Author Archives: msuprise

Decision Making 101

Decision-making is a tough experience that we all participate in on a daily basis. Factors like time, attention, and values are all factors that play a part in how and when we make decisions. Decisions can be automatic or made quickly because of mental shortcuts we have developed, Decisions can also be made with control and take time to come to a conclusion. Because there are many dimensions to decision making, I decided it would be a good idea to include a fun video that begins to explains the depths of this process and how we can try to make better decisions:

This video describes decision making as a skill that can be taught. The most important thing I got out of this video was that we can teach ourselves to have sufficient perspectives, The five perspectives mentioned are our enemy, our gut, death, caution, and courage. Though these perspectives seem very specific and are something not mentioned in lecture, I believe that this can be a valid way to truly analyze a situation you encounter and make a rational decision. Though we may never make a perfect decision, these perspectives can help us make slightly better than average choices that we make without them.

Our enemy is important to keep in mind because they provide a sense of constructive criticism that can help motivate us to complete a decision. Our gut provides an initial answer to a decision and is important to consider because this unconscious reaction can be the best answer assuming it is based off of experience. A lot of us may not believe our gut if it has put us in a not-preferred position in the past, but our gut provides insight that we don’t always think about. Death is a scary perspective to keep in mind, but I like that this video described it as a habit that can highlight our responsibilities and give us motivation to take on challenges and make decisions. Caution is a timid perspective for decision making that we often pass by, but it recognizes that there are some limitations to the decisions we make, so it gives us a reality check. Finally, courage is the last perspective to take into consideration that I believe can be the most important one. Courage takes into consideration doing the unexpected and gambling with your decisions rather than taking the straight and narrow path.

Now the question is, how do these perspectives contrast to what we have learned in class? Though we discussed that decisions ultimately do not have a correct answer because they are based on personal values, I do think that looking at a decision from a perspective other than our own can be helpful when deciding. The suggestions in this video differ from what we learned in the sense that it encouraged us to use controlled thinking when making decisions. We learned that decision making involves a dual-process approach and different decisions can either be automatic or controlled based on whether they are big or small issues, but choosing the perspective avenue of decision making seems to be more of a system two approach. Also, choosing to look at different perspectives defy the aspect of bonded rationality and its concept of limited powers of reasoning. By looking at different perspectives, we can expand our reasoning and take more into consideration when making decisions.

To wrap everything up, decision-making is a complex process. By researching people and how they make decisions and even errors in decision making, this can provide insight into the norms that occur in decision making. Knowing the norms can be helpful, but it can also be worth-while to look into unique ways to make decisions, like the different perspectives view that this video proposed. I hope this post can help with your future decision making!

 

Sources in this post:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okdsAZUTJ94 (video)

 

Learning to Read: A Novel Concept

Reading is an essential skill to everyday life; it is a skill we use to learn information about the world and the things around us. Reading is also an important aspect of daily tasks such as driving, ordering from a menu, and even reading this blog post. Learning to read is one of the first things you do in the public school system, and it involves more than just memorization. 

In order to begin the complex process that is reading, you must first identify letters and link them to their corresponding sounds, which are called phonemes. Phonemic awareness is important because it is the ability to not only hear and identify the individual sounds that letters make, it is the ability to manipulate these qualities and create the entire word. For example, a child with little phonemic awareness would not be able to distinguish the “u” that is present in the word “sun” because they would be focusing on the sounds that the word starts and ends with, rather than interpreting the word as a whole.

Important skills that come along with phonemic awareness are blending and segmenting. We use blending to put together individual sounds or syllables in a word and segmenting is when we break down the entire word into individual sounds. When we first start to read, we start by using segmenting to understand what sounds certain letters make in words, then progress to blending to understand the word as a whole. By having these skills under our belts, we can perceive distinguishing features of similar words, such as “hat” and “bat”, and are able to decode, or sound out, the words that we read at a rapid speed.

The awareness that we gain about word and sound structure seems like a skill that anyone and everyone gains because of the repetitive practices in school, but there are some kids that do not have phonemic awareness just from their education. Most instances of a lack of phonemic awareness or delayed trouble with reading come from not practicing reading outside of the school environment. During the preschool years and early elementary school years, this is a critical time for children to be exposed to reading in order to prime them and stimulate the brain processes linked to reading. Even the simple task of reading a book to a child helps them begin to gain the skills essential for them to do the reading themselves.

Even when phonemic awareness is developed, there are still many skills that children or anyone learning how to read need in order to be a fluent reader. These skills include phonological awareness, sentence construction, reasoning, working memory, attention, and many more. The take-away from this blog post is that learning how to read is complicated and there are many components to go into being an articulate reader. 

 

Sources used in this blog:

https://www.readingrockets.org/article/how-do-children-learn-read

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evidence-based-living/201908/the-evidence-how-kids-learn-read 

https://me.me/i/sowhal-doldo-completely-revised-and-updated-how-to-read-a-22583241 (meme)

Memory Illusions: Will I Remember That?

When people think of illusions, they typically think of something like this:

This right here is an optical illusion, something that deceives the eye as appearing as something that it is actually not. What if I told you that your mind does the same thing that your eyes do in an optical illusion when it comes to memory? Well, pretty much the same thing, but more like the same concept if you catch my drift. Keep reading if you are a tad confused, I promise it will make more sense.

Your brain’s thoughts on memory often deceives itself by thinking that you can hold more or less information than you memory actually can. Have you ever heard something super important in class and didn’t bother to write it down because you thought it was important enough to remember at a later time, but that later time came and you cannot remember what in the world the lecture was even about in the first place? Have you ever known exactly what you wanted to buy from the grocery store and didn’t make a list, but the second you walk into the building, you forget that one really important ingredient you need to make your meal that night? If you’ve said yes to any of these situations or have found yourself in similar ones, you have overestimated your memory, and have been deceived.

By incorrectly judging your memory and how good it will be in the future, you are engaging in meta memory illusions, or “situations that lead people to consistently overestimate or underestimate their future memory of something”. When information is presented in a certain way, either in an obvious manner or as something that is important to us, this impacts how well people will predict they will remember the information, rather than how likely they will actually remember it.

When people judge whether or not something in bold text will be easier to remember, or whether they will remember something they heard at a loud volume, they are choosing to believe that if information is presented in a way that is easier to process, they will remember it in the future. Just because the information was easier to process and that you did not have to put in much effort to storing the information is exactly what leads to not being able to retrieve the information in the future.

This means that when information is processed with meaning behind it, the meaning is what helps with the future retrieval. If new information you learn can fit in with what you already know, this can also lead to better retrieval. There are some memory processes that help ease the initial information processing, like chunking, or taking individual pieces of information and grouping them into larger categories, but this still requires assigning meaning to those larger categories and thus giving meaning to the individual pieces of information.

Because you now know that it is not the ease of processing that helps us remember things in the future, and that it is meaning that helps us better retrieve information, you can try to better predict aspects of your memory and not give way to illusions. If by some chance you still don’t understand what was just in this blog post, take this one key finding away: it is better to be safe than sorry, always write down your grocery lists.

 

Sources used in this post:

https://brightside.me/wonder-curiosities/26-weird-optical-illusions-that-will-challenge-your-brain-626960/   (image)

https://theconversation.com/illusions-influence-our-predictions-about-how-well-well-remember-in-the-future-77825  (article)

Consciousness… Who Is She?

George Miller once said: “consciousness gives no clue as to where the answer comes from; the processes that produce it are unconscious. It is the result of thinking, not the process of thinking, that appears spontaneously in consciousness.”

When we think about something from the past, the fact that we know we are thinking is conscious processing, but the storage and retrieval of those memories is an unconscious process. When we walk, we consciously think of where we are walking to, but the fact that our legs are moving us in order to get to the place that we are thinking about is an unconscious process. How do these binary processes of thinking interact? What if the consciousness that we have is coming from our unconscious self? Is the binary split between our conscious and unconscious real? What comes first: consciousness or unconsciousness?

The matter of the fact is that because the intentional tasks that we do have unintentional aspects to them, both our conscious self and our unconscious processes interact in-order to fulfill tasks. Just because we are capable of consciousness, this does not mean that we have conscious control over our brain processes–this is where the unconscious kicks in. Social psychologist Daniel Wegner stated: “unconscious mechanisms create both conscious thought about action and the action, and also produce the sense of will we experience by perceiving the thought as the cause of the action”.

Because we can go all day and talk about how the two processes are involved and have somewhat of an influence on each other, the question to focus on now is: why and how do these processes happen? Let’s watch this TED Talk to get some more insight on this topic…

In order to combat the question of consciousness and how it works, David Chalmers (the lovely fellow in the video above for all of those who did not watch it but are continuing to read on anyways) explains that because science is objective and consciousness is subjective, it is hard to find a science that subjectively looks at consciousness. Neuroscience looks at the parts of the brain and what functions they correlate with, but this science does not give answer to why these functions are accompanied by consciousness or unconsciousness. Neuroscience cannot answer why subjective thoughts occur while functions are happening, making consciousness an anomaly. In this TED Talk, Chalmers claims that consciousness is a fundamental building block of human nature, alluding the lack of explanation of the fundamental laws of consciousness to the lack of being able to fit an explanation on a t-shirt.

Why did I include this TED Talk when it seems to not totally match the previous information I discussed, you ask? Understanding the fact that consciousness cannot totally be explored is important because although we think we understand it, everyone’s consciousness and unconsciousness is different and would be impossible to study objectively. Introspection, or “a rigorous and systematic self-report of the basic elements of an experience” according to Robinson-Riegler & Robinson-Riegler, is not a rich or investigative enough of a process to fully analyze our inner self. Even the definition I gave alludes to the fact that this concept of observing yourself can mostly be applied to basic processes that occur within.

Future research will give headway to finding out more information about the complex processes that are our consciousness and unconsciousness. Until then, it is safe to say that these two processes influence each other and are fundamental to the actions we perform and experiences we have. Without consciousness, we would not get to experience the movie inside our heads that depict how we experience the world in which we are in.

 

Links/sources used:

https://theconversation.com/what-if-consciousness-is-just-a-product-of-our-non-conscious-brain-107973  (link to TED Talk is within this link)

Robinson-Riegler & Robinson-Riegler, Cognitive Psychology: Applying the Science of the Mind. Pearson, 2017. ISBN 9780134003405

Intro

Hi friends! My name is Megan Suprise and I am a senior psychology major. I am also in the Education program, focusing on Special Education Adapted.