I just started my summer classes at the university today and wanted to share a bit of information with you guys. I am taking a social psychology class and I find it very interesting.

Construal
: Term used to describe how an individual perceives, comprehends, and interprets their environment.

Naive Realism: In the context of construals, Naive realism is the belief that one's own construal is the correct perception.
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These terms can be seen in the following example:

An individual who is a heavy drug user is told by their family that they need to seek drug rehab in order to quit their drug use.

The individual may perceive their family's suggestion as either:

1. Genuine concern, and be willing to undergo drug rehabilitation.

2. An attempt to control their life, and refuse to undergo drug rehab.
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The true nature of the family member's request is not in question. All of the attention is focused on the individual who is perceiving the event.
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PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nipocrite/

Substance-Related Disorders, Drug Rehab

psychpost | 6/18/2011 02:30:00 AM | 17 Comments

Nearly half of the U.S population admits to having tried an illegal substance at sometime in their lives, and approximately 15% have used one in the past year (SAMHSA, 2005).

More recently, approximately 8% have used illegal substances in the past month.
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There are four substance-related conditions describes in the DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). The following definitions are from the DSM-IV-TR. Bold notes added by me.

Substance Intoxication: Experience of significant maladaptive behavioral and psychological symptoms due to the effect of a substance on the central nervous system. In other words, when the use of a substance causes negative behavior or harmful psychological symptoms.

Substance Withdrawal: Experience of clinically significant distress in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning due to the cessation or reduction of substance use. Meaning that an individual experiences withdrawal symptoms that impairs everyday funcioning.

Substance Abuse: Diagnosis given when recurrent substance use leads to significant harmful consequences. Meaning that an individual is harmed by use of a substance. Examples include: not doing ones obligations, putting one's self in physical harm, or repeated legal problems.

Substance Dependence: Diagnosis given when substance use leads to physiological dependence or significant impairment or distress. Experiencing tolerance of withdrawal.
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Drug Rehabilitation (Drug Rehab)

Anti anxiety drugs, Antidepressants, and antagonists: These types of drugs help prevent withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting a substance. These allow an individual undergoing drug rehab to have a better chance of being successful.

Behavioral and Cognitive Treatments: The goal of these treatments is to motivate an individual to stop taking the substance. Another goal of these treatments is to teach the individual new coping skills.

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PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lemoneatingmachine/

Mental Health and the Law

psychpost | 6/14/2011 12:16:00 AM | 20 Comments




























How does the court system treat individuals who are afflicted with a Psychological disorder and commit crimes?

Mental health professionals are asked to determine whether the accused were competent to stand trial and whether they were sane at the time the crimes were committed (Nolen-Hoeksema). Whatever is determined by these specialists in not the final judgment but they are taken into consideration by the court.

Competence to Stand Trial

Individuals who are not able to comprehend what is going on in a court room or participate in their own defense.

Insanity Defense

The idea that an individual cannot be held responsible for their actions if they were mentally incapacitated during the time the crime was committed. Insanity Defense is used for about 1% of felony indictments.

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PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21804434@N02/

The Walking Dead (Comic Series) Review

psychpost | 6/10/2011 12:41:00 AM | 16 Comments

The Walking Dead (Comic Series)


What do all zombie-apocalypse films, shows, and comics all have in common? Action, suspense, gore, and drama are usual key components.

What sets The Walking Dead series apart from other zombie film/comics/shows is the psychology-heavy plot. Rather than focusing on the action and suspense of a zombie apocalypse, this series focuses on the interactions between zombie apocalypse survivors. This series outlines the changes in society that occur during a zombie apocalypse. Also the individual personalities of each survivor is a point of interest.

Social Aspects

Each different group in the series views the zombie apocalypse in a different light. The adults of the main group (normal middle class adults) view the zombie outbreak as the end of civilization. The children are not able to grow up in a normal environment and lose out on enjoying their "childhood". Meanwhile, prisoners view the zombie outbreak as freedom and they see their prison as a safe sanctuary.
Abnormal Aspects

Under the high amount of stress associated with the zombie outbreak many characters experience psychological disorders. I will not get into the details but these disorders range from Dissociative identity disorders to post traumatic stress disorders, and even to anti-social behavior.
Sociology/Ethics

Many times there is a discussion of Ethics and whether they still apply to a post-apocalyptic world. This aspect of the comic really questions the reader's beliefs.

Developmental Aspects

One of the main characters is a young boy going through the adolescent years of his life. Normally stories write about the transition from childhood into adulthood, but there are many complications due to living in a zombie infested world. The development if this character follows the expected Psychological growth of a child living in such a hostile environment.

Final Remarks

I highly recommend this comic series to any fan of the zombie genre. Even though I mainly outlined the most serious aspects of the series, there is a lot of action and gore for those who like that. The suspense of the story arcs draws me into the story and makes me want to keep reading. It is a light read and has a profound effect on how I view the zombie genre.


Other good Psychology-related media to check out:
-Fight Club (Dissociative identity disorder)
-American History X (prejudice, discrimination)
-Girl, Interrupted (Institutions, Abnormal Psychology)
-A Clockwork Orange (Aversion Therapy, Treatment)

Facebook Games. Press lever, recieve food.

psychpost | 6/07/2011 10:25:00 PM | 20 Comments


























This post will be about facebook games and other simple time consuming low-end games. I will be relating them to the idea of a Skinner's Box. For those who do not know what is Skinner's box is, it is a cage where a small animal is kept and is rewarded (by food or water) for completing a task (lever pressing or switch pressing).





















Popular facebook games like Farmville, Cityville, Mafia Wars, and other Zynga-like games seem to be based upon the idea of the Skinner's Box. for example in Farmville the user is taught how to plant crops by clicking on squares and picking their crops. After a certain amount of time they are allowed to click on their crop to harvest them. Upon harvesting they receive a reward such as in-game currency and experience points.

While this may just seem to be a farming simulator, there is more behind it. These games make it seem that the users are free to do whatever they please. But if crops are not harvested in a certain amount of time they will wither and you will not receive any rewards for planting them (effectivley punishing the user). Also once the user reaches higher levels, they are required to do much more crop planting in order to receive experience points that matter.

In a way the game forces users to "play" more or they will not receive any noticeable rewards or they will be punished.

Internet Addiction

psychpost | 6/06/2011 03:33:00 AM | 25 Comments























"1 in 25 teens addicted to internet, study finds"


SOURCE: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43098981/ns/health-addictions/

Earlier today, I was browsing through some psychology-related articles and i found this interesting article. It also makes the claim that teens exhibit withdrawal-like behavior similar to drug-withdrawals : "when they weren't online were more likely to be depressed and aggressive and to use drugs than their peers."

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Personally, I do not find this statistic shocking at all. Children are growing up in a world surrounded by electronics and access to the internet is possible from almost anywhere. Using the internet is an everyday occurrence for the younger generation and they do not know what life is like without it. I believe this will continue to become worse as the incentive to be online grows (social networking, online gaming, etc).

But I also believe there is also a benefit to being overexposed to technology. Children that grow up with so many technological innovations seem to be more tech-savvy. They have a much better understanding of utilizing their available resources than I did when I was their age (dial-up AOL modems).

What is your view on teen and pre-teen use of the internet?

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PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/razor512/

Effect of Caffeine on Memory

psychpost | 6/02/2011 04:26:00 PM | 41 Comments



















"In humans, caffeine acts as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness."


This sounds really good especially since we live in a fast paced world in which we must perform many tasks and have little time to rest. But what effect does caffeine have on our formation of short term and long term memories?

Short term Memory

One of the effects of caffeine is the increase in attention and energy. For some individuals, these effects cause them to perform better in tasks that require short term memory.

However, research consensus indicates an "inhibitory effect, reducing the capacity of our short-term memory and working memory".

Subjects who are not regular caffeine consumers are more likely to experience negative memory effects. While regular caffeine drinkers are more likely to only experience memory benefits from caffeine.

Long Term Memory


Caffeine seems to have a positive effect on long term memory regarding tasks that require a quick recall. Caffeine seems to have more more negative effects on tasks requiring patience and waiting.

Withdrawal

An individual who is undergoing a caffeine withdrawal may experience negative effects on short term and long term memory. Caffeine withdrawal may cause lower attention, headaches, and fatigues. Acquisition of new memory would be very difficult under these conditions.
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So as we have seen, caffeine seems to have different effects depending on the task at hand. To take full advantage of this powerful substance we must first learn how our bodies react to it.

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PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/puuikibeach/