Humans have a natural need to feel like they are a part of a group. We need to feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves. Conformity is such a large part of our society. The definition of conformity is changing your behavior to match someone else. People conform so much more than they even realize. I truly believe in the saying that, “you are a reflection of the people you spend time with”. This means if you hang out with a certain group of people, you will share some of the same traits as them.
In college fraternities are a huge source of conformity, but not all of it is bad. When I first came to Penn State I didn’t even know what a fraternity was. I went out and rushed with my roommate and I met a lot of people that I really liked. I decided to pledge and finally became a brother after my spring semester of my freshman year. Once I was in the fraternity, I began to notice the groupthink environment. Groupthink is a mode of thinking that occurs when the desire for harmony in a group overrides realistic appraisal of alternatives. In fraternities excessive drinking occurs, some of the most preppy styles of dressing that I have ever seen, and just outrageous actions by people. I also was a part of this lifestyle. I began to wear sperrys and I learned what polo and brooks brothers was. I did conform, but I am so happy that I did. My fraternity made this huge campus seem smaller to me and I loved being a part of a group. I can’t even begin to describe how much fun I had and how much I have learned from this kind of culture.
I think conformity has a bad reputation but it isn’t the worst thing as long as you always have a sense of your own personal core values. Being a part of a larger group gives you the opportunity to learn things that you would never learn if you just remained to be by yourself. Everyone conforms in some way, but once you understand why it is happening, you can appreciate the benefits of it.
Herds and observational learning are two things that aid in the survival of higher animals. For humans, our herds can be as large as a family with 9 brothers and sisters, or as small as a significant other. For me, my herd throughout college has been my roommates. While spending so much time with the same people, you begin to observe how they handle the same daily tasks that you do. These tasks can be studying all the way to how they react when certain subjects of conversation come up. Through observational learning and through my own personal value system, I have learned so much through all of the different roommates I’ve had.
The psychological definition of observational learning has four elements: attention, memory, imitation, and motivation. I think attention is the most important of these elements. A lot of people hear what people are saying, but aren’t really listening to them. I have tried to pay as much attention to what my roommates say and more importantly how they react to things. Another part of paying attention is asking probing questions. My roommates and I always ask each other personal questions about things with our family, girls, or school. Not only do we just want to know what is going on, we also want to hear how the other person plans on handling his situation. Memory is the second element. After paying attention to what the other person is saying, we all do a good job of remembering this specific element of the other roommate. Once we remember, we can use our own person values to choice to imitate the other roommate or not. If the imitation provides positive results, then the motivation to continue the action grows.
One example from my current living situation was my roommates learning from my decision to stop watching ESPN. I stop watching ESPN because I believe that their shows don’t provide any relevant news to the sports world, and people waste so many hours watching the same thing over and over. My roommates paid attention to what I was saying, and remembered it the next time they watched ESPN. Next, they imitated me and stopped watching ESPN. Since we all have stopped watching ESPN, we watch more TV series which incites many great conversations and we are still up to date with the current events with sports without watching Sportscenter for hours. Our great conversations have provided us all motivation to continue to watch other things besides ESPN.
Blog Post #2
In our Psych 100 course, we spent a large portion of class time talking about the way people remember pieces of information and events in their lives. I feel like everyone has their own unique way of remembering things, especially when it comes to studying. Some people enjoy studying with music playing in the background, and some people enjoy studying with other people. The key to studying is being able to learn the information in a way that you can retrieve the information for the exam. Throughout college, I have been searching for my ideal study environment, which allows me to retrieve the information the best, and I think I have found it.
Retrieval is the process of getting pulling information from your long-term memory into your working memory. The best way to retrieve information is to tie your memories to retrieval cues. Retrieval cues tie your memories into a web of associations. People do this all the time. Whenever a person asks them a question about something, in order to answer them, their question has to cue a certain memory in their head, which will lead to an answer. When it comes to studying, a person has to make connections with the material that the exam questions will hopefully cue an association with the material in their working memory to the answer of the question.
I have found that I make connections with the material best in a library environment. I have tried to study with music, or with groups of people, but what is going on around me always distracts me. Through trial and error, I have found that I need to be focused on only one task ahead of me in order to retrieve the information later. If I try and recall the information that I studied in a noisy environment, my memory is always clouded with memories of the outside noise instead of the associations I made while studying.
It is important for everyone to find his or her niche when it comes to studying. Some people enjoy listening to music while they study because it blocks out the outside noise for them and allows them to study. Other people enjoy listening to the thoughts of other people in their study group while they are trying to make associations to the material. I need to study by myself with silence so I can have all of my attention at the task at hand. It all comes down to creating an environment in which you can make effective retrieval cues for yourself.
In order to fully understand psychology, you need to understand this one statement: “Correlation doesn’t always equal causation.” The textbook definition of a correlation is a measure of the relationship between two or more variables. Correlation can be measured as a mathematical relationship. Two variables have a perfect positive correlation if their correlation coefficient is equal to +1, or they could have a perfect negative correlation if the coefficient is equal to -1. For example, as you are growing, your height in inches is perfectly positively correlated with your height in centimeters. Psychology is very complex, so perfect correlations almost never exist. Instead, two variables will either have a modest correlation (positive or negative), or no correlation at all. The way I understand this term is by asking myself this question: “Does A affect B, and if it does, how related are the two variables?” The only way to test the correlation between two variables is to perform an experiment. A standard experiment has an independent variable (variable that is manipulated in the experiment) and a dependent variable (variable that is proposed to change in response to the independent variable). In my many years as a student, I have searched for the proper study environment that would promote my preparation for exams. Although I didn’t intentionally set up an experiment, I can describe my trial and errors while attempting to find my ideal study environment as an experiment.
When I first came to college, I struggled in my science courses and I didn’t understand why. I was going over the slides over and over and I was still scoring about average. I decided to pay more attention to how I was studying for these exams. I tried studying with other people for a few exams and quizzes and I tried studying alone in a quiet environment for other exams and quizzes. I discovered that I retain more information when I study alone. I’m a people person, so I love to talk, so when I’m with other people, I find I am less focused on what I’m actually trying to accomplish.
I come back to my original statement: “Correlation doesn’t always equal causation”. I understand this isn’t a perfect correlation. There could be many other factors to why I didn’t do as well on certain assessments when I studied with others. There were some exams I didn’t do great on even though I studied alone. What I was able to take away from this self-reflection was that I need a more library-like environment to have maximum focus on my studies. This focus may not perfectly correlate with good grades, but I think it helps put me in a situation to succeed.