December 2011 Archives

The uniformity and ease with which our discussion group discriminated between the feeling one gets around someone with a physical injury or disease as apposed to mental illness was thought provoking in contrast with the disparate views on why that is. Is it the breach of the social contract through abnormal behavior? Is it the unpredictable behavior that makes us uncomfortable? Is it fear of being attacked? Is it caused by not knowing why someone is acting a certain way?

At first I thought it might be fear of violent behavior, but then I watched Ted Bundy and he's so "normal" it's hard to imagine being scared if you didn't know who he was if you met him.

Then I thought it might be the lack of cues about what was going on inside, especially through flat affect, but Jeffery Dahlmer is only slightly more creepy than Bundy, even when speaking on the subject of his murders.

I don't think it's simply the breach of the social contract, because my girlfriend thinks this guy's hot. While people do stare I would hazard to guess it is more because they don't know why than that it is happening. I would suspect that if people were told it was Tourette's that they would ignore it pretty quickly.

My personal feeling is that this uncomfortable feeling is caused by the unpredictable behavior of certain mental illnesses combined with situation. A disheveled, dirty man speaking to himself on a bus would likely cause more people to feel discomfort than an attractive, clean woman doing the same thing. Likewise, an "average Joe" talking to himself and acting otherwise abnormal because of mental illness would cause more disquiet than would the same person exhibiting the same behaviors but known to you to be doing so because a brain tumor was pressing particular areas responsible for the behavior. It would be interesting to do some naturalistic observation followed up by surveys to start to parse the source of these often visceral feelings of disquiet. Do you feel differently about any of my examples? How?


Societal Outcasts

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In our discussion group, we talked about why people are willing to bring over soup when friends aren't feeling well or drop off books when a family member is recovering from a broken leg but tend to avoid people when they're diagnosed with a psychological disorder. As a society we've been ignoring these people for years. Our book talks about Thomas Szasz who claimed in the 1960s that people didn't actually have psychological disorders but they were just people unaccepted by society. Szasz has been proven wrong about his theory about mental illness but he was correct about society's negative attitude towards people suffering from psychological disorders. As I walk to work each morning there are a number of people I pass that are clearly suffering from mental illness. Some are struggling from addiction, asking for money for their next drink. Others are carrying on heated conversations with "someone" the rest of us can't see. They need help, but rarely do you ever see people reaching out. Instead people cross to the other side of the walkway or throw garbage in their collection cups. These folks are often homeless with no place to go. Should asylums be brought back?

The blog that grabbed my interest this week was on Bipolar Disorder. I think it takes a lot of courage for someone to write about themselves.

Conformity For the Good or Bad?

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The idea of conformity usually takes on a negative impression.
Throughout ages on Earth, conformity has been seen as not only what is popular at the time, but also in evil plans of action. The work done by Adolph Hitler, where he created a massive army to destroy the Jewish race in Germany, was primarily through the use of young boys conforming to an un-asking militia out to do the deed of one greedy man.
However, conformity has its up sides as well.
Believe it or not, conforming is something that could be considered evolutionary. When asked in class as to why we conform, it was extremely hard to answer. This could be due to the fact that it is something in our biology that we know to do but do not quite understand the purpose behind it. On an evolutionary stand point, conforming has been for the good. It has taught us to stick together in a herd in order to stay protected and well fed. It has taught us what is socially acceptable to do and what is not. it has taught us that in order to live a long and healthy life, we should not abandon our natural instinct to do what others around us are doing (as long as its healthy).
Overall, conforming has kept us alive back in the days where men and women lived as cave people, and it is one of the main reasons that we are still alive to this day.

Improved Consciousness

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The broad definition of consciousness is our subjective experience of the world and ourselves. It is our ever-changing awareness of the world, also including our thoughts, emotions, and sensations.

Not only is the definition very broad, but the number of alterations of consciousness is very large as well. In fact, across a typical day we experience a great number of altered states in our consciousness. Theses changes range from small to profound.

These alterations can range from working to solve a math problem to having an out of body experience. Other profound alterations include hallucinations, Déjà vu, mystical, hypnosis. Drugs can bring many of these alterations on.

This got my curiosity going, because if we have found drugs such as Lysergic acid diethylamide, and Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, which alter consciousness with the onset of hallucinations and psychedelic experiences, then maybe someday we will have a drug that gives us complete awareness and focus. Most importantly though, I have become aware that consciousness is a loosely defined subject that I hope to learn more about, and hopefully will have a greater knowledge of 5 years from now!

alex gray.jpg

Following the wrong crowd

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Conformity refers to the natural tendency of following the crowd because of stress and confusion in the event of disagreement in perception with others as shown in the Ash studies. Obedience, as shown in the Milgram Paradigm, is people's inclination of obeying instructions even if they know what they are doing is wrong or unethical. Both phenomena have profound implications in corporate environment. The decision-making process in a corporation may well be subject to conformity scheme and correct decision may not be made. If the top makes the wrong decision, and the rest follows faithful to the decision as in Milgram Paradigm, the corporation may very well fail completely, or conduct ethical corporate acts. How do we solve these problems? Corporate structure is essential, but further research is needed in designing the optimal corporate structure.

My favorite blog is

Conform at the Vikings Game

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Five years from now the subject of psychology I think I will remember most is the idea of conformity. My parents raised me to be my own person and to never follow the crowd. After watching the candid camera episode in which the people continually turned with the actor and actresses, I do not know if I would not do that myself. Also I would like to think that if I was a part of the line test I would stick to my guns and give the correct answer even if the rest of the people did not. This is what my parents told me to do so I would really hope I could do them proud. This subject also correlated with my ecology class. In ecology we talk about the behavior of animals instead of humans, but it is amazing how much of these behaviors overlap with one another. Similar to humans, animals also group together as a way to increase their survival rate and ability to pass on their genes to the next generation. While conformity is seen in the most complex ecosystem, it can also be easily studied at a football game. vikings-fans.jpg A new Viking football game is played every Sunday, and every Sunday the fans perform the same cheers even if it is their first game. A person who is at their first game has learned by the end of the game, what hand motions to do after the Vikings have made a first down, what cheer to sing after a touchdown, and when to sit-down or stand-up. They learn all of this by conforming to what the veteran fans are doing. I will remember conformity in five year because it is something that I will see and experience every day, so I cannot easily forget it.

My favorite blog post this week was on Teen Peer pressure because it took what we are learning in class and related it to a real world issue.

Everyday Use

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I would say in general there isn't a specific concept to remember in five years. I already use psychology in my everyday life, therefore I would obviously use it again thereafter. To be specific whenever thinking about society I would use psychology. When thinking of people's ability to do things and how they think I would question many thing's relating to psychology. If I was to choose, I think I would use social psychology the most in five years I would say. Everyone's lives revolves around each other so they're going to question about how each other behave, and I know I'm one of those who would use psychology to persuade myself to believe in how people behave.


I think overall, I would think of any psychology concepts regardless of whichever one it is. This is again because like many others I get very curious with how this or that works with people's minds and why people behave this way or how they behave. Even though I would not use specific terms from the psychology 1001 class to describe what something is, I would still use the concepts that I remember. I feel that even though five years from now, when I have forgotten about what I learned from psychology I would still use it in my own way not knowing that I am using it.

What would you say about this? Do you think psychology is used everyday even if it's five years from now?


Importance of Psychology

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After taking the Introduction to Psychology course this semester the concepts I will remember the best will be the Scientific Thinking Principles. Not only do they appear on nearly every page in our textbook, but they also show up on every exam. These crucial terms will help my critical thinking skills as I continue in education. Ruling out rival hypothesis, correlation vs. causation, falsifiability, replicability, extraordinary claims, and occam's razor are huge for the course and the field of psychology. I will use things like Occam's Razor in everyday when I am wondering how I locked myself out of the dorm, and figuring out that crop circles, were a prank. I have learned to re-evauluate claims made by people and making sure that there is always evidence for the experiments. The psychology course will help me determine validity from people and ideas from now on.

My Favorite post of the week was:

The field of social psychology is one that, over the years, has gained a whole new importance in better understanding human behavior and, more central to the field itself, human interactions. Within the field of social psychology, which our textbook defines as "the study of how people influence others' behavior, beliefs, and attitudes" there has developed the important study of social influence.


Our book breaks down social influence further, into acts of conformity and obedience. Conformity, as many evolutionary psychologists have theorized, is thought to be an adaptive trait--something that we as humans have evolved over time--to help the formation of social groups, resulting in stronger biological fitness. Through experiments such as the Asch Studies psychologists have tried to pinpoint the causes of conformity, with some looking correlation between conformity and the "Big 5" personality traits. When looking at the "Big 5" personality traits, however, studies have failed to expose any correlation between one personality trait and the likelihood of conforming in the Asch Studies. This lack of correlation has made it impossible to associate the likelihood of conformity with any one trait; however these findings may, in some ways, point us to the real answer. I think that conformity is in fact a very adaptive trait, and has been developed through evolution to help provide humans with connections that help with the survival of the species. This being the case, the truth may be that it's not one or two of the "Big 5" personality traits that leads to conformity, but instead--it's all of them. All of the "Big 5" traits in my mind provide a person with the tendency toward conformity, with conformity being one of the few constants through the 5 traits. Whether its extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, or even neuroticism, they all seem to give a person the tendency to conform to the majority of people around them.

Pop - by liefs003 was a good blog entry. With good pictures and provides an interesting take on specialization and central planning. Should we look to the leafcutter ants for cues to building our society? They sure did a good job at building their society.

Why do we conform? What factors determine whether or not we conform? Conformity is a tendency of people to alter their behavior as a result of group pressure. We have all been at the mercy of conformity at one time or another, some more than others. Some factors that determine whether or not somebody will conform or not would include unanimity, difference in the wrong answer & size.

People are more likely to conform in a group larger in size as opposed to a smaller group. Knowing that somebody else in a group differed from the majority made the person less likely to conform. If the decision was unanimous then people are more likely to conform. For example, the person in the elevator conformed because of size & unanimity. Everybody was turning so he took it upon himself to turn & follow the crowd. I have conformed at some points in my life due to these reasons but only because the end result was still in my favor.


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The topic of social psychology is itself less interesting than the questions it begs of socio-/population biology at large. To my mind, we take for granted such concepts as central planning and specialized knowledge, and our estimation of the world suffers when we're not careful to account for our indelible inclination to weigh our observations against our familiarity with other presocial mammals. By this habit we are, perhaps occasionally, amiss in our measure of value. It's by our instinctive desire for leadership by committee and class stratification that man has achieved valuable goals, such as planning cities and tricking staple crops with genetic feints.

Antwork.jpgNevertheless, consider that leafcutter ants---possessed of brains smaller than chickpeas and devoid of personalities---build vast structures to complex engineering requirements. Their lairs stretch widely underground and in hillocks above, incorporating intricate ductwork to evacuate the deep reaches of spent air, and dedicated architecture for sanitation processes. Special chambers for fungiculture are expertly maintained; colonies will test different substrates for optimal growth, and forego thereafter any found to be fungicidal. Accounting for the disparity in size between the species, if any ant superstructure was approximated to human scale, it would be hundreds of miles in diameter, with towers a dozen miles high. Yet there is not to be found an ant spreading blueprints over the hood of a pickup, delegating tasks to other ants in hard hats.

They attend to their success with only the most straightforward and uninspired social cues, complex though wholly uncomplicated. Presume that behavior is an emergent phenomena (it is), and consider that leafcutters have hardly fixed a system that is hardly broken for about twenty million years. Although man's evolutionary trend severely outpaces the leafcutter's---2.5 million years between orangutan-esque tools and elaborate cave paintings; only 35,000 years between cave paintings and The Matrix---man has not perfected a uniform social hierarchy. Consider that all ant species probably comprise one of the largest chunks of animal biomass on the planet. If you were an objective observer, i.e. a synthesized sapient thing from a distant star, which would you classify as the most successful animal on Earth?

Psychology Behind "Rain Man"

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The movie "Rain Man" starring Dustin Hoffman is a movie about a man suffering from Asperger's Disorder which is a form of autism. rain man.jpg In this movie 'Rain Man' is a adult who lacks the ability to form lasting social relationships or connections with anyone that he meets as a result of his disorder.

The miraculous and intriguing thing about this adult is his extraordinary brain activity and abilities that he possesses. One scene in the movie is when he is at a restaurant and a box of straws falls to the ground, and without even being asked he mutters a number--corresponding to the number of straws that fell onto the ground. Thumbnail image for rain-man-full-1.jpg

There is also another scene where his extraordinary ability to solve complicated math problems is depicted, at the casino. He is able to count cards in a casino when playing Blackjack. I thought that this was very intriguing because of the fact that he has Asperger's and lacks social ability but has these miraculous attributes that allow him to perform these incredible feats.

There is something remarkable about the fact that he makes up for what he lacks with a talent that is unheard of, and I began to wonder whether this actually occurs for people suffering from autism. This movie poses a very intriguing psychology question, and I wonder if autistic people characteristically or rarely have this extraordinary brain activity.

This is a very good movie and I highly recommend watching it if you have not already seen it.

Myer Briggs Personality Test

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As we have learned, there are two primary ways to measure personality, and the most common methods used are nomothetic. Of course the one we have learned in class is the big five, but interestingly it is not the only wide spread used one. There are other widely accepted tests.


I took a different type of personality test relatively recently, Called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. And I think it is a very interesting test. And similar to the big Five, it measures mainly on four dimensions as seen in the chart above. I personally got ENFJ (commonly known as the teacher) (which is Extroversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judgement). The first two I was not surprised. However the last two dimensions I was surprised. Anyway, when you take a legitimate test, you will get a more personalized score that describes how you scored within each dimension( there are sub traits for those traits)

Parenting Styles

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The human development portion of our coursework is one I will likely always remember and take away from psychology 1001. More specifically the section on parenting styles (Permissive, Authoritarian, Authoritative, Uninvolved) and their implications is what I'll remember. I found this section interesting because I've seen these parenting styles in the parents of ]friends that I've met throughout my life. Some of my friends have recently had kids of their own and it got me wondering about when I one day will hopefully have children of my own. This portion on developmental psychology gave me a better and deeper understanding in the dynamics of parenthood. This section answered questions I previously held and gave me better knowledge in important areas of parenting. If anything, I learned how critical the father role plays in the development of children from this section. Even though this isn't exactly applicable to my current living situations; I hope to one day use this knowledge. I hope to use the insight I've gained from developmental psychology to help foster and raise my children into good people and citizens who will help contribute to the betterment of society.


The Psychology Of Me

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Of all the topics covered this year in psychology, I think that the one topic I will certainly remember five years from now are the theories of personality. The main reason is that I found personality to be the most interesting subject covered. But another reason is that it has helped me realize who I am as a person.

For instance, after taking a few personality quizzes, I found consistently low scores concerning conscientiousness. While this wasn't all too surprising, it still shaped my life in a positive way. Now that I know I'm unorganized and a terrible planner, I have tried keeping my life more orderly and not waiting until the last minute to get stuff done (notice how I gave myself five full hours to finish this).
Also, I couldn't help but being drawn somewhat to Sigmund Freud's theory. While most of it I think is ridiculous, his ideas about defensiveness seemed were particularly interesting in my opinion, given that I possess a defensive personality to begin with. This has impacted me by helping me understand what I do when I'm angry and by helping me tone it down a little.

I would recommend this course to anyone.

Peer pressure

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Every year in Hollywood there are always a lot of movies about school life in high school, which are lively and attractive to all ages. But not everybody exactly have a memorable and happy time when they are in school. Peer pressure usually comes to be the greatest spoiler.
According to social psychology, people may do things that seems extremely stupid and wired when they are faced with huge group pressure, especially peer pressure, let alone teenagers. Try to come up with some old memory clips. Did you ever bully or tease other poor guys in school just because your "leader" ask you to do so or just everyone altogether do it so you didn't wants to look different?
Teenagers often wants to try somethings fancy or "fashionable". Do they really know the reason they want to try that thing? Do they know if it is harmful to their health or their mental state to take drugs, being alcoholic, and have a baby at 17? No. They do these just because other guys at their age all behave like this and the best way they think is to "keep in line". Only few people could stay in their way and keep aware.

Are You a Risk Taker?

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The article Addictive Personality? You Might be a Leader talks about common characteristics found among great leaders; intelligence, creativity and the drive to succeed. These are characteristics many people would claim to have, so what is it that keeps people from being the next Steve Jobs? I think what sets apart top leaders is the willingness to take risks. We're living in a society where people have a rapidly increasing sense of entitlement. Everyone wants success & greatness handed to them and aren't willing to put in the work or take the gamble of losing everything they have for a chance at something bigger. Great leaders are not only willing to take the risk, but thrive on it. They've sacrificed relationships, time, money, comforts & likely failed many times along the way but their willingness to keep gambling it what eventually pay offs. Everyone wants to achieve great things, but how much are you willing to risk?

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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