An Action Guide to Atomic Habits by James Clear

I’m probably late to the game but I recently read Atomic Habits and found it a game-changer for my own life! Due to the sheer volume of tips and content covered, I found myself writing a summarised version of each chapter after reading. But I went beyond to include my own tables and exercises based on James’s suggestions. And thus the Action Guide to Atomic Habits was born.

I’d like to share it here in the hopes that others will find it useful!

Mandatory recommendation to support James Clear by buying his book. While I think my modified guide is fantastic, it can never beat learning from the author himself.

JAMES COMMANDS YOU

Before we begin, my review of Atomic Habits: 5/5 stars. This book marked a paradigm shift for me. It is also well-integrated with psychological principles, so bonus points! I also love that there are many action pointers interspersed throughout the book, though I would have appreciated it even more if he straight up had “exercises”. But it’s alright because I’ve created them – problem solved.

*This post is the first of two. It covers the first 10 chapters in the book (of 20), because writing a summary takes time. Also, because the content covered can be dense, don’t expect to be able to finish the summary/exercises in one sitting. Yes – you know what that means! Bookmark this page, subscribe to me for updates, and send love if you enjoyed it!

USING THIS GUIDE

For starters, I recommend selecting one habit – and only one – that you hope to build and focusing on it via the exercises in this guide. The habit I’ve been working on is reading academic journal articles every day. Well then, without further ado…


All about NTU Psychology

Hello everyone and welcome to the world of Psychology! This post is written for poly/JC students considering a future with NTU Psychology. The sheer amount of online information can be daunting, so I have kept it to the essentials. I hope that it will be useful to you in making an informed decision.

All links open in new tabs.

Contents

[1] Curriculum: Overview, course structure, modules, lesson format
[2] Academic supplements: internships, research opportunities
[3] Work/future prospects: pay, career pathways
[4] Admission information: IGP for JC/poly
[5] Why NTU psychology: comparing NUS and NTU + some considerations 
[6] Scholarships available

For a future post: how to maximise chances of admission + student life

A bit about me for context

I graduated from the NTU Psychology programme in 2021 with Honours, Highest Distinction. I’m pursuing a Master’s degree in NTU now, researching social psychology. In addition, I’m the incumbent President of the Singapore Psychological Society (Youth Wing), which you should follow for more psychology opportunities! Oh and I also studied psych in poly.

In short, I literally have no identity besides “I do psych UwU”, but in exchange, I think about it ALL the time and that means I can deliver quality information to you, my dear reader.

How better than to start with some common misconceptions? Let’s see:

Common misconceptions

  • Psychology students can read minds or are more well-tuned to others’ emotions. Unfortunately, neither are true – though the second is a skill that can be developed with training based on psychological principles.
  • All psychologists deal with mental health. Not at all – clinical psychology is a popular discipline, yes, but it’s only one out of like, fifty (50) fields available. I’m serious.
    • Related misconception: psychology is a back-up plan for becoming a medical doctor (psychiatry). Let me put it out there now that there is virtually zero chance one can become a medical doctor with a psychology degree. The ONLY exception (available to the 1%) is if you go to graduate medical school.
    • You can become another type of doctor though (PsyD, PhD).
  • Psychology is easy because it’s commonsense knowledge. Yes, everyone has a natural tendency to try to understand other people, but here’s two things for your consideration: 1) you’re often wrong and 2) you don’t know that you’re often wrong. Psychology is also not easy because: STATISTICS IS COMPULSORY!!!
  • A degree in psychology means you are a psychologist upon graduation. Nope, you’ll need to pursue further studies – usually a Master’s degree.

These are not to scare you, merely to illustrate the realities of what it’s like to study psychology in Singapore. If you are willing to accept the above, it marks a great start for your journey ahead!  

Essential information

The full name of the NTU Psych degree as of 2022 is a BSocSci(Hons) in Psychology – short for Bachelor of Social Sciences. It used to be the Bachelor of Arts, and I believe the nomenclature change marks a transition to recognising it as more of a “science”. Some folks make a distinction between BA, BSc, and BSocSci, but imo it doesn’t matter.

What’s important is this – all students that enroll in NTU Psych are guaranteed an Honours degree. That means all students do a 4-year programme, since a conventional undergrad degree is typically 3 years. In comparison, an Honours is optional for NUS FASS.

To fulfill the honours requirements in Year 4, you will write a 10,000-word research paper (aka the fearsome Final Year Project) or take 2 additional higher-level modules in its place.

[1] Curriculum – click here for the full curriculum document.

Students take three types of modules in NTU:

  1. Specific stuff related to your degree (Major Requirements)
  2. General knowledge you need for the world (Interdisciplinary Collaborative Cores)
  3. The “have fun and S/U it” (Broadening and Deepening Electives)

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll only look at the first. Suffice it to say that the interdisciplinary cores will provide a good foundation. You will learn both skills (e.g. writing, critical thinking) and an appreciation of big trends in the world today (e.g. sustainability, big data). As for the broadening and deepening electives (every time I see this phrase I wanna laugh lol), use them as an opportunity to explore without fear of jeopardising your GPA. 

The modules that you take for psychology are split into two main types – the major-cores and major-electives. You will be clearing the 9 major-cores in the first two years, which are compulsory modules that the entire cohort has to take. These serve the function of exposing you to the diverse fields within psychology – e.g. social, biological, cognitive psychology – which can be poles apart in the methods and theories that they use. They’re all introductory-level modules, so don’t worry if you don’t have a H2 from JC.  

You will also be introduced to statistics from your very first semester. Even though students are only required to take two statistics modules (there are more, but they’re optional), you’ll realise that the subject matter bleeds into everything else. For example, to evaluate a journal article, you need to know what the numbers mean. Some students erroneously believe “oh since my future career goal is to become a therapist [for example], it’s not that important”. But without the numbers, we’re not a science at all. Either way, no matter how much mental gymnastics or procrastination you put yourself through, it will find its way back to you. So, you might as well tackle it head-on and set aside a lot of time to practice.

Most of the major-cores are lecture and exam-based. Lectures are usually 3 hours in a large lecture theatre or possibly online with COVID. Alternatively, it will be 2-hour lectures and 1-hour tutorials with more room for discussion. There is a heavy focus on content absorption and regurgitation. You will be expected to read a lot, from textbooks to journal articles. Some assignments will require you to write essays, where you will have to synthesise and evaluate the literature. There may also be presentations and posters to deliver. Nonetheless, the weightage of your grade is primarily determined by exams. Most of the exams are a combination of MCQs and short-answer questions.

Moving on to the major-electives. NTU Psychology offers over 50 (!) electives, though not all are available every semester. You won’t be taking all of them, of course. That’s why they’re called electives – because you get to choose. You won’t be taking them until earliest Y2S2, though it never hurts to plan ahead. 

Here are some examples of electives I’ve taken:

  • HP3002 Positive Psychology
  • HP3402 Social Cognition (fun fact: I’m the tutorial assistant for this now)
  • HP3708 Biopsychosocial Criminology
  • HP4104 Evidence-based Practice in Clinical Psychology

You might note a few things from the above. First, the topics are rather niche. You can think of them as “offshoots” of the core modules. They are also more integrative, e.g. social cognition blends social and cognitive psychology. Second, there are level 3000 and 4000 modules. Level 4000 modules are the most specialised, with a focus on the state of the art and application. Classes are smaller, with less lecturing and more student discussion. At this level, we move away from exams towards applying the knowledge to create new ideas and products. These are the modules that will stretch you the most. The instructors of those modules range from experts to superstars, who often have fanbases (LOL).

Single majors can expect to have a workload of about 15-18 AUs per semester, which is about 5-6 modules including the miscellaneous ones. This means you will be taking about 3-4 psych modules every semester. Double majors do a bit more, and 2nd majors are stressed a bit more because they have fewer modules they can S/U. Each module may further split into a number of quizzes, ranging anywhere from 2 to 5 (bless these students). The lesson is clear: consistent work is the only way to survive and thrive.

A brief note regarding the Final Year Project (FYP) that students will take in Year 4. I quote from the website:

The objective of the Graduation Project/FYP is to expose students to the elements that are inherent in independent research work in psychology. With the guidance of an advisor, the student will learn to identify a research issue in an area of psychology, conduct empirical, meta-analytical (use of secondary data), or library research, and write up a research report of about 9,000 to 10,000 words

“Empirical” just means “run your own study”, meta-analytical just means “take a bunch of existing studies and run analyses on them”, and library research means “literature review”. All worthwhile and fun. FYP is compulsory for GPAs >=3.9/5, optional for 3.75-3.89, and disallowed for those below 3.75. The third group will take two 4000-level modules in its place. You’ll graduate with an Honours regardless of whether you do your FYP, though it’s required for the award of Distinction and above.

You don’t have to worry about the FYP because it’s so far away. But if you need to ease your kiasuism, what you can do is to take your first semesters to find out more about the professors. Learn about their personalities, their work, their interests, and decide if you’re aligned with those aspects. If you have an idea of who/what you like early on, you can also volunteer as a research assistant at their labs to get a headstart. More on that below.

At some point, every student probably goes through the phase of “this was not what I was expecting”. If you want a clearer idea of what to expect, check out my guide to NTU Psych modules, where I cover the content, assessments, and personal tips for all modules I took.

[2] Academic Supplements

Research opportunities are useful if you are gearing for a career that is research-oriented. Internships offer an avenue to demonstrate your aptitude and interest in a field of work.

Research Opportunities

Research Assistantships (RAs): a university has two functions – to educate and to churn out research. Professors are conducting new research studies all the time, and many have “labs” – workgroups of students running projects spearheaded by the professor (known as the Principal Investigator). Students can volunteer (i.e. unpaid labour) to join labs to assist with these projects and learn about the research process. Early on, you’ll be assigned more menial tasks like coding responses, running studies and data cleaning, but as you gain more experience, you’ll ideally be empowered to contribute more. You might even land a co-author spot eventually!

The demand for manpower is ever-present, but so is the supply. Thus, you’ll have to be proactive in seeking out your professors and be able to articulate clearly why you have chosen their lab over others. The good news is you don’t have to limit yourself to the professors that have taught you – you could even go beyond the department if you wanted.

URECA: An acronym for “Undergraduate Research Experience on CAmpus”, this is an optional programme that allows students to conduct their own research project with a supervisor of their choice. It is available from Year 2 onwards for all students with a GPA of over 4.0. It’s 4AUs, which is the equivalent of a 4000-level module. In other words, it’s like a mini-FYP. The good news is that it’s pass/fail, allowing a rare opportunity for students to freely pursue their interests without having to worry about their GPAs. How your experience will play out is heavily dependent on your supervisor’s workstyle and preferences (this is a rule you should remember as you go along), but in general, all students are expected to submit a 5,000-word research paper as the final deliverable. They will also be credited as the first author alongside their supervisor. You probably will not end up with a ground-breaking discovery, but it’s an excellent foray into the world of research.

For more information, I wrote a review of my URECA experience here.

Internships

I only took one internship in poly – right before I graduated. Since I knew I wanted to pursue further studies early on, I wasn’t too worried about whether I had an internship or not. The pressure to obtain an internship under one’s belt can be daunting, though. In my conversations with friends, the stresses of applying for internships was a frequent topic.

There is no restriction on where and what kind of internships you can apply for. Additionally, the School of Social Sciences (of which the Psych department is under) offers the Professional Attachment Programme (HPAP) that students at the end of Year 3 can take. Students will receive 5AUs (pass/fail) in exchange upon completing 10 weeks of internship. The organisation in which you intern at must be approved by the Career and Attachment Office (CAO), though.

Juniors often ask me where to find internships. Honestly, I’m not very sure in light of my limited experience in this area. Three avenues I can suggest:

  • Ask your professors
  • Use platforms such as LinkedIn
  • Do your own research

Just because a job is not listed doesn’t mean it’s not there. One of my friends shared that she had landed an internship by proactively reaching out to companies that interested her even when they did not indicate that they were hiring talent. I was so impressed. I just applied for mine because I saw that they were recruiting via school email.

At the end of the day, before jumping into any research opportunities or internships, start by asking yourself: what value am I looking for out of this, and is it what I really need? Or am I merely doing it for the sake of having something on my résumé? Don’t just do it because you’re FOMO. Remember that every choice you make entails an opportunity cost. 

[3] Work/future prospects – ah yes the million-dollar question

Pay: An average fresh grad from NTU Psych can expect to earn in the range of $3000-3500.

Sectors (that I’ve seen my friends enter): civil service, private sector (HR, banks), research, marketing, clinics

  • To reiterate: to become a full-fledged psychologist, you need a postgraduate degree. It is not a negotiable, and takes years of investment and commitment. 

Key skills gained: critical thinking, writing, translating research, data analysis, interpersonal skills, possibly advocacy (HAHAHA)

[4] Admission Information

Indicative Grade Profile AY21/22 for Psychology

A levels

  • 10th percentile: AAC/B
  • 90th percentile: AAA/A

Polytechnic

  • 10th percentile: 3.72
  • 90th percentile: 3.92

[5] Scholarships

There are many scholarships for freshmen that NTU offers.

I might do another post on how to improve your chances at getting a scholarship/maximise your chances of getting into the programme based on my experiences of receiving the Nanyang Scholarship and NTU Research Scholarship, so feel free to give a like, leave a comment under this post, or even support me if you want to make it happen!

[6] Why NTU Psychology?

I cover various reasons why in my post comparing NTU and NUS Psychology, written with the input of my friends in the two programmes. That being said, I recognise that there are other universities in Singapore offering psychology, and they too are valid choices.

Some major concerns might be:

  • The major declaration system: NUS FASS allows you to change your major to something else, NTU doesn’t; you’re in for psych all the way
  • The module balloting system: NTU is fastest fingers, NUS is bidding
  • The S/U system: NUS allows seeing your grades before S/U, and NTU students have been up in arms for years about this, but it didn’t matter much to me
  • The location and living arrangements: NTU has first 2 years guaranteed hall, and I think NUS doesn’t have this

Student life

I originally wanted to include my experiences with hall living, overseas exchange, and student clubs in this post but in the interest of time I think I’ll save it for another post. Again, let me know if you’re interested by liking, commenting, or just reaching out!

Feel free to AMA by leaving a comment here or on the Reddit post I’ll probably be linking this to.

Final credits

This post and its format was inspired by the following “All about [Course]” series of posts which I am grateful for: law, nursing.

Resources and relevant posts

Follow/contact me | OR if you want to show some love, you can buy my candy and share it with your friends, it’ll make my day ❤

Follow for more psych opps: Singapore Psychological Society (Youth Wing) | NTU Psychology Society

More on NTU life: Guide to STAR Wars and other FAQs

Gwyn Reviews: the NTU Counselling Centre

Mental health in youths is the In Thing now. There’s been a proliferation of ground-up and top-down initiatives targeting this issue in the past year, with even the Singapore government publicly committing to progressive improvements (albeit not reforms). This leads us to the questions: what resources are available, and are they adequate?

For me, there was one FREE resource under my nose I’d neglected for the longest time: the school counsellor. Yes – after more than four years in university and pursuing two psychology (!) degrees, I finally reached out to the NTU University Counselling Centre (UCC). This post will describe my experience seeking counselling services from the NTU UCC.

Sections to be covered (Ctrl-F to skip to a section directly, e.g. [1]):

[1] Why people don’t always seek help
[2] Booking the appointment + waiting time
[3] The actual counselling session

Even though I visited a university counsellor, I expect the overall experience to be generalisable, so youths of other ages and institutions may still find this post applicable. Students not from NTU/uni may skip [2], though I’d still recommend you read everything.

My goal here is to encourage help-seeking on my readers’ part: if you feel like you’re facing difficulties with your mental health in any way, go to a professional if you can. Don’t wait until your stresses boil over and you find yourself in a state of burnout (speaking from experience).


[1] THE PREAMBLE: WHY PEOPLE DON’T ALWAYS SEEK HELP

Considering I’m a psychology graduate, it’s ironic how I’ve never seen a counsellor. I mean, I’ve studied under clinical practitioners. Hell, I took a counselling module once, where my counselling skills were assessed. (Minor flex: I was the “top performer” in the cohort for that module. But look at where I am now. So.) Either way, I’ve never been a client.

That’s not to say I never considered the prospect of seeking help – I just never got around to doing so.

The point is: there’s a gap between intention and action that many of us find ourselves stuck in. You know (from the indelicate “oh mental health is superrrr important and we shouldn’t neglect it” narrative that we’re bombarded by) that seeking help is good, but… you just can’t seem to bring yourself through the steps to get there.

Granted, not everyone has the energy or time to seek professional help. There exists a multitude of (valid) reasons people don’t. Here are mine in the past that I cycled through at my convenience:

  • I am busy / I have too much work / I don’t have time / it’s too much of a hassle
  • It might not help me / I could just talk to my friends or family 
  • It’s too expensive* (high-SES private therapists can go up to $180/h)

*So I found a free service. Baby steps, my friends.

Tl;dr: in deciding to seek help, you must believe that the value you’re receiving is worth the investment you’re making. In describing my experience with counselling below, I hope to demonstrate the value that counselling can bring. It will not solve all your problems – but it might get you closer to addressing them.


[2] BOOKING THE APPOINTMENT + WAITING TIME

Send help, am suffering

What prompted me to request an appointment was a stressful episode midway in the semester. Long story short, I felt that I wasn’t living up to my unattainable standards and doing terribly compared to my peers. A common experience, I guess, but with sufficient intensity to shut me down for three consecutive days – a significant amount of time when you’re running on weekly deadlines. Then, I saw an email advising students to seek help at the UCC if they needed it. LOL. This whole scenario reads like a comedy advertisement.

The appointment request form is on this page (login credentials required), but you can email the UCC at ucc-students@ntu.edu.sg or call 67904462. Getting to the request page is NOT an intuitive process (take note NTU); from a Google Search of “NTU counselling”, you need a minimum of four clicks on the correct links to get there.

The specific order is Student Intranet > Student Wellbeing (under Student Services) > Counselling > Making Appointments (Students) (under Student Wellbeing) – like how many Student Wellbeings do I need to see before I get to my destination LMFAO.

hello sgsecure? i am insecure

The intake call

Surprise, surprise: the appointment booking form I filled was not, in fact, for the counselling appointment. It was for an intake call. They contacted me through my email to arrange a call, and after some back and forth, we agreed on a timing. Anyway, they forgot to call me at the stipulated timing on the day itself, and I had to write in after a 15-min period of radio silence to remind them.

The intake call is a means of gathering initial information about the client through a series of questions (for the nitty-gritty, read here). The lines of enquiry that stood out to me were:

  • Any current issues/life transitions/symptoms experienced in the past month
  • My reason for seeking counselling; what I expect to get out of counselling
  • Any intentions for self-harm? (They were particularly meticulous about this)
  • Existing sources of social support I could draw upon

Naturally, I wanted to see the counsellor ASAP, but they informed me that the next appointment wasn’t available until a month later. I remember responding: the semester would have ended by that time – what would I have to talk about then? Can’t be helped, the caller essentially replied. It was crunch time for them because everyone gets stressed around the exam/assignment period. So, ironically, the time when students are most vulnerable is precisely when they are least likely to get opportune help because the centre can’t cope with the demand.

OK, well, whatever. I booked the appointment for the following month and promptly forgot about it. Later, I had to postpone it for another week because I had an urgent deadline that cropped up, which was a hassle. The other thing about UCC’s booking system is that it is internally and manually managed. There is no convenient online portal that you can log onto – like that of polyclinics – to book or reschedule appointments. You have to write/call in to deconflict and haggle for the timing that works best for you AND them.


[3] FINALLY, THE ACTUAL COUNSELLING SESSION

24 for me but same same

Counsellors, therapists, and psychiatrists

Before we proceed, a note between the differences between a counsellor and (psycho)therapist because there is a common misconception that they are the same. If you’re wondering where clinical psychologists are, they fall under the umbrella of therapists. Finally, neither counsellors nor therapists are psychiatrists, who are specialised medical doctors and the only ones that can prescribe medication for mental disorders. (Confused? This resource may help clarify.)

Therapists undergo more specialised training focusing on diagnosis and treatment, and minimally require a Master’s to practise professionally. Counselling does not require a Master’s, though there is a certification requirement of a few hundred hours of supervised training. The above does not mean one profession is better than the other – it just means they address different needs of the client. A counsellor is well-equipped to handle immediate problems causing distress and is a resource bank of coping strategies that the client can draw upon during trying times.

Think of counsellors as the “first line of defence”. If your symptoms are severe such that a counsellor’s assistance is insufficient, your case will be escalated to a psychologist or psychiatrist for further attention. But for many, seeing a counsellor will be enough. I think of counsellors as similar to GPs. We all get sick once in a while, and so seeking regular check-ups is a good habit to cultivate. But sometimes we have severe or recurring symptoms beyond their expertise, and that’s when they refer you to a specialist.  

Nice to e-meet you

I opted for an online call because I didn’t want to travel down to Pulau NTU. Ah, the joys of technology! My counsellor was randomly assigned to me – I didn’t get to choose. I won’t disclose her name for privacy reasons, but she was sweet and approachable. And a great listener.

We started in an open-ended fashion, where she invited me to share what I’ve been up to and any challenges that I’d been facing recently. I’m a great rambler (ideal client type), so I wasted no time and jumped straight into rattling off all my problems. Throughout my monologues, she remained highly engaged, interjecting appropriately during my pauses.

When I shared my chronic belief of never being good enough, she gently guided me to elaborate and interrogate the causes of this belief. Examples:  

  • When did I start feeling this way?
  • Is it really feasible to be the best at something (all the time)?
  • How do I deal with situations when I do not meet my expectations?
  • What is my relationship with myself?

As I attempted to answer these questions, I found myself exploring dusty places in my mind. I realised I possessed thought and action patterns that I had simply accepted as normal and automatically used without noticing their impact on me through the years. It was a pleasant surprise when her questions decentred me, throwing me off my usual line of self-talk, and pointed me in new directions to explore. It was exciting.

What I really liked was the new perspective that she offered to the things I took for granted. It’s easy to believe that we know everything about ourselves – after all, we live with the voices in our heads 24/7. And I’d already had extensive conversations with my loved ones and mentors before about the struggles I faced. While they are indubitably a valuable source of social support, I stopped learning anything new about myself from those repeated conversations at some point. So, gaining an outsider’s perspective was illuminating.

Problem-focused coping is my passion

Before ending the session, she provided me with a few coping methods to try over a few weeks. She mainly proposed journaling with specific adjustments. I mentioned that I have a habit of reviewing my day in writing, so she commended me (LOL) and recommended further minutiae I could try. Namely:

  • Write down the events of the day. Next, identify and label the emotions I experienced – positive or negative. Then validate them: was it reasonable to feel this way, given the circumstances? Would others have felt the same in similar situations?
  • If there are negative thoughts, create a separate column to reframe them: rewrite them as valuable takeaways to learn from.
  • Write one positive thing about myself every day (basically gratitude journaling), e.g. “I am proud of myself for powering through the day!”

You might think these sound commonsensical. I’d already learnt all of it before, and I know that these are helpful in theory. The thing is (again): it never occurred to me to practise doing these things. She reiterated that I don’t have to be ambitious or perfectionistic about this whole journaling endeavour: start small and build up slowly. The same goes for mental health, really – it’s a process.

Finally, we scheduled our second appointment for a month later, since one hour was grossly inadequate to work through two decades of self-doubt. Afterwards, she emailed me a cute diagram with tips on cognitive restructuring.

i will NOT break down today

UNTIL THE NEXT APPOINTMENT…

In summary, I would rate my experience as:

  • Appointment process: 2.5/5, as mediocre as me, needs improvement
  • Counselling experience: 5/5, exceeded expectations, would recommend to all

I firmly believe that counselling is a resource that everyone deserves and should use to better their well-being. I say this based on my experience seeking counselling and as a psychology graduate. The good news is that there are now many free counselling services available (see the end of this post for a list of community resources), and one’s educational institution is a great place to start.

Ultimately, my hope is that seeing a counsellor can be as normalised as going to your GP for a physical ailment. Fortunately, with mental health awareness steadily increasing in Singapore, that doesn’t seem such a far-off goal now. That being said, there’s always room for improvement… but that’s a story for another time.

Wishing you all wealth and health and that you will meet the counsellor who helps you flourish and be your best self! 

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Update (4/1/22): Dr Lim from the University Wellbeing Office commented on this post with further resources for NTU students!

Thank you for promoting and your championing of mental health and wellbeing for our youths. Regarding my suggestion to include a link for the students, you could consider this: https://ts.ntu.edu.sg/sites/intranet/student/dept/uwo/resources/Pages/default.aspx (NTU student intranet under UWO webpage). This page has different categories of self-help and will encourage exploration of the different resources and services available to the youths.

APPENDIX: USEFUL COMMUNITY RESOURCES

Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service
ec2.sg
[Live chat] Mon-Fri: 10am-12pm; 2pm-5pm (Closed on Public Holidays)
e-Counselling Centre

Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH)
1800 283 7019; 6283 1576
Toll-Free Helpline from 9am-6pm on weekdays (except public holidays)
counselling@samhealth.org.sg
A helpline for all mental health-related matters

Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT)
https://www.chat.mentalhealth.sg/get-help/About_webCHAT/
6493 6500 / 01
chat@mentalhealth.sg
webCHAT operates from Tues to Sat, 1pm-8pm
Provides a confidential and personalised mental health check for young persons between 16 and 30 years old. CHAT is NOT a counselling or crisis service

Touch Community Services
1800 377 2252
Mon to Fri from 9am-6pm
TOUCHLine Youth Counselling Service

Care Corner
1800 3535 800
Daily from 10am-10pm (excluding public holidays)
Toll-free Mandarin Counselling Hotline

National Care Hotline
1800-202-6868
Provides emotional and psychological support to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

IMH Emergency Help Line (24h)
6389 2222
Urgent intervention for those experiencing acute difficulties in their mental health

Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) (24h)
1800 221 4444
pat@sos.org.sg
Facebook Messenger (6pm-6am on Mon to Thu and from 6pm-11:59pm on Fri)
A 24-hour suicide prevention helpline to provide emotional support for those in distress

Mental Health Services Resource Directory

*The above are unabashedly taken from a school email, no shame, thanks NTU

Gwyn’s Guide to NTU Psych Modules (or: PSYCcess)

Update 12th Aug 2021:

WELCOME WINNERS (back) to a new semester of striving and suffering in AY21/22! This update brings additional reviews for HP4103 Forensic & Criminal Psychology (previously HP4106) and HP3203 Conservation Psychology. Also, with this update, I come forth with a new opportunity for YOU…

click for social media

We are the Singapore Psychological Society Youth Wing, bringing psych opportunities to you(th) 🤙🏽! We aim to advance psychology as a science and career among youths in Singapore 🇸🇬. Follow us on social media to be notified about our latest psychology initiatives. ❤

(Full disclosure: I’m the President so rest assured we’re legit.)

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welcome to SUCCESS

Hello to all my fans. This post is a comprehensive review of modules I have taken in NTU. For each I briefly discuss the lecturer’s style, content, assessments, and personal tips if any. Ctrl-F is your friend here – enter either the year/semester (e.g. Y1S1), course code (e.g. HP1000), module name (e.g. Introduction to Psychology) to jump to the relevant section directly. I also indicate the type of module (Core/Major-PE/Ger-Core/Ger-PE/UE) and number of AUs. All the psych mods are presented first, followed by the GER-PEs/UEs/BDEs.

Background: I majored in Psychology with a 2nd Major in Sociology. That’s a normal workload for psychology + 35AUs in sociology courses substituted from my UEs.

Disclaimer: Module syllabus differs by year and is especially contingent on the lecturer so what you read here may not be what you get. My module trajectory is not a guideline – I just did whatever I wanted. It is your responsibility to do your due diligence. Just because I said a module was easier for me doesn’t mean it’s easy to score because of how the bell curve works, and just because I said something was hard doesn’t mean I didn’t do well. I discourage selecting modules based on how easy they seem; I recommend selecting topics that interest you.

PSA: You can find most course syllabi at this page (under the courses block).

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the (briefer) art of thinking clearly

I read The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli a while back. It already is a summarised version of 99 common thinking errors, but I took it upon myself to simplify it even further. So here we are. I haven’t completed it, though, so we’re only up to 30 for now.

  1. Survivorship bias: success cases are over-represented, leading us to overestimate our chances of success
  2. Swimmer’s body illusion: selection factors are confused with results
  3. Clustering illusion: tendency to perceive patterns where there are none
  4. Social proof: predisposition to follow others’ behaviours, esp. in uncertain situations. Combat with being skeptical and challenging norms
  5. Sunk cost fallacy: reluctance to abandon an undertaking due to incurred costs, though that has no relevance to future outcomes (irrational). Consider only the latter
  6. Reciprocity bias: social predisposition to respond to actions in a similar manner (e.g. kind behaviour is returned, so is hostility)
  7. Confirmation bias: we disproportionately focus on evidence that confirms prior beliefs and disregard contradicting information. Seek out disconfirming evidence and clarify milestones to ensure we do not overlook failures.
  8. Authority bias: information with authority is perceived as more credible/influential
  9. Contrast effect: the effect of an object is enhanced/diminished when perceived in relation to another, though it should have no bearing (beware discounts, cheap add-ons, beauty standards).
  10. Availability heuristic: evaluation of a concept is determined by how readily examples come to mind, which distorts actual risks and decisions made. Make effort to consider relevant but less accessible information, e.g. alternative views.
  11. Narrative bias: illusion of causality; tendency to connect disjointed, random occurrences into a cohesive, controlled narrative (stories). Consider omitted elements (via negativa) and be wary if the bias encourages risky decisions.
  12. Hindsight bias: hindsight is 20/20; we modify our cognitions after an event such that the event seemed inevitable and logical, although we are poor forecasters in reality
  13. Overconfidence effect: person’s subjective confidence in his/her judgements is reliably greater than objective accuracy of those judgements – even pessimists.
  14. Chaffeur knowledge: vs. real knowledge – people who have invested time and energy to genuinely understand a topic. Chaffeurs merely repeat it without real understanding. Know your circle of competence and recognise when you fall outside.
  15. Illusion of control: tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events
  16. Incentive super-response tendency: people respond to incentives by changing their behaviour (e.g. if you pay per hour, people prolong their work). Reward both intent and result, and watch out for ways people may exploit the system.
  17. Regression to mean: the natural tendency for phenomena to even out towards the average. If an extreme event happens, it is likely to return to the average in time (think normal distribution).
  18. Outcome bias: tendency to evaluate a decision based on its outcome (good/bad) rather than the decision-making process. This is an error because no decision-maker in the past ever knows for sure how the risk will turn out. To avoid the influence of outcome bias, one should evaluate a decision by ignoring information collected after the fact and instead focus on the quality of the factors at play.
  19. Paradox of choice: more choices decreases quality of decision-making, and leads to lower satisfaction. Set a list of criteria and stick to them; recognise that perfection is unattainable; and learn to love what you choose. 
  20. Liking bias: the more we like someone, the more likely we are to trust and help that person. Influenced by 1) attractiveness, 2) similarity to us, and 3) they like us too. To maximise this benefit: send people compliments and make them think you like them.
  21. Endowment effect: people’s willingness to pay for a new object is typically lower than the amount they are willing to accept to give up the object. e.g. people lowball for textbooks on Carousell but sell it at high prices. Related to loss aversion. Related to mere ownership effect – owning an item makes one evaluate it more positively. Endowment effect applies even to near-ownership circumstances. Don’t cling to things and consider whether the relationship you have to those items really matter.
  22. Groupthink: phenomenon where desire for harmony in an ingroup leads to dysfunctional decision-making processes and irrationality. Symptoms include: illusion of invulnerability, illusion of unanimity, pressures toward conformity.Question tacit assumptions and always appoint a devil’s advocate to break consensus.
  23. Neglect of probability: we respond well to the magnitude of an event, but lack intuitive grasp of its likelihood (probability). Zero-risk bias: we prefer 0% risk even when the alternative may have better outcomes. When faced with emotional topics or serious threats, we respond more poorly to risk reduction stats.
  24. Scarcity error: tendency to place higher value on an object that is scarce and lower value on those that are in abundance. The more difficult an item is to acquire, the more value that item is perceived to be. Arises from social proof and commitment. Reactance: when we are deprived of an object, we deem it more attractive. To counteract, assess products solely based on their qualities. And remember that most things will come back – like sales.
  25. Base-rate neglect: when people are given generic information (e.g. statistics) and then specific information (e.g. anecdotes), the mind tends to focus on the latter. Disregard of fundamental distribution levels. Specificvariant of extension neglect – cognitive bias whereby people ignore size of the set during an evaluation in which the size of the set is logically relevant, e.g. ignoring sample size and variability.Watch out for anecdotal information.
  26. Gamblers’ fallacy: the erroneous belief that if a particular event happens more often than normal in the past, it will “balance out” by occurring less in the future. This is problematic if the events are statistically independent, e.g. a dice roll. What happened in the past is unrelated to the future.
  27. Anchoring bias: cognitive bias whereby an individual relies too heavily on an initial piece of information offered (the “anchor”) to make subsequent judgements. Once this initial value is considered, subsequent negotiations and decisions will align towards it while dissimilar values are discarded. The more uncertain the value of something, the more susceptible people are to anchors. Use anchors to elevate your value, but also be wary of them when it comes to sales.
  28. Induction problem: inductive thinking is the tendency to draw universal generalisations from specific observations. However, these generalised certainties are always provisional – think Black Swan event.
  29. Loss aversion (Daniel Kahneman): people fear loss much more than they value gain, and are much more motivated to avoid loss even when this comes at the expense of potential gain. Exploit this when advertising by appealing to how a product may help you avoid losses/disadvantages.
  30. Social loafing: the tendency for individual effort to depreciate when in a team setting. Groups’ total productivity is less than the sum of its individual members working separately. Increases proportionally with group size, due to diffusion of accountability and deindividuation. Combat this by making individual contributions visible (measurement), and motivation. Related to risky shift.