Whenever we hear the word Psychology, we often think about Psychopaths and crime/ horror movies.... and when I told my friends that I have taken a course on Psychology, they were little puzzled as to "Why Psychology?" and some even laughed and giggled with thier own percpetions about this subject. However after reading the subject and following quite a few forums and websites, I realized that Psychology is not as what we think and infact everybody should understand the basics discussed in this subject infact it is about human thinking, human life.

This subject helps us to gain understanding to biological, behaviourial, cognitive, humanisitic perspectives of human being and hence this blog is aimed at reassuring everyone that yes psychology is a science but it revolves around our day to day common life.

Sanjay who is my fellow colleague and class mate in M.Sc psychology will also be a co-author of this blog and together we will be posting articles on weekly basis to provide you some great insights about "Psychology"

So if you are curious to know more about this subject...Keep visiting here regularly and we assure you that this blog will keep you informed and interested.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cognitive Dissonance - Internal Conflict between Action and Belief

How many times people get tempted by an Ice cream/ Chocolate while you claim to be on diet?

what exactly runs in thier mind, when they become conscious about their dieting and as well as an urge temptation to eat the ice cream. They get into internal conflict between thier attitude and behaviour

This state of mind with two conflicting ideas is called Cognitive Dissonance.

There are other examples which can also be applied like

Smokker who wishes to quit smoking but still tempted to have one more cigarrette

Impulsive shopper who wants to curb thier spending but gets excited by the SALE!!!

Another example could be working on the boring job rather than pursuing thier own interests

Buying an expensive car and then doubting one's own decision. Often called Buyer's remorse.

Sitting in a boring class for the sake of attendance

Cognitive Dissonance will be reduced by justifying one's own efforts or by joining with people who have similar thought against the conventional belief.

Leon Festinger is the psychologist who coined this term for us. He also has an interesting theory on cognitive dissonance. This theory suggests that when people behave in way not consistent to thier beliefs, an internal uncomfortable tension arouses within them. This tension will lead them to change thier belief to fit to thier actions rather than bringing the action back to original belief.

Dont you all agree with this point :-)

Next time when you come across this interesting situation in your life, remember it as Cognitive Dissonance and see if you can stick to belief. This will improve your self concept.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Role of Psychology in Advertisements

What comes to your mind when you hear about the word "Advertisement"?
60% of response would be TV commercials....but let us look at it more closely...
Advertisements appear in newspaper, Radio, Pamphlets, Bill boards in the city or inside shops, Small & big banners in public places, inside/outside public transportation, (some trains are painted with advertisements nowadays), websites with scrolling/blinking ads, SMS in your mobile :)
Don't you think this is too much of information for our brain to process!!!! Yes it is...
The fact that ad agencies are applying lot of psychological techniques to cheat, persuade, induce guilt, give feel good factor for consumers.

Let us see some common psychological techniques applied in advertising.....

Archetypes - Ad agencies try to use archetypes, that is people tend to believe things if they are shown in scientific format, something like a lab setup with somebody wearing coat... The below ad shows some guy working in Vento plant who has taken so much care in building this product and asking the customer to take good care of the product he made... even though this doesnt make sense in the real world, it makes VW consumers to believe thier products are created and carefully crafted with passion...
Another segment of Ad's portray subtle competitive battle, the below ad for fiama di wills portrays a subtle battle with its competitor Dove which boasts about moisturaization and this product persuade all woman population to be fair, glowing skin by using thier product. This advertising strategy has been a pretty common theme between health drinks ads like Horlicks and Complan etc..

Some advertisement do not really make any sense with the product but still catch the attention of the customer, everybody liked this Idea 3G ad about population control but never really bothered to investigate about the correlation between use of 3G tablet and population control...But still these products continue to make such attention capturing advertisements and enter the subconscious awareness of the consumer.

Some advertisements like the below Peposodant ad focuses on day to day family interactions and subtly make them appealing to the consumer crowd. There is a similar advertisement about cadbury's dairy milk eaten as a desert in a family dinner table with a small girl becoming conscious about her portion :-)

Sex Appeal - This is another stream of ad plot. And many masculine products try to portray the sex appeal as major theme and try to persuade the guys, but all men know in reality that buying a Rs100 deodorant is not going to bring any bikini babes to them. Still both ad agencies and men out there fantasise such advertisement and sometimes it gets really annoying broadcasting in such primetime when family watches TV with children. Nobody bothers to sue these guys :-) Thanks to some steps taken, the fast track ad has been censored recently and there is a link glowing asking audience to watch the uncensored version of advertisement in thier website.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Electra & Odipeus Complex

The title for this post might sound very much 'Greek and Latin' however you will understand the discussion better as we move further.

When it comes to small children, there is very common phenomenon that Girl babies are more prone to be father's pet and boys are always mommy's favourite. This is very common observation in every household. From psychological point of view, Sigmund Freud has developed a Psychosexual Theory and classified Child development into different stages. I am not going to explain all of them here, but to the point, he emphasises about how children get easily attracted to the opposite sex parent. Children's first social environment starts from home and parents are the first point of interactions. They learn about the basic qualities including sexual differences from thier immediate circle. That is why boys try to imitate thier father like characteristics and girls tries to learn things which her mom does in the house.

Freud argued that the young boy desires his mother as his love interest and also sees his father as rival which was highlighed as odipeus complex derived from greek mythology where odipeus killed his own father to marry her mother and similarly Electra complex acts a female equivalent where the girl wanted to marry her own father. Even though this theory was highly criticised, it does seem to echo in terms male and female children behaviourial perspective.

Children learning about sex within family circle is nature and by the time they attain the puberty the sexual fixation is ressurected but instead of being family oriented it focuses on attraction towards members outside family circle.

Our community imposes lot of importance on parents to teach the kids with proper language, arithmetic and even arts and other skills, but we all do neglect the importance of understanding the children's need to understand sexual development.
So for parents and parents to be, this post is aimed at enabling all of you to have an open mind and accept the little children curiosity to learn about genital differences, sex and gudie them with right information and prepare your kids with sex education at the very early stage than leaving them to learn from strangers or other sources.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Right or Wrong - Kohlberg Moral Developmental Theory

What is acceptable and what is not acceptable behaviour? We all follow some moral standrards that we have developed over the years and try to follow it most of the times and also break the rules at times. There is an interesting theory about moral stages development proposed by Kohlberg. Before getting into this theory let me give you a few scenarios

Samrudhi- A 5 month toddler, does not bother what is right or wrong. She plays, laughs, cries. She has no sense of obligation to anybody and totally egocentric. At this infant stage she seeks only pleasure and avoids pain.

Vedha- A 5 year old kid, knows to some extent on what is right and what is wrong based on her family rules. She obeys her family rules in order to avoid punishment. If she is appreciated and not punished then it means that she did something right and if she is criticised and punished then she understands that she did something wrong.

Karthik- A 11 year old kid has more better understanding of the moral values and obeys certain rules for personal gain. Be a good student in the class to be recognized by teacher and friends. Scores good marks so that his dad will enroll him in cricket coaching academy etc...

Anu- A teenager who studies in college knows very well about things which are right and wrong...she finds her peer approval is more important than what society calls it right. She makes decisions which will make her felt included with her peers and also has grown to level where she can understand things from other perspective.

Ramesh - A software professional working in an MNC is motivated by the greatest good for the people and often trusts in consensus and contracts where there is mutual benefit. He also believes that rules can be changed but can be done only through a system.

John - A well settled middle aged person with family and kids. He believes in his own set of ethical principles that he has created over a period of time based on reading, past experiences, life incidents. He may also possess an altruistic view which will be difficult for others to comprehend. Like his parents, John tries to ensure his kids are following what is right and wrong according to him.

Now can we map all this above said 6 characters to the below chart developed by kohlberg

Samrudhi - Stage 0, Vedha - Stage 1, Karthik - Stage 2 & Stage 3, Anu - Stage 4, Ramesh - Stage 5, John - Stage 6

In fact we all have undergone all these stages, Dont we?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cognitive Therapy for Stress Relief

In today’s world everybody is affected with stress and knowingly or unknowingly we accept that it is a norm.

There has been quite a lot of resources available in the internet regarding stress relief, however from psychological perspective this post will address some of cognitive aspect of handling stress.

After all it is how we think about a situation in life rather than the actual situation itself. In the corporate world, there may be two people who got the same performance rating for the same kind of work that they do but one person may crib because of high expectations whereas the other person may just feel satisfied with the rating.

Some people tend to see things in a more positive light, and others tend to view things more negatively, putting themselves at a disadvantage in life

I am going to break down this complex topic into three simpler units

Knowing the cognitive distortions
Analyzing the self talk
Reversing the cognitive distortions from negative to positive

#1 Cognitive Distortions – Even though this sounds like a hi-fi word, you will understand it much easier when I list them down… here are some common distortions we face every day in life.

All or Nothing Thinking –
I am always poor in mathematics”
“You are fit for nothing”


This is again related to the previous one, where one incident is used to generalize that things will always go wrong….

Pessimistic View – Looking at the negatives when there were so many positives around. You may go to a wonderful dinner with a lovely ambience, tasty food but just might get upset because the waiter did not bother to hear you in the end and you had to wait for 10 minutes for the bill.

Blame Game – When there may be 10 different factors for a thing to go wrong, some people usually take the blame or put the blame on close ones and it brings out a huge amount of stress.

Should/ Have to – Some of us use a lot of “I should” , “I have to” in our self talk which needs to carefully re-examined whether the situation is really a “should” or “could”

#2 Self Talk – We all do self talk, but we are not consciously aware that we are doing a self talk and lot of things can improve if we start revisiting our self talk and if we can retune our self talk into more positive manner. After reading this post, I encourage all of you to just observe your self talk for some days and try to gather some patterns. You may be doing a lot of positive self talk and may be the events on that days will be associated with positive emotions and you will also notice that some of your bad days will be associated with lot of distortions that are listed above. If you can do this for the first weeks and become aware of the distortions popping up in your self talk that is when you can assure yourself that you are ready for the next stage.

#3 Reversing the cognitive distortions.

The below listed are some of the cognitive distortions…
All or Nothing Thinking
Pessimistic View
Blame Game
Should/ Have to

While attempting to reverse the distortions, our thinking has to be totally in the opposite directions, for example instead of generalizing things we should start looking them as situation specific.

A practical example of getting stuck in traffic can be resolved by many alternatives

Revisiting the route to see if there are less crowded alternatives even though if its slightly lengthier than the crowded route
Finding the most optimal time to avoid peak traffic
Using public transportation so that the time spent in traffic could be used for reading books/ listening to music
Doing car pooling so that you get to go with friends and have nice chat and doesn’t have to drive every day at the same time save fuel and money.

So to conclude, each situation in life is how we see it and how we relate it. If we become consciously aware of the distortions in self talk and look at reversing the distortions in more positive manner, we are sure to get relief and will be in better position to avoid stress.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Behaviour Modification Technique for Weight Loss

As I said in blog introduction, psychology is about human thinking, behaviour, personality. As a first topic for the blog “Psychology for common Man”, I am going to address one of the key challenges that most of people ranging from adolescents to elderly people in the world are dealing with “Weight loss”

“I wish I could reduce 10kgs”
“I was not like this during my college days”
“Starting tomorrow I am going to hit the gym and you will see a different me in the next 6 months”
“I am afraid that I may end up with diabetes, I should start caring about my health”
“I am not sure if I can wear my favourite jeans again, god I don’t fit into it now”

Do the above phrases sound familiar to you or have you heard these kinds of statements often…. May be and most of the time I can hear a Yes!!!

Let us see how psychology can help with weight loss…. Of course it is the science of human mind which varies all of sudden for strict dieting and another moment craves back for the favourite Baskin Robbins Ice cream with caramel topping :)

Most of the time, we struggle hard to reduce weight but then we are unable to maintain them back and gain more than what we have struggled to lose. One reason for this to occur is because the human body is much more effective at vigorously defending against weight loss than it is protecting against weight gain. As caloric intake is reduced, fat cells begin to shrink, the person’s body actively defends against weight loss by decreasing metabolism and decreasing energy level. When they go off the diet, their now more energy efficient bodies quickly utilize the additional calories and they regain the weight that they lost.

Now with little help from the internal biological factors, people’s mind takes much higher responsibility for weight loss. From a cognitive perspective, let us consider the behaviour modification technique that can be used in general for any behaviour modification in this case weight loss. The same technique can be applied for quitting smoking, teaching your kids the right habits, overcoming constant mistakes that we do on day to day.

Behaviour Modification Techniques involves several stages and I am going to restrict the definitions for ease of understanding and focus on weight loss.

Behaviour Modification Technique for Weight loss

Identify Goal
Lose weight, healthy life style

Current Behaviour
Irregular eating habits
Careless choice of foods including junk, oily,
Zero exercise or activities

Target Behaviour
Regular eating habits,
Careful selection and wholesome food
Regular activities
Definition of deviation
Breakdown of end goal into weekly/ monthly goals
Data Recording System
Primary Endpoints
Exercise Routine
Secondary Endpoints
Occurrences of fatigue
Occurrences of cravings
Diet Deviation
Exercise Deviation

Behaviour Change Strategy
Fixed Diet Plan – Fixed Shopping Plan
Controlled Eat outs – Menu orders
Fixed Exercise Routine
Alternatives for Exercise Deviations

Program Implementation
Positive Enforcements for deviation
Rewards for Plan
Weekly Evaluations of Primary & Secondary Endpoints

Review of Program
Optimization of plan if things are working out/ not working out.

I hope the behaviour modification technique gives you a much scientific approach towards the conventional weight loss programs.

Happy dieting, Happy exercising and Happy weight loss!!! All the best!!!