Author Archives: jennmoreland

Prejudice: Are We in Control?

Growing up I always heard “Don’t judge a book by the cover!” After the countless times hearing that I started to understand what it meant. It means do not make assumptions about others until you have had the chance to get to know them, seems simple, right? However, can you think back on a time where you had a preconceived opinion either towards another individual or activity? Has anyone ever had a preconceive opinion about you or the things you enjoy? We do not always have full control of our thoughts. We are easily influenced by other factors.

Hard to Think Straight: Processing Prejudice an article written by Wray Herbert looks into the role that heuristics and bias play into everyday life. In class we talked about how we are more attracted to anything that is easy for us to process easily. This is supported in his article where he talks about the simplest things such as food labels and rollercoasters with long, hard to pronounce names are unappealing to us. This is the same for more important things such as stocks, long-term investments, etc. Herbert describes this as the familiarity heuristic and fluency bias. The familiarity heuristic is where an individual is faced with a situation they have once experienced and so they feel the need to act in the same way they did before. Fluency bias is where an individual is bias towards information that is easily processed.

As the article continues it dips into a study done by two UCLA scientists, David Lick and Kerri Johnson. Lick and Johnson were interested in researching how heuristics and bias affect our personal judgments. Humans are naturally organized people. We feel the need to categorize everything. It just seems to make life easier and most of the time, we do not even realize that we are doing it. The example used in the article is how we as individuals categorize other individuals. “We all categorize people who we encounter — put them in boxes like gay or intelligent or masculine or white. It’s simplistic to pigeonhole complex human beings, but it’s one of the tools we have for making quick sense of the world.” During their experiment Lick and Johnson found that gays were less favorable than those who identified as straight. This is because naturally the human mind sees individuals who identify as straight to be the norm. People that identify as gay are seen as violating the norm, which is complicated for the human mind and takes longer to be processed. They found the same to be true for those of different races. I saw this also as group attribution bias. I think this because they are essentially saying that everyone in those categorizes we create are the same and posses the same traits. I also see availabilty heuristics apply as well. This is because in media and other sources you see minorities and social norms singled out and categorized more frequently than others. After we see media posts and broadcasts, or even hear others talking about these different categorizes of people. We are more likely to categorize them in that way as well.



(This video does not pertain directly to race and sexuality however the idea is similar.)

Found while doing the study was, English speakers who had some type of accent were less likely to be believed by others than those who did not have an accent, and people with easy to say names were more favored than those who had harder to say names.

I thought the article was very interesting especially after class discussions. I find it very interesting that we judge and favor individuals and other things based off how easy their traits or the idea of them is to process. After reading a question came to my mind. If we favor things that violate the social norms, eventually if we are introduced and accustomed to the social norms that are instilled now, will this fluency bias go away? Will prejudice fade as well?


Herbert, Wray. “Hard to Think Straight: Processing Prejudice.” The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 16 Apr.2015.

I Remember It Like It Was Yesterday….

It is inevitable that at some point down the road in your life, a very unexpected traumatic incident will take place, leaving you forever with the memory the event. These memories as we learned about in class, are known as flashbulb memories. The textbook defines flashbulb memories as “memories of extraordinary clarity, typically for highly emotional events, retained despite the passage of many years”.

However, there is a debate on whether these flashbulb memories are accurate or not. After our class discussion over flashbulb memories, I was really interested in reading more on flashbulb memories to better understand their accuracy. While researching the topic, I found an article that really caught my eyes. The main focus of the article is on flashbulb memories and the 9/11 terrorist’s attacks.

In the article begins by discussing the origin of these flashbulb memories. The first traumatic incident that sparked interest and research on flashbulb memories was the assassination of John F. Kennedy during his presidency in 1963. Other highly emotional and traumatic incidents that resulted in flashbulb memories include the Challenger space shuttle explosion, the death of Princess Diana, and the terrorist’s attacks.

As the article continues, the reliability and accuracy of flashbulb memories are examined. After the 9/11 attacks, a study took place at Duke University where students were asked questions about their memories of 9/11 and their everyday memory promptly after the incident. In groups of 18 the students were asked the same questions after a period of time. One group answered the questions a week later, another answered six weeks later, and the last answered thirty-two weeks later. The study found that both types of memory, everyday and flashbulb, both declined over a time period. However, they found the participants were very confident in the accuracy of the memories of 9/11 than they were of their everyday memories. What I found most interesting while reading this section of the article was how they inferred that our current outlooks on the situation change our memory of our initial and previous outlook of the situation. For example, in the article the influence of social media and news media were concluded to have influence on our memory. Since the incident would be reported and talked about by many different sources and people, your memory might start to accept those concepts while not even realizing it. They also used a very good example for explaining how your views on the incident now verses your initial views could change your memory. The example they used was asking people in a relationship if they were happy and were satisfied with their relationship. Many would report yes, but if you were to go back and re-ask the same people from that relationship after they broke up many would say that they were not right for each other etc.

The next assumption that is made in the article is that even though flashbulb memories might not be completely accurate, they are extremely vivid and detailed. They believe that this is because of emotion. A study was done on people who were in downtown Manhattan (close to the twin towers) and far away (midtown). The brains of participants were scanned using fMRI technology. From this they saw that for every participant, there was activity in the hippocampus when recalling memories not about 9/11. The hippocampus, we know from class, deals with every day memory. The midtown participants did use their hippocampus when recalling 9/11 and downtown participants used their amygdala. From class we also know that the amygdala is involved with formation of emotional memories. From this they concluded that those who have higher emotional connections and ties to the event would have overall better memory of what happened.

Even though this article was mainly about memories of 9/11, the results can still be applied to other traumatic events that result in false memories. The section I found to be the most interesting was how even though tests have shown flashbulb memories and regular memory become less accurate over time, people are very certain on their flashbulb memories. It made sense to me how if you are more emotionally connected to a traumatic event that would remember more about what actually happened in depth than someone who was not as connected. The influence of media was another interesting section. I was aware about how media influences your views on certain topics but I never thought to think that it could influence how you remember a certain event. Maybe with knowing this people can improve their memory by being more cautious of the things they believe.




Concussions and Memory/Amnesia

Today in the Athletic community and sports medicine the major topic of discussion revolves around concussions. The Mayo Clinic describes a concussion as a traumatic brain injury that is caused by a hard blow or jolt to your head, neck, or upper body causing your brain to forcefully slide back and forth against the inner walls of your skull. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the brain is cushioned by cerebrospinal fluid within our skulls, however when the brain comes in contact with the inner side of the skull potential for tearing of blood vessels, pulling of nerve fibers and bruising of the brain substance arises.


In an interview with Neuropsychologist Christian Ambler, he mentions how research done in the United States reviled the number of annual incidence of sport related concussions is estimated to be around 300,000. Concussion awareness has become more prominent in the recent years as more research and development has been performed. Due to this athletes are now required to take an ImPACT test before they are able to participate in sports. The safety of athletes has also rose dramatically in the last few years. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons released a list of twenty sports and recreational activities that resulted in the highest estimated number of head injuries in US hospitals during 2009.


Cycling: 85,389

Football: 46,948

Baseball and Softball: 38,394

Basketball: 34,692

Water Sports (Diving, Scuba Diving, Surfing, Swimming, Water Polo, Water Skiing, Water Tubing): 28,716

Powered Recreational Vehicles (ATVs, Dune Buggies, Go-Carts, Mini bikes, Off-road): 26,606

Soccer: 24,184

Skateboards/Scooters: 23,114

Fitness/Exercise/Health Club: 18,012

Winter Sports (Skiing, Sledding, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling): 16,948

Horseback Riding: 14,466

Gymnastics/Dance/Cheerleading: 10,223

Golf: 10,035

Hockey: 8,145

Other Ball Sports and Balls, Unspecified: 6,883

Trampolines: 5,919

Rugby/Lacrosse: 5,794

Roller and Inline Skating: 3,320

Ice Skating: 4,608


Concussions are known for tampering with memory. Memory problems usually occur when the injury is to the temporal lope of the brain. While reading an article on, I found that the temporal lobe is the section of the brain that is most likely to become bruised resulting from a head injury. Showing why problems with memory occur as the result of a concussion. They compared this bruising to a physical bruise by saying “like a black and blue mark on your arm or leg, these bruises will recover with time.”


People who have been diagnosed with a concussion experience amnesia, although at different levels of severity. As we learned in class, amnesia can be defined as the distinction between explicit and implicit memory. There are three types of amnesia, first is post traumatic amnesia which means there is a space from when the initial injury occurred to the time the person is able to make continuous memories where the person is unable to recall what happened. This can last from several minutes to days. The next type is retrograde amnesia where the person is unable to remember events before the injury. The last type is called anterograde amnesia where the person is unable to remember new information. This form of amnesia seems to be limited to explicit memory while leaving implicit memory unaffected. If a patient suffers from retrograde amnesia after a concussion they are unable to access old long-term memories and if they suffer from anterograde amnesia they are unable to remember experiences after the injury.


As an athlete, I grew up playing softball until the last couple months when I started to play rugby. I never believed that concussions were that serious rather I thought they were just like any other bump or soreness I was feeling. I am glad that with time more research is being done to improve the safety of athletes and their brains on the field.



The following links are where I gathered my information.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder



Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is quickly becoming one of the most common disorders. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is most commonly diagnosed in school age children. However, some people are not diagnosed until they are in adulthood. Some people believe that ADHD is not really a disorder but rather a social problem. This is interesting to me because I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 17.


Research shows that there are three subtypes. There is predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive and combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, studies are being performed to see what causes ADHD. It is believed that it is genetic but tests are being performed to look at more factors such as nutrition, social environment and brain injuries.


The National Institute of Mental Health states that ADHD affects about 4.1% of adults and 9% of children between the ages of 13 -18. In an article from psychology today the topic of ADHD and cognitive functions combined with todays school system is discussed.


Teachers and school administration often refer to simple classroom disruptions as side effects of ADHD, yet this could just be an instance of classroom boredom. Due to this common misconception, parents often overlook their children’s hyperactivity as an exaggerated diagnosis and choose not to have their children tested. By adolescence, these disruptions appear significantly lesser as children learn how to better behave themselves in classrooms, and therefore by adulthood, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is easier to identify because the characteristics tend to be more prominent.


Studies are continuously being done to see if there is a more accurate way to find a more concrete cause for ADHD and alternative way to treat the disorder. Below are the sources used during my research.