Live-blogging psych 101

My schedule today is slightly packed, and I'm not going to have internet for most of it so I probably won't be able to multitask blogging with anything else today.  So I'm live-blogging my psych class! 1:08pm

We started with "Things I should know," an extra credit thing the teacher does in which students bring up points that we think the teacher and/or class ought to know about.  Points covered:

  • NECC has a myers-briggs workshop
  • The vice-presidential debate was last night
  • 22% of romantic relationships take place online
  • The shirtless dude pictures on okcupid are effective (this one was mine)
  • Over 80% of stress in women is brought on by "overthinking things"
  • An elephant can fill a 7 gallon tub with poop


Stuff that's going on the board:

Weber's law: there's a constant proportion of the amount of change in a stimulus necessary to notice.

Limen: the formal term for a threshold, level, or limit

Subliminal: Any stimulus presented below the level or threshold for conscious recognition or conscious awareness.


"The invisible sell" -- how we can be persuaded subliminally (subliminal persuasion).  Can we? If so, how effective is it?

aside: Source for my fact about photos with shirts off

Theater experiment: experimenters scrolled information along the bottom of a screen while theater goers were watching a movie.  The text was, "Eat popcorn," "Drink Coca Cola," at a rate of one three-thousanth of a second, every five seconds.

Did it work?  Find out next update!


Was there an increase in soda and popcorn sales?  Yes!

Popcorn increased 57.5%, Coke increased 18.1%

(holy crap)

But, why did popcorn go up more than coca cola sales?  (Pause for answer) -- my guess: there's a better association between the word popcorn and the actual entity than there is between the phrase coca cola and the actual entity. (I think the truth is there's some other factor that affected the results.)


Seeing other people consuming might stimulate hunger?  You see the phrase popcorn first?  Can people smell the popcorn all over the place?

Is the popcorn machine closer? (Though that should be ruled out by the control)

Is the movie different?


More potentially confounding variables: People are hungry?  Better attendance?  Smell? Type of people showing up? Time of day?

The movie was called Picnic. Prof. makes the point that watching The Godfather will probably make you want pasta.  A movie about a picnic will more likely make you want picnic food.  (I wonder if lemonade sales improved?)

The results show, "conclusively," that subliminal persuasion is ineffective.  (I'm pretty sure that other results have confirmed that, but I don't think this study is conclusive to that point.)


The professor describes a Mitsubishi ad that was in black and white, breaking up our expectations.  Target Ads -- normally b/w, red, but around Xmas, black and white and red and green.

Also, the weird-looking target dog, points out a student behind me.

The professor points out that we don't actually know whether they even had the technology to display something at 1/3000/s.  (A google search reveals that film in the 1950's were shot at 30fps, therefore it shouldn't be possible.)


The teacher made a point about musicians using back-masking to put subliminal messages in their songs.  I decided not to comment, preferring to point out the thing about the 30fps.

Moving on to PHYSIOLOGY:

The Blind Spot:  The portion of the retina that lacks visual receptors.  It's where the optic nerve leaves the eye.

(Getting my book out, brb)


We did a blind-spot experiment.  It wasn't this one, but I'll find one online quick to embed.

(Here's one, sorry it's not embedded)

Definition: Astigmatism: a visual defect that makes focusing on distant objects difficult.  Those people in the class who had difficulty finding the blind spot might have one of these.  Those who didn't find the blind spot should re-try the test at home.  (I did find it -- my eyes are fine.)

A student asked, wouldn't an astigmatism therefore be a good thing, because it means you don't have a blind spot?  The teacher clarified that an astigmatism doesn't mean you don't have a blind spot, it means you have a blind spot plus even more wrong with your eye.


Tests!  Visual acuity -- the sharpness or clarity of visual perception

Normal acuity is 20/20.  (Your prescription is always on the top.)  Remember the line on the floor, chart against the wall in Elementary school?  Apparently, a lot of them were being sent to eye doctors because they couldn't read the lines -- not because they had vision problems, but because they hadn't learned the letters yet.

For really little children, they use pictures of known objects -- trucks, houses, beach balls, etc.  Always calibrated for 20 feet.


20/40: you see at 20 feet what the average person sees at 40 feet.  That means your vision is below average.  (At 20/40, you often don't get a glasses prescription, especially for young kids.  Sometimes they get an eye patch over their good eye, so their bad eye has to work harder and improve.)

(Sometimes, these kids would have balance problems both for some time after they get the patch, and for some time after you get it removed.)

20/200: You see at twenty feet what the average person sees at 200 feet.  Often times this can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, surgeries.  If untreatable, this is legally blind.

(I brought up the golfers getting eye surgery to push their vision above 20/20.)


20/12: You can see at 20 feet what most people have to be 8 feet closer to see.

Apparently no one in Prof's classes today has had better than 20/20.  Though, often people who don't have impairments don't know their vision ranking.


NOTE: I can't find a source on the better-than-average surgeries.