January 2012 Archives

Nature vs. Nurture

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This week we will discuss the nature/nurture question as it relates to the story 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 articles that address both sides of the issue. Some food for thought before Wednesday's class.

Altering a Mouse Gene Turns Up Aggression, Study Says -- www.nytimes.com -- Readability.pdf

The Pleasure of Giving.pdf

Enjoy


How Do Brains Work?

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Scientists have filled libraries trying to answer this question so check out this video where Steven Colbert challenges Steven Pinker to explain how the brain works in 5 words or less.

A very key part of your brain that influences a great deal of your behavior is the amygdala.

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Notice how it is directly connected to the hippocampus who's main function deals with memory. In addition researchers have mapped some of the connections the amygdala has with other parts of the brain. Amygdala connections.jpg

From this image you can clearly see that the amygdala is well positioned to widely influence brain function. Much like the hub of a bicycle wheel.

Its often difficult for students to get a handle on the various structures of the brain. Getting a little more information and applying it to your own experience can often bring complex concepts to life.

Check out these two articles for information about the function of the amygdala. Think about how this new knowledge might relate to when you experienced fear. In what way are the signals coming from your amygdala important for your survival?

Humans, Like Animals, Behave Fearlessly Without the Amygdala -- www.nytimes.com -- Readability.pdf

Human Brain Responds To Animals, Cute Or Creepy -- www.npr.org -- Readability.pdf

In a segment of chapter 14th. It is talk about the how birth order play in our personalities. Two researches were given allusion in the segment. The first one is form the book: The New Birth Order (Leman, 1998) where the following conclusions are found:

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Firstborns tend toward achievement

Middle-borns toward diplomacy

Later-borns toward risk taking

The second research conducted by Frank Sulloway, analyzed famous scientist in history and by compering their birth other and the radically of the ideas found the following results:

Firstborns usually supported the status quo.

Later-borns were 3.1 times more likely than firstborns to
favor revolutionary ideas; for extremely radical ideas,
this ratio increased to 4.7.

If you want to see more research results watch the following Fox news' video or read the following Time's Article.

You should also acknowledge that, both of these researches are being question in regard the validity of the results. This so general result create the possibility of doing so general assumptions as the one of the following five question test (Check it out!) that presumes finding your birth order.

From my experience, I'm the last-born and I'm a bigger risk taker and radical idea promoter than my two older siblings. I think that these similarities can be found, because parents treat each kid different. Which explanation is that the parents are different since their experience, age, energy, etc has change.

Do these theories apply to YOU?

psychological disorders

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chapter 15 talks about psychological disorders and examples of these disorders are, Ida, 43 years old, was strolling around a shopping mall by herself. out of nowhere she experienced a burst of incredibly intense anxiety of fear that she was having heart attack and she took a tax to the nearest emergency room. the doctor found nothing wrong with her heart. its an example of (Agoraphobia).
another example (bipolar disorder)is that Bill, 45 years old, hasn't shaved or showered in over 10 years. he doesn't want to shave or shower because he's terrified that tiny "metal silver" from the water will find their way into his skins. in this two case of mental disorders are things that we put in our mind and think they will happen. also, psychiatrist most of the time labels these things and makes us to have more mental problems. one of the funniest disorder in this chapter is that some part of Malaysia and several other Asian countries, have witnessed periodic outbreaks of a strange condition known as Karo. This people typically believed that their penis and testicles are disappearing and receding into their abdomen and Koro is spread largely by social contagion and people starting worrying, until the government officials have to prove to people that these conceptions were not true by measuring penises with rulers.

overview of chapter 11

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Chapter 11 is about emotion and motivation. Six of the seven primary emotions' picture caught my attention most of all. Ekman and his colleagues researched small number of the emotions appear to be cross culturally universal, which called primary emotions. There are seven primary emotions; happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, disgust, fear, and contempt. And in the Lienfield book, there are six pictures that I can easily guess what emotion that picture describes. Even though, the people from the different cultures, it seems that our body built in the way to smile, when it comes to the happiness. No one frown when they are happy. By read this chapter, I want to know what defines and causes our primary emotions. So in the future, maybe people can be always happy in their life.

Overview of Chapter 10

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Human Development Through Life Span

Basically, chapter 10 covers development psychology, the study of how a person's behavior changes over his/her life span. The changes are not only including physical changes but also psychological changes. Interestingly, in the chapter 10, it is mentioned that early life experiences usually powerfully affect to human development, especially mentally and psychologically. In addition, I found an interesting video on YouTube. This video briefly talks about early input from the outside world causes a significant impact on brain development. Here is the video.

Human Development Through Life Span

From my personal experience, I have seen various level of English speaking skill depending on when students come to America for study abroad. Some of my friends who started learning English from a middle school have much better English speaking skill compared to people who started it from a college, even though both group spent similar amount time to learn English. This fact shows how early input significantly impacts on brain development in terms of people's learning process.

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I am very curious about how early experiences affect brain development and it is very interesting question to share with everyone. I was doing a brief research on this topic and I found one interesting article about how brain development in an early age differs from in an adult.


The Influence of Early Experience

Lets Get Physical!.....

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Chapter 10 goes into depth about the development of the human body and brain. Much of us have heard this song or atleast vaguely remember it from the elementary days of learning about the human body! Developmental psychology is the study of how behavior changes during a lifetime. There are challenges that come with life and some of the direct causes are physical, cognitive, emotional and social. With everything a human goes through in life we must be sure not to assume anything. Effects must be carefully placed and correlated to the causes because many different factors could have played a role in human development. A hypothesis is created and each hypothesis should have alternatives because of the many different variables in life that could be the causational factor.

Every cell in the human body contains every single one of our genes. While that may seem like a lot, only a certain few genes are active in each cell at once. The human brain is recepting so much information as we grow up and the body doesn't reach full maturity until adolscence. Whether we are in the stage of an infant, toddler, child, adolescent, teenager or adult each stage is associated with its' own growth periods and changes. Everything around us frames who we will be when we are older. The experiences we have and the situations we go through further develops our brains and makes us who we are.

Chapter 12 covers the body's response to disruptive stimuli, more familiarly known to us normal humans as stress, and the various effects and causes that go along with it. The first thing you need to know about stress is that it can have some very harmful effects on your health. There was a study done where the mere suggestion of poison ivy caused enough stress in participants to cause a serious skin reaction, for instance. Cardiac problems, lack of success at work, and even the pre-maturity of babies has been shown to be effected by a high maintained level of stress.

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So what actually causes stress? Well, it can be just about anything when you get right down to brass tacks. Obviously in terms of stressful events combat or sexual assault are some of the most powerful one-time causes for stress. However, scientists found that most people are actually quite resilient to one-time events, becoming temporarily grief-stricken but then returning eventually returning to normal function. After 9/11, for instance, only 25% of the people who escaped from the tower that day developed "probable PTSD" and over half were completely "resilient" which is to say they had no symptoms to indicate the development of a stress disorder. Hostility, however, generally has a very large effect on patients' health. When researchers taught patients with coronary heart disease techniques to reduce their hostility levels, deaths from heart-attacks decreased by 37% in one study.

Of course, that statistic is a little misleading. 37% of normally hostile people don't necessarily die of stress-related heart-attacks, rather the percentage of people who died of heart-attacks decreased by 37% after being taught hostility-reduction techniques. We do know, however, that general hostility and the anxious, driven behaviors associated with it can have numerous negative effects on a person and manifest themselves in everything from immune suppression to susceptibility to emotional problems. The people who ran out of the World Trade Center that day had one very bad day and, for the most part, were otherwise fine. People with general hostility live with that every day of their lives. So I leave it up to you, would you rather be in the World Trade Center during the attacks on 9/11 and escape (assuming you don't know they're coming, that would be informational control, which is a type of coping) or live be a type-A hostile person?

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How outgoing are you? How anxious are you? How would your friends describe you? In personality tests, we are asked these questions and more. Self-report measures are very popular, especially when it comes to personality. After all - don't we know ourselves best? Though any one person probably knows more about his inner world than the passive observer, research in Chapter 2 suggests that personality self-reporting, though generally accurate, can have its disadvantages.

The first problem is distortion, or having a tendency to unintentionally portray yourself in a certain light. For people with pervasive thought distortions - such as those with a personality disorder (Lilienfield et al, 55) - unintentional blurring of reality is a particular concern. This seems pretty valid to me, since it is something I have definitely experienced myself, and also when talking to friends who are down and might even be somewhat depressed. I find that it is so much easier to focus on the negative things, especially the negative things about myself, when I am in a pessimistic frame of mind.

Likewise, if you've got narcissistic personality disorder and think highly of yourself, you will naturally be inclined to portray yourself in a very rosy light. Adolf Hitler, thought by many to have narcissistic tendencies, is a good example of this: almost all of his writings and speeches portray him, and indeed the German people as a whole, as exalted and almost superhuman figures. (Hitler has, of course, been subject to many posthumous psychlogical assessments, one of which can be seen here.)

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Another problem the book identified was using response sets (Lilienfield et al, 56). The last time you applied for a job, what kind of answers did you give to application and interview questions? Did you draw attention to your positive characteristics, and maybe even exaggerate them, for the sake of impressing the interviewers? If so, you've used a response set. As social creatures, we are very concerned with how we appear to others, and as we all have experienced, this can affect our ability to be objective when we self-evaluate.

I have certainly highlighted my positive attributes when job interviewing, sometimes without consciously intending to. I'm graduating soon and will not be surprised if I have this same tendency in my post-grad job interviewing, especially since the interviews will be pretty high-stakes at that point. Highlighting one's positive attributes seems pretty benign to me in circumstances like this, although it can be an issue, particularly when it transitions into outright lying. This is a fact which we are all reminded of as election season begins.

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What are some other potential downfalls of self-reporting? Do the benefits seem to outweigh the consequences? How about when self-reporting is used in a clinical setting?

Chapter 5 was entitled "Consciousness" and dealt with the biology of sleep, dreams, hallucinations, out-of-body and near-death experiences, déjà vu, etc. It also discussed different types of drugs and their effects on the mind. It basically dealt with all things with the brain when it is not in its normal, alert state. I found it very interesting. In particular, I found the section on déjà vu interesting.

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Déjà vu is the strange sensation one feels when they believe they have already experienced something. One possible theory on why this happens states that someone may be experiencing something that is very similar to a previous experience. The mind subconsciously remembers a previous experience, but a person cannot put their finger on actually experiencing it. So, they feel like they have already experienced something, but they cannot remember doing so. What are some recent experiences of déjà vu you can recall?

Gay-Switch Engage

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Ex gay.jpgChapter eleven introduces the ideas of emotion and motivations. It describes how individuals communicated these emotions to one another (verbally, or non-verbally), and what intrinsic or outside motivations lead to these emotions such as happiness, anger, and frightEx gay.jpg. I found it particularly interesting when the book discussed the different sexual orientations and its ability to be altered. The fact that at one point society actually had therapies for people to attempt to switch orientations is surprising to me; I don't believe it is something to be chosen, but rather written in our genetic code. It being classified as a mental disorder at one point in time is rather embarrassing as a citizen of this country, in-fact. However, I am glad that the misconceptions - for the most part - have been resolved, and the APA has claimed homosexuality a normal variation of human sexuality.

I've always been curious about what makes people attracted to each other & in chapter 11 of our Lillenfield text sheds some light as to why. An example of this that I found interesting is the bridge experiment. A group of college students set out to determine what brings people together, they first placed an attractive female colleague on a safe sturdy bridge where she walked across and talk to guys who were crossing or standing on it. Then she went to another bridge where she did the exact same thing, walk and talk to men, except this time she was suspended really high up on a rope bridge, that swung around when you walked on it, in comparison to the first bridge it was relatively a dangerous situation.

The results from each experiment surprised me. On the sturdy bridge, where there seems to be no distractions, or no threat of danger, she only was able to get the attention of a few guys & a few numbers. However, on the rope bridge, she was not only able to get a lot of guys numbers, she also received more attention from the guys she was talking to. They student then concluded from the experiment that adrenalin, the sense of danger & uncertainty plays into the initial attraction of individuals.


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This experiment makes me think retrospectively of the previous dates that I've been on. There wasn't one guy who took me out to do some thing slightly dangerous or exciting, I've just have had the opportunity to enjoy a dinner & movie. Had any of these guys that I went out with known that adrenalin, the sense of danger & uncertainty plays into the initial attraction of individuals. I think that the dates would have ended up being much more successful.

"I'm cheerful, outgoing, funny, and nice."


When people are asked to describe their personality, they usually pick simple adjectives to try to come up with a suitable explanation for a concept that defines our whole being. With a concept so broad, it's not surprising that personality has been a difficult area for psychologists to study.

One approach to examining personality is through behavior-genetic studies. A behavior-genetic approach to personality looks at three main influences:


  1. Genetic factors
  2. Shared environmental factors
  3. Nonshared environmental factors

Shared environmental factors are experiences in families that make people more alike. For example, making all siblings more outgoing by encouraging interaction with others. Nonshared environmental factors make individuals less alike, such as one sibling receiving more freedom than another.


In studies involving identical twins that were separated at birth, different pairs of twins were revisited as adults and found to share similar personalities as their twin. The results of these studies show that some personality traits, such as impulsiveness and anxiety, are influenced by genetics.


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So, what is it that makes us who we are? Although some explanations have been determined, we are still currently unable to provide clear, precise reasons to explain why we develop specific personalities. Is it possible that we will one day be able to categorize and determine the causes of all aspects of a person's personality?

What is Memory?

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In Chapter 7, the main topic of discussion is "memory". Throughout history, there have been many different ideas of how memory exactly works. Memory has been said to work like such things as a wax tablet, a cage full of birds, a leaky bucket, a cow's stomach, and many other oddities.
Another way to think of memory is as a 3-stage model that consists of sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Sensory memory functions are to sustain sensations for identification; it has a large capacity but a very short duration. Short-term memory functions are to do conscious work/think; it has a capacity of 7 +/- 2 "chunks", and the duration is just a little bit longer than that of sensory memory. Long-term memory's function is to tie together the past with the present; it has an enormous capacity and an essentially permanent duration.
Within long-term memory, there are many subcategories. Among these include explicit memory, implicit memory, episodic memory, semantic memory, and procedural memory. Each has a different function, and all have a long duration.


Taste the Lesson

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What Puking up Skittles teaches us about Psychology

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You've probably heard of the saying:

"Fool me once, Shame on you; Fool me twice, Shame on me."

Have you ever thought 'why should I be shame for being fooled twice?' You probably haven't because even a kid knows that he or she shouldn't eat their whole bag of Halloween candy at once if they threw up after doing so the previous year. Chapter 6 deals with how humans and animals change their behavior or thought as a result of learning.
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Sweat Revenge


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The form of learning called Classical Conditioning caught my attention. Here is a story (that I made up) to explain this:

Bob is mad at his brother Tim and wanted to play a prank on him. Bob knows that Tim loves to eat raw Jalapenos every day even though it always makes him sweat like a pig. Bob realizes that he can condition Tim to sweat on cue by using Classical Conditioning.

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To do this, every time Tim eats raw Jalapenos, Bob plays the same song for Tim to hear.
5 months later, Tim's girlfriend came over and Bob, patiently waiting his revenge, plays that song. Sweat starts rolling off of Tim instantly, leaving Bob satisfied and Tim's girlfriend the opposite.

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So what happened here?

Tim's body naturally responds to the stimulus of Jalapenos by sweating. After Classical Conditioning, Tim's body associates the song to this experience and thus the song becomes a stimulus itself (like the Jalapenos) and Tim's response is to sweat.


This left me wondering,
Is there some way we can use Classical Conditioning that would be beneficial or useful?

Chapter Eight focuses on language, a subject that is of great personal interest to me. It begins by highlighting the four levels of analysis of language- phonemes, morphemes, syntax (which tell you anyone important is will), and finally extralinguistic information. It then describes the stages in which a growing child develops language skill and ability. Different theories of this acquisition are brought up and argued, as is the complexity and similarity of sign language to spoken language. Language is known on some levels to have a relationship with our thoughts, and this is also covered in the chapter.

Because I am attempting to learn another language at this time, the concept of bilingualism was the highest point of interest for me in this chapter. To be bilingual is to have both proficiency and fluency in both speaking and comprehending two distinct languages. While learning in a class situation or studying abroad can have great benefits, learning a language as a child comes much more readily than either of the two.
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If a child is exposed to two languages at once, and neither can be considered dominant, than there is possibility for delay in their learning compared to children learning one language. Vocabulary is not the problem, but rather the syntax, or order of words. However, the process of learning dual languages gives these individuals a higher awareness of the use and structure of language, giving them an edge on general language tasks.


What do we mean when we compare bike-riding to another learned task or activity? As discussed in Chapter 7, it means that we rely on a part of our Procedural Memory, a sub-type of our Implicit Long-Term Memory. "Procedural memory is memory for how to do things, even things we do automatically without thinking about how to do them."
So when else does this Procedural memory kick-in, other than riding a bike? When you're tying your shoe, opening a soda can, or what about when you send a text message? Open a new text message and type "Hey, what's up?" or some other tiresome phrase you use every day, it's simple, right? Now try typing the same thing using a friend's phone that's a totally different model.

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You could even try putting your phone away and remembering where those keys you hit are located --but without moving your fingers. It's pretty difficult, in fact, the only way I can remember their locations is to use my fingers to type the imaginary letters in midair. So, although your procedural memory for location letters on your phone's keypad may be so effortless you could (and probably have) done it in your sleep, your semantic memory for locating them is a whole different story.

I tried coming up with other things I can (and do) do without thinking, I've found when I open my laptop, the windows I immediately open, the websites I immediately check, or how about when you log into a site or server? What else do you use your procedural memory for, "absentmindedly"?

Headlines, like the one above, bombard us everyday. It is up to us what we choose to believe. After reading about how over-exaggerated and/or under-exaggerated newspaper an magazine articles are, it has become more difficult to sift fact from fiction. Even worse, magazines, newspapers, and websites usually aren't even the primary sources for the information. This makes me wonder how many times I've stated a statistic that was actually incorrect.

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It's not our fault though. Our society makes it appear like every story out there is true, when in reality, if it's not written by a scholar and peer reviewed, there's a good chance it's not. What would we prefer though, to read a tabloid with the facts or to read one with a good story? Just look at The Onion. It's an entire newspaper dedicated to bogus stories. I have to admit that I do like a good story, but if I need facts, what can I rely on?

To Do Or Not To Do?

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When was the last time you put off something? Was it this Blog assignment? Well if it was then your not the only one. Chapter 6 talks briefly about procrastination, and how it can be

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The method proposed by David Premack in 1965 states that if an individual thinks about activities they do more often such as; playing a sport, going out, or eating a dessert and perform them only after they have done your homework or assignments.
This is an example of Operant Conditioning which states that

learning is controlled by the consequence after an organism's behavior.

The word organism is used because researchers have used many different organisms to test operant conditioning. The action that follows can be positive or negative to enforce or prohibit the behavior that proceeded the consequence.

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As children we are often rewarded for our successes or disciplined for our bad behavior. Especially in school operant conditioning is apparent, such as when students achieve high markings on a test or do well in a sport. They are rewarded with a trophy or a document stating that they did well. In the other end, when students behave in an inappropriate way they are sent to the principal's office or are sent to detention to show that they aren't allowed to act in that way.

My question is then, why are there students that are continuously sent to detention or the principal's office if the action is meant as a way of discipline? Have you been to detention numerous time even though after each time your parents lectured you about your behavior?

Somebody HELP!

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From the briefest of looks, chapter 13 looks awfully dry compared to topics such as emotion or psychological disorders. It's solely about social psychology; the study of how people influence others' behavior, beliefs, and attitudes. When further explored, it talks about the need to fit in, brainwashing, obedience, altruism, aggression and much more dealing with attitudes and personality. Which, after thinking about it, makes sense. These are all factors that pressure us to become who we are.

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For example, if you were walking down the street and a man attacked you at gun point, you'd want many people around able to come to your aide, correct? Not always. In many situations there can actually be danger in numbers, not safety. Just as in the case of Kitty Genovese. She had roughly 30 "bystanders" that heard her cries while a man repeatedly stabbed her, however not even half called the police to come to her aide. My question to you is, would you actually do something? Would you actually risk your own safety to come to the aid of a random stranger? Honestly, I am not quite sure I'd jump in to try and stop an attacker. I'm five three and not as strong as I'd like to pretend to be, I'd probably just end up being another victim. Yet, I know I'd call the cops or seek help to stop the aggressor, no doubt about that. How far would you go to help?

In chapter six the concept of learning is at hand. All of us, since birth, have been learning how to do a wide variety of things from how to walk to how to ride a bicycle. Learning is just that in which it entails a change in an organism's behavior or thought as a result of experience. As a child one of us may have touched a hot stove unknowingly so therefore afterwards we would not touch it if that situation was brought up again. Habituation, which is one of the simplest forms of learning, is the process of how we respond to stimuli over and over and over. Gradually, it comes out not as strong. Without learning our life would be worthless!
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Pavlov was a genius scientist who happened to be interested in dogs. In his experiments he measured the amount of saliva that came from dogs when meat powder was placed in front of them. Over time, the dogs began drooling not only to the powder but to the scientists walking up to them and even the sound of their footsteps. This is called classical conditioning which is a form of learning in which animals come to a previously neutral stimulus that had been paired with another stimulus that brings out an automatic response.
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Think about it. Have you ever heard the sound of a juicy steak being cooked on the grill and your mouth begins to water or even thinking about something delicious? Also, if as humans, we learned at slower rate do you think we would survive as well?

What are you bad at?

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Last week in an interesting conversation, an upper manager of my division at work, I was asked, "What are you bad at?" Taken out of context, this question seems rather strange. To be honest, I can't remember the catalyst but just that after much digression we landed at this point. I almost instantaneously answered, "Physically, I am very poorly coordinated," as though that is relevant to my job at a bank. After a chuckle from my superior, I followed up with, "I'm not great at talking about my emotions." This statement seemed to intrigue him and he asked, "On personality inventories, do you score highly on empathy?" Again, I rambled about how I compartmentalize my life and while I have no sympathy for criers at work, I can just as easily lose it watching a movie in the comfort of my own pajamas. He went on to mention that a signal of successful leaders is a low index of empathy. This seemed counterintuitive, but he claimed that many leaders who score high on empathy are those caught in ethical dilemmas.


As I read Chapter 2 of our psychology textbook, I felt as though it was warning me of faults of the human psyche, like heuristics. The idea that leadership consists of empathy, as a means to relate to the human emotions of others seems fitting; however, it is this same ability to connect that allows said individuals to justify questionable actions. Keeping in mind heuristics and biases outlined in Chapter 2, is the trait of empathy is important to leadership?

Exceptional Intelligence

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Most of the population falls in the medium tear when we talk about intelligence with an average IQ of 100. However some of the population that scores 135 or higher on any IQ test is considered a genius or one with exceptional intelligence. Why are these people at such an advantage compared to everyone else when it comes to intelligence? Is it that they are born this way, or do they simply read and comprehend material at a pace many could never keep up with?

The smartest American is Christopher Langan with an estimated IQ of between 195 and 210, but what is the recipe for creating the next super genius like Langan? Well, the answer is we don't know, but the answer lies in our genes. With genetics on the rise who knows, maybe we will discover the factors that contribute to being an exceptionally intelligent individual. However being a genius may not be all genetics. Individuals with these talents have to learn the material at some point and therefore need to work at it. In the words of the famous Thomas Edison "genius is one percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration." Ch.9

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Chapter 1 focuses mostly on how psychology and scientific studies go together as one. The great theoretical frameworks of psychology is something that caught my attention. After reading about all five of these theoretical perspectives and finding out that there really is no right answer I came to my own conclusion. Cognitivsm makes the most sense when looking at the other four. Cognitive psychology talks about how thinking affects our behavior in big ways. To me whenever you do anything you think about it first. Should I go out with my friends tonight and skip my homework? I'm tired do I really need to go to class?

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These are things we think about not really vocalize and which answer you pick whether it is right or wrong affects your behavior. It could start a trend of not going to class or just always skipping your homework for your friends. In the book it also describes how this approaching is striving today and that it has spread to different areas of research. Problem solving, memory and language are just a few of the new areas of research. The other thing I thought was interesting is thinking about how we all have a different sense of reward and punishment in the same situation. For example two students take a test and both get a B+. One student might be so excited because they don't normally do well on test but the other who always gets A's is going to be disappointed. This is due to them thinking in different ways what this grade means to them. This was a great example I got from the book.


Social Psychology

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Chapter 13 is devoted entirely to the concept of Social Psychology, which is defined as the study of how people influence other's behavior, beliefs, and attitudes-for both good and bad. Reading about this subject matter in Psychology grabbed my attention from the very beginning, because we are influenced by other people every day and this subject is relatable to many.mass_hysteria.jpg

The chapter begins with an example of how a few people can drastically effect a large group of people. In 1938, six million Americans listened to a radio show hosted by Orson Welles. The program that night was an adaption of "War of the Worlds." in which Welles decided to trick his listeners by making the show a phony news broadcast. In the broadcast, he had multiple reporters inform the station that Martians were planning an attack on New York City. tens of thousands of listeners believed the broadcast to be real, even though Welles informed listeners that this was a joke.

People fell prey to their own confirmation Bias, and panicked without discerning fact from fiction. Any other radio station would have provided evidence that Welles was simply playing a prank for Halloween on his viewers.

People are a very sociable species. we need other human beings in our lives to interact with. Without other humans to interact with, individuals become depressed, anxious, lonely, and develop mood problems.

People are susceptible to to many actions, however, and because of our social nature, we evaluate our abilities and beliefs by comparing them to those of others. We also may fall prey to mass hysteria, because research shows that irrational behavior in many people will cause individuals to join in.

Chapter 11 mainly focuses on emotions and how the brain processes emotions. One of the focuses in the chapter that caught my eye was obesity and eating disorders. I found it very interesting that the US has created this concept called portion distortion where the average portion of food served is much more than needed to fill a person. This concept contributes largely to the obesity rate in the United States. Along with that, there is the internal-external theory that contributes to the rate of obesity. Many people see food, hence the external part, and want to eat it while they ignore their stomach telling their brain that they are full, hence the internal part. People who don't listen to their brains when they are full are at a higher risk for obesity. burger-1977-2000.jpg

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa also caught my eye. People develop these eating disorders when their whole life consists around their weight and image. Media and outside sources contribute greatly to the number of people who are dissatisfied with their body. They are never okay with their body and always see themselves as bigger than they actually are. Anorexia nervosa can lead to numerous health problems such as loss of hair, heart problems, and electrolyte imbalances that can be life threatening.
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My question is, with all these facts on obesity, why aren't restaurants cutting down on the portion sizes for meals they serve? Is there a way to stop the obesity epidemic otherwise? Also, is there a way to prevent people, women especially, from developing eating disorders? How can we get the media to start displaying bigger people in magazines and shows to demonstrate that people come in all different sizes and shapes?

Chapter 7 covers Memory and how we construct and reconstruct our past. While skimming through the pages one thing that really caught my eye was Infantile Amnesia. This is the inability of adults to retrieve accurate memories before an early age. Most Psychologists believe the reason for this is the hippocampus, the part of the brain that plays a key role in long-term memory is not fully developed in infancy. Also infants possess no concept of self, before the age of two they do not even recognize themselves in a mirror. Some Psychologists argue that without a sense of self, infants cannot store memories of their experiences.

This got me thinking of my first memory. It took awhile but I decided my first memory was when I was four years old on a family vacation in Arizona. The memory is pretty vague but I do remember having chicken pox during the entire vacation. I continued to read and found that most people's earliest memory fall between the ages of 3-5 years old. This is when the brain is developed enough to retain memories of events.
Does this mean that the first 3-5 years of our life are lost to us forever? I am interested in reading what other people think of this.
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Also when was your first memory? Do you think it is possible for someone to have a memory at a younger age than 3 years old?

Chapter 16 is about different kinds of therapies that can help people with psychological problems. One of these types of therapies is called person-centered therapy, developed by Carl Rogers. It involves the patient and a therapist who doesn't tell clients how to solve their problems. Instead the therapist provides empathetic understanding to the patient, and nonjudgmental acceptance of all the patient's feelings.
The reason this particular therapeutic method caught my eye is because while I was reading about it I thought of an example of how this type of therapy has worked. Last night I was listening to a podcast called Radiolab (listen), and the topic was about the evil side of human nature. Towards the end of the podcast they were talking about Garry Ridgway, also known as The Green River Killer, who is one of history's most prolific serial killers. Tom Jensen interviewed Ridgway after he was caught and got the killer, who before denied many of his crimes, to confess them in detail. While not explicitly stated, the tactic Jenson used to get Ridgway to fess up sounds a lot like person-centered therapy. He remained calm, nonjudgmental, and even empathetic to the killer, saying, "It's okay if you did. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Thousands of people have done it before you. You're not the first one."(Interview by Tom Jensen. Radiolab.org. NPR. Web.) Though this therapy did allow the interviewers to get vital information for Ridgway's trial, it did not allow them to answer their most burning question: Why did he do it?
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All You Need is Love

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As February 14th quickly approaches, many people's thoughts turn toward love. But what is the modern conception pertaining to love? Most importantly to thousands of singles, is there some scientific method that would completely define love and allow the "perfect couple" to unite?

There has always been debate as to the question, "Is love a science?" In 1978 Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire shared his opinion about this question:

"...not even the National Science Foundation can argue that falling in love is a science."

Senator Proxmire was extremely wrong in his reasoning. Psychologists have done three decades of scientific research concerning the topic of love.

Although psychologists have not discovered the true reason why people fall in love, they have made great strides in the social influences referring to the topic of love. In Chapter 11 of our textbook, psychologists say there are three major principles that guide attraction and relationship formation: proximity, similarity, and reciprocity. It is quite understand that two people with these three principles in common would eventually start a relationship and fall in love.

What about the couples who have none of these same principles in common? Is "All You Need is Love" the only interest a couple needs to sustain a relationship? Or is there more scientific evidence still undiscovered that would open the secrets pertaining to this mystical thing called love?

Chapter four in our textbook is something that caught my eye. The chapter elaborates on sensation and perception and why our brain works the way it does in terms of perceiving different images as well as experiencing different sensations. The most interesting and sensational thing that I discovered and came to terms with is the fact that our brains are programmed somewhat. Since we were born, the first thing we see is a human face. Every human on this planet is programmed to recognize the structure and certain qualities of a face and therefore our brains are constantly trying to put together random images and make sense of them (a face being the most recognizable and apparent to us humans).

On page 141 of the text Figure 4.21 shows a picture of what is called The Necker Cube. If you look at it for awhile, the cube seems as thought it is changing shape and that its 3D dimensions are shifting. What do you think? I believe our brains are trying to make sense of this image much like trying to make sense of confused images. The dimensions are unique, therefore the way we perceive this cube confuses our brain. We are trying to make sense out of what does not make sense.

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The picture above does a great job of illustrating the same thing. Can you tell which way is up and which way is down? Its confusing to say the least. Our brains keep shifting around the way we perceive the direction of the stairs and people- another example of our brains trying to make sense of non-sense.

Chapter 5 explores consciousness. Sleeping, dreaming and alterations of consciousness all make their way into the context. The section that struck me as interesting was Out-of-Body Experiences. The sense of leaving one's own body and being able to look upon it from above. 25% of college students and 10% of the general population have experienced these. That is a shockingly high percentage! Out-of-body experiences suggest our consciousness is not trapped within our mind. Research has showed that the experience could be caused by disruption of our senses. For example in 2007, H. Henrik Ehrsson gave participants goggles that allowed them to see an image of themselves as if they were behind their own body. He then touched them with a rod, but they could also see themselves being touched through their goggles. This lead to belief that the human mind can be tricked into thinking it is separate from it's body due to conflicting visual and physical sensations.


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This leads me to question, is an out-of-body experience truly out side of the body? Or is it just our imagination? How do you falsify the claim that it is truly out-of-body? Have you ever had a like experience?

Brain Mapping

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Chapter 3 gives us an over view of nerve cells acting as our communication portals, the brain as our behavior network, endocrine system, mapping of the mind, and how we become who we are. The one thing I find the most fascinating was the mapping of our brain. Do you know how our brain is mapped out?

Around the 1880's, was the first mapping of the brain. It was said to be based off of the bumps on our skull. The size of the bumps were matched with various traits and characteristics of the human body. This mapping was decided as "falsifiable." Image if this was how our brain was mapped out today.

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Today our brain is separated in lobes and hemispheres. Each hemisphere controls different traits, characteristics, and movements. People are said to be dominate in one side of their brain. Do you know if you are a right or left-brained person?

I feel that the concept of different sections of our brains controlling our actions is hard to grasp and interpret so I am looking forward to getting into more detail about it. While trying to make sense of it some questions arose. Back in the day how did people know that the first mapping wasn't accurate? Do we use 100% of our brain? and What types of devices do researchers use to determine which part of our brain controls what movement?

Briefly at the end of Chapter 1 the concept of Evolutionary Psychology is discussed. It is still considered a rookie in the field of psychology as it has much to prove and a few kinks to sort out. Evolutionary psychology, more or less, believes Darwin's theory of natural selection modifies human and animal behavior. We all know Darwin's theory is keen on the fittest surviving, but what evolutionary psychology has us consider is if that mentality of the fittest surviving affects the values we deem better than others and pass onto the next generations.

For example, a study in the book suggests that male baldness contributes to evolutionary psychology by reinforcing that balding males are preferred by women because baldness indicates maturity.As such, if balding men are the choice meat of the day, they are then, assumingly, more likely to reproduce and create offspring who are likely to lose their hair.

George before the toupee
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George post-toupee
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Isn't he better bald? So mature-looking and fit for survival...

In all seriousness, I can see how the the thought of natural selection could be affected by our personal habits and trends and therefore change the way we behave as a race.That being said, this example is very subjective and somewhat hard to seriously consider. As the book reflects, it is much harder to research personality traits and preferences therefore making it difficult to determine the evolving functionality of said traits.

What say you fellow Psych 1001ers? Do you think Evolutionary Psychology will be a serious contender in the field of psychology some day or will it simply become extinct?

The topic that I found most interesting in Chapter 16 was on Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Mostly because it was something that I have personally gone through. This type of behavioral therapy is focused for those who have difficulty with mood disorders (i.e. Borderline Personality Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, BiPolar, etc.), extreme anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse problems. The main focus is in helping the person to move from a negative schema to a positive one by staying in the present moment, being mindful of the uncomfortable/negative feeling, and recognize that life will go on and you will make it through.

Therapy is not only a one-on-one session with a therapist but in a group setting as well. A one-on-one therapy session allows the therapist to have the client imagine uncomfortable life instances and then guides them on how to positively work through them while sitting with the feeling (ex: Receiving an C- on a test is not the end of your school career). When/if the client starts to move back to their old comfortable negative coping mechanisms the therapist prods them to see things differently and in a more positive manner. The benefit of receiving therapy in a group setting is that it makes one realize they're not alone, and that others struggle with the same things. Group-mates bounce ideas of positive coping skills off one another for dealing with life's stressful events.

From my personal experience, it's very difficult to do, and often takes a person years of new, repetitive, positive thinking to get the hang of it and cease using their current coping mechanism. It was worth every minute of struggle to learn new ways of positive coping, and move from thinking only in black and white to gray.
Has anyone else struggled with anything similar?

Do we think in words?

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Chapter 8 has in-depth analysis of something that comes as second nature to us; language. Fascinating, yet overlooked questions arise such as the one you see above. Do we truly think in words? Do we speak before actually speaking?

First, lets overview the simple, but not so simple thing we call language.
The text explains the process of language as a meal, from the ingredients of the food to the etiquette of the diner. To dissect and look into the native language you speak is something that brought interest to me.

Something though that was even more intriguing to me was the question that had been mentioned earlier. "Do we think in words?" John B. Watson had believed that there was no thinking without language. Instantly after skimming through this section the image of a thought bubble came to mind.
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In its simplest definition, a thought bubble is someone thinking in words. So therefore have we communicated that we do think in words as a public whole?
As a young kid, that is how we all learned to express what someone was feeling through a drawing, and even now thought bubbles are used in many everyday things. Comics being the most popular place to find a thought bubble.

I'm anticipating the analysis of this topic; is language really as simple as we see it? Or are we just not looking far enough into the many languages that exist in our world? Do we think in words? and how does language effect our reading?

Writing1: Nature vs Nurture

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As I went through the book, the most interesting concept captured my mind was the debate about nature versus nurture. Everyone might know that this is one of the oldest debates in psychology, and the answer for the question has never been decided. In brief summarization, the nature-nurture debate is a concern that which of the following affect individuals' personality, intelligence, and mental thoughts more; innate qualities (genes) or raising environments. I am pretty sure that both of them have enough logical arguments, and that means that both of them actually have decisive influence on one's human being. However, if I have to support one concept, I would like to choose "nature."
The reason why I choose nature is this: I have friends who are identical twins. They actually have same appearances, so it is not easy to distinguish them by face or looks. Because they are twins, they raised up in exactly the same way in the same environment with the same parents. They did everything together and got same education. Even more, their mom put the same clothes on them every single day when they were young. However, their personalities and intelligence were perfectly opposite from each other. One has very active personality and the other has introspective personality. So, even though they grew up in same environment, one used to have a lot of friends and the other one does not. In addition, one of the twins, who is real introvert, is remarkable learner, but the other is not even interested in studying. Through them, I realized that innate factors are strongly affect in human. I think that there is no answer for this debate, and this debate will never be done. But it is important to debate more and more about the problems and get more logical evidences through them.

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Chapter eight is about language, thinking, and reasoning. This chapter of the book includes how language works, the relationship between language and thought, and the relationship between thought and reasoning.
A portion of the chapter explains how children learn a language. The book suggests that the language-learning process begins while the infant is still in the womb. The chapter highlights a study that has shown fetuses are able to recognize characteristics of their mother's voice and her native language once they are born. However, new research has found that babies learn to talk by reading lips. Infants may recognize characteristics of a language, but in order to learn how to speak it, they have to figure out how to shape their lips to make the particular sounds they hear. Read more here.
A portion of the chapter that I found interesting was the part about special languages between twins. It reminded me of a viral YouTube video I had seen of twin boys that seemed to be speaking to and understanding each other. However, the book went on to explain that twins do not have a "secret" language; they are only attempting to use their native language, but with poor articulation and pronunciation errors. What do you think? Is the information in the book correct? Or do infant twins have their own language?
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Change Ahead

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change-management1.jpg Chapter 10 focuses on Human Development, and provides insight and answers on major questions like: how do we change, and why? The developing body, mind, and personality are all topics covered in this chapter.

Development of the mind, in my opinion, is one of the most interesting topics to look at. One interesting thing covered under this topic are Piaget's Cognitive Stages, which explain how the mind develops and changes over four stages.

The Preoperational stage is the second stage includes children from two years old until about seven years old. Have you ever talked with a kid between the ages of two and seven? If so, you've probably heard some pretty funny and interesting responses.

One of my favorite conversations was with a little girl in an elementary class that I was helping out with. In the middle of a math assignment, she came up to me, and out of no where decided to tell me about her popsicle that melted the night before. I don't know how she got on the subject of popsicles or how exactly that relates to Piaget's stages, but finding out more about the development of the mind will be interesting, as well as the development of the human body and personality.

I do wonder, though, why do we sometimes say random things and give unrelated responses? It isn't only children who give random responses. Adults do to, and it will be interesting to find out why!


Chapter 12 Overview: Stress

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The main concept in this chapter was stress, coping, and health. I found this very fitting because college is obviously one of the most stressful times in our lives. From just skimming the sections I realized there are three different ways that stress can be used: as a stimuli to get up and do something about your stress, as a transaction, and as a response to a situation. Hopefully this chapter will tell us more about healthy ways to relieve stress and to stay focused in a time of being completely overwhelmed (aka. college). I was curious about stress levels in life so I looked on the internet and found this:

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I think this is a truthful depiction of stress throughout our lives.

There is more throughout the chapter about coping with stress in a healthy way. The mind can cause some very serious illnesses. There is a whole section about staying healthy. Coping, in a healthy way, can help you stay fit physically, emotionally, and mentally. Coping helps bring out your inner attitudes, beliefs, and personality. It was also mentioned that coping is a skill and it takes practice to get it right. I think stress is very prominent in our college lives and that is why we should care. If we do not act correctly in coping with our stress we could be harming ourselves. So is stress self-inflicted?

The need to group

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Chapter 13 was about social psychology more than anything and the main part was conformity and grouping. Human responses to social pressure are closely related to their own individual upbringing and to the cultural differences, but the main point being is that people end up coming together for a number of reasons. As explained in the book people with lower self-esteem are more prone to conforming. Cultures have impacts on this too because Asians are more prone to conform than are Americans but that is because they have a more collectivist culture. Grouping on the other hand is due to humans not wanting to be lonely. When we go without social contact for a long period of time we are doing the oposite of what our biology tells us to do which is to seek out bonds and connections between people.

Chapter 4 in general talks about our sense organs and how our brain interprets the messages from them. I found the part about how our body senses touch and pain particularly interesting. Did you know that the information about touch travels more quickly to the brain than that of pain?

There was also a portion explaining how some people are insensitive to pain. Although it sounds cool at first, such people might break a bone and not be aware of it. That is definitely scary! Our textbook gives an example about a girl, Ashlyn Blocker who has congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis. It says that she should be monitored constantly because she could eat food that is extremely hot without any hesitation. (This video shows that how Ashlyn's condition could be used for pain management research.)

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This example particularly interested me because I remember watching a Grey's Anatomy episode where they show a little girl who claims to be a super hero because she cannot feel the pain even when hit in her stomach with a baseball bat. It also looked like a good example of occam's razor, one of the six principles of scientific thinking.

The textbook says that blind people are more sensitive to touch inputs; it makes me wonder: so when a sense organ fails to function, do other sense organs always work "overtime"? What would possibly make a good balance for Ashlyn's condition?

Facial Feedback Hypothesis

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Our in class activity this week involves running a small experiment to test if forcing facial muscles into a smile or a frown changes how humorous cartoons are perceived.

You will be writing about how this experiment was executed and organizing your findings into a document that follows APA style rules for psychological science publication.

Based on the data collected by your group and the class as a whole, did the experiment confirm your hypothesis?

Here are a couple of news articles that explain why laughter feels good and another which describes how a botox injection might dampen other emotions.

Laughter Produces Endorphins, Study Finds - NYTimes.com.pdf

Botox May Deaden Not Just Nerves.docx

Chapter 3 Overview

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Chapter 3 is titled: Biological Psychology. It covers the basics of the brain and nervous system. Big topics in this chapter include neurons, neurotransmitters, the central nervous system, brain imaging, and a bit on nature versus nurture. I found the stuff about neuroscience to be the most interesting in this chapter. There is a large diagram of a neuron that I think looks very cool, and descriptions are given of many different neurotransmitters. Other interesting things in this chapter include phrenology, an early attempt at mapping the mind onto the brain based on bumps on the skull, and a picture of a dead salmon supposedly showing brain activity. images.jpegimages-1.jpeg

Talking About Minds

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Be creative with your blog posts. Feel free to post pictures, videos, music to help your post rise above pointless barking.

About your blog assignments

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

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First, be sure to review the general guidelines for blogging in the syllabus. The criteria below are more specific instructions that will help you create interesting and comment provoking blog posts.

Blogs are worth 5 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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Here is a nice example of a post written by a student last semester

In the above quote said by Ernest Hemingway, he seems to suggest that humans are born with an inherent disposition to being evil. This makes me think of William Golding's novel, Lord of the Flies that tells the story of a group of British boys who get stranded on an island and became savages within a few weeks.
200px-LordOfTheFliesBookCover.jpg While reading this novel in my English class, we discussed the hotly debated topic of nature (Does all humans have an inherent evilness?) versus nurture (Was it because of society, that these boys thought it was okay to steal, lie, and kill to stay alive?). At the end of reading the novel, we concluded that humans are born with a "beast within us" as Golding put it.

But as our psychology textbook states, there seems to be no clear cut way to separate nature from nurture.

During my senior year of high school, I watched a family friend's baby grow from a baby into a toddler. As a baby, when she didn't receive what she wanted she would cry and pout. But as a little toddler she would hit me when I wouldn't give her an extra cookie or something else that she wanted. This made me wonder how a little toddler barely 2 and half years old knew to hit me when I didn't give her what she wanted and certainly her parents wouldn't have taught her to resort to violence when she didn't get what she wanted.
Does this mean that no matter how good, innocent, or young a person is deep down there is a "beast" within all of us just waiting to emerge?

Got Milk?

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And here is a post from another student that needs some work.

 After learning of the many ways in which an expirimental design can deliver inacurate results, I have become skeptical of many scientific claims. Some of the errors in scientific studies include participants not being selected randomly, biases of the researcher and not ruling out rival hypothesis. Causation vs. correlation, random selection and pseudoscience all cross my mind when hearing results of a correlation or experimental design. I am now skeptical of one very popular and strongly believed in theory: Milk builds stronger bones.


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Many new studies bear results that contradict the common belief that milk makes your bones stronger. Some studies show milk drinkers to have stronger bones than non-milk drinkers, some studies yield the opposite, while some studies show no relation between milk and bone strength. How can there be so many different, contradicting results?
I believe many of these studies aren't selecting their subjects randomly. If you compare children that eat well, live a healthy life style and drink milk to children that lack milk in their diet and live an unhealthy lifestyle, the milk drinkers may have stronger bones and it won't necessarily be due to the fact that they have more milk in their diet. Another flaw in studies on the effects of milk may simply be a matter of correlation versus causation. There are researchers that claim drinking milk causes osteoporosis. "Evidence" of this claim is that the United States, with the highest consumption of dairy, has the highest rates of osteoporosis. This relationship may be due to one or more other variables such as: diet, exercise, and BMI (body mass index). The claim that milk builds stronger bones needs to be further researched and scientifically tested before I depend on milk as my source of calcium.

Links to studies on milk's effects: http://www.livestrong.com/article/315144-does-milk-build-strong-bones/ http://www.whymilk.com/strong_bones.php http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/calcium-and-milk/
After seeing all of the research that suggests such a popular theory as this may be somewhat, if not completely, incorrect, I am forced to wonder: what other mainstream theories that I believe be true could actually be false?

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