Media Production Project

In today’s society, it seems that we’re all just trying to seek out happiness in whatever form we can find it. We look at self-help books, treat ourselves to physical pleasures, search for love, and work a job to afford these things all in an effort to achieve the goal that every person before us has to achieve. Happiness, however, is an elusive creature and even trying to pin down exactly what it is can be difficult. Thankfully, there seems to be no shortage of intellectuals from various fields that are happy to contribute their research to the patchwork quilt that makes up our understanding of what happiness is and how to attain it. One such study was published in January of 2017 by a coalition of computer scientists and psychologists at the University of Cambridge.

This study was conducted to determine if there might be a correlation between movement and happiness. It has already been shown in multiple studies that physical exercise has a variety of benefits both physical and mental, but the authors of this study wanted to see if there was a positive correlation between less strenuous forms of movement and happiness. In order to test this hypothesis, an app was developed that would help collect data to see if the correlation existed. The app, released to users of Android cell phones, periodically questioned the user throughout the day about when they had last been active and what their mental state was like. The physical aspect of the data was corroborated by the accelerometers in the phones. Data was collected from February 2013 to June 2014 and when the data was analyzed the results seemed to support the original hypothesis. There does seem to be a positive correlation between physical movement, even as relaxed as walking, and happiness.

That being said, it is very important to point out somethings about the nature of this study and of correlations themselves. First, by the definition of a correlation, we cannot determine a causal relationship based on this study alone. We do not know if people who move often are happier than others or if happy people ae more likely to move than others. Second, there are some limitations built into the study itself. The study was conducted only with people who had access to the Google Play store during the time when the study was conducted and as it was entirely volunteer based, results of this study can only technically be applied to those who participated and not to the populace at large. Another flaw, however unavoidable, in this study was that the measure of people’s happiness was determined by self-report and furthermore happiness was defined based on people’s moods and whether they identified with certain adjectives such as “calm” or “anxious” which, it could be argued, is not a very good operationalization of happiness.

Regardless of the limitations of the study, I certainly thing that it’s interesting to think about and I can’t see any harm doing a little study of your own and to see if your overall sense of happiness is affected if you make an effort to increase the level of physical activity in your life.

 

Original News Article

Scholarly Article

 

 

 

 

Reflection:

Over the course of this project, I have learned quite a bit about the difficulties associated with both journalistic writing in general as well as the coverage of psychology in journalism as well. I was very lucky in that I chose a fairly decent article to begin with so I had a good model of what I wanted to accomplish. In this case I didn’t struggle to keep myself within the confines of the limit set by the original news article, but I didn’t go into an extreme amount of detail and focused primarily on the premise of the study, how it was conducted and the results. Even in regard to those topics, I didn’t get into as much detail as I could have for two primary reasons. First, I didn’t feel like all of it was crucial for the understanding of the study. Second, there were some aspects of the study especially in regard to how the results were calculated and technicalities involving the app that I can’t describe because even I don’t fully understand them.

When I first started this project, I couldn’t understand why journalists and news outlets would produce news that was so sensationalized and sometimes misleading. Now I have a better understanding of why they do it once I found myself in the position of trying to summarize a scholarly article with limited words and an audience that may or may not have a background in psychology. It’s hard to cover all the bases when you have limited space and still want your article to seem relevant to people. Hearing that movement has a positive correlation to a very specific definition of happiness, but only verifiably for a specific group of people isn’t really sexy or groundbreaking. It’s much more attractive to just say that movement probably makes you happier and leave it at that. In the future, I will be much more skeptical of pop psychology reports in the future.

 


Week 13 First Impression Post

This week in psychology, I chose to answer option #1 for the first impression blog prompt regarding social psychology. This prompt essentially asked me to take two Implicit Association Tests and react to my results. Implicit Association Tests can identify unconscious biases that you aren’t aware that you have. I chose to take the ‘Arab Muslim-Other People’ IAT and the ‘Gay-Straight’ IAT because I felt that they were very relevant in the current sociopolitical context and I was curious as to whether I would demonstrate any strong bias. I felt fairly confident going into the tests that I would do fairly well at answering correctly but when the labels were switched in the tests I found myself reacting quickly and incorrectly. I was pleased to see that I don’t have any particular preference between Arab Muslims and other people according to the test but I was surprised to see that the test said I had a slight preference for straight people over gay people. At first, I was pretty confused by this result because I have a lot of friends who are gay and I don’t feel any kind of aversion towards them or preference for my straight friends. As I began to think things through, however, I realized that when I was growing up all I heard about gay people was negative and even though I don’t have any conscious bias against gay people, it’s very possible that I formed some unconscious connections between homosexuality and negative feelings such as shame and humiliation.

I think this test can be very useful for college students and professionals because in both settings, you are required to work with people who are different from you in a variety of ways. These tests can allow you to identify some of the possible biases that you may or may not be aware of so that you can make a conscious effort to overcome those biases when you interact with your classmates and colleagues.


Week 12 First Impression

This week in psychology, we will be discussing the topics of stress and emotion. The prompt that I chose to respond to was Option 1 which dealt with Dan Gilbert’s TED talk on “The Surprising Science of Happiness.”

This is not actually the first time I’ve heard of Dan Gilbert, nor is it the first that I’ve been given an explanation, however rudimentary, of his work. Last semester, I took a fascinating course on ancient and medieval philosophy that focused primarily on Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Augustine. Our primary goal in this course was not only to examine the history and ideologies of these thinkers, but, more specifically, to gain an understanding of what happiness is and how it might be achieved. While talking to my professor about this topic he referenced Gilbert’s book, “Stumbling on Happiness,” and some of his ideas about affective forecasting. This talk wasn’t really about affective forecasting, our ability to predict how we’ll feel about things in the future, but I was already familiar with some of the data and evidence used by Gilbert.

I wasn’t as surprised as I might have been by the idea of synthetic happiness because, as I previously mentioned, I already have had experience with Gilbert’s work, but I found this talk fascinating nonetheless. The idea of happiness is so crucial to our perception of reality, but so incredibly vague that I enjoy most any attempt to clarify it. I agree that most people in our society have a strong preference for what we consider natural happiness that comes from getting what we desire when we want it and I’m curious if this same idea of natural happiness is different in more communal societies. I found Dr. Gilbert to a reliable source primarily because most of his message was based on facts and research rather than just unsubstantiated claims. I appreciated that he not only gave examples of previous data but also demonstrated to the audience the deficiency in our ability to effectively predict our happiness in certain scenarios. The message of this talk is interesting and certainly reasonable as nothing Dr. Gilbert said was outrageous or unrealistic. The key to creating this synthetic happiness seems to be accepting reality for what it is and being willing to let go of certain paths and possibilities. In order to create this happiness, it seems to prudent to make concrete commitments that you can grow to be happy with. I don’t mean to suggest that anyone should rush into commitments, rather that they shouldn’t hesitate to do so because of alternate possibilities.


Spotlight Post 1

Today, I’m going to be talking about the ever-unpleasant subject of divorce. Divorce rates have been decreasing over the past few years but approximately half of marriages still end in divorce so the effects of divorce on children is indeed an important and often controversial question. The consensus amongst most people is that divorce is detrimental to children and you would be hard pressed to find someone who entirely disagreed with that idea. The question then, is not so much “Does divorce negatively impact children,” so much as it is “How much does divorce negatively affect children?” In order to answer this question, I will be examining both sides of the argument regarding the effects of divorce on children.

First, I am going to lay out the reasons given by those who suggest that divorce is extremely detrimental to children, not only during the immediate proceedings of the divorce, but also for the rest of their lives. Most people who support this argument believe that, in the short-term, divorce has a myriad of detrimental effects on children depending on their age. Young children from 5-9 will often react with fear, anxiety, temper tantrums, and increased dependency on the parent that they live with. Preteens and teenagers will often react with anger, aggressive independence, isolation, and rebellion. These things, however, aren’t really disputed by anyone. What sets this argument apart is the idea that divorce can cause long lasting effects much later in life such as difficulty creating healthy, meaningful relationships, lack of trust, difficulty parenting, and lasting damage to the affected children’s relationship with their parents. People on this side of the argument will point to studies such as the one conducted by Judith Wallerstein in her book, “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study,” to say that children of divorce can suffer from various forms of mental illness such as depression in adulthood. This claim is dubious at best because this was a group of a little over a hundred case studies so the findings, while interesting, can not be applied to the general population. Furthermore, only approximately a quarter of the those involved in the studied suffered from long term mental illness. The two sources I used to in my perusal of this argument were “Divorce Hurts Children, Even Grown Ones,” by Jann Gumbiner and “The Effects of Divorce on Children,” from Divorce Source Inc. Gumbiner certainly seems to have done her research and is a licensed psychologist and professor specializing in adolescent and child development so I would say that she is credible. The only issue that I have with her article is that she seems to have a strong bias based on her own personal experience. These experiences should not be discounted but further evidence would be appreciated. Divorce Source Inc. is a website that is organized for the purpose of providing information and resources to those who are considering a divorce. I chose to use it as a source for this argument, despite its sole purpose being to assist those considering divorce, because it strongly encourages other options whenever children are involved unless extreme conflict or domestic abuse are involved.

People who oppose this view generally concede that divorce is indeed harmful at first, but within two years most children are able to bounce back fairly quickly. Typically, people of this persuasion think that any long-term problems that arise from divorce are not so much a result of the divorce itself so much as they are a symptom of improper handling of proceedings during and after the divorce. Otherwise, they agree with that there are usually negative behavioral changes in children following a divorce but that they fade with time and these people can go on to life regular lives. The sources I used for this side of the argument were “Is Divorce Bad for Children?” by Hal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld and “The Impact of Divorce on Young Children and Adolescents,” by Carl E. Pickhardt. I found both sources to be credible because they were written by professors of psychology and the gave information that was backed by other studies.

I personally am a child of two divorces and to be quite honest, I haven’t ever felt particularly strong about either of them. I still have an amicable relationship with both of my biological parents and I wasn’t sad to see my ex-stepfather leave. I do understand, however, that not everyone has such a smooth experience and so I think that divorce should be something of a last resort when children are involved but not so much that you put your own health, mental or physical.

 

Links to the articles I read in preparation for this post:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201112/the-impact-divorce-young-children-and-adolescents

http://www.divorcesource.com/ds/children/the-effects-of-divorce-on-children-239.shtml

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-divorce-bad-for-children/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/jann-gumbiner-phd


Week 9 First Impression

This week in psychology, we are discussing the fascinating topic of learning and intelligence. I chose to answer the first prompt which required me to watch three short videos. These videos examined Jane Elliott’s “blue eyes vs. brown eyes” experiment, stereotype threat, and the Pygmalion effect.

I found the video discussing Jane Elliott’s experiment to be particularly disturbing. The footage of the children interacting with each other in a discriminatory manner based purely of the color of their eyes was bizarre especially since they had no previous major conflicts amongst themselves. It didn’t really come as a surprise that discrimination and negative expectation can play a powerful role in education. I have a sister with dyslexia and before we realized that we were growing increasingly concerned about her reading and spelling performance in school. Unfortunately, her spiraling grades and our worry gave her the impression that she was just bad at reading and that we all expected her to do poorly so she started soring even lower. She is doing much better now that the issue has been diagnosed and she’s is getting the assistance she needs but we are still careful to make sure she understands that a poor performance is not due to inherent weakness but, instead, being unprepared.

Stereotype effect was interesting to me because at first I wasn’t really sure it would work. I thought that if you were aware of certain stereotypes that you would work harder to prove people wrong and that it would be a benefit but after watching the video I can understand how that kind of unnecessary pressure could work against you. In my own education, I experienced stereotype effect in English. We were often told that girls were generally better writers because they were more eloquent and creative when writing than boys were. This frustrated me and in trying to prove otherwise, I would often go over the top making my writing unnecessarily complicated and lengthy. This unfortunately meant that a lot of what I wrote was superfluous and wasn’t well received by teachers which only reinforced the stereotype and my frustration. Thankfully, I’ve managed to overcome that for the most part and choose my words more carefully.

The Pygmalion effect was, perhaps, the topic that resonated the most with my own experience with the education system. From my early years in elementary school through high school, most all of my teachers gave me a significant amount of attention compared to my peers. I had, at the very least, amicable relationships with my teachers and they all treated me warmly. I received positive feedback for work well done and, more importantly, a lot of constructive feedback when something was done wrong. I often felt as though I had a responsibility to do well since a teacher would invest so much time and energy trying to help me improve. This was a significant motivator for me throughout my schooling that continues to affect my education today. In general, I try and make sure I do well on everything in my classes. Otherwise, I feel as though I am disappointing my professors and mentors.

In regard to improving the education system, I think that there are a few key points to take away from these videos. First, teachers should work to limit or remove negative expectations in the classroom. Second, special care should be given to what a teacher says in order to avoid reinforcing or triggering stereotype threat especially before an assessment of any type. Finally, teachers should try to have positive expectations for all of their students in order to help all of their students reach their potential.


Week 8 First Impression

As a child who grew up in a small town with very few people my age, books and video games were my two primary sources of entertainment. At the time, I shied away from some of the more graphic games, but I think that might have had more to do with my fondness for puzzle games than anything else. Video games that are gratuitously violent or gory tend to annoy me because I don’t think it’s necessary most of the time. If the game itself is focused on action, then I can understand the desire to make it more realistic and to more accurately portray the damage in the game. It’s games like Mortal Kombat and its “fatalities” for example that I think are needlessly and excessively violent. To some up my thoughts on violent video games, I don’t have a problem with violence as long as it serves to further or enhance the story that is already being told. If the focus is not on any discernible story but is instead on the violence itself, then I take issue.

I think calls to have violent video games banned are a knee-jerk reaction that, while well intentioned, would not likely be all that effective. To start, I can see why the impulse is there. I do think that if kids start playing these games too young that there can be some desensitization to violence. However, I don’t think these games necessarily increase levels of aggression in children. It’s very possible that children who are already prone to violence are the ones who will become more aggressive with exposure to these games. From a logistic perspective, there would likely be too much pushback from the adults who enjoy these games to ban them entirely. The best that we can get is a rating system such as the one we already have that could be perhaps improvement by more stringent evaluation.


Week 6 First Impression

The legalization of marijuana is one of the many controversial issues in the modern climate. For this week’s post, I have been asked to take a side on this divisive issue. I, for one, have always supported the legalization of marijuana in both medical and recreational capacities. That’s not to say that I’m necessarily encouraging its usage, I merely think that there isn’t sufficient evidence or reasoning for it to remain illegal. First, marijuana has been legal in certain states already and they’ve seen no great health crises as far as marijuana usage goes. These states have also been able to collect tax revenue on legal marijuana which is a positive, if not overstated, effect. Another reason to support marijuana legalization is that it would then be subject to federal regulation and inspection. The legalization of marijuana would also cut down on the massive number of people who are given disproportionate sentences due to mandatory minimums on drug charges.

There are some who would argue that marijuana is too harmful to be legalized and that it would have a negative effect on society but I am not so sure that this is the case. The obvious response to this concern would be to point out the fact that neither tobacco products or alcohol are illegal even though they both are arguably equally, if not more, dangerous than marijuana. To those who are skeptical, please thing of it this way. Alcohol can easily kill you in multiple ways, from drunk driving to liver failure. Tobacco products can cause an array of cancers and other respiratory diseases. Marijuana only shares the danger of intoxicated driving with these two. Marijuana will not cause cancers like tobacco, and you also can’t overdose like you can on alcohol. The primary issues with marijuana is that it can cause psychosis in some users after chronic daily use, and that it can affect the brain development of young people. The chronic use issue is unavoidable. If you take any drug daily, then you’re going to have some long-term problems. The effects of marijuana on brain development are a more valid concern in my opinion. I would certainly want to see rules and regulations if marijuana was to be legalized and specifically I’d say a legal age of perhaps 21 with the effects of marijuana both short and long term clearly defined on the packaging.

From a completely moral standpoint, I don’t like the idea of the legality of any substance that is both addictive and can be harmful to the user. From a more pragmatic perspective, however, I understand that people are going to use marijuana and I would rather have it be regulated and studied to help safeguard people.


Week 5 First Impression

For this week’s first impression post, I decided to watch Dr. Elizabeth Loftus’s fascinating TED talk about false memories. She began her talk by telling the story of a man named Steve Titus who had been incarcerated for rape based mainly on the victim’s testimony. The victim had originally identified the man from a photo lineup as closely resembling her rapist, but by the time the trial was held, she was convinced that he had, in fact, committed the crime. It was only later, when an investigative reporter tracked down the actual perpetrator, that Titus was released. Unfortunately, his life had been ruined and, while involved in litigation to seek reparation, he died of stress-related heart attack at the age of 35. This story is terribly sad to think about and unfortunately, it’s not all that uncommon. As Dr. Loftus mentioned, many people who are falsely convicted, where convicted based on misinformation given, intentionally or otherwise, by witnesses. I was particularly interested in this part of the talk and later references to this research’s applicability to criminal law because I am an enthusiastic fan of the true crime genre and I’ve seen or read about many cases in which eye witness testimony has proven to be partially or even entirely inaccurate.

As the talk went on, Dr. Loftus focused on two main topics, the concept of false memories and the possibility of their use to improve people’s lives. False memory does not seem to be all that farfetched to me. Unlike some people who would like to think otherwise, I am well aware that my recollection of events and details is often flawed in some way and my sister is always thrilled to point out such imperfections. When Dr. Loftus was talking about the so-called repressed memories that people were rediscovering or even the more benign “lost-in-the-mall” scenario implanted by researchers, it made a lot of sense to me. If you think back on your childhood, your life three years ago or even 3 months ago, there are going to be gaps which could be molded into false memories. For example, you can probably remember your address from when you were eight as well who you were living with, where you went to school, and possibly a friend or two, but you would be hard-pressed to name every student in your class or what your favorite color was unless those things had exceptional importance at the time. It probably wouldn’t be all that difficult to convince you that you had a best friend named Charlie or that your favorite color was blue if I asked you the right questions. In regard to traumatic repressed memories, I think it’s safe to say that many people would think it would be hard to falsify something like that but I’m not so sure. I happen to be extremely jumpy and flinch violently around unexpected movement or uninitiated physical contact. A psychotherapist might suggest that I was abused as a child and even though that’s not the case, there is a possibility that with enough time and trust in the therapist, I would develop a false memory.

The possibilities of using false memories to benefit people would be limited I think. It’s difficult to consider the pros and cons when the viability of such a method is in question. In an ideal setting, there would certainly be some positive ways to use this research. To use Dr. Loftus’s example, you could convince obese children that they enjoyed certain healthy foods. In this same vein, you could convince the child that they disliked unhealthy foods and behaviors. This research could also be helpful in rehabilitating people with addictions by creating negative memories of the addictive substance. Unfortunately, the main issue with this is that you are compromising the free will of an individual and you run the risk of falling down a slippery slope. The core of our identities is our memory and it is ethically, if not morally, wrong to alter someone’s identity without consent and possibly even with consent. While I would like to believe that this would only be used to help people, there are certainly some bad actors in the world and they could use this in a lot of harmful ways. That being said, I would like to point out again that it probably wouldn’t be possible to radically alter someone’s memory without the use of an extensive regime of drugs and conditioning. While I can see how you could create negative memories that would act as a deterrent to certain foods, I myself avoid sweet and sour chicken after a juvenile bout of food poisoning, I think it would be hard to create “warm, fuzzy feelings” that would have a positive effect on behavior. I don’t think that we generally attach certain feelings to food. We can associate feelings with situations that involve food such as family meals or dates, but I don’t get a particular feeling when thinking about cabbage or provolone. In general I think we are driven by physical stimuli when it comes to food. We eat food that tastes good, not necessarily food that is attached to any specific memories. My family always has green bean casserole at thanksgiving and I’ve always enjoyed thanksgiving, but I’ve never liked that casserole. There’s something about the combination of sour cream and green beans that makes me want to gag. If I had a fond memory of ranch dressing, it wouldn’t make me want to eat it any more or less because my feelings on it are rooted in my sensory present. To wrap things up, I think the study of memory and, specifically, false memory is fascinating, but I am skeptical about our abilities to manipulate it to our whims.


Week 4 First Impression

http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_zak_trust_morality_and_oxytocin

As I mentioned in my first post, I have some background in philosophy and am fascinated by morality. Morality can be very simply described as the way by which we distinguish right from wrong in a given situation. It is important because it has a profound effect on our behavior. We tend to be far more likely to do things that are considered to be good than things that are considered to be bad. This is obvious, but how do we determine what is good or bad? Most of us will use religion or the law, which is a societal construct, as our moral framework but neither of these options are flawless. Philosophers started to try and answer this question over two thousand years ago and we still don’t have a perfect answer. This TED talk interested me because I saw the word morality in the title and wanted to know what the presenter had to say on the topic.

This talk by Dr. Paul Zak, a professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University, focuses on establishing oxytocin, normally released during birth, breastfeeding, and sex, as “the moral molecule.” Dr. Zak begins by pointing out the importance of morality and then explains his theory that oxytocin increases trust, trustworthiness, empathy, and morality. He bases this statement on a series of experiments he conducted. The first was an experiment designed to show that oxytocin increases trust and trustworthiness. He placed multiple individuals in isolation and gave them ten dollars. They were then asked if they would like to give a portion of the ten dollars, which would be tripled, to another participant of the study who would have the option of sending some money back to the original participant. Dr. Zak measured the amount of oxytocin before and after the experiment was performed and found that individuals who gave more and individuals who returned more had greater amounts of oxytocin in their blood. He then ran a series of similar experiments where he gave some of the participants a nasal inhaler of oxytocin and some a placebo and found that the oxytocin increased money transfers by 80%. He conducted another experiment to show that oxytocin was tied to empathy by having participants watch a video of a father with his four-year-old son who had brain cancer and then measuring their oxytocin levels. This was followed by testing people before and after a wedding as well as during social media usage to further draw a link between oxytocin and empathy. The presentation concludes with Dr. Zak instructing the audience that they could increase their oxytocin levels by giving 8 hugs a day and that it would make them happier by improving relationships of all kinds.

I found this TED talk interesting primarily because of the implications of this research because having a chemical that can increase trust, trustworthiness, empathy, morality, happiness, and the strength of relationships sounds too good to be true. The information presented does, at first glance, seem solid but the longer you think about it, the more it starts to fall apart. To begin, most of the research focuses on empathy and trust and while these are both good attributes to have, they are not, in and of themselves morality. I also have an issue with the way that Dr. Zak brushed over the happiness claim by just stating that they had found it to be true but not explaining any kind of research or experiment. The claim that oxytocin increases happiness and improves relationships is the most grandiose but it also has the weakest basis in fact and would be extremely hard to prove. I’m not sure how you would operationalize happiness in a comprehensive way or how you would effectively demonstrate improvement in a relationship because there are so many variables you can’t control in people’s lives that it would be hard to definitively show that the oxytocin alone was responsible. Dr. Zak also doesn’t explain why he specified that you need to have eight hugs a day. Why does it need to be eight? Do you release a specific amount of oxytocin per hug and is there some kind of requisite amount of oxytocin necessary to experience the benefits of oxytocin? I also wonder if there may be some other attribute of the hug that increases happiness rather than oxytocin. For example, hugs, in our society, are demonstrations of affection and companionship. Could it be that increased feelings of acceptance and intimacy caused by the frequent hugs are what cause the increase in happiness? There is also the issue that other studies have found that oxytocin can increase feelings of envy and decrease cooperation. Consequently, it seems that we’ll need a lot more research before we can definitively describe the effects of oxytocin.

I would like to examine Dr. Zak’s claim that eight hugs a day will increase happiness by improving relationships. The focus of this research then would be to determine the effects of hugs on happiness. I would conduct this research by randomly selecting 200 people and assigning half of them to give exactly eight hugs a day without telling them why to reduce the possibility of participants experiencing a placebo effect. Over the course of six months, I would have participants rate their happiness on a scale of one to ten and write a short description of why they assigned that value to their happiness each week. At the end of this six-month period, I would give a comprehensive debriefing to the participants and then analyze the data retrieved by the experiment. I would look to see if the group who gave hugs showed an over-all increase in their happiness scale selections and then see if their short descriptions attributed their happiness to improvements in relationships or other factors. The main issue with this experiment would be that a person’s own reflection on their happiness may be inaccurate or may be affected by outside influences but as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, it would be extremely difficult to come up with a comprehensive operational value for happiness.


A little about me…

Good evening,

I don’t have any experience to speak of as far as blogging is concerned, but I’ll do my best to keep my posts concise and interesting. I suppose for this particular entry that I’ll start by giving a bit of background information about myself and then get on to some of the questions posed by Dr. MacFarlane. I am currently a freshman and am very much enjoying my college experience thus far. Choir and classical voice are two passions of mine that I have continued to pursue here and I spend much of my free time in a practice room working on improving my repertoire and technique. I am considering a major in mathematics with a minor in music or Japanese but I’m still considering my options.

I chose to take General Psychology this semester because I needed to take a social science and I found it preferable to a subject like sociology or anthropology. In particular, I like the idea of being better able to understand the behaviors of people. I don’t have any prior experience in the field of psychology; only an open mind and curiosity. When I think of psychology, nothing in particular comes to mind aside from the small experiments other students asked me to participate in last semester. During this course, I am most looking forward to learning about moral development, memory, and personality. As someone with a passing interest in philosophy and ethics, I am interested in seeing the psychological perspective of the concept of morality. Memory interests me because I find the idea that different people retain different types of information better fascinating and I’d like to know why. Personality is something that we tend to give a great deal of importance to when we talk about whether we like someone or not and I am curious as to what exactly personality is and how exactly it is classified. I am least interested in learning about the scientific method, research methods, and experimental design. I enjoy discovering new things and so I tend to dislike covering topics that I’m already at least passing familiar with. That’s not to say that I don’t think these topics aren’t important, they just aren’t as fun as the others. By the end of this course, I would like to be better informed about mental health.