Welcome to Spring Semester 2018!

It’s a new semester here at Elizabethtown College, and that means another group of students is about to begin studying psychology. I’m excited to have 35 new students in PSY 105 (General Psychology). Over the course of the next 16 weeks, we will be exploring the highlights of psychology’s rich history as well as touching on some of the current cutting edge findings. The students will be posting their introductions this week, so check back to see who will be on our journey this semester! They will be telling us a little about themselves and what they are hoping to get out of this class. Make sure to subscribe for email updates so you’ll be first to know when new content is posted!

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Week 15 First Impression Prompts – Mental Health Treatment

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Here are the prompts for this week. Regardless of which prompt you choose, use the tag “Mental Health Treatment.” The first impression posts will be due by the beginning of class on Wednesday, 12/6. The refinement posts will be due at noon on Sunday, 12/10.

Option 1:

Your textbook lists 4 major types of psychotherapy (psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive, and humanistic). Rank these types of therapy according to how helpful you think they would be if you needed therapy and explain what it is about each one that you like/dislike.

Option 2:

Former First Lady Michelle Obama contributed a considerable amount of energy and support into a campaign targeting increased awareness of mental health issues called Change Direction. Using the information provided on their website (http://www.changedirection.org) evaluate how effective you think the campaign will be in general. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the campaign? Will college students pay attention to this or not and why? If Etown was going to do an awareness campaign to help students identify mental health issues in their friends and classmates, how should they go about doing it to give it the best chance of actually working?

I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Caitlinator
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Spotlight Blog 3 Prompts

Regardless of which option you choose, make sure to use the tag “Spotlight” on your post. Also include the tag listed for the option you choose below. The spotlight post is due at 2pm on Sunday, 12/10.

Option 1 – Use the tag “Social”

People are often told to resist peer pressure and think for themselves, but as we’ve learned, this is more easily said than done. Too often, especially for teens, this advice is not followed with concrete recommendation about ways to resist pressure from others. I want you to identify three websites that provide methods for resisting peer pressure and discuss how likely you think the strategies they provide are to be successful. Make sure to explain your rationale using what we’ve learned in class and your textbook. Each of the three websites need to be targeted at a different audience but you may select the audiences you want to use (e.g., college students, athletes, parents, artists). Make sure to include links to the websites as part of your post.

Option 2 – Use the tag “Mental Illness”

Television shows like My Strange Addiction, Intervention, True Life, and others have turned some mental illnesses into entertainment. In particular, the shows Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive showcase people with hoarding disorder trying to get their lives, homes, and relationships back in order. What do you think about this type of show? Is it ethical to do? Does it exploit people with mental illnesses? Here is a sample clip from Hoarding: Buried Alive in case you’re not familiar with how these shows work. Find at least two sources that argue these shows are helpful for the people on the show and/or the general public and at least two sources that argue these shows are harmful. Discuss the evidence each source provides, assess the credibility of the sources, and explain your own perspective on shows like this. Make sure to include links and/or citations for your sources.

Option 3 – Use the tag “Mental Health Treatment”

One of the biggest questions when deciding to seek treatment for a mental health condition is to pick between seeking psychotherapy (e.g., counseling, therapy) and medication. Major depressive disorder is the most common mental illness in the US, and can be treated effectively using either method. Find at least two sources that argue psychotherapy is a better treatment option and at least two sources that argue medication is a better treatment option. Discuss the evidence each source provides, assess the credibility of the sources, and explain your own perspective. Make sure to include links and/or citations for your sources.

I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Thomas Hawk
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Week 14 First Impression Prompts – Mental Illness

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Here are the prompts for this week. Regardless of which prompt you choose, use the tag “Mental Illness.” The first impression posts will be due by the beginning of class on Wednesday, 11/29. The refinement posts will be due at noon on Tuesday, 12/5.

Option 1

Schizophrenia is often depicted dramatically in the media, and has been the subject of many major films like A Beautiful Mind, The Soloist, and Donnie Darko. Less frequently, however, do people get the chance to think about the daily life of someone who experiences hallucinations and delusions. Watch this video which simulates the experience of a person with schizophrenia, share your reactions, and compare this to how you typically see schizophrenia in the media.

Option 2

People often associate schizophrenia with the homeless population or mental hospitals, but rarely do we think about people who are professionally very successful. One person who is thriving despite her schizophrenia is Elyn Saks, who received her law degree from Yale and is a professor at the University of Southern California. In her TED Talk, she describes how she struggled with her disorder and was eventually able to manage her condition and take control of her life. Share your reactions to the video, discuss how her story compares to the “typical narrative” of schizophrenia, and discuss why you think she turned out differently than other people with this disorder.

I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Caitlinator
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Thanksgiving Break First Impression Post – Motivation

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**In case you need an additional first impression or refinement post to make it to the required 8 for the semester, the following prompts are available for yout to do over break. This material is related to Sections 10.1 and 10.2 in the textbook, but we will not be covering this in class. For refinement posts make sure you read Chapter 10 to incorporate material from the text.**

Here are the two prompts for break. Regardless of which prompt you choose, please use the tag “Motivation.” The first impression posts will be due by the 10pm on Sunday, 11/26. The refinement posts will be due at noon on Saturday, 12/2.

Option 1

America is currently facing an obesity epidemic that some experts have labeled the biggest public health threat we have today. We have all heard the recommendations to eat healthier and get regular exercise. Some people, however, are taking the message of healthy eating too far. A new mental health disorder called orthorexia nervosa has been proposed, in which eating healthy food becomes an obsession. One set of proposed criteria are available here. Look over the criteria and comment on whether or not you think this is a good way to define the boundary between eating healthy and having a mental disorder.

Option 2

Motivation is not a stable force, but often waxes and wanes. Throughout your time at Elizabethtown College, your motivation for school will undoubtedly be higher at some times and lower at others. I want you to discuss why you chose to come to Elizabethtown College originally and what you do to motivate yourself to do well in your classes currently. I also want you to plan an intervention for yourself for how you can maintain motivation to succeed until graduation.

I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Caitlinator
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Bonus Blog Prompt – Johari Window

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As part of our exploration of personality, each of you completed an online Johari Window. This process helps you learn how similar your self-perceptions are to how others see you. For this bonus blog post, I want you to discuss what that process was like for you, how similar your self-description was to what others selected, how valid of a measure of personality do you think this is, and what, if anything, you learned about yourself in this process. Include a link to your Johari window in your post. This bonus post is due Saturday, 11/18, at 8pm and is worth 1.5 points of extra credit. Be sure to use the tags “Bonus Posts” and “Personality.” I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Caitlinator

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Week 12 First Impression Prompts – Social Psychology

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Here are the two prompts for this week. Regardless of which prompt you choose, please use the tag “Social.” The first impression posts will be due by the beginning of class on Friday, 11/17. The refinement posts will be due at noon on Sunday, 11/26.

Option 1:

The Implicit Association Test (which can be accessed through this link) is a tool to identify biases which may be outside your conscious awareness. The results of this test cannot determine whether or not you are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., but they are useful to help you understand yourself and how you interact with others. For this post, you must take two separate IAT tests from the link above. You do not need to share your results if you don’t want to, but you need to talk about the experience of taking the test and getting the results, comment on whether or not the results were surprising, and discuss how this test can be useful for college students or your future career.

Option 2:

Would you enjoy a task more if I gave you $1 to do it or $20 to do it? Many of you will probably say you’d rather have the $20, but research suggests you will probably enjoy it more if I only give you a single dollar. Watch this footage to see:

Describe a time in your life when you think you experienced a change in beliefs due to cognitive dissonance, and argue whether you think this is a good thing we should promote and utilize or a bad thing we should try to avoid.

I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Caitlinator
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Week 11 First Impression Prompts – Personality

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We all want to know more about our ourselves, and psychological tests are one way to explore our personalities. While the full psychological tests are often long and require a fee to take, there are an abundance of free versions online. Take the four personality tests linked below, discuss how accurately they describe your perception of your personality, and discuss the credibility of each test. Make sure to use the tag “Personality” on your post. The first impression posts will be due by the beginning of class on Wednesday, 11/8. The refinement posts will be due at noon on Tuesday, 11/14.

I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Caitlinator
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Week 10 First Impression Prompts – Intelligence

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Here are the two prompts for this week. Regardless of which prompt you choose, please use the tag “Intelligence.” The first impression posts will be due by noon on Saturday, 11/4. The refinement posts will be due at noon on Tuesday, 11/7.

Option 1:

Many people consider intelligence to be largely determined by genetics, but there is substantial evidence that the environment and social processes play a large role as well. Since schools are a place where children try to determine how smart they really are, it is important for educators to understand the impacts of their subtle or not-so-subtle interactions with students. In your blog post, reflect on your interactions with educators throughout your school career, and discuss what changes to the school system could improve students’ performance in the classroom.

Option 2:

In 1998, the Governor of Georgia, Zell Miller, proposed spending $105,000 of the state’s budget to distribute a cassette or CD of classical music to the parents of each new child born in Georgia (see the NY Times article). Governor Miller was a staunch believer in the Mozart effect, a theory that listening to Mozart can increase intelligence. The Mozart effect is highly controversial and has spurred numerous research studies, but was based on one study published in 1993. Read the original journal article by Rauscher, Shaw, & Ky and discuss whether or not the original evidence supports Governor Miller’s decision.

I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Caitlinator
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Spotlight Blog 2 Prompts

Regardless of which option you choose, make sure to use the tag “Spotlight” on your post. Also include the tag listed for the option you choose below. The spotlight post is due by the beginning of class on Friday, 11/10.

Option 1 – Use the tag “Intelligence”

There has been a lot of controversy around the way our educational system works to improve learning outcomes for our children. For this post, you are going to investigate one of these issues and present your conclusions based on the evidence you review. You may select either year-round education (i.e., whether or not there should be a long summer break) or single-gender education (i.e., should boys and girls have separate classrooms). You will need to find two sources arguing for year-round education/single-gender education and two sources arguing against it, review the evidence in each source, and present your conclusion on the issue. Make sure to cite your sources.

Option 2 – Use the tag “Stress”

We’ve discussed a number of different stress management approaches in class, and now I want you to evaluate online resources for stress management. Specifically, I want you to identify three websites that provide stress management tips and discuss how likely you think the strategies they provide are to be successful. Make sure to explain your rationale using what we’ve learned in class and your textbook. Each of the three websites need to be targeted at a different audience but you may select the audiences you want to use (e.g., college students, athletes, parents, artists). Make sure to include links to the websites as part of your post.

Option 3 – Use the tag “Drugs”

One of the largest campaigns to prevent drug use among children was the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program. This federal program sought to provide kids with information about the dangers of using drugs, using things like the slogan “Just say no!” While people had high hopes for the program, it ended up being very controversial largely because of how it ended up impacting the rates of drug abuse among children exposed to the program. Research what the data say about the DARE program and argue whether or not it was a successful program. Then take what we learned from DARE and argue whether or not you think similar abstinence-based programs (e.g., sexual education programs) should be used in schools. Make sure to cite your sources.

I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Thomas Hawk
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