Week 13 Blog Prompts: Social Psychology

Hand writing on a notebook

Here are the two prompts for this week. Regardless of which prompt you choose, use the tag “Social Psychology.”

Option 1

The Implicit Association Test (which can be accessed through this link) is a tool to identify biases which may be outside your conscious awareness. The results of this test cannot determine whether or not you are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., but they are useful to help you understand yourself and how you interact with others. For this post, you must take two separate IAT tests from the link above. You do not need to share your results if you don’t want to, but you need to talk about the experience of taking the test and getting the results, comment on whether or not the results were surprising, and discuss how this test can be useful for college students or your future career.

Option 2

Would you enjoy a boring task more if I gave you $1 to do it or $20 to do it? Many of you will probably say you’d rather than the $20, but research suggests you will probably enjoy it more if I only give you a single dollar. Watch this footage to see:

Describe a time in your life when you think you experienced a change in beliefs due to cognitive dissonance, and argue whether you think this is a good thing we should promote and utilize or a bad thing we should try to avoid.

I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Caitlinator
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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:


Media Production: Happiness Does NOT Increase Life Span

Fact or myth: happy people live longer than sad/unhappy people? Myth. The Million Women Study, directed by Dr. Bette Liu, wanted to find whether or not happiness has a direct association with mortality. Prior to the research and study, researchers already knew poor health leads to both unhappiness and then to potential death. They knew unhappiness could be a result of other factors which can also cause mortality. After analyzing previous findings and learning of myths regarding happiness and mortality, the researchers’ main goal was to determine if, after consideration for the poor health and lifestyle of people who claim to be unhappy, any strong evidence shows happiness directly reduces mortality rates.

Dr. Liu selected 719,671 to participate in the study and asked them to rate their happiness, stress, feelings of control, and whether or not they felt relaxed. Researchers analyzed the women who died before Jan 1, 2012 from various causes. Using Cox Regression, a method for researching the effect of multiple variables upon the time a specific event happens adjusted for self-rated happiness, mortality rate ratios comparing mortality in women who said to be unhappy with those who said to be happy most of the time were calculated. 39% of the women said they were happy most of the time, 44% said they were usually happy, and 17% unhappy. 10 years after the survey was taken, a follow-up on the women was completed, revealing 4% of the women died. Poor health was strongly associated with unhappiness. But, after consideration for self-rated health and lifestyle factors (smoking, deprivation, and body-mass index) unhappiness was declared to be dissociated with mortality from all causes.

From the study the researchers interpreted and concluded good health and well-being can mean both happiness and longer life, as poor health can mean both unhappiness and a shorter life. But, happiness does not directly reduce chances of cancer, cardiac, or mortality in general. The study used a single question with three possible answers to guide their research, while other, similar studies use different methods. Different people researching the same topic can come to various conclusions. Other studies with a different outcome may be confused with cause and effect. In this particular study, poor health was the cause of unhappiness, while in other studies they might believe the cause and effect is the opposite.

Original News Article: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-happiness-death-20151209-story.html

Scholarly Article: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2815%2901087-9/fulltext



Summarizing the news article was not necessarily challenging for me. In the first assignment, I critiqued Karen Kaplan, author of the news article, somewhat harshly because of her extreme lack of detail and shortness of her post. In my own post I tried to avoid the same issue (lack of detail) by adding more statistics, more information of the process, and more details of the results. Because her article was so short, I was not challenged with meeting the word count, but I had more difficulty staying inside the word count. In order to get the most valuable information, such as statistics, factors going into the study, etc. written, I cut out most of the random sentences she had used in the news article regarding information not pertaining to the results of the study, or the study in general.

The series of projects taught me about the trustworthiness of news reporters or news articles. When I read the news article, I did not have any red flags, nor did I think anything of the lack of detail or information until I read the actual scholarly article. Writing the first two papers allowed me to compare and contrast both pieces in depth, enabling me to see Kaplan missed a large amount of important information which did not allow her readers to be informed of details from the study. I am not sure if other people came across the same realization when looking at their own articles, but when looking at any sort of news article, anyone should use caution.

Listening to our Brains’ Needs

Georgetown University Medical Center has released a new study in 2016 demonstrating the necessity for rest after incidents regarding head trauma in efforts to prevent long-term brain damage. The study found that more giving the brain more time to recover allowed for inflammation to go down and any percentage of long-term brain damage to decrease. About three days was the minimum amount of time to give the brain for recovery after brain trauma. This information is crucial for athletes and the military, being that they are in situations more frequently that make them more susceptible to these head injuries.

Georgetown University Medical Center worked with rats and mice to study the effects of the brain after given mild head trauma. Two groups of rats were compared, one group receiving head injuries once a day for 30 days, the other receiving once a week for 30 weeks. After examining the effects for each group, it was found that the group receiving the head injuries further apart had enough time to recover and therefore, the inflammation was much lower than the group that received head injuries once a day. The rats were also examined a year after the experiment and the researchers found that the long-term damage was significantly lower on the rats that received the head injuries once a week.

These results can help regulate sports where head trauma is common as well as the average person who gets a head injury, rest is crucial for recovery. It is important for even mild concussions to be acknowledged and cared for before exposing oneself to the possibility for more head trauma. This research also allows for the opportunity to examine how the brain heals itself and under what circumstances it cannot heal itself. As far as the study shows, rest really is crucial for the brain to be able to heal itself for short-term and long-term effects from injuries.






Summarizing the original study was hard because so much of it I didn’t understand due to the fact that I’m not a scientist. The original news story that I found was also quite good with it’s information and so I didn’t make that many changes to the information it included or didn’t include, I just tried to make it a little clearer. The original journal entry included a lot of technical information about the scientific findings in the brains of the tested rats and since I couldn’t really understand that, I decided not to include it. My goal was to condense this study into something the general public could understand and use, therefore, I did mention the rats because they were crucial to the experiment but I didn’t include how they were traumatized or exactly effected because that doesn’t effect how the public should take care of themselves. I mirrored the news article in that I didn’t include how the rats were injured because it probably would’ve taken away from the information that resulted from the study about our brains. People would’ve surely been upset that rats were used for experiments and were injured but the original journal did include that it got approval from the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the NIH. On the other hand, there are some people who wouldn’t care about the rats at all, they just want the information that applies directly to them so in that sense, it was all around a good idea not to include too much about the test subjects. The important part of the study was about the brain and I think the news article did a good job of presenting those results and I tried to do that same.

Johns Hopkins Exploring and Testing New Methods for Studying the Brain in Living Patients

Johns Hopkins’ 2014 study on concussions in former NFL players and the long-term effects was a fine study, not as far as learning about concussions goes, but for testing the usefulness of the newest technology in brain scanning and seeing its limits and advantages.

In the past, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was only diagnosed and studied during autopsy. The study also focused on the imaging of traumatic brain injury related damages by targeting the translocator protein (TSPO). A translocator protein (TSPO) is a special protein mainly found on the outer mitochondrial membrane of neurons. It interacts with StAR (steroidogenic acute regulatory protein) to transport cholesterol into the mitochondria of other neurons. In other words, TSPO is an indicator of the brain attempting to repair or patch brain damage. The study helps to support the idea that these new machines and new techniques for neural imaging can really advance our understanding of the brain and increase our medical abilities in providing accurate diagnoses for patients, before their dirt nap.

The primary test used for the study involved a positron emission tomography (PET) scan that used (safe) radioactive chemical injections that bind to specific proteins. In this case, the radiopharmaceutical used was [11C]DPA-713 which binds to TSPO. The idea is that the more prevalent this radio-transmitter is in the PET scan, the more brain damage (TBI) there is in in subject. The PET scan would also show a specific location for the damage. MRI scans were also performed on the participants to check for brain atrophy that may have been caused by TBIs. Along with the imaging tests, there were a few paper-and-pen tests performed on the subjects, including the California Verbal Learning Test-II (CVLT-II), the Rivermead Post-Concussive Symptom Questionnaire (RPQ), and an interview focusing on their past NFL career and past concussions. These tests (in order) covered their ability to learn and remember verbal information, the severity of mood, anxiety, and cognitive long-term symptoms of their concussions, and details of their past concussions (how hard were they hit, how long initial symptoms lasted, etc.). These interviews and written tests help the researchers compare the amount of brain damage they found with their scans to the severity of the side effects the players suffer.

In the results, many of the ex-NFL players who participated in the full study scored fairly highly on the RPQ test, scoring 32, 21, and 20 on a scale of 0-52 with a higher number indicating more severe symptoms. The CVLT-II scores where low as well, with averages ranging from 44% to 54%, indicating a struggle in verbal learning and recall. The article also reports evidence of brain atrophy (shrinkage) in multiple areas, which lines up with the test scores.

The study does have a few flaws, however, including [11C]DPA-173 binding differences between two TSPO genotypes (C/C and C/T) and the fact that the study size was in fact very small. To counter act the genotype flaw, however, the researchers used a GMVT method to correct differences produced by the genotype variation.

The study does a pretty good job of supporting the usability of the new methods in analyzing brain damage in living subjects. The brain scans showed high TSPO activity (through the radioactive injection [11C]DPA-173 binding to the TSPO present in the brain) when compared to a control scan on a person without a concussion (see image below). With this new technology and these new techniques, as supported by the Johns Hopkins study, we can make more accurate, lifesaving decisions for patients who are suffering from a traumatic brain injury.


johns hopkins jpg

Works Cited

Coughlin, Jennifer M., Yuchuan Wang, Cynthia A. Munro, Shuangchao Ma, Chen Yue,                           Shaojie   Chen, Raag Airan, Pearl K. Kim, Ashley V. Adams, Cinthya Garcia, Cecilia                   Higgs, Haris I. Sair, Akira Sawa, Gwenn Smith, Constantine G. Lyketsos, Brian                         Caffo, Michael Kassiou, Tomas R. Guilarte, and Martin G. Pomper.                                                 “Neuroinflammation and Brain Atrophy in Former NFL Players: An in Vivo                                 Multimodal Imaging Pilot Study.” Neurobiology of Disease 74 (2015): 58-65. Web.                   Mar. 2016.

(I have the article in a Word document i can share via Email, if needed, please let me know and I can send it to you)




Writing this article was actually fairly easy for me. To be honest all I did was edit my scholarly research article a whole lot and provide some more explanations for what things are. I really didn’t need to cut that much information out since my original article was a little over 700 words long, so I easily got everything I wanted into my article. As far as comparisons go, well, I’m still a little unhappy with the first article. The news article I read at the beginning of the semester made the research article sound like it was about studying concussions and how we can catch sports related brain injuries. The title of the article alone is misleading, “Johns Hopkins study of retired NFL players sheds light on concussion-related brain damage” (Hedin, 2015). I think, or at least I hope, that my article more truthfully describes and/or portrays the research article and its intents and findings. I tried to focus on the methods and tests used in the experiment and I hope I explained them and their purposes enough. In my opinion, Maren Hedin’s intentions for her article were probably to make the research look like a more hopeful or productive project to the public masses. I imagine most people would rather hear about research for helping concussion patients than about research on methods of studying the brain in applications like concussions. I understand that sometimes journalists have to decide what is more important and what can be left out so they can stay within their allotted space in there publication. I also see that, depending on what or who a journalist is writing the article for, can change the way they write their article and what they write about. I understand that, while news articles might be shorter, easier, and more convenient to read than original articles, they should not always be completely trusted, however, some might very well be trustworthy. It’s a little confusing, so, I think I’ll stick to trying to find original articles and original statements instead of reading news and other media articles written by journalists whose main interest is usually getting more readers.

Works Cited

Hedin, Marin. “Johns Hopkins Study of Retired NFL Players Sheds Light on Concussion-                     Related Brain Damage.” The Hub. Johns Hopkins University, 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 21                 Feb.  2016.   <http://hub.jhu.edu/2015/01/26/nfl-players-concussion-research>.

Do Women Handle Stress Better?

Ever wonder why people say that women are better at coping with stress than men? A new study explains why this could actually be true.

Researchers have been saying that men tend to react with the “fight or flight” response, and women are generally less aggressive and turn to the “tend and befriend” response, that is women are more likely to seek out social support instead of lashing out or avoiding the issue completely.

A journal article by State University of New York at Buffalo tells us about a study they created that explains the answer behind the question of why stress responses differ between sexes. The researchers behind this study point out that the Pre-Frontal Cortex region of your brain is the target of stress hormones, cognition, and emotion. This study was tested with 4 weeks old juvenile-adolescent Sprague-Dawley rats, because during this time there PFC region undergoes critical postnatal development.  There were various tests that showed how the PFC region can be tested.

One of the tests compared the impact of repeated stress on cognitive functions in young female and male rats. These animals were exposed to 7 days of repeated stress, and examined every 24 hours. It turns out the male rats that were the control spent more time exploring the less recent object in the test trial, whereas the stressed group lost the preference to the less recent object. In contrast, the control and stressed female rats spent more time looking at the less recent object in the test trial.

In addition to the repeated stress on the rats, another test examined the possibility that estrogen influences the impact of stress. Researchers manipulated the amount of estrogen produced in the brain. At the end of it, they found out that when estrogen signaling in female brains was blocked, stress had negative effects on the brain, and when estrogen signaling was activated in male brain, the negative effects of stress were blocked.

Males and females show different biochemical, cellular, and behavioral effects of stress, and they connect this with the PFC. Their results showed, “In contrast to the impaired cognition in male rodents after chronic stress, female rodents show unaffected or enhanced performance on the same memory tasks after the same stress.” In other words, female rats responded better to the chronic stress than male rats.

This experiment has not only helped to discover new ways of treating stress-related disorders in men, but also how they are now able to see sex differences in mental health more broadly. Another study related to this was found was women may cope with stress in better ways, however they internalize stress to a greater degree, and have higher stress levels than males.  The only difference is the coping mechanisms between them.







Overall, writing this new journal article was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I re-read both the scholarly article and the news article again and I thought it was going to be easy to combine both of them to create a new one, however the scholarly article holds too much information to where I can pin-point the main details from the study and put them in the new article. I realized that I had to sacrifice a lot of information that I felt was important for readers to know, but at the same time I know that as a reader myself it is very hard for me to get interested in a certain topic if it holds a lot of scientific information with terms that I do not understand or can’t even pronounce, so I knew that finding only the main details was what I had to do. Also, looking at the journal article from Huffpost, I felt that the article was way too broad for people to gain any kind knowledge on why women handle stress better than men. So I needed to figure out a way to create a new article that is not to broad, but not to much information where the people get bored either. I also now understand how difficult it is for journalists to do this for a living. They have to be able to look and analyze scientific research, but also make sure they do not plagiarize the researchers work, and create it as there own. This project gave a brand new perspective on how research/journal articles actually work and how difficult it is to come up with something brand new.

Can You Say Discrimination?

After viewing the video given below, I am honestly angry and in total disgust. I would not feel this way if the people, who viewed the actors stealing the bike, treated them all equally whether it be to just walk away from the situation or confront the thief or call the police on the them. It makes me very upset and angry because these experiments resulted in real outcomes that happen too often in reality. Honestly, if I were an on going bystander put in that situation, I could not tell you what exactly I would do but one thing for sure is that I would have done the same thing for every single actor. I would be lying if I said I was appalled from the outcomes but I already assumed how they would end being as though I myself am an African-American male. Without a doubt the events that take place within the video would be classified as discrimination. Discrimination perfectly describes those events as someone was treated differently or, in the video’s case, extremely differently based on their group memberships. Not only did the bystander’s obviously have a negative assumption but they also decided to act solely on that or those assumptions which furthermore proves the idea of discrimination. For those that still naive, discrimination is absolutely real and it will never go away unless we, as the people in our society, become less ignorant and more humane and sophisticated.


It’s very unclear to me how a simple lifestyle change like eating a salad instead of a burger, or some fruit instead of candy can be labeled as a mental disorder. Just because a person enjoys eating healthy, or forces themselves to make healthy choices in no way strikes me as being a mental disorder.Eating healthy is something you are supposed to do to keep your body functioning and provide your body with necessary nutrients. It should not be labeled as a disorder. Eating healthy has many different benefits and Americans should be accustomed to eating this way.  The obesity epidemic in our country has gradually risen over time and continues to rise because of the unhealthy choices people are making without thinking about the long term effects of these  choices. Grilled salmon and asparagus versus a McDonald’s  burger and fries is obviously the healthier option, but the healthier option isn’t always the tastier and more satisfying one.

Everyone Should Steal Bikes

In the “Bike Theft” video, three actors are trying to steal a bike chained to a sign in a public park. One actor is a white male, the next is a black male, and the last one is a white female. Different people encounter the actors as the so-called thieves attempt to steal the bike.

No one really tried to stop the white male or female. The man had a few disapproving looks and few questioning onlookers, but no one attempted to really stop him. The white woman actually had men trying to help her steal the bike because the assumption was made that women are less likely to steal. The black man, however, had the police called him almost immediately after someone approached him. A crowd actually gathered around him (of white people). One older white man even started taking the tools the actor was using to break the chain on the bike. The same man didn’t even stop accusing the black actor of stealing after the cameras came out of hiding.

It was really bizarre to watch. It was on the verge of nerve-wracking and upsetting to watch the black actor have to interact with those people because, especially with the last white man, it looked like it could potentially become a violent situation. It’s terrible to watch people discriminate against a person, clearly because of skin color, and then turn around and say that wasn’t the reason.  The scene with the white woman was laughable and somewhat disappointing. You don’t want to believe men would help a woman steal something just because she’s pretty, but it happens several times. The scene with the white male actor really displays what white privilege is, especially when compared to the black male actor. There was no consistency between the interactions, which shows there are general preconceived notions of social groups (stereotypes). It’s harder to tell if there is prejudice because that is defined as going towards all members of the group, but there is definitely discrimination/racism which is worse. One actor is allowed to steal and take a bike, while another actor has the police called on him and is even accused of stealing after it’s revealed that it’s a TV show. It’s legitimately all because of skin color. It gets even crazier when you compare the white woman to the black man because she had people trying to help her steal the bike. This shows discrimination which is negative in a general outlook (women can’t use tools, do things by their own, etc.), but in this particular situation it was positive because she stole the bike quicker and didn’t have to do any work. The show ironically displays its own discrimination by not showing what would happen if a black woman attempted to steal the bike as well.

It’s hard to say what I would do in the situation, but I would more than likely not say anything to any of the actors. Not because I don’t have stereotypes or I’m consistent, but because I absolutely hate confrontation, and if someone has the guts to steal a bike in broad daylight in a public place, go for it. I’m actually impressed.

Stress is your Friend?

This TED talk was about stress, and instead of stress being  harmful to your body, health psychologist, Kelly McGonigal, expresses how we should turn that harm to something positive happening to your body. I found this video very interesting, and I learned things that I never knew before. I enjoyed how she talks about the side effects of the stress response (such as heart pounding, starting to sweat), and instead of viewing the stress as harmful, all these side effects can be helpful and “prepare you for action.” One of the main messages discussed was on the neuro-hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin functions is various ways such as making you “crave physical contact with your friends and families. It enhances your empathy. It even makes you more willing to help and support the people you care about.” I did not know that Oxytocin does this, and more importantly I did not know that it is a stress hormone. How is it possible for a hormone to do two completely opposite things simultaneously? McGonigal succeeds on turning the tables around for stress, and explains how this hormone being secreted can actually benefit you. The trick is whenever you are stressed and you reach out to someone else you are releasing more of this hormone, and your stress response becomes healthier, and you actually recover faster from stress. I find this fascinating, because who knew stress can actually be a good thing, and the key factor into recovering is as simple as reaching out to a friend when I need help. After watching this video, I now see stress in a different perspective. I should not let stress wear me down, but instead I should let it help me accomplish what I need to do if I just look at it in a positive way.