How to Cram for a Test Without Going Crazy

Do you have a test coming up you should have been studying for weeks ago? Don’t worry; you’re not alone, and all hope is not lost. In fact, there are a ton of effective methods you can use to learn all the material you need for your test: even if you’re a little late to the game. If you’re ready to learn how to cram for a test the right way and achieve the results you need to succeed, keep reading! Below, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the how, why, and where to study for your next test.

Where to Cram


Woman cramming for her test at the library

Image via Pexels

If you want to learn how to cram for a test, you must start with the basics. No, we’re not talking about the material you’re learning; we’re talking about the environment you’re in. If you need to cram for a test, do it in a space that isn’t crowded or messy. If you try to study in a place that’s unorganized, it can make you lose focus and the much-needed motivation to succeed. We already know what you’re thinking; if you’re worried about spending more time cleaning than studying, that’s a sign you need to change your environment completely.

The library is a great place to cram because it’s quiet and orderly—two qualities of an ideal environment for learning and retaining information. Avoid as many distractions as you can, and if that means getting out of the house, do it! Some of our other favorite places to cram include the following:

  • Coffee shops

  • Bookstores

  • Parks

  • A friend’s house

How to Cram for a Test


Now that you know where to cram, you can finally learn how to cram for a test the right way. There are a lot of tips out there, but we’ve selected the method that actually works. Follow the steps below to ensure success on your next test or exam!

Step One: Turn Off Distractions


We already stressed the importance of an environment conducive to cramming for a test, but we didn’t talk about what you are using in that environment. If you have your phone with you, we suggest turning it on silent and putting it away. The same goes for your computer or laptop. Close any outside communication applications and remove temptations from your study site. You want to be able to completely focus on the task at hand and not waste valuable study time trying to remember where you left off after you’ve been distracted.

Step Two: Time Yourself


This step may come as a shock to you, but you should set up a timer. When studying, you shouldn’t push yourself past your limit. For most people, the limit will be around the six-hour mark. Our general rule of thumb is to give yourself a break at least once every hour. Each of your breaks should last for at least 10 minutes at a time to ensure you are refreshed and ready to get back into it. If you need some suggestions on what to do on your breaks, we recommend the following:

  • Taking a walk

  • Drinking a glass of water

  • Eating a healthy snack

  • Do some yoga

  • Sing a song or dance to one

  • Play with a pet

  • Deep breathing exercises

  • Meditation

Step Three: Focus, Rewrite, and Highlight


One of the best things you can do when learning how to cram for a test is to re-read everything and highlight the key ideas. After you’ve picked out the key details of the topic, you can focus on rewriting everything into a notebook.

It may seem like an unnecessary task considering you have the information highlighted right there in front of you; however, writing things down is one of the best ways to commit it to memory. Some people will rewrite these key details as many as seven times in a row to ensure retention of the material. Reading each of the sentences out loud as you write them can also be helpful in memorizing the material. Many people find a combination of speaking and writing the key to cramming a lot of information in a little time.

Step Four: Eat Well


You may have heard of the term “brain food.” Well, when you are learning how to cram for a test and put those actions into motion, your brain will need a lot of fuel. When you’re using your brain, your body is also working and can greatly benefit from the nutrients found in healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. It is also imperative you stay hydrated if you want to retain as much information as you can without getting a dehydration-related headache. Don’t neglect your body; it can be an essential element in helping you succeed on the day of the test.

Step Five: Rest


Regarding your physical health, another important factor is getting an adequate amount of sleep. Sleep is an important aspect of health, and as we learned above, your physical health can make or break your ability to succeed on the day of the test. Go to bed as early as you can and wake up with enough time to have a balanced breakfast. All you can do now is look at our additional tips below and sharpen that number-two pencil!

Additional Cramming Tips


Girl is studying and writing notes for the exam

Image via Pexels

You now have the step-by-step instructions on how to cram for a test. If you’re looking for a little more guidance to get you started, keep reading. Below, you will find a list of additional cramming tips to help you ace your test or exam.

Make Your Own Study Guide

One of the most helpful tips we received from previous graduates was to make your own study guide. Many teachers and professors will provide study guides for the test, and many students spend time on questions they already know the answers to. If you want to get the most out of your cramming session, make your own study guide and highlight the aspects you find most challenging.

If you don’t have a lot of time, you can also use this method to narrow down the topics or ideas you think will be covered on the test. Although you won’t learn all the material this way, it’s a great way to save time and double down on your efforts, especially if you have a lot of material to learn.

Make a Song

Did you know there’s a reason you can remember the lyrics to your favorite song easier than you can the elements on the periodic table? Putting things to music is a learning device that many people find surprisingly effective. If you’re a fan of music, try putting vocabulary words and ideas into your favorite song. You can also use common jingles like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star if you want to keep it easy.

Cram With a Friend

For some people, studying with a friend is the most effective method to cram in a lot of information. If you thrive on competition or the help of another when studying, phone up a friend and ask if they’ll help you cram. Studying with a friend allows you to quiz one another and makes learning that much more interactive and fun which, in the long run, helps you retain the information that much easier. It’s true; learning really can be fun in the right environments and under the right circumstances.

Set a Goal

If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to learn how to cram for a test, set a goal! A ton of people thrive when they set goals for themselves, and you might too! Promise to treat yourself if you reach your goal. The reward can be something as trivial as an ice cream cone. Think of what would motivate you and use that as leverage against yourself to study for one more hour, or two, or even five. Maybe each 10-minute break means one more M&M or a quick round of cards with your roommates. Whatever keeps you going, go for it!

Make Flashcards

Flashcards are considered a traditional studying method for a reason—they work! One side either asks a question or states a vocabulary term, and the other side answers the question or defines the vocabulary term. Flashcards are highly effective and they don’t take a ton of time to make. There are a plethora of websites and apps that allow you to make your own digital flashcards for free.

Conclusion


There are few things in the world as stressful as cramming for a test, especially when it’s a test you forgot about. Luckily, there are methods and tips, like the ones we reviewed above, to ensure you still ace your test without the long-term preparation. Now that you know how to cram for a test without going crazy, you can breathe a sigh of relief. As long as you remember to take care of your body and your mind, you’ll have no trouble coming out on top of your next test or exam. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a pencil and a notebook and start cramming!

Featured Image: Photo by Louis Bauer from Pexels

AP Psychology Study Resource: About Somatosensory Cortex

Have you ever stopped to think about how we all feel or experience certain things in the same way as others?

How do you know the color you perceive as being “red” is the same “red” as the person next to you?

What if their red is your green?

While we can’t answer these mind-boggling questions completely, we can explore the brain’s role in processing external stimuli, like colors, textures, sounds, and so on.

This is where your samatosensory cortex (sometimes referred to as the somatosensory cortex, instead) comes into play.

Responsible for processing external stimuli (or sensations), it plays an integral role in our day-to-day lives.

Below, we will explore this cortex in more detail, including how it works and what role it potentially plays in prosocial behavior.

The Location of the Somatosensory Cortex

Before we dive into the important role of the samatosensory cortex, it’s important to understand where it is in your brain and how it contributes toward your brain’s overall anatomy.

It goes without saying that your brain is the central hub of your body. And in order to provide so many different functions, it is a complex structure.

Made up of two sides (or lobes), your brain can be divided into the left- and right-hand side, both of which are connected by the corpus callosum. A different function is performed by each lobe.

The cerebral cortex makes up the outer layer of your brain, acting almost like the skin on a piece of fruit. Its role is to help with processing and more complex thinking skills, like interpreting the environment, language, and reasoning.

Making up part of this cerebral cortex is the somatosensory cortex, which you’ll find in the middle of your brain.

What’s the Role of the Somatosensory Cortex?

parts of the brain

The samatosensory cortex receives all of your body’s sensory input. And the cells (or nerves) that extend around your body from the brain are known as neurons.

These neurons sense many different things, including audio, visual, pain, and skin stimuli, and send this information to be processed in the somatosensory cortex. However, the location the neurons send this information to in the cortex isn’t random. Rather, each will have a specific place that’s relevant to the type of information being processed.

When these receptors detect a sensation, they send the information through to the thalamus (the part of your brain that relays receptors’ sensory impulses to the cerebral cortex) before they are passed on to the primary somatosensory cortex.

Once it arrives there, the cortex gets to work interpreting the information. Think of it like any type of data that’s sent to someone for analysis.

Furthermore, some of these neurons are incredibly important, which is why a large portion of this cortex is devoted to understanding and processing all of the information from these neurons. For example, high-level data will be analyzed in more detail and will take more time to interpret, while low-level data will go to a less-equipped analyst, requiring less time to be spent on it.

We can explore this in more detail by using Brodmann’s areas.

Brodmann’s Areas for the Somatosensory Cortex

Brodmann’s classification system

When examining the brain, Korbinian Brodmann, a German neurologist, identified 52 different regions according to how different their cellular composition was. Today, many leading scientists will still use these areas, hence why they are often referred to as “Brodmann’s areas.”

When it came to the somatosensory cortex, Brodmann divided this into four areas, 1, 2, and 3 (which is further divided into 3a and 3b).

These numbers were assigned by Brodmann based on the order he examined the area, and, therefore, are not indicative of their importance.

After all, area 3 is often seen as the primary area of this cortex.

How come?

Area 3 is responsible for receiving the bulk of the input that comes straight from the thalamus, with the information being processed initially in this area.

Area 3b is concerned specifically with the basic processing of things we touch, while 3a responds to the information that comes from our proprioceptors (these are specialized sensors that are located on the ends of your nerves that are found in joints, tendons, muscles, and the inner ear, relaying information about position or motion so you are constantly aware of how your body is moving or is positioned in a space).

Areas 1 and 2 are densely connected to 3b.

Therefore, while the primary location for any information about the things we touch is sent to 3b, it will also be sent to areas 1 and 2 for further in-depth processing.

For example, area 1 appears to be integral to how we sense the texture of something, while area 2 seems to have a role in how we perceive this object’s shape and size. Area 2 also plays a role in proprioception (this enables us to orientate our bodies in a particular environment without us having to consciously focus on where we are).

Should there be any lesions to these areas of the cortex (those that support the roles mentioned above, in particular) then we may notice some deficits in our senses. For example, if there is a lesion to area 1, we will find a shortfall in our ability to distinguish the texture of things, while a lesion to area 3b will affect our tactile sensations.

Somatotopic Arrangement 

Each of the four areas we have mentioned are arranged in such a way that a particular area will receive information from a specific part of the body. This is what is known as the somatotopic arrangement, with the entire body being represented within each of the four areas of the somatosensory cortex.

And as some parts of our bodies are more sensitive, e.g. the hands and lips, this requires more cortex and circuitry to be dedicated to processing any sensations that come from these areas. Therefore, if you look at somatotopic maps that depict the somatosensory cortex, you will notice they are distorted, with the areas of the body that are highly sensitive taking up far more space in this area.

How the Samatosensory Cortex May Contribute in Prosocial Behavior

As we now know, when someone experiences pain, this bodily sensation is processed in their brain. It will also switch on an emotional reaction in their brain, too.

However, when we see someone else in this type of pain, many of these same regions are activated in our own brains. But this differs entirely when you are dealing with a convicted criminal with psychopathic tendencies.

When they see someone else in pain, there is less activation in these specific areas of the brain. They will also show disregard and less empathy toward others.

What does this suggest?

That when these “shared activations” are lacking it can cause issues with a person’s empathy.

In fact, over the years, scientists have developed the belief that we are able to feel empathy for others who are in pain because of these shared activations – and this is why we have a desire to help them.

That said, there is still a lack of evidence which helps identify how helpful behavior is influenced by these pain-processing areas of our brain. That’s why some suggest that helpful behavior is contributed to very little by empathy-related processes.

Further Studies

To explore this further, one study looked at participants’ reactions to a video of someone being swatted on their hand by a belt while displaying different levels of pain. The participants could then indicate how much pain they felt this person was in by donating money to them – so the more pain they thought they were in, the more money they donated to try and ease this.

Throughout the study, the participants’ brains (their samatosensory cortex, in particular) were measured. And the results found that the more activated this area was, the more money they donated.

The researchers then interfered with the participants’ brain activity using various techniques that affected how they perceived the sensations in their hand. This altered their accuracy in assessing the pain of the victim, and it also caused disruption to the link between the perceived pain of the victim and the donations. The amount of money being given was no longer correlating to the pain they were witnessing.

A Role in Social Function 

These findings suggest that the area of the brain that helps us perceive pain (the somatosensory cortex) plays a role in our social function. It helps us transform the vision of bodily harm into an accurate perception of how much pain the other person is experiencing. And we need these feelings in order to adapt so we can help others.

This also adds to the current argument of what role empathy plays in helping behaviors, with it suggesting that we are indeed promoted to help by brain activity that is empathy-related. It allows us to pinpoint who needs our help.

Putting These Findings into Practice

girl in red jacket with happy face

By understanding this relationship between the activity in our brain and our helping behavior, it may help in the development of treatments for people who are suffering with antisocial behavior. Or for children with unemotional, callous traits – something that’s associated with a general disregard for other people and a lack of empathy.

What You Need to Know About Weber’s Law

Psychology has always been a study that constantly asks a single question: Why? Why do we think this way? Why do we feel this way? Why do we behave this way? In a discipline so deeply linked to philosophy, it should come as no surprise that many theorems in psychology are still unanswered questions. There is only so much that can be empirically proven about human nature. However, with the rise of scientific and technological advancement, the sub-field of neuropsychology is in a better place than ever to find answers to some of the more nuanced psychological theories, such as Weber’s law.

As it stands, Weber’s law is currently enjoying a moderate amount of experimental attention in neuropsychology. Neuropsychologists are trying to pin down how human neurons detect and process physical stimulation, and Weber’s law happens to be the most long-standing theory on this phenomenon in the entire study of psychology. So, what is this theory? We’ll break down what Weber’s law is, why the law is useful, and the key points of the law that make neuropsychologists so curious.

What Is Weber’s Law?

In the simplest terms, this theory is about human perception. Specifically, this theory tries to understand how humans can perceive even the slightest difference between two stimuli. This theory addresses each of the five senses –touch, taste, scent, sight, and hearing–and suggests that human perception is sharp enough to accurately distinguish between the smallest of differences.

The Difference Threshold


In the Weber’s law theory, the “difference threshold” is the absolute smallest difference between two similar stimuli. Some neuropsychologists refer to this as “just noticeable difference”. In either case, the difference threshold grounds the theory with the caveat that the human mind can perceive the difference between two stimuli better depending on how close the comparison stimuli is to the original stimuli. Or in other words, we humans can distinguish between changes in stimuli even when two stimuli are very similar.

However, Weber’s law and human perception is challenged when the original stimuli is very intense. When the intensity of a stimuli is great, we have a harder time detecting changes after introducing another stimuli. This is the case for all five of the senses. If we are exposed to an intense stimulus, we are less likely not notice a subtle stimulus simply because the comparison between the two is too great. In this way, the difference threshold also suggests a blind spot in human perception.

Is Weber’s Law Useful?

This is a theory that can be very useful. In fact, we probably contend with this theory every day without noticing it much. Just like many theories in the broad field of psychology, humans are constantly proving or disproving the accuracy of theories. This law is no exception. Let’s look at some examples where Weber’s law is both present and useful.

Example One: Weight


The original proposal for this theory in 1834 was made on the basis of psychophysics, or the intersection between psychology and physics. For this new theory, the easiest way to test it was to use something that could be easily measured and recorded: weight.

Imagine you are holding a paperback book in your hand. You can obviously feel the heft of the book as well as the general size and shape. If we were to place another book of similar size, shape, and weight in that same hand, you would be able to detect the added weight. If we were to place another book that is slightly heavier or has a different shape in your other hand, you would be able to decide which book is lighter or heavier. Both are an example of the difference threshold.

However, if you were holding a box of books and we placed that paperback book on top of the box, you probably wouldn’t be able to detect the added weight. Why? It’s the perception blind spot in the difference threshold. Because the box of books is so heavy–making the stimulus intense–you are not able to detect the subtler stimulus.

Example Two: Temperature


different temperatures

Image by daniel monetta from Pixabay

We humans have an exceptional talent for detecting temperature changes. If you closed your eyes and we touched each of your arms with a piece of ice, you would be able to tell which piece of ice is larger because of how your skin would register a larger cold spot. But if we submerged your entire arm in ice water and then touched that arm with a piece of ice, you wouldn’t be able to register the smaller point of cold because of the intensity of your entire arm being cold thanks to that perception blind spot.

Temperature detection that is compromised can be dicey. When a body is exposed to cold for too long and hypothermia begins to set in, it is recommended that the body be warmed in small increments, starting with warm water and working up to body temperature water. Why? Simply because Weber’s law proves that the perception of temperature will be so drastically altered after the intensity of full-body cold that the body is unable to tell whether something is burning hot or not. In order to protect the skin, and to not shock the entire body system, victims of hypothermia are warmed gradually.

Example Three: Taste


While we all might not have the sensitive palate of wine tasters, the average human taste bud can detect slight differences in the way something tastes. Imagine making two pots of chicken soup, but one pot has an added secret ingredient. In a blind taste test, people who try the two soups would be able to tell which of the soups has the added ingredient.

However, if the intensity of the flavors is very great, the taste buds will be so overwhelmed that they would be unable to detect additional flavors unless the additional flavor was drastically different. This is why it is recommended to drink cold milk or water after eating something very spicy–the stark difference between the milk and the spice can reset your taste buds.

Example Four: Hearing


The human ear is a highly sensitive thing. If we focus, we really can hear the most minute sounds from across a room, which is why we can eavesdrop on a juicy conversation in a crowded room without any problems. However, if we overwhelm the difference threshold with an intense original stimulus, the following stimuli will be harder to detect. This is why people have trouble hearing each other during concerts. The sound of the concert is so overwhelmingly loud that it is almost impossible to hear the person next to you even if they are shouting in your face.

Example Five: Sight


A lady with blue eyes

Image via burst.shopify.com

Most humans actually have decent color perception because of the difference threshold. If we placed two red cards in front of you and asked you which card was more yellow, you would be able to point at the red-orange card with some ease. If we placed two blue cards in front of you and asked you which card was darker, you could point to the darker card without any trouble. If we placed two green cards in front of you and asked which is more vibrant, you would be able to pick the right card again. Human color perception is generally spot-on.

However, we run into some challenges when faced with light. The intensity of bright lights, such as the sun or a flashlight, shining in our eyes is so great that we can have trouble detecting weaker lights, colors, and even objects until our eyes adjust. This is another way in which the intensity of the original stimulus can undermine the difference threshold.

Example Six: Scent


A girl smelling flowers weber's law

Photo by Ruslan Zh on Unsplash

Human scent perception is fascinating. Not only are out olfactory senses tied directly into memory coding, but they also vary in sensitivity between human to human. Some people are able to detect the slightest differences between two similar scents, while others can only tell the difference between two different scents.

And just like every other sense, scent is also vulnerable to the blind spot in the difference threshold. If we doused a handkerchief in perfume, held it against your nose, and then asked you to try to smell anything else, you would find it impossible because of the intensity of the perfume.

The Key Points of Weber’s Law

Neuropsychologists continue to conduct research to try to understand how our sensory nerves detect stimuli and how that detection translates into perception in the human brain. These are the key points that they continue to come back to:

  • The just noticeable difference between two stimuli

  • The blind spot in the difference threshold

  • The areas of the brain that respond to different stimuli

Neuropsychologists are trying to pinpoint how human perception is translated by the brain. One of the ways they do this is to study the brain through MRI scans while exposing volunteers to different stimuli. Some of this research has enabled neurologists to confidently isolate the portions of the brain that are responsible for sensory processing.

Conclusion

Although not talked about often, Weber’s law is a cornerstone of neuropsychology. As one of the most enduring psychological theories in the field, this law and the associated principles of the law continue to make the case for the sensitivity of human perception.

This theory overall suggests that human perception is sensitive enough to accurately distingish differences between two similar stimuli, with the exception of intense stimuli that overwhelm the senses.

Researchers continue to try to understand how the brain processes sensory information by using Weber’s law as a basis in experimentation.

Featured Image: Image by Mashiro Momo from Pixabay

Dodge the Burnout and Boredom!: How to Improve Your AP Score

AP exams are unlike anything high schoolers have been through before. We found the ultimate expert advice on how to get the best AP score in your class.

When it comes to improving your AP score, the struggle is very real.

For perhaps the first time in your academic life, you are experiencing pressure from every direction.

You have to study, you have to score well, and you know that you have to become an expert in your chosen subject — all on your own.

Well, we’re here to tell you not to fret.

You’ve got this!

We found you the best tips and tricks on the internet explicitly designed to help you score as high as possible on every AP exam you have coming up.

But first, let’s cover some of the basics.

Let’s Talk About Your AP Score

For starters:

It’s vital that you understand how your AP test will be scored.

After you take the test, you will earn a score of one through five — here’s what the scores mean:

5: extreme qualification for college credit

4: well qualified to earn a college credit

3: qualified to earn a college credit

2: you may qualify to earn a college credit

1: you will not qualify for college credit

You can do it!

Around 13% of the people who take an AP test score a 5.

If you have a higher AP score, you will qualify for more credits than you would with a lower number.

Here’s the deal:

The only way to guarantee that you will qualify for college credit is to make sure you score a 3 or above.

The Many Benefits of a High AP Score

There are many benefits to nailing it on your AP exam aside from just earning credit towards your college classes.

old photo of Dr. Suess holding the book he wrote entitle "The Cat In the Hat"

“The more that you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”


Image via Al Ravenna, New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 First, research shows that typically students who score a three or higher on their AP exams experience more academic success in coll​​ege over the kids who don’t partake in AP classes.

But that’s not all:

If you have a high AP score, you are also more likely to graduate from college on time — which could save you thousands of dollars.

AP scores are global!

If you are considering studying abroad, here’s what you need to know about your AP score: Qualifying AP scores can earn credit in nearly every university in the United States and Canada. Globally, over 100 other countries worldwide accept qualifying AP scores. And, In Europe and the UK, scoring a three or four will fulfill admission requirements.

Now:

You already know that you could earn college credits with a decent score, but what does that mean for you?

Well, it means:

Advanced placement in classes

Fulfilling requirements to graduate early

Skipping introductory or general-education classes

In summation, if you’re planning on going to college, you can save tons of time and money by scoring well on your AP exams.

You can do it!

Around 19 percent of the students that take an AP exam score a 4.

And, if you want to score a 3 or higher, you’re going to need to study your butt off.

Watch out for the Dreaded Burnout

Studies show that these days, students are burning out faster th​​an ever.

You might be burned out if you:

  • Keep getting sick

  • Procrastinate or feel overwhelmingly disinterested

  • Struggle with self-criticism or anxiety

  • Find yourself over-reacting to everything — even the small stuff

  • Are always exhausted

  • Are always distracted when you are eating

  • Feel numb or work to numb your feelings with drugs, alcohol, or food

  • Have trouble concentrating

  • Don’t feel like taking care of yourself anymore

  • Keep skipping school

  • Take out your frustrations on others

Does this sound like you?

Well, keep reading.

How to fight back against burnout

Now, if you just realized you’re feeling burned out lately, don’t worry — we found some ways you can deal wi​​th it.

Let’s dive in!

portrait of Jean Shinoda Bolen​

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”


Image via Facebo​​ok

The “Avoiding Burnout” Toolbox

  1. Get more rest: exhaustion can make you burn out faster
  2. Say no to things you don’t have time for
  3. Ask for help: talk to your friends, parents, teachers, or counselors
  4. Eat healthy foods
  5. Find an interest outside of your studies
  6. Reward yourself for a job well done
  7. Plan something fun
  8. Set boundaries
  9. Set aside time for something fun: no studying allowed
  10. Get more exercise: a ten-minute walk can help improve your mood for two hours

But, that’s not all.

There’s more.

Expert Tips on How to Fight Back Against the Boredom Monster

Burning out isn’t the only thing that will hurt your AP score.

Can you guess what is?

I’ll help you.

Boredom is another silent killer.

Yes, boredom. No matter how much you love the subject you’re studying; everyone gets bored or sleepy after a while.

Luckily, we managed to find some expert advice on how to deal with the boredom monster when it attacks:

Studies show that exercise is more beneficial to your academic success than you might think.

“It is remarkable how one’s wits are sharpened by physical exercise.”


First, exercise increases serotonin production, which will help you feel less anxious and depressed.

Secondly, and most importantly, we know that exercise also helps i​​mprove concentration, alertness, motivation, memory, and learning ability.

So, the experts say that a short 30-minute cardiovascular workout is most effective for the best results — and the best part is that you will notice the effects immediately.

You can do it!

25% of the people who take an AP exam score a 3.

However, not everyone is the same.

Perhaps you’re saying to yourself:

“There is no way I can do that.”

It’s OK!

If you aren’t capable of a workout like that, just do what you can to get that heart rate up for as long as possible.

It’s that simple.

A few more tips for beating boredom into submission

Exercise isn’t the only way to kick boredom in the butt.

Here are a few more t​​ips:

You might be burned out if you:

  • Limit your sessions: study for 30 minutes, then take a 10-minute break

  • Don’t focus too hard on results: concentrate on the process and the subject your tackling at that moment

  • Vary your setting: try to study in different areas like the library, a book store, or a cafe

  • Go outside

  • Reward your inner child: treat yourself for getting through that rough spot

Do you think you can do those?

Now Let’s Talk About How to Supercharge Your Study Habits

We get it. Maybe those suggestions just aren’t quite right.

Don’t worry!

Exercise isn’t the only way to boost your learning potential.

We found several more scientifica​​lly proven way to supercharge your study habits.

Some of these are easier than you think!

      No cramming

a female student looking outside while inside the classroom

Image via Pex​​els

You already know that studying for short bursts of time with little breaks is a great way to beat boredom.

However, you also need to remember to spread out studying your subject as well — this means no cramming.

Can you believe it?

Everyone crams, right?

“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.”


Well as it turns out, cramming isn’t all that beneficial.

See, if you cram for your exam, your brain will only store the information in its short-term data banks.

On the other hand, if you study for your AP exam spread out over as much time as possible, you will commit the information to your long-term memory.

Once the information exists in the long-term memory section of your brain, it will be there forever.

So, change it up and give this no-cramming rule a try!

      Teaching someone else

group of girls studying

Image via Pixabay

Studies overwhelmingly s​​how that if you teach someone else what you’re learning — it will help you learn the information yourself.

Here’s how it works:

If you read the material with the intention of teaching it to someone else, you actively understand and store the information in your memory.

Pro tip!

Studies show that if you read through the exam before you take it, that could help your score.

Whereas, if you read the information passively, that’s how your brain remembers it.

      Test yourself

a man looking at the notes posted on the whiteboard

Image via ​Pexels

Next, we understand that the test itself is the true stressor in your life right now.

However, there are a ton of practice AP tests out there — and you truly want to boost your AP score, you will take as many of them as possible.

Research shows that testing yourself will help you:

  • Ease test anxiety

  • Show areas of weakness

  • Learn/recall the information more proficiently

Reading the material is all well and good.

You can do it!

In 2018, 21.2 percent of the people that took the AP psychology exam scored a 5.

It’s essential, though, that you can recall that information when you’re going to need it, and a practice test is the only way to know for sure.

Once you’ve got a few practice tests licked, your confidence will be flying sky high!

      AP practice tests

We know, what you’re wondering:

“Where can I find some of these practice tests?”

We’ve got you covered.

Here are some excellent links to pages with a ton of free practice tests.

      Get some sleep

a teenage boy sleeping

Image via Pexel​​s

Another way to boost your AP score is to get plenty of rest.

In addition to combating burnout and boredom, getting plenty of sleep has a significant impact on what you’re brain will be able to recall.

Here’s how it works:

When you sleep, your brain goes through physical changes.

portrait of writer, Audrey Niffenegger

“Sleep is my lover now, my forgetting, my opiate, my oblivion.”

Audrey Niffe​​negger – The Time Traveler’s Wife

Image by Michael Strong, CC BY-SA​​ 3.0, via Wikimedi​​a Commons

After your brain intakes information during the day, it grows new​​ connections and pathways after you fall into a deep sleep later on — which commits the information to memory.

If you aren’t sleeping well, however, your brain won’t have a chance to perform that essential function, and that won’t help your AP score one bit.

      No more all-nighters

Regardless of what Hollywood might lead you to believe, all-nighters are not an effective way to make sure you nail it on your AP exam.

Pro tip:

The mind/body connection is a strong one. Experts say that striking a powerful pose, hands on hips, AKA the Wonder Woman pose before the test helps you face it like the superhero you are.

Sadly, in the real world, missing out on a night’s sleep will inhibit your brain’s ability to process and store information.

As a matter of fact:

Res​​earch shows that skipping out on sleep could cut your ability to recall the information you learned by up to 40 percent.

How Music Can Help You Turn Things Up

Next, we have great news for music lovers.

According to research, listening to music while you study is incredibly beneficial for more reasons than one.

Look:

First, according to the University of Ma​​ryland, listening to music helps students with stress and test anxiety feel better.

Secondly, other studies found that music helps in overall performance and even with pain management.

Most importantly, though, let’s talk about what music will do for your brain’s ability to learn.

You can do it!

In 2018, 13.4 percent of the people that took the AP chemistry exam scored a 5.

According to a study out of Stanford, “Music moves the brain to pay attention.”

Interestingly enough, by using classical music,  the stu​​dy found that:

“Music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions, and updating the events in memory.” 


Check out the video below of what Mozart does to someone’s brain:

But that’s not all.

It turns out that music is also an incredibly influential factor when it comes to memory and cognitive functions.

Check out this video:

As you can see, when it comes to memorization and recall, music is your friend.

Tips Specifically for Boosting Your AP Score

By now, you realize that your upcoming AP test is unlike any exam you have taken before.

So, we checked in with the experts to see what you can do to specifically help you improve your score on your upcoming AP exams.

Wnat to know what they say?

Keep reading.

      Make a study schedule

First, whether you are taking one or several AP classes, make a study schedule.

Most students find that starting to study for the final AP exams around three months out is the most effective strategy — but you should figure out what works for you.

Check out the video below:

To come up with the most effective plan, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many weeks/days/months away are the exams?

  • What time of day do you feel the most focused?

  • How much time each week/day/month can you devote to studying for each exam?

  • When will you do the work? (for example, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 5 p.m. study for AP psych)

      Start with older material

Did you know the order of the material matters?

It does!

When you sit down to review for your AP exams, experts say to start with the old material first.

Refreshing your memory consistently is the best way to make sure you recall the information you need.

You can do it!

In 2018, 30.2 percent of the people that took the AP physics exam C (mechanics) scored a 5.

Keep the AP exam in mind as you approach new material

Next, as you go through the school year, approach all your new material with the AP test in mind.

It’s easier than you think.

When you take an AP class, you can’t just forget the material once you’re graded on it the first time.

As you learn new material in your AP subjects, make notes about what you’re up to.

Pro tip:

Not all music is created equal when it comes to learning. Experts find that instrumental music like classical, ambient hip-hop, and electronica help the most.

Later on, you will want to have noted both the essential points in each lesson as well as the areas in which you struggled.

      Don’t rely too heavily on your teacher

portrait of Nelson Mandela

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” 


Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Now, you already know that your AP course is unlike anything you have done before.

It stands to reason, then, that preparing for the AP test is also a new experience for you.

For what may be the first time in your school career, you can’t count on your teacher to deliver all the essential information.

It’s your teacher’s job to ensure you have your information for the school year.

However, no teacher has the time to cover everything on the AP test; and counting on them to do so will hurt your overall score.

This calls for reinforcements.

      Invest in an AP prep book

The good news is:

You aren’t entirely on your own when it comes to learning everything you need to know for a fantastic AP score.

First, there are a ton of AP prep books like this one on the market these days covering every subject you can think of.

You definitely want to get yourself a prep book for the AP subjects you’re studying this year.

In addition to essential information on your AP subject, sometimes those prep books will have practice tests in them as well.

She Scored a 5 on Her AP Psych Exam – Here’s How

Now, we have heard enough from adult experts, let’s hear from some students going through the process.

Check out the video below:

As you can see, she used a few of the ideas we are talking about today to study for her exam.

Not taking the AP psychology exam?

No problem!

Handy Memorization Techniques

Anyone who has ever studied anything knows that no matter how hard we try not to, sometimes learning comes down to straight memorization.

Luckily:

We found some interesting techniques to help you memorize all that stuff easily.

Check out this video:

But that’s not all, there’s more!

The Link Method

First, we have the link method.

Check out the video below:

It seems simple enough.

You just create links between what you already know and what you want to remember.

Bam!

The Story Method

Check out this one!

The video below to learn about the Story Method for memorization:

Like the Link Method, the Story Method for memorization creates a pathway for remembering more stuff than you can imagine.

Neat!

The Loci Method

Next, instead of a story, the Loci Method for memorization uses physical items and locations to help you remember.

Check out the video below:

Feeling overwhelmed?

Don’t worry!

You don’t have to learn all of these techniques — we simply want to give you as many options as possible.

Mind Mapping Technique

Finally, we round out this list of memorization techniques with the Mind Mapping Technique.

You’re going to want to see this one.

Check out the video below:

It’s Test Time

Finally!

Now that we have covered how to study leading up to it let’s talk about the week of the exam.

So, lets get down to business.

Top foods to eat on the day of the test:

  • Fish to get those Omega-3’s
  • Dark fruits and veggies: berries, apples, beans, artichokes
  • Complex carbohydrates: whole grains, fresh fruit, beans or legumes
  • A quality protein: eggs, lean meat, low-fat milk, or soy
  • Water: you need to be adequately hydrated to get 100 percent performance out of that brilliant brain of yours]

Hopefully, you have given yourself plenty of time for studying, so the final week should be as relaxed as possible.

Here are some pro-tips for exam time:

  • The night before: get a good night’s sleep

  • Don’t study right before the test

  • Stay calm

  • Don’t engage in negative talk with your peers before the exam (for example, “I am so nervous right now.”)

  • Ask the instructor for a scrap piece of paper for mind-mapping/math

  • Don’t pay any attention to the students that finish before you

  • Make sure you read through the exam in full before you start

  • Read the instructions on the test carefully before you begin

Easy enough, right?

You’re Going to Nail It

Congratulations, you have just taken the bull by the horns, and you are more prepared than ever to get the highest AP score possible.

Just remember:

Give yourself plenty of time.

If you follow the simple steps we laid out for you here, starting with a study schedule, you will find you’re capable of more than you ever imagined.

Featured Image: CC0 via Pexels

Incentive Theory: AP Psychology Study Resource

Most of us do our best when we are being motivated by our goals or positive reinforcements. All of us have our own internal drives that direct the way we push ourselves into taking certain actions. The incentive theory of reaction focuses on a theme called operant conditioning.

​Incentive Theory: What Inspires You to Do Well?

Jelly look with 3 different colors, incentive theory

Operant conditioning refers to how we respond to positive and negative effects related to our actions. Most commonly, this occurs in the aspects of rewards and punishments.

Think about your personal life and your childhood. Were you spanked? If so, that is a form of the operant conditioning that takes place under the incentive theory.

For example, when a child is spanked for disregarding a rule of the home, they are facing a consequence of that action. As a result, they will think twice before breaking the same rule again. The same effect results through other forms of punishment like time-outs, loss of privileges, or writing sentences.

Similarly, you might have been motivated to do well at school by a rewards system based on your performance. You might have also earned an allowance for completing home chores regularly and on time. This is an example of positive operant conditioning under the blanket of incentive theory.

​Incentive Theory: Some Incentives Seem to Take a Stronger Hold than Others

Depending on the person, some motivators will take a better hold than others. One person might not think that the reward is worth the work, while another might see it as more than worthwhile. This is usually found in young siblings with varied interests.

An example of this would be two sisters. One of them enjoys horses and being outdoors. The other would prefer to play videogames.

Telling both children that they will get to go to horse riding camp if they get good grades will likely inspire one to immediately pick up a book. The other will likely not see the effort as worth the opportunity, since the reward isn’t aligned with her personal interests. You’d get the opposite reaction if you offered a new video game as the reward to both girls.

To inspire both girls, you need to present equal and worthwhile rewards to each child. Perhaps one will get to go to horse riding camp and the other would get a new gaming console. This would create an inspiration for both kids without having to pick one’s interests over the other.

The same is true for negative incentives or punishments. If the girls get into a fight, you might ground one indoors and take the other away from the video games.

Picking appropriate rewards and punishments is key in inspiring people to behave in certain ways.

This can also be situational.

An example of this exists with older teenagers. A teenager might usually be inspired to do their best by the positive praise that is showered on them by a parent or relative. But when their friends are around, they will not want the same kind of parental attention. They might even be inspired to act negatively because their friends will perceive them as “cooler” if they skirt parental authority.

​Incentive Theory: Important Things to Consider about Incentives

Although incentives and punishments are very powerful tools in teaching responsibility and gaining the behavior we want from others, we have to remember there are factors that will affect the success of this tool. Some of the most common factors are outlined here.

Incentives Can be Used to Both Inspire Behaviors and Stop Them

If you are trying to stop a child from misbehaving, you can offer a positive reward for stopping the behavior. It doesn’t have to always be a punishment.

If time outs and other punishments aren’t working, you might try offering a positive reward, instead.

An example of this is to set a timeline. If the child manages to complete a set number of days without exhibiting their bad behavior, they can earn a reward.

A Reward Must be Obtainable for It to Be a Successful Motivator.

Often, people are discouraged by rewards that aren’t attainable.

If a child is near the end of the semester and pulling a failing grade, it is unreasonable to tell them that they must now finish the semester with an A grade or they won’t earn their reward. This will only inspire them to not even try.

Instead, try telling your child that they need to pass the semester to earn a reward, then offer a greater reward if they pull all As and Bs on the next one.

Incentives are Only Powerful if the Target of the Incentive Views Them as Important.

Don’t offer an empty threat or promise.

Telling someone that you will give them something they don’t care about having isn’t going to inspire them to do well.

Telling someone that you will punish them with something they don’t care about isn’t going to inspire them to stop negative behavior, either.

Make the reward or punishment fit the action and make it something that will mean something to the target.

​Incentive Theory: Incentives Can Be Powerful Tools in All Walks of Life

two men talking

There are a number of ways we work with incentives and punishments in life, sometimes without even knowing it.

Incentive Theory is present in almost all our daily actions and choices and we are continuously inspired by what happens next.

Here are some surprising examples of how incentive theory affects us.

Keeping a Job to Pay Bills

We have all had mornings where we didn’t want to go to work. We roll over and silence our alarms and think about the office drama, the pile of paperwork that is waiting for us, and all the movies we would rather stay home and binge. This is a completely normal feeling.

However, we all also get up and go to work. Why? Because we know we need the paycheck to pay our bills. If we quit our jobs, we can’t support ourselves.

That’s its own form of punishment that keeps us in line and gets us up and into the shower.

Keeping Your House Clean

Have you ever walked into someone else’s house and been taken aback by the filth? How about the way you feel when you watch an episode of one of those home disaster shows about compulsive hoarding?

If you’re like the majority of the population, they make you uncomfortable and you find yourself facing certain high levels of disgust.

This is why we keep our homes clean.

Nobody likes the process of cleaning, but we don’t like feeling dirty or being surrounded by filth either. A clean home is the reward for cleaning a home and we punish ourselves with guilty feelings when we fail to complete the necessary tasks.

Obeying the Law to Avoid Trouble

Getting a ticket is expensive. Getting thrown in jail is expensive, embarrassing, and scary. We don’t want to do these things, so we pay attention to the law and are careful about law enforcement.

We don’t want to be seen as convicts or criminals, nor do we want to face the punishment of the courts. This is why we watch our speed, maintain our taxes and registration, and follow other seemingly mundane and pointless rules that are implemented by the government.

How often have you driven down a road and thought, “There’s no reason I have to go so slow here.” Yet, you likely didn’t speed up because you were afraid of being caught doing it.

That’s Incentive Theory at work.

Paying your Bills to Avoid Financial Crisis

credit card

Nobody likes to pay bills, either. Imagine it’s payday and you look at your account.

You know you have enough money to afford a nice weekend getaway. But rent and the electric bill are both due and you’re going to need groceries and gas to get through work the next few weeks.

Chances are that you will skip the weekend getaway to take care of less fun but more responsible needs. Why? Because being out of money is punishment and the comfort of a clear mind is a positive reward for  your responsibility.

Walking the Dog Before Work

This is an almost comical scenario where your own pet uses the incentive theory to train you, whether they know they’re doing it or not. What happens when you don’t take the dog out? Do you come home to torn up garbage, chewed on furniture, and messes on the floor?

Exactly. In this case, the pet has become the training master.

Positive vs. Negative Incentives

Positive Incentives

Incentives that give a positive outcome in providing an individual’s needs and desires are called positive incentives. These incentives include the law of optimism and are ready to fulfill the employee’s psychological requirements. For example, when a supervisor celebrates a new employee for doing a good job. Other positive incentives are things like recognition, job promotions, extra allowances, awards, and badges.

Negative Incentives

On the opposite end of positive incentives, negative incentives are given to improve an individual’s mistakes and errors in the attempt to produce gratifying results. Usually, negative incentives are given if the positive incentives do not work, conditioning a person to act in a way that avoids negative incentives. Some examples of this are job demotions, punishments, and penalties.

The incentive theory says an incentive attracts a person towards it. A person will most likely behave to get himself closer to that aim. This theory is grounded in conditioning, which is done by an incentive to make a person happier.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsically motivated actions are carried out because of the personal satisfaction they bring. These behaviors are considered ones where the reward is simply the fulfillment of doing the activity itself. For instance, if you are in school because you like learning, you are motivated intrinsically to be in school.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsically motivated behaviors, on the other end of the spectrum, are done to get something from others or avoid specific negative outcomes. The extrinsic motivator is outside of the individual. Outside rewards, such as job promotions, financial advancement, stickers, or other goodies, are good examples of extrinsic motivators. Social and emotional stimuli like praise and attention are also extrinsic motivators since they are given to the person by another person.

Extrinsic rewards are usually used to influence someone who shows limited interest in a possibly useful activity. This is like if a child shows no interest in learning to read. His or her teacher may begin to use external rewards to get him or her to engage in that activity.

Final Thoughts ​Incentive Theory

Incentive theory is the idea that we are all driven by rewards and punishments. We do well to make gains or to avoid unpleasant outcomes.

We all face incentive theory in the day to day actions of our lives, whether we are paying bills, going to work, or doing our dishes.

We can also use incentive theory to inspire those around us to perform well or stop behaviors that we find disturbing.

Assimilation Psychology: AP Psychology Study Resource

As we merge ever more into society as we age, we are constantly learning new ideas and ideals such as ​assimilation psychology.

In doing this, we experience things that either change or confirm our current state of mind.  This is why we are often drawn to people that have new perspectives or ideas that we can draw from.

We Are All Just Trying to Make Sense of the World- It’s the Nature of the Beast

 

babysleeping

Think about a newborn baby. Babies are the cleanest slate possible When it comes to their psychology. They have not experienced anything thus far, so they are free to learn anything without any kind of interference from previous thought.

Babies often bond with their mothers within the first weeks of life. At this point, they have learned that mothers are the most important people in the world. As they get older, they often separate from their mothers to form attachments with dad, siblings, or other caregivers.

At this point, they learn that there are more people that can be trusted, also.

From these people that they grow to trust, they will learn other things by observing, such as how to hold silverware, proper manners, and toilet training.

Another phenomena of human psychology, especially assimilation psychology is that we are always trying to be like the people we are surrounded by. We tend to dress to fit in with our peers, we sometimes pick up similar musical tastes, and we might even pick up dialects and accents based on the people we work with or live near.

Why does this happen, though?

Why Question Mark Represents Confusion Questions And Aim; assimilation psychology

​Jean Piaget initially proposed the idea of ​assimilation psychology. Piaget claimed that assimilation is a part of human psychology that is particularly important during the formative years of childhood. This is how children learn to react to social queues and how certain aspects of the world work.

How Does Assimilation Psychology Work?

Assimilation psychology, according to Piaget, is the easiest way that people adapt to new experiences.

The reason assimilation is believed to be the easiest is because it requires very little adjustment. In this method of adaptation, we simply apply new knowledge to that which is already known. Because it has to fit with what is currently known, though, how we adapt is based entirely upon our current state of mind.

For example, let’s say that your co-worker has a son who seems well adjusted and kind. One day, though, you see the boy at a local park throwing rocks at a bird’s nest.

To you, this behavior seems very out of character. Your co-worker has always bragged about their child’s sensitivity and and care and concern for animals and other people, but today he seems to be trying to harm animals.

Assimilation psychology takes place in how we process this information.

If you already have doubts about your co-worker’s honesty, you might determine that they have overinflated the good merits of the child. If you trust your co-worker, you might determine that the child is simply having a bad day or has picked up a bad habit by observing another child.

You might even work out that the child is still very kind and well-mannered, but simply has a mischievous aspect of his personality. In this case, you could find the behavior funny because it is so out of character that it is almost endearing.

This is how adaptation works based on our previous knowledge or experiences.

We take what we already know and add new information to the mix. It becomes a clue, rather than a whole new perspective. If we determine that the child is mean and that he is conning everyone including his mom, though, we are creating a completely new idea. This is a process known as accommodation.

Examples of Assimilation in Society

To further explore assimilation psychology, we need to look at a few more examples. They are as follows:

A baby tries lemons for the first time.

lemon

Imagine it’s a baby’s first birthday. They have previously tried all kinds of fruit- watermelon, strawberries, grapes, and bananas are their favorite. They have learned by trying these fruits that fruit is sweet and delicious.

Then, Uncle Mike shows up at the party. Uncle Mike has no children and makes a habit of using his nieces and nephews for a chuckle. He decides to pull a lemon slice from the pitcher of lemonade and let baby have a try, knowing the sour flavor of the fruit will give them an adorable pucker. Naturally, the ploy is successful.

The baby has now learned that not all fruits are sweet. They might also have learned to never trust food from Uncle Mike.

A child meets an angry dog.

Angry dog

Now imagine a little girl named Sophie. She has always been around dogs. Her parents have two large German Shepherds who do very well with her. Her grandpa has a Chihuahua who is also very mellow and child- friendly and Aunt Ellen has a cocker spaniel.

She’s learned from her exposure to these dogs that sometimes dogs bark a lot and sometimes they don’t bark at all. She’s also learned that they can come in a variety of sizes, colors, shapes, and coat lengths.

One day, Sophie is playing outside when a man walks his dog past. The dog begins snarling and growling and attacks the fence. He is very scary.

Sophie has now learned that some dogs are not friendly.

A woman discovers a country music CD in her rocker husband’s car.

disc

This is a tricky one. One day, Karen gets into her husband’s car because hers is not running properly. As she pulls out of the driveway, she decides to turn on the radio and is instantly met with the sound of country music.

She checks the radio station, but discovers that she is actually listening to a CD. She is somewhat baffled. She has always known her husband to enjoy heavy metal and rock music. In fact, she met him in a mosh pit. It is out of his usual character to enjoy country music.

This can go one of two ways, depending on the history of the marital couple. If her husband has previously been unfaithful, she might immediately assume that he has been driving around a secret partner in his car.

If they have never encountered any issues before, she will probably just assume that he has learned to like a new kind of music or that he has always been a secret country music fan.

​These Are Both Examples of Assimilation Psychology

Assimilation

Everyday Assimilation Psychology

Piaget described processes where we learn and grow, adapting to our environment, socially and physically. He names these processes assimilation. In this process, the experience is brought in from the outside into the inside without interrupting our pre-existing ideas. This works especially well when the new item is an additional item of something we are familiar with. The process can be useful but sometimes it results in squeezing reality to fit.

The internal world has to change in response to new factors that are introduced.  This can be harder, especially in adults because it may mean changing something vital about something someone has always taken for granted. An example of this is the belief in the sanctity of marriage and moving toward divorce. The term for this is cognitive dissonance. He stated that it is not doable to hold two incompatible ideas in your head at the same time. A great way we see this carried out in real life is by having a firm belief that it is wicked to kill, yet being forced to become a soldier.

Assimilating the Internet

For anyone below midlife age, the use of the World Wide Web as the definition for all things both essential and trivial is taken for granted. The interwebs sit waiting for us to consult its seemingly-endless, virtual pages on all things from lists. to serious help to understand anything history to science. Social media allows us to connect with our family and what we now call “friends” and buying sites allow the whole world purchasing to be closer to us than our nearest mall.

For those over middle age, we have had to assimilate the internet into our lives as a tool for everyday activities: research, social interaction, and shopping.  Before it existed, we had to ask encyclopedias, annual collections of trivia, and the television for information to study. For reaching out to friends and family, we would use the house phone or wrote a letter. Shopping was done in person, always.  There will be very few people who will regret the passing of snail mail) or the limited options of strip mall shopping. The introduction of the internet has been one assimilation that has been easy and enjoyable.

This is an illustration of assimilation because though while the way we use the internet to carry out these parts of our lives, the basic concepts of studying, interacting, and shopping have not changed.

Final Thoughts on Assimilation Psychology

Understanding assimilation psychology is vital in realizing why we do the things we do as a culture. Assimilation is the reason for so much of the everyday pushback we naturally have to changes.

AP Psychology Study Resource: Cerebral Hemispheres Information

You’ve probably heard about the different functions of the left and right brains, but you may not be aware of their functions. Although we have a long way to go before we fully understand all that our brains are capable of there are some things we do know about the cerebral hemispheres.

What Are the Cerebral Hemispheres?

Cerebral Hemispheres

The biggest part of our brain is called the cerebrum and it’s found at the top and front of our heads. It consists of two parts, the left and right hemisphere, which are separated by a bundle of nerves called the corpus callosum.

The two hemispheres are divided into four lobes called the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal lobe. The left hemisphere is the side of your brain that manages language and logical thought processing while the right side manages visual and intuitive thought processes.

The cerebral hemispheres each control the opposite side of the body.

So, the left cerebral hemisphere controls the right side of the body and vice versa. If you experience a stroke in the left side of your brain, you will display physical symptoms on the right side of the body. However, the two hemispheres work together through the nerves that connects them in a process called lateralization.

Left-brain Right-brain Theory

Bear in mind that there is still a lot that we don’t know about the brain and how it functions, but neuroimaging techniques have shown us some distinct differences that have allowed psychologists and scientists to develop their theories.

The left-brain right-brain theory is still taught. However, it is now believed that both parts of the brain work more closely than previously thought.

Left-brain characteristics include the ability to understand a whole situation, not just parts of it. It also controls the larger muscle movements such as walking, balance, and the sense of where your body is in terms of the space around you.

The left hemisphere also helps to regulate avoidance behaviors, balance emotional functioning, helps you to sense sounds, smell, and taste and manages your non-verbal communication. It’s stimulated by new experiences and controls your immune system. It controls your involuntary bodily functions such as breathing, your heart rate, and digestion.

Your fine motor movements are controlled by the left hemisphere. Your problem-solving skills, your ability to understand what words mean and your mathematical skills are all left-brain functions.

As you would expect, your right brain controls the functions that are left such as your ability to grasp the concepts of more and less, but not the mathematical concepts of them. Processing the visual shape of things, understanding emotional nuances, and understanding ambiguity come from the right side of the brain.

Scientists understand that as children grow, the right side of the brain is dominant until around the age of three, as theses are the skills children need to learn to function as adults. As they get older, it becomes important to know which side of a child’s brain is more dominant, to know how they learn. A child who is left-brain dominant will learn easier when being taught with visual aids and a right brain child will learn easier with auditory aids.

What Happens If the Cerebral Hemispheres Are Damaged?

Cerebral Hemisphere

Despite the hardness of our skulls, brain damage is a relatively common occurrence particularly for people who engage in high risk activities. Of course, the extent of the injury or damage is what determines how quickly, and how well, a person will recover.

Right Hemisphere Brain Damage

Symptoms of right hemisphere brain damage can include:

    • Inability to focus attention on a specific task, object, or verbal communication.
  • Left-side neglect. This term is used to describe the inability to acknowledge the left-side of the body, objects, or people. They may not be able to read the left-hand side of a page or shave the left side of their face.
  • Inability to reason or solve problems. They may not understand that there is a problem or that that there is a way to fix it.
  • Memory problems. People with right hemisphere brain damage may not be able to learn information or recall previously learned information.
  • Lack of social skills. Non-verbal cues may not be understood, and they may make inappropriate comments or not understand jokes.
  • Disorganized behavior and/or communication. This will take the form of forgetting to answer emails or losing information. The person won’t be able to give accurate directions or explain processes.
  • Lack of insight. Often people with right brain damage are not aware that they are experiencing problems. This can sometimes make the condition difficult to treat.
  • Orientation problems. The person may not be able to recall important factual information such as names or dates and they may not know where they are.
  • Limited movement. They may struggle to move their limbs properly, particularly on the left side of the body.

Treatment for Right Hemisphere Damage

Speech language therapy can be helpful for people suffering from right hemisphere damage and the first task is often to help the patient understand that they are experiencing problems. Visual aids are used to keep patients on task and you may need to repeat instructions several times.

It’s important that a person with right hemisphere damage doesn’t become overwhelmed by too much stimuli, so a quiet room is needed to give instructions. Tasks need to be broken down into small, manageable steps and the person giving them should stand at the patient’s right side.

Left Hemisphere Brain Damage

Symptoms of left hemisphere brain damage can include:

    • Paralysis or weakness down the right side of the body.
    • Right-side neglect. This term is used to describe the inability to acknowledge the right-side of the body, objects, or people.
    • Speech and language problems. The person may appear confused.
    • Problems with daily activities that are well-established parts of your routine.
    • Lack of analytic skills. The person may struggle to problem-solve. They may also seem confused between left and right.
    • Inability to remember a sequence of instructions, dates or times.
    • Performing tasks slowly or taking longer to process thoughts and speech.
  • Emotional instability. The person may experience rapid mood swings or become overwhelmed emotionally.

Treatment for Left Hemisphere Brain Damage

Treatment is like right hemisphere brain damage and is focused on the individual symptoms. Physical and speech language therapy are options and support with problem-solving and physical tasks may be needed. The patient may also need to be treated for depression.

How Does a Stroke Damage the Cerebral Hemispheres?

Man experiencing heart attack

Strokes can be caused in one of two ways.

An Ischemic stroke is when clots form in the blood vessels of the brain, or in the blood vessels traveling to the brain. This is the most common cause of stroke and can also occur when there are too many fatty deposits or cholesterol in the blood vessels.

A Hemorrhagic stoke is when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or breaks. Blood then seeps into the brain tissue which causes damage to the brain cells. This type of stroke can be caused by high blood pressure or a brain aneurysm.

The symptoms for both types of stroke include paralysis, numbness, or weakness in the face and down one side of the body. Your vision can be impaired, and you may have difficulty speaking. You may also struggle to walk properly and may have problems maintaining your balance. Sometimes, you may experience sudden, strong and severe headaches.

It’s also important to note that sometimes a person who is having a stroke may appear to be drunk. If they are displaying drunken behavior but you can’t smell alcohol, there is a strong possibility they are having a stroke.

The key to successfully treating a stroke is a quick response.

Women are more susceptible to strokes than men and if you suspect you, or a loved one, may be having a stroke you should get help immediately.

If a stroke is treated within three days, the patient can often make a full recover and damage to the cerebral hemispheres can be reversed. Research into stem cell therapy continues to make progress and new treatments may be available soon.

AP Psychology Study Resource: Opponent Process Theory

Science explains to us how the body works.

We all have a fair idea of our anatomy, and how it works on a day to day basis.

However, some aspects of our body connect psychology and neurology.

While science can explain the action, psychology looks to the reason why the behavior exists. This is one part of the human body that’s been debated for centuries.

Many different psychologists have proposed theories based on their personal beliefs. Let’s take a look at one of these theories, and how it connects the mind to how our body functions.

What is the Opponent Process Theory?

The opponent process theory first came about when Ewald Hering developed it in 1878. Ewald Hering was a German physiologist.

Wikipedia explains that the opponent process theory is a neurological and psychological theory that helps to describe a wide range of human behaviors, including our ability to see in color.

The opponent process theory was later expanded on by a psychologist by the name of Richard Solomon in the 20th century, whom we’ll introduce a little later.

Hering took note of the fact that color combinations are existing that, as humans, we don’t ever get to see. These include yellowish-blue and reddish-green. He proposed through opponent process theory that three active opponent systems control our color perception.

Within this theory, Hering endeavored to suggest that we have three independent types of receptors. Each receptor type has opposing pairs. These are blue and yellow, red and green, and white and black.

Through the opponent process of our different receptors, each of these pairs produces different color combinations. This theory elaborates further on these differing receptors, suggesting that for each of the three pairs different chemicals occur and react in the retina for this purpose.

How Does the Opponent Process Theory Work?

So, how do these chemical reactions cause us to see in color?

Wikipedia continues by explaining that each of these chemical reactions causes the systematic building up of one color and the destroying of the other color within each pair.

Each pair of colors opposes each other. Your receptors for the color pair red-green cannot send messages to your brain about both shades simultaneously. The opponent process theory also helps to explain negative afterimages.

Negative afterimages are the perception of the destroyed color after you’ve seen the built-up member of the pair. This is because the chemical reaction reverses once you’ve seen one of the colors.

Let’s take the red-green pair and use it as an example of this. Red creates a positive response, while green, a negative one. Opponent neurons are responsible for these responses.

The opponent process theory also addresses color-blindness. Hering believed that color-blindness was due to the lack of a particular chemical existing in the eye.

A positive after-image will appear after we’ve stared at a brightly lit image. The image will vary with the intensifying and decreasing of the light used in the background of the picture.

Opponent Process Theory vs. Trichromatic Theory

Opponent Process Theory logo

So, if the opponent process theory is popular, what is Trichromatic theory and how does it relate to the opponent process theory?

Psyc explains that these two theories intend to illustrate different aspects of how we see in color and can work alongside one another.

The trichromatic theory was pioneered by Young and Helmholtz, who believed that individuals required three different wavelengths to see in color. Each wavelength has its own purpose and is in control of an entirely different set of chemicals.

Trichromatic theory believes that the overall balance of the three wavelengths is key to our perception of color.

The opponent process theory suggests that these three wavelengths exist, too. However, Hering believed that all three wavelengths existed within each color pairing of black and white, red and green, and blue and yellow.

Hering explains this through his theory of positive and negative chemical reactions through each color combination. Which of the three wavelengths that you hit is determined by the type of chemical reaction occurring within the color pairing.

With Trichromatic theory, it’s the opposite.

However, when bringing these two theories together, they complement each other. The trichromatic theory explains the science of color vision on a photoreceptor level.

Opponent process theory explains how color vision comes about as a result of how the photoreceptors are actually connected neurologically.

The Opponent-Process Theory in Action

The Opponent Process Theory circle colored

Sometimes, science comes to you. You can test out the theory of the opponent process yourself at home.

Healthline says you can use an experiment that can help to produce a negative afterimage. To conduct this experiment, you’ll need to place a small square of white paper in the center of a larger colored square.

The colored square can either be red, yellow, green or blue. Once you’ve centered your small white square, look at it for thirty seconds.

Immediately after this, look at another, much larger square of white paper and blink a couple of times.

Take note of the color of the afterimage you see.

Your afterimage should produce the opposite color to the one you’ve just looked at. This phenomenon is called cone fatigue.

As we learned above, the receptor cones in our eyes are one of three different wavelengths. If you look at the same color for an extended period, that particular cone receptor will become tired.

However, the cone receptors in your eyes responsible for looking at the opposing color have remained fresh and unused. They quickly replace the tired receptors, showing you the opposite color in your afterimage.

The Opponent-Process Theory and Emotion

Lonely girl setting

It seems that the opponent process theory is already complex enough. However, Richard Solomon didn’t see it this way and believed that he could add more to it.

Healthline continues by describing how Solomon built on Hering’s opponent process theory with his own opinion of motivational states and emotion. Solomon’s theory looks at emotions and notes how there are opposites for almost all of them. For example, the opposite of fear is relief, and the opposite of pain is pleasure.

Solomon’s emotion theory proposed that when we experience one of these emotions, our body is automatically suppressing the conflicting feeling.

An example of this is when you are awarded a prize. When you’re handed your prize, you feel pleasure and joy. However, a little while after receiving it, you may experience opposing feelings of sadness.

While this secondary reaction will eventually disappear, it often lasts longer than the first emotion. After repeated exposure to a stimulus, the first emotion always fades, giving way to the secondary feeling which intensifies.

Over time, the secondary emotion can become the emotion most associated with that stimulus.

How It Relates to Drug Addiction

lying girl with medicine in the floor

The opponent process theory, along with its additional concepts contributed by Solomon, is a great way to explain what people experience when they go through drug addiction.

Medical News Today says that when a person is addicted to a drug or substance, the pleasure they’ll feel from the drug will slowly decrease over time. This eventually leads to the person getting no positive feelings out of taking the drug.

In fact, not only will they not feel pleasure, but they’ll resort to the negative feelings they first experienced when the drug subsided.

This is known as experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

The person addicted to the drugs is now taking them to avoid the emotions they feel when in withdrawal. This is because motivation and emotions are the most significant driving forces when it comes to addiction.

The longer a person is addicted to drugs, the more negative side effects they’ll experience. The person’s desire to avoid the negative withdrawal symptoms often gets in the way of their potential to quit.

One of the best ways of controlling the emotions a person experiences when addicted to drugs is by first maintaining control of the adverse effects. This will push their need for a motive forward, encouraging them to look beyond the negative emotions toward the positive outcome that lies ahead.

Looking at the Opponent Process Theory

Opponent Process Theory logo

In the human body, everything interconnects.

While the opponent-process theory first started out as a way to explain the ability to see in color, it’s now widely used to describe the psychological effects of drug addiction.

Science and psychology typically offer opposing theories that address different aspects of people as human beings. However, now and then, they come together to form revolutionary ideas regarding the intricate inner workings that make us who we are.

Whether the opponent process theory has led to more light shed on color vision or drug addiction, all we know is that it’s helped to explain multiple facets of how we function and why we behave the way we do.

AP Psychology Study Resource: Social Identity Theory

We are all social by nature. However, our social identity isn’t always such smooth sailing. Let’s take a look at social identity theory, a psychological study into the way we as humans behave in social settings and groups.

The rise of social media has led us to share everything and be hyper-social.

We find our identity in our friend groups and broader social groupings that we can find common ground with.

It’s essential for our sense of identity and self-esteem to be able to assimilate successfully with some part of society. It’s inherent to who we are as human beings.

What is the Social Identity Theory?


So, what is social identity theory? Saul McLeod explains that social identity theory is an individual’s idea of who they are in accordance to the social groupings that they belong to.

Social identity theory proposes that the social groups an individual belongs and subscribes to are an important source of their pride and self-esteem. Being a part of a social group gives us, as a human, a sense of social identity and belonging in the world.

We use the social groups we are a part of to increase our self-image.

This works both ways – we also improve the status of our social groups to build ourselves up. An example of this is believing that the country we are from is the best country in the world.

Similarly, we can also use the opposite approach to make ourselves feel important. We can be quick to put down and act prejudiced against other countries, or groups that we don’t belong to.

A History of Social Identity Theory

Let’s take a little look at the history of social identity theory. Wikipedia explains that the term “social identity theory” was first used in the academic sphere in the 1970’s. However, the basic underlying concepts associated with this theory were already used by the early 20th century.

Social psychologists John Turner and Henri Tajfel came up with this theory in the 1970’s to explain the correlation between an individual’s personal identity and their intergroup behavior.

Initially, a collectivist perspective was taken on social identity theory, when it was first proposed as a concept in the 20th century. This implied that all social variables within a group were interlinked, meaning they moved and changed together, influencing one another.

However, when Henri Tajfel began his study of social identity theory, he approached it from an entirely different angle. He believed that the different characteristics found within group behavior weren’t interconnected.

Instead, he believed that these different aspects moved haphazardly through time and changed regardless of one another.

Since the 1970’s, social identity theory has primarily reflected a desire to move back towards a more collectivist perspective, especially concerning social psychology of social groups and the individual.

Ingroup Favoritism in Social Identity Theory


Let’s explore some of these different characteristics with social identity theory.

BC Campus explains that Henri Tajfel demonstrated how influential the role of self-preservation and concern is in group settings and perceptions. He found that merely dividing people into groups produced the concept of ingroup favoritism.

Ingroup favoritism is the tendency for individuals to respond more positively to other people within their own group, than to individuals outside of this group.

This characteristic of social identity theory begins at a young age. Children quickly develop a sense of identity within their own group. This “group” is typically characterized by race and gender. These feelings of ingroup identity will begin to influence the child’s behavior.

Young children have shown a greater liking for other children that fall into their own race and gender categories. After the age of three, children will typically play exclusively with individuals who are the same sex as them.

What’s interesting about this theory is that individuals also favor other people within their group that are more likely to express their own ingroup favoritism. What’s even more interesting is that babies as young as nine months old can also favor people who discriminate in this way.

Stereotypes in Social Identity Theory


Another interesting characteristic of social identity theory is stereotypes. Psychologie explains that stereotypes are often used to put people into categories based on an over-simplified perspective.

Stereotypes typically come about as a result of an individual situation applied to the entire group or community that the individual belongs to. Stereotypes are usually used to create a separation between groups and establish social superiority.

A typical example of this concept is the different stereotypes separating Native Americans and cowboys. The popular stereotype of cowboys states that they are civilized and modern, while Native Americans are dull and uncouth.

This stereotype results in the marginalization and establishment of the superiority of cowboys over Native Americans. This particular example reiterates itself in role-playing games that children play, wherein a fight between these two groupings, the Cowboys emerge champion over the Native Americans.

The stereotype concept is a characteristic of social identity theory that reinforces the similarities between ingroup individuals and the differences between these individuals and people of other groups.

Aspects of Social Identity Theory

We’ve discussed a couple of characteristics associated with social identity theory. Now, let’s summarize the three most common elements:

  • Social Categorization: Our first aspect is one that we’ve covered briefly already. Learning Theories explains that social categorization is the way we put people into boxes to identify and understand them better.

Examples of social categories include Democrat, student, professor. Belonging and understanding the groups that we belong to can give us detailed insight into who we are as individuals. We can also define what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate when it comes to behavior, according to the groups that we belong to.

  • Social Identification: When we adopt the identity of the social group that we belong to, we begin to emulate ourselves and act in ways that we think other members of the group would. As an example, if you identify as a Democrat, you’re likely to adopt the behaviors you most associate with and see within this group. As a result, you may develop an emotional connection to this identity, and your self-esteem may end up depending on it.
  • Social Comparison: Once we’ve developed a strong sense of identity within our chosen group, we begin to compare ourselves to other members of the group and find differences in people outside of this group. To maintain the self-esteem you’ve developed, you and other members of the group will compare against other groups in favor of yourselves. This helps to explain concepts like discrimination and prejudice.

Positive-Negative Asymmetry and Intergroup Similarity


Now that we’ve covered the fundamental characteristics found within social identity theory, let’s look at a couple of potentially controversial aspects. Aspects that may result from this type of social behavior.

The first is positive-negative asymmetry.

Wikipedia explains that this phenomenon is when members of a group prefer to punish individuals outside of their group circle. Instead of rewarding those within the group to develop their self-esteem.

The result of this idea means that social identity theory is unable to deal with bias when it comes to negative dimensions. For ingroup favoritism to occur, the social identity of a group must be psychologically dominant.

The second idea that exists as a result of social identity theory is an intergroup similarity.

This is the concept that when two groups are similar, there is a higher degree of motivation to establish themselves as different and separate from one another.

The reason why this second concept is so interesting is that it proposes an argument against the first theory.

Whether ingroup encouragement is more prevalent than outgroup discrimination to build up one’s self-esteem and sense identity is anyone’s guess. While both of these theories are valid and demonstrative, they also create an inconsistency in social identity theory.

An In-Depth Look at Social Identity Theory


As individuals, we can often find it hard to navigate our often harsh, cruel world.

However, other individuals around us consistently show similar patterns of behavior. This, in turn, helps us to feel solidarity in our struggles. And, encourages us to be more social to grow a strong sense of self.

Building our self-esteem from social interactions is a form of human behavior. It has been around much longer than the term “social identity theory.”

To learn more about ourselves as individuals and develop a strong sense of identity, we seek out those who are similar to us. Those who can shed light on who we are. When we function in these social groups, we end up isolation other individuals around us.

To build ourselves up individually, we bring others down.

This particular pattern of human behavior is so inherent that it lies on a subconscious level. We can’t help but feel influenced by the people in our social groups.

Featured image: CC0 Public Domain johnhain via Pixabay

AP Psychology Study Resource: Self-Concept

AP Psychology Study Resource: Self-Concept

Have you ever wondered what makes you – You?

Even if you have never thought much about this before, you will probably have some answers ready.

You might say you are a “father,” a “teacher,” a “free spirit,” or a “loving wife.”

Or you may look toward your achievements, saying you are “a successful entrepreneur” or an “award-winning author.” Alternatively, you may look at your personal traits, saying you are “happy go lucky,” “kind-hearted,” or “motivated,” for example.

No response is right or wrong – your opinion of yourself comes with a deep inner sense of knowing who you are as a person.

You develop this sense during your early years but through your life and those constant evaluations and changes you go through, it may change slightly.

This is the idea of self-concept, which we’ll explore in more detail below.

The Definition of Self-Concept

In general terms, self-concept refers to how someone perceives, evaluates, or thinks about themselves. Those who have a concept of themselves are aware of themselves.

There are many different definitions of this concept but they are all based on roughly the same idea – that it’s about the individual belief we have in ourselves, including what and who this “self” is, the personal attributes we have, and the many other aspects that join together to make us who we are, including spiritual, social, emotional, and physical points.

Your concept of self is the mental idea you have of who you are.

When you are young, this concept is far more moldable because you are still discovering yourself and forming your identity.

As you age, your self-perception will become more organized and detailed – you will have a better understanding of who you are what is important to you.

Lewis (1990) also suggests that there are two aspects involved in our development of this concept:

The Existential Self

As the most basic aspect of our concept of self, this is the sense of being distinct and separate from others, while also being aware of the constant of our self – Bee (1992).

For example, the child recognizes they are a separate being to others and that, over time and space, they continue to exist.

And according to Lewis, we become aware of our existential self from as young as 2-3 months old. This is partly down to the relationship a child develops with the world. They touch something and it moves or they smile at someone and someone smiles back, for instance.

The Categorical Self

Now, having come to the realization that they exist as an individual experiencing entity, they start to become aware that they are also an object.

Other things, including people, create experiences through their properties (e.g. they are rough, green, tall, or small), and the child becomes aware that, as an object with properties, they too can be experienced.

The self can also be categorized into other things such as skills, size, gender, or age. Age and gender are two of the first categories that will be applied to a child, “I am 2,” “I am a boy.”

During these early stages, the categories children place themselves in are very specific – e.g. their height, eye color, and favorite things.

But later on, they will also start to reference comparative evaluations, internal psychological traits, and other people’s perceptions to create their self-description.

This leads on to the different theories psychologists have about what components make up our self-concept.

What Makes Up Our Self-Concept?

As with all theories, there are various different ways you can look at this concept.

The social identity theory believes this concept is made up of two key aspects: personal and social identity.

Our personal self-includes the characteristics and personality traits that make us unique, whereas our social identity refers to the groups we are part of, including our college, religion, community, and other such groups.

In 1992, Dr. Bruce A. Bracken put forward the idea that our concept of self is made up of six areas:

  • Affect: Our awareness of emotional states
  • Social: Our ability to interact with others
  • Physical: How we feel about our physical condition, health, looks, and general appearance
  • Competence: Our ability to meet basic needs
  • Academic: Our achievements or failures in school
  • Family: How well we work in our family unit

Carl Rogers (1959) also had the theory that there are three parts to our self-concept:

Self-Image (How You Perceive Yourself)

Here, it’s important to understand that someone’s self-image and reality may not coincide.

Someone might have an egotistical self-image, believing they are better at certain things than they actually are. Or, someone might be self-deprecating, meaning they perceive or exaggerate weaknesses or flaws.

For example, a teenage girl may assume that she is socially inept, clumsy, and awkward when in reality she is well-liked and charming. A teenage boy may think he is overweight when he is actually quite thin.

Each person’s self-image will be influenced by many factors, including the media, friends, parents, social roles, physical characteristics, and personality traits.

In 1960, Kuhn explored the idea of self-image with his, The Twenty Statements Test.

He asked his participants to come up with 20 different answers to the question, “Who am I?”

His findings allowed him to divide the responses into two main categories – social roles and personality traits – an idea we already touched on above.

Social roles include objective or external aspects of ourselves, such as a friend, tutor, or daughter. Personality traits include affective or internal aspects of ourselves, such as funny, impatient, or kind.

Typically, when younger people are describing themselves, they will use personal features, whereas older people will feel their social roles play greater importance in their definition.

Self-Esteem (How Much You Value Yourself)

Sometimes known as self-worth, self-esteem refers to what extent we approve, accept, or like ourselves. It is also how much value we give ourselves. To create this view of ourselves, there is a degree of evaluation involved. It will also allow us to create a positive or negative perception of ourselves.

If we have a high self-esteem, we feel positive about ourselves. This gives us self-acceptance, confidence in our abilities, optimism, and lack of concern over what other people think.

But if we have a low self-esteem, we are negative about ourselves. This often leads to pessimism, wanting to look like or be someone else, lack of confidence, and constant worry about what other people think.

According to Argyle (2008), our self-esteem is influenced by 4 major factors:

  • How Others React: If people want to be in our company, are complimentary, admire us, listen to us, and agree with us, we tend to create a self-image that’s very positive. But if they tell us things we don’t want to hear, neglect us, and avoid spending time with us, this creates a negative self-image.
  • Comparison to Others: When we compare ourselves to people who we perceive to be better looking, richer, more successful, and happier than us, we will often create a negative self-image for ourselves. However, this becomes more positive if they are less successful than us.
  • Social Roles: There are certain roles in society that carry respect, including pilots, doctors, top footballers, and A-list celebrities. Other roles come with a stigma, including being unemployed, a patient in a mental institute, a prisoner, or a refuse collector.
  • Identification: The roles we play also become part of who we are. The positions we occupy, the groups we belong to, and the roles we play are all something we identify with.

Ideal Self (What You Wish You Could Be)

This is the person you would like to be. Also, there is often a mismatch between how you perceive yourself and what you would really like to be.

When this occurs and your self-image and ideal-self don’t match up, this tends to affect the value you have for yourself. Therefore, there is a close relationship between your self-esteem, ideal-self, and self-image, something psychologists explore through the Q-Sort Method.

For example, your ideal self may not match up to the experiences you have or what happens in your life. And when there is a difference between the actual experience and your ideal self, this is known as incongruence. But if there is consistency between the two, this creates a state of congruence.

It is very rare that a complete state of congruence will occur because the majority of us will have a certain level of incongruence.

The influences that affect how we develop this state of congruence are found in the four major factors Michael Argyle put forward for self-esteem.

Furthermore, Carl Rogers also stated that incongruence starts to form as early as our childhood. When parents introduce conditions on the affection they show toward their children (e.g. they have to “earn” their love and affection by behaving in a certain manner). The children then start to distort these memories which leaves them feeling as though they don’t deserve the love of their parents.

In contrast, unconditional love helps develop congruence. If a child feels this love, their memories don’t become distorted because they believe that others will accept and love them just the way they are.

Finding Your Self-Concept

Ultimately, self-concept is a complex and ever-changing theory. It depends on your personal belief systems, feelings, and attitudes. All of which can change when you receive new information.

Featured image: CC0 Creative Commons, bugent via https://pixabay.com.