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Youths Seek to Improve their Social Thinking Skill by Deepening Knowledge on Social Psychology

In the Social Psychology course offered at Parami this Fall modular period 1, students explored the subject in a wide range of concepts needed to boost self-understanding and the world around them. Some students reflected on what they have learned in the first few weeks of the course, such as Social thinking and Cognitive biases, and how they found the lessons applicable to their day-to-day living and professional field. 

The Social Psychology class is taught by Dr. Romina de Jong, the Director of Academic Affairs at Parami University. At Parami, she teaches subjects such as Social psychology, Pedagogy, and Educational psychology, Gender, and Design thinking. 

"I have taught three classes of Social Psychology at Parami, and each class has been different. However, what I have observed with all three classes is students' strong drive to learn, explore, and change - oneself as a start. This course tries to do exactly that: to give students the knowledge and tools to explore, question, change, and develop. I hope they will maintain this mindset after finishing this course!" ⸺Dr. Romina de Jong 

Mya Minn Madi, Bridget, a graduate student with prior knowledge of psychology, joined the Parami modular course to enhance her understanding of psychology. She expressed that "Teacher Romina is kind and the best teacher I have ever had. She can manage the class very well, and she knows who we are just by observing students."

Bridget highlighted intuitive and conscious thinking, also known as fast and slow thinking, learned from the course and how this thinking has encouraged her to see things through the third person's eyes.

"In fast-thinking, our unconscious thinking would influence us with intuitive biases that we already have. But in daily life, it would be hard to achieve slow thinking at the same time because we are only human. But we can practice this kind of thinking. When I am prone to bias, I suppress it and ignore it in order to improve my social relationships and have positive vibes. Myanmar society needs a lot of education on social psychology. People need to notice their biases to create a better world to live in and improve their social relationships with others. In the future, I will try my best not to judge people according to their personalities." ⸺Mya Minn Madi 

With the belief that knowledge of social psychology should be expanded and deepened to encourage people to become open-minded toward every aspect of life, Nyan Lin Aung talked about the cognitive basis concept that he found helpful in having a better self-understanding. 

"When making judgments about a person or an event, I tend to be more considerate of the flaws and errors that I can make due to cognitive biases. I can share the knowledge and experience gained through the course with friends and family members to be aware of their own biases and fix them. The concept changes the way I think to a significant measure that I begin to reflect on myself to identify the subtle cognitive biases in my mind and thoughts. My social thinking broadens so that I can see things in a relatively more holistic picture than before. Having exposure and access to this knowledge of psychological biases reminds us that we can misjudge things more easily than we think we do. So, it trains me to be more cautious when it comes to making a decision or judgment." ⸺Nyan Lin Aung 

Nu Thazin, with eight years of work experience in the marketing industry, joined Social Psychology at Parami to better understand consumer insight through the learning of social psychology. She described her class as a perfect setting to learn about social psychology as her classmates are from diverse backgrounds. 

Nu Thazin shared her knowledge of cognitive biases learned from the Social Psychology course while reflecting on the common biases she has experienced in daily life and the workplace. 

"The bias I struggle with the most is Availability Heuristic Bias: when people tend to make decisions based on the most available information, or they are most exposed to. We live in a world where we are over-saturated with news, especially these days on social media and mass media, so it is very easy for us to slip into this autopilot mode of not thinking critically anymore and believing whatever is available to us. What I try to do is, whenever possible, I'll try to see the other side of the story of why these things happened, or I will find different sources of information aside from the one that I [have].⸺Nu Thazin 

She added that she is working on the Ostrich effect. This bias occurs when we ignore negative feedback or input information, like an ostrich hiding its head in the sand; this is also common in Myanmar culture. Nu Thazin explained that "we feel inconsiderate to give negative feedback or tell someone off. Even at work, we try to avoid feedback sessions and everything. So in a way, I think we should also avoid that [bias] because the feedback we get could help us progress in our work or life. But it is tricky as it is. I have to remind myself that negative feedback could be good for you or whatever feedback can help you grow." 

Moreover, the students said that with the knowledge they have acquired from the course, they are motivated to live a mindful and thoughtful life and become more aware of what is happening in their mind's backdoor to bring these unconscious forces under control. Leading a conscious life means incorporating these instinctive, unconscious forces and impulses into conscious thoughts. And this is where social psychology plays its role to guide people to critically understand how their minds can deceive them and help identify biases and illusions, leading them to false conclusions. 

Students will learn more about social influence, culture and gender, and aggression vs. altruism from the Social Psychology class in the next couple of weeks.

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