Author Archives: abolen

Proposals and Decision Making

Marriage is generally believed to be a lifelong commitment. One of my best friends recently turned down an engagement from her boyfriend of nearly three years. Her rejection of the proposal did not make sense to me, so I decided to look into some of the research on decision making and marriage proposals. After reading many articles, I found some particularly interesting reasons to explain why many proposals are rejected. The media often portrays a proposal as an obvious and automatic response, but this is not always the case for rational thinkers. A reason-based choice is the idea that people make a decision only when they detect what they believe to be a persuasive reason for making that choice. The article focuses on some people not being certain that they are ready for marriage, or if they want to be with this partner for the rest of their life. If there are no distinct reasons to agreeing to a marriage proposal, then it is more likely for a rejection to follow. Another aspect to consider is that proposals are often surprising, which can make it difficult to think rationally and reach an appropriate conclusion.

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This article also points out that a rejection on the spot does not necessarily mean the marriage will never happen, but that more time is needed to be sure of commitment. The concept of problem-solving can also be applied. Problem solving refers to deciding on a goal and carrying out steps to reach that goal. In this case, the goal would be to decide if the partner has potential to be a life-long mate, or if there needs to be a breakup. Some steps to carry out the goal would be to share feelings, communicate effectively, and get opinions from other family or friends. After completing those steps, the goal of making a decision should be completed.

The article also illustrates that it is important to weigh the pros and cons of being in a relationship with someone when sitting on the fence of deciding to continue moving forward or not. According to utility maximization, many decisions are made by choosing the option with the greatest expected value. For this important decision, it would be important to think about if the positive aspects of the relationship are greater than the negatives. This article states that negative traits such as aggression and extreme dominance can be difficult to be outweighed by other positive traits such as status and passion.


I think it is important to rationallydecide on an answer to a marriage proposal. What do you think?


Exemplars and Prototypes

One thing that cognitive psychology has taught me is just how fascinating the brain actually is. It is truly amazing how much mental growth takes place in just a few short years. Working with children for many years, I have always been interested in how decision-making shifts from when a child is young to becoming an adolescent. After browsing through some research, it appears that both the use of exemplars and prototypes are components of the decision- making process for kids. Learning during the early years involves more use of exemplars. With experience, averaging exemplars into prototypes becomes a much easier task to accomplish. The large age difference of the kids that I nanny for can be used to explain these concepts. For example, Harper is three and Cami is thirteen, these girls have different abilities of grasping detailed tasks. If I ask Harper to go grab the scalloped salad fork this is too detailed of information for her to grasp. Her representations are not strong enough to understand what is being asked. On the other hand, Cami would be able to retrieve the scalloped dinner fork. Cami can bring back the correct fork since she has many more experiences with different types of forks. It is through a great deal of experience that Cami is able to successfully complete the task. While being too specific can be problematic, so can being too general when giving directions. Asking for someone to bring over silverware could result in a spoon, fork, or knife to be retrieved. Therefore, it is important to use the proper amount of detail when giving children of various ages instructions to complete different tasks.

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In larger families, it is often common that siblings are expected to take on more responsibilities than other children of the same age. When tasks or chores are not completed successfully, frustration from parents can arise. Is it really appropriate for parents to be upset if they are asking for more than what is expected of a child? It can be extremely difficult for a child to fulfill extraneous demands if they do not have the proper representations. An article by Betsch and colleagues exemplifies that the mind of a child is like a toolbox. Their study explains that as children get older, the toolbox expands and concepts become more clear. Thus, it is necessary to evaluate what are realistic and appropriate expectations for children of different ages.

Based on the information above, do you think that it is difficult to know and understand what are proper demands of children?


First Impressions and Memory


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First impressions can have a lot of influence over what individuals become major parts of our lives. Human beings have so many distinct and unique features, so it is extremely difficult to remember all of them about even just one person. A lot of statements said during Dr. Hampton’s surprise visit really got me thinking about how much of a role memory plays into first impressions.

After looking for articles that supported my original thoughts, I found this really interesting article that introduces a suggestion that first impressions can be reversed. Previous studies have indicated that implicit first impressions are difficult to update or overturn. More recent studies show that these impressions can be reversed within a short time window from the original impression. One study examines implicit first impressions being reversed through reinterpretation of earlier learning (Mann & Ferguson, 2017). This reversal was only demonstrated in the same experimental session in which the impression formed. The finding suggests that reversing implicit first impressions might be possible only within a brief temporal window and when memory about the original impression is strongest (Mann & Ferguson, 2017). This particular study tested whether implicit first impressions could be reversed through reinterpretation after a delay of two days following the presentation of original information. The results indicated that implicit reversals emerged after the two-day delay. Even those who had poor explicit recall or who were not cued to recall were able to do the reversal.

One relatable topic between the lecture and the article is state-dependent learning. State-dependent learning is referred to as a phenomenon relating to information storage and retrieval restricted to discrete states (Radulovic, Jovasevic, & Meyer, 2017). In more simple terms, state-dependent learning is learning best when conditions are the same at both encoding and recall. In the Mann and Ferguson article, the impressions were able to be reversed when the conditions were the same. I think it would be interesting to see if the results uphold if the original encoding and the recall are not in the same experimental set-up. Personally, I believe the ability to reverse impressions would be less effective if the encoding and recall took place in different locations.

I found this article to be particularly interesting because I was only familiar with how first impressions are formed. First impressions often occur within in just seconds of meeting a new person. Since this process already occurs so rapidly, it is interesting to think about if first impressions can be successfully reversed or not. I think this article demonstrates that memory is a fascinating topic with many aspects that still need to be explored with future research.

Based on this article and information learned in class, do you think it is likely that first impressions can be reversed if encoding and recall occur in different environments?



Mann, T. C., & Ferguson, M. J. (2017). Reversing implicit first impressions through      reinterpretation after a two-day delay. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 68, 122-127.

Radulovic, J., Jovasevic, V., & Meyer, A. A. (2017). Neurobiological mechanisms of state-dependent learning. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 45, 92-98.

Exploring Autism

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For eight years I have worked for a family with children on the autism spectrum. Autism is a term that is not easy to explain or define. Even with tons of research, so many aspects of autism are still unknown.

Many articles about this topic involve descriptions of various brain structures. The hippocampus is one highly studied area of the brain. A study involving eight to twelve year old children found that the hippocampus of children with autism is larger when compared to the control group. The study also found that the size difference of the hippocampus diminishes as children get older.

Declarative memory is also associated with the hippocampus. People with autism are often able to remember general facts without a problem. Having the capability to remember facts can help those with autism to develop social scripts. These scripts can be useful for daily tasks, such as remembering how to behave in different social settings. Creating social scripts can help people with autism to successfully introduce themselves when meeting new people. On the other hand, those with autism do have a hard time with autobiographical information, which is also a part of memory. A lot of specific details do not tend to stick in the minds of people that are on the autism spectrum.

Flexibility of switching thought processes is also difficult for those with autism. In particular, it is the rapid transition from internal thoughts and the external world that pose difficulties. The article mentions that deciding what to say next in a conversation is a decision which happens in just seconds, making it difficult for the brain to switch thought processes.

This article also points out that much more research on autism and the brain is still to be done. Some more recent work has been done on rats, but not yet humans. Perhaps research in the future will expand on this topic. (picture)