Summer Fun With Psychology

General Psychology – Summer '10

Correlation and Causation

June 23rd, 2010

As I mentioned in class, your average person on the street is constantly confusing correlation and causation.  I see this kind of mistake all the time in news stories, and it makes me absolutely insane.  In fact, it happens so often, comic strip writers are now poking fun at us for this all too common error.

It would be great if we could all just live in Colorado and then have healthy weights and be able to avoid the myriad health problems that occur with obesity, but it just doesn’t’ work that way.  This is an example of that third variable problem I mentioned.  It’s likely that many of the people who live in Colorado have active lifestyles.  if you’re active, you’re less likely to be overweight.  Active people everywhere have lower rates of obesity – there just may be more of them living in Colorado than in other places.  Moving there without also changing your lifestyle won’t solve this problem.

Where have you seen people mistaking correlation for causation?

Hindsight Bias

June 23rd, 2010

So I happen to be searching around the web today and I happened to come across this rather funny comic strip ad that made me want to laugh a little, but more importantly I noticed that HEY!  this was something we learned in genpsych. today about hindsight bias. Hindsight bias is the typical “I told you so” or the “I knew it all along” phenomenon. Many times people pretended to actually know something all along when they really didn’t, this is a perfect example of hindsight bias. For instance  in this comic strip the two gentlemen are talking about how they knew the Bali bombing was going to happen and that they couldn’t believe that the government wasn’t able to foresee it, but in actuality they really knew nothing about the bombing. This just proves that when something embarrassing or something unexpected happens as individuals we try and justify it by claiming the situation as something inevitable or predictable. Which poses my next question why are people so  caught up in this whole ” I knew it all along” phenomenon?  Is it simply just because people want to be always right? or is it that people’s need to be right is much more stronger than their ability to be objective?

Hindsight Bias

June 23rd, 2010

So I happen to be searching around the web today and I happened to come across this rather funny comic strip ad that made me want to laugh a little, but more importantly I noticed that HEY!  this was something we learned in genpsych. today about hindsight bias. Hindsight bias is the typical “I told you so” or the “I knew it all along” phenomenon. Many times people pretended to actually know something all along when they really didn’t, this is a perfect example of hindsight bias. For instance  in this comic strip the two gentlemen are talking about how they knew the Bali bombing was going to happen and that they couldn’t believe that the government wasn’t able to foresee it, but in actuality they really knew nothing about the bombing. This just proves that when something embarrassing or something unexpected happens as individuals we try and justify it by claiming the situation as something inevitable or predictable. Which poses my next question why are people so  caught up in this whole ” I knew it all along” phenomenon?  Is it simply just because people want to be always right? or is it that people’s need to be right is much more stronger than their ability to be objective?

Shane Botwin knows Psuedoscience

June 22nd, 2010

This video is from one of my favorite tv series, Weeds. It begins with Nancy, Shane's mom, ripping up the naked pictures from her younger years that she found found her son masturbating to. What makes the situation even more disturbing, is that she finds out her older son, Silas, is having sex with a woman Nancy's age. The rest of the video is her awkward speech to the both of them about "sex with our mothers." I thought this video would be funny to do a blog on, considering we all know how much Dr. Erchill LOOOVES Freud. In line 1:27 of Nancy's speech she says "and according to Freud lots of people want to have sex with thier mother." Nancy's horrible parenting skills has led her to remidiate the situation by saying it's okay through the use of Psuedoscience. Since we do not have evidence backing Freud's popular claim to the Oedipus nature of having the hots for our mothers, it is therefore considered Psuedoscience. So my question for you is, do lots of people use Psuedoscience as a way to back claims just because of popular belief, even though it holds little to no evidentiary standing? :)

Shane Botwin knows Psuedoscience

June 22nd, 2010

This video is from one of my favorite tv series, Weeds. It begins with Nancy, Shane's mom, ripping up the naked pictures from her younger years that she found found her son masturbating to. What makes the situation even more disturbing, is that she finds out her older son, Silas, is having sex with a woman Nancy's age. The rest of the video is her awkward speech to the both of them about "sex with our mothers." I thought this video would be funny to do a blog on, considering we all know how much Dr. Erchill LOOOVES Freud. In line 1:27 of Nancy's speech she says "and according to Freud lots of people want to have sex with thier mother." Nancy's horrible parenting skills has led her to remidiate the situation by saying it's okay through the use of Psuedoscience. Since we do not have evidence backing Freud's popular claim to the Oedipus nature of having the hots for our mothers, it is therefore considered Psuedoscience. So my question for you is, do lots of people use Psuedoscience as a way to back claims just because of popular belief, even though it holds little to no evidentiary standing? :)

Myers-Briggs and Correlation

June 22nd, 2010

I’m very interested in the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator.  On the Wikipedia page on the Myers-Briggs there is the following table which works with the correlation between the different MB scales and the “big five” personality traits:

Extraversion Openness Agreeableness Conscientiousness Neuroticism
E-I -.74 .03 -.03 .08 .16
S-N .10 .72 .04 -.15 -.06
T-F .19 .02 .44 -.15 .06
J-P .15 .30 -.06 -.49 .11
The closer the number is to 1.0 or -1.0, the higher the degree of correlation.

The table helps to show the ideas of correlation we discussed today in class.  Although I do not have access to the original article (“Reinterpreting the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator From the Perspective of the Five-Factor Model of Personality”), the numbers can still be used to gain information using what we now know about correlation.

The bolded numbers were deemed to have “strong” correlation.  Thus the Myers-Briggs doesn’t test for neuroticism (if it did there would be a bolded number in the neuroticism column).  However it does test for extroversion explicitly (the first letter is E for extrovert or I for introvert).  Interestingly agreeableness is strongly correlated with the T-F aspect of the MBTI, conscientiousness with the J-P and openness with the S-N.  However, I would have found this information more helpful if it had shown explicitly how to apply the information to a specific MB type.  For example, is an ENFP, extroverted, open, and agreeable but not particularly conscientious?  I think that’s the correct way to interpret the results, but I’m not sure.  Although it is likely that these results cannot be applied to an individual since they could be part of the population that goes against the given correlation.

Myers-Briggs and Correlation

June 22nd, 2010

I’m very interested in the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator.  On the Wikipedia page on the Myers-Briggs there is the following table which works with the correlation between the different MB scales and the “big five” personality traits:

Extraversion Openness Agreeableness Conscientiousness Neuroticism
E-I -.74 .03 -.03 .08 .16
S-N .10 .72 .04 -.15 -.06
T-F .19 .02 .44 -.15 .06
J-P .15 .30 -.06 -.49 .11
The closer the number is to 1.0 or -1.0, the higher the degree of correlation.

The table helps to show the ideas of correlation we discussed today in class.  Although I do not have access to the original article (“Reinterpreting the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator From the Perspective of the Five-Factor Model of Personality”), the numbers can still be used to gain information using what we now know about correlation.

The bolded numbers were deemed to have “strong” correlation.  Thus the Myers-Briggs doesn’t test for neuroticism (if it did there would be a bolded number in the neuroticism column).  However it does test for extroversion explicitly (the first letter is E for extrovert or I for introvert).  Interestingly agreeableness is strongly correlated with the T-F aspect of the MBTI, conscientiousness with the J-P and openness with the S-N.  However, I would have found this information more helpful if it had shown explicitly how to apply the information to a specific MB type.  For example, is an ENFP, extroverted, open, and agreeable but not particularly conscientious?  I think that’s the correct way to interpret the results, but I’m not sure.  Although it is likely that these results cannot be applied to an individual since they could be part of the population that goes against the given correlation.

James Randi – Attractive Lies

June 22nd, 2010

James Randi (pictured on pg 17), is a self proclaimed counjourer who shows psychic phenomena to be false.  I watched this video by him last semester:

It deals with how to fool people visually (common name: magician), and how to fool them psychologically.  Randi is very against “psychics” and tries to convince his audience that they are not just harmless feel-good-ers, but that they are actually frauds and harmful to society.  In class today we talked about dousing and how it’s not a real science.  Randi would certainly agree, and would also put psychics in the same category.

We didn’t talk about why people want to believe in dousing and/or psychics.  One of the commenters mentioned the placebo effect, which is discussed on pg 35 of the text book.

I do believe however that he underestimates the benefits psychic fraud can have on our well being. If I am sick, all I want is to be treated. II do not really care if I am taking a placebo such as homeopathy or an actual useful treatment. If placebo does the trick, I am fine with that.

Perhaps the psychics simply provide the placebo effect.  Perhaps people like the idea of psychics so much they feel better by going to one.  But Randi argues that the placebo effect has a high monetary/emotional cost to the buyer.  Is it worth it to get upset about psychics?  Can they be helpful?  Are there studies that show not that psychics are fake, but that people do or do not benefit from them?  Does it matter if they work, or just that people believe that its true?

James Randi – Attractive Lies

June 22nd, 2010

James Randi (pictured on pg 17), is a self proclaimed counjourer who shows psychic phenomena to be false.  I watched this video by him last semester:

It deals with how to fool people visually (common name: magician), and how to fool them psychologically.  Randi is very against “psychics” and tries to convince his audience that they are not just harmless feel-good-ers, but that they are actually frauds and harmful to society.  In class today we talked about dousing and how it’s not a real science.  Randi would certainly agree, and would also put psychics in the same category.

We didn’t talk about why people want to believe in dousing and/or psychics.  One of the commenters mentioned the placebo effect, which is discussed on pg 35 of the text book.

I do believe however that he underestimates the benefits psychic fraud can have on our well being. If I am sick, all I want is to be treated. II do not really care if I am taking a placebo such as homeopathy or an actual useful treatment. If placebo does the trick, I am fine with that.

Perhaps the psychics simply provide the placebo effect.  Perhaps people like the idea of psychics so much they feel better by going to one.  But Randi argues that the placebo effect has a high monetary/emotional cost to the buyer.  Is it worth it to get upset about psychics?  Can they be helpful?  Are there studies that show not that psychics are fake, but that people do or do not benefit from them?  Does it matter if they work, or just that people believe that its true?

Test

June 22nd, 2010

This is Eunice

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