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Experiencing Psychological Processes and Understanding their Implications

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Abstract:

In this paper, I present 3 types of classroom experiences that illustrate important psychological processes, and how these processes relate to politics. Specifically, this paper describes how to administer a priming task, the Stroop task, and one of Kahnemann & Tversky's experiments about risk and uncertainty. These experiences can easily be done in a classroom setting, and they have the virtue of involving the entire class. I have used these experiences for several years, and have found that two of the tasks (the Stroop task and the Kahnemann & Tversky experiment) always produce the intended results. The priming task succeeds about two thirds of the time, but failures also create teachable moments about the limitations of these psychological effects.
The priming task illustrates the influence of accessibility and of the relationship between objects in memory that do not appear similar (in this case a list of numbers and answering a verbal question). The students then have a more personal understanding of priming, which can help in courses on media and politics and political psychology.
The Stroop task illustrates the interference paradigm. That is, when different memory subsystem disagree, it takes longer to perform a memory task. The interference paradigm has been widely used and underlies some studies in political science that use reaction time as well as the widely-used and highly controversial IAT. The IAT test's supporters claim it is a valid measure of prejudice. During or outside class time, students can also experience the IAT on their own (http://implicit.harvard.edu). In addition to the psychological issues raised by the Stroop task and the IAT, we discuss how political scientists and psychologists differ in our understandings of racism and prejudice, especially in regards to the distinction between behavior and attitudes and free will.
The Kahnemann & Tversky experiment teaches the students how risk and uncertainty affect decisionmaking. This then leads to opportunities to explore rationality, rational choice theory and prospect theory.
The paper explains how to do each of these demonstrations and promising avenues for using the students' experiences to deepen their understanding of politics.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

peopl (32), program (25), task (21), access (18), student (17), word (17), list (16), memori (16), ask (16), one (15), time (14), two (13), experi (13), iat (12), polit (12), demonstr (11), flu (11), stroop (11), b (11), take (10), carrot (10),

Author's Keywords:

Transue, priming, Stroop, IAT, interference, psychology, accessibility, Kahneman, Tversky
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Name: APSA Teaching and Learning Conference
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http://www.apsanet.org


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MLA Citation:

Transue, John. "Experiencing Psychological Processes and Understanding their Implications" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, San Jose Marriott, San Jose, California, Feb 22, 2008 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245624_index.html>

APA Citation:

Transue, J. E. , 2008-02-22 "Experiencing Psychological Processes and Understanding their Implications" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, San Jose Marriott, San Jose, California Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245624_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: In this paper, I present 3 types of classroom experiences that illustrate important psychological processes, and how these processes relate to politics. Specifically, this paper describes how to administer a priming task, the Stroop task, and one of Kahnemann & Tversky's experiments about risk and uncertainty. These experiences can easily be done in a classroom setting, and they have the virtue of involving the entire class. I have used these experiences for several years, and have found that two of the tasks (the Stroop task and the Kahnemann & Tversky experiment) always produce the intended results. The priming task succeeds about two thirds of the time, but failures also create teachable moments about the limitations of these psychological effects.
The priming task illustrates the influence of accessibility and of the relationship between objects in memory that do not appear similar (in this case a list of numbers and answering a verbal question). The students then have a more personal understanding of priming, which can help in courses on media and politics and political psychology.
The Stroop task illustrates the interference paradigm. That is, when different memory subsystem disagree, it takes longer to perform a memory task. The interference paradigm has been widely used and underlies some studies in political science that use reaction time as well as the widely-used and highly controversial IAT. The IAT test's supporters claim it is a valid measure of prejudice. During or outside class time, students can also experience the IAT on their own (http://implicit.harvard.edu). In addition to the psychological issues raised by the Stroop task and the IAT, we discuss how political scientists and psychologists differ in our understandings of racism and prejudice, especially in regards to the distinction between behavior and attitudes and free will.
The Kahnemann & Tversky experiment teaches the students how risk and uncertainty affect decisionmaking. This then leads to opportunities to explore rationality, rational choice theory and prospect theory.
The paper explains how to do each of these demonstrations and promising avenues for using the students' experiences to deepen their understanding of politics.

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