Category Archives: Methods

Psychoanalysis and Childhood Abuse

Psychoanalysis is an understanding of the human mind studied in the 1900s. This is a look into the early mind of humans and how it affects the development of a person’s personality and traits. Things such as negative childhood experiences can trigger psychological problems and long-term effects on the human mind that can completely change a person. These childhood experiences can include, but are not limited to, bullying, physical and sexual abuse, loss of a family member or friend, and many more. Experiences like these can change someone emotionally and socially. Memories of these usually linger in a person’s mind for years and become almost impossible for the victim to shake. In my blog, I will make reference to the possible psychological results of sexual abuse in childhood as well as childhood experiences that serial killers share.

Children who experience sexual abuse can have developmental failures that can affect their transition to adulthood dramatically. A study showed that men who were sexually abused as children are twice as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, attempt suicide, be aggressive and anti-social, or physically or verbally abusive to their mates. The drugs and alcohol are used as a tool to help them mask or rid them selves of the emotions from their memories. The attempts of suicide come from the victim unable to handle their emotions from the memory. A victim’s tendency to be anti-social typically springs from their fear of relationships and connection with another human after someone has put them through such experiences. Finally, victims tend to abuse their mate out of rage the memories bring them. In cases in which a parent is the abuser of the victim, the victim tends to mirror their childhood experience by switching roles and being the abuser to someone who longs for love and acceptance.
Another possible outcome from childhood abuse is for the victim to grow into a serial killer. Many serial killers experience emotional abuse or neglect, which can be very crucial to a human’s mental development. This abuse can include embarrassment or lack of love and affection. Punishments would sometimes result from their parent’s own personal amusement, in a way to take their mind off their own problems. The punishment was usually undeserved but almost always extremely harsh. The anger the child experiences cause them to fantasize about revenge and in most cases carries to their adulthood. This neglect causes a child’s lose in the belief of a loving world and keeps them from feeling sorrow for their victims once becoming a serial killer. Serial killers often share a history of experiencing or witnessing sexual abuse. These events will have lasting affects on a child and cause anger that can last their whole lives. Their anger would turn to action. A child will often feel belittled by the experiences and will feel hurting others will somehow help restore their self worth.
The cause of such lasting affects of negative childhood experiences is a result of the child being in the early stages of his or her life. In these stages, the child’s mind is in a sensitive state of development as it is still trying to understand life and social behavior. The example of sexual abuse stands to help show how a single experience can change a person and bring them down many negative paths. The serial killer example shows the flip side in which many different experiences can change a person into something as ruthless as a serial killer.

Works Cited

“Why Do Rapists Rape?” Examiner. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2014.

“10 Most Common Traits of Potential Serial Killers.” Listverse. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2014.

Behavioral Psychology and Academics

Justin Conway


Psychology 100


Professor Wede


February 5, 2014

Blog #1 – Behavioral Psychology

            Behavioral psychology is a concept that focuses on the operant condition, punishment, and reinforcement. Behavioral psychology became know around the beginning of the 20th century and  was discovered by B.F. Skinner and John B. Watson. Skinner invented the operant condition chamber, which was also called the “Skinner Box”. Skinner’s main philosophy was that any human action was a result of the consequence of that same action. Skinner was named one of the most influential psychologist of the 20th century. John B. Watson established the psychological school of behaviorism. Watson gave an address to Colombia University, which was titled, “Psychology as a Behaviorist View It”. Watson conducted extensive behavioral research on children and animals. The main theory for a behaviorist is people cannot observe a sensation, a feeling, or a thought, but people can observe and record people’s behavior as they respond to different situations. The main focus in behavioral psychology is how we learn observable responses. An example of a question used in behavioral psychology would be, “What is the most effective way to alter our behavior, say, to lose weight or stop smoking?” Someone working from the behavioral perspective might attempt to determine which external stimuli trigger anger responses or aggressive acts.

I believe that rewards and punishments can help shape people’s behavior. When I was in 7th grade I never cared about academics. My whole life was focused around sports and I never had time to study. My parents were very strict about my academics, but I was smart enough until 7th grade to get by without studying. In 7th grade, I played on 3 travel sports teams and never wanted to quit any sport. When I received my report card for the first semester, I was failing two classes without my parents’ knowledge. I would throw away all of my tests and sometimes forge their signature on tests that had to be signed. When my parents received my report card, they scheduled a meeting with all of my teachers. My teachers showed them all my test grades and I had to admit that I was hiding my tests from my parents. My parents immediately took me off all my sport teams and made me study for two hours a night for the next semester. This punishment made me learn how important academics are and that if I put the effort in I can get very good grades. After this experience, I learned how to manage my time by playing sports and doing well in school. Behavioral psychology plays a crucial role in my academic and sporting life. If my parents never punished me, academics would never have been important to me and I do not think I would be able to attend Penn State. I believe that Skinners theory, “human action is a result of the consequence of that same action”, is true because when I received good grades I wanted to continue to receive that same satisfaction.

Random Sampling-Up For Whatever

Jordyn Simner

Blog assignment

In this course, we opened up this semester talking about the ways that scientific research is conducted. One way in particular is the use of surveys and case studies. There are specific methods called research design that a researcher uses to collect, analyze and interpret data. One way in particular that I want to talk about is a survey. A technique for ascertaining the self-reported attitudes, opinions, or behaviors of people is a survey. This being said, in most surveys, they random sampling of participants that way each member of the population has an equal chance of being selected.

This past weekend, something amazing happened to someone who used to work at my old summer camp. Ian, a 26-year-old recently employed advertisement and marketing major signed up for another study group to earn some extra cash, little did he know what was going to happen next. Ian has signed up for many study groups such as this one, but this one ended completely differently. He was at one of his last interviews with the Bud Light beer company, when a woman handed him a beer and said “If I hand you this, will you be up for whatever happens?” he agreed and since then, Ian has lived amongst his wildest dreams.

Being part of this study group, Ian was part of a random sample in which he was chosen to be the last contestant. This being said, he was featured on a Bud Light commercial during the Super bowl, has had numerous interviews with famous newscasters, and has got to meet celebrities that he didn’t even know existed. All thanks to random sampling, Ian was the lucky person that was chosen to have this amazing opportunity.

Illusory Correlation and Superstitions

I played volleyball all throughout high school, and I don’t think there was ever a season where we were not superstitious.  We were so superstitious with what we did, that we were convinced it is why we lost in the playoffs during my senior year.  Throughout our entire season, we did the same exact thing on game days.  When it was a home game, the seniors would all go to Subway and get the same exact thing each time and proceed to eat it during the JV game.  On days of away games, the Booster Club bought us the same catered food every time.  We sat with the same people on the bus, warmed up with the same people, and even at next to the same people on the bench.  We were convinced that if we did anything different, we would lose the game.  We never realized how bad it was until playoffs when we all had our moms wash our entire uniform for the next game so that we could wear the same spandex, socks, and sports bras every game.  Everything went great until our final game.  One of the girls realized that she had forgot her socks at home so she was going to have to borrow a pair from someone else.  At that moment, we were all convinced we were going to lose, and we did. We lost because we were both outplayed and outcoached.  The fact that my teammate left her socks at home had absolutely nothing to do with our loss but because we were so superstitious, we went in with the attitude we were going to lose.  My volleyball game was an example of illusory correlation.  We learned that illusory correlation means that correlation does not equal causation.  Simply because we always won with the same uniform, did not have anything to do with losing that game.   There were many reasons for our loss, but the socks issue was only one of them because we convinced ourselves it was.  Illusory correlation occurs when people create a relationship between two things even when that relationship does not exist.  My teammates and I created a relationship between what we did and wore for games with winning even though the two had nothing to do with each other.  While I was in the moment, I was convinced that our superstition was real and we lost because of the socks, but looking back at the entire situation, I realized it was nothing more than illusory correlation.

Correlation Does Not Mean Causation

In scientific studies, there are often correlations between events that have nothing to do with each other. For example, in class we learned that as the number of ice cream sales increases so does the number of murders that occur. While ice cream sales and murder rates do increase at the same time they have nothing to do with each other. Rather, both have to do with an increase in temperature resulting in more people going outside.

As an Animal Science major that completes many different experiments in all types of labs such as chemistry and biology, I often experience that correlation does not mean causation first hand. I not only complete experiments myself but I also read scientific papers and discuss the results of experiments with various people. Last week my roommate approached me about an article she read regarding a method for losing weight. The article claimed that by turning down the thermostat people lost weight. This is due to the fact that they would be cold and shivering and thus would burn more calories trying to stay warm. While shivering may burn more calories than not shivering there could also be many other factors regarding why people lost the weight in those two weeks. There is a correlation between shivering and weight loss, but that does not mean that shivering alone was the cause of weight loss.

In order to have effective scientific studies it is crucial to keep everything constant except for the independent variable. By keeping everything constant it is much easier to state “this cause has this effect.” With multiple variables it is much more difficult to pinpoint the cause of an effect. When using people as the subject of an experiment it is nearly impossible to have every single thing constant except for the independent variable. Therefore psychologists use random assortment to obtain a mix of people in each test group that adds up to be about the same as the other test group. By using the method of random assortment and not assuming that correlation equals causation, accurate results can be taken from psychology related experiments.

A Self-Reflective Experiment on my Study Habits

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.

Illusory Correlation in Sports

Illusory Correlation can simply be described as the by the saying Correlation does not mean Causation. This relationship between two variables can usually be explained by a third outside variable. The third variable affects both the primary variables in the same way making it look like there is a relationship between them.  Growing up in high school I would compete in sports year round. In the fall I would play soccer while in the winter and spring I focused on track. No matter the sport I always found a strong correlation between athletic performance and the time of day. Whenever I had a game or meet at night I would always have my best performance of the season.

One soccer game specifically I remember was a championship game at our high school under the floodlights and a full moon in the stadium. The other striker had gotten a red card so I was playing forward all alone. My father was approached by my friend’s dad after the game and said it was no doubt the greatest game he had ever seen me play. From a level of aggression and overall play this trend of me playing well at night seem to continue. Once track season rolled around my personal records would always be set at meets that had races that were closer to when the sun was going down.

Now according to correlation this observation means that I play better because it is nighttime. There could be a third variable that could be at play for example how awake I am at night, or my body may be more stressed out from being up longer or even simply the temperature dropping during the night. By just saying that I am playing better because the moon is up is ridiculous. Believing that the moon makings me stronger and faster is utterly impossible. This is a great example of how illusory correlation is prominent in the performance of athletes who grow up having these superstitious beliefs that would lead them to playing at their highest level.

Does your gender predispose you to certain skills?

Psychology has been developing more rapidly recently due to the advancement of technology, such as PET and fMRI, that allow professionals to examine brain activity. With access to this valuable information, research and experiments are able to be performed to give insight to how the brain works and which regions of the brain are responsible to accomplish a variety of tasks.

Function magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can measure the changes in blood flow by detecting the oxygen levels in the brain. Experiments using medical imaging technology combined with evaluations of case studies have given more understanding to the roles the different parts of the brain. The picture below gives a diagram of the four main regions found within a hemisphere of the cortex. The frontal lobe is responsible for various functions based on the location in the frontal lobe; some of these functions include high level cognitive tasks, emotions and voluntary motor movements. The parietal lobe is responsible for sensing touch, temperature and body position. The occipital lobe is responsible for processing visual information. The temporal lobe is responsible for language.


Diagram showing the location of the four regions of the cortex in the brain

In the Time Magazine article, “Why Men’s and Women’s Brains Work Differently: It’s All About the Wiring”, they discuss the neural connections made between these regions in the brain which has been shown to be noticeably different for each gender based on a study by Ragini Verma. The stronger connections are made from side to side in a female and from front to back in a male. For females this translates to stronger connections between reason and emotions. For males this means that visual and motor skills are more emphasized. This new information can give some insight and explain the differences and expectations of social norms associated with men and women. However, these patterns are not 100% consistent for everyone, they can be used to link the cognitive and emotional capacity of genders; cultural and environmental influences also need to be considered as they are shown to have a strong impact on an individual regardless of gender or predispositions.

Katherine Arazawa

Synchronicity and Illusory Correlation

One day in high school I looked at the clock and noticed it read 2:34 on it, I noted how it increased by one for each digit going left-to-right and then went on with my day forgetting about it.  A few days later I checked the clock and saw once again that it read 2:34, but still it all seemed normal enough, just the recognition of numbers that happen to follow a basic pattern.  Every few days I kept seeing this number and it began to stick out in my mind so that I noticed it more frequently than any other combination of numbers.  Pretty soon every day I developed a habit of taking out my phone at exactly 2:34, my interior clock knew exactly when it was.  The number seemed to gain significance even though it was nothing more than recognizing that combination of numbers the way someone would recognize a straight in a hand of cards rather than a random combination.   I met a girl at this point and went to her house to find that her house number was 234.  Pretty soon I was dating her and ended up with her for a year and a half and I no longer compulsively checked my phone at that time, but the number and the experiences surrounding it has not left my memory.

This is an example of synchronicities that people experience throughout their lives.  You may hear someone talk about a band and then a song by them comes up on your iPod, or you might say to a friend how much you want pizza and then your roommate brings it home.  These extreme coincidences stick in our mind since they seem so unlikely, and then the event becomes something we remember or think about when normally it would be commonplace.  Oftentimes people will assign meaning to these coincidences they experience throughout life, believing that it is a “sign” that holds some sort of significance.  I hear people say things such as, “I see this number all the time so I’m going to play it in the lottery.”  People experience these synchronicities and then behave in different ways because of the supposed significance it has.  I believe that this is nothing more than an example of illusory correlation.

Illusory correlation is the result of finding order in random events, and this is where the experience of significance in synchronicity results from.  By finding extremely rare patterns in our environment certain common events will suddenly appear to have meaning, and people will follow these events and engage in superstitious behavior.  It appears that illusory correlation is something that we experience in our day-to-day lives, and the change it can have on behavior is recognizable in our day-to-day lives as well.

Jeff Fissinger

Classical Conditioning in Ballet Class

Kristen Robertson

Psychology 100 Section 3

February 5, 2014

Blog Post #1

Classical Conditioning in Ballet Class

            When I was in high school, I worked at my mom’s dance studio and taught ballet to children between the ages of two and six.  I had always noticed one thing in particular while working with the children but never understood why it occurred.  Whenever a child would get his or her splits, I would reward them with a sticker.  In the beginning of the year, the kids would politely approach me to show me they got their splits so I could then give them a sticker.  But as the year went on, the kids would start doing their splits randomly in the middle of class, come up to me, expect me to drop everything I was doing and give them a sticker.  I could not figure out why this change was taking place throughout the year.  This deeply troubled me because I wanted to reward the children for their achievements but by the end of the year, the stickers became a disruption.

Had I known about Pavlov’s discovery, I probably would have been much less puzzled about the children’s behavior.  According to Psychology by Saundra K. Ciccarelli and J. Noland White, Pavlov showed that a reaction could occur in response to a formerly unrelated stimulus.  He proved this theory by working with dogs.  First, he observed that after turning on a metronome and feeding the dogs, they would salivate.  However, after many trials of this experiment, the dogs started to salivate solely due to the sound of the metronome, before even being presented with food.  He called this form of behaviorism, “conditioning”. (13)

I now realize that I was unintentionally conditioning the children to show an involuntary reaction once they got their splits.  After several repetitions of rewarding the dancers with stickers for getting their splits, they became unconscientiously expectant of a reward. Pavlov’s experiment with the dogs compares to this because both the dancers and dogs were classically conditioned.


Ciccarelli, Saundra K., and J. Noland. White. Psychology. New York: Learning

Solutions, 2009. Print.