Chapter 15 – First Impression Post

--Original published at Kaity Takes on Psychology

I have to admit – I have been to therapy before. It is no longer a big deal, after all, many of my friends and family have been there, too. Since my visits, I can honestly say I have learned a lot about coping strategies and have felt more confident about myself. The textbook lists a series of psychotherapy methods – psychodynamic, humanistic, behavioral, and cognitive.

Each method has it’s own perks, but I believe the best approach is cognitive therapy. We often think negatively of ourselves for things we cannot control. Believing, for example, you are unhappy and unintelligent for failing a test seems within reason for stressed or depressed students. However, cognitive therapists seek to change our mindset about these problems by helping a client “restructure their thinking in stressful situations” (Page 580). I have been able to gain more confidence and control over myself by changing my thought processes during times of great stress and anxiety, so I think the cognitive method is the one I like best.

My second choice for therapy methods is psychodynamic therapy, because oftentimes our biggest problems are rooted in the past and continuously hold us back from being happy. Many people credit their childhood as the time where they began to feel certain negative thoughts about themselves, and psychodynamic therapists aim to uncover why their clients are struggling. I think this is a very good way to help alleviate the levels of stress an individual carries around, and can even lead to acceptance and personal growth.

Behavioral therapy seems like a good fit for individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Through methods such as classical conditioning, exposure therapy, counterconditioning, and systematic desensitization; individuals are able to feel more comfortable going through their daily lives. Learned behaviors can be swapped out for more constructive behaviors through behavioral therapy.

Finally, the humanistic approach of psychotherapy. In my opinion, all of these methods can work depending on the client and their needs for certain forms of therapy. I believe the humanistic approach (shout out to Carl Rogers) would be most helpful on clients with newer stress. Therapists promote growth in the client rather than trying to assess the individual’s past trauma. The humanistic approach tries to assist individuals by, much like psychodynamic therapy, use insight therapies to help their clients

In conclusion, I believe all patients of therapists should look into the different forms of therapy, because not every approach will work for everyone. We all seek some type of reassurance and help when we look into attending therapy, but it is our own responsibility to find what works best for us

Media Production Project

--Original published at Kaity Takes on Psychology

A study by researchers from Northwestern University recently published their research on how students in low socio-economic families can be influenced to work harder and overcome academic challenges when they associate doing well in school with obtaining upward mobility later in life. Basing their information from three separate studies, the data from each experiment displays a connection between a strong belief in financial success and doing well in school.

The first study evaluated a group of high school students from a low SES (socio-economic status) background based on whether they believe upward mobility is possible for them, and how motivated they are to succeed academically. Researchers found the students with a stronger belief in being successful later in life obtained higher grades than their peers with pessimistic attitudes about upward mobility.

Study two was conducted on a group of college students, who were asked to complete an academic puzzle, specifically unscramble a series of letters and attempt to form as many words as they could in three minutes. They were surveyed about their perception on upward mobility, and asked to include their family’s household income. The second study found students with lower-SES who were influenced to have a strong belief of socioeconomic mobility tried harder during the academic test than their peers with weaker beliefs.

The final study was done on high school freshmen, who were divided into three groups. Each group was given a different result of a study on economic mobility: the first study claims it is possible, the second study showed it was difficult, and the third group was given nothing so they could be a control group. The students were assessed on the grades they earned since the start of the study. Like the previous studies, the annual family income of each student was taken into consideration to determine people’s socio-economic status. The data from the third study yielded similar results to the other experiments: students of low socio-economic status were more motivated than their affluent peers when told economic mobility was a possibility for them.

My rewrite of the pop culture article included the way the experiments were done, because I personally was not a fan of the initial article for omitting the information about the studies. I think the original article would have been better if the journalist from Science Daily assessed the way the studies were done and showed the audience how the research team obtained their information and did their experiments. I feel the study was well done, but the journalist from Science Daily wrote the article with the intentions to focus on the pop culture aspect of journalism.

I left out most the fluff found in the original article. They chose all their samples based on schools who harbored many low socioeconomic families. I believe the experiment does not allow for causal claims because it was done three times in three separate scenarios. The variables were operationalized by putting participants in certain groups. I do not think the conclusions were generalized because it was done three times. The participants were randomly selected from a group of low socio-economic students.

Throughout the past semester, I was tasked with finding a pop culture article, analyzing the research from the original scholarly article, and now rewriting the pop culture article in my own words. Reading each article gave me a better sense of the various forms of writing that are necessary in the field of psychology. Pop culture articles are designed to be read and comprehended by an audience which generally does not understand jargon and technical terms in psychology. Likewise, the original research article stems from the scientific community seeking to expand our body of knowledge, and thus requires understanding certain lingo to interpret what the researchers are trying to demonstrate.

Journalists in the field of psychology seek to educate the average person by presenting the research found by professionals in the field in a way that can be easily understood by anyone. The topic of psychology has a wide umbrella of subjects, like clinical, cognitive, developmental, and behavioral psychology. Each field contains mountains of information which must be analyzed, researched, and shared in the community among scholars and students alike.

The article I have been analyzing and using as my muse for this project blends both developmental and cognitive psychology. Through implementing the idea that someone from a low SES family can be a better student by believing in economic mobility, modern society may be able to impact the lives of many folks.

Chapter 14 First Impression Post – Mental Illness

--Original published at Kaity Takes on Psychology

Mental illness is a very serious issue, particularly in America, where nearly half of the population endures some form of it. I decided to watch the video highlighting various hallucinations and delusions often seen in schizophrenic patients. Initially, the video was relatively peaceful and calm, with just about everything going right. Then, the delusions started to occur and the schizophrenic patient began to hear voices urging them not to do things like drink their coffee, take their medication, and opening doors.

I have never met anyone diagnosed with schizophrenia, but my sister’s mother in law has it, and I have heard stories of her psychotic episodes. I think it is interesting how little we see about schizophrenia in the media, especially because it is a very real illness. American culture tends to omit discussion about the more serious mental illnesses, and instead chooses to present certain illnesses in a romanticized way, as if depression or anxiety is some glamorous gift. I recall watching part of A Beautiful Mind in high school psychology, and it showed a few scary aspects of schizophrenia, but otherwise focused on the positive aspects such as the protagonists’ brilliance, which is associated with delusions of grandeur.

Schizophrenia seems to be something often pushed under the rug until it has some pertinence in mainstream media. Psychological thriller movies love to scare the audience by creating characters diagnosed with schizophrenia, but they often misrepresent the mental illness. Symptoms of schizophrenia range greatly from person-to-person, and most people with this illness do not have the same symptoms. The best way for our culture to gain a better understanding of schizophrenia is to push it to the forefront of society, and not only raise awareness, but increase acceptance. A simple Google search can inform anyone interested in learning about schizophrenia that the best way to help those in need is to be supportive and patient.

Cognitive Dissonance – First Impression Post

--Original published at Kaity Takes on Psychology

Cognitive dissonance – the difference between what we say and what we feel – and how we justify our actions. Plenty of people experience this form of denial, often when trying to convince themselves everything is consistent. The woman in the video seems to realize she should have been paid more than a dollar for lying, especially because she was supposed to say the boring task was exciting. I noticed she was far more committed to the task of convincing others the experiment was fun, and even said she would do something like the experiment again.

However, the man who received twenty dollars easily lied about how exciting the experiment was. When the researchers conducting the experiment asked him about the task he admitted the task was boring. Cognitive dissonance seems to be our brain’s way of justifying why we did something we feel was not worth our time or is bad for us. For example, I vape despite knowing nicotine is an addictive chemical. Though I feel bad because it is harmful to the immune system and lungs, I still do it because I believe the occasional nicotine buzz is worthwhile. I crave the nicotine constantly, but only feel a buzz from it if I wait a few hours between using it.

Another example of cognitive dissonance occurred in season 21 of the hit animated TV series South Park. Heidi Turner, a fourth grader at South Park Elementary, began dating Eric Cartman in the previous season when both students are left without any social media. Though Heidi and Cartman’s relationship was mentally exhausting, she refused to give up on him. Her friends constantly belittled her for staying in the relationship, which only made Heidi more determined to prove her relationship was great.

Like Heidi, the girl in the video knew she was being underpaid for lying, but still felt the need to lie about how interesting the task was to justify her actions. I feel cognitive dissonance can be a good thing for minor things, like rationalizing why we partake in cheat days from diets. However, anything long term like staying in a toxic relationship because your partner has a few decent qualities is a terrible idea. I believe cognitive dissonance is okay in small amounts, but rationalizing every single action you make that you do not necessarily agree with or know consciously is a bad decision is a bad thing we should try to avoid.

Stress – First Impression Prompt

--Original published at Kaity Takes on Psychology

Kelly McGonigal talks about stress in a way most people do not. She considers stress as a motivator for resilience and courage. I have always envisioned stress as a wave of thoughts clouding my ability to function, which is likely why I often feel it. Finding a way to change my outlook on stress in my life is not easy, but I definitely liked what the TED talk speaker had to say.

I often relieve my own stress by talking to people, much like the psychologist said. As someone who has always been an extrovert (I’ve always had someone around to talk to growing up) I feel spending time with my friends has reduced my stress plenty, especially while at college. The studies McGonigal talks about were very fascinating, because I have felt most depressed and stressed while away from people, but spending time with friends when I am feeling overwhelmed benefits everyone.

College students tend to isolate themselves in the library for several hours a week, then go back to their rooms and nap until dinner. Waking up, going to class, studying, doing work online, attending extracurricular activities, and maintaining a social life seems like a lot for someone aged 18-21. Believing stress is bad for you while being immersed in stressful situations is pretty difficult for young adults, but it is inevitable. Being better at dealing with stress is the goal, and hopefully me and whoever else watched the TED talk can benefit from the message Kelly McGonigal was promoting.

I think the most important thing I learned from this video was the function oxytocin has with stress. I forget to take care of my mental health frequently, and my family is very prone to stress induced medical issues. I am excited to share what I learned with my mom in hopes she’ll gain more knowledge on cardiovascular health related to psychology.

Personality First Impression Prompt

--Original published at Kaity Takes on Psychology

I have always had an excellent gauge on who I am as a person. I seek fun, adventure, fulfillment in my personal life and helping others reach their fullest potential. Personality tests are fun, but I take them with a grain of salt – we are ever changing as humans and we grow from our experiences every day. Generalizing results will not achieve anything besides giving people arbitrary titles like ENTJ or INFP – yet cannot accurately gauge who someone is.

Interestingly enough, I got ENFP as the result for the first and second personality test. The third test indicates I am very extroverted and imaginative, pretty agreeable, moderately conscientious, and somewhat emotionally stable. I feel as though the third test reflected the results of the first two tests. I was not a fan of the color test – though it did yield results that I felt applied to me pretty well. The results felt very horoscope-esque, because it assumes a lot about a person based on the colors we choose. Color preference is pretty arbitrary, much like your zodiac sign.

I struggle to believe in personality tests because they sometimes stem from pseudoscience. During my first year at Elizabethtown College I took a plethora of extensive personality tests in one of my business classes during the spring semester. At the time I believed I could figure out who I am from these tests because data has been collected extensively over the years to make tests such as Clifton Strengths and the Myers-Briggs personality test more accurate. I studied Carl Jung’s work on character archetypes in my first year seminar and was super stoked to know my personality type. I have been told I am an ENFP by multiple tests I have taken over the years, yet I think personality is a bit more complex than the Myers-Briggs test might indicate. In my opinion, none of these tests are credible because the quizzes are too generalized. Determining personality is a lot more complicated than taking a 5 minute quiz.

Sleep – First Impression Post

--Original published at Kaity Takes on Psychology

Like many college students, my sleep schedule is completely chaotic. Between accidental naps lasting over five hours, staying up until four in the morning, and sleeping in until three in the afternoon – it is evident my circadian rhythms are totally off. My social life, hobbies, and schoolwork tend to come first, and my need for sleep is usually substituted with caffeine, sugar, and my ADHD. My biggest concern with losing sleep is how late I end up sleeping in. In fact, I do not even hear my alarm go off in the mornings most of the time.

I am beyond fortunate to have a schedule that only includes a 9:30 once a week. Generally I get the chance to sleep in until 10 AM, so I tend to stay up later to compensate for the time I lost in the morning to sleep. However, I understand this method is not favorable for me, as my body expects me to sleep in all the time and stay up late every night. My goal is to implement some type of activity to do every morning so I can rise sooner and go to bed earlier.

While some folks may consider my sleeping habits to be atrocious, I just accept that my mind will only be tired when it wants to be. Recently I have been taking melatonin pills prior to going to bed in hopes I will fall asleep. Likewise, I go to the gym daily in an attempt to make myself more tired. I hope I can maintain this habit, and further improve it by overcoming my addiction to nicotine, which causes my heart rate to increase. Through making healthier choices, such as eating better, exercising regularly, and finding my way to bed before 2 AM, I believe I can improve my sleep habits.

Can We Use Magic to Help People on the Autism Spectrum?

--Original published at Kaity Takes on Psychology

The entertainment industry has been utilizing magic as a means of providing mystique and fun to audiences for ages. However, according to researchers, magic could be used as a way to help individuals diagnosed with autism. Researchers speculate people with autism can benefit from watching and understanding what magicians do because of the social cues involved in performing magic tricks.

The videos associated with this post (found on the class blog) show a magic trick done by world renowned magicians Penn and Teller. The routine usually fools people, as we tend to focus more on the flourishes of the magicians rather than the execution of the trick itself. Scientists believe our brains omit details crucial to understanding the magic trick, and only focus on the special motions made by magicians. While the majority of the population might be fooled, those on the autism spectrum ignore the social cues and focus specifically on the magician’s hands.

I believe there could be a link between understanding magic and an individual with autism developing stronger social skills. My older sister was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, and I could see her benefiting from magic. On another note, I have heard of hypnosis being used as therapy for those on the autism spectrum. There seems to be many holistic methods for helping people with autism, yet using magic to teach rather than cure seems significantly more useful.

Chapter 1 – First Impression Post: Do Beer Goggles Really Exist?

--Original published at Kaity Takes on Psychology

The popular TV series “MythBusters” is known for designing tests to determine whether or not a myth can be plausible or debunked. The hypothesis for this particular experiment was whether or not drunkenness has a role in people’s perception of the attractiveness of others. The group had three participants undergoing the transition between sober, tipsy, and drunk. Their objective was to rate photos of strangers on a scale from one to ten, and later analyze the scores of each participant.

The three participants in the experiment (being the independent variables, as they altered their own perceptions through the consumption of alcohol) found themselves rating their samples as more attractive while drunk. Though the concept of beer goggles was decided to be plausible, there were several lurking variables in the experiment. There were only three participants, resulting in a small pool of data to analyze. Provided with a larger sample of participants, the experiment could have yielded varying results. Likewise, the selection of photos the participants rated consisted of different people each time. Though the folks in the photos were said to be aligned with the attractiveness of the people in the previous pictures, there still remains the issue of personal preference from the participants. The female participant even asks if the people in the second batch of photos are less attractive than the first. There is not a clear-cut solution to this issue, unless the photos used in the experiment were the same each time they rated them

There are several other issues with way the experiment is designed. The participants were all white and cisgendered, and likely have similar cultural values regarding looks. If “MythBusters” had implemented diversity among the participants in this experiment, the results would have provided a more fair set of data and removed the element of undercoverage. Additionally, by including two data sets from heterosexual males and one from a straight female, the experiment lacks perspective from the LGBT community. The “beer goggles” were not tested to see if they improve the attractiveness of all people, as they only comment on the appearance of their opposite gender. If they included photos of both genders, they could assess that as well.

Using a one to ten rating system on the photos allowed the three participants to use their own judgement while measuring the attractiveness of the person in the photo. As a result, each person had their own set scale on standards of beauty from the start. There was not a solid definition of attractiveness defined prior to the experiment and thus forced the majority of the process to be based on opinion. Walking into the experiment knowing the objective could have influenced them to rate the final group higher than the previous batches.

Another crucial flaw in the experiment is each person metabolizes and reacts to alcohol differently. It was clear that the female participant was more drunk than her male counterparts by the third round of rating photos, as she did not remember her scores from the previous times. The results were relatively unclear, yet the participant with the best data sample to prove the concept of beer goggles automatically claimed that the myth was plausible. The other two did not seem sold on the idea, but still went along with the first person’s analysis of the data.

In conclusion, the experiment was poorly designed, despite a reasonable hypothesis. Confirming the existence of beer goggles requires a larger pool of data, repeatable results, and the use of the same photos each time. They could have spaced the test out over the course of three sessions instead of doing it consecutively to ensure the results were fair. This experiment was created based upon response bias, and will naturally yield faulty data. There was a clear increase in the three samples by the last test, yet the experiment relied too heavily on opinion for the testing to be a fair assessment of all inebriated people.

An Introduction

--Original published at Kaity Takes on Psychology

Welcome to my blog! My name is Kaity, and I am an avid lover of learning. I have taken a psychology course in high school, yet there is so much I do not know about this broad and important subject. My main reason for taking this course is to expand my personal body of knowledge.

When I hear the word “psychology,” I think about the countless functions that occur within the brain as humans experience their day-to-day routines.

Among the plethora of topics taught during the semester, I am most excited to learn about memories, stress, and personality. As a college student, I struggle to remember a lot of information sans studying, and would love to know how memories work. Likewise, stress is a large factor in the lives of many folks, and I seek to remedy stress for myself and others. I have taken the extended Myers-Briggs personality test in the past, and understanding personality will be a very helpful tool as I develop into a working adult.

However, there are some topics that I automatically deemed as lackluster, such as learning to get good sleep, obedience, and the theories of intelligence. I try to avoid learning about sleep primarily because I am notorious for staying up late, and in turn receive plenty of criticism on my sleeping habits. Likewise, the topic of obedience reminds me of multiple works like A Clockwork Orange, and South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut; both of these show examples of forced “good” behavior upon young minds. Learning about obedience hopefully will not be as drastic as using the Ludovico’s Technique on Alex, or the V Chip on Eric Cartman. I am highly unfamiliar with the various theories of intelligence, and therefore worry the topic might be somewhat dry. However, positive mindsets can often overcome negative feelings, and I desire to enjoy all topics equally.

A personal tidbit about myself: I have a twin sister. There have been countless occasions where we have gotten along, and about twice as many where we have not. I am beyond curious to know how my sister and I developed such different world views though we were raised in the same environment. If I could learn one thing from this course, I would want to know how personality is fabricated and built upon as a person progresses through their life.