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Adjusting to Modern Life

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1 Adjusting to Modern Life
Chapter 1 Adjusting to Modern Life

2 The Paradox of Progress
What is the “Paradox of Progress”? Today, we enjoy more technological advances, more leisure time and choices than ever before. However, we are not happier. In fact, our perceived quality of life seems to be worse. Why is this so?

3 The Paradox of Progress (cont.)
Possible explanations: Traditional sources of emotional security, such as family, community and religion have been lost. We are overwhelmed by rapid cultural change. Mental demands of modern life have become too complex. Excessive materialism has weakened social ties, makes us insecure and has undermined our sense of well-being.

4 The Search for Direction
The greatest challenge of modern life may be our search for meaning in life or a sense of direction. In desperation, people turn to many ineffective and/or self-destructive sources for enlightenment (e.g., radio personalities, cults) One of the most prominent sources is self-help books. But, how valuable are they?

5 The Search for Direction (cont.)
The value of self-help books. Excellent self-help books do exist. However, many are not effective because: their message is too vague to be useful; they are not based on solid, scientific research; and they don’t provide explicit directions for changing behavior.

6 The Search for Direction (cont.)
What to look for in a good self-help book: Clarity in communication. Books that are realistic - that don’t promise too much. Advice that is grounded in a theoretical framework supported by research. Explicit directions for changing behavior. Books that focus on a particular kind of problem or behavior.

7 The Psychology of Adjustment
Psychology is “the science that studies behavior and the physiological and mental processes that underlie it, and it is the profession that applies the accumulated knowledge of this science to practical problems”. Adjustment is “the psychological processes through which people manage or cope with the demands and challenges of everyday life”.

8 The Scientific Approach to Behavior
The commitment to empiricism. Empiricism is “the premise that knowledge should be acquired through observation”. Thus, the conclusions of scientific psychology are based on careful, systemic observation rather than speculation or “common sense”.

9 The Scientific Approach to Behavior (cont.)
Advantages of the scientific approach. Clarity and precision – empiricism demands that scientists state exactly what they are referring to in their hypothesis. Relative intolerance for error. Scientists’ ideas are subjected to empirical tests. Their ideas and research are scrutinized by other scientists.

10 The Scientific Approach to Behavior (cont.)
Experimental research: looking for causes. The experiment is “a research method in which the investigator manipulates one (independent) variable under carefully controlled conditions, and observes whether any changes occur in a second (dependent) variable as a result”.

11 The Scientific Approach to Behavior (cont.)
An independent variable – “is a condition or event that an experimenter varies in order to see its impact on another variable”. It is the variable the researcher manipulates in the experiment. The dependent variable – “is the variable that is thought to be affected by the manipulations of the independent variable”. It is usually a measurement of behavior. See Schachter’s (1959) study in Figure 1.2.

12 Figure 1. 2 The basic elements of an experiment
Figure 1.2 The basic elements of an experiment. This diagram provides an overview of the key features of the experimental method, as illustrated by Schachter’s study of anxiety and affiliation. The logic of the experiment rests on treating the experimental and control groups alike except for the manipulation of the independent variable. Figure 1.2

13 The Scientific Approach to Behavior (cont.)
The experimental group – “consists of the subjects who receive some special treatment in regard to the independent variable”. In Schachter’s (1959) study, the experimental group was told the shocks would be painful. The control group – “consists of similar subjects who do not receive the special treatment given to the experimental group”. In Schachter’s (1959) study, the control group was told the shocks would not be painful.

14 The Scientific Approach to Behavior (cont.)
Determining cause and effect in experiments. If the experimental and control groups are alike in every way except for the treatment from the independent variable (whether shock will be painful), and If a difference in the dependent variable is found (e.g., desire to affiliate), This means that the difference in their response must be due to the independent variable (e.g., fear of the painful shock).

15 The Scientific Approach to Behavior (cont.)
Measuring correlation. A correlation coefficient is “a numerical index of the degree of relationship that exists between two variables”. It provides two pieces of information: The direction (positive or negative) of the relationship, & The strength of two related variables.

16 The Scientific Approach to Behavior (cont.)
Positive Correlations – “indicate that two variables covary in the same direction”. High scores on variable x are related to high scores on variable y. Negative Correlations – “indicate that two variables covary in the opposite direction”. High scores on variable x are related to low scores on variable y (see Figure 1.3).

17 Figure 1. 3 Positive and negative correlations
Figure 1.3 Positive and negative correlations. Variables are positively correlated if they tend to increase and decrease together and are negatively correlated if one variable tends to increase when the other decreases. Hence, the terms positive correlation and negative correlation refer to the direction of the relationship between two variables. Figure 1.3

18 The Scientific Approach to Behavior (cont.)
Strength of the correlation is indicated by the size of the correlation coefficient. Correlation coefficients can range from 0 to (for positive correlations); and from 0 to (for negative correlations). Coefficients near 0 indicate there is no association, or a very weak association between variables. Coefficients near either or -1.00, indicate strong associations (see Figure 1.4).

19 Figure 1. 4 Interpreting correlation coefficients
Figure 1.4 Interpreting correlation coefficients. The magnitude of a correlation coefficient indicates the strength of the relationship between two variables. The closer a correlation is to either or -1.00, the stronger the relationship between the variables. The square of a correlation, which is graphed here, is an index of the correlation’s strength and predictive power. Figure 1.4

20 The Scientific Approach to Behavior (cont.)
Common methods of finding correlations between variables include: Naturalistic observation – “careful observation of behavior without intervening directly with the subjects”. Case studies – “in-depth investigation of an individual participant”. Surveys – “structured questionnaires designed to solicit information about specific aspects of participants’ behavior”.

21 The Scientific Approach to Behavior (cont.)
Advantages of using correlations. The main advantage of correlations is that they allow us to explore variables not suitable for experimental research. (e.g. it may not be ethical to purposely manipulate some variables.) Thus, correlations allow investigation of a broader array of psychological phenomena than is possible in experimental research.

22 The Scientific Approach to Behavior (cont.)
Disadvantages of using correlations. Correlations only tell us that two variables are related, not how the two variables are related. x could be causing changes in y y could be causing changes in x, or z, a third variable, could be causing changes in x and y (see Figure 1.7). Thus, we cannot determine cause and effect from correlations alone.

23 Figure 1. 7 Possible causal relations between correlated variables
Figure 1.7 Possible causal relations between correlated variables. When two variables are correlated, there are several possible explanations. It could be that x causes y, that y causes x, or that a third variable, z, causes changes in both x and y. As the correlation between marital satisfaction and sexual satisfaction illustrates, the correlation itself does not provide the answer. Figure 1.7

24 The Roots of Happiness: An Empirical Analysis
What makes people happy? What is not very important: Money – the correlation between income and happiness is very weak (.13) in U.S. Age – age accounts for less than 1% of variation in reported happiness. Gender – gender also accounts for less than 1% of variation in reported happiness.

25 The Roots of Happiness (cont.)
What is not very important: (cont.) Parenthood – good and bad aspects of parenthood offset each other. Intelligence – there is no association between IQ and happiness. Physical attractiveness – attractive people enjoy many advantages in society, but the relationship with happiness is very weak.

26 The Roots of Happiness (cont.)
What is somewhat important: Health – health and happiness have a positive correlation of .32. Social activity – people who are satisfied with their friendships report above-average levels of happiness. Religion – people with sincere religious convictions are more likely to be happy.

27 The Roots of Happiness (cont.)
What is very important: Love and marriage – across cultures, for men and women, married people are happier than people who are single or divorced. Work – job satisfaction is strongly related to happiness. Personality – extraversion (or positive emotionality) is a strong predictor of happiness.

28 The Roots of Happiness (cont.)
Conclusions regarding roots of happiness: Subjective feelings of happiness are more important than objective measures. Happiness is relative. We evaluate our happiness relative to what others around us have, and We evaluate our happiness relative to our own expectations.

29 The Roots of Happiness (cont.)
Happiness is affected by hedonic adaptation. This occurs when “the mental scale that people use to judge the pleasantness-unpleasantness of their experiences shifts so that their neutral point, or baseline for comparison, is changed”. (e.g. when circumstances improve, such as income, our baseline for happiness increases as well, so we don’t feel happier.)

30 Application: Improving Academic Performance
Tips for developing sound study habits. Set up a schedule for studying. Find a place to study where you can concentrate. Reward your studying.

31 Improving Academic Performance (cont.)
Improving your reading. SQ3R is “a study system designed to promote effective reading that includes five steps”: Survey – glance at headings of material. Question – convert these into questions. Read – try to answer the questions. Recite – recite your answers out loud. Review – go back over key points.

32 Improving Academic Performance (cont.)
Tips for getting more out of lectures. Use active listening. Prepare for lecture by reading ahead. Write down lecturer’s thoughts in your own words. Ask questions during lecture.

33 Improving Academic Performance (cont.)
Tips for applying memory principles. Engage in adequate practice. Use overlearning – “continued rehearsal of material after you have first appeared to master it”. Use distributed practice – breaking up studying is more effective than cramming. Minimize interference – before an exam, try not to study material from other classes.

34 Improving Academic Performance (cont.)
Organize information – outline material from your text to enhance retention. Emphasize deep processing – try to make material personally meaningful. Use verbal mnemonics, or memory aids. (e.g. the narrative method [see Figure 1.14].) Use visual mnemonics. (e.g. the Method of Loci [see Figure 1.15].)

35 Figure 1. 14 The narrative method
Figure The narrative method. Two examples of the narrative method for memorizing lists are shown here (Bower & Clark, 1969). The words to be memorized are listed on the left, and the stories constructed to remember them are shown on the right. Figure 1.14

36 Figure 1. 15 The method of loci
Figure The method of loci. In this example from Bower (1970), a person about to go shopping pairs items to be remembered with familiar places (loci) arranged in a natural sequence: (1) hot dogs/driveway; (2) cat food/garage; (3) tomatoes/front door; (4) bananas/coat closet; (5) whiskey/kitchen sink. As the last panel shows, the shopper recalls the items by mentally touring the loci associated with them. Figure 1.15

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