Sunday, October 30, 2011

Having Children

What do you think about people who choose not to have children?
Honestly, this depends on the day. When my children have been giving me a tough time, I think people who choose not to have children are smart. But, on the more common occasions of having special moments with my children, I wonder why some people choose to miss out on parenthood. In all seriousness, I feel the decision to have children is a personal and private decision. It should not be society’s decision, but the individual’s decision. In no way should a person be judged for their decision on children.

What is your choice? What do you say to people who ask about it?
I knew that I always wanted children. I said my limit was 4, but I ended up with 7. I always get the questions of “Why so many?”, “Don’t you know what causes that?”, and “What did you do? Keep trying until you got that boy?” (I had 6 girls before my only son). At first I would answer these questions with detailed answers. However, now I am tired of them and answer very shortly, “My decision to have children and how many is my business.” I still get the question, “Are you done now?” To which I answer, “And if I’m not?” It normally ends the children conversation.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

The Inaccuracy of Eyewitness Testimony

       Eyewitness testimony is used every day in court cases across the country. But, how reliable is eyewitness testimony when it comes to the aspects of a person’s memory? Quoting Elizabeth Loftus, “Memories are not fixed.” This means that memories can be changed, lost and created. Eyewitnesses tend to remember major details, but memory of minor details is low. Eyewitnesses who perceive themselves as objective have more confidence in their testimony. However, confidence is not the same as accuracy.

Many factors can account for a person’s eyewitness testimony to be inaccurate. One such example is when a weapon is used in the crime being committed. Some studies show that a witness’ attention may be more on the weapon rather than the details of the crime and the perpetrator. A witness may be less likely to recall the events accurately. Another factor concerns how a police line – up is conducted. Some research suggests first having the witness describe the perpetrator and then look through photos matching that description rather than looking through photos first. Some also believe that errors are less likely if members of a line – up are viewed one after another rather than all together. However, although the “show – up” method (seeing one suspect at a time) results in fewer misidentifications, it is less likely to make a positive identification. A third factor that can affect eyewitness testimony is how a witness is questioned. Specific wording by police officers or attorneys can affect how a witness recalls information. Some researchers suggest that neutral questions be asked. Suggestive techniques can result to mistaken memories. These mistaken memories can even be detailed if the techniques are suggestive enough. Another study reports that race could even play a role in inaccurate eyewitness testimony. This study reported that it is 15% more likely that a witness identify the wrong person if the perpetrator’s race was different than their own.
       Witnesses can have false memories. There are several reasons this can happen. One reason was talked about previously - suggestive techniques. Another reason is the misinformation effect. This occurs when misleading information is supplied after the event and results in false recollections of the actual event. Also, each time a witness recounts testimony, they become more likely to change their testimony in response to misinformation. Some “recovered memories”, which are most likely to be false memories, are usually uncovered by hypnosis or guided imagery. Hypnosis does not improve accuracy of memory. Having a witness, or victim, imagine an experience as if it happened, can lead them to believe it did happen.  An eyewitness can also pick up information from other sources, such as the media or idle gossip. They can use what they hear to create false memories of an event. Children as witnesses can also contribute to the false memory scenario. Children’s memories can be highly affected by others especially when the event is highly stressful or emotional. Witnesses talking to one another before police can jumble up memories as well.

            The inaccuracy of eyewitness testimony can have some implications on our society. Wrong testimony can lead to the wrong person being convicted of a crime. This means an innocent person could spend years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. The other part of this implication is that while an innocent person is jailed, the true guilty person is still free. He could then commit crimes again. This is also an implication, as our tax dollars are paying for an innocent person to be jailed. There could also be lawsuits to be paid if it is revealed that the person was innocent and jailed. Also, inaccurate testimony could let a guilty person go free. More state money could be spent trying to convict the person in some other way. These are all severe implications for our society.

 After conducting my research, my conclusion is that eyewitness testimony is not always accurate and can in many times be wrong. I personally feel that a court case should not rest solely on eyewitness testimony but should also be based on forensic evidence.

Renner, T., Morrissey, J., Mae, L., Feldman, R.S. & Majors, M. (2011) Psychsmart. New            
    York, NY: The McGraw – Hill Companies, Inc. (pp. 150 – 153)

Wood, S. E., Wood, E. G., & Boyd, D. (2011) The World of Psychology (7th ed.).       Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. (pp. 200 – 202)

University of Washington Faculty. (2003) Our changeable Memories: legal and practical
    Implications. Loftus, E. retrieved from

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Operant Conditioning As Observed At Chuck E. Cheese

For two hours, I observed parents and children in a “natural” setting – a child themed restaurant including pizza, games, toys and play area. I set out to observe families to see how they offered reinforcement and/or punishment to their children and what brought caused the parents to offer the reinforcement or punishment. I chose Chuck E. Cheese because I thought it would be a great place to observe children and their parents. The one chose was a large building with lots of space, games and play areas.

Place of Observation:
Chuck E. Cheese
6637 Ritchie Highway
Glen Burnie, Maryland 21060

Date and Time:
Saturday, October 8, 2011
4:00 – 6:00 pm

Number of Families Studied:
(8 adults, 7 children)

Family #1
Family #1 consisted of two parents and two children. This family was African – American. The parents appeared to be in their mid 30’s. The two children were both girls and appeared to be between 8 and 10 years of age. This family appeared to be close. The parents were observed actively playing with the children. I learned that this trip to Chuck E. Cheese was a reward for the girls behaving at the dentist office the day before. This is an example of positive reinforcement. The desired behavior {girls behaving at dentist} was met with a reward {trip to Chuck E. Cheese}.

Family #2
Family #2 consisted of two parents and one child. The family was Asian – American. The parents appeared to be in their early 30’s. The one child, a boy, appeared to be around 6 years old. The parents seemed more involved in their own conversation than in their son’s behavior. The boy ran around for several minutes hitting other children in the establishment before the parents took action. The father grabbed the boy by the arm, yelled at him sternly to behave and then sat the boy in the booth for 6 minutes before allowing him to play again. The little boy appeared to have learned his lesson for the moment as he behaved the rest of the time they were there. This is an example of negative punishment. There was a removal of something pleasant {playing} as a result of undesired behavior {hitting children}.

Family #3
Family #3 consisted of two parents and three children. The family was Caucasian. The parents appeared to be in their early – mid 30’s. There were two boys, appearing to be around 4 and 10. The third child was a girl, around age 6. This family also appeared close. They were talking during dinner and laughing and smiling. After eating, the kids were given their tokens to go play games. The youngest boy snatched some tokens out of his sister’s cup. The father immediately popped the boy’s hand, firmly but not hard. He explained to the boy that taking the tokens from someone was wrong. He instructed the boy to give the tokens back to his sister as well as a couple from his own cup as punishment.
I think this situation resembled both positive punishment and negative punishment. I think it is positive punishment as an unpleasant stimulus {having hand popped} was added due to an undesired behavior {taking tokens}. I think it is negative punishment because there was a removal of something pleasant {the boy’s tokens} due to an undesired behavior {taking tokens}.

Family #4
Family #4 consisted of two parents and one child. The family was bi – racial. The parents appeared to be in their mid 20’s. The little girl appeared to be around 3 - 4 years old. The little girl was well – behaved until the Chuck E. Cheese character made an appearance. The little girl got scared of it and hit it out of fear. The father became angry and popped the little girl’s butt. The family then left the establishment.
I also think these actions resembled positive punishment and negative punishment. The undesired behavior {hitting the mouse mascot} was met with an unpleasant stimulus {spanked}. Also, the undesired behavior {hitting the mouse} was met with the removal of something pleasant {leaving the establishment}.

I’m assuming (based on observation) that this technique is used frequently with Family #1. The girls seem well – behaved and respect their parents. I think that Family #2 should have been paying more attention to their son and punished him sooner. To me, Family #3’s techniques did not seem too drastic. I was most surprised by Family #4’s actions. The little girl was terrified of the mouse and I feel she hit it out of fear and instinct. I hope that the parents explain to her how to handle fear more appropriately.

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Schedules of Reinforcement

Continuous Reinforcement Schedule
Example: Giving my daughter money for each correct math problem on her test
Advantages: My daughter will strive to do well in math.
Disadvantages: She may come to expect money for each correct answer in everything.

Fixed Interval Schedule
Example: Receiving salary pay at a job rather than hourly pay
Advantages: I will know how much I will receive on each pay day and I can budget around it.
Disadvantages: There is no incentive for me to work harder because I will be receiving the same pay no matter how many hours I work.

Fixed Ratio Schedule
Example: I receive a $25 bonus for every 10th sale I make as a salesperson.
Advantages: I have an incentive to sell more and push sales.
Disadvantages: Disappointment if I do not achieve enough sales.

Variable Ratio Schedule
Example: Winning money from a slot machine.
Advantages: I will be winning money.
Disadvantages: I will spend more money playing the slots because I will not know which time I will win.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making Love Work

Do you think that the qualities described in the reading are the most important ones in a love relationship? Please reference specific qualities from the text.  If not then what is?
            I think all the qualities described in this article are very important in a love relationship. It would be very difficult for me to name one that is more important than the others. I feel the “You Can Accept Others as They Are” quality is important. The article states “sometimes people fall in love with an image, not the reality, and spend their relationships resenting that their partners cannot be what they never were.” I think this happens a lot. I think in the beginning of a relationship people are “in love” with a vision of how they want their partner to be. Then as the relationship progresses and they realize reality is different than the image, they don’t know how to cope. I also think some people spend their time looking for the “perfect” partner, sometimes to the point of not realizing they have their “as close to perfect as you can get” partner all along.
            I also find “You Are Willing to Forgive” as an important quality. If you cannot forgive a partner for a past mistake, then how can you truly move forward? Love relationships should be made stronger, not torn down by revenge.
            I feel each of the 10 qualities discussed bring about communication. Communication is vital to a strong, healthy relationship.

Are there any aspects of your own relationship that need work, and do you talk to your partner about it?
            I really enjoyed this reading. In all honesty, I see points in each of the qualities that need work in my marriage. This reading has shown me ways to approach my concerns that are not as blunt as the way I usually come off. This reading has also shown me that the points I feel need work, on both our parts, are valid. One that I feel I struggle with is “Your Love Is Selfless”. I don’t struggle with it in the sense of his interests; feelings, etc. are below mine. Quite opposite, in fact I always put his needs ahead of my own.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Nature Vs Nurture

       The debate of nature and nurture on behavior has been debated since classical Greek times. Anne Anastasi (1958) believed that the proper question for this debate should not have been which of the two causes behavior or how much of each affects behavior. Instead, she believed that the question asked should have been “How do nature and nurture interact to produce development.” (Miller, 2002)

            Developmental psychologists have been split on this debate for decades. Some psychologists believe that genetic factors provide the potential for some behaviors. Other psychologists believe it is environmental factors that play a large role in enable people’s behavior. The newest stance of psychologists is an “interactionist position”, meaning it is a combination of heredity and environmental factors that contribute to a person’s behavior. It is believed that the two factors, heredity and environment, are “inextricably intertwined” and they are both fully involved in development (Miller, 2002)

            There are several developmental theories. Some say basic psychological principles of learning and stress on those are the biggest factor to our development. Others believe it is the role of the environment that most influences our development. Then, there is a third group that believes our physiological makeup is the biggest influence.

            A study was conducted in 1991 by Bailey and Pillard to determine the link between homosexuality, genetics, and environment. In this study, they studied homosexual males with monozygotic co-twins, dizygotic co-twins or adoptive brothers (Bailey & Pillard, 1991, Dec; 48(12)) Their results revealed that 52% of the monozygotic twins, 22% of dizygotic twins and 11% of adoptive brothers were homosexuals. Another 1991 study, this one conducted by LeVay, studied the volume of 4 cell groups in the anterior hypothalamus of the brain in three categories of people in the postmortem – women, presumed heterosexual males and homosexual males. The results from this study suggested that sexual orientation had a biological influence.  (Levay, 1991 Aug 30;253(5023)

            No one person grows up free of environmental influences. No one develops without being affected by their genetic composition. Perhaps Canadian psychologist Donald O. Webb said it best – behavior is determined 100% by heredity AND 100% by environment.

Works Cited

Bailey, J., & Pillard, R. (1991, Dec; 48(12)). A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation. Journal of General Psychiatry , 10890- 96.

Levay, S. (1991 Aug 30;253(5023). A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men. Science , 1034-7.

Miller, P. (2002). Theories of Developmental Psychology (4th ed). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Renner, T., Morrissey, J., Mae, L., Feldman, R., & Majors, M. (2011). Psychsmart. New York, NY: The McGraw - Hill Companies, Inc.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Article Review: Thirty Years of HIV and AIDS: Future Challenges and Opportunities

Thirty Years of HIV and AIDS: Future Challenges and Opportunities

Summarize the article for us.
            This article is from the June 2011 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. This article discusses the future challenges and opportunities in HIV and AIDS research. It also gave brief information about HIV and AIDS from the last 30 years.
            Experts say that 60 million people have been infected in the last 30 years, with 25 million people having died from the infection. An estimated 33 million are currently living with HIV or AIDS. Progress in basic and clinical research and prevention methods has been successful. This is in part due to the fact that researchers now understand HIV and its pathogenesis. Advancements include being able to rapidly and specifically diagnose infection, suppress HIV replication with antiretroviral therapy (ART), having nearly eliminated mother – child transmission in many parts of the developed world and reduced incidence of HIV infection in some developing – world settings.
            There are 3 essential research and implementation goals in HIV/AIDS research. The first is to provide currently available treatments quicker. The most important treatment is ART. The second goal is to explore approaches to eliminate HIV and to aggressively pursue a cure. The third goal is to develop new prevention tools that can be used with or enhance current approaches.
            Prior to ART, survival was measured in weeks and months. Patient care was diagnosis and treatment of the opportunistic infections and AIDS related cancers. Since 1987, 5 classes of antiretroviral drugs have become available. Combinations of these drugs suppress HIV replication in the body. Now, if a 20 year old is diagnosed and begins ART, they may live another 50 years.
            ART has limitations. In order to be successful, there must be daily dosing for the remainder of the patients life. Health care delivery systems must manage HIV treatment different than others.
            The US agenda for AIDS research includes cost – effective ways to increase HIV testing, maximize services, and increase adherence to treatments. This includes fully implementing the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on HIV testing. The agenda also includes establishing incentives for organizations that conduct testing.
            By September 2010, The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) alone provided ART to more than 3 million HIV-infected people, provided antiretroviral mother-child transmission prophylaxis to more than 600,000 and care to an estimated 11 million people, including orphans of AIDS patients.
            Approximately 2.5 million people are infected each year. This means for every 2 patients who begin ART, another 5 are infected. Approximately 1/3 of all HIV-infected patients needing ART are actually receiving it.
            There have been no documented cases of a true cure induced by ART. There has been 1 claim that an HIV – infected person was cured after receiving a stem cell transplant for leukemia. This claim does not present a practical approach for treatment but it does prove that under certain circumstances HIV can be controlled without ART.
            When discussing a cure for HIV, the important goals are developing a true cure with complete eradication of the virus and a functional cure (permanent suppression of the virus). The goals of HIV prevention are improving current methods; ART based prevention methods, and a HIV vaccine. There have been numerous attempts to create a vaccine.
            In the 30 years of known HIV/AIDS existence, there have been successes in research. However, there are many more advances to be researched and developed.

Were you aware about anything in this article?
          I was aware of ART and its success. I was also aware of the goal and trials of a cure for AIDS/HIV. I have heard of attempts at a HIV vaccine.

What are your comments about it i.e. was it interesting? Surprising? Shocking? Etc.
          I really enjoyed the article. It was interesting to read about the advancements made in 30 years. It was also interesting to read about the goals in research. I got a little lost when it came to the medical talk (cells, etc), but overall I understood the main ideas. 

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