Sunday, 1 July 2018

My Favourite Psychology Experiments

My Favourite Psychology Experiments a level social cognitive biological

If you know me, you will know that I love psychology. I did psychology A level which I have to admit wasn't always that interesting. There is something about being forced to learn facts and figures off by heart which makes a subject, less appealing. However, I often did my own research beyond the specification which kept my interest in psychology going. 

I love psychology as a whole, but there are definitely areas in which I have more interest in than others. My favourite has to be forensic or criminal psychology, which is no surprise given that is what I am doing my degree in, in the Autumn. I also love Neuro or biological psychology, which I'll be the first to admit can go beyond me, at times. 

There are so many different fields within psychology, from clinical to child and sport to cognitive with so many more in between. I'm actually going to be doing an A-Z of psychology blog post soon, where I talk about lots of fields and key concepts in psychology but for today's post, I thought I would talk about some of my favourite psychological experiments, from a wide range of fields.



Side note, I am not going to be critical of these experiments. One, because this blog post would be really long and two, because this isn't an A level essay and I don't think you guys are interested in the validity or reliability of the experiment. When I say it is my favourite, what I mean by that is that I love what it contributed to the science of psychology, it doesn't necessarily mean I agree with the procedure or the conclusions. 

THE ZEIGARNIK EFFECT

Ever wonder why you are able to remember all the questions you couldn't answer in an exam but forget the ones you could answer? Or why soaps always end on cliffhangers? Psychologist, Bluma Zeigarnik, gave 164 people 22 simple tasks which included writing down the names of cities beginning with L or making clay models etc. During half of these tests, Zeigarnik interrupted the participants, so they didn't complete the task. She found that the participants remembered 68% of the unfinished tasks compared to 43% of the finished ones.

Thus, this shows us that humans naturally feel the need to finish tasks, to develop a sense of closure. Failure to complete a task leaves us with tension. Although this isn't the most exciting psychology experiment ever conducted, I found it interesting because I felt I resonated with it a lot in many elements of my everyday life and I'm sure you do too.

My Favourite Psychology Experiments a level social biological Sperry cognitive


COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort experienced by someone who holds two or more contradictory beliefs. The seekers, who were a semi-religious cult, lead by Mrs Keech, said that the world was going to end on the 21st December in the 50s due to a massive flood, but just before the flood, a flying saucer would come to carry the seekers away to the planet Clarion. Festinger et al. decided to infiltrate the group to investigate the psychological process when they were proved wrong.   

Leading up to the day, the members of the group, gave up their jobs, livelihoods and cut all strings with their friends and family. On the 20th of December, the group had received a message saying the God of earth had decided to save the world from complete destruction. You would think these events would drive them away from their beliefs, but it did the exact opposite. They arranged interviews with the press and tried to get everyone to adopt their belief system. It was easier for them to modify their original prophecy than to accept their beliefs were wrong. 

This study stands out to me because we all know that one person who will never accept that they are wrong. Are the seekers really that different, from those who claim they are always right on the most mundane of things even if there is contradictory evidence to suggest otherwise?

SPLITTING THE BRAIN IN HALF

Yes, you can spilt the brain in half and still be a functioning human being. If you have severe epilepsy which is not responding to medical treatment, you may have a hemispherectomy. This is an operation in which your corpus callosum, the bundle of nerve fibres in your brain which connects the left and right hemispheres is cut. Gazzaniga and Sperry conducted experiments to test the effects of this operation and the functions of the left and right hemisphere. 

For you to understand the experiment, you first need to understand, that all information from your left visual field goes to the right hemisphere and all information from the right visual field goes to the left hemisphere. Gazzaniga and Sperry conducted a range of tests from visual to tactile such as participants being asked to hold a spoon in their right hand, they could see it and describe it, but when holding it in their left hand, they could not name or describe it. This is because the left hemisphere controls language and reasoning while the right hemisphere controls more creative tasks like drawing and therefore because the participants in this study had a split brain, the two hemispheres could not communicate and lead to independent streams of consciousness within one single brain.

I find this experiment so fascinating. I love neuropsychology and find this experiment so exciting, as it demonstrates the brain changes and adapts in accordance with your situation and no one really knows why.

I really think I could make this a series on my blog if you guys would be interested. I have tried to keep this as simple as possible without including too much psychology jargon. Have you heard of any of these psychology experiments before? What are your favourites? Let me know in the comments down below.

Thanks for reading, as always X 
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3 comments

  1. YAS!! This is sooo interesting!!

    Barbs

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  2. I know absolutely nothing about psychological experiments and psychology in general for that matter so this was super interesting to read - thanks Nicole!

    Lucy | Forever September

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  3. I studied Psychology A level too! I found Sperry and Gazzaniga's experiment fascinating as well, it's really interesting how the two hemispheres react to stimuli without the corpus callosum! My favouriite experiments are Ainsworth's Strange Situation and Zimbardo's Stanford Prison experiement. The SPE REALLY got me into psychology, I was so engrossed in why the participants acted the way they did when put in a position of power or in a position of no power! Attachment is one of my favourite topics, so The Strange Situation interested me specifically because it gives an estimate on how our attachment with our primary caregiver impacts our future relationships. Ah, Psychology is such an amazing subject!
    I wish you the best at uni :)

    venus | http://venusaby.blogspot.co.uk/

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