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Psychology Papers

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Environmental psychology is likely to be a new field for you, although many of the concepts are probably familiar. Provide your own definition of the discipline. Discuss an important milestone or influence in the development of environmental psychology and provide reasoning as to why you chose this one. Environmental psychology is a branch of psychology that studies how the environment affects individuals, and vice-verse. There is a reciprocal relationship between people and the environment they live in, as they both affect each other. The relationship between nature and the human species has been an object of study for many decades, and understanding this relationship can help individuals learn about the importance of conserving and maintaining the world that supports them (Steg, 2013). The environment provides humans with food, water, air, and all the other necessities individuals need to survive, even if, in a world dominated by technology and progress, it is easy to forget that one way or another, everything we need to survive comes from the earth. Environmental psychology focuses not only on the physical influences humans and environment have on each other, but also in which ways nature affects individuals’ behaviors. One important aspect of this discipline is the belief that people’s behaviors are not determined solely by the environment (Steg, 2013). Most psychologists in this area believe in free will, as being the power individuals have to change their behaviors, and consequently, to change the environment. Although it is difficult to point out one single event that influenced the development of the field of environmental psychology, it is safe to say that in the beginning of the 21st century it was clear to see that man-caused issues such as pollution and deforestation had consequences like climate changing, poor air quality, and more. At this time, the world was introduced to the concept of sustainability, which refers to the healthy and balanced integration between environmental, social, political, economic, and natural factors (Steg, 2013). The introduction of this broad concept has allowed the world to understand the importance of respecting the earth and promoting a “great” way of thinking. Environmental psychology researches not only the relationship between human and nature, but also ways that this relationship can develop without damaging the planet (Steg, 2013).

Steg, L. (2013). Environmental psychology: An introduction. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

Risk Perception at the Work Environment Risk perception can be defined as a subjective judgment individuals make of the severity of risks. Environmental risk is a subject that creates debate and animosity between people with different beliefs, since most individuals have a different perception regarding the extent of issues around the world (Steg, 2013). Steg (2013) explains that an environmental risk is any situation, activity, or event that may possibly bring negative consequences and affect human values. The last decade saw an increased popularity of environmental risk discussions about problems like climate change, air pollution, noise pollution, sustainability, the use of pesticides, among other issues. Most environmental issues being discussed nowadays were created by men. Large corporations play an important role in the current situation of the world environment. Because of their constant search for higher profits, large organizations often disregard the environment, either by sending pollution into the air, extracting too much out of the nature, or submitting its employees to an unsafe work environment, that will be detrimental not only to the employee personally, but also to the world. This paper will analyze two articles that explained how unsafe work conditions can be detrimental to workers’ health as well as to the environment. Article One The first article to be analyzed is the one written by Kelly A. Scanlon, and is entitled “The work environment disability-adjusted life year for use with life cycle assessment; a methodological approach”. Written in 2012, this research article explains that the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) is a method used to evaluate how workers’ health and the environment are affected by the usage, emissions, and extractions throughout the life cycle of a determined product (Scanlon, 2012). The purpose of this methodology is to find ways for products to have less of an impact on the environment, by determining how much that product is affecting the workers who produced it and the environment around it (Scanlon, 2012). The article also presents the term WE-DALY (Work Environment – Disability Adjusted Life Year). By using this concept, corporations are able to lessen the negative and harmful impact that they are likely to make on the environment, both globally, locally, and within the corporation itself. Both the LCA and the WE-DALY methods can help find ways to make products in a less harming way, as well as finding alternative products that are not so harmful to the environment. The main purpose of this research is to find strategies to lessen the damage that large production companies can inflict on their workers and on the environment (Scanlon, 2012). Article Two The second article to be analyzed is the one written by Dr. Jagdish C. Hundekari for the International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, also in 2012. This study had the purpose of evaluating and understanding how workers in the Thermal Power station were exposed to stressful stimuli (heat) and how that exposure affected their levels of hypertension (Hundekari, 2012). To perform the research, two hundred male workers from the Thermal Power station were selected and divided in groups according to their age. A control group of one hundred men was not exposed to any extreme heat, while the other one hundred workers were exposed to heat for eight hours a day, six days a week (Hundekari, 2012). At the end of the study, scientists were able to conclude that the workers who were exposed to the heat had higher levels of the factors that cause hypertension and heart disease. “We observed a significant increase in serum lipoproteins and atherogenic index in workers of thermal power station those who are exposed to heat when compared with controls. This suggests that the workers are at higher risk of hypertension and CHD which is also dependent on age and duration of exposure” (Hundekari, 2012, p. 2). The study found that although young individuals were able to support the heat for longer periods of time without so many negative consequences, the older workers could not (Hundekari, 2012). Comparison and Interpretation Both articles mentioned in this paper focused on the many ways that the work environment can be detrimental to the employees’ health, as well as its effects on the global environment. Dr. Hundekari’s studies focused more on the effects of the work environment on a more personal level, showing how an employee’s health can be in serious danger because of his work conditions. This article was a case study showing a practical view of the situation, without necessarily presenting alternative ideas. The article written by Scanlon, on the other hand, exposed methods and techniques that if applied responsibly and correctly, can allow corporations to implement production ways that are less harming to both the environment and the workers. It is important for organizations to understand the risks that their products present to both the world and their staff. Although most industries will most likely leave a harmful footprint on earth, minimizing the damages is crucial. It is obvious that the world has changed in the past few decades. The planet is warmer, and climate change affects not only individuals but also animals and ecosystems in general. For employees who have to work every day in a harmful environment, understanding the risks is even more important. In the case of the Thermal Power station, for example, individuals who have high blood pressure would not be good candidates to work there, as well as older people.

Conclusion Psychologists have shown that individual perception regarding risks at work is most likely influenced by pre-existing, recent or readily experiences (Drakopoulos & Theodossiou, 2011). My personal opinion of the matter is that I understand that people have to work, and corporations need to make money to stimulate the economy. If an unemployed, older man is offered a job at a place that is not necessarily the safest option for him (like the Thermal Power station, for example), but he has a family to feed, he still needs to be aware of the risks that the job represents to him, and make a conscious decision about what is worth doing and what is not. When it comes to corporations, however, I do believe in laws and enforcements to guarantee that that company represents the least possible amount of damage to the environment. Corporations are known for doing whatever it takes to make a profit, showing little respect for the planet. By enforcing rules about work safety and sustainability, corporations can still run their normal activities, but without further damaging the environment.

Drakopoulos, S. A., & Theodossiou, I. (2011, March). Workers' risk underestimation and occupational health and safety regulation. European Journal of Law and Economics.
Hundekari, J. C. (2012). Prolonged Occupational Exposure to Stressful Stimuli(Heat) as a Cause of raised Atherogenic Index in Thermal Power Station Workers. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research .
Kelly A Scanlon, G. M. (2012). The Work Environment Disability-Adjusted Life Year for use with Life Cycle Assessment: A Methodological Approach. Environmental Health.
Steg, L. (2013). Environmental psychology: An introduction. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.


The Effects of Population Density and Noise on Individuals Population density is a concept that is strongly connected to stress, anxiety, and various heart diseases – primarily because of its association with excessive noise and its negative consequences on human beings. With an increase in the population numbers of cities around the world come unwanted factors like lack of personal space, privacy, and territory; all of these factors have been scientifically proven to be associated with the deterioration of human health. Because population density is correlated to noise, and consequently health problems, it is important for the population to be aware and knowledgeable about ways to protect itself from the dangers related to these issues. Explaining Privacy, Territoriality, and Personal Space Privacy can be defined as a “selective control of access to the self or to one’s group” (Altman, 1977, p. 67). In other words, the concept of privacy revolves around an individual’s ability to control what personal information is shared with the world and what personal information he or she decides to keep to him or herself. With the advances of technology and social media in the current modern society, a battle between what is public information and what is private information has arisen. The internet has made it so the private lives of individuals (famous or not) are displayed on a screen for anyone to see. Territory can be defined as a specific area or space that, in some way, belongs to a group, or an individual. According to Altman (1977), there are three types of territory: primary, which is an area used exclusively by a group or person (like an individual’s home); Secondary, which is an area regularly used by a group of person, but shared with others (like someone’s favorite bench on a park); Tertiary, which is a shared space accessible to anyone (like the park itself). Human territoriality can be explained as the need human beings have to defend and mark their territory – just like animals do. Having one’s territory invaded is a source of anxiety and stress. Personal space is a physical distance that individuals choose to keep within one another. “Personal space is an area with invisible boundaries surrounding a person’s body into which intruders may not come” (Sommer, 1969, p. 26). These invisible boundaries that surround an individual’s body can difference amongst cultures, as some cultures are more open to human contact while others avoid it. Also, personal space is a changeable and evolving concept, and individuals will more likely change their perception about this factor throughout their lives. Both personal space and territoriality are ways for human beings to maintain their privacy.
Privacy, Territoriality, and Personal Space with Population Density Increase It is safe to say that when the population density of a specific location increases, the people of that area will suffer the consequences. A large population density stimulates the feeling of being crowded, which leads to individuals becoming more violent than they would normally be in a less populated area. With that, individuals will suffer not only from anxiety and social withdraw, but also from the increase of criminal and violent acts – as a result of people feeling more aggressive (Stokols, 1995). To avoid these negative symptoms, it is important for individuals who live in an overpopulated area to try and preserve their privacy and their personal space. Respecting the territoriality of those around may be a challenge, but it is crucial to maintain a balanced and stabilized society. A study performed by John Calhoun compared the lives of individuals living in a high density population area to the life of rats. He learned from his experiment that when the rats had plenty of space to move around, the rats behaved normally. When the rats’ population increased, they became violent, more territorial, fought more, and some even became cannibalistic (Straub, 2007). Although the concepts are not absolutely transferrable, the study is valid to show that population density certainly affect all beings.
How Nature Affects individuals in Urban Environments With the fast-moving life in urban cities, it is often for the population to suffer from stress, anxiety, and even heart problems, as results of the high population density and the issues that accompany the situation. The presence of controlled natural environments within big cities, such as zoos, parks, and any other green areas has been proven to help individuals relief stress and consequently avoid more serious health issues. The stressful lifestyle of big urban cities involves juggling busy schedules, family, friends, while trying to avoid violent acts and traffic. Nature allows individuals to recharge their abilities, while feeling restored and rejuvenated. Urban natural environments allow individuals to have access to the restorative powers of nature without having to travel to distant mountains or beaches. “Natural settings are often proclaimed for their capacity to instill a sense of peace and serenity. They are not usually described as hectic or rushed. Somehow, tranquility is more readily achieved in the natural context. But such settings need not lack in excitement, vibrancy, awesome- ness, or sensory richness. In the presence of nature it seems possible to combine the exciting and the serene” (Kaplan, 1984, p.190).
How Noise Affects Individuals Excessively noise environments have been proven to cause negative impacts on human health. Consequences to an over-exposure to noise can lead to stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and other heart-related diseases (Straub, 2007). The most common health related effect to excessive noise is Noise Inducing Hearing Loss (NIHL). Although adults certainly suffer from the effects of noise, children are even more vulnerable to its impact, as noise can decrease learning ability, short-term memory, and the overall ability to hear, since excessive noise can also lead to hearing loss (Straub, 2007). Chronic noise exposure will hurt children when they learn to block out all types of noise, including the sounds they actually need in order to learn. Noise has also been proven to decrease individuals’ (children or adults) ability to perform simple tasks. Strategies to Reduce Noise Life in urban environments is guaranteed to have noise as one of its permanent elements. Although there is not a lot individuals can do to completely block excessive urban sounds (such as ambulances, loud music, fights, traffic sounds, etc.), there are ways to reduce the excessive noise and allow individuals to live a healthy lifestyle, no matter where they live. One easy strategy to reduce excessive noise is the installation of extra fabric over the windows. The extra layer of curtains will provide not only additional insulation – making the cooling and heating bills lower – but it will also block some of the noise coming from the street. Choosing carpet instead of hard wood floors will also muffle and absorb some of the noise coming from outside. Another alternative to reduce noise, and consequently stress and anxiety, is playing some kind of white noise constantly. This technique, known as auditory masking, doesn’t necessarily eliminate the noise coming from outside, but instead allows individuals to focus on a soothing and calming sound, instead of the aggressive noise from the streets. White noise is commonly used to sooth babies, but adults can benefit from it as well. White noise can come from an inexpensive machine or from something simple that most homeowners already have, like a fan or any other type of consistent background sound.
Although the modern world, especially in big urban cities, presents individuals with many things to make their lives easier, it also brings negative elements that can cause psychological distress on many people. Human beings need their personal space, as well as their privacy and their sense of territoriality in order to function properly and normally. Although most individuals’ perceptions regarding these factors are different, the mutual agreement is that all human beings suffer and are impacted by limited space. Inn large and overpopulated cities, where each individual’s personal space is limited, the levels of aggression and crimes are higher than in areas where people have more room. Although this correlation does not necessarily imply causation, it cannot be ignored. Another factor that causes aggression, stress, and anxiety in individuals living in urban environments is the constant presence of noise. This disturbance can create excessive annoyance, leading to diseases, insomnia, and poor social interaction. There are many alternatives to reduce the influence of noise on individual’s daily routine, allowing them to enjoy the benefits and commodities of living in a big urban area, without having to sacrifice their health and well-being.

Altman, I. (1977). Privacy regulation: culturally universal or culturally specific? Journal of Social Issues, 33(3), 66-84.
Kaplan, R. (1984). Impact of urban nature: a theoretical analysis. Urban Ecology, 8(3), 189-197.
Sommer, R. (1969). Personal space; the behavioral basis of design. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Stokols, D. (1995, October). The paradox of environmental psychology. American Psychologist, 50(10), 821-837.
Straub, R. O. (2007). Health psychology (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Wor


Environmental Cues and Human Behavior The environment is constantly affected by human behavior, both globally and in a local level. The effects of human behavior on the environment can be positive or negative. Some of the negative effects include climate change, deforestation, extinction of animal species, pollution, noise, etc. Some of the positive effects include the preservation of endangered animal species, the protection of the ozone layer, and the conservation of the resources Earth has to offer. This essay will explore a variety of these effects while explaining the influence of environmental cues on individuals, the importance of sustainability and its impact in the environment, and the effect of social norms in human behavior. It will also present possible solutions to successfully change behaviors and minimize negative environment impact. Humans’ Impact on the Environment It is impossible to completely avoid human impact on the environment. Simply by existing and living on the planet Earth, all species, including animals and human beings, will leave a footprint and a mark on the world around them. Although, like mentioned previously, human beings can affect the environment positively, it is the negative impact that is a main cause for concern regarding the planet’s future. In order to make their lives more comfortable and convenient, individuals have adapted to and changed the environment, sometimes without considering the consequences of their actions. There is graphical evidence, from satellite photos, that indicate that the severe damage caused by humans on the environment is out of control. There is a dangerously large hole in the ozone layer, which is a protective covering around the planet. This layer is destroyed by gases like CO2, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons, which can be found in aerosol spray cans and refrigeration devices. The ozone layer protects the Earth from UV rays from the sun, so holes in the layer can lead to global warming. Humans are the post polluting species, generating much more waste than the planet Earth can deal with (Evans, 1982). Soil pollution, water pollution, and air pollution are some of the most commonly discussed negative effects of human behavior on the environment. Although the media focuses much more on the negative ways humans impact the environment, there are positive ways individuals leave their mark on the planet as well. For instance, humans control wildfires, which can destroy large areas of forest and the animals that live in them. Also, humans protect endangered species by breeding nearly extinct animals in captivation, and then releasing them back into the wild when there are sufficient numbers of them. Humans also clean waterways, promote the reforestation of damaged areas, and selectively remove invasive species that are threats to local ecosystems. How Environmental Cues Shape Human Behavior Environmental cues can be explained as elements in the environment which send important information or trigger effective reactions out of individuals (Steg, 2013). Environmental cues encourage individuals to behave a certain way or engage in certain actions, depending on how those around them respond to those cues. One example of how environmental cues affect human behavior is with recycling. In towns where the inhabitants are encouraged to recycle their trash, most individuals end up doing it. The pressure of those around them incentives individuals to do the right thing.

How Behavior Can be Modified to Support Sustainability
There are many ways individuals can be empowered to change their behaviors and live more sustainably. Although most people want to respect the environment and engage in sustainable behaviors, they continue to create a negative environmental impact. Human behavior is a combination of psychological internal factors and external clues. Because of this, an inclination and motivation to behave sustainably is usually not enough to make individuals change their behaviors. It is important to note that behavior is situational, so “even after a person has formed an intention to behave in a certain way, situational circumstances can lead to a surprisingly different behavior. Intention must be reinforced and supported across different situational contexts” (Manning, 2009, p. 4). Also, it is easier for individuals to engage in sustainable behavior when they encounter fewer obstacles. For example, organic food is more expensive than “regular” food, which can discourage individuals to pick the sustainable route. Some actions created to contribute to sustainability are civil actions (voting, petition signing, etc.), educational actions, financial actions (donations, boycotting specific companies, etc.), and more importantly, direct behavior, like the small changes individuals can make to their routine in a daily basis, like taking the bike to work, buying local produce, insulating their homes, etc. (Manning, 2009).
How Social Norms Can Influence Environmental Behaviors and Beliefs Recent studies suggest that pro-environmental behaviors can influence pro-environmental values, and vice-versa. Individuals act a certain way because they not only hold certain values, but also because of different factors, such as economic incentive ("Social Norms, Behavior Influence Environmental Policy", 2013). For example, individuals may engage in recycling because of that economic incentive, but the repetitive act of recycling will create a value for recycling in general. In other words, “if policy dictates a pro-environment behavior, the repeated act of that behavior will become second nature – and even part of a value system – for individuals required to do it. The researchers argue that behavioral change may be the tipping point for real climate change mitigation and one step closer to a sustainable future” ("Social Norms, Behavior Influence Environmental Policy", 2013).
Solutions That Could Change Behavior and Lessen Negative Environmental Impact There are many ways how individuals can change their everyday behaviors and start to lessen their impact on the environment. By saving water, electricity, and gas, each individual’s foot print on Earth will be less damaging. Carpooling, taking shorter showers, line drying the clothes, and owning hybrid cars and solar panels are all relatively easy ways to conserve valuable resources. Also, recycling is a staple when it comes to protecting the environment. By repurposing household items, reusing grocery bags, creating a compost pile, and buying bulk food, individuals will be making small changes that will create less waste.
Although changing the behaviors of the majority of the population on the planet, who has been acting in very destructive ways for the past few decades, is a hefty task. However, nowadays there is a great deal of awareness regarding the dangers that the future holds for planet Earth and all of those living on it, unless severe change occurs. Behavioral change can happen with small steps. When individuals make a conscious decision to reduce their carbon footprint, their personal waste, and the damage there are personally inflicting upon the environment, their impact on the planet can be less damaging. It is impossible to completely avoid any damage, since human beings need to change the environment in order to survive. However, after decades of destroying the planet, now it is time to change and turn the situation around, so there is any hope for future generations.

Evans, G. (1982). Environmental stress. New York, NY: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.
Manning, C. (2009). The psychology of sustainable behavior. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Social norms, behavior influence environmental policy. (2013). Retrieved from
Steg, L. (2013). Environmental psychology: An introduction. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

Week 4: Psychological Disorder

1. Psychological Disorder (as listed in the DSM-IV-TR): Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

2. DSM-IV-TR Code for this disorder: #300.3

3. Why did you choose this disorder? (50 words or less) This disorder is one that I find interesting for many reasons, but primarily because it has gained so much popularity and visibility in the past few decades. Many television shows show the struggle of patients living with OCD and some compulsions and obsessions can be bizarre. I chose this disorder because I would like to learn more about the cultural aspects of it.

4. Discuss the psychological disorder (150-250 words) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is characterized by repetitive, unwanted thoughts which are followed by the repetition of rituals. By performing those rituals, the patient believes that he or she will be able to avoid the anxiety that is produced by the repetitive thoughts (Hansel & Damour, 2008). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is equally common among men and women. The obsessions manifest as recurrent thoughts, impulses, fears, and ideas, while compulsions are the drive pushing the patient to perform some kind of repetitive act, which can be speaking a phrase, cleaning his body, checking the locks, etc. Patients believe that unless the perform the ritual, bad things can happen. Although most patients are aware that their behavior is abnormal, they can’t control their thoughts and obsessive need to perform rituals (Hansel & Damour, 2008). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can start to manifest in individuals of all ages, including children. However, onset past the age of 40 is very rare (Hansel & Damour, 2008).

5. Discuss the relationship between human development and socialization (150-250 words) During individuals’ life span, they will go through a series of psychological, physical, and behavioral changes. This phenomenon is known as human development. Socialization, on the other hand, refers to the process through which individuals learn and adapt to the behaviors and norms of their culture, through instruction, experience, and observation. Both processes – human development and socialization – are in permanent motion throughout the course of an individual’s life (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Human beings are constantly changing and developing their beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors, and that development occurs similarly within certain cultures, since individuals tend to conform to their social expectations. For example, in small cultures with little occupational specialization, parents expect children to learn new concepts on their own, while in industrialized societies children have a specific set of guides associated with their learning (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). However, despite of those social influences, human development will occur at each individual’s own time. The individual’s socialization will be influenced by the culture’s characteristics, even if these characteristics become intrinsic and unconscious (Shiraev & Levy, 2010).

6. How does the relationship between human development and socialization affect the psychological disorder? (150-250 words) When it comes to the influence of human development on the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, it is interesting to note that studies have shown that individuals with higher IQ scores, especially those in industrialized countries, are more likely to suffer from OCD (Peterson, Pine, Cohen, & Brook, 2001). In the United States, for instance, over 2% of the population suffers from this disorder, which is the fourth most common psychiatric disorder in the country. Individuals who suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are also likely to suffer from depression. It is difficult to link environment factors to the occurrence of OCD, but researchers believe that a predisposed genetic component associated with the disorder may be affected by the environment (Pub Med Health, 2010). A curious aspect of OCD is the fact that the symptoms of this disorder can easily be associated with elements of normal human behavior, like cleaning ot worrying about safety, but elevated to a higher level.

7. Discuss cultural considerations in regards to prevalence, treatment, trends, etc. (150-250 words) Studies have shown that cultural differences do not have a high impact on the epidemiology of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, as this disorder is consistent in many different countries and cultures. In fact, researches performed in 15 different countries showed that the differences between cultures do not have that much influence on lifetime prevalent rates, which range between 1.9% (Korea) and 2.5% (Japan) (Pallanti, 2008). Some studies have shown that religion can be associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. In the Egyptian culture, for example, individuals are requires to pray several times a day, and have repetitive cleaning rituals, which are very strict. This emphasis and obsession with cleanliness can be considered a source of obsessions and compulsions in that culture. (Osaka, 2004). However, after observing the different researches, it is possible to conclude that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is more linked to genetics and biological factors than cultural differences, even if some cultures’ characteristics may induce obsessive behaviors.

8. Discuss how this disorder may/may not be accepted/explained within certain cultural contexts (150-250 words). Although some culture’s values and traditions may be linked to the existence and prevalence of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, the abnormal extreme behaviors associated with the disease are frowned upon cross-culturally, and often bring shame and embarrassment to patients, even leading to suicidal thoughts in some cases. One of the cultural factors that can be strongly associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is religion, since rituals performed by religious groups can be repetitive, judgmental and strict, which brings out feelings like worry, vulnerability, and neuroticism (Hansell & Damour, 2008). The cultural factors present in different countries tend to shape the symptoms on patients suffering with OCD. In Brazil, for example, researchers found a predomination of aggressive obsessions, which can be linked to the rise of urban violence in the country. In the Middle Eastern cultures, the primary sources of compulsion in patients were religious/scrupulosity concerns (Lewis-Fernandez et al., 2010). Although these examples may not represent an acceptance of the still highly tabooed disorder, it offers some explanation to the various symptoms in different cultures.

9. What have you learned about this disorder that you did not previously know? (50-100 words) Some facts about Obsessive-Compulsive disorder that I found interesting to learn were the ones regarding the prevalence of the disorder. For example, the fact that individuals with higher IQ are more likely to suffer from OCD was particularly interesting because it makes sense. Very smart individuals usually have a difficult time unwinding, and their brains are constantly working and worrying, which can explain the occurrence of obsessive thoughts.


Hansell, J., & Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Lewis-Fernández, R., Hinton, D. E., Laria, A. J., Patterson, E. H., Hofmann, S. G., Craske, M. G., Stein, D. J., Asnaani, A. and Liao, B. (2010), Culture and the anxiety disorders: recommendations for DSM-V. Depress. Anxiety, 27: 212–229. doi: 10.1002/da.20647

Osaka, A. (2004). OCD in Egyptian adolescents: The effect of culture and religion. Retrieved from

Pallanti, S. (2008). Transcultural observations of obsessive-compulsive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 165(2), 169-170. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2007.07111815

Pub Med Health. (2010). Obsessive-compulsive disorder. PubMed Health. Retrieved June 23, 2011, from

Shiraev, E. B. & Levy, D. A. (2010). Cross-cultural psychology: Critical thinking and contemporary applications (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.


1. Define Intelligence. (200-300 words)

Shiraev and Levy (2010) explain that intelligence can have many different definitions, most of which will include the concept of knowledge. A generic and comprehensive explanation of what knowledge is would be an individual’s capability of using his mental abilities to acquire and use knowledge, perform tasks and understand and adapt to the world around him (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). It is impossible to understand intelligence without associating that concept to cognition, and both ideas are inseparable. Cognition can be explained as a “diversified process by which the individual acquires and applies knowledge” (Shiraev & Levy, 2002, p. 121). Based on this explanation, it is possible to understand why both concepts go hand in hand. Authors reject the idea that an individual’s intellectual functioning is only determined by a single factor, and defend the idea that factors like verbal, mathematical, and spatial skills impact someone’s intelligence levels, allowing for the possibility that individuals can be equally intelligent, in different ways (Thurstone, 1938). An interest definition of intelligence is the one presented by Ulric Neisser (1979), who explained that intelligence is nothing but the degree to which an individual resembles a prototypically intelligent person. This idea serves to show that the definition of “intelligence” is not an absolute idea, but one that can be adapted to different situations.

2. Identify/List two (2) theories of intelligence.

Two of the most popular theories of intelligence are Charles Spearman’s concept of general intelligence, and Louis L. Thurstone’s theory of primary mental abilities.

3. Discuss each identified theory of intelligence. (200-300 words)

Many authors and researchers have failed in crafting a comprehensive and appropriate theory to explain intelligence, perhaps because of the complexity of the topic (Warner, 2002). However, some theories of intelligence have succeeded in presenting ideas that explain the concept. British psychologist Charles Spearman (1863-1945) believed in the existence of general intelligence, or how he referred to it, the g factor. By analyzing a number of different aptitude tests using a factor analysis technique, he realized that the tests presented very similar scores. Based on his observations, he concluded that individuals who performed satisfactorily in one of the tests, would also have a good performance on the other tests. At the same time, if someone did poorly in one of the tests, they would most likely have bad results in all the other tests. Because of this, he concluded that intelligence can be measured numerically and can be considered a general cognitive ability (Spearman, 1904). Another popular theory of intelligence is the one presented by Louis L. Thurstone (1887-1955), who refused the idea that intelligence is a general ability. Instead, he believed that intelligence could be considered a combination of seven different primary mental abilities, such as verbal comprehension, reasoning, perceptual speed, numerical ability, word fluency, associative memory, and spatial visualization (Thustone, 1938).

4. Discuss the effectiveness of intelligence testing (200-300 words)

Intelligence testing has been a helpful took to help children with learning disabilities, students who need help shaping their educational choices, and adults looking to find careers that suit their abilities. There are endless advantages and benefits that can come from intelligence testing, but there are also negative perspectives that make researchers wonder how accurate and fair those tests can really be. Intelligence testing does not take in consideration the special characteristics that each individual has, and disregards the importance of creativity, the cultural influence, and the circumstances under which the test was taken – all factors that will most likely affect the results of the tests. The President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education (PCESE) has presented a report suggesting that using intelligence tests to diagnose learning disabilities should not happen anymore, due to the fact that those tests do not specify what kind of intervention a child with learning disabilities might need, and that child’s behavior is a better indicator of the disability than the test itself (Benson, 2003). Examples like this show that although intelligence tests have proven to be helpful in certain situations, their use has been discredited under some circumstances, especially in the past decade. Individuals have different skills and abilities, and treating their intelligence as a fixed ability can be a mistake.

5. Identify two examples of intelligence tests (A SPECIFIC type of intelligence test used to measure intelligence – not personality, aptitude, achievement, etc.).

Two of the most popular intelligence tests are the Standford-Binet Intelligence Scale and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. Both tests use the psychometric approach to intelligence, as they focus on individuals’ performance on standardized tests.

6. Discuss the two examples of intelligence tests identified in #5. (200-300 words) The first intelligence test that served as a model and starting point for future tests was the one created in France by Alfred Binet, and is referred to today as the Binet-Simon scale. After this test was brought to the United States, a psychologist from Stanford University named Lewis Terman adapted that test using American participants, and it soon became the standard intelligence test used in the United States. By using a single number known as the intelligence quotient (IQ), the test measures the individual’s intelligence level by dividing his mental age by his chronological age and multiplying the result by 100. The primary issue with this test is that it can’t be applied successfully in adults, since the mental age of a 50 year-old person is not so different than the one of a 60 year-old – although the test results would be different (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Another well-known intelligence test is the one published by David Wechsler in 1939, which differs from the Binet-Standford method by assessing nonverbal reasoning and depending less on the verbal abilities of the test taker. This test also uses an intelligence quotient, but the scores are presented on a bell-shaped curve that shows how the individual compares to the rest of the population. On the Wechsler test the score is also relative and is formulated in a way that two-thirds of the population will most likely score between 85 and 115 (Wechsler, 1949).

7. Using the two intelligence tests you have identified, discuss how they do or do not address cultural considerations. (200-300 words)

Standardized tests, like the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale it is common for racially and linguistically diverse students to perform poorly. The test bias controversy started when IQ scores of members of different ethnic and racial groups were compared, and results showed that in average, African-American students’ scored were lower by 15 points (Ford, 2004). Because they are culturally-loaded, students who are not part of the majority groups will most likely perform poorly on intelligence tests. These tests do not take in consideration cultural and language differences, factors that have been proven to affect the test results. The debate regarding whether intelligence tests are biased or not is one that has existed for many decades, and will probably not reach an end soon. In fact, there have been legal implications regarding test bias, since one judge in California ruled in 1979 that intelligence tests used for the assessment of Black children for special education classes for the educable mentally retarded are culturally biased, and a year later, one judge in Illinois judged the exact opposite in a different case (Ford, 2004). Intelligence tests must be used and played with caution, since the testing environment, the individual characteristics on individuals, and the characteristics of the test itself are factors that will most likely affect the results of the test.

8. What have you learned about intelligence tests and testing that you did not know/that surprises you the most? (50-100 words)

The most surprising fact I learned after researching about intelligence tests is the idea that African-American students will not perform as well on those tests as white students. This information was very surprising, because I can’t seem to understand why. I can obviously understand why students who speak a different language than the one on the test would perform poorly, but students who were born in America, and speak English, still perform worse. I would like to do more research on this subject, and try to understand why this happens.

9. References

Benson, E. (2003, February). Intelligent intelligence testing. American Psychological Association, 34(2), 48.

Ford, D. Y. (2004). Intelligence testing and cultural diversity: Concerns, cautions, and considerations (RM04204). Storrs, CT: The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, University of Connecticut.

Neisser, U. (1979, July). The concept of intelligence. Intelligence, 3(3), 217-277.

Shiraev, E. B., & Levy, D. A. (2010). Cross-cultural psychology; Critical thinking and contemporary applications (4 ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.
Spearman, C. (1904). "General intelligence," objectively determined and measured. American Journal of Psychology 15, 201-293.

Thurstone, L.L. (1938). Primary mental abilities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Warner, M. (2002). Wanted: A definition of intelligence. Studies in Intelligence, 46(3).

Wechsler, D. (1949). Wechsler intelligence scale for children (4th ed.). San Antonio, TX: Psychological Coorporation.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

1. Describe the evolution of the field of industrial/organizational psychology.

It is safe to say that Industrial/Organizational psychology has its roots in the late 1800s, which was the time when experimental psychologists started trying to apply basic psychology principles into organizational environments, in an attempt to maximize efficiency and productivity. In the beginning of the history of Industrial/Organizational psychology, those psychologists weren’t so interested in the well-being of workers, as much as they were trying to make sure jobs were performed as efficiently as possible. Psychologist Harry Landsberger conducted many experiments to try to understand how work conditions influenced the performance or employees, and he found out that just by having someone around the workers interested in what they were doing, those workers would perform better. Both World Wars also played a big role in the development of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, since psychologists had to use their skills when placing soldiers in positions they were most suitable for. After the wars were over, psychologists were called upon to solve issues related to productivity and efficiency, due to a military demand on go (Spector, 2012). Another element that influenced I/O psychology was experimental psychology’s techniques and principles such as psychological testing. In the United States, the I/O psychology movement can be somewhat credited to experiment psychologists Hugo Munsterberg and Walter Dill Scott, whose work focused on solving organizational issues (Spector, 2013).

2. Explain why industrial/organizational psychology should be considered a science. Include an explanation of how descriptive and inferential statistics are used in I/O research.

Spector (2012) explains that industrial/organizational psychologists can perform different jobs in a variety of settings, and because the practice of this field of psychology is based mainly on research produced by scientific data, industrial/organizational psychology can be considered a science, because of its base on scientific research. In fact, research is maybe the main activity performed by I/O psychologists, which also guarantees that this discipline can be considered a science. The many different researches and experiments performed by I/O psychologists have contributed for the development of hiring and training procedures, as well as the ability to help organizations solve daily problems such as employee attitude, theft, or turnover (Spector, 2012).
There are many research methods that I/O psychologists can use to perform their experiments. To analyze the data produced by empirical research, those psychologists have different statistics techniques, which include inferential and descriptive statistics methods, as well as parametric and nonparametric methods. Descriptive statistics include procedures used to describe the population being studied, and can only be used to describe that specific group. In other words, the results cannot be generalized to a larger group. Inferential statistics, on the other hand, make predictions about a larger population by analyzing a smaller sample group (Spector, 2012).

3. Discuss the influence industrial/organization psychology has had on organizations. Provide examples.
There are many situations where industrial/organizational psychology can influence organizations. For instance, during the period of time in between the First and the Second World Wars, many organizations in the United States began to realize the importance of hiring an I/O psychologist, in order to try and solve productivity related problems. In Europe, at this same time, I/O psychology was also working towards finding ways to increase productivity and employee efficiency. In 1921, the first I/O psychology consulting firm was created by James Cattell, which was called the American Company Psychological Corporation. Around the same time, the Hawthorn studies conducted at the Western Electric Company also originated reports about how factors like the brightness of lights could increase workers’ productivity. Those studies eventually influenced concepts like employee breaks, team work, leadership, and working hours, and how they all affect productivity. Some other events that influenced the development of I/O psychology in America were the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 and the Civil Rights Act in 1964, because they inspired researches that produced ideas to improve employee satisfaction in the workplace and new ways to increase productivity and profitability in American organizations.

Spector, P. E. (2012). Industrial and organizational psychology: Research and practice (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Psy/435 - Job Analysis

Job Analysis According to Spector (2012), “job analysis is a method for describing jobs and/or the human attributes necessary to perform them” (p. 54). In other words, this procedure is intended to describe what are some of the attributes necessary to perform a given job, and what are the specific tasks involved in that job. When it comes to job analysis, there are two primary approaches that can be taken. The first, job-oriented approach, seeks to provide information regarding the quality of the job itself, and what type of task is associated with it. The second approach, person-oriented, describes what attributes and characteristics are necessary for the job (Spector, 2012). Job analysis is considered to be one of the most effective ways to determine if a job matches the needs of an individual, and vice-versa. It is very common for individuals to graduate high-school without having a clear idea of which career path they want to follow, and how to get there. A job analysis will allow those individuals to get a clear spectrum of what would be expected from them in a certain job and understand if they have the necessary characteristics to thrive in that career or not. Job Analysis – Wedding Planner A career path that I would be interested in following is that of a wedding planner. After owning a catering business for many years, and having catered a considerable amount of weddings, I have realized that the wedding industry fascinates me. A wedding planner is an individual with great communication skills, and extensive knowledge about the area and the service providers in a specific location. A wedding planner must be organized, punctual and responsible, since a couple’s most important day is in his or her hands. Although many wedding planners are trained as event planners with specialization in wedding planning, the majority of them do not have any formal training, having learned their skills on-the-job. A wedding planner must also have a good sense of style which includes, but is not limited to, color coordination, fashion, and music. Is it important for the planner to also have a good notion of finances, since he or she will be running his or her own business. However, although most wedding planners are self-employed, their skills could also be very useful in an organization, like for example, a catering business or a wedding venue such as a hotel or a park. Other skills important for wedding planners are active listening, critical thinking, reading comprehension, and time management ("Wedding Planner", 2013).

Reliability and Validity Performing a job analysis allows individuals to not only determine the tasks of a job, but also determine if the applicant meets the important requirements necessary to perform that job. Most of the data collected for a job analysis comes from the judgment of individuals who either perform a job, or watch other individuals do it (Spector, 2012). According to Spector (2012), “people’s judgments are imperfect, so it is important to determine how reliable and valid each job analysis method is” (p. 72). In other words, it is important to identify and understand the characteristics presented as being crucial for the positive performance of a job. The data gathered by a job analysis will provide a foundation based on which an organization will make decisions regarding the hiring, training, and appraising of a potential employee – in this case, a wedding planner. If an organization in the wedding industry is looking to hire a wedding planner, the information provided by a job analysis (i.e. job classification, description, training necessary, salary, etc.) will enable the organization to provide training, policies, and procedures to be followed by new employees (Spector, 2012).

Appraisal Methods Spector (2012) explains that “a well-designed performance appraisal system will be based on a job analysis” (p.60). Performance appraisal is a systematic evaluation of an individual regarding the individual’s performance on the job and his or her potential for development (Spector, 2012). There are several methods that can be used by an organization to perform job appraisal, each method containing benefits and limitations. One method that can be very effective in evaluating a prospective wedding planner includes a process of performing the job, since this method will provide both the organization and the wedding planner with extensive details regarding the job itself and the environment in which the job will be performed. However, the main disadvantage of this method is allowing an inexperienced or unknown wedding planner to be in charge of a bride’s most important day. For that reason, it is important to have a trustworthy supervisor paying close attention to what the wedding planner is doing, until that individual can be trusted on his or her own ("Performance Appraisal Methods", 2013). Another effective method of job appraisal in the wedding industry is the 360-Degree feedback. This technique involves collecting performance data on an individual from a number of people related professionally to him or her, such as supervisors, customers, vendors and colleagues. A self-evaluation is also part of this process. For a wedding planner, this method would be effective because he or she could get a realistic idea of what others think about his or her skills. On the negative side, receiving feedback from multiple sources can be very intimidating, and a self-evaluation is rarely realistic ("Performance Appraisal Methods", 2013).

Conclusion Job analysis and performance appraisal are valuable ways to strengthen the relationship between employee and organization. A well-developed job analysis will provide individuals with a valuable tool when searching for what career path to follow. Performance appraisal is an important component for organizations to use when trying to measure the value of an employee, and deciding if that employee can grow with the company or not. For individuals in the wedding industry or any other industry, having a clear idea of both what is expected from them and how they are performing is crucial to maintain an efficient workforce in a competitive market.

Performance Appraisal Methods. (2013). Retrieved from
Spector, P. E. (2012). Industrial and organizational psychology: Research and practice (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Wedding planner. (2013). Retrieved from

Improving Job Retention When it comes to the well-functioning of any organization, job retention can be considered one of the most important aspects. Having an under-qualified staff, or even being understaffed, can significantly prevent organizations from remaining competitive in the market. In order to maximize job retention and guarantee the satisfaction of not only the employees, but also the clients, it is important for companies to constantly apply techniques to create a satisfying work environment. This paper will present alternatives to enable JC’s Casino to change its current negative situation and improve its job retention and its quality of life in the workplace. Work Motivation Theories The justice theory explains that most individuals value fair treatment, and being treated as equals by the organization keeps them motivated to also be fair to their employer. Spector (2012) explains that when employees are treated equitably and fairly, they will improve their performance level, thus increasing productivity and quality of life in the workplace. This equity in the workplace can be achieved by balancing inputs and outcomes, or in other words, having a positive relationship between the contributions made by employees to the organization, and what they receive in return. When this relationship is unbalanced, individuals become unhappy and dissatisfied, since people are often motivated to find equilibrium. Employees constantly compare themselves to their colleagues, and if they feel like another individual is receiving better treatment then they are, tension will rise. In the case of JC’s Casino, the housekeepers do not feel like there are being treated with fairness and equality. Because they housekeeping department is understaffed, the current housekeepers must work harder than usual to clean all the rooms. However, this extra work is not rewarded or appreciated, leaving them unmotivated and exhausted. Hiring new housekeepers is crucial, at risk of losing the few ones working at the moment if the competition offers them better work conditions and rewards. Another work motivation theory, the reinforcement theory, explains that individuals’ behaviors are often motivated by the environment, instead of internal factors. This theory, which is based on Skinner’s behaviorism, believes that rewards and reinforcements will most likely affect behaviors, and if desired behaviors are rewarded, they will most likely be repeated (Feist & Feist, 2009). In JC’s Casino, the staff is not being rewarded for their hard work and dedication. In fact, the hostile and toxic environment created by the incompetent manager acts as a punishment to the employees, who are treated poorly even though they have been doing what is expected from them. In this scenario, the employees have no motivation to work their best. If the work conditions don’t change, more and more employees will eventually quit. The current employees must be rewarded in some way for their hard work, either with a monetary bonus, an extra day off, or even with words of reinforcement. Whatever the method may be, it is crucial for the staff to feel appreciated. Occupational Stressors There are many factors that can be considered stressful to employees in an organization. Some of the main ones are the existence of conflicts between coworkers and supervisors, and also heavy workloads, or when employees are being worked over their capacity. Being overworked can lead the employee to suffer from anxiety, which when combined with frustration and job dissatisfaction will most likely result in an intention to quit. Spector (2012) explains that "a job stressor is a condition or situation at work that requires an adaptive response on the part of the employee" (p. 292). When employees feel like their supervisors put their personal needs above the needs of the organization as whole, conflicts will arise and the quality of life in the work place will decline. For this reason, interpersonal conflicts in the work environment can also be considered a stressor (Spector, 2012). In JC’s Casino, many stressing factors can be pointed out. The housekeeping staff is heavily overworked, since the shortage of employees demands that they work more than housekeepers in other casinos – but without the extra pay. Not only this situation is extremely stressful for the housekeepers, it also represents an inconvenience for the administrative staff, who is constantly asked to clean rooms even though that is not in their job description. A quick way to fix these problems is to hire more housekeepers and provide them with a positive work environment, so they won’t want to quit. By having a full and prepared staff, most departments in the casino will be relieved – the housekeepers themselves, for not having to work harder than normal; the administrative staff, for not having to do a job that should not be expected from them; and the front desk clerks, for not having to deal with angry guests when they are not allowed to check-in to their rooms at a reasonable time. Job Satisfaction By analyzing the current situation in JC”s Casino, it is safe to say that the levels of job satisfaction in that work environment are dangerously low. Employees are being overworked, human resource is scared to confront the owner’s stepson, directors are unable to hire qualified staff, and workers have to deal with a hostile and incompetent manager who only has a job because he is related to the boss. Most departments in the casino are suffering from lack of management and team work, and job dissatisfaction is present throughout the casino – from front desk to housekeeping, administration, and Human Resources. Joe, the casino manager and owner’s stepson seems to be one of the biggest causes of job dissatisfaction in this organization, and needs to be eliminated or retrained. Although the Human Resources director is scared to confront the casino owner about his family member, he must do so. By explaining to the owner that his business has been constantly losing not only employees but also money, he will understand that it is in his best interest to handle the situation about his stepson being a poor employee. Counterproductive Behaviors Counterproductive behaviors can be explained as those actions that work against an individual’s success in the workplace. Examples of counterproductive behaviors are bullying, gossiping, complaining irrationally, back-stabbing, showing favoritism, and acting unprofessionally in general. “Counterproductive behavior in the workplace can take many forms, from difficult personalities that damage team cohesion to employee theft that undermines your organization’s financial well-being” (Mack, 2013). These types of behavior represent an extremely negative impact in all levels of the organization, and will prevent the staff from achieving its full potential professionally. In JC’s Casino, the main offenders when it comes to counterproductive behavior are Joe and his unprofessional ways to supervise the casino dealers, the head pf housekeeping for his inability to staff the department correctly, and the director of Human Resources for his inability to identify and correct the management problems in the casino staff. Human Resources is the most crucial department where immediate change must occur. The director in this department must immediately bring the owner up to date regarding how destructive the behavior of the dealers manager is, since gambling is the most important aspect in any casino. If the owner insists on keeping his stepson in the staff, he can be retrained and placed in another department where his abilities will be better employed. Conclusion The success of an organization lies in great part in the hands of its employees. If they are not satisfied, they will most likely look for employment elsewhere. By creating a positive work environment, the organization is setting itself up for not only an increase in productivity and profits, but also becoming a model for employee well-being and job satisfaction. If JC’s Casino applies the aforementioned ideas for job retention, it will become a competitive local casino as well as a profitable and well-maintained work environment. Implementing concepts from different motivational theories allows organizations to cater top their employees’ specific needs without compromising their beliefs and their budgets, since employees will responds to many different incentives. Regardless of which reward they choose, organizations should constantly strive to jeep their staff happy, guaranteeing a high level of employee retention.

Feist, J. & Feist, G. J. (2009). Theories of personality (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Spector, P. E. (2012). Industrial and organizational psychology: research and practice (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Mack, S. (2013). The impact of counterproductive behavior in organizations. Retrieved from


Real World Problems in the Restaurant Industry The bar and restaurant industry is the one with the highest level of failure. Around 60% of restaurants that open in the United States will have their doors closed within the first year, and the statistics for bars are not much better. When it comes to a popular vacation destination, bar and restaurant owners must be aware of the business fluctuation that will occur throughout the year. In the small town of Stateline, Nevada, on the south shore of the beautiful Lake Tahoe, the XX Bar and Grill can witness firsthand the difficulties that small business bust face when trying to succeed. South Lake Tahoe has recently been voted the best ski destination in the country, but the area is dealing with a serious issue: it won’t snow. Local businesses are suffering, because tourists are cancelling their ski vacations, or relocating to snow resorts in other areas of the county that are getting more snow. The XX has been in the area for over 21 years, and although most of its business in the winter and summer come from tourists, it also has a strong legion of local loyal customers, who are attracted by the restaurant’s diverse menu containing burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, Mexican food, and barbeque. The owner, xx., explains that although the restaurant seems to be really successful in the busy months (summer and winter), it suffers from the lack of costumers during the fall and spring. The Interview During an interview, xx. Was asked to describe what he believed were his biggest problems with the administration of the restaurant, to which he explained that job retention could use some improvement, as well as hiring appropriate candidates. Over the past year, the restaurant has hired over ten waitresses, bartenders and cooks, to be added to the existing staff of around 20 employees. Most individuals who work in the restaurant today have been there for over 5 years. All the ones who have recently been hired end up leaving (either quitting or getting fired). The hiring costs at the restaurant are not necessarily expensive, but are time consuming. The bar manager has developed an interview process that she believed to be effective, but it has proven to be quite ineffective. During the interview process, she would ask the bartender/waitress candidates questions about their experience and knowledge about making drinks, serving food and working the computer. What she figured out was that most candidates would lie, and answer the question with what they believed was what the manager wanted to hear. Their dishonest is usually only exposed during the 2-week training period, when the newly hired individuals can’t keep up with the work. At this point, the owner and manager must decide if they will keep those employees and give them a chance to prove themselves, or count their losses and fire them, having to start the hiring process again. The other issue, although related to the previously explained one, is job retention. Even when employees pass their probation face and secure a job at the company, many employees end up leaving the company. In a touristic town, there are many restaurants, so competition is always present. During the slow season, the XX isn’t able to guarantee to the new employees a full time position, since the ones who have been there longer have priority over shifts. Because of this, employees are tempted to search for new job with better security. Many times employees end up getting a second job, which is accepted by the XX, but fail to successfully maintain both jobs. Also, Tahoe is a very transitional area, in the sense that it is rare to find someone who was actually born there. Most people move to the area, live there for a few years, and move again to somewhere new. Because of that, the restaurant is always losing good employees who are moving away. After the interview with the restaurant owner xx., it was possible to see that although he is doing a great job running the restaurant, there are many aspects of his business that would use the advice from an I/O psychologist. The restaurant industry is the one with the most unstable workforce when compared to other retail industries (Zuber, 2001). The interview process at the XX, for example, could use some improvement. An I/O psychologist would suggest developing a process where the applicant’s skills are actually tested, instead of a question and answers format. This way, the manager can evaluate if that individual will be able to do the work or not, before hiring. In the restaurant industry, most part of the employee turnover occurs in the first 30 days, most likely because of poor selection procedures (Rothwell, 1992). When it comes to job retention, there are several ways the restaurant could make itself a more desirable and satisfactory work place. “Employees leaving after 60 days generally do so because of inadequate training and a failure on the part of management to motivate and provide growth opportunities” (Dermody, Young, & Taylor, 2004, p. 4). Monetary awards, paid vacation days, promotions, and encouraging words are all ways to make sure that employees are satisfied and won’t be looking for other jobs. TheXX provides a great environment for work, as the bosses are nice and easy to work with. However, management could try harder to make sure that all employees have a share amount of shifts on the slow season. Conclusion The XX has been a successful local business, but as most small businesses, it would benefit from the advice of an I/O psychologist. The cost of this professional would be balanced by how much the company would save with their hiring and training costs. “Hourly workers are motivated by cash, and can most effectively be motivated by incentive pay programs that have the potential to increase cash wages” (Frank, p. 549). In other words, the challenge of motivating workers in the restaurant industry can be conquered by making sure employees feel appreciated.

Dermody, M. B., Young, M., & Taylor, S. (2004). Identifying Job Motivation Factors of Restaurant Servers: Insight for the Development of effective Recruitment and Retention Strategies. International Journal Of Hospitality & Tourism Administration, 5(3), 1-14. doi:10.1300/J149c05n0301
Frank, R. (1984). Are workers paid their marginal products? American Economic Review,74 (4), 549-572
Rothwell, S. (1992). Productivity improvement through reduced labour turnover. Long Range Planning, 15, 69-73
Spector, P. E. (2012). Industrial and organizational psychology: Research and practice (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Zuber, A. (2001). A career in food service: High turnover, staff in flux leaves morale low, training costs high. Nation’s Restaurant News, 35(21) 147

Questions to the X owner:
1. For how long has the restaurant been open?
2. Do you have anyone who helps you run the restaurant or do you do it all by yourself?
3. Please name the main problem you have to face while running the restaurant?
4. Do you have any other areas that could use improvement?
5. Overall, would you say you are satisfied with the way your employees do their job?
6. What is the hardest aspect of trying to coordinate a staff of 20 people?
7. Do you think you would ever hire an industrial organizational psychologist?

Leadership and Performance in the Workplace
Introduction and Overview Woody’s Veneer Factory is a manufacturing company in need of professional guidance. Because of countless issues in different departments throughout the company, it has been losing money and inventory, and production is constantly decreasing. The employees don’t get along and constantly fight, and management doesn’t seem to know how to take control of the situation. There are acts of vandalism and violence happening on a daily basis, and although actions like these should be unacceptable in a work environment, management hasn’t dealt with the situation properly. Because of previous relationships that go back to high school times, employees can’t set aside their differences and act professionally, and the constant fights and conflicts are hurting the company. To reverse the situation and take the organization to a new higher level, Woody’s Veneer Factory is in need of the services provided by an I/O psychologist, who can apply theoretical concepts into the workplace in hopes of boosting morale and increasing productivity. When a strong sense of leadership is present in the workplace, the relationship amongst employees can be successful and harmonious; and when workers feel appreciated and respected, they will perform better in return (Spector, 2012). Because of this, the services of an I/O psychologist can help improve the quality of life in the workplace while at the same time increasing productivity and profits. This essay will present different leadership theories as well as concepts and methods to improve the relationships between worker and colleague, and worker and company.

Group and Team Concepts There are many different group and team concepts that could be beneficial to Woody’s Veneer Factory if applied properly. When a group of employees works together in a cohesive way, both the employees and the organization can experience the positive effects. By teaming up individuals who balance each other’s weaknesses and strengths, tasks and projects can be performed successfully, increasing profits and reducing costs. Lack of team work is one of the biggest problems at Woody’s Veneer Factory. Individuals put their personal needs and feelings before the collective needs of the group, causing tension, fights, and an overall dissatisfaction at the workplace, resulting in low productivity and all the other negative situations the company sees itself in. When it comes to group and team concepts, Spector (2012) explains that there are four crucial group concepts and two team concepts that compose team and group behavior. “The first three (roles, norms, and group cohesiveness) describe important aspects of groups and teams that help us understand how they operate. The fourth (process loss) is concerned with what sorts of things happen in work groups and teams that prevent people from putting all of their efforts into job performance” (p. 304). Although all these group concepts listed by the author are valid and useful in Woody’s Veneer Factory’s situation, the two team concepts are the ones that the company is missing the most. First, team commitment, which represents how strongly an individual is involved in the team and how hard that individual is willing to work for the team. The employees of Woody’s Veneer factory seem to have completely forgotten the importance of this concept, and assessing which employees are willing to make a change and commit to the success of the team will be crucial in determining which employees should stay and which should leave. The second concept, team mental model, “refers to the shared understanding among team members of the task, team, equipment, and situation” (Spector, 2012, p. 308). By working on strengthening the team mental model in the factory, the team will perform effectively and conflicts will arise less often.

Leadership Theories – Ashley

The Influence and Power of Management - Jake

Leadership versus Management - Carl

Conclusion In conclusion, after analyzing the current negative situation of Woody’s Veneer Factory and the many concepts and theories that can be applied in the work environment, it is safe to say that there is definitely hope for this organization. By getting the employees involved and committed to working as a team, boosting their morale and presenting them with incentives to work hard, it would be possible for this organization to see a change in its productivity and profits. Employees who fail to comply with the newly established team rules should be punished, and if negative behaviors repeat, they must be fired. Only employees who understand the importance of team and group work should be kept in the company, ensuring this way a positive and effective work environment. “There is a widespread belief that group performance is superior to individual performance for many tasks. This belief is based on the notion that something emerges in the interaction among people that enables a group to be better than the sum of its members” (Spector, 2012, p. 308). This idea can only be true if all the members in a team share the same commitment and respect for the organization, and are willing to sacrifice some personal needs for the well-being of the team. Leaders must be able to inspire and guide the group through a successful path, showing them respect and leading by example. If that is accomplished, employees and organization will be able to collect the positive effects of a well-functioning workplace.

Spector, P. E. (2012). Industrial and organizational psychology: Research and practice (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Psy/410 - Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder Antisocial Personality Disorder is considered to be a type of chronic mental condition, characterized by the patient having unique and destructive ways of thinking. Individuals suffering from antisocial personality disorder usually have no regard for the wishes and feelings of those around them, and cannot differentiate right from wrong. Although this disorder begins in childhood, symptoms are usually more evident in early adulthood (Meloy, 1998). This study intends to analyze and explain the main causes and symptoms in patients with antisocial personality disorder while analyzing the case of Theodor Bundy.

Case Overview

Theodor Bundy was born illegitimately in 1946, on November 24 in Burlington, Vermont. Bundy never knew his father, but remembered and adored his grandfather during his first three years of life while in Philadelphia. He was upset when he and his mother moved in with his uncles in Tacoma, Washington at four-years-old. Bundy also became upset and jealous when his mother became involved with Johnnie Bundy, a military base cook. Bundy’s mother and Johnnie married and by 1952 they had their first of three children. Bundy recalls that his mother went through immense pain during labor, and he related that with her pregnancies and with Johnnie (Myer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Bundy looked up to his teacher in first grade and was upset when she was no longer present because of having her baby. On the other hand, he disliked his teacher in second grade. He remembers when he punched a child in school, and she hit his hands with a ruler. Bundy recognized at seven years old that he felt a strange feeling of a growing entity inside. He explained the feelings as uneasy and disturbing (Myer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Throughout school, Bundy did well. He received A’s and credited his mother to his achievement. However, she never talked with him about sex or opened up with him. He said his mother was not social and never brought up her childhood. Her incited resentment of Bundy’s father caused Bundy to feel troubled about his illegitimate status during life (Myer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Bundy attended Sunday school and studied the Bible weekly while in high school, but according to him, he did not retain it. He was aware of politics and would talk to his mother about the hypocrisy involved in Christianity. Bundy’s parents did not smoke or drink alcohol, but his stepfather was violent (Myer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Beginning early, Bundy regularly opted to be solo. He was fascinated with radio and music. Later in life, he had a hard time socializing. As a child, he probed through garbage cans looking for photos of nude women. Although he tried to involve himself in sports, he did not pursue it because it was too serious, his mother did not want to pay for sports, and his stepfather did not want to attend to watch. Because he failed to get on a team, he was traumatized, and took up skiing (Myer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Bundy was infatuated with material items and dreamed of becoming adopted by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and receiving a pony from them. He was embarrassed of his own family’s car and viewed his childhood as empty because he believed he was ignored (Myer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Bundy had a few friends in junior high school and went to some parties, but he did not learn proper social skills and in high school became an introvert and very shy. He did not get into trouble. He dated once in high school, and felt incompetent with girls. Bundy thought he was poor in comparison to others who were wealthy. By senior year, Bundy participated in a political race and accomplished many political efforts where he was able to make more friends (Myer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Bundy expressed having an entity inside and called it the “malignant being” that wanted him to commit murder. He insisted that the murders he committed were not because of his craving to kill, but because he wanted complete control over his target. He asserted that he kept the victims from feeling pain and the sex was not extreme. Meyer, Weaver, and Chapman (2009) say, “The ‘entity’ grew slowly within him, becoming stronger, and more powerful after every deviant act”.

Bundy first attempt at killing was in 1974, in Seattle. For no reason, he smashed the head of a stranger, Sharon Clarke with a rod, but she survived. After a few weeks, Lynda Ann Healy, a neighbor of Sharon’s, disappeared along with many other women over seven months time. Janis Ott was another never to be seen after an encounter with Bundy and on the same day a woman vanished from a public restroom near the same lake he met Janis at. Both remains were discovered nearby. Bundy’s murdering spree went on for months. The victims were attractive, with long parted hair, white, and in college. Bundy made several attempts in a day. By 1975, he started killing women in Colorado. Women began to go missing one after another until Bundy’s arrest in August 16, 1975. A hair was found in his car that matched that of one of his murder victims, and he was tried for murder (Myer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Bundy was charming, smart, witty, and handsome, which helped convince people into getting his way. He finagled his way out of a library window and escaped captivity. However, he was recaptured eight days later and guarded with more care (Myer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Bundy bear witnessed that he was not guilty and was a victim of circumstance, insisting there was no clear evidence. He argued also that his description was like the one of many other men. His legal abilities enabled him to delay his case, which allowed him to escape again. He travelled to Tallahassee, Florida, where there were nearby sorority houses that housed students from Florida State University. In 1978 five girls from a sorority house were beaten badly and raped, two did not survive. A month passed and a 12-year-old went missing after school. She was later found dead with mutilated sexual organs and was strangled (Myer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

On February 15, 1978, Bundy was arrested again, but did not go without a fight. Again, he insisted he was innocent, but evidence showed that his teeth matched teeth marks on one of his victims. Bundy went to trial in Florida, where he again tried to use his charm and legal skills. He admitted to 23 murders in a teasing way, but kept himself from death for 10 more years using his talents and charm. He was proposed to many times and even had a child while in prison. However, on January 24, 1989, he was executed by electric chair in Florida, and people cheered (Myer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

According to Meyer and Weaver (2009), “Bundy is a classic case of a high Factor 1 psychopath (see following discussion)—that is, high on the indices of true psychopathy.” Ann Rule, his biographer told a story of Bundy at about age 14, when an eight-year-old went missing in the neighborhood he lived in. He knew the girl and delivered her newspaper. When in jail, Bundy was asked if he killed her, he said no as he smirked and grinned (Myer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Biological Perspective

There are several theories that have been made about how people get antisocial personality disorder. One such theory is that people with antisocial personality disorder have alpha waves that do not function the same as most peoples. For instance, when individuals get arrested, they may feel nervous, tense and even scared perhaps. In this situation, that person’s alpha waves would be traveling at an increased rate than usual. A person with antisocial personality disorder were in the same situation, their alpha waves would be traveling at about the same rate as usual, and would therefore be able to remain quite calm. This also explains why someone with antisocial personality disorder can do some of the things that they do, and are seemingly not affected by it at all.

Modern research supports the idea that biological factors, especially those that are derived genetically, influence the production of criminality, antisocial personality disorder, and especially psychopathy (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009). It is unclear as to how biological factors translate into specific behaviors, there are possibilities that include deficits in specific types of intelligence skills, brain dysfunctions, neurohormonal disorders, and so on (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009). Some characteristics of someone with antisocial personality disorder are as follows: failure to conform to social norms, deceitfulness, impulsivity, aggressiveness, and a disregard for safety to themselves as well as to others at times, irresponsibility, and a lack of remorse.

According to Meyer, Chapman, and Weaver, the most influential modern conceptualization has viewed psychopathy as composed of two main factors, the first is affective-cognitive instability and the second is behavioral-social deviance. The following characteristics contribute to affective-cognitive instability: glibness, a grandiose sense of self, pathological lying, conning-manipulative behaviors, lack of remorse, shallow affect, callousness, and lack of empathy as well as failure to accept responsibility (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009). Characteristics that contribute to behavioral-social deviance are a higher need for stimulation, a parasitic lifestyle, poor behavioral controls, early behavior problems, lack of realistic goals, impulsivity, irresponsibility, having been adjudicated delinquent, and a history of violating supervision (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Cognitive Perspective

Cognitive psychology is, at heart, the study of how people’s thoughts and interpretations color their behavior and reactions (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). In the Case of Ted Bundy there is a wealth of help and insight that can be gained from this branch of psychology in understanding how this individual became so disturbed. Bundy was a pathological liar and this is the stand out in terms of cognition. When someone lies to everyone around them all the time, the question becomes: does that individual know the truth? For a man to kill so many women in such a cavalier way he had to have a horrible opinion of women, he had to justify his behavior in a way that makes it non-threatening to himself and his ego and this can be accomplished through pathologically lying to himself about his true nature and the nature of the women he killed. In the case study, Bundy claims to be innocent, and maybe he thinks that he was innocent of wrong doing, because he was doing a service. In cognitive psychology the focus is not on reality, objectively reviewing facts, but rather on the thought process of a person and the automatic thoughts that they repeat in their mind constantly (Kowalski & Westen, 2011).

Behavioral Perspective

Concepts of behavioral theory can be used to explain and treat antisocial personality disorder. Theodore Bundy’s actions throughout his life are congruent with the definition of antisocial personality disorder; mainly because he had a complete disregard for other people’s rights and focused on his own interests at the expense of the women he killed (Hansell & Damour, 2008, p. 420). Studies have shown that Bundy was very likely to be antisocial as an adult because his parents were as well (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009, p. 210). His mother resented the fact that he was an illegitimate child with no father present, plus the fact that she did not like to socialize, meant that as a toddler and young child he did not have the opportunity to experience social play and development. This lack of early exposure to other children may have been another reason why Bundy found it difficult to integrate socially during his adult life.

Feelings of inadequacy prevented him from participating in sports as a child; a lack of social interaction, especially from his mother and stepfather, caused him to be obsessed with possessions. This also left him with plenty of time to fantasize about how his life could be. His family’s low income made him feel inferior to the other children in his high school, and he felt overlooked and disregarded by his parents who gave all their attention to his younger siblings (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009, p. 210).

It seems Bundy modeled his outbursts of aggression (during the murders) after his stepfather who was relatively calm except for an easily triggered temper. Other than that, his mother’s resentment and his stepfather’s other priorities led to Bundy developing during those early years with a very inconsistent parent-child relationship. His family’s low income status in addition to the unreliable parenting resulted in unstable interpersonal relationships and an insecure attachment to possessions. Consistent with this analysis, Bundy claims that his desire to kill was driven by his need to possess the victim (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009, p. 210). Bundy may have gravitated towards killing multiple women because those actions fulfilled both his need for more possessions as well as his need for an interpersonal relationship, albeit brief.

Some have theorized that the lack of early psychopathic evidence from Bundy’s past was because his mother probably covered for some of his deviant acts (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009, p. 212). Behavioral theorists emphasize that antisocial traits are reinforced when parents reward manipulative or abusive behavior, which very well may have been what Bundy’s mother was covering up. Behavioral interventions that aim to teach responsible behavior through the use of consistent punishments for inappropriate behavior and rewards for positive behavior have been found to be effective for some people with antisocial personality disorder (Hansell & Damour, 2008, p. 423).

Psychodynamic Perspective

Antisocial personality disorder is mainly characterized by the sufferer’s flagrant disregard of other individuals’ rights. (Hansel & Damour, 2008). In other words, people with antisocial personality disorder are insensitive to other people’s feelings and interests; instead they solely focus on their own interests and feelings alone. Individuals with this disorder do not feel remorse or guilt for their wrong doings. The Psychodynamic application and treatment of antisocial personality disorder is linked with the assumption that the sufferers are born into dysfunctional families with physical abuse tendencies, cruel, and are emotionally turbulent (Akhtar, 1992). Consequentially, children that are born into this type of aforementioned family setting may experience helplessness feelings especially when their parents are unleashing barrages of anger and violence on them. As a result, such child may resort into using defense mechanism of identification with the aggressor, whereby the individual will want to cause others to experience the same feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, and victimization they experienced as a child).

Part of psychodynamic treatment of antisocial disorder includes psychotherapy whereby the clinician will discuss early childhood experience with the sufferer. People with antisocial disorder will act instead of feel; they find it difficult to talk about their personal emotional experiences. The feelings of helpless and a scared victim during childhood stage makes them want to scare and victimize others when they grow up (Hansel & Damour, 2008). Furthermore, the psychodynamic aspect also delves into analyzing early childhood attachments of individuals with antisocial personality disorder. Gabbard (2000) stated that “normal parent-child attachment paves the way for the internalization of a morally guiding superego and the ability to empathize with others. People with antisocial personality disorder show abnormal superego functioning and a lack of empathic ability to imagine how others feel, presumably due to disrupted parent-child relationships” (Hansel & Damour, 2008, p. 422).


In conclusion, all the theories presented above offer different perspectives in explaining how antisocial personality disorder can impact the lives of not only the suffering patients, but also those around them, since psychopathy can be associated with the disorder. In fact, a report presented by the FBI in 1992 showed that most psychopathic killers met the criteria for the diagnose of antisocial personality disorder (Hare, 1996). Antisocial personality disorder can be considered as one of the most difficult disorders to treat, since it is rare that patients will seek treatment on their own. However, behavioral treatments with appropriate behavior gratification can be effective in making sure those patients are well-adjusted and safe for life in society.


Akhtar, S. (1992). Broken structures: Severe personality disorders and their treatment. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.

Hansell, J. & Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Hare, R.D. (1996). Psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder. Retrieved from

Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2011). Psychology (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Meloy, J. (1998). The psychology of stalking: clinical and forensic perspectives. San Diego: Academic Press.

Meyer, R., Chapman, L. K., & Weaver, C. M. (2009). Case studies in abnormal behavior. (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

Psy/410 - Anxiety Case Study

Anxiety Case Study According to Hansell and Damour (2008, p. 123), “Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition involving repetitive, unwanted, anxiety-producing thoughts and compulsive rituals intended to protect against anxiety”. Obsessions in this case of psychology, are upsetting thoughts that are not wanted, and compulsions basically are the rituals irrationally used repeatedly to neutralize or control the anxious feelings that the obsessions create. OCD is an anxiety disorder, and someone with OCD will experience unwanted thoughts and compulsions, which will interfere significantly with that person’s everyday life. OCD can develop through a person’s fears, repeated doubts, or even trauma (Hansell & Damour, 2008). The case of Bess explains more about OCD. An overview of Bess’s case will be addressed as well as how biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, and behavioral theories can be applied to developing her treatment to her disorder.

Case Overview

Bess is 27, she is attractive, lives in an upper class apartment in the nicest part of town, but does not have many friends. An ordinary evening for Bess would entail a late workday, dinner, reading or television, a sleeping pill, and an alcoholic beverage prior to going to bed and falling asleep. Bess is an accountant at a manufacturing company. She is quite successful because of the many hours she spends at work. Bess is a perfectionist, which is an advantage to her field of work.

Bess’s parents divorced when she was 10, she had no brothers or sisters. She was raised mostly by her mother and saw her father only occasionally. Her mother was affectionate, but Bess hardly remembers the time spent with her mother other than when she encouraged Bess to improve and regularly enrolled her in lessons, where they would argue about how much effort Bess put into those lessons. Bess’s mother regularly stressed the importance of keeping clean and neat, which was something else they argued over. Bess’s mother nagged her regularly if her room was not cleaned up, and she would clean it up, but as soon as her mother turned away she would let her room get messy. Bess’s mother repeatedly stressed that this behavior would be trouble when she grew up, but failed to explain how. Her mother displayed excessive distress over cleanliness and ensured Bess thoroughly washed her hands every time she used the bathroom or touched her genitals for any reason. Bess’s mother was disgusted by bathroom smells and used various candles and deodorizers to control the smells. At times, Bess felt unhappy, but when she told her mother, she would try to change Bess’s feelings right away. She would ask Bess how she could be unhappy considering the amount of time she spent with her. Her mother would appear upset if Bess continued to show her unhappiness.

Bess visited her father and enjoyed her time with him because he was more relaxed. However, he was not successful and could not keep a steady job. Her father was usually happy and took good care of Bess when she visited, but her mother was not happy with Bess visiting her father and tried to sabotage the visits when she could. Bess’s mother would mention how her father was lazy and did not support the family efficiently enough.

Bess lived the way her mother insisted, although she resisted at times, she did well in school and worked hard and meticulously on assignments. Bess was successful in school but was not popular and did not involve herself in activities. She spent her time mostly preparing for assignments and doing household chores instead. Bess was an active Methodist because her mother raised her that way, and although it was positive, there were times when she became upset and confused about being a sinner or being saved. Bess would drown herself in schoolwork or church activities to avoid the conflicted feelings. When Bess entered adolescence she became overwhelmed with erotic fantasies. Bess believed this could be against her religion and tried to manage her fantasies and distract her attention from them by drowning herself in other activities, such as crosswords and jigsaw puzzles to stay occupied for a length of time. However, her erotic fantasies continued to arise, and she began to have orgiastic sessions of masturbating.

Bess interacted with male friends easily, but did not know how to handle sexual or romantic issues. Therefore, Bess rarely date. As a senior, she was charmed by a boy who regularly wanted to have sex, but she refused to. However, on a drunken night, she agreed, and continued to on a regular basis until she became pregnant and was forced by her mother to abort the child. Her mother took her away to Europe and when Bess returned, she discovered that her boyfriend had met someone else.

Bess involved herself into school, became a top student, received honors, and obtained a career where she was successful and spent the majority of her time. Vague anxieties continued with Bess, including worry over dating, marriage, and family. She dealt with these anxieties by continuing to throw herself into work. However, she simultaneously experienced cleanliness symptoms similar to those displayed as a child. Her concerns turned into rituals of thorough cleanings. Bess’s rituals would start with her touching her anal or genital area. Bess’s ritual involved her taking off her clothes in a specific sequence. She laid each piece of clothing out in certain areas of her bed and inspects each piece to ensure they were clean. If an article of clothing appeared dirty, it was put in the laundry and replaced with another piece of clean clothing. Bess would scrub her body from her feet upward using specific washcloths for specific areas. Bess would redress in the reverse order from which they were taken off. If something was not right in her mind, she would begin the sequence again, doing this four or five time some days.

Eventually Bess acquired other rituals and thoughts that were obsessive. These obsessions and rituals generally were associated with using the bathroom, sexual issues, or coming across dirtiness in public areas. Bess’s functioning in her daily life became affected as her rituals increase. Her time and energy is spent on rituals and Bess becomes aware of the absurdness of her behavior. However, Bess feels bound to continue with the rituals and finally seeks help for her behavior.

Biological Perspective

Obsessive Compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder as classified by the DSM-IV-TR. One of the criteria for this classification is the obsessive need to perform a task, in which are known to the person as a ritual they feel the need to complete. From a biological perspective, using a PET scan, researchers have found that the four brain structures work together in unison and become overactive as a result in a person that has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009). As studied in previous classes, the orbital frontal cortex operates as a person’s error detection circuit, this section of the brain alerts the rest of the brain when something is wrong and needs to be taken care of. In a person that has obsessive compulsive disorder, this part of the brain is hyperactive, so this person will keep fixing what they think is wrong such as making sure the door is locked or the stove is shut off (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009). Another section deep in the core of the brain signal that there is something very wrong is the caudate nucleus and the cingulate gyrus. These parts of the brain will make a person’s heart pound and give the feelings of anxiety (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009). The section of the brain in which the sensory information is processed within the thalamus will also work in unison with the other sections of the brain. When a person with obsessive compulsive disorder becomes more active metabolically, the other structure do as well, which is not the case in a healthy person (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

A person with Obsessive Compulsive disorder have a tendency of learning these behaviors from their parents or the people they are around as a child, as in the case with Bess, she was taught to be obsessive compulsive about keeping her room clean and studying hard by her mother. Since Bess was raised by a single mother who had very little contact with her father, Bess was influenced heavily by her mother and how and what she had been taught growing up.

Psychodynamic Perspective

Since obsessive compulsive disorder can be difficult to treat, there is a very wide variety of treatments available in which psychoanalysts have had some success (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009). There is also a danger in this treatment as an obsessive compulsive individual has a history of using intellectualization as a defense mechanism, and the technique of free association in psychoanalysis can be easily abused by intellectualization (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Studies have also shown that cognitive behavior modification can be effective in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. In these studies, Schwartz and his colleagues have shown that cognitive behavioral modification can reverse the obsessive compulsive physiological “locking up” of the brain and the four sections that seem to work in unison with the obsessive compulsive individual (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

As in the case with Bess, her treatment started with cognitive behavior modification as well as thought stopping or response prevention (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009). Her therapist set a regiment of thought stopping, Bess was trained to stop the obsessive behavior as she shouted “stop” and to evaluate her consciousness. As she did this there was an electric shock that reminded her that her obsessive thoughts were being disturbed. This thought stopping process integrated to Bess that her obsessive compulsive behavior could be changed or controlled, which gave light to being trained in a new way with positive behaviors.

Cognitive Explanations

Many cognitive formulations have been created to explain obsessions and compulsions like OCD, especially by psychologists like Clark (2002), Salkovskis (1985, 1989, 1998), and Rachman (1997, 1998). Although their ideas presented different components, they all had the common underlying assumptions about the cognitive roots of OCD, such as the explanations that most obsessions have their origin in intrusive, distressing, and unwanted thoughts, impulses, and images. Although these are present in most individual’s minds, some individuals lack control over them, which results in obsessions (Frost & Steketee, 2002).

In the case of Bess, as it happens to most individuals who suffer from OCD, it is possible to observe the common feature of an enlarged and inflated sense of responsibilities over outcomes. In other words, patients tend to think that their actions will eventually lead to harm to themselves or others. In this case, Bess had a ritual of making sure her body and her clothes were impeccably clean, by fear of being “contaminated”.

A very effective treatment for patients like Bess is Cognitive-behavior modification, which can actually reverse the OCD symptoms. By learning to relabel their urges, and calling them for what they were (for example, instead of saying “I need to wash my clothes again”, saying “I’m having a compulsion again”), patients would learn to swift their attention to another activity and regain control of their thoughts (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009).

Behaviorist Perspective

Behaviorists believe that all behavior can be explained in terms of rewards and punishments (Kowlaski & Westen, 2011). Therefore Bess is being rewarded by her environment by performing her rituals and being overly clean and tidy. When you consider the way that Bess’s mom expressed her love to her as a child, and when she withheld her love it follows that Beth would do her best to do things that make her mother love and accept her and avoid behaviors that result in painful censure. When she was clean and orderly, her mother Bess praised Bess. When her room or her environment were not clean then she was punished. To gain the rewarding feeling of her mother’s love Bess cleans and tries to be as orderly as possible.

Behaviorists also talk about the importance of modeling and learned behavior (Decker, 2010). Bess did not learn how to cope in a vacuum, rather she watched her mom deal with everyday stress and chronic stress by cleaning and in being orderly. When the house was a mess her mother was unhappy and Bess saw that. Cleanliness brought her mother joy, so Bess would learn this as a coping strategy and use it when she felt lost and out of control.

In conclusion, all the theories presented above offer alternatives to significantly change Bess’ reality of OCD. By analyzing her past experiences with her mother, having a doctor analyze her brain, and even try to learn new thought processes, Bess and other patients suffering from OCD can finally change their behaviors and thoughts and learn to live a normal life. Obsessive Compulsive disorder is much more common that originally perceived, and it has no cultural boundaries. Each of the approaches presented has its own specific advantages to target different cases and challenges. Different theoretical perspectives can be integrated, allowing therapists and physicians to have an even broader spectrum of possibilities to help patients.


Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental (3rd ed). Boston: Pearson/Allyn &Bacon.

Frost, Randy O., and Gail Steketee. Cognitive Approaches to Obsessions and Compulsions: Theory, Assessment, and Treatment. Amsterdam: Pergamon, 2002. Print.

Hansell, J., & Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2011). Psychology (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Meyer, R., Chapman, L. K., & Weaver, C. M. (2009). Case studies in abnormal behavior. (8th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

Psy/410 - Schizophrenia Case Analysis

Schizophrenia Case Analysis Schizophrenia is a disorder displaying prominent symptoms of psychosis or lost touch with reality, hallucinations, and possibly delusions, along with declining adaptive functions. A subtype of schizophrenia is Undifferentiated Schizophrenia (Hansell & Damour, 2008, p. 454). The case of Sally explains common behavior of an individual with undifferentiated schizophrenia. An overview of Sally’s case will be addressed as well as how biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, and behavioral theories can be applied to developing her treatment to her disorder.

Case Overview

Sally’s start in life was quite poor. During her mother’s pregnancy, she smoked two packs of cigarettes per day, despite her doctor’s warnings against it. During the fifth month of her mother’s pregnancy, she caught the flu. There were also reasons to think Sally inherited schizophrenia. Her mother’s father was thought to suffer from mental instability and was referred to as eccentric, nuts, or crazy. Compared to most, Sally developed slowly. She talked later than most children and walked later than most children. Sally was overly active but not considered by her doctor to be hyperactive.

When Sally was only two, her parents were separated for about 10 months, but got back together to continue their struggling marriage. Her parent’s marriage was not peaceful nor was it consistent. They tried to be good parents to Sally, because they could not have more children. Her father played with her often despite his job’s requirement to travel. However, at times he was extremely critical because he believed she was behind. Sally’s mother on the other hand, had a deep relationship with her.

Sally withdrew from studying and displayed fantasy behavior despite that she was smarter than average and her mother strongly encouraged her. She showed to be below average in many subjects, as if her thinking was not normal. Sally had few friends because her mother was overprotective, and Sally’s odd behaviors did not allow her to keep friends or establish deep relationships with the friends she did have. Because she did not get the feedback within friendships, or have an active social life, she began to establish additional unusual mannerisms and interests, which resulted in even more distance to social activity.

When Sally completed high school, her parents let her board at a collage nearby, but the new environment caused her stress, and she began talking to herself. Her counselor witnessed her odd behavior. She was unresponsive, sitting in her room, staring at the ground. When the counselor tried to move her arms, the limbs stayed in place. In this catatonic state, called waxy flexibility, Sally had to be put in the hospital, but her condition quickly returned to normal. Upon her return to school, she skipped class. Therefore, her mother took her back home so she could look after her. Sally’s condition only worsened, and she began to show patterns of unresponsive behavior with bouts of rocking and laughing. Sally’s father was persistent in getting Sally admitted to a hospital, but they released her once she showed improvement, and her mother did not follow through with the doctor’s orders of aftercare.

Eventually, Sally obtained a part-time job in a small store nearby, as a clerk. She spent her time off at home, mostly in her room. At this time, her father died of a heart attack, and her mother became more dependent on Sally. She began to wander around on her way from work back home, likely to avoid her mother. Sally’s behaviors became even stranger, and a police officer found her in a park, walking around in a shallow pond, talking to herself. He took her into the hospital once again. Sally was transferred to a mental hospital.

Sally experienced many relapses. She was diagnosed with Undifferentiated Schizophrenia and given a poor prognosis for a cure. Sally was likely to continue this pattern and be admitted and released from hospitals repeatedly with recommendations of treatment to follow so that she could cope.

Biological Theory

The biological perspective or genetic aspect of schizophrenia has been the most researched. Researchers believe there is a biological process at work in schizophrenia development. Researchers have linked genetic predisposition with occurrences of stress in late adolescence and early adulthood. Researchers have proposed that schizophrenia is inherited and in Sally’s case, her grandfather was thought to have schizophrenia but was never properly diagnosed.

Within the last decade, scanning techniques have shown that type II schizophrenic people have a larger brain cavity and cerebrospinal fluid and smaller temporal lobes, frontal lobes, and an abnormal blood flow to specific parts of the brain. There is other research that indicates other genetic factors as well such as complications at birth, immune reactions, fetal development, and toxins may play a role in the development of schizophrenia. In the case of Sally, during her mother’s pregnancy, she had a severe case of the flu. Researchers have proven that trauma from a virus in the second trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of the unborn child developing schizophrenia. The theory is that when pregnant in the second trimester, a severe virus can disrupt the migration of cells resulting from the breaking up of the neural sub-plate (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Any potential brain disorder such as genetic problems, birth disorder, and trauma, viral or infectious disorder may be contributing factors in displaying symptoms of schizophrenia (Hansell & Damour, 2008).

In Sally’s case, her treatment was given to her after the third time she was hospitalized, thus her treatment was not effectively treated until late in the process of her disorder, which is not uncommon with schizophrenic’s (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Her treatment included medication, which was Thorazine, Sally also went to inpatient group therapy as well as talking to a psychiatrist twice a week. With the exception of counseling for families with known high risks of schizophrenic offspring, no preventative measures are currently available. There are somatic treatments that are available, it is also noted that biological treatments work best when they are combined with psychosocial intervention (Wyatt, Apud, & Potkin, 1996).

Psychodynamic Theory

The psychodynamic theory focuses on unconscious motivation, struggles between the id, ego, the superego, and the importance of the first few years of life in determining lifelong behavior (Feist & Feist, 2009). If Sally were to see a psychoanalyst, her therapist would focus on Sally’s relationship with her parents. Her mother’s overdependence on Sally and her father’s rejection both work together to create feelings of hostility in Sally.

It is understandable to a person observing that Sally would feel angry at her mother for depending on Sally, not allowing her to be a child with friends, not taking care of herself when pregnant with Sally, and for not protecting Sally from her emotionally abusive father. Sally would repress these feelings because after all her mother is the only person she can depend on. Anger toward her mother might alienate the one companion she has, so she directs the anger inward. Her disorder functions as a constant punishment for things that she may have done wrong while having the dual purpose of punishing her mother, and allowing her to avoid the next stage in life because she never mastered the earliest stages.

If Sally were well, she would have to deal with many of life’s stressors, such a paying her own bills, finding a potential life partner, and raising children, all of which Sally has been poorly prepared for. Her sickness prevents her from having to participate in the real-world and has a function because she can escape the chaotic nature of emotion, such as the emotion she had to endure watching from her parents when they fought during her childhood. She never has to make choices, fall in love or be a prisoner of love like her parents because she is unwell. Her id, remains unseen, and unacknowledged, but continues to influence her thought process and allows her to embrace conflicting ideas, she is sick, but it serves a purpose and protects her from the harsher alternative (Feist &Feist, 2009).

Cognitive Theory

Cognitive psychology tries to understand how individuals process information, react to stimuli, and create responses. In other words, this theory focuses on the many variables that can outcome from the relationship between stimulus/input and response/output. Internal processes like perception, language, attention, thinking, and memory are part of this theory’s focus. The cognitive theory suggests that most disorders are consequences of negative thoughts and behaviors, which are commonly based on false assumptions made by the patient. This approach tries to understand how psychological disorders are affected by the individual’s thoughts, reasoning, and perceptions (Meyer & Weaver, 2009).

In the case of Sally, as in most schizophrenia cases, many cognitive symptoms can be listed, as cognitive functioning is always impaired in patients, either moderately or severely. These symptoms include poor executive functioning, or in other words, the individual’s ability to make decisions based on his or her interpretation of information; inability to pay attention in certain situations for long periods; inability to store recently learned information and use it right away (Keefe & Harvey, 2012).

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania discovered that cognitive therapy can improve the daily functioning and the life quality of those patients suffering from schizophrenia, even the lowest-functioning cases. Cognitive therapy, which was introduced by Aaron Beck in the 1970s, tries to help patients by identifying and changing disruptive thinking as well as dysfunctional behavior and emotional responses. It was originally developed as a method to provide treatment for residual symptoms. The technique involves emphasis on the normal processes of dealing with adversity, the use of over learning, stimulation, and role playing, the practice of behavioral coping skills, and other techniques to promote the well-being and mental stability of patients dealing with schizophrenia (Paulette, 2009).

Behavioral Theory

Behaviorism believes that most individuals are born without any knowledge, and acquire new skills and learn new behaviors throughout live through classical conditioning and operant conditioning processes, which assimilate stimuli and provoke learning. This approach also believes that most psychological disorders are results to maladaptive learning. For instance, classical conditioning, which involves learning by association, can explain the cause for most phobias; operant conditioning, on the other hand can explain abnormal behaviors like eating disorders because it is based on an intricate system of rewards and punishments (Meyer & Weaver, 2009).

In the case presented above, the behavioral theory would explain that although researchers suggest neurological factors contribute to schizophrenia, Sally may have learned many abnormal behaviors from her inconsistent parents. Because of the instability in her house growing up, Sally became more sensitive to the influences from the environment that normal. However, the behavioral approach believes that the same way behaviors can be learned and unlearned.

As a treatment, behavioral therapy could help Sally tremendously in the way of living with her disease and adapting to it. Therapy could not cure Sally’s schizophrenia, but it would teach her to focus on current behaviors and problems instead of on the underlying causes of her disorder. Following the premise that behavior is learned, by using methods like systematic desensitization, Sally could learn to remove the fear factor from her responses and focus on relaxation methods to walk her through unpleasant episodes (McLeod, 2010).

In conclusion, the theories addressed can be applied to the treatment of Sally’s disorder. The biological theory is the genetic aspect and believed to be a strong link to how schizophrenia is developed. In Sally’s case genetics is thought to be significant to her treatment process. The psychodynamic theory involves struggles in early years. Had Sally received treatment sooner, this theory would suggest therapy that focuses on the impact of issues with her parent’s marriage, her mother’s extreme dependence on Sally, and her father’s criticalness. The cognitive theory suggests that treatment involving the understanding of how Sally processes information, reacts to stimuli, and creates responses. Cognitive therapy is said to help improve the lives of schizophrenics by identifying and changing certain thinking, dysfunctional behavior, and emotional responses. The behavioral theory says that Sally could have learned her way to abnormality because of her upbringing and her environment growing up. Therefore, this theory would indicate that treatment should include unlearning undesired behaviors. Sally’s treatment came late and was not as effective as wanted. Medication was used along with group therapy and seeing a psychiatrist weekly. Sally was given a poor prognosis for a complete cure and was likely to continue her pattern of repeated hospitalizations. However, treatment will help Sally learn to live with her disease and arm her with techniques in adapting.


Feist, J., & Feist, G. (2009). Theories of personality (7th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

Hansell, J. & Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal Psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley

McLeod, S. A. (2010). Behavioral Therapy - Simply Psychology. Retrieved from

Meyer, R., Chapman, L. K., & Weaver, C. M. (2009). Case studies in abnormal behavior. (8th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

Paulette, M. (2009). Cognitive behavior therapy for people with schizophrenia. Retrieved from

Wyatt; Apud; Potkin. Interpersonal and biological Processes, Vol 59(4), Nov. 1996, 357-370

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