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2020-01-01 12:00 am
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(Please Read!)

PSY: A Blog About Anything Relating To Psychology

Greetings, fellow Dreamwidthians (and LiveJournalians, and Wordpressians... guess what, you can post your comments here via the OpenID login page)!  :)

It is my goal to entertain you with various tidbits of research and news that I have come across in psychology lectures, textbooks, websites, etc.

Feel free to submit links of your own via each entry's comment page, and who knows, it just might be the subject of my next entry!

Finally, if you enjoy reading these entries, please support this blog by adding it to your "circle".  :D  Spread the word to your friends, so that they can receive the latest as well!

Note: All information posted on this blog contains a reference/source, so that readers may have a chance to confirm the validity of the information themselves.
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2009-07-19 08:00 pm


First off, I'd like to apologize to all my viewers for not posting as often as I said I would.  Due to my life becoming incredibly busy over the past couple of weeks, and my expecting things to stay that way for a very long time, I am now posting on PSY once a week (not necessarily on every Sunday) from now on.  That way, I should have time to come up with decent, interesting posts that are more focused on educating vs. discussing (although you are still welcomed to post your thoughts!).

With that being said... here's this week's topic!  :D


Let's start off with the American Amish.  As some of you may already know, the American Amish people are part of a branch of Christianity (notably in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana) that "are best known for their simple living, plain dress and resistance to the adoption of many modern conveniences" (Wikipedia).  One of their customs involves the absence of facial features on their children's rag dolls.  One theory for the origins of this practice revolves around the second commandment in the Christian Bible, which states the following:

"You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I The Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My Commandments" (Exodus 20:4-6, Revised Standard Version).

So why have the American Amish opted to create faceless dolls?  In short, it may be due to the idea that giving rag dolls beautiful faces or any kind of defining facial features so would result in the idolization of material objects, something that they would naturally want to avoid at all costs.

In Indonesia, "the concept of 'face' is important to understand", according to Kwintessential, a language translation/interpretation website that aims to help clients succeed with cross-cultural communication/solutions.  The website strongly emphasizes that foreigners "should never ridicule, shout at or offend anyone...imperfections should always be hidden and addresses manifestation of the concept of face/shame is that Indonesians...would never wish to cause anyone shame by giving them a negative answer so would phrase it a way where you would be expected to realise what they truly want to say" (

Another, broader example would be the describing of enemy forces as "faceless", so as to de-humanize the soldiers and politicians one is at war with.  Prisoners and victims over the span of centuries have also been described as "faceless", demonstrating how their tortures and deaths go unnoticed/unaided by the world as a whole.  In dreams, people may be faceless, for any number of reasons.

Discuss: Cases where you have seen examples of "facelessness" in literature, art, media, etc.
Share: What it means to you when something is "faceless".  Anonymity?  The unknown?  Good?  Bad?
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2009-06-12 10:15 pm
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How to Avoid Trapped Arm Whilst Cuddling in Bed

Enjoy.  <3

Dating Humor: How To Avoid Trapped Arm Whilst Cuddling In Bed

There are many more hilarious videos where that came from.  XD
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2009-06-04 12:50 pm

Online Relationships

Since it's the last week before final exams (and moving, and the start of a new psych internship), I'm just going to throw out a topic and let you guys post your thoughts/personal experiences on the matter:


Can they work for long-term relationships?  Can they lead to marriage?  Can they lead to successful/life-long marriages?  Why or why not?  Have you ever dated someone via the internet?  How about a family member or friend?  How did that turn out?

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2009-06-01 05:15 pm

Media Violence

Dreamwidthians and other bloggers represent a new generation in which computers not only surround us, but are practically essential in our every day lives.  With the creation of websites such as, accessing television programs via the internet has become even more easy to accomplish.  Those of us who may not have spent an hour or two per evening watching various television programs may now do so, thanks to the ease of such technology.

Bushman & Anderson, along with many other researchers, have conducted studies stating that media violence is responsible for a large number of crimes committed by children, teenagers, and young adults who watch a great deal of television shows that are "reality-based", such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, etc.  Some networks, such as FOX, now have content ratings posted at the beginning of every program as well.

"About 350 characters appear each night on prime-time TV, but studies show an average of seven of these people are murdered every night. If this rate applied in reality, then in just 50 days everyone in the United States would be killed—and the last left could turn off the TV." ("Hollywood’s Three Big Lies," Reader’s Digest, Oct. 1995, 156–57.)

What are your thoughts regarding all of this?  Do Bushman & Anderson make a valid argument, that there is too much violence in the present-day media?  Or do you find yourself thinking that the amount of violence is merely a way to generate viewers' interest in the program?  Should further requirements and restrictions be placed on television programs, so as to ensure that children are not exposed to such violence?  Or do you feel that the networks have done enough by posting the content ratings at the beginning of every show that may be deemed too violent in nature?  Finally, how large of a role do you believe the media plays in influencing a child's violent tendencies?  90%?  50%?  25%?  10%?  What other factors (ex. abusive parents, dangerous neighborhood, negative peer pressure, etc.) come to mind when considering these percentages?
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2009-05-27 10:20 pm

Public Suicide: Selfish?

CNN: Would-be Suicide Jumper Pushed Off Bridge

BBC: Video Footage

Organizations such as the Yellow Ribbon suicide prevention program reach out to thousands of high schools and universities in America every year.  Students are told to watch out for signs of depression, and to seek help for any friends or classmates who may be contemplating suicide.  This story, however, demonstrates that not all individuals are as sympathetic toward people contemplating suicide, especially when it is done in public, and "selfish" in the sense that hundreds of commuters are unable to go to work, pick up their children from school, etc.  Your thoughts on all of this?

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2009-05-26 12:40 pm

Christine Collins

(My apologies for not posting over the past couple of days... Memorial Day weekend has been very hectic, and unfortunately, there has been a death in the family, so that further delayed my posting in this blog).

If you guys haven't seen "Changeling" yet, do so!  The movie has received an 8.1/10 on, and best of all, it is based on a true story.  It simply astounds me that, back in 1928, a Los Angeles police officer could send an individual to a psych ward under "code 12", without a warrant, without due process, and that the individual would then be force-fed medication and subjected to electroshock treatment until they "showed improvement" (that is, the individual agreed with the police officer's version of events).

Back in the 20's, the field of psychology as we know it today did not exist.  What are your thoughts regarding the admittance, treatment, and release of individuals to psych wards in the present day?  Do you believe that there is still the risk of patients being wrongfully admitted for psychological treatment?  How about their treatment (are the employees justified in their methods, or are they too severe)?  Do you believe that it is too easy or too hard to be released from a psych ward?  Why or why not?
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2009-05-20 05:45 pm

Alex (African Grey Parrot)

The Alex Foundation's Research Publication (partial list)
Published Books: "The Alex Studies" and "Alex & Me"

"Known as one of the most famous African Grey parrots in history, Alex pioneered new avenues in avian intelligence. He possessed more than 100 vocal labels for different objects, actions, colors and could identify certain objects by their particular material. He could count object sets up to the total number six and was working on seven and eight. Alex exhibited math skills that were considered advanced in animal intelligence, developing his own “zero-like” concept in addition to being able to infer the connection between written numerals, objects sets, and the vocalization of the number. Alex was learning to read the sounds of various letters and had a concept of phonemes, the sounds that make up words."
(The Alex Foundation)

Wikipedia's entry about Alex contains a "Criticisms" section, where it is suggested that "Alex's alleged use of language" could be a result of operant conditioning (read Monday's journal entry if you are not familiar with this term).  What are your thoughts regarding this accusation?
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2009-05-19 01:10 pm
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The Power of Social Influence

Fun examples: Flash mob (see above); the "wave" at sports arenas; inserted laughter on sitcoms; money in a tip jar.
Not-so-fun example: "Mass Psychogenic Illness" (Timothy F. Jones, M.D., New England Journal of Medicine).

Flash Mobs: Have you ever participated in one?  How did you feel before, during, and after the event?
The "Wave": Have you ever resisted participating in the "wave"?  How do you feel when your friends don't join in with you?
Inserted Laughter: Do you feel that this causes the audience to enjoy the episode even more than they normally would?  Or do you feel that this is merely a manipulation of your emotions, and an annoyance/distraction from the plot?
Tip Jar: Likewise, how do you feel when you see several $20 bills sitting in a tip jar?  Do you feel more inclined to tip the waiter/waitress?  Or do you feel that this is a dishonest attempt at guilt-tripping customers into giving more tips?
 Psychogenic Illness: Can you recall any incidences of this in your life?
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2009-05-18 05:00 pm

Operant Conditioning in a Nutshell

Cesar Millan (aka the "Dog Whisperer").  Distressed mothers.  Police officers.  We've all seen individuals and institutions, in public and private settings, deal with undesirable behavior in different ways.  Operant conditioning is a learning procedure in which the probability of a paricular behavior occuring is increased or decreased, based on the consequence (positive or negative) that is administered.

Positive Reinforcement:
A behavior is followed by a pleasant stimulus, which increases the probability of that behavior.
Negative Reinforcement:
A behavior is followed by the removal of an unpleasant stimulus, which increases the probability of that behavior.
Positive Punishment:
A behavior is followed by an unpleasant stimulus, which decreases the probability of that behavior.
Negative Punishment:
A behavior is followed by the removal of a pleasant stimulus, which decreases the probability of that behavior.


An example:  Little Billy throws a temper tantrum every time his mother puts him in a shopping cart when she enters the local grocery store.  There are four ways in which Little Billy's mother could deal with this undesirable behavior.

Positive Reinforcement:
  Little Billy is given a lollipop (or a toy, or something else to keep him satisfied).
Negative Reinforcement:  Little Billy is removed from the shopping cart (and allowed to run around).
Unfortunately for the mother, both methods of reinforcement are reinforcing the UNDESIRABLE behavior in this case.  She is essentially encouraging Little Billy to throw a temper tantrum every time she puts him in a shopping cart, because he knows that he will either be given a lollipop, or be removed from the shopping cart altogether.  In short, this is a temporary solution to the problem, and can lead to children becoming spoiled.

Positive Punishment:  Little Billy is given a spanking.
Negative Punishment:  Little Billy loses his TV-watching privileges.
On the other side of the coin, these methods could be both highly effective or highly ineffective, depending on how consistently the mother uses these forms of punishment (and assuming that she will not escalate to beating or otherwise abusing/neglecting Little Billy).


So which form of operant conditioning should we use?!  The answer is simple, yet (surprisingly) rarely used: A combination of both reinforcement and punishment.  Let's address all three examples now.

1) Cesar Millan
Any dog-lovers reading this entry?  What do you do if your puppy pees on the white carpet?  Not only do you punish your dog ("BAD DOG!!!"), but you also reinforce good behavior ("You're such a gooood boy/girl!" and a treat), such as peeing outside or on the puppy pads.  Victoria Stilwell (host of "It's Me or the Dog" on Animal Planet) uses positive reinforcement to correct the same aggressive behavior that Cesar Millan attempts to.  Some critics argue that Cesar Millan should use more positive reinforcement when dealing with troublesome dogs, and that he uses too many positive punishment techniques, such as forcing aggressive dogs into submission by pinning them to the ground on their sides.  So which famous dog trainer should be trusted?  Mrs. Stilwell, Mr. Millan, both, or neither?

2) Distressed Mothers
It's easy for mothers to either give in to their child's demands, or use a great deal of force to suppress their children's undesirable behavior.  Why not a combination of the two?  Punish the undesirable behavior, then reward the child once they are behaving appropriately?  Many mothers would argue that this is easier said than done.  It's not easy to immediately notice and reinforce positive behavior, especially when the parent(s) are busy with work, household chores, and other tasks.  Nor is it easy to immediately punish negative behavior, with the same intensity and consistency every time.  What other factors could prevent or make it more difficult for parents to "train" their children effectively?

3) Police Officers
Police officers, prison wardens, etc. undeniably use a great deal of positive and negative punishment when dealing with offenders.  Speeding drivers receive tickets.  Criminals lose their freedom when incarcerated.  Given the dangerous, and sometimes violent nature of these crimes, who can blame police officers and prison wardens from using these punishing techniques?  But as one subscriber quoted in a recent journal entry, "prison in its current state isn't rehabilitating, which is really what it should be doing, instead it provides a prime environment for gang related activities" (Robin Herman, Khalil Osiris, Tony Villa Sr., The Psychology of Incarceration).  Is there any way to incorporate positive reinforcement into the current prison system?


Your thoughts regarding all three examples are welcomed.  Let this information not only entertain you, but also prompt you to discuss with other subscribers.
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2009-05-17 05:00 pm
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Piaget's Developmental Theory

Piaget's Developmental Theory. This child is pre-operational (2-7 years old). "Classifies objects by a single feature: e.g. groups together all the red blocks regardless of shape or all the square blocks regardless of colour". The last demonstration is my favorite.