First Impression-Chapter 2

--Original published at Bailey PSY 105 Blog

I have always been interested in the topics of serial killers, and what goes behind the motivation of these killers to commit the crimes that they do. The implications of the genetic structure of the brain contributing to someone turning into a murderer is very compelling to me, so that is why I chose the talk Exploring the Mind of a Killer.

In the TED talk, neuroscientist Jim Fallon goes into detail about the mental structure of a serial killer and how genetics, early experiences, brain structure, and critical timing goes in to the making of a killer. In the talk, Fallon goes into depth about the structure of the orbital lobe, as well as the genetic significance of timing when one is examining what creates a serial killer. For example, the combination of early childhood exposure to violence as well as the MAO-A gene, as well as the overexposure to serotonin when your brain is developing, is what Fallon refers to as “a recipe for disaster.” Fallon also gets into the contributions a family tree has to serial killers, and details his own experiences with several of his own relatives (including Lizzy Borden and the Cornells) that committed gruesome murders.

I found the aspect of the family tree most interesting when watching the TED talk, because I had no idea that the concept of being a killer could run in the family. It does make sense after watching it, though, because if what Fallon claims about the MAO-A gene is correct, and if it keeps getting passed down from generation to generation, the gene would continue to have the same effects if the child was exposed to some sort of violent stimuli early on.

I find the presenter very trustworthy; Fallon is a neuroscientist as well as a professor at University of California, and has dedicated over 35 years to studying behavior as a result to brain and genetic structure. Though he has just recently gotten involved in studying killers, I believe that he has enough of a solid background in the subject to be able to apply it to this field. I also think that the consistencies he has found in the genetics and brain scans of more than 70 examples of violent killers are very sturdy proof of his claim.

If I were to do a research study based on the information presented on the talk, I would look more deeply into if there is a way to correct the damaged structure of the orbital region of the brain through sessions of therapy, or prescription medications. I would take previous offenders who displayed this type of behavior and brain structure, as well as people that had not yet committed a violent crime and split them into a control and experimental group. I would then submit the control group to sessions of talk therapy as well as pharmaceuticals. Finally, I would test and compare the way that both groups responded to various stressful and perhaps violence-inducing situations (in a controlled environment) and see if the drugs or therapy had made any difference. I would also preform repeat brain scans to see if the actual structure of the brain had been edited at all since the start of the correction attempts.

Chapter 4-First Impression

--Original published at Bailey PSY 105 Blog

Parenting is probably one of the most confusing, exciting, demanding, and rewarding challenges anyone could possibly undertake. In my opinion, the biggest mistake that any parent can make when taking on this feat is swinging too far to one extreme or the other. For example, jellyfish parents are far too lenient, and their children generally lack impulse control and have problems with limits or restrictions placed on them later in life. On the other hand, children raised under the tiger parent or helicopter parent mentality are usually far too hard on themselves and place heavy expectations on themselves throughout their lives. In addition to that, children raised in those environments are far more likely to rebel and push their boundaries, because they live such sheltered lives. I believe the best way to parent is to try and find a healthy balance between being a parent and being a friend, between authority and leniency, and between limits and allowances. Though it is difficult, parents ultimately need to be able to make the call between when to take over the decision making and when to let their children be independent, because in the long run parents cannot be the decision makers forever; their job in the end is to raise their children to independently act, think, and keep themselves and others safe.

Extra Credit: Theoretical Lenses

--Original published at Bailey PSY 105 Blog

Miguel has been struggling with his coursework lately. He has felt very tired in recent weeks and has found it difficult to focus on his studies. Even though he is always tired, he has trouble falling asleep at night, is irritable during the day, and picks fights with his roommates. He is a bit of a perfectionist and gets mad at himself when he makes even tiny mistakes. It’s gotten to the point where he doubts his ability to do anything right.


Psychodynamic: Psychodynamically, Miguel could be experiencing something akin to the ‘snowball effect.’ It is possible that missed a few hours of sleep one night, then wasn’t able to get to bed early the next night. This could have formed the pattern of behavior that has now led to him not being able to sleep when he should be. This lack of sleep could also result in his aggression and irritability to those around him. 


Behavioral: Miguel’s coarse behavior toward his friends and roommates could be a result of many things. One being his lack of sleep having an affect on his patience, and another possibility is that he was rude to them once, and they allowed it, so now he feels as though there are no repercussions. When Miguel’s friends did not reprimand or confront him for his initial behavior, he likely realized that it was acceptable to treat them this way and felt no need to alter his way of dealing with them. This escalated into him constantly being short and irritable with everyone around him. 


Humanistic: As stated above, when Miguel’s companions continuously allowed their own mistreatment, Miguel may have placed a lower value on human correction or interaction. He may have seen a group of people that were allowing him to do things he knew he shouldn’t, and subconsciously began to see them as a group that did not care enough about him to correct his mannerisms.  


Cognitive: Miguel’s attention span is likely altered because of his lack of sleep, therefor making him quicker to snap at or argue with his roommates. This also likely has an affect on his self worth because he cannot think clearly enough to recognize why he is making mistakes in class or on homework. This could limit him from seeing a way out of the hole he has dug himself into, and thus make him increasingly more critical of himself.


Neuroscience: Neurologically, Miguel’s brain function is likely altered or slowed because of his lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to the brain cells not communicating effectively, and therefore causing lapses in his mental judgement and processing. This is likely the cause of his struggle in school and lack of patience with his classmates.


Cultural: Culturally, one explanation for Miguel’s immense pressure on himself is him coming from an academically rigorous or notoriously successful background. He could be from a place where failure of any kind is magnified and unacceptable, and as a result he is still placing these pressures on himself even though he is away from his home and his family. 

First Impression Post 1

--Original published at Bailey PSY 105 Blog

For my first impression post, I chose to critique the Myth Busters video questioning whether or not you would reach your destination faster if you weaved in and out of traffic, or if you stayed in one lane the entire drive. The way the group tested this was by sending two cars into rush hour traffic at the exact same time with the same destination. Initially, the weaving car pulled ahead, but by the fifteen minute mark the single lane car was in the lead and remained there until about halfway to the destination. Although they did not show the results in the mini clip, it is implied that the weaving car made it to their destination first.

Some positives I found within the study was that the cars were released at exactly the same time, traveled the same route, and had the same destination in mind. These are all very important because without exposing the two cars to the same variables, there is no way that the study could have been accurate. Another thing I liked about the study was the information provided throughout about the mental state of both drivers during their journey. For example, the weaving driver demonstrated high levels of stress and anxiety through the trip, whereas the single lane driver stayed calm and relaxed the entire time. I thought this provided great insight as to whether or not weaving in and out of traffic was worth the extra time driving aggressively may or may not gain you.

The first issue I found within this study is one of human error. The weaving car did not necessarily follow the route that all drivers would choose, and I believe this damages the results because it does not properly gauge whether the driver chooses the best possible lanes to switch into. I don’t think that there is a solution for this problem, because there is no way to survey every driver on the road in order to know which lanes they would switch into and when they would switch. I also think the weaving car may not accurately represent how aggressive a drive may be when he or she is desperate to get to work on time. A solution to this could be selecting a population of drivers with strict job timelines who would be willing to be observed on their morning commute. Another issue I found with the study is that it is 100% chance as to which lane the single lane driver chooses, and if that lane arrives faster than any others. Because this experiment was performed with such a small sample (only having one driver stay in their lane), a possible solution could be taking a larger amount of drivers on the same day and in rush hour traffic each stay in a different lane for the duration of their commute. This coincides with my final issue of the study, which is the company using such a small and limited population for their experiment; one that can not possibly accurately represent a large group of drivers. A solution to this would be to simply obtain a larger sample size to perform the experiment.

Overall, I think this episode of Myth Busters did the best with what they had available, which is a small group of drivers and a relatively limited amount of time to perform the study. In my opinion, though not without error, the experiment was relatively correct and most likely provides largely accurate results.


--Original published at Bailey PSY 105 Blog

Hi, my name is Bailey Carsten and I will be beginning my first semester as a freshman at Elizabethtown College. I am currently a social work major and am planning to minor in psychology. I am a member of the women’s volleyball team here at Etown, although I am currently injured and unable to play.

I chose to take this class because it was recommended to me to fill a core class requirement, as well as to accomplish a requirement by both my major and my minor. I have always had a deep interest in psychology and the motivations behind why people do what they do. I have no background in psychology, and aside from my own personal interest in the subject motivating me to read a few articles here and there or watching a documentary on the topic, this will be my first time receiving any formal education surrounding psychology. When I hear the word “psychology,” I think mainly of the motivations behind peoples actions, the reasons they are the way they are, and psychological disorders ranging from depression to dissociative identity disorder and everything in between.

In looking at the syllabus, I would say that the three topics that seem the most interesting to me are memory, personality, and mental illness. Memory is of interest to me because I find it fascinating that our brain selectively filters what we consider to be memories and that we decide subconsciously what we do and do not retain. Personality interests me because I would love to know why people end up the way that they do. I am also curious as to the topic of nature versus nurture, and which holds more weight. I am interested in mental illness because many people in my life have suffered from mental illnesses ranging from depression to anxiety to bipolar disorder, and I would love to know what these issues stemmed from and how best to help them. The three topics I am not as interested in are the micro and macro level brain functions and how to choose a therapist. As for the brain and biological topics, it isn’t necessarily that I am not interested to study them, but more that biology is not my strong suit, and I may be requiring more help on those areas of study than with others. How to choose a therapist just does not necessarily sound as interesting to me as some of the other subjects, but I am also not sure what that section necessarily entails so I will definitely come into it open minded.

I don’t necessarily think I have a question about psychology to be answered, I am more interested in building a foundation and getting deeper into these topics that interest me so much than answering one particular question.