Why You Should Not Visit Your Friends When They're Sick

On a frigid, winter day in Brentwood, everyone seemed to have caught the flu. One of those unlucky victims was Bob. Luckily, or unfortunately, his two best friends, Kat and Sam, paid him a visit in the hopes of cheering him up. Bob's mom waved the two girls upstairs while she stirred the mixture brewing on the stovetop. Slowly, Kat and Sam entered Bob's convalescing room, wrinkling their noses as the overpowering smell of medicine assaulted their senses.

"Well," said Sam, "It could've been a lot worse."

Kat nodded hesitantly, "I guess so. Did you smell what Bob's mom was cooking down there?"

"You mean the mint and ginger flavored broth? My absolute threshold was reached and surpassed!"

"Woah! Seriously? I just thought there was a really strong smell coming from the kitchen…"

Bob looked at both girls blankly. "Obviously the absolute threshold of your smelling senses needs a lot more stimulation. But yes, since you both so kindly asked, I am doing a lot better than yesterday despite the pounding headache, cold clammy hands, and all around weakness I feel."

Both girls looked guilty for a second, before making themselves comfortable on Bob's chairs.
"Apparently, you're pretty drugged up on cold medicine." Sam commented, sniffing the air. "Nyquil. Sudafed. And Tylenol on top of all that?"

"You can smell all that?" Bob asked. "Yeah, I don't usually get colds. But when I do, I get knocked out for a week straight. Mom freaked out a bit."

"Wow Sam, your difference threshold is pretty sharp," Kat noted. "To be able to pick out all those different types of medicine."

"Yeah, my mom gets pretty crazy when we get sick. You would swear it's the Black Plague or something. Whether it's a blessing or not, I'm now able to identify nearly all non-prescription meds blindfolded."

While the girls conversed, Bob pushed off the outer layer of his blankets, delighting in the cold air cooling his feverish body temperature. When the girls started babbling on about medicine and some psychology term, Bob zoned out. Now that he wasn't focusing on the girls, he began to focus on how hot and uncomfortable he felt instead. As a response, he pushed his stuffy blankets off to cool down in reaction to that stimulus of uncomfortable heat.

Bob's action was explained by the signal detection theory. In his momentary lucidity from his medicine induced stupor, he managed to block out his physical feelings to focus on conversing with his friends, but now that he had stopped focusing on the conversation, his mind began to focus on other stimuli. Such as the uncomfortably high temperature his body was reaching.

Suddenly, Bob's mom entered the room with a tray and three steaming bowls of a mystery sop on top. Neither Kat, Sam, nor Bob blinked when she announced that she had made enough of her traditional mint and garlic soup for everyone.

"So, who wants some?" Bob's mom asked expectantly.

In defeat, all three raised their hands wearily and thanked her as they accepted the steaming bowl. You see, through sensory adaptation, Kat and Sam had grown used to the strong medicine smell in Bob's room and even the toxic aroma coming from downstairs. Because they were familiar with the smell and could not distinguish it as new or weird, Sam and Kat had missed out on their opportunity to politely decline Bob's mom's interesting soup. Now they had to practice the manners their parents taught them and force the strange concoction down their throats with a smile.

To conclude, don't visit your friends while they're sick. Sensory adaptation will kick your butt and you will miss the opportunity to run away from traumatizing eating experiences. Yes, having a sharp difference threshold is pretty neat, but when your absolute threshold is pretty low, you're senses will suffer at said friend's house.

In addition, the signal detection theory is a pretty cool theory and all, but who really wants to remember how uncomfortable you feel when you're already feeling down in the dumps and want to escape from that feeling? Because we all know that in the back of our minds, we'll constantly be thinking about how uncomfortable we feel and that's a horrible feeling. So boo to that theory.


A/N: This was a short story we had to write for Psychology using these terms:

Absolute threshold: is the weakest amount of a stimulus that can be sensed.
Difference threshold: the minimum amount of difference that can be detected between two stimuli.
Signal-detection theory: a method of distinguishing sensory stimuli that takes into account not only their strengths but also such elements as the setting, your physical state, your mood, and your attitudes.
Sensory adaptation: is the process by which we become more sensitive to weak stimuli and less sensitive to unchanging stimuli.

I hope it made sense and that you guys enjoyed it! :D