Change Direction

In all honestly, I do not think that he Change Direction campaign will have a major impact on society. This may seem a bit obvious, but our faces do not look like those emojis. If those are the ‘signs’ we are looking for to identify, we will be looking for a very long time and with few results. A concept that is often over looked in society is that individuals with depression can in fact smile. There is no dark grey cloud following them around like in the Cymbalta commercials either. Mental Illnesses can be very difficult to notice; we saw this when simply trying to define what abnormal behavior is. Personally, I see a lot of weaknesses to this campaign. It could be nice to have a guide of what to look out for among friends, but honestly I think according to this campaign all Austin College students could be diagnosed with a mental illness during finals week. I think that this campaign would easily be turned into a joke on campus just because of how stressed students at Austin College are. With that said, I do think that Austin College needs some sort of community support system in place where people can learn about mental illness and how to talk to someone who is experiencing depression, anxiety, or another mental illness. I like the part of the campaign where support information is given, but those hotlines seem a bit impersonal. I think above all students just need resources on how to communicate effectively. We know our friends well enough to know if they need help and most of us do not trust the counseling services or any other authority.

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Change Direction

Implicit Association Test

Upon taking two of the Implicit Association Tests, I was honestly a bit annoyed. One of the tests I took which measured my implicit racism towards Asians had me also categorize American and Foreign architecture. I found this to be difficult as I am not well versed in architecture and found myself characterizing the images I was familiar with as American and the ones the I did not know as Foreign. Although this could easily reveal my unconscious nature towards the familiar and unfamiliar, I found it completely distracting through out the test. The second test I took was an Alcohol Brief Implicit Association Test. While I was taking this test I noticed that the first category that I received grouped words pertaining to ‘abstaining’ and ‘me’ together. Throughout the test, this category continued to be the easiest for me. I can’t help but wonder if this was simply because it was the first category so I was use to the motions or if it truly was a reflection of my biases toward drinking and abstaining.

Currently I do not see these tests as useful because I think that there are flaws in the set up. With that said, if an individual were to take the test with a set time between each group, the results could contain more accurately information. I understand that the tests I took were simply a brief replication of a full IAT, but I think that it was too short to concur accurate results from (and yet too boring and long to be interesting).

Implicit Association Test

Happiness

In his Ted Talk, Dan Gilbert discusses his theory on synthetic happiness. He use examples of Monet paintings and personal photographs to illustrate what synthetic happiness is as well as the limitation freewill places on happiness. He found that in an experiment with Monet Paintings, people will like the print that they got to keep over the one they did not get to keep. When the same experiment was done with amnesia patients, the results were the same even though the patients did not remember which painting they got to keep. This study blew my mind. I immediately tried to make sense of it yet could find no real notion to explain this phenomenon. It makes sense to me that individuals will appreciate something that they are familiar with and have ownership of rather than another option, but that is not really applicable to the amnesia patients.

The studies done on Harvard students regarding their ownership of meaningful photographs reveals how doubt found in free will comes into play. There is a constant unsettling feeling of “did I choose the right photograph?” When students were not given the option to exchange photographs ¬†however, they noted that they were content and satisfied with their photograph and loved it more over time. I can see this factor play out in my day to day life. I am constantly wondering if the grass would have been greener if I did Action B instead of Action A.

For me, I can incorporate the principles regarding synthetic happiness by not attaching myself so heavily to my decisions and other things in my life. I can let things go after the decision has made and move forward with the repercussions of my decisions. Synthetic happiness seems to be simply being grateful and thankful for the opportunities that an individual is given and living without regret towards the actions they did not take. With that said, I still don’t understand the amnesia patients and how/why that happened.

Happiness

Learning Styles

In my opinion, one of the coolest things about learning is realizing that there are terms for the ways that I process things or for the concept I think about. In this case, it is super groovy that there are actual styles that fit my way of thinking and learning. I have always found it frustrating how at times I can see the almost graph like picture in my head which explains a concept perfectly yet I do not have the words to explain it to another person. It makes perfect sense to me that I would be considered a visual learner, at least by the standards of the Learning Style Inventory I took. I have a difficult time trusting a 24 question survey that took less than 10 minutes to complete to provide substantial insight into myself, but the results appear to fit with my experience.

The results from the Learning Style Inventory align with part of the results from the other learning styles study from North Carolina State University. Both studies agree that I am a visual learner. The North Carolina Study goes farther and breaks down other components such as my reflective, intuitive, and global attributes. Again, these results adhere to my experience of learning and remembering even though the survey seemed rather short and generalized.

At Austin College, I find that I do a lot better in humanities classes where we discuss theories and the overview of a concept rather than a math or science class in which a concept is broken down. I succeed well with my learning styles at Austin College because I choose which classes I take and with what teachers.

Learning Styles

How Reliable is your Memory?

One thing that fascinates me about philosophy is the relationship between reality and perception. I thoroughly enjoyed applying what Elizabeth Loftus said about memory to my understanding on the differences between reality and perception. It is both fascinating and terrifying how faulty our memories can be; especially when one considers how our beliefs and attitudes are often based off memories. As Loftus mentions, for most people their memories are their identity.

I wish that she would have gone more into how one plants a false memory. I understand the example of ‘smash’ versus ‘hit’ while interviewing, but what about in the case of the accused rapist or the girl who thought her mom was abusing her? Where do those memories come from? I once knew a girl who claimed had memories of her dad had sexually assaulted her but he was over seas with the military during the time. Her memory was false and she was torn between the facts of the situation and her trauma. I am interested in where the memory came from and how one treats that. In Loftus’ TEDx talk, she could have provided a theory by further explaining in depth the causes and treatments for these false memories. She mentioned how researchers would plant false memories into people, but then what? Are they left with those false, and sometimes traumatizing, memories?

I see the benefits of tampering with memory: the way that one can reconstruct a memory and therefore have healthier thought processes etc. With that said, I think there is a very fine line which would have detrimental effects when crossed. We have seen in Loftus’ talk that it can easily ruin lives. I think that manipulating memories could easily out weigh the good in terms of mental health, but this practice should be centered around regulations and perhaps a license.

How Reliable is your Memory?

Towards a New Understanding of Mental Illness

Lately, I have been on a bit of an anthropology kick due to my Research Methods in Religious Studies class as we examine the evolution of thought, culture, and society. Because of this, I have been drawn to the shifts in understanding subjects from the origin and purpose of religion to the progression in the psychological field. Thomas Insel’s TEDx talk regarding mental illness caught my eye because it presented a new, revolutionary understanding of mental illness. I’m not too sure of Insel’s trustworthiness as a candidate for this TEDx talk because he never specifically stated where he was getting his information from, nor provided information on what his job was, except for that he worked for the government. To me, that’s a huge red flag in the issue of trust.

In his presentation, Insel stressed the importance of early detection in regards to illness. At first, he provided the life changing results of when early detection has been applied to diseases such as AIDS. He went on to present results of the morbidity of mental illness as it interferes with everyday lives due to how common it is and how young patients are diagnosed. After explaining the effects of these mental illnesses on the brain, Insel stated how he, among other scientists, is striving to combat these illnesses earlier on.

However, Insel admitted that technology has not advanced to the point where scientists, researchers, or doctors could detect and prevent mental illness at an early age before the outward behavioral influences began to impact the patient’s life. One day, I can see how technology will be advanced enough where during routine physicals, doctors will be able to take a look at the brains of children and young adults in order to diagnose and therefore prevent the magnitude of illnesses early on.

One thing I would be interested in researching would be looking at the brains of young children whose parents are known to have mental illnesses and then comparing them to the parent’s brains. This could be done using an MRI to create a map of the brains. This experiment could provide insight into the early signs and correlations of mental illnesses.

Towards a New Understanding of Mental Illness

Driving in Heels

In truth, it is difficult to critique Discovery Channel’s Mythbuster’s short segment on the myth regarded the danger of driving in heels because it is merely a clip of an entire episode. Some main issues that I saw with this experiment included variable definition along with simply a general lack of clarity. The men never defined exactly what constituted as ‘high’ heels. Is it three inches or six inch platfoms? Also, how exactly are they measuring ‘dangerous’ driving? It appears to be influenced by a time measurement on some sort of course, but the exact specifics are kept from the viewer. With this said, these definitions could have been given earlier in the episode.

Besides these previously mentioned critiques, a crucial problem is presented in the sampling of participants. As far as the viewer can tell, only two men who do not usually wear heels volunteered as participants. Some woman consider simply walking in heels to be dangerous while others can run across a field in stilettos, and these do not include men. The point is, people function differently in heels and having a sample of only two men is not an accurate representation of the general population that this study is looking at. Unless the study is focusing on the pair of Mythbusters and only the pair of Mythbusters; Again, this short segment did not clarify the variables or the population involved. Also, it seems very misleading that the researchers, who could be looking for a certain result, are the ones participating in the study.

With this said, the experiment did include a controlled environment in which there was both an independent and a dependent variable. In all honesty, I’m not sure of any real strengths of this experiment. If I were to do it over again, I would make sure to clearly define variables, my hypothesis, my experimental methods, and have a random sampling of participants.

Driving in Heels