Since we have started talking about the topic of obedience and conformity in lecture, I have been amazed at the power of the presence others around us. I never realized how contagious behavior can be. It makes sense now to see how family members and friends have similar mannerisms and personas, and act the same. Today, there has been so much emphasis on being “original” and “unique,” but now I know that it is only natural for us to conform to those around us. There is not much to say for those who criticize our society for conforming to our culture since I know now that we conform almost unconsciously, it is a part of how we think and our natural lives. The Chameleon Effect, described as unconsciously mimicking other expressions, postures or voice tones really caught my attention. After learning about this, I realized that since I moved in with my roommate last semester, I have picked up some of the mannerisms that she has and that she has also done the same with me. Before then, I had never even noticed how similar we act and behave. Who would of thought that just having others around you, just their simple presence, would affect how you yourself behave. It makes sense when you think that no one wants to “rock the boat.” I know that I myself never want to be the odd man out, and why would anyone else? The concept of groupthink, the mode of thinking that occurs when the desire for harmony in a group overrides realistic appraisal of alternatives, also scared me. So many accidents and traumatic events in history could have been avoided if that one person decided to speak up out of the crowd. It really shows the power behind it all. Instead of speaking against the others, these people let the attack on Pearl Harbor happen, they let the Challenger explode. It is truly eye-opening to see how our brains, conformity and obedience all work.
I moved to my now hometown, Annapolis, Maryland, is August 2001 after my father had been transferred for his job. We had moved to Maryland from North Carolina, where I was born. My twin brother and I were six years old at the time and my little sister was 3 years old. We moved into a typical suburban neighborhood, and the last thing on your mind was that something bad would ever happen here. When we moved in, a few days later the neighbors across the street knocked on the door to introduce themselves. An older woman, a widow, and her son, Mike who was maybe in his early twenties — nice as could be. Our families never really became that close, but we would always say hi to each other when we saw each other out and about. Over the years, the family became more and more secluded from the rest of the neighborhood and really kept to themselves. Everyone just thought it was because the woman was getting older and Mike had finally moved out. Then, just a few years ago, everyone learned what really happened when an incident occurred with Mike. Mike had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was sent away to get treatment by his mother. His schizophrenia hit at the average age of his twenties, which is common for the signs to start to show.
When I was a junior in high school, I got a frantic call from my little sister, who was about 14 at the time, saying that there were three police cars outside of our house and that it had something to do with Mike. She was home alone and was so frightened. Unfortunately, I had a tennis match that day and wouldn’t be home for a few more hours. I told her that everything was going to be okay and that my mom was on the way home anyways, and I put my phone in my bag and let it be. Later I learned that Mike had come home to visit his mother, but had not taken his medication for the past few days and had a manic attack. He tried to kick his mother out of the family home and threatened to hurt her. She ended up calling the police for help, but Mike also threatened the policeman that came to help the situation and barricaded himself in the house. No one knew what he was doing, but they knew that he had a sword from his fathers old war chest, and possibly other weapons with him and intent to harm — either himself or others. By the time my tennis match was over, I could not even go home because my entire neighborhood had been blocked off by the police department. My family was moved out of our home by SWAT, and SWAT took over our house as a home base to control the operation.
Snipers, a mobile bomb squad lab, search dogs, 40+ police cars, etc. crowded the streets of my once quiet neighborhood. My street had become a “kill zone” and everyone was advised to stay out of that area. Mike was not moving. Before he went inside the house he had claimed that everyone in this nation was going to hell and that he was the only one who could save us. From 3pm that day, it took about 14 hours to get him out, with much force. The police department sent in robots, tear gas, and finally themselves to get him to come out. The family home was completely destroyed. Mike was arrested, and later charged with a long, in depth list of charges including attempted murder, harm and threatening a police officer, and endangerment of himself and the community. He plead guilty with a psychological disorder in court and served a few years in a mental institution. A petition was signed and approved to keep him out of our neighborhood forever.
It is scary that these things can happen so close to home. You never know when or where someone with a psychological disorder can affect your life. Unfortunately, it is not in their control, but it can bring harm to those around them if not monitored properly. Luckily, no one was hurt during his manic attack, but it did provide a reality check to those in the community.
Hannah Parks: Psych Blog Post 2
It was very interesting to hear in lecture that many of our memories may not be from experience but from the stories that other’s tell us. It makes me question all of my memories now, especially those I have from when I was younger. The earliest memory that I have is from my fourth birthday. I remember being at my grandparents house and my family was singing to my twin brother and I. I was upset because I just wanted to stay three years old forever because three was my favorite number. My mom always reminds me of this, so now I wonder if my memory is from her telling me or me actually remembering. Its strange that we can visualize situations that others tell us and can convince ourselves that they are real. I was so intrigued in lecture about the example of the boy who was told a false story about himself from his older brother, and that he filled in the details that never even existed. It almost scares me that our minds are capable of doing such things.
Being a twin myself, I was also extremely interested how identical and fraternal twins can tell us a lot about our minds. Even though two people may me genetically identical, its their experiences, memories and environment that shape how they think and how their minds function. Having two identical brains to study is an amazing research opportunity, and having them grow up in the same house can also help researchers dive deeper into how our brain works. Even the fact that growing together in the same womb can affect our psychological make up. I cannot wait to learn more about pre-natal and early childhood development. This topic has to be my favorite by far.
I feel that everyone deals with illusory correlation at some point throughout their lives. Illusory correlation is the perception of a relationship where none exists. As humans, we look for patterns in our lives and try to make sense of them, even if they do not necessarily deal with each one another. Illusory correlation deals with superstitions, stereotypes and prejudice. A superstition has been defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary has a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation. I’ve learned from class that correlation does not mean causation, but I have had an experience with a superstition in my life before. It may sound a little strange, but this pattern has held true for me everywhere I go, especially on important events. When my grandmother died a few years ago, at her funeral my mom handed everyone a penny. During the ceremony, she gave a speech how my grandmother, even though she is physically gone, will always be around you, just like a penny on the street. While she was talking, I realized that I never really see that many random pennies on the ground at all, only sometimes, but I went along with it. Ever since her funeral, I see them everyday, at least once or twice. Everywhere I seem to go, I see a penny. It seriously never fails. Maybe it was just that I never saw them before, or now that I look for them, but since that January day four years ago, I see them everywhere. I’m not sure if it is a way I deal with the grief from her loss. A year ago, I got into a horrific accident where I should have died. Luckily, I’m still here today by some miracle. My car was completely totaled by a pick up truck that ran a red light and hit the front, drivers side of my car. After I was released from the hospital, I insisted that I see my car. Very reluctantly, my parents took me to the car yard where my car had been towed. I started walking around the scraps of metal that used to be my car, and as I got around to the drivers side door, where the pick up truck had hit me, on the ground in front of the door was a bright shinny penny. From that point on, I believe that I’m here because my grandmother was watching over me that day. I realize now that my brain has just created and illusory correlation to create this superstition. Its very interesting to think that your brain can convince you of such things.