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Ch 1 Summary

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Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

Chapter 1- Adjusting to Modern Life The Paradox of Progress  Despite our technological progress, social problems and personal difficulties seem more prevalent and more prominent than ever before.  Point: Modern technology has provided us with countless time-saving devices. Counterpoint: Nonetheless, most of us complain about not having enough time. o 51% of the adults respondents would rather have more time than money o Cell phones, pagers, and e-mail tether people to their jobs  Point: The range of life choices available to people in modern societies has increased exponentially in recent decades. Counterpoint: Although increased choice sounds attractive, Schwarts (2204) argues that the overabundance of choices in modern life has unexpected costs o Decisions about education, work, and relationships o Errors become much more likely when decisions are more complex o Having more alternatives increases the potential for rumination, postdecision regret, and anticipated regret; contributes to depression & anxiety  Point: Modern technology has gradually provided us with unprecedented control over the world around us. Counterpoint: Unfortunately, modern technology has also had a devastating negative impact on our environment. o Problem is both technical and behavioural o The technological advances of the past century, impressive though they may be, have not led to perceptible improvement in our collective health and happiness.  The progress we value so much has scrambled our value systems and undermined our traditional sources of emotional security.  People are overwhelmed by rapidly acceleration cultural change  Mental demands of modern life have been so complex, confusing, and contradictory that most of us are “in over our heads”  Excessive materialism weakens the social ties that binds us, stokes the fires of insecurity, and undermines our collective sense of well-being  Modern changes in gender roles, diminished job stability and other social trends have fostered and obsession with self-improvement that ultimately undermines individuals’ sense of security and their satisfaction with their identity  “Makeover Culture”- that we can reinvent ourselves as needed  The basic challenge of modern life has become the search for meaning, a sense of direction, and a personal philosophy Hard Times: Adjustment in an Era of Economic Distress  Research has shown that prolonged economic setbacks typically send families into a downward emotional spiral marked by anxiety, depression, anger, alienation, and marital conflict  We live in a world that nurtures a sense of entitlement to material goods, emphasizes immediate gratification, and fails to instill self-discipline  People who are especially concerned with money and possessions tend to report lower levels of happiness than others The Search for Direction  The kaleidoscope of change that we see around us creates feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, which we try to alleviate by searching for a sense of direction  Large sums of money to enroll in “self-realization programs”, eg. Scientology and Life Mastery seminars, Dr. Phil  In some cases they probably lead people down ill-advised pathways that prove harmful (sweat lodge)  In the wake of the Sedona Fiasco, this unwavering faith in Ray’s teachings is a remarkable testimonial to the enormous persuasive power of the charismatic leaders who promote self-realization programs  Cults- have attracted countless converts who voluntarily embrace a life of regimentation, obedience, and zealous (fanatical) ideology.  People join cults because these groups appear to provide simple solutions to complex problems, a sense of purpose, and a structured lifestyle that reduces feelings of uncertainty  Psychobabble- seems appropriate to describe the “hip” but hopelessly vague language used in self-help books  Clarity is sacrificed in favor of a hip jargon that prevents, rather than enhances, effective communication  Self-help books tend to place more emphasis on sales than on scientific soundness  Self-help books don’t usually provide explicit directions about how to change your behaviour  Narcissism is a personality trait marked by an inflated sense of importance, a need for attention and admiration, a sense of entitlement, and a tendency to exploit others  Greek myth of Narcissus, an attractive young man in search of love who sees himself reflected in water and falls in love with his own image  What to look for in self-help books: 1. Clarity in communication 2. Look for books that do not promise too much in the way of immediate change 3. Check the credentials of the author/ authors 4. Find the theoretical or research basis for the program they advocate 5. Look for books that provide detailed, explicit directions about how to alter your behaviour 6. That focus on a particular kind of problem  The approach of this textbook: 1. It is based on the premise that accurate knowledge about the principles of psychology can be of value to you in everyday life 2. It attempts to foster a critical attitude about psychological issues and to enhance your critical thinking skills 3. It should open doors 4. It assumes that the key to effective adjustment is to take charge of your own life  Guidelines for Thinking Critically 1. Ask questions; be willing to wonder 2. Define the problem 3. Examine the evidence 4. Analyze biases and assumptions- your own and those f others 5. Avoid emotional reasoning 6. Don’t oversimplify 7. Consider other interpretations 8. Tolerate uncertainty The Psychology of Adjustment  Psychology- is the science that studies behaviour and the physiological and mental processes that underlie it, and it is the profession that applies the accu
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