Author Archives: mkong

About mkong

I am a junior but sophomore by credit, majoring in psychology and minoring in business in hopes of going into human resources after graduation. I love singing, writing songs and dancing in my free time.

Cognitive Look at Whyy Some People Prefer Trump Over Clinton or Vice Versa

With the end of Obama’s term to serve as president is gradually coming to a close, people wonder who will be the next president of the United States.  This requires some reasoning and decision making from voters throughout the country.  How do people choose which candidate would make best president among a pool of candidates running?  It all revolves some cognitive thinking.  Perception is one of the biggest factors in helping people to decide who they deem worthy of the executive position.  Before voting, voters will often figure out which running candidate is most competent, or who is the most capable and how qualified the person is for the title in government.   It is common sense to know that most people vote on a candidate based on their style of leading.  The question is, do people choose candidates based off of physical traits or based on intuitive traits. From the beginning of human evolution, judging people and animals based on their physical traits has been a natural process that used to differentiate harmless animals or people from predators or enemies.  This perception of their physical traits then affects what we think of all internal traits of candidates such as their political abilities.  This is unfair to some candidates because people think they are making rational decisions, when really, the majority of people are voting on the person whose face is most appealing and looks like a face that could be seen as a possible coined leader.

Researchers have conducted an experiment to see if judging a person’s face typically leads to thoughts about that person as a whole.  They had participants rate the level of competence of each candidate for Senate between years 200-2004 and found that the more often and longer the participants were exposed to seeing the faces of particular candidates, the more often the exposed candidates were chosen as more competent.  This explains why some people may choose candidates in our current election more than other candidates such as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  There are people who ask each other why in the world anyone would vote for Hillary Clinton? Or why would anyone vote for Donald Trump? These two candidates are in the lead and they most likely received most votes out of all candidates thanks to their facial features and their externally-appealing political leadership style.  So why do people choose some candidates over others? People judge books by their covers, which colors the internal pages of the character and competence levels of candidates.   

It has also been shown that physical differences in the brain can predetermine which candidate a person would vote for.  The thought process of conservative voters is more amygdala and fear-based, while liberal minds focus more on the gray between black and white situations and their opinions are colored by new information.  This however is not the only reason people prefer a candidate from others.  People also like different leadership styles. For example, Donald Trump voters like a leader who is good at articulating his vision directly and concisely.  Cruz voters prefer a leader who is good at articulating his faith and at the same time his vision.  People prefer different candidates due to a variety of physical differences in their brains, liking a certain type of leadership style and because of perception judgments.  




Stop Slapping Those Keys and Use Your Pen

A rising freshmen is visiting a college they are interested in. They sit in on a class, look around and notice something about the students. Much like the way movies portray college students, the majority of the ones in class seem to be on their laptops taking notes. There is only a small portion of students who are jotting down notes in their notebooks, as the teacher is lecturing. Recent findings have shown that people who take the time to physically write notes on a paper tend to be able to recall information better than those who take notes electronically. Guess the old fashioned way of taking notes throughout history beats new ways of taking notes on technology! People who take notes on a computer typically has more notes, in comparison to those who write.

Can it be arguably supported that students who write notes down with a paper and pen actually get more out of class lectures? In cognitive psychology, acts such as writing notes down transfers to the hippocampus, which is where information will be encoded, stored and eventually retrieved during test time. There are two different types of memories, implicit and explicit, which both work differently. Implicit memory focuses more on perception of the world around. On the other hand, explicit memory focuses on the meaning, concepts and stays in long-term memory. In a study that Mueller and Oppenheimer conducted, the notes that people on laptops took showed higher amounts of verbatim, which shows that there is a lower level of retaining the information in their memory. Both students who took notes on paper and on their laptop took a test after sitting in a lecture, for the experiment. The results showed that people who took notes by hand had more conceptual understanding and therefore learned more. The increase in conceptual comprehension in people who write notes show that they store material in their explicit memory, which is where long term memory stores information as well. Hence, there is a better chance for theses students to recall information better on tests.

Why do so many students take notes on their laptops then? People deem the use of technology as a new efficient way of recording notes. They are also able to record notes faster than by hand.  Henceforth are able to record more notes in detail. The answer may seem convincing, but overall it is best not to fall for these reasons and it is better to just switch to writing notes down.

Students who take notes by hand write slower, thereby forcing them to efficiently and mentally summarize key points of information into concise sentences or bullets. There are less levels of verbatim in their notes as a result. They are then able to encode information better and in a more meaningful way, summarizing information in their own words or chunk information in a way that is more memorable. When information is encoded with meaning, there is a better chance of later recalling the information.

With ever advancing technology in our generation today, it is most likely to be expected that not as many people will revert back to taking notes by hand. However, there is hope that people may switch from typing up notes to writing them out on their tablets or computers with a stylus. Students will still have the opportunity to write down notes, not necessarily on paper, but the effect will be the same. By handwriting notes, students can better avoid excessive information and have a higher chance in recalling information on tests.

Obesity is the New Blame for Bad Memory?

It is evident that nowadays with the ever advancing technology, there seems to be more work and less time to tackle what we need to get done. With an increase in work and decrease in the amount of time to accomplish tasks, there is less time for cooking healthy meals. With less time to cook, fast food restaurants are higher in demand. This results in obesity becoming one of the biggest problems in the United States today.

According to Science Daily’s article, “Being Overweight Linked to Poorer Memory”, research has shown that obesity can actually have an affect on certain parts of the brain that are linked to memory, both structurally and functionally. The hippocampus, which is linked with memory, and the frontal lobe, linked with making decisions, become impaired. From reports of research by the Department of Psychology at Cambridge, corpulence does not affect all types of memory. The episodic memory becomes dysfunctional. Episodic memory is one type out of many types of memory focusing on episodes and experiences in life. In order to remember something, a person must undergo three processes. When information is received from our senses, for instance touching a boiling pot on the stove for the first time, we code it and understand what just happened. The brain then needs to store the information and keep a record of it for a long time. The last process is retrieval or being able to pull out information from storage.

The researchers had 50 participants ranging in weight, hide items around complex places. They were later asked to remember what items they hide, where they hid them and when. The results supported the idea that people suffering with obesity tend to have impaired ability to retrieve information from their episodic memory that can have an effect on their daily lives. Most overweight people are less likely able to relive details of their past. Episodic memory can actually be linked to maintenance of appetites and feeding behavior.

Having a high body mass not only has a detrimental effect physically, but now mentally as well. Attention span has apparently also been linked to how obesity can start in the first place. Distractions such as television while eating can cause people to eat more, not focused on keeping track of how much has been eaten. Study has shown that forgetting recent past events, such as the last eaten meal can affect how much a person will overeat later, whether it be a meal or midnight snack.

It is beneficial that research and findings on this case has recently been found, as obesity quickly becomes an increasing problem throughout America. If the data from this study and other studies supporting this finding was not found until decades later, it could be too late in the future to prevent this problem from wide spreading further. It is important to find the origin of overeating initially before anything else, in order to combat the problem at it’s root. For example, an overload of work and studying for a final exam could be causing stress eating, leading to overeating and detrimental effects on physical, as well as mental health. The researchers had studied using 50 participants. However, the results should be further investigated with many more participants from different places of America and perhaps other areas of the world to further prove accuracy the linkage between obesity and memory failure. My hope in reading this research is that obesity as a major problem in America’s population will decrease, as more research is found on this case, eventually leading to a big solution.