Psychology: Nature and Nurture on Behavior

Consider This:

Your parents genetics contributes to how you behave. The field of behavioral genetics is “the study of how genes and environments work together to shape behavior” (McLeod). Psychologists have discovered that outside influences (often referred to as nurture) as well as a person’s heredity (often referred to as nature) construct and contribute to his or her behavior. To acquire knowledge of how nature and nurture develop one’s behavior, psychologists construct experiments in families called family studies in which twins as well as adopted children are studied.

Twin Experiment

To understand how nature affects behavior, psychologists did several studies of twins. They did this by separating identical twins (whose genes are exactly identical) at a young age into differential environmental factors to see whether they would result in similar behavior. In one case, one twin grew up “with a married couple who made him feel secure and loved” while the other “went from orphanage to foster home to hospital” (Bernstein). After years of growing apart in different environments, they met and discovered similarities of not only physical appearance, but extremely specific ones as well. For example, they “used the same aftershave lotion, smoked the same brand of cigarettes, used the same imported brand of toothpaste, and liked the same sports. Their IQ scores were nearly identical” (Bernstein). Psychologists noticed similar results in other twins. Through studying twins, psychologists were able to identify that nature affects the behavior of a person.

Adopted Child Experiment

Psychologists also conduct experiments on adopted children to see nurture’s effect on behavior. These studies are to identify if “adopted children’s characteristics are more like those of their biological parents than of their adoptive parents” (48). This experiment is to find out whether nature determines behavior more so than nurture. Psychologists found out that the “traits of young adults who were adopted at birth tend to be more like those of their biological parents than those of their adoptive parents” therefore suggesting nature—genetics—determines a person’s behavior. These results were found through conducting experiments on adopted children.

Conclusion

Studies on twins and adopted children lead to psychologists’ realization that both nature and nurture affects how a person’s behavior forms. Through the experiment of separating identical twins, genetics was shone to be the reason as to why the twins had similar behavioral traits. Adopted children also show results of being more similar to their biological parents than their adoptive ones, thus supporting nature as the predominant reason for behavioral similarities. Although much of behavior is determined by genetics, one can still strive to acquire a well-rounded, successful behavior.

Works Cited

Bernstein, Douglas A. Psychology Eight Addition. Southampton: Hoffman, 2008. Print

Cherry, Kendra. “Nature vs Nurture: Do Genes Or Environment Matter More?” About Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

McLeod, Saul. “Theories of Personality | Simply Psychology.” Theories of Personality | Simply Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

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Introverts and Extroverts

introvert test

Definitions

The definition of an introvert is “a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings” opposed to an extrovert who is “a person concerned primarily with the physical and social environment” (“Introvert vs. Extroverts”).

Consider This:

“Society is itself an education in the extrovert values, and rarely has there been a society that has preached them so hard,” says American author and journalist William Whyte. Have extroverts been more idealized than introverts, even though they are of equal importance? After all, major, positive impacts have been made by several introverts, such as Albert Einstein, Frederic Chopin, Mahatma Ghandi, Sir Isaac Newton, and Rosa Parks.  Susan Cain, author of the novel Quiet, refers to the glorification of extroverts as the Extrovert Ideal.

The Extrovert Ideal

The Extrovert Ideal is the the “omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha and comfortable in the spotlight” (Cain, 36). Colleges such as Harvard University prioritize extroversion highly as their “school is predicated on extroversion” and earns the title the “Spiritual Capital of Extroversion” (Cain, 44). So when did extroversion begin its influence in America? Susan Cain states that it traces back to the late nineteen-hundreds where a “perfect storm of big business, urbanization and mass immigration” forced people to “become salesmen who could not only sell their company’s latest gizmo but also themselves” because “Americans started to focus on how people were perceiving them” (Cain, 21-22).

The Power of Introverts

Although the Extrovert Ideal is emphasized by society, it’s important to understand that introverts possess . For example, introverted leaders are “more open and receptive to [their peers’] ideas, which [motivates] them to work harder” whereas extroverted leaders are more “intent on putting their own stamp on events that they risk losing others’ good ideas along the way and allowing workers to lapse into passivity” (Cain, 57). Introverts can also “focus on one task at a time and can have mighty powers of concentration” because of the drive they receive from solitude, whereas extroverts crave the “thrill of the chase” and cannot as easily concentrate (Cain, 11). The importance of concentration of a subject determines the quality of the final product, therefore implying that introverts tend to have better quality products than extroverts. However, the point of this blog is not to start undervaluing extroverts, but to expose the underrated power introverts have that has been neglected.

Works Cited+

“Introvert vs. Extroverts.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.

Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking. New York : Crown Publishers, 2012. Print.

“William H. Whyte.” The Organization Man. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Apr. 2015. http://www.panarchy.org/whyte/organizationman.html

Does Reward Better Motivate Children Than Punishment?

Consider This:

There are no such things as rewards, but rather altered forms of punishments. For example, if a child were to be rewarded candy after scoring an A on a test, he or she would expect that same treatment again if he or she performed that act once more, thus performing off the motivation to obtain candy rather than  for personal achievement. The problem that starts to arise is the mindset of the child. He or she has set a new value of rewards higher, meaning that he or she becomes an individual would see the act of not receiving candy after scoring well on a test negatively. This negative connotation can be seen in the results of a punishment, therefore suggesting that rewarding is similar to punishing; however, rewarding also helps build an undesirable mindset, which is why it is a faulty way of raising children.

Mindset

The long-term effects of rewarding result in an undesirable mindset. The effect of rewarding “comes at the expense of interest and excellence in whatever they are doing” (Kohn). As previously stated, the mindsets of the children that start to be rewarded only work to achieve their reward rather than “excellence in whatever they are doing.” In addition to have insufficient amount of effort in work, rewarding also causes “a child who has been promised something for learning or acting responsibly…to stop doing this when there is no reward to get” (Kohn). Children raised using rewards as motivation stop doing what they are told if they are not given a reward. This creates a spoiled mindset.

Independence

Through rewarding, children are raised to be less independent–they are motivated to perform an act because of a reward (like candy), rather than the reward of performing that act (getting a good test score): “intrinsic motivation (an interest in the task for his own satisfaction) is qualitatively different from extrinsic motivation (in which the fulfillment of the task is seen primarily as a prerequisite for something else)”(Kohn). Intrinsic motivation is the type of motivation that leads a person to complete tasks for himself or herself rather than obtaining motivation off others.This faulty mindset also suggest to children that “they can’t trust their own decisions” and they should “always seek an ‘expert’ opinion before proceeding with a project, and that it is unwise to rely on their own perceptions and intuitions about the world around them” (Hunt). Therefore, educators must rather ask the inquiry of how their students are motivated rather than how motivated the students are.

Arguments Against Punishment

Some people say that punishment is faulty way of raising children because it teaches children what not to do rather than what to do. This is false because punishments teach children both what not to do and what to do, whereas rewarding only focuses on teaching what to do.  Punishment tells the child to not do a certain act, therefore enforces the idea of what to do: “We are more inclined to avoid actual loss than to strive for conditional benefits” (Lapowsky). Hanson also states that “negative feedback improved performance more for these individuals than did positive feedback,” so enforce punishment.

Works Cited

Hanson, Robin. “Reward or Punish?” Overcoming Bias. N.p. 31 May. 2013. Web. 28 March. 2015. <http://www.overcomingbias.com/2013/05/reward-or-punish.html

Hunt, Jan. “The Trouble with Rewards.” The Natural Child Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015. <http://www.naturalchild.org/jan_hunt/rewards.html

Kohn, Alfie. “Risk Rewards.” Alfie Kohn. Alfie Kohn, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015. <http://www.alfiekohn.org/espanol/el-riesgo-de-las-recompensas/

Lapowsky, Issie. “Reward vs. Punishment: What Motivates People More?” Inc. N.p. 2 April 2013. Web. 28 March 2015. <http://www.inc.com/magazine/201304/issie-lapowsky/get-more-done-dont-reward-failure.html

Why Do We Sleep?

Consider This:

     “Let’s say that we’re explaining sleep to an alien race that doesn’t sleep, and here’s what we say: ‘oh hey I’m having a great time hanging with you alien civilization, uh, but pardon me. I have to go be unconscious for eight hours and have vivid hallucinations'” says Ben from the YouTube channel BrainStuff- HowStuffWorks. Although Ben states that sleeping is a state of unconsciousness, it is actually not a time where the body goes dormant, but rather a different state of consciousness (Green). Dreams are one example of brain functioning during sleep, and even though scientist don’t have a consensus on why we sleep, the Division of Sleep Medicine at
Harvard Medical School has several developing theories:

1) Inactivity Theory                                                                              

*All images are credited to Googleredpanda

    Although not favorable by most scientists, this theory suggests that animals sleep to stay still and quiet. Animals, vulnerable to predators, would be hidden and clear of a predator’s path, and would not call attention to themselves.However, a simple counter-argument is the ability of being able to react when threats are close by (“Why Do We Sleep, Anyway?”).

2) Energy Conservation Theory

sloth

     If you sleep, you save more energy because of the lack of movement; metabolism in humans is reduced by as much as ten percent. This means both body temperature and caloric demand decrease during sleep. (“Why Do We Sleep, Anyway?”) However, Russel Foster conducted an experiment where he compared a sleeping person with an awake person who hadn’t moved much, and 110 more calories were burned in the awake person, which is the same measly amount as a hot dog bun. Therefore, this theory, like the Inactive Theory, is unfavorable to most scientists.

3) Brain Processing and Memory Consolidation Theory

RTBrain1-014      After learning certain task, sleep deprivation smashes the ability to learn that task. On the other hand, a good night of sleep hugely enhances “the ability to come up with novel solutions to complex problems…In fact, it’s been estimated to give us a three-fold advantage. Sleeping at night seems to enhance our creativity” (Foster). What happens is during the night, synaptic connections connect and strengthen, while less important connections fade away.

4) Cerebrospinal Fluid Theory (CFT)

lymphaticOne of the newest breakthroughs of sleep occurred about a month ago: the CFT. In the diagram to the right, the lymphatic system (the system that carries cells’ wastes out) is shown to cover most of the body except the brain. Why would one of the most important organs with every cell supported with blood vessels have no lymphatic nodes to clean away its wastes? This is because the area in the brain is too compact to have extra channels, so it uses cerebrospinal fluid instead. Cerebrospinal fluid “is a watery fluid that is continuously produced and absorbed and that flows in the ventricles within the brain and around the surface of the brain and spinal cord” (“Cerebrospinal Fluid.”). This fluid is used to clear out the wastes in the brain; however, this can only be achieved when asleep. Jeff Lliff gives a great explanation of the use of CFT.

Works Cited

 Bowlin, Ben. “Why Do We Sleep.” YouTube. Youtube, 21 March 2014. Web. 05 Dec 2014.             <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCbCra-Mdy8

“Cerebrospinal Fluid.” MedicineNet. MedicineNet, 19 March 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2014.

Foster, Russel. “Russell Foster: Why Do We Sleep?” YouTube. YouTube, 14 August 2013. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.      <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWULB9Aoopc

Green, Hank. “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream – Crash Course Psychology #9.” YouTube. YouTube, 31 March 2014. Web.      03 Dec. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMHus-0wFSo

Lliff, Jeff. “Jeff lliff: One More Reason to Get a Good Night’s Sleep.” YouTube. YouTube, 13 October 2014. Web. 06 Dec.      2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJK-dMlATmM

“Why Do We Sleep, Anyway?” Healthy Sleep. Division of Sleep Medicine at
      Harvard Medical School, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2014. <http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-             sleep/why-do-we-sleep

Psychology: What Is It?

Consider This:     

     Christof Koch, chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, states that the brain  is “the most complex object in the known universe.” What is ironic about Christof’s conclusion is that he is using his own “complex” brain to come up with this conclusion, thus bringing up an undesirable idea: the brain is not complex enough to even figure itself out (Green). Nevertheless, it is important to understand the laws of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of humans, no matter how far scientists are to finding out how the brain functions, and psychology is one of the studies of science that is used to solve exactly that.

Basic Information:

    According to the University of Dallas, psychology is “the study of mental processes, behavior, and the relationship between them.” Mental processes include skills such as learning, reasoning, emotion, and motivation, while behavior is the way a person acts or conducts oneself. The goal of a psychologist is to help his or her patient cope with a life experience problem by predicting the outcome of the patient’s behavior and then manipulating negative traits (Rowan). Examples include phobias, depression, and family issues. A lesson in Crash Course provides a very brief, informational video about psychology.

History of Psychology:

    The word “psychology” is derived off the Greek roots psyche (soul) and ology (study) and formulates the definition of psychology: the study of the soul (Zimmer). Evidently, the definition has grown and evolved throughout the hundreds of years. After all, information builds off of past ideas, and although psychology’s biggest breakthroughs happened in the 1800s, its roots date back to 450 B.C., with figures such as Plato and Aristotle (Stangor). According to the University of Texas at Austin, there are four branches in the evolution of psychology.The three branches discussed in Crash Course’s “Intro to Psychology” are: structuralism, functionalism, and psychoanalysis.


Structuralismthe study of the elements of consciousness (Hall). Wilhelm Wundt, the father of Structuralism, began the first psychological lab in Leipzig, Germany. His goal was to find the individual “elements” in the mind. For example, Wundt believed simple elemental experiences he referred to as immediate experiences (such as red) were assembled together to form mediate experiences (such as a rose).

Functionalism: the theory about the nature of mental states, or the function of the mind and mental processes. It focuses more on what “the nature of mental of states” does, rather than “the elements of consciousness”, which is what separates it from functionalism. William James, the father of functionalism, published his textbook on functionalism called The Principles of Psychology which is still widely used today (“The History and Bases of Psychology”).

Psychoanalysis: the comprehensive theory about human nature, motivation, behavior, development and experience. Sigmund Freud proposed that unconscious processes can affect conscious actions and behaviors, which lead to therapeutic practices like “dreams, projections, and free association” (Green). He based his theory off of psychiatric disorders because of their affects on the unconscious brain, which lead to the release of constrained, mentally-ill people (“The History and Bases of Psychology”).


Psychology is still a newly developing science that will surely evolve to have many more branches. For example, Gestalt, a possible branch of psychology founded in the 20th century, is argued as a forth branch of psychology, but still has developing, new ideas, and is hard to find concrete information on. It’s funny, because even Princeton University states to not cite their page “Gestalt psychology” when finding information on Gestalt psychology because “content of [their] page is taken from Wikipedia, and may not be up-to-date.” Just a little fun-fact to end this blog 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Works Cited

*Disclaimer: The greater than symbol was causing problems with the links, so I took them out.

“About Psychoanalysis.” American Psychoanalytic Association. DPPT of the International Psychoanalytical      association. 2009-2014. Web. 1 November 2014. <http://www.apsa.org/About_Psychoanalysis.aspx

“Gestalt psychology.” Princeton University. CC-BY-SA. 2 November 2014. Web. 2 November      2014. <http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Gestalt_psychology.html

Green, Hank. “Intro to Psychology – Crash Course Psychology #1.”      Youtube. YouTube. 3 February 2014. Web.      27 October 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo4pMVb0R6M

Hall, Richard. “Structuralism.” Psychology World. Creative Commons Copyright. Web. 1      November 2014.      <http://web.mst.edu/~psyworld/structuralism.htm

Koch, Christof. “Decoding ‘the Most Complex Object in the Universe’.” NPR. 14 June      2013. Web. 29 October     2014. <http://www.npr.org/2013/06/14/191614360/decoding-      the-most-complex-object-in-the-universe

Polger, Thomas W. “Functionalism.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. ISSN 2161-0002. Web. 2 November      2014. <http://www.iep.utm.edu/functism/

Rowan, Kiri. “Goals of Psychology: Describe, Explain, Predict, and Control.” Udemy Blog. Udemy. 25 March 2014. Web. 1      November 2014. <https://www.udemy.com/blog/goals-of-psychology/

Stangor, Charles. “Introduction to Psychology, v. 1.0.” Flat World Knowledge. Flat      World Education Inc. 2014. Web.      2 November 2014. <http://catalog.flatworldknowledge.com/bookhub/127?e=stangor-ch01_s02

“The History and Bases of Psychology.” The History and Bases of Psychology. Web. 29 October 2014.      <http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/HomePage/Class/Psy301/Salinas/01History.htm

“What is Psychology? Essentials.” UT Dallas. 2012. Web. 1 November      2014. <http://www.utdallas.edu/dept/abp/PDF_Files/Psychology_Folder/Introduction.pdf

Zimmer, Gene. “Psychology – It’s Definition and Actual Meaning.” Psychology – It’s Definition and Actual Meaning. Web.1      November 2014. <http://www.sntp.net/evolution.htm

Psychology

Welcome to my blog! Throughout my several posts, I hope to cover certain areas of psychology so that you and I may gain a better understanding of what psychology is and how it effects our everyday lives. For example, topics I hope to answer in my following posts include psychology and its importance,  dreaming, bullying, religion, self-esteem, love, etc. The reason I wish to learn about psychology is to heighten my understanding of people and how they interact in certain situations, and to know how to react when myself and others are brought into a situation.

I’m excited to start this project, partially because I will gain an understanding of psychology (one of my sources is a book by Susan Cain called The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and I might finally figure myself out) , and partially because I get to watch The Silence of the Lambs directed by Jonathan Demme. In addition,  I look forward to seeing my future posts and my peer’s future posts. Thank you for reading!