Does Caffeinated Coffee have the Same Effect as Decaffeinated Coffee When it Comes to Self-Awareness - A Psychology Paper

Does Caffeinated Coffee have the Same Effect as Decaffeinated Coffee When it Comes to Self-Awareness - A Psychology Paper
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Caffeine

We all experience at some point in our life, the feeling of extreme exhaustion or just a lack of natural energy. When the body is utterly exhausted we seek to ordain our energy somehow or someway. Coffee is one of many prominent choices of energy drinks that people tend to rely on when it comes to sustaining energy. Based on experience, I found myself becoming addicted to drinking coffee. I drank both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and both drinks seemed to have the same effect on my energy and self-awareness. Although coffee helps increase awareness and energy levels, it left me wondering; does caffeinated coffee have the same effect as decaffeinated coffee when it comes to self-awareness and energy restoration? It is a common belief that people who drink decaffeinated coffee are not being exposed to the same effects as those who drink caffeinated coffee.

The field that I began to focus my ideas in was a college based environment. To my belief and brief understanding, college students are heavy coffee consumers. Coffee generally plays a huge role come midterms and finals week, when students start to pull all-nighters to finish projects and study for exams. In order to sustain high energy levels, students result to coffee to help them stay energized and aware throughout the rest of the day. I find it best to start observing students around midterms and finals week. People usually try their best to complete assignments for all five or six of their classes and it becomes so hectic for them, they end having late night study sessions which causes extreme exhaustion.

Through operant conditioning I conducted an experiment using decaffeinated coffee drinkers, caffeinated coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers. The two different types of coffee, which was both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee beverages, served as the independent variables. Using both types of coffee beverages, the number of cups consumed throughout the week to sustain psychological and physical awareness was tallied as well. Based on the time all students partaking in the experiment go to sleep, Group A will be consisted of the caffeinated coffee drinkers and Group B will be of those drinking decaffeinated coffee. By tallying the number of cups being consumed by both groups, I can acquire information ideally on which group was more focused and which group consumes more coffee in order to be focused. Every day the observation takes place; the number of cups consumed from each group was counted to determine if the need of dosage increased or decreased based on the focus level of each group. Did some participants drink more coffee than others because they wanted to increase their focus and awareness? Did participant coffee drinkers pursue to drink coffee because they liked the feeling of being more focused and aware; or because more coffee meant more awareness.

In order to see the progress that took place in the experiment I asked the person who drank the most coffee, does drinking more coffee help them stay focused or did it become an addiction during the process. Based on personal-experience, when I first began drinking coffee it was to keep me up and more focused during the day. As I continued drinking coffee throughout the week I began to realize that not only did it make me more aware, it also increased my focus level. I tried decaf to see if my level of focus would differ. After drinking at least three cups of decaffeinated coffee, it actually made me feel the same as drinking caffeinated coffee. I did not think decaf would have the same effects as caffeinated coffee, which made me consume more and more cups of the decaffeinated coffee. I soon realized that decaffeinated coffee is not as un-energizing as I perceived it to be. This brought me to question, which coffee makes someone more focused, caffeinated coffee or decaffeinated coffee? Does drinking caffeinated coffee make people drink less coffee because it has a stronger effect on them? For example, if Group A drinks the least cups of coffee throughout the week, hypothetically stating they were more focused and therefore, did not need to consume as much coffee as the decaffeinated drinkers to stay aware. Does drinking decaffeinated coffee make one consume more because they think psychologically that it does not have the same effect on them as caffeinated coffee? For example, if the people from Group B consumed a greater number of cups throughout the week, it could be because of two reasons. Either some of the participants psychologically believe that decaf coffee did not have an effect on them and they will not maintain the same stature of awareness as caffeinated drinkers or, the more they consumed decaffeinated coffee it made them more aware than just one cup of decaf coffee would. Through operant conditioning, people drink coffee to make them feel aware. People like the effects they have after they drink coffee so they continue drinking coffee. Positive effects cause positive reinforcement.

To give support to my experiment, I remember my sister who is also in college, has trouble with procrastination. She was a prime example when it came to testing the focus level of coffee drinkers. She at first was not a big fan of drinking coffee because of the energy and awareness that it gave people especially when it was close for bed. She found herself with countless number of final exams to study that drove her focus back and forth. When I walked past her room, holding a cup of coffee I offered her the rest. When I had come back to pick up the cup, she was almost half way finished with all her study notes and assignments. Her focus level changed drastically. The television was turned off, her phone was turned off, and her primary focus was simply just finishing her work. All the procrastination she had flew straight out the window. Was it because she was not a regular coffee drinker or was it because it was caffeinated?

With my own experiences, visualization of other people’s experiences, and the experiment that I have hypothesized, I believe that the focus level and awareness of people who drink coffee of some sort opposed to those who do not differ. The way I will set up my experiment is to test the focus level of non-coffee drinkers and two different types of coffee drinkers when they are under the midst of stress. This evidence provided me with significant and conclusive evidence that coffee has an effect on focus level. Since Group A and Group B drank two different types of coffee, I believe that the experiment will prove coffee does give people a high focus level under stress. Then which one out of the two types of coffee gave one a higher level of focus than the other. I also believe that the experiment will show that Group B will be more likely to have the highest number of consumed cups because they believe the more decaffeinated coffee they consume the more aware they will be.

Despite the fact of stress someone was under, I think coffee whether it is caffeinated or decaffeinated increases ones focus level. One probably more than the other but, it does in fact increase. Coffee is one of the prominent consumed energy drinks amongst college students. With further research, I feel that enough concrete logics performed in a dynamic hypothetical field experiment will prove my hypothesis.
To ensure the stability of my conducted hypothesis, I will ask non-coffee drinkers around midterms and finals week to read and complete the same quiz as those under experiment are, and these people will be the controlled group. This will give me a hypothetical idea on the focus level of those who do not drink coffee and for those who drank the two different types of coffee. I will count the number of cups consumed from each group and use the results of the quiz to see if and where the focus level differentiate. If the data elaborates on the different focus levels for the controlled group, the non- coffee drinkers, and the uncontrolled group, then the ones under observation will signify which group was more focused. It will also shows out of the uncontrolled group which specific group in general Group A or Group B, had the higher focus level if not the same based on the two different types of coffee; and how much of the consummation of the coffee has an effect on their awareness level.

All participants will be asked to read an article and be given a mini quiz based on the given article to test their awareness as non- coffee drinkers and two different types of coffee drinkers. The quiz starts off with simple questions such as what is today’s date, how many letters are in your first and last name, and then move on to more complex questions like basic multiplication and spelling words with scrambled letters. I will measure the results by how fast the participants complete the test and record the average within each group. With the results I will be able to decide whether focus levels and awareness differ between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee drinkers and those who do not drink coffee at all. I predict the coffee drinkers will have around the same average in speed and will have low accuracy and those who do not drink coffee will have slower speed and higher accuracy. Psychological research should give me the answers to my hypothesis.

Sam McManis’s research shows that there is a difference between caffeinated coffee and decaffeinated coffee. Decaf eliminates more than half of the milligrams consisted in a cup of caffeinated coffee. Ten national chains and local coffeehouses showed that 16-ounce decaf cups contained caffeine levels between 8.6 to 13.9 milligrams and a cup of regular coffee contains 170 milligrams. He also states that consuming at least five cups of coffee can be as effective as a cup of coffee. McManis’s studies also states that people who consume excessive amounts of coffee can suffer from withdraw affects such as headaches, feeling jittery, they can have weak stomachs and have a higher tolerance for caffeine.

This shows that it is psychologically possible for participants in Group B to think that the more they coffee consume the more aware and focused they will be. This proves my assumption that caffeinated coffee and decaffeinated coffee not having much of a difference to be false. So the participants in Group A are consuming a higher dosage of caffeine then those who are in Group B. Therefore Group A has higher energy levels than Group B does and should appear to be more focused and aware as well.

Researcher T Chou, states that the consumption of coffee is self-reinforcing behavior and caffeine dependence and addiction is common. This particular statement proves my statement that people tend to rely on coffee when they are in the need of energy and the consumption of more and more cups throughout the day can possibly be because of an addiction. So out of those who consumed the most coffee throughout the experiment, which was the reason they consumed more coffee than the other participants. I think it could serve as a little of both. Certain people consume more coffee because they feel that it will increase their focus and awareness levels throughout the day. These people could be totally oblivious to the fact they are or are becoming coffee addicts. Most coffee consumers are unaware to the fact that coffee is a methylxanthine whose primary biologic effect is antagonism of the adenosine receptor. This is true for both regular coffee and decaf. The people in Group B could possibly be consuming more coffee than those in Group A because they could be addicted to the caffeine. It could also be that the participants have received a higher tolerance for the coffee within the first consumptions.

People do not pay attention to the hazards and medical harm that coffee can do to body. Chou states that caffeine and coffee intake have been linked to some health related illnesses, but definitive correlations have been difficult to substantiate. Caffeine in average dosages does not seem to increase the risk of arrhythmia. He also states that coffee has association with coronary disease and myocardial infarction. There is no evidence that shows coffee is linked to solid tumors but it is said to be a possibility.

Other researchers such as Dr. Teresa Aubele and Susan Reynolds implies that coffee does wake us up, help us focus, boost the production of serotonin receptors in our brains, which also contributes to positive mood enhancement we get from a good cup of coffee. They also state:
Downing those cups of coffee in the morning may fire up your neurons, but studies show that caffeine only increases the output and quality of your work if the work you're doing doesn't require nuanced or abstract thinking. Caffeine seems to speed your thinking processes up a bit, and improve memory creation and retention when it comes to declarative memory, the kind you use when memorizing lists. It doesn't seem to help at all when it comes to creative energy, or to thinking beyond basic tasks. Thanks to the increasing tolerance that comes with regular consumption, it eventually takes more and more caffeine to get the same effect (Aubele & Reynolds, 2011).

This psychological research proved my hypothesis that those who drink excessive amounts of decaffeinated coffee to get the same effects as those who drink regular coffee to be false as well. People drink coffee because they like the instant effects it has on them. People continue drinking coffee in order to maintain the same tolerance they received the first time they drank coffee. They state that drinking so much coffee can cause someone to be jittery and have hallucinations. Aubele and Reynolds also state that consuming so much coffee can affect the one’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Although coffee affects the sleeping pattern of many and is said to have been linked to health related illnesses, coffee has also been said to prevent diseases. It is said that the caffeine in coffee may actually help the thin vital coating in our brains. It is said to protect the coating and repair the damage as well as ward off other harmful invaders.

With the constant with consumption of coffee, one can become jittery and it will be harder to fall asleep. People do not pay attention to the medical effects that coffee has on them. My hypothesis that people who drink coffee will have a greater awareness when it comes to than those who do not drink coffee was proven to be true. However, studies have shown that it only recalls what people have stored in memory. Caffeine has no effect on creativity or critical thinking. So if the test was composed of multiple choice questions oppose to essay questions or word problems, people who had consumed coffee, decaf or regular, would be more focused than the non-coffee drinkers. The non-coffee drinkers would be more focused and aware than the coffee drinkers when it comes to critical thinking and essay questions. My prediction had turned out to be false based on circumstantial issues. So all three groups would be accurate and focused depending on the test they are given. So with the quiz that I gave my participants, the non-coffee drinkers would have been more successful in the beginning and the coffee drinkers would have been more success toward the end of the test.

When it comes to energy levels, decaffeinated coffee and caffeinated does have different effects on people to an extent. If one participant from each group, the Group A participant having a cup of regular coffee and Group B participant having a cup of decaffeinated coffee, then they would have different focus levels. Based on McManis’s studies there is a high reduce in the milligrams used in both beverages. So I feel that the participants in Group A would have the highest focus level, the Group B would have the second highest focus level and those that do not drink coffee will have the lowest focus level.
Out of both Groups A and B, group B was the one who consumed more coffee. Group B consumes more coffee because people that drink decaf feel that they are not being exposed to the same amount of caffeine as those who drink regular coffee. When they consume over 16-ounces of decaffeinated coffee they are actually being exposed to the same amount of caffeine levels as those who drink regular coffee. Those who drink regular coffee consume the least amount of coffee cups throughout the day because regular coffee has a stronger affect than a cup of decaffeinated coffee by over 150 milligrams. Even though it reduces in milligrams it does not make a difference when it comes to addiction. Both the participants in Group A and Group B can both be easily addicted to coffee, because they still have caffeine inside of them. Their addiction can start as soon as they have their very first cup. If they like the way that coffee makes them feel when they drink it then they will want to consume more and more and more, which makes them addicted to continually drink it. The more caffeine that the participants consume the higher the level of tolerance is. Having a higher tolerance for caffeine means that they will consume more and more coffee on a daily basis just so they can receive the same affect that they did when they drank their first cup of coffee.
Based on psychological research some of my hypothesis was proven to be false and some were proven to be true. Those that were false had circumstances to why they were false. My evaluation on the research papers would be that they have great logics when it comes to the difference between caffeinated, decaffeinated, and non-coffee drinkers. All of the papers had great examples and information on the effects of drinking coffee. Although medical experts did not really have proof of some of the coffee related illnesses I still believe that consuming a lot of coffee can lead to health problems. Being a regular coffee drinker myself, I have tried both decaf and regular coffee and it really did not prove to have a difference in affect to me, but it could be that it had to do a lot with the quantity that I consumed instead of the quality of decaf. I have become addicted to coffee over the process of time especially when it comes to final times. Coffee is my go to drug in order to keep me up through late night study sections. I conducted this experiment because it is something that I have experienced myself and I wanted to see if others went through the same effects that I did.

In conclusion, all forms of coffee have an effect on mental focus and awareness levels. It does not necessarily make help you when it comes to critical thinking or an any form of creativity but it does spark a high focus level in the neurons of the brain that help you remember certain things fast and efficiently. This experiment also showed me that it’s not the quantity that people seek when they drink excessive amounts of coffee it depends on their particular tolerance level to caffeine itself. Caffeine can be seen as operant conditioning. People who drink coffee likes the way it makes them feel so they continue to drink it in order to feel good.

Abuele, S. Ph.D., Reynolds, S. (2011, June 30). Prime Your Gray Cells. Psychology Today. Web.

McManis, S. (2008, Nov 23). Switch to decaf? McClatchy - Tribune Business News. Retrieved from Woodbury Library. ProQuest.

Chou, T. (1992, Nov). Wake up and Smell the Coffee. Caffeine, Coffee and the Medical Consequences. Western Journal of Medicine. Vol.157 (5).