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Lecture 9

PSY100H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Jeffrey Sachs, Personal Distress, System Dynamics

Course Code
Dan Dolderman

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PSY100 Lecture #9: Psychological Disorders
Captive turkeys are very dumb but can tell the difference between polecats (eat turkeys) and
baby turkeys highly schematic processing (not processing social world in a lot of detail)
oTop-down schematic processes  top-down signal (sound of baby turkey) overrides
everything else (if no sound, then needs effortful processing)
Select specific cues for us- if find don’t need to process reality; allow top-down
processes fill in blanks and assume reality is the one we believe in
oManipulate people (and yourself) through using top-down processes against them
Triggering top-down processes for people (activating nodes) all the time implicitly- unavoidable
oAnytime you communicate (sound of voice, body language, way you dress, etc.)
Persuading Turkeys (see Bob Cialdini’s book: Influence: Science and Practice)
Social psychology of interpersonal influence- took literature in social psychology and looked at
its implications of influencing other people
Science of communication: we’re all turkeys- automatized behavioural sub routines (influence
us) engaged by various triggers  how to engage people’s sub routines
Much of persuasion is learning how to pull the triggers that already exist in most people through
socialization processes (what triggers other people is what triggers us to behave in certain way)
Self-concepts (psyche) function like immune system (psyche is network of interacting processes)
oBiased processes to fix ourselves and feel better (defensive construal processes)
Self-protecting, self-affirming, self-biasing processes, self-serving biases, etc.
Same psychology machinery that goes awry for psychology disorders
oMood disorders (e.g. depression) is like an autoimmune disease of psyche(top-down
self-serving/protecting biases parasitic processing) dysfunctional loop
Interwoven set of loops of dysfunctional processes working against you
So…I’m starting this cult…
oStart off slow, then gradually escalating commitment (don’t say everything up front)
engage in behaviours they won’t normally do (process of psyche)
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oFoot-in-the-door technique (consistency): start off with something innocuous subtly
manipulate self by saying yes (turning into that type of person who would say yes to
things, etc.) more likely to say yes to the next thing, and so on
Commitment & Consistency Principle: The Foot-in-the-door technique
Beach thieves: 4/20 people do something if see someone stealing radio
oIf ask someone to watch stuff, everyone says yes- 19/20 now do something if see thief
Person committed once says “yes”  have to do something if agree to watch stuff (responsible)
“Hello, how are you this evening?”
oIf precede charity pitch with the question above, dramatically increases donations
oSay “I’m fine” hard to say “no” to those children who need help, etc.
Brainwashing: gradual escalation (resist if hit people up front- psychology immune systems kick
in) sneak in under radar (hard to resist, because don’t know you’re there)
Drive carefully!
We’re not all that rational (not generally engaged in cold calculations in daily life, and even
those that are affected by hot affects switch us into agree vs. disagree frame)
oManipulate ourselves all the time, reinforced by top-down cognitive processes
(feedback loops connected to cognition), but mostly driven by affect (embodied stuff)
oWorld forms physiology, cerebellum, classical conditioning, associative networks, etc.
(gives us basic emotional conditioning, behavioural reactions, attachment security, etc.
 we’re preformed patterns)  internalized stuff affects how we behave
oDeveloped complex high level cognitive constructs (PFC)- but developed out of
relationship with body and emotions (operate in service with internalized stuff) –
reinforce each other through destructive positive feedback processes
How can we deal with our Difficult Emotions?
First, let’s recognize that suppression and rumination aren’t great strategies (for dealing with
dysfunctions- very short term)
We can shove things out of mind and block them short-term, but sets up ironic feedback
processes that end up strengthening it (reinforce them come back)
Rumination: destructive foot-in-the-door to yourself
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oStarts as problem-focused coping strategy  self-analytical mood (figure out why I’m
sad)- starts as functional strategy, but if no easy solution process of habitually focusing
on yourself and negative thoughts (focus on flaws and problems) negative self-schema
(patterns of negative self-associations)
oProblem-focused coping strategy Turns into rumination Develop habit of continually
trying to figure self out  coping strategy (hard to get out of it)
oAttach illusory positive thoughts to this
oTrap of ruminative thinking: feel like you’re fixing problems because focusing on it (build
negative associative networks), then attach illusory narrative (training montage) that
you will get yourself together soon (problems then it’s going to work out soon)
Trap self in rut of feeling bad but they’re almost ready to get self together but
never changes
oGoals never really change- never get to them
Strategy 1: Problem-focused Coping Strategies
Better than avoidance
We could always try to do something about the situation…
oTry to deal with reality
Of course, sometimes we can’t change the situation (e.g. past regrets, existential emptiness,
chronic insecurity, jealousy about your partner’s past relationships), or else problem-focused
coping doesn’t really apply (e.g. daily hassles stressors) can’t just “fix” things sometimes and
deal with it/yourself (e.g. attachment style and shame/guilt from addiction) inadequate if no
real solutions
Strategy 2: Distraction
Easiest? Yes….Highly accessible? Yes… Best?...No (short-term perpetuation of problems and
how we distract ourselves if often inherently dysfunctional)
More generally, this is about redirecting attention to other stimuli (as are, ultimately, all the
strategies); control of attention is absolutely central
oAbility to skillfully control/switch attention is foundation/key to well-being
Strategy 3: Relaxation
If emotions combo of physiological and cognitive processes (hot and cold), and most energy
comes from hot stuff (elephant) learn relaxation techniques (self-control strategies/abilities)
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