Author Archives: kak5827

Operant Conditioning

Two years ago on a random Thursday, I received a picture from my dad that had the caption under it “surprise.” I rushed home from soccer practice to play with this new, 8 week old puppy.  Along with a puppy comes a lot of responsibility. One of those responsibilities is training it.

My brother and I are very competitive.  With that being said, we had a competition to see who  could train the dog to lay down and shake hands, first.  We did this through the process of operant conditioning and positive reinforcement. Operant conditioning is the learning of voluntary behavior through reinforcement and punishment.  Positive reinforcement is the addition of a stimuli to reward the subject, so it repeats its behavior.  In my example, my brother and I gave our dog a piece of cheese as a positive reinforcer.  I tried to make the dog lay down, and my brother tried to make him shake.  First we would both make our dog sit, holding the piece of cheese in my hand. Next, I would say “down,” and put my hand down.  If he did it, I would reward him with a piece of cheese immediately, if not, I would try again. Regardless if he did it or not, we would do it, so he was rewarded and accustomed to what I was saying and doing. My brother did the same, instead he would say “paw” and put his hand out.  When he did the action correctly he would give him cheese.

With these repeated actions, our dog quickly learned how to lay down and shake hands (he now loves cheese too).  Even though I lost the competition, we both used operant conditioning and positive reinforcement to train our dog.  It is a great way to condition pets and teach them new things.

Flashbulb Memories

A flashbulb memory is a memory that has a emotional attachment, which allows the memory to be more vivid. People are able to explain these memories in full detail as if it happened yesterday, even if it happened multiple years ago.

One moment I will never forget is the 4th day of high school soccer tryouts.  It was my freshman year and I was moved and playing with the previous years varsity soccer team. That was always a life-long goal, so it was a big moment in my life. I vividly remember we had to wear black shorts and a gray T-shirt.  I was wearing my favorite gray Princeton soccer t-shirt, which hours later was completely ruined because it had to be cut off. While scrimmaging and with 45 minutes left of tryouts, I did a move to get by a girl. She accidentally missed the ball and kicked me, so I fell to the ground.  I remember I heard a pop, screamed so loud and could not move my arm.  I dislocated my elbow. The JV coach ran over from another field because he said he heard my scream and was terrified.   The coaches walked me off the field and I sat on the sideline with the girls I was so intimidated by.  They were that years seniors, not to mention amazing athletes, but they were so nice and welcoming, saying how i had nothing to worry about, how I was already on the team, because that was my greatest fear.

I then remember my mom driving me to the hospital and staying there until 1 AM.  I remember the doctor cutting my shirt off and putting electrodes on me. The doctors told me they were going to put me to sleep so they could pop my arm back into place. I specifically remember waking up in the middle of the procedure.  The doctor had my arm in the air and gasped when they saw I woke up.  They then told me they were going to give me something a little stronger, and try it a new way.  Before I knew it, I woke up with my arm in an ace wrap and a sling.  It was a painful memory, but it is one I will never forget.

Nature vs. Nurture

As clearly stated in many other blog posts, nature vs. nurture is a very popular topic in psychology today.  Nativism (nature) is the idea that our behavior is inherited, and empiricism (nurture) is the idea that our behaviors are acquired through experiences and relationships.

Growing up, just like many other kids, I was always interested in playing soccer.  But I was a little different.  I had talent beyond any other 7 year old girl, which is why I tried out for the boys travel soccer team. I had an inborn talent. I was extremely fast and naturally talented at playing soccer (yes, it was inborn because I never worked at it). At the age of 7 I played up a year and made the u-9 boys soccer team, and continued to be the star player of that team until the start of my freshman year of high school.  I made the team because of my inborn talent, but growing up with 17 other boys and being with them every single day made me the hardworking, resilient, aggressive athlete and person I am today.

Since I was the only girl on the team, I had to work much harder than everyone to keep my spot (I was made fun of a lot too by the boys on other teams, until I kicked their butt). Working hard and being aggressive was a huge factor in middle school when the boys hit puberty and finally became faster, stronger, taller, and much tougher than I was. You would think that I shied away, being not even 4′ 11″ on a team with men who were taller than 6′, but that made me work harder, and become even tougher than I already was.

With that being said, as a freshman in high school I had no problem making varsity of my high school soccer team.  My coach loved the traits I possessed and I continued to use them until my very last game, because that is what I learned made me stand out from all of the other girls.  Because of my experience, I realize I need to continue to work hard to help make me stand out today in the real world.