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Lecture 3......
Jeremy Jackson
|     May 5, 2014
NW 3431
|     New Westminster
Carl Sagan: "Science is a way of thinking much more than a body of knowledge"

Key concepts - you will be responsible for knowing a number of definitions of key concepts. You may be asked to give an accurate definition and example of any of the key concepts. Key concepts are in italics, bolded and colored red throughout the notes.

Discussion exercises and class activities - the lecture notes contain a number of discussion questions and class activities. You should conduct these exercises as soon as they are introduced in the notes. Exercises are in italics, bolded and green throughout the notes.

Critical points - there are some points that require extra emphasis because they are fundamental to the example or concept being discussed. Critical points are bolded, in italics and colored orange.

Movies - throughout the notes I have made short videos explaining various ideas.

Let's begin this week with some examples of the kind of studies you might wish to do for your group projects.

Group Projects - Some Examples

1) Watch: Group Project Example 1

Just so we are clear from the video example, the IV here was: Presence of a male. There were two levels: a) male present and b) female present. The DV was calories consumed.

The students were interested in the effect of presence of a male on calories consumed. That is, the effect of the IV on the DV.

This is an experiment because subjects were randomly assigned to conditions (levels of the IV). A coin was flipped to see whether or not a female would be doing the task with a male or with another female.

The hypothesis was that fewer calories would be consumed when a male was present than when a female was present.

2) Watch: Group Project Example 2

This video describes a style of experiment that is well known in psychology. We give subjects a false impression of what they are experiencing and measure how this effects they way in which they behave towards it or think about it. This superb and very interesting talk by well known psychologist Paul Bloom is full of examples of this kind of study.

3) Watch: Group Project Example 3

You should be working with your group now to develop your group project idea. Use these videos as a place to begin. Now let's move on to the psychology of motivation.

Risk Homeostasis Theory

Risk homeostasis theory gives an explanation for driving behavior. Let's begin by asking a question about which of two vehicles is the safest.

Vehicle A

Vehicle A is a 1952 dodge. It has bald tires, old aging brakes and very loose, vague, indirect steering. The vehicle is hard to turn or stop. There are no seat-belts or any other kinds of modern safety features. Now there is another interesting feature of this vehicle...it has a steel spike emanating from the dash and stopping just 1 inch short of the drivers forehead. The spike is extremely sharp at the end so that even a light touch will draw blood.

Vehicle B

Vehicle B is entirely encased in rubber. The driver looks out of a small window in the rubber which is covered by 3 inch thick bullet proof glass. The driver is seated in a full 5-point racing safety harness and wears a fireproof Nomex driving suit and helmet. The vehicle has anti-lock brakes, a back-up camera and high powered Xenon headlights.


So which vehicle is safer? A or B?

The correct answer according to Risk Homeostasis Theory is that both vehicles are equally safe! Let's look at why.

RHT predicts that:


Where        A = The total traffic accident loss

H = The average number of hours a traffic user is exposed to the traffic environment

N = The number of traffic users

R = The average target risk of traffic users

Now let's look in detail at each of these factors.

"A" is the total traffic accident loss. This means the total cost of accidents due to all forms of loss. Roughly, we imagine that we assign a dollar cost to each kind of loss that happens and then add up the total cost.

For example, let's say there are 250 deaths in a year. We assign a dollar loss of $2,000,000 for a death. This means  that the total loss due to deaths = 250*2,000,000=500,000,000. Let's say that there are 2,000 broken arms in the same year. We assign a dollar loss of $50,000 to a broken arm and calculate a total loss due to broken arms of 2,000*50,000=$100,000,000. We do this for all forms of loss including broken tail lights, etc., and then add up all the numbers. This gives us "A".

"H" and "N" when multiplied by each other give us the total number of hours of exposure of all traffic users to the traffic environment. This includes the exposure of pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, car drivers, truck drivers, etc.

"R" is called TARGET RISK. This is the preferred amount of risk that an individual wishes to expose themselves to at any given moment (R is the average target risk for all users of the traffic environment). Now, RHT says that individuals are motivated to maintain EXPERIENCED RISK at this TARGET RISK level. That is, that individuals will constantly make adjustments to their behavior as the traffic environment changes in order to maintain experienced risk at the target level.

When experienced risk is at the target level we are said to be in a condition of homeostasis. Homeostasis is a condition that exists when a biological system in in equilibrium.

For example, when we are dehydrated, we are not in a state of homeostasis.

For example, when the temperature of a room is lower than the thermostat setting, the room is not in homeostasis.

This view is consistent with something called arousal theory. Arousal theory states that individuals are motivated to maintain levels of arousal at an optimal level. Risk creates arousal. So as risk goes up, arousal goes up. So we can see that maintaining arousal at a constant level is roughly equivalent to maintaining experienced risk at a target (or optimal) level.

There are some critical things to note about R.

1) The driving environment is constantly changing so experienced risk is constantly changing. R, on the other hand, is relatively constant for a given person.

2) This does not mean that R is completely fixed. We do change R from time to time. For example, if I am in a hurry, I may accept a higher level of target risk in order to reach my destination on time.

3) Different individuals have different levels of R. Your mother has a lower R than you do! Optimal level of risk goes down with age.

4) R can change with state of mind. For example, after consuming alcohol, R goes  up. We accept a higher level of target risk after drinking.

5) Drivers are not perfect at matching experienced risk to target risk. It may take some time for drivers to understand how a change in the driving environment has affected experienced risk. For this reason the accident loss may not always be perfectly related to R.

So the key to this theory is that if R does not change, the accident loss stays the same. So ONLY interventions that reduce R will reduce the total traffic accident loss.

This means that any modification to the vehicle that does not change R will not reduce the accident loss.

For example, anti-lock brakes will not reduce R. They will only reduce experienced risk. Once the driver recognizes that experienced risk is lower than target risk, they will modify their behavior to bring their experienced risk back to the target level.

Let's look at this cycle.

1) Driver in homeostasis: Experienced risk=Target risk.

2) Change in the environment: Anti-lock brakes turned on.

3) Lack of homeostasis: Experienced risk lower than target risk (because anti-lock brakes allow for better stopping).

4) Need: There is now a need to restore homeostasis.

5) Drive: The need creates a drive to increase experienced risk.

6) Modification to behavior: The driver speeds up or follows closer.

7) Return to homeostasis

Let's look at another example:

1) Driver in homeostasis: Experienced risk=Target risk.

2) Change in the environment: Speed limit introduced.

3) Lack of homeostasis: Experienced risk lower than target risk (because lower speed results in a less severe crash).

4) Need: There is now a need to restore homeostasis.

5) Drive: The need creates a drive to increase experienced risk.

6) Modification to behavior: The driver pays less attention to the road...listens to music, daydreams, etc.

7) Return to homeostasis.

Now, watch this short video for an explanation of RHT. Watch the: RHT Video now.

A number of years ago, an empirical test of RHT was done in the lower mainland. Let's look at the study and the results.

The study looked at the effect of road conditions on accident rates. Here is how the study was done.

Over a 10 year period, every case in which a period of 7 dry days was followed by 7 rainy days was identified.

17 such periods were identified.

Accident data was then collected for each day in these 17 periods from ICBC records. Total accident loss was measured by adding together all accidents costing over $2,000. The total number of accidents was then recorded for each day.

Watch theRHT Results Video now for an explanation of the results.

So what happened? According to RHT driver's are maintaining experienced risk at the target level during the first 7 dry days. Now, once the rain begins, the road surface becomes more slippery. If behavior is not changed, this leads to an increase in experienced risk. Since experienced risk has increased, accident rate should also increase on the first rain day. This is what we see.

Now, drivers observe the higher experienced risk they are exposed to on the second day and begin to adjust their behavior. They slow down, follow farther behind, etc. We can see that the adjustment takes 4 days. After the end of the 4th day the accident rate is back down to the dry road level - even though the road is still wet.

This is why according to RHT, wet, snowy, icy roads, etc. are NOT more dangerous than dry roads! The increase in danger comes form a failure to modify behavior quickly enough!


DRT views humans as driven to maintain optimal levels of various factors by satisfying NEEDS. You can read more about drive reduction theory in your text.

Now, Maslow argued that a hierarchy of NEEDS exists. The needs are:

Physiological: Food, water, sleep

Safety: Health, physical well-being, optimal risk

Belongingness: Friendships, love relationships, clubs, need for affiliation,  etc.

Esteem: Praise, reward, recognition, etc.

Self-actualization: Pursuit of moral goals, charity, search for higher meaning in life, etc.

It's important to understand that a human is motivated to fulfill the first need before moving on to the next need. So if a human is not fed well, they are not motivated to attain safety or belongingness. The final need is the need for self-actualization. This is often difficult for students to understand so I have included additional material here to help you understand this need.


Maslow has used a variety of terms to refer to this level:  He has called it growth motivation (in contrast to deficit motivation), being needs and self-actualization.

These are needs that do not involve balance or homeostasis.  Once engaged, they continue to be felt.  In fact, they are likely to become stronger as we “feed” them.  They involve the continuous desire to fulfill potentials, to “be all that you can be.”  They are a matter of becoming the most complete, the fullest, you - hence the term, self-actualization.

Now, in keeping with his hierarchical theory, if you want to be truly self-actualizing, you need to have your lower needs taken care of, at least to a considerable extent.  If you are hungry, you are scrambling to get food;  If you are unsafe, you have to be continuously on guard;  If you are isolated and unloved, you have to satisfy that need;  If you have a low sense of self-esteem, you have to be defensive or compensate.  When lower needs are unmet, you can’t fully devote yourself to fulfilling your potentials.

It is important to remember that only a small percentage of the world’s population is truly, predominantly, self-actualizing.  Maslow at one point suggested only about two percent!

The question becomes, of course, what exactly does Maslow mean by self-actualization.  One way to answer this question is to look at the kind of people he called self-actualizers.  Maslow did this using a qualitative method called biographical analysis.

He began by picking out a group of people, some historical figures, some people he knew, whom he felt clearly met the standard of self-actualization.  Included in this group were Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Adams, William James, Albert Schweitzer, Benedict Spinoza, and Alduous Huxley, plus 12 unnamed people who were alive at the time Maslow did his research.  He then looked at their biographies, writings, the acts and words of those he knew personally, and so on.  From these sources, he developed a list of qualities that were characteristic of these people.

These people were:

1) Reality-centered, which means they could differentiate what is fake and dishonest from what is real and genuine. 

2) Problem-centered, meaning they treated life’s difficulties as problems demanding solutions, not as personal troubles to be railed at or surrendered to.  And they had a different perception of means and ends.  They felt that the ends don’t necessarily justify the means, that the means could be ends themselves, and that the means -- the journey -- was often more important than the ends.

3) The self-actualizers also had a different way of relating to others. 

a) they enjoyed solitude, and were comfortable being alone.   

b) they enjoyed deeper personal relations with a few close friends and family members, rather than more shallow relationships with many people.

c) they enjoyed autonomy, a relative independence from physical and social needs. 

d) they resisted enculturation, that is, they were not susceptible to social pressure to be "well adjusted" or to "fit in".

e) they had an unhostile sense of humor -- preferring to joke at their own expense, or at the human condition, and never directing their humor at others. 

f) they had a quality he called acceptance of self and others, by which he meant that these people would be more likely to take you as you are than try to change you into what they thought you should be.  This same acceptance applied to their attitudes towards themselves:  If some quality of theirs wasn’t harmful, they let it be, even enjoying it as a personal quirk.  On the other hand, they were often strongly motivated to change negative qualities in themselves that could be changed. They preferred being themselves rather than being pretentious or artificial.  In fact, for all their nonconformity, he found that they tended to be conventional on the surface, just where less self-actualizing nonconformists tend to be the most dramatic.

g) they had a sense of humility and respect towards others -- something Maslow also called democratic values -- meaning that they were open to ethnic and individual variety, even treasuring it. 

4) These people had a certain freshness of appreciation, an ability to see things, even ordinary things, with wonder.  Along with this comes their ability to be creative, inventive, and original. 

5) Finally, these people tended to have more peak experiences than the average person.  A peak experience is one that takes you out of yourself, that makes you feel very small, or very large, to some extent one with life or nature or God.  It gives you a feeling of being a part of the infinite and the eternal.  These experiences tend to leave their mark on a person, change them for the better, and many people actively seek them out.  They are also called mystical experiences, and are an important part of many religious and philosophical traditions.

There were several flaws or imperfections he discovered along the way as well:  First, they often suffered considerable anxiety and guilt - but realistic anxiety and guilt, rather than misplaced or neurotic versions.  Some of them were absentminded and overly kind.  And finally, some of them had unexpected moments of ruthlessness, surgical coldness, and loss of humor.

Two other points he makes about these self-actualizers:  Their values were "natural" and seemed to flow effortlessly from their personalities.  And they appeared to transcend many of the dichotomies others accept as being undeniable, such as the differences between the spiritual and the physical, the selfish and the unselfish, and the masculine and the feminine.

Metaneeds and Metapathologies

Another way in which Maslow approached the problem of what self-actualization is was to talk about the special, driving needs of the self-actualizers.  They need the following in their lives in order to be happy:

Truth, rather than dishonesty.
Goodness, rather than evil.
Beauty, not ugliness or vulgarity.
Unity, wholeness, and transcendence of opposites, not arbitrariness or forced choices.
Aliveness, not deadness or the mechanization of life.
Uniqueness, not bland uniformity.
Perfection and necessity, not sloppiness, inconsistency, or accident.
Completion, rather than incompleteness.
Justice and order, not injustice and lawlessness.
Simplicity, not unnecessary complexity.
Richness, not environmental impoverishment.
Effortlessness, not strain.
Playfulness, not grim, humorless, drudgery.
Self-sufficiency, not dependency.
Meaningfulness, rather than senselessness.

At first glance, you might think that everyone obviously needs these.  But think:  If you are living through an economic depression or a war, or are living in a ghetto or in rural poverty, do you worry about these issues, or do you worry about getting enough to eat and a roof over your head?  In fact, Maslow believes that much of the what is wrong with the world comes down to the fact that very few people really are interested in these values -- not because they are bad people, but because they haven’t even had their basic needs taken care of.

When a self-actualizer doesn’t get these basic needs fulfilled, they respond with metapathologies -- a list of problems as long as the list of metaneeds!  When forced to live without these values, the self-actualizer develops depression, despair, disgust, alienation, and a degree of cynicism.

I'd like you to watch this video....watch it a few times. Think about the relationship between what Dr Peterson is saying and self-actualization....wacth, it's important.

Thought Question

This point is very important. Why are there so few examples of us seeking truth, beauty, harmony, meaningfulness, self-sufficiency, uniqueness, etc? Why is there so much manipulation, deceit, greed, conflict, etc? Maslow is arguing that we do this because we do not have the other more basic needs met.

Perhaps the problem we have is that we fail to fully recognize the importance of physical health (need 2), love, friendship, togetherness, kindness towards others, common decency (need 3) and recognition, respect, acceptance (need 4). Perhaps we are so busy pursuing fundamentally superficial, unimportant goals - money, fame, selfish greed, ownership, etc., that we fail to recognize that our basic human needs have not been met. Perhaps we think that money, ownership, fame, etc, will self-actualize us when, in fact, they will not.

In this thought question, I would like you to explore this issue. Identify things we do within our culture that draw us off-track, that pull as away from belongingness, achievement and self-actualization. You could also identify other cultures or specific people within a culture that you think have not been drawn astray. Describe how this person or culture does pursue Maslow's higher needs and does not get drawn into the more superficial irrelevant goals of a modern capitalist, individualistic, economically oriented society.

Examples of our failure to pursue Maslow's needs and our tendency to be drawn in by individualistic, less spiritual and less meaningful goals can include:

a) Popular media - TV shows, Internet sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Do self-actualizers spend time on Twitter? Do they need this? Is Facebook really about belongingness or is it about notoriety, marketing, a superficial but ultimately unfulfilling attempt to bolster self-esteem?

b) Business ethics - cases in which business pursued greed, etc, rather than long-term, human-oriented, healthy practices. Research the Lehman Brothers crash during the recent economic meltdown. Why did that happen? Why was the CEO pursuing immediate greed as opposed to financial security and a long-term, viable, healthy business? Why did Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fail? Is the culture of these organizations oriented towards true safety, belongingness, esteem and self-actualization, or is it oriented towards other more superficial human goals? What role does modern business pay in drawing us away from our basic needs?

c) Political ethics - cases in which politicians may have pursued their own interests rather than the interests of the greater good.

d) Socio-cultural trends towards a more individualistic, less spiritual, less moral society.

e) Socio-economic forces - cases where it is not possible to pursue basic needs because the economic necessity to earn a living is so great and pressing that this consumes our life. Are we self-sufficient today or are we dependent upon a particular economic system to survive?

f) Metapathologies - are there any social examples of metapathology today? Think about depression rates. Why are they rising so dramatically?

If you would like to contribute to a discussion of these ideas, just post in the "course questions" thread. I'll be happy to respond to any questions/thoughts you might have.


Let's continue now with the lecture.

Now, drive theory is one way of looking at why human beings do things. They are PUSHED towards them by needs and drives. But there is another view that sees the human as a seeker of incentives. An organism that is PULLED towards incentives.

There are two kinds of incentives:

1) Positive: Do well in school, get a good job.

2) Negative: Do poorly in school, don't get a good job.

Incentives can also be either intrinsic or extrinsic:

Intrinsic incentives are individual or personal factors that increase the likelihood of a behavior.

For example, a love for psychology and a desire to be a psychologist may motivate one to do well in psychology courses.

Extrinsic motivators are external factors that increase the likelihood of a behavior.

For example, parents may try hard to convince you that being a medical doctor or lawyer is more socially respected than being a psychologist. This may increase the likelihood of you becoming a lawyer or medical doctor.

It's important to understand that intrinsic and extrinsic motivators are different for different people. For example, to most people, financial rewards are extrinsic motivators. However, there are some people that view the pursuit of economic gain as a deep, personal mission of life importance.

For this reason, if one is attempting to motivate another person to do something, it is very important to determine what the motivators are for that person. Because intrinsic motivators are more lasting and powerful, one should determine what specific factors intrinsically motivate a person before attempting to get that person to do something.

Now, intrinsic motivation is an important factor in the work-place. By is very nature, extrinsic motivation tends to be expensive to the organization.  It's expensive to motivate employees with money! For his reason, psychologists often help organizations to identify intrinsic motivators and design programs to increase employee performance through the use of such motivators.

Watch this video by a very well known experimental psychologist on motivation in the workplace: Dan Ariely.

In the next lecture we will begin by going over some ideas that will help you get started with your group research projects.


Thought Questions

1) Use the concept of Risk Homeostasis to explain why the accident loss on German autobahn's in not higher than Canadian highways even though there are no speed limits on most stretches of German autobahn.

2) Are modern Audi's safer than old Plymouth's? Explain.

3) Explain Maslow's hierarchy of needs and use examples from class to illustrate Maslow's theory.


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