Levels of Analysis ( LoA ). Biological Cognitive Sociocultural. Biological LoA. Focuses on physiology and genetics Gender differences via genetic makeup XY and XX chromosomes Gender differences from the impact of hormones testosterone and estrogen. Cognitive LoA.
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physiology and genetics
Taking a holistic approach to human behavior
Interactionist Approach: Both sides of nature (biology) vs. nurture (environment) argument.
Evolution…key role in behavior
Much research done with animals
Links between specific biological factors and specific behaviors
Micro-level research; breaking down complex human behavior into simple parts.
Criticized for being over simplistic but allows us to gain detailed knowledge of human behavior
Important because it allows understanding of several factors that influence one behavior
Glands that produce hormones in the body
Enter from glands to bloodstream (longer)
i.e. pituitary, adrenal, testes, ovaries, etc.
Produced by hypothalamus
Firing of neurons by amygdala
From stimulation by pituitary gland, hugs, and touches
Plays role in inducing labor, trust, generosity, and attachment to others
Made by pineal gland
An unbalance of melatonin gives symptoms of insomnia and/or jet lag
Increase during night/darkness, vice-versa
Release correlates with circadian rhythm
Side effect of excess melatonin
Found by Rosenthal in 1987
Subcategory of depression
Sleepiness, lethargy, carbohydrates craving and apathy
Cure is sunlight AKA go outside more
Tokyo University (Kasamatsu and Hirai, 1999)
Aim: How sensory deprivation affects the brain
Buddhist monks deprived of food, water, no communication, and exposure to cold weather
48 hours, hallucinations
Blood samples before and right after hallucinations (serotonin levels increased which activated the frontal cortex and hypothalamus)
Conclusion: Sensory deprivation released serotonin which altered monks experience.
Stimulate the production of neurotransmitters
Block receptor sites if too much is produced
Mouse Party Simulation:
The idea that specific parts of the brain are responsible for specific functions
When a behavior is localized in the brain, it is possible to trace the origin of the behavior to a specific part of the brain.
Does not explain ALL human behavior but is a major step forward in brain research
Robert Heath (1950s)
James Old (1950s)
Electrically stimulated parts o f the brain in depressed patients=experienced pleasure
One patient (B-19) electrically stimulated himself 1,500 times in 3 hours
Experienced euphoria and elation and was eventually disconnected against his will
Rats would receive electrical stimulation to the nucleus accumbens when a lever was pressed
Crossed over electrified grids and preferred pleasure lever over food and water
Researchers use a lot of technology to study the localization functions of the brain.
Option to study active brain
See where specific brain processes take place
The more invasive techniques that scientist use to study the brain are reserved for animals such as rats
They benefit us because we are to complete ablations which is where a piece of the brain is removed in order to examine the differences in behavior.
Hetherington and Ranson
- Lesion part of the brain called ventromedial hypothalamus in rats
~ Increased food intake dramatically & doubled weight
~ Hypothalamus acts as a brake on food intake
Raise serious ethical concerns
Modern Researchers use EEG (electroencephalogram)
Thought of as Brain Waves
Transports information through electrical change
EFG registers patterns of voltage change in the brain
Monitors glucose metabolism in the brain
Patient is injected with a harmless dose of radioactive glucose and the radioactive particles emitted by the glucose are detected by the PET scanner
Produces color maps of brain activity
Provides 3D pictures of brain structures using magnetic fields and radio waves.
Shows actual brain activity and indicated which areas of the brain are active.
~Have higher resolution than PET scans
~ Most frequently used technologies in biopsychological research today.
-Thought that brain was influenced only by genetics
One of the most well-known claims of brain plasticity
Listening to Mozart temporarily increases spatial reasoning ability
Structurally complex musical compositions excites brain firing pattern as when physically completing spatial tasks
(Cameron: Today Show)
In 2004 he held an experiment with eight Buddhist monks.
They were highly experienced with meditation, and the ten volunteers that were there were trained in meditation for one week.
The participants were told to meditate on love and compassion.
He used a PET scan to observe that two of the controls and all of the monks experienced an increase in brain waves during meditation.
As soon as they were done meditating, the gamma waves returned to normal.
The monks were more experienced so their gamma waves had no difference.
The spot where the gamma waves were found in the monks brains during meditation on love and compassion was found to be larger than the other volunteers brains.
Davidson argued that meditation could have long term effect on the brain and the way it processes emotions.
The brain adapts to stimulation (either from environment or our own thinking)
One of the ways that people learn is by observing others and then imitating their behavior.
Mirror Neurons – Neurons that fire when an animal (or person) performs an action or the animal/human is observing an action being performed
Researchers at the University of Parma in Italy, accidentally discovered mirror neurons.
Because neural messages are electrical in nature, the researchers would hear a telltale crackling sound whenever the neurons were activated in the monkeys.
Every time a monkey would reach for a peanut, the crackling sound was heard, not from just the monkey performing the action, but from the other monkeys as well.
Biological / genetic predisposition
The diathesis-stress model
The model looks at the genetic/biologic vulnerability to a disorder/disease and the stress or traumatic environmental stimuli that may trigger a disorder (such as depression)
The diathesis-stress model uses the analogy of a "walking time bomb" to help explain why, for example, not 100% of identical twins both get depression. It also helps to explain why a large percent of people in traumatic situations (post 9/11, rape, etc.) never develop PTSD.
The model further talks about a balance -- the greater the diathesis or predisposition, the less the stress required for the disorder to "appear" and visa versa.
If you did, in your hours of free time, check these out on the wiki
Dizygotic (DZ)Twin Studies
Used as basis for hypotheses since they show the different degrees of genetic relationship. In twin studies the correlation found is known as concordance.
More representative of the general population
Different degree of relatedness is compared with behavior to determine the impact of genes.
Another principle of the biological LoA is that the environment presents obstacles & challenges for each individual.
In essence, those that adapt have a better chance of survival & having offspring which allows their genes to be passed down.
Tetsuro Matsuzawa (2007)
Looked at spatial memory in young chimps
Used 3 chimps that were taught to recognize the numbers 1-9 on a computer
Humans and chimps saw number flashed on a touch screen monitor and then the numbers were covered with blank squares and then were asked to touch the squares in sequential order.
Aboriginal people may object to genetic studies
Eugenics and other forms of discrimination is the cause.
Consent and speaking to community leaders are a must for many aboriginal and ethnic groups.
During the beginning of the 20th century, governments and schools became very interested in one’s intellectual potential and the role genetics play in IQ
Alfred Binet developed an intelligence test to help understand this concept better within the French educational system
Research has shown that poverty plays a major role in the development of a child’s intelligence
Book published in 1994 by Harvard professor Richard J. Herrnstein
The debate about the role of genes and environment have to do with ethnic difference in intelligence is not yet resolved
Media discussed the idea that there may be intergroup differences in intelligence, thus conferring the idea that the root of intelligence in debatable
Bouchard & McGue (1981) used 111 studies of IQ correlations between siblings from research around the world
Found that the closer the kinship the higher correlation of IQ
Meta-analysis: statistical synthesis of the data from a set of comparable studies of a problem that yields a quantitative summary of the pooled results
(Bouchard et al.) Longitudinal study, been going on since 1979
Most cross-cultural study to date (participants from across the world)
Compares MZAs (identical twins raised apart) to MZTs (identical twins raised together)
Mean age of MZAs was 41 (start of study), until this study most research was done with adolescents
Twins completed 50 hours of testing and interviews
70% of intelligence can be attributed to genetics inheritance, the other 30% is due to other factors
Much research has supported the MTS
The size and nature of the sample has made it one of the most impressive study ever conducted
Scarr & Weinberg (1977) and Horn et al. (1979)
Researched parents that raised adopted and natural children
Any significant differences in IQ between the adoptive and biological children would be attributed to genes
No significant difference in IQ correlations were found
Parents were wealthy, white, middle class and high IQs & adopted children were poor, lower-class backgrounds, and lower IQs
The mind is a complex “machine” using hardware (brain) and software (mental images or representations)
Information input via bottom-up processing (from the senses)
Information is processed in the mind via top-down processing (pre-stored information/memory)
Subtle relationships between how people think about themselves and how they behave
A person’s mindset is important to predicting his/her behavior
People have fixed ideas about other people (stereotyping) which can lead to discrimination
Frederic Bartlett coined the term schema (mental representation of knowledge)
Interested in cultural schemas and how they impact remembering
Discovered that people have difficulties remembering a story from another culture and they adjusted the story to fit in with their own cultural schemas
Memory in not a tape recorder and we remember in terms of meaning and what makes sense to us, thus memory is subject to distortions
Schemas describe how specific knowledge is organized and stored in memory so it can be accessed and used when needed
Schema theory: Cognitive theory about information processing
Suggests that what we already know will influence the outcome of information processing because we humans are active processors of information
We interpret and integrate information to make sense of experiences even if we are unaware of it
When information is missing we fill in the blanks based on existing schemas or inventing information leading to mistakes (distortions)
Organize information about the world with fixed and variable slots; if slot is unspecified it is filled in by a “default value” (best guess)
Can be related to form systems
Active recognition devices (pattern recognition)
Help predict future events based on the past
Represent general knowledge rather than definitions
Schema processing can affect memory at all stages
Encoding: Transforming sensory information into meaningful memory
Storage: Creating a biological trace of the encoded information in memory, which can be consolidated or lost
Retrieval: Using stored information
Research supports the idea that schemas affect cognitive processes such as memory
Useful in understanding how people categorize information, interpret stories, & make inferences
Contributed to understanding of memory distortions as well as social cognition
Social psychologists use social schemas to help explain stereotyping and prejudice
It is not entirely clear how schemas are acquired and how they actually influence cognitive processes
Cohen (1993) said that the concept of schemas is too vague to be useful yet researchers use it to explain cognitive processing
Daniel Gilbert argues that the brain is a “wonderful magician but a lousy scientist” by looking for meaningful patterns but does not check for accuracy
Storehouse of information
Since we do not know how much info can be stored, LTM is believed to have unlimited capacity and for an indefinite duration
Material is not exact (outline) and memory can be distorted due to schemas “filling in gaps”
Controlling system which monitors and coordinates the operations of the other components (slave systems)
Most important part of the working memory model
Limited capacity and is modality free (can process any sensory information)
Attentional control is the most important job of the central executive
Consciously trying to remember details
Acts as a temporary and passive display store until the information is needed (similar to a TV screen)
Processing of the information takes place in other parts of the system
Here’s your picture
Deals with visual and spatial information from the sensory memory or LTM
Working Memory Model
More satisfactory explanation of storage and processing than the STM component of the multi-store model
Include active storage and processing which helps understand all sorts of cognitive tasks (reading comprehension and mental math)
Explains the idea of multi-tasking (performing different cognitive tasks at the same time without disruption)
Assumes that mental processes are passive
Pickering & Gathercole (2001) used the Working Memory Test Battery for Children
Found that there is an improvement in performance in working memory capacity from the age of 5 until about 15
Working memory during childhood varies widely across individuals of the same age
Provides evidence that problems with working memory is associated with problems in academic performance
Problems with the phonological loop have been linked to math and reading abilities
Holmes et al. (2008) studied the association between visuospatial sketchpad capacity and math attainment in relation to age
Samples: Ages 7-8 and 9-10
Studied age differences in relationship between visual and spatial memory and the range of math skills
Findings: Math performance could be predicted based off of the performance on the visual patterns test
In the past, laboratory experiments were used because they were considered the most scientific way of collecting data
Although modern techniques are more “real” they are descriptive data therefore they cannot explain cause-and-effect (causation) relationships
Participant observation is most common to “see the world through the eyes of the people being studied.”
Fritz HeiderThe Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (1958)
Attribution: How people interpret and explain casual relationships in the social world
We have a desire to understand why things happen
By observing behaviors we try to make inferences about intentions and responsibility
Actor-observer effect: Making attributions about behavior depending on whether they are performing it themselves or observing someone else doing it
DispositionalAnswering that “WHY” Question
Discussing own behavior
Blaming the situation
Analyzing the person’s action with regards to the situation he/she is in
Ex: Late work/missing assignments= genuine issue such as a family/personal issue
Observing someone else’s behavior
Blaming the person
A person’s behavior is influenced by internal characteristics
Ex: Late work/missing assignments= Lazy & irresponsible and never finishes work on time
Fundamental Attribution Error
Self-serving Bias (SSB)
Overestimating the role of dispositional factors and underestimating the role of situational factors in an individual’s behavior
When people take credit for their success, attributing them to dispositional factors and dissociate themselves from their failures, attributing them to situational factors
Social representations (Moscovici, 1973): The shared beliefs and explanations held by society in which we live or the group in which we belong
They are the foundation of social cognition which help us make sense of the world and master it; they also allow communication to take place among members of a community by providing social codes for social exchange and naming a classifying unambiguously the various aspects of their world and their individual and group history
According to Steele (1997), stereotype threat leads to spotlight anxiety (emotional distress and pressure that undermines performance)
Leads to underperformance which naturally limits educational prospects
Spencer et al. (1997):
Gave students that are strong in math a difficult math test
Predicted women would do worse and they did (due to stereotype that women are not as skilled in math)
When same concept was demonstrated with literature skills both groups performed equally well
Assumes that humans learn behaviors through observational learning (learning by watching models and imitating their behavior)
Indirect (not intentionally trying to impact behavior) or direct models (teachers)
Does watching violence on television cause people to become violent?
Studies are consistent in proving that watching aggression shows children how to be aggressive in new ways and also draw conclusions about whether being aggressive to others will bring rewards or punishment
Huesmann & Eron (1986):
15 year longitudinal study found a positive correlation between the number of hours of violence watched on TV and the level of aggression demonstrated when being a teenager
8 year olds that watched TV violence were more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for criminal acts as adults
Both are based on social learning theory but the focus is on beliefs and how they influence behavior
An important elaboration of social learning theory to explain why people are motivated not by the role models, but also by their own beliefs and previous experiences
1.) Authority: Compliance with people of authority; famous people wearing basketball shoes
2.) Commitment: Agreement through behavior or by statements, they are more likely to comply with similar requests
3.) Liking: People comply with people they like
4.) Reciprocity: The need to “return a favor”
5.) Scarcity: Opportunities are more favorable when they are less readily available; “last chance” & “limited time” sales
6.) Social proof: View behaviors as correct if they see others performing it
One of the most widespread and basic norms in human culture
Creates confidence among people in what is given to another is not lost but a sign of a future obligation that enables development of various types of relationships and exchanges
We learn this in childhood
Feelings of guilt plays a key role
Companies offer free gifts, free travel, free hotel rooms, etc.
Lynn & McCall (1998): Mint with bill, tip increases
Being consistent with previous behavior
People make a decision to take a stand, encountering personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with the commitment (even appears illogical to an outsider)
Kurt Lewin (1951): Claims this behavior is motivated by goal gradients
Dickerson et al. (1992)
University students conserving water; Santa Cruz, CA
1.) Sign a poster: “Take shorter showers. If I can do it, so can you!”
2.) Took survey that made them think about the amount of water they used
Shower time decreased by 3.5 minutes
Consideration: They signed the poster because they were already committed to the cause
The tendency to adjust one’s thoughts, feelings, or behavior in ways that are in agreement with those of a particular individual or group or with accepted standards about how a person should behave in specific situations (social norms)
AKA: Peer pressure when dealing with youth/school
Conformity isn’t limited to just feeling the need to fit in
Factors that influence the likelihood of conformity:
1.) Group Size (1955): with only one confederate, 3% of participants conformed; 2 confederates, 14%, 3 confederates, 32%. Large groups did not increase conformity, in some cases very large groups decreased the level of conformity
2.) Unanimity (1956): When all confederates agreedconformity. If a confederate disagreedparticipant was less likely to conform
3.) Confidence (Perrin & Spencer, 1988): Engineers and medical students conformity rates were almost non-existent; more competentless likely to conform
4.) Self-esteem (Stang, 1973): High self-esteemless likely to conform
1.) Artificiality and ecological validity:
Use of strangers made the situation atypical
Asch argued that experiments are social situations in which participants feel like an outsider if they dissent
Concern for demand characteristics
2.) Culture limited validity:
The group was not multiculturalstudy is limited in its application
Asch paradigm is no longer valid today?
3.) Ethical considerations:
Deception & anxiety
4.) Bias in interpretation of the findings (Friend et al., 1990):
In the face of unanimity, so many people did not conform
Which factors allow people to dissent, rather than which factors influence conformity?
1.) Dissenting opinions produce uncertainty & doubt
2.) Such opinions show alternatives exist
3.) Consistency shows that there is commitment to the alternative view
Rules that can be applied to all cultures around the world
Taken within cross-cultural psychology where behavior is compared across specific cultures that share common perceptual, cognitive, and emotional structures
Behaviors that are culturally specific
Caused psychologists the re-examine their ideas of “truth” with regards to culture
Ecological Fallacy is “When one looks at two different cultures, it can be assumed that two members from two different cultures must be different from one another, or that a single member of a culture will always demonstrate the dimensions which are the norm of that culture.”
Hoefstede says not to do this.
Hall (1966); Hidden Dimension
“Personal space” or “Personal bubble”
Friends are allowed to be closer
Conversations 4-7 inches (Americans) but change with time (today is much different)
Parts of Europe, half that
Focus on one thing at a time
High degree of scheduling
Punctuality and meeting deadlines are valued
Many things happening at once
Focus is on relationships and interactions
Interruptions are seen as “part of life”
Little frustration during late or postponed events/assignments