Media Project

Summary:

In a 2016 study, Patrick Haggard and his team of psychologists modernized the Stanley Milgram studies from the 1950’s. Both experiments explored the relatedness of coercion and the willingness to carry out harmful acts. Haggard et al. used meaurements of one’s sense of agency to determine whether people are more willing to committ harmful acts on someone else when that person is told to do so rather than acting out of their own volition.

For this study, all participants selected were women as a means of eliminating gender bias as a source of reasoning for their eventual conclusions. In both of Haggard et al.’s experiments conducted, one participant was dubbed the ‘agent’ while the co-particpant was given the ‘victim’ title. In the experiments, an experimenter would order the ‘agent’ to harm the ‘victim’ with financial harm or an electroshock that resulted in financial harm for the ‘victim’. Both trials of the experiment sought to answer the same question of why people so readily comply with orders to do harm to someone else.

The study found that coercion conditions decreased the time interval between the command to perform an action and actually doing the action. This suggests when told to do something, someone thinks about it less thus doing the action without fully understanding the consequences. Additionally, the idea of social reciprocity played a key role in this study. Haggard et al. found that the ‘agent’ was more likely to freely choose to harm the ‘victim’ when the ‘agent’ was first the ‘victim’. Lastly, the financial component suggests that money could be a potential motivating factor of complying to orders.

Is it in human nature to be violent, regardless of coercion? This study could not answer that question any more than other studies of similar nature that have been conducted. This psychological experiement, however, provides compelling statistical data to suggest our moral proccessing of a future event is greatly reduced when we are coerced into an action instead of having the freedom to choose.

According to the results of this experiment, simply obeying orders as a criminal defense for a violent crime could be seen as more than just a cry for leniency in court.

Reflection:

In my summary, I condensed the process and results of Haggard et al.’s psychological experiments. Additionally, I provided the journal article’s original reasoning behind conducting the experiment. Furthermore, those whom read my summary can understand the overall experiment from the information I provided. My summary allows for varied interpretations of the discussed experiment which can lead to different applications of this study’s findings about coercion and sense of agency.

Compared to the news article written by Alison Abbott, my summary provided a more accurate description of the reasoning behind Haggard et al. performing their psychological experiments. My summary, however, did not provide as much background information about the Stanley Milgram experiments as the news article did. I focused more on the modern-day ‘electroshock’ experiment whereas the news article drew more comparisons between Haggard et al. experiment and Milgram’s experiments. The news article generalized the findings of this study to everyone but I noted the legal defense aspect discussed in the journal article. Overall, my summary and the news article written by Alison Abbott provided commentary on a compelling and controversial psychological experiment recently conducted.

When I was writing my article about the experiment, I found it challenging to determine which information about the study would allow for readers to have the greatest understanding of the experiment ran by Haggard et al. After writing my article, I have gained a more accepting view of the news article written by Alison Abbott. Originally, I thought her article had many flaws but now I realize the assessment of which information in a journal article is necessary to include in a news article can vary with each person and does not mean any perception is wrong or inaccurate. Journalists often dramatize the topic they are writing about to increase the amount of readers and subsequently increase sales. This journalistic perspective of dramatization offers more excitement when reading articles in the media. At the end of the day, each news article written tells you what that journalist wanted you to hear, not what you want to hear. Sometimes, these two perspectives coincide which allows for a more informed public. When they do not coincide, however, the journalist’s perspective on a topic or current event can lead to people being misinformed.

Links:

Scholarly article:

http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)00052-X

News article:

http://www.nature.com/news/modern-milgram-experiment-sheds-light-on-power-of-authority-1.19408


First Impression- Schizophrenia

I watched the youtube video that simulated the experience of a person diagnosed schizophrenia. Let me begin by saying that watching the video was an alarming yet eye-opening experience. The effect of the video, for me, was largely due to it being in a first-person perspective. At some points in the video, I found myself feeling suspenseful of what was about to happen next. From the first-person perspective, the voices that were being heard in the person’s head started to feel real to me. It disturbed me how the person had so much trouble with basic tasks of answering the phone and getting a pizza from the door. Furthermore, I found it interesting that the person with schizophrenia did not say anything to the person that came in at the end of the video. Often, the media dramatizes disorders such as schizophrenia for effect. Movies and tv shows depict people with extreme cases of schizophrenia to keep the audience engaged. This video did a good job at keeping it moderate which, for me, made it more relatable. I think its unsettling how the media protrays people with schizophrenia because it makes it seem as if these people cannot be treated. The video, however, showed the perspective of a schizophrenia patient with and without treatment and the difference was noticable. From the video, I gained a greater understanding of the challeneges schizophrenics face that most people would see as normal every-day tasks. I would encourage others to watch the video in hopes that they have a similar experience.


First Impression- Happiness

I love the idea of the pursuit of happiness. Dan Gilbert’s TED talk offered a unique persepctive to the old age question of what makes us happy. His premise is simply this: we are tricked into what we think makes us happy. Before I dive anymore into his talk, Dan Gilbert is a professor at Harvard which gives him high credibility considering Harvard is one of the most prestigious schools in the world. He opened his talk like a professor would do in lecture, with a pop quiz. I found his pop quiz fascinating because it showed that, on average, parapalegics were just as happy as those who won the lottery, after one year. I can see why this is true because winning the lottery only offers temporary happiness that fades with the extreme event that caused the happiness whereas a parapalegic finds his or her happiness in everyday life. He then discusses how pursuing happiness is flawed because we have been led to believe that happiness can be found. His argument that happiness is synthesized was appealling to me. I agree with the notion that happiness comes from piecing together the things that make you happy in life. The study where students had to give a picture up and then their satisfication with the picture they kept, was measured a few days later, interested me. I interpreted the results of the study as a suggestion that wanting what you have makes you happy. Overall, it was an informative talk that I enjoyed watching. In the future, I look to improve my happiness by synthesizing my enjoyments in life rather than chase the holy grail of happiness because the former has long-lasting pleasant effects while the latter offers many oppurtonities for dissappointment.


First Impression- Motivated by AC

I was motivated to come to Austin College because I felt it was where I could optimize my  success. The potential to study abroad as well as be well-equipped for my application process to medical school also fed into my motivation to come to Austin College. Furthermore, I want to have a comfortable life with a family and I need a stable career to do so and came to Austin College, as a step towards that career. The study abroad factor is related to the incentive theory of motivation in that the possibility of going to another country motivated me to come to this school. The ability to immerse myself in social settings can be seen as an intrinsic motivation factor that led me to come to this school. Thr hierarchy of needs theory focuses on meeting basic biological needs such as eating and drinking first, before acting on desires. My desire to live a comfortable life is a motivation factor that fits into this hierarchy of needs theory. An intervention for me to maintain my motivation for earning my degree at Austin College is focused on the psychologically motitvating factor of achievement. Setting goals and consistently achieving those goals will help me stay motivated in my years here at Austin College.


Memory in the “Spotlight”

The ability to quickly learn, memorize and recall new material for classes has many improvement methods. Some are reasonable while others don’t pan out due to their flawed components. Unfortunately, not too many of us have photographic memories so how do we maximize our individual ability to learn and remember what we learned? Below are a few tips I found and tweaked a little bit:

Study tips for high school students-

“High School Study Tips: Three Steps to a better grade” outlined and described three tips to improving memorization of information learned in high school classes. The first step, motivation, focuses on using what motivates a high school student to learn, as a tool to increase your memory. Next, according to this article, being organized leads to better memory. Lastly, study habits that focus on being proactive will increase a high school student’s ability to recall learned information as well. The first step includes rewarding oneself as a part of motivated memory. This would work because reward is an example of positive reinforcement. Hyopthetically, if a high school student rewards oneself for doing well on a test, it could motivate them to continue to improve their learining behavior because of the chance at more rewards. Having an organized workplace could lead to improved learning and memory. In context, encoding information pertaining to one subject at a time could increase the retention of that information through the chunking process, or the grouping of similar information together, of transferring working memory to long-term memory. The third step involves dispersed learning as a method to better grades for high school students. Reviewing learned material at different points over a period of time would increase the understanding of that material and result in more of the material being stored in long-term memory. This information stored in long-term memory can be recalled on an exam thus leading to better grades.

Sources: http://study.com/articles/High_School_Study_Tips_Three_Steps_to_Better_Grades.html

Psychology Around Us, 2nd Edition (Richard Comer, Elizabeth Gould)

Study tips for college students-

An article published by Rasmussen College advised college students to improve learning and memory by studying information over-time (i.e. no cramming or all-nighters before a test), using mnemonic devices and taking notes on paper rather than on a computer. Reviewing learned information over-time could increase rentention of and subsequently recall of materila later on. This would work because dispersed learning exposes information to the brain more frequently than pulling an all-night right before a test. Using menomic devices as a way of memorizing information increases the recall of that information later on through associative learning. The brain will relate the acronym, song or any other mnemonic device to the information that its representing which helps with recalling the information later on. Another tip given in the article was writing down notes during lecture instead of typing them on a laptop or personal tablet. This was advised because a science direct study showed that, on average, students used their laptops for stuff other than lecture notes for 17 minutes of a 75 minute class. When writing down notes and eliminating the distractions offered by using a computer, one’s attention is focused mainly on the information that try and be stored in long-term memory and not on information not pertaining to the class. This could increase the retention and recall of the information needed for a particular class.

Sources:

http://www.rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/college-life/how-to-study/

Psychology Around Us, 2nd Edition (Richard Comer, Elizabeth Gould)

Tips for parents to improve their students’ studying-

The third article I looked at advised parents to use positive and negative reinforcement as a means of improving study habits for their students. The postive reinforcemnt aspect focused on parents rewarding their teens when they performed well on tests and grade reports. This could encourage the students to study more and thus increase their memory of information. This tip, however, does not gurantee improved results because it does not focus on the actual aspect of studying new material. The article suggested making study time a routine which would increase learning and memory by reinforcing the learned material at set intervals of time. Lastly, the article suggested for parents to have consequences for their teens if they perform poorly on tests or grade reports. Again, this is flawed because the students could experience a decrease in memory and recall by worrying about what is going to happen to them if they don’t do well in school.

Sources:

http://www.ldonline.org/article/5904

Psychology Around Us, 2nd Edition (Richard Comer, Elizabeth Gould)

Overall, the study tips of the articles would work in improving memory and recall because they focused on contiually reviewing information which would increase retention.


Personality Tests

Let me begin by saying that I am sometimes a little skeptical about online personality tests because the choices answered are recorded as a bunch of ones and zeroes. I don’t think an algorithm of ones and zeroes, which is used by some personality tests, describes who someone is. Nevertheless, they seem to be pretty accurate for me most of the time so I trust them a little bit. The “Humanmetrics” test had questions without a lot of range in the degree to which that situation or statement relates to you. For me, this limits the validity to their assessment of my personality. Their assessment, however, was the same persoanlity acronym as the second link in the list- ENFP. All 4 of the personality tests described me as an extrovert which I agree with because I like to be around other people than by myself, typically. While I tend to hold back letting people get close to me because I generally do not trust people, I do sympathize with people which the third link described me as. I don’t trust the third link as much as the other links because of its third factor. Its third factor, agreebleness, described me as agreeing with people so I won’t offend them. I disargee with this assessment completely in that I stick to what I believe in, regardless of whether they feel offended by it. The fourth test with colors surprised me with its accuracy. It described me as being extroverted and creative, just like the first three tests, but I didn’t even answer 50-60 questions about myself. The validity of the fourth test is relatively high for me because it had the same results as the other three tests.


Why do we sleep?

In Russell Foster’s TED talk, he states that if a person slept 36% of the time, then they would have slept 32 years of their life by the time they were 90. So why would someone need to sleep for 32 years of a 90 year life? I find the brain information theory to be the most convincing theory of why we need sleep. The theory suggests that during out sleep cycle, our brain processes everything we learned that day. It sorts out the events that occured and the new information that we learned. Moreso, it determines which events and information to store as memory and which to get rid of. Currently, I sleep between 5-7 hours a night. This is inefficient because it doesn’t allow my brain enough time to store new information that I learn as memory. I wouldn’t consider this healthy for me because I constantly feel tired all the time due to consistent lack of sleep. I will try and use some of the tips Foster suggested at the end of his video, such as turning of all electronic devices, to increase my average hours of sleep a night. This, theoretically, will make me more focused and attentive in classes and other social settings.


First Impression- Study Habits

My current study habit is waiting till the night before an exam to start studying. I try and go over three weeks of material in a few hours. This is inefficient because my mind can’t process that much information in a short amount of time. I plan to review material as I learn it. For example, when I learn about a new section of a chapter in lecture for a class, I will review that new material later that night. This repetivitve exposure will increase the amount of information that I process and and can store in my brain


Hypothetical Psychology Test

Resarch Question: Does the use of stress balls decrease the stress experienced by an individual in a given situation?

Hypothesis: Stress levels for an individual will not show signs of decrease when using a stress ball to relive stress in a high-stress enviroment.

Procedure:

  1. Ask for volunteers around AC Campus\Sherman to participate in an academic reseach study.
  2. Randomly assign individuals to be in Group A (using the stress ball) and Group B (not using the stress ball).
  3. Place Group A and Group B in separate rooms with the same stress-inducing atmosphere.
  4. Record blood pressures of indiviuals prior to the start of the experiment.
  5. Have Group A and Group B, be in a stress-inducing enviroment for 10 minutes.
  6. Instruct Group A to reguraly squeeze a stress ball during the 10 minute time period.
  7. Instruct Group B to remain as still as possible during the 10 minute time period.
  8. Record blood pressures of individuals at the conclusion of the experiment.
  9. Compare average blood pressure of Group A and average blood pressure of Group B to determine a possible correlation between stress relief and using a stress ball.

Introduction

My name is Santos Botello and I am a freshman at Austin College. I am majoring in Psychology and on the Pre-Med track to become a doctor. I chose to take this course to see if I have enough interest to pursue a career in it. I don’t have any background in Psychology. When I hear the word “psychology, I think of why people think they way they think. Attachment theory, Memory Retrieval and Theories of Intelligence are the three topics that seem most interesting to me. Attachment theory interests me because it sounds like it will give reason as to why people have a need to feel a sense of belonging. Memory Retrieval might unlock some memories that I didn’t even know I had which seems cool. Theories of Intelligence sounds interesting because it might tell me why people are smart in certain topics but not others. Scientific methods, research methods and experimental design seem to interest me the least because they sound like everything I’ve learned since elementary school. The question I’d like to have answered by the end of the semester is: What are the fortelling signs that someone is a psychopath?