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Nothing characterizes psychology better than the diversity and inconsistency of the directions that it spawned. Here are examples of the most outstanding and easy to navigate that you can take note of. Be careful, because you run the risk of being a black sheep if you show that you know everything. The psychologist does not need to know more than two. Therefore, choose the one you like and pretend that you are deeply absorbed in studying it, fill the chosen direction with useless facts and figures.

Perception and attention

Perception is a form of sensory reflection of the world, partly dependent on illogical processes - not double vision in the eyes after a night of revelry, but on information or “irritants” that a person receives from the outside world. Perception also depends on logical processes, which include our own ideas and expectations, affecting how a person sees the world (hears, feels, etc. - we have already gone through this). It is enough to confine ourselves to one name - Richard Gregory. This is a well-known cognitive psychologist, under whose guidance the Oxford Companion of the Mind is published, a thousand-page volume that has become a bible of psychologists, although not as colorful as the sacred version.

It can be assumed that all cognitive psychology is engaged in the study of logical processes. Read the following sentence and you will see a widespread example of a logical process in action.

Paris after after the rain

If you did not pay attention to the two “after”, you were influenced by the logical process - you expected to see a grammatically correct sentence. If you notice both “after”, then you are either a psychologist reading the book because you are not completely sure what psychology is (here you may not be alone), or you are not a psychologist, but you know what inventors they are, so carefully examined the whole offer. Not bad. Pretending to be a specialist means predicting the subjective actions of people.

The first researchers of perception - German gestalt psychologists of the late 19th century - noted that our mind adheres to certain rules for organizing what we see. For example, the image of the silhouettes of two heads facing each other can also be interpreted as a white vase on a black background. Optical illusions were developed by psychologists to show what tricks a human perception can do. Perhaps it would be more correct to say that psychologists showed tricks with the participation of the human mind using optical illusions. The brain, most likely, could have done without them, and in this case it would not have been mistaken, taking two human heads for a vase.

In the 1940s, the English psychologist Donald Broadbent announced the arrival of cognitive psychology in his work on selective attention. He described it as an “internal filter” and argued that out of the diversity of what is happening around people focus on important things, for example, on the results of today's football match or on the assumption when Julia Roberts dares to go out again. Psychologists call this the “cocktail party problem”: you “filter” a boring conversation about mortgage interest rates, while at the same time listening to a conversation in a nearby company about unconventional ways to use a plunger.

To solve the problem of a cocktail party, you may have to find out the essence of long confusing disputes, which until now have not led to a unified opinion on the issue, is the separation of the important from the unimportant early or late; in this case, earlier means based on physical qualities (for example, a person’s appearance), and later means based on meaning (that is, on what a person says). If you are involved in this debate (or similar, of which there are many in psychology), it is best to stick to the middle. “Doesn’t it seem to you that this depends on the situation?” The classic version of the parry that will impress any psychologist.

As you probably already understood, psychologists love to make discoveries that confirm the complete illogicality of the mind. Perhaps this is due to the desire to distract attention from more obvious, explainable phenomena. For this purpose, cognitive psychology is the best suited. The following examples will help you stand out as a specialist in this obscure art - sorry, science.

1. The effect of blindness due to change (or inattention)

This is a series of classic experiments showing that some psychologists do not always take their work very seriously. Harvard University scientists showed a group of volunteers a video of a basketball game and asked to track the ball from player to player. During the match, a woman in a gorilla costume went to the camera and hit herself in the chest. Surprisingly, only half of the subjects noticed the gorilla. According to the authors of this and similar experiments, people perceive only a small part of what they see (usually figures in the foreground), ignoring everything else. Although you can try to refute this theory by replacing the gorilla with a herd of giraffes in pink aprons.

2. The effect of cross-modal perception

Here, participants in the experiment can be made (literally) feel things using hearing and hear things using vision. One example is lip reading. If an actor makes one sound (for example, “that”), and articulates another (for example, “yes”), people hear the sound that they made on the lips. This effect is best seen in people with synesthesia. A striking example is the writer Vladimir Nabokov, who claims to see sounds and hear colors. Synaesthetics are pretty easy to recognize: they wear earplugs at the Chelsea Flower Show and sun glasses at AC / DC concerts.

3. The effect of addiction

This refers to a decrease in reaction force as a result of repeated repetition. For example, drivers "get used" to high-speed driving on the freeway, so they do not have time to slow down on the road. A special horizontal marking was created for them before leaving the road.

Addiction is used to create a sense of levitation in an unsuspecting volunteer. In fact, levitation is impossible, but the experiment itself is very funny. Ask participants to sit blindfold on the floor and press on their shoulders for five minutes. The brain will become accustomed to pressure, so when you release your hands, it will respond to the weakening of the pressure by a sense of soaring under the ceiling. Agree, this trick perfectly proves the enormous benefits of psychology.

4. Unconscious cognitive processes

Psychologists have already proved that the “unconscious” is the domain of not only psychoanalysis.
This concept is often mentioned in studies of perception and attention. The key figure in these studies is John Barge of Yale. He found that human behavior can be influenced by words shown in only fractions of a second. Messages of this kind, acting on the subconscious, can cause people to feel thirsty or hunger, affect the choice of the product and its quantity. These carefully prepared studies provided evidence for the 1970s hypothesis that human behavior can be influenced by rapidly changing frames in a television show, movie, or commercial. This is what may be the only plausible explanation for the popularity of Bay City commercials.


As evidence (and psychologists respect good discussion), there are four different types of training.

1. Classics: developing a conditioned reflex or creating connections between different experiences, or, to better remember, the sound of a bell

Everyone knows about Pavlov’s salivating dog, therefore, just mentioning the name of the famous professor, you will not become a psychologist in the eyes of the interlocutors. But if you can recall the exact details of this surrealistic experiment, you are already an expert. Even excellent graduates are stuck on this. First, Pavlov gave the bell when the dog saw and sensed food, and saliva was released from it. Then the dog's saliva began to flow as a reaction to the call, even when there was no food. The dog’s brain connected (or “associated” - long words are always better) a bell with feeding. You can easily repeat this study at home if you think that there are not enough slobbering dogs in the area.

Although it is easy to remember this experiment, it would be nice to learn some abstruse terms specially created for dusting brains. This effect is called the "classical elaboration of the conditioned reflex", or "associative memorization" - choose for yourself. Such a scheme works best: a conditioned stimulus, or UR (in our case, a bell), is more likely to act at the same moment as an unconditioned stimulus, or BR (food). BR is also defined as a congenital reflex in nature, which either gives pleasure (food, comfort, sex, comedy series with Felicity Kendall), or causes disgust (pain, discomfort, Michael Jackson).

At first, UR does not affect behavior at all (it is considered “neutral”, speaking in psychological terms), but over time it starts to produce the same effect as BR. Thanks to the reflex, people learned to salivate at the sight of a foil of chocolate and speed up a step when they notice a person with a crowbar.

The most frequently cited example of developing a conditioned reflex in humans is a study called Little Albert, conducted by John Watson in 1920. The scientist developed a fear of rats in the child, showing the animal and at the same time making a terribly loud sound. Fortunately, such controversial studies have become part of history, but they still cause genuine interest among students of psychological faculties.

2. The development of instrumental conditioned reflex using sticks and carrots, or, if you want, a carrot and stick

From the point of view of common sense, it is quite natural that people are more willing to do something if they are rewarded for it (“positive reinforcement”) or if this helps them avoid punishment (“negative reinforcement”), and it’s completely reluctant to entail punishment or loss of reward (“suppression”). But why call it common sense if you can choose a more complicated definition and devote your life to studying it in miserable rodents. The classic experiment with rats that pressed the lever to get a cracker was carried out in the Skinner’s box. Everything is fine, no one was skinning little long-tailed squeaks. Skinner is the last name of the radical behaviorist mentioned earlier, a true champion in operant learning.

Skinner believed that the behavior of animals and humans can be controlled if the right conditions are created, and used his ideas as the basis for his vision of an ideal, utopian society. It looks like Sweden, but less herring and no pine furniture. It is important to know that the feelings that Skinner's theory evokes among psychologists are quite contradictory. He either looks like an obsessed arrogant eccentric who put his own daughter in a box (fortunately, this is speculation, although the photos saved the camera with a built-in thermostat, which he invented for his daughter), or an underestimated insightful scientist whose work explains all human behavior (fortunately, this speculation too). You can adhere to both radical positions or choose your own, somewhere in the middle.

American behaviorist Edward Lee Thorndike (1874–1949) suggested that behavior changes during the gradual process of trial and error. It may take longer if you include training on using the remote control in it. The stereotypical idea that the psychologist applies electroshock to unfortunate victims during disgust therapy is quite common, but, fortunately, is rare in life. Punishment is not only clearly unpleasant, but rarely helps to achieve the desired result.

If encouragement fosters an understanding of what people need to do, punishment explains what cannot be done. It is clear that the modern criminal justice system needs to take note of this principle.

3. Vicar learning by observing others, or a fashion victim

Fortunately, people learn not only from their own experience, but also by watching others. This is called "learning by observation," or "developing a substitutional conditioned reflex." Such training is especially effective for children and adolescents: they accept the behavior and point of view of an adult who is chosen as a model - for example, one of the parents or teachers, but more often it is the rapper Ice B & Q and Eee-Zee-Crew.

4. Insight training like memorization the first time, or smart monkey

If all of these learning theories seem pretty simple to you, you're probably right. A long time ago, in 1920, the German scientist Wolfgang Kohler (1887–1967) proved that chimpanzees can be taught anything with one attempt, to solve a problem without resorting to intensive training by trial and error. After that, laboratory rats were left without work and now dream of retraining.
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