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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?
Entitlement

The Social Personality

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The personality dimension of introversion -extraversion plays a key role for students coming to college for the first time. Possessing traits like warmth, gregariousness, sense of adventure, enthusiasm and ambition can lead to plenty of social attention and personal success.

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Yet extraverts have two potentially troublesome traits such as impulsivity and dominance than can get them into trouble.

Addictive Personality.pdf

Several studies have shown how introverts differ from extraverts in unique ways. As you examine and think about the findings of these studies, consider what consequences these differences might have on both extraverts and introverts.

Introverts demonstrate faster classical conditioning because they are more easily aroused.

Introverts react more strongly to punishment and extraverts react more strongly to rewards

Extraversion predicts heavy drinking in college students

Now that you've done a bit of serious thinking about introversion and extraversion, for fun try taking the Hidden Brain Damage Scale.docx

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You probably think you are pretty smart. To get some idea of how smart you are relative to the population, a psychologist would have you take the 90 minute Wechsler test. I know you don't have that kind of time now, so how about a 5 minute version?

A Five minute intelligence test

So these questions are a bit tricky but do they measure everything we consider to make up intelligence?Picture 1.png

Think of the smartest person you know. What characteristics can you describe that make this person intelligent?

Is it just one thing or many things? Are those abilities related or distinct. Did that person become intelligent from living in an environment that supported education, did they inherit intelligent genes or did they get that way through hard work and constant study?

These are important questions that psychologists still don't have clear answers for. You may think the 5 minute test above is not exactly a valid test of intelligence but what is?

Some researchers have tried to boil down all of the different types of intelligence tests into a set of 12 that describes the broadest range of cognitive abilities with the fewest amount of tests.

The 12 pillars of wisdom.pdf

Even after scholars examine decades of intelligence research I still wonder if this captures why some people seem smarter than others and why higher levels of intelligence lead to better life outcomes. emotional_intelligence_jpg_230x150_crop-0,0_q85.jpg

In class we discussed a recent study that demonstrated self-control was another important aspect separate from intelligence that accounted for success in life. Others have suggested that motivation may play a role as well.

Intelligence and motivation.pdf

Finally, no matter how smart a person is, if they can't relate to other people their intelligence might be wasted. Many scholars have theorized about emotional intelligence as being essential to communicating ideas to others, gathering the support needed to accomplish goals and leadership to guide the process.

Do you think you could describe what characteristics are involved with emotional or interpersonal intelligence? Complete the activity and then think about how this ability fits with the more traditional view of intelligence as measured by the tests in the 12 Pillars article.


Measuring Interpersonal Intelligence.docx


TV, computers and video games are deeply entrenched in modern life but what effect does all this screen time have on how children develop?
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One thing is clear, screen time is sedentary behavior and too much can replace the physical activity necessary for children to grow healthy and maintain normal weight.
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Less clear are the cognitive and emotional effects on development. A recent NY Times article reports on recomendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to limit the screen time of children.


TV Limits for Children Urged by American Academy of Pediatrics - NYTimes.com.pdf

In class you will be investigating the influence of video games on aggressive behavior of children but there are several other concerns parents may have about their children's viewing habits.

For example, television often portrays males and females in gender-stereotyped ways. As you watch clips from Barney and Power Rangers in lab you may also want to think about what influence these portrayals likely have on the development of gender identity and gender role awareness in children?

Certain shows might influence gender identity but often commercials play up gender stereotypes even more.

A recent study estimates that children 4-11 years old spend on average 2-4 hours a day in front of a some type of electronic screen.

A question we might ask is "What are children missing out on while watching television?"

Can you imagine life without TV or video games? What would you have done during your childhood and adolescence with the time you spent watching television? Would you have turned out any different?


Robert Zajonc (rhymes with science) was one of the most innovative psychologists of the last 50 years and contributed much toward understanding emotions and how our thoughts shape our emotional lives. His experiments revealed the mere exposure effect which shows that repeated exposure to any new object increases our liking of that object. Check out this demonstration of the effect here.

He also proposed that people, often unconsciously, mimic the facial expressions of their spouses and that, over the years, couples who tend to share similar facial expressions will become increasingly similar in appearance.

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Based on the assortitative mating activity we did in class you might think that couples are initiatially drawn to each other who are similar in attractiveness and may even share certain facial features but this is not what Zajonc found in his experiments. Here is a NY Times article reporting on the original finding and the methods used to arrive at this conclusion.

Long-Married Couples Do Look Alike, Study Finds.docx

Now conjure an image of the person you are currently dating or interested in. Do you really want to look like that person 25 years from now?!

Another facial expression that signals emotion and often reveals the stirring of the heart for another, or perhaps just plain old embarrassment is the blush. blushing.jpeg

Recent studies have found that blushing can help reduce criticism from others and increase social bonds.

Hold Your Head Up. A Blush Just Shows You Care.docx

Your textbook also describes how knowing someone else is fond of you can increase attraction. This seems rather obvious and yet researchers have found that not knowing whether or not someone likes you at all can be an even more potent factor toward attraction.


Uncertainty Heightens Romantic Attraction.pdf

How many of you already act indifferently toward a potential boy/girl friend when you really are head over heels?

Memory and Reality

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memory1.jpegWe often use metaphors to describe human memory and a common comparison for memory is the computer hard drive. While we can think about the similarities in how information is encoded, stored and retrieved with computer and brain, the analogy can also be misleading. memory.png We expect the information we store on our hard drive to be just as we left it when retrieving it from storage, but our own memories are not exact copies of the original experience. In fact they often change and as old information interacts with new information, we actively reconstruct our memories each time we recall them.

Much of what happens in the court of law relies on witnesses recalling past events. In your activity today you will be discussing how this can go horribly wrong. We owe much of our understanding of the limits of eyewitness testimony to the work of Elizabeth Loftus. Here is an interesting Scientific American article summarizing her work.

Creating False Memories.pdf

And if you still are not convinced, check out this video showing how easy it is to misremember the details of a crime.

Some of you will have difficulty understanding exactly how Paul Ingram came to believe that he committed the crimes his daughter accused him of. Some recent brain imaging research provides a clue.
Researcher Show How False Memories Are Formed _ Northwestern University Newscenter.pdf

What role then does attention play in memory formation and what are some of the conditions necessary for false memories to occur?

Finally, as students, at one time or another you likely wondered how much easier school would be for someone with a photographic memory. You might change your mind after reading about a woman who can't forget anything.

The Woman Who Can't Forget.docx

I was definitely intrigued by Paul Tough's article "Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control?" The use of dramatic play with preschoolers as a way of promoting self-control seems to me to be a really solid idea. At one point the article mentioned experiments that were done to gauge what good could potentially come of role-playing for little kids, stating; "In one experiment, 4-year-old children were first asked to stand still for as long as they could. They typically did not make it past a minute. But when the kids played a make-believe game in which they were guards at a factory, they were able to stand at attention for more than four minutes. In another experiment, prekindergarten-age children were asked to memorize a list of unrelated words. Then they played "grocery store" and were asked to memorize a similar list of words -- this time, though, as a shopping list. In the play situation, on average, the children were able to remember twice as many words." I found this to be really interesting, and definitely telling about the possible benefits of programs like Tools of the Mind, where young kids are immersed in this kind of play every day at school.
Another part of the article that I found really interesting was when it pointed out some flaws in the traditional method of using behaviorism to teach kids self-control, when it states, "The message to kids was that terrible things would happen if they didn't control their impulses, and the role of adults, whether parents or preschool teachers, was to train children by praising them for their positive self-control ("Look at how well Cindy is sitting!") and criticizing them for their lapses... But Bodrova and Leong say that those "external reinforcement systems" create "other-directed regulation" -- good behavior done not from some internal sense of control but for the approval of others, to avoid punishment and win praise and treats. And that, they say, is a kind of regulation that is not particularly valuable or lasting. Children learn only how to be obedient, how to follow orders, not how to understand and regulate their own impulses." I completely agree with this point. I have always thought that type of teaching was flawed, because if you teach a kid that they shouldn't do this or that because they'll get in trouble if they do it, then if they figure out a way to do it without getting caught or are not afraid to face the consequences, there's nothing to stop them. As opposed to instilling a sense of responsibility for controlling their own actions just for themselves.
All-in-all, I thought the article was pretty brilliant, and hope that the methods described in it prove fruitful in the years to come.

How to Teach Our Children?

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The article Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control? discusses the idea and rationale behind constructive play and how increasing a child's executive thinking it more critical than academic learning in pre-k & kindergarten aged children. Research is being done to support the idea that a child's self-regulation skills, control over their emotions and cognitive impulses, can be a better predictor of academic achievement and success than IQ scores. These executive skills can be taught through structured play; an example from the article is students pretending to go to the grocery store and having to remember what's on their list. The studies are showing strong support, but it's difficult to determine if the correlation is in fact causation since it's difficult to single out one single approach.
As a mother of a 10 month old, it wasn't long ago that my husband and I were touring daycare centers for our son. Of course, we were looking for somewhere safe & clean but it was also important that we find somewhere that had an established curriculum, incorporated learning into the children's play time and would introduce some structure into the daily routine. school of fish.png
Much like the article we felt these characteristics would foster a nurturing environment for our son; for us it was about the environment that would entice, encourage and support his learning rather than specific exercises or lesson plans. Is this a new concept? I would argue no; I think it's going back to the basics. In my opinion, parents today put too many pressures & set unrealistic expectation on their children hoping to raise the next professional athlete or award winning scholar. We all have dreams for our children, but is teaching a child to read at 10 months or starting them in a training program before they can walk the strategy to success?

What is Consciousness?

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One of the most perplexing and fascinating questions that psychologists face is understanding the nature of consciousness.

Many students think of consciousness as being alert, aware, and able to process information on a "deep" level. In other words, to be aware that you are thinking. Others define it as the level of attention and focus (mindfulness) we exert in our waking lives.

Sometimes, in order to critically analyze a mysterious and complex phenomenon, it helps to define its opposite.

We might gain traction if we think about what it means to be unconscious or have our conscious minds altered in some way by hypnosis, meditation or drugs.

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Many believe that being asleep is equivalent to being unconscious. Today in class we are going to gather data and write about sleep habits. But consider these distinctions between being awake and asleep.

• The brain processes sensory information while you are sleeping.
o Important information, e.g., a baby's cries will serve to awaken someone, whereas moderately loud snoring, or the sound of a train in the distance will not.
o Noises are often incorporated into dreams.

• The brain processes internal bodily signals while you sleep.
o When a person is too warm/cold while sleeping, generally he or she will make compensatory adjustments to be more comfortable.
o A full bladder will awaken a sleeping person.
o Mental activity related to a person's experience is often incorporated into dreams.

For more about consciousness check out the following:

Sizing Up Consciousness by Its Bits.docx

A Dream Interpretation- Tuneups for the Brain .docx

Music, memory, and mistakes- Top neuroscientists explain how the mind copes in a chaotic world .pdf

iSad

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Must pay tribute to Steve Jobs today. I won't repeat all the accolades here. You will read and hear about his legacy from many others often in the next several weeks. To say his impact on everyday life was huge is an understatement. His vision created so many of the cool things you now take for granted and all accomplished a decade before retirement age.

So to honor Steve's vision of simplicity, elegance, fun and ease of use I want to describe your mission for writing assignment 2

Been reading your blogs and am pleased overall by the effort and thought you have been putting into them. Now I want to challenge you. Make your posts shorter.

For writing 2 you will not create a new blog but you will improve upon writing 1 and repost in the writing 2 category. The number 1 goal is to make the blog no more than 2 short paragraphs (4-5 sentences each). Any writing 2 blog longer will receive at best 3 points, perhaps less.

Also you will fix problems with first, (e.g. ugly html links in the body of the text, add a helpful visual or link to other media). You may want to revisit my guidelines for excellent blogging (and full points) at this earlier blog post.

Finally, you will work with a classmate to do this. Help each other edit and problem solve. Comment on each other's post. Come up with a catchier title that draws more people in. I am noting who comments on other people's blogs and whose get the most attention week to week.

Be sure to tag your partner by including their name in the tag box in dashboard.

I'll go over this more in class today.

After learning more about the Bogel families criminal history and reading the two articles discussing the nature vs. nurture topic, I believe that criminal behavior is a result of nurture and the way someone is raised. Although criminal behavior is a result of nurture though, I do believe that human beings are inherently good.

As stated by the second article, helping others is usually other-oriented which reaffirms my belief that human beings, are at the core, good. But although human beings are inherently good, nurture plays a crucial role as a child matures and can contribute to the development of criminal behavior. Children learn a great deal from their parents and can end up mimicking their behaviors. For example, if a child's parent lies and steals, then the child may learn to think that these behaviors are acceptable.

I have also read many studies which ask children who they look up to the most, and the great majority of children said their parents or other family members. This shows just how much children learn from their parents and how criminal behavior can be passed down throughout families, for example in the Bogels. In the case of the Bogels, it looks like crime just runs in the family...

Sensation And Perception

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Sensation is distinct from perception but most of us use these words interchangeably. After this week you should know the difference. Sensation begins with stimuli from our surroundings. This week you will be learning about the amazing mechanisms like rods and cones in the eye and hair cells in the ear that transform stimuli into neural impulse which the brain can interpret and create meaning.

Perception is what the brain does after your sensory organs have picked up and translated the stimulus.

Many students struggle with some of the underlying concepts that researchers have used to determine the range and limitations of our sensory organs.

Here are a few everyday examples of sensory experience that you can test or are familiar with that describe phenomena discussed in your book. See if you can name the concept and explain why it occurs.

Different portions of the body vary in their sensitivity to touch. Try this 2-point discrimination task with a friend.

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Bend your paperclip to make two points that are relatively parallel to each other

Have your partner shut his or her eyes, and ask them to guess if you are touching their hand with one or two points of the paperclip

Try this on various parts of the hand, arm or other parts of the body and with different distances between the two points

This next scenario represents a different S & P concept. Do you know what it is?


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Isabel has prepared three cups of coffee but can't recall how much sugar is in each. The cup with the smallest amount of sugar is easy to identify, but Isabel can't taste any difference between the other two cups even though she knows one has more sugar.


Finally, it may be a case of early onset of dementia but this happens to me more than I would like to admit.

I ask my daughter,"Hey Ruby, have you seen my sunglasses anywhere?"

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Try and identify three concepts from your book or lecture this week that describe what is going on in each case.

And for those who want to know a little more background concerning our in activity in discussion section this week, check out this short article

Would you spot the gorilla?.pdf


Just heard about an interesting study happening here on campus involving how International students adjust to college.

You can earn up to 5 REP points or a $35.00 Target gift card if you choose to participate.

You are eligible if:

*You identify as an international student whose first language is NOT English.
*You have just started your first semester at the University of Minnesota.

Click here for more information about the study

A number of years ago I was introduced to the skeptical movement. The movement describes a skeptic as one that uses critical thinking skills to evaluate truth claims made about observable phenomena. It may be a politician discussing the need for drilling in the arctic, a psychic describing their ESP, or a religious fundamentalist claiming that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. As a skeptical thinker, I am now armed with Carl Sagan's baloney detection kit (he was very polite). I was surprised, and happy to see that the first chapter of our book contained what the author calls the "six principles of scientific thinking." You can find five of the six in the baloney detection kit. Can you find the one principal not referred to in the kit?

The article posted by Ms. Briggs about the hoax correlation between web browser use and IQ prompted me to write because I think it is important to have more than just the six principles in your own kit. The ones I run into most often in the media, speaking with friends, or in my job are:

1) The straw man argument - creates a false and usually indefensible statement that the person creating the straw man has no problem tearing down, such as, "the death panels the President wants through his health care plan are reprehensible."

2) Argument from antiquity - every time I hear someone say, "well acupuncture has been around for thousands of years" I want to reply, "well so was trial by combat, maybe we should bring that back too."

3) Argument from ignorance - an example might be "well, evolution claims that we came from monkeys and that's just impossible." Just because you cannot understand how something works does not mean it does not. Can you find the other fallacy in that sentence?

4) False Dichotomy - it is either A or B. Maybe it could be C? or D? or A - B or whatever. Why is Gould's idea of non-overlapping realms of science and religion on page 10 of our book really a false dichotomy?

Print out the baloney detection kit, read it, think about it, and you will quickly find logical fallacies being spouted all around you with the speaker and listeners (except you) oblivious to the silliness of their proposition, or at least their basis for believing it. As humans, we are predisposed to believing correlation equals causation and the plural of anecdote is data, but predisposed is not is, be critical. What was the first logical fallacy you noticed in your day to day life after reading the baloney detection kit? Comment on this post and let me know.

Nature vs. Nurture

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This week in discussion section we will discuss the nature/nurture question as it relates to the story that you read about the Bogel family. Pretty crazy situation for the Bogels. Would make a nice reality TV series on FOX. We should all be grateful we were not born into that clan!

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Still, how do we know what drives such criminal behavior? Is it in our basic makeup, the code in our genes? How much is this behavior learned from our parents, siblings and friends?

Here are a couple of article that address both sides of the issue. Some food for thought before Thursday's class.

Altering a Mouse Gene Turns Up Aggression, Study Says.docx

The Pleasure of Giving.docx

Enjoy

More about your blog assignments

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Here is some criteria for what I am looking for in your blog posts.

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There are some general guidelines in the syllabus that you should refer to. The criteria below are more specific instructions that will help you create interesting and comment provoking blog posts.

Blogs are worth 6 points each. You will earn points based on the following. The first two are the most critical.

1. Explain a concept from Psy 1001 lectures or the Lilienfeld text that has interested you over the past two weeks. This should be your first paragraph. Essentially, summarize some new information you have learned in psychology that you think is cool. DO NOT directly copy out some definition from the text book! Summarize in your own words.

2. Provide a real-life example that illustrates the concept you described above. Most likely from your own experience but it could involve someone you know or some current event that is relevant. Show us how you can apply what you just learned in class to your own life. Why does it matter? Why should we care?i-think-therefore-i-blog.jpg

3. Creativity counts! Incorporate other media into your post by using a photo, video, or link to other articles.

4. Connecting. Good blogs should connect to other internet media. You should first look to comment on or refer to other blog posts in your class. Extra credit for blog posts that receive the most comments.

5. Clarity and mechanics. Blog posts should be short, to the point, focused on one topic. Paragraphs should be brief, you are pushing it if they go beyond 4 sentences. Refer to the syllabus for what we mean by what makes a clear and functional blog post.
Here are some additional tips:

The 4 Pillars of Writing Exceptional Blogs

20 Types of Blog Posts - Battling Bloggers Block

6. Finally, end your blog with some kind of question. Based on what you have learned and what you know from your own experience, what questions do you have? Perhaps your fellow students or instructor has some ideas or other places to look for answers.


Hopefully, this will provoke comments from others which might earn you extra credit!

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Week three news

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OK, scores have finally been posted on Webvista. Now that I have gotten through grading this first assignment, I believe I have a solid method for organizing this task and should have future grades up quicker.

To see my comments about your work simply pull up your document and on the upper right hand corner is a comments pull down menu. Select "show comments stream". You can respond to these comments if something doesn't make sense. I also highlighted sections in your doc that I wanted to draw your attention to.

You do not need to make these corrections on this assignment. They are simply suggestions for ways in which you can improve your writing in the future.

Congratulations to team CKJ for doing the best work of the week. They earn an extra point for their excellent effort. You are welcome to check out their work on Google docs to see what it takes to be the best.

Now on to biological psychology and the role of genetics.

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