A dream about psychology
In the fascinating course "Scientific approaches to consciousness" taught by Professor John Kihlstrom at the University of California in Berkeley, students get an assignment to read David Lodge's novel "Thinks...". The events of the novel take place at a fictional university in the UK. At some point the author describes the building of the Centre for Cognitive Science with a large mural illustrative of various well-known theories and thought experiments in cognitive science, psychology and the philosophy of mind. That's where the idea for this drawing came from. Three elements were taken from Lodge's novel: Mary the colorblind scientist, the bat, and the zombie.
Below you'll find descriptions of the 33 elements of the drawing.
1. Butterfly: the Rorschach inkblot test, a type of projective assessment of personality and emotional functioning. Read more
2. Monkey: Harlow's monkey with a cloth 'mother'. For this experiment, Harlow presented the infant macaques with a cloth mother and a wire mother under two conditions. In one situation, the wire mother held a bottle with food and the cloth mother held no food, and in the other, the cloth mother held the bottle and the wire mother had nothing. Overwhelmingly, the infants preferred spending their time clinging to the cloth mother. Even when only the wire mother could provide nourishment, the monkeys visited her only to feed. Harlow concluded that there was much more to the mother/infant relationship than milk and that this “contact comfort” was essential to the psychological development and health of infant monkeys and children. See more
3. Vase: the most famous example of figure-ground perception. See more Also a symbol for Gestalt psychology
4. Curve at the background: the normal (or Gaussian) distribution, a very commonly occurring continuous probability distribution. The parameter sigma is its standard deviation. Read more
5. Black swan: the idea of falsifiability. By the problem of induction, no number of confirming observations can verify a universal generalization, such as All swans are white, yet it is logically possible to falsify it by observing a single black swan. Karl Popper stresses the problem of demarcation-distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific-and makes falsifiability the demarcation criterion, such that what is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience. Read more
6. Couch: the Freudian Couch, symbolically sliding down the hill next to the "falsifiability swan". Popper argued that Freud's theory of the unconscious was not falsifiable, and therefore not scientific.
7. Baby and the rat: Watson's (unethical) "Little Albert Experiment", a case study showing empirical evidence of classical conditioning in humans. Read more
8. WALDEN 2 sign: "Walden Two" is a utopian novel written by behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner, first published in 1948. Read more
9. Woman and the rose: "Mary, the Color-Blind Scientist" thought experiment proposed by Frank Jackson in his article "Epiphenomenal Qualia" (1982) and extended in "What Mary Didn't Know" (1986). The argument is intended to motivate what is often called the "Knowledge Argument" against physicalism - the view that the universe, including all that is mental, is entirely physical. In this though experiment, Mary is a brilliant scientist who knows everything about color but has been living in a black and white room all her life. What will happen when Mary is released from the room? Will she learn anything or not? Read more
10. DNA double helix. Read more
11. Zombie: a philosophical zombie or p-zombie in the philosophy of mind and perception is a hypothetical being that is indistinguishable from a normal human being except in that it lacks conscious experience, qualia, or sentience. Read more
12. Neurons: the 3 types of neurons: sensory neurons, interneuron and motoneurons. Read more
13. Brain in the vat: an element used in a variety of philosophical thought experiments. The simplest use of brain-in-a-vat scenarios runs as follows: Since the brain in a vat gives and receives exactly the same impulses as it would if it were in a skull, and since these are its only way of interacting with its environment, then it is not possible to tell, from the perspective of that brain, whether it is in a skull or a vat. Read more
14. EEG and MRI: brain imaging techniques.
15. Plate with marshmallows: refers to a series of studies on delayed gratification. The follow-up study that took place many years later demonstrated an unexpected correlation between the results of the marshmallow test and the success of the children many years later. Read more See more
16. Dies: the idea of randomness.
17. Placebo pills. See more
18. Checkerboard: the checker shadow illusion. The optical illusion is that the area of the image labeled A appears to be a darker color than the area of the image labeled B. However, they are actually exactly the same color. Read more
19. Prison cell with the guard: Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment. Read more
20. Maze and the rat: maze studies are used to study spatial learning and memory. Read more
21. Integrated circuit: artificial intelligence. Read more
22. Hand pressing the "shock" button: the Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures. A series of social psychology experiments were conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. Read more
23. Hand pressing the "free will" button and the watch: Libet's experiment. In the 1980s, Benjamin Libet, a neuropsychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, rigged up study participants to an EEG and asked them to watch a clock face with a dot sweeping around it. When the participants felt the urge to move a finger, they had to note the dot's position. Libet recorded brain activity several hundred milliseconds before people expressed their conscious intention to move. This experimental result ignited a heated "free will" debate, which has lasted another three decades so far and shows every sign of heating up still further. Read more
24. Bat: refers to Thomas Nagel's article "What is it Like to Be a Bat?" (1974). Nagel is widely known within the field of philosophy of mind as an advocate of the idea that consciousness and subjective experience cannot, at least with the contemporary understanding of physicalism, be satisfactorily explained using the current concepts of physics. Read more
25. "I think" and the tree branches: the page from Darwin's notebooks around July 1837 showing his first sketch of an evolutionary tree. Read more
26. Spider web: a "small world network". Small-world properties are found in many real-world phenomena, including road maps, food chains, metabolite processing networks, networks of brain neurons, and social influence networks. Read more
27. Pyramid: Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Read more
28. OCEAN: the Big Five personality traits, the five broad domains or dimensions of personality that are used to describe human personality: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Read more
29. Man and the woman: hypnosis. Read more
30. Colored words: the Stroop effect. In psychology, the Stroop effect is a demonstration of interference in the reaction time of a task. When the name of a color (e.g., "blue," "green," or "red") is printed in a color not denoted by the name (e.g., the word "red" printed in blue ink instead of red ink), naming the color of the word takes longer and is more prone to errors than when the color of the ink matches the name of the color. Read more
31. Monochromatic and colored rectangles: the study by Kossylin et al in Am J Psychiatry 2000, titled "Hypnotic Visual Illusion Alters Color Processing in the Brain". Among highly hypnotizable subjects, observed changes in subjective experience achieved during hypnosis were reflected by changes in brain function similar to those that occur in perception. In other words, "believing is seeing". Read more
32. Fox and the grapes: a classic illustration of cognitive dissonance is expressed in the fable "The Fox and the Grapes" by Aesop (ca. 620-564 BCE). In the story, a fox sees some high-hanging grapes and wishes to eat them. When the fox is unable to think of a way to reach them, he decides that the grapes are probably not worth eating, with the justification the grapes probably are not ripe or that they are sour (hence the common phrase "sour grapes"). This example follows a pattern: one desires something, finds it unattainable, and reduces one's dissonance by criticizing it. Jon Elster calls this pattern "adaptive preference formation". Rationalization (making excuses) is often involved in reducing anxiety about conflicting cognitions, according to cognitive dissonance theory. Read more
33. Man looking in the mirror: The mirror test, an experiment developed in 1970 by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. to determine whether an animal possesses the ability to recognize itself in a mirror. It is the primary indicator of self-awareness in non-human animals and marks entrance to the mirror stage by human children in developmental psychology. Read more
Additionally, this element is a reference to the movie "Fight club"