Archive for category Blog Entry 1

Social Psychology: The science behind shaping behavior, by Benjamin Dent

Personal Attitudes and dispositions also shape behavior

The way we think and act, or the inner attitudes that we possess, strongly influence and affect our behavior. This area of study Is intriguing because it teaches us that behavior can be learned or innate. Why someone acted in a particular way can be a result of genes, personality traits, and values. This topic also explains why different people face the same situation in different ways.

Today, I was talking to my mother about careers I wanted to pursue, and she said that ever since I was born, I have been very charitable, and my desire to help others at all costs. We reflected over my childhood years up until now.

I feel that the attitude I have learned from being around three older brothers and growing up in a loving family have helped foster an environment of care and concern for others. I always wanted to know if my brothers were safe. My disposition, or character, was probably shaped by such experiences, and especially by the response of those I sought after. So my attitude towards my family has affected my behavior in a very personal way to help others, and to treat them as if they were my brothers. These many encounters and experiences have shaped my attitude and my character in forming the behavior I know have.


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A Theory I Believe in! by Jamie Rhoten

Can Fun be the New Social Psych Theory? by Jamie Rhoten

A Theory is a set of beliefs, assumptions, and/or observations that are attributed to explain some phenomenon and is usually believed to be true, but not yet proven fact. For example, Newtons Laws are considered factual but evolution is “just a theory” and is widely believed among scientists, yet is not quite proven as factual.

A new theory has recently been established (and heavily advertised in Europe)  by a popular car company, Volkswagen. I recently heard about their commercials advertising about their new theory posted on youtube and became curious. The theory that they are promoting social awareness of is simple…way simple.  It may even seem impossible to prove as factual..but I believe in it.

“Fun can change behavior for the better”

Volkswagen is trying hard to promote social experiments that claim to prove this theory correct. If they succeed, this theory will become known as fact in the social scientist world! The pioneers of this theory test it by addressing a social problem, such as, obesity, lack of recycling, or speeding violations. Then they form a creative and fun solution to the problem, and use observation as a method to research the results. The Fun Theory has created short promotional videos showing their findings and claim that fun changes behavior in a positive way. Here is a few of their videos that “prove” their theory as fact.

This is my favorite. It is not an official video from but it shows the success of changing a negative behavior (boys not lifting the seat up) by making it fun!

These videos demonstrating The Fun Theories research have shown some findings that the theory of introducing fun could be proven as factual, with more research and testing. But the theory does seem to be right to me at least. I mean the boy did changed his behavior because fun was introduced which shows our theory could be correct and proven… some day!

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The Correlation Says So, Ash Chambers

The general understanding of what information Correlational Research can provide is varied and sometimes out right awful. Not everyone understands it. A correlational study investigates the relationship between two (or more) variables–two factors that can change. Researchers measure these variables and can use math to determine if they change in a related manner. If they vary closely enough, it is determined that they have a significant relationship and that one variable can predict the other. However, this does not in any way convey that the two variables affect one another. This is because causation (a cause and effect relationship) cannot be inferred from a correlational study. It has predictive value only.

A recent experience with this concept was a rather funny picture I stumbled upon. Many people online that work/study outside the realm of math/science often mistakenly assume that correlation means causation. This picture takes an assortment of random correlations that do covary, but are in no way related to one another. It’s basically poking fun at the general misunderstanding of correlational research. To take a peek at the picture, click here.

This picture well illustrates the confusion that the general public experiences when evaluating correlational research. While some correlational studies are good start-points for later experimentation, some have little scientific value. But because it has the ‘math’ and ‘sound’ of what people consider science, they buy into it. The picture is pointing out various incidents that are clearly unrelated yet correlate well. Meaning that you could get just as strong a correlation from unrelated variables as you could get from interrelated variables. Correlational studies cannot account for all factors that go into events–it can only report the amount included in the study. A big problem of this is that it ignores confounding variables. Not to mention that it is also impossible to determine the direction of a relationship, even if it seems apparent that one exists. The author of this picture sought to convey this flaw by using many incomparable and laughable variables. But even though this is humor, he/she is hitting on the biggest danger of correlational research. Although it can help identify possible relationships and can support ideas, it can in no way be relied on as definitive evidence or suitable to infer causation. It is only a description, sometimes a predictive tool, but nothing more.

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The difference between correlation and causation by Matt Landeen

Correlation and causation are two different things.

Correlation says that two things go together

Causation says that the change in the dependent variable is directly caused by the change in the independent variable


In this picture stock-illustration-9308296-rooster-sunrise.jpg we see the sun rising and a rooster crowing.  While we all know that the sun coming up is not dependent on the rooster crowing, one who doesn’t know this may incorrectly think that the sun came up because the rooster crowed.  This is an example of correlation, these two things go together.

This silly youtube video gives another example of correlation vs causation.  The video claims that over the years the number of traditional pirates has decreased.   Also over the years, people claim that global warming has increased.  While it is a little far-fetched to assume that global warming was caused because of the diminishing number of pirates, the video notes that when the number of pirates went down the severity of global warming went up.  Simply because two things occur or have a relationship does not provide enough evidence to say that there is a causation.

It is very important to note and know the difference between the two especially when making a theory or hypothesis.  Many mistakes can be made if we see a relationship between two variables and label it causation when in reality there is a correlation and not enough research was done to be certain about the relationship.

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Culture: By Kelsey Lemmon

In Chapter one, the authors introduce the concept of culture. Culture is the term used to define the attitudes and beliefs shared by different groups of people. These cultures can vary across nations, as well as within nations as well. For example, the culture of those living in South America would be different from a group living in the United States.

I have noticed this concept since coming to Provo. Those in the LDS culture have many shared beliefs and attitudes, and there is a culture that we all are a part of and share. It has been interesting to see those who do not understand this culture come in contact with it. Yesterday, I was talking to a girl who is new in my ward. She is a recent convert and just moved to Provo. She was so confused by some things that she had encountered. The culture of dating and marriage here was the most shocking to her. She was blown away by the idea of people dating for a couple of months and getting married, as well as many other dating patterns. This culture was something that she does not understand, due to the fact that she was not LDS and living in Provo previous to this.

This encounter shows how culture can vary from person to person depending on the attitudes and beliefs of those around you. It also illustrates how culture can alienate those who do not understand it, or do not share the same attitudes and values.

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What is Field Research? By Caitlin Randall

In chapter 1, we learn that there are several different experiment types and techniques. One of these techniques is field research, which is defined as “research done in natural, real-life settings outside the laboratory.”  Basically, field research can be simple observation of occurrences in everyday life, that do not require a formal laboratory setting. The pros of field research are that participants aren’t necessarily affected and are only observed, and need not be manipulated. The cons are that researchers can’t manipulate too much, because they are in an environment with too many variables to possibly control.

In the following video, two students from Penn State are performing field research by simply observing a real-life setting (McDonalds) and attempting to make claims from what they see. Check out the video, and watch until around the 3:00 mark!

The video above shows the two students observing people using the drive-thru at McDonalds, and they are interested in the gender of drivers that use the drive-thru, their vehicle make/model, how long the drive-thru takes,  and seeing if any of those varibles have any relation to food buyers returning their food or making a complaint. This is an example of field research because it takes place in the real world, and not only does it not require a lab but it couldn’t possibly take place in a lab.

Always remember – field research is your friend.

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I knew it all along, Patrick Henry O’Connell

What is it that makes us so smart? Is it our huge brains, our educational system, our diet?  Maybe it’s hindsight.  I’ve heard it said, ‘hindsight is the only exact science.’ The phenomenon of hindsight bias is what gives us the ‘ability’ to say, “I knew it all along,” even if at the time we were completely ignorant of the outcome.

I have frequent discussions with a good friend about topics he knows almost nothing about (and about which I am by no means an expert) usually revolving around politics.  What is amazing is our ability to extend these conversations on for hours.  A few days ago we were talking about the differences between socialist and capitalist societies, and after about twenty minutes I realized, ‘neither of us have any idea what we’re talking about…’ but we kept talking.  Whenever one of us would make a good point, or say something that seemed logical, we would continue the conversation as if it was the same point we had been making all along.

Now while this is a not in any sense an experimental setting, I think it displays something along the same lines as hindsight bias.  Before an experiment can prove any point, we all have opinions, and we can make them all sound legitimate.  However, the experiment can draw a more definitive conclusion, but looking back on the results, it’s easy to say, that was just common sense.  In the case of my friend and I, we were both always right, from the start of our conversation, at every correction, till the end.  At one point when he was describing how China’s entirely communist market could never be effective, he fortified the idea by agreeing that they had a certain international advantage because of their cheap labor and capitalist policies, after I mentioned something I had heard on NPR about a small group of revolutionary farmers that started them toward more of a free market.  We ‘knew’ from the start what the conclusion of our conversation would be, and we spoke, even when contradicted, as if we had always meant what sounded more correct.  Often these transitions are subtle, but there is always some way of making what we say mean whatever we want it to mean, after of course, one of us has made a better point, a point that we both have been making all along.

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