November 2011 Archives

Alternative Approach to Social Change Research

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I think the ultimate goal of applied social psychology should be exactly as the name implies:  to apply the research and findings to make society a better place for all.  This can be done through the use of planned interventions based off of psychological research and theory.  The course textbook outlines the major components of social change research, namely action, participatory and activist research.  While action research deals with a cycle of research, intervention, and evaluation (Lewin, 1946), participatory research focuses on involving those in the community that the intervention will actually affect in the planning and implementation of the intervention (Freire, 1970).  It is my view that involving all the stakeholders, not just those associated with the organization or research institution but the general population of the community as well, is critical to the ultimate success of intervention programs.  An article by Manuel Barrera, Felipe Gonzales Castro, and Lorie Holleran Steiker (2010) brings up another interesting idea concerning participatory research:  that instead of developing intervention strategies independent of the communities, we should look for existing programs in communities and find ways in which they are or are not effective and use this to base our further research.

This article looks at a "Community-Initiated, Indigenous Program" approach to social psychological intervention.  It uses a quote by Miller and Shin (2005) that I think sums up the point pretty well: ''rather than (or in addition to) incubating programs in the hothouse of the
university, and then attempting to transplant them to the rather different soil of the community, community psychologists should identify promising programs that are already functioning in communities, study them to determine their effectiveness and active ingredients, and disseminate those that work'' (p. 176).  A major example that they lay out is the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program started by the LAPD in 1983.  DARE is a huge program implemented in 75% of US school districts and in 43 counties worldwide (  This being said, the article by Barrera, Castro and Steiker mentions that the DARE program's success has not been confirmed by formal evaluative research (West, O'Neal, 2004).  I remember going through the DARE program in elementary school and I recall they did a great job of "marketing" the program to us kids, with the catchy logo and the mascot and the wow factor of real police officers coming into school to teach us about resisting drugs.  Although there isn't psychological research backing up DARE's claims of success, the program should definitely still be looked at and evaluated in terms of its' strengths and weaknesses as an intervention strategy.    

In a way, the approach described above is combining action and participatory research in that the community members are obviously involved (this is where the program spawned) and different programs/methods are being evaluated to determine their effectiveness which leads to a further course of action (action research cycle).  It's mentioned in the course text that these methods are indeed often combined  to form hybrid research methods (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2005).  A logical way to progress social change research would be to look at the existing programs and simply ask, do they work?  Although it probably won't be this simple in many cases, we can still look at the strengths and weaknesses of each program and work to develop new interventions that draw on these strengths.


Barrera, Manuel; Castro, Felipe González; Steiker, Lori K; Holleran. American Journal of Community Psychology48. 3-4 (Dec 2011): 439-454.

About D.A.R.E retrieved at <>

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Seabury.

Lewin, K. (1946). Action research and minority problems. Journal of Social Issues, 2(4), 34-46.

Miller, R. L., & Shinn, M. (2005). Learning from communities: Overcoming difficulties in dissemination of prevention and promotion efforts. American Journal of Community Psychology, 35, 169-183.

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.A. (2005). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

West, S. L., & O'Neal, K. K. (2004). Project D.A.R.E. outcome effectiveness revisited. American Journal of Public Health, 2004(94), 1027-1029.

Cell Phone Use by Teenagers

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I have a son and daughter, both are 13.  At the top of their Christmas list this year is the same item that has been there for the past four years, a cell phone.  Gone are the days of Barbie and race cars, now they want immediate social gratification.  They have tried to convince me that they NEED a cell phone to contact me when they are at their friend's house or when practice lets out early at school.  There are times that having a cell phone is a good thing (like when they travel).  However, if used improperly, cell phones are not only a serious distraction but they can also be very dangerous.

Some people have made the case that students should be allowed to have cell phones in school to protect their safety during a potential crisis, such as a school shooting (National School Safety and Security Services, 2010).  However, cell phones can be used to call in bomb threats and in some communities cannot be traced by officials.  Cell phones can be used to detonate a real bomb and in the case of an emergency, student cell phone use can actually "delay effective public safety personnel response" (National School Safety and Security Services, 2010). 

Cell phones can also be a tool for bullying.  Cyber bullying via cell phone can take many forms.  Rumors or sexually suggestive pictures can be circulated in a matter of seconds.  Unfortunately, many parents are not aware of the "significant social, emotional, and academic costs of bullying for victimized children" (Limber, 2004).  The i-SAFE foundation has found that "over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the internet " (i-SAFE America, 2010).

Cell phones have changed the way society as a whole communicates.  With the change in communication we have also seen a shift in the social norms and behaviors of adults and adolscents (Pennsylvania State University, 2011).  Teenagers are never more than a text message away from getting the latest gossip.  It is not uncommon to see children attached to their phones at the dinner table or even in church.

The purpose of applied social psychology is not just to identity the problem but to implement an intervention.  The problem of cell phone use by teenagers, especially during school hours, has been identified.  Now what can I do as a parent to help my children once they do have their own cell phone?  I need to remind them that they can tell a trusted adult if they are bullied and to keep telling someone until action is taken.  It is also important not to read messages by cyber bullies (i-SAFE America, 2010).  Finally, I need to be proactive, get involved and check their phones.  It is my job as a parent to protect my children until they are old enough to do so themselves. 


i-SAFE America. (2010). i-SAFE Inc. Retrieved November 20, 2011, from Cyber Bullying: Statistics and Tips:

Limber, S. P. (2004). Implementation of the Olweus bullying prevention program in American schools: lessons learned from the field. In S. P. Limber, Bullying in American schools: a social-ecological perspective on prevention and intervention (pp. 351-363). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

National School Safety and Security Services. (2010). Cell Phones and Text Messaging in Schools. Retrieved November 20, 2011, from National School Safety and Security Services:

Pennsylvania State University. (2011). Applied Social Psychology. Retrieved November 20, 2011, from Psychology 424:





Goals of Prison vs Prison Standards

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In the criminal justice system goals of prisons can be somewhat conflicting.  One they serve to protect the community by removing the criminal from the streets and also serve as a punishment for the offender for the crimes that they committed (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005).  Other goals include: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation.  Each of these goals has received varied levels of public and professional support over time. In an effort to assess the level of professional support for these goals, a survey was administered to staff in three prisons, two jails, and a jail academy in a rural mountain state. The results indicate that jail and prison staff is more likely than not to perceive the primary goal of corrections as incapacitation. Respondents generally ranked incapacitation first, followed by deterrence, rehabilitation, and retribution (Kifer, Hemmens & Stohr, 2011). 

Research suggests that incarceration is at limited value and may, in fact lead to an increase in recidivism.  One possible explanation is that prison life is not conducive to the offender making personal changes that would reduce the risk of him or her re-offending (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005).  Another reason that I find could be prison life itself.  The conditions in prisons have been documented in some cases to be deplorable, overcrowded, lack of programs for inmates and certain inmates being confined to solitary confinement.  With conditions such as these how can we expect any rehabilitative measures to take place and try and reintegrate inmates back into society once their sentence is complete?   If we place goals such as rehabilitation and we remove programs that are in place; education, groups, etc... Then eventually the inmates are going to turn to violence to be heard and that's how prison riots begin.

Conditions at many prisons have been deteriorating and I can see how those conditions can be linked to the goals of prisons not being meant. Here is an example of a prison in California that had terrible conditions and basically nothing was done about it.  My question is why? Was it because it was a prison and housed criminals?

The water at Kern Valley State Prison contains twice the federally accepted level of arsenic, a known carcinogen. But the 5,000 men imprisoned at the "state-of-the-art" Central California facility have no choice: they have to drink it.

And it's not as if prison officials just learned about the issue last week. In fact, tests on the water discovered the problem soon after the prison opened in 2005. The powers that be have just chosen to do nothing about it.

Not that there haven't been promises. In a 2008 memo informing both incarcerated men and prison employees of the problem, then-warden Anthony Hedgpeth said that "[w]e anticipate resolving the problem by June 2009." Notice that ambiguous phrasing --"anticipate resolving" -- instead of a simple declarative sentence like, say, "we will resolve the problem."

Tellingly, the same memo declares: "This is not an emergency," never mind the fact that arsenic is known to damage the circulatory system and to cause "cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidneys, nasal passages, liver and prostate," according to the EPA. And promises aside, nothing has been done to address the problem of the prison poisoning its prisoners. In the meantime, prison officials have pressed for a massive expansion of Kern Valley State Prison, at an annual cost to taxpayers of $86 million (Davis, 2011).

Conditions such as these have been seen at numerous prisons, but the most problematic condition in prisons is overcrowding.  This leads to a breeding ground for violence.  

Inmates at Chino State Prison, which houses 5500 inmates, crowd around double and triple bunk beds at a gymnasium that was modified to house 213 prisoners on December 10, 2010 in Chino, California (Gould, E, 2011).

This space used to be the gymnasium, but now due to overcrowding it has been turned into housing for more inmates.  With prison conditions such as these it's no wonder that the goals of prison are rarely meant; if you have poor living conditions and activities are removed that the prisoners can engage in, then you leave them nothing but time to plan acts that could turn deadly.

For Prison goals to work prison standards also have to be taken into considering overcrowding has to be addressed and programs for inmates have to be in place to help them reintegrate into society.




Davis, C. (2011). California Prisoners Sentenced to Death by Water. Retrieved November 29, 2011 from

Gould, E. (2011). As California Fights Prison Overcrowding, Some See a Golden Opportunity. Time U.S. Retrieved November 29, 2011 from,8599,2094840,00.html

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2005). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1412915397






Media's Influence on Social Norms and Identity Development of Youth

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We are often bombarded with news stories showing the horrors of how media is shaping today's youth.  Violence, gender-stereotyping, and even increased sexual promiscuity have been cited as ills of modern media outlets.  With debates over media's influence often polarized, it becomes difficult to decipher what is the true influence of media.  

Screen shot 2011-11-28 at 8.28.33 PM.png

It is often suggested that media has potentially profound effects on the social identity formation of young people. However, understanding how media outlets affect the identity of adolescents takes understanding what "identity" entails.


So what is identity? For starters, we technically are not born with identity; it is a socially constructed attribute.  The self-concept, which is the knowledge of who we are, combines with self awareness to develop a cognitive representation of the self, called identity (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2010, p.118).  In other words, who we are is controlled by internal and external factors that combine to make us who we become. Add in new media outlets, such as the internet, and media is now considered an "extension of everyday life and a tool of cultural change" (Singh, 2010).  Thus, identity formation, as a social concept, is being transformed in new and even more global ways.


How does this transformation of media affect youth, today?  On average, American adolescents spend "6 ½ hours per day" engaging in some form of media, (Arnett, 2010, p. 338). This is a substantial amount of time spent interacting with these different forms of entertainment. This interaction not only becomes a way to entertain oneself, but also becomes an external force for comparative research. How so?  Part of identity formation is thinking about the type of person you want to be (Arnett, 2010, p. 340). By providing young people a resource that gives a seemingly constant flow of information, adolescents can use this information as a guide for social comparison. With a constant bombardment of information, deciding what type of person you want to be can become a challenge for some. Ideas, can either be enforced, or even corrupted, by a false sense of what the world actually is. Although this information may not be fully reliable, it still provides ideas as to how to act and form one's identity.


One of the strongest routes by which media appears to influence attitude-change is through persuasion. Eisend & Möller (2007) discuss how media can have an immediate effect on one's perceptions of social reality. By viewing beautiful models in advertising campaigns, women reported lower body satisfaction, a temporary rise in comparison standards toward physical attractiveness, and an enhanced belief regarding the importance of attractiveness (Eisend & Möller, 2007). The constant persuasion of what is "reality" plays a pivotal role in young girl's development of negative self-image. Many girls are taught, through stereotypical portrayal, that women are nothing more than sexual objects; and, that intelligence is something to be ashamed of and hidden. In a recent film, an organization called Miss Representation highlights this unfortunate ideology promulgated by today's media sources (YouTube, 2011).



Another interesting fact is that, whether consciously aware of what is being displayed or not, media plays a substantial role in influencing consumption patterns and lifestyle. Researchers noted television's power to influence even people who are illiterate. Smith-Speck and Roy (2008) explained that even individuals who cannot read or write can be highly influenced by advertising to purchase certain products, or develop certain lifestyle values. It is this media picture that portrays, and actually molds, our society's value system. In essence, media is conveying what we should buy, who we should be, or who we should become, in order to be "happy". Unfortunately, whether young or old, this seems to be working.


Again, identity is a social concept.  When we engage any media, no matter what form it may take, we are in essence receiving the ideas from those authors.  Simply, it is a different format by which we now exchange ideas.  Hence, it is no different than having the creators, writers, entertainers and advertisers with us in our living room.  As far as advertisers are concerned, they are banking on this fact.  Why?  If we talk with one another, write a letter to one another, or text or tweet a message, we are conveying our thoughts to another person.  We are socializing.  It makes no difference if this is in person or electronic.  The effects are still the same. 





Arnett, J. J. (2010).  Adolescence and emerging adulthood:  A cultural approach   

        (4th edition).Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson-Prentice Hall.


Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Akert, R. M. (2010). Social Psychology (7th ed.)

       Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall


Eisend, M., & Jana Möller. (2007). The influence of TV viewing on consumers'

         body images and related consumption behavior. Marketing Letters,

      18(1-2), 101-116. doi:10.1007/s11002-006-9004-8

Liberman, M. (2008). Texting efficiency [photograph cartoon]. University of

       Pennsylvania. Retrieved from



Singh, C. (2010). New Media and Cultural Identity. China Media Research, 6(1),



Smith-Speck, S., & Roy, A. (2008). The interrelationships between television

       viewing, values and perceived well-being: A global perspective. 

       Journal of International Business Studies, 39(7), 1197-1219.



YouTube (2011). "Miss Representation": Official Trailer. Retrieved from


Power and the Metamorphic Model

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Power and the Metamorphic Model

POWER.... as it rolls of the tongue has such a powerful force.  According to Meriam "Power implies possession of ability to wield force,permissive authority, or substantial influence". The need for power has been an interest of social scientist for some time. French and Raven's (1959) established the five bases of power reward, coercive, expert, referent and legitimate.

1.    Reward - the ability to influence by providing a pleasant outcome

2.    Coercive - the ability to influence by punishment

3.    Expert - the ability to influence through skilled knowledge and/or experience with a subject

4.    Referent - the ability to influence through admiration

5.    Legitimate - the ability to influence through official position in an organization

(PSU World Campus, 2011)

Through my most negative experience with power and the effects that it can have on individuals I have seen first had the Metamorphic Model of Power effects.  Metamorphic model of power states that there are two basic effects that can be produced from power. The first effect is that increased power  will increase an individual's confidence levels.  In return that individual may develop a superior attitude.  The second effect states that the individual will not only see themselves as superior but others as inferior and inept. (PSU World Campus, 2011)


I have seen this very theory unfold before eyes... as a young girl my parents were adamant about my siblings and I attending church.  We were a military family and new to the area.  We eventually found a church home....a small storefront church with very little members.  However, there was a sense of family and unity.  The pastor was nice and everyone was very friendly.  The pastor would all ways preach sermons on living a godly life and doing good deeds.  As the years passed the ministry begin to expand.  Before we knew it the ministry was too big for the little storefront church and we were forced to move our service to a nearby middle school and began collecting a building fund.  By this time I noticed little changed in my Pastor.  More and more messages began to focus on prosperity, respecting, loyalty and blessing your leaders.  This was okay because who doesn't want to be prosperous.  Finally our new sanctuary was built. Unfortunately that seemed to be the beginning to the end.  Now the church was booming with members.  One day Pastor decided he no longer wanted be called "Pastor" he was now "Bishop". He demanded we rub his clothing like the lady in the bible rubbed Jesus for a blessing. He began to belittle staff and members. He made statements that the church was his because he took a loan out for the original $20, 000 for the land.  By this time 10 years had passed so as members we had all tithed and done our part to pay for the church....with all that aside shouldn't it be God's church? 

 With membership and money came.....POWER.  After membership decreased by nearly %75 he humbled himself silently but at the sign of an increase in power that superior attitude tends to rear it's head.  Some people unfortunately cannot handle power and are just prone to taking advantage of it regardless to the circumstances.


Pennsylvania State University, World Campus Applied Social Psychology, 424  Lesson 7:Organizational Life AND Teams


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2005). Applied Social


Psychology:   Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems.


Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1412915397




Origin of Criminal Behavior

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Origin of Criminal Behavior

There are many theories as to what causes an individual to engage in criminal behavior. Some theories focus the origin of criminal behavior is based on biological factor.  Other theories suggest that criminal behavior is mainly lead by sociological factors.  Theories that based on biological factor are referred to as Biological Theories.  Theories based on sociological factors are referred to as Sociological Theories. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2005).

Biological Theories involve genetic factors that can influence an individual to engage in criminal behavior.  Genetic factor can predispose an individual to being more likely to engage in criminal activity than other individual who do don't share similar genetic factors.  For example a male that biologically produces higher than usual levels of testosterone is more likely to display aggressive behavior than someone who does not have this same biological factor. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2005).

According to Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2005 Sociological Theories  " .....although widely diverse, attempt to explain crime in relation to various factors in society such as social class, poverty and social inequality."  Examples of criminal behavior motivated by sociological factors would be an impoverish individual engaging in criminal behavior to "attain good or social prestige" (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts,  p 261).

The main focus in Applied Social Psychology is Social Psychological Theories for criminal behavior. Social Psychological Theories relies heavily on 6 risk factors. It states that an individual is more likely to conduct deviant behavior if any of the 6 risk factors develop in the individual life.  These factors were developed by Andrews and Bonta (2003) Social Learning Theory is an important Social Psychological Theory.  It states that an individuals' behavior is based on "learned behaviors" that are a result of the individuals' "interactions and experiences with the social environment" (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, p261).

Victims of Ricky Gray and Ray Joseph Dandridge

         Images from



Rick Gray is a murder who brutally murdered two local families and his wife in Pennsylvania alongside his nephew Ray Joseph Dandridge. According to Investigation Discovery's Wicked Attraction

Gray was brutally beaten by his stepfather and sexually abused by his stepbrother. My question does not in any way excuse Gray or Dandridge of these horrible crimes.  The murders devastated the city and were horrific.  However, would Gray have engaged in such heinous criminal behavior if he were not exposed to so many risk factors and been the victim of such criminal behavior? Gray's criminal behavior is considered a classic example of social psychological origin of criminal behavior. Social Psychological factors are most likely more significantly influential to an individual's criminal behavior when compared to biological and sociological factors.




Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2005). Applied social psychology:     understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks,Calif.: SAGE Publications.

Investigation Discovery, Wicked Attraction



My husband suffers from sleep apnea as well as another as-yet-undiagnosed neurological condition that can often keep him up at night or keep him from being able to fall asleep.  While he does take prescription medication for this, he finds himself sometimes needing a little help by way of Benadryl.  Through past experience, he knows that using Benadryl for a few nights in a row results in an inability to fall asleep without it (dependence).  Due to this, he only allows himself to take Benadryl every now and again, and only for one night.  He said something about how he would need to take it that night to be able to sleep, and I jokingly responded by asking if he wanted me to hide the pill bottle from him after he uses it the one night.  He responded, saying that he doesn't have an addictive personality and that he is able to regulate himself with regard to the medication.  He mentioned 'will power', and then said that he heard once that Dr. Phil stated that there was no such thing as 'will power.'  He wasn't agreeing with the pop psychologist, he was just mentioning this for conversation's sake.  I told him then that he has a high degree of self-efficacy.  This gave me pause:  'will power', self-efficacy, theory of planned behavior (described below)...whatever we call it, it does exist, and it is certainly handled differently by different people.

How are we empowered?  How do we face a given situation, weigh the consequences of actions, and make a decision on how to proceed with our behavior?  In another of our conversations, my husband often mentions how he only buys the idea of dependence as a disease up to a point.  He also enjoys watching Dr. Drew's show on occasion and doesn't understand why dependencies are seen as a disease.  I explained to him that it is a disease from the standpoint of our brain's chemistry.  He then asks where our accountability begins and ends - where do we lost our humanity, or personhood, and just becomes slaves to our brains?  Or are we lazy in kicking a habit?  These are points well taken, and certainly deserve further consideration.

The theory of planned behavior is applicable to almost all areas of life, from home life to education, from work life to types of dependency.  This theory by Ajzen states that our belief in self-control in a given situation affects our behavioral intentions and our consequent behaviors in that situation (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005).  Ajzen states, "Intentions to perform behaviors of different kinds can be predicted with high accuracy from attitudes toward the behavior, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control; and these intentions, together with perceptions of behavioral control, account for considerable variance in actual behavior."  Simply put, our intentions, attitudes, and perception of behavioral control are likely to forecast how we may react in the given situation (Ajzen, 1991).   

Self-efficacy is an individual's belief that they have control over their behavior.  Part of Bandura's Social Learning Theory, this belief states that individuals have expectations around their behaviors and the outcomes of a given situation.  Individuals carry differing degrees of self-efficacy for different situations based on previous experience. 

When considering will power as an idea for comparison with self-efficacy and the theory of planned behavior, it is necessary to first know the definition of the concept.  The dictionary defines 'will power' as: "control of one's impulses and actions; self-control" (, 2011).  Will power seems more focused around control than do the other concepts discussed here.  The theory of planned behavior, and self-efficacy are concerned with control, but more so the outcomes of behavior, attitude, and beliefs on our control in situations. 

It seems that so long as we have the mental capacity for evaluating our behaviors, attitudes, expectations, beliefs of self-control, and their affect on situational outcomes, we have the responsibility to exercise those factors in our daily lives.  From small daily stressors to more complex issues such as dependency, our daily lives present us with a number of different stressors and situations where we utilize self-efficacy, the principles discussed in the theory of planned behavior, and will power.  With the understanding that a prescription medication intervention may be required in some instances, remaining compliant to both that medication regimen and to other therapeutic means is a great example of how we determine our own degrees of self-efficacy.  So long as we continue to cultivate these methods of behavioral control, we retain our personhood and remain the figure of authority over our actions.  As that authority figure, we are able to address, design, and manage our behavioral response to situations in our daily lives. 




Ajzen, I.  (1991).  The theory of planned behavior.  Organizational behavior and human decision processes, 50, 179-211.

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (Eds.).  (2005).  Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Will power. (n.d.). In Retrieved from

Relationships - Loving the Husband More...

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As I was carousing through my daily ritual of looking over the news before I take off at around 5 a.m. just two days ago I happened upon an article that I thought was rather interesting.  It came off of Yahoo's daily news blurbs or boxes that have what they think is interesting to every reader in America and then some.  As it happens, this article is titled "Loving the Husband More Than the Kids is Key to Good Life" (The Stir, 2011) and actually brought up a point that I feel should be looked at a little closer than just a "fluff" article that we all come across.

In the body of the blog post as it just happens to be comes the point that "marriages should be prioritized higher than anything else" (The Stir, 2011).  As this point is made through "The Stir's" opinion it has actually been confirmed that the institution of marriage does need to be strengthened.  As the latter half of the 20th century saw a decline in nuclear families a rise was also seen in blended and sandwich generational families as well (Thornton, 1996).

As this point has been made there have been governmental efforts to help individuals increase their opportunities and challenges that they encounter in marital life.  Through the use of financial incentives such as in the state of Minnesota and programs that have been set up by the government that aid young adults in the transition from single to married life increases in the longevity of marriages (Gardiner, Fishman, Nikolov, Glosser, & Laud, 2002).  Above that there is the complication in today's time of same sex marriages, its legalities and the long term effects that draws light away from the concept of marriage as it is currently addressed by as being defined by Richard Pollak (1985) as the integration of resources and activities toward a common goal of household production.  Albeit that this is a rather straightforward definition, it does set a foundation of terms that almost all can agree upon.

I feel what we need to see now is a new wave of media campaigns to help encourage what traditions we have as marital institutions. This would allow younger generations to see proper examples of one of the most fundamental institutions that we have in our societies.  As well as helping lower lifestyles that are detrimental to marriages in their regards to being the most central and fundamental institution.



Gardiner, K. N., Fishman, M. E., Nikolov, P., Glosser, A., & Laud, S. (2002). State policies to promote marriage: Final report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Pollak, R. (1985). A transaction cost approach to families and households. Journal of Economic Literature, 23, 581-608.


The Stir, Loving the Husband More Than the Kids is Key to Good Life. 25 November, 2011., Retrieved from

Thornton, A. (1996). Comparative and historical perspectives on marriage, divorce, and family life. In D. Popenoe, J. B. Elshtain, & D. Blankenhorn (Eds.), Promises to keep: Decline and renewal of marriage in America (pp. 69- 88). Lanham, MA: Rowman and Littlefield.

Hiring bias for Penn State students?

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    I once had a friend ask me while I was serving in the United States Air Force how it felt to know that I was responsible for killing thousands of innocent people. I replied "I don't know, I've never actually killed anyone!" I never quite understood how this so called friend could ask a question like this knowing full well that I have never deployed to another country in my life. I know I will never forget what it felt like to be labeled as something I'm not, and unfortunately after reading this mornings newspaper I got that feeling again. The headline in the Morning Call read: Penn State fears a hiring backlash, and thinking about not being able to get a job simply because a scandal unrelated to me occurred at the University is just as worrisome as someone thinking that I am a cold blooded killer all because I served in the military (Lauerman & Perlberg, 2011, p. 1).
    Unfortunately hiring bias is not an uncommon practice. Employers often have to make quick decisions based on the facts that are most readily available, such as attractiveness or how well dressed and well spoken an applicant is (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005). However to have someone so blatantly dismiss a candidate based on the facts of the scandal that has recently embroiled Pennsylvania State University is the height of unfair. One Texas man claimed that he would not hire a Penn State student because of the "support" of pedophilia that was shown by students (Lauerman et al., 2011, p. 1). I think that the offensive comment should concern every Penn State student, because I can say with all confidence that no one supported or will support pedophilia! The question is why would people say this stuff in the first place?

    Several social psychological principles can be used to explain why such inaccurate errors in judgement occur. Selective perception for example occurs when any characteristic that makes a person stand out will tend to be perceived first (Schneider et al., 2005). In this case the gentleman from Texas is associating a highly publicized event that occurred on campus with all Penn State students. Obviously (at least to you and I) students should not be blamed for the crime committed by one man, but the social perception of employers may not be in accord. Social perception is simply the process we use to make sense of others (Schneider et al., 2005). The accuracy of our perceptions can impact our response to certain situations, and the more our accuracy is off the less correct our response will be (Schneider et al., 2005).

    People tend to base their overall impressions on what they think they know. Therefore perceptual bias can occur when assumptions rather than facts are relied on (Schneider et al., 2005). Assuming that a riot involving some students supporting a person who did not commit the crime means that all students are supporting the abuse and exploitation of children is a gross injustice and the fundamental attribution error at it's finest. To be fair many companies named in the article such as St. Luke's Hospital and Johnson & Johnson plan to continue hiring Penn State students (Lauerman et al., 2011, p. 4). These are the companies that students should want to work for, and who would probably provide the best work environment. As for the companies who now refuse to hire a Penn State graduate simply because of the actions of one man, well they are really missing out on some top notch talent!

Lauerman, J., & Perlberg, H. (2011, November 22). Penn State fears a hiring backlash.The   Morning Call, pp. 1, 4.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2005). Applied social psychology:     understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks,Calif.: SAGE Publications.

Strange Situation

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     The strange situation is a diagnostic laboratory procedure developed by Mary Ainsworth that studies the attachment relationship by studying parent-child interactions. Generally this procedure requires the mother to leave the child in an unfamiliar room for a short while and then returns. An adult stranger is brought into the room during the procedure and the resulting behavior of the child is videotaped.

Ainsworth has identified three mother-child attachment styles. The first one is secure attachment. An explanation of secure attachment is that at home the mother responds quickly when the child cries. Her caregiving style is warm and she is responsive to her child's needs. The child is basically a happy one. In the strange situation, the child is not happy about being left, but has the ability to calm down once the mother returns to comfort the child. The second style is ambivalent or anxious-resistant. An explanation of this style is that at home the mother is inconsistent in her care. She will sometimes respond to the child and sometimes she will not. The mother alternates between showing strong affection and showing anger. The child is an anxious one who exhibits clingy behavior. In the strange situation, the child cries constantly when the mother leaves and when the mother returns the child will respond by screaming and clinging to her desperately. The child will continue to cry and sometimes express anger by hitting the mother. The third attachment style is avoidant. In the home, the mother tends to ignore the child or push him or her away. The child begins to build emotional walls, holding the hurt inside and acting distant and uncaring. In the strange situation, avoidant children may act like they do not care about being left, but electrical recordings measures of stress hormones indicate that they are upset. When the mother returns, they ignore her (Ainsworth, M., Blehar, M., Waters, E., & Wall, S., 1978).

Here is an example of an experiment in which a child exhibits secure attachment.

Ainsworth's longitudinal research documented the long-lasting effects of non-secure attachment. Children who are not securely attached have more difficulties in school and are less apt to make friends. This should urge mothers to be particularly aware of their behavior and how it can affect their child. It's obviously in the best interest of the child in terms of development if the mother remains consistent, attentive, and warm in her responses to her child.



Ainsworth, M., Blehar, M., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

The Strange Situation - Mary Ainsworth - YouTube. (n.d.). YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Retrieved November 20, 2011, from




Childhood Obesity

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In a world where we use foods for social gatherings, coping mechanisms, and our overall energy intake and output, food plays an important part in our life. Today, 17.1 percent of kids ages 2 to 19 are obese, and almost 30 percent don't get enough exercise (Winterfeld, 2008). Children are unhealthier at an earlier age, bringing the onset of heart disease, diabetes, low self-esteem, and asthma (Winterfeld, 2008). By regulating the sale, advertisement, and distribution of junk food, temptations can be diminished through a reduction in exposure.

When children are exposed to poor eating habits early on they are more likely to continue with this pattern of reckless eating. In 2000, the state of California spent an estimated $21.7 billion on direct and indirect medical care, worker's compensation, and lost productivity related to poor nutrition and physical inactivity (Kline, Graff, Zellers, & Ashe, 2006). With overwhelming medical costs and an alarming rate of obesity, we must begin the process of educating children and providing them with better options for healthier eating and lifestyle. Regulating companies to disclose more information on their food products will allow the consumer to be fully aware of all ingredients and by-products contained within the food. Giving consumers information to make better choices and limiting the temptations for children at both school and home, we can begin to shape our future in terms of overall health, wellness, and longevity.

As of 2004, more people are dying of mostly preventable chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer rather than the infectious diseases of a century ago (Taylor, 2009, p. 9). According to Taylor (2009), an unhealthy diet and obesity are important risk factors for many of these diseases as well as hypertension, high serum cholesterol kidney disease, and early death (pp. 94-95, 100). Obesity, which affects more than 400 million people throughout the world, is the largest nutritional contributor to health problems globally, as well as one of the primary causes of infirmity within the United States (Taylor, 2009, pp. 98, 100). Making healthy changes to one's diet can improve health and reduce the risk of chronic disease, but is very hard to do and difficult to maintain (Taylor, 2009, pp. 95, 106).

            Many factors contribute to the rise in unhealthy eating habits and obesity in the United States. The food industry spends billions of dollars each year promoting their food, much of which is aimed at children (Taylor, 2009, pp. 99, 110). In addition, there have been sizeable increases in portion sizes with some portions three times larger than they were twenty years ago (Taylor, 2009, p. 99). The consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages, such as soda, has increased dramatically, as has the total number of calories consumed by the average American each day (Taylor, 2009, p. 99). As a result, treatment for obesity in the United States has surpassed all other treatments combined for other health habits and conditions (Taylor, 2009, p. 106). Clinicians and scientists involved in the treatment of obesity feel that interventions, while important, may not be enough to support lasting weight loss (Taylor, 2009, p. 106).

According to Taylor (2009), organizations such as the World Health Organization are suggesting that intervention or regulation by the government may be necessary to combat some of the health risks associated with unhealthy diet and obesity (p. 110). Some suggested changes include more detailed food labels and updated serving size information, as well as a junk food tax that would increase taxes on foods that are high in sugar and fat (Taylor, 2009, p. 110). A health warning on certain foods, much like cigarettes, is another suggested regulation (Taylor, 2009, p. 110). Also, because children are often the targets for the food industry, a restriction on advertising directed at children has been suggested for government regulation (Taylor, 2009, p. 110).

In addition to that, an aspect of social learning theory can come into play. Since I'm primarily focusing on obese children, it's up to the parents to implement the change. Social learning theory suggests that people learn behaviors from observing others and then mimicking that behavior. Most eating habits are learned behaviors that children see in their very own homes. Childhood obesity can be prevented by having the parents of these children model healthy eating habits. If a parent only keeps healthy food in the house, a child will no longer have access to sugary and fattening foods. When parents cook wholesome and nutritious meals for their children then that will be what the child will come to expect and look forward to. It's important to implement these changes as early as possible. If a good foundation of healthy eating habits is establish the child will have a better chance of making healthy food choices when he/she has the option of choice later on.



Kline, R., Graff, S., Zellers, L., & Ashe, M. (2006). Beyond Advertising Controls: Influencing Junk-Food Marketing and Consumption with Policy Innovations Developed in Tobacco Control. Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, 39, 603-646.

Taylor, S.E. (2009). Health Psychology (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Winterfeld, A. (2008). Nutrition rules: Making healthy food choices available to school kids is a priority for many lawmakers. National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 34(5), 22-24.



The environment

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    There is really no question that our environment is certainly very important, after all where would humans be if it weren't for the land that provides food, or the ocean's, lakes, rivers, and streams that provide life giving water. I also think that it is our responsibility to protect the animals from extinction, especially if it is due to human encroachment. I love baby seals, and yes even polar bears and I also want our planet to remain pure for my children and my children's children. I can't help but think however, are we going about it the right way?
    Resource dilemma is a particular concern of most people (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005). All limited natural resources, such as water or oil, are subject to a resource dilemma (Schneider et al., 2005). Some resources can be replenished quickly, while others such as oil regenerates very slowly (Schneider et al., 2005). The focus has therefore been turned to creating new energy sources and vehicles that consume little or no gasoline. I feel that while solutions need to be created to deal with these problems these solutions generally only deal with the environmental aspect, but not the human aspect.

    Let's take for example the development of the Smart Car. With an estimated 33 miles per gallon in the city and 41 miles per gallon on the highway, the Smart Car certainly saves the oil supply and your wallet (, 2008). It definitely would not be a great fit for our family of soon to be six! Safety is another issue that must be considered. While the Smart Car received high crash test ratings for a car of it's is still stated that a Smart Car is probably better for individuals living in a big city where high speed crashes are unlikely to occur (, 2008). A little common sense is all you need to realize however that if an accident between an SUV and a Smart Car occurs, the SUV wins (Hogan, 2009).
    We seem to be headed in the right direction even though the Smart Car is not such a great idea for many people. With Hybrid SUV's and larger vehicles being created, much more of the population can take part in conservation efforts while still being able to accommodate the needs of their families. The point is all factors need to be considered while developing solutions to problems. While many interventions have been successful in increasing environmentally conscious behavior, such as recycling, still more needs to be done to create awareness not only within our country, but other countries as well (Schneider et al., 2005).

    I firmly believe that change can happen that would set our planet back onto the right track for becoming/remaining healthy. Change needs to occur within the individual first however. We can prohibit hunting of a particular endangered species, but unless a hunter is aware of why this law is in place and the potential costs of the extinction of the species to the ecosystem is explained then it is not practical for the hunter to discontinue the behavior. If buildings can be designed to be user-friendly to those who would actually be occupying it, then why can't eco-friendly solutions be developed to be user friendly as well (Schneider et al., 2005)?

Hogan, M. (2009, April 14). Small or Minicar Equals Death Trap or Gas Savings? |     Automotive Addicts. Automotive Addicts - Car News, Reviews, Pictures and Blog     Covering the Auto Industry. Retrieved November 21, 2011, from http://    gas-    savings

msnbc. (2008, May 14). Smart car gets highest score in crash tests - Business - Autos - - Breaking news, science and tech news, world news,     US news, local news- Retrieved November 21, 2011, from     http://    gets-    highest-score-crash-tests/#

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2005). Applied social psychology:     understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks,     Calif.: SAGE Publications.

New Year's Resolutions and Self-Efficacy

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As we near the beginning of another new year, we start to think about potential resolutions we would like to make for ourselves.  I don't subscribe to the idea that it is only as we usher in a new year that resolutions can be made.  I hear co-workers (mostly women) making plans for their resolutions and discussing how it is really going to be different this year.  This combined with my husband's recent self-admitted failure to keep to his new exercise regimen, had me thinking about how it is that people do end up falling off the wagon.   

For possible explanation, I turn to the Theory of Planned Behavior.  This theory states that in order to change behavior, it is necessary to change one's behavioral intentions.  It is believed that three issues will dictate how behavioral intentions operate.  They are: attitude for the behavior, subjective norms of the behavior, and the individual's perceived control over the behavior (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005).  For example, if we take an individual who is planning on starting a weight-loss regimen at the beginning of the new year, we may say that they have a positive attitude about losing weight, may be affected by the support and opinions of people in their social group, and that their belief in control over their own behavior will determine their effectiveness in this goal to lose weight. 

Importantly, self-efficacy is believed to be a chief determinant of how an individual makes positive choices in these situations.  Self-efficacy is an individual's belief that they have control over their behavior.  Self-efficacy serves an important function in Bandura's Social Learning Theory.   Bandura posited that when observing individuals, their behavior, and outcomes of that behavior, the individual holds expectations about both the behavior and the outcome.  Prior to engaging in a behavior, a person has expectations around their efficacy.  After they engage in the behavior, they have expectations around the outcome that is wrought by that behavior.  Perhaps better put by Strecher, McEvoy DeVellis, Becker and Rosenstock (1986), "Thus, 'outcome expectations' consist of beliefs about whether a given behavior will lead to given outcomes, whereas 'efficacy expectations' consist of beliefs about how capable one is of performing the behavior that leads to those outcomes." 

Self-efficacy, it seems, may be driving the wagon.  So, how would an individual go about developing their most effective brand of self-efficacy?  This is something that is completely in the hands of the individual, and cannot be obtained through artificial or external manners.  We are all subject to our emotions, hormones, and stressors.  In the face of those distractions, how to we stay on the wagon?  I believe that it comes down to expectation management: how individuals manage the expectations they have about the given behavior and the desired outcome.  This is something that may seem easier to prescribe to another person than to develop in the self.  However, if you consider how many expectations you have on a daily basis, you are already managing far more expectations than you likely give yourself credit for.   

All of the lives we lead at home, work, school, and in social groups pose significant and contrasting situations to us.  We develop expectations around the behaviors of others in those situations as well as their outcomes.  When a situation fails to meet our expectations, it is likely that we don't quit our job immediately, quit our family, our friends.  I propose that you extend the same courtesy to yourself:  don't quit on you!  When you develop expectations about your capabilities, and the outcomes of your behaviors, you may fall short of those expectations.  These are your expectations and you are in charge of them.  You can review and revise the expectations as necessary.   Be the driver, and stay on your wagon!


Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (Eds.).  (2005).  Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Strecher, V.J., McEvoy DeVeliis, B., Becker, M.H., & Rosenstock, I.M.  (1986).  The role of self-efficacy in achieving health behavior change.  Health Education & Behavior, 13, 73.

Somebody Say Something

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abuse.jpgA little over a week ago not only the Penn State Campus, but also the entire Unites States were shaken by the alleged criminal actions of former Penn State Defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky.  Apart from Sandusky's alleged  actions, the most appalling aspects of the alleged crime is that no one who witnessed his behavior came forward until now and the pain of the victims, which goes beyond the incidental moment.

One does not have to look far to see stories of people who witnessed these crimes but were either discredited as a witness or ignored.  There were classic cases of diffusion of responsibility, which gave the witness's a diminished sense of responsibility because they reported the incidents to those in authority over them and felt they would or should intervene (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005).  Still, there were others, who perhaps experienced interest prejudice or compliance.  They did not want to lose their job by reporting the incident, or in some way, they had a vested interest in keeping silent about Sandusky's alleged actions and therefore never broke that silence.  There were those who knew of the crime however, they went along with activities going on. 

These young men, who were victims of this abuse, may suffer a range of psychological and behavioral problems, from mild to severe, in both the short and long term. These problems typically include depression, anxiety, guilt, fear, sexual dysfunction, withdrawal, and acting out. Depending on the severity of the incident, the victims of this sexual abuse may also develop fear and anxiety regarding the opposite sex or sexual issues and may display inappropriate sexual behavior.  Revictimization is also a common phenomenon among people abused as children. Research has shown that child sexual abuse victims are more likely to be the victims of rape or to be involved in physically abusive relationships as adults are (Understanding Child Sexual Abuse Education, Prevention, and recovery, 2011). 

Because of Sandusky's alleged actions, many young boys must come to terms with why this happened to them.  Why were they the victims?  What could they have done different?  There are also many parents wondering why they did not see the signs, or what they could have done to protect their children.  Some of the strongest indications that a child has been sexually abused are inappropriate sexual knowledge, sexual interest, and sexual acting out by that child. 

In this case, as well as many others we can see sexual abuse is remains prevalent in our society, victimizing the lives of If the young and old.  If you know of or if you have experienced sexual abuse, it is imperative to do whatever you can to take steps in stopping this heinous crime.   



American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
407 South Dearborn
Suite 1300
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 554-0166

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Charles B. Wang International Children's Building
699 Prince Street Alexandria, VA 22314-3175
24 hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST

Child Help USA
15757 North 78th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
(800) 4-A-CHILD

Prevent Child Abuse America
332 S. Michigan Ave
Suite 1600
Chicago, IL 60604-4357

Child Welfare Information Gateway (formerly National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information)
Children's Bureau/ACYF
1250 Maryland Avenue, SW
Eighth Floor
Washington, DC 20024
(800) 394-3366




Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2005). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Pracrical Problems. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.

Understanding Child Sexual Abuse Education, Prevention, and recovery. (2011). Retrieved from American Psychological Association:



To be, or not to be in education, ethics is the question

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