Reflection Paper on Introduction to Psychology

Introduction to psychology course has been one of the most enlightening courses during the semester. The course highlighted the most interesting experiments that exist in the field of psychology. We explored the brain and other cognitive abilities that it supports such as consciousness, attention, perception and learning. We also examined the development of human beings as they grow up as well as the manner in which other people’s behaviors affect our behavior and thoughts. In addition, we looked at some forms of mental conditions such as stress and treatments that can be used to help individuals suffering from them. This paper describes how the psychological principles learnt throughout this course apply to my life, my relationships and my life in the society.

Personal Impacts

Taking this course has given me the chance to understand myself better. The topic of personality enlightened me on the uniqueness of every individual. According to the idiographic view, I learnt that my psychological structure is unique and that am the only person who possess certain traits. After learning the idiographic view, I understood that I don’t have to compare myself with other people because of the uniqueness in every person. However, since some traits have the same meaning, as pointed out by the nomothetic view, there are times when I can compare myself with others and learn to improve my personality. Different personality theories made me understand myself better. For instance, according to the psychodynamic theory by Sigmund Freud, my personality is as a result of parental influences and nature (innate influences).

The course has enabled me to understand my thoughts, feelings and behaviors. My thoughts are always short-lived. This course made me understand that thoughts are meant to be that way, in contrast to the continuous events like the constant murmurs of rain. Thoughts underlie many interactions and human actions and are fundamental to every human being. I also realized that my behaviors result from the environment I find myself in, which includes organisms or systems that surround me, as well as the physical environment (Glenn, Franklin and Nock, 2015). I have to respond to those organisms or systems in a subconscious or conscious manner, involuntary or voluntary way or in covert or overt ways.

There are personal areas that I could not completely understand and I still struggle with them. For instance, although thoughts are ideas resulting from thinking, the course did not clarify how those thoughts are created (Schleider and Weisz, 2016). Thinking allows me to interpret things and make sense from them, but how does it happen? This remains unclear. The other personal area that I still struggle to understand even after going through the whole course is the difference between feelings and emotions. According to Feldman (2015), emotions are responses that occur in certain regions within the brain. The responses create reactions that alter the physical state of our bodies. I learnt that some psychologists equate feelings to affections (unpleasant or pleasant states). The explanations provided in the course did not clearly differentiate between the two, and this remains to be my struggle areas.

Social Impact of the Course

Different topics in the course enabled me to better understand how relationships between people occur. The topic of neuroscience and behavior helped me understand the role that memory plays in the creation of a significant relationship. When people around us behave in a certain manner, what we observe is saved in our memories so that whenever we come across them, we automatically tell what kind of people they are. For instance, I learnt that the good relationship between me and my parents developed because of the good things they always did for me when I was young. Through nondeclarative memory system, I went through associative learning or classical conditioning so that I finally came to regard them as the best people around me.

            Human development topic taught me various lessons on how relationships come about when human beings develop. In this topic, Erikson’s model of psychosocial development explained eight stages of development. In each stage, an individual establishes a relationship with a particular group of people. In my case, I learnt that my relationship with my mother formed in the first stage, that is, ‘Trust v Mistrust’ stage (Feldman, 2015). During this stage, a relationship resulted from the comfort my parent offered throughout. The topic of neuroscience and behavior also helped me understand some of my traits. In the environment I was brought up in, I unconsciously picked up the positive traits and made them part of what I believe in.

            The state of consciousness topic also made me understand more about social relationships. Consciousness refers to the sensations that people have externally or internally. People are conscious of what they experience in the environment. For the society to develop certain behaviors that are considered ethical, consciousness plays a big role (Glenn, Franklin and Nock, 2015). The relationship I have with my parents was founded on the fact that we share certain traits. I also learnt that consciousness is not static and sometimes people experience things that are outside their awareness. For instance, relationships cannot be created when people fall asleep because at that time they dream and experience feelings, thoughts and unconscious desires. Feldman (2015) makes it clear that human beings interact more when they are in the conscious states.

Organizational and Societal Impacts

Introduction to Psychology course has enabled me to understand the society and the world around me in a broad way. In the neuroscience and behavior topic, I learnt that the world is composed of individuals who have various types of memories, some of which make them behave the way they do. I came to understand that, when people interact in organizations (such as schools, churches and workplaces), they are involved in events that form their declarative memory system. This is a memory system with a conscious component. The implicit memory consist of memory types that lack conscious. The implicit memory types are the most important because they form a foundation of why people in different organizations behave the way they do. Skills and habits (like piano playing or performing certain tasks in the workplace) form memories in the implicit/nondeclarative memory systems (Rösler, 2012).

I learnt that groups of people are not born with religious differences, racism, homophobia, sexism, class issues, cultures or even unique ways of life. My culture is as a result of what I learnt what I have been learning from the people around. According to Feldman (2015), people follow the positive traits they observe from other people. The topic of ‘Thinking’ made me understand that racism issues in most nations result from societal thoughts, that is, every society differs from the others. The racists perceive other people as being less, and they see themselves as superior. People have grown in a community that thinks people of color are less superior to white people. From this course, I learnt that they finally believe it’s true because the environment made them to think that way.

Emotion refers to the indefinite subjective sensation that people experience when aroused. In this class, I learnt that emotion differs from motivation by the fact that there are no goals necessarily affiliated to it. The topic of motivation and emotions made me understand why people behave the way they do in workplaces and in other organizations. Emotions result from interaction between how environmental stimuli is perceived and the cognitive categorization of feelings. In organizations, motivation makes people to act in a certain manner. This may range from taking water to quench thirst to reading books to have some knowledge. Without motivation, certain behaviors that are goal-oriented would not be initiated or maintained (van de Ven, 2016).

Lasting Impact

            The topic that mostly affected me was the one on states of consciousness. This was one of the most interesting and yet disturbing topic. I learnt that dreams give people the chance to express the unconscious wishes that are unacceptable in real life. The part that I found interesting is the fact that dreams may be used to solve the daily problems that people go through. For instance, one can rehearse the expected scenarios in dreams if he/she expects an interview on the following day. Even though the topic was interesting, I found the function of dreams to be much a mystery.

            I found the topic of human development to be one that has applied most in my life. The course helped me understand all the stages I went through while growing up. I have come to understand every emotion and characteristic that was present in every stage. Erik Erikson came up with eight stages of development. He believed that personality and behaviors of an individual are shaped by the social environment they grow in. He believed that ‘ego’ was the most significant personality portion. After learning the contents of this topic, I am able to explain an individual’s behaviors and personality by knowing their stage of development (Feldman, 2015).

            Everything I learnt in this course relates to my career aspirations. The course highlighted the most interesting subjects in the field of psychology. It also discussed the implications of those subjects in the endeavors to understand the mind and behavior of human beings. As I advance in my career, I will deal more with human beings. This requires that I understand them in order to find amicable solutions to their psychological problems. Apart from the many lessons the course offers on the human mind, personality and behaviors, introduction to psychology course teaches students the most important basics of their careers. Topics such as research methods, Thinking, language, and intelligence as well as health psychology prepare students for further learning.

            In conclusion, it is a fact that human beings routinely do things that are amazing without appreciating how interesting they are. In the same way, we are also influenced by events and people without being aware of such influences. Introduction to psychology course has taught me an understanding of who I am and how I work. This course has prepared me for more that I am expected to engage in during my lifetime career.

References

Feldman, R. (2015). Essentials of understanding psychology (11st ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Glenn, C. R., Franklin, J. C., & Nock, M. K. (2015). Evidence-Based Psychosocial Treatments for Self-Injurious Thoughts and Behaviors in Youth. Journal Of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 44(1), 1-29. doi:10.1080/15374416.2014.945211

Rösler, F. (2012). Some unsettled problems in behavioral neuroscience research. Psychological Research, 76(2), 131-144. doi: 10.1007/s00426-011-0408-6

Schleider, J. L., & Weisz, J. R. (2016). Mental Health and Implicit Theories of Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior in Early Adolescents: Are Girls at Greater Risk? Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 35(2), 130-151. doi:10.1521/jscp.2016.35.2.130

van de Ven, N. (2016). Envy and admiration: emotion and motivation following upward social comparison. Cognition & Emotion, 31(1), 193-200. doi:10.1080/02699931.2015.1087972

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