• Abby Flyer

Updated: Jan 5, 2020


When I study psychology, I like to act as if each psychologist that I study is a close friend of mine. I’ve found that doing so makes it easier for me to navigate the often complicated “who’s who” of the psych world and remember the distinctions between similar-sounding concepts, such as classical and operant conditioning. For instance, let me show you how I like to look at structuralism, an early psychological concept studied by Edward Bradford Titchener— or, as I affectionately call him, “my main man EBT.”

EBT was a Cornell University professor in the 1890s who wanted to look into the structure of the mind. (If it helps you picture him, our main man had a big beard and was born in England, so he probably had a pretty cool accent.) While other psychologists wanted to study consciousness or speculate about the reason that we act the way we do, EBT was more interested in immediate mental experience, or the “here and now” of our thoughts. EBT believed that our thoughts could be broken down into a collection of sensations, or signals picked up using our five basic senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste).

Picture this: you’re spending an afternoon at the movies with EBT, and he hands you a tray of nachos. Of course, before feeling grateful to have such a great friend or excited to eat those cheese-laden chips, you would immediately identify that what he has handed you are nachos. Our main man would tell you that your thought is a deduction based off of the sensations that your brain is receiving. The immediate mental experience of “nachos” is made up of the sight of the velvety orange cheese dribbling down the lightly browned chips, the sound of cracking tortilla as the chips rustle and break against the plastic tray, and the smell of cheddar. All of these sensations come together at once in your brain and spark that single, glorious thought: these are nachos.

Over the course of his career, Edward Bradford Titchener identified that thoughts are comprised of over 40,000 sensations, the majority of which are sounds and sights. He believed that studying psychology relied on introspection, the process of looking inward and reporting the part of one’s sensory experience. However, EBT’s work has been largely criticised because of introspection’s lack of reliability. Any data gathered from introspection is highly subjective, and often times our brains are deceived by information we receive or memories we recall. As the study of psychology advanced, scientists called for more objective ways to measure our thinking.

Cheer up, EBT! You're still our main man!

Thinking about nachos and seeing a movie with EBT are much more memorable and relatable than trying to remember “Titchner/structuralism/introspection” from an AP Psychology outline. Try it next time when you study! Don't just memorize Freud and his psychoanalytic perspective or Pavlov and his classical conditioning; instead, ask your friend Siggie to help figure out the meaning behind that crazy dream last night and ask your buddy Ivan why your dog always drools on the kitchen floor when you walk by his food bowl.

Psychology is the study of us— be a part of the story!

#structuralism #abbyflyer #ebt #mymainman

  • Yena Kim

Updated: Jan 5, 2020


Like most people, I am uneasy about speaking in public.

I am better now, but I still remember how badly my teeth used to chatter no matter how many times I told my brain to stop. I hated feeling so embarrassed, and I wanted to change so badly. Luckily for me, things started to turn around when I got to high school because that was when I began to force myself to be in vulnerable situations in various speaking clubs.

However, others are not so lucky, and change isn’t as easy for them.

The line between what is normal and what is abnormal can be hard to detect because everyone feels a bit anxious from time to time. But people who experience constant feelings of fear and worry may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. If feelings of anxiety start to interfere with the individual’s ability to live comfortably, treatment may be necessary.

Anxiety disorders can come in many forms. One example is a phobia, which is an intense and irrational fear of a situation or object that poses little to no real danger. There are many types of phobias in the world. Aviophobia is a fear of flying, and alliumphobia is a fear of garlic. Agoraphobia is another common type of phobia, and it refers to the fear of open, public spaces. People may feel a great deal of anxiety if they get in contact with a particular situation or object.

Some may suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD for short. These individuals experience constant worries, and they frequently feel like a bad event is just waiting around the corner for them. Unfortunately, people with generalized anxiety disorder often have trouble identifying the reason for the anxiety.

While GAD involves constant, low-level anxiety, panic disorder is the complete opposite. Without any preparation, people with panic disorder can experience panic attacks that are sudden, short, and highly intense. Individuals often feel scared about when their next panic attack will return, so they tend to look for safe spaces and restrict their daily activities as a result.

Despite these terrible symptoms, anxiety disorders are quite treatable. Health care professionals typically treat their patients with the use of drugs. These drugs correct the chemical imbalances in the brain and overall body, making people feel more relaxed and relieved. Some of these antianxiety drugs include Miltown, Xanax (which resembles the word "anxiety" because of the letter "x"), and Valium.

People with anxiety disorders should not be afraid to seek treatment, and there shouldn't be a stigma. Mental illnesses should never go unchecked, and it is important to understand what they are because anybody can have them.

Note: According to the DSM-5, OCD is no longer classified as an anxiety disorder.

#yenakim #anxietydisorders #abnormalpsychology #mentalillness #phobias #generalizedanxietydisorder #panicdisorder #OCD

  • Abby Flyer

Updated: Jan 5, 2020


It’s 8 AM and you are standing in your kitchen, facing a classic dilemma: cereal first or milk first? You stare at the bowl, box of Cheerios in one hand, carton of milk in the other. Whichever approach you choose, you know you’ll have a great breakfast, but it won’t taste quite the same.

Like a delicious breakfast, psychology can be approached from many different perspectives. And just like individual breakfast-goers have their own preferred order of cereal-mixing, different psychologists have preferred psychological approaches to use when addressing an issue.

One popular approach to psychology is called the psychoanalytic or psychodynamic perspective. Inspired by the work of famous psychologist Sigmund Freud, the psychoanalytic perspective focuses on the way your past influences the decisions you make in the present and the way your unconscious mind can affect your conscious decisions. Freud used techniques such as free association, or speaking whatever thoughts come to mind, to help patients figure out what their subconscious secretly wanted.

If psychoanalysis is the cereal-before-milk approach, the milk-before-cereal approach would be behaviorism. Behaviorists like B.F. Skinner believe that every action occurs as a response to a stimulus. Behavioral psychology focuses on how rewards and punishments can condition, or modify, behavior.

Behaviorism was criticized by some psychologists as being too impersonal and disregarding the influence that emotions and thinking have on our actions. The humanistic perspective, practiced by famous psychologists such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, stresses the importance of an individual’s wants, needs, and desire to fulfill their full potential. Humanists believe that we need to be provided with unconditional positive regard to grow successfully and live happy lives.

If you like to think outside of the (cereal) box, you may know of other cereal-pouring combinations, such as rapidly alternating between cereal and milk, pouring the milk directly into the cereal box, or dumping both simultaneously into your open mouth. Like cereal, psychological approaches can get creative!

The biological perspective examines the way our bodily functions affect our thinking and behavior. Psychologists with this frame of mind look at the effect that hormones and neurotransmitters have on different parts of our brain, which in turn influence how we behave.

If you’ve heard of Charles Darwin, you can probably guess how evolutionary psychologists study our mind and actions. Evolutionary psychologists believe that behaviors that we exhibit have been developed because they were useful in the survival of our primitive ancestors.

Last, but not least, is cognitive psychology, which focuses on the way our brain works to solve problems, sense and perceive, and store memory.

Whichever approach you use to look at a problem, psychology is ready to offer a delicious way to find a solution!

#abbyflyer #psychodynamic #psychoanalytic #sigmundfreud #freeassociation #behaviorism #conditioning #humanisticperspective #carlrogers #abrahammaslow #unconditionalpositiveregard #biologicalperspective #charlesdarwin #evolutionaryperspective #cognitivepsychology

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