Monthly Archives: September 2012

Seeing psychology everywhere: The case of Gangnam Style

This semester, I’m teaching Intro to Social Psychology — which I pretty much see as an excuse to share my joint obsessions with social psychology and pop culture with a group of one hundred 18-to-21-year-olds who essentially have to be my captive audience.

Last week, I asked my students to watch the viral video “Gangnam Style” by Korean pop sensation Psy and come up with ways to use anything we’ve learned in the course so far to explain any aspect of the video. Because I have an awesome group of students, I got some really interesting and creative answers! So, below is a sampling of some of the social psych phenomena that my students found in the video, though there were many more great responses that I didn’t touch on in this post. Like I always say, once you know about the concepts, you really can find psychology in everything around you!

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Are your 9/11 memories really your own?

I can remember exactly where I was eleven years ago when I learned why the sky was starting to fill with smoke about 30 miles to the west.

Though I live in Illinois now, I’m originally from Long Island. In September 2001, I was just beginning the 9th grade at Friends Academy, my new high school in Locust Valley. I had just started getting to know the people who would become my closest friends over the next four years. I was on my way to Computer Programming when I ran into Molly, a girl on my bus.

“Hey, did you hear?” Molly asked, somewhat casually.

“No, what’s up? Oh, is Maggie taking the bus today?!” I asked excitedly. Maggie was Molly’s adorable baby sister, whose expeditions onto our bus were rare (but exciting) events.

“No…apparently something really big just happened in the city. They’re canceling class right now and calling an all-school assembly in the Dolan Center. You didn’t hear?”

“Oh, no, but thank God. I didn’t finish my math homework last night and I didn’t have time to do it on the bus, this is awesome,” I said with a smile. “Do you have any idea why they’re canceling class, though?!”

I had no idea at the time how much I would cringe for the rest of my life whenever I looked back and thought about my first reaction to hearing that “something big” was going on in the city.
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