Posted in Psychology

Valentine’s Day Post: Love Story of Humans and Computers

“I think anybody who falls in love is a freak. It’s a crazy thing to do. It’s kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity.” – Amy Adams from the movie “Her” (Jonze, 2013)

This week’s post is a special edition in honor of Valentine’s Day, which is all about love, romance, relationships, and connections. When we think about love we view it as a human to human connection, but with growing technology there is another type of love connection: humans and their technology.

For this post, will be examining a psychological effect known as the “Tamagotchi effect“.  The Tamagotchi effect is where you develop emotions and become attached to computers, technology, and machines, which you then reflect human emotions and characteristic and even a personality onto this inanimate piece of technology. This love story took off in the late 1990’s when such toys like the Tamagotchi and Furby were introduced and became the hottest toy around, where everyone had to own one, including myself. for those who don’t know what a Tamagotchi is, it was a virtual pet in the palm of your hand that you named, and took care of, and if you didn’t, it would die.  Furby was a robotic pet resembling a hamster or an owl. Furby talked and learnt, and was one of the first forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI). But throughout the years, the has been a huge evolution of this love story, where furbys and Tamagotchis have been replaced with cellphones, and Siri. This emotional attachment of a love story has become more intense because of the current technology that we use everyday, such as our smartphones, or computers. We rely on our technology so much that most our generation has developed Nomophobia. Nomophobia is a specific phobia of no having a mobile phone or “No-phone-phobia“. This phobia suggests that we have developed an emotional attachment to an inanimate object.

The psychology behind this love connection coincides with a few cognitive effects such as attachment theory. Attachment theory is defined as an emotional bond that connects to humans where they both become sensitive to each other behaviors and needs. Normally attachment theory is between two people or an adult and infant, but in this case the attachment is between a human and their technology

One article that I read examines the impact of the connection between a person and their virtual technology. With indulging technology, it can be a form of entertainment and enjoyment. for older people, a virtual pet can be a companion. Retirement homes in Japan and Hong Kong are giving their residents robot babies and seals. The idea behind this is to provide lonely people with social interaction. Another article that I read examines a similar experiment where Paro a robot seal is introduced to the elderly as a form of therapy. The elderly’s social interaction with Paro elevates their mood, which in turn causes physiological changes for the better. People who suffer with dementia are given Paro to provide them with constant social interaction resulting in increased levels of happiness and enjoyment which stimulated their brains and reduced their symptoms. This is one of the positives of human-technology interaction.

But like most love stories, there is a dramatic point in our love story of humans and technology, where we examine the negatives that humans will endure because of this connection.

With current technology, people are becoming more dependent on it as it becomes part of our everyday life. For example, in 2013, a movie call “Her” was released, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson. “Her” is about a lonely writer who develops a relationship and falls in love with an operating system. this I think, although can appear to far-fetched has a large grain of truth to it. With technology, today, people are more comfortable with have a relationship with a computer for technology than with an actual human being where the love is reciprocal.  “You always wanted to have a wife without the challenges of actually dealing with anything real and I’m glad that you found someone. It’s perfect.”(Jonze, 2013) This quote from “Her” I think emulates the relationship between AI and humans because technology inhibits our real-life interactions, where we begin to talk to our technology like it’s a living being.

Screenshot from the movie “Her”

This movie leads to the negative effects that occur because of our preference to technology versus human interaction, because of this choice we become more vulnerable and are more impacted by psychological issues. One article looks at the negative psychological effects of technology overuse, illustrating that there is an increased chance of having depression, anxiety, and stress. Because of the non- reciprocal interaction that occurs, people become less adaptive to other people’s needs and are less able to interact with different types of people who have different views, experiences, and personality.

Throughout this post and researching articles, I came across robotic girl where I believe that a line has been crossed is in the case of Erica: The Android Robot. She is a Japanese robot who can partake in actual conversation, and can make various facial expressions.

Erica demonstration Video Link

I wonder where we draw the line between artificial intelligence and human intelligence? What will occur if we keep creating AI at the fast pace that we create them?

For this week’s photograph, it is a neon sign that says “Progress”. I believe this photo emulates what can occur to the progress that we make in technology, that it might look good now, but it can shift to be less progressive and more degenerative, and thus we come to the end of our love story.

The End.



CGTN (2015, August 6). Talking with a beautiful robot girl Retrieved from
Heerink, M., Kröse, B., Evers, V., & Wielinga, B. (2008). The influence of social presence on acceptance of a companion robot by older people. Journal of Physical Agents (JoPha)2(2), 33–40. doi:10.14198/jopha.2008.2.2.05
Jonze, S. (Director). (2013). Her (2013)
Kraut, R., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., Kiesler, S., Mukophadhyay, T., & Scherlis, W. (1998). Internet paradox: A social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being? American Psychologist53(9), 1017–1031. doi:10.1037//0003-066x.53.9.1017
McLeod, S. (2009). Attachment theory. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from
Ostovar, S., Allahyar, N., Aminpoor, H., Moafian, F., Nor, M. B. M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2016). Internet addiction and its psychosocial risks (depression, anxiety, stress and loneliness) among Iranian adolescents and young adults: A structural equation model in a cross-sectional study. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction14(3), 257–267. doi:10.1007/s11469-015-9628-0
Quora. Why do humans sometimes get emotionally attached to ordinary inanimate objects? Retrieved February 15, 2017, from
Shibata, T., & Wada, K. (2011). Robot therapy: A new approach for mental healthcare of the elderly – A Mini-Review. Gerontology57(4), 378–386. doi:10.1159/000319015
Wikipedia (2017a). Nomophobia. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from
Wikipedia (2017b). Tamagotchi effect. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from
(N.D.). INMIGRANTS FROM THE FUTURE. Retrieved 15 February 2017, from





Posted in Psychology

Ugly Duckling Syndrome

For this week’s blog, I will be writing on Ugly Duckling Syndrome, of which there are two definitions. The first definition is one that we are all familiar with which is a “person, especially a child, who turns out to be beautiful or talented against all expectations”. A prime example is Matthew Lewis who plays Neville Longbottom from the Harry Potter Series

Matthew Lewis (right) 2001, and Matthew Lewis Left (2015)

The second definition created by Stanford University describe what they call the Duckling Syndrome as “a person who appears calm, cool and collected externally, but internally they are stressed, frantic and uneasy.” With both of these definitions, they revolve around the same cognition effect known as Illusion of Control.

The illusion of control is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events.  People who express illusory control believe that they have control over different aspects of their life, but this mindset is overestimated. This effect can be viewed in both a positive light or negative dimness.

When somebody shows a lack of illusion of control or real life control they underestimate the amount of control that they have on their lives, believing their life choices are fixed. This can lead to an increased chance of mental illness such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD); they try to compensate with reactions of anxiety, compulsive behaviors,  and destructive eating habits in order to establish some control whether it be illusory or actual.

With a lack of illusion of control, some people can have body image and beauty issues, which can lead to low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and have the belief that beauty is and body image is fixed. This is where the Ugly Duckling syndrome appears because only when you remove the illusion of control and believe that beauty and body image are malleable, is when control is gained, which is when transformations from an ugly duckling to a swan happens, or from a caterpillar to a butterfly. The result was this removal of illusory control can be reflected in their appearance, self-esteem, and confidence.

But what happens when you overestimate the amount of control you actually have?  You would think that you would have the opposite result but in actuality, it can lead to similar results such as increased stress, and mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and OCD. This is because when you have overestimated the amount of control, it can result in pursuing unrealistic goals and use harmful behaviors to reach their goal. where over time having unrealistic goals can hurt your self-esteem and confidence as you strive to reach impossible goals and fail. this is especially true with body image and appearance. For individuals who have an unrealistic goal of beauty or and ideal body image, they might use harmful methods or procedures like surgeries or unhealthy eating habits that lead to eating disorders to obtain unrealistic standards. A prime example of having such unrealistic beauty standards is Justin Jedlica.

Justin Jedlica has spent over $100,000 on plastic surgery, as he believed that he had control over his body as a form of expression, and he modeled his Ken doll as wanted his body and his lifestyle.

This leads to the discussion about what is the right amount of control?

For this week’s photograph is a photo that I took in Calgary at Globalfest. These two Brazilian dancers who appear to be happy, confident women who are comfortable in their own body on the outside, but from this photo we can’t determine what experiences or issues drive these two gorgeous women, and these two women and the ducks in the duck syndrome both have feathers which can express their personality, and emotions.

So with that being said, instead of trying to be an ugly ducking or a Barbie doll: Be a Flamingo in a flock of pigeons; be unique, and true to yourself.


Announcements: (2017). Retrieved February 5, 2017, from
Burkley, M., Burkley, E., Stermer, S. P., Andrade, A., Bell, A. C., & Curtis, J. (2014). The ugly duckling effect: Examining fixed versus malleable beliefs about beauty. Social Cognition32(5), 466–483. doi:10.1521/soco.2014.32.5.466
Hoorens, V., & Buunk, B. P. (1993). Social comparison of health risks: Locus of control, the Person-Positivity bias, and unrealistic optimism1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology23(4), 291–302. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1993.tb01088.x
Illusion of control (2017). . In Wikipedia. Retrieved from
Novovic, Z., Kovac, A., Djuric, V., & Biro, M. (2012). Positive and negative affect in illusion of control. Psihologija45(4), 395–407. doi:10.2298/psi1204395n
Reuven-Magril, O., Dar, R., & Liberman, N. (2008). Illusion of control and behavioral control attempts in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology117(2), 334–341. doi:10.1037/0021-843x.117.2.334
US weekly Magazine. (2016, April 20). Meet 7 real-life Barbie and Ken Dolls. Retrieved February 8, 2017, from
Posted in Psychology

Harry Potter and the Imitation Effect

After initial research, I came across this article about Harry Potter and personality. It looks at the conformity of fandom like Harry Potter and the social impact that it has in people’s lives, and examines the personality of the Hogwarts houses looking at the JK Rowling’s Pottermore Sorting Hat quiz from a psychological perspective.

The power of fandom and pop culture is a huge in our generation. For instance, my sister who you see above is huge Harry Potter fan as you can see. where she spent a large amount of money to see her favorite characters multiple times for only a few minutes each time, this is the power of fandom.

The featured article “Harry Potter and the measures of personality: Extraverted Gryffindors, agreeable Hufflepuffs, clever Ravenclaws, and manipulative Slytherins” applies actual personality characteristics to the Hogwarts houses which stems from the official JK Rowling Pottermore quiz where based on your personality and condemns you to an archetype, where you are sorted into one of the four houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.

The data where they use the big five: conscientiousness, agreeableness, narcissism, extraversion and openness. The results of their study are:

If you are sorted into Gryffindor you are high in extraversion, slightly higher in openness. With Hufflepuff you are higher in agreeableness, a higher need to belong, slightly higher in openness and low in Conscientiousness. In Ravenclaw you have a higher need for cognition or knowledge, are slightly more open to new experiences.  Finally with Slytherin you are higher in the Dark Traid which is psychopathy, narcissism, and machiavellianism, but especially high in narcissism. Based all the results, they all correlated positively to JK Rowling’s description of each house with the exception of Gryffindor showing now results for bravery.

But this article lets to bigger issues which is the main focus of this blog post. in the beginning of the article, the author describes the “Collective-Assimilation Hypothesis”. This hypothesis is described as “experiencing a narrative leads one to psychologically become a part of the collective described within the narrative” which I believe correlated to social imitation and conformity.

If you look at the left photo of my sister, she is wearing a blue belt which is a tie from her Hogwarts house of Ravenclaw. This is a prime example of the power of social imitation and fandom. where people take a piece of fan fiction like someone Hogwarts house that has been assigned an identity like a colour and symbol, to which people conform their ideas and preferences to fit that label, which soon becomes part of their identity, this is conformity. One reason for why I believe that is occurs is a need for a connection where it is based on an emotional, mental, physical or fictional connection.

By having images, symbols, and characters that create its own identity, it is easier to conform and become affiliated to a fictional world with wands, dragons, and spells, than with the real world of work, stress, and life, because the fictional identity is more fulfilling. could this conformity be a relation to the Harlow experiments with the monkeys where we are more drawn to comforting things like that make us feel good like cloth mothers, group inclusion and wands and wizards?

This post is just an introduction to a bigger topic that I plan on delving into more as the semester progresses. Where I look further into why we conform to and socially imitate pop culture like Harry Potter.

I have also posted the link to Pottermore where you can sort yourself into one of the Hogwarts houses:


Crysel, L. C., Cook, C. L., Schember, T. O., & Webster, G. D. (2015). Harry Potter and the measures of personality: Extraverted Gryffindors, agreeable Hufflepuffs, clever Ravenclaws, and manipulative Slytherins. Personality and Individual Differences83, 174–179. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.04.016
Gabriel, S., & Young, A. F. (2011). Becoming a vampire without being bitten: The narrative collective-assimilation hypothesis. Psychological Science22(8), 990–994. doi:10.1177/0956797611415541