First Impression Post #3

--Original published at JanellesCollegeBlog

For this first impression post, I chose to watch the Ted Talk video titled, “Rebecca Saxe: How we read each other’s mind.” I was drawn to this video because of the title. I was really curious about the brain’s ability to read other people, and what they are thinking or what emotions they are feeling. I thought it would be interesting to see if there was a way to manipulate how others feel and act.

In this talk, the speaker presented about a specific brain region that allows us to read each other. This brain region is called the right temporoparietal junction (RTPJ). In adults, this region is specialized while in children, it has to develop slowly. I thought this was particularly interesting because we learned about children being egocentric, and this helps provide an in depth explanation about why this happens. The development of this brain region occurs between the ages of 3 and 8. The speaker then continues to talk about the causal role that this brain structure has in individuals. She explains that the differences between people, and their ability to think about others is caused by differences between this part of the brain. Some people use the RTPJ more than others to think about other people and their thoughts. Finally, the speaker continues to talk about manipulating this part of the brain with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to influence the moral judgement of individuals. TMS technology sends a small magnetic beam into the brain and when targeted to a specific area can change the effect of this area and the behavior of the person. She provides examples of research that she’s done with TMS and the RTPJ. She found that she can change the moral judgement of people by putting the magnetic beam on the RTPJ.

In this talk, I found the videos showing the children and their development and maturation of the RTPJ the most interesting. It was eye-opening to see the reasoning behind children’s responses to a pretend situation and how they develop as they get older and as we know, the RTPJ matures and specializes. By looking at children of different ages, you can clearly see how the RTPJ develops.

The presenter was trustworthy because she mentions that she is a teacher and a cognitive neuroscience scientist. I also think that she is trustworthy because she included videos of her actual studies in the presentation. This provides validity to her results because you can see her first hand experience and how she got to her conclusions of the experiments. The only place where I questioned her trustworthiness was when she mentioned that the average “typical adult mind” that was studied was actually only from MIT graduates. This would not be a representative sample of the human population, so I was skeptical of the conclusions that she was drawing to humans.

A research question that I would be interested in studying would be if you can change the way individuals perceive other people’s emotions by using TMS on the RTPJ. To conduct this study, I would have the participants look at pictures of the faces on people showing an emotion. I would have them state the emotion that they saw in the face of the person, and then I would admit a magnetic pulse of TMS to the RTPJ to see if the responses change based on the magnetic beam. It would be interesting to see if you could manipulate how the participants viewed other people and their emotions by manipulating a specific part of their brain. I would only conduct this study on adults who have a fully developed RTPJ in order to make the results more reliable and trustworthy as to not bring in the variables of underdeveloped RTPJs.

First Impression Post #2

--Original published at JanellesCollegeBlog

Tiger moms, jellyfish dads, and helicopter parents are all extreme philosophies that parents can chose when deciding how to raise their children. These styles of parenting all have their pros and cons with how the child will be raised. With tiger moms, although the child may grow up to be very successful and goal-oriented, they may also have the tendency to rebel and feel like nothing in their life is theirs. Jellyfish dads are the opposite of tiger moms and often allow their children to do anything and everything that they want. These types of parents almost never say “no” to their children which often causes the child to grow up spoiled with no self-control. Helicopter parents are parents that pay attention to everything that the children do and try to manage the little details and schedules of their children’s day to day lives. This can cause children to want to hide information from their parents and be secretive.

My parents were a mix of these extremes. In some ways, my parents were tigers in that they always push me to strive my best, but they would never get disappointed in me if I ever did poorly in school or other activities. Also because I am the youngest of the three siblings and the only girl out of the three of us, I definitely have had my fair share of being spoiled like with jellyfish parents. Also, my parents could be considered helicopter parents as they often want to know what’s going on in my life and will help organize and plan things for me to do. There have been plenty of times since I got here at college that my mom has texted me asking how I’m doing or what my plans are, and after a while, this can get pretty annoying. Nonetheless though, I love my parents and think they have done an amazing job raising me. They always supported me in what I wanted to do and let me run free (as long as I was relatively safe). I also feel like I can be open to my parents about my life because they are extremely accepting and will always have my back. I believe that this communication level is important to have between parent and child.

For my own children, I would like to try to raise them the way my parents did but maybe a little less like a helicopter. I think that it is important to be open with your children and not hold any harmful secrets from them. I want my children to think of me as their friend who can help them with anything, but not as a best friend because this would cause them to lose respect for me. Also, it is essential to try to push children to attain their full potential, but also let them know that as long as they do their best it will all be okay. I would not reward bad behavior or over-spoil my children, but I would always try to give them my love and reward them for all of the good things that they do in life. Also, I think that it is important for children to have the freedom to explore, use their imaginations, and be themselves. I do not want my children to be afraid to be who they really are, and I want them to experience and discover the world in their own way. This means not being overly crazy and worried about every single harmful thing out there. It means letting them figure out what is not good and what is in life, and always being their for them if they ever need an ear that will listen or a shoulder to cry on. I want to be able to be there for my children all the time and help support and give them advice whenever I can. I think these are the most important qualities to have between a child and a parent: respect, honesty, openness, and encouragement. The best parent is a mix between all the extremes with a lot of love on top.

Bonus Post: Miguel

--Original published at JanellesCollegeBlog

Miguel has been struggling with school and may not realize all the different mechanisms and events occurring in his body and mind that have helped to bring him down and get him to the point where he is currently. From the perspective of the psychodynamic, Miguel has unconscious desires that are telling him what to do, distracting him from his school work, and is causing him to fall behind and lose sleep. Psychologists using psychodynamics would look at the ways to potentially suppress these unconscious desires and thoughts and try to resolve these conflicts going on in his head. From the behavioral psychology perspective, the psychologists would focus on the observable behaviors in Miguel’s life like the amount of sleep that he is getting every night or the fights that he is picking with his roommates and how to fix those. Also, they would look to see if he is getting into trouble because of his learned behaviors from the past. For example, fighting may be considered one of his coping mechanisms and although this is not good for him, it is something that he has learned and practiced through his life. In the humanistic perspective, psychologists would see that Miguel probably places a condition of worth on himself that he has to be perfect or he is not worth anything and no one will like him. They would have Miguel focus on everything that he can do right in life and would have him build a strong foundation in his strengths that would help boost his morale. Also, humanistic psychologists would emphasis that Miguel has the ability and freedom to choose what he wants to do in his life. Cognitive psychologists would focus on the way that Miguel tries to solve problems and how he mentally processes events in his life. They would focus on his thoughts and how these thoughts affect everything else. For example, these psychologists would probably focus on the impact of Miguel’s thoughts like losing sleep at night. From the neuroscience perspective, psychologists would look at Miguel’s brain to see what is going on biologically. They would be able to tell if there are chemical imbalances that are driving him feel depressed or angry a lot of the time. Also, they would be able to tell if he was genetically disposed to this condition from birth or if he has evolved his brain to be wired a certain way that makes him a perfectionist. In the cultural perspective, psychologists would evaluate the way that Miguel was raised and the beliefs and values that he grew up with. For example, if he was taught to strive for perfection from a young age, then the roots run deep into his family and values, and by not being perfect he is not only disappointing himself but also his family. Also, depending on his geographical and cultural upbringing, his brain may be wired differently that would cause his functioning to be different telling him that he has to be perfect or causing him to react in different ways like a loss of sleep.

First Impression Post #1

--Original published at JanellesCollegeBlog

For my first “First Impressions” blog post, I decided to watch a mini-clip from the popular TV show called Mythbusters. I chose to watch the clip to see if increased tips in a restaurant setting was caused by increased breast size. In this clip, the female host of the show was disguised to be a barista at a local coffee shop where she was sure to receive a lot of tips for her service. The experiment was conducted over three days, and each day the host of the show gradually increased the size of her breasts-starting with the control of her own breasts and then increasing to a D-sized cup. Then, the amount of tips were tracked by the other hosts of the show from video footage in the coffee shop.

There were many strengths evident within the clip mainly the standardized variables that were held constant during the experiment. For example, the host of the show wore the exact same clothes for the three days as well as the same wig and contacts. This was done to try to ensure that the only factor affecting the amount of tips that the customers gave were only dependent on the breast size of the waitress. The other standardized variable that was extremely important was that the waitress worked the same shift every day. This was done to ensure that the same amount of hours were worked every day so it would not skew the amount of tips received. Also, this was done to try to control the factor of not knowing who or how many people will come into the coffee shop on the given day. Although it is not 100% certain that the same people will come in every day, most people tend to stick to a daily routine including getting coffee, so this is the best way to try to standardize this variable. The last of the standardized variables was that the barista gave the same level of service to every customer. This was done to ensure that the tips given were solely based on breast size and not on the way that the barista was treating the customers. Finally, the last strength of the experiment was the data collection and analysis. The hosts used video to record who tipped and in what amount so that they could collect specific data that would be analyzed later. They needed this data to determine the increase in tips given as well as the difference between the amount of tips that each gender gave. For example, through these observations and records, they could determine with increased breast size, the amount of tips that males gave increased by 30% while the amount of tips that females gave increased by 40%.

The biggest weakness that was evident in the clip was that it was impossible to control who came into and out of the coffee shop. For example, it was impossible to control the amount of people that came in on any of the three days. If more people came into the coffee shop on one day over another, then there would naturally be a greater amount of tips for that day. Also, the experimenters could not control the gender of the customers. If females tipped more with increased breast size, then more money would be made if the majority of the customers were female. These kinds of variables could not be controlled in this experiment, but a way to try to control it would be to count the amount of customers and their genders and have a set amount for each day. For example, they could have set the sample size to be 50 females and 50 males each day. This would standardize the uncertainty of the gender differences in tipping as well as if more people came into the shop one day over another. Another weakness in the clip was that it was only one person that controlled her breast size. This could be solved by performing this experiment at different coffee shops or with different women. Finally the last weakness was that many individuals tip for different reasons. Although, the hosts tried to standardize all the variables that they could, many customers tip for different reasons and some people are more stingy with their money than others. Also it is a general rule that the greater amount of money spent, the more you should tip, so the amount of tips would also depend on the amount of money that was spent by each person. This variable is extremely hard to control and would only be solved if they could make sure that the same people came into the coffee shop for each of those three days and ordered the same products each time.

Overall though, the conclusions from the experiment were able to prove the experiment plausible and show that the larger the breast size of the barista, the greater tips she will receive.


--Original published at JanellesCollegeBlog

Hello! My name is Janelle Barna, and I am a freshman occupational therapy major! I chose to take this class because not only is it required for my major, I am also extremely interested in the topic. Also, I am considering a Psychology minor and hope that this course will help me decide if that is the path I want to take. Although I have never taken a psychology course before, when I think about the word “psychology” I think about the brain and how the different processes of the brain affect human behaviors, decisions, and emotions. I also think about psychologists and how they help individuals with mental illnesses.

Three topics on the syllabus that interest me are Emotion because I feel like there is such a broad range of emotions that ultimately are inspired by what is happening in the brain which is interesting to think about, Theories of Intelligence because there are many individuals that are considered geniuses but what is thought to cause the spike in intelligence, and Motivation because you always hear that if you put your mind to something you can accomplish it, but I want to learn about why/how this works in your brain.

Three topics that do not interest me that much are the Scientific Method, Chemicals & Consciousness, and Classifying Mental Illness because I know the scientific method and the other two topics sound confusing and extremely in depth as well as ambiguous.

By the end of the semester, I want to be able to answer the question: “How does the media use the field of psychology to manipulate and make populations feel a certain way or consume certain products?”