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Just a note…

February 1, 2013

Thank you for all the positive feedback you’ve been giving me! Just a few points for clarification: this blog was created a couple of years ago because my IB psych teacher requested it. It is no longer active, and I can by no means promise that anything here is correct – I just used it to keep my own personal notes. Anyways, those of you who have found your way here – best of luck with exams!! You’ll do great.


Introduction 1

June 3, 2010

Ancient Greek mythology tells the story of Icarus, the foolish son who ignored his father’s warnings and, intoxicated with curiosity and excitement, took the huge risk to fly too close to the sun with his wings. Today, we may find Icarus plummeting towards the earth in a skydiving suit. Or throwing himself off a bridge, attached to life by a bungee cord. Or white-water rafting, rock climbing or parachuting. The extreme sportsmen that we hear of today are the successors of what people have been known to do since the beginning of time: those who will go further than anyone else simply to put themselves at an exceptionally high risk. They partake in potentially life-endangering situations, seemingly ignorant of what bystanders refer to as ‘human instinct’ or any awareness of what one should avoid in order to stay alive.

At this point, it may seem appropriate to explain what today is meant by ‘extreme sports’. Although difficult to define due to the complexity and continuously changing nature of the concept, extreme sports could be defined as “any recreational activities that involve high risk, aggressive and spectacular stunts”. 1 In his book “Extreme Sports – In search of the ultimate thrill”, Joe Tomlinson defines 41 different extreme sports. Whether they be practiced in air, water or on land, they hold in common that they put the sportsman at a great risk. Furthermore, one may call it a counter-cultural concept, as the norms of the sportsmen often go against those of the social mainstream. At the risk of being too general, one could say that most people would not like to jump off and airplane, held back by the potential risks and their own fears. Yet, extreme sportsmen continue to engage themselves in their sport, and – literally – jump at the opportunity, seemingly unaware of potential consequences and completely fearless.

Plutchik (1980) defined fear as one of the human’s basic emotions. It could be defined as “a feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger”. 2 It is a basic survival mechanism, and its physiological effects can be understood through the concept of sympathetic nervous responses; the ‘fight-or-flight’-response as first described by Walter Cannon (1929). But where fear may act as an inhibitor from, for instance, participating in extreme sports, it may be that it encourages other individuals to become engaged. Marvin Zuckerman explained this in terms of ‘sensation seeking’, a personality trait of people who seek sensory pleasure and excitement and novel experiences, and may have poor risk assessment, high boredom susceptibility, and may get involved in dangerous situations. However, even those individuals who seem able to take on a risky thrill of any size reach a point where fear ultimately becomes the limiting factor.

Therefore, this essay intends to deal with the following research question: To what extent does fear encourage participation in extreme sports?






June 1, 2010

Explain the use of technology in investigating cognitive processes.

May 31, 2010

PET (positron emission tomography)

  • Functions of the brain
  • Detecting brain tumours, Alzheimers

–> Mosconi (2005)

  • Longitudinal study (9-24 years)
  • Found that early signs of reduced metabolism in hippocampus à Alzheimers

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

  • Detects brain activity (oxygen use)

–> Kilts (Atlanta’s Emory University, 2003)

  • Volunteers rated attractiveness consumer goods while in MRI scan
  • To understand what happens in consumers’ heads when they make decisions about brands
  • Can use knowledge from neuromarketing to test efficiency of marketing campaigns and brands

Evaluate the extent to which one cognitive process is reliable.

May 31, 2010


Evaluate the extent to which a cognitive process is reliable


  • Memory is reconstructive
  • Serial reproductions

–> Bartlett (1932)

The War of the Ghosts

  • Participants read story and were asked to reproduce it after 15 min
  • Shorter
  • Remained coherent
  • More conventional (retained only information that could be assimilated to past experience and cultural background)
  • Eyewitness testimony

–> Loftus and Palmer (1974)

  • Suggest that leading questions facilitate schema processing, influencing accuracy of recall
  • 45 students saw films of traffic accidents and were asked to estimate speed of car
  • Changed wording of questions: About how fast were the cars going when they (hit/smashed/collided/bumped/contacted) each other?
  • Mean speed affected by word used

Explain how social or cultural factors affect one cognitive process.

May 31, 2010


  • Cognitive processes do not follow universal laws
  • Different cultures do not have same memory strategies
  • People learn to remember in ways that are relevant for their everyday lives

–> Cole and Scribner (1974)

  • US vs. people of rural Liberia
  • Differences between strategies of literate/illiterate children
  • Illiterate did not use e.g. chunking but did remember better when objects were presented as part of a story (a narrative)

Explain how biological factors may influence one cognitive process.

May 31, 2010

Kandel: learning=formation of memory=growing connections between neurons to form neural networks

– Lesioning: performing task, then cutting away brain tissue, repeat task

– Case studies

Clive Wearing

  • Suffered anterograde and retrograde amnesia as a result of brain infections, affecting parts of brain concerned with memory
  • Implicit memory not affected (procedural/emotional)
  • Lost explicit memory (semantic/episodic)
  • Evidence for distributed memory system

HM (Milner 1957)

  • To cure epileptic seizures, tissue from temporal lobe and hippocampus was removed
  • Could recall early life memories, but could not form new ones (anterograde amnesia)