Disussion 5

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Answer the following questions in 150 words using sources provided only:

1. According to the readings, stress can have many negative outcomes that can cause short or long term damages. Many students can become depressed due to exceeding expectations to succeed,  failing relationships, work issues, and more. As a result, they feel empty and worthless. When was the first time in your life as a student that you felt overwhelmingly stressed and possibly had thoughts of depression? What did you wish could have been implemented in the school system for students experiencing this same feeling as you?

2.As described in the first PowerPoint on Emotion & Affect, emotion is defined as an evaluative reaction. However, there is a connection between cultures and emotion. In what ways can different cultures influence emotion? 

Chapter 4

Health, Stress, & Coping

Quick note

Just letting you know that I titled this lecture chapter 4, but it’s not the same chapter 4 as in your recommended textbook

These materials are taken from a different text that had a chapter on health and stress

I’m not sure why the Baumeister & Bushman text doesn’t have a chapter on this; many social texts do

Today’s Outline

Define Stress

Discuss some common Causes of stress

Discuss Effects of Stress

Discuss Reducing/Preventing/Coping with stress


We talk a lot about it…

But what is it?

And is it necessarily a bad thing?


Stress: mental and physical condition that occurs when a person must adjust or adapt to the environment

Both unpleasant events (work pressures, relationship troubles) and pleasant events (a new job, travel)


Eustress: good stress

getting married, playing sports, going on a date, vacations, etc.

Stress Reaction

The Stress reaction is the same whether it’s good stress or bad stress

The Autonomic Nervous System reacts the same to good stress or bad stress

The sympathetic nervous system kicks in to ramp us up

Thus, in some ways, its our PERCEPTION of stress that matters

Is what we’re doing a fun challenge, e.g. an intense game of basketball or an unpleasant, intimidating task, e.g. taking a test.

As far as the body goes, pleasant thrills and stressful tasks are the same

Explains how some people hate and some people love roller coasters


However, one note to make here:

Short-term stress, whether good stress or bad stress, doesn’t result in any damage

But long-term stress is another matter

What causes Stress?

Behavioral causes

Innate causes

Situational causes

Behaviors that can lead to stress

Any behaviors that cause people to be unhealthy can result in stress

Alcohol abuse

Could result in failing grades, being stressed about school, or strained relationships if you’re a ‘mad drunk’

Other risk factors:

Inactive life style, unhealthy diet, smoking, drugs, risky/unprotected sex

The actual issue and the stress from the issue

Cyclical: obesity –> difficulty exercising –> health problems –> stress –> eating more –> discouraged –> more stress, etc.

‘Innate’ levels of stress

Personality Types (validated)

Type A personality

key features: anger, hostility, & mistrust

ambitious, competitive, achievement oriented

believe enough effort can overcome any obstacle

push themselves accordingly

time urgency (think Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland)

at twice the risk for heart attack 🙁

aka cardiac personality

Situational Causes


Whether it’s at work, home, etc.

We’re all kind of control freaks

We don’t like curve balls

E.g. boss asks you to work late and help on an important project that’s due the next day

E.g. if I gave you a pop quiz right now, that counted for 5% of your grade, wouldn’t you be stressed/pissed?

Work, workload, & deadlines

any position of leadership comes with more stress

Situational Causes

Life Events

Let’s see how you’re doing!

Read through the list on the next two slides. Check any that apply.

Add up your Life Change Units score

Then we’ll see how stressed we all are

Life Events and Life Change units

Life Event Life Change Units
Death of parent 100
Unplanned pregnancy/abortion 100
Getting married 95
Divorce of parents 90
Acquiring a visible deformity 80
Fathering a child 70
Jail sentence of parent for over one year 70
Marital separation of parents 69
Death of a brother or sister 68
Change in acceptance by peers 67
Unplanned pregnancy of sister 64
Discovery of being an adopted child 63
Marriage of parent to stepparent 63
Death of a close friend 63
Having a visible congenital deformity 62
Serious illness requiring hospitalization 58
Failure of a grade in school 56
Not making an extracurricular activity 55
Hospitalization of a parent 55
Jail sentence of parent for over 30 days 53

Life Events and Life Change units

Breaking up with boyfriend or girlfriend 53
Beginning to date 51
Suspension from school 50
Becoming involved with drugs or alcohol 50
Birth of a brother or sister 50
Increase in arguments between parents 47
Loss of job by parent 46
Outstanding personal achievement 46
Change in parent’s financial status 45
Accepted at college of choice 43
Being a senior in high school 42
Hospitalization of a sibling 41
Increased absence of parent from home 38
Brother or sister leaving home 37
Addition of third adult to family 34
Becoming a full fledged member of a church 31
Decrease in arguments between parents 27
Decrease in arguments with parents 26
Mother or father beginning work 26

Life change scale results

Above 300 = very stressed, 80% chance of getting sick in the near future

150-299 = moderately stressed, 50% more likely to get sick in the near future

Less than 150 = low stress, 30% more likely to get sick

I scored here

0 stress, very little stress! Hurray!

Thinking about the Life Change Scale

The Life Change Units we just discussed invoke a definition of stress that is really just based on CHANGE

This make sense given the definition of stress: ‘adaptation to the environment.’

To adapt we must change

It’s interesting because most people probably wouldn’t think that: for example outstanding personal achievement, less arguing from parents, and marriage were all on that list

Deaths and divorce were at the top

Situational Causes


Blockage of a goal: worst when the goal is important or there’s time urgency

Often based on social situations

frustrated with spouse, coworkers, kids, etc.

The reaction to the frustration can worsen the stress: aggression (or displaced aggression), inflexible persistence, giving up on a goal, etc.

Aka the frustration-aggression hypothesis

Situational Causes

Acculturative Stress, aka culture shock

E.g. me moving to Miami 9 years ago

“Why are people I don’t know greeting me with a kiss on the cheek, my Grandma and my Mom don’t even do that!“

I’m kidding though, that obviously wasn’t stressful

High-stress reactions:

1. Marginalization (rejecting old culture, but also being rejected by new culture)

2. Separation: avoiding contact with new culture even though you’re in a new place

Low-stress reactions

3. Integration: maintaining old cultural identify & new one

4. Assimilation: totally meshing into new culture

Effects of stress

General Adaptation Syndrome

Occurs from long-term stress (Work, a serious illness, etc.)

3 Stages

1. Alarm Reaction

Sympathetic nervous system at work. More adrenaline, high heart rate, less digestion, etc.

Some results of that: headache, sore muscles, stomach aches

General Adaptation Syndrome Cont’d

2. Resistance

Body comes into balance, those symptoms disappear. Superficial symptoms gone

Outwards body seems ok, but psychosomatic effects begin

Psychosomatic Effects are real

Skin rashes, hives, migraines, blood pressure, asthma, indigestion, sexual problems, ulcers, etc.

Not to be confused with a hypochondriac

General Adaptation Syndrome Cont’d

Some physical examples from my colleagues and me during Qualifying Exams:



me: really tense muscles

3. Exhaustion, usually not collapsing, instead:

1. Emotional (anxiety, apathy, irritability, mental fatigue)

2. Behavioral Signs (avoidance of social, work, or health- related behaviors)

3. Physical Signs: tiredness, illness, excessive worry about health

More Effects of Stress

Continuing off the idea of vulnerability to illness during periods of exhaustion…


Times of stress = weakened immune system

E.g. many more colds during and after Final Exam times

Stress & Depression



Depressed students score half a grade lower, on average

Occurs due to:

Work issues, trying to get high grades and struggling to meet idealized expectations of themselves, isolation, loneliness, breakups of romantic relationships, etc.

Results in:

Sad, empty, or some anxious feelings. Also feeling guilty, worthless, helpless, & pessimistic

Difficulty concentrating, lack of interest in usual fun activities

Effects of Stress Cont’d

Learned Helplessness

Any time an animal or person initially learns that to escape something harmful or stressful is very difficult. But later, even if they can easily escape, they don’t.

E.g. someone who grew up with an abusive parent (hard to escape)

May not engage in behaviors to reduce or remove stress later in life, e.g. studying hard for exams

Responses and reduction of Stress

3 main concepts:

1. Preventative Behaviors

2. Problem-focused Coping

3. Emotion-focused Coping

Preventative behaviors against stress


BE SOCIAL!!!! friends, family, etc.

Have fun for at least some time every day (balance)

Staying clean & organized

Promoting general physical health

avoiding hypertension with a good diet

lower in: salt, red meat, and dairy

higher in veggies, fruits, & fish

30 minutes of cardio 5x a week

positive outlook: hope, optimism

Comedy – humor relieves stress:

May I suggest…Arrested Development

Reducing Stress via Problem-focused Coping

My opinion:

Problem focused-coping works better for me than emotion-focused coping

The theory: instead of coping with the problem, just remove the problem in the first place

Problem focused-coping works best when you have control of the stressor

E.g. finishing a project/paper/studying

Reducing Stress via Problem-focused Coping

Appraising the Stressors

1. Primary Appraisal

Is the situation positive or threatening, relevant or irrelevant?

Passively processing the situation/stressor, initial opinion

2. Secondary Appraisal

This is where people who don’t feel much stress react differently than those who get really stressed

Perceive the stressor as a challenge/opportunity rather than a threat. A plan is developed for how to overcome

What are you telling yourself about it? can you beat this problem?

Control!!! Focusing on the control you have over it

Problem-Focused Prevention of Stress

Working ahead of time

It prevents the aspect of stress we call ‘pressure’

I can vouch for this being effective

Reactive vs. proactive work


Project is becoming due, better work on it

E.g. me in college! But not during grad school


Doing a certain/set amount of work during allotted time

You’ll find you get ahead pretty fast

Avoid distractors!! No Facebook! No Youtube! No other forms of “multi-tasking” or listening to music. Just focus!

Reducing Stress via Emotion-focused Coping

Works best when you don’t have control or only have moderate control over the stressor

E.g. coping with a death

First we’ll cover defense mechanisms, then other emotion-focused coping techniques

Defensive Mechanisms

Defense mechanisms are adaptive: maintain self-esteem

If we took full blame for every time we messed up,

we would not be happy

Happy people actually have more positive illusions and beliefs, as we’ve learned

Depressed people gauge their abilities more accurately/realistically…but…that’s not as adaptive as being a little naively optimistic

But too much use of Defense Mechanisms can be maladaptive

Defense Mechanisms: Examples

Denial: protecting oneself from an unpleasant reality by refusing to perceive it

E.g. maybe the test will be canceled

Repression: unconsciously preventing painful or dangerous thoughts from entering awareness

Reaction formation: preventing dangerous impulses from being expressed in behavior by exaggerating opposite behavior

‘Pretending’ to love working out even if you hate it

Defense Mechanisms: Examples (cont’d)

Regression: retreating to an earlier level of development or to earlier, less demanding habits or situations

Projection: attributing one’s own feelings, shortcomings, or unacceptable impulses to others

E.g. you feel guilty about being selfish, “I don’t want to go out tonight”, project that on to friend who wants to go out, “Don’t be selfish, I want to stay in”

Defense Mechanisms: Examples (cont’d)

Rationalization: justifying one’s behavior by giving reasonable and “rational,” but false, reasons for it

E.g. I can’t turn in the paper because my printer broke

May be true. But the paper shouldn’t have been done last minute.

Isolation: separating contradictory thoughts or feelings into mental compartments so that they do not come into conflict

Stats are a part of Psych. I love Psych but I hate stats!

Defense Mechanisms: Examples (cont’d)

Compensation: counteracting a real or imagined weakness by emphasizing desirable traits or seeking to excel in the area of weakness or in other areas

E.g. If I failed something, think of something you usually succeed at

Defense Mechanisms: Examples (cont’d)

Identification: taking on some of the characteristics of an admired person, usually as a way of compensating for perceived personal weaknesses or faults

E.g. I’ve seen it in grad students, if put on defensive, they may name-drop more. “Well, when I work with so and so, we…”

Intellectualization: separating emotion from a threatening or anxiety-provoking situation by talking or thinking about it in impersonal “intellectual” terms

E.g. GRE is just a measure of ability to do high school math

Emotion-Focused Strategies to reduce stress


Any calming activity that interrupts upsetting thoughts

Reading, watching a comedy, chatting with a friend

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Tensing and releasing each muscle in the body

Makes a nice-feeling contrast

Guided Imagery

Going on a mental vacation. Getting in that mindset

Can add to traditional meditation

Emotion-Focused Strategies to reduce stress

Slowing down

Our behaviors, thoughts, etc.

“Goal is distance not speed”

Replacing negative statements with positive ones

“I’m gonna bomb this test”

Replaced: “I’ve passed 100 tests before this”

Again, being Social. Interacting with our support networks of family and friends

Isolating is the wrong choice

Chapter 9

Prosocial Behavior

Today’s Outline

Why do people help others

Altruism vs. Egoism debate

Role of empathy

Who is likely to receive help and when will people help (or not help)

Good Samaritan study

Kitty Genovese case

5 steps to helping and obstacles that block helping

What can we do to increase helping

Education, modeling

Prosocial Behavior

Prosocial behavior: doing something that is good for society as a whole

Or any behavior that has a positive impact on other people.

Prosocial Behavior – Fairness/helping

Many animals are sensitive to fairness

E.g. if researchers give some animals better treats or more treats for doing the same task

Animals that get unexciting treats feel ‘underbenefited’ and get mad

But so far only humans will help others when they are ‘overbenefited’

If a human receives more for the same work, they will often help by giving some of it to those less fortunate

Remember learning about upward social comparison?

Humans are sensitive to overpforming and making others sad/jealous

Altruism vs. Egoism


When we help out of the goodness of our hearts or because of empathy

Skeptics may argue we only ever help because we get something out of it:


Positive feelings (feels good to help, selfish)

Relieve negative feelings that we feel due to empathy (E.g. you can feel less bad about a person being homeless if you bring them some food)

A sense of doing the right thing (feels good)

Empathy and Helping Others

Empathic arousal: emotional arousal that occurs when you feel some of the person’s pain, fear, or anguish

Empathy-helping relationship: we are most likely to help person in need when we feel emotions such as empathy and compassion

There is evidence that people will help due to both reasons, altruism & egoism

Altruism vs. Egoism

Batson et al. (1981) examined this

Participants met a confederate named Elaine, who they would have to shock

Later they overhear her telling the experimenter she had a bad experience with being shocked when young is now very afraid of electricity

Experimenters manipulated empathy in participants by telling them Elaine has similar traits to them (high empathy) or dissimilar traits (low empathy)

Participants given the opportunity to escape/leave the study

Some were in an easy-escape condition, ‘you can leave after Elaine gets shocked twice’

Some were in a hard-escape condition, ‘you have to watch all 10 shocks’

Altruism vs. Egoism

Low-empathy participants who could easily escape did so and left poor Elaine to her fate

But they didn’t have to watch her get shocked, which relieves negative emotions (Egoism)

About half of the participants in the Low-empathy, hard-escape condition took Elaine’s place and half escaped the study

Among high-empathy participants almost all chose to stay and help Elaine by switching places (supports Altruism)

Altruism vs. Egoism

My thoughts on the Batson et al. study: I’m not a skeptical kind of person, I believe in altruism

*But in response to that study’s claim: couldn’t you just say that someone felt better about taking Elaine’s place than they did about letting her suffer, and that out-weighted the annoyance of being shocked, so that’s still egoism?

In any event, I think if a study were able to show some people help out of duty and with no positive neurochemicals being released, that would be altruism

Who is likely to receive help:

Receiving Help:

Beautiful people, both men & woman

Similar people

E.g. club members helping other club members

Women in general

Those likely to give help:

Men, to strangers

Women, to family

Happy people

When will people help?

Good Samaritan Study (Darley & Batson)

Seminary Students (participants)

Asked to give a talk/lecture

Independent Variables:

Some asked to do a talk on the Good

Samaritan parable; others on career choices

Also, some put in a rush (you’re late for the talk) or others not in a rush

Dependent Variable: Helping

Will they help someone who is on the ground, moaning?


No difference between talks (wow…)

Participants in the ‘no rush’ condition: 6x more likely to help

Good Samaritan Study

It’s kind of amazing that despite having the Good Samaritan story primed, seminary students still didn’t stop to help

Even in the no-rush condition, no difference in helping behavior based on which talk was going to be given

Tragic case where no one helped

Let’s take a few minutes to review famous and tragic case of not receiving help…Kitty Genovese

Watch the following video before proceeding with the lecture

Just as a warning, what you’ll hear about will be sad/disturbing, proceed accordingly

If you opt not to watch it, please read up on a summary instead, as there will be questions on the test about this case


Kitty Genovese

So, why did no one help?

Researchers were motivated by this incident to find out exactly that, as you saw

Notes: the amount of witnesses may have been overblown by the media, but perhaps not

Either way, the case lead to some important findings, specifically, it lead directly to Darley and Latane’s study that you’ll read about in a minute

Helping Others

Bystander apathy: unwillingness of bystanders to offer help during emergencies

Related to number of people present

More potential helpers present, less likely people will give help

Steps to Helping & Obstacles to Helping

Darley & Latane’s 5 Steps to Helping:

1. Notice something is happening

Obstacle: self-concerns (running late, etc.)

2. Interpret as emergency

Obstacles: Pluralistic Ignorance (everyone looks to each other and no one moves); ambiguity

3. Take Responsibility

Obstacle: Diffusion of Responsibility (Darley & Latane): 6 people vs. 1 person. 6 = almost never helped, 1 = almost always helped); ‘surely someone else already called 911’

4. Decide how to help

Obstacle: competence issues, people don’t feel qualified to help

5. Actually helping

Belief in Just World Recap

A nice thought, but it leads to Victim Blaming

E.g. rape victim dressed proactively, poor people are just lazy, etc.

People with strong beliefs in a just world only help those who they feel deserve it

Typically, belief in a just world scales with wealth & power

Very wealthy: world is just

Average: world is somewhat just

Very poor: world is unjust

How can you secure help when needed?

Consider the 5 obstacles to helping and try to bypass them

E.g. Diffusion of responsibility

Bypass by pointing to someone in a crowd and say “You, please help me”

E.g. Bypass competency issues by telling him/her how to help

“Please call 911 for me” “Please see if the manager or a chef knows the Heimlich Maneuver”

By doing those two steps you’ll also bypass pluralistic ignorance. If you need help and someone hasn’t noticed the problem, ask anyway

Money & Helping

Is money the “root of all evil?”

Perhaps, perhaps not

But what we do know is that money increases self-sufficiency

Less likely to give help or to ask for help

It reduces prosocial behavior (helping, cooperation, & forgiveness)

In one study, participants who saw a money screensaver (vs. a fish screen saver) were less likely to help a confederate who spilled pencils

Money and helping

In another study, participants who were primed with money were less likely to help a confederate on a very difficult word puzzle when he/she asked for help

Finally, in a third study, those participants primed with money were more likely to choose to do the experiment alone rather than in a group

The greater issue/irony here is this:

If the people who have the means to help the most (those with money) are the least likely to help, then people will never get help from those who can provide it


Just by virtue of having taken this lecture, you’re now more likely to be a helper! Congrats!

One study found that after having heard a lecture on the bystander effect vs. either a different lecture or no lecture

Participants who heard the bystander effect lecture were more likely to help someone who seemed passed out

67% vs 27% (no lecture/other lecture)

These findings persisted 2 months later as well

Other educational materials

Some TV shows for children have been found to be wholesome enough to increase helping behavior

E.g. Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street

Modeling helpfulness

Helping behavior can be very socially contagious!

In a game where students could donate gift cards to orphans or keep them, 0% donated

But in the condition that had an adult model who donated some of his, 48% donated

If you want to inspire your friends/family to do charity work or donate their time, start with you!

Final note

We’re more likely to help in-group members

But often the people who need help are not in our in-group, so it’s easy to turn a blind eye

Your textbook authors suggest trying to shift our view to where all people are our in-group

I agree, cheesy as that may sound, I think it’d be much for the better

Chapter 6

Emotion & Affect

Today’s Outline

Emotions in general

Are men or women more emotional?

Theories of emotion

Misattribution of arousal


What actually makes us happy?

How to increase our level of contentment and avoid common misconceptions about what brings us joy


Physiological arousal and performance

How do we define emotion?

Emotion: a conscious state that involves an evaluative reaction to something

Mood: a feeling state that is not clearly linked to some event

Affect: hard to define

Can be positive affect (good emotions) or negative affect (bad emotions)

Or can imply automatic, non-conscious emotions

Universal emotions

Are emotions a cultural phenomenon or a consistent, innate human occurrence?

At least these 6 emotions were easily recognized in a meta-analysis of 37 countries and 5 continents

Universal emotions

Those emotions were all posed and exaggerated

It’s harder to tell emotions in the real world across cultures

E.g. Asian Americans tend to regulate their emotions more than non-Asian Americans

That make discerning an Asian American’s mood more difficult

Even within one’s own culture, it can be challenging

Adults learn to hide their emotions well

Discerning emotions

How good are you at discerning happiness?

Which of Julia Robert’s smiles indicate genuine happiness?

Discerning emotions

Which did you guess and why?

The answer is the picture on the right!

Duchenne smile:

Contracted muscles around the eye, which raises the smile into more of a V or raises the cheeks

The smile is more open as well

Let’s look at some more examples

Discerning emotions

Sex differences in emotions

6 basic emotions were similar across cultures, but what about between the sexes?

Who is more emotional?

The stereotype would say women, but does that hold up to empirical scrutiny?

Sex differences in emotions

Several studies that have used different methodologies, such as self-report data or being hooked up to instruments that measure physiological arousal, have found:

No differences based on sex

Other studies have found differences but only in specific, limited situations

Young male children are more emotional

Men at work feel more anger

Men fall into love faster and experience more distress upon breaking up

Sex differences in emotions

If anything then, men are more emotional

The stereotype of men being cool and rational may exist as a standard to help regulate potentially volatile, strong male emotions

Let’s back up and review some of the general theories of emotions

Theories of Emotion

James-Lange Theory of Emotion

Common sense says, ‘See a bear, feel afraid’

Stimulus then emotional response

Their theory:

See bear, physiological arousal kicks in (elevated heart rate), feel fear

Theories of Emotion

James-Lange Theory of Emotion

Support for this theory:

Facial feedback hypothesis

Participants who held a pen in their teeth and then watched cartoons rated them as more funny/enjoyable

It forces the facial muscles into a smile which leads to happy feelings

Participants who held the pen between their lips (mimicking a frown) rated the cartoons as less funny

Beyond that though there wasn’t much empirical support for this theory

Theories of Emotion

Cannon-Bard theory of emotion

A stimulus is present, then someone simultaneously has information relayed to the cortex (which determines the emotion) and the hypothalamus (which sets off the physiological response)

The thalamus is the way station that sends those two signals

Theories of Emotion

Schachter-Singer Theory of Emotion

Has influenced many studies in social psychology

You see a snake (stimulus), you simultaneously have physiological arousal (more air in the lungs) and attach a cognitive label to the situation (fear), then you experience fear in full

TV analogy, arousal is the volume, fear is the channel switch, and experiencing fear is watching the program

Misattribution of Arousal

The Schachter-Singer theory of emotion allows for the physiological arousal to be mislabeled with the wrong emotion

Dutton & Aron (1974) suspension bridge study

Misattribution of Arousal

The researchers surveyed male participants who were crossing that scary bridge (which apparently wobbled and had low hand rails)

At the other end was an attractive women who surveyed them and then tore off a piece of the paper and wrote her number on it, asking them to call her

Participants in the scary bridge condition were more likely to call her, compared to the control condition (a small, normal bridge further up the river)

In both conditions though the woman was the same

Misattribution of Arousal

The researchers claimed the male participants experienced physiological arousal from the fear of crossing the bridge, which was then misattributed to being attracted to the female confederate

The problem is:

No other studies have been able to replicate the notion that a negative emotion can be misattributed to a positive one (or vice versa)

Positive to positive or negative to negative, yes

Reinterpretation of bridge study: participants felt relief or triumph and that was misattributed to attraction

Other disconnects between mind/arousal

How in tune are people with their body? Is the mind on the same page as one’s genitals?

Unfortunately for many women, the answer is no

The correlation between stated mental arousal and physical arousal is only .25

For men it’s better, .60

In other studies on the disconnect between mind and sexual arousal, there have been some hilarious results…(see next slide)

Other disconnects between mind/arousal

In a study by Adams, Wright, & Lohr (1996), male participants were asked to rate their thoughts feelings about homosexuality

Participants then watched a video showing gay sex scenes

Participants were hooked up to a penile plethysmograph, which measures sexual arousal

Ironically, those men with the most anti-gay attitudes were the ones most turned on by the videos…

Other disconnects between mind/arousal

A similar but slightly different study was conducted by other researchers on female participants

The participants were hooked up to a vaginal plethysmograph, which measured vaginal lubrication

The women who reported the highest levels of guilt about sex were the ones who were the most turned on by the videos

They even stated they did not enjoy the films


Thus far we’ve covered general theories of emotion and arousal, but let’s focus on a specific one – happiness

After all, what’s the point of psychology if not to understand how to all live happier lives and enjoy our time on this planet?

Understanding Happiness

One of the most crucial concepts for understanding our own happiness is the hedonic treadmill

The idea here is that life always goes up and down and you will return to your default level of happiness

E.g. lottery winners are back to their pre-win levels of happiness in < 1 year

And to some extent, even after bad events, like serious accidents, people return to near pre-accident levels of happiness

But negative events take longer to return to baseline from than fortunate events

Understanding Happiness

Similarly, some objective indicators have been found to predict happiness but their effect sizes are quite weak:

Being healthy

Having a happy marriage

Career success or Having enough money

Studies I’ve read show that earning money up to 60,000 a year increases happiness, but the gains in happiness beyond 60k are negligible

Kids are a surprising exception, they make parents unhappier. But people do see their life as more meaningful when they have kids

Understanding Happiness

So you’re probably thinking “Ok ok, so if winning the lotto doesn’t make us happy and the usual objective life goals don’t make us much happier, than what does make us happy?”

One thing that does is – subjective life goals

Doing what is really important to you, doing what you love

But more importantly, what really predicts happiness is just your overall default disposition!

Are you a happy, positive person?

Were you happy 10 years ago? Past happiness is a strong predictor of future happiness

Increasing our happiness

No matter whether you have thus far been happy or unhappy, there are things you can do to be happier and more content

Indeed many researchers have estimated we have at least 40% control over our own happiness:

Increasing our happiness

Things you can do to be happier 

1. Seek to form strong, meaningful, trusting social bonds, with your partner, your family, & friends

Around 3-5 good friends is a number to shoot for

Social support is consistently an extremely strong predictor of health and happiness

Fits with all we know about social psychology; we are truly social animals

2. Physical arousal is key for mood/affect regulation

Exercising is directly tied to reducing feelings of depression and anxiety

When we become inactive it’s like our animal brain begins to freak out

Increasing our happiness

Do things that feel good, e.g. eat tasty things, nap and relax, play, listen to music

Pursue your subjective goals

Thankfulness, this can’t be overstated.

– Constantly reflect on or make lists of all the good things

in your life or the good things that have happened to you. And if you’re religious or spiritual, praying about how blessed your life is. Maintaining an optimistic mindset

Take-home points: happiness

Remember, if you think you’ll be happy when you get married, land that dream job, get rich, etc…you won’t be. That’s just the hedonic treadmill and you’ll inevitably drift back to baseline.

Therefore, adjust your baseline level of happiness. Be happy just because; for no reason. Or simply because the world is beautiful

You have control over your own happiness

It’s up to you to build a thankful, optimistic mindset and a healthy life filled with loving relationships

Understanding Anger

Anger is a strange emotion, it seems to serve little purpose in our everyday lives

It prepares us to fight, but how often do we do that?

Anger kind of seems like a relic of our evolutionary past

One theory is that we get angry because we want to resolve conflicts in relationships we care about

If we didn’t care about the relationship, we would probably just express contempt and just not interact with the person who made us angry any more

Understanding Anger

There are many drawbacks to anger:

Repressed anger often leads to heart disease

Many studies have shown angry people make extremely bad decisions…like really dumb (Leith & Baumeister, 1996)

Paradoxically, angry people tend to be way more optimistic than depressed or anxious people

Similarly, angry people are also typically very energized and ready to take action

Anger makes people feel powerful

But none of that leads to correct choices/decision-making

Anger makes our decisions impulsive and we fail to into account negative consequences

Understanding other Emotions

Take-home point about anger:

If you play sports or games to win, avoid anger, you’ll just make very bad choices

Also the idea of catharsis doesn’t pan out in research studies

If you go hit a punching bag to ‘cool off’, you don’t cool off, you’re more likely to stay mad.

As we don’t have time to cover each emotion, let’s just consider generally the relationship between arousal and different good/bad emotions

Understanding Emotions

As we can see, some emotions are similar on arousal level but have the completely opposite emotional valence

As if they’re mirror images, e.g. alarm and excitement

Arousal & Performance

Regardless of the emotion we ascribe to it, what can we learn about the general presence of physiological arousal and its effect on us?

*Classic study, Yerkes-Dodson

Some arousal is good, it increases oxygen to brain & muscles and it focuses our attention

But too much is bad, leads to anxiety

Emotional Intelligence

The final topic we’ll touch on for emotions is emotional intelligence

We always talk about IQ, but what about EQ?

What good does it do someone to be a genius, but so depressed that he/she is unmotivated to get outta bed or work?

Emotional intelligence is defined as:

“The ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate one’s emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth”

Emotional Intelligence

EQ is a popular topic among businesses

In the Harvard Business Review, an article on EQ attracted more interest than any other article in last 40 years

Validated scales have developed to measure one’s EQ

Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test

Emotional intelligence is correlated with success in fortune 400 insurance companies

People with high EQ held higher positions, received better rankings from peers, etc.

Emotions continued

We’ll be continuing to explore emotions to some degree as we look into stress, coping, aggression & antisocial behavior, and prosocial/helping behavior.

Chapter 10

Aggression & Antisocial Behavior


Today’s outline

Why are people aggressive?



Social learning

Media & violence

Aggression under orders

Milgram’s study

Assertiveness instead of aggression

Antisocial Behavior

Antisocial behavior: any behavior that has a negative impact on other people

Aggression: hurting another person or achieving one’s goals at the expense of another person

E.g. war, homicide, riots, rape, assault, forcible robbery, family violence, bullying, etc.

Why are we aggressive?

Why are we aggressive?

First, as a quick note, with each passing year the world has grown more peaceful

Despite what it may seem like from the media

The world is many times more peaceful than in ancient times, where proportionally more people would died in wars

In the 2000’s there were only 2k deaths per year from warring countries whereas in the 1950’s there were 65k per year.


Ethologists: people who study natural behavior patterns of animals

Believe that aggression is innate in all animals, including humans, e.g. killer instinct

Freud would have agreed

The fact that we are biologically capable of aggression does not mean that aggression is inevitable or “part of human nature”

The vast majority of people are NOT aggressive

Some cultures show very little: Eskimos, Navajo


Testosterone correlated with aggression

May partially explain why we see more physical violence from men than woman

Alcohol & other drugs lower inhibitions

The majority of murders and violent crimes involve alcohol

Body temperature is also linked to aggression

For this reason prisons usually keep a cool temperature

Other innate causes of aggression

Well, this theme has come up many times so far in this course, but once again:


Violent individuals often have high self-esteem and grandiose self beliefs

Bushman & Baumeister (2002), the authors of your textbook, also found that violent prisoners have higher narcissism scores than nonviolent people

Narcissism continued

Narcissistic personality inventory:

‘I insist on getting the respect I deserve’

Then participants mark the extent to which they agree

Direct quote from the Columbine killer:

“Isn’t it fun to get the respect that we’re going to deserve?”

Narcissistic rage, yikes!!!

Aggression as a response to Frustration

Frustration-aggression hypothesis: frustration tends to lead to aggression

road rage

watch for verbal aggression when people are frustrated

Why though?

Perhaps because frustration is an aversive state

Aggression as a response to aversive stimuli

Aversive stimuli make us more sensitive to aggressive cues

Aversive stimuli: pain, temperature, odors, etc.

Aggression cues: signals that are associated with aggression

Rude gestures, middle finger, body language

Weapons effect: observation that weapons serve as strong cues for aggressive behavior

Murders are much more likely in homes with guns

Hostile world bias

By default, some people just have a hostile world bias

They will have an ambiguous interaction with someone, but interpret it as hostile

The person with the hostile world bias is making attributions about the other person’s behavior and intent

They also assume accidentally hurtful things were intended to offend them

They expect aggressive behavior from others

This bias has been found significantly more in aggressive people than non-aggressive people

Aggression as a Learned response

Social learning theory: combines learning principles with cognitive processes, socialization, and modeling to explain behavior

Aggression must be learned

No instinctive (innate) desires for shooting guns, knife fights, and so on

Instead aggression is ‘modeled’

Bandura’s Bobo Doll Study

kids observe an adult playing aggressively & mimic

Learned through Media Violence

Media exposure teaches aggressive actions; people, especially children, learn aggressive behaviors from media such as television

Social learning theme: violence is rewarded

Kids who watched a lot of tv were more likely to be aggressive as adults

Media exposure desensitizes people to violence

Desensitization: reduced emotional sensitivity

Bloody fight film to boys, those who watched heavy amounts of tv were much less affected

Learned through Media Violence

In a 15 year longitudinal study, children who watched a lot of violent TV shows in 2nd and 3rd grade were 3x more likely to commit a violent crime as an adult in their 20’s

Media Violence Cont’d

The media results may occur due to priming

Aggressive thoughts

Priming makes all topics related to aggression salient (meaning, easily accessible or at the forefront of your thoughts)


neural networks of ideas

Tide ____ water, moon or

Tide ____ detergent

Depends on how you were primed! With words related to washing clothes or with words related the ocean and moon

Parents as Media Guides

Model positive ways of getting along in the world

Limit total media time

Closely monitor what children experience

Show disapproval of violent media heroes

Media can also model prosocial behavior

Prosocial behavior: behavior toward others that is helpful, constructive, or altruistic

E.g., educational programming

Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, etc.

My response

The research is probably right about the link between media and aggression…it makes sense…

But…I like my violent movies and games!!! 

I know there has been dissent on this topic, if anyone finds a recent meta-analysis refuting these claims, email it to me

Aggression and Pornography

Aggressive pornography: depictions in which violence, threats, or obvious power differences are used to force someone (usually a woman) to engage in sex

Increases actual male aggression against women

Specific type of aggression: bullying

Bullying: any behavior that deliberately and repeatedly exposes a person to negative experiences

Bullying can be verbal (name-calling, insults, teasing) or physical (hitting, pushing, confining)

Can be direct (“in your face”) or indirect (intentional exclusion, spreading rumors)

Male bullies are more likely to engage in direct aggression; female bullies tend to specialize in indirect aggression

Aggression as an order

One potential excuse for aggression is:

“He told me to” or “It’s policy”

The following is a classis experiment in psychology.

Some of its methodologies have been called into question, but the main finding has been replicated many times

Social Influence: Obedience

Obedience: conformity to the demands of an authority

E.g., would you shock a man with a known heart condition who is screaming and asking to be released?

Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Studies

A “teacher” (real research participant) tries to “teach” word pairs to a “learner” with an apparent heart condition (an accomplice)

Ever more intense “shock” is administered every time the learner made a mistake

As mistakes were made, shock levels rose; once 300 volts (“severe shock”) was reached, the learner screamed and provided no further answers; regardless, 65% obeyed the researcher (who insisted the experiment continue) by going all the way to 450 volts

Milgram Results

Milgram Discussion

Obedience to authority

Rejected responsibility

The ‘teachers’ had breakdowns


When conducted at shabby building instead of Yale

48% instead of 65% (original) administered the max shock

Authority figure closer = more compliance

A group of people who disobey greatly reduced obedience, but one accomplice didn’t reduce the likelihood to shook at a high value

Themes of Zimbardo’s Prison Study

The power of ‘roles’

Participants were assigned to either be mock prisoners or mock prison guards

Anonymity for guards (sunglasses, uniforms, etc.), loss of identity for prisoners (given a number, jumpsuit)

Guards in Zimbardo’s study became verbally and physically abusive and some prisoners suffered break-downs

There were issues with this study too, its methodology was not great, but the overall point about anonymity and anti-social behavior still stands

Note the irony: Zimbardo researching the Lucifer Effect & evil people, but didn’t stop his own study in time. Highly unethical. His girlfriend suggested he stop…

Themes for Milgram & Zimbardo’s Studies


Situation > you being a good person

Situations determine our actions to a profound extent (the essence of social psychology)


Don’t make the mistake of thinking you would have acted differently, or you won’t grasp the profound weight of these studies. Assume you’d shock for max value if told to or become abusive if you could get away with it anonymously

Other types of antisocial behavior

Lying is also an antisocial behavior

To learn more about that, I suggest taking a legal psychology course if you haven’t yet

You’ll be taught about different methods that are used to detect deception

Additionally, the DSM has a classification of ‘antisocial personality disorder’

That is another way of saying psychopath or sociopath

Meaning a complete disregard for the lives of others

Finally someone even worse than a narcissist!

It goes without saying they’re extremely dangerous

Assertiveness Training

Assertiveness training: instruction in how to be self-assertive without being aggressive

Self-assertion: standing up for your rights by speaking out on your own behalf; direct, honest expression of feelings and desires

Assertiveness Techniques

When you expect a possible confrontation with someone

Rehearsing the dialogue, posture, and gestures you might use to assert yourself

Practice in front of a mirror

Role-play scenes with a friend taking the part of a really aggressive or irresponsible person, as well as a cooperative one.

Overlearn: practice that continues after initial mastery of a skill

Assertiveness Techniques (cont’d)

Broken record: self-assertion technique that involves repeating a request until it is acknowledged

Good way to be assertive without being aggressive

How to Limit Anger

Anger control: personal strategies for reducing or curbing anger

Define problem as precisely as possible

Make a list of possible solutions

Rank likely success of each solution

Choose a solution and try it

Assess how successful the solution was and make adjustments if necessary


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