Thursday, December 6

The 100 Most Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century

 In 2002, Steven J. Haggbloom from Western Kentucky University, along with leading figures from Arkansas State University's  Department of Psychology and Counseling, constructed a rank-ordered list of 99 of the 100 most eminent psychologist of the 20th century. To measure the eminence, they used 3 quantitative variables - journal citation frequency, introductory psychology textbook citation frequency, and survey response frequency - and 3 qualitative variables - National Academy of Sciences membership,
election as American Psychological Association (APA) president or receipt of the APA Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award, and surname used as an eponym.

 The survey questions were sent to 1,725 members of the American Psychological Society (APS). The respondents were asked what is their specialization in psychology, who, in their opinion, are the 3 greatest psychologists of the 20th and century and who they think are the greatest psychologists of the 20th century in the overall field of psychology.

 However, only 5.6% of the APS members who were sent the survey questions responded. The results of the responses were then compiled into a ranked list of 117 names most frequently
mentioned. The list contained 117 names instead of 100 because of ties near the end of the list.

 Despite the low response rate, they didn't discount the survey results as a factor from constructing the list.

 The 100 Most Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century:

1. B.F. Skinner
2. Jean Piaget
3. Sigmund Freud
4. Albert Bandura
5. Leon Festinger
6. Carl R. Rogers
7. Stanley Schachter
8. Neal E. Miller
9. Edward Thorndike
10. A.H. Maslow
11. Gordon W. Allport
12. Erik H. Erikson
13. Hans J. Eysenck
14. William James
15. David C. McClelland
16. Raymond B. Cattell
17. John B. Watson
18. Kurt Lewin
19. Donald O. Hebb
20. George A. Miller
21. Clark L. Hull
22. Jerome Kagan
23. Carl G. Jung
24. Ivan P. Pavlov
25. Walter Mischel
26. Harry F. Harlow
27. J.P. Guilford
28. Jerome S. Bruner
29. Ernest R. Hilgard
30. Lawrence Kohlberg
31. Martin E.P. Seligman
32. Ulric Neisser
33. Donald T. Campbell
34. Roger Brown
35. R.B. Zajonc
36. Endel Tulving
37. Herbert A. Simon
38. Noam Chomsky
39. Edward E. Jones
40. Charles E. Osgood
41. Solomon E. Asch
42. Gordon H. Bower
43. Harold H. Kelley
44. Roger W. Sperry
45. Edward C. Tolman
46. Stanley Milgram
47. Arthur R. Jensen
48. Lee J. Cronbach
49. John Bowlby
50. Wolfgang Köhler
51. David Wechsler
52. S.S. Stevens
53. Joseph Wolpe
54. D.E. Broadbent
55. Roger N. Shepard
56. Michael I. Posner
57. Theodore M. Newcomb
58. Elizabeth F. Loftus
59. Paul Ekman
60. Robert J. Sternberg
61. Karl S. Lashley
62. Kenneth Spence
63. Morton Deutsch
64. Julian B. Rotter
65. Konrad Lorenz
66. Benton Underwood
67. Alfred Adler
68. Michael Rutter
69. Alexander R. Luria
70. Eleanor E. Maccoby
71. Robert Plomin
72.5.* G. Stanley Hall
72.5. Lewis M. Terman
74.5.* Eleanor J. Gibson
74.5. Paul E. Meehl
76. Leonard Berkowitz
77. William K. Estes
78. Eliot Aronson
79. Irving L. Janis
80. Richard S. Lazarus
81. W. Gary Cannon
82. Allen L. Edwards
83. Lev Semenovich Vygotsky
84. Robert Rosenthal
85. Milton Rokeach
88.5.* John Garcia
88.5. James J. Gibson
88.5. David Rumelhart
88.5. L.L. Thurston
88.5. Margaret Washburn
88.5. Robert Woodworth
93.5.* Edwin G. Boring
93.5. John Dewey
93.5. Amos Tversky
93.5. Wilhelm Wundt
96. Herman A. Witkin
97. Mary D. Ainsworth
98. Orval Hobart Mowrer
99. Anna Freud

*Numbers with .5 indicate a tie in the ranking.

Haggbloom, S. J., Warnick, R., Warnick, J. E., Jones, V., Gary, Y., Russell, T., Borecky, C., McGahhey, R., Powell J., Beavers, J., & Monte, E. (2002). The 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century. Review of general psychology, 6(2), 139-152. doi: 10.1037//1089-2680.6.2.139

Tuesday, September 25

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

  In his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" Abraham Maslow attempted to formulate a needs-based framework of human motivation. Later on, he extended the idea, and the full theory, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, was expressed in his book Motivation and Personality in 1954.

Maslow studied only exemplary people such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglas. He didn't study mentally ill and neurotic people, writing that "the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy."
In spite of the perpetual cycle of human wars, murder, deceit, etc, Maslow believed that humans tend toward growth and love, and that violence is not natural for human nature. Humans only get violent when their needs are thwarted. He did not believe that humans use violence, lie, cheat or steal simply because they enjoy doing it.

 As you can see in the picture above, Maslow categorized human needs into five levels:
  1. Physiological needs - These are the basic survival needs such as food, water, air, shelter, constant body temperature, etc.
    They usually tend to be satisfied with most people, but when unmet they become predominant.
    This is the strongest level on the pyramid because if these needs go unmet, the individual can easily die.
  2. Safety needs -The second level, safety needs, is the need to feel secure at work, home, etc.
    These needs are also usually met except in times of emergency, natural disaster, rioting, or other immediate dangers.
    This does not only mean personal security, it also applies to job security, financial security, and general health.
  3. Love needs - This third level deals with feelings of love and belongingness.
    The individual seeks to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation and to become a part of the group. These feelings can be achieved through relationships, such as friends, family, and romance. The individual needs to love and be loved.
  4. Esteem needs - This is the need to be respected and to have respect for oneself. It is a desire to be accepted and valued by others.
    This establishes confidence in oneself and motivates the individual to succeed.
    The individual needs to be recognized for his or her accomplishments and deprivation of this need can lead to an inferiority complex and poor performance.
  5. Self-actualization -The fifth and top need on the pyramid is self-actualization-the need to realize and reach one’s fullest potential.
    This need, unlike the others, is not driven by a lack of the need but by the desire for personal growth.
    This is also the hardest need to meet, as it requires the most effort and the means of fulfilling it are not always known to the individual.
 The basis of Maslow's hierarchy of needs is that we are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that lower needs need to be satisfied before higher needs can be addressed. The hierarchy is often portrayed in the shape of a pyramid, with the most primary needs at the bottom, and the need for self-actualization at the top. Although, Maslow's hierarchy of needs is often portrayed in the shape of the pyramid and even sometimes called Maslow's pyramid of needs, Maslow himself never used a pyramid to describe his theory.

Wednesday, September 12

A Cognitive Test: How Many F's Can You Find?

Read the following sentence:


Now count how many F's does that sentence contain. Count them ONLY ONCE. Then see below:

The sentence contains 6 F's. However, most of the people only find 3 of them. If you spotted 4, you're above average intelligence. To see 5 is quite rare. If you caught 6, you might be a genius. There is no catch or a trick. Most people forget the F's in of''s because the human brain tends to see them as Vs instead of F's.

Monday, August 6

Feral Children and What They Tell Us About Ourselves

  Most of us, if not all, have heard about Mowgli - the boy who was raised in the jungle by a pack of wolves. Fortunately, Mowgli is just a fictional character from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book stories. However, a great deal of similar cases have occurred in real life as well and children like Mowgli are called feral children.

  A feral child (colloquially, also know as wild child, wolf girl, gazelle boy, monkey boy) is a child who has been isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has grown up with little or no human contact, care, love, or exposure to social behavior and language.

  Just like Mowgli, some feral children are thought to have been raised by animals. Some have allegedly survived on their own in the wild and some have been confined by people (often by their own parents). There have been over one hundred reported cases of feral children.

  Besides Mowgli, there are numerous other legendary and fictional feral children. As it was extremely difficult for Mowgli to fit into human society, he is one of the most realistic fictional feral children. Others, such as Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan, J.M Barrie's Peter Pan and many others, were portrayed less factually. They were depicted as being extraordinarily strong, intelligent, and as having better moral standards than "normal" human beings. In reality, feral children are rarely that fortunate.

  What characterizes feral children? How does being isolated from human contact from a young age affect a child's development?

Feral children often lack even the most basic social skills. They have extreme difficulties or are unable to learn simple yet pivotal tasks like using the toilet or getting dressed. They are often cognitively impaired and learning a human language proves to be severely challenging or even impossible.

The fact that feral children have acute difficulties or an inability to grasp the concept of language proves the validity of critical period hypothesis, which states that the first few years of a child's life are crucial for learning a first language and if the child is not surrounded with a language during this period, he or she will never achieve a full comprehension of any language.

What do feral children show us about ourselves?

What we know about feral children makes us ask a question about ourselves - are we a product of our genes or a product of our experiences?

A five-year-old Russian girl was discovered to be living among a herd of cows. Just like the cows, she used mooing to communicate. She could not speak a human language, she was unable to feed herself, and she only drank milk from a saucepan. Besides her, there have been several other cases of feral children found living with animals and most exhibited behavior identical to the animals that reared them, instead of the humans that bore them. Most never learned to speak and many died shortly after their reintroduction to human society. In the few cases where the child did learn to speak, it was because they were separated from humans at an older age, after they already obtained a grasp on language.

These children show us that the few first years in a child's life are crucial to the child's lifelong growth and development, bringing up the nature vs nurture argument that has been a topic of debate for decades. We cannot say that who we are, how we behave, how we communicate, and how our brain develops has nothing to do with our genes, but feral children show that our nature alone does not make us human. The genes we are born with and the experiences we have combined makes us human.

If you are interested in reading more about different cases of feral children, here's a good article to being with - Feral Children (Mowgli Syndrome)

Thursday, July 5

Self-Awareness and the Mirror Test

What is self-awareness?

Self-awareness is the ability to recognize our personality, our strengths and weaknesses, and our likes and dislikes. Developing self-awareness can help us to recognize when we are stressed or under pressure. It's a prerequisite for effective communication and important for developing empathy for others.

However, a simpler definition would be that self-awareness is one's ability to reconcile him or herself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals; self-awareness is the capacity for introspection.

How can one's self-awareness be tested and who is self-aware?

To measure and test self-awareness, we have a test called the mirror test. This test was developed by Gordon Gallup Jr. in 1970, partly based on observations made by Charles Darwin. While visiting a zoo, Darwin held a mirror to an orangutan and recorded the animal's reactions to its reflection, which included making a series of facial expressions. Darwin, however, did not resolutely conclude that the orangutan is self-aware. He thought the animal may just be making expressions at what it perceived to be another animal, or possibly been playing a game with a new toy.
What is the mirror test?

The mirror test is a test to determine whether an animal can recognize its own reflection in an mirror as an image of itself.

Gallup accomplished a way to determine whether an animal can recognize its own reflection or not by surreptitiously marking the animal with two odorless dye spots. The test spot is on a part of the animal that is visible in front of a mirror and the other control spot is in an accessible but hidden part of the animal's body. Scientists then observe whether the animal reacts in a manner consistent with being aware that the test dye is located on its own body while ignoring the control dye not visible in front of the mirror. The animals who pass the mirror test as being self-aware will exhibit behavior including turning and adjusting its body in order to get a better view of the marking in the mirror, or poking at the marking on its own body with a limb while observing it from the mirror.

So who is self-aware?

Are humans self-aware? Yes. However, young children and people who have been blind from birth but have their sight restored, initially react as if their reflection in the mirror was another person and not their own reflection. Children tend to fail the mirror test until they are about 18 months old. Psychoanalysts call the first 18 months "mirror stage".

Which animals have passed the mirror test?

All great apes: bonobos, chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas. Bottlenose dolphins, orcas, elephants and European magpies.

Wednesday, June 13

First Kill - A Documentary About the Psychology of War

First Kill is a Dutch documentary film made in 2001. It's about the psychology of war. It tries to show the emotional effects of war on soldiers.

The documentary film is composed of in-depth interviews with several Vietnam veterans. These interviews provide insight into the feelings evoked by violence. Feelings like fear, hate, seduction and pleasure.

It also features an interview with Michael Herr, a former war correspondent who wrote Dispatches - one of the most popular and vaunted books about the experiences of the combat soldier in the Vietnam War. Michael Herr is also known as the scenario writer of Full Metal Jaceket.

If you are interested in watching this movie then you can do it for fee on YouTube.

 Image from

Friday, June 1

Great and Free Online Psychology Tests

Want to find out more about yourself? Good. I have put together a list of great online psychology tests that you can take for free.
1. The Stroop Test - A fun cognitive test that uses colored words to measure how quick is your reaction time.

2. BBC's Pressure Test - Can you compete under pressure? Get your under pressure performance analysed by Michael Johnson. Also, by taking this test you can help to investigate the psychology of pressure.

3. Are You a Perfectionist? - Another good test from BBC that is designed to measure how much of a perfectionist you are.

4. Jung Typology Test - This test is designed to reveal your personality type using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Although, I must say here that some researchers have interpreted the reliability of the MBTI test as being low.

5. Depression Screening Test - Now a more serious one. This is a test to check whether you show signs of clinical depression or not. I hope you don't.

6. Irritating Sounds - This test can only be described as extremely irritating. You'll hear sounds of snoring, crying babies and nails on the chalkboard. Take the test if you wanna find out which one of these
unbearable sounds aggrivates you the most.

7. Personal Biases - Are you prejudiced against other people? This test will give you the answer.

8. Internet Addiction Test - Are you, your close friend or family member addicted to the Internet? Take this test to find out.

9. Alcoholism Test - Do you have a drinking problem? Take this test to determine whether or not you are an alcoholic.

10. Eating Attitudes Test - An in-depth quiz for helping to determine whether you have symptoms commonly associated with eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia.

Emotional Intelligence Test - Your EQ (emotional intelligence) is just as important as your IQ. Take this EQ test to measure your ability to identify, assess and control your emotions.

12. Personality Type Test - A simple test to know your personality type.

 Image from

Saturday, May 26

5 Simple Ways to Be More Likeable

 First and foremost, you have to know that people are most interested in themselves. So in order to get people to like you, you have to be interested in them. Talk to ohter people about themselves. Ask questions. Show them that you are genuinely interested in every little detail about their lives. Do that and people will turn to you if they need someobody to talk to.

Smile. Simple as that. Just smile. Show people that you are truly happy to see them and to be able to speak to them. Besides, smiling is contagious. It will make everyone's day better.

Avoid negative topics and complaining. Do you like to listen to people complainig about how bad the traffic was? No? Well, nobody does. So you should not complain! Unless you wanna become the person who makes everybody leave the room you enter.

Don't be afraid to make eye contact. Making eye contact while speaking makes you appear more condifent and caring. Even more truthful.

Last but not least, look clean. We can't really change our physical appearance to look more attractive overnight. But what we can do is look clean and wellgroomed. Take good care of your personal hygen. Wear only clean clothes. For one, this makes you more confident, therefore you'll be more social. And secondly, they way you look is the first thing people notice about you. The first judgement. The first vibe you sent out to other people. And you want this vibe to be positive.

Friday, May 18

A Proposal to Classify Happiness as a Psychiatric Disorder

Is he suffering from a psychiatric disorder?
Happiness is an emotional state of well-being characterized by pleasant emotions. Something we all strive for. There even is an entire branch of psychology, positive psychology, that is dedicated to increasing human happiness.

One psychologist, Richard Bentall, however, proposed in 1992 that happiness, or, as he proposed it to be called, "major affective disorder, pleasant type", should be classified as a psychiatric disorder.

"Happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. One possible objection to this proposal remains--that happiness is not negatively valued. However, this objection is dismissed as scientifically irrelevant."

You can read more about why Richard Bentall thought that happiness should be classified as a psychiatric disorder here.

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Tuesday, May 15

Do We Believe Everything We Read?

What is our first reaction to new information? Do we doubt its veracity or do we automatically believe it?

Well, a Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza believed that the very act of understanding information was believing it. We may be able to change our minds about believing the information later, but at first, we believe everything.

A French philosopher, mathematician and physicist René Descartes, however, did not agree with Spinoza on this. He argued that understanding and believing are two separate processes. He thought that people take in the information by paying attention to it and then decide whether they believe it or not.

Who Was Right?

Daniel Gilbert and his colleagues conducted a series of experiments to test whether understanding and belief operate together or whether belief of disbelief comes later.

71 participants had to read statements about two robberies and then give the robbers a jail sentence. Some of the statements were made to make the crime seem less malicious, for example the robber's kids were starving, and the others made to make it look worse, for example the robber had a gun.

Only some of the statements were true, others were false. Participants were told that true statements were displayed in green type and false in red type. Half of the participants were deliberately distracted while they were reading the false statements. The other half were allowed to read the statements undisturbed.

If Spinoza was right and Descartes wrong, then those who were distracted while reading the false statements wouldn't have time to process the fact that the statement was written in red and is therefore false, and ergo the jail time they give to the criminal would be influenced by the false statements as well.

Well, the results showed that when the false statements made the crime seem worse, the participants who were disturbed gave the criminals almost twice as long prison sentences.

However, the group in which participants were allowed to read undisturbed managed to ignore the false statements and there was no remarkable difference between prison sentences.

These results obviously mean that only when given time to process the information did people behave as the false statements were actually false and that without the time to process the information, people believed what they read.

Gilbert and his colleagues have also conducted further experiments on this subject which have all confirmed that Spinoza was right and we really are designed to believe everything we read.

Tuesday, May 8

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself

 We like to believe that we are rational, logical beings who make decisions based on objective facts and see the world as it really is. But we are not. According to David McRaney, we are all deluded.

 Our most vivid memories are mostly made up, we are easy targets to manipulation, most of our Facebook friends are not real friends, we reach for the same brand not because it's good and we trust its quality but because we want to reassure ourselves that we made a smart decision the last time we bought it... David McRaney's blog-turned-book is all about the many ways our minds plays tricks on us.

 Let me tell you up front, this book can be somewhat terrifying. You might find out too much about yourself and about human beings in general. Nevertheless, I would still recommend it to everyone. It's just so fascinating and liberating. The Stanford Prison Experiment shows that anyone, given enough power, could become brutal. Yes, it's not ideal. But it's the truth. It's the way we have born to be.
Well, I'm going stop writing now... because as we live in the second decade of the 21st century, we can simply watch the trailer.

Click here to watch the video.

 I mentioned earlier that You Are Not So Smart is a blog-turned-book, so for those of you who don't want to spend money and buy the book, here is a link to the blog. Have a good read!

Friday, May 4

Geriatric Depression Scale Short Form

Geriatric Depression Scale short form (GDS-SF) is an adequate substitute for the original 30-item scale (GDS) that is commonly used to identify depression in the elderly.

Instructions: Choose the best answer for how you have felt over the past week.

  1. Are you basically satisfied with your life? YES / NO
  2. Have you dropped many of your activities and interests? YES / NO
  3. Do you feel that your life is empty? YES / NO
  4. Do you often get bored? YES / NO
  5. Are you in good spirits most of the time? YES / NO
  6. Are you afraid that something bad is going to happen to you? YES / NO
  7. Do you feel happy most of the time? YES / NO
  8. Do you often feel helpless? YES / NO
  9. Do you prefer to stay at home, rather than going out and doing new things? YES / NO
  10. Do you feel you have more problems with memory than most? YES / NO
  11. Do you think it is wonderful to be alive now? YES / NO
  12. Do you feel pretty worthless the way you are now? YES / NO
  13. Do you feel full of energy? YES / NO
  14. Do you feel that your situation is hopeless? YES / NO 
  15. Do you think that most people are better off than you are? YES / NO

Scoring Instructions: Score 1 point for each bolded answer. 
  1. YES  /  NO
  2. YES  /  NO
  3. YES  /  NO
  4. YES  /  NO
  5. YES  /  NO
  6. YES  /  NO
  7. YES  /  NO
  8. YES  /  NO
  9. YES  /  NO
  10. YES  /  NO
  11. YES  /  NO
  12. YES  /  NO
  13. YES  /  NO
  14. YES  /  NO
  15. YES  /  NO

    A score greater than or equal to 5 suggests depression. Scores greater than or equal to 10 are almost always depression.

Wednesday, May 2

Too Much Junk Food Can Lead to Depression

A lot of people in today's world love to eat junk food. Is it because our lives are so fast-paced we don't have the time to cook healthy dinners or do we simply love the taste of hamburgers and hot dogs. Who knows! All we know is that junk food is unhealthy and expands our waistline. But could the consumption of junk food also be linked to depression? A study suggests exactly that. The study indicates people who regularly eat commercial baked goods like doughnuts and croissants, or fast foods such as pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs, are at greater risk for depression.

In the study, done by researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada, researchers looked at nearly 9,000 people for six years. Participants were asked to report how frequently they ate certain foods - especially fast foods such as burgers, fries and baked goods.

At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had been diagnosed with clinical depression, but by the end of the study, almost 500 had depression. Participants who ate the most fast food were 51 percent more likely to develop clinical depression than those who ate the least.

Contributor Dr. Holly Phillips said on an interview given to CBS that the findings of the study are really, really shocking.

I don't really find it that shocking. The fact that omega-3 fatty acids are essential building materials for the brain during development and crucial to proper brain function and maintenance, has been proven years ago. Joseph R. Hibbeln even linked the deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids to violent behaviour.

Anyways, eat fish and stay away from those burgers!

Sunday, April 29

4 Powerful Tips for Breaking Bad Habits

1. Replace The Old Bad Habit With a New And Advisedly Good Habit
When you quit a bad habit such as smoking or drinking too much coffee in the morning, you create a hole in your daily routine. It is very important to find a new habit to fill that hole. Concentrating on an another activity helps to fight temptation. Start going jogging or pick up some other new healthy habit that you find interesting.

2. Motivate Yourself
Sit down and write a list of all the aspects of your life that will benefit from breaking the bad habit. Carry the list with you at all times. Whenever you feel tempted to return to the bad habit, read the list and think about how far you have already come. Do you really want to throw all that away? No? Good!

3. Use Social Pressure
Tell your friends, family, coworkers or classmates about what you are doing. This way you will feel more obliged to commit to the plan and not give up.

4. Look Ahead, Not The Now
Don't focus your mind on the bad habit and the fact that you are trying to break it. Focus your mind on other things. Move on! 

Saturday, April 28

What Does Your Taste in Music Say About Your Personality?

 If we took a glimpse into someone's bedroom or office, it would provide us with clues about that someone's habits and character. But what about scrolling through someone's iPod playlist? Could a person's musical preferences reveal information about his or her personality? Well according to the psychologists Jason Rentfrow (of the University of Cambridge in the UK) and Sam Gosling (from the University of Texas), a person's taste in music can tell a great deal about his or her personality.

For example, researches showed that people could make accurate judgments about an individual's levels of extraversion, creativity and open-mindedness after listening to ten of their favorite songs. The study showed that extraverts tend to prefer songs with heavy bass line and those who enjoy more complex styles such as jazz and classical music tend to be more creative and intelligent.

Another study conducted by researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, looked at more than 36,000 participants from all over the world. Participants were asked to rate more than 104 different musical styles in addition to offering information about aspects of their personality.

So what did they find out? 

The following are some of the personality traits linked to certain musical styles.

Do you like to watch MTV? Are you happy listening to the top 40 hits? Do you like the latest songs from Rihanna and Selena Gomez? If you do, then chances are that you tend to be extraverted, honest and conventional. The research also suggests that while pop music lovers are hard-working and have a high self-esteem, they tend to be less creative and more uneasy.

Rap and Hip-Hop
Despite the stereotype that rap and hip-hop lovers are aggressive and violent, researchers have found no links between aggressiveness and the aforementioned music styles. Although, what the researchers did find was that people who like to listen to rap and hip-hop tend to have high self-esteem and are usually outgoing

Do you prefer CMT to MTV? People who like country music are typically hardworking, conventional and outgoing. Alhtough, country songs are often centered on heartbreak, people who like to listen to country music tend to be emotionally stable.

Rock and Heavy Metal
In spite of the sometimes aggressive image that rock and heavy metal project, researchers found the fans of these music styles to be quite gentle. Fans of rock and heavy metal also tend to be creative, but they are often introverted and may even suffer from low self-esteem.

Fans of the indie genre are typically introverted, intellectual and creative. However, on the downside, researchers found indie fans to be less hard-working and less gentle. Passivity, anxiousness and low self-esteem are other common characteristics of indie fans.

Do you prefer to listen to the fast-paced rhythms of dance music? Researchers found that people who prefer dance music are usually outgoing and assertive.

Classical Music
Admirers of classical music are typically more introverted, but they are also at ease with themselves and the world around them. They are usually creative people with a good sense of self-esteem.

Jazz, Blues and Soul Music
Fans of jazz, blues or soul music were found to be more extraverted with high self-esteem. They also tend to be creative, intelligent and at ease.

According to researcher Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, the reason people sometimes intend to get defensive about their taste in music might be related to how much it relates to attitudes and personality. "People do actually define themselves through music and relate to other people through it but we haven’t known in detail how music is connected to identity," he explained.

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Sunday, April 22

What Your Dog's Breed Says About You

Why are we drawn towards certain dog breeds? Does it have something to do with who we are? If so, then can we tell something about a dog owner's personality based on his or her dog's breed?  Well, a new study suggests exactly that.

 Researchers at Bath Spa University in Bath, England, conducted an online questionnaire for a thousand dog owners that revealed that a person’s choice of dog breed is likely to indicate how they rank in the five common personality traits – conscientiousness, intelligence and creativity, emotional stability, extroversion and agreeableness.

 The study split the 210 pedigree dog breeds recognized by the Kennel Club into their seven official groups (utility, toy, pastoral, gundog, hound, working and terrier) and found that when it came to dog ownership:

• Pastoral and Utility breed owners score highest on ‘Extroversion’
• Gundogs and Toy owners are highest on ‘Agreeableness’
• Utility dog owners top score on ‘Conscientiousness’
• Hound dog owners have the highest ‘Emotional Stability’
• Toy dog owners come out highest on ‘Intelligence’ and ‘Creativity’

 According to the study, extroverted owners are more likely to opt for pastoral and utility breeds and the most creative and intelligent people are likely to opt for toy breeds, such as Chihuahuas.

Dr Workman, senior lecturer and subject leader for psychology at Bath Spa University, said: "This study indicates that we might be able to make predictions about someone’s personality based on the breed of dog that they choose to own. It seems that likely that personality types are subconsciously drawn to certain breeds."

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Thursday, April 19

Evolution of Prejudice: Research reveals beginnings of racism in monkeys

 Us and them. Right and wrong. Familiar and foreign. We have a strong tendency to pigeonhole people and to be prejudiced towards others based on their group affiliations, race, ethnic origin, religious beliefs and other factors. And we do not know why is that so. Psychologists have long known that many of our prejudices operate automatically, but why are we prone to prejudice in the first place? Well, new research, using monkeys, suggests that the roots of prejudice lie deep in our evolutionary past.

 Yale graduate student Neha Mahajan and a team of psychologists went to the uninhabited Puerto Rico island of Cayo Santiago, also known as "Monkey Island", to study the behaviour of rhesus monkeys. Because like humans, rhesus monkeys live in groups and form social bonds.
 To see whether monkeys distinguish between insiders (part of the group) and outsiders (part of another group), the researchers measured the amount of time the monkeys stared at photographed face of an insider versus the outsider monkey. Across several experiments, the researchers found that the monkeys stared longer at the faces of outsiders suggesting that they were more wary.  

 To make sure that monkeys did not stare longer at the faces of outsiders out of simple curiosity, the team of psychologists paired familiar outsider faces (monkeys that had recently left the group) with monkeys which had recently joined. Even though in this test the monkeys were more familiar with the faces of the outsiders than they were with the faces of the insiders, they continued to stare longer at the faces of the outsiders.
 These tests show that monkeys clearly are making distinctions based on group affiliations.

 In order to find out whether the animals also had negative feelings towards the outsiders or not, Mahajan and her colleagues paired the photos of insider and outsider monkeys with either good things, such as fruits, or bad things, such as spiders. When a photo of an insiders face was paired with a fruit, or a photo of an outsiders face was paired with a spider, the monkeys lost interest fast. However, when a photo of an insiders face was paired with a spider, the monkeys looked longer. The researches assumed that the monkeys found it confusing when something good was paired with something bad. 

 This research is believed to suggest that monkeys do not only distinguish between insiders and outsiders, but they also associate insiders with good things and outsiders with bad things. And that overall, the results of this research support an evolutionary basis of prejudice.

Thursday, April 12

14 Strange Mental Disorders

  I have put together a list of strange disorders. Although some of these strange disorders and syndromes may seem unbelievable, they are all real and serious conditions. Fortunately, most of these strange disorders are rather rare and not many people suffer from them.

1. Stockholm Syndrome - "Being kidnapped isn't that bad because the kidnappers are actually pretty darn sweet peeps."
It's a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors. Hostages who have Stockholm Syndrome often mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness and defend them after they are arrested.

The FBI's Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 27% of kidnap victims show evidence of Stockholm Syndrome.
The syndrome is named after the robbery of Kreditbanken in Stockholm, in which bank employees were held hostages from August 23 to August 28, 1973. In this case, victims became emotionally attached to their captors, even defended them after they were freed from the bank.
There also is a syndrome called Lima Syndrome, in which abductors develop sympathy for their hostages. It's named after an abduction at the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru in 1996, where most of the hostages were set free within a few hours, due to sympathy.

2. Capgras delusion theory - "Somebody who looks exactly like my wife is claiming that she is my wife. But I know that she is lying."
It's a strange disorder in which a person holds a delusion that a friend, spouse or close family member has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor.
The Capgras delusion is named after a Joseph Capgras, a French psychiatrist, who first described the disorder in 1929 in his paper co-authored by Reboul Lachaux on the case of a French woman who complained that corresponding "doubles" had taken the places of her husband and other people she knew.

3. The Fregoli Delusion or the delusion of doubles - "I don't believe that I have two friends, just one who sometimes likes to change his appearance to look like the other."
It's pretty much the opposite of the Capgras delusion. A rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that different people are in fact a single person who changes appearance or is in disguise.
The condition is named after the Italian actor Leopoldo Fregoli who was renowned for his ability to make quick changes of appearance during his stage act.

4. Alice-in-Wonderland syndrome aka Todd's syndrome - "Oh wow, what a trip!"
It's a disorienting neurological condition that affects human perception. A temporary condition that is often associated with migraines, brain tumors and the use of psychoactive drugs.
A sufferer may feel that part of their body shape or size has been altered and perceive that other humans, animals and objects are smaller than in reality.

5. Celebriphilia - an intense desire to have a romantic relationship with a celebrity. Remember that just a little teenage crush on a celebrity doesn't make you a celebriphil. You can consider yourself a celebriphil If you are totally obsessed with the idea of having romantic relationship with a famouse person.

6. Alien hand syndrome aka Dr. Strangelove syndrome - when one of your hands starts to mind its own business.
It's a neurological disorder in which the afflicted person's hand appears to take on a mind of its own. Alien hand can perform complex acts such as undoing buttons and use tools on its own.
It may occur after brain surgery, strokes, infections and extreme case of epilepsy.

7. Hybristophilia - "OMG! That serial killer on death row is so darn fine!"
It's a paraphilia involving being sexually aroused or attracted to people who have committed an outrage or a gruesome crime. In pop culture, it's also known as Bonnie and Clyde syndrome.
For an example, Ian Huntley, the man charged with the Soham murders, gets bundles of fan mail every day.

8. Münchausen syndrome aka hospital addiction syndrome or hospital hopper syndrome.
It's a psychiatric factitious disorder wherein those affected feign disease, illness or psychological trauma to draw attention or sympathy to themselves.
The syndrome is named after Baron Münchhausen, a German nobleman, who purportedly told many fantastic and impossible stories about himself, which Rudolf Raspe later published as The Surprising Adventures of Baron Münchhausen.

9. Irregular repetitive speech syndrome aka foreign accent syndrome.
It's a very rare medical condition involving speech repetition that usually occurs as a side effect to severe brain injury. Those suffering from condition pronounce their native language with an accent that to listeners may be mistaken as foreign or dialectical.
There have been 60 recorded cases in between 1941 and 2009.

10. Koro aka genital retraction syndrome or shrinking penis.
It's a culture-specific syndrome from Southeast Asia in which the person has an overpowering belief that his penis or other genitalia is shrinking and will shortly disappear. For females, the belief focuses on nipples retracting or shrinking.
There have even been cases of koro occurring amongst many people at the same time. That is called penis panic.
11. The Cotard delusion aka Cotard's syndrome or walking corpse syndrome.
It is a rare neuropsychiatric disorder in which the sufferers hold a delusional belief that they are dead, do not exist, are putrefying or have lost their blood or internal organs. Sometimes it can even include delusion of immortality.
The syndrome is named after a French neurologist, Jules Cotard who first described the condition in 1880. Cotard described a patient who denied the existence of God, the Devil, several parts of her body, and her need to eat. She believed that she was eternally damned and could not die a natural death. She later died of starvation.

12. Depersonalization disorder - when life is like watching a demo clip of a video game, instead of playing it yourself.
It is a dissociative disorder in which the sufferer is affected by persistent or recurrent feelings of depersonalization and/or derealization. The sufferers feel like they are going through the motions of life but don't experience it and feel as if they are in a movie. They feel disconnected from their bodies and find relating oneself to reality and the environment very difficult.
Remember that occasional moments of depersonalization are totally normal.

 13. Reduplicative paramnesia - "They have moved me into another house, although they made it look just like mine, I know it's just a duplicate"
It is a rare delusional belief that a place or location has been duplicated, existing in two or more places in the same time, or has been relocated to another site.
It is associated with brain injuries.

14. Pica - "Oh wow, that rock looks delicious!"
It's an strange eating disorder where a sufferer will consume things that are not considered nutritive nor edible. They may consume rocks, hair, dirt, buttons and so on. Pica can lead to surgical emergencies and intoxication.
Pica can be from a cultural tradition, acquired taste or a neurological mechanism such as an iron deficiency, or chemical imbalance. Pica has also been linked to mental disability.
Pica is named after the Latin word for magpie, a bird, that is known to eat almost anything.

Saturday, April 7

The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a study on deferred gratification conducted in 1972 by Walter Mischel of Standford University. The purpose of the study was to understand when the control of deferred gratification, the ability to wait to obtain something that one desires, develops in children.
 The children were led to sit by a table in a room, empty of distractions, where a treat of their choice (marshmallow, Oreo cookie or pretzel stick) was placed in front of them. The children were then told that they can eat the marshmallow (or the Oreo cookie or pretzel stick), but if they waited for 15 minutes, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.
In over 600 kids who took part in the experiment, only a minority ate the marshmallow immediately. Of those who attempted to wait, one-third deferred gratification long enough to get the second marshmallow.
 Follow-up studies, in 1988 and 1990, showed that "preschool children who delayed gratification longer in the self-imposed delay paradigm, were described more than 10 years later by their parents as adolescents who were significantly more competent" and that the ability to delay gratification also correlated with higher SAT scores.
 There are few filmed reproductions of the marshmallow experiment up on YouTube. Let's watch one and see how kids try to resist marshmallow temptation. It's fun, I promise!

Sunday, April 1

Barnum Statements

Phineas Taylor Barnum

In 1948, psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave a personality test to his students and told them that they are each receiving a unique analysis based on the test's results which he asked the studends to rate on a scale of 0 (very poor) to 5 (excellent) on how well it applied to themselves. However, each student actually received the same analysis:  
"You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Your sexual adjustment has presented problems for you. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life."
 The students did not know that they had received identical copies assembled by Forer from various horoscopes till after rating the analysis. On average, the rating that students gave to the analysis was 4.26.

As you can see the analysis consisted of various statements that could easily apply equally to anyone. These statements were later named Barnum statements.

Further studies on Barnum Statements have found that subjects give higher accuracy ratings only if the subject believes that the analysis applies to him or her, the subject believes in the authority of the evaluator and the analysis lists mainly positive traits.

In today's world barnum statements are a widely used tool. Newspaper astrologers - horoscope writers - use barnum statements to make their thin made-up facts apply to as large an audience as possible. Barnum statements are also widely used among mentalists, psychics, fortune-teller and illusionists.

Why do people believe barnum statements?

People intend to believe these statements because they are usually so generally worded that there practically is nothing to disagree with.

If you want to read more about Barnum Statements, I would recommend an article by EZ Psychology - Barnum Statements.

If you want to experience the forer effect then try this test put together merely to demonstrate the forer effect and Barnum statements.

Saturday, March 10

Serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

What they are?
Serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are a class of antidepressant drugs used in psychiatric treatment. They are primarily used in the treatment of clinical depression, but also in the treatment of anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OC), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), chronic neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and other mood disorders. Sometimes serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are even used to relieve menopausal symptoms.

How do they work?
Serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are different from
other classes of antidepressants because they affect only neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Research has shown that the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine play an important role in the regulation of mood and that mood disorder, such as medical depression or anxiety, can sometimes be explained by abnormal neurotransmitter activity. SNRIs correct imbalances of serotonin and norepinephrine levels.

SNRIs achieve this by blocking the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, this allows more serotonin and norepinephrine to be available in the brain. That is believed to increase the effect of these neurotransmitters. As serotonin can elevate mood and cause a calming effect and norepinephrine can increase alertness, concentration and motivation, SNRIs are believed to relieve clinical depression and other mood disorders.

Do SNRIs have any side effects?
Yes. Side effects of serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are similar to side effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) as they have a similar mechanism of action.
Side effects include: drowsiness, headache, nausea, changes in appetite, vivid dreams, sexual dysfunction, dry mouth, anorexia, sweating, insomnia, nervousness, tremor and hypertension.

Are SNRIs addictive?
No but like SSRIs, Serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors can also have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms with the most serious symptoms relating to withdrawal syndrome.

Withdrawal symptoms include: dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, irritability, unpleasent sensations, such as tingling, burning and shocks, nightmares, tremors, lack of coordination, aggressiveness, suicidal thoughts and balance problems.

What types of Serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are currently availabe?

  • Effexor ( Effexor or Efexor) - the first and most commonly used SNRI, works also on dopamine, but mostly effects serotonin and norepinephrine.
  • Nefazodone (Serzone, Nefadar) - Serzone is without sexual side effects.
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta, Ariclaim, Xeristar, Yentreve, Duzela)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofane) - technically a tricyclic antidepressant, but works on both serotonin and norepinephrine, so it can aslo be categorized as an SNRI.
  • Milnacipran (Ixel, Savella, Dalcipran, Toledomin)  - is not approved for the clinical treatment of clinical depression in the USA, but is available in Europe and Asia.

Monday, March 5

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of compounds typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, depersonalization disorder and some other personality disorders.

Do they work?
A meta-analysis done in 2010 states that "The magnitude of benefit of antidepressant medication
compared with placebo ... may be minimal or nonexistent, on average, in patients with mild or moderate symptoms. For patients with very severe depression, the benefit of medications over placebo is substantial."
Thus we can draw a conclusion that they do relieve severe depression.

How do they work?
SSRIs are believed to block the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Changing the balance
of serotonin seems to help brain cells send and receive chemical messages, which is believed to boost mood. SSRIs are called selective because they seem to only affect serotonin, not other neurotransmitters.

Do SSRIs have any side effects?
Very common - more than 1 person out of 10 may experience these - side effects are the following: nausea, low sex drive and withdrawal effects when stopping taking SSRIs.
Common - 1 person out of 10 may experience these - side effects are the following: blurred vision, dizziness, dry mouth, insomnia or hypersomnia, low appetite, sweating, diarrhoea or obstipation and agitation.
Less common - 1 person out of 100 may experience - are the following: bruising, bleeding, vomiting and vomiting blood, lack of movement, stiffness, abnormal movements of the mouth and tongue, hallucinations, inability to urinate and weight gain.
Rare and very rare side effects are the following: restlessness, convulsions or worsening of epilepsy, elevated mood, anxiety, allergic reaction (breathing difficulties, skin rashes, swelling of the eyelids, face, lips or tongue, itching), serotonin syndrome and glaucoma.

Are they addictive?
No. But SSRIs can have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms (aka discontinuation syndrome) when taking the drugs is stopped suddenly. These are usually avoided or minimised by gradually decreasing the doses of SSRIs over a period of few weeks, before quiting entirely.

What are the withdrawal symptoms?
Dizziness, numbness, nausea, vomiting, headache, sweating, anxiety and sleep disturbances.

Which are the most recommended SSRIs?
The one prescribed by your doctor.
In Unites States, only 5 manufacturers of SSRIs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Approved are the following: fluvoxamine maleate (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa) and fluoxetine (Prozac).

Sunday, March 4


What are antidepressants?
Antidepressants are psychiatric medications used to relieve mood disorders, such as depression, dysthymia and anxiety disorders.

 Do antidepressants work?
Yes and no.
An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that antidepressants are no more effective than placebos. In the other hand, there are many psychiatrists who protect the clinical efficacy of antidepressants. For an example, psychiatrist Peter Kramer wrote in his best-selling book Listening to Prozac that this miracle drug made patients "better than well." Data from clinical trials has shown that people treated with placebos improve about 75% as much as patients treated with antidepressants. Therefore, there is proof of efficacy.
How do they work?
There are many different classes of antidepressants. Each of them work on your brain chemistry in a different way. Each increases certain neurotransmitters in the brain and may do this in different parts of the brain.
Different types of antidepressants include:
Are there any side effects of taking antidepressants?
Yes! Different classes have different side-effects. It is very important to let your doctor know or to be reminded of medical conditions you have had in the past or have at the moment.
Are antidepressants addictive?
One-third of people who stop taking SSRIs and SNRIs have withdrawal symptoms. They can last from 2 weeks to 2 months.

Saturday, March 3

Are nutritional deficiencies causing violent behaviour?

A study in a high-security prison for young offenders in the UK shows that violent behaviour may be attributable at least in part to nutritional deficiencies.

 ...the number of violent offences they committed fell by 37%
The UK prison trial at Aylesbury jail showed that when prisoners were put on a healthy diet consisting of multivitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, the number of violent offences they committed fell by 37%. Once the trial had finished and the prisoners were off the healthy diet, the number of offences went up by the same amount.

 Joseph R. Hibbeln, MD, acting chief, Section on Nutritional Neurosciences at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, said that the results of this trial are not a miracle, but simply what you might predict if you understand the biochemistry of the brain and the biophysics of the brain cell membrane. His hypothesis is that modern industrialised diets may be changing the very architecture and functioning of the brain.

Hibbeln explained that over the last century most western countries have undergone a dramatic shift in the composition of their diets. The omega-3 fatty acids that are essential to the brain have been flooded out by omega-6 fatty acids, mainly from industrial oils - soya, corn, sunflower. For an example, in 1909 soya oil made up only 0.02% of all calories available in that year, but by 2000 it was up to 20%.
For the most part, these omega-6 fatty acids come from industrial frying for takeaways, ready meals, margarine and snack foods such as crisps, chips, ice-creams and biscuits.What makes the situation even worse is alcohol consumption. Alcohol uses up omega-3s in the brain.

As the consumption of omega-6 goes up, so do homicides...
Joseph R. Hibbeln and his colleagues have mapped the growth in consumption of omega-6 fatty acids from seed oils in 38 countries since the 1960s against the rise in murder rates over the same period and in all cases there is disquieting match. As the consumption of omega-6 goes up, so do homicides in a linear progression. The countries like Japan where omega-3 consumption has remained high (because people in those countries eat a lot of fish), have lower rates of murder and depression.

As many other things besides the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids have changed in the last century, this study doesn't prove that high omega-6 and low omega-3 fat consumption
causes violence, but I do think that at least in part violent behaviour can be attributable to nutritional deficiencies. Also, I advise everyone to add more fish and seafood to their diet.

And now, last but not least, let's take a look at the diet of one young offender (sentenced by the British courts on 13 occasions for stealing trucks).

Bernard Gesch, a senior research scientist in the Department of Physiology, University of Oxford, recorded the boy's daily diet as follows:
  • Breakfast: nothing (asleep)
  • Mid morning: nothing (asleep)
  • Lunchtime: 4 or 5 cups of coffee with milk and 2½ heaped teaspoons of sugar
  • Mid afternoon: 3 or 4 cups of coffee with milk and 2½ heaped sugars
  • Tea: chips, egg, ketchup, 2 slices of white bread, 5 cups of tea or coffee with milk and sugar
  • Evening: 5 cups of tea or coffee with milk and sugar, 20 cigarettes, £2 worth of sweets, cakes and if money available 3 or 4 pints of beer.


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