so quick to believe in the fallacies of pseudoscience. I can definitely agree that our brains are wired to make order of all the crazy things that happen in our lives, even if some of them just do not have any explanation.

Chapter 3 Blog #1 by Nicole

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Being a genetic and cell development major, it is natural that chapter 3 on Biology Psychology will be the most interesting chapter in the book. As I took a closer look into the chapter the main objectives were the basic synapses that go on throughout our body, certain glands, and of course, lobes of the brain. This seemed all to basic and nothing really exciting, but as I kept skimming I soon found the brain in action section. Using all the cool technology that really can see into our brains is a miracle. I am excited to learn how to interpret brain scans from people who are not just injured, but also mentally disabled people and seeing the differences between the scans. As I did some research on brain scans, I found out that without intensive research it is hard to compare two independently researched brain scans because there is many different variables.
sz-nih-branson.jpgThis is an image of twins in which one has a mental illness and the other twin is "normal."

Being a student athlete here at the University of Minnesota, the chapter that caught my eye the most was chapter 11: Emotion and Motivation. Before skimming, I was under the assumption that this would be interesting to me because it may give me new perspective on where to find motivation every day or how emotion can be used as an advantage in my sport. I was surprised to find that not only did I find some information on those topics, but also much more. The thing I found most interesting was the portion about emotion; nonverbal communication, body language, and meaning behind feelings and why we experience the reaction we do to certain stimuli. Some other things that caught my attention were the different types of motivation covered: food, objectional desire, and sexual motivation were just a few things this chapter also includes. I found myself wondering why so many of these forms of emotion and motivation are so often overlooked when they play such an important role in communication and action, and am looking forward to learning more about them as we discover how to interpret them and what they mean in our everyday lives.

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The chapter on Personality struck me in many ways. As a transfer student here to the University, I remember who I was before coming here and who I am in the present. Moving here was scary, exciting, adventurous, but mostly what changed my personality and how I interact in the world. Personality is people's typical ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. A brief background of me before transferring was happy but not totally satisfied in the college experience I was getting. After my transfer, I am now more outgoing, successful in my career, focused, and rational. I now have proof that one's personality is not permanent and people do change. I agree with the text that social surrounding and our environment influence your personality. More proof of this after scanning the chapter would be to examine the different stages in life that you go through: Baby, Child, Teenager, Young Professional, and Adult. The way people think, feel, and behave is different and constantly changing throughout the stages of people's lives. Environment also plays a role in the change. I was unaware of the correlation between personality and surroundings until I threw myself into a completely unknown experience and living situation. The changes were definitely worth it. Change is never easy, especially when it deals with the core of who someone is.

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Myths about Mental Illness

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I opened our Psychology text book to the table of contents and glanced over the titles of each chapter, looking for one that stuck out to me and seemed interesting. As I got toward the bottom I saw that chapter 15 was about Psychological disorders. I knew I'd be interested in this topic because it is a way to explain why people act the way they do and act what most people would refer to as outside the norm. When scanning the chapter I saw that it covered many different disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and Schizophrenia, but one topic within the chapter that stuck out to me was Mental Illness and Violence. I love watching shows on TV. about real-life murderers and reading articles in magazines about people who "went crazy" and committed Crimes. I find it quite interesting.rants124yates10.jpg
An example of this in the book is that of Andrea Yates who killed her five children and was acquitted because she pleaded insanity. Many people try to plead for insanity but our psychology book actually informs us that most people with psychological disorders are actually not violent and only a very few percent actually commit violent acts.

While skimming the pages of the Lilienfeld textbook, the chapter that intrigued me the most was chapter 8 "Language, Thinking, and Reasoning". As a bilingual student with an immigrant family, language is a topic of great interest to me. So, when I noticed that this chapter essentially covers everything about languages - from how they work to the relation between language and thought and even whether or not twins have their own language - I knew this would be a great read. Not only does it focus on the features of language but it also shows how children learn languages and this has always been of curiosity to me having learned two languages simultaneously as a toddler. Language is one of the things that makes humans unique and with as many languages as there are today, it is definitely a topic to pursue and study. I am excited to eventually reach chapter 8 and to get the chance to explore the long history and hidden qualities of language.
The chapter mentions that the earlier on in childhood or life one attempts to learn a new language, the better. The chapter continues to say that in most bilingual people, one language is dominant no matter what. I can genuinely relate to this statement knowing that while I speak Russian fluently, it isn't nearly as easy for me to speak as English is. It should be interesting to get more insight into how my bilingual level was achieved and how others can do the same!
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There is a famous quote by Henry Miller that states, "Everyone has his [or her] own reality... This is the only reality there is." I have always wondered what constitutes reality? Is it what we consciously experience? Is it the state of being awake? Why not the state of being asleep? Why is it that only when our realities sometimes are altered, do we decide to question them? Chapter five in the book explores our consciousness, which is, essentially, our individual perception of reality. There are things that influence our reality such as our brain's chemistry, memory and our traditions and surroundings. This chapter states that the best way to study our normal consciousness is to gain knowledge on our abnormal conscious experiences. These experiences include anything from lucid dreaming, sleepwalking, and night terrors to hallucinations, near-death experiences and déjá vu. Other things that can change our consciousness include hypnosis, dissociation and drugs. These are all things that have the ability to change our reality. By studying what changes these things bring to our consciousness; we can study what exactly constitutes how we normally experience our self and the lives that we're living day to day.tumblr_ly0wneda9h1qbyf5so1_500.jpg

While leafing through the pages of the Lilienfeld textbook, the words on the pages of chapter eleven leaped out at me. Chapter eleven discusses emotions and the expressions associated with them. I find this area of research extremely interesting because there is a significant case for universality of the recognition of these expressions across cultures. Last semester, I wrote a research analysis paper for my freshman seminar on linguistics. I analyzed numerous articles that discussed research of multiple cultures, all of which were able to recognize the primary emotions defined by Paul Ekman in addition to others such as pride. Of all of the chapters in the Lilienfeld book, I am most excited to get to chapter eleven so that I can read and learn more about this topic.

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While pondering the topics covered in the Psyc course book, I was intrigued by Chapter 11, "Emotion and Motivation." I started to think, "what moves me?" "why do I make the decisions that I do?" and even "do I have control over my emotions, or does my brain act dependently of what I wish I could feel?" Such questions seem overwhelming, so as I flipped through the pages of Chapter 11, I found out that there is no one theory that can explain the mystery of emotions and the brain, yet through scientific study, one can see correlations between how events in one's life trigger certain emotions even though they're not the same for every person. Moreover, there is a reason they're not the same because everyone's past experiences help to determine feelings about current endeavors.
Nonverbal expression was a topic discussed in Chapter 11 that I found very interesting. One can tell a great deal about a person simply through posture, personal space, and other factors of body language. Reflecting on my own life, is what I'm doing when I'm not speaking a reflection of how I want others to see me? Sounds deep- yes, but that is a very good question that can greatly affect how others view a person and how that person views them self.
Overall, this chapter reveals how emotions come about in people and also what causes motivation in individuals. Self esteem, body image, sexual motivation, and attraction are a few of the key topics discussed that will allow us as student to delve deeper into our own psyche.


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images.jpegDictionary.com defines 'memory' simply as a person's power to remember things. Interestingly enough, this definition does not include the phrase to remember things accurately. Chapter 7 of our textbook delves into the complex, intricate human phenomena of memory, and aims to answer the many questions as to how memory works. A section of this chapter that caught my eye in particular centered around the phenomena of 'false memory.'

During my short-lived stint as a fan of documentaries, I came across an interesting concept explained in a film about the brain. The idea suggested, in short, that memory links an individual to oneself day to day from childhood to adulthood.

However, the section of the textbook discussing false memory challenged this concept. Ideally, no one knows another individual better than the individual knows themselves. False memory kicks this reassuring idea to the curb, making me wonder if I really know myself, in particular my past, as well as I thought!

If memory is the link to connecting to one's past, and that memory can be skewed or misrepresented in the mind, who is to say what really happened in the past? For the anxious and paranoid, the concept of false memory might make you stop and think: "Was my wedding really as beautiful and romantic as I remember?" (or maybe less extreme) "Did I turn off the stove? I remember turning it off, but maybe I'm thinking of a different time I had to quickly make dinner."

So, let's come to terms with the evidence the textbook provides. Maybe we really aren't as great as remembering things as we like to think. Maybe we really did forget to turn the stove off. As useful of a tool as memory is, it is important that we understand that just because we remember something happening a particular way, doesn't truly mean it did happen that way.

Who knows? Maybe it didn't happen at all!

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