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.

Cool School

For this weeks blog i watched three very interesting videos about children’s performances in academic settings. The first video was Jane Elliot’s brown eyes vs. blue eyes experiment. The idea behind the experiment was to see how children responded to being designated as inferior and how that affected their personality and ability to learn. The children designated as inferior were picked on by the other children and performed poorly on the test in school. In the second video, a group of black and white athletes took a test to determine their ability at playing golf. When the group was told the test was focused on strategy, the white athletes performed better than the black athletes, and when they were told the test was focused on athletic ability, the black athletes performed better than the white athletes. Finally, the last video centered on the Pygmalion effect. Teachers were convinced by a fake study that certain children in the class were going to get smarter even if they had showed very little academic progress recently, and thus the children did learn more in class because the teacher’s attitude toward the children changed in a such a way as to allow the children to acquire the material taught in class.

All of this information tells me that a person’s environment can greatly influence the way in which they learn. Having a safe and relaxing environment, such as the one shown in the Pygmalion study, can help people learn, while negative environments, such as the one shown by the brown eye vs blue eye study, can cause people to struggle with class material and fulfill certain stereotypes. I feel that my personal experience with teachers has always been positive. I cannot recollect any single teacher that mad me doubt myself or my abilities and this could partially be the reason why I have always succeed in my classes. I believe that the best way to teach a student is to always believe in the student’s ability. having a teaching program that focuses more on building up a students confidence in their ability to learn the material is something to strive for.

Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Experiment

From what I saw of the video in the class of third graders, I found it amazing that in the span of fifteen minutes a class of sweet kids all turned on each other and felt that they had authority over someone else, just because brown eyes were considered a negative trait to have.  The children with brown eyes were ostracized from their blue-eyed friends, considered to be less intelligent, were picked on, and avoided doing anything to do better in school because all they would be were simple brown eyed kids.  On the other hand, blue-eyed children were lead to believe that they were smarter, more desirable to be around, and had better self-esteem than their brown-eyed classmates.  When Jane Elliot switched the importance of the eye colors around (now the brown-eyed kids had the upper hand), it would make sense for them to have compassion towards the people who oppressed them, since they wouldn’t want to make people feel the way they did.  Sadly, both eye colors wanted power and authority and not reconciliation.  Growing up in a private Christian school during my elementary years was especially hard for me since I wasn’t like every other kid.  My parents were divorced, I was a tomboy, and I was painfully shy and never really participated in class.  Of course, the children didn’t have a problem with me and I had made lasting friendships over the years, but the parents were concerned about having their children hanging around someone who was a child of divorce which made me and my mother look inferior to other families.  Even the teachers didn’t think highly of me because how poorly I did in math, and they assumed I wasn’t smart because of one subject I didn’t like to study.  Like in the experiment where the children in the video when they were given the negative trait had less belief in themselves because of what other people say and believe about them, based on factors that are out of that child’s control such as their ethnicity or economic background.  What I would like to be see done in the education system, public or private, is to have different styles of teaching for children who struggle with the traditional visual and verbal methods.  This would have children more confident in their abilities and have a higher self-esteem, despite their appearance or what people would say about them.  As Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Week 9 First Impression- Intelligence

The classroom is meant to be a comfortable, safe, and encouraging environment for learning. I think the conditions of this environment are increasingly important for younger children in elementary school. Younger children have not completely established their sense of self/worth and can be influenced very easily.

Watching the three videos about stereotypes, discrimination, and expectations really made me reflect on my own experiences in school.  I do remember two specific teachers that seemed to believe in the potential I had. I remember I hated reading because I thought I was an extremely slow reader and struggled to put words together. In the first grade, during reading time, the teacher would occasionally stop by my corner of the carpet and would ask me to read to her. If I struggled with something, she would help me through the word and remind me of all the little rules. I remember feeling  so embarrassed at the fact that I could not read a word and she would patiently sit there, smile, and help me sound out the letters. She most likely had an expectation for me and wanted me to succeed. As Dr. Philip Zimbardo discussed, the input factor was present. My teacher spent more time with me teaching me how to read so that I could do better. The factor of feedback was also present since my teacher corrected my reading and did not allow me to continue misreading words on my own. This ultimately encouraged me to grow fond of reading and improve my abilities.

The stereotype threat is another very real factor in the school system. I’m hispanic and frequently encounter people that have already made a judgement on my abilities because of my race. Most people believe that hispanics only have certain jobs and are not able to pursue other careers such as medicine. I have met many hispanics that are not planning on going to college simply because they believe “college is not for them” and they would not be able to do well. If anything, these stereotypes have only pushed me to excel and do the best that I can.

It is difficult to provide a solution that will remedy these issues in the school system. There are steps, however, that can be taken to increase the likelihood of a child excelling in school. Since feedback and input have a large effect on learning, classroom sizes could be reduced. This is obviously difficult since it would require more faculty and possibly larger buildings. By having a smaller number of students, the teacher can interact with each student individually giving them the input they need and also sensing where they need more help. As I went through middle school, bullying prevention programs began to grow. This is also very useful since it can help a child who is experiencing discrimination in the classroom. Having faculty who are willing to actively prevent discrimination and negative stereotyping could also improve education. Ultimately, if a teacher demonstrates that she cares for the child and believes in their own unique ability, it can make a world of difference.



Brown eyes vs blue eyes: Jane Elliot, a third grade teacher decided to teach her class what arbitrary discrimination felt like. In the experiment she had the power to shape the reality of her students and she did just that.  According to Elliot, blue-eyed people were smarter than brown-eyed people. Brown-eyed people were not allowed to play with blue-eyed people. Brown-eyed people were portrayed as a “menace” to society just as African-Americans are in the United States. Brown-eyed people soon began to associate their eye color with bad qualities. When interviewed the kids said the discrimination was just as bad as whites calling black people “niggers”. On the contrary, blue-eyed people felt superior and happy while brown-eyed people felt hateful toward themselves and discriminators. The speaker discussed how minimal differences can be the basis of discrimination when authorities add value to one group and devalue the other, while later posing the question of, “how do we teach people compassion after they have experienced suffering”? The psychological component to being discriminated against not only affects your social interactions with others but also your performance in many areas. For instance, brown-eyed students, after being discriminated against, began to perform poorly on tests and assignments. Blue-eyed children’s feeling of superiority helped them perform better on tests and assignments. I believe as an educator the best approach would be to create a positive environment for all children to thrive in. In high-school we were given equal opportunity to thrive in the educational environment. If more schools were like my school children would not struggle as much with their self-esteem in school.

Stereotype Threat: When facing a negative stereotype, one’s performance will confirm that the stereotype is true. You can experience a sense of threat that you will be treated in terms of the stereotype. Anxiety is a detrimental factor that keeps people from doing their best. Everyone experiences negative stereotypes depending on the groups they associate themselves with. In the video, the researchers conducted a study on a mixed racial class. When students were told the task was a test of athletic ability, African-Americans performed better. When told the task was a test of sports strategy, the White students out performed the African-American students. Stereotypes are the reason both groups of people felt intimidated while doing certain tasks. African-Americans had already subconsciously associated themselves with having athletic abilities, while the Whites felt superior in the intellectual field. If we could find a way to break free from the stereotypical ideas that are embedded in our brains, then we would be able to see the potential that we all have to be successful at any task.

Pygmalion Effect: During the Ted Talk given by Dr. Alia Crum, one example involved researchers in Italy who studied patients undergoing a painful surgery. This included multiple incisions in the body to later gain access to the heart/lungs. Patients were given strong doses of morphine sulfate. In the study, half of the patients were given the dose of morphine by a doctor directly. The other half were given the dose of morphine by a pre-programmed  pump. Both groups of patients were given the same dose but did not experience the same amount of relief. The group that wasn’t aware of the pre-programmed pump felt less relieved of the pain than the group who had a doctor directly give it to them. Are you getting fitter, healthier, stronger because you believe you are? Well according to the example, the patients felt better because the act of knowing allowed them to somehow link their mind with their body. I think we can apply this situation to our everyday lives in terms of living a happier life. It is not always up to a certain product, person, or circumstance to help you feel better about life. It can just be a psychological thing. If we learn to expect the best out of situations then our minds and bodies will follow.

Removing negative stereotypes from certain groups of people and adding positive stereotypes to all groups collectively will allow an increase in the performance, health, and confidence of individuals.

First Impression Week 9: Mozart and Learning

For this first impression I will be discussing the effect listening to music has on child intelligence with regard to the decision by Governor Miller of Georgia to provide new babies with a CD or tape of Mozart and Bach. Miller is a large supporter of the theory that listening to music from artists such as Bach and Mozart will increase the intelligence of babies, and therefore spent one hundred thousand dollars of Georgia’s budget to provide children a tape with music. While this topic has been very controversial, a study by Frances Rauscher shows that there may be a causal connection between some forms of intelligence and listening to Mozart. This paper covers two studies, one that studied the effects of Mozart on spacial reasoning abilities in college students, and another that studied music training in three year olds and their cognitive abilities. In the first study, the data show that after one listen of Mozart, the spacial reasoning abilities of the individual improved significantly, and continued to improve significantly for the majority of the five trials. The individual who was in silence improved once significantly, which may have been due to a learning curve according to Rauscher. The second study showed that infants who had music training showed enhancements in non-verbal cognitive abilities, for example puzzle solving capabilities.

This study does not seem to provide definitive evidence to say that music does indeed boost intelligence, but it does provide valuable data that supports the claim that some forms of intelligence are enhanced when exposed to Mozart. It will be interesting to see what the data from future studies will say on this topic because, at least to me, it does not seem intuitive that listening to music would increase intelligence, even if it were Mozart. In general the evidence here shows only positive effects of music on intelligence so in my opinion Millers decision to send infants home with music is supported by this study.


Spotlight Blog 1 Prompt

Regardless of which option you choose, make sure to use the tag “Spotlight” on your post. Also include the tag listed for the option you choose below.

Option 1 – Use the tag “Development”

As divorce has become more and more common in the US, the number of children affected by divorce has increased greatly. The effects of divorce on children are controversial and there are a number of opinions out there on just what is “best” for kids. If you select this option, I want you to find two credible sources that argue divorce is inherently harmful to children and two credible sources that argue children can come through a divorce without serious consequences. Make sure to assess the arguments and supporting data presented in each source, explain what makes the source credible, and state which side of the issue you think is correct based on your reading. Make sure to list all sources at the end of your post.

Option 2 – Use the tag “Memory”

Now that we’ve discussed how learning and memory work and you’ve had a chance to think about your own study skills, I want you to critically evaluate websites that give students advice about how to study. If you select this option, I want you to find three different websites that provide advice for studying: one targeted toward college students, one targeted toward middle or high school students, and one targeted toward parents. Evaluate the advice provided on each and compare it to what you know about how memory works (include sources), making sure to correct anything you think is bad advice. Be sure to include links to the websites you are evaluating.

Option 3 – Use the tag “Drugs”

We covered the biology of addiction as well as basic information about the types of drugs of abuse out there, but we didn’t spend much time talking about treatment. The two most prominent treatment philosophies (arguably) are the abstinence model and the harm reduction model. Find two credible sources that advocate the abstinence model and two credible sources that advocate the harm reduction model. Make sure to assess the arguments and supporting data presented in each source, explain what makes the source credible, and state which model you think is better based on your reading. Make sure to list all sources at the end of your post.

I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Thomas Hawk
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FIP – Affecting Intelligence

This week in psychology, we are learning about the positive and negative effects teachers can have on their students’ overall confidence and intelligence levels.  We were told to watch three videos: one about Jane Elliot’s blue eyes/ brown eyes experiment, stereotype threats, and the discovery of the Pygmalion effect.



All three of these videos discuss different scenarios in which a teacher’s certain expectation of their students can impact the way they perform in that class or in their school in general.  In the first video, Jane Elliot’s classic experiment to teach her students about discrimination is described.  In order for her students to personally experience discrimination, this elementary school teacher placed her students into two groups: those with blue eyes and those with brown eyes.  She told the class that the blue-eyed children were superior to the brown-eyed children.  The blue-eyed students were told not to play with the brown-eyed students during recess and vice versa.  As the school day went on, the “superior” blue-eyed students began calling their brown-eyed peers names and overall, treated them as lesser individuals.  Jane Elliot also noticed that her students with blue eyes performed much better on spelling tests on average than those of her students with brown eyes.  When she changed which group was receiving the discrimination, however, saying that brown eyes were superior to blue eyes, her students with brown eyes performed better on the spelling tests.  This begs the question of whether or not a teacher’s expectation (low or high) of a particular group of students has an impact on their intelligence level and how well they do in the class.  In the second video we watched, the concept of stereotype threats was explained and tested.  In the video, stereotype threats were described as the feeling an individual gets when they think that if they perform a certain way in a specific situation or test, it will confirm a typical stereotype about them.  This very fear/hope often results in the individual living up to their specific stereotype, whether it is a negative or a positive one.  In the third video, a group of elementary school students were given an exam in order to test their current and potential future intelligence levels.  Although, it is impossible to predict how a child’s intelligence will grow in just one year, the teacher of these students was instructed to inform the class on which students would grow in their intelligence that upcoming year, based on the tests they had taken.  At the end of the year, the same class of students were tested again to see how much, if any, their intelligence had grown in the past year.  On average, the students who had been randomly chosen as the ones who would have the potential to grow intellectually, in fact did.  And the students who weren’t given any specific expectations from their teacher did not grow nearly as much as the others.  This is just another example of how much a teacher’s expectations of a student can affect not only the way they view themselves, but their actual intelligence level and how well they perform in the classroom setting.

In my personal experience as a student, I believe that a teacher’s view of a student can affect the way they perform in that class or in their school, overall.  During my freshman year in high school, it was my first time taking a Pre-AP class instead of a regular class.  During my Pre-AP Biology class, I really enjoyed learning about the material and I often got high grades in the class.  I remember one time we had taken a quiz in class and I had gotten a C.  Since this was unusual for me, my teacher seemed a little disappointed that I had not done so great on the quiz.  Because of this, I studied the material I had not understood and made a larger effort not to get any more low grades in that class.  In my case, this negative reaction from my teacher made me motivated to do better on the next quiz and the next test after that.

If we want to see improvement in the school system, however, I believe the first step is to help teachers understand their important role in these children’ lives, especially the younger ones.  I think it is impossible to have just one method in order to help a student succeed in a classroom.  Every individual is different and I believe it is the teacher’s job to see each and every student differently, not in a negative way, but in a personalized way in order to help them grow intellectually.  For some students, firm encouragement is the best method to get them motivated to do school work and to make better grades on a daily basis.  For some students, however, they need to be reassured they have what it takes to make good grades and they just need to apply themselves.  The teacher can then ask the student what he/she thinks will help them complete schoolwork.  This way each child can be specifically helped, based on their own needs.  Often, in the school system, kids who get mediocre/poor grades in school are seen as not that smart.  When, in fact, these students may be used to teachers ignoring them or disregarding their effort in school.  Instead of focusing on the “good” students in class, teachers should take a look at the struggling ones and ask them: How can I make this easier for you to learn and succeed?

Does Music Inspire Intelligence?

Have you ever wondered if listening to music could make you smarter? Apparently, Zell Miller, the Governor of Georgia back in 1998, believed so and proposed a plan to spend $105,000 of the state’s budget to distribute a cassette/CD of classical music, such as Mozart and Bach, to the parents of each new child born in Georgia. However, after reading a New York Time’s article titled “Georgia’s Governor Seeks Musical Start for Babies” by Kevin Sack and the original journal article by Rauscher, Shaw, & Ky titled “Music and Spatial Task Performance: A Causal Relationship,” I discovered that the original evidence does not support Zell Miller’s decision. Zell Miller’s decision was devoted to stimulating brain development in newborn children; however, the original evidence does not support it because the original evidence focuses on preschool children, around the ages of 3 to 4 years old, and college students, not newborn children. Even though the results of the tests from the original journal article showed listening to classical music improved some of the students’ skills pertaining to certain subjects such as object assembly, the studies were not directed to newborn children and thus Zell Miller’s decision is not properly supported by the original article.

Mozart’s effect on intelligence?

After reading the research behind Rauscher’s thoughts, on Mozart having a positive effect on humans abilities to perform better on spatial tasks, I can not say that I am heavily affected in my own thoughts. I personally do not think that his evidence or his test showed outstanding numbers that would be enough to influence me into thinking that Miller’s proposal of spending $105,000 for new mothers to have their children listen to Mozart is in fact worth it. Yes the research did show promise and did in fact prove that the subjects did better when having listened to Mozart, but the test was a.so not conducted on babies… This study was conducted on students at a collegiate university who obviously are of the higher education standards seeing that they are enrolled in a college. Therefor to be able to say that his research would stand up to what Miller believes could help infants is a hard statement to stand by. Without any test involving a development system or long term exposure to people of a younger generation with the ability to grow up listening to Mozart I feel as though no assumptions can be made that Mozart would in fact change the lives of these infants.