Week 12 First Impression

Cognitive dissonance has been a prominent feeling in communication since its early development. Everyone has the privilege of free thought, yet there is a frequent need in modern civilization to say the things we need to say in order to gain something. While this may not always mean downright lying, it can still bring an inauthentic result.

An example of cognitive dissonance in my own life is actually what was a long-term experience in my life and education growing up. I grew up in the Catholic Church and never shared the same beliefs with the people around me. However, my entire social environment (my school, my church community, and my family) was Roman Catholic. I essentially had no non-Catholic social outlet until the ninth grade, therefore I had to convince my environment that I shared the same beliefs. This led me to experience cognitive dissonance daily, as my responses to questions even in class often needed to acknowledge the existence and role of God. If I did not incorporate religion into the way I communicated, there was a major social risk. Therefore, cognitive dissonance became a constant in my upbringing.

I personally think that cognitive dissonance is ultimately a positive thing, since it leads to a better sense of control when we speak. If we were not to feel that discomfort, we may end up saying something that could compromise whatever gain there would be from giving the needed response, regardless of whether or not that answer feels true to ourselves. I wouldn’t go as far as to say we should promote cognitive dissonance, but I would say we should promote strategic communication, as there are many benefits from it in our careers. Cognitive dissonance is not as deliberate as strategic communication or decision making, as that state of discomfort occurs on its own. Though we are rarely conscious of it, cognitive dissonance serves a great purpose.


Spotlight Blog 2: DARE

DARE was a remarkably ineffective government program with an outcome far from what was anticipated. Launched in 1983, DARE was operating in around 80% of schools in the United States, starting with elementary students and even working with them throughout high school to reinforce what they have been taught. By 2003, it was determined that DARE had been overall ineffective in keeping youth from using illicit drugs long-term, according to a reports published by the General Accounting Office. The University of Kentucky conducted a decade-long study that showed how the DARE program had absolutely no positive impact on students by the time they were 20 (US).

DARE America, a sponsor of the DARE program as a whole, even admitted publicly that the program was ineffective and needed time to redesign its approach (“DARE”). Despite its failure, the program still runs today. Popular opinion overshadows the evidence, and there has still been a huge amount of government money being funneled into the program. I think the results of DARE demonstrate that no matter how much funding or public attention these kinds of programs receive, they aren’t necessarily going to be effective. Perhaps the most striking finding about the ineffectiveness of DARE is that students who participated in the program actually showed significantly higher rates of experimentation with drugs, according to a study by the University of Illinois (“Reallocation “). For at-risk teen, experimenting with drugs tends to be an common alternative to “just saying no.”

I myself was a DARE graduate among twenty other elementary students in my grade, and over half of those classmates became involved with drugs in high school. Whether or not a student becomes involved with drugs depends more on the environment and mental state they are in than on whether or not they have been properly oriented to the dangers of drugs by an official program. Destructive decisions cannot be prevented by aids like abstinence programs because those decisions are a constant option to young people and cannot be ignored. These programs are ultimately a waste of government funding which could be used to provide resources to those at-risk students, such as effective health and counseling services for schools. If a student has a proper support group and a caring environment they will be less likely to get involved with drug use, with or without a DARE certificate.



“DARE Admits Failure.” Common Sense for Drug Policy: Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), http://www.csdp.org/news/news/darerevised.htm.

“Reallocation of Dare Funds.” Edge, https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/ganginterv/reallocation.htm

“US: DARE Drug-Resistance Campaign, Called Ineffective, Is Being.” Powered by MAP, http://www.mapinc.org/newscsdp/v01/n277/a07.html.


Week 11 First Impression Post

I feel that the Briggs Myers’ personality test has always been quite accurate for me and known to be accurate for many people. The result of my test was ENTP. I am somewhat of an extrovert, I feel as though I’m more intuitive than sensing, and that I’m more thinking than feeling in my approach to things. I was surprised to see that my biggest percentage was for perceiving over judging; I’ve always considered myself a judgemental person.

The Personality Test Center’s Type Theory assessment told me I am an INFJ. I took both this test and the Briggs Myer’s test consecutively, as well. These results makes me question this website in particular, as I know I have had fairly consistent personality type results in the past coming from the Briggs Myers’ test. I did however agree with the assessment that I have a judging personality.

The Big Five Personality Test ranked intellect and imagination highest for me, then extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability, in that order. I find this test to be strange in the particular things it measures. I think intellect and imagination should be separate, and I think agreeableness and conscientiousness are traits too subjective and specific to determine an overall measure for. Emotional stability doesn’t seem like something that can even have a ballpark measurement from the few basic questions about it, like “do you often feel blue?” or “do you have frequent mood swings?”

The color quiz seemed astonishingly accurate in the result it gave me. However it seemed like maybe some of the explanations may just be easy for any person to apply to themselves and their own problems. The website seemed outdated and unprofessional. I even had a friend take the quiz to see how the results varied, and we found that many of the explanations between the two of us were extremely broad and similar, if not the same. All of the personality tests seemed incredibly basic, outdated, and unofficial. I personally believe personality is too complex a topic to classify.




First Impression Post: Learning

Violence in video games has been a popular concern among parents since video games have started getting more advanced. Video games are no longer puzzles or arcade-style; instead them simulate life, which isn’t always mild. In fact, video games nowadays seem to use extremes to appeal to young people who haven’t been exposed to the more feared, graphic parts of life. War games have an enormous appeal, as the challenge is one that deals with the lives of people, or even national pride. U.S. military recruiters have even used these kinds of games to reel in young people who enjoy challenges of that severity. I don’t necessarily disapprove of violent video games, but I think it’s awful that it takes images of decapitation to interest a playful child in 2017.

I think violence in video games reflects how different our definition of a game is today vs forty years ago. I don’t think it necessarily makes kids more violent, but I do think it gives kids an understanding of the extent of violence and what they could do to someone if they were angry enough – which is scary. There’s also a strange, eerie appeal in a lot of people to seeing gore and destruction, which I think violent video games activate at an early age. I don’t think they should be banned, but I do think parents should hesitate to buy violent video games for their kids, as they might have a dark influence on them in such a formative years of their lives.

First Impression Post: Stress

My current stress management game plan relies entirely on having free time to exercise. The night before a big exam, presentation, or project, I typically like to go for a long run in a new place or lift very heavily before studying and going to bed. Exercising works well for me as stress relief because it helps to remind myself that there are other things to channel my mental energy into when one class seems to be draining my mind. Rather than continue to cram or stress out about a test or assignment, I take a break from that information and give my attention to whatever exercise I’m doing. Since directing your body’s movement is not mentally draining like schoolwork can be, I can typically come back to the important information later with more energy.

Since I exercise daily, I don’t really depend on any other stress management activity. I do however like the idea of writing in a journal each day; I think that’s a great way to organize and clarify your thoughts and feelings when they seem overwhelming. Having a regular schedule and routine would also be a good way to help manage my stress since I don’t stay on campus for the entire day and am often driving to different engagements. Eating healthily with less sugar intake would help reduce my stress significantly as well.

First Impression Post – Sleep

My sleep habits this semester are nowhere near as strong as I’d like them to be. As a commuter, my living space as well as both of my jobs are off campus, and taking 18 credits means my schoolwork demands staying up late every night and studying for every minute of free time between class. I wake up at 7 am each day and go to bed after almost always after 1am. At best, I get about 6-7 hours of sleep each night, which is not healthy for my lifestyle. To keep myself awake to study, I often go to the gym for an intense hour-long session before I sit down at my desk for the night. Sleep is critical for muscle recovery, but I am unable to fit in enough sleep, so I’m putting my body under stress and days of soreness without proper healing.

In addition, my focus and alertness are constantly hindered by my tiredness. I do not consume caffeine any more than once a week, as it tends to keep me from falling asleep later when I need to. Overall, my sleep habits do not work well with my level of physical activity. To improve my sleep habits, the best thing I personally can do is take time off of work to complete schoolwork earlier in the day and get to bed at a more reasonable time. I think 8-9 hours of sleep is almost unattainable for college students, despite the fact it’s what we should all be getting. I would say between 7-8 hours of sleep each night plus a nap later in the day would be the most effective and realistic plan.

Spotlight Blog 1: Memory

Several sites have their own studying tips to share with anyone looking to retain more learned information. The first site I found offers advice to college students on effective study habits. The first tip boldly states “good notes = good grades,” which I am immediately skeptical of, since note-taking isn’t effective for every student, nor does it always secure material in your memory, according to what we’ve learned in Chapter 8. By simply writing information down, you’re repeating information rather than effectively processing it and interacting with it. A few better options, according to the mini-lecture on memory and studying, would be to at least organize the info, and better yet draw connections between key terms or how the information relates to you. By visualizing a personal application of the information, we associate greater meaning with it, thus remembering it better. One good tip from this article is to not cram, which definitely is backed up by what is known about memory. Instead, the article suggests studying material a little bit each day. This tip completely aligns with the proven successful method of distributed or spaced practice, in which there is a longer period of time for learned information to solidify itself into memory.

As for tips for parents to help their kids study, most of the tips involve a lot of interference into the students’ learning. An article from LDOnline.org, a site with information about learning disabilities, suggests setting a schedule for your child so that they do not wait until the last minute before an assessment and become overwhelmed. This aligns with the distributed practice method, but also is suggested to be combined with a reward system in which time studying is met with praise and positivity, along with “love and affection.” The best way I can describe this method is that it is assisted meaning-focused studying; instead of searching for the meaning of the information yourself, you are given rewards at the end of studying so that you associate positive feelings with it and pursue it further. This method may work for getting kids to study in the first place, but will not be effective long-term, since a reward will not always be available. In addition, you may feel over time that you deserve a greater reward, and demand something on the other side of studying for the session to be constructive at all. A better method would be to help your kids establish long-term goals to focus on rather than instant gratification.

An article from TeenLife.com actually offers some great ideas for high school students trying to study better. One tip that especially sticks out is to “hang new information on an old ‘hook,'” as in, relate new info to what you already know. This is an effective course of action as it falls within the method of elaboration, which according to the mini-lecture includes using devices such as mnemonics to help expand on new information. The article even suggests using songs in the same way as an acronym or mnemonic. It also suggests studying in a group, which is another method supported by psychology. If you study in a group after developing your own background with the information, you are able to view information from different perspectives and likely find a better way of remembering it later.







Week 2: First Impression Research Study (Option 1)

I selected Option 1 for Week 2’s post, since I liked the idea of developing my own study as opposed to commenting on another.

Research Question: How does the color of a paper exam affect the test-taker’s performance?

Hypothesis: I believe that cool-tone colors of paper like blue or green will result in better test performance. Knowing that red and orange are more stimulating colors that evoke emotion, I think that blue or green paper would lower the stress levels about the test for the students taking the exam, whereas a warm color would intensify any nervous feelings.

Procedure: For this study, I would have a group of students of the same year and rounded GPA listen to a simple lecture and take an exam, some with a different color paper than another. I would likely recruit participants easiest by offering them food. While the students finish the test, I will mark down their finishing time as well for further data.

Difficulties: Some difficult things to control here will be the differences in learning styles in all the participants, regardless of their GPA. There could be learning disabilities to account for as well, and the mental condition of each student at the time. Some students may be tired from other classes, or may be thinking about upcoming classes as well, so it would be best to perform the test after final exams.

Bonus Post: Miguel

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.

From a psychodynamic standpoint, Miguel appears to be very stressed. He also seems to find difficulty managing his frustration. There is a chance he has self-esteem issues, given his self-doubt. Overall, he seems to direct a great deal of anger inward.

Judging his behavior, it appears that Miguel has a difficult time holding back his feelings. Some of his frustrations become clear in the way he begins conflicts with his roommates. He cannot fall asleep because his mind never seems to feel at rest. His lack of sleep is likely a large factor in what’s making him so irritable, and in turn may be what is causing him to pick fights.

From a humanistic approach, Miguel may just be having a difficult time trying to succeed in school. He may be starting fights with his roommates because there are significant issues between them. With his studies, he may be directing his anger inwards because he feels he is not doing enough. He feels the need to succeed due to his own interests and possibly the importance of what others think. He wants to be moving forwards and is struggling with his hangup.

A cognitive approach would tell you that he may have a learning disability involving his focus. He also finds difficulty with reading other people’s emotions, and reacts strongly, starting conflicts with his roommates. As for his perfectionism, he treats most situations as if they are completely within his control, not understanding the other factors at play. He is unable to consider an objective approach to his issues, so instead he processes it as a deep personal flaw.

From neuroscience standpoint, there may be a disruption in his brain chemistry. Due to his lack of sleep, a chemical may be being produced too much or too little. Due to this pattern, his sleep patterns may be thrown off by that much consistent bad sleep. The disruption also hurts his ability to focus and process information and emotions.

There may also be a cultural factor at play. Miguel could come from an immigrant family or live in an area where he feels like a minority. People like his roommates could be treating him differently or unfairly, making him feel distant and emotionally upset. Due to this constant discomfort, he cannot sleep at night due to feeling threatened or depressed about his isolation. He also finds it difficult to learn in the same environment as the majority around him.



My name is Scott Kennedy and I am a first-year student at Elizabethtown College. I chose to take General Psychology because I’ve always wanted to take psychology courses at the college level, and perhaps pursue a minor in it. I have not taken a psychology class before, since my high school’s psych class never fit into my schedule. However, I’ve always enjoyed reading books, articles, and studies on psychology in my own free time. When I think of psychology I think of research, quite honestly. As much as I find interest in stories of rare psychological cases and more recent trends involving mental health issues in today’s society, I always remember that at the heart of psychology is thorough research.

The three topics in the course schedule that I find most interesting are improving memory, coping with stress, and mechanics of sleep, since they hold useful and applicable information for me as a busy college student. Three less interesting topics to me would be scientific method, research design, and the power of experiments, since I’m much more interesting in the results and principles of psychological studies than doing the details of doing the research itself. That being said, I do understand the value and importance of effective research to any field, and I hope I gain more exposure to it during the class. My absolute first of many questions about psychology that I’d like to answer by the end of the class is how can I use psychology to make myself more productive and effective in learning and working?