Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Power of Habit & Food Preferences

(The second book I picked to read is so good and full of information, I felt the need explore the concept of a habit loop in further detail than just in the book report.)

The opening chapter of “The Power of Habit” begins with a gentlemen named Eugene who suffered memory loss due to an illness. He was able to learn habits unconsciously even though consciously he could not remember how he was doing these tasks. The chapter continued discussing that when something is done routinely, you begin to form a three-step loop that is triggered when the see the objects or cues associated with this task.

I never realized how many habits we have daily until I was required to read this book and found myself enjoying the read. There are good and bad habits, and the cues and rewards for both are the reason habits are so hard to break. One of the habits the book talked about is backing out of the driveway when you first began to drive. This example hit home for me because I was such a bad driver when I first began to drive that my radio needed to be turned off and I was constantly stepping on the break every inch I moved down my driveway. I was constantly worried I would hit a car, run off the driveway, hit a child, go too fast down the driveway I could not stop my car, etc.  I am now into my 6th year of driving and now when I back out of the driveway I do it with fewer thoughts running through my mind and my brain “stops fully participating in decision-making” due to a habit emerging. I make sure there are no cars or children in the way, but they are no longer worries like they use to be. 

The biggest habit I have been trying to re-work is eating healthy. I have been regularly working out and lifting for several months, but I do not see the results I want due to the unhealthy eating habits I have. I work 50 hour work weeks, take three summer classes, and go to the gym 6 days a week. I do not WANT to make time to meal prep a salad I know I won’t enjoy as much as pizza or fries. This could be explained by food preferences. Since pizza or fries has higher calories than a bowl of lettuce or carrots, it makes sense that it is preferred over the lower energy content.  In order to form a new habit, you must overrule the previous habit with a new routine. This has inspired me to try to come up with a new routine that will be followed by the same cue and the same reward as the old routine. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pairings That Are Easy on the Eyes

(Excuse me for talking about my husband again. I'm basically obsessed with him)

My husband and I often get told that we are a very "cute" couple, even though we're not particularly affectionate in public. It seems to be based on what we look like. Just yesterday, someone mentioned it again, and he and I happened to be dressed very similarly. We had just come from the gym and were wearing black t-shirts with lettering, black exercise pants, Birkenstocks, and Fitbits. This was just a weird coincidence, but I began to wonder if people see couples who look like they "match" and automatically think that is a good pairing. I wonder if people are automatically rating the attractiveness of each person, and if the numbers match according to their perceptions, then the pairing makes sense, and is easy to digest and look at favorably.

In the video from The Science of Sex Appeal it shows how people do this when they are trying to find partners/mates. In the real world it certainly doesn't occur so consciously, but people are aware of who's "out of their league" or when they think they could do better. I don't remember having this specific thought process, but I can admit to being shallow enough that I wouldn't have pursued my husband if I hadn't thought he was attractive, and I probably would have been intimidated if I thought he was out of my league. Based on the concepts presented in the video and lecture, I think we are relatively well-matched in many different aspects. It's something I take comfort in, and it's one of the reasons I never like to be over- or under-dressed compared to my husband. I don't like the mismatch.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Diet Cliche

My husband and I are currently on a diet, and he has been a lot more successful than I. This is partly due to facts of the situation: 1) he has more weight to lose, and 2) he is male. However, the material I've come across in this course leads me to believe he as another advantage: he is intrinsically motivated. He wants to sleep better. He wants to wear nicer, better-fitting clothes. He wants his feet to hurt less when he walks for extended periods of time. These are all things that he wants to control about himself and for himself (effectance motivation). As for me, I haven't found that intrinsic motivation. I am doing this diet because I am trying to be helpful and supportive. Because I am not buying in 100%, it is not working as well for me and I want to quit. I feel like my opportunity costs of doing this diet are higher because I do most of the cooking and dishes, in addition to having a job and going to school. My husband certainly works hard, but he is not in school and does not do most of the cooking. Doing this diet is easier for him because he has intrinsic motivation as well as low opportunity costs. For me, I need some way to change my motivation in order to ultimately be successful.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Thoughts on the Barry Schwartz video

When Barry Schwartz discusses maximizing individual freedom with offering maximum available choices to consumers, he makes great points, mentioning how things were in the past compared to today.  There are obviously many more choices today.  Is that always good though?  In my opinion, along with Mr. Schwartz, it isn’t always for the best.  For instance, his example of making choices at your kid’s soccer game, and the paralysis people can get when offered too many choices. 
For example, when Mr. Schwartz discusses the study of 401k decision-making, I could absolutely relate.  At age 21 when I was first eligible for my company’s 401k plan, I was uneducated on the subject or how to get help on it.  I put it off for years!  As another example, as I age, I can more and more relate to the problems of escalation of expectation, especially with technology.  I feel so out of the loop with all the choices we are offered with laptops, internet options, cell phones, etc.  I also agree with Mr. Schwartz on it being easier to regret personal choices with the more options available.  I “could have done better” happens all the time in all of us.  We have all these options that offer great benefits.  When we settle for what we can afford or have the time for, we cannot help but think that there is something better that we could have had. 
Lastly, I would like to mention that I am also able to relate with the negative effects of patient autonomy.  My recent health had provided me with the opportunity for both back and foot surgery.  These procedures are not needed for my survival; therefore the decision lies completely on me as to whether I should go through with it.  Both doctors told me “if you can live with the pain, then you may not feel the need for the surgery.  But if you can’t, you might want to try it”.  This leaves me feeling guilty in a couple ways.  1. If I get the surgery, I am somehow a weaker person because I cannot live with the pain.  And 2. If I “try” it, and it doesn’t work, it was my bad decision.       
I would not say that options are the enemy.  Some are harmless and take little energy, such as deciding to but white or yellow American cheese at the deli counter.  All these little, medium and large decisions made each and every day take a toll on the mind and body.  We wear ourselves out, not even realizing that during the course of a day, we make thousands of decisions.   

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Food Preferences and Dog Meat

As I read about innate and conditioned food preferences, I was reminded of the part in Endurance when the men are on the verge of going hungry and resort to shooting and eating the last of the dogs. While this was a hard part of the book to read, since in our culture it is not widely accepted to eat dog meat, it is understandable that the men would choose this option. What I found intriguing about it was the men's reaction to eating the dog meat--they thought it was absolutely delicious. While this does not directly connect to conditioned food preferences, it does exemplify how our attitudes towards food can change depending on our situation. Many of the men would likely have been squeamish if they weren't so deprived, and perhaps they still were. But there was no denying how much better the dog meat tasted than the seal meat.
On a different note, there have been many things in my life that I thought I didn't like, but as I was forced to try them out of politeness over the years, I learned that I just hadn't been exposed to them. Runny eggs, for example. I thought they were gross until I actually tried one. It turns out I had learned this "they are gross" perspective from my mother, who had never cooked them for us and never encouraged us to try them because she herself did not care for them.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Response Deprivation & Shackleton's Men

In reviewing and further researching the slides provided in this course, I couldn’t help but think of the men we are reading about in Endurance when I learned the definition of response deprivation theory.  Contrary to Premack’s principle where a person will perform a less desirable task to obtain the desired outcome; response deprivation is where the desired outcome will reinforce the behavior IF the subject is deprived of the desired behavior.  I think of part IV of Endurance.  During this time, the men are forced into their boats due to cracking and depleting floes.  Some see it as relief from the ice, but in their hurriedness to get into their boats, the men failed to remember ice to be melted into water.  They would go days without water, which added to the misery of small food rations, treacherous weather conditions, and the fact that their course was many times rescheduled.  The men were forced to chew raw seal meat just to drink the blood. 

Elephant Island was in sight and the men had no option but to give all they could to reach land.  Despite their lack of sleep and water, they rowed.  And rowed.  Hour after hour.  Even while realizing they were caught in a current, they continued on.  The desired outcome was land, where they could gain some rest and melt some snow into water.  Would they have been so determined to continue on throughout the night if they had water onboard with them and were able to rest during the past few days?  Maybe not.  They were deprived of two imperative necessities of life; rest and water.             

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Welcome Summer 16' Students!  I look forward to your posts.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

GSS 2148 Pseudoscience & The Paranormal

The Demon-Haunted World
Carl Sagan

I received my book today in the mail about The Demon-Haunted World. Since this is my first blog entry I wanted to start talking about my interest in this course, and what I want to pull out of the book and pull out of the course. I always had a interest in the paranormal, ghosts, and demons. I always hear so many mixed things about if all this stuff is really, the real deal. So many shows, with ghost hunters with cameras, and heat devices say that they feel these ghosts around them. Do I believe in the after life? Of course I do, but I want to know the truth behind ghosts coming back and effect other people who are still alive today. I am hoping this course gives me the realization of this phenomena and how real it is, from the movies, to shows, to this book I am about to read. I am hoping this book explains the real truth behind pseudoscience, and what is untrue. I am excited to see what importance this brings to my life, because I want to be fulfilled with knowledge, and learn what is true and untrue within the paranormal world.