February 2012 Archives

Did I do that?

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We've all likely experienced false memories at some point or another. It turns out, false memories can occur from mere observation. In one study, participants were asked to perform certain tasks and observed others performing different tasks. When asked about which ones they had performed, participants falsely remembered doing activities they had only observed.

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This doesn't come as too much of a shock to me. When it comes to performing seemingly insignificant tasks like shaking a bottle (a task some participants were instructed to do in the study), I can see how they might be easily confused. My roommates and I recently cleaned our apartment, yet if you asked me to recite what I specifically did, I might easily mistake my roommate's actions for my own.

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Surprisingly, in a different study, participants had false memories even after explicitly being warned not to mistake observed behaviors for their own. Making a conscious effort to differentiate between observed and performed behavior would seem like a rather easy task, yet apparently, it isn't as easy as I thought. What do you think can account for this behavior?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704476104575439871734269054.html

As students, our lives are jammed packed, back-to-back things going on every single day that sleep is sometime compromised to finish was needs to be done. When we finally do call it a day, we "crash". It is hard to believe that while we are sleeping our brains are busy at work.
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It was not until 1951, when Nathaniel Kleitman changed how we think about sleep and dreaming. Prior, it was believed that our brains had a switch that turned on when we were awake and off while we snoozed. Today, we know there are five stages of sleep. The following chart describes each phase.
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With information at our fingertips today, I looked into how one could track their own sleep. Not surprising, there is an App for that. iTunes sells and app called Sleep Cycle alarm clock. It retails for $0.99. It is an alarm clock that analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you in the lightest sleep phase - a natural way to wake up where you feel rested and relaxed.
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I tried this application for the past week. I must say I liked it. I felt it was accurate. All I did was put it on the side of my bed and it sensed movement and from that determined what stage of sleep I was in. It sounded too good to be true. In reading the reviews, other users of this application felt the same way. So, last night I left it on the table in another room. My phone must be a great mind reader, because it read similar to previous nights and I was nowhere near it. Clearly the technology is out there to measure the stages of sleep, but this application was not the best option in doing so.
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False Memory

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il0u2s_WGXA

In this youtube video, Elizabeth Loftus explains many different situations where researchers are able to create false memories in one's brain. The researchers were able to make people think that when they were a child they got lost in the mall, spilt punch at a family wedding on the bride's parents or attacked by an animal. They used suggestive memory techniques of imagination, dream interpretation and hypnosis to alter people's memories. They also talked to some of the participants' parents to find out more details about their childhood, so it would be easier to create the false memory.

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I believe that is is actually very easy to create a false memory in a person's head. When I was in junior high, I went to Valley Fair with a church camp. While my friend and I were waiting in line, we starting talking to the boy behind us. We questioned him if he remembered us and we told him that we had went to summer camp with him when we were younger, which never actually happened. We came up with details trying to get him to remember and after a while he thought that he might have actually remembered who we were. So, I think that false memories are very easy to plant into someone's head especially when it is about their childhood.

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False memory can also be a result of something that you want to happen or something that you were thinking about doing, but never did. In the image above, the patient thought that they paid the doctor already. The patient might have thought that they paid already because they may have thought about how they need to pay the doctor sometime before the appointment happened .

Memory

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Katelyn Wright

Memory, as defined in our textbook, is the retention of information over time. Often though, when we think of the term "memories," we think of specific times in our childhood or specific events. What I think is interesting, though, is that we are using memories almost all the time in our daily life. We have to remember how to walk to class, how to type on a keyboard, what a certain vocabulary word means, or where we put our keys. It is really crazy to think about the millions of small tasks that we must remember every day just to exist and to get around our daily lives. Our memories often serve us very well on a daily basis. We remember things in short term, for about a duration of 20 seconds. We also remember things, or at least fragments of them in long term. As you can see, the human brain completes astonishing feats by retaining memories. On the opposite side, though, our memory can often fail us. For example, our brains sometimes go beyond the information that is presented to us, causing us to experience "memory illusion." This would occur if we looked at a list of words all involving objects and actions associated with snow. We would then say we remembered reading the word "snow" even if it was absent from the list. This example shows us that, although our brains do astonishing things in regards to memory, we can also have certain moments where our brain's powers fail us. This should keep us in check when we are taking psych exams--we are not always going to remember things well enough to simply guess on questions!

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Who's That Pretty Girl In the Mirror There?

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Watching babies as they discover the world is one of the most entertaining and captivating things that anyone can watch. The way the gaze around the room and attempt to crawl or run to whatever catches their eye first. Or the way that the begin to learn how to speak and learn to count and say the alphabet. The brain development is astounding during these very important years of life. Though it poses a question, when does the child become self-aware? At what point do these young children become able to recognize themselves in the mirror?
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Scientists have managed to narrow down the point where this awareness clicks to be between the ages of 18 and 24 months. However they still can't figure out what brings about this awareness. Why children begin to acknowledge that the person they are looking at in the mirror is actually them and not someone else. This neurological click is something that continues to puzzle the minds of scientists across the globe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iICakWOSXsg&feature=related

This then led the scientist to test other animals to see if this same level of self-awareness could be found in them also. After several tests on many different types of animals only Chimpanzees and Orangutans were able to pass the test. This only serves to draw more talk about the origins of humans themselves.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-pc_M2qI74

Success in Advertisements Rely 100% on Emotion

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People are driven by their emotions and this is no secret to advertisers. In today's world it can be hard to decipher how credible advertisements are. Many products are solely sold off of appealing to consumer's emotion, with little facts or evidence to back up advertising claims. Sometimes the brand or product is the last thing consumers notice. First they see a life style they want to live or a body they want to have. Then, they look to see what brand is selling the product on the model in hopes they will portray the same image just by owning/ using the product. The Dove beauty commercials do a good job of pointing out how unattainable images are in advertising, because models are distorted through technology.
Advertisers play on all emotions including: happiness, fear, sympathy, guilt, and love. We've all seen the ASPCA commercial with Sara McLachlan and the images of the abused or abandon animals. This commercial really tugs on viewer's heart strings in hopes they will donate to the organization.
Below is an image of one viewer's opinion of the commercial. The reason for this opinion is because viewers feel guilty for the innocent animals, which is exactly what the ASPCA wants, compelling people to donate.
Below is a link to the Dove commercial:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U
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More Doctors smoke Meth than any other drug!

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Does this advertisement make you feel more comfortable about the health effects of smoking cigarettes? Of course not! But bake in 1946 this was looked at as a highly effective advertisement strategy by tobacco companies.

It is now known that tobacco companies were actually aware of the danger that smoking cigarettes caused well before that information became public. In 1952 Reader's Digest came out with an article that revealed the true risk, which brought the tobacco industry under heavy fire and caused them to decrease the deleterious effects of their product. Their initial response was to add filters to their cigarettes. Tobacco companies were likely aware that the public outing of the dangers of tobacco was eminent, so they probably launched advertising campaigns, including ads like the one featured in this blog. This advertising campaign was an effort to convince smokers of the legitimacy of their products, and that they are so healthy even health professionals use them!

The author of this ad is using the support of professional authority to manipulate its viewers into believing false information. The smaller images along the bottom of the ad show multiple doctors enjoying cigarettes, while adorned in their professional attire and striking professional poses. These images are accompanied by the slogan, "The doctors' choice is America's choice!" This is another way the authors reiterate that the notion of cigarettes being unhealthy is inaccurate.

This was not the only ad featuring doctors as tobacco's spokespeople, but several others including TV commercials use the same tactics to manipulate their viewers to believing that cigarettes are healthy when they're actually really dangerous!
Check this TV commercial from 1949 to see for yourself!


Conditioning an Academy Award

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In honor of tonight's Oscars ceremony, I present to you a small advertisement that sticks out in my mind....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oO6pCRe3pM

Now, without any prior knowledge of this 'film', or having not yet seen it, the advertisement makes it (BLATANTLY) obvious that this will be a landmark achievement in cinema; it will sweep every Oscar category, and Kingdom of Heaven will be forever the answer to the question of 'What is the greatest movie of all time?'

If I may inject a hint of subjectivity at this point, the advertisement was a ruse. Kingdom of Heaven is not the best movie of all movies created...ever.

But it is, at least, very interesting to take a look at what's going on in the trailer/advertisement.

On its surface level, this trailer takes care of everything. It makes the viewer feel love, pain, serenity, reflection, enthusiasm, Orlando Bloom! It creates a sense of adventure, excitement; this movie will be a thrill ride that stops only to search the most philosophical of life's questions in the beauty of the images and landscapes captured on film. This film's trailer is essentially conditioning movie-goers to believe this movie will BE all of those things. If the conditioned response is to feel a completely fulfilled emotionally, then what better way to accomplish this than by stimulating all of them in a short two minutes.

I know it's the basic idea of advertising, but there's something else going on in this ad. As much as it is playing to certain emotions, the designers of this trailer are applying simple mathematics to condition film viewers.

Let me explain (I promise this won't take long)...

Ridley Scott directed this movie. He's been around the business for a while and made quite a few pictures. However, one that stands out, as it won a ton of critics' awards, is Gladiator. Gladiator was an epic movie about swordplay, battles, and folks in sandals. Therefore, Ridley Scott is now associated with films containing swordplay, battles and folks in sandals. We've been conditioned by his success to believe this.

Thus and so, the ad executives behind the creation of this trailer use this stimulus to their advantage. Ridley Scott = epic movie genius. Kingdom of Heaven = epic movie. Ridley Scott + Kingdom of Heaven = epic movie that is genius. Now that the pieces are together, the trailer wishes you to believe that your response to this trailer will be a need to see it, enjoy it, and love it - provided you saw, enjoyed and loved Gladiator and Ridley Scott.

It's quite a long winded way of saying that I will always love this movie trailer because it made me think all of those things. It got me excited to see a movie that (clearly!) I was going to enjoy...despite Orlando Bloom's presence.

Unfortunately though, it was not the best movie ever made, leaving me cursing the creators of such a brilliant ad. They win again...they always do.

The Ad that Evokes Emotion

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Commercials and print ads are very interesting because each one takes a different approach to conveying (selling) to their target audience. A television ad that I find particularly interesting is for vehicles. The reason vehicle ads are interesting is that they need to play into you long term emotions because it is not the type of item where you will see the commercial and immediately go out to buy a vehicle. The goal of the automobile companies advertising is to get you to have a bias towards their brand when you are ready to buy a new vehicle.

There is one particular ad that plays well into the emotions of people. The ad is by Chevrolet and it is a part of the marketing series

"Chevy Runs Deep"

The ad starts by showing a guy bringing his old Chevy truck into the repair shop. The mechanic then tells him that it is going to cost a lot to fix it so he would be better off just getting a new one. He goes into the truck to clean out his stuff and he finds a picture of himself as a kid standing next the the truck with his Dad. He goes back to the mechanic and tells him that he wants it fixed no matter how much it costs.

View the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxCpdU3qGi8

This ad needs to be watched in order to understand the emotion that it provokes. The ad portrays that the brand is more than a vehicle; it is a way of life.

Can you think of any ads that evoke emotion in you?

Molson Advertisement

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In this advertisement, the promoter is aiming his interests towards women. The image induces many feelings of warmth, softness, and cuteness. The combination of a nice looking man with a sweater on and puppies in his arms seems a bit overdone.
This advertisement could be broken down into the types of conditioned and unconditioned stimuli and responses. The unconditioned stimulus is the puppies and attractive man . The unconditioned response is comfortable and cute. The conditioned stimulus is the Molson beer in his hand. The conditioned response is relating the beer with being comfortable.
I find this ad to very strange. At first glance it is hard to tell what the picture is trying to sell. You have to look at it closely to find the Molson beer label on the beer. That could be part of the selling tactic. Making your buyers look closely at the ad which makes it more memorable. Also, to me, when I think of beer, I relate it with men more so than I do with women. It's odd that they are targeting women with this advertisement. Perhaps it is because they feel that enough men drink their beer and they would get a larger market if they targeted women directly.

Animal Training: Gyrfalcons are used in hunting in China

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Gyrfalcon, also called "Hai Dong Qing" in Chinese

From the ancient time to today, in the northeastern China, the Manchu hunters living in the forest like to raise and train a kind of gyrfalcon, which is called "Hai Dong Qing" in Chinese, to help them catch preys.
Gyrfalcon is a proud predator, so it needs to pay a lot of efforts to establish a close relationship between a gyrfalcon and a hunter. Firstly, after capturing a gyrfalcon, the hunter brought it home. Then the hunter usually spends a week with the captured gyrfalcon and keeps the gyrfalcon awake during that week. After this step, the gyrfalcon will behavior less widely.
Secondly, the hunter needs to let the gyrfalcon always stand on his arm while the gyrfalcon is receiving the hunter's touch, which results in that the gyrfalcon will be gradually used to standing on the hunter's arm.

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A Manchu hunter with a gyrfalcon

Thirdly, the so-called "Running on the rope" is an essential step in the process of falconry. The hunter ties a end of a rope to his arm and ties the other end to the gyrfalcon's claw. Then the hunter puts a piece of meat on the arm and calls the gyrfalcon in a long distance. After hearing the hunter's calling, the gyrfalcon will fly to the hunter along the rope. Thanks to this training, the gyrfalcon can hear the hunter's call and fly back to him even though the gyrfalcon chases after the prey far away from the hunter.

Finally, the hunter manages to have a well-trained gyrfalcon. In the real hunting, the gyrfalcon will rush to and kill a prey as soon as possible with screaming loudly.


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A "Haidongqing" Badge

During the long history of Manchu, the gyrfalcon "Hai Dong Qing" has become a symbol of Manchu nationality, showing the bravery of Manchu.

So my dog can think?!?!?

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Consciousness, while mysterious, has always been associated with humans. After all, only human brains are big enough to handle the day to day emotion and stress that we experience...right?
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Maybe not. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains that there are some definitions of consciousness that animals fulfill. The most common two, the sense of consciousness involved in the difference between a creature being asleep/in a coma as opposed to awake, and an organism's ability to respond to the environment, are both present in animals. But what's on a deeper level?
The Stanford Encyclopedia goes on to reveal two types of consciousness that require debate: phenomenal consciousnesses, the idea that there is something "it is like" to be a part of a certain species, and self-consciousness, basically "Theory of Mind" in our household pets. Unfortunately, both these claims aren't very research friendly, as we don't exactly have technology to get inside a pet's brain and see what they're thinking. But the introduction of the idea that animals potentially recognize themselves much deeper than we thought is phenomenal.
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Scientists know the decision you're going to make 6-seconds before you ACTUALLY make the decision. Maybe it's just me, but that is NOT a pleasant thought.

As a human, I pride myself on being independent and having the freewill to make my own decisions. America itself is built on the idea that there are fundamental freedoms that all human beings have, and that includes making their own decisions. But the idea that someone else's conscious could know your decision before you yourself know it, is a hard concept to grasp. According to experimenters, there's a certain amount of brain activity that occurs before we make a decision. An increase of a certain area's activity can tell scientists whether you're going to choose right or left, up or down, etc. This gives them a head start, on your consciousness, to what the decision you have made is.


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Mathematician Marcus de Sautoy made the conclusion that our conscious actions are actually SECONDARY to our brain activity. Although our consciousness are our lives, the activity occurring in our brain determines the decisions we make. Our brain activity and conscious minds are connected, which helps our brain activity recognize certain aspects of our personalities. Because of this connection, our brain activity isn't as likely to make a decision that your conscious self would be appalled by. Our consciousness is our brain activity, and that is what controls our lives.

Personally, I never thought the idea of making decisions needed or could be explained by science. I always imagined our decisions are based on our past experiences, which are just memories and lessons stored in our minds... But I stand proven wrong by Science.

Advertisers appeal to our emotions

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Emotional appeal is one of the key ingredients advertisers use when creating advertisements. Advertisers understand that by pairing their product with images that make us happy and feel good, or something that we find desirable, we will subconsciously relate those feelings to their product, therefore, making us more inclined to buy their product. This is an example of classical conditioning.

The most common way for advertisers to utilize this concept is to pair their product with attractive models, which also commonly gives the suggestion of sex. This gives the consumer the idea that buying this product will make them more desirable to attractive people, which is generally appealing to everyone.


Below are a few examples of this:

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The difference between positive & negative reinforcements

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Positive reinforcements are much more popular and appealing to society today; however, is this because they are actually more helpful or because the term "negative reinforcements" sounds as if one is being punished. Do people actually have an accurate understanding of the differences of positive and negative reinforcements? The authors of our psychology 1001 textbook explain the difference quite simply, "Positive reinforcement could be giving a child a Hershey's Kiss when he picks up his toys; negative reinforcement could be ending a child's time-out for bad behavior once she's stopped whining," (Psychology 213). It is easy to confuse negative reinforcements with the idea that punishment is involved, however, a punishment would decrease the probability of a response whereas the negative reinforcement increases the likelihood of the action occurring again in the future.
I feel like as a child my life was filled with the positive reinforcements: dessert if I finished all of my dinner, an hour of T.V. if I finished my homework, and a new toy if I behaved at my sister's seemingly never-ending basketball tournaments. However, a family that I often babysit for relies heavily on the negative reinforcement: the kids receive dessert if they stop complaining about how much they didn't like dinner, they get to watch barney once they stop complaining about bath time, and they get to go to the park once they stop crying about mom and dad leaving for the night. Looking at both sides of these, I believe that both the negative and positive reinforcements play out equally. Both positive and negative reinforcements demand better behavior from the subjects.

Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation

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It would be extremely rare to find a college student who said that they feel well rested at all times throughout the day. Does this scenario sound familiar (in chronological order)?

- wake up on a Sunday and spend the day watching football (or other activities helpful in procrastinating)
- realize at 6pm it might be a good idea to start studying for your exam the next morning
- decide to finish other homework first and finally begin studying at 9pm
- at 11 pm realize you are much less prepared than you thought and decide to grab a redbull and mentally prepare yourself for the long night still ahead of you
- take a "power nap" at 3 am and wake up at 8 am to go take your test
- once the exams over, head back to bed, pushing back homework for that day, and the cycle begins again.

If this doesn't sound familiar, you are one of the lucky (or perhaps more organized few). Studies show that over 40% of Americans are sleep deprived. I would venture to say that that percentage would be much higher at any given college campus as students try to balance work, school, and sports. Sleep deprivation has the potential to be extremely detrimental to our health, yet it is completely in our control.

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One interesting fact about sleep deprivation is that it accumulates over time (as depicted in the cartoon by the sleep debt boulder). So as many students think they can simple catch up on sleep on the weekend, it may be tough to account for all the sleep lost the entire week.

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This cheesy cartoon shows one of the many side-effects of sleep deprivation. Others include: increased irritability, increased cardiovascular disorders, slow reflexes, hand tremors, and (my favorite) droopy eyelids

Work of Art

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This image is using depth perception. It appears that the whale is coming out of the photo frame, as shown by the lady posing with the picture. The lady appears to be attempting to stop the whale from coming out of the frame. The artist also employed linear perspective in his painting. However, in order to create the illusion, he moved to horizon line way over to the left so the right side appears much bigger.

The lady herself in this picture is an illusion because she is using space to create a perceived event. She is not actually holding back the whale, but it looks like it.

I really like this piece of art because I think it is quite funny. There's a whale coming out of a wall and a tiny girl trying to hold it back. Probably not too likely, yet enjoyable.

Will I win the Powerball? Magic 8 ball says "Yes"

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Why is it that, despite countless examples of evidence disproving the theory of ESP and so-called psychic abilities, about 41% of American adults still believe in some form of ESP? What is it about this phenomenon that captivates our imaginations and allows us to dream of what the possibilities might be? I will admit that in my younger years I allowed myself to be persuaded into a psychic reading. You can imagine how awe struck I was when the prediction of "gaining a fortune in the near future" seemingly came true when I won $50 in a slot machine. Yes I am being sarcastic and no I never did win any other "fortune" besides the 50 bucks but, one thing I did gain was a perplexed curiosity of why so many people will blindly follow these psychics without questioning it or at least applying some common sense to it. I have always been amazed at how many people believe in supernatural powers and was very intrigued when reading about the psychological reasoning's behind some of it in CH. 4, Sensation and Perception.

For me, it is easy to hear about the stories of people who lost their life savings because of following false psychics and think to myself, how can anyone be so naive? But at the same time, I know that some one else could look at me and think the same thing about my belief in God. I have no proof of His existence nor any reason to think that the "miracles" that I have witnessed are anything but fluke occurrences. Just like those who believe in psychic abilities, I also only have my faith to go on. And so the question that I ask myself (and you if you care to comment) is why do we hold so strongly to our beliefs despite such strong evidence to the contrary? What compels us to have a need for the existence of a higher power? I know that this is an age old question to which there is no precise answer but it is still interesting to reflect on it for our own perspectives and, after hearing another persons views on it, we might realize that we are not as different in our individual beliefs as we might think.imagesCACTDWX8.jpg

Vodka = Bikini Chicks

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We're subconsciously conditioned since birth. We look at a stove and think hot, we feel fur and picture an animal, we see something appetizing and start salivating. Conditioning is forming associations among stimuli. But this phenomenon isn't only seen in Pavlov's research lab.
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Few are as familiar with the power of conditioning as advertisers. They repeatedly pair visuals or other stimuli with their product to establish a profitable association. By presenting hot chicks in bikinis with vodka, in our minds we create a connection between the two.
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To me it's mind-blowing how easily our subconscious is manipulated. By advertisers repeating these suggestions, they hope to stamp their product in our brains. But hey, if it works, go with it. While it's slightly alarming to know how well this manipulation works, we still have the choice to say no. While that Coke in the vending machine may look tempting...
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our college budgets push us towards the water fountain.
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While strong advertising can affect our decisions, we still make those choices on our own. It's up to you what you want to spend your money on.

ESPN Catches My Eye Every Time

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A website that I visit literally fifteen times a day is ESPN. I think that this website is well-designed, granted I am not a huge technology person so there are probably some things that could be done to improve it. I think that there are many examples of sensation and perception. Relating to perception, I think that color is a huge factor. Red plays a very big role on the main page. The color red reminds me of competition and strength. As far as sensation goes, I think that it sends off a very competitive vibe through the pictures that they choose to display on the main page. There is a scroll-through of top stories with pictures and the pictures always seem to be intense and capture you to make you want to read more into the game. This website has a good layout I think because it is organized and you can find what you are looking for pretty easily. There are the different sport tabs right above the top stories that you can click on if you are looking for a particular sport. There are also scores displayed at the top of the page, which is very helpful if you want to check a final score quick for example. The constant score updates give the sensation off that it is always changing, which in my opinion amps up the competition aspect. I think that they do a good job of putting the most important information at the top of the page because I never scroll to the bottom; everything that I am interested in is always at the top portion of the page. Another benefit of this website is that you are given the option to personalize it. You can tell the website which players, teams, etc. you are interested in and it will give you headlines relating specifically to your preferences. I love this website so definitely check it out if you are a sports nut!
http://espn.go.com/

Can You hear the Buzz?

| 1 Comment

The "teen buzz" also known as "the mosquito" or "mosquito alarm" is a sound of such high frequency that supposedly only young ears can hear. A condition known as presbycusis explains the logic behind only young ears hearing such a high frequency sound: presbycusis is the deterioration of the eardrum due to aging, which then results in gradual loss of hearing. As hearing loss occurs the first sounds which become difficult to hear are those of high frequencies. Thus, explaining why only young ears can hear the "teen buzz".

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There are two main uses for this high frequency sound. The "teen buzz" refers to teenagers setting their ringtone to the high-pitched sound so that teachers can't hear if a students cell phone goes off during class. The other users of this high frequency sound are store owners or managers. Some stores have tested this "mosquito alarm" in hopes of driving away teenagers (who they assume are stealing products).
This product, for a store owners uses, has lured in much controversy on the basis of human rights. Some people believe this product discriminates against young people, others believe that making "the mosquito" illegal infringes on the rights of the store owners who suffer monetary losses due to theft. Yet others claim that it is dangerous to generalize that teens are the only, or majority, of the thieves in society.

Can you hear the buzz?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXhRmv1mrs4

Illusions in Art

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Ever find yourself staring at a picture like this one and wondering what is the main image? Do you see the people standing there? Or do you see several white columns? Or do you switch back and forth to see both? It kind of makes you feel dizzy as you stare at the image. These types of art work play tricks on our mind by using the principle of figure-ground perception. This means, at first when we look at this picture, we focus on what we think the main image is. Then, we ignore what seems to us to be the background. If we look at this picture as the people being the foreground, then we ignore the white background of the columns. Or we can look at this picture as the white columns being the foreground and the people being the background. Either way, we ignore a part of the picture. This idea of figure-ground perception leaves us staring at a picture and watching the images flip-flop. This perception principle also deals with the fact that, cognitively, we distinguish images by contrast. In this case, the black and white forms a contrast, allowing us to see if the white part is the main image or if the black part is the main image. This contrast allows our brain to see both images and to form images out of what would normally be just a series of squiggly lines. What image do you see?

You are getting sleepy... very very sleepy...

| 2 Comments

A majority of us have all witnessed the ever popular hypnotist stage shows. Where a man with a microphone tells a large group of seemingly normal participants to do bizarre things such as quack like a duck or act like a rockstar. The best part? They usually do it and look like complete idiots.
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But have you ever wondered if everyone on stage was in fact unconscious and under the control of a stranger they have never met? The truth is, they aren't. Hypnosis is just a set of techniques that provide people with SUGGESTIONS for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. For example, they are in a somewhat dreary state, so when the hypnotist tells them its FREEZING cold and they are shivering the easiest scenario played out in their head is that it is indeed cold and they are in fact shivering. One way to look at it is that people under hypnosis can be compared to kids who get lost within the role they play in a game with friends.
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Hypnosis cannot turn people intro mindless robots, but it actually can be affective for reasons such as treating pain or medical conditions. It can even boost the effectiveness of therapies for anxiety, obesity and other conditions.
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When used in a serious and professional setting, hypnosis can actually be a very positive treatment.

The Mosquito

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I had previously never heard of the "teen buzz" phenomenon. After reading more about it online, I used one of the principles of scientific thinking and checked its replicability. It just so happened that my family was having a celebration of February birthdays at my house this weekend so I decided to use all of my relatives as my subjects. I grouped my family into two groups. There were 11 subjects in the over 40 group and 13 subjects in the under 40 group. My hypothesis was that almost all of the over 40 subjects would not be able to hear the noise. After the presents where opened I told everyone about my hypothesis. I wanted to see if it was true that older people could not hear the "mosquito noise". I had everyone be quiet and started to play the noise and recorded my data.

Data: http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/default.aspx?ID=7758badaf1ad461487feac32ad593f30

Different Frequencies: http://www.freemosquitoringtones.org/hearing_test/

My hypothesis was correct, everyone in the over 40 group could not hear the noise except for my uncle Tim. He is just a special person that can hear the higher frequencies. This must be to the fact that he works outside all day so he doesn't have to listen to the humming of computers and such.

-Adam Hoffman

Perception ... Whoop !

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Plasticity

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4) Or, the generic post: "Identify one concept, research finding, theory or idea from Psychology lectures, discussion section or the text that you have found particularly interesting during the past two weeks. Use something from your life to illustrate. As you reflect on this, what other questions occur to you? What are you still wondering about?"


My mother is missing a quarter of her brain. It's a fact known well by the family and some outside of it too. This wasn't a condition that made itself apparent until my mom reached her teens and she began experiencing seizures. She was taken in for brain scans and, surprise, she hasn't got all of her brain!

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She's missing the front most, left part. (In the image above she's missing the part marked in red. Note that this isn't an actual picture of her brain, just one I rendered to illustrate what she's missing.) She hasn't a Broca's Area, but you wouldn't know it. My mother is fully functional and, after growing out of it, no longer suffers from epilepsy. She hasn't spoken to a professional about it in a long while, but back in the 90s she was told that she's missing such a significant portion of her brain because, as a fetus still in the womb, she had a stroke that halted the development of that part of her brain.

Because of this I find the concept of Plasticity (the ability the nervous system to change) wildly fascinating. The concept that the brain can change and is adaptable is just the coolest gosh darn thing - our brains are beautiful and complex things, and so we are equally complex creatures. I mean, goodness, there are stories of children having entire hemispheres removed from their brains, yet they grow up to be entirely functional adults. And so plasticity and the ability of the human brain/nervous system to adapt is just the most intriguing thing. At least I think this way.

And I guess I'd like to know more about how it works, why it works, what the limits of it are. If one looks at the case of Phineas Gage they see that his brain did not recover after his incident. So when is one too old to recover?

Hey look at this pretty picture!

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What is the first thing you focus on in this picture?

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First of all, wow. What a pretty landscape. It is just too bad it isn't a double rainbow, then this picture would have been something truly special.
Okay now that you are all done appreciating this beautiful view, lets get down to business. This picture is a very good example of the monocular cues of depth perception.

Relative Size: we can tell relative size from this picture because obviously the rocks in the foreground of the picture aren't the same size as the mountains in the background, but they appear to be that way.

Texture Gradient: Look at the grass. In the foreground you can easily make out all of the blades but as it goes further back, it just becomes a sea of green. spooky.

Interposition: We can tell that the snowy mountains are at the very back of the frame here because we see the other two mountains cutting off some of the snowy mountains. However, we don't know exactly where the rainbow is located because there is nothing blocking some of our view of it.

Linear Perspective: the photographer definitely knew about this principle because if you follow the lines from the two mountains on the sides, they will converge somewhere in the center of the picture. That gives the picture a good, whole, complete feeling.

Height in Plane: Close things are lower, distant things are higher. I think this is pretty self evident.

Light and Shadow: Personally, I really like the shadows in this picture. Essentially, there are three different mountains here, a shadowy one, a snowy one, and a sunny one. Also the shadows on the rocks in the front really give it a 3D feel.

Animal Training

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I have always been fascinated by the idea of animal training. Having never had a dog, and not really being able to train my cat to do anything cool, reading about this topic was very interesting to me. It's one thing to see a dog do the generic tricks like rolling over, sitting, or shaking for a treat, but what I am really drawn to is the training of the animals at Sea World. How does one go about training a whale or a dolphin that's ten times their size?! After doing some research on animal training at Sea World, I learned a lot of interesting things pertaining to this topic. In all animals, they can only be trained to do what they are capable of doing. They learn through observation, which can occur without any outside reinforcement. At Sea World, killer whale calves learn much of their behaviors by following their mothers. They copy what they do and by age one, it is possible for them to have already acquired up to ten performance behaviors. As I continued to read, I came across the section of learning called "Classical Conditioning," which reminded me of what I had read in the textbook. In Pavlov's case, he trained dogs to salivate using a conditioned stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus which elicited conditioned and unconditioned responses. This same technique is used in training the dolphins and whales at Sea World, as well as Operant Conditioning, Positive Reinforcement, and Stimulus Discrimination. It really intrigued me to see how Pavlov's findings have remained in effect throughout all these years and are still used today.

http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/training/index.htm

work of art that heighten the illusions

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This is a great work of art which uses "Gestalt Principles" to heighten the illusion. At first glance, I saw a mermaid between the rocks. After several seconds, I found these two rocks are actually images of several persons. One of them is a king. However, if you look at the king for a while, he is actually made up with several little persons. More surprisingly, the mermaid disappeared after my careful observation. Her legs became water and her tail became white water. At that time, I realized that the rock on the left side has tree branches which made the illusion of a mermaid. The mermaid at the first glance is just our imagination.
This work of art uses the "Gestalt Principles" to heighten illusions. When we perceive shape and contour, we might have something that does not exist. This work of art is the phenomenon called "Subjective contours". This phenomenon, from our textbook, is the time when "our brains provide missing information about outlines."
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This work of art also follows the "Gestalt Principles". We could see a face between the two horses when we first look at this picture. However, the nose and mouth of the face are rocks and a bird; the eyes and eyebrow are legs of the horses.
These work of arts are from Psychological arts: http://psycharts.com/illusions.htm
There is also a interesting video from YouTube that shows many work of arts that follow "Gestalt Principles" : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aOSsafHalc&feature=related

I'm sure we've all either said it or heard it: Listening to rap music will make you a bad person. Don't do it! But the question is, can you prove it? Does music really have as large of an impact in our lives as some claim?
Music is a very powerful tool in society today, perhaps even a bit understated. Artists have recorded songs to raise awareness for multiple causes, and raise millions, even billions with it. For example, according to the Chicago Sun Times, "We Are The World" USA for Africa raised 44.5 billion dollars. Wooo, I can't even begin to imagine having that much money, and it all being possible because of just ONE SONG. Can you imagine how many years you would have to work to earn that much money?!? The pro-social lyrics of songs like "We Are The World" and "Hands Across America" have made great impacts in societies all over the world.

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One of few songs that have been able to bring such a large group of people together for one cause.

If we have pro-social, then we of course must have anti-social songs out there. In a research experiment in the Journal of Music Therapy by Harris, Clarke S., Bradley Richard and Sharon K. Titus., clients at a mental hospital were subjected to two different types of music while their actions were observed. One group listened to only "rap" and "hard rock" for 21 days straight while the other group listened to "country" and "easy listening" music. Results indicated that patients exposed to "hard rock" and "rap" music" acted far more inappropriately than the other group. The music types were then switched around in the groups, and this time they listened for 18 days straight. The new group of "rap" and "hard rock" listeners were still acting more inappropriately than the other group.

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Just based on these four pictures, which two would you think will provide you with more positive and calming songs??

Apart from pro-social and anti-social affects, music does a lot more in our lives. We often find ourselves relieved of anxiety by listening to music, or remembering the best of times because of one song. We can also find ourselves saddened by the lyrics of some songs and empowered by others. Personally, music is a very prominent part of my everyday life. Sometimes, I really can't imagine going through the whole day without listening to music. It can take you out of this world, out of your own thoughts, out of your troubles, sadness or anything, and land you somewhere you never knew you could go. (I know, too much! Oh well)

*I wonder if all the music I listened to while writing this post impacted my choice of words at all...*
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Addictive Personality: Is there one?

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While reading Chapter 5, I thought that the section on "Drugs and Consciousness" proved very interesting, especially the portion on confirming if or if not there is such a thing as an addictive personality. While on page 188, the authors said "there's no single addictive personality profile," they also said "researchers have found that certain personality traits predispose to alcohol and drug abuse" (188). I thought I would look deeper into this topic to see what various researchers have come up with.
In an article published by the New York Times called "The Addictive Personality: Common Traits are Found," the author, Bryce Nelson brings up many intriguing points. The first insight that he brought up was the fact that many mental health experts think that is is beneficial to look at all ends of the spectrum when it comes to addictions. All self-destructive behaviors should be examined, including overeating, compulsive television-watching, and the more prominent addictions such as drug and alcohol abuse. The overarching argument of the article, though, is similar to that of the textbook. "There is no single set of psychological characteristics that embrace all addicitons," the National Academy of Sciences concludes, "but the study does see common elements from addiction to addiction."
A few of the common elements attributing to addictive actions are impulsive behavior, an antisocial personality, a weak committment to goals that are considered valuable to society, a general tolerance for deviance, a sense of heightened stress and many more. While this brings up the scientific thinking principle of "correlation versus causation." Are these factors causing addictive behavior, is the addiction itself causing the people to attain these traits or is there another underlying variable? This subject is tricky, but as the article continues on, Alan R. Lang, a psychology professor at Florida State argues that discovering the personality characteristics that take part in developing these addictions is essential to treating them.

The following article is some information about various addictive personality disorders, ranging from diagnosis to treatment. Article 1.pdf

Article 2.html


By: Kylie Schermann

[Make-up] Another Lecture? Yawwwwnnnnn

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We've all heard it. Sleeping is good for you. You need it to grow healthy bones, get nice skin, and feel refreshed. Although we know all the benefits of sleeping, it's more likely than not that you, as an average college student, aren't reaping the rewards.
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It's no surprise that college students pull all-nighters. After all, how else are you gonna cram for that final the next day? In fact, according to USA Today on September 17th, 2007, many students believe that pulling an all-nighter is a "rite of passage", and can "even be fun". But whether you do it for fun or for better grades, staying up all night studying can certainly affect your grades--negatively. USA Today goes on to explain that "pulling all-nighters compromises your sleep", leading to short term effects such as delayed reactions and tendencies to make mistakes.
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Not enough to be convinced? A Stanford researcher recently worked with six basketball players and their sleep schedules. He found that they ran faster and made more shots over a period of time where they all slept 10 hours each night. Another study done by June J. Pilcher and Amy S. Walters, published in the Journal of American College Health, had participants complete cognitive tasks after being sleep deprived for 24 hours, or getting 8 hours of sleep. Not surprisingly, sleep deprived participants did worse, but rated their estimated performance higher than the non sleepy participants. This all indicates that college students, and the average person, may not be fully aware of the negative effects of sleep deprivation. Next time before pulling an all-nighter, remember that those few extra hours of staring at your textbook may actually be harming your scores.

Skyrim Come to Life

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SKYRIM. For those of you who have not said goodbye to real life, you are probably wondering what this is referring to. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is possibly the best role-playing video game ever made. This valorous scene depicts an adventurer trekking through the snowy mountains of Skyrim. He has stopped in his tracks and is bracing himself to face one of the many terrors along the treacherous Cold Rock Pass.

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There are several different visual cues in this image to create the illusion of a naturalistic three dimensional scene. The size difference between the adventurer and the clearly huge bear is noteworthy. From what we know in real life, bears are very large, and this bear is smaller in size compared to the adventurer due to being further away. Another significant size difference is between the adventurer and the mountain. Mountains are overbearing in size, but since it is far away, it almost seems to shrink with distance. The crows circling the dead and frozen mammoth are also different sizes relative to their location within the scene. The adventurer is in the front and is closer than the mammoth and the bear because he is lower in the picture plane. The mammoth is closer than the bear because he is blocking the bear's lower half causing interposition. The atmosphere of the scene appears foggier in the background than in the foreground. This is demonstrated by the clearly textured rock in the bottom right corner contrasting with the blurrier rocks in the mountain in the top left corner.

As you can see there are many different aspects and principles that work harmoniously to create a realistic three dimensional image. Unfortunately I cannot name them all, particularly due to the required length of this blog. So, what others can you find in the snowy mountains of Skyrim?

Chapter 14 explores how our personalities are shaped. There were several twin and adoption studies highlighted, that were conducted at the University of Minnesota. Those studies explored the role environment has on personalities. There are also numerous molecular genetic studies conducted to learn more about how our genes are related to our personality.
I found Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality particularly interesting. He traces much of our thoughts and behaviors back to sexual drive and aggression. He structures personality into three different components: Id, Ego, and Superego. Id is completely unconscious and where our basic instincts and impulses, including sex and aggression, are generated. It strives for immediate gratification. The Ego is the boss of the personality. It is governed by the reality principle: strives to delay gratification until it can find an appropriate outlet. It interacts with the real world to find ways to resolve competing demands of the other to psychic agencies. Our Superego gives us our sense of morality. It helps us establish right from wrong from our interactions with society.
The text also introduced graphology (psychological interpretation of handwriting) as a way to foreshadow certain characteristics of a person.
Most researchers have failed to uncover strong or consistent associations between birth order and personality; however, I have always been intrigued with the possibility that there is. There is a common belief that first borns are said to strive towards achievement. Middle borns seek diplomacy. And later borns are said to be the risk takers.

This video elaborates on the possibility of associations between birth order and personality:

Where would Psychology be without research??

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It's hard, if not impossible, to imagine where the field of psychology would be today without research. Chapter 2 explores and explains different research methods and the various components to an experiment. The author brings to light that from research we have found, "the same psychological processes that serve us well in most situations also predispose us to errors in thinking." That may take you a little further reading to wrap your head around. This is where heuristics come into play. In an effort to make sense of the world we like to make mental shortcuts that help streamline our thinking. I found this to be a very interesting concept and I have made errors in judgment due to heuristics.
Research evidence invalidated many superstitions. Such as, humans act strangely during full moons, arthritis acting up in rainy weather, and rituals to better our performance. Superstations are also known as illusory correlations.
The author also pointed out a few common vocabulary mistakes people often make. Just because a measure is reliable doesn't mean it is valid. Prior to reading this chapter, reliable and valid were almost synonyms to me. With a little humor the author creates an example to differentiate the meaning between the two. He comes up with the Distance Index-Middle Width Intelligence Test (DIMWIT). It would be a reliable measure of intelligence because the widths of our fingers are unlikely to change. But because the widths of our fingers have nothing to do with intelligence it is not a valid method. Through research, psychologists have been able to set a strong foundation for exploring and furthering the science of psychology.

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Nature vs Nurture: Who are you?

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http://genealogy.about.com/cs/geneticgenealogy/a/nature_nurture.htm

This article takes a look into the nature versus nurture debate through presenting information from various studies. According to the info presented in this article I believe that it is a combination of the two, being nature and nurture, that make up a person.

Many things about us are determined before we are even born. The color of your eyes, the shape of your face, and the body type you will have and live with during your lifetime. These characteristics, however, are generally physical and easier to trace back to their parent. Scientists debating the nature hypothesis want to take things to a different level and insist that traits such as intelligence, aggression, personality, and even sexual orientation are determinable by someone's genetic makeup.

While difficult to quantify, according to this article studies have shown that fraternal twins show great characteristic similarities when raised apart from each other. From this discovery, we can deduce that, without similar genes, when raised apart these fraternal twins would be completely different. This would also mean that when raised together, they develop nearly identical characteristics. This study was also done in trials using identical twins, establishing the idea that genetically similar individuals develop closely related traits regardless of their environment.

Scientists supporting the nurture hypothesis suggest otherwise, stating that these genetic similarities can produce similar traits but the environment of an organism's upbringing can change those traits. One such study, recorded in New Scientist, showed that humor is a trait learned from one's environment (family, culture, religion, etc) and is not necessarily determined by genes.

Similar to the nature hypothesis, the nurture hypothesis is not easily quantified either. However, we can look at studies done with identical twins. According to genetics these individuals are exactly the same and, when raised apart, they should develop exactly the same characteristics. Studies show otherwise, that genes can have influential power over what you are but your environment ultimately determines who you become.

Overall, in my opinion it must be a combination of the two. For example, consider the genetic makeup of a great athlete. Tall, muscular body type, fast metabolism, all of which are determined by genetics. However, now consider an environment that is not conducive to athleticism. Junk food, exercise not promoted by the family, etc. If this person were to not exercise and eat poorly they would never have the ability to use their superior genes to excel in athletics. On the other hand, someone who does not have these genes who grows up in a similar household won't be able to excel in athletics either. The difference there is that they never had a chance, because they didn't have the genetic makeup to do so. This shows that it must be a combination of the two, nature and nurture, that make a person who they are.

The following video shows a study of the nature hypothesis being conducted using two identical twins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egXIk_4-qMY

Vaccines and Autism - Are they connected?

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According to MSNBC.com one in four parents thinks vaccination shots cause autism. That is 25% of you reading this article believe this to be true. We are a generation that our parents may have refused to have us vaccinated for this reason. Are you one of those children?

So the question is, is this fear realistic? Does it have reason to believe it is true? Where did this all come from? In a 1998 study by British medical journal it proved a link between MMR shots to autism.

So why has autism rates skyrocketed 1000% since 1990, according to Natural News.com. Dr. Paula Baillie-Hamilton says, "There is also a strong connection between all forms of vaccinations and autism. A U.S. study found that children who received vaccines containing a preservative called thimerosal, which is almost 50 percent mercury, were more than twice as likely to develop autism than children who did not. Although mercury has been removed from regular childhood vaccines due to growing safety worries, it is still present in other vaccines children might get."

Common ground between these two parties is that every year more and more children are being diagnosed with learning disabilities and autism. However, the question is what is the cause or have they always existed and we now have the knowledge to diagnose them?

Since the 1998 study, it has been retracted after the council that regulated British doctors ruled the study's author acted dishonestly and unethically. In fact, mainstream advocacy groups link Autism Speaks strongly encourages parents to vaccinate their children. Dr. Melinda Wharton said, "Measles can be deadly, if we don't vaccinate, these diseases will come back."

Autism affects one of every one hundred and fifteen children; it is not surprising that parents want to protect their children. Before you make the choice for yourself, weigh out the research for yourself.

For more information on this topic watch this YouTube video:
http://youtu.be/ez7FOi-s9dY

Nature vs. Nurture

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One of the most controversial questions pertaining to psychology has always been whether people gain their behaviors from Nature (genes) or Nurture (environment). There are examples of both cases out there. One example of our behaviors coming from our environment is the behaviors of feral children like the one shown below. Feral child.jpg This is some evidence that environment does play a large role in behavioral traits because although the kid has human genes, its behavior mimics that of its host parents (the animals).

An example the provides evidence for the Nature debate is the study of twins, especially identical ones separated at birth. One case is of 2 guys who had identical likes, dislikes, wife's name, ex-wife's name, dog's name, and even their first kid's name.

Something really surprising for me was the question of whether homosexuality was inherited or developed throughout their environment. Studies have indeed found that it is more likely that homosexuality is biological than environmental. Evidence for this is if an identical twin is homosexual, there is over a 50% chance that the other one is as well. Studies have also shown that homosexuality is developed early in a childs lifecycle, possibly even before birth.

This video I found really was interesting to me, I think it is just a couple kids that had a presentation to make but i really learned a lot from it and it let me understand the topic a lot better. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPZsrLAkpKM&feature=related


Intertwined Minds

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For years, psychologists have been perplexed by influences made by nature and nurture. According to our Lilienfeld textbook, "our nervous system, of course, is shaped by both our genes (nature) and our environments (nurture)."
To determine which of the two influences what, scientists do countless studies to figure out this mystery. Family studies, twin studies and adoption studies are all done to determine lingering questions that we continue to have about the presence or absence of a certain trait. However, though nature and nurture clearly have their major differences, they tend to be more alike than different when it comes to picking out the variations between the two. So many researchers have performed numerous studies, and many of the times they are left just as confused as when they begun, if not more.
For example, Ryan D. Johnson, from the All Psych Online website, wrote an article about a study that was done on homosexuals. Researchers were studying to see if the reason for their sexual orientation was due to their genes or to their environment. Of course, the study did not come to a final conclusion because every researcher found something different to think about, like the "gay gene," the media or how it was "an aberration, and had then become a species, justifying itself with a new word." Whichever the reason, it is still unknown and probably will be forever.
Also, according to our book, researchers have found that people with certain genetics tend to seek out certain environments. They have also learned, according to our book, "that many environmental influences, like life stressors and maternal affection, actually work in part by turning certain genes on or off." So, after knowing this fact, I am sure that no one will ever know (at least, in my lifetime), what exactly is influenced by nature or nurture. And, as hard and unreliable as it may be, I would love to try and perform an experiment like this--just to see what I can come up with!

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Nature V. Nurture

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Nature or Nurture? Free Will versus Determinism? Can you find some article, issue or claim where one of these great debates is still in dispute? What is your reaction? What alternative explanations might be useful to consider?

This is the article that I found.
1) http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/amp/55/2/218.pdf


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This article brings up the idea that most people entertain when they face the debate of nature vs. nurture. This idea that I am writing of is the idea that it is near impossible to tell whether a trait was picked up through nature or nurture, this of course excludes deseases and disorders. Not all children that are born into good homes with great parents turn out to grow up like their parents. Other environmental aspects in a child's life can greatly affect their development. These can include other people in the child's life such as teachers and friends, TV, things they see on the street, and many others. Genetics does play a roll, but I think environment and decision making plays an even bigger role in how an individual acts. nature-v-nurture.jpg
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I believe that there are certain behaviors that can be passed down through genes, but just because they are more susceptible to the behavior, does not mean they are going to act it out. The decision is there's, not genetics. My biological father is a wife beating alcoholic, which means that all of his children are at risk of being violent and becoming alcoholics. motivator325030.jpg But through good decisions because of environmental factors, my 30 year old sister has 3 kids and is not violent and only drinks on occasion, my 21 year old brother drinks socially and has full custody of his 3 year old daughter, I do not like the taste of alcohol because I had to grow up watching my mom get beat because my father was drunk and I am also the first person in my family to go to college, and my 14 year old twin sisters are fully against abuse of people, alcohol, and drugs. We chose this.genes-environment-choices-500x492.png This is because we had a mother that taught us how to become responsible adults and to wash our hands of our father entirely. Even though there is still a genetic connection between my siblings, my father, and I, we do not consider him as our father and do not speak to him, and we do this because of what kind of environment we were raised in because of him. This again shows how nurture can out do nature exponentially.
Speaking of twins, this article also brings up the twin study on temperament that we discussed in lab last Tuesday. My twin sisters are fraternal twins who were raised in the same household the same way, and they couldn't be any more different. One is more agressive but takes it out in sports and the other is more intelligent and takes her frustrations out on video games.
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I'm not saying that genes have nothing to do with anything, I believe that people are born gay for instance, but environment and choices are a huge part of human behavior and development as well.2008-10-08.jpg

Mother is always right...right?

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According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the world's leading cause of death. As such, it isn't surprising that there are innumerable "miracle treatments" that claim to reduce the risk of cancer. Lifestyle changes, supplements, you name it--chances are, someone claims that it reduces cancer susceptibility. But which ones can you trust? Don't be too quick to commit the bandwagon fallacy!

Recently, I stumbled upon a review paper that surprised me.

http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezp1.lib.umn.edu/science/article/pii/S0002822396002738

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Their miracle treatment? Vegetables. Apparently, eating more vegetables may reduce the risk for certain types of cancer. Vegetables contain substances that may have the ability to block the beginning of cancer progression. For example, some veggie-based chemicals increase the activity of enzymes that detoxify harmful cancer-causing compounds in the body.

However, not all people believe that eating more vegetables help us fight cancer. The authors of two other articles believe that--for studies showing that veggies reduce cancer risk by a few percent--these health benefits are purely caused by chance. They say that fruits and veggies help to prevent cardiovascular disease, but not necessarily cancer.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/eating-vegetables-doesnt-stop-cancer/
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/04/fruits_and_veggies_prevent_can.html

First, I see much more empirical data behind the first review article compared to the following two articles in the newspapers. Second, the main claims of the argument against vegetables aren't refutable, either. What do you think? Regardless of whether or not vegetables will reduce my risk of cancer--I'm going to keep eating them no matter what! I think we can all agree that vegetables are good for us. At least, that's what my mom always told me! And mother is always right...right?

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Nature vs. Nurture

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http://www.dailyrx.com/news-article/genetics-influence-criminal-behavior-well-environmental-factors-17223.html

In this article, a recent study done by Dr. Barnes, a Florida State University professor claimed that people fell into three categories- persistent offends, adolescence-limited offends (drugs and alcohol, property crime) and abstainers (no deviant behavior). The results of their study showed that genetic factors play a larger role for the life-course offenders compared to the adolescence pathway. I was not surprised by these results because I feel like a lot of people have a deviant stage in their life when they try new things to be rebellious, but this does not mean that they will continue to do these things throughout their life.
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In the study by Barnes, they also explained that there is no gene that actually will cause someone to commit a crime because crime is a behavior that one learns. But, there are thousands of genes that will increase your likelihood oh being involved in a crime. I believe that there are genes that cause people to be more likely to be involved in crimes, but I do not think that nature is the only reason for people to be involved in crimes. I am sure that a lot of students here have many of these bad genes, but we do not know it because they have been brought up in an environment that does not involve any crimes. I think people who are persistent offenders have a lot of genes that direct them towards the criminal lifestyle, and they were able to figure this out about themselves because they were brought up in a deviant and criminal environment.

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make-up assignment Experimenting within Psychology

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Experiments are crucial to truly understand human behavior and thought. But, if these experiments are not run properly, faulty conclusions can occur. Several experiments are messed up because of small things that could have been prevented. In order to run a successful experiment, one must remember a few small ways that can insure a close to clear conclusion. Two things that must be accounted for are the placebo and nocebo effects, which can easily be sorted out by introducing a placebo and not tell the participants who is in which group. Another is to make sure that there is both an experimental and a control group. The best way to go about picking the participants for each group is the double-blind method, in which case no one knows who is in which group. Another method that can help insure a valid conclusion is to not let the participants know what you are looking for so that they do not unknowingly taint the outcome of the experiment in any way.psychology-experiments.jpg Many different things other then those previously stated can ruin the outcome of any experiment, even if the experiment is run flawlessly, the conclusion can always be manipulated, whether by accident or not. Conformation bias is a big one. The instructors of an experiment can "unknowingly" alter their findings so that they match up with what they believed the outcome to be before preforming the experiment. Experiments should be done carefully, otherwise the outcomes to them could be very misleading.

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