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Fourty famous studies that influeneced psychology Essay

Born First, Born Smarter

This study involves a person’s intellectual development in correlation to the order in which they were born in relation to their siblings. Two research psychologists, Robert B. Zajonc and Gregory B. Markus, developed a theory in an attempt to explain the relationship between birth order and intelligence. They conducted this study by gathering information from previous research and applied it to the data they collected themselves. A research project was conducted n the late 1960’s that involved testing the intellectual abilities of children born at the end of WWII. They found a strong relationship between the birth order and the Raven test scores. The ones born first scored higher, and the score decreased with the declining birth order. However, the average Raven score for the first born in a two family is only about 5 points higher then that for a last born in a family with nine children. So the more children you have, and the smaller the gap between each child is, the more intelligent each child in succession will be.

In Control and Glad of It

Researchers Ellen J. Langer and Judith Rodin conducted a field experiment using elderly people in an elderly home to test the outcome of when people are given control as opposed to when people have everything done for them. Langer and Rodin’s prediction was that if the loss of personal responsibility for one’s life causes a person to be less happy and healthy, then increasing control and power should have the opposite effect. Two floors of the elderly home were randomly selected to be observed. One floor was given options for certain things such as there furniture arrangement and which movie they would like to attend.

The other floor, was given no such options and had everything arranged and done for them by the staff. The staff was asked to fill out questionnaires about the patients on their floor (the staff new nothing of the experiment). The questionnaires had questions on it to comment about things such as if the patents were sociable, happy, alert, and even how much they visited other patients. The differences between the two groups were incredible. They determined that overall, the increased responsibility group’s condition improved over the three weeks of the study, while the no-control group was doing progressively poorer. They concluded that when people who have been forced to give up their control and decision-making power are given a greater sense of personal responsibility, their lives and attitudes improve, as is true with the opposing side.

More Experience = Bigger Brain

Mark R. Rosenzweig and Edward L. Bennett wanted to find out if the brain changes in response to experience. Because this experiment involved long periods of observation and even autopsies to observe the changes in the brain, the two researchers couldn’t use human subjects, so they used rats for the experiment. Three male rats where chosen to participate and assigned to one of three conditions. One rat remained in the colony cage with the rest of the colony. One rat was placed in an “enriched environment” and one was placed in an “impoverished environment”. There were 12 rats in each of these conditions for each of the 16 experiments. The standard cage had many rats and had adequate space with food and water always available. The improvised environment was a slightly smaller cage, isolated in a separate room, where the rat was alone with adequate food and water. Finally, the enriched environment was a large cage filled with many toys and furnished with every luxury a rat could want.

The results indicated that the brains of the enriched rats were highly different from those of the impoverished rats. The cerebral cortex of the enriched rats was significantly heavier and thicker then those of the impoverished rats. Also, the study found a significantly greater number of glial cells in the enriched rats’ brains compared with the rats raised in the dull environment. After 10 years of experiment and research the researchers could clearly and confidently state that “there is no doubt that many aspects of brain anatomy and brain chemistry are changed by experience.” However, many scientists were skeptical of there findings because there were factors that Rosenzweig and Bennett didn’t take into consideration. The enriched rats were handled more which could have been a brain stimulus and the impoverished rats could have been stressed from having no contact with anyone or anything at all.

See Aggression…Do Aggression

One of he most famous and influential experiment ever conducted in psychology history demonstrated how children learn to be aggressive. This study by Albert Bandura and his associates Dorothea Ross and Shelia Ross was carried out in 1961 at Stanford University. The researchers asked for the help of the Stanford University nursery in obtaining thirty-six boys and thirty-six girls raging from ages 3-6. The average age for he children was 4 years and 4 months. Twenty four of the children were assigned to the control group which was the group that wasn’t exposed to any model. The rest of the children were divided into two groups: one exposed to aggressive models and one exposed to non-aggressive models, they were also divided by sex. They eventually had 8 experimental groups divided by gender and level of aggression. First, the experimenter brought a child from one of the groups to a playroom with an adult model.

The adult model beat a Bobo doll with a fake mallet while the child played with other toys. Another child was brought in after and the adult model ignored the Bobo doll. This went on for all the groups. 1) The children who were exposed to the violent models tended to imitate the exact violent behaviors they observed when left alone with the Bobo doll. 2) Overall, girls were more likely to imitate the verbal aggression toward the Bobo doll, while the boys showed more physical violence. 3) Boys were significantly more physically aggressive then girls in nearly all the conditions. 4) The boys used the mallet significantly more then girls in almost all of the conditions. 5) The control group was generally less violent then the experimental group.6) in cases with a non-aggressive female, the children used hardly any aggressive language.

What You Expect Is What You Get

This study involves teacher’s expectancies of pupils and how that affects the students I.Q. gains. Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson conducted a study where they theorized that when an elementary school teacher is provided with information (such as I.Q. scores) that creates certain expectancies about a student’s potential, either strong or weak, the teacher might unknowingly behave in ways that subtly encourage or facilitate the performance of the students seen as more likely to succeed. An elementary school was chosen and all the children grades 1-6 were given an I.Q. test near the beginning of the year. The teachers were told that there students were taking the “Harvard Test of Inflected Acquisition”. This was told to them because this test was supposed to be a predictor for a child’s academic blooming.

Teachers believed that students that scored higher would enter a period of increased learning abilities. This was also not true. Children were chosen at random to be within the top 20 percentile of this test and the teachers were informed of this. All other children were the control group of this experiment. At the end of the year the children were tested again using the I.Q. test and the children originally chosen for the top 20% showed a significantly increased score then those of the control group in grades one and two. In grades 3-6 the difference was not so great. The reason for the 1st and 2nd grade development was thought to be because of how younger minds were more malleable then older children and how younger children don’t have a reputation from previous school years.

I Can See It All Over Your Face

Researchers Paul Ekman and Wallace V. Freisen conducted a study about how facial expressions and emotions are a universal language. The first problem with this experiment was that the researchers had to find subjects that had never been exposed to media or magazines because this would enable the subjects to not truthfully identify a certain emotional expression. Ekman and Freisen found a group of people like this in the Southeast Highlands of New Guinea called the Fore people. They were an isolated Stone Age society with not much contact of any other people outside there environment, let alone any media. They had not been exposed to emotional facial expressions other then those of there own people. The two researchers showed there experimental groups of adults and children pictures of different facial expressions of people from the United States and told them a sentence.

They asked them to identify by pointing, to the correct matching facial expression. The adults were given three pictures to choose from and the children were given two. There was not much difference between male and female recognition of expressions, however the children did fair a little better in the experiment. This could have been attributed to the fact that the children only had to choose between two pictures instead of three. The results for both adults and children clearly support the researcher’s theory that particular facial behaviors are universally associated with particular emotions. The only trouble that the Fore people had was distinguishing between fear and surprise, and this was because these people closely associated fear and surprise as one emotion.

Racing Against Your Heart

Using their earlier research and clinical observations, two cardiologists, Meyer Friedman and Ray H. Rosenman, developed a model of traits for a specific type of persons behavioral pattern that they believed was related to growing levels of cholesterol and to heart disease. The first pattern, pattern A, had characteristics such as a drive to achieve your goals, a competing personality, multi-tasking that involves meeting deadlines, and extreme alertness. Following this is another type of people, called pattern B. Pattern B is the exact opposite of pattern A. They lacked drive, ambition, desire to compete, and involvement in deadlines. A third set of behaviors developed was called pattern C. This was very much like pattern B but involved anxiety and insecurity. Friedman and Rosenman interviewed about 166 men for there experiment. They first questions they asked them were about there family’s medical history, so they could see if they had CHD. While in this interview the researchers categorized each man into a pattern A or B category by the way he answered questions, or his tone, or body language.

Each subject was asked to keep a log of there diet over the course of a week and blood tests were taken from each of the men to measure cholesterol levels. Friedman and Rosenman matched each man into pattern A and pattern B easily. Each man fit into one of the developed patterns. The researchers found that the men in Pattern A group had significantly higher chances of heart disease and that type A behavior was a major cause of blood abnormalities. However there could be other reasons why Type A had higher chances of heart disease such as, there family’s history. More men in the pattern A group had parents with heart disease. Another difference was that pattern A men smoked more cigarettes a day then did the subjects in group B. This study was very important in the history of psychology for a few reasons. One way was that it proved certain behavioral patterns can cause major heart related illness. Another is that this study began a new line of research and questioning into the relationship between behavior and CHD. The largest long-range outcome from this study that has played an important role in creating a new branch of psychology called health psychology.

Not Practicing What You Preach

This study involves attitudes and actions toward different racial groups. It was determine if what people say is actually what they will do if they come face to face with the problem. Richard T. LaPiere traveled extensively with a young Chinese couple in 1930 and 1931. The couple was very nice and personable and he was glad to be traveling with them. During this time there was a lot of prejudice in the U.S. against Asians. So, LaPiere was very surprised when the Asian couple was graciously accommodated at a very fine hotel that had a reputation for greatly disliking Orientals. Two months later he called the same hotel and asked if they would accommodate a very important Chinese man and they said defiantly not. LaPiere then developed a theory that stated “What people say is often not what they do”. The study was conducted in two separate parts. First, LaPiere went with his Chinese friends to many hotels and restaurant throughout the U.S. over the course of two years.

He took record of how the couple was treated and made sure to first stay out of site of the managers of the establishments to ensure that the couple wouldn’t be treated differently in his presence. The second part of the experiment was for LaPiere to wait 6 months after there trip (to make sure the effect of the Chinese couples visit had faded), and then call each establishment that they went to or stayed at, and asked them if they would accommodate a Chinese person.

After almost three years, LaPiere had enough information to make a comparison of social attitudes social behavior. Out of the 251 hotels and restaurants they attended, only one refused the couple and LaPiere service because of the couple’s race. Aside from that instance, all other places accommodated them with average or above average service. When he received most of the letters back with an answer from the hotels and restaurants over 90% of them said they would absolutely not accommodate anyone of the Chinese race. This confirmed LaPiere’s theory that what people say, is not always how they will act.

The Power of Conformity

Research psychologist Solomon E. Asch conducted a study to see if people will give into peer pressure and conform to there friends ideas. A person was let into a room (Subject A) with seven other subjects. These seven people, without subject A knowing, were not participants in the experiment, they were helping the experimenter. Each person was asked which line was longer on a card that was shown to them. Subject A went first and then followed was the seven other subjects and then subject A was asked again. They did this several times until one time, all the other subjects disagreed with subject A and all picked the same one, different form his choice.

When the card came back to subject A he picked the one everyone else picked. Seventy-Five percent of the time the first subject will conform to the group’s consensus at least once. The powerful effects of group pressures to conform were clearly demonstrated in Asch’s study. There are four factors that could have an effect on the reduction of conformity. These factors are social support, attraction and commitment to the group, size of the group, and gender of the group. If you have people on your side you are more likely to stay with your answer rather then conform.

Crowding Into The Behavioral Sink

The effects of crowding on our behavior are something that has interested psychologists for decades. One man in particular, John B. Calhoun was especially interested in it when he conducted this study on crowding and social pathology. It may be hard to believe but rats do have a social side. The reason Calhoun used rats were because he needed many subjects for long periods of time that were willing to crowd together for a while. Humans wouldn’t be very good at this. He used a 10×14 foot room and divided it into 4 sections. Section one was connected to section 2 by a ramp, section 2 was connected to section 3 by a ramp, and section 3 was connected to section 4 by a ramp. The walls were electrified so in order to get from section 1 to section 4 you needed to go through all the rooms. The rooms were also filled with shreds of paper, in order for the rats to make nests. The experimenter filled the rooms with rats.

They started with about 4 rats and waited or the rats to multiply until they reached 80. When over 80 were reached some rats were removed so they always had a constant number. When the rats got older, they started to fight with each other for space even though it wasn’t necessarily too crowded. The two end rooms were soon fought for because they got the most space and privacy so the rat that won the fight always stayed on guard at the end of the ramp for security. Some rats became submissive and others always fought. Some of the rats were very sexually active and some wanted nothing to do with it. Some of the mothers in the two middle pens became inadequate.

They often left their children and lost all maternal abilities. One environment where the same thing that happened to the rats might happen to humans is in an overcrowded prison. It was found in a very crowded prison where each inmate has approximately 50 square feet, as opposed to one with more room, there were more cases of homicides, suicide, illness, and disciplinary problems. Crowding also has negative effects on problem-solving abilities. When in a small room that’s crowded subjects had a more difficult time listening to a story and putting tighter a puzzle, then did another group with more space and the same tasks.

Relaxing Your Fears Away

Researcher Joseph Wolpe was a research psychologist specializing in the systematic desensitization treatment of neuroses. The word phobia comes from Phobos, the name of the Greek god of fear. Phobias are divided into three main categories. Simple phobias are phobias that involve irrational fears of animals or specific situations such as small spaces or heights. Social phobias are irrational fears about interaction with others. Agoraphobia is the irrational fear of being in an unfamiliar, open, or crowded space. These are all irrational and all can be treated in similar ways. Systematic desensitization is a behavioral technique that was credited to Wolpe as perfecting and applying it to the treatment of anxiety disorders. Systematic desensitization is the way of unlearning a learned behavior. Reciprocal inhibition is when two responses inhibit each other, and only one may exist at a given moment. There are three steps that a patient must follow in order to rid themselves of a phobia. Wolpe says that you cannot be in a complete relaxed state and have an irrational fear at the same time, so the first step is relaxation.

He taught the patient to go into a deep state of relaxation whenever they wanted or needed too. The process involves tensing and relaxing your muscles until you have reached a state of complete relaxation. Wolpe also incorporated hypnosis to ensure full relaxation. The next step in the process is for the therapist and patient to develop a list of high anxiety-producing situations involving your phobia. Starting with the least stressful and ending with the most stressful. The final stage is called the unlearning stage.

The patient has to go into a deep state of relaxation and the therapist will read off to you your fears of the list. If at any point you feel anxiety the therapist stops you return to your relaxation mode and the therapist will continue. This process continues until the therapist can go through the entire list with you feeling the least bit anxious. The success of their therapy was judged by the patients own reports and by the occasional direct observation. He had a success rate of 91% with the 39 cases he had. The average number of treatment sessions needed was 12.3. Wolpe said that he hasn’t had any patient relapse after a complete desensitization recovery.

Who’s Crazy Here, Anyway?

David L. Rosenhan conducted an experiment with sane people going into mental facilities claiming to hear voices, to see if the patients would be immediately released if acting completely sane. Rosenhan questioned whether the characteristics that lead to psychological diagnoses reside in the patients themselves or in the situations in which the observers find the patients. Eight subjects including Rosenhan committed themselves to eight different mental hospitals. Each subject was completely sane and in perfect mental health. When committing themselves to the hospital they complained of hearing voices and all but one where admitted and on record as having schizophrenia. Each patient once admitted, acted perfectly sane and showed no signs of schizophrenia yet were treated as though they did have a mental illness throughout their entire stay. They were given medication which they disposed of and were not treated as normal people.

It was as if because they were in the mental hospital, they were automatically considered to not be a real human being. Rosenhan’s study demonstrated rather strongly that normal “patients” cannot be distinguished from the mentally ill in a hospital setting. According to Rosenhan, this is because of the strength of the mental setting has over the patient’s actual behavior. Once patients are admitted to such a place, there is a strong inclination for them to be viewed in ways that strip them of all individuality. This study surprises me. I’m taken aback that these professionals that have worked with mentally ill patients cannot decipher between a truly mental patient and a completely mentally-healthy patient. It is extremely unprofessional that the staff member/nurse did at one of the facilities by adjusting her bra in front of patients as if they weren’t real people.

Thanks For The Memories

One of the leading researchers in the area of memory is Elizabeth Loftus at the University of Washington. She has found that when an event is recalled it is not accurately recreated. Instead it’s what’s called reconstructive memory. Loftus defines a presupposition as a condition that must be true in order for the question to make sense. For example, suppose that you have witnessed an automobile accident and I ask you, “How many people were in the car that was speeding?” The question presupposes that the car was speeding. One experiment done by Loftus was having students in small groups watch a car accident video that was about 1 minute long. After the film ended the students had to answer questions. For half the students the first question was “How fast was car A going when it ran the stop sign?”

The other students had a question that read “How fast was car A going when I turned right?” The last question for both groups was “Did you see the stop sign?” In the group that had been asked about the stop sign 53% of the subjects said they saw a stop sign for car A, while only 35% in the “turned right” group claimed to have seen it. Based on these and other studies, Loftus argues that an accurate theory of memory and recall must include a process of reconstruction that occurs when new information is integrated into the original memory of an event. There is little doubt that in the course of criminal prosecutions, eye witness reports are subject to many sources of error such as post event information integration.

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