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You might be experiencing a lot of anxiety preparing for the next semester. Whether it's in school or from home, we've got you covered with some of our favorite education related videos.

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Can You Become a Morning Person?

How to Take the Best Notes, According to Psychology

Why Do You Sabotage Yourself Before a Big Test? | Self-Handicapping

How Stereotypes Affect Your Test Scores

When Procrastination Isn't So Bad


for students and teachers the gap between semesters can be a beautiful time of peace and rest and it can also be a frantic rush to prepare for the next semester if you're currently in that second camp well hey we can at least help you out a bit we've talked about all kinds of education related topics on scishow psych over the last few years and now we're putting together some of our favorites so whether you struggle to be a morning person want to take better notes or can't figure out why you or your students are sabotaging themselves before your test here's some insight first up before the school day even starts you likely have to deal with waking up at the crack of dawn and while it can be nice to see those beautiful sunrises and hear the birds singing well forcing yourself out of bed is sometimes easier said than done so if you're not one already can you become a morning person here's hank with more 


it seems like there are two types of people in the world some people who are fresh as a daisy first thing in the morning ready to get a jump on the day others are sluggish and bleary-eyed before 10 a.m gripping their coffee like their life depends upon it basically you've got your morning larks and your night owls i'm a night owl and scientifically those are real terms they refer to a person's chronotype the particular calibration of their internal clock that leads them to naturally sleep and wake at a certain time if your chronotype doesn't line up with the people around you like for example your two-year-old you might understandably want to change it but it's not clear whether that's actually possible and even if you could you probably wouldn't like it like most human traits chronotypes fall on a bell curve though the numbers vary between studies roughly 10 to 20 percent of people are night owls or morning larks and the majority of people fall somewhere in the middle and it's not just a matter of habit or preference there's evidence that your chronotype is written in your genes a 2016 study found 15 gene variants associated with a morning chronotype for example most of them appeared to play roles in the body's response to light and in regulating circadian rhythms or the daily cycles that govern most of the body's processes your chronotype also seems to be heritable you've got a better chance of being a night owl if one of your parents is two scientists can even detect chronotypes in human cells when they're grown in culture in fact researchers are working on a way to test a person's chronotype using their blood so they can time medical treatments to match the natural rhythms of a patient's body and that's because your internal clock is super important nearly half of the genes in your genome follow a circadian rhythm of expression at least somewhere in your body that rhythm governs not only when you sleep or wake but your body temperature eating habits and hormone activity this internal clock is set by a tiny region in the brain's hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus like it decides when to dose you with melatonin to make you sleepy if you're the type of person who doesn't get tired until 2am that might just be because your body doesn't start pumping out melatonin earlier but your chronotype isn't just how sleepy you are for an eight o'clock class it also seems to correlate with personality people high in agreeableness and conscientiousness seem to be mourning people for example studies also find that women are a little more likely to be morning people than men but the strongest factor linked to your chronotype is age children generally start out with a larkier chronotype then shift somewhat towards being a night owl and adolescence and then after that most people become more mourning oriented the older they get whatever your age though if your chronotype conflicts with your day-to-day obligations it can cause problems and let's be honest those problems overwhelmingly affect night owls school and work tend to start early in the morning and if your body clock doesn't want you awake until 10 you're gonna have a bad time this is what's known as social jet lag it's a misalignment between biological timing and society's timing that leaves a person sleep deprived social jet lag isn't just unpleasant it's unhealthy it's associated with a higher risk of obesity insulin resistance and depression for starters and that might be why other studies find that night owls are less happy than morning larks overall they also suffer from more depressive symptoms they drink and smoke more and they report more binge eating behaviors than their early to rise counterparts so can you change your chronotype yes and no for people with severe circadian rhythm disorders whose internal clocks are offset dramatically from what's considered normal there are a few standard treatments professionals turn to they usually involve some combination of light therapy melatonin supplementation and chronotherapy where you go to bed a few hours later every night to reset your internal clock but it's really hard to reset your clock and keep it that way for it to work you have to get up and go to sleep at the same time every day even on weekends one late night has the potential to reverse everything because ultimately you're fighting your dna this is why it's helpful to have a person in your home who starts screaming every morning at 6 30. no matter what you gotta wake up the healthiest thing anyone can do regardless of chronotype is get enough sleep so if social jetlag makes people sleep deprived and changing chronotypes is next to impossible there's only one real option society has to change schools and workplaces have to accept the fact that different people have different internal clocks and what's a perfect hour for one person could spell disaster for someone else and the good news is that things are changing slowly in 2014 the american academy of pediatrics officially recommended that schools start no earlier than 8 30 for example and the number of workplaces that offer flexible schedules and remote work is steadily increasing but until there's more public understanding and accommodation for individual chronotypes there's going to be a sizable portion of the population that just really needs their coffee 


well that's kind of encouraging at least mostly the part about schools and workplaces becoming more flexible i'll brew all you night owls a pot of coffee in the meantime or tea if that's your thing next once you're all settled in the classroom you might find yourself facing another dilemma how to take notes or maybe you're a teacher figuring out whether or not to allow digital notes in your classroom this year either way that's something psychologists have looked into as well and they found some useful insights here's more from Brit 

 Taking Notes

picture this it's the beginning of a new semester and you've just walked into class and opened your laptop only to have your teacher explain that computers won't be allowed but hey it's okay because they then try to explain that they're doing you a favor after all they say taking notes by hand is better for you but that just seems weird i mean it's pretty easy to take notes on a keyboard so why would writing and wiggling your hand like this somehow be better for your memory than typing well maybe surprisingly your teachers aren't just making this stuff up there is evidence that writing notes by hand might be better for test performance but only in certain situations here's what you should know if you've got one of those teachers that really believes you should keep your computer in your bag they have a reason for it because some studies do support this like one published in psychological science in 2014. in one of its experiments volunteers took notes while watching ted talks either on paper or with a computer then about half an hour later they took a test on things in the study material some of them were basic facts like how many years ago did the Indus civilization exist others were more conceptual questions that involve some thinking like what is significant about the Indus scripts found in Mesopotamia no matter how they took notes everyone did just about equally well on the basic facts but those who took notes by hand seemed to be better at answering the conceptual questions the researchers suggest this happened because the typing group took more notes and copied down a lot of what was said in verbatim that may mean they didn't think as hard about what they were learning meanwhile those who wrote by hand paraphrased more and likely had to think more intentionally about what to write so they may have engaged with the material more deeply now if you just look at this experiment you might walk away with some sweeping conclusions about how to take notes but it's important to remember that there's more to learning than just writing things down how you study if you study and how long you have until the test are all important parts of that process and when you start to include those kinds of variables in your research that's where things get complicated like take another experiment from in that paper in it the researchers used a new group of participants again some took notes on a computer and others took notes by hand but this time those participants had to wait a week to be tested instead of half an hour and when they returned for their test some people were allowed to study their notes while others weren't this experiment was slightly more reflective of real life and maybe unsurprisingly the results were a bit different too in the group that didn't study the researchers found no significant difference in test scores between participants who took handwritten and typed notes but in the group that did study those who took notes by hand still seem to get higher scores this seems to suggest that studying is important but how you take notes is still a big factor too except that doesn't mean that handwritten notes are always the best as it turns out there's one more variable you should know about to really get the full picture this variable shows up in a paper published in 2012 where note-taking methods were tested over three separate experiments in every experiment some participants were told to take organized paraphrased notes and others were told to transcribe as much as possible then a second condition was added in the first experiment some people took notes by hand and others used a computer in the second everyone took notes on a computer but some people were tested immediately while others waited a day and in the third everyone used a computer again but some people got to review their notes at the end of the lecture and others didn't then everyone was tested a day later based on these experiments you might think that those who took handwritten notes or those that took paraphrase notes did the best but that isn't what the scientists always saw instead transcribing everything on a computer generally seemed to lead to better scores on free recall tests admittedly this wasn't true for all cases like if participants had to wait a day to be tested and weren't allowed to review their notes those who typed organized notes did better than those who typed things more verbatim but for the most part transcribing things seem to be the way to go in this study so what's the deal well that 2014 paper isn't necessarily wrong this 2012 study just looked at one more very important variable the participants working memory skills besides doing all this note-taking stuff these participants also took a working memory test to measure things like how many numbers they could keep in their heads for a few minutes and this was significant the researchers found that over all three experiments if participants were told to organize their notes and paraphrase their working memory scores tended to predict their test scores in other words those with higher working memory scores tended to test better than those with lower scores but and here's the kicker that wasn't true if participants were told to transcribe everything in that case working memory didn't seem to matter this likely happened because good paraphrasing requires you to hold information in your head while you jot it down and if you just aren't good at that your notes might not be as useful transcribing sort of levels the playing field which explains why it seemed to be the best method in most of these specific study conditions so where does this leave you well this research suggests that there isn't one best general note-taking strategy instead things seem to depend on the situation if you know you won't have a chance to study before your test it might be a good idea to do some deep thinking while you take notes and these studies show that taking notes by hand might help you do that since you probably won't copy as much verbatim but if it's going to be a bit and you know you're going to get a chance to study your notes taking a lot of detailed notes might be helpful which a computer can help with this seems to be especially true if you have a hard time say keeping a phone number in your head for a few minutes at the end of the day though your notes won't be the only things that affect your exam performance if these experiments show anything it's that how you study is also really important especially if there's a long delay between when you learn something and when you're formally tested on it still especially if you've got an exam coming up soon a little extra psychology help can't hurt 

okay so it's less about what you use to take notes and more about how you take them in different situations that said even if you've got the world's greatest notes that doesn't always mean you're going to sit down and study them sometimes we do this thing called self-handicapping where we just sabotage ourselves but why i'll let hank explain 

 Self Handicapping

let's say you got a big test tomorrow and it's a big chunk of your final grade so what should you do study or binge watch some Netflix procrastination getting a hangover or putting on music so loud that it's hard to concentrate those all seem like pretty solid ways to sabotage your success so psychologists consider them forms of self-handicapping now self-handicapping seems like a pretty bad idea but we still do it anyway and that could be because it's a handy excuse if things don't go so well so you can blame something other than you and your own skills self-handicapping is fairly common though some of us do it more than others and research has defined two types there's behavioral self-handicapping when you actively do things like go out to a party or don't do things like study which hurt your chances of success or there's claimed self-handicapping like saying you're tired anxious or sick these are reports of something that happened or how you're not feeling your best self-handicapping doesn't just apply to tests at school either it can pop up anytime your performance is evaluated whether it's sports or work or uploading a YouTube video or coming up with funny captions when you're playing jack box games and trying to impress your friends most scientists think self-handicapping has to do with protecting yourself from negative things it's basically an excuse so you don't feel bad about yourself or so other people don't think badly of your performance for example one study by researchers at the university of wisconsin-madison in 1996 had 135 male undergraduates play a pinball game before coming to the study they had filled out a survey about their habits so researchers knew if they tended to be high or low self-handicappers for instance if you agree with statements like when i do something wrong my first impulse is to blame the circumstances and i would do a lot better if i tried harder you might be higher on that scale at that study some participants were told that they'd be competing against another person in another room for the highest score others were not then they were all given a chance to practice a helpful reaction time task before playing pinball as expected high self-handicappers practiced less than low self-handicappers overall but of the high self-handicappers who thought they were competing and therefore being evaluated the folks who didn't practice very much had the most fun they also rated their own abilities higher so behavioral self-handicapping seemed to let them blame any mistakes on not practicing rather than on their actual abilities they could hold on to some amount of like i'm not terrible at pinball like i still am valuable feeling this logic makes sense in a lot of situations like it's harder to handle a bad score on a math test when you tried really hard than if you watched a whole season of rupaul's drag race the night before you might regret staying up so late but at least you can still feel like you're okay at math and psychologists have found how you feel matters a lot when it comes to self-handicapping for instance if you feel positively about yourself being evaluated might not be so threatening but people with lower self-esteem are more likely to self-handicap both behavioral and claimed the same goes for people who are low at self-efficacy the belief that you can do a task well and in people who are lower in self-compassion treating yourself with kindness when faced with difficulties and accepting your mistakes you might also have a certain time of day when you tend to be at your best like your biological clock might make you more of an early bird or a night owl turns out you're more likely to behaviorally self-handicap at your peak time which kind of makes sense since if you're a night person and you have an 8 a.m exam you've already got a built-in excuse but always talk about excuses make self-handicapping sound like definitely a bad thing and some research has found that we tend to negatively judge people who claim self-handicaps though it does depend on the excuse for instance one 1995 experiment at the university of Utah had undergrads write funny cartoon captions and rate each other and saying you just didn't try very hard was worse than saying that cough medicine made you tired so can you do anything to stop self-handicapping the good news is yes probably though more research needs to be done because it's a complicated thing a set of three studies in 2011 looked at German students who self-reported goals and those researchers found that you can sort of protect against self-handicapping if you focus on mastering a skill rather than an achievement like getting good grades so basically just do things the exact opposite of how the education system is set up when you focus on learning getting something wrong isn't such a big deal because it's normal to make mistakes and self-affirmation might also help thinking about something that matters to you or how you've done well at something else in the past can help you feel better and not self-handicap as much so just look in the mirror and say hank your eyebrows look great for example one 2005 study at Rutgers university had students do a business aptitude test doing a self-affirmation by writing about something important to them like social issues or economics reduced self-handicapping so self-handicapping is common and maybe not a completely bad thing but it can definitely make it harder to do your best but there are also a bunch of ways to work on feeling good about yourself instead of binging shows on Netflix 

if you didn't affirm yourself while watching that let me just say you're doing a great job and you can do it now another big thing that might be on your mind this semester is standardized testing whether you're prepping for something like the sat or MCAT or are just trying to get your students through another round of required testing there's a lot to think about including how stereotypes can affect these test scores here's more from Brit


if you're a student in the us right now chances are you've taken a lot of standardized tests these tests are supposed to be fair your performance shouldn't depend on your race or gender or culture but there are often differences between these groups test scores called achievement gaps for example girls and boys scored pretty much the same on math tests all through childhood but once they get to be teenagers boys start to do a little better there are a lot of theories about where achievement gaps come from but there's one thing we know is going on that causes these differences in test scores called stereotype threat that's when test scores are influenced by stereotypes people know about their identities even if they don't believe the stereotype is true the easiest way to show this effect is to tell people something about the test they're about to take just before they take it something that reminds them of groups they belong to or identify with for example multiple studies have shown that if you tell groups of men and women that scores on a math test will show a gender difference before they take it their scores will show the difference but if you tell them that everyone does the same the difference often goes away you can even find this effect just by putting demographic questions about gender race and ethnicity at the start of a test instead of at the end if questions are at the start you see a gap in scores if they're at the end the gap shrinks or even disappears entirely researchers have found evidence of stereotype threat with pretty much any group identity associated with stereotypes black students perform below white students on achievement tests if they're reminded about the race beforehand but without the reminder they perform the same you can even demonstrate similar effects with older adults worried about memory loss one study tried to see if you could push people in the other direction too by testing Asian american women they assigned the subjects to one of three groups then gave them a writing assignment and a math test one group wrote about their Asian identity another group wrote about their identity as a woman and the third was the control group the group that wrote about their gender had lower scores which made sense because of the stereotype that women aren't as good at math but the group that wrote about their Asian identity had higher scores compared to the control group which fit the stereotype that Asian do well in math it's worth noting though that this specific study design is kind of finicky two different teams tried to replicate it one in Berkeley California failed but one done in schools throughout the southern us got the same results as the original so it might be a small or limited effect but it also might just depend on what stereotypes are dominant in the local culture either way it's clear that stereotype threat is part of why there's an achievement gap but why does it happen some research suggests that the stress and worrying about possibly conforming to a stereotype is distracting and keeps students from being as focused as they could be they often don't realize the source of the stress after all taking tests is stressful for everyone but even if it's unconscious it's a stress that affects certain groups more other research has focused on how thinking about stereotypes might lead students to think of their abilities as fixed traits instead of things they can work on and improve researchers tested this explanation by giving students a short class about how scores on standardized tests can change based on effort and motivation compared to a control that just learned about study methods they found that the class worked teaching people to think about their abilities as changeable instead of fixed encourages them to work harder to improve their math grades but it improved the test scores of vulnerable groups more girls in the control group did worse than boys fitting the stereotype but girls in the class actually got better math grades than boys obviously stereotype threat isn't the only thing that causes group differences on standardized tests there's the fact that some groups have more limited access to education for example not to mention the whole complicated web of cultural weirdness that can discourage women from going into stem fields but stereotype threat is a separate cause that we know is there even in students who already really like school or math and it won't necessarily go away just by fixing the other problems it's also an important reminder that what you believe matters even though these effects were found in people who said they didn't believe the stereotypes beliefs about their abilities were what made the difference for a lot of students basically believing in yourself is important science says so 


there really is a lot to think about there finally if you've been watching all these videos as a way to put off prepping for next semester well i hope you still learn something helpful but also i've got good news for you procrastination might not be as bad as you think 


so many of us are procrastinators that we kind of have our own place in pop culture complete with slogans and t-shirts you know procrastinators unite tomorrow it really is super common to procrastinate some estimates suggest that 80 to 95 of college students procrastinate at least some of their schoolwork and approximately one-fifth of adults and half of college students identify as severe and chronic procrastinators and most of us who do it feel bad about our procrastination that's probably why we have all the jokes and the t-shirts so we don't have to think about how it might be making our lives harder than they need to be but what if it wasn't necessarily bad to procrastinate it turns out that there are actually different kinds of procrastinators and that sometimes what feels like procrastination might actually be an adaptive way to get work done efficiently okay okay so it's not all good news procrastination means putting off work that we could do now until later and generally it is considered to be a maladaptive behavior which means that it's more harm than help when it comes to getting by in your day-to-day environment procrastination has been linked to all sorts of things like worse performance on academic tasks to quality of life things like worry anxiety and depression and maybe even health problems like hypertension and cardiovascular disease but here's the thing not all procrastinators are the same one 2015 study asked 710 individuals who consider themselves procrastinators to take a bunch of self-assessments on procrastination anxiety depression and quality of life based on that the researchers identified five subtypes of procrastinators from mild to well-adjusted to severe this showed that procrastination doesn't have to be maladaptive for everybody the researchers also suggested that different coping strategies could be developed for people of different subtypes to help them better manage their tendency to procrastinate just as procrastinators differ some researchers also believe that there are different types of procrastination most notably they talk about active versus passive procrastination passive procrastination is what we normally think of when we talk about procrastination you push off tasks and don't get them done and then you feel lousy about it that sense of self doubt anxiety and distress is actually a key aspect of passive procrastination if it's not causing you problems then it's not necessarily a problem active procrastination on the other hand can be thought of as a time management strategy these folks prefer to work under pressure so they deliberately push off tasks to create a time crunch but then they get their stuff done and they feel good about their choices and their work when all is said and done there's actually evidence that active procrastinators are more similar to non-procrastinators than to passive procrastinators in certain ways like dealing with stress managing their time having confidence in their ability to get stuff done and actually doing it well because active procrastinators they tend to get pretty good grades one 2019 study found that active procrastinators showed higher emotional intelligence greater persistence and greater self-directedness compared to passive procrastinators of course some researchers aren't entirely on board with active procrastination they argue that it shouldn't be thought of as a type of procrastination at all but rather as the result of two pieces arousal delay and purposeful delay arousal delay is the need to feel pressure to get things done which these researchers say is not super great it tends to be correlated with less well-being because you have to literally put yourself under stress to find the motivation to do the thing but purposeful delay the choice to put off some tasks and prioritize others is a good strategy for managing complex tasks these researchers think it might be the adaptive component that others have called active procrastination another idea that a lot of us may recognize is productive procrastination where you replace one adaptive behavior with another less important adaptive behavior this is the classic doing your laundry instead of working on that big assignment you're still getting something you want to do done but it's probably only happening because you really don't want to do the other thing there's not a lot of research on this so it's not entirely clear whether it's a super great thing to do one 2016 study surveyed 1104 undergrads about their procrastination habits some procrastinated their schoolwork through other productive tasks like cleaning or working on other assignments others did stuff like socializing going on facebook and watching tv and those who procrastinated productively by doing other academic tasks had better grades and we're at a lower risk of alcohol use and abuse and that's all we can really learn from this one study since it was asking pretty specific questions but at least it tells us that productive procrastination might be better than unproductive procrastination in this one sense now we don't want anyone to feel guilty no matter what kind of procrastination behavior you fall under it's totally a 


thing people do there are of course plenty of strategies for how you can stop procrastinating altogether so if your procrastination is causing you problems and you want to try to stop it go for it but the research does seem to suggest that being a procrastinator doesn't have to be the worst thing that ever happened to you we all procrastinate differently and with varying levels of success but if you have a good way to manage your need to put things off you can definitely still get things done 


so to all my procrastinators out there and to everyone who's getting ready for another big week at school good luck you're going to do great and thanks for watching this episode of scishow psych2 we make free psychology content based on the latest peer-reviewed studies and expert input and if you want to keep getting smarter with us you can hit subscribe either below or at