Final Exam: Fall 2013
1. What is psychology? (5 points)
a. What is psychology? Define psychology and discuss the differences between psychology and pseudoscience. How can you tell one from the other? (hint: include the scientific method in your discussion)
Comparing psychology to pseudoscience is like comparing what is real to what is not. Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes, whereas pseudoscience presents claims that appear scientific, even thought they lack supporting evidence or plausibility. The differences between the two can easily be distinguished by taking a look how the actual claim came about. In other words, where is the evidence coming from, and how can you prove it accurate? Psychology uses the scientific method, a standardized way of making observations, gathering data, forming theories, testing predictions, and interpreting results. This method can be repeated and gives very accurate results. On the other hand, pseudoscience does not conduct any experiments at all. When backing up a claim, pseudoscience tricks people into thinking a scientific study as been conducted by using phrases such as, “studies say” and uses vague, but legal outcomes such as, “restores balance” or “realigns energy.” Sometimes it is hard to tell what is real from what is not. There are millions of scams solely based on pseudoscience. Next time you want to buy a product that seems a bit sketchy, make sure to take note of the red flags. Whether the claims are vague, lack falsifiability, have conspiracies pointed out against them, or the creator of the product has no degree, it is most likely a false product. For example, if someone is trying to sell you a wristband that will increase your strength and agility, they are most definitely using pseudoscience to sell their product because it is not possible for a wristband to do such things.
2. The Science of Psychology (5 points)
a. Confounding Variables: Pretend you were to conduct an experimental study on the effectiveness of the energy drink ‘five hour energy’. Briefly discuss your research design (identify an independent and dependent variable) and then discuss any confounding variables that you think may influence your results.
As a way to test whether or not ’five hour energy’ drinks are effective, I will conduct a study on students who live with me in Sheil Hall. At 5:00 pm, I will hand out 20 questionnaires asking how tired they feel on scale from 1-10, 1 being wide-awake, 10 being extremely exhausted. Afterwards, I will give 10 of the students at Sheil a ‘five hour energy’ drink, and the other 10 students will receive nothing. Every 30 minutes I will hand the same questionnaire out to the 20 students involved in the experiment. The independent variable in this experiment is the consumption of ‘five hour energy’. The dependent variable is the tiredness of the students. Confounding variables would be the amount of sleep the students had the night before, their diet, activeness throughout that day, and immunity to caffeine.
3. Learning (5 points)
a. Social Learning Theory: A recent study found that people who watch reality television shows are twice as likely to use tanning beds. Discuss why this may be using social learning theory, and then provide your own personal example of this theory in action.
Albert Bandura proposed the social learning theory in 1977. This man stated behavior is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning. People learn through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. In other words, our behaviors and attitudes develop in response to reinforcement and encouragement from the people around us. Someone who imitates another does this because he or she feels they will better themselves by doing so. This theory can be put into place when viewing a recent study that found out people who watch reality television