Author Archives: Alexandra Marie Harrington

Observational Learning: The Youngest of Three

Alexandra Harrington

Growing up as the youngest of three children in my family was quite interesting. I have a sister six years older than me and a brother only three years older than me. In my younger years my sister had less interest in her younger siblings and more interest in her friends at school. This caused me to naturally grow closer to my brother since we were closer in age in relation to me. However, as I grew up and became more interested in my friends and personal life as well, I naturally grew closer to my sister whom I could relate to more. Today I am a 20 year-old girl who has been shaped by two completely different individuals throughout my entire life, mainly through a process called observational learning.

Observational learning is a type of learning that occurs as a function of observing, retaining and replicating novel behavior executed by others. As the youngest of my siblings I always have learned what I know from them before looking to people outside of my family. Between the two of them, I definitely have been shaped more by my brother for we are mentally more similar than my sister and I are today. The most specific instance of observational learning I remember is when I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and for the first time in my life try to pick up a sport. I was a freshman in high school which in comparison to most teenage American students is very late to attempt involving yourself in a sport for the first time. I decided to start running track simply because I looked up to my brother the most when he was a senior star athlete and I was just starting out high school. I found the sport to be extremely difficult and mentally taxing after the first few days. At this point, I decided to go to my brother for training advice. He taught me what I could not learn from just hearing him explain to me, he actually took the time to go down to the track with me and show me how to improve my workouts. It was then that I learned how to incorporate stride-outs and recovery paces through my track workouts, and it was all because I watched and learned from how my brother did so himself. Although this instance is the most specific I can recall in detail, there have been countless times where I have watched my brother accomplish something and therefore learned how to do so myself. Whether it was learning not to eat our macaroni before it cooled down when we were young, to eventually becoming a Maryland state runner two years after my brother initially trained me, I learned from observing.

Flashbulb Memory: 13 Years Later

When searching for a term to write this blog post on I found the concept of a flashbulb memory to be the most interesting. To my surprise however I have found that for some reason I do not have many moments I can remember very clearly. A flashbulb memory is a vivid, almost photographic memory of a particularly significant event. A memory is usually considered a flashbulb memory when a person can remember virtually every detail surrounding the event. Personally I feel that I only have two true flashbulb memories in which I can recall most details. The first event being September 11th 2001, and the second being the death of my grandmother in 2011. Considering I was only seven on September 11th 2001, I find it is more shocking to recall.

In 2001 I was still living in Phoenix, Arizona which is three hours behind New York. At the time of the attack I was still asleep in the morning before I got up for school. When I awoke, surprisingly on my own and not by my mother as usual, I immediately knew something strange had occurred. I used to have a playroom across from my bedroom that had a television in it and oddly enough I heard that it was on. I remember wondering why I heard my older siblings in the room considering they typically were in a rush to get to school around that time. The most vivid memory I have of this day is when I walked into that room and saw my mother standing in front of the television with a dish towel covering her mouth and tears in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong and asked my siblings why they were not getting ready for school. I clearly remember my brother saying “a plane hit a building in New York”, feeling extremely confused, and my mother telling me not to worry because “New York is very far away”. The last feeling I remember clearly is that it was hard not to worry when I saw my mother in that state and also feeling completely lost just staring at the newscast. As defined by a flashbulb memory, it is clear why this event is so easy for me to recall in vivid detail to this day even though I am now twenty years old.

Introspection and Decision Making

Alexandra Harrington

Professor Wede

Psych100

4 February 2014

Blog Post #1

     As a human being, I find it excessively easy to relate to the concept of introspection. Upon learning this term, I immediately realized how often I look within myself to search for a solution to my external problems. The concept of introspection is analyzing one’s conscious thoughts and emotions. When pondering whether or not introspection affects my life, I realized it actually affects my daily life. Rather than sharing just one instance, I feel that introspection is so prevalent to decision-making that it occurs several times a day. The most common instances I personally experience would be daily tasks that I typically conduct. For example, each day I must choose what I am going to eat, by analyzing how I am currently feeling at that time, I am able to decide if I want to add caffeine into my meal in some way in order to elevate my mood. However, I believe that the concept of introspection is more commonly considered relevant in making decisions that are emotional or heavily affect a person. As a second semester sophomore, I recently had to declare my major. Considering this is a very important decision that is made over a long period of time, I consciously realized that the way to find my solution was to look within myself and analyze how I see the options I have before me and how I feel about those options. After three semesters of examining how I felt towards concepts ranging from business work to the media, I realized that I had analyzed the way I see the world long enough to make a decision in my life. I concluded that a business-oriented job involving interaction with employees would make me the happiest, and declared a Labor and Employment Relations major. Clearly, it cannot be denied that introspection is extremely relevant to every person’s life, and therefore should be considered when making important life decisions.