Open Discussion: November 2011 Archives

Make up for 11/17 discussion

After reading Professor Wlaschin's blog entry on these different personality types, I decided to do more research and was especially interested with the difference in careers for both personalities. Introverts are more likely to succeed in majors like Computer Engineering, Accounting and Biochemistry. While extroverts tend to lean towards majors like Nursing, Pharmacy and Marketing. Introverts are generally not opposed to people, but they might prefer less contact and fewer conversations. Extroverts enjoy conversation and spending time helping others, but can sometimes be too blunt. These careers make sense based on the description of extrovert and introvert. Personally, I am an extrovert and I want to be a nurse so I find this study pretty relevant. But there are exceptions to every study, and the world definitely needs both personalities to balance each other out.

(Make-up for disc.11/17)
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Throughout lecture, it seemed evident throughout all the twin studies and adopted studies that genetics plays the primary role in determining personality. In one case, two twins were separated at birth, yet many years later both shared similar interests, had the same occupation, and had nearly identical scores on their personality tests. I think it is safe to assume that genetics plays an important role in our neurological development. Since our neurological structure contributes to our personality, identical twins would have the same neurological make up and thus similar personalities. In Professor Wlaschin's previous blog, he posted an article that discussed extraverts and their higher potential towards drinking. The article suggested that extroverts are more prone to drinking. Since drinking is typically a social activity, this would make sense. However I couldn't help but think about how alcohol affects personality in the act of drinking. I know people who are usually very introverted, however when intoxicated are extremely social. They will talk non-stop and greet/hug random strangers in the street. Since alcohol affects neurotransmitters in the brain, I wonder if it also affects people's personalities.

This Stuff Actually Exists??

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(make up for missing discussion on 11/17)

Everyone has seen a movie where a psychologist is holding a mysterious picture and then asks their client, who is lying on a sofa, what they see in the picture. I never would have guessed that these mysterious pictures are actually a type of projective test that psychologists sometimes use! This projective test is known as the Rorschach Inkblot test, in which examiners ask respondents to look at inkblots and say what it resembles. Examiners then score their answers for numerous characteristics that are supposedly associated with personality traits.

Although the Rorschach has been used quite often for the past decades, it is scientifically controversial. Little evidence has been found that the Rorschach validly detects the features of mental disorders or predicts criminal traits or behaviors. It is rare when two examiners give a respondent the same scores for their response to the inkblots, showing that the Rorschach may not be valid. However, the Rorschach has been successful in predicting schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and a few other conditions marked by abnormal thinking. The Rorschach has its positives and negatives, but it is hard to tell whether it truly is a reliable source.

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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. 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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Pump it! (not so loud)

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(Makeup for missed discussion on Sep. 29)

In the previous blog, avira001 discussed the different parts of the ear, more specifcally the pinna. With out a doubt, every part of our auditory system plays an important role in recieving, conducting, and ultamitly transmitting signals to our brain. The combination of the differnt structures such as the pinna in the outer ear, the eardrum in the middle ear, all the way to the inner hair folicles with in the Cochlea combine to give us an extensive auditory function.

ear-canal-diagram.jpg

Our auditory function is incredible. Humans can pick up on the slightest sounds such as the sound of a paper clip hitting the floor. In our primitive age, this was probably advantageous as it helped us react faster to potential predadors creeping up to attack us. However, today, our extensive hearing can sometimes be a nuisance, (especially when you are in the library trying to write a blog and someone is rustling their papers) as we are able to hear many distractions. Ear plugs do a good job blocking most sound waves, yet our auditory system is still capable of picking up the slightest of sounds.


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At the University of Minnesota we are Driven to Discover. Imagine if we invented a device that could some how turn down the internal volume in our heads. Instead of amplifying sounds, like hearing aids do, we could decrease the amount of volume. This way we could sleep peacefully, while our roommates are blasting their music. What do you think?


Makeup Blog - 11/17/2011 Discussion Section- Intelligence

What do Motzart, MJ, Bill Gates and Van Gogh all have in common?

From a young age we've all been taught that everyone has their own individual talents. That from these talents stem our passions for life that guide us to what we should do, make, study, etc. Everyone may have special talents... but can anyone have all of these talents at once?

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The idea of multiple intelligence displays the concept that people vary in their ability levels across areas of intellectual skill. In other words, there are different ways of being smart. Motzart is no Michael Jordan, and Bill Gates is no Vincent Van Gogh but each of these individuals are smart in their own ways, and in their own domains of intelligence.

So what do Motzart, MJ, Bill Gates and Van Gogh all have in common? They are all smart in their own ways!

(Makeup for missed discussion on Sept 29, sorry for the super delay!)


Our senses help us to have knowledge about the world and one of those senses is hearing. As we all know, sound waves are the determents for the sense of hearing. When the sound is examined, three distinct features come into prominence, which are loudness, timbre and pitch. All these features depend on frequency, and complexity.

To describe the form of the ear, the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear must be presented. The pinna, the eardrum, ossicles, oval window, cochlea, and cilia are associated to the form of the ear since they are the essentials.

I think that pinna is the one that seems less important but in essence, its role is massive. Without pinna, we wouldn't be able to hear since it is what catches the sound waves and help other materials of ear to sense the sound.

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How Reliable is the IQ Test?

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(Makeup for missed discussion on November 10th)

People are always interested in their level of intelligences and IQ tests are one of the most common ways to measure it. In my opinion, IQ tests are not very reliable in that everyone can score differently in different times if they prepare themselves for the questions. Also, it is about the frequency of using the brain. I mean if you read book, play sudoku, etc very often, then you are more likely to score higher on the IQ test than other people can.

Moreover, this issue has a close relationship with socio-economical status: If one is grew up in a financially poor area, then he/she is more likely to score lower then a person who is well educated. However, the thing is if you take that less-educated person and train him, then he can score better each time he tries harder.

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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

Born Without Emotions?

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(Makeup for missed discussion on October 27th)

After recently watching through the first three seasons of the hit Showtime series Dexter, I began to think about how his emotions can be viewed in psychology.

Dexter Morgan, the main character in the show, works in forensics for the Miami Metro Police Department and specializes in blood analysis. He is extremely proficient at his job, but he holds a very dark secret; he is a serial killer. Ever since he was a little boy, Dexter had urges to kill. His Dad began to notice this and he decided to train Dexter to kill only other killers that are dangerous and could do the deed again. After his dad dies, no one else knows of Dexter's secret as he is very good at what he does. As the show progresses it is clear that Dexter has little emotional attachment to any thing in his life. How can this be? Why would someone not experience the emotions that any normal human would?

After doing some research, it is clear that Dexter is a psychopath. Psychopathy is a mental disorder characterized primarily by a lack of empathy and remorse, shallow emotions, egocentricity, and deceptiveness. Psychopaths are also known to have a low tolerance for boredom and a need for excitement. These are both characteristics that Dexter displays throughout the show.

How does someone become a psychopath? There are a number of reasons. Genetics and traumatic childhood experiences are both causes could have influenced Dexter. He witnessed his mother's murder as a toddler which could have led to his disorder. He also discovered that he has a serial killer brother. This shows how genetics can play a role.

Dexter is an incredible show that should definitely be checked out by anyone who is interested in Psychology, or just wants an entertaining series to start watching!dexter-pfwa.jpeg

em + pathos

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(Make-up for discussion group on Thursday, November 3rd)

To answer a central question of "Similarity, Attraction and the Art of Blushing," no, I do not really want to look like the object of my affection 25 years from now!

What an odd phenomenon, this facial similarity in longstanding couples. What purpose does it serve? A key phrase in the article was, "silent empathy." In elaboration on his speculative view involving gradual face-shaping via repetition of mimicry, Dr. Zajonc says, ''Facial mimicry allows a truer empathy because it triggers the same inner state. Couples can understand each other much better when this happens.'' It would be interesting to somehow look at oxytocin, the hormone most popular for bonding, in relation to the process.

I think a science fiction novel could utilize this idea in imaginings of how alien races formed. First bonding, then mimicry, then assimilation... and the production of a hormone resembling oxytocin?

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But what about other hormones? I'd like to see a study on which partner changes more toward the other towards similarity. Does person A become more like person B, or vise versa? Why would this be? Sex differences seem like a good place to start; it has been suggested that testosterone reduces empathy.

If this is the case and if Zajonc's view is correct, in a heterosexual couple, would the woman's appearance change more dramatically? The changes may be too subtle to measure. I can't help but think of the famous "urge to merge," the popularized and stereotypical tendency of partners in a lesbian relationship to become quickly and drastically similar one another.

Make up for the November 3rd discussion

As a kid, I was utterly entranced by television and movies. Every saturday morning I would wake up extra early to watch my favorite cartoons and every saturday night (movie night!) my parents would pop in one of my favorite Disney princess movies. These habits also carried over into my pre-teen years. Little did I know that I was receiving hundreds of thousands of negative messages about body image that only heightened when I became a young woman.

Television and the media can have surprisingly strong effects on girls and their body image. From the shapely midsection of Jasmine, a popular animated princess, to the gorgeous eyes and flowing hair of Heidi Klum, messages of what a woman should look like bombard girls through their youth. These unattainable images in commercials and shows can cause them to develop low self-esteem and even anorexia and bulimia.
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While I didn't develop a serious disorder, my self-esteem dropped drastically in my tween years after watching unattainable images of beauty for so long. It took me 2 years to look myself in the mirror and say "I'm beautiful." If I had not watched so much TV as a child, I would love myself more and be more confident. Remember that you are beautiful no matter what the media says!
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Luckily, some companies are trying to change this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei6JvK0W60I

(Make up for discussion Nov.3 )
This week we talked about video games and the effects, long and short term, that they have on aggression. When I think of violent video games the first thing I think of is watching my older brother play Grand Theft Auto. At first I was quite shocked by the violence and crude nature of the video game (however cartoon-ish it may be), and then as I watched my brother play it more and more I became habituated and desensitized to the violence and explicit content. I even began laughing at parts that I had earlier stared at in disbelief.
After my brother went to college I didn't see any form of GTA for a long time and then upon returning for the summer I can remember seeing him playing it again for the first time in a long time. I was again disturbed by the violent aspects of the game and even more so because I could remember feeling so desensitized towards them.
Unfortunately, it isn't just a desensitization that has been occurring with violent video games, in fact it goes a step further to where we have seen increased aggression in (violent) gamers.
A great, but tragic, example is the Sony v. Strickland case where a 17 year old killed three cops and then claimed a defense saying that Grand Theft Auto had trained him to act this way. The link to the 60 Minutes special is below:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=678389n


Zombie Ants!

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Make-up for discussion on Oct. 27

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/05/110511-zombies-ants-fungus-infection-spores-bite-noon-animals-science/

The above article is about ants whose behaviors are changed by mushrooms.
That's right.
These fungi will take over an ant's central nervous system, and control its behaviors to the mushroom's advantage. The fungus infects the ant's body, and forces it to travel to a suitable environment. Once it has arrived, absorbs the ant for nutrients.
What truly fascinates me about this is the mushroom's ability to control innate behaviors. A mushroom isn't self-aware, so how can it know how to manipulate other organisms in such a way? I wonder if it would be possible to change human behavior in a similar manner. Perhaps not to such an extreme, but enough to sift out unwanted behaviors, and introduce better ones. It would save us the trouble and time-consumption of conditioning, and if it were kept under control, it would not be dangerous. Would it pose ethical problems? Any thoughts?

Picture of infected ant:
CAntFungus.jpg

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?

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Open Discussion category from November 2011.

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