Now in its 27th season, Jeopardy! is one of the longest-running game shows on television. But here's a question- or should I say answer- for you. Psychology. Question: What is one of the top categories of knowledge regularly featured in its storehouse of knowledge? Whether it's structures in the brain, aspects of Freudian theory, or terminology of odd forms of phobias, Jeopardy! regularly taps into a contestant's mastery of this all-important subject matter.

This realization dawned on me a few years ago while watching a game featuring a contestant who would later go on to win top dollars in the Tournament of Champions. The question appeared in the category, "It's all black and white to me:" "Famous for his black and white images used in psychology, as a youth he was nicknamed 'Kleck," German for 'inkblot.'" Any introductory psychology student can tell you that the answer was Hermann Rorschach. 

The next day, I posed the question to my own introductory psychology class. As luck would have it, this was the day I was covering projective testing, the category in which the Rorschach inkblot test falls. The students loved hearing this interesting factoid. It wasn't too long before I was on the lookout for other good questions to put before my students. I now have a collection of at least 100 questions relevant to psychology from almost all areas of the field. Many of these questions also pertain to my specialty, which is the psychology of aging.

Interestingly, one of my psychology colleagues, Dr. Laura Brown, became a Jeopardy! contestant herself a few years ago. She was a one-time champ, but unfortunately she was never given a psychology question to answer. What a nice irony that would have been! When I was in graduate school, I tried to compete for the show, and even took the test, but at the time I wasn't as conversant with the facts that they required, such as senators from Wisconsin, which I now fortunately know.

Enough reminiscing. Let's put you to the test. Here are my 20 top Jeopardy! Psychology questions. See how well you can score. After you get to the "STOP" point, you'll get to score your answers. Be sure to write them down in the form of a question!

1. In this type of illness, the physical ailment (such as peptic ulcers) is real, but the cause is believed mental.

2. This Freudian term refers to all the instinctual desires and energies from the id, not just the sexual ones.

3. Shock researcher Walter Cannon coined this word for an organism's ability to maintain internal equilibrium.

4. Linguist who says the U.S. is a brutal imperialist state: Mona Chomsky (from the category scrambled eggheads) 

5. This Russian physiologist published his first book, "Work of the Digestive Glands," in 1897. 

6. Psychologist Otto Rank ranked this trauma as the No. 1 cause of neurosis.

7. Papyrophobia is the fear of this-touching it, seeing it, being cut by it.

8. These false beliefs might be of grandeur or of persecution.

9. People 18 to 25 are vulnerable to mental illnesses like this, a term used in place of "manic depression" to describe those whose moods cycle between extremes.

10. In 1943, Drs. Leo Kanner and Hans Asberger each used this word for the then-unnamed disorder they were studying.

11. As many as 1 American in 50 may be dissatisfied with their bodies, it's called this, a form of OCD.

12. The retrograde type of this condition applies to events prior to a head injury. Anterograde to events after it. 

13. From the Latin for "about a day," these body rhythms govern cycles of wakefulness and sleep.

14. The retina has a blind spot in the optic disk where the optic nerve exits from the eyeball. It's not sensitive to light because it doesn't have these two types of photoreceptor nerve cells found in the rest of the eye (this was a video question).

15. The "functional" type of this, MRI for short, shows we use all of our brain, not just 10%.

16. He's all in your mind: Glitch sop soy. (from the Anagrams category)

17. This school of psychology with a German name emphasizes whole, not partial, differences.

18. Acetylcholine acts as one of these chemicals that pass nerve impulses across synapses.

19. You have vertigo and here's why. Your inner ear, or loop-shaped structures, which help maintain balance, are inflamed.

20. Named for a psychoanalyst, this inadvertent error in speech is said to reveal one's unconscious belief or thought.

STOP! Don't read further until you've completed each of the above questions. Here are the questions/answer:

1. What is psychosomatic?

2. What is libido?

3. What is homeostasis?

4. Who is Noam Chomsky?

5. Who was Pavlov?

6. What is birth?

7. What is paper?

8. What are delusions?

9. What is bipolar disorder?

10. What is autism?

11. What is body dysmorphic disorder?

12. What is amnesia?

13. What is circadian?

14. What are rods and cones?

15. What is magnetic resonance imaging?

16. What is a psychologist?

17. What is Gestalt?

18. What is a neurotransmitter?

19. What are the semicircular canals?

20. What is a Freudian slip?

How did you do? If you got all 20 right, you're ready to be a Psych-Jeopardy champ.

Sorely lacking in the Jeopardy! archive, however, are questions about social psychology. I have waited patiently for 3 years to hear the name "Stanley Milgram," or "Philip Zimbardo." (Alex, if you're reading this, see what you can do!).

However, there was one question that came close and could be considered relevant to the Fundamental Attribution Error. In an "Ask Alex" segment, Trebek admitted that he probably would not know the answers to most of the questions on the show if he didn't have the answer in front of him. The actor-observer bias says that we attribute actual intelligence to people such as quiz show hosts, fictional physicians, or newscasters even though we "know" that they are reading scripted lines.

Many professors make up their own Jeopardy! games to test knowledge of their subject matter, but many of the actual questions exist right there in the show itself. I can convince my students that not only will the knowledge I impart to them provide them with valuable insights into psychology and life, but that they may stand to earn considerable amounts of money should they ever get onto the show themselves. So far, none of my students have become champs. Maybe, armed with this knowledge, you will!

Follow me on Twitter @swhitbo for daily updates on psychology, health, and aging and please check out my website, where you can get additional information, self-tests, and links. The Weekly Focus features a listing of resources on general/introductory psychology.

Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., 2011

Note: If you're an instructor and would like to request more information about how I use these questions in class, please let me know.



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