Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Procedure of Extinction

According to our text, extinction is when a behavior that is usually rewarded is no longer rewarded, such as the rat pressing the lever and no longer receiving food. In theory without a reward the behavior should cease. However, spontaneous recovery is the reappearance of an extinguished conditioned response following a period of rest after extinction has occurred.

Let’s look at a real life example. For two years when John sent a text message to Kathleen, she would respond. This response was a reward for John because he enjoyed talking to Kathleen. When Kathleen broke up with John, he tried to text her, but did not receive a response. His behavior of texting Kathleen went through the procedure of extinction because he did not receive a reward.

But, after a week of not texting Kathleen, John decided to text her again in an attempt to receive a response. Here we can see spontaneous recovery of the old behavior that was once rewarded. In cases of spontaneous recovery, no reward can be given to decrease the likelihood that the response will be repeated, so Kathleen did not reply. After twenty more unanswered text messages, John stopped offering the behavior of texting. 

Delay of Gratification

Mischel’s delay of gratification paradigm highlights that children who focused less on the item they desired were more likely to be successful in this test. Children that focused on the desired object were less likely to succeed at this delayed gratification process. The text states suggests that “one’s ability to devise appropriate tactics to delay gratification is a basic skill that can enhance many areas of one’s life.”

This statement, and process of focusing on other things to delay gratification, are true for adults as well as children. In the act of dieting for example, it is easier to avoid junk food if you are focusing on other activities/foods.

At home, close your eyes and try to "not think about a cookie." Chances are you pictured a cookie or thought about a cookie in some way! Thinking “don’t eat the cookie” instantly triggers the mind to think more strongly about the cookie, as if the brain skips over the "don't". With observing Mischel’s delay of gratification paradigm we can assume that adults that are able to think of other things besides the cookie are less likely to break down and eat it. This is where focusing on other tasks/objects becomes increasingly helpful in avoiding the dreaded cookie! 

Positive Reinforcement

S’more, a 4 month old border collie, and I demonstrate some basic positive reinforcement. Often she gets far too excited in the crate to be let out, in teaching her to have “manners” we reward her for sitting. You will see that my reward time is delayed in comparison to her sit, this is because I’m reinforcing her for staying in the sit as well. 

No different from the examples in our text, for each correct response S’more receives a reward which strengthens the future response. 

Aversive and Appetitive stimuli

My dog, moe.bear hates the rain. (That's his name "moe.bear". Don't take off points for grammar haha). Therefore rain is an aversive stimulus to my pup. Even though he has to go to relieve himself, he refuses to get wet. He also fears the hose and the shower. I've linked a video demonstrating him with the rain.

moe.bear and the rain

One of my cats, Jetta absolutely loves cups of water as opposed to all the awful floor bowls throughout the house. In light of her just knocking over water onto my phone, I'll include an example of an appetitive stimulus as well:

Jetta and her purple cup of doom

Theory of Mind: Cooperation and Deception

So these concepts I find pretty interesting. I would like to see research done on peoples’ levels of theory of mind and how it correlates with personal success. Success can be achieved through both cooperation and deception. Which is more effective? Our book mentions that chimps are very competitive among each other, so cooperation is uncommon. Bonobos, who are a little closer to humans are much more peaceful and cooperative. Humans are (slightly) more cooperative that bonobos, but display exceptional skills of deception. Studying these types of things may be critical for achieving some type of peace on this war-torn planet.

Fixed Action Patterns

Fixed Action Patterns

Fixed action patterns (or FAP… okay, maybe we won’t use that acronym on the internet) are very interesting behavioral reflexes. They are generally geared more towards complex communication rather than a simple flexion response. I would like to correct (or expand on) some things in our book on page 99.

“Dogs indicate their desire to play by wagging their tails, stretching out their front legs, and lowering their heads to the ground.” – This is true, however this is more complex than that. Dogs will do this when they want to play, but are slightly unsure of the situation. Perhaps the releaser (other dog) is very shy or is strange looking with a fluffy coat.

Also, male Betta fish can be kept together, provided the right environment (plenty of places to hide and ample food). When studying behavior (professionally or in everyday social situations) we must be careful not to stereotype behavior. They are jerks though, my current male recently at $30 of algae-eating shrimp! Being how fixed action patterns are so complex, it is easy for them to be mistaken.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Types of Psychology?

I have taken a few Psychology classes during my time at Stockton, and one issue continues to arise while I am learning to be a psychology professional. The issue that I am speaking of is labeling. Every professor and text book I read, talk about how certain Psychologist are Freudians, Berneians, or follow some previous popular Psychologist's theories. The question that I continuously ask myself is, why?

My best guess is that, different psychologist use different definitions to arise at the same diagnosis. Personality disorders aren't defined differently among the founding fathers of Psychology, but they all may arrive at the same diagnosis differently. Each one of them also have different approaches in treatment and different ways in completing studies. We saw this when we had a number of different branches of Behaviorists in the first chapter. Each one of these men had different beliefs and approaches to behaviorism but still arrived at many of the same conclusions.

I can't say that is post is extremely informative, but I would like to know what everyone thinks about the subject.

Premack Principle

My favorite principle I came upon during this semester was the Premack Principle.  The idea that you save the most enjoyable tasks for last.  This principle stuck out to me the most because it's one of my own personal golden rules and I was unaware that it had its own name.  Whenever I'm doing something whether it be a list of jobs that I need to get done or I'm eating a dinner meal, I always save the best for last.  Whatever part of the food I like best, I wait until the very end to eat that piece. I'm not exactly sure why I do this, I guess to reward myself in some ways.  Maybe that's why desert is last, not because it's the sweetest & least healthy but because its a reward for eating your veggies at dinner.

When you think about the way Americans exist, we tend to do most things based off the Premack Principle.  Desert after dinner, homework before tv, we treat the dog after they sit.  You could call the treating of the dog after it sits positive reinforcement but the dog is still completing the less desirable task before it gets its food which is more desirable.  I just found it very interesting that their is a principle that explains the way that I personally go about life.


Animal Behavior & Communication

The chapter that stuck out to me the most in this book was chapter 8 which addresses animal behavior.  Animals are commonly seen as less intelligent by most of society because they are not humans and cannot communicate in the same caliber that human can; however, they are more inventive and brilliant then most people take the time to realize.

The animal that I can relate to the most is the horse as I am continually surrounded by them on a day to day basis and the communication they have with one another is absolutely outstanding to witness.  I will never forget the early morning when the two young horses in the group were running around and causing a ruckus. The alpha of the group walking calmly to his "right hand man" and went head to head with his, as if having some silent mind reading meeting.  Next thing you know, the right hand man is nicely trotting over to both youngsters and having the same head to head meeting.  Lastly, the two youngest went and had their meeting with the alpha and all the ruckus was then resolved.  It was astonishing to me to witness the most "silent" correction and it made me think about how many humans go about correction in such a harsh manner.  Just because we can yell and scream and fight doesn't  mean that is the best way to go about solving a problem.
One of our fellow classmates posted regarding negative and positive punishment and it got me thinking about a conversation I had with a professor last semester in my Personality class.  I spoke with her after class trying to get a better grasp on the idea that one is not suppose to punish.  I work regularly with young horses and I wanted to understand how I could "correct" without punishing.  Negative punishment should not be used and things should not be taken away so how do you train an animal that way?  They are not going to learn from a time-out because they will not understand that they did anything wrong due to the language barrier.

After my conversation with her, we came up with the idea that positive reinforcement should be used regularly and that the trainer should try their best not to overexpose a young horse so that you do not have to correct for safety.  This ideal is way easier said then done, but I think that if trainers go in with the mind set that they can only use positive reinforcement, they happen to go about the whole experience a bit differently. I did try this philosophy out on our most skittish youngster and I have to say he has made leaps and bounds within this past month.  We exposed him to scary objects and treated him when he gave the correct response.  As a results of this positive reinforcement, he seems to be more confident in all that he does and now he approaches new tasks with a braver mindset.

PTSD and Binge Eating

After reading about PTSD in our book, I was watching Extreme Weight Loss one night and there was a man who experienced PTSD and turned to binge eating to cope with the stress. He ended up gaining about 200 pounds within a year!! I learned that about 1 in 4 people who have PTSD develop a binge eating disorder. People with PTSD have a really hard time thinking about the present and the future because they are preoccupied with their traumatic event. This leads to extreme hunger because they often do not plan for meals. When the extreme hunger hits, they binge eat. Also, they are more likely to eat to mask the pain that they are feeling.


Contagious Behavior and Social Media

After reading about contagious behavior in our book, I decided to research contagious behaviors and social media. Personally, when I am on social media, if I read something that is happy, I get really happy, or if I see something motivating, then I get myself motivated. This is more of emotion but they are related. I was interested to see if this has to do with contagious behaviors. Research showed that emotions can be contagious by using social media. Facebook did a study where they deleted thousands of positive posts on peoples feeds and then thousands of negative posts. On the feeds that they deleted the positive posts, the peoples new posts became more negative. If the negative posts are deleted, then it is more likely for the people to have positive emotions. I thought this was very interesting because we live in a world so much with social media, and I think it is important to think about all of the things that could influence their mood.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Negative and Positive Punishment

Having 2 sons, it hard to determine which way a parent wants to raise his children. Like. most children my boys love their electronics. My oldest enjoys programming, video games, and taking my old computers apart and trying to put them back together. If he is to do something bad; i.e. lie, not listen, etc.. are my wife and I to use negative punishment and take his computer privileges away when they are truly a learning experience for him or do we take something else away like just his video games so he has to only focus on school related computer activities. Then perhaps he begins to dislike computers because he doesn't get to have fun with computers only learn about them. Either response has its pros and cons, but which will be more effective? I can only speak from personal experience in that a balance has worked for my wife and I. So far we seemed to have 2 well adjusted kids that respond well to which ever corrective measures we use.

PTSD and Me

30 years of life is not a long time by standard, throughout my 30 years I have experienced more than most people will experience in the entirety of theirs. The reason the above statement is true, is because I am a Combat Veteran. A Combat Veteran is a person that wrote a check for everything they cherish, that also includes their life, to the United States of America in pursuit of Freedom and Happiness for the people he loves. There are many Veterans in the United States but not all are created equal. Some served on boats while others served behind a computer. Each in their own way served a common goal to end tyranny, but it is the Combat Veteran that stared death in the eye and said “Not today and not like this”.  It is because of that statement a Combat Veteran will continue to fight demons for the rest of his days. The demons come in many shapes and sizes, from the inability to sleep to nightmares that leave him in a puddle of sweat when sleep does happen. Inserting the Combat Veteran into a school setting can be a daunting event if not for organizations like the Student Veterans Organization at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, also known as the SVO.
     The SVO gives the Veteran a place where he can be with like-minded people that have had similar experiences and know what the Veteran is feeling without using words. Having a “shelter” from the civilian populace of a college setting can mean the difference between success and utter failure. For example, if some in the Veterans previous class made him upset because of statements against the military or statements like “PTSD doesn’t exist, it is all in their minds”. The Veteran,  instead of giving said person a piece of his mind,  can go to the SVO and talk to others about the incident and work out his anger before his next class of the day.  This is why I feel the SVO is continuing wellness event for a person like myself.
     I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and a multitude of physical disabilities that I hide every day, so I can attempt to have a “normal” college experience.  The SVO allows me to go behind closed doors and let all my feelings out, whether they are physical or mental. I can sit in a recliner because my left shoulder that needs to be replaced is comfortable there. I know that when I have knee surgery and will be wheelchair bound that I have people I can count on to aide me in getting from my vehicle to class and vice versa. This unsung understanding and love, is a constant medicine for what I go through each and every day. I am thankful for the SVO and cherish each day I am at school because I get to be with people that served are like me, broken but incredibly proud. 


Saturday, June 27, 2015


Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD, is characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears called obsessions, that lead you to do repetitive behaviors called compulsions. It's also possible to have only obsessions or only compulsions and still have OCD. OCD obsessions are repeated, persistent and unwanted urges or images that cause distress or anxiety. You might try to get rid of them by performing a compulsion or ritual. These obsessions typically intrude when you're trying to think of or do other things.
Obsessions examples:
  • Fear of contamination or dirt
  • Having things orderly and symmetrical
  • Aggressive or horrific thoughts about harming yourself or others
  • Unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual or religious subjects
Examples of obsessions:
  • Fear of being contaminated by shaking hands or by touching objects others have touched
  • Doubts that you've locked the door or turned off the stove
  • Intense stress when objects aren't orderly or facing a certain way
  • Images of hurting yourself or someone else
  • Thoughts about shouting obscenities or acting inappropriately
  • Avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands


Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition is caused by a traumtic event. There are symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event that happened. Doctor's are not sure why people get PTSD. The most common events leading to the development of PTSD include: 
  • Combat exposure
  • Childhood neglect and physical abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Physical attack
  • Being threatened with a weapon.  Many other traumatic events also can lead to PTSD, such as fire, natural disaster, mugging, robbery, car accident, plane crash, torture, kidnapping, life-threatening medical diagnosis, terrorist attack, and other extreme or life-threatening events. A good friend of mine has PTSD because of going to war in Iraq. He has become severely depressed and he is a completely changed person. 

Positive and Negative Reinforcement

There are two types of reinforcement, positive and negative. Reinforcement motivates a child so that they are likely to engage in that behavior again. Positive reinforcement is any type of praise or reward for a good behavior. Negative reinforcement is when some type of privilege is taken away after a bad behavior is exerted by the child. Negative reinforcement should not be thought of as a punishment procedure. With negative reinforcement, you are increasing a behavior, whereas with punishment, you are decreasing a behavior. I work at a daycare and we use positive and negative reinforcement daily. We have a sticker board for every child and when they do something nice for someone else they get a sticker and if they hurt another child or bully someone they get stickers taken away. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Activity anorexia signs and effects

In our books, it talks about the concept of "activity anorexia". This is something that is becoming more prevalent every day in people. I talked to some professionals at the gym I go to, and they told me that this is something that is becoming more and more popular. I went online to do more research and found out that there are several signs for someone with an exercise disorder. These signs include:
1. Becoming preoccupied with exercise and weight loss
2. Closely tracking how many calories they burn when working out.
3. Becoming anxious and angry or feeling guilty when missing a scheduled workout.
4. Measuring yourself to see how think you are after a workout.
5. Seeing your body differently than others.
6. Becoming angry or defensive if someone suggests that your exercising habits are extreme.

One thing that I learned is that size is not a clear indicator of a person with an exercise disorder. A person can be normal or overweight and still have an exercise disorder. If you are trying to pinpoint if someone has an exercise disorder, their attitudes are a better indicator than their size. Some of the effects of eating disorders include: heart problems, weakened bones and joints, respiratory issues, and a weak immune system. Almost no gyms across the country offer help for people with exercise disorders also! People are extremely nervous to approach the situation.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Classically Conditioned Allergies

    It was extremely surprising to me to read that scientists were successfully able to condition guinea pigs to become allergic to odors simply by pairing these odors with a protein that induced allergies. Seeing the evidence of how our minds are directed shaped and manipulated based off of processes that we are not in active awareness of, is truly astonishing. I am allergic to many things, including almost all of nature. Pollen knocks me off my feet for a solid two months, and simply stepping outside during allergy season can ignite a sneezing, itchy, hive ridden reaction on my body. Reading this has made me curious as to how much of my reaction is the actual pollen, and how much could possibly be the conditioned response to me stepping outside during a time in which the substance I am allergic to is likely to be in the air.  In accordance to what these researches have found, just the sight of the oak trees could signal a reaction on my body. 

      Since it seems that we can be classically conditioned in many ways, I wonder if you would be able to trick your body and reverse certain allergies, or ailments that you might already have. It seems kind of wild, and while there are many genetic factors laced in with this discussion, I have learned throughout this course that our minds shape so much more of who we are and how we feel, than I ever thought possible.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Parenting and Punishment

    In my household, we use negative punishment to try to encourage my daughter to behave. While I generally work very hard to reward good behavior (such as with sticker charts and treats), there are still many instances where I have to remove something she likes following behavior that is unacceptable. My boyfriend and I knew that we did not want to discipline with positive punishment, such as spanking my daughter, because we know research suggests that it does not effectively teach kids the better, correct behavior in a situation, and that it is not in line with our parenting philosophy. It is interesting though because we really really struggle with Madison's behavior, and have had many people swear that once they spanked their kids the bad behavior completely stopped. So even while it may create a fear response, it does appear to work in some situations.  Our belief is that no behavior is worthy of us subjecting another to physical pain.  However, I am the last person that would judge another parents choices because I feel that we are all trying our best to get our kids to be grown, happy, and healthy, all while staying happy and healthy ourselves (a feat sometimes!).  
      We use both time outs and introduce response costs. Time-outs, while listed as negative punishments, are in my opinion also a verson of both negative and positive punishments. It involves the removal of something fun (playing with toys, coloring, being with friends) but also introduces a new event that the individual dislikes, in order to elicit better future responses. Time-outs have been much more effective in our case that response costs.