Monthly Archives: December 2016

Family Problem Solving

Have you ever thought of how you cognitively solve a problem? Most of us don’t really think about the background fundamentals of cognitive functioning to solving a problem. Problems are defined as “an obstacle between where we currently are and a goal.” (PSU World Campus, 2013, L 13).  Everything we set to accomplish in a day, can be seen as a problem. Cognitively we go through a series of processes to accomplish every task at hand. Depending on the type of problem, the way our minds process the situation, and the obstacles in the way of solving the problems; will determine the type of strategies used to solve the problem at hand. To help illustrate this process let’s start by defining a problem I have on an everyday basis; family scheduling.

I define family scheduling the way I arrange for everyone to meet week to week obligations. Every week I have to set a schedule for the entire family to make sure everyone gets their commitments. There is definitely more than one way this ill-defined problem is solved. There are 3 people, 2 of them are children residing in my home and everyone has an obligation each week that I have to ensure they meet. The obligations I have to make sure everyone meets weekly is one of the children is school aged and has a certain time they must meet the bus to arrive to school and a certain time I must be available to pick them up from the bus stop. This person also have extracurricular activities and functions that are a part of their life. My other child is special needs and has eight therapies in a 5 day period and a rigorous feeding schedule, as well as just being a child. I also have at least one doctor’s appointment, household duties and four college classes I am committed too. So as you can imagine some creative thinking or innovative thinking is needed to manage all these duties with one vehicle (PSU World Campus, 2016, L8). If I become fixated on all the tasks that needed to be done every week it could possibly divert me from achieving a solution and getting overwhelmed. So I lay everything out from mandatory tasks to minor tasks and schedule accordingly. Since some of the tasks are dependent on others. I must first find the problematic areas, then set the expectation that everything needs to be spread out of the week, as I go through this process I evaluate as each task is assigned to a slot to see if any revisions need to be made. I think out loud and take notes on paper to restructure tasks on paper until the final revisions are sought. I may have to reorganize the structure several times until it all fits.



Goldstein, B. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research and everyday experience (3rd ed.). Wadsworth, Inc. ISBN: 978-0840033499.

PSU World Campus. (2016). Problem Solving, Lesson 13. Retrieved from

Blog Post #3

Deductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning is one of the many problem solving strategies used to draw conclusions about the things people perceive. Deductive reasoning seeks to understand problems by focusing on specific facts.  It relies on general ideas to draw conclusions by utilizing top bottom processing.  Deductive reasoning is an imperative mental process.

Deductive reasoning requires logic and reason to draw conclusions. According to Goldstein, deductive reasoning is a technique created by Aristotle.  “The father of deductive reasoning is Aristotle, who introduced the basic form of deductive reasoning called the syllogism. A syllogism consists of two premises followed by a third statement called the conclusion. We will first consider categorical syllogisms, in which the premises and conclusion are statements that begin with All, No, or Some. An example of a categorical syllogism is the following:
Syllogism 1
Premise 1: All birds are animals. (All A are B)
Premise 2: All animals eat food. (All B are C)
Conclusion: Therefore, all birds eat food. (All A are C)” (Goldstein, 2015) Syllogisms exemplify the logic behind deductive reasoning.  The ability to draw a conclusion based on two related premises is an ability people utilize daily.

The brain uses top-down processing to comprehend information in the order in which it is perceived. When using deductive reasoning, the brain perceives the first two premises and draws a conclusion.  A general idea is presented (all birds are animals), compared to another idea (all animals eat food) and based on these two ideas, an observation is created (therefore, all birds eat food).  From there, people may seek further evidence to prove their observation as truthful and valid.

For example, deductive reasoning might lead someone to draw conclusions that are not actually truthful. The arguments may be valid, but not sound. “Validity is about whether the conclusion logically follows from the premises. If it does, and the premises are true, as in Syllogism 1, then the conclusion will be true as well. But if one or both of the premises are not true, the conclusion may not be true, even though the syllogism’s reasoning is valid.” (Goldstein, 2015) Thus, validity does not equate to truthfulness.    Deductive reasoning can therefore yield inaccurate conclusions.

Deductive reasoning is used often in life, such as to solve mathematical equations, draw conclusions about the people around us and to solve day to day issues. The use of top down processing is also often subconsciously used.  To get the most out of deductive reasoning, it is best to prove the drawn conclusion.    Doing so will strengthen arguments and build credibility, making the observer a more reliable source of information.


Works Cited

Goldstein, E. B. Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience, 4th Edition. Cengage Learning, 2015. [CengageBrain Bookshelf].


Blog Post #2

Episodic Memories

Memories are something all people experience. Some memories are good and some memories are bad.  Some memories are declarative, such as episodic memories.  Episodic memories are often biographical, influenced by strong emotion or memories of important events.

Episodic memories are a type of long-term declarative memory. Declarative memories are memories one can readily recall.  Episodic memories are often remembered in the order they happened.  For example, autobiographical memories are often episodic memories.  As explained by the American Psychological Association, episodic memories help people recall memorable life events.  “Episodic memory is used to recall past events, such as a movie you saw last week, the dinner you ate last night, the name of the book your friend recommended, or a birthday party you attended” (May) Without episodic memories, people would not be able to recall their past birthdays, first kisses or any other important life event.

In an article published by Tony W. Buchanan, the relationship between strong emotions and episodic memories is explained. “Memories of our experiences are likely characterized by representations in the form of neuronal activity. Activity among a network of neurons represents a code for the experience of, say, a birthday party. When this network is activated by some cue that triggers a reexperience of that event, we are said to have recollected the birthday party. Emotional events are often remembered with greater accuracy and vividness (though these two characteristics do not always go together) than events lacking an emotional component (Reisberg & Hertel, 2005).” (Buchanan) Strong emotions influence a person’s ability to recall and retain details of memories and experiences themselves.   Episodic memories are easier to remember if they are emotional in nature.

My experiences prove this to be true. One of my favorite and emotional memories is the memory of how I rescued my cat.  I remember every detail of her journey.  I found her on a rainy night in March just outside of my friend’s place of employment.  She was frail and sick, yet still so friendly and loving.  She had a raspy meow and trouble breathing.  A friend of mine helped me get her to the veterinarian, where I would visit her every week, twice a week for an entire month.  I would stay for as long as they would let me, sometimes for hours.  Every day that I saw her there is a memory I can recall from start to finish.  I once took her a blanket that I had bought from Sears.  She was afraid of it at first.  After attacking it and chewing on it, she realized it was not a threat and fell asleep on it for hours.  I finally got to take her home on April 17th, 2015.  She meowed the entire way home.  She would hide under the bed and only come out for me.  I remember the first toy she loved, the first meal I found her, administering her medications and watching her heal.    It is also a memory I am likely to remember in detail for years to come.  The emotions I experienced during the course of saving her make this memory easier to recall.  I was nervous about getting attached to her, worried that she would not make it, anxious to leave her at the veterinarian and joyous when I realized she was finally able to come home.  This is an episodic memory because it was a life altering event.  The details of the memory are vivid, and easily and readily recalled.

Episodic memories are important as they help us to recall our most important memories. Without episodic memories, life would be far less meaningful. We would not be able to remember our favorite holiday celebrations, or family vacations.  These memories give life meaning.

Works Cited

Buchanan, Tony W. “Retrieval of Emotional Memories.” Psychological Bulletin. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 6 Mar. 2008. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.

May, Cynthia P., and Gilles O. Einstein. “Memory: A Five-Day Unit Lesson Plan for High School Psychology Teachers.” Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS), Nov. 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.


Blog Post #1

The Placebo Effect

Doctors, including psychologists, seek to help patients and assist them in healing their ailments. One way they do this is through the use of placebos.  Placebos are often sugar pills or other harmless substances that are presented to patients.  The patient is not usually aware they are taking a placebo.  In many cases, placebos still help patients.  The patient believes the pill will help them and because of this perception, it usually does.

Placebos can take many forms. Some doctors use vitamins and others may use sugar pills.  Placebos do not contain any active ingredients.  During clinical trials, placebos may be administered to best ascertain the efficacy of the medications administered.  This helps doctors better determine potential side effects of trial medications, in addition to understanding if they work or not.  Studies have confirmed that administering a placebo can influence the symptoms experienced by patients.

For example, in an article published by Harvard Magazine, Ted Kaptchuk conducted a randomized trial and examined the results.   Some patients were administered pills and others were administered acupuncture treatments. He found that many patients exhibited the side effect symptoms they were warned they may experience from taking the drug.  Regardless of what treatment they received, both groups reported they felt side effects.   Others reported they felt relief.  “In one part of the study, half the subjects received pain-reducing pills; the others were offered acupuncture treatments. And in both cases, people began to call in, saying they couldn’t get out of bed. The pills were making them sluggish, the needles caused swelling and redness; some patients’ pain ballooned to nightmarish levels. “The side effects were simply amazing,” Kaptchuk explains; curiously, they were exactly what patients had been warned their treatment might produce. But even more astounding, most of the other patients reported real relief, and those who received acupuncture felt even better than those on the anti-pain pill. These were exceptional findings: no one had ever proven that acupuncture worked better than painkillers. But Kaptchuk study didn’t prove it, either. The pills his team had given patients were actually made of cornstarch; the “acupuncture” needles were retractable shams that never pierced the skin. The study wasn’t aimed at comparing two treatments. It was designed to compare two fakes.” (Feinberg, 2013)  It is likely that the patients experienced ill side effects because they were previously briefed on the possibility that they may occur.  Those who felt better may have believed they would be getting better.

In the text book Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience by E. Bruce Goldstein, the concept of perception is explained. The placebo effect is used to illustrate the effects of an individual’s perception.  “This decrease in pain from a substance that has no pharmacological effect is called the placebo effect. The key to the placebo effect is that the patient believes that the substance is an effective therapy. This belief leads the patient to expect a reduction in pain, and this reduction does, in fact, occur. Although many different mechanisms have been proposed to explain the placebo effect, expectation is one of the more powerful determinants (Col- loca & Benedetti, 2005).”  This exemplifies how an individual’s expectations or perception of what may occur influences their reality.   The placebo effect is a powerful phenomenon that proves the relationship between what people think and believe in relation to their mind and body.

Overall, placebo and the placebo effect continue to perplex and hold the interest of medical professionals. Placebos are helpful in understanding medications, diseases and ailments and the psychological effects of perception.


Works Cited

Feinberg, Cara. “The Placebo Phenomenon.” Harvard Magazine. N.p., Jan.-Feb. 2014. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.

Goldstein, E. B. Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience, 4th Edition. Cengage Learning, 2015. [CengageBrain Bookshelf].