Psychology Games Anyone Can Play
Entertain and educate yourself with these quick and fun psychology quizzes.
Posted Aug 10, 2013
Many of us enjoy playing games, in part because it’s fun to compete with other people but also because we gain knowledge in the process. This knowledge includes information we didn’t know before as well as information about ourselves and how our own minds operate. Knowing that people often learn best when they’re motivated, psychology instructors also have a strong propensity for creating games that we use to teach, and entertain, our own students.
Over the course of my teaching career, I’ve invented my own share of psychology-themed games, often incorporating well-known TV games shows, such as Jeopardy! and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? I’ve also incorporated a number of psychology websites into my teaching, both in class and in online assignments. In gearing up for the Fall semester, I rediscovered many old favorites and added a few new ones. I thought I would share them here for psychology teachers, students, and just fans of the field. Since we can’t do automatic calculations on this website, you’ll have to do a little work to arrive at your scores. I hope you’ll find the process was worthwhile!
We’ll start with concepts from everyone’s “favorite” (slash most confusing) area in basic psychology— conditioning. Taking this quiz will help you polish up your mastery of the terminology as well as give you insight into some of the behavioral factors that motivate you in your everyday life.
How is conditioning affecting you in your daily life?
See if you can answer these questions about common situations involving learning through conditioning.
- You hear a song on the radio and suddenly you feel sad; you realize it was popular when you were dating your ex. What is the conditioned stimulus?
- After listening to the constant pestering of your roommate (or lover) to clean up your desk, you finally clean it up just to make the pestering go away. What type of reinforcement does this situation involve?
- While passing through an intersection where you were nearly run over by a car, you feel a slight twinge of anxiety. What is the conditioned response?
- You’re standing in the kitchen and start to open a can of pet food. Your pet instantly shows up, whimpering to get fed. What type of stimulus is the sound of the can being opened?
- Smelling diesel fuel when you’re around boats makes you feel ill and seasick because on your last boat trip, you became violently ill. What was the experience of being violently ill when it first occurred?
- You used to enjoy working out, but now you’ve stopped because on your last trip to the gym, you dropped a weight on your foot. What was the weight in this situation?
- You’re trying to quit smoking, and so when you go for 4 hours without smoking, you allow yourself to play 5 minutes of your favorite videogame. What is the videogame?
- The song (because it is associated with sadness at losing your ex)
- Negative (because by cleaning up your desk, you made the aversive stimulus go away)
- Your twinge of anxiety (because it is now associated with being in that intersection)
- Conditioned (because it is associated with the food)
- Unconditioned response (because no learning took place when you were first ill; later it became a conditioned response)
- Punishment (because it made you stop going to the gym)
- Positive reinforcement (because it’s a reward for not smoking)
How did you score? These were tough questions but the answers suggest ways that you gain unwanted emotions and can change your habits.
How good is your attention to detail?
This next quiz should be easy, but it probably won’t be. I use this quiz to demonstrate the principle that if you don’t encode, you can’t retrieve. To play this game honestly means that you promise not to open your wallet.
All of these questions concern a U.S. dollar bill. If you don’t have any in your wallet (or are from a country using different currency), you can make up your own version of this game.
We handle money all the time, but we rarely pay attention to the details of the currency we pull out of our pockets. How many of these facts about the U.S. dollar bill can you get right?
- Whose face is on the bill?
- What words are on the top middle portion of the face side?
- How many times is “United States of America” printed on the bill?
- What words appear before “One” on the reverse side of the bill?
- What is the symbol on left side of the reverse side of the bill?
- What words appear at the bottom of the two circles on the reverse side of the bill?
- Which way is the eagle facing inside the circle on the right side of the reverse side of the bill?
- This should be easy—it’s George Washington
- Federal Reserve Note
- Two- on the front and on the reverse
- “In God We Trust”
- Pyramid (with an eye on the top- bonus point)
- “The Great Seal,” on the left and “of the United States” on the right
- To its right, the viewer’s left
Maximum score is 7 plus the bonus (no half points). If you’re like most people, you probably got only 1 or 2. If your score was 1-2 (or 0), it means you need to start looking more closely at what you’re doing on a daily basis.
How do you cope?
This next quiz allows you test both your ability to reduce stress through effective coping strategies and your knowledge of how these coping strategies work. In emotion-focused coping, we try to reduce stress by making ourselves feel better but we don’t change the situation. In problem-focused coping, we try to change the situation.
Start by thinking of a recent stressful event. This can be either a major life event or just a hassle (running late, losing something of value). Then rate yourself from 0 (not used) to 3 (used a great deal) on each of the following items.
____ 1. Tried to get the person responsible to change his or her mind.
____ 2. I tried to keep my feelings to myself.
____ 3. Criticized or lectured myself.
____ 4. Changed or grew as a person in a good way.
____ 5. Stood my ground and fought for what I wanted.
____ 6. I knew what had to be done, so I doubled my efforts to make things work.
____ 7. Found new faith.
____ 8. I made a plan of action and followed it.
____ 9. Refused to believe it had happened.
____ 10.Came up with a couple of different solutions to the problem.
Items 1, 5, 6, 8, and 10 represent problem-focused coping.
Items 2, 3, 4, 7, and 9 represent emotion-focused coping.
In general, there’s no one best way to cope. Emotion-focused coping works better in situations that you can’t change, and problem-focused when there’s something you can do to fix the situation. If you’re using problem-focused coping for unchangeable situations, you’ll be frustrated and disappointed but if you use emotion-focused coping where you could fix the problem by taking action, you stand to lose out.
(Source: The “Ways of Coping” scale from Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.)
Can you name the psychological disorder?
The DSM-5 lists in detail the many symptoms required for diagnosing psychological disorders. This brief quiz tests your knowledge of the main features of a number of common diagnoses. Don’t diagnose yourself from these symptoms, but use the quiz to see how much you know about this very important field within psychology:
- Restlessness and general discomfort, worried much of the time with no reason
- Engaging in repetitive behavior associated with troublesome and persistent thoughts that are unwanted and intrusive
- Having periods of elated mood in which the individual is highly talkative, excitable, and distractible
- Suffering from false beliefs that others are monitoring your thoughts and attempting to do you extreme bodily harm
- Having a variety of physical symptoms for which a medical cause cannot be found
- Being tormented by flashbacks and frightening images after being involved in a near-fatal car accident three weeks ago
- Staying home due to fear of having a panic attack while in a crowded situation from which escape isn’t possible
- Being convinced that your slight cough means that you have pneumonia or lung cancer
- Refusing to eat in front of other people out of fear that you will spill your food or in other ways look ridiculous
- Engaging in frequent illegal acts such as conning other people out of their hard-earned savings and engaging in petty theft without feeling a sense of remorse or guilt
- General anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Somatic symptom disorder
- Acute stress disorder (NOT PTSD, because it’s less than a month)
- Illness anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
Scoring at 8 or above shows that you have considerable mastery of the range of disorders found in the field of abnormal psychology. Now you’re ready to move onto the final challenge, which is to test your knowledge of psychotherapy models.
What’s My Favorite Psychological Theory?
Psychotherapists are trained in all the major psychological models and typically integrate several approaches when working with a given client. Consequently, as part of their training, they become skilled in using specific interventions derived from different theoretical models. In this quiz, I’ve taken prototypical phrases from each of the major perspectives that a therapist might use with a given client. See how well you can match the phrase with the theory:
- How does it make you feel when your parents say they expect you to do well in school?
- Tell me your earliest childhood memory.
- I want you to try relaxing as much as possible. Now imagine you are in that situation again.
- When I say the word “mother,” what comes to your mind?
- We’ll begin with a low dose of Paxil, then we’ll see how you’re doing.
- You’re making real progress. Next week try going for 30 minutes at a time without having a cigarette.
- You would feel a lot better if you could stop telling yourself you should be happier.
- Why do you feel that everyone you meet has to like you? What would happen if someone didn’t like you?
- What kinds of activities do you find enjoyable? What kind of activities make you sad?
- If you want to feel better you have to WANT to change.
- Since you didn’t respond to medications we are going to have to try a procedure known as electroconvulsive therapy. You will see that after a few treatments, you’ll feel much less depressed.
- Take a deep breath and relax when you think about getting closer to the situation you fear.
- I’d like to talk about what’s on your mind, but first we should discuss why you were 15 minutes late for today’s session
- The next time you feel afraid to get into an elevator, take a deep breath and try very hard to relax.
- Your symptoms seem to be responding to the medications, but to be on the safe side, we’ll keep you on them another week or two.
How were your scores? The average psychology undergraduate gets between 60-75% correct. Several are fairly obvious (e.g. #15) but others require more training (e.g. 13, which taps the idea of “resistance”). If you received a better score, it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily ready to open your own practice, but it does show that you’re well-read and thoughtful about the many fascinating theories in this very fascinating field.
I hope you enjoyed taking these quizzes and that the answers gave you an understanding both of yourself and some of the main concepts in psychology. Now you’re ready to test your friends!
Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2013