Schizophrenia in the Media

I chose to do the first option and watched the video simulating what it’s like to be a person with schizophrenia.  Watching that video was a very surreal experience for me. I don’t know how I would be able to deal with those complications in my everyday life.  From the negative voices in my head telling me that I’m worthless and that they hate me to the paranoia with normal things such as the pizza guy or my coffee, I honestly don’t think I would be able to function whatsoever. There are a number of movies that are centered around characters with schizophrenia and they are portrayed usually as tragically sad with some characters being redeemed in the end by their “gift”. Many movies and TV shows portray schizophrenia in a comedic way though. These characters usually deal with voices in their heads too but instead of being hateful like the ones in the video, they tend to cause the character to do something hilarious and crazy. Or other times they are seen walking around and talking to themselves or inanimate objects causing comedic  discomfort to the other characters of the show. These portrayals, in my opinion, take a lot of the seriousness of schizophrenia away. I know that until I took this class, I had never really given much thought to what it would be like to be schizophrenic. After reading more about it in the book and watching this video, I have a much clearer understanding of schizophrenia and the effects it has on people’s lives. I think the media really needs to work on how they depict people with schizophrenia. By downplaying the symptoms and making them seem humorous and harmless, many people never even realize the gravity of what people with schizophrenia go through every day.

Finals are coming up, learn how to study without being distracted here!

Does multitasking affect academic performance? A study done in California has answered this and more! The leading question was how differently do  younger generations task-switch in comparison to older generations and how does this difference play in to student’s performance in school. To figure this question out, a study was created to watch around 300 students from  junior high to college age study in their homes or usual environments and see how often they switched between tasks. There are three things that impact task switching, primary task completion, secondary task completion and resumption lag. A separate study found that if the primary task and secondary task are very similar, you will perform worse on the primary and the more concentration you put into the second task, the longer your resumption lag to the first task is as well.

These were the results of the experiment. First, it was established that each age group had their own different kinds of distractions. For the kids in junior high it was video games, high school students were mostly likely to be distracted by texting, and the college students applied more study strategies. The students who were similar in on-task percentage and run length, tended to use technology in the same ways and their preferences for multitasking were akin. The study pointed out that those who preferred to multi-task had much shorter on-task runs than those who didn’t. As for how this affects students academically, the students who used Facebook at least one time during class or study sessions, had lower grades than the students who applied study strategies. Surprisingly, every student of the study was able to only remain on-task for an average of about 6 minutes before switching to another task.

How do we resolve this generations issues with multitasking? We are given three suggestions to help deal with multitasking while studying. The first is an oldie but goodie, teachers and parents are advised to allow students to listen to music while studying. The more familiar the music, the more minor the impact on resumption lag and task-switching there is. Our second piece of advice is to let students use their phones or other technological devices for a 1 minute “technology break,” then follow that up with 15 minutes of uninterrupted study or lesson time. Because they know that they will be allowed to use their devices in 15 minutes, this will allow the students to remain focused on the task at hand instead of constantly thinking internally about checking their phones. The third and final option mentioned in the study is to sharpen your metacognitive skills. By choosing a time, say during a lecture that you believe less important information is being given, to take a break and check your device, you are less likely to be distracted during something important. Much unlike students who allow themselves to be distracted every time they receive a notification. By applying one or a combination of these tricks to your study sessions or classroom, you can improve learning.


Writing a news piece over a scientific study is quite difficult. Doing this project has made me want to take back everything I said in my news article critique. The hardest part for me was trying to write for an audience that hasn’t read the journal. I really had to think, “Would I understand this if I had not already read about the study?” I’m sure I didn’t catch everything, but I tried to make my piece as accessible as I could without sounding condescending. As you can probably guess, the second hardest part was picking out what information to include and what information to discard without changing the results or fibbing about the study. Although I told myself that I wouldn’t, I decided to leave out the limitations of the study. They take quite a bit away from the results and, in my opinion and like we hear in class, it just makes the news article much less “sexy.” My article is a bit shorter than the original one because I didn’t write about the second study in which psychology students had to answer text messages while watching a video and were tested on the material afterward. That is because the journal, although suggesting that we use our metacognitive skills, barely mentioned this experiment and I felt like I didn’t have enough information about it to put it in my piece. This project has definitely taught me that I should be more cautious about what I read in the news, but I should also give authors a break because their job is not as easy as it seems.

Link to the news article:

Link to the journal:

The search for happiness has ended!

I really think Gilbert is on to something here. This TED talk gives me a lot of hope because the idea that we create our own happiness is kind of awesome. I’m not going to lie, until watching this video, I was one of the skeptics who believed that synthetic happiness isn’t the same as natural happiness. I’m only 19 but I feel like I’ve already spent a large portion of my life searching for that true happiness and, unfortunately, it seems like I could never quite achieve it. From the evidence he gave us though, I’m starting to see it from a different perspective. I always just assumed that when we don’t get what we want, we just settle and lie to ourselves that we’re happy with the end result and eventually just start to believe the lie, but it’s never really real. That’s why the studies Gilbert spoke of with the Monet prints were so surprising to me, especially the one with the amnesia patients. They literally believed that the print they didn’t know they owned was better than the one they first picked out of the set. Showing that their synthesized happiness of having a certain thing, turned into a real preference for it. The real lesson I took from this talk was, be happy with what you have even if at first you’re pretending to be…eventually, it will become real happiness. The fact that this is scientifically proven also makes it much easier for me to believe. Now that I have this little gem of knowledge, I’m going to start applying to my life anytime things don’t quite go my way by just telling myself that eventually I will be happy about this, I just need to give it time. I think Gilbert is pretty credible, not only does he have the endorsement of being on a TED talk, but he uses multiple studies and graphs to prove his point. We aren’t just relying on his word.  In his bio, it also says that he is a Harvard Psychologist researching happiness. To be frank, even if he wasn’t a very credible source, I would still like to believe what he has to say, because I think it will definitely help me in my life long search for happiness.

Getting to Know Myself

For the first two tests, I was labeled as an INTJ which is the same score I got doing the roommate selection thing. I’ve always been very interested in personality tests and scores so I have read a lot about INTJs and how they relate to the other personality types. I think it’s a pretty good description of who I am. What’s funny to me about it is that INTJs are described to be super confident but at the same time extremely self-conscience. I found a post once that portrayed it perfectly saying, “INTJ: I am perfect!… also INTJ: Everyone hates me and I also hate myself.” This was one of the most honest depictions I have ever seen, it captures the paradox that is the INTJ perfectly. Since I have received the same results on these two online tests as I have the real version, I think that they are pretty credible.

The third test I took was pretty accurate as well. I scored low on Extroversion and Agreeableness, very high on Conscientiousness and in the middle on Emotional Stability and Intellect/ Imagination.  In my opinion, I think I’m a little more agreeable than the test makes me out to be but other than that it seems to have described me pretty well. As for credibility, I’m not quite sure where this test falls. It’s obviously not the real 5 factor test, but since it seemed to mostly describe me I would say that it is a partially credible source.

The last test, in my opinion, didn’t describe me well at all. I could be biased though because this test mostly said negative things about my personality and no-one ever really wants to hear about all of their flaws. The parts about failure, being distant and fear of commitment were kind of spot on though. This test doesn’t feel very credible to me at all. I don’t really see how the order of colors I chose can give that much insight to my personality and the results seemed a bit like they could be generalized to many people kind of like horoscopes are. But again, I could just be viewing this test in a negative way because it rubbed me wrong.

Why do we sleep?

The most convincing theory to me was that we sleep in order for our brain to consolidate  memories, problem solve and “clean itself up,” although I definitely agree with Russell Foster when he says that there are most likely many different reasons we sleep. I found an article online titled Sleep and Learning that begins by talking about the widely known fact that people who are well rested perform much better in a multitude of tasks than those who are sleep deprived. It then illustrates that sleep not only helps you while you’re learning something new, but also locks the information in afterwards by turning it into a long term memory. This transfer of short term memory to long term, the article explains, could even be the cause of the ever so mysterious sleep spindles that are present in the second stage of sleep. We then learn from the article that the first two stages of sleep are important for brain plasticity for learning new material which could explain why taking a nap during the day can assist you in remembering  what you have learned. Sleep also plays a hand in learning abstract concepts and deep sleep assists with episodic declarative memory consolidation which is more useful for school. Because older people spend less time in deep sleep, or really sleep at all, the article says that this is why it’s harder for older people to learn new things. REM sleep is important for the assimilation of new memories with older ones, the article mentions that REM updates our comprehension of the world with the information from our most recent memories. The article concludes by briefly mentioning sleep disorders in people with learning abilities and how they are treated. I think this article is a decent source, but may not be the greatest. It is on a .org website, but I could not find who the author is. So while I believe that it is okay to use for this post, I would prefer to use a more scholarly for something like a research paper.

Autism and Magic

I was really intrigued by the first video I watched. I’ve always been curious about magic and how exactly magicians are able to pull off the tricks they do. I’m definitely one of those people that try extremely hard to figure out how the tricks are done, but usually to no avail. It seems like no matter how hard I pay attention, I still can’t figure them out. So it was interesting to me to learn that our brains can be tricked by something seemingly as simple as curving your hand upwards and that even a person’s face can be distracting enough for a trick to be pulled on you. While I was watching the video, I literally had to fight every instinct in me to watch the magician’s other hand in order to see through the trick. The second video made perfect sense. After watching the first one and seeing how they deceive us, I used what little knowledge I had about autism to sort of guess why they are able to see through the illusions. I found the article interesting as well. It seemed to follow along with the second video in the way that it talks about impaired prediction leading to anxiety. If you are unable follow social cues like the video mentions, then it could be hard to predict when something is about to happen which can create anxiety. For example, when you’re talking to someone and they look behind you at another person walking up, you can turn and see that they are coming but if the person you are speaking to does nothing, the person walking up could give you a scare. This obviously doesn’t cover all of the issues people with autism deal with, but it could definitely be a small portion of it. In my opinion though, I think it would be difficult to use magic to help people with autism. Just like I was going against my nature to look at the magicians other hand, I think you would have to ask people with autism to go against themselves in a way to pay close attention to the cues of the magician. So while I do think it would be hard, I wouldn’t say that it is necessarily impossible and if it could help people with autism, it’s definitely worth a try.

TED Talk: How we read each other’s minds

I chose to watch Rebecca Saxe’s talk because the title just caught my attention. I assumed her lecture would be about how we as people can assume how other people are feeling just by looking at their body language. My assumption wasn’t completely wrong, but it wasn’t quite right either.
Saxe’s lecture begins with the question of how are we able to think of other peoples’ thoughts. She introduces a module of the brain named the right tempero-parietal junction, which is what allows us to think about what others are thinking about. She explains that just like most other parts of the brain, this one is no different when it comes to how long it takes to develop. Saxe presents us videos of children ranging from ages three to seven doing a false belief test, showing that it takes time for children to develop the ability of children to recognize that other people can have false beliefs. She moves on to explain that adults are not equal in this ability either. She points this out by giving an experiment similar to the one she gave the kids. And showing that people disagree about how much a person should be blamed for doing something wrong on purpose or by accident. Saxe even found out that you can change the way this part of your brain functions by using a magnetic pulse to confuse the neurons in charge of this type of thinking. When applied to someone making a moral judgment, people decided that accidents are not as blameless and something done with harmful intentions is more blameless. In a short Q&A after her talk, Rebecca speaks about how there is no danger with this technology yet and hopefully this research will impact education further down the road.
The most interesting part of this talk was that we have a specific part of the brain just for thinking about other peoples’ thoughts. I think it shows just how much of social creatures we are and how important it is for us to understand what’s happening inside someone else’s mind.
After reading Saxe’s profile, I think she is trustworthy. She’s a Cognitive Neuroscientist and made these discoveries while she was in graduate school and continues to do research at MIT.
If I were to do research on this information, I would like to set up a cross-cultural analysis in order to see how this part of the brain functions in cultures all over the world and how they would place blame on accidental and intentional harm. I would basically come up with tests similar to the ones shown in the video, except I would work very hard to make them relevant to the society in which I am testing. I would then compare my results with the one’s that Saxe has produced.

Beer Goggles-Plausible?

This mini-myth is over an idea that is prominent in many movies, TV shows, and human lives. Do beer goggles really exist? To answer this much speculated question, the Mythbusters created an experiment where they ranked people based on their looks when they were sober, buzzed and drunk in order to see if the more they drank, the more attractive the opposite sex became.
While the experiment posed a very interesting question, there were a few weaknesses I noticed. The first one was the lack of people. Only three subjects were used during the experiment, two male and one female. I believe they should use a larger amount of people for the test so their results can be more generalized. The three that were used in the experiment also knew exactly what the study was looking for, which means that the test could have been subject to their own personal biases. To fix this, I think the experiment should have been done with people who didn’t know exactly what question the Mythbusters were trying to answer. In the buzzed and drunk rounds, the people that were being ranked were exchanged with people that others decided were of equal attractiveness. What if the participants in the experiment didn’t think that the new set of people were as attractive as the first? They should have used the same people throughout the entire test so that there could be no variation in the rankings other than what was caused by the alcohol. In addition, Jamie pointed out himself that with the limited amount of time the participants had to rate the pictures, it was a gut reaction and could be somewhat inconsistent. He also said that they solved that issue with the averaging system, which I believe was a strength of the experiment.
While the experiment was okay, the results were a little to varying in my opinion. With more tests, I believe the Mythbusters could come up with a much more solid answer.

Psy 101 Post 1

Hello, my name is Kirstin and I am currently a freshman here at AC hoping to major in Anthropology. To me, Psychology is the study of what people do and why they do it. As an aspiring Anthropologist, I feel that taking a class about the inner-workings of a person could be very useful for me in the future. Some of the topics I’m looking forward to learning about in this class are personality and culture, coping with stress and social roles and conformity. On the flip side of that, I am not so much looking forward to brain structures and classical and operant conditioning…although that could just be because I don’t know exactly what those topics will comprise of. There’s not necessarily one question that I hope to have answered by the end of this class. I’m really just looking forward to having a better idea of what psychology is and applying the knowledge to my major.