Attributes of Attraction

When my friend Dominique first introduced me to Ocin, I was immediately intrigued. She told me, “He’s Argentine and really cute, you’d like him”. The first time I spoke to him I thought he was super charming and funny. Not only did he immediately strike me as charismatic and engaging, I was also caught off guard by our mutual interests, background, and personality. We have a similar sense of humor, we’re both Argentine, we both speak Spanish, and we both like soccer. I found we could talk to each other for hours easily and were almost immediately comfortable with each other. My sense of liking for him is very similar to what a Social Psychologist would say leads to liking. We both see each other pretty often which would confirm the mere exposure effect, the effect that describes how the more exposure we have to a stimulus, the more we are apt to like it. Also, the real “fuel” for liking is our similarities. Our families have a similar experience because we both come from immigrant Argentine families. Since we both have mutual friends, I see him quite often, confirming the notion that the more we see and interact with people, the more likely they are to become our friends. One of the most important aspects of attraction is physical attractiveness. I find Ocin incredibly attractive. He has dark brown hair, tan skin, and he plays soccer, meaning he has an athletic build. We both have a very strong mutual attraction. If I had to choose what our relationship would be using Sternberg’s Triangle Theory, I would say it is more of an infatuation because our relationship is very passionate, but we do not know each other very well. I am hoping to get closer to him as I am starting to think I like him as more than friends, but I’m still trying to figure out my feelings.

Ed Sheeran’s Consummate Love

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Ed Sheeran’s song “Thinking Out Loud” provides an example of Sternberg’s Triangle of Love. His song presents Consummate love, “The ideal form of love” which is a combination of passion, intimacy, and commitment. His lyric “And darling I will be loving you ’til we’re 70” and “baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23” expresses his commitment for the woman he is in love with. When he sings “Take me into your loving arms, Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars, Place your head on my beating heart” he expresses deep passion and lust for the woman he is referring to. He expresses an intense longing for her and wishes to be closer to her. He also expresses the third component of Sternberg’s theory which is intimacy and it is defined by connectedness or “liking”. He expresses his feelings of intimacy towards the woman he likes when he sings, “I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways, Maybe it’s all part of a plan, I’ll just keep on making the same mistakes, Hoping that you’ll understand”. Also, he expresses his liking of the woman he is referring to when he sings, “I’m thinking out loud, That maybe we found love right where we are” and “Oh me I fall in love with you every single day, And I just wanna tell you I am.” It is evident that Ed Sheeran is deeply in love with this woman and wishes to spend the rest of his life with her. It combines the trust of commitment, with the fun and lust of passion, and the closeness of being intimate. This kind of love is what people usually refer to when they think of “true love” and it’s the kind of love where you feel happy and satisfied with no matter how many years go by.

Prisoner’s Dilemma and Divorce

Growing up, I never realized my experiences were basically social psychological phenomena. Once I took Social Psychology, I realized my parents’ divorce was the Prisoner’s Dilemma redesigned. My parents were rarely able to have an amicable conversation leading up to their divorce, and their conversations would usually end up in screaming matches. They hired the most aggressive lawyers in an attempt to make sure the other parent did not gain more from the split. Both wanted a fair divorce but they both wouldn’t cooperate out of fear that the other would act more selfishly. This situation is similar to the Prisoner’s Dilemma it entails two individuals acting in their own self-interest and leads to both parties receiving unfavorable results. If my parents had simply cooperated, they would have avoided years of conflict, stress, and loss of money. Because they did not cooperate, there is even more bitter resentment towards each other as a result because they both came out of the divorce with unfavorable results. If I had known about the Prisoner’s Dilemma when my parents were going through the divorce I could have encouraged them to engage with each other more amicably and helped convince them that it would be better for them in the long run. Learning about the Prisoner’s Dilemma has also helped me in my personal life because if a similar situation ever happens to me whether it’s a divorce, dealing with a stubborn friend, or a business deal, I will be better equipped to deal with the situation in a way that ensures that I act unselfishly without losing in the process. A way to help deal with Prisoner Dilemma situations is by using the tit-for-tat strategy and show a willingness to cooperate with the other person without letting them exploit me when they decide to act selfishly.

Social Facilitation: When It’s Helpful and When It’s Not

I’ve played the piano for several years and I’ve always had trouble playing in front of a large crowd. Whenever a recital approached, I dreaded that day for weeks. A couple of years ago, social facilitation came into play while I was performing. I had to play two songs and one of them I had practiced much more than the other and I felt very confident with it. The second one was a harder piece and I felt like I could have had a couple more weeks of practice to perfect it. When the time came to play the two songs in front of 150 people, I played the first song perfectly. Unfortunately, the second song didn’t go so well. I peeked at the audience and suddenly became aware of the hundreds of eyes on me. I blanked halfway through the song and could not finish it. Both songs are examples of how social facilitation can help your performance and also impede it. In the case of the first song, playing the song was an easy, well-learned task and I felt very prepared to play it. The mere presence of others, therefore, improved my performance. In the case of the second song, playing the song was more difficult because I did not have enough time to practice it. The mere presence of others, therefore, had the opposite effect and hindered my performance. If I had known about the phenomenon of social facilitation I probably would’ve spent more time on the second song or just scrapped it all together and focused solely on the first one. In the future, I will take into account social facilitation when I am making the decision of how well I want to do on a task and the people that will be around me as I am completing it.

Cognitive Dissonance as a Result of Smoking

I’ve smoked cigarettes and e-cigarettes since high school and I have had cognitive dissonance about it from the moment I’ve started. My parents are both smokers and they have drilled into my mind that I should never smoke too. When I started smoking, it went against everything that I was told. The inconsistency between my thoughts and my behavior is what made it most difficult for me to deal with. As I got more and more addicted, the cognitive dissonance increased. I knew that the action I was doing was bad, but at that point, it was hard to quit. Throughout high school, I would go back and forth between the different ways to reduce dissonance. At times, I would attempt to reduce dissonance by quitting for a few weeks and then start smoking again. I would also attempt to reduce dissonance by adding consonant cognitions and telling myself that smoking isn’t so bad and it helps with my anxiety. This would work for a bit of time and then I would feel cognitive dissonance again because I truly know smoking is not good for me. I would also reduce dissonance for a short period of time by attempting to change the dissonant cognition and try to convince myself that smoking isn’t so bad for me. This thought process was not rational- it was rationalizing my bad behavior. After smoking again, I would usually feel post-decision dissonance and question whether I should have lit another cigarette. I reduced this by enhancing the chosen alternative of smoking. I finally quit when I went to Tufts by simply leaving quitting cold turkey and leaving everything behind, which is the best choice I could have made. Now I don’t experience cognitive dissonance because my behavior and my attitudes do not conflict and my self-esteem has improved as a result.

Conformity in Academics

My first mistake in college of submitting to conformity had nothing to do with alcohol or drugs.  I was completing my biology problem set and I was so sure all my answers were right. I had studied countless hours and went through every problem carefully. Since we’re allowed to check our answers with our classmates, I met with some friends from my Bio13 class and we went through the answers together. Of course, since everyone had different answers than I did, I suddenly questioned my knowledge and changed a few answers to match theirs. I did not lack confidence in my studying. I saw my friends as a valuable source of information since they all had the same answers. Because the task was highly important to me as it has a large effect on my grade, informational social influence had a much stronger effect on me. If the task were ungraded, I most likely would have stuck to my original answers. Once I submitted the problem set, I saw that I received a 70% and when I went back to check my answers, I saw that my original responses were actually correct. Also, the fact that it was my first problem set ever for Bio13 made me more susceptible to informational social influence because the situation was more ambiguous; I was more unsure of myself which made me vulnerable. I also had a false idea that since Tufts students are really smart that they must be right and I must be wrong. This made me even more receptive to informational social influence because I blindly followed their lead in choosing the wrong answers. If I was aware of the powerful effects of informational social influence, I most likely would have questioned their answers further before choosing to change my own to match theirs. Now that I know its effects, next time I will trust my answers first and debate with my classmates over the right answer.

Social Comparison Theory and Mindsets in Everyday Life

On my first biology test in college, I received a 76%. I wasn’t sure what I did wrong, but all I knew was that I did worse than everyone else. I utilized upward social comparison to compare myself with people that did better than me on the test. Although this made me feel inferior, it helped me to reach my goal of excellence because I challenged myself and spent more hours in the library studying for the next test. I was able to keep going and not bring myself down too much because I have a growth mindset, instead of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset is when you believe that you can achieve success through the advice of others, hard work, and trying new strategies when something doesn’t work. As a result of my first test grade, I went to more biology office hours, I studied more in the library, and I sought study advice from friends who had done well on the first biology test. If I had a fixed mindset, I would be more likely to give up when obstacles come my way and less likely to work harder after failing once. If I believe and tell myself I have what it takes, I know I can do better on succeeding tests. Learning about mindsets and motivation in my social psychology class is incredibly useful for my success in other classes because I perceive better my own abilities. I realize that after setbacks, the right approach is to improve my strategies for studying and not just believe that I”m not smart enough. After I received my first grade on my biology test I was upset, but after reading about mindsets in social psychology, it made me more aware of my own growth mindset and it was easier for me to bounce back from that disappointment.

Counterfactual Thinking: An Endless Mind Game

The night before my first test in Biology13, I dreamt about chemical bonds. After I took my biology test last Thursday, I could not stop going over the questions in my mind. I asked all my friends to compare answers and I was so sure I had done well. Fantastic! “I aced my first college biology test”, I thought. On Saturday, I received the email from canvas and I opened it hurriedly. To my dismay, the grade read “76%”. I immediately started crying and I scrambled through the test packet, checking over my answers with the answer key. I asked myself “What if I had done this instead?” or ”if only I studied an extra day for the exam”. I was employing counterfactual thinking by torturing myself by replaying the event of the exam in my mind, imagining what the difference would have been if I had studied some other way or maybe checked over my answers a fourth time. I kept thinking “if only I had gotten one less wrong, I would’ve gotten an 80”. This counterfactual thinking took a toll on me and I talked to my friend about it. She told me that it’s just the first test and to quit worrying. Because counterfactual thinking is conscious, it takes up so much of our mental energy and we obsess over it. Although it is a conscious process, it is not voluntary. It takes mental energy to also stop engaging in this. I wish I had been aware of counterfactual thinking in the past because, in high school, I used to obsess over grades that were not on par with my standards. I used to obsess over a B+ and think “what if” or “if only”. Although counterfactual thinking was harmful if I constantly worried about a test for days, it did come in handy at times because I would come up with different ways to study if I had done badly on a test the first time.

The Self-Destructive, Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

All my life I’ve been shy. I always thought my shyness is just a defect of my personality, something that I can never break out of or change. This past weekend, I realized the mistake I have been making my entire life. I was in my friend’s dorm and her roommate invited over a bunch of people. As soon as people walked in, I immediately kept to a corner and didn’t really engage much with the people that walked in. As everyone was conversing, I kept thinking thoughts such as, “No one would want to talk to me, I’m so boring” or “I’m not charismatic as Becca, so I just shouldn’t contribute to the conversation”. I barely spoke to anyone because of these feelings of low self-esteem and later on, my friend asked me why I was so quiet. I realized what my mistake was when reviewing the self-fulfilling prophecy for Social Psychology. I am in a constant loop of a self-destructive self-fulfilling prophecy.  I blame myself for my “failure” in social situations and I internalize this.  Because I have these detrimental thoughts about my own behavior, I look even more unapproachable to people as I just keep quiet, which in turn furthers my expectations about my own behavior. I always feel like there has to be something wrong with me and that’s why people don’t want to talk to me, so I just keep to my own corner and seem very disengaged. If I was aware of the self-fulfilling prophecy I was putting onto myself, I would have forced myself to engage in conversation even if I seemed a bit awkward because it’s better than just sitting there in silence in a corner. My learning of this concept will most likely help me get out of my shell in future social situations and also will help me to not judge others who may be feeling the same way that I was.

To Help Or Not To Help? That is the Question

Friday night I went out with my friends to a party off-campus. I arrived at the party with two other girls and a male friend. A few hours later the party started to die down and as my friends and I were preparing to leave, I noticed one of my girlfriends was nowhere to be found. I’ve been debriefed countless times about the dangers of college parties so I began to worry. I called, texted her, and even went back into the house to look for her to no avail. 20 minutes later she called me and told me was in the upstairs bathroom and needed help going back to campus. This experience made me realize I was utilizing the 5 steps to helping in my quest to make sure my friend was okay, but there were some difficulties along the way. The first step to helping is noticing what is going on. As soon as the party died down and I noticed my friend was missing, that’s when I knew something was wrong, which leads us to the next step in helping: interpreting the event as an emergency (step 2). When she was clearly intoxicated and in need of help in the bathroom, I assumed responsibility (step 3) because others did not help her, maybe due to a large number of people present in the house (diffusion of responsibility). I knew the appropriate form of assistance (step 4) was to help her up, walk her back to her dorm, and provide her with water and food. This could arise issues because many people have not had the experience to know what to do in that situation, which would result in a break in the model, leading to a lack of intervention. I was able to implement this decision (step 5) because intervening did not pose a physical danger to me and the costs of helping her did not outweigh the benefits. If others were aware of the diffusion of responsibility and the 5 steps to helping, they might have been able to also offer her assistance.