4 Commentsby   |  04.02.13  |  Student Posts

When I first learned of behaviorism, it seemed rather common sense to me (hindsight bias I’m sure): give a dog food for shaking your hand and your dog will shake your hand. It was not until later psychology classes that I began to realize the breadth and depth of this school of thought. Behaviorism is fascinating to me because it has permeated so much of our world without much of society realizing it. Disciplinary methods in home and schools are derived from studies in behaviorism, ideals and belief systems are created through conditioning, advertising and media condition individuals to think and behave in certain ways, and we can change habits and activity through behaviorism techniques.
While behaviorism can be extremely beneficial in its applications, it scares me as much as it fascinates me because it can easily be misused and misinterpreted. It’s so reductive of human behavior that if applied in the right manner, humans can be “trained” or conditioned to do things which they might never have considered. This can be done on a personal level or a societal level. Therefore, I think it’s important to educate people on these principles to make them aware of the messages, rewards, and punishments that they are consuming through media, friends, or other sources.

Blog #4 Behaviorism

1 Commentby   |  04.02.13  |  Student Posts

Classical Conditioning in The Office

In this episode of the Office, Jim conditions Dwight as Pavlov famously conditioned his dog. Every time Jim reboots his computer, Jim gives Dwight an altoid. This fits the framework of classical conditioning perfectly. The altoid is the unconditioned stimulus, the sound of the computer rebooting is the conditioned stimulus. As time goes on and Jim continues to pair the altoids with the computers rebooting chime, while Dwight remains clueless as to what is happening. Eventually, Jim tests the effects of his conditioning on Dwight and finds that it is successful. When Dwight hears the chime, he reaches for an altoid and becomes confused. Dwight is unaware of the effects that classical conditioning has had on him. Dwight then exhibits a conditioned response, reporting that his mouth is dry. This is in line with the observed effects classical conditioning typically exhibits. Though behaviorism has its share of problems as all theories do, the practical applications of conditioning, both classical and operant, can be applied an used in many ways. Effective in both the areas of pranks and treatment of mental disorders, behaviorism has applications that can still be used today.

Blog #4: Behaviorism in the Media

1 Commentby   |  04.02.13  |  Student Posts

Marketing companies have figured out how to greatly influence their target audience using the appeal of emotions. It is wired in our genetics to attract a partner or mate, that is how the population grows and the human race continues to survive. During the caveman years, it’s speculated that man who could find the best cave, provide the best protection and kill enough meat was the man who was desired by women. In today’s world, the “ideal man” and “what women want” is constantly thrown around in media as a marketing tool. Men are sold body was and body spray not with tag lines that it masks body odor or smells great, but by women flocking to the man wearing the product. AXE Fallen Angel Commercial. Marketers use the use of negative emotions to sell a product. Instead of showing the positive qualities that could make a good mate/husband, companies decide to tell men how undesirable they are without their product.

Women are at no greater advantage. Media has historically told women the best ways to attract a man; whether it be hair and make up styles, cooking skills, fashion tips, or, as more recent magazines have resorted to, how to seduce a man, women have always been fed ways in which they can be a better, more attractive version of themselves. Cosmo Cover- January 2013. Women are also targeted by marketing companies through the usage of photoshop. Studies have found that women feel worse about themselves, and there for purchase more beauty products, when images of young, thin and beautiful models are used. However there is little awareness of this marketing tool, so women continue to compare themselves to unrealistic images of what the “ideal women” is.

In class we watched a clip on a society describing an almost utopian-like society. The peace in the community was achieved by changing the way the society operated and viewed different work and social situations; violence was essentially removed from the community. Could this same technique be applied to the marketing companies to diminish the negative emotions used to sell a product?





0 Commentsby   |  04.02.13  |  Student Posts

The study of behaviorism is a particular study that first caught my attention in my first psychology class here at ACU, Intro to Psychology. Before this time, I had never heard behaviorism or really put much thought into the idea of learned and reinforced behaviors as a study. I can vividly remember learning about Pavlov’s theory, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and negative and positive reinforcement and punishment and just being vastly intrigued by this field of study. You can see the principles of behaviorism being used today in several places. For me, I love sports, and the first place I see this in sports is in football. In attempts to “make the game safer”, fines are being issued out for hits that were perfectly legal five years ago.  This is a perfect example of negative punishment. The league is taking money away from players in order to reduce the likelihood that they will repeat their behavior. There have been players like James Harrison who have had to completely alter their style of play, and there are players like Ed Reed who are simply taking the fines as they come as he continues to play hard knock football the way he always has. There are going to be two outcomes to this approach, either they fold under what they are “being taught”, or they will ignore the attempt at learned behavior.

As I have learned more about this field the more I have come to understand the power that comes with this style of therapy. Many people can be considered to be in a vulnerable state when they enter into therapy, and there is much power available to the therapist with behavior therapy. The powers to manipulate and control others who essentially need you more than you need them. The power to be able to teach someone or something to act a certain way if you know how to play your cards right. It takes a person of integrity and responsibility to make sure they are conducting their practice in a helpful manner and not one of manipulation.

This field continues to be greatly interesting to me and I plan to continue learning, understanding, and applying behaviorism to my own future experiments and experiences.

Behaviorist Principles in Advertising

4 Commentsby   |  04.02.13  |  Student Posts

Behaviorism assumes that behavior is observable and can be associated with other observable events. Behaviorism also studies the correlation between stimuli, reaction, and consequence. Just like Watson caused the baby to feel fear at the sight of the rat in his experiment, many principles of Watson’s behaviorist theory are used in modern advertising. “Planting ideas” in someone’s mind is fairly simple if the person is open to the repetitive stimuli that are set upon them on something as convenient as a television. Based on the behaviorist theory an easy way manipulate consumers was through their emotions. Ads that make the consumer any strong emotion will force him or her to formulate an opinion on the product being advertised. Advertisers can control how we feel about a product by manipulating our emotions through the use of music, children, comedy, drama, authority figures, good acting, and essentially any type of influential cinema. The famous SPCA commercial in which Sarah McLachlan tearfully asks viewers to donate to this cause is a perfect example. It uses many of these factors. However, because of the intensity of the commercial, not only did it get people to pay to the cause but it caused an equal opposite reaction. Advertising is the idea that people judge things on the basis of their subjective experience. These experiences will form patterns of their behavior and habits such as donating to a cause. If this personal experience was pleasant a person would try to repeat it.  However, if it was an unpleasant one a person would try to avoid it. For many people, this commercial means pressing the channel button in order to not ruin their day. I know that it did for me. abc_scared_baby_blowing_nose_nt_110323_wg 04 05


1 Commentby   |  04.02.13  |  Student Posts

I am tempted to argue that we are nothing more than the sum of our actions simply because such a statement is so bold that it evokes in me a passionate defense. To think that I am nothing more than a reaction is depressing, demeaning, scary, upsetting; I’m not sure I can express the feeling of being reduced to behavior. In my opinion, the fact that we are able to think about the consequences of reducing ourselves is the weakness of behaviorism. What I enjoy is that there are extremes to this argument.

Technology. We claim that it has helped us advance as a society, but what does it mean to advance? What is the advantage to being able to communicate more efficiently? Perhaps it all comes down to saving human lives. But who are we to save people? Our ethics have changed with the technology. We believe that it is okay to prolong people’s lives. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want people to die on an operating table. I am grateful that we have developed medicine that help people live more peaceful lives even though though they have been diagnosed with death sentences such as Alzheimer’s. Are we playing God? Furthermore, we judge people when they refuse treatment. Some people might go as far to say that refusing treatment for a disease that can be cured is considered suicide when only decades ago there was no decision to be made. Why is that?

As we develop new ways to prolong life we develop a new set of ethics that teach us to value to life over death. So much for freedom of choice. Do you see the sociopolitical problem of behaviorism?

Is this a depressing post? Absolutely, but behaviorism does that. There is either an extreme advantage to understanding ourselves as a sum of our behavior or an there is an extreme disadvantage. You do not have to pick a side. It is our ability to think that protects us from the power of behaviorism to reduce us to what we are so afraid to admit to: nothing but the sum of our behaviors.

Blog 4: Psychoanalytic theory

1 Commentby   |  04.01.13  |  Student Posts

Kronk’s Dilemma


In this clip from the classic movie, The Emperor’s New Groove, one of the main and lovable characters, Kronk, is faced with a dilemma. The emperor has been turned into a llama and Kronk’s master, Yzma, has told him to dispose of the body of the emperor so she can rule the kingdom herself. Kronk is a faithful follower of Yzma and always does what she says but this time is a little different. Kronk is also a faithful follower of the emperor and does not want to kill him, thus he is faced with a dilemma. After dumping the body in the river he debates internally, “should I save the emperor or should I let him go?” This internal dialogue is captured externally by the representations of an angel and a devil on Kronk’s shoulders.


To me this is just like the id, ego, and super-ego. In this situation the devil plays the role of the id saying things like “look what I can do!” “Just do it!!!” This is Kronk’s impulsive thoughts without a filter or thoughts of consequences for others. Kronk, himself, is acting as the ego. He mediates between the angel and devil, finally deciding to make the decision himself after listening to both sides. Finally, the angel is the super-ego. He promotes morals and the right thing to do which would obviously be to save the emperor, instead of killing him.


I believe this is a great representation of how we make decisions every day. You weigh the options between impulses, morals, and a mediator before deciding on which one to go with.


I don’t mean to ruin the movie but Kronk goes with the super-ego and saves the emperor. Classic.

Blog 3: Evolutionary Psychology

2 Commentsby   |  03.06.13  |  Student Posts

The evolutionary theory, like all theories, is an attempt to make sense of what we see around us. It is simply another doorway that was opened with the intent of leading us to truth. Evolution’s impact on psychology is simply a reflection of what may have happened with our behavior that branches from the evolution of our bodies. I do not think evolutionary psychology is the key to understanding behavior, but it may explain why some phenomena occur. For instance, National Geographic release a documentary on babies’ development in the for 12 months of life, and they found that when you stand an infant up on its feet, it begins to walk. It seemingly loses the ability to do so around 3 or 4 months, but if you put it in water, it starts to walk again. It could be that the baby has some innate idea that it should walk, which could be explained through evolution. But like many other things, evolution still only explains “how,” but never gets to the core idea of “why.” Personally, I think some concepts in evolution could be helpful if they are accurate, but since no one can prove any theory of origin, for now, the theory evolution is just another possibility of life.

Raymond Lowe: Blog #3 – EP

4 Commentsby   |  03.06.13  |  Student Posts

I thought that the concept of Evolutionary Psychology has a lot of merit, but that it lacks in other areas. The best example that I noticed came from last classes reading. My article said, “Evolution may explain our capacity to hold these principles [systems of morality and meaning and purpose] and beliefs, but it does not explain the principles and beliefs themselves. This was an important explanation for me, because it gave up the idea that the theory was perfect. Plus, it is an easier way to explain and understand the idea of what Evolutionary Psychology is and what is has to offer. Knowing the evolution of the brain and how it developed is critical, but understanding that it does not explain the evolution of thoughts, which adapted from different times, cultures, and races, is just as crucial. As psychology continues to advance, then maybe someday thoughts can be integrated into Evolutionary Psychology in a way that is both logical and rational. But for now, we must suffice for the current state of EP.

Self-Titled EP: Blog 3

2 Commentsby   |  03.05.13  |  Student Posts

Evolutionary psychology is a field of thought that has tendrils reaching into many other fields, although it is questionable how applicable evolutionary theory really is to some of those fields. An example of an issue that many feel evolutionary psychology does not have anything reasonable to say is religion. Although I do believe that evolutionary psychology, in congruence with social evolution, implies and explains many things relevant to religion, I do have a few questions regarding some of the conclusions people occasionally arrive at, as well as the steps they take to reach those ends.

One specific question I have is in relation to the idea that people act selfless and moral in order to gain approval from potential mates and society as a whole. This idea leads fairly directly down a logical path to the explanation of religion as just an organized example of that evolutionary trait, as do other ideas. However, I see evolutionary theory as completely incapable of explaining most religions, especially those with strict moral codes. For example, in Islamic traditions, cowardice is heavily frowned upon – which makes sense from the perspective that prioritizes the benefit of society, but not at all from a personal genetic standpoint. Similarly, Christian views hold that a man should have only one wife, and vice-versa. This could not have developed from an evolutionary basis, as the goal of a male from the evolutionary stand-point is to have as many mates as possible.

I am not saying that the existence of these moral codes disproves evolutionary psychology, far from it. I just think that if evolution were all that guides our behaviors, these religious traditions would never have developed. Therefore, there must be something else going on as well.