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Sinclair: General Psychology Mini Essays

Updated on June 16, 2014

Describe how correlation differs from causation. Give an example of two variables that are correlated. Why do you think so many people confuse correlation with causation?

A correlation indicates that “two factors seem to be related or that they co-vary in a systematic way” (Hockenbury & Hockenbury 26). Causation is when there is a casual relationship between two events; this means that one event is the result of another event. In its simplest form causation is a cause and effect reaction.

One example of correlation would be the items sold and the amount of income earned by salesman who works only by commission. There is a direct linear relationship between the two factors because with each additional sale the salesman’s income would increase. I personally feel that many people confuse correlation with causation because of how similar they are. Correlation and causation are both about the relationship of two events; the difference is correlation is all about a measurable linear relationship, while causation is all about cause and effect. Many people misinterpret correlation to meaning one thing is causing the other, like “as ice cream sales increase so do murder rates” (Hockenbury critical thinking).

Identify a neurotransmitter and describe its functions. Describe any disorders that maybe associated with this particular neurotransmitter. Do you know anyone who suffers from a disorder in which a neurotransmitter is implicated? If so, describe the disorder.

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that are manufactured by a highly specialized nerve cell referred to as a neuron. Acetylcholine is the very first neurotransmitters to have been discovered in all motor neurons. Acetylcholine is a “neurotransmitter that causes muscle contractions and is involved in learning and memory” (Hockenbury & Hockenbury). Acetylcholine is involved in all movement, from a flick of an eyelash to a backflip.

The main disease that is associated with acetylcholine is Alzheimer’s disease because acetylcholine can be found in many of the neurons that are in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by memory loss and the deterioration of intellectual functioning, all items that acetylcholine is associated with. My grandfather has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Discuss some of the factors which influence our experience of pain.

There are many different factors that can influence a person’s level of pain; the main factors are psychological, social and/or situational in nature. The emotions anxiety, sadness, depression, fear, and/or a sense of helplessness all influence pain. These emotions all cause the gates that control pain to open, thus intensifying the pain. Smell is another factor that can influence pain. A patient who is in pain often experiences an increase of pain if they are surrounded by bad smells like rotten food. However, if surrounded by positive smells, for example, violets, then the patient experiences a positive mood and a reduced sense of pain. A person’s mood can also influence their level of pain; a person in a pleasant mood often feels less pain than a person in a bad mood. A sense of control can further reduce a person’s perception of pain.

Describe some of the effects of Marijuana. Recently several states have considered the legalization of medical marijuana. Do believe marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes. Why or why not?

Marijuana is a “psychoactive drug derived from the hemp plant” (Hockenbury 175). Marijuana interferes with a person’s memory, perception, muscle coordination, ability to learn, and cognitive functions. Tetrahydrocannabinol also known as THC is the active ingredient in marijuana. THC causes a person to experience a sense of well-being, mild euphoria, and a dreamy state of relaxation.

I personally feel that marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes only. It has been confirmed that marijuana has proven itself useful in the treatment of patients with epilepsy, hypertension, nausea, glaucoma, pain, and asthma. THC can prevent the nausea and vomiting that cancer patients experience after chemo therapy. I think that each patient should be evaluated by more than one doctor before being treated with marijuana. I also feel that marijuana should only be used as a last resort, when all other treatments and medicines fail to help the patient.

Do you agree with alternate Punishment?

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Discuss the conditions under which punishment is most effective and one alternative learning technique that works as well as punishment in changing behavior. As a parent have you used or would you use one of the alternatives to punishment? Explain your answer.

Punishment is most effective when it immediately follows an undesired or bad behavior. When punishment is delayed, it does not affect the behavior nearly as much as if it was immediate. Punishment should also consistently follow the undesired or bad behavior. Occasional punishment is not as effective as consistent punishment.

One alternative learning technique that works as well as punishment is the removal of the opportunity to obtain positive reinforcement. This strategy is known as time out from positive reinforcement; it means that when a child misbehaves they are placed in time out so that they do not receive any positive reinforcement. While not a parent I personally found this strategy helpful for when I would baby sit children. I found this method effective because this way the child would not gain any positive attention from his or her siblings that would encourage the child to act out again.

Do you believe a person should be convicted of a crime, solely based on eyewitness testimony?

I believe that a person should not be convicted based on solely on eyewitness testimony. I feel this way because, “human memory does not function like a camera or digital recorder that captures a perfect copy of visual or auditory information. Instead memory details can change over time” (Hockenbury 253). An eyewitness could also be shown misinformation that would lead them to believe that they saw something that they did not. Much like how Elizabeth Loftus believed that she had discovered her mother’s dead body in the pool because a relative had told her she did; when in fact it was her Aunt Pearl who had discovered the body. If someone told an eyewitness that they had seen a man kill another man and the eyewitness had seen the man covered in blood, then the eyewitnesses mind might create the memory of seeing a man murder another man when they had only seen the man covered in blood. In this case the man could have killed the other man or he could have tried to intervene and been attacked by the real killer.

Describe the difference between general and multiple intelligences.

Intelligence is “the global capacity to think rationally, act purposefully, and deal effectively with the environment” (Hockenbury 294-295). General intelligence also known as the g factor is “the notion of a general intelligence factor that is responsible for a person’s overall performance on tests of mental ability” (Hockenbury 298). An example of general intelligence would be a student taking a standardized academic test like an ACT or SAT; because the test would only measure general intelligence not multiple intelligences. Multiple intelligences are different from general intelligence in that they are about different skills like music, art, and sports. The theory of multiple intelligences states, “different tasks call on different intelligences or combination of intelligence” (Hockenbury 300). A different set of intelligences are required based on what a person does, for example, a musician needs to have musical intelligence while a tennis player would need bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.

Discuss which of the two you believe is a better predictor of life success?

I personally believe that a person’s general intelligence is the best predictor of their life success. I feel this way because g factor is the intelligence that is tested by standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. A person’s score on their ACT or SAT determines what colleges they can get into. I feel that going to a good college is very important for having a successful career which could lead to a successful life.

While having multiple intelligences is important for life success I feel that a person could not get as far with multiple intelligences as they could with a general intelligence. An example of this would be a high school soccer player; the player would need bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to be good at soccer, yet he would also need to have a good general intelligence to be able to get into college. If the player can’t get into a college then he would likely not recruited for pro-tennis. The higher his ACT or SAT scores, the better the college he could get into. A better college could mean an increase in his chances of being recruited by a professional team.

Works Cited 2009. 14 March 2013.
Hockenbury, Don H., and Sandra E. Hockenbury. Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers, 2013.

Discuss the physiological and psychological factors that regulate eating.

Physiological and psychological factors regulate a person’s eating habits. Physiology is “the processes and functions of all or part of an organism” ( The main physiological factor that regulates eating is the hormone known as ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates a person’s appetite. The levels of ghrelin in a person’s blood tend to increase before eating and decrease after eating. A person’s body temperature and their metabolism also affect their eating. A person’s body temperature tends to increase before eating and then decrease after eating. Right before eating there is a decrease in metabolism and an increase after eating.

Psychology is “the scientific study of behavior and mental process” (Hockenbury 3). The main psychological factors that regulate eating are classical conditioning and positive reinforcement. The classical conditioning is what causes people have a physiological response that causes hunger at certain times of the day. For example if a person were to have lunch every day at noon then his or her body would eventually become conditioned to increase the levels of ghrelin in the blood stream a little before noon every day. Positive reinforcement occurs when a person eats a food that he or she finds satisfying and this causes the person to want to eat more of it because they enjoy it.

Have you ever helped someone in need?

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What factors make it less likely that a person will help a stranger? Have you ever helped a stranger in need? If you have failed to help a stranger in need, what made you decide not to help?

There are many different factors that make it less and more likely for a person to help a stranger in need. One reason a person might fail to help another is the presence of other people this phenomenon is called the bystander effect. The bystander effect is when “the presence of other people makes it less likely that any individual will help someone in distress because the obligation to intervene is shared among all the onlookers” (Hockenbury 516). People are less likely to help others when they are in a big city or a small town. When the situation the person is in is vague or ambiguous people are less likely to help because people are less likely to intervene because they don’t know for certain if their assistance is wanted or required. People also ten to avoid helping others when the cost for helping outweigh the benefits of helping. People who are feeling either good or guilty are more likely to help other people out. When a person sees other people helping out they tend to follow other people’s example. People also tend to help people who they perceive as needing and/or deserving help especially when they know how to help. When a person knows the person who needs help they are all the more likely to help the person even if they only met the person briefly.

I have never really been in a situation in which I needed to decide whether are not to help a stranger. The closes I have come to being in a situation that required action would be when people at high school would ask to borrow a pencil or pen from me. I almost always gave the person the pencil or pen because it was a small thing and I would hope that someone would do the same for me if I needed a writing utensil. Doing so also made me feel good about helping a person.

Discuss the role that mirror neurons play in human behavior and sensation.

Mirror neurons are “a type of neuron that activates both when an action is performed and when the same action is perceived” (Hockenbury 221). Mirror neurons play a large role in human and animal behavior and sensation; the mirror neurons in the brain affect how people and animals learn from both observation and imitation. This was proven by Evelyne Kohler and her colleagues when they collected data that showed that the same neurons in a monkey’s brain would activate when a monkey cracked open a nut as when the same monkey heard the sound of a nut being cracked open.

Mirror neurons also affect how people behave. The mirror system of the brain has often been associated with a person’s ability to behave in a socially acceptable manner. Scientists have begun to theorize that a dysfunction with a person’s mirror neurons may contribute to autism and many other disorders that are related with impaired social functioning.

Do people really have free will, or is free will an illusion?

B.F. Skinner believes “that behavior is not simply influenced by the environment but it is determined by it” (Hockenbury 208). I personally believe that Skinner is wrong and that free will does exist and that a person’s behavior can only be influenced by their environment, not determined by it. Free will is very real; there is no way that a person’s behavior is solely determined by the environment. For instance Skinner wrote, “It is the environment which is responsible for objectionable behavior, and it is the environment, not some attribute of the individual, which must be changed” (Hockenbury 208). However, there are plenty of people who grew up in a good environment that went on to become drug addicts, killers, commit suicide, and other “objectionable behaviors”. On the other hand there are also plenty of people that have grown up in a bad environment who went on to become good people and not commit “objectionable behaviors”. Every person has the free will to do what they want to do whether objectionable or not; people’s actions can be influenced by the environment, but it is the person that decides what to do.

Describe the effects of different parenting styles on child development.

There are three different styles of parenting and each style has been shown to affect children differently. The first style of parenting is the authoritarian; this parenting style is when parents “believe that they should shape and control the child’s behavior so that it corresponds to an absolute set of standards” (Hockenbury 401). Parents that take this approach to parenting create rules without any input from their children and expect those rules to be obeyed without question. This style tends to promote rebellion and resentment; children tend to become moody, fearful, unhappy, withdrawn, unspontaneous, and irritable.

The second style is known as permissive parenting and it is broken into two categories: permissive-indulgent and permissive-indifferent. “Permissive-indulgent parents are responsive, warm, and accepting of their children but impose few rules and rarely punish their children” (Hockenbury 402). “Permissive-indifferent parents are both unresponsive and uncontrolling. Establishing firm rules and consistently enforcing them is simply too much trouble for permissive-indifferent parents” (Hockenbury 402). This style has a tendency to to create cheerful children who are immature, impulsive, and aggressive. These children rarely learn self-control and often fail to meet their potential due to the low expectations of their parents.

The last style is called authoritative parenting; in this style “parents set clear standards for their children’s behavior but are also responsive to their children’s needs and wishes” (Hockenbury 402). This style turns out children who are cheerful, energetic, socially competent, and friendly. This parenting style tends to instill levels of high self-esteem, self-control, and self-reliance.


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