Some Psychobabble Interview

I came back from Blue Mountains around 6:30pm. The trip was awesome, so awesome that I extended my stay for one more night. Okay, part of the reason for the extension was that H and I wanted to catch the film “2012” and the next available screening was on Friday evening.

So instead of leaving on Friday afternoon as I intended, I decided to extend my stay for one more day. Ah… the things a film buff would do. I’ll blogged about the trip in two parts, due to lots of very long and epic stories. I’m kind of having Blue Mountains withdrawal symptoms now.

Anyway, this memory randomly popped in my head when I was editing another blog post. It concerns a psychology experiment that I took part a few months ago.

As part of our psychology course, I am required to take part in 4 hours of psychology experiments. In doing so, I’ll gain 5% credits out of the the total 100%. Not a lot of credits, but it is easy stuff and 4 hours is not a lot of my time. Besides, I gain some experience in how real psychology experiments take place.

I signed up for an experiment where only males are permitted to take part. The reason for this was because the psychologists were experimenting the effects Vasopressin (AVP) had on social memory.

Vasopressin is a naturally produced hormone occurring in humans and almost every animal known to man (stole this from the handout given to me) and it is closely related to the hormone Oxytocin (OT) which has been shown to play an important role in mother-infant bonding (stole this from the handout too).

Catching on? One trivia about Vasopressin and Oxytocin: it is also known as the “love chemical”, the chemical that triggers the romantic “feelings” and “emotions” in humans. Eating chocolates does the same thing.

Moving on.

Vasopressin is also known to play a role in social recognition and approach behaviours as well as inter-male aggression. Vasopressin is thought to play a more significant role in males as it has also been shown to interact with testosterone (Stolen from handout).

So that’s why the experiment is conducted on males only.

Unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), very little research have been done to find out Vasopressin’s role in humans (although a lot had been done on animals). It has been suggested that Vasopressin is involved in social bonding and male aggression and so the stimuli used in the study were Happy, Angry and Neutral faces (stolen from Handout).

For this study, it has been hypothesized that Vasopressin will increase the rate of ‘remembering’ for happy and angry faces over neutral, however this will be more marked for the remembering of angry faces. This research could potentially influence the treatment and/or understanding of disorders characterised by aggression such as disruptive behaviour disorders which include conduct disorder and disorders characterised by an inability to appropriately make social bonds like autism (stolen from Handout.)

Phew, that’s enough psychology shite there.

I got an email after signing up for the experiment. In the email, I was told not to eat or drink 2 hours before the experiment. This includes alcohol, coffee, tea and even water. So the day before the experiment, I ate a small dinner.

I woke up hungry and thirsty on the day of the experiment. Since I was allowed to drink only 2 glasses of water prior to the experiment, I drank some to quench my thirst and fill my stomach to prevent it from growling in desperate hunger. It worked quite well, so I left for the experiment after having my ‘breakfast’ of water.

The building where the experiment took place was located quite a fair distance from my university. It was about 15 minutes walk from the university to the building. Adding to the distance was my first trip from my hostel to the university. In all, it took me about 20 minutes to walk to the building.

Having to walk on a empty stomach is not so fun.

I got to the building and managed to locate the room on the directory. I went into an elevator and pressed the button and was brought to the fifth floor. After wandering around like an idiot, I finally found the room and the psychologist.

Before I continue with the story, I must clarify something. During the experiment, we, the participants, will have no idea whether we are administered with Vasopressin or with a placebo. Also, when we are administered with the chemicals, we have to put a few drops of the chemicals into our nostrils and breathed very deeply. I felt like a kid with runny nose when I did that.

The psychologist brought me to a conference room where she made me sign the wavier forms and explained the experiment and procedures to me. Before she started the experiment, she asked me a few questions to see if I complied with the instructions that were emailed to me beforehand. It went something like this:

Psychologist: ”Have you ate a meal within the last 2 hours?”

Me: “No.”

Psychologist“Have you taken any recreational drugs or caffeine within the last 24 hours?”

Me: “No.”

Psychologist: ”Are you currently on any medication, including those that treat anxiety or depression?”

Me: ”No.”

Psychologist: ”Are you currently undergoing any therapy with a mental health professional?”

Me: ”No.”

Then came the final question:

Psychologist: “Do you drink?”

Me: “Yes, I do. Socially. Though I seldom drink everyday.”

At this point, the psychologist stopped her questioning and stared at me in shock. I was wondering why she seemed so surprised since drinking is a normal thing. Unless, you’re an alcoholic.

Psychologist: “You mean, you drank before coming for the experiment?”

I finally realized why she seemed so shocked. I thought she was asking me about my drinking habits. I didn’t know she was actually asking me whether or not I drank before turning up for the experiment. Because I was answering all her questions automatically, I wasn’t paying attention to that question and confused the word “did” with “do”. What she meant was:

Psychologist: “DID you drink?”

Of course, at this point I hasten to fix the misunderstanding:

Me: “No, no. I don’t drink… I mean I do…. I mean, wait, I mean I thought you were asking if I’m a drinker. I didn’t know you were asking if I drank before turning up. No, the answer is no, I didn’t drink before turning up.”

Miss Psychologist gave me a relief smile before continuing with her other questions.

If only she had asked her question in full:

Psychologist: “Did you drink before coming for the experiment?”

Then I wouldn’t have misunderstood her. Besides, who drinks alcohol at 8am in the morning?

Unless, you’re an alcoholic. 


Song of the day:



Tegan and Sarah are a pair of Canadian twins. They’re my current favourite artistes. It is a coincidence that one of the twins is undergoing therapy with a psychologist in the MV.

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