Sunday, May 29, 2011

Post 1- Addictions

The slides on chapter four and the book contain information about additions and addictive behaviors. People are addicted to a lot of things but they are mostly addicted to psychoactive drugs. According to Deckers (2010), psychoactive drugs are chemicals that alter mood and behavior as a result of the drug’s effect on the function of the brain. There are many types of psychoactive drugs such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, and opiates.

“People are motivated to use psychoactive drugs because the immediate pleasurable results seem to outweigh the long-term negative consequences (Deckers, 2010, p. 78).” I came across a video (, “Messing with Heads: Marijuana and Mental Illness,” that is related to this topic and I found it very interesting. It was about marijuana use and how it could possibly lead to mental defects. The video was mind boggling. I didn’t know that marijuana use could cause so much damage like other drugs such as crystal meth and cocaine. I thought it was less risky, especially because it is used for medicinal and religious purposes, and just caused a person to feel “high.” However, from what I saw in the video and what I read in the book, Abnormal Psychology, I now know that marijuana is a very dangerous drug that can cause psychotic disorders. The reason being is because like any other drug/thing a person uses, I believe it has to have an effect on the body. According to Halgin, R.P., & Whitbourne, S.K. (2010), when marijuana is taken over long periods of times, abuse is likely to lead to dependence and to have a number of adverse effects on a person’s bodily functioning and psychological stability. Rey, MD, PhD, J. M. (n.d.) also stated that cannabis use increases the risk of developing psychosis and can double the risk for developing schizophrenia later in life. These risks increase depending on how young a person is and how long he/she has been using marijuana. The younger a person is, the more damage it can do, and the more likely one is to experience cognitive defects (Halgin & Whitbourne, 2010, p. 413). This happens because the human brain isn’t fully developed until a person is in their early to mid 20s. As such, the brain is susceptible to anything introduced to it.

On the other hand, I only believe marijuana can cause psychotic disorders with extreme use. I know plenty of people who use/used the drug and live/function normally daily. That’s why I didn’t know it can cause so many problems.


Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: biological, psychological, and environmental (3rd ed.). Boston, Mass.: Allyn & Bacon.

Films Media Group, 2005 Messing with Heads: Marijuana and Mental Illness. Films On Demand. Retrieved from

Halgin, R.P., & Whitbourne, S.K. (2010). Abnormal psychology. New York, NY: McGraw- Hill

Rey, MD, PhD, J. M. (n.d.). Does Marijuana Contribute to Psychotic Illness. Scribd. Retrieved from

Fear Of Snakes

Fear is a universal motive that pushes an individual to avoid and escape dangerous stimuli.
It has an evolutionary history that helped animals adapt to survive in their environment.
Fear of reptiles may have dated back to earlier times when mammals tried to avoid being eaten by dinosaurs. With that being said, I would like to state that I have a monumental fear of snakes.
I don't recall when the fear came upon me, or if an experience prepared me to become afraid. But the thought or vision of snakes give me the heebie geebies. The book mentioned several experiments with regard to fear. The model Monkey and the observer Monkey, the phobic stimuli versus the neutral stimuli, the snake slide shown briefly then another slide was shown so as to obliterate any visual memory of the first one. All of these involved SNAKES. Fear motivates the examination of atypical stimuli and motivates escape and avoidance behaviors like fleeing, hiding, or freezing.

You will not see me in the Reptile House at the Philadephia Zoo, attending a screening of "Snakes on a Plane", or rewinding to review the original "Raiders of the Lost Arc". I will be avoiding those environments.

Intro to Motivatoin

When you think of motivation, what do you think of? I wonder what makes people motivated to achieve a certain goal. Weather it has to do with making a big play in a game, motivated to climb a mountain or waking up in the morning to go to work to get the job done. Everything has a reason behind it, but what exactly gives a human that drive? When do humans exactly get energy for motivation? The psychological energy or mental energy powers psychological endeavors for cathexis, adaption energy, self-regulation or self-control and information processing.

In chapter one is where the push and pull affect take place. All the motives (physiological and psychological needs) are all under push the push effect and the external objects (incentives and goals) are the push effect. For example, the biological need for food (push) is because he or she is hungry or they get the pleasure from eating.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Procrastination, Motivation, & the Zeigarnik Effect

It's obvious that the best way to get something done is to begin. Unfortunately, beginning a task seems to be the hardest part for billions of people around the world. Procastination, in psychological terms, is defined as the act of replacing high-priority options with tasks of low-priority, which results in putting off more important tasks for a later time. Psychologists usually cite this type of behavior as a mechanism for coping with stress or anxiety that comes with starting or completeing certain tasks.

So what do we do to beat procrastination? Well, the solution is quite simple and can be understood by the phenomena called the Zeigarnik Effect. It was named after a Russian psychologist, Bluma Zeigarnik. She did an experiment asking participants to perform about twenty simple tasks in a laboratory, such as solving puzzles and stringing beads together. The participants were purposely interrupted while doing some of these tasks. Afterwards, Zeigarnik asked the participants which activities they remembered doing clearly. It was found that people were twice as likely to remember the tasks during which they had been interrupted while completeing than those they compelted without any interruptions.

About sixty years later, Kenneth McGraw and his collegeagues carried out another experiment in relation to the Zeigarnik Effect. Participants were asked to solve a tricky puzzle, however, midway through solving it they were interrupted and were told that the study was over. Despite this information, 90% of the participants continued to finish the puzzle anyway. Sound familiar? Reading about this kind of reminded me of the time a friend convinced me to watch one episode of "Vampire Diaries". At first, I had to force myself to sit down and watch it, however, due to the action-packed cliffhanger at the end of every episode, I couldn't help but rush to the television every Thursday night at 8 PM to watch the next. The TV business uses cliffhangers and the famous "to be continued" line to keep viewers tuned into shows week after week by making them desperate to find out 'what happens next'.

So what do all of the above have in common? When people actually start a task, they are more inclined to finish it, even if they get distracted or interrupted along the way. So what the Zeigarnik Effect teaches is that the key to beating procrastination is actually starting the task somewhere. Once you complete even one little peice of it, your mind will not be at ease until you finish it.

There is, however, only one exception to the Ziegarnik Effect and that is that it won't work too well unless you are actually MOTIVATED to complete the task or achieve your goal. The following site gives a list of top 10 motivation boosters and procrastination killers for all of my fellow procrastinators out there ;) :

Summary of the top 10:

10. Pick good sounds

9. Use minor distractions to fend off bigger distractions

8. Set a timer and crank until it beeps

7. Move and breathe like you're excited

6. Make your to-do lists actually doable

5. Don't check your email for the first hour of work

4.Create a fake constraint

3. Move quickly on new skills and great ideas

2. Have a Status board ( of some kind )

1. Understand & overcome your fear of failure!

Other sources:

There's Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself

I've always been intrigued by the subject of fear; specifically, why is it that some people are fearful of one thing or another while other people are seemingly fearless? Is it biological? Environmental? There is of course the "fight or flight" element which centers around fear. Some people will typically choose flight in dangerous or intimidating situations while other people would choose to fight.

Oftentimes, we fear certain things that we never even had any experience with; we are in fact conditioned to fear such things.

Fear is a necessary emotion as it helps us to prepare to defend ourselves against dangerous stimuli in the environment. However, fear can also be a hindrance if it prevents a person from pursuing goals and/or activities because of the fear of failure, ridicule and/or the ramifications or consequences of such activities.


Everyone always talks about motivation. In order to do something, you have to have motivation..blah..blah.. but what exactly is this motivation we speak of? Apparently, it's the driving force that helps us achieve our goals, and is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. Along with motivation come incentives. These are the anticipated rewards one can obtain. With motivation, come words such as, inspiration and dedication. A good example of motivation and incentive is a story I came across on the internet. There was a man from Virginia who was severely overweight. He is a father of three, and had a heart attack one day. His doctor said that his arteries were so clogged that he has to have a stent put in.
After almost being faced with death, the father realized he had a lot to live for. His youngest son is only nine years old. When asked what his biggest motivational factor was, he said, "to live long enough to see my youngest son get married and settle down. There are still so many things I have to do with him, like playing catch in the park and teaching him how to drive one day." The doctor made him see all the incentives he has, in order to motivate him. Soon after, the father began taking walks twice a day. In order to achieve his goals, he made a lifestyle change.

Employee Motivation

Motivation in the work place is very important for the employee to be able to enjoy their job and succeed in what they do, and to get the experience and preparation to move up into prefer future jobs. The manager is the key person to be able to motivate his employees to get things done. Motivation practice and theory are two subjects that are important to understand how motivation works. Based on studies and research it seems that the subject of motivation is not clear to many in how it works, but first we need to understand how human nature works, an understanding and appreciation of this subject will help motivate the employee in the workplace and it will create effective management and leadership. Applying employee motivation principles will be very beneficial in the future because it helps the employee become more productive and creative. We have to ask ourselves the question are people born with self-motivation or drive. Yes and no motivation is a skill that can be learn and is essential in any business to grow and succeed. The ability of the employee depends on education, experience and training but in the other hand there are factors that can make the work environment better and motivate the employee to succeed for example:
Positive reinforcement/ high expectations
Effective discipline and punishment
Treating people fairly
Satisfying employee needs
Setting work related goals
Restructuring jobs
Based rewards on job performance
In conclusion motivation is inducing others in the right way to specific goals stated by the motivator. In my experience the work environment and the manager are very important for the success of the employee if we don’t feel supported and motivated in the job we will not be able to work in a striving way.

motivations for sexual serial murder

Hello all! I have chosen an awful, morbid topic and I apologize for that. This semester I am taking a forensic behavior analysis senior seminar where we are learning about serial sexual homicide. Here is some information about the motivations of those that commit these crimes
In their book, Profilers, authors John H Campbell and Don DeNevi (2004) present a motivational model for understanding what drives an individual to commit sexual oriented murder and sadistic violence. The authors use data collected from interviews conducted with 36 sexual murderers to form this motivational model.
Campbell and DeNevi (2004) hypothesize that:
“The murderers early development of an active, aggressive fantasy life (daydreams) combined with later sexual reinforcement (compulsive masturbation) and increasing detachment from social rules of conduct (social isolation) provide a framework that reinforces his subsequent behavior.”
Five components interact within the killers lives to motivate them to commit and continue to commit sexual homicide. The first component is an ineffective social environment. Here bonding with the child’s parents fails, or is selective. Caretaker and adults in the child’s life are non-protective and non-intervening .
The second component is formative events that happen in the child’s life. This could be direct (physical/sexual abuse) or indirect (witnessing) trauma, interpersonal failure, and the lack of a role model due to absence, physical abuse, or substance abuse.
The third component is the patterned responses the developing child generates in response to their environment. These responses are critical personality traits and cognitive mapping and processing. They interact to influence the child’s internal life and fantasy.
The fourth component is actions toward others. The child’s behavior pattern becomes a reflection of the child’s interpersonal world. This can be expressed through cruelty to humans or animals. This aggressive, impulsive, and erratic behavior discourages friendship, which in turn lead to isolation.
The fifth component is a concept known as feedback filter. Here, the killer justifies their actions, and identifies and corrects their mistakes. The killer learns to continue without detection or punishment. Increased exposure and arousal from their fantasies and actions reinforce and justify the desire to continue to kill, and the cycle feeds back into itself.
While this is only a hypothetical model of the motivation to commit sexual murder, it suggests that early traumatic experience, non-normative family bonds, and the way that the individual dwells on, interprets, and acts on these factors can create a cycle of deviance and murder.
Campbell, J., & DeNevi, D. (2004). Profilers

"Si, se puede!"

"Si, se puede!" or "Yes, I can!" is the tagline of Dora the Explorer whenever she is in the midst of a new adventure. Children all over the world have been captured by the popular cartoon and her team of sidekicks through the use of catchy songs and cheery characters. Behind all the merriment in every episode lies a different educational lesson. Some of these lessons include learning a new language, overcoming obstacles and building strong friendships. Dora achieves every goal through self motivation. This is one of the most important lessons children can get from this show. Dora demonstrates her motivation in every episode when she is embarking on an adventure to find a friend or to get to a distant location. Unfortunately for Dora (but good for me in making my point in this post), she has to overcome many obstacles before finally reaching her destination. Most of Dora’s motivation come from external motives such as seeing her friends or reaching a new location. A psychological variable that contributes to her motives is her need for belonging. She goes through what she needs to do in order fulfill a social need. Another motive that could be argued is sheer curiosity. Often times people will justify a situation by saying they were overcome by their own curiosity. Whatever Dora’s motives may be that drive her to new daily adventures, they are all driven by incentives. She knows that if she prevails in her quest, she will be rewarded in some way, shape or form. Sometimes that reward is finding a friend or finally finding the location she’s been searching for.

In the end, Dora teaches children that they have two choices when it comes to solving problem s and reaching your goals: you either have self motivation and push towards the end or you give up and miss a hell of an adventure!

(Image from

Incentives vs Stress and Drug Cravings

I found it interesting how so many ideas and theories could be related to one another among the chapters.  For instance, In Chapter 2, Deckers brings up External and Internal Sources and how they Induce Behavior.  One of the those theories is Warden's Incentive-Drive Link.  According to the Link "drives and incentives match up...These incentive-drive match ups mean that drive is a 'reaction tendency directed toward an incentive'" (Becker, 36).  In short, our drives are what motivates us internally, and the incentive is the external reward.  I know we have all had motivations that coincide with drives and incentives - like a relationship; it satisfies our physical needs for companionship, and it satisfies our inner drives for feeling loved emotionally connected to someone. 

What I found to connect with this concept the most was Chapter 4's Stress and Drug Cravings section.  (Although its tied to the section of "Drug Relapses", it still ties into the idea of the motivations for drug useage).  It speaks of how drugs alleviate stress, and focuses on the point of PTSD ("the result of exposure to extremely traumatic events, such as physical and sexual abuse or combat (Decker 93)).  Longitudinal studies have proven that those who suffer from the disorder are more likely to become substance abusers.  The escape from their PTSD through drugs, is unfortunately what causes them to seek out higher intakes of those drugs or even stronger ones.  This is because the usage is so prolonged that it essentially numbs the individual to the effects.

Now...the connection is interesting.  I'll use the example of a war veteran suffering form PTSD.  This hits close to home for me because my best friend served in Afghanistan as a United States Marine.  Upon his return he realized that he had PTSD.  His symptoms included not being able to sleep/having nightmares, fear/anxiety in crowded places, and uncommon responses to loud noises such as fireworks.  I met him 3 weeks after his return, and since that time last year he has been able to make great strides in his recovery.  Some of his friends, however, were not so lucky with their progress, and have remained in the same dire state since immediately after their return.  And just as the text says, they have resorted to heave alcohol consumption. 

The Marine Corps holds drug testing, so obviously any traceable drugs or narcotics are out of the question.  Alcohol does not show up on the screening, but what happens when alcohol isn't anough?  The Marine's internal drives are to rid their memories and emotions of the terrible thoughts, and memories of their time in combat.  And in order to function in their external daily life, they need to suppress the onset of those feelings so that they continue to perform as Marines in the field and abroad (since many of them deploy more than once).  It is rare that a Marine will be exempt from their duties, especially combat affiliated, due to psychological trauma.  This is for the hard truth that it's what they sign up for, and is to be expected to some extend.  To sum it all up, if they don't quiet their thoughts and fulfill their physical expectations as a Marine, they are not only subject to shame, but to harm for themselves and the person standing next to them who is depending on them. 

So to beat the tests, their motivations are so strong that they will resort to other drugs that can satisfy the desires and still carry the incentives of being able to perform.  One of these is by combining cough syrup with alcohol.

  Commonly referred to as "Robo Tripping" (See this link for a quick overview -, which enhances a drunken feel, including adding to it with hallucinogenic elements and an "out of body" type of feeling.  And since it is an over-the-counter medication, it is accessible in often limited quantities, and legal for all ages to purchase (only a small percentage or drug stores hold restrictions against cough syrup and its purchase).  Even if a restriction applies, in most communities there is another drug store less than 2 miles down the street, so the acclimation of the drug is easy, and the ingestion pasts a drug test with flying colors.

There are clearly no limitations to the extent to which our internal drives and the external incentives will motive someone to use drugs.  Whether they risk jail, death, or even being dishonorably discharged from their military branch, sometimes those drives are too severe, and offer a clear and concise reason to continuously cross that electrical shock grid (as explained by Warden's Incentive - Drive Link) to get that end result of peace of body and mind. 

(All images recovered from

Initiation Into Drug Use

There are several contributing factors that can lead up to an addiction. They are genetic, personality, and environmental influences.

According to the "genetics of addiction" some may be more susceptible to an addiction than others by genetically passing on structures of the brain that have been affected by that particular drug or alcohol.
On page 82 of "Motivation" it states there is evidence that a dependence of a substance is heritable and it later states, "However, genes do not imply that a person is destined to become addicted to psychoactive drugs"(pg 82) and I am assuming they mean any substance as well such as alcohol, food, nicotine. I agree the the quote I have typed because my brother and I grew up in a home of smokers. My mother and father smoked like it was their last day to live! My mother even smoked during both of her pregnancies. Also, many people in my family are alcoholics. My brother and I never even like going near a pack of cigarettes and always thought it was gross. Today he and I never even tried to smoke and we are not alcoholics.

But as we know, even though my parents most likely had those genes that have been developed by an influence of the brain structures, especially because both sets of grandparents smoked, not every child will inherit those specific genes, such as Huntington's disease(50% chance of getting it) and Tay-Sachs(25% chance of getting in it).

Personality traits may be a contributing factor for an addiction. Sensation seeking is when a person seeks out a novel experience. This act of seeking does not necessarily have to relate to drugs. It could be wanting to climb a mountain, try a new roller coaster, or sky dive, but neuroscience is discovering that a sensation seeker may be more vulnerable to drugs and/or alcohol or just an addiction of any substance. For move information on evidence on sensation seekers:

A characteristic of sensation seekers is called disinhibition. This characteristic is "associated with the use of alcohol and nicotine"(pg83). This term could be associated with "mania" and "impulsiveness". If one possess one(or all) of these characteristics they most likely will not think twice about something. Disinhibition can also occur from a brain injury in the frontal lobe.

There can also be many environmental factors that can contribute to an addiction such as school, peers, community, and in my opinion one biggest influence could be family life. Peer pressure or the pressure from a troubled family life can be a determining factor but the question is which influence will be the determining factor of what makes experimentation of the preferred substance an addiction


Addictions are unfortunately very common in my family. My grandpop was an alcoholic and three of my cousins were addicted to heroin. Watching them suffer through their addictions was one of the hardest things I have ever had to witness. I am happy to say they have all recovered and doing well. Seeing them go through life with this illness and wanting so bad to help them has pushed me in the direction of Psychology.
Recently the amount of drug addicts have increased greatly. I don't think I have met a single person since I started college who hasn't tried or been addicted to a drug. I have a friend at work who is from Russia and she has expressed to me many times that she has never seen so many people addicted to some kind of substance. And she blames it mostly on prescribed medicine. According to my coworker, in Russia they treat diseases with herbal remedies and natural base drugs. They try to stay away from chemical drugs that can ultimately lead to an addiction. She thinks the hospitals here over do it with the medication but I guess it's just the different cultures.
I do sort of agree/understand where she is coming from because I have seen many people with aches and pains of all sorts and they end up get prescribed medicine like percocets and vicodin which cause a high for them and leads to their addiction. But then again without pain killers how will these doctors help to relieve their patients pain?

Evolution and Experience of Motives

In Chapter 3 I found it interesting how both heredity (nature) and environment (nurture) affect our behavior and motivation in life. There are both innate (not taught) motives and current (interactive between innate and experience) behaviors. From these behaviors we can learn a lot about a person.

This chapter on motives reminded me of the show “Criminal Minds”. Although NJ State Police now has a policy regarding racial profiling (unfounded profiling purely based on race), the FBI has done true behavior profiling for years. In the following videos you’ll see how they make theories (not facts) on a person’s behavior based on circumstances they observe. The basis of their analysis is to determine a person’s motives based on their actions. If you can determine a person’s motives, whether it be heredity (nature) or environment (nurture), it gives you an insight into how they think and can help determine a suspect’s next action.

Are you a Dove or a Hawk?

I came across an article that relates to chapter one and further explored motivation. Motivation is driven by internal and external sources in order to approach positive incentives and avoid negative incentives. These sources of motivation determine behavior on the conscious and unconscious level. To investigate decision making on the neural level regarding social dilemmas Emonds et al. conducted an fMRI study comparing brain activity of proself and prosocial individuals. It is thought that proselfs compared to prosocials are motivated differently. After screening for medical health, they were also tested on their Social Value Orientation (SVO). The SVO referrers to how people evaluate interdependent outcomes for self and others. It is important for determining cooperative motives, strategies, and choice behavior. Previous research has indicated that prosocial people are intrinsically (internally) willing to cooperate in social dilemma, as long as their partners cooperate. This type of social orientation can be considered as the “dove strategy,” unlike proself orientations that rely on the “hawk strategy.” Proself minds are individualistic, or hold competitive personality looking to outperform others and reap the benefits for themselves.

The focus of this study was to examine and further understand how cooperative decisions are particularly made under uncertainty with the influence of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators in social dilemmas. Researchers hypothesized activation to be different for the two types of SVO groups while playing a coordination game (CG), combined with prisoners dilemma game (PD). The PD is an economic game with weak cooperative incentives, with motivators of fear and greed. The CG holds strong cooperative incentives while yielding uncertain outcomes (motives of fear and greed are not present). The two games are blinded to participants and explained as an “investment game” leaving the players the options to invest (cooperate) or not (defect).

Results after a whole brain analysis revealed activation patterns to be different. Proselfs showed activity in the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (DLPFC), the area that engages in tasks requiring increased cognitive control and working memory. Unpredicted but understandable finding of activation for proselfs was seen in the posterior superior-temporal sulcus (STS); the region involved in perspective taking that could provoke original moral judgment and then include executive resources in to the process. This is understandable because being able to comprehend another’s point of view will work to proselfs advantage. Another area that activated was the precuneus, which contributes to a variety of higher order cognitive functions relating to processing self relevant information.

Prosocials showed more activation in the temporo-parietal junction but specifically in the anterior STS, which is involved with previously resolved routine moral judgment that requires semantic based knowledge. Also in the Inferior Parietal Lobule (IPL – the region of moral awareness), and lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) the region associated with subjective representation of punishment, as well as norm compliance.

Implying, proself individuals are motivated by extrinsic incentives doing so by strategizing, and calculating the maximum pay off for each game. Prosocials are norm compliant and approach each game with moral consideration of the outcome of others showing intrinsic motivation. These findings are valuable to the field of motivation psychology, because this brain activity is an automatic, internalized process that becomes expressed during decision making in social interactions, suggesting people have opposing social motives.