Risk-taking is an intriguing human behavior and "in nearly all walks of life. Asking someone on a date, accepting a challenging work assignment, raising a sensitive issue with a spouse or a friend, confronting an abusive boss--all involve uncertain outcomes, and present some level of risk." Although somewhat counter-intuitive, some scientist hypothesize that risk taking is integral to survival and success. Other scientists and their research data suggest that extreme risk-takers often have emotional and addictive problems.


The emotion of pride can have both positive and negative aspects. "Hubristic pride" is the over inflation of one's ego which can lead to negative social effects. "Specific or achievement-oriented pride," pride developed from the approval of the community due to an accomplishment, has been theorized to serve as an engine of positive social consequences. One such positive consequence supported by experimental data is the "motivational hypothesis of pride." This hypothesis states that pride serves as a motivation for persevering to achieve a goal even when faced with "short-term losses."


Having preferences is an important component of an individual's decision-making process. These preferences affect all aspects of life including the artistic, romantic and consumer components. Although having preferences is universal, how people develop particular preferences is a controversial subject in psychology. Some forms of preference are genetically determined but most are learnt. Within the model of learnt preferences, associative learning is when a preferential response is based on the pairing of stimuli.


Pain is often thought to be a purely physical experience. However, the psychological state of the individual can greatly affect the sensation of pain. Experiments illustrate that mental expectations and conditioning affect the intensity of a painful sensation. Neurologically pain and relief from pain are experienced through a complex system that employs many regions of the nervous system including various hormones, sections of the brain and the mu opioid receptors. Pain reduction has been found to correlate directly with reward expectation and intense fear for survival.

Morality: Emotion and Utility

Moral dilemmas pose an interesting intellectual question for all people, especially ethicists, psychologists and neurologists. Often moral dilemmas involve two or more conflicting options, offering a mixture of the emotionally driven and utilitarian elements (where benefitting a greater quantity of people can result from the detriment of a few individuals' welfare).


Memory relates to the "storage and retrieval" of information. This information can be visual, experiential, acoustic, and or semantic. Scientists are currently studying the neurological processes that facilitate memory. Although some progress has been made, due to the incredibly complex nature of the physiological aspect of memory, more research is required to completely understand this phenomena. Memory is generally divided into short-term (0-30 seconds) and long-term memory. Adults generally can remember from 5 to 9 items in their short-term memory.


Theory of Planned Behavior Diagram

The precursor to action, intention indicates how prepared an individual is to perform a behavior. Intention itself is driven by behavioral, normative and control beliefs.

Photo Credit: 
Icek Ajzen, Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts

Defense Mechanisms

Defense mechanisms are defined as unconscious processes that protect people from psychological and environmental stresses. Freud stated that defense mechanisms are the ego's method of handling overwhelming stress. The enumeration of the different varieties of defense mechanisms has generated numerous theories.

Children and Fears

Children experience the development of fear often in a very linear fashion that reflects the neurological, psychological, and social development of the child. "Infants have three basic innate fears: of sudden motion, of loud or abrupt noises, and of sudden approach." Fear of the dark and of strangers is often exhibited around 2 - 4 years of age. The fear of death by comparison becomes more personal and real at the age of 5.

Self Control

Self control is the ability to control one's behavior and emotions. This ability is particularly important for inhibiting actions that could negatively affect one's future. Studies have shown that individuals who show the ability to delay gratification as children are more likely to be successful as adults. Although the benefits of self-control are numerous, there are several "costs" of self-control as well. The most obvious cost is sacrificing instant gratification for only the potential of future gratification.


Subscribe to UHC-Children