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Psych: Lecture 1 - Jan 7, 2013 Course Admin: - office hours: Thursday 2-:30-4:30 - office: 5th floor of Sid Smith - there are several TAs, who have office hours (will be posted on Blackboard) - prof highly recommends making indiv apptm's with TAs for help with test, and after a test to go over the questions that you got wrong bc ppl make systematic errors in multiple choice tests, and going thru it can be very helpful for future tests - there are tutorials every week (not mandatory) - [email protected] - email if have any questions Evaluation: - two midterms: each 30% - exam: 36% - experiments: 4% - he studies climate change; ie. looking at ppl's attitudes towards it, how communities can adapt to it, etc. applying psych background to climate change - found in grad school that the way organizations function is analogous to the way the cell functions Why study psych? - bc your success in something is directly related to how motivated you are to do it - if your reasons to do it are extrinsic then your motivation will be low - if for example you have to take a course that you don't like, then you can do REFRAMING (imp idea in psych); can reframe it in your mind that it's a hoop that you have to jump thru to get to somewhere you want to go - studies show extrinsic reasons cause less motivation; whereas deep internal personal reasons can really motivate a person - interested in ppl, want to learn about ppl - understand yourself - help ppl - learn how best to raise kids - want to know if self-esteem really matters (does it matter? generally imp for ppl in the west) - want to deal with stress better - to learn why ppl hold certain beliefs (ex: prof grew up in a small town where he was troubled by the beliefs that ppl there had and couldn't understand them; ie. beliefs regarding race, social class) - want to more effectively reach your goals (psych can really help you with this) - a psych prof did a study whereby asked ppl to write on an online survey what they're passionate about, interested in, etc. and based on that info he determined how they can be motivated; found that after one year their grades went up - want to deal with your "issues" - most of us didn't have the ideal childhood and this can create some deep issues for us - most of us have deep issues and if we don't now we will at some point in our lives - study: took random sample of undergrads and asked them to write a journal entry about their deepest trauma; it was unbelievable how many of them had deep traumas and issues; in our own class there are many traumas/deep issues that people carry - this study also discovered that one hour of diary writing was very therapeutic (15 mins x 4 times of diary writing); really helped them with depression, body issues, etc. facing the trauma and creating a coherent narrative about it was therapeutic - understanding why ppl do the things they do Psych is useful in... - providing imp insights into ppl - counselling, teaching - selling cars - consulting - activism - manipulating ppl - psych sits in between biological sciences and social sciences - very broad discipline, overlaps many other disciplines - involves a lot of subject matter; you'll end up being more interested in some areas of the field than others - prof says that throughout his high school, undergrad, and first year of grad school he couldn't understand why was learning disconnected facts, theories, formulas, etc. - but in 2nd year grad school understood how they're all connected, and studied it all in an integrated way - wished he had had that perspective in the five years prior; ie. being able to study things in an integrated, cohesive way - so he's going to mention the fundamental insights of psych which is a very integrative way of seeing psych - these are the result of over 100 years of psych; very important Fundamental Insights of Psych: #1) Reality is a story, told to us by our brains - ex: in the Matrix, Neyo learns that reality is not the way he was told it was - we go thru life thinking we're plugged into reality, "the real world", we think we interact with it, we perceive what is there - but this isn't true! we never interact with reality; we're interacting with an interpretation of reality, a story that we create ourselves - the implication of this is that if you're interacting with a fiction, then you have control over that fiction - you're the author of this fictional story - we think we're the victim of circumstance; that bad things happen; but this isn't true; it's how you react with it - our brains are artists/storytellers, not mirrors * very imp - our experiences do not reflect "realty itself", but rather a construction or representation of reality - our experience is not "what is", but how we interpret the signals we get from what is - the tragedy is that we cause ourselves so much suffering in our lives by taking things to be real, even thu they're just construction - to really understand this is absolutely life changing 1) this construction process involves a lot of guesswork - "filling in the gaps" - ie. like reading a book where many of the words have been erased - the reality we tell ourselves, ie. our perception, involves a lot of gaps; so we have to do our best guess to fill in the gaps; most of the time we're not aware that we're filling in the gaps, ie. we make guesses without realizing that's what we're doing; ie. we think that what we think represents the truth, but it doesn't, it represents our guesses - psych examines the cognitive strategies we use to make sense of things; and how we do this guesswork 2) this subjective representation occurs within the brain - with neuroscience advancements, we can see the brain and see these processes occurring in the brain - the brain is the biological organ that gives us our subjective consciousness - ex: Fred is bombarded with millions of "arrows" (sensory things from the env) - Fred can't perceive all these at the same time; so he has access only to a limited subset of these sensors - the limitations of our sensory-perceptual system are due to: - the sensitivity of our sensory mechanisms (there's much more happening in this room than what we're aware of; we don't see the energy fields, infrared radiation, etc.) (some species have much better ability than we do to sense things in the env); this cuts out a lot of arrows from our experience - our attentional capacity (we can only handle a limited amount of info at once; ex: can't listen to two or three conversations at once); this also cuts out a lot of the arrows - so there are many arrows that we either can't perceive or we're not perceiving bc not paying attention - there are only a few arrows from those millions of arrows that fred is actually perceiving - fred has to make sense of reality at every moment based on these arrows that he's perceiving, and this has to be done fast - when fred figured out what's going on in the reality, that's called perception - perception: taking things from reality and interpreting them - ex: fred sees something that's small and furry and making growling noises, and he guesses what it is (has to guess, can't analyze its dna to make sure), and perceives it as being a dog - we hope that our guesswork is calibrated well enough to reality such that we make correct guesses - this occurs most of the time (our guesses are right, we know something's a dog when we see it), so this makes us deluded into thinking that we're right all the time; psychology is about figuring out this guesswork bc there are systematic errors that we make in our guesswork - perception is a process of creative storytelling and inference making; we have to fill in a lot of gaps - this is highly functional.. most of the time, allowing our brains to function super-efficiently, with a small cost of accuracy - we make a lot of errors, but we usually get thru the day relatively intact - our brains have made a speed-accuracy trade-off; speed has been achieved with a small cost in accuracy - there's a big tradition in psych that studies the ways our guesswork is faulty - but keep in the back of your mind that these inaccuracies are functional most of the time; we need these short-cuts bc can't function without them (need speed bc for example we can't stand there for many minutes determining if an animal is really a dog or not); it's imp for our evolution - ex: we will learn that stereotypes are bad and "i'm not going to use them", but we can't be entirely, doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to be, but it's very difficult to not be completely; but it's good to study it and be aware that our judgments/perceptions are guided by stereotypes; knowing this can help to try to control or counteract this tendency; realizing these errors makes us a more intelligent perceiver - much more profoundly though, this means that we are not directly interacting with reality, but rather, we are creating a fiction about reality and interacting with this fiction * this is the most imp thing to take away from this course But how does the mind perceive reality? - perception is a process of PATTERN-MATCHING - our brains look for a correspondence btw patterns that have been stored thru past experience and the patterns of sensory stimuli that are currently being experienced - the brain then finds a pattern match and creates a perception - thus the brain uses its pre-existing patterns (ie. "knowledge") to decode incoming sensory signals - thus the guesses we make now are highly dependent on the patterns that were stored in our brains in the past; we each have a decoding key that is unique to us (unique patterns) - what the brain cannot decode, it either guesses about (if it has some reasonable info) or ignores entirely, or just sees what it wants/likes to see - ex: if there's something that's so obvious (ex: a campfire burning on the stage of con hall), but if the brain is not ready to see it, ie. doesn't have these pre-existing patterns, then it can't see it, or it will see it but sees a diff interpretation of it (sees what it wants to see); two ppl can watch the exact same sports match but if they're fans of opposing teams, they can see a certain play in two different ways (one sees it as a good play, another as a bad call by the ref); they see it differently bc they're motivated to, based on their brain patterns - ex: if brain sees something that it's never seen before, but that thing is close enough to things that it has seen, then it can usually handle it - but if brain sees something that's never seen before, and it's completely different, then the brain can make a wild guess and comes up with something totally new; and that totally new thing is motivated (the brain sees it as something that we like) - ex: an anthropologist studying pygmies in the congo: when he was with the ppl, they're in the jungle, and he wants to go to the plains, but the ppl won't take him bc they see it as taboo/bad luck, but he eventually convinces them to take him, and off in the distance they see little black dots; anthropologist asks his guide and asks what they are, "are they water buffalo?", and the guide says "what? are you crazy? water buffalo are really big, those little dots are really small. they're ants"; and anthropologist says "what? those are really far away, if i can see them they must be really big" they're both thinking each other is crazy. so they go closer to see what they are; the black dots get bigger; have a new pattern: rapidly growing little black dots. bc the brain has never seen it before, what does it come up with? it perceives it as magic. the anthropologist came to the conclusion that those ppl had lived their whole lives in dense jungle, where they had never seen far away, so they didn't learn that things get smaller when they're far away; their brains never had that experience (imagine being raised in a small room where nothing was far away, then if you suddenly went out in society you'd be freaked out) - he created the "constructed world hypothesis" (we construct the world based on our past experiences; we use the tools we have based on our past experiences; if we don't have those tools then we construct a different world (ex: magic)) - ex: person 1 was raised by loving, nurturing family. person 2 was beaten, controlled, etc. now they're 20 years old and are each in a relationship; they interpret inter-personal experiences in a very diff w
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