March 2012 Archives

Portion distortion in the United States.

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Why is it that American consumers today struggle with obesity and the implications that coincide with this disease, while consumers in other areas of the world are still struggling with such large-scale epidemics as starvation and malnutrition? One of the largest contributors to obesity in the United States is the supersizing of portions, otherwise known as portion distortion. According to the text, portion sizes served in restaurants increased by 25 percent in the United States from 1977 to 1996. This increase in portion sizes has undoubtedly contributed to the heightened amount of obesity our country has experienced over the last few decades.
I believe that it is important for American consumers to know and understand the dangers that result from consuming such large portions. One of the restaurants that I eat at on a regular basis, Chipotle, serves its customers some of the most ridiculous sized portions I have seen in my entire life. I also ate at Manny's Steakhouse with my family recently, and one of the options on the menu was a double porterhouse steak with approximately 50 ounces of meat. I ate a small filet mignon (approximately 6 ounces) and I was completely full! I know from personal experience how hard it can be to say no to leftover food when you are already full, which is why restaurants in the United States should not offer these massive portions in the first place. I think that the food industry should be taking immediate action to reduce portion sizes in an attempt to restrain the rate of obesity.


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Divorce Isn't the End of the World for Children

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There is a wealth of controversial and opposing research on the topic of divorce, and more specifically on its effects on the implicated third-party participants of a divorce situation, the children of the divorcees. Some studies suggest that for most children of divorced parents, the emotional effects are either minimal or nonexistent, especially since children are often applauded for their resilience. Other "experts" however, are not quite so optimistic. They point to behavioral problems and episodes of depression or substance abuse as evidence of the horrors of such a situation, implying that if some reactions are that extreme, there must be some level of effect on all children.
In my personal opinion, many of these claims are merely to provoke a reaction and are often misguided in their findings. Just like many other less-than-ideal situations, divorce is only what you make of it, and this is true for the parents and children (in regards to the effect on children, not necessarily other factors). If parents continue to treat their children with love and respect even in a different living environment, they should adjust fine when given time. In some cases, the change may actually be beneficial to the children if it means that they will have more opportunities for positive interactions with their parents when the parents are no longer expending time and energy fighting with each other. As long as parents do not place their children in the middle of parental conflicts, the divorce generally shouldn't have negative effects on their adaptive capabilities or overall development.
From the child's perspective, he/she just needs to realize that the divorce is not his/her fault and that it simply means that life will be a little different from then on. Life is full of changes, many of which we have no control over, and this is something that everyone needs to realize at some point. In my own experience, this altered living situation often affords more opportunities to exercise responsibility and independence, and gives the child a broader perspective on the world. Obviously I am not trying to say that divorce is a good thing, because it certainly isn't, but at least the side-effects aren't all terrible and destructive. I was told once that "what you get when you don't get what you want is called an experience". Divorce is an experience for the child that they can't control, but they can control the way they handle it. It doesn't have to produce a maladaptive adult with socio-emotional difficulties; if handled maturely, the experience can only make you stronger in the long-run.

Are men better with directions than women?

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A common image from my childhood is a road trip in which my dad is driving the car while my mom is sitting in the passenger seat holding a map and attempting to navigate. Soon enough my dad gets fed up with my mom's incompetence. "Are you sure you're not holding it upside down?" he asks as he snatches the map out of her hands. Soon he decides it would be much easier if he just drove and read the map at the same time.

Although it may just sound like an outdated stereotype, there is actually scientific evidence to back up the claim that men are better navigators than women. It has been proven in many different studies that men have better spatial memory than women do. One hypothesis that tries to explain this evidence dates back to prehistoric times. It says that since men were the ones out hunting for food in unfamiliar territories to feed their families they developed a better spatial memory over time. Some scientists also believe that testosterone is related to spatial memory.

The Dawn of Mr.Mom

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"The End of Men". Such are the headlines that one can now see on the cover page of popular magazines, and yes, it is true, men no longer dominate the world. Since the feminists' reforms of the 60's, women's economic status has grown tremendously. According to a report by the APA "the percentage of working age women employed or looking for work nearly doubled-from less than 33 percent to more than 60 percent" between 1948 and 2001. Some even project that women will soon come to dominate the economic and professional world, with men becoming a minority and assuming roles that have been hitherto been reserved to women. Now it has been mentioned in our book that a parent's job status has an influence on a child's attachment style and development. This makes me wonder: will this country's changing work force demographics change parental roles? How will father-child relationships be affected? Are we moving away from Dad the breadwinner to...Mr. Mom?
Well, not exactly. According the APA report previously mentioned, though the number of stay at home fathers has increased by 50% between 2003 and 2006, they still barely represent 1% of American fathers. So yes, we are moving closer to the era of Mr. Mom, but not quickly enough for this new trend to be significant. As to the role of paternal love on children, the report mentioned that recent research suggests that one of the main roles of fatherly love was to help children's social, emotional and cognitive development and functioning. So should we expect more behaviorally well adjusted kids and adults as the number of stay at home Dads augments? Not necessarily, maternal love is just as important (if not more) than paternal love and should not be reduced just because a father is more involve. In conclusion all I can say is Fathers be good to your daughters...and sons.


The Role of the Father

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Our fathers have played a major role in our life whether they were present or not. Sometimes the most impact fathers play are the one who aren't present. I've grown up in an environment where my dad wasn't present so I created the idea of what a dad should be. The four statements of how a dad is, they tend to be less attentive and affectionate, they spend less time with their babies, they spend more time in physical play, and children tend to choose their fathers over their mothers as playmates. All of which I believe to be true though personally I don't understand. I also believe that this statement doesn't pertain to every father out there. The idea of the father figure makes sense but why does such emphasis play an important impact on children's' psychological well-being. With my parents separated I created the idea of what my dad was and blinded the thought that he wasn't the father I wanted him to be. Thoughts that he wasn't a good dad were pushed even when the evidence to say otherwise was in front of my face. I can't give a personal statement about fathers who are there in their child's life but I know that the role of the father shapes children's psychological well-being.

Which Parent Am I Today?

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I was very intrigued to read about the "too hard", "too soft", and "just right" parenting styles described in chapter ten (p. 388). Diana Baumrind's work provides insight into three different observable styles of parenting in which middle-class, Caucasian families tend to subscribe to. These styles include Permissive (the "too soft" style"), Authoritarian (the "too hard" style), and Authoritative (the "just right" style). The question then becomes this--which style is the most effective? The obvious choice is the "just right" option. Authoritative parents serve as a happy medium between the Submissive style of parents who are too lenient and give too much freedom and the Authoritarian ones who are too strict and deny their children this freedom.

I feel as though many parents or other individuals who read about Baumrind's work may ask themselves, which type of parent am I? However, I disagree with the idea that individuals all belong to a certain "group" or demonstrate behaviors in just one of the various parenting styles. Through personal experiences and the experiences of others that I have noted, I feel as though every parent finds themselves being the "too lenient" or the "too forceful" parent at one point or another. As normal human beings, I am sure that is rare that they find themselves to be the perfect Authoritative figure described in Baumrind's "just right" model of parenting all of the time.
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Ready, Fire, Aim?

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Business theorists have determined that western managers try to solve problems before defining them, a management style much different from eastern cultures. Western managers are said to "ready, fire, then aim", which seems to me like they are guessing and hoping that they are choosing the right solution to the problem. I see eastern managers taking more time to make decisions, which works for them, but isn't really the American way. Managers in western culture need to get things done so they can move on to the next thing, and they like to do it as fast as possible. This could cause problems within a business, especially if they make a major mistake. If a western manager is working with an eastern manager, it could cause some conflict, due to their conflicting styles of management. However, it may help both of them. The western manager could learn to be more patient and think ideas through better before coming to a decision, and the eastern manager could learn to make quicker decisions and make more decisions off of instinct. I think if i can try to be somewhere in the middle of the two cultures business-wise, I could be successful by making careful, but quick decisions that will help my company succeed.

Tale of a Classic Computer Struggle Fest

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Classic nightmare: A paper is due Monday. This is not just any paper, this is a TEN pager that counts for a significant amount of your grade. Guess what happens next... yep, you got it! The computer that the paper is saved on won't turn on come Sunday morning. This was me last semester, and you can only imagine my panic when I realized that I was nine pages into the paper. I went through my usual problem solving technique when it comes to computers: I called my dad as I furiously pushed the power button with increasing force as if the amount of pressure applied would jump start my computer like CPR. If I had taken a step back I may have realized that I was facing a mental set- I thought the only solution was to push the power button over and over. However, after handing my computer over to the IT expert in T Hall, I realized that taking out the computer's battery for a minute could also solve the problem....duh! Next time I will try to focus on ALL the possible solutions rather than trying one over and over helplessly. computer-meltdown-400.jpg

Parallel Processing (Chapter 4)

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We often come across pictures where our mind perceives the image as something else. Based on our own expectations, we perceive those images differently. That is due to parallel processing; the ability of the brain to attend to many sense modalities simultaneously of differing qualities. There are two concepts that follow along with parallel processing. The bottom-up processing is when a whole image is constructed from parts of the picture. For example based on a person's own expectation of the picture shown below, they would see the image of a man's face. The tunnel part makes up the eye on the left and the branch sticking out from the tree makes up the other eye. Along with the eyes, the woman in the field makes up the nose and mouth. Here, our brain's expectations perceived the image of a man's face. On the other hand, with our second concept, the top-down process, the brain's function would allow the person to see the image of the woman in the field. Both of these processes are due to our own expectations or knowledge which influences our perception of pictures that we see.

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I Don't Remember the Truth Anymore!

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An early memory I have is of swimming at the YMCA and my little sister "drowning" in the deep end of the indoor pool. I say "drowning" in with hesitation, because from my memory she was not, in fact drowning. If my memory serves me right, my sister could not get her foot on the ledge and kept slipping, therefore her head would go under the water, yet resurface. She was not 'drowning' in my memory because she also had a water toy to hold onto.

When I asked her to relay the same memory, from seven years ago, she strongly believes she was drowning in the pool that day.

The two memories differ slightly, one reason this is the case is because memory fades over time. An example of this is an illustration in the textbook, Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, by Salvador Dali, which relays images of clocks melting like wax. Another reason the same memory might slightly differ for two people is although our episodic memory, the "recollection of events in our lives" might serve us well what we choose to remember can differ (Lilienfeld 252).

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I was 13 years old and at my very first school dance. It was homecoming week. We all remember those dances: guys on one side, girls on the other. At this dance I broke my elbow. How? Three fellow teammates on my baseball team asked if I wanted to do the "rocket ship." Sounded cool so I instantly agreed. I was sprung straight up into the air. I looked down to see my friends scattering and before I knew it I was hurtling back toward the ground looking up at the ceiling. I landed with a loud thud. Evidently I was supposed to land on my feet. My head and back hurt instantly. I was walked to a classroom by the principal and given ice. He called my parents, who were not at all shocked that something so ridiculous had happened to me. After the pain in my head went away we noticed my left elbow swollen and painful. I was somewhat rushed to the hospital. According to my parents, I cried the entire way home. I do not remember such a thing. I believe I took it like a man and marveled at how awesome my elbow looked. To this day we argue if I cried or not. So why do we remember different things? I believe my parents have fallen into "imagination construction," in which they think it is funny to say I cried over my stupidity. Maybe I am the victim, wanting to deny myself crying. It is tough to say considering the only people who know whether or not I did were the three people arguing about it. If you ask me in 20 years, I took it like a true hockey player would, poking at the elbow and seeing if I can see any bone. My parents? Their little baby cried and asked mommy to make it go away.

Kanzi, the talking bonobo.

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Something that really caught my attention in Chapter 8 was the ability of certain animals to understand and even communicate through the use of the English language. According to the text, bonobos, which were once thought to be a class of chimpanzee, are now recognized as a species that is genetically even more closely related to humans. Unlike chimpanzees, which require thousands of trials to learn the meanings of associate signs or lexigrams, bonobos tend to learn through observation, which is a more human-like trait than the direct reinforcement used to teach chimpanzees. However, along with chimpanzees, bonobos seem to get stuck when learning syntax, which is defined as the set of rules by which we construct sentences.
Even with these limitations, it has been proven that bonobos can understand English, communicate with English-speakers through the use of lexigrams, and even construct 2-word sentences, as demonstrated by the following video clip. In the clip, we can see how one bonobo by the name of Kanzi can communicate with not only the doctor whom he interacts with on a daily basis, but also the reporter whom he has never met in his life. Something that I found especially fascinating in the clip was the fact that Kanzi could express words that could not be found on his lexigram through the use of other words, such as "big water" for flood and "slow lettuce" for kale, which Kanzi had a hard time chewing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKauXrp9dl4


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50 First Dates realistic?

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In the romantic comedy film "50 First Dates", Drew Barrymore's character suffers from a terrible memory loss syndrome called "Goldfield's Syndrome". Hollywood made up that name for her disorder, but according to Dr. Catherine Myers of Rutgers University, Barrymore's condition resembles a real memory loss disorder.

The type of amnesia that Barrymore suffers from would be anterograde amnesia. According to our textbook, anterograde amnesia is when a person loses the capacity to form new memories. In the film, Barrymore is in a car accident which made her lose most of her short-term memory, and her ability to form new memories. According to our textbook, short-term memory can be called "working memory" which refers to our ability to hold on to information we're currently thinking bout, attending to, or processing actively.

Although Barrymore somewhat resembles this disorder, there is one big problem. In the movie, she is able to remember everything from the day up until she goes to sleep. Once she wakes up, she forgets everything that happened the previous day. In reality, people who suffer from anterograde amnesia have trouble forming short-term memories after 10 minutes or so, making it impossible for Barrymore to remember things from earlier in the day.

The link provided is one of my favorite parts of the movie due to the character "Ten-Second Tom". Tom is a patient and his memory-span lasts 10 seconds. 50 First Dates is a great movie, and if you watch it, just remember that "Goldfield's Syndrome" is fictional.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk7WuvNKe_g
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The "Nocebo effect"

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nocebo.jpg Everyone knows about the placebo effect where a person receives results based only on believing they will receive them. But the nocebo effect is a little known twin to most people in their lives. The nocebo effect is basically classified as when you think negative thoughts in your mind, that you will jinx yourself and those bad actions will occur. The popular interesting fact site "Uberfacts" comes out with tens of interesting facts per day. One of these facts the other day was a story here about the nocebo effect. In this article, there are many interesting facts that were helpful to understand the nocebo effect. one of these interesting facts is the fact that it can be greatly influenced by verbal cues and events from your past. These specific events can make your brain think negatively about your actions in life, which then causes you to do wrong actions or to not succeed. The nocebo effect is very different from the placebo effect, but they are both extremely important to our psychological health.

Memory Loss- 50 First Dates

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50 First Dates is a very good example of memory loss portrait through a character. When you think of memory loss, most people think of it in terms of a smaller scale such as forgetting some events or information in our life. In this specific movie, they portray a condition called Anterograde Amnesia, which is the loss in ability to create new memories. People loose the ability to recall the recent past, but surprisingly long-term memory from before the accident remain in tact.

Memory as we know has many forms, two most common are short-term and long-term. Looking at the movie 50 First Dates, it exemplifies how this condition effects so many different aspects to the characters life. Anterograde Amnesia still allows the person to recall significant figures in life, such as family members and personal objects. The aspects it effects is short term memory from the recent past, such as new acquaintances, new information, and such information that is recent. An example of this would be the newspaper or a new individual one meets. At the time, the individual suffering form Anterograde Amnesia will be fine, but the next day that individual will have no recognition of this information. Many individuals that suffer Anterograde Amnesia loose the ability to recall declaritive memory, such as facts. On the other hand, these individuals will still be able to recall procedural memory, such as talking on the phone or walking.

Overall, memory loss in all forms is a very powerful ability to loose and is very serious. Memory is one of the brains most powerful abilities, so to loose memory is a big deal.

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Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia which is commonly referred to as memory loss. The disease is defined biologically by the build up of plaque and tangles of protein in the brain causing impairment of nerve cells. In Chapter 7 of the textbook, people who were more active and used their brain more were less likely to acquire Alzheimer's than people who led sedentary lifestyles. Although you can't control your age and genetic factors which often can lead to Alzheimer's, you can control what you eat and how much you exercise.

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By leading a healthy lifestyle which promotes good cardiovascular functioning, normal blood pressure,healthy body weight, no tobacco use and non excessive alcohol use, you can help create a healthy functioning brain that will help not only prevent Alzheimer's disease, but slow down the stages of the disease. Also, staying connected socially can keep your memory sharp at old ages when this disease is prevalent. Next time you see Grandma on Facebook, understand that she is just trying to exercise her brain.

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