Recently in Writing 3 Category

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Lucy wakes up in the middle of night by a weird thing pressing her body. She tries to open her eyes but she can't. After several attempts, she finally sees what was on her; it is an old witch with wrinkled face and sharp nose. She tries to scream but she can't. On the other side of the world, Takayoshi experiences the same thing. When he opens his eyes because of a horrifying feeling, he sees a pale-faced ghost with long black hair staring at him. It's a ghost he often sees in Japanese horror movies.

What these two people are experiencing is called sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is caused by a disruption in the sleep cycle and is often associated with anxiety or even terror, feelings of vibrations, humming noises, and the eerie sense of menacing figures lose to or on top of the immobile person. This is a universal phenomenon, but why do people see different things during this experience?

I think the culture affects people even in unconscious state of mind, because people experience or dream different things during sleeping. For example, Lucy dreamed about a witch because she has never seen Japanese horror movies, and has heard of scary witch stories ever since she was little. On the other hand, Takayoshi is more familiar with Japanese ghosts than witches in western folk tales, which resulted in seeing a girl with long dark hair. As this simple example tells us, we know that we can't categorize people into groups psychologically. When one thing applies to one group, it may not apply to the other group because of cultural and environmental differences. That's why we need to focus on individual differences in studying psychology.

Are there human lie detectors? That is what Dr. Cal Lightman serves to be in the TV show, "Lie to Me." As cool as some TV series may be, I think we can all agree that one shouldn't take TV to heart.
So how much truth is there to this ability to "read" a person's face and detect a lie?
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I found it surprising (and awesome) that federal officers were best at detecting lies among others such as federal judges, sheriffs, and academic psychologists. Even they, however, have an average accuracy of only about 72%. (With Mixed law-enforcement officers coming in last at just over 50% or chance accuracy)

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Meanwhile, others like Dr. Paul Ekman still advertize "micro-expression reading" techniques as a legitimate way that anyone can detect lies.

Also, good to note was the finding that there's typically little or no correlation between one's confidence in their ability to detect lies and their accuracy. So, even though you're probably more likely to take someone's word and believe them when they say "I know he was lying..." "I could tell, I'm really good at it," "I'm positive," etc. you shouldn't confuse confidence with correctness.


Have you ever had a time when you "could have sworn" someone was lying and then were proven wrong? or right?

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For my 3rd entry I decided to take Harvard's "IAT" test and see what it was all about. You yourself can take the test if you so choose to (). My results were interesting. The final page read: "Your data suggest a moderate automatic preference for Straight People compared to Gay People." I find my personal results puzzling... mostly because I am gay; and I have a significant other that I've been with for 4 years. So, I now sit here wondering a). did I score these results due to the fact that I'm running off of 4 hours of sleep?, or b). do I seem to have a "automatic preference for straight people compared to gay people" because I often times try to hide the fact that I'm gay so I don't have to explain my sexual orientations to others and justify who I am?

I found a very interesting link on the page that shows results from between 2002-2006 listed by Harvard. I'm puzzled yet again why people associate "bad" quicker with being "gay." This "Sexuality Attitude" bar graph leaves me wondering "Do people associate 'gay' with 'bad' more so than 'good' because it's been termed 'abnormal'?" I don't think that I'm abnormal...I am who I am... not some genetic defect.

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How does this bar graph leave you feeling? (content, uneffected, disgusted with society, upset, frustrated, confused, etc). I'd also be VERY interested to hear the results of anyone else after they take the test.

Enough is Enough

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As our school year windes down to the end it is quite obvious that many of us have had enough learning for one year and may need a break. I have been thinking about his idea for a couple weeks now because i have found it harder and harder to study or learn new material. I feel as if my brain is full for the time being. I guess what I want to know is if there is anything in our brain that makes it harder and harder to learn as the school year goes on? Is it lack of focus? A unique case? Or does this happen to everyone?

After searching the web I was asked myself these questions:
Are we too used to our environment?
Do we need to switch our place of study?
Are we addicted to the internet?

There was not much else on the web besides people telling others with this problem to just try harder. I believe that can help but I honestly want to know if there is something biologically in our brain that makes it harder to learn after learning for a long period of time? Please tell me what you all think?

It is very interesting to read about Lawrence Kohlberg's theory on morality. It seems to make sense to me. Children often do things or do not do things because they either want to be praised or not scolded by our parents. Children would only eat cookies before dinner if they thought they could get away with it (maybe they shouldn't mess with Arnold). Otherwise, they would not eat them before dinner. Not because society places any kind of pressure to not eat cookies before dinner, or because there is actually something wrong with eating cookies before dinner, but because parents will get upset if a child spoils their dinner. This is all it truly boils down to.

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As pre-teens and teenagers, we often don't do things because of rules placed in society. These may or may not be arbitrary. However, this conventional morality often never leaves us. I have a good example of a person who only had progressed to conventional morality when they should have been postconventionally moral. My senior year of high school, I severely sprained my ankle during my final football game. We were deep in the playoffs, so most people in the school had seen it happen. I went to the emergency room immediately after the game and was on crutches the remainder of the weekend. On Monday when it was time for school, I decided I didn't want the crutches, even though my ankle was in severe pain. I didn't honestly want to deal with taking the elevator more than anything. Anyway, I went to class, but was a few minutes late. The teachers that stand in the hallway to give students tardies let me pass because they had seen the game. They just told me to get my ankle healthy. When I got to class, my teacher asked where my crutches were, as she had heard about my injury too. She said she wished me good health, however, she said that I was tardy for class. She made me walk to the end of the hallway with a bum ankle and get a tardy. Now, I realize I am biased, but was she justified in doing that? I was a senior, well respected in the school, was on track to be valedictorian of my class, etc. I wasn't being tardy because I didn't want to go to class, I was recently injured. Was she justified in doing so, or was she just being strictly conventionally moral?

Diana Baumrinds highlighted three major parenting styles that are can be found in most cases of child-to-parent relationships. These styles were permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative and each covers how a parent disciplines and supports their children in different ways. As "young adults" these styles are are important to recognize, that is, if you want to be a parent in the future or already are one.
Permissive parents discipline on an irregular basis, giving their children considerable freedom day to day. This is the "to soft" approach because these kids have no restrictions or boundaries that are set in place. I believe this parenting style to be one of the worst based on my own observations with friends whose parents were the permissive type. They tend to be more disobedient and spontaneous when it comes to making bad decisions. The next parenting style, Authoritarian, is the "too hard" approach. These parents set strict boundaries and are quick to punish and do not allow a child to learn from themselves when mistakes have been made. They also show little affection to their offspring which I think could cause kids to be more anxious about doing things, thinking it will never be good enough.
The last parenting style, Authoritative, is the "just right" approach, which is the parenting style that fits with how I grew up (so its obviously the best)(Just kidding). These parents are more lenient and allow their children to take action for themselves but still discipline if they think they are not heading in the right direction or if the need a hand. I think this parenting style allows for the most growth in a children because they allow there kids freedom, but help them out enough where the child knows they are their for them.
What parenting style did you come up with? Do you agree with my analysis?
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The Milgram Study

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Among many chapters we've gone through there is a particular study that I remember, the Milgram study. The video we watched had brought upsetting result, but I thought that the Milgram study may help me to be a better leader and moral individual.The striking results of the Milgrim study reported that more than 50% of its participants actually delivered the maximum shock under the instruction of a single researcher. The researchers administered potentially dangerous voltages of electric shock to confederate participants to reveal man's tendency for unquestioning compliance to authority. These findings are quite disturbing and unsettling to me because, honestly, I admit that I am compliant to authority. I feel I would be susceptible to control by an authority figure, and I would just passed my moral thoughts by the instruction in the high level.

Through this experiment, the researchers concluded "the ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority"(Milgram 1974). I think this study is a great example of demonstrating the dangers of obedience. I believe that obedience is heavily influenced by both personal beliefs and overall temperaments, but the power of temperaments seem little more powerful. So, I realize that I have to take step to guard myself against unwelcome or reprehensible commands (which against my moral nature), and that can influence other people positively.

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My favorite part of the 13th chapter was the last section. Here it is talk about two cases that show how prejudice can be combat. This cases are called the Robbers Cave Study and the Jigsaw Classrooms.

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The Robbers Cave Study was conducted by Muzafer Sherif in 1954. Here 22, 11-year-old, boys were lead to believe they were attending a normal summer camp where three phases occur:

1) In-group formation
The boys were randomly divided into two groups, and assigned to two living areas. The two groups were isolated from each other, and none of the participants were aware of there being a second group.
 Each group spent a week doing sports and activities with members of their group.

2) Friction phase
The groups were then put into situations in which they were to compete against the other group for prizes, the goal being to create intergroup tension. This resulted in animosity between the groups, which included raids and fist-fighting.


3) Integration Phase
In a third phase of the study, the experimenters attempted to reduce the level of intergroup-conflict, by increasing the contact between the two groups. This was initially unsuccessful, but was more successful once superordinate goals were introduced to the groups. This reduced inter-group tension, and the individuals from each group became friendlier toward each other.

But contact by itself cannot heal the deep wounds of prejudice. Interventions are most likely to reduce prejudice only if they satisfy the following conditions:


  • The groups should cooperate toward shared goals

  • The contact between groups should be enjoyable

  • The groups should be of roughly equal status

  • Group members should disconfirm the other group's negative stereotypes

  • Group members should have the potential to become friends

Then, Elliot Aronson applied the lesson form the previous study into the Jigsaw Classrooms, and found a significant decrease in racial prejudice.

Do you have any prejudice that you have get in contact that you will like to share? Or do you have any situation where you had or could apply this technique?

You RACIST!

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When you take an Implicit Association Test (IAT), it tests those unconscious prejudices. There are many different tests in order to see prejudices towards many different things, (gender, religion, race, age, etc) . In the case of the picture below, the results found people preferred white to black. The first time I took the test I was told I have a moderate automatic preference for Black people compared to White people. The second time I took the test I was told I have little to no automatic preference between Black and White people.

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In my own personal opinion, I feel it mostly comes from mistakes made by over thinking things. The instructions of the test is to go as fast as possible and that if you go slow, your results will not be able to be configured. During the majority of the test, I found myself struggling to click the correct side. By this I mean that when the descriptive words "good"/"African-American" were on the left and "bad"/"European-American" on the right, I got used to it at the end but then they switched, screwing up my clicking the next round. I also found that after I messed up the first couple times I would start over thinking what I was doing and question the wrong thing. Finally, my friend took the test as I did and he found that he was similar to the 27% range for strong automatic preference for white people. While, I find this to be true of his characteristics, we spoke about the test and realized he felt more pictures of white people appeared while on my test, I found there to be more black people. Due to all of these added factors and the fact I got two different results, I question how legitimate this test is. Take the test and tell me what you think.

https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/Study?tid=-1

When reading our psychology textbook, I came across a section that really captured my attention: Personal Space. The term is coined "proxemics," and this idea really comes in to my life most every day.
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So this section discusses the four different levels of personal space, being : Public distance, Social distance, Personal distance, and Intimate distance.

Public distance is considered to have at least 12 feet between two speakers, and is used for public speaking, such as lecturing. A Social distance, normally incorporated among strangers or casual acquaintances, is typically 4-12 feet. The Personal distance is even closer, being an estimated 1.5 to 4 feet, and is used for close friends or romantic partners. And finally, there is Intimate distance, the closest of them all, being 0-1.5 feet apart. This is typically for kissing, hugging, whispering, and affectionate touching.

This section, as I mentioned, really grabbed my attention, because I have a friend that is really up in your face with every conversation, and this is the first time I have ever had this weird phenomenon, but I actually feel a tad uncomfortable. It feels so weird to have someone stand so close while talking with you, and I constantly am looking away from her when we talk, because it can be that weird. I find it fascinating and true that there are indeed some kind of socially acceptable speaking distances for different people. For my friend, she talks with pretty much every person she meets at a Personal distance (1.5-4 feet), so I guess for her that is a good social distance. Proxemics rings so true in every day life, I know others have to have some experiences like this right?

IQ Score Matter?

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The term IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, generally explains a score on a test that rates the subject's cognitive ability. I remember that I took an IQ test when I was in the middle school. At that time, I believe that the high IQ is the most important factor to be outstanding compared to other students in academic performance. However, there were some exception cases; my teacher mentioned that she was surprised to see that some students with the low IQ score were very good at other mathematics tests.
I still somewhat believe that there is a bit correlation between IQ and job performance. In addition, it is mentioned in the Chapter 9 that IQ scores predict performance across a wide variety of occupations, with the average correlation about 0.5. In addition the correlation between IQ and job performance is even higher among the jobs that require more mentally demanding occupations such as physician or lawyer. Many psychological studies support the correlation between a high IQ score and performance at work. From my experience, I observe that employers, especially in companies in Korea, frequently use the IQ score or a score on a test that the companies develop to identify the best candidates.
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However, some people argue that the IQ score is not an absolute factor that can decide performance at work. In addition, they argue that there are other sociological factors such as personality, peer relation and communication skills besides the IQ scores might be playing a bigger role in performance at work.
Do you think that high IQ scores mostly matter to achieve better work performance? Or other sociological factors mostly matter?
Here is the free IQ test website

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I took the Implicit Association Test, called the IAT, and my results were interesting. First of all, this kind of tests determines if you personally associate one topic with another. This was mentioned in the chapter 13 reading of social psychology. In the book, people were associating happy vs bad words with the faces of black vs white people. The book found that most caucasians that competed the test associated the happy words with the own group (white) and associated the bad words with the out group (black). This test is used to determine quick and implicit decriminations. Because I knew what this test was testing for I think I had an unfair advantage of knowing too much before I took the test.
First, I had to fill out a survey addressing a number of things about myself like my religious views, my ethnicity and so on. Then another survey came up that asked me various questions about how I feel about the future and the past. I am an anxious person so I always worry about the future. In questions about the future I answered, "feels worried about," "is anxious for" etc. For questions asking about my past I answered,"enjoys most," "past fun memories" etc. Then I actually took the test. When a happy word or a past word (yesterday, last year) was present I would hit one button and when a sad word or a future word (tomorrow, next week) was presnt then I would hit a different button. This seemed easier to me because I have more happy memories of the past (associated together) and more anxious feeling to the future (associated together). Then they switched the topics around: this button for sad or past words and this button for happy or present words.
MY FINAL RESULTS: Your data suggest little to no automatic association between Future and Happy.
I did not expect this because I do really get anxious about the future, a lot. One problem I had during the test was that I was suppose to go as fast as I could and that distracted me from getting the right answer all the time.
For those who want to try this out the link is: Implicit Association Test How did you do? What were your results? Did you think the test correctly describes you? The test only took me FIVE MINUTES so it won't take long.
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Not hungry... or...

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Many of us know people personally who have suffered through eating disorders. They are not the easiest to detect due to the fact that people tend to keep them discrete. According to our textbook, on page 436, bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by binging and purging actions, is more common than anorexia nervosa. For me, this was an interesting statistic because, from personal experience, I know more teenage girls that suffered from anorexia rather than bulimia. People with either of these eating disorders have a phobia of fatness and no matter how skinny they get, they still look in the mirror and perceive themselves as fat. There are some great videos that talk about the National Eating Disorders Association and what they do to try and help people suffering from eating disorders.

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Some people believe that these eating disorders are caused from the media and the influences it has on our behaviors. We all want to be as skinny and pretty or handsome as the people on magazines, but a lot of times, those photos are photo-shopped and many times, the opposite sex does not even find a person that skinny to be attractive. In the textbook, it addresses the fact that even countries that aren't exposed to our "skinny" media have numerous people with eating disorders. Personally, I believe the media has an impact but is not the entire reason people suffer from eating disorders. Do you think the media has a bigger influence on people's reactions to bodies? Or do peers have a bigger influence? Also, does the social context in which someone grows up in contribute greatly or is it just another little factor that adds to it?

Hungry?

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Food is a part of every person's regular, daily life. Families usually have designated meal times that are observed at specific times of the day. College students tend to snack at intervals throughout the day or whenever food becomes available. Workaholics sneak in lunch with a meeting. Moms grab a quick bite of food in between cleaning, changing diapers or other activities. But when daily meal times are avoided or non existent, what tells a person they are hungry? Is it always the growling we feeling and hear in the pit of our stomachs, or is it something before that intense growling?

A science of appetite article in the Times titled "What Makes You Eat More Food" gives a photographic journey of reminders that turn our hunger from an off to on switch. Seven reminders, mostly extensions of our senses, make our bodies not just hunger but crave food.

So we're hungry at meal times and when we smell food, but why are there still mid afternoon cravings present after a small but healthy lunch? Presented in a blog by Mayo Clinic nutritionists, Jennifer Nelson and Katherine Zeratsky, "millennial" (born between 1980-2000) avoid traditional meals and settle for random snacking throughout the day. It is estimated that 35% of meals are now eaten as snacks throughout the day by millennials.

So people are wondering how Americans weight more on average than ever before? Just look at our eating habits, ability to give into cravings and portion control. American's portions are known on average to be much larger than other countries, but what about the increase seen in our own country in the past twenty years. This is clearly presented by Liz Monte in Portion Size, Then vs. Now.

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(In the past 20 years the size of pizza has increase by 350 calories per slice.)

So how can we properly control all our hunger cravings?

ACT? SAT? IDK!

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Colleges these days seem to put quite a bit of weight on standardized tests (ACT, SAT) when making admission decisions. I have never been a huge fan of this tactic, but from what I've learned through the Psychology text among other sources, it may be more reasonable than I thought. According to the text, there is an evident correlation between SAT scores and college success. I can't say I am surprised by this correlation, but I do believe that perhaps too much emphasis is being put on this portion of one's credentials. From experience, I know how much effort some students may put towards these tests and how little effort is exerted by others. I think it is very hard to gauge the intelligence or success rate of many people off of one test due to the variability of preparation. When one student does nothing to prepare and receives a 28 on his/her ACT, yet another student has a weeks worth of studying and test prep under his belt and receives a 33; who is more fit for the college atmosphere? One could argue that the more diligent student will carry this work ethic over to his college courses; therefore, proving to be more deserving, but I don't feel this is a fair justification.ACT.jpg It's because of these variances that I feel less emphasis should be places on ACT scores, but rather the success rates of difficult courses throughout one's high school career. I feel that is a much better indicator of one's future success. I'm curious how the education system will better this system of testing, if at all. How much emphasis will be placed on these tests in 20 years? How much emphasis do YOU think should be placed? How accurately did YOUR scores predict your success?

I'm good at rollerblading, baking, and many other things, but lying does NOT fit in to the categories of things I'm "good at". One look at my face and even the silliest most unimportant lie can be detected. Dr. Lightman ( for those of you who are familiar with Lie To Me) wouldn't even need to try to figure out if I was lying. But then again, could he even if he had to? The T.V. show "Lie To Me" (if you ask me, it was a shame they stopped airing it!) features Cal Lightman who is a professional human lie detector, who figures out people pretty much 100 percent of the time. But as fun as it is to believe, is that really realistic? Unfortunately, science tells of differently. Human lie detectors have not much greater than chance statistics at detecting lies on others. lietome.jpg Even if someone were to be abnormally skilled in detecting lies by examining facial expression, it is EXTREMELY unlikely that they could ever achieve what Cal Lightman achieved in his show, and almost 100% success rate at detecting lies. BUT what if we could tell everytime someone told us a lie? What would you do? Call the liars out? Sit and watch in amusement? I think it would be really tempting to throw out hints that you know they are lying. I don't mean to sound like a terrible person here, but if they have the nerve to lie to me, I think I would deserve at least a little bit of fun at their expense. But, on a more serious note, if someone actually could be trained to detect lies in others based on facial expressions and gestures, what do you think that would mean for our countries justice system? I personally think that there would be too much corruption, because a professional "Lie detector" with a personal vendetta against another person could falsify lies. Even though its mostly fictional, the thought of human lie detectors truly is a fun one to think about!

I wanted to touch on something that really got my attention in a recent discussion. We talked about how based on looks, an individual is likely to pick another individual and find him or her attractive if that person is actually more average looking. I disagree with this statement that we found in our text book. I understand that the statistics might indicate and point to the fact that majority of individuals prefer an average looking person. However, I do believe that people have their very own ideas and features that they find attractive, which could be far from average. I truly believe that people want something different and extraordinary than what they see on an "average" person. What do you think? Do you prefer and average person, or someone who may have a not so ordinary trait such as longer hair or thinner nose or possibly eyes that are spread a little further apart than usual? I for one believe that everyone has their own unique features that they value and find attractive, and that you cannot simply say we prefer the "average".

Liar Liar Pants on Fire!

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In the television show "Lie to Me" psychologist Dr. Cal Lightman has the ability to determine when a person is lying based on nonverbal ques. One look at me and he would know exactly when I am lying because I am the worst liar to mankind. Research might say something different though. Paul Ekman evaluated professions on their ability to detect deception. Secret service agents and clinical judges were among the best at locating deception. Even they wouldn't be accurate 100% of the time.
The show's portrayal of lie detection may be entertaining, but it just doesn't seem plausible to happen. This is because there are other factors that influence a person to express nonverbal signs that would seem familiar to lying. This was one of the questions that I always had watching CSI or criminal shows use lie detectors. What if there are other causes that lead a person to express the "symptoms" of lying. I was correct! Researchers have considered this alternative, and the lie detector test is not a viable source of evidence in court.
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My question to the audience is has anyone ever either administer a lie detector test or taken it? And also how easily does lying come to people or to people you know? What makes a good liar?

The time old question, "Do opposites attract?" currently plays a roll in my dating life, I assume most other people's as well. The type of guy I'm initially attracted is what society has coined "The Bad Boy". To define a "Bad Boy" I'll cue in this ABC News article for the best description this type of guy, The Bad Boy "...is a guy with such high self-esteem he could aptly be called a narcissist. The guy who wins women over with deceit, callousness and impulsive behavior."[Grayson]

After reading this fairly accurate definition of a "Bad Boy", you may question, "How could you be attracted to this type of guy?" It's only the initial attraction that draws me in. My best friend often uses a behavior theory to explain this phenomenon, she explains, "The reason why we surround ourselves with our polar opposites is that we admire the differences in personalities that they posses." I have to agree with her, because this theory rings some truth to my own relationships. I tend to be indecisive, a bit naïve, laid back, & reserved when it comes to dating. In contrast, I tend to seek out in my partner a decisive, outgoing and experienced type of guy with a bit of a wild side. According to my friend's theory, the traits that my potential partner posses also I secretly desirer to be.

Rivaling the behavior theory my friend came up with I found an alternative explanation, which refutes the "opposite attracts" quandary. According to the video I posed below, 760 people surveyed 85% said that they would most desire dating their opposite over someone similar to them. That means from this survey alone 646 people are dating are apt to date the wrong type of person.

Understanding that I'm not alone mistakenly dating Mr. Right Now comforts me a little. And I can't feel too bad that I haven't found my "Mr. Right" just yet. Realizing it's a mistake to date my polar opposite aka Mr. Right Now has helped me also recognize my own pitfalls when it comes to dating. Instead of dating "Bad Boys" it appears as though I should be dating someone who is mostly like me a laid back & a plays it safe kind of guy. The only problem is, will I ever meet a guy like this?

Source--

Grayson, Audrey. "Why Nice Guys Finish Last." ABC News. ABC News Network, 19 June 2008. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. .

Sara Beth

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My aunt, Sara Beth, was born with a mental disability. At birth she had a lack of oxygen which, in turn, caused disruption in her brain. She knew enough to know that she was different from everyone else and that she would never be able to live a "normal" life. Sara Beth has had an unimaginably positive affect on me. She has made me less judgmental, more patient, and more receptive to everyone's special needs.
The authors of our psychology book use the term "mental retardation", or "intellectual disability" to describe people that have an IQ below 70, have inadequate adaptive functioning, and have theses symptoms prior to adulthood. One percent of Americans have mental disabilities based on the previously mentioned criteria. Societal attitudes towards people with mental disabilities has dramatically improved over the last 60 years. Families used to lock their children away if they had a disability. People didn't think these children could learn or function in society. They have since been proven wrong though.

Get Down Syndrome

"The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990, outlawed job and educational discrimination on the basis of mental and physical disabilites (Lilienfeld 335)." "The Individuals with Disabilites Education Act (IDEA), passed in 1996, provided federal aid to states and local educational districts for accommodations to youth with mental and physical disabilites (335)." In today's society, many kids with disabilites are mainstreamed into school and interact with kids who do and don't have disabilities.
I think it's important for everyone to understand that people with mental disabilities are capable. They have special talents, pet peeves, and bad days just like everyone else.

19 Kids and COUNTING?!

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I thought that the topic of Parental Investment, which was covered in lecture, was extremely interesting. I think most people are familiar with the Duggar family, stars of TLC's show "19 Kids and Counting". Like the title suggests, parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have 19 children and lost 2 additional children due to miscarriages. duggar-family.jpg HOW MANY CHILDREN IS TOO MANY CHILDREN? The ultimate reason for having children is to pass your genes on to your offspring. However, the survival of those offspring is dependent on parental investment. Professor Simpson suggested that women can have about 25 children throughout their reproductive years. But, can parents adequately invest in their kids if they have that many? Can two people really raise 20-ish children? It seems as though the Duggar children have fared well enough so far. I think it may be due to their substantial income from the reality TV show and the parents intense religion. However, 19 kids still seems like too many. I grew up in a family with two children, which seems much more manageable. There was always enough love and time, as well as food, clothing, and money, for my brother and me from my parents. I personally know that I will not never have children into the double digits. So, how many kids do you think is too many?

After talking about the affects on children from violent television shows in discussion it raised another question in my head, "Does technology in general harm children and introduce them to something that has the possibility to allow the child to grow up different than the norm?" My youngest cousin. Easton, may know how to play a variety of iPhone apps such as angry birds better than I would ever be able to. Is he missing out on other things that I had in my childhood? Or are they gaining knowledge for the future that will help them advance? I believe that with the technology used in today's work force having these skills may help the younger generation succeed and even create their own new inventions to better all different things around the world. This article lays out just how far the generation gap is. They mention the age that they received their first cell phone. My younger cousins are getting cell phones for their 10th and 11th birthdays. kid_with_cell_phone.jpgI received my first cell phone when I was 13 for sports/rides purposes, and that was young for most people. Does this change the freedom of children during their middle school years? Having a phone comes with a lot more opportunities to go places without supervision and may be a rival hypothesis towards the fact of violence coming from video games and other television shows.

Some crazy statistic like 2/3 of America's the population is obese, and that is considering children as well as adults. The lottery question is, what is the cure for obesity? It turns out that water, the reason for life can in fact increase weight loss and decrease the amount of food consumed if it is drank before the meal. Below is a great article explaining how water can do such a thing in older dieters.

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Water is essential to life, and many Americans suffer from mild to chronic dehydration. The more recent conversion to sugar substituting beverages is not the road to take if trying to diet. Those extra calorie drinks on average can account for up to 10% of calories consumed in a given day. Not to mention they give rise to cavities in teeth. Water regulates metabolism and is a lubricant that helps keep fluid around joints keeping bones strong. The article below even explains that water can decrease the risk of colon cancer by 45% and bladder cancer by 50% as well as other diseases . We have to look no further than eight glasses of water to cut a few extra lbs.
Do you think that if people can substantially decrease their caloric intake by switching from sugary drinks like juices and soda to healthy alternatives like water or tea? Water is overlooked in many ways because it is boring and has no flavor, but given the benefits I listed why do people choice the unhealthy choice in beverage rather than the healthy choice? Thoughts?
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Detecting Fires
Detecting lies has become somewhat of a big deal to our society. Multiple systems have been developed to accomplish such a feat, but how reliable are these methods? Research tells us that there hasn't yet been a breakthrough that allows us to be completely successful, although some theorists have much faith in their own process.

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Ekman's approach
Paul Ekman, a psychologist, wrote the book Telling Lies in 1985 that later was the basis of the Fox TV series Lie to Me. In this book, Ekman writes about his theory of micro-expressions as revealers of emotion. He believes that when people try to hide their emotions a very quick facial expression emerges. This video shows an example of Ekman explaining his theory through a real world trial.
It seems like Ekman's approach works, but research argues that verbal cues are more reliable that non-verbal cues (which is what Ekman uses) in detecting lies. If you'd enjoy delving deeper into Ekman's work, feel free to visit his website.

The Polygraph Test
A more well-known approach is the polygraph test or the "lie-detector". This test assumes that the Pinocchio Response is real which means people have a supposedly perfect physiological or behavioral indicator of lying. In other words, a person's body will react much like Pinocchio's nose reacted when telling a lie, but in a more realistic way.

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This test, however, has its problems. It confuses arousal with evidence of guilt. For example, Sally is being tested because she has been accused of stealing a necklace. Naturally, Sally is anxious even though she is innocent. This anxiety or arousal could easily mislead the test to report Sally as being a liar, and hence guilty.

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Some Questions...
After watching Ekman's video, how do you feel about his approach? Do you think it's unreliable?
Although several methods have been developed, why do you think detecting a lie is so difficult?

Americans have always battled with their weight, with 2/3 of the country now weighing in at weights that are overweight or obese. Stanley Schachter developed the internal-external theory that proposes that heavier people are more likely to be encouraged to eat by external cues rather than internal cues. This means that overweight or obese individuals are likely to eat more and more often based on the time of day, the appearance of food, and social circumstances instead of a growling stomach or feeling full.

Have you ever thought you were full, but then saw a huge juicy burger or your favorite ice cream, and all of the sudden you feel ravenous? I know there are plenty of times when I have felt hungry just because something smelled or looked good or just because my friends were eating. Even boredom can initiate hunger. Maybe the internal-external theory applies to more people than just obese individuals. Perhaps it's how often these external cues stimulate a person to eat. Maybe it's the ratio of hunger driven by internal cues to hunger driven by external cues that a person experiences on a day-to-day basis.
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External cues are only a part of the factors that cause people to overeat. Since Americans are always interested in breaking the cycle of overeating and losing weight, the question is, what can be done to prevent these external cues from causing people to think they are hungry? After all, eating right and exercising can only help you so much when all of your friends are eating greasy pizza right in front of you.


Why is the battle of the bulge so hard to win? One answer to this question maybe a person's set point. A set point is a person's range of body fat and muscle mass they tend to maintain. So when people try to eat less the set point increases a person's appetite and decreases their metabolism not allowing them to lose weight. An obese person has a set point that is much higher than a thin person. Another reason the battle of the bulge may seem impossible for some people is their genetic makeup. In some cases of obesity a mutation in the melanocortin-4 receptor gene occurs. This causes a person to never feel full regardless of how much they have eaten. scale.jpg The Restaurant Industry also has played a role in the increasing obesity rates in the United States. Portion sizes served in restaurants are over 25% larger now than they were in 1977. A heuristic known as the Unit Bias causes people to eat more food when more food is given to them. With all of these causes of obesity is it still possible to stay fit these days? The answer is yes, and here are some helpful tips. First eat food on a smaller plate, this will make the portions look larger and help you eat less. Also when looking for a diet or weight loss plan avoid the ones that guarantee extraordinary weight loss in a short period of time. These plans are usually not very effective. Find a plan that helps you change your everyday habits and makes exercise a part of your daily routine. I am interested to hear what other people think of this topic. Do you think genetics carries the majority of the blame for obesity, or is it a person's habits? Also what do you think is the most effective way to become fit?

Parents all around the U.S. are spending their money on baby videos that help their children learn at a younger age while some parents won't allow their children to have any type of screen time. Video's such as Alphabet Beats and Barney are stereotyped to accelerate knowledge development.

Here is an example of the video we have all heard of Baby Einstein:

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According to Psyc Central and Science Time tests have been done that show these movies are not developing knowledge at faster rate then those children that do not watch them. The two main reasons they are said to be ineffective is because the movies are over stimulating to the brain and no social interaction. The studies showed that children who watched them scored lower on their language tests then the children who were never exposed to them. If this research has been posted then why are people still buying them? After reading these articles and looking more into these topic I agree with what the researchers have found. Not just with these videos but all videos are not benefiting humans by any means. Screen time only entertains our brains not strengthen it. I feel that everyone in today's world has become to dependent on screen time for learning and just helping out with every part of our daily lives.

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Do you think these learning videos are a benefit to growing children? Are these videos actually hurting the development of children's brains? How do you know what too much screen time is for children? Does this mean that the world has become more stupid since screen time is such a big part of our life?

Mind, consciousness, soul

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There are many people who claim to believe in the human "soul", which is supposedly an entity that is our deeper self, something of us that survives after death somehow, even after our brains stop working all together. But with our increasing understanding of how the mind works and what consciousness is, can such a notion survive (and be taken seriously)? There seems to be a trend of referring to some ethereal, "nonmaterial" entity that is supposed to be the soul, but that trend can only be restricted as our knowledge grows deeper and deeper into the human mind. We used to consider mental phenomenon as its own thing, and so the notion of a soul was not in danger. But now we know that the mind is basically the activity of the brain, which is purely physical. Anybody trying to refer to "soul" as anything more than poetic license must now differentiate that from what is usually called mind, since we know we can alter the mind by altering the brain. Even personality is not totally stable, as can be seen from extreme cases of brain damage. What then is the soul, if anything? The notion gets pushed back and back, made less and less connected to the actual human being. Perhaps the soul is simply "consciousness". But what is that? If it is not mind, which changes as a person changes, and not personality, which also can change, then is it anything at all?

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What do you believe about the idea of a "soul"? Does it exist? What is it? If you believe in it, how does it interact with the mind and with physical reality, and how do you reconcile that with the modern understanding of brain-based consciousness?

Heaven is For Real

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The New York Time's best selling book Heaven Is For Real is about a four year old boy named Colton, who went to heaven while he was in surgery after a burst appendix. Skeptical? So was I.
His parents say that they at first didn't want to entertain the little boy's stories, but three things convinced them that they were true.
1.He know where his father was and what he was doing while he was being operated on.
2.He came back with knowledge of meeting his miscarried sibling, who he had no prior knowledge of.
3.He claimed to have met his great-grandfather, and could identify pictures of him when he was a young man.
His parents claim that there is no way he could have known any of these things, so therefore his story must be true. As a skeptical person, I would have still said this story isn't true, but some of the things I learned in psychology are going to help me say that. First: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I do not consider the testimony of a four year old extraordinary evidence, especially after learning about the shortcomings of memory in chapter 7. As we learned, children very susceptible to suggestions, as shown with the example of "Sam Stone." Children also have a hard time telling which memories are real, and which are false. Besides that, everyone's memory is susceptible to false memories!
Here is where the story gets fishy. Colton's father, who was the one who wrote the book, is a preacher. Colton was raised in a very religious household, with Bible stories being told to him every night before bed. Colton claims to have seen the Holy Spirit "shoot down" power to his dad preaching to their congregation while sitting in Jesus's lap. First thing, his father didn't preach at all while Colton was in the hospital. Second, Christian doctrine says that the Holy Spirit resides within a person, not in heaven.
Here are some more inconsistencies:
Colton describes details of what Jesus looked like, including the nail marks in his hands and feet. It is well known that Romans drove nails through the wrists during crucifixion, not the hands, which wouldn't have held up the weight of a body. When shown pictures of Jesus and asked which one looked most like him, he identified Akiane Kramarik's portrait of Jesus with blue eyes called "Prince of Peace". princeofpeace13_thumb1.jpg He chose a popular image of Jesus, not a more accurate one of a man with more middle-eastern looking descent. He story also fell to popular conceptions of heaven, like the pearly gate. He described a golden gate, with many pearls on it. The only description the Bible has of pearly gates is seven gates made of a single pearl, no gold.
I could pick on more things, I am only going to keep it to two more. First, Colton never died while he was in the hospital, he claims to have gone to heaven while he was in surgery. If he had died we could explain his story as a near-death experience, the result of endorphins overwhelming the brain. Next, his stories came about over the next few years, not right after his "experience." Occam's Razor: Is it simpler to believe that Colton went to heaven, or that he is experiencing false memories created by phenomenas like the misinformation effect?

My parents raised me to be a great person with a mix of different formulas. Sometimes I would get praise for doing something good and other times I would get punished for, say not returning home before curfew. But what is the best way of raising your child? Diana Baumrind's work has led us to establish three main classes of parenting styles: Permissive, authoritarian and authoritative. Permissive parents are the softies. Their children have a great deal of freedom, hardly and punishment, and a great deal of affection. Authoritarian parents are the "mean" ones. They are very strict and tend to show little affection. Authoritative parents are the best! They set a happy median between the two styles and usually lead their children through a very happy and stable life.
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Another category of parenting is uninvolved where parents tend to totally neglect their children's positive or negative behaviors. None the less parenting is a very difficult concept and can be a very hard challenge. Many generations have shaped these styles but it is up to the individual in what to do. So how do you think parents should raise their children? Should it be different in different circumstances or just universal for everyone? There are many parenting books out there today but only real-life experience enlightens the best parenting.

bilingual.jpgIn full disclosure, I am a staunch advocate of learning a foreign language. The topic of foreign language learning, immersion teaching in particular, has long been very fascinating to me. As someone who has studied and worked abroad, I greatly understand the practical benefits of knowing a second language but what has escaped my radar until recently are the cognitive benefits of being bilingual. Ch. 8 in the Lilienfeld text dabbled into these cognitive benefits. For a more robust understanding, check out this NYT article.

For sake of brevity, here are a few reasons from Lilienfeld and the NYT article why exposure to a second language before & after the critical period for language acquisition is so dang important:

1. Heightened metalinguistic insight -- this insight will be a friend that keeps on giving. You may think you know English now but it's amazing how much we don't know about the structure of our own language. Learning a second language has actually helped me better understand the finer details of my own native language.

2. Improvement of executive functions in the brain -- this includes planning, problem solving, and performing other mentally demanding tasks.

3. Brain efficiency -- executing demanding tasks uses less activity in the associated parts of the brain for bilinguals.

4. Increased resistance to dementia and Alzheimer's Disease -- a study found that the higher the degree of bilingualism, the later the onset of symptoms.

So here's my question: Why on Earth do American schools, with the exception of immersion, start incorporating foreign language education AFTER the critical period of language acquisition? It's clear that American students are having a harder time competing on a global scale with others. Wouldn't this be a step in the right direction?

Critical period of language acquisition aside, it never hurts to learn a new language. Do these proven practical and cognitive benefits motivate you to pursue learning a foreign language? Can you think of other benefits, besides the ones listed above, to learn a new language?


Last week, we debated the effect of violent video games on behavior. The discussions were centered on if prolonged exposure to such games negatively impact one's behavior causing the user to become more aggressive and prone to hostile crime. This is clearly a current hot topic, but like computational analyst Joshua Lewis remarks, "There has been a lot of attention wasted in figuring out whether these things turn us into killing machines." Lewis, of the University of California, San Diego who has studied 2,000 computer game players, further states, "Not enough attention has been paid to the unique and interesting features that videogames have outside of the violence."

So what features is Lewis referring to? Well, multiple research studies referenced in the article "When Gaming is Good for You" of the Wall Street Journal, indicate that gaming improves creativity, decision-making and perception. One specific study researched 491 middle school students over a three year period found that "the more children played computer games the higher their scores on a standardized test of creativity."

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A world featuring the juxtaposition of trained killing machines and creative geniuses develops in my mind. I ask you to imagine that both sets of research are found completely conclusive. That is, it is completely proven that violent video games cause at least some migration to aggressive behavior in the user. However the activity also trains one to make "decisions 25% faster than others without sacrificing accuracy" and "act on them up to six times a second--four times faster than most people." Does this change your outlook on the effects of gaming? Why or why not?

Parenting Styles

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I got interested on Diana Baumrind's research on parenting styles. Her classification was based on two important aspects: parental responsiveness, which refers to the degree the parent responds to the child's needs and parental demandingness, which is the extent to which the parent expects more mature and responsible behavior from the child. Using these two dimensions, she identified three different parenting styles: Authoritarian, Permissive and Authoritative. A fourth style of parenting was added by Maccoby and Martin: Uninvolved or Neglectful parenting. The picture below should give you a better understanding of the different parenting styles.
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It is said that Baumrind favored the authoritative parenting style and found the authoritarian parenting style as too strict and permissive parenting style as too soft. Authoritraian parents are more likely to raise disrespectful, delinquent children. Did you know that procrastination is also associated with parenting? Children with demanding parents might learn to avoid tasks, rather than risking failure. I, personally, would support authoritative parenting style. I could be be biased because my parents followed that style. I am pretty sure they weren't aware of this research then. But I would say that that style of parenting has put me in the right track of discipline giving me the freedom to choose or do what I want and at the same time to be well within my limits.


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Cultural effects play a major role in parenting. For example, while permissive parenting has made adolescents to engage in self-destructive activities in America; in Spain, the same parenting style is associated with strong academic performance. Uninvolved parenting has a whole different level of impact on the children.

It would be interesting to see how the different parenting styles have influenced each of us this this class. What parenting style did you grow up in? Do you think that your character matches with the parenting style you grew up under? If you are already a parent, what parenting style do you follow? Or when you become a parent what parenting style would you likely follow, now that you know the different parenting styles?

Memory chunks

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This week in lecture we learned that 7 plus or minus 2 chunks is the "magic" number our short term memory would be able to store. Although what we consider chunks changes from person to person because of how people remember things. Some may remember certain strings of numbers as possible dates while others only remember the individual numbers themselves making their chunks considerably less than the other persons. How we initially end up making our chunks is unique to the person themselves because how we group or remember things is often really personal because of life experiences and upbringing. Chunking only increases the amount of time you are able to remember in the short term but anything longer than that and it won't help. An example of this from the reading is a string of 15 letters and trying to remember as many as possible.
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The average amount of letters people would get would be from 5-9 but by using chunks most Americans could remember easily because the first three are FBI which is an agency, the next chunk would be US which is United States, the third chunk could be CIA because its another agency, the fourth chunk is NBC a popular news channel and finally JFK one of our presidents. This is an easy example of memory chunks but again each person is of their own personal style.

Nick Berg

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