December 2011 Archives

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I Know Me Best

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One of the most surprising things I learned this semester was that we, as human beings, tend to misjudge our motivations, or ourselves (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts 2005).  Not surprisingly, we tend to judge ourselves more favorably than we should.

 

I like to believe I know why I do what I do, but after reading about self-handicapping, I am pretty sure I subconsciously do this quite often. Self-handicapping is when people act in ways that will undermine their following performances. Therefore, having potential excuses for possible failures (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts 2005). There have been many times I wait until the last minute to do an assignment, and then sit back later and think "if only I would apply myself, I wonder what I could do".  In a study by Bailis (2001) the effects of self-hadicapping were positively related to performance and self-reports of optimal experience in competitions.

 

I know I exhibit the self-serving bias daily. Self-serving bias is when we attribute positive outcomes to internal causes (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts 2005). I am a very good cook, at least everyone tells me so, and I always tell people it is due to the fact that I am Italian. In actuality, being of Italian descent is probably my most used reason for the positive (and negative) traits and abilities.


These social psychology theories were really interesting to me, and a complete eye opener. I find myself noticing when I use a self-serving bias, or self handicap now.


References:

Bailis, D. S. (2001). Benefits of self-handicapping in sport: A field study of university athletes. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue Canadienne Des Sciences Du Comportement, 33(4), 213-223. doi:10.1037/h0087143

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

Facebook Anonymous

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It seems like everyone has a Facebook these days, all my coworkers, peers, parents, grandparents, etc. Boasting statistics like, 750 million active users, and 10% of the world population using Facebook (Facebook, 2011). But is this a good thing?

 

Personally I say no. I have had a Facebook since my freshman year in college, so for five years now, and yes I used to be addicted. Hi, my name is Amanda Martin, and I am a recovered Facebook-aholic. When I lived at University Park, State College I was on Facebook every half hour, at least. I typed instead of texted, and to get an invite to a party I need to get my event invite via Facebook. Now I can't stand it. I understand it is a nice way to connect with friends and lost loved ones, but I think some people from our pasts weren't meant to be found. Also so much needless drama is generated on Facebook. I think the problem is the immense amount of micromanaging that goes on, with everybody's constant updates on what they are doing when and where.

 

Aside from my personal dislike for social media in general, there are some real risks of danger with use of social media sites like Facebook. There is real risk of cyber bullying. Cyber bulling is the harassment of others through the use of technology such as cell phones and computers (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005). Also the security of our personal information is at risk. Facebook assumes we will all put our security settings on high (Vinson, 2010) to keep us safe.

 

I will acknowledge there are definite positives to social networks, such as political change and things of the like. But do the positives outweigh the negatives?

 

Reference:

 

Facebook. (2011). Statistics. Retrieved online at: http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics

 

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

Vinson, K. E. (2010). The blurred boundaries of social networking in the legal field: Just "face" it. The University of Memphis Law Review, 41(2), 355-412. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/860067897?accountid=13158

 

thumbnail.jpgWhat's the big deal about being given a label...... the answer....a lot.  An increasing number of children are given increasingly specific labels, ranging from psychiatric and neurological diagnoses such as Asperger's and attention deficit disorder to educational descriptors including "gifted" and learning disabled". (Szalavitz, 2007).  What happened to kids just being kids?  It seems that everything now these days has to have a label attached.

 A few months back while I was working with a child who was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, I realized the effect labeling has on a child.  The child and I were reviewing their biopsychosocial and the child seemed very concerned with the label of 'depression and bipolar'.  She asked why they labeled her as bipolar, because no one had ever called her that before.  This particular child has been in at least seven other residential placements within the last four years.  The child was upset at the label and kept saying she's not a crazy person.  I tried to explain to her that it's just one persons opinion and that the label isn't what defines her.  I don't think I got through to her.

Researchers began to study the cognitive effects of labeling in the 1930s, when linguist Benjamin Whorf proposed the linguistic relativity hypothesis. Most often known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis or the theory of linguistic relativity, the notion that the diversity of linguistic structures affects how people perceive and think about the world has been a canonical topic of American linguistic anthropology (Woolard, 2010).
 
The fact that labels create sets that influence subsequent perception has long been established (Langer & Abelson, 1974).  No one likes to be called names like fat, stupid, a cutter or crazy.  For children in a mental health setting, labeling and name calling can have devastating effects.  The labeling effect refers to a tendency to perceive clients in ways that are erroneous owing to the reactive effect of an existing psychiatric label (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2010). There is often a stigma that is associated with being diagnosed with mental illness that may hinder families' and care providers' willingness to pursue mental health services.

A friend of mine is currently struggling with a brother who refuses to seek professional treatment.  The brother has had a past diagnose of schizophrenia.  One day he stopped at my house to visit, which was very odd because I only met him once and didn't understand how he knew where I lived.  I knew that he had some sort of mental health issue and had been living3820576488_02cc170ef7_z.jpg on the streets for the past few weeks.  My friend's family has tried everything to help him but he refuses their offers and ministrations.  The brother had been receiving for years a disability check from the government due to his mental health issues.  The family found out he had closed his bank account and stopped accepting these checks.  What he told me was that he wasn't crazy so why should he get money from the government if he wasn't crazy.  He associated the checks with being labeled as crazy.  If he didn't get the checks  .... then ...... he wasn't crazy.  Unfortunately, he still is refusing help and still living on the streets.  But it is evident from this example that being labeled can alter an individual's perception. 

References

Langer, E. J. & Abelson, R. P. (1974).  A patient by an other name....clinician group difference in labeling  bias.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 42 (1); 44-9.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2005). Applied social psychology:    understanding and addressing social and practical problems. London: Sage.

Szalavitz, M. (February,  2007). Gifted? Autistic? Or Just Quirky?  The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/23/AR2007022301785_pf.html

Woodlard, K. (September, 2010).  Linguistic Relativity, Whorf,  Linguistic Anthropology.  Retrieved from  http://linguisticanthropology.org/blog/2010/09/01/linguistic-relativity-whorf-linguistic-anthropology/

The Media

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           Have you looked in a magazine lately? If not, open a magazine and take a look at the models on the pages. What do they all have in common? Most people would say the women models are skinny, tall and beautiful while the male models are handsome, muscular, and tall. Why are there no overweight models portrayed in magazines? Models in magazines have continued to get thinner every day. As I was reading about models, I came across a very startling statistic--the average woman model weights up to 25% less than the typical woman. The average American woman is 5'4" tall and weighs 140 pounds while the average American model is 5'11" tall and weighs 117 ("The American Woman," 2011). In my opinion, it is an eye-opening statistic.

As a society, we are often bombarded with news stories showing the negative effects of how media is shaping today's youth. From early on, children are taught by society that their looks matter. With an increased population of children who spend a lot of time in front of the television, there are more of them coming up with a sense of who they are. Images on television spend countless hours telling us how to lose weight, be thin, and be beautiful. Images of models in magazines rarely depict the men and women with average body types. Women in magazines seem to be no bigger than a toothpick while men in magazines tend to be filled with muscle. The skinny, tall woman and the muscular, pumped-up man are the ones who are depicted as successful, beautiful and well-liked by everyone. In many movies or TV shows, the overweight kid is characterized as being lazy and having no friends. If you are familiar with the movie Heavyweights, then you would know that this movie is constantly poking fun a overweight kids. In this movie, a handful of overweight kids attend a summer camp where they are all made fun of for being fat. While this is a comical movie to watch, I think the overall message of "making fun of fat kids" could ultimately promote to kids that being overweight is funny.

Since the media greatly influences today's youth, how does one tell children that looks don't matter, it's what's inside that counts--such as friendly and caring personality. Since the media puts so much stress on children to look good and be beautiful or handsome, many children may be self conscious about their appearance. It is reported that almost half of American children between first and third grades say they want to be thinner. Four out of five American women say they don't like the way they look. Half of nine- and ten-year-old girls say that being on a diet make them feel better about themselves. On top of that, one million boys and men struggle with eating disorder and borderline conditions ("The American Woman," 2011). There are just some of many statistics that show how many people are dissatisfied with the way they look. In my opinion, it's shocking to see these statistics. I believe every individual should be told they are beautiful, regardless of their weight. Beauty comes from what's inside, not from the outward looks. 

 

References

 

The Average American Woman. (2011, May). Retrieved from http://www.inch-

aweigh.com/dietstats.htm

Effects of Unemployment on ME and what I was missing

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As the loss of jobs and unemployment rates are constantly in the news these days the effects of this can be seen in almost all aspects of daily life from the cost of health care to the cost of lost work in the work place.  And I can directly relate to this.  In 2009 I retired from the Army and then went to work for a couple other companies where I continued to work in one of my chosen professions, that being land survey.  Suddenly in 2009 I was placed on long term unemployment and the feelings were crushing to me.  For having been in the military for 21 years and work with a couple other employers with a steady paycheck and job security, the transition really hit home and hard!  In my choice of profession, my person-job fit, or the job satisfaction that resulted from the interactions between my disposition and job characteristics (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005 p 241) was right on track and matched me to the "T" so to say.  However, life seldom goes as we really think that it should at times, and this was one of those times.

Even with this blow to my family it took some time to notice fully the effects that it had on me in the long run.  As I have been working on learning a new community and a new environment as I had been accustomed to every time that I had moved, this would prove no different, new neighbors, schools, churches and even streets.  This was a learning process for me that I knew all too well but as I was unemployed I hadn't really taken notice of others that were on unemployment because with technology, one no longer needs to go to an office and file paperwork because it is all online. 

What I was missing was the sense of community without even really thinking about it.  Even though I kept myself busy with other projects around the house I eventually felt the loss of social support from co-workers (Dingfelder, 2011) which made things just that much harder for me. And yet this phase in my life would not stay around that long as I eventually became employed and once again, productive.  And with that came the realization of the effects that being unemployed carried, the stress on my health and my family's health that were short term as well.

One thought that is commonly over looked is health in the work place.  Most people are happy just to have a job but another factor that is not that commonly heard of is the efforts to increase the health levels in the work place.  Studies towards happiness in the work place (Fisher, 2010, Diener, 2000 & Diener and Diener, 1996) have positive effects and consequences for both the worker and the organization (Fisher, 2010).  Here again even though we are inundated by the media of how bleak the forecasts can be about employment there are numerous websites and originations that have self-help.  Take a look at the webpage for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Guide (2011) on how to deal with the effects of financial difficulties. With great information on ways to manage stress to signs of health risks, there are numerous information for staying healthy during stressful times that all should take a look at even if they are not in circumstances that are stressful.

 

References:

Diener, E. (2000). Subjective well-being. American Psychologist, 55, pp. 34-43.

 

Diener, E. and Diener, C. (1996). Most people are happy. Psychological Science, 96, pp. 181-185.

 

Fisher, C., D. (2010) Happiness at Work. International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 12, 384-412 (2010) DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2370.2009.00270.x

 

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.

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (2011). Getting Through Tough Economic Times. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/economy/

Interpersonal Attraction: What Matters First?

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            If you are dating someone or if you are married, think of reasons as to why you are with that person. What first made you attracted to that individual? Is it because they have a friendly personality, a positive attitude or even good looks? If you are single, think of your good friends. How did you become good friends with these people? In the branch of social psychology, there are many theories and principles that illustrate why certain people "fall in love" with each other or why certain people interact and become friends.

            According to the interpersonal attraction principle, social psychologists have identified several major factors that influence interpersonal attraction which is anything that draws two or more people together characterized by affection, respect, liking, or love ("Interpersonal attraction," 2010). In the initial attraction of two people, what matters first? Many factors leading to interpersonal attraction have been studied. The most frequently studied are: physical attractiveness, propinquity, responsiveness, similarity and reciprocal liking ("Interpersonal attraction," 2010). According to these five factors, we like those who live or work near us (propinquity), we like those who are physically attractive (physical attractiveness) and similar to us (similarity), we like those who are responsive to us (responsiveness) and we like those who like us (reciprocal liking).

            Now think back to your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife. How did you first meet them? According to the factors listed above, you probably associated yourself with him or her because they constantly near you. You might've also associated yourself with him or her because they were attractive. If you are single, think of your good friends. Did you become close friends because you live or work near each other? Did you like your friends because they were similar to you? Propinquity, physical attractiveness, similarity, responsiveness and/or reciprocal liking are factors that--more than likely--played role to the interpersonal attraction of your friends, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, etc.

 

References

 

Interpersonal attraction. (2010, June). Retrieved from http://216.22.10.76/wiki/

Interpersonal_Attraction

Communication

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As I walked into work the other day, I had my cell phone and car keys in my hand. I walked into the office, hung up my coat and immediately starting playing on my smart phone. Since I was about twenty minutes early, I had some time to spare. On my phone, I decided to check my email and play a couple games. Minutes later my manager walks in. Within seconds he sarcastically states, "Is that all you do is play on your phone...  I swear people these days would be lost without their cell phones." At first, I kind of chuckled and laughed at his comment. I told him to stop picking on me. However, the more I thought about his comment, the more I thought he was right. Our society has become very dependent on cell phones.

According to Jim Katz, a professor at MIT, no contemporary cultural artifact embodies the genius and the disruptive excess of capitalism as clearly as the cell phone. Cell phones are game consoles, cameras, email systems, text messengers, carries of entertainment and business data (Rauch, 2008). When it comes down to it, cell phones have even taken the place of alarm clocks. If you survey ten people, I bet nine of them--if not all of them--use their cell phone as an alarm clock. These days, it seems as if a phone can do anything.

With that being said, I believe cell phones are popular for many reasons. For one reason, who wouldn't want a device that allows you to play games, make a phone call and surf the web all at the same time? Cell phones are popular due to the individual performance of the objects. I believe they are also popular because it's an easy way to communicate with someone. If you need to tell someone a quick message, all you have to do is text them. Writing a text and sending it, depending on the length of the message, only takes a couple of seconds. I think this is a very easy way to communicate with people which is way cell phone have taken over the lives of thousands of people.

I recently came across a quote by a professor at MIT. James Katz states, "Cell phones are enabling people to create their own micro-cultures; they are changing cultural norms and values, and demonstrating consumers' ability to modify and repurpose technology for their own use. I believe that cell phones, by allowing people to insulate their private interactions from the culture around them, will encourage a kind of 'walled garden' of micro-cultures that is complex, but exclusive." I think his outlook gives cell phones a whole new appearance. In my own words, cell phones are enabling people to do anything they wish. Cell phones have become a mini computer packed into the size of a deck of cards.

 

References

Rauch, P. (2008, November). Cell phone culture. Retrieved from http://web.mit.edu/comm-forum/forums/cell_phone_culture.htm

Relationships

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There are many different kinds of relationships that involve different types of affection that also vary in degree. Peterson (2006) suggests the following scale of increasing affection and intimacy in relationships:

  • affiliation
  • liking
  • friendship
  • love

The first on the scale is affiliation. Affiliation is a desire to simply be around other people, without necessarily any great degree of personal involvement. Human beings are social animals by nature, which means that we derive comfort just from the presence of other people. People also like to compare themselves to others, so groups of people can provide a basis for such social comparisons. Social comparison allows us to judge the accuracy of our opinions and our perceptions of our abilities (Suls, Martin, & Wheeler, 2002).

The next on the scale is liking. Liking is a positive evaluation of someone, normally because the person possesses values and beliefs that are similar to our own. This is the similar-to-me effect. The similar-to-me effect explains that individuals enjoy the company of others who think and look like they do (Pennsylvania State University, 2011, p. 2).

After that is friendship. Friendship occurs when two people mutual like on another. Friends not only have similar values and beliefs, but also consider each other to be equals, each contributing equally to the other's well-being, just as equity theory predicts. Some friendships are based, in part, on complementarity, in which personality differences fit each other well; for example, one person likes to lead and the other person, follow.

The highest on the scale is love. Love can be regarded as more intense, intimate, and exclusive form of friendship. There are essentially two kinds of love: passionate and companionate. Passionate love describes the intense, euphoric feelings, promoted by PEA and dopamine, that often lead to sexual activity (Hatfield & Rapson, 2009). A study by Cindy Hazan based on 5,000 interviews across 37 cultures indicated that passionate love tends to last no longer than 18-30 months--just long enough for a couple to meet, mate, and produce a child (Harlow, 1999). Unless the relationship can develop into companionate love, which is more like a committed, affectionate friendship, the couple is likely to separate (Hatfield & Rapson, 2009).

 

Harlow, J. (1999, July 25). True love is all over in 30 months. The Sunday Times. Retrieved from http://www.fact.on.ca/newpaper/ti990725.htm April 19, 2009).

Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. L. (2009). The neuropsychology of passionate love. In E. Cuyler & M. Ackhart (Eds.), Psychology of relationships. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2011). Applied Social Psychology (PSYCH 424) Lesson 14: Relationships/Everyday Life. Retrieved from online lecture notes https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/fa11/psych424/001/content/13_lesson/02_page.html

Peterson, C. (2006). A primer in positive psychology. NY: Oxford.

Suls, J., Martin, R., & Wheeler, L. (2002). Social Comparison: Why, with whom and with what effect? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11(5), 159-163.

Removing the stigma of special needs children

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The negative stigma involved with children with special needs has always been an issue that has been near and dear to me ever since I was in Junior High School.  I first met Rodney Smith when I was in eighth grade and noticed that his development was different from mine when I was in gym class.  This was one of the only classes that we were "mixed" with.  He played basketball, football and all of the other sports with us but this is when I noticed that there was something more to the issue.

 

Even though he was just as talented as the rest of the kids in our gym class it became apparent that his levels of processing information was different and this is when I noticed others that did not have his disability treated him differently and this is when I befriended him.  I made it a point to always try to sit with him during lunch at least once a week and talk to him and see how his classes were going.

 

From my interactions with Rodney, I had met his teacher Mrs. Connie Gooch and she had told me that he was born with Autism.  There are several different aspects to this disease, however, according to Bailey, Phillips and Rutter (1996) there are three main behavioral characteristics that define the syndrome of autism: social abnormalities, language abnormalities, and stereotyped repetitive patterns of behavior.  Once I learned that from Mrs. Gooch in layman's terms it seemed as if there were other classmates in support for helping the kids that were in the special needs classes.

 

It was as if I was kind of a primer to the pump that made others in my grade and in the junior high school aware that they were just like us kids, but that they had differing levels of being able to learn.  Here again I always made it a point to stop in and learn about others that were in Rodney's class and see how they were doing.  The only problem was that others that were in the school and my class were making fun of me for befriending Rodney and his class.  This was the negative stigma of a downward social comparison (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005 p 215) that I endured until my graduation from High School as I kept in constant contact with Rodney and his classmates.

 

Another thing that came about from this was my awareness of how other kids in my grade and school treated the ones in the special needs class.  Because of the change in the laws in 1975 that I was unaware of, it would take some time for these changes to be felt in the classrooms around the country as well as in Wichita, Kansas where I was raised.

 

Even though there have been several additions to the 1975 Education of the Handicapped Act, there have been several road blocks that have eventually been overcome.  For example, in 1997 President Clinton finally passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Turnbull & Cilley, 1999) that gave greater relief and support to families with children that have learning disabilities.  This is just another indicator of the stigma that is involved with children that have learning disabilities, and it doesn't need to be this way.

 

Just because someone is not the head of the class or the best looking in class is not a good reason for shunning individuals with disabilities.  Even though there are governmental programs that aid families that have children with disabilities, participation in events such as Special Olympics is still needed to help their development.

 

References:

 

Bailey, A., Phillips, W., and Michael Rutter, . (2006) Autism: Towards an Integration of Clinical, Genetic, Neuropsychological, and Neurobiological Perspectives. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 37, 1 (pp. 89-126) Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7610.1996.tb01381.x/pdf

 

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.

 

Turnbull, R., & Celley, M. (1999). Explanations and implications of the 1997 Amendments to IDEA.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

 

Justified Racism?

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I recently moved to the Netherlands to live with my boyfriend, Ron. On many occasions he has told me to watch out for dark-skinned people because they are dangerous. He, his friends, and family frequently make jokes and speak negatively of them. As a person who would want to be called anything but racist, I have a difficult time hearing this type of conversation. They all justify their use of terminology and way of speaking with "they really are bad! Just wait until you have lived here longer and you will realize it and talk about them just as we do." They feel as if these people do not contribute to society and only commit crimes and harass people who pass by them on the street. Ron told me about a girl he knows who was walking in the train station and passed by a group of them and before she knew it they began sexually harassing and touching her in inappropriate places. She now has a fear of walking alone, especially by group of dark-skinned people. All of this information raised the question: If treating a group differently will reduce your chance of harm, is racism justified?

Racism is not accepted or politically correct in the United States, but in the Netherlands it is less so. The Dutch are direct and speak their minds by nature, which results in blatant racism rather than a more submissive, subconscious form of racism such as aversive or ambivalent racism. Certain minority groups in the United States, Netherlands, and other countries have a higher crime rate (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009; De Wit, 2010), so I became curious to know if the minority groups in the Netherlands actually do commit more crimes in reference to the U.S., or if the Dutch beliefs had to do with social aspects, such as way of communication or norms. As it turns out, minority groups in the Netherlands do have significantly high crime rates. Non-Western ethnicities (generally darker skinned people) have especially high rates. One such group is the Moroccans, which is a group that the Dutch are very prejudice toward. A study showed that 54% of Moroccan men had committed a crime by the time they were 22, whereas 20% of native Dutch had (De Wit, 2009). Even more, Moroccan men were 3 times more likely to be repeat offenders (defined in the study as having registered for crimes 5 or more times). As a comparison to the United States, Whites make up 72.4% of the population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010) and commit 69.1% of crimes (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009). In the Netherlands Native Dutch make up 80.7% of the population (CIA, 2011), but only commit 63% of crimes (Muller, 2009). Through these numbers it is clear that Dutch minorities are overrepresented in crime.

In a sense of social categorization, we tend view people from groups other than our own to have little variation in characteristics, called out-group homogeneity bias (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005). This bias has not only caused generalizations in the Netherlands that all Moroccans commit crimes and are dangerous, but also that all darker-skinned people behave similarly. The pervasiveness of the bias was made clear when Ron was in America. He was genuinely surprised that a black person, our grocery store cashier, treated us kindly. He quickly began to realize that the Dutch beliefs do not apply universally. My next question became: why did minority crime and prejudice become so immense in the Netherlands?

Moroccans and other ethnic groups immigrated to the Netherlands to work in the 1970s (Vermaat, 2009). They were poor and not yet citizens, which could be a part of the reason for their originally high crime rate. Concepts such as the theory of relative depravation could explain it, which states that conflict arises when a person feels deprived of something relative to others (Schneider et al., 2005). When first arriving to the Netherlands, they may have felt deprived of money, status, or feeling at home causing them to commit crimes against those surrounding them. Nowadays, the crime might be more explained by self-fulfilling prophecy, or expected behaviors, or seeing role models of their own ethnicity committing crimes.

My belief perseverance will cause me to stay impartial towards minorities in general, but if I walk by a group of darker-skinned people in the Netherlands I will certainly be nervous and walk quickly. In the case that I were to have an experience like Ron's friend did, the feeling would be even more intense. If the definition of racism is "bias against an individual or group of individuals based on the individual's or group members' race/ethnicity" (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 342), then I would be partaking in racism. The overarching question is: is it justified if I could be reducing my risk for harm?

 

References

CIA. (2011). The World Factbook Netherlands. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/nl.html

de Wit, J. (2010, June 24). The relationship between crime and ethnicity. Gazet van Antwerpen. Retrieved from http://www.gva.be/dekrant/experts/johndewit/het-verband-tussen-misdaad-en-etnische-afstamming.aspx

Muller, T. (2009). Violent crime is a native Dutch problem too. NRC. Retrieved from http://vorige.nrc.nl/international/opinion/article2423686.ece/Violent_crime_is_a_native_Dutch_problem_too

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.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). State & Country QuickFacts. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

U.S. Department of Justice. (2009). Table 43- Crime in the United States. Retrieved from http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/data/table_43.html

Vermaat, E. (2009). Moroccan Immigrants in the Netherlands and Belgium and Their Involvement in Crime and Terrorism. Retrieved from http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/4059

The People Behind the Helmets

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As I mentioned in my previous post, the unfolding crisis at PSU has had an impact on everybody associated with the university.  In this post I'll be looking at potential effects on the football players... how they are coping with being a student athlete and a member of a sports team with this mess unfolding around them.  Jerry Sandusky was at Penn State because of football.  Football plays an enormous roll in the schools social and financial life and the football team is probably the most public ambassador to the school.  This being said, members of the team now have to continue to operate as a team while under close scrutiny.  A former member of their organizations is alleged to have committed unthinkable crimes and now it is up to them to deal with the attention while continue to produce as a team.

The football team has managed to pull through this season with a 9-3 record, only losing to high-ranked teams.  I think that part of this was due to their ability to preserve team cohesion.  The course text describes team cohesion and its' elements.  Carron, Brawley & Widmeyer (1997) point out that cohesion is multidimensional, dynamic, affective, and instrumental.  Multidimensional in that it is the result of not one factor but many, dynamic in that it can fluctuate, affective in that it has to do with the emotional state of athletes, and instrumental in that it works to accomplishing team goals and objectives (Carron, Brawley, & Widmeyer, 1997).  The current team's success at banding together and continuing to perform well could have something to do with a high degree of instrumental team cohesion.  These players knew what their goals were and despite the turmoil and distractions around them, worked towards these goals.

The course text states "Bandura (1997) defined collective efficacy as a group's shared belief in its ability to organize and execute the courses of action required to obtain a certain outcome" (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2005).  It's reasonable to think that, because of the football teams' success in the early part of the season only having lost 1 game, that they had a high degree of collective efficacy.  They knew they had the tools and the ability to win games, regardless of what was going on around them.  The text even goes on to say that based off Bandura's (1986, 1997) and others research (Feltz & Chase, 1998), "the most powerful factor affecting confidence is previous experience" (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2005).  Members of this team didn't have to be the best of friends.  Their previous performance and success informed their collective efficacy which in turn informed their present performance.  Although it is remained to be seen what their performance will be like in the final bowl game of the season, there's evidence to suggest that they should compete well.

References

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.

Carron, A.V., Brawley, L.R., & Widmeyer, W.N. (1997). The measurement of cohesiveness in sports groups. In J.L. Duda (Ed.), Advances in sport and exercise psychology measurement. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.

Feltz, D.L., & Chase, M.A. (1998). The measurement of self-efficacy and confidence in sport. In J.L. Duda (Ed.), Advancements in sport and exercise psychology measurement (pp. 65-80). Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.

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

Crisis at PSU

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The past few weeks with all of the allegations against Jerry Sandusky have been tough for all involved with Penn State in any capacity.  The whole nation has its eye on us as this story continues to unfold and there are multiple theories and judgments coming from everyone we know.  I think that studying psychology could help us view this situation in more of a clear light.  There are many facts that are unknown and as the legal process begins to move forward we can look at social psychological theory as a reference.  Namely, I'll look at how we can pick apart all the testimonies of the alleged crimes as well as potential influences in the trial.

One concept that has repeatedly come up in my social psychology courses is that the we cannot underestimate the influence of the situation on peoples' actions.  We have our set up characteristics and traits that define us and most of us are aware of what kind of person we are... but until we are actually in a situation we can't be sure of how we will act.  Mayer, Greenbaum, Kuenzi, and Shteynberg (2009) define personal identity as including "moral sensibility and conscience" (Mayer, Greenbaum, Kuenzi, & Shteynberg, 2009).  In the case of the then-graduate student assistant who reportedly saw an instance of sexual abuse in the locker room and didn't go to the authorities, one would think that this is exactly the type of case where moral sensibility and conscience would come into play.  The point though is that our personal identity is not the only thing that influences our behavior.  Other factors could include membership in groups (Tajfel's social identity theory) the presence of others (bystander effect) or others.  This is not to defend inaction when one witnesses a crime.  It's merely to say that it is coming up short to cut things black and white, good and bad, right and wrong.

Something else to consider in the Sandusky case is how the trials will go.  In the course text there are multiple ways a potential juror could be influenced by the trial.  Schuller and Yarmey's (2001) found that attitudes related to a specific case will predict that juror's verdict.  In fact, the course text even gives the example of a juror's attitude about sexual abuse influences their verdict in a sexual abuse case (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005).  I know that I would find it hard not to fall under the influence of specific and normative prejudice had I been chosen to be a juror on the Sandusky case.  Vidmar and Schuller (2001) define specific prejudice as attitudes and/or beliefs held by the juror that may influence the verdict.  Normative prejudice is when there is a strong public opinion of the case that may influence a juror's verdict if they feel powerless against the public outcry.  With the Sandusky case having such a sensitive nature, I know firsthand how most people in State College and in other states feel about him and about the case (I had a conversations tonight in California with a man from Wisconsin).  A juror will be hard pressed to maintain impartiality with the public sentiment combined with his/her pre-held attitudes about sexual abuse.

References


Mayer, D.M., Greenbaum, R.L., Kuenzi, M., & Shteynberg, G. (2009). When Do Fair Procedures Not Matter? A Test of the Identity Violation Effect. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 142-161.

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

Schuller, R.A., & Yarmey, M. (2001). The jury: Deciding guilty and innocence. In R.A Schuller & J.R.P. Ogloff (Eds.), Introduction to psychology and law: Canadian perspectives (pp. 3-28). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Tajfel, H. (1981). Human groups and social categories: Studies in social psychology. New York: University Press.

Vidmar, N., & Schuller, R.A. (2001). The jury: Deciding guilty and innocence. In R.A Schuller & J.R.P. Ogloff (Eds.), Introduction to psychology and law: Canadian perspectives (pp. 126-156). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Prison Population

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Overcrowding in our nations prisons is almost becoming an epidemic. Recently Lindsay Lohan was sentenced to 30 days in prison, but she only served 4 ½ hours. The reason for her premature release was due to her committing a non-violent crime, and jail's overcrowding issue (Winton, 2011).

 

Lohan's case, is the case of many, she violated her probation. Recidivism it the chronic tendency to engage in criminal behavior, this is a large contributing factor for prison overpopulation (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005).

 

 According to the Pew Center on the States (2011), 1 in every 31 adults in the United States is in the criminal justice system, which includes jail, prison, probation, and supervision. This system is costing us about 52 billion annually (Pew Center on the States, 2011).

 

When we initially developed the prison system it was intended to be a rehabilitation of sorts. It was meant to keep the dangerous people off the streets, but it was also supposed to heal the offenders, so that when they were released they would be ready to be reemitted back into society (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005).

 

We need to put therapeutic elements into the criminal justice system. There is evidence the system we have isn't working. Why even have a judge hand out a sentence if offenders will on serve a fraction of the time ordered? Therapeutic communities show promise at reducing recidivism (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005). It seems a good avenue to start, but the probation system could use an overhaul.

 

Reference:

 

Pew Center on the States. (2011). State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America's Prisons. Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts.

 

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.

Winton, R. (2011, November 7). Lindsay Lohan out of jail after serving less than five hours. Message posted to http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/11/lindsay-lohan-out-of-jail.html

Moving Past My Mother's Voice

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Every time I get an assignment back I assume I will have a terrible score. No matter how often I am incorrect in this assumption I continue to assume it. Assignments sometimes take me way longer than appropriate because I hold myself to very high standards and can never quite find perfection in my work. I feel the same way each meal I cook (despite high praise from every single person I have ever cooked for) and each sewing project I complete (also given high praise from others). When my fiancé tells me how good something tasted or how great a project looks I insist he is just saying that because he loves me. When I do well in a class it must be because the teacher had low standards or because I was lucky. Part of me knows I may really be that good at things, part of me thinks it is good to be humble, and part of me realizes it is rather ridiculous to think that anyone would put that kind of effort into tricking me into thinking I am good if I am not. Either way I continue to think the same thing each time.  

                Belief perseverance is when "people tend to maintain their initial ideas or beliefs despite exposure to disconfirming evidence" (Smith & Weber, 2005, p. 91). As a child things I did often were not good enough for my mother. Getting a B meant I needed to study harder and longer. No matter how hard I tried to clean things or help out around the house she always went back and did it again complaining I didn't do it right. It is clear that my initial ideas came from my mother. Really parents are supposed to be the end all be all when we are kids, whatever they say must be true or why else would they tell us. By the time I realized my mother was OCD and maybe a little too critical of everyone it was too late. Now it doesn't matter what new evidence I have that says I am good at anything because I still have my mother's voice inside my head saying "You're not good enough, do it again".

                So how do we fix belief perseverance? Smith and Weber recommend "generate an explanation for it and an explanation for any alternative relation" (2005, p. 92) to lower the possibility of belief perseverance in the first place. They are also recommend "a consider an alternative strategy" (Smith & Weber, 2005, p. 92) which is basically just thinking about new information and old information and finding reasons why the new is right and the old is wrong. So for my problem it would be best to remember that teachers don't just hand out grades, that every assignment I get back with a good grade on it I earned. If I cook something and people think it is good it probably is good (in fact most people won't even eat something that is gross). If my fiancé tells me he thinks something is good it most likely is, as he rarely lies about anything and is the first to tell me what or how to fix something that isn't great.

                Over all it probably wouldn't hurt to have a little faith in myself and in those who raised me. Even if my mother was a little critical she only wished the best for me and raised me to be as perfect as I could then my grandmother finished raising me with kindness and understanding. In my adult life I strive to be what I think they would be proud of and you can never go wrong with that.

References

Smith, R. A., & Weber, A. L. (2005). Applying Social Pychology in Everyday Life. In F. W. Schneider, J. A. Gruman, & L. M. Coutts, Applying Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (pp. 75-99). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Hitch or Glitch

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hitch2.jpgWe have all seen it before, the attractive woman with the no so attractive man or vice versa.  Fighting the urge to make assumptions you think to yourself, he must be rich or she must have some be desperate.   While shopping one day my friend Monica tells me all about this wonderful guy that she has met. Monica was educated, tall, and attractive with a great career in special education.  She tells me she would love for me to meet this new man in her life.  As we continue shopping I see through my peripheral vision this young man approaching.  He was short with extremely thick glasses and a rather large head.  Before I could warn her that I thought she had been spotted she turns around and says.... "Sharese I want you to meet my boy friend." 

The Matching Effect refers to the desire that an individual has to choose a partner comparable to themselves in reference to looks to avoid rejection or disappointment. (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005) The Matching Effect is based on the individuals' personal perceived level of attractiveness.  Individuals will seek to match their attractiveness. (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005)  The Matching Effect states that it is likely that rejection will occur it individuals attempt to choose partners that exceed their attractiveness.  In the same token dissatisfaction will occur if the individual chooses a partner that they believe is not as attractive as themselves.  The individual may come to believe that a more attractive partner could have been chosen. (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005) 

Monica and her boyfriend soon became engaged hitch1.pngbut Monica experienced "dissatisfaction".  I am not an advocate for superficial selection of a mate however as much as we would all like to say "looks don't matter" they do.  Monica's relationship unfortunately did not last.  Monica and her ex fiancé have moved on to "matched" relationships.   Movies like Hitch with scenarios were Albert gets the super model Allgera are not the norm. 

jbsh.jpgI did not choose my spouse (pictured on the left) on the basis of attractiveness at least not  subconsciously.  I would consider us matched well. My concerns with the Matching Effect are time passes and gravity takes control.  As the family grown so do we... Once a match doesn't always mean always a match.

 

 

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

                                                                                                                          Imagies from Hitch provided by onbrands.wordpress.com and     popcorndialogues.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

                                                                                                                                    

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friendly Competition

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I have never fully understood the dynamic of close friendships. I have many friends, and acquaintances, but all seem pale in comparison to the relationship my boyfriend has with his friends. My boyfriend has a group of six friends that would all take a proverbial "bullet" for each other. They all have tattoos that of the same thing, in the same spot that represents the bond, or "brotherhood" as they like to refer to it as.

 

What perplexed me about their relationship is that to someone on the outside, they seem more enemies than friends. They are in constant competition for the title of strongest, fastest, smartest, most artistic, best at video games, and the list goes on. All of these men are in their mid twenties and one minute they are rough housing enough to break furniture, to the next where they are having a heated intellectual discussion. Their very friendship seemed a contradiction.

I had to look into this further. Was I the crazy one? Or is this the way male friendships work?

 

It was long thought that competition between friends would diminish the relationship. Current research by Schneider, Woodburn, and Udvari (2005) suggested several dimensions of competition were associated with greater companionship in the friendships of boys, but the opposite was true for female friendships. The reason this competition dynamic works for men and not women was suggested by Singleton, and Vacca (2007), that the societal norm for men is to be masculine, and competition is accepted. 

 

So how did this strong bond amongst men form? Well it seems that even their exceptional, enduring friendship started the way most do, with physical proximity (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005). My boyfriend is related to two of the group, had homeroom with one, and two lived within walking distance of him. Now I just can't let them see this blog, because they think themselves the exception to every the rule.

 

References:

 

Schneider, B. H., Woodburn, S., & Udvari, S. J. (2005). Cultural and gender differences in the implications of competition for early adolescent friendship. Merrill - Palmer Quarterly, 51(2), 163-191. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/230094268?accountid=13158

 

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.

 

Singleton, R. A., & Vacca, J. (2007). Interpersonal competition in friendships. Sex Roles, 57(9-10), 617-627. doi:10.1007/s11199-007-9298-x

The Bystander Effect

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There are many theories and principles within the branch of social psychology that challenge the minds of social psychologists. One principle that many psychologists study has to do with is the bystander effect. The bystander effect is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to situations in which individuals do not offer any means of help in an emergency when other people are present (Darley, 2005). The more people that are present, the less likely someone will help.

There are three previous studies that have been conducted that are similar to the questions listed above. John Darley and Bibb Latane are two psychologists that studied the diffusion of responsibility. These two psychologists hypothesized the more people who witness a crime, the less likely anyone will help. To test this proposition, they created a situation in which a realistic "emergency" could plausibly occur. In their experiment, each subject would be blocked from communicating with others to prevent his getting information about their behavior during the emergency. The independent variable would be the number of witnesses. Their experimental situation allowed for the assessment of the speed and frequency of the subjects' reaction to the emergency. These two qualities served as the dependent variable.

            A second study, performed by Stephanie Bell of Missouri Western State University, examined the diffusion of responsibility. With regards to the diffusion of responsibility, Bell wanted to know if sexes are more likely to help the same sex or the opposite sex. Bell hypothesized that more participants will help a female confederate more than a male confederate. In this study, the gender of participant and gender of confederate are the two independent variables. The dependent variable is whether or not the person helped the confederate.

            A third study, performed by Glen Whyte of the University of Toronto, examined the diffusion of responsibility and its effects of the escalation tendency. In this study, the possibility was investigated that group decision making in the initial stages of an investment project might reduce the escalation tendency by diffusing responsibility for initiating a failing project. The diffusion of responsibility and size of the group served as the independent variable while the amount of escalation effects served as the dependent variable. The escalation effects occurred less frequently and were less severe among individuals described as participants in a group decision to initiate a failing course of action than among individuals described as personally responsible for the initial decision. All three of these studies listed above are all significant. Each of these studies can be related to real life situation. The results of each study might be helpful in real life dilemmas.

            All three of these studies can be related to the bystander effect. In my opinion, we all would like to think that everyone would help in an emergency situation. If a car on the side of the road was on fire, wouldn't you think everyone would stop to help the people in the car? According to the bystander effect, if many people are witnessing the emergency, then few people will actually stop and help because most people figure that other people are already helping. As a society, I think we all have to be familiar with this effect in order to help eliminate it in emergency situation.

 

References

Bell, S. (2006). Diffusion of responsibility: are sexes more likely to help the same sex or opposite sex?. Retrieved from http://clearinghouse.missouriwestern.edu/manuscripts/ 813.php

 

Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (2005). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8, 377-383. Copyright © 1968 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted with permission. 

 

Whyte, G. (1991). Diffusion of responsibility: effects on the escalation tendency. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76(3), 408-415. Retrieved from http://www.csub.edu/~mdulcich/ documents/diffusion_of_responsibility.pdf

What could have been done?

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September of 2011 I went home to visit my family. I was born and raised in Butte, Mt, 900 miles from where I live now, and it was the first time in 10 years that I went alone.  Little did I know that this would be one of the most important trips of my life.  December of that year my Grandmother almost died. Her electrolytes were off and she passed out on the toilet, the way her shirt was it cut off oxygen and was found blue. They brought her back at the hospital but that was pretty much the end of the greatest person I ever knew.  This was a lady who took me in each weekend and summer, who (when my mother couldn't take care of me anymore) raised me, who saved me and made me who I am today. I hadn't spent much time with her after I went to college. It was hard for me to get back home but we talked often. I went home summer of 2010 with my new boyfriend and what I saw I barely recognized. This strong lady was now down to 100 lbs, bedridden, mentally declining, and had a nurse aid. She still knew who I was but didn't really have touch with reality. She thought her parents were still alive (they had passed away when I was 8) and my mother was still alive (she passed away in 05) and that her husband was still alive (he passed away in 82). She never wanted to live a life that required someone else to change her diapers or feed her. I know that she hated every second of having a stranger in her home. This past summer I went home and she was in the hospital. They were not taking the best care of her, she kept undressing and her machine would go off for 10-20 minutes at a time before anyone would come see what was wrong. Mentally she was even farther gone. The hospital wanted to put her in a nursing home but my family fought it due to wanting to keep my Grandmothers wishes. In the middle of the night on October 25th of this year she began throwing up, my uncle checked on her and cleaned her up and went back to bed. That morning when the home nurse came my Grandmother was still sleeping (this was very unusual) and despite knowing how odd it was they left sleep. Finally around 11am they began to worry and noticed her pulse was very faint. They took her to the hospital where they placed her on life support (many of us believe she was already gone) until most of her family could say goodbye. I was in North Dakota and did not make.  She was an old lady, she would have been 80 this year, but how did she go from being relatively healthy in 2009 to being bedridden and fragile one year later and dead a year after that?

I think that a few things were missing from my Grandmothers life which led to her demise. "Objective helplessness as well as feelings of helplessness and hopelessness--both enhanced by the environment and by intrinsic changes that occur with increasing old age--may contribute to psychological withdrawal, physical disease, and death" (Langer & Rodin, 1976, pp. 192-193). What we have learned is, people who have control over their environment live longer and are healthier. This was something my Grandmother lost as she got sick. Two of her children lived with her and did not treat her very nice. My grandmother went from running a house to being told what to do. She lost control of what went on in the house, what she wore each day, what she watched on television, etc. She didn't even get to control what she ate or when she went to the bathroom.  I truly believe she would have lived longer had she been given the control over her life she deserved. "some of the negative consequences of aging may be retarded, reversed, or possibly prevented by returning to the aged the right to make decisions and a feeling of competence" (Langer & Rodin, 1976, p. 197). The second missing item from my Grandmother's life was social support. She had 6 living children and many living siblings, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  Multiple times a day one of her daughters called and talked with her but beyond that most support was absent.  She also was not very good at asking for help. The children she had at home taking care of her were rude and cold to her. It is so important to health to have emotional support, esteem support, tangible support, network support, and informational support (Lafreniere & Cramer, 2005). I too am guilty of this offense. The more she slipped from reality the less I called her.  It was too hard for me to listen to her be so confused and even harder for me to see her that way. Maybe if we would have been there for her and showed her how much she meant when she needed it the most she would still be here.It really would have been simple to ask her if she liked the home nurse or would rather have a different one. She could have been asked what she wanted to eat, where, watch on television.

The elderly have lived long lives filled with joys and sadness. When they get ill they require patience, love, and understanding. They deserve to be in control of their lives so they can continue to be in our lives. Little did I know in September of 2009 that this was the last time I would spend quality time with the most important person in my life.


smaller gram and me.jpg

References

Lafreniere, K. D., & Cramer, K. M. (2005). Applying Social Psychology to Health. In F. W. Schneider, J. A. Gruman, & L. M. Coutts, Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (pp. 179-204). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publishing.

Langer, E. J., & Rodin, J. (1976). The Effects of Choice and Enhanced Personal Responsibility for the Aged: A Field Experiment in an Institutional Setting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 34( No. 2), 191-198.

Too much news?

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                I recently went to my parent's house for Thanksgiving.  After spending a couple of days with them I realized that their television was on Fox News from the moment I woke up until I went to bed.  Our discussions tended to be about the war in Afghanistan, global warming and their concern over where their community is headed.  I thought these conversations were normal because my husband is a Marine and they usually quiz him on his thoughts and opinions regarding current events.  However, if George Gerbner had joined us for dinner, he would have shared with us his theory on heavy exposure to television, especially the news.

            Gerbner's Cultivation Theory "focuses on the effects of heavy exposure to TV.  Cultivation theory maintains that TV operates as the primary socializing agent in today's world" (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005).  My parents are learning about what is going on in the world around them solely from the news.  Due to the fact that the television is on more than four hours a day (considered to be heavy exposure) they are creating a reality based on what they see and hear on a news channel. 

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       News programming has the heaviest concentration of realistic violence on television. "Survey research with adults also finds that heavier viewers of the local news are more likely to experience fear and be concerned about crime rates in their community than are lighter viewers" (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005).  The cultivation theory explains why my parents are so concerned with war, global warming and the state of their community.  Their interest seems to go past casual conversation.  Since my last visit, they seem to view the world as unsafe, corrupt and more violent.  As my parents have increased the amount of television (especially) news programming that they watch, their positive feelings about what is going on in the world around them has decreased.

             My parents think that by having the television on all the time they are staying current with world events.  When I asked my dad why the television was constantly on, he said that it is really just background noise and that they only watch it when something interesting comes on.  Unfortunatly, he is still exposed to the violence (even if he is only partly paying attention).  When I explained Gerbner's Cultivation Theory to him it took him a while to digest what I was saying.  He needed to adjust his belief that "overexposure" to television doesn't exist if you are watching the news.  It does exist, and it may cause even more harm than watching "Dancing with the Stars." 

 

References

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

Image used from http://www.tvsmarter.com/documents/aggression.html

Aggressive Behavior

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             My youngest son, Brodie, is four years old.  He is developmentally on target and has no known health issues.  He is very affectionate and loves to cuddle and talk about his day when he comes home from pre-school.  Unfortunately, he is also hyper-aggressive and while it is not yet a problem at school, it is a huge problem at home.  I have tried multiple methods to correct his behavior and nothing has been effective.  He is not exposed to violent media and his older brother and sisters do not exhibit the same propensity for aggressive behavior. 

            Albert Bandura is known for his research on aggressive behavior.  He argued that "children learn by observing and imitating the behavior of other people, whom Bandura called models" (Pennsylvania State University, 2011). In Albert Bandura's Bobo doll experiment, the children in the experimental group used modeled behavior to determine the moral climate of the activity.  The moral climate refers to "children's beliefs about the appropriateness of aggression that are derived from the beliefs of others" (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005).  If children believe that the moral climate is one in which aggressive behavior is acceptable then that is the behavior that they will engage in. 

bobo2.jpg

            Bandura was "concerned with the way that children might learn aggressive behavior from their parents" (Pennsylvania State University, 2011).  During Bandura's career at Stanford University, he worked with Robert Sears.  "Influenced by Sears' research on the way children identify with and are influenced by their parents, Bandura developed his own theory, which he eventually called Social Cognitive Theory.  I realized that it was possible that my son was learning his aggressive behavior not from media, but from his father's modeling.       

            In order for observational learning to occur four things must happen.  First, the person must notice and pay attention to the model's behavior.  My husband, Charlie, is a Marine and uses his "Marine" voice quite often to get my son's attention.  Charlie uses this same tone of voice when he is modeling aggressive behavior so my son is conditioned to pay attention when he hears the "Marine" voice.  Second, the person must remember what he or she saw.  Brodie, like most children his age, are sponges and soak up what is going on around them. Third, the person must have the ability to perform the model's behavior.  "Bandura said it is possible for children to notice adult behaviors that they are currently unable to perform, but if they remember the behaviors they may perform them years later, when they are able" (Pennsylvania State University, 2011).  Finally, the person must be motivated to imitate the model's behavior.  The father / son relationship is based on rewarding the son for imitating the father's behavior.

            Now that the cause of the aggressive behavior has been identified, my husband is focusing on modifying his own behavior.  Perhaps more parents should watch the Bobo doll experiment and see how important it is to model appropriate behavior in front of their children.  Understanding observational learning and Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory explains why as parents we should constantly monitor what and who our children are watching.

References

Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. (1963). Imitation of film-mediated aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology , 3-11.

Pennsylvania State University. (2011). Albert Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory. Retrieved December 6, 2011, from Psychology 238: Introduction to Personality Psychology: https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/fa11/psych238/001/content/lesson15/lesson15_07.html

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

Photo was taken from: http://www.holah.karoo.net/bobo2.JPG

 

Communication, Communication, Communication!

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     If Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet would have had better communication, chances are they would have not met such a tragic end.  Just think if Romeo had a smart phone. He could have simply sent a text message to Juliet saying, "just faking, LOL".  The point is smart phone or not, there was a breakdown in communication and in an organization this can be a financial mess and even cost jobs.  Communication involves social behavior, that is, two or more people interacting with each other and transmitting information (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005).  

    We communicate to search for information that provokes, reports, discussions, and when attempts are made to modify the behavior of organization members (Hall, 1965).  I work at a mental health facility and I am dependent on, and must work closely with, other staff during a shift.  So close in fact that at times I have to be able to communicate with my coworkers using nonverbal cues as well as verbal cues. Some of these nonverbal cues can be a simple nod, a look, a hand gesture and even a text message.  Text messaging and emailing have become a necessary tool in many organizations.  Again, let's use my job as an example.  To give a bit more background, I aid in facilitating daily activities, psycho-educational groups, life counseling and at times a shoulder to cry on for adolescent females during their stay at a residential treatment facility.  

    It is often necessary to use an alternate form of communication, other than verbal communication.  Situations arise where one cannot verbally communicate freely due to other persons within earshot of the conservations.  Compared to face-to-face communication, most studies find that implementation of electronic communication increases the overall amount of communication (Hiltz, Johnson, & Turoff, 1986).  By utilizing text messaging, it is easier to get short simple instructions across and may save time, rather than having to engage in a two way conservation.  What I have experienced at work is that text messaging is also a way for coworkers to express their current stress or anxiety over a certain organizational situation without having to get into a lengthy conservation where it could be heard by others.  Text messaging is also a great way to put out a message quickly to a number of individuals verses one individual via a "forward to all" prompt on a smart phone.  

    Management support in adopting text messaging as an information rich medium is highly influential in improving communication perceptions and increasing work productivity in distributed work settings (Galushkin, 2003).  The only downfall is when the messages sent are not work related.  There has been instances that individual's text friends or family and become so engrossed in the conservation that they neglect their work responsibilities.  I have sat in meetings where a friend sends a text and I will right in the middle of the meeting text back.....it's a wonder I haven't been fired yet!


References:
Galushkin, I. (2003).  Text messaging: A potentially rich medium in distributed organizations. PRism Online PR Journal, 1 (1).

Hall, M. F. (1965), Communication within organizations. Journal of Management Studies, 2: 54-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.1965.tb00565.x

Hiltz, S. R., Johnson, K., and Turoff, M. (1986). Experiments in group decision-making: Communication process and outcome in face-to-face versus computerized conferences. Human Communication Research, 13(2), 225-252.
    This year Texas and many Mid-west states have seen the worst drought in more than a century.  In the hardest-hit areas, water management districts have warned residents, ranchers and businesses to curtail usage from rivers, lakes and aquifers.  Due to the lack of water and diminishing grazing land, cattle ranchers are faced with sending their stock to auction for slaughter or selling them off to other ranches around the US.  Texas is home to the largest cattle industry in the nation which provides 16 per cent of country's beef cows (McNulty, 2011).

    The number of cattle going to auction has sharply increased and could have a dramatic impact on future beef prices.  Many ranchers have spent years trying to build up an impressive herd by buying and breeding some of the best bulls.  However, with the scarcity of water, ranchers' simply can't hold onto their stock.  Choices are limited. Either the cattle go to auction or die from starvation and dehydration.  Either way the future for the Texas cattle industry is looking bleak.  About 70% of Texas' rangeland and pastures are classified as in very poor condition. This means there has been complete or near complete crop failure or there's no food for grazing livestock (Olson, 2011).

    Wells are drying up as well.  Additionally, due to intense temperatures the pastures are literally catching on fire.  The oil and gas industry are in direct competition with the cattle industry because of their utilization of a significant amount or water for drilling purposes.  This devastation and depleting cattle stock will be felt on the dinner tables of most American's.  With a possible future cattle shortage prices of beef will increase.  Texas may be left with 40 per cent fewer cattle and the number of auction houses, supply stores, and other support industries will shrink (McNulty, 2001).  

    Interest in social dilemmas particularly those resulting from overpopulation, resource depletion, and pollution has grown dramatically among humanists, scientists, and philosophers (Dawes, 1980).  Social dilemmas are situations in which individual rationality leads to collective irrationality and reasonable behavior leads to a situation in which everyone is worse off than they might have been otherwise (Kollock, 1998).

    Many cattle owners will have to sleep with one eye open and a loaded gun by their side.  With the slumping economy, soaring beef prices and the advent of handheld global positing systems, cattle rustlers are finding it easier to steal  a herd of cows than to rob a convenience store  (Zuckerman, 2011).   Don't bother worrying about the family jewels, just make sure the cows are locked up tight in the barn!

References:

Dawes, R. M. (1980).  Social Dilemmas.  Annual Review of PSychology. 31, 169-193.

Kollock, P. (1998). SOCIAL DILEMMAS: The Anatomy of Cooperation. Annual Review Of Sociology, 24(1), 183.

McNulty, S. (2011, October 2).  Texas cattle industry withered by drought.  Retrieved from http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/864e858a-ecf1-11e0-be97-00144feab49a.html#axzz1fV4vyqYc
Olson, S. (2011, July 3).  Farmers face losses during record-breaking drought season. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2011-07-30-kansas-texas-south-drought_n.htm


Zuckerman, L. (2011, November 28). Western states report a comeback of cattle rustling.  Retrieved from http://news.yahoo.com/western-states-report-comeback-cattle-rustling-155845600.html

Bystander effect

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     You are driving down the road and see a three car accident that has just occurred....what do you do?  Stop or keep driving while trying to get a better look at the wreckage?  A few years ago I was heading to a local cafe to enjoy lunch with a few friends when out of the corner of my eye I see this deer heading right for the two lane busy highway I was driving on.  Then splat......this poor unsuspecting guy on a motorcycle going around 50 miles per hour hit the deer that ran right in-front of him head on.  It was as if I was watching the whole thing in slow motion.  He flies over the bike and hits the ground like a doll and skidded down the macadam for what seemed like 100 feet.  I pulled over immediately and called 911, I was pretty far past where he landed and in my rearview I could see that others were stopped and getting out to help the guy.  After I finished talking with the 911 dispatcher I drove off, met my friends for lunch and went on with my business.  Should I have gotten out as well? Why didn't I if I was the first car to see it happen? My reasoning ....... All of those other people were helping him and I would just get in the way.  I called 911 so I did what I needed to do, right???  

    About a month ago I was driving on route 78 heading to the Lehigh valley.  I drive this road often and know it very well.  I happened to notice a state trooper pulled over looking at couple of drums which appeared to contain some-type of hazardous material, given that they had placards on them.  Having worked in the environmental field I figured either someone dumped them or they fell off a truck.  I thought, 'good luck trying to find who they belong to, they most likely are in a different state by now.'  I traveled another five miles and I actually saw the truck pulled over carrying more of the same type of drums and I thought about calling the state troopers to let them know where the truck was pulled over. But I didn't...... I figured the Trooper would find him or someone else would, so why should I get involved. Heck there are tons of cars behind me,  they must have seen the trooper and now see the truck and they will call.  I just didn't want to get involved, so ............. I didn't.

    Why in one situation did I call and the other I didn't?  Was I experiencing a diffusion of responsibility (i.e., the diminished sense of responsibility a person feels when he or she believes that other would or should intervene), which is more likely to occur when a bystander can remain anonymous (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005).  No one was going to notice that I even saw the trooper, the drums and then the driver, hence I'm not responsible, right?.  "I didn't want to get involved," is a familiar comment, and behind it lays fears of physical harm, public embarrassment, involvement with police procedures, lost work days and jobs, and other unknown dangers (Darley & Latane, 1968).  This is exactly how I felt. The worst part is I know I should have done something.  My husband hates when I use him as an example but he is much worse and often experiences both the bystander effect and a diffusion of responsibility.    This leads us to our current sad and heartbreaking Penn State situation.  Did Joe Paterno suffer from the bystander effect or diffusion of responsibility or both?

    The bystander effect states that people are less likely to help in an emergency when other bystanders are present (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005).    I think it's important to state that I don't know all the facts, only what the media has put out. Lets 'assume' (you know what that spells) that Joe was told that Sandusky was showering with a young boy in the Penn State locker room.  Joe didn't immediately run to the locker room and stop it, he didn't call the police or, as I would have done, found Sandusky and punch him in his face (I know I have aggression issues).  My point is that there were many options, but Joe chose to tell another PSU administrator who apparently didn't do anything.  What were the social norms these men were following?  Social norms are specific to particular groups, as each group creates its own standards for what attitudes or behaviors are acceptable and desirable (Chekroun & Brauer, 2002).  It appears that a number of Penn State officials felt that this act committed by Sandusky wasn't so horrid an act as to need police intervention.  I am simply dumbfounded that there wasn't one whistle blower so disgusted by this act(s) that they were willing to lose their job to save their moral fiber.  Those who engage in deviant behaviors are often victims of negative sanctions by other group members, who exert pressure in order to obtain conformity (Schachter, 1951).   The bond between these individuals must have been so powerful that everyone turned a blind eye to it and let it continue.   

    I am sure all these men involved, who failed to act, are now struggling with their own demons and will for the rest of their lives.  We all, at times, fall prey to the bystander effect and diffusion of responsibility.  But as Voltaire said "Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do".  


References:

Chekroun, P., & Brauer, M. (2002). The bystander effect and social control behavior: the effect  of the presence of others on people's reactions to norm violations. European Journal Of    Social Psychology, 32(6), 853-867. doi:10.1002/ejsp.126

Darley, J. M., & Latane, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of     responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8(4), 377-383. doi:    10.1037//h0025589

Schachter, S. (1951). Deviation, rejection, and communication. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 46, 190-207.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2005). Applied social psychology:     understanding and addressing social and practical problems. London: Sage.

What's the truth?

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     Around 7:30 in the morning I wake my sleeping Mac and log onto the internet.  I am looking to see what has occurred around the world while I was dreaming of sugar plum fairies.  Some days I am not even sure what the truth is.....someone's dead and then a few seconds later after the refresh button is hit, they are magically not dead. Information travels at such a rapid pace today that we can't even get the real story correct.  For instance, take our current situation at PSU and the now and forever infamous Sandusky child molestation scandal.  When the story first broke, a confused news reporter stated that the incident happened at Ohio State.PSU couldn't have been so lucky.  During this outbreak of news coverage it is clear that media agenda, public agenda and eventually policy agenda played a very large role in what information was being released.  

    In the beginning, the main media focus was around the firing of a Penn State football icon, Joe Paterno. The whole child abuse issue was somewhere in the very fuzzy background.  Many, and I will admit I was one as well, were infuriated at the decision made by the trustees.   I forgot that this was about all the children who were affected. But instead it became about FOOTBALL!  As I was watching the breaking news on the TV, I leaned over to my husband and whispered I told you so.  Days before when the information was sparse, I said to him (my husband) 'you watch this will be the last year we see Paterno.'  My husband being a lawyer, looked at me as if I just insulted him and said he hasn't been found guilty of anything.....typical lawyer response.  That's the kicker to this whole thing......we didn't know then and still don't know what the real story is.  We only know what the media has told us and at times some of it has been inconsistent and sensationalized.

    News reporting is all about how the story is framed.  A frame is the central organizing idea for making sense of relevant events and suggesting what is at issue (London, 1993).  It is important to note that there are two different types of frames, media and individual. Gamson and Modigliani (1987) conceptually defined a media frame as "a central organizing idea or story line that provides meaning to an unfolding strip of events....The frame suggest what the controversy is about, the essence of the issue" (p.143).  Individual frames are defined as "mentally stored clusters of ideas that guide individuals' processing of information" (Entman, 1993, p. 53) .  The media has the ability to create or to tell a story in such a way it that we store this information and in most cases believe it without ever questioning the truthfulness and/or accuracy.  Even when we find the information not to be true, we  can't or don't want to let go of our previous beliefs.

    The media does have its uses at times. For example, if you're a famous Hollywood personality like Kim Kardashian and you need to let your husband know you filed for divorce....what better way than to let him find out on Yahoo.  It is sad at times that we need social media to let us know what is going on in the world.  I sometimes miss snail mail:-)



References:

Edelman, M. J. (1993). Contestable categories and public opinion. Political Communication, 10,231-242.

Gamson, W. A., & Modigliani, A. (1987). The changing culture of affirmative action. In R.     G.Braungart & M. M.Braungart, (Eds.), Research in political sociology (Vol. 3, pp.
    137-177). Greenwich , CT : JAI Press.

London, S. (1993). How the media frames political issues.  Retrieved from http://www.scottlondon.com/reports/frames.html

Giving Light to LGBT Youth Through the It Gets Better Project

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LGBT youth have a difficult time fitting in with their peers. Recently there has been a surge of media attention dedicated to suicides committed by them as a result of bullying and feeling isolated. Because of all the hatred they experience and witness, they cannot imagine a normal life surrounded by people who accept and care about them. Luckily, there are people who are making their acceptance and support public. The It Gets Better Project was started in 2010 by Dan Savage, an author and gay rights advocate, and is centralized by a website where people post videos supporting gays (It Gets Better Project, 2010). The main messages are that LGBT youth are not alone and even though they may be going through a difficult time, "it gets better." This online community and support group has tremendous potential in increasing acceptance of LGBT youth.

 

This project helps to work towards reducing and eventually eliminating stigmatism, or "labeling of someone as being deviant, different, or flawed in some way" (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005, p. 294), of LGBT youth. LGBT individuals are less protected because of their stigma; they are more frequently physically and sexually abused since people feel they are more deserving of these actions against them (Saewyc, Skay, Pettingell, & Reis, 2006). Some hold the belief that LGBT people can control their sexuality, which causes even more stigmatization and feelings that they can be blamed for what happens to them (Schneider et al, 2005). The stigma attached to LGBT people has been long present and associated with religion. Unfortunate historical events have caused certain groups to be marginalized. Just as black people had to establish their equality during the civil rights movement and continually work toward eliminating the stigma attached to their race, LGBT people do as well. Making people understand that these individuals are not so different from everyone else and their identity certainly holds no ground for ostracization would create a norm of accepting LGBT individuals and remove the stigma so they can live in peace with the world.

 

The It Gets Better Project, in tandem with other movements, has the power to create general acceptance of the LGBT community. Since people often conform to behaviors and beliefs of others, the more people show their support for gays, the more common it will be and others will conform. Only certain beliefs are internalized and truly cared about, the rest primarily stem from norms of beliefs (Schneider et al., 2005). Researchers have found that people are able to change their behaviors and beliefs based on what the norm of a situation is; in the workplace, for instance (Schneider et al., 2005). Therefore, if the societal norm can be changed to acceptance, many people will conform to this belief. The website and project is also supported by celebrities, who have been publicizing their beliefs and posting videos. This is a benefit to the project because celebrities are powerful role models in creating conforming beliefs (Schneider et al., 2005). Highly visual proponents of the project have caused it to gain momentum and caused many individuals to show their support as well.

 

In addition to changing the beliefs of the general public, the project can help LGBT youth know that people who care about them exist. Even if acceptance is not apparent in their day-to-day life, they will realize that there is hope elsewhere. The youth who would have considered suicide, might rethink such an action. It can be especially difficult if their parents are not supportive; a study found that although peer harassment has an effect on suicide attempts made by LGBT youth, parents' lack of acceptance plays a larger role. The youth that were most likely to have made a suicide attempt had a history of psychological abuse and discouragement of gender atypical behavior from their parents (DAugelli, Grossman, Salter, & Vasey, 2005). LGBT youth may have a difficult time imagining a safe place if their home life does not provide it, but the It Gets Better Project can give LGBT youth a vision of a way out besides suicide.

 

This website and online community's positive outcome is twofold. It can help individuals who feel targeted and lonely get support and increase their mentality, and it can help the surrounding community realize that the stigma of LGBT people is unfair and a lot of people do accept them. The project uses conforming beliefs to its advantage and hopes to turn the current normative beliefs around. The severity of little acceptance of the LGBT community is seen through the youth who end their lives because they cannot see peaceful lives ahead of them. Hatred reaches the core and extinguishes the light; if this is not an indication of a need for change, then I am not sure what is.

 

 

References

 

DAugelli, A.,R., Grossman, A. H., Salter, N. P., & Vasey, J. J. (2005). Predicting the suicide attempts of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. Suicide & Life - Threatening Behavior, 35(6), 646-60. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/224873090?accountid=13158

 

It Gets Better Project. (2010). It Gets Better Project. Retrieved from www.itgetsbetter.org

 

Saewyc, E. M., Skay, C. L., Pettingell, S. L., & Reis, E. A. (2006). Hazards of stigma: The sexual and physical abuse of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents in the united states and canada. Child Welfare, 85(2), 195-213. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/213808946?accountid=13158

 

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.

Above the Influence

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I was watching TV tonight with my 13 year old daughter.  An ad for "Above the Influence" came on television.  It is mostly just images of a couple hanging out (going shopping, playing at a park, eating lunch).  Then at the end of the commercial it shows two arrows being drawn above their heads and it says "abovetheinfluence.com."  You can view the commercial at http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/ads

I asked my daughter what the commercial was for and she said, "It is a campaign to get kids like me not to take drugs, pills or alcohol".  The series of commercials are sponsored by the Office of National Drug Control Policy / Partnership for a Drug-Free America.  She said there are advertisements for the program all over her school.  The website (www.abovetheinfluence.com) leads to a Facebook site that has 470,256 likes and 24,971 people talking about it (https://www.facebook.com/AbovetheInfluence?sk=wall).  

Obviously, the campaign is drawing attention but does it really prevent adolescents from doing drugs?  According to the theory of planned behavior, yes.  The theory of planned behavior states that, "behavioral intentions are influenced by three things: attitudes toward the behavior, subjective norms regarding the behavior, and perceived behavioral control" (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005).

Commercials like the ones "Above the Influence" have produced create a positive attitude towards abstaining from drugs and alcohol.  The main message in their commercials is that there are a lot of other positive things to do in life other than to give into the influence to drink and get high.  The campaign also works to create positive subjective norms.  It is important for their audience to understand that other people in their lives don't want them to do drugs and alcohol and that doing it isn't the norm.  Perhaps the campaign's most effective component is the perceived behavioral control that they equip their audience with.  Most students drink and use drugs on the weekend so "Above the Influence" has created a program known as "Unwasted Weekend."  It is a program that encourages students to "make the most of their weekend and celebrate who they are" (National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, 2011) instead of giving into  the peer pressure to use drugs or alcohol.  This gives students the perceived behavioral control necessary to remain "above the influence."

References

National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. (2011). Above The Influence. Retrieved December 12, 2011, from Above The Influence: www.abovetheinfluence.com

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

Diet Scams

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    Obesity is a serious problem in the United States as well as other countries (Taylor, 2011). Currently over 400 million people are considered obese based on the Body Mass Index (BMI), and 1.6 billion worldwide are overweight (Taylor, 2011). In the United States, 67% of the adult population is overweight, with 34% falling in the obese category (Taylor, 2011). Most would agree that obesity is a serious concern. The risks of being obese are generally well known, and include heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and many more (Taylor, 2011). Obesity is the number one cause of disability, which creates economic strain in terms of health care costs as well as lost wages (Taylor, 2011). Psychological distress is common in overweight and obese individuals, as they are often ridiculed and stigmatized (Taylor, 2011). The main culprit implicated in this worldwide epidemic: Food.

    The food industry spends around $33 billion dollars in advertising per year (Taylor, 2011). Coupled with an increase in portion sizes and high calorie foods flooding the market, caloric intake per individual rose from 1,826 calories per day in the 70's to over 2,000 in the 90's (Taylor, 2011). Obesity has replaced malnutrition as the most common dietary contributor to poor health (Taylor, 2011). Eventually obesity will be the cause of more deaths and disease in the United States alone than smoking (Taylor, 2011). This recent health crises has been the focus of many interventions targeted at both children and adults, such as increasing physical education classes within our schools. Gastric bypass surgeries have doubled in current years, however insurance companies are starting to eliminate coverage for such procedures (Taylor, 2011). Many others turn to commercial weight loss options.

    Commercial weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig currently net about $30 billion dollars a year (Taylor, 2011). The success of such programs have never been formally measured however, and the programs themselves can be quite expensive (Taylor, 2011). This doesn't leave a lot of options for those who are attempting to lose weight. Those who are not 100% overweight are not usually candidates for weight loss surgery, and many cannot afford the expensive price of a commercial weight loss program (Taylor, 2011). Adhering to a strict diet and exercise program is difficult, and related to the individual's self-efficacy, or perception of whether or not they can even continue with the regimen (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005). Unfortunately this means many will turn to the generally cheaper alternative of over the counter weight loss supplements.

    Americans spend billions of dollars a year on diet pills. Most can be purchased at your local drugstore or supermarket, with very few tested for safety (Mayo Clinic, 2011). Diet and weight loss supplements aren't required to follow the same standards of testing as regular prescription medication, and do not even have to prove that they are effective (Mayo Clinic, 2011). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors products currently on the market, however this can become a case of too little, too late (Mayo Clinic, 2011). Consider the case of Ephedra, a diet pill linked to heart attacks, stroke, and even deaths before it was finally banned from the market (Boyles, 2006). For those struggling with weight loss the question arises of whether it is safer to be overweight than to take a diet supplement that is either not effective or will actually do more harm? Currently diet and exercise is the only proven effective method to reduce body weight and increase health, and more resources should be spent on encouraging people to choose this method of losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle (Taylor, 2011).     



Boyles, S. (2006, August 22). Ephedra Banned Again -- Even Low Dose. WebMD -Better information. Better health.. Retrieved December 4, 2011, from http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20060822/ephedra-banned- again----  even-low-dose  


Over-the-counter weight-loss pills: Do they work? - MayoClinic.com. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 4, 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/weight-loss/HQ01160


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.

Taylor, S. E. (2011). Health psychology (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

A Gold Star for Everything

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                                 A Gold Star for Everything

 

stock-photo-kindergarten-preschool-classroom-490190.jpgWhen I arrived at my daughters open houses there is an abundance of charts and treasure chest.  There is a reward system for daily activity to include behavior. Gold stars line the charts and toys sprout out the treasure box. I think to myself this is why I can barely get my daughter to do anything at home without her thinking there is some rewarded waiting on the horizon. I have to deny request for allowance and money for reading "extra" books as she so eloquently puts it. I stand bewildered and even annoyed. Do we reward our children too much with tangible things?

 

The Overjustification Effect occurs when excessive tangible rewards cause a loss of motivation.  (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005) Teachers often use reward to motivate students and maintain control in the classroom.  The problem with this practice is the excessive use of extrinsic rewards develops an entitlement attitude or a lack of motivation or interest.  Students will either come to expect a reward or lose interest in activities. According to Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005 "The unintended message conveyed to students is that working on academic task is not interesting and of value and that rewards are needed to get people to learn" (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, p213)

If extrinsic rewards are rewarded frequently with a particular task students may began to identify task with reward.  The student will expect that extrinsic reward when he engages in that particular task. The student will only engage in the task for the purpose of receiving the reward. (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, p213)

Teachers should be observant and decide if student displayed motivation and interest prior to offering rewards.  Teachers can substitute extrinsic rewards for verbal praise.  Students have a different perception of verbal rewards and studies have shown that verbal rewards enhance student motivation. (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005)

I can understand with the issue of illiteracy why we promote reading and literacy.  I am sure those of us with children have seen the reading logs.  At my daughters school you when pizza parties, gifts card and trinkets galore for reading the most books and completing your log.  The problem with this is if there were no extrinsic rewards attached would the kids read? My daughter use to love to read.  Now she seems more motivated to win the months prize and if that month isn't offering a appealing prize...well she isn't interested or motivated to ready more than what is necessary. She is a straight a student in advance placement.  She has scored pass advance on all of her Standard of Learning Test since she has been required to take them.  I am afraid she has fallen victim to the Overjustification Effect. There is hope. According to Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005 "...the usual overjustification effect may be minimized or even reversed." (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, p215)

 

Reference

Motivating Young Children to Learn

http://www.nasponline.org/resources/home_school/earlychildmotiv_ho.aspx

 

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-490190/stock-photo-kindergarten-preschool-  classroom.html 

 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

Media Violence and Fear

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I constantly scan my environment, scanning faces and mannerisms for unusual behavior. I scan the room or building for exits and places that I could take my kids in the case of an emergency. At restaurants my husband insist on sitting where he can see the door unless there is a Television and a game is playing. These are all perhaps paranoid actions and precautions that I and many other take while braving this "dangerous" world.

Cultivation Theory represents how the media can affect our view of the world. According to Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005 "Cultivation Theory maintains that TV  operates as the priming socializing agent in today's world;" Being exposed to large amounts of media can possibly influence your perception of the world. Just think Constant exposure to new broadcast of natural disasters such as tornados will likely spark some fear of possibly experiences a severe storm.  Studies have not been able to pinpoint if the excessive amounts of television exposure are cause the dangerous perception of the world or if the dangerous perception of the world caused the excessive television exposure. Meaning an individual that deals with anxiety toward his/ her outside environment may tend to spend more time at home thus more time watching television.  (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005)

After reading about the Cultivation Theory I had to ask myself; have I allowed my media exposure to cultivate my perception of the world? My answer was YES. I watch excessive amounts of news and real life crime documentaries. One of my favorite channels is Investigation Discovery.  When I am not watching Nick Jr. with my children my TV generally stays on channel 285 ID. I barely allow my daughter who is 10 nearly 11 to leave the apron of the driveway.  I have seen countless programs and news segments on abductions. With the recent increase in natural disasters at the sign of a bad storm I have an emergency kit in hand with a quick route to the safest place in our home. I have trained and have been certified in CERT.

Restaurants, malls, schools, colleges and military bases are just some of the few public places where senseless violence has taken place over the past few decades.  All of these crimes have been covered in the media.  When these crimes occur the media is one the scene live and the coverage continues for days. The media will even cover and broadcast the trial. This type of exposure can cultivate your thoughts and views of the world and your local environment.  Prior to the Virginia Tech shootings many parents most likely probably had fair to little reservations about sending their children away to college after media exposure of the Virginia Tech shooting , the Morgan Harington case,  and other crimes that involve college campuses.

Unlike Desensitization where the affects are obviously harmful is a little cultivating harmful to an individual or society? Does it open a person's eyes to reality or just cultivate paranoia. According to Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005 Desensitization to violence increases people's tolerance of violence and decreases their motivation not to act aggressively, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will act violently." (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, p158)

 

Reference

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

A measure for Christmas spirit

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christmas-spirit.jpgWith one more year coming to an end, people turn their attention to Christmas: it's necessary to buy the tree, make a list of gifts, think of the meals, all in the context of values called Christmas spirit. Everybody either gets crazy by the shopping spree demands or is driven crazy by the whole messy situation. Particularly, I place myself in the second category; for a long time I feel that Christmas has become just another commercial date. Well, I'm not that insensitive, so being a naturally super curious person, I found out something that I would never imagine in the research field: a measure for Christmas spirit.

 

Let's start by the definition of Christmas spirit, and how it is constructed. The theory of consumer behavior explains how a consumer attempts to allocate his/her money among available goods and services, so that utility represented by satisfaction can be maximized (EIU, 2011). According to Clark (2007), Christmas spirit is a more complex phenomenon than just overindulgence, and it is usually defined in terms of benevolence, goodwill and altruism. When applied to Christmas, the theory of consumer behavior joins psychological and consumer research, and there are two independent evaluation systems where affect concerns feelings, and cognition involves thinking. The affect component incorporates the idea that emotions and feelings are important because Christmas is consumed through sacred and secular interactions, and it is a moment driven by excitement, happiness, pride, and nostalgia; the cognitive component is based on the knowledge about the utility of consumption objects - joining both components, people make judgments based on the feelings about the Christmas season, celebration and shopping (Clark, 2007). Christmas spirit characterizes a consumer culture that usually pursues the success of hedonism over utilitarianism; so in order to measure Christmas spirit Clark (2007) built a survey questionnaire sent to parents of a kindergarten school. The results show that people who feel good about Christmas are not overly keen shoppers, but there is a strong correlation of the rituals with bonhomie feelings and traditions; they also point that there is a category of people who are truly averse to Christmas activities (Clark, 2007).                      

 

Thinking about the findings, what makes sense is how we see Christmas values. All the consumerism related to the event seems to derive from the importance people give to material things linking them with satisfaction. In a period when it's not difficult to find young shopaholics, it's hard not to be involved in a crazy consumption cycle that is highly influenced by marketing and media - the season justifies the fact. Thinking a little deeper about the real traditions and values of Christmas, as defined before, it's a period of benevolence, goodwill and altruism. We make our lives with base on the frantic modern times values and its rules/norms, where success is measured by economic gains, and affection by the value spent in a gift. Because of that, I feel that the most valuable gift people can give nowadays to others is time.

 

PS: Being my last post in this blog, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish great things for all, not only for Christmas but also for future goals in life. It was great to share and learn so much from you all.

For those who like a quiz, this is a link to measure the Christmas spirit! Ho, ho, ho! Merry Xmas!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/quiz/questions/0,,623717,00.html

 

References

 

Clarke, P. (2007). A measure for Christmas spirit. The Journal of Consumer Marketing, 24(1), 8-17. doi:10.1108/07363760710720948

 

Eastern Illinois University. (2011). The Theory of Consumer behavior. Retrieved from www.ux1.eiu.edu

Depressive Realism and Health Risks

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Depressive realism is defined as a concept where individuals with depression have a higher degree of accuracy than their non-depressed counterparts when considering their "abilities and self-images" (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005).  How could this concept affect an individual's perceived health risks and give opportunities for health education improvement?  It is conceivable that an individual with depression is more in-tune and aware of their personal health risks, and could be more likely to seek medical attention for them.  Helping to keep both depressives and non-depressives realistic about their health and health risks is critical.

A study by Keller, Lipkus, and Rimer (2002) sought to understand depressive realism can affect one's health risk assessment.  In this study, 55 women between the ages of 40 and 60 were enrolled to participate in baseline and follow-up surveys regarding their risk estimates for breast cancer.  The risk estimate question was, "'On a 0 = no chance to 100 = certain to happen scale, what do you think is your chance of getting breast cancer?"  The baseline assessment was made prior to the subjects receiving medical risk feedback.  The study showed that the depressives and non-depressives did not have a significant difference at their baseline assessment.  They did, however, demonstrate a significant difference at their follow-up assessment (after receiving medical risk feedback).  The non-depressives did not alter their risk estimates, but the depressives did alter their estimates to be more in-line with the medical risk feedback (more realistic).

  The assumption is that a depressed individual would be realistic in their assessment of health risks.  Is the assumption then that a non-depressed individual would be unrealistic in their assessment of health risks?  What could account for that difference?  Interestingly, the researchers point out, "Research on systematic biases in general, and systematic biases in risk perception in particular, appears to be based on the premise that people are motivated to maintain a positive self-concept. Our study suggests that this assumption may not hold for samples with a higher incidence of depression."  It would seem that depressed individuals may hold a more realistic self-concept when compared to non-depressed individuals.

Certainly, whether or not an individual is depressed, it is best to be informed and realistic about health risks.  I am not depressed, but I do consider myself aware and informed about health issues and potential risks.  Could individual personality have a place in this discussion?  As noted by the researchers, "Our data suggest health messages should consider personality as a segmentation variable. In particular, our findings indicate that risk communication should be tailored to nondepressives and depressives. Specifically, nondepressives need a message that will encourage them to question what they know."  Is this type of more aggressive message for non-depressives a means of waking them up, making them question their self-concept with the hopes of making them more realistic?  Whether or not an individual is affected by depression, everyone should serve as their own best health advocate.  Being informed and realistic about your health risks doesn't make you depressed, it makes you smart.

 

References:

Keller, P.A., Lipkus, I.M., Rimer, B.K.  (2002).  Depressive realism and health risk accuracy: the negative consequences of positive mood.  Journal of Consumer Research, 29, 57-69.

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.

 

Viewing the World Through Two Sets of Lenses

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We are social beings. We live in groups; and, these groups are tied to our very reason for existence. After seeing recent political debates, it has amazed me how group membership plays pivot roles in how we interpret, and accept, the world around us. In turn, we actually mold the environment in which we live; we construct our society.  

 

To illustrate the point of how our social interpretations can lead to self-fulfilling prophecy, I remembered a story my dad used to tell me. Once upon a time (I know, what a cliché) there was an old man who suffered poor vision, hearing, and sight.  All his senses were weak and dull, but he had a family.  So, he stood on a corner and sold hotdogs to passersby.  Now, he was enthusiastic, talkative, and attempted every bright and shiny way to attract people; after all, he figured that if he couldn't see his advertising, others will not either.  Then, one day, his son told him that the news said hard economic times were ahead.  Well the gentleman, not being able to see and hear well, didn't watch TV or read the papers; so, he listened to his son.  He began to conserve on the quality of materials he used in making hotdogs, and used less expensive, less flashy items to make his advertising signs.  He tried to conserve, but in the end, his business failed.  The question remains:  did business suffer from a bad economy, or did it suffer because of a bad perspective?  This is our dilemma.  Many situations can be looked at through two different pairs of glasses, and each view will have pros outweighing cons.

 

 This proves to us that our mind has much to do with interpreting our situation, and with that point, we can often influence the outcome of our situation. In essence, we influence the outcome of our social world with self-fulfilling prophecy (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005).  Granted, some things cannot be changed.  Again however, our perspective can impact how everything materializes.  This brings up a social psychological concern, bullying.  We can enumerate millions of ways to handle bullying, either fighting back, or saying that a cowardly dog is better than a brave lion.  Debates are waged against the true implications of bullying. Some try to say it is just part of life, while others feel everyone has a right to their own opinion. These debates are one reason that almost one-half of all bullying incidents are not reported (Totura,Green, Karver, & Gesten,  2009).  One thing is for certain, bullying is real and bullying inflicts deep wounds. Much like being burned by a cigarette, the wound may heal, but the scar stays indefinitely.

 

This brings to mind a recent story concerning free speech. Looking at the situation around a Kansas high school girl, Emma Sullivan, who recently tweeted criticizing words about her state's Governor, raised many eyebrows.  The communications director to the Governor browsed various social media, and found the criticism.  After calling the high school principal, and demanding an apology, Miss Sullivan refused; as she states, her First Amendment right guarantees freedom of speech, including social media posts.  After a reassessment, on Monday, November 28th, the Governor's office sent Miss Sullivan an apology.  The Governor recognizes this civil liberty, and states, "My staff overreacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize" (CNN, 2011).  Further, the school district has stated they will not censor Miss Sullivan.

           

This brings up a multitude of concerns regarding free speech versus personal protection.  Which one is more important?  This same question can likewise be applied to our concern about bullying.  These ordeals can be viewed similarly with two different pairs of glasses.  Do we fight to protect our self?  Does the cowardly dog live longer, or does the dog just exist with emotional scars?  Do we place sanctions against the ones who criticize, or will this lead to one more liberty being lost?  Where do we draw the line? How do we enforce respect for one another? In the end, disrespect for fellow man, such as with bullying, is a subject that hurts all parties involved.

           

No different from this girl who criticized a politician, we see that no person is immune to a personal attack.  With the advent of social media, no one has to physically assault you anymore.  No one has to say hurtful things to your face, or ruin your reputation amongst your friends.  In fact, with a simply click of a Smartphone, messages are permanently displayed for the whole world to see, and those messages live in cyberspace forever  A powerful alarm rings, warning of an attack that will now last forever on some server, or a sanction on a civil right that could lead to even more censorship.  Just as the old man, who could not see or hear well, assumed wrongly to his detriment, so too, is this situation with bullying.  There is no correct answer.  There are only perspectives, and depending on which pair of glasses you look through will determine how this issue will be answered, individually and collectively.

 

 

 

References

 

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 Publication

 

Smith, K.(2011). Kansas governor apologizes for 'overreaction' to teen's disparaging

              tweet, CNN News. Retreived from http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/28/us/kansas-

high-schooler-tweet/index.html?hpt=us_c2

 

Totura,C.M.W. , Green, A.E. , Karver , M.S.,  and Gesten, E.L (2009).  Multiple

               informants in the assessment of psychological, behavioral, and academic

           correlates of bullying and victimization in middle school. Journal of

          Adolescence. 32 pp. 193-211

 

 

 

 

 

 

Innovative Education?

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   Education is a contentious topic within our political system and also within millions of families with children. More than 1.2 million students drop out of school every year and personally having two brothers and a mother who never completed high school it is a fact that has really affected my perception of education (The Broad Foundation, n.d.). We are steadily losing ground to other countries, by the end of 8th grade it is suggested that students will be at least two years behind their peers in other countries in mathematics alone(The Broad Foundation, n.d.). This deficit in education means that jobs will go to other countries because we lack the skills needed to work them (The Broad Foundation, n.d.). Economically, those who drop out of school contribute less in taxes and have a higher poverty rate (The Broad Foundation, n.d.). Teachers are being paid despite poor performance, and some even get paid to do nothing at all (Teachers Union Facts, 2011). The question of how to get our students to perform better while increasing the graduation rate has been debated for a long time.
    
    The No Child Left Behind Act is one intervention that has been used to encourage teachers to motivate their students to enhance their skills in math, reading, etc. (National Education Association, 2011). This intervention has come across much criticism however, as teachers and parents alike believe that too much emphasis is placed on standardized tests (National Education Association, 2011). This results in teachers "teaching to the test" or only teaching what students need to know to pass the exams. While the intentions of the No Child Left Behind Act are certainly good, It can exclude children who learn differently than others. Having had my daughters first grade teacher tell me that she thinks my child might be "right brained" I can see first hand how unique the needs are of all children. Simply teaching to a specific test leaves a lot of gaps that never get filled, such as in critical thinking skills.
   
    Clearly the issue on education is a multi-faceted one, however it goes without saying that academic success needs to increase while the dropout and fail rate needs to decrease. Students need to be motivated to learn, both internally and externally. The theory of planned behavior suggests that a students behaviors, such as failing or not failing a course, are determined by their perceived control over the situation (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005). For example, I believe myself to be a very poor math student, and regardless of how much I study I will still do poorly. Therefore I more often than not do not study. A students attributions or perceived cause of the behavior (in my case not studying) can be affected by peers, parents, and teachers as well and can influence the areas they choose to study or whether or not they drop out of school altogether (Schneider et al., 2005). Many factors can encourage students to perform better, such as intrinsic motivation, but maybe we can try something a little bit different (Schneider et al., 2005).

   My idea stems from the fact that there are three (basic) different types of learning style: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (Three Different Styles, 2009). Since there is usually more than one classroom for each grade, children can take an assessment which will guide teachers towards the type of learning style that works best for the child. Each of those learning styles could have their own classrooms. It seems like a simple solution, but worth trying. Some difficulties could arise with creating an assessment for younger children, uneven placement of children within the groups, creating enough classrooms for each group and each grade, and even inter-group biases (Schneider et al., 2005). If all of these factors can be eliminated or alleviated, I think the benefits of learning in the style that is easiest for the child to understand could be huge.



Keeping Bad Teachers in Front of Students | Teachers Union Facts. (2011). Teachers     Union Facts. Retrieved December 2, 2011, from http://    teachersunionexposed.com/protecting.cfm


NEA - No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) | ESEA. (2011). NEA - NEA Home. Retrieved     December 2, 2011, from http://www.nea.org/home/NoChildLeftBehindAct.html

The Broad Foundation-education. (n.d.). Statistics on American K-12 Public Education -     The Broad Foundation - Education. Home Page - The Broad Foundation -     Education. Retrieved December 2, 2011, from http://broadeducation.org/    about/    crisis_s

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.

Three Different Styles. (2009). people.usd.edu. Retrieved December 2, 2011, from     http://people.usd.edu/~bwjames/tut/learning-style/styleres.html

Learning to Move past Anxiety

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There I was, standing in line to get on the Ferris wheel at the Nickelodeon Universe in the Mall of America. I was with my boyfriend (now fiancé) for my birthday, we both knew I had a fear of heights but I wanted to be adventurous; the relationship was new (5 mo. old) and I wanted to prove something.  I had been watching this one ride, the Avatar Airbenderairbender.jpg. It is a ride that you go upside down and it spins around and does other stuff I fear. Every time I saw it come back around I would feel the anxiety in me rise. We finally get up to the front of the line, I had been on a Ferris wheel before and to be honest I wasn't a huge fan. I see the car shake a little as the person in the car gets out and then it is our turn. The next thing I remember I am off the ride and panicking on a stairwell nearby. According to John I got on the ride but started having a panic attack before it even took off. I don't remember anything after getting on the ride and I was extremely embarrassed. People kept coming over and checking on me. I had been to therapy for my anxiety prior to this and I knew about Bandura's cure (social learning theory) for phobias but I wasn't really sure how a fear of heights could possibly be fixed with this cure. Further looking into social learning theory however I learned that seeing others do something (the fear) can in fact lead to a reduction of anxiety about the fear.

I am still not sure if social learning theory would actually do anything for me. I tend to have an inability to change anything based on someone else and I even have trouble with progressive muscle relaxation because it is so uncomfortable for me. However, due to self-presentation theory "other people's impressions of us are important because their impressions influence whether they behave in ways that reward us or punish us" (Hart and Ledgerwood, 2005, pg.106). This is applicable to my situation in the fact that my desire to solve my anxiety was fueled by my desire to impress those around me. I was so embarrassed by my public panic attack that I was even more determined to find a way to get over fears.  Being that I am human I chose a different route than what would be desirable. I have not been on a ride since; in fact I have been to an amusement park but would not even consider getting on a ride. Currently I have such anticipatory embarrassment ("emotion resulting from expecting short-term harm to one's social reputation" (pg. 107)) that I have become avoidant of any situation that may lead to a panic attack in public. This includes but is not limited to social interactions with more than 1 or 2 people that I do not know, crowded shopping areas, anything with heights, etc. Avoidance unfortunately does not do much to solve my anxiety.

Sometimes avoidance is not possible. This summer I had to take a plane to visit my brother so that he could come live with us. I was terrified of the plane (didn't want to crash or have someone hijack it not to mention the height problem) and I agonized over it for month. Finally, I made the decision that I didn't have a choice to not take the plane and I had to do something to get over the fear. I found an online resource that is supposed to help with fear of flying (it included fact and myth busting information). Next I started watching videos on You Tube about being in an airplane and my fiancé started to explain to me what it was like for him. Through these experiences (and extra anxiety medication) I got on the plane and I ended up actually loving it. I think that means there is hope for me learning to get over my anxieties and phobias as well as proof that Bandura was correct with his social cognitive theory.

References

author, unknown. (n.d.). Search:Inside an Airplane Taking off. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=inside+an+airplane+taking+off&oq=inside+an+airplane&aq=1&aqi=g5g-m1&aql=&gs_sm=c&gs_upl=3493l12868l0l14726l33l28l5l2l2l2l451l3499l4.13.3.0.1l21l0

CenterSite. (2011). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved December 01, 2011, from Mentalhelp.net: http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=38476&cn=1

Chance, S. (2011). Fear of Flying Webcourse. Retrieved December 2011, from Fear of Flying Webcourse: http://www.fearofflyinghelp.com/

Hart, K. E., & Ledgerwood, D. M. (2005). Applying Social Psychology to Clinical and Counseling Psychology. In F. W. Schneider, J. A. Gruman, & L. M. Coutts, Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (pp. 101-127). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publishing.

Mall of America Holdings. (2008). Rides. Retrieved December 01, 2011, from Nickelodeon Universe: http://www.nickelodeonuniverse.com/

 

Teacher and Student interactions

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From the time our children enter the school system we hope that they develop an interaction with their teachers that is positive.  Today teachers seem to be more of a friend than a teacher in some schools and this is alarming to me.  I can never remember a time when I was in school that my teachers acted as my friend; they were there to teach us.  Now all you hear about is instances of teachers forming inappropriate relations with students and how they are their buddies. 

The job of an educator is quite diverse. In the course of just one day, they may serve as instructional leaders, coaches, club sponsors and even counselors. There are days when teachers act as tutors and parents. Teachers are saddled with a tremendous amount of responsibility that focuses solely on instruction. Also, they have the obligation to help the students to develop life skills that will facilitate success (Bradley, 2011).

            Teachers do much more than instruct.

            This is the type of student-teacher interaction that parents should expect from their schools, a teacher that is an educator and an instructional leader.  No parent should have to worry about a student-teacher interaction that is inappropriate.  Recently steps have been taken to remedy this problem. 

Teachers will be banned from sending sexual text messages to pupils and warned against socializing with them under a code of conduct designed to stamp out inappropriate teacher-student relationships.  A draft of the guidelines drawn up by the Victorian Institute of Teaching -- which regulates the profession -- tells teachers what is and what may be inappropriate behavior (Smith, 2007).

Sexual relationships, sexual innuendo and improper touching are ruled out. Attending parties, socializing with students or inviting students to their homes are nominated as behavior that could compromise teacher/student relationships.  The guidelines also ban inappropriate electronic communication between teachers and students -- such as text messaging, chat rooms, emails and phone calls (Smith, 2007).

I believe that these guidelines are a formative start to protecting our children when they are out of our care, and granting them the opportunity to get back to the important aspect of school; learning, and being taught by their teachers. 

References:

Bradley, K. (2011). The Different Relationships between Students and Teachers. Retrieved December 1, 2011 from http://www.ehow.com/info_8712304_different-relationship-between-students-teachers.html

Smith, B. (2007). Teacher Code Tackles Student Relationships. Retrieved December 1, 2011 from http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/teacher-code-tackles-student-relationships/2007/04/17/1176696837268.html

Bystander Effects in our Community

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How many times does the bystander effect happen in our society?  Timothy Hart and Ternace Miethe used data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and found that a bystander was present in 65 percent of the violent victimization's in the data. Their presence was most common in cases of physical assaults (68%), which accounted for the majority of these violent victimization's and less likely in robberies (49%) and sexual assaults (28%). The actions of bystanders were most frequently judged by victims as "neither helping nor hurting" (48%), followed by "helping" (37%), "hurting" (10%), and "both helping and hurting" (3%). Half of the attacks that a bystander was present at occurred in the evening and the victim and bystander were strangers (Miethe, 2008). 

How many times have you driven past an accident or witnessed adolescents fighting at a school?  If you are like most people this has happened at least a couple times in your life, and at least on one occasion; especially if you were in a hurry you fell into the bystander nonintervention which occurs when multiple people witness an emergency situation and don't intervene because they shift the diffusion of responsibility to someone else, they feel that the other observes will help (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005).  This can make the individual that didn't offer help feel like they won't be blamed for not offering help because they weren't the only observer of the situation.    

There are, in fact, many reasons why bystanders in groups fail to act in emergency situations, but social psychologists have focused most of their attention on two major factors. According to a basic principle of social influence, bystanders monitor the reactions of other people in an emergency situation to see if others think that it is necessary to intervene. Since everyone is doing exactly the same thing (nothing), they all conclude from the inaction of others that help is not needed. This is an example of pluralistic ignorance or social proof. The other major obstacle to intervention is known as diffusion of responsibility. This occurs when observers all assume that someone else is going to intervene and so each individual feels less responsible and refrains from doing anything (Levine, Mark, Thompson & Kirstien, 2004).  So from or text book and the article in Journal of Social Psychology, diffusion of responsibility is a major obstacle in the bystander effect; as we can see.

Lance Shotland and Margaret Straw (1976) also found that people's interpretations affect their reactions to street crime. When witnessing a man and a woman fighting, bystanders intervened 65 percent of the time when the woman yelled "Get away from me; I don't know you," but only 19 percent of the time when the woman yelled "Get away from me; I don't know why I ever married you" (Meyers, 2010).

There are other reasons why people may not help. They may assume that other bystanders are more qualified to help, such as doctors or police officers, and that their intervention would be unneeded. People may also experience evaluation apprehension and fear losing face in front of the other bystanders. They may also be afraid of being superseded by a superior helper, offering unwanted assistance, or facing the legal consequences of offering inferior and possibly dangerous assistance. An example is the limitation of California's Good Samaritan Law, limiting liability for those attempting to provide medical services as opposed to non-medical (extraction from automobile) services (California Supreme Court Case, n.d.).

Children can be bystanders too. A study conducted by Robert Thornberg in 2007 came up with seven reasons why children do not help when another classmate is in distress. These include: trivialization, dissociation, embarrassment association, busy working priority, compliance with a competitive norm, audience modeling, and responsibility transfer (Thornberg, 2007).

The bystander effect can be powerful; lives have been lost because of individual's lack of wanting to help or intervene in an emergency situation.  I think this is a problem that requires attention, because too many lives have been destroyed by an accident, assault, rape or robbery, and maybe they could have been prevented if someone would have just helped.  I think more information needs to be made public on the issue of the bystander effect and make people aware of what a simple phone call to 911 could actually do for someone in need, you can't just hope that someone else is going to make that call, it only takes 5 minutes of your time and that 5 minutes could save someone's life, wouldn't you want someone to do the same for you? I know I would.

 

 

References:

 Article and references to California Supreme Court Case, see: "California's Good Samaritan Law". HealthLawProf Blog. January 4, 2009.

Hart, T.; Miethe, T. (2008). "Exploring Bystander Presence and Intervention in Nonfatal Violent Victimization: When Does Helping Really Help?" Violence and Victims 23 (5): 637-651.

Levine, Mark & Thompson, Kirstien (2004). "Identity, place, and bystander intervention: social categories and helping after natural disasters". Journal of Social Psychology 144 (3): 229-245. doi:10.3200/SOCP.144.3.229-245.

Meyers, David G. (2010). Social Psychology (10th Ed). New York: McGraw- Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-337066-8.

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

 Thornberg, R (2007). "A classmate in distress: schoolchildren as bystanders and their reasons for how they act." Social Psychology of Education 10: 5-28.

Relationships and Attractiveness

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In our society attractiveness has always been a human preference over any other quality when choosing a mate, although men seem to value looks more than women do (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005).  With that being said, I too have feel into this trap in my life, I can't dispute the fact that I too have fallen prey in being vein by judging someone by their looks when choosing whether or not I would go out on a date with them.  I think the law of attraction carries a lot of weight in our society, because men and women don't want to be seen with someone that is less attractive than they are, they would prefer to be seen with someone that is their equal in "looks". 

It has been my own personal experience that there is more to someone than just their physical appearance. Yes being with someone that is attractive is great and it makes you feel great to be seen with them, it's almost like an accomplishment; even though that sounds vein, but it does boast your own self-esteem that you are with someone that is attractive, but selecting a mate by way of attraction doesn't get you far if there is no other compatible qualities that you share. 

My own experiences included always looking for mates that were compatible by looks, this always seemed to work for awhile, but eventually you realize that looks aren't everything; other qualities start to matter, personality, compatibility, shared goals and whether or not the relationship can be co-dependent on each other.  I learned this the hard way, my first experience I looked for attractiveness and I put all other qualities on the back burner, he was a good guy and we made a great couple "look" wise; we fit and that was all that mattered to me, then eventually we got married and had a daughter, a couple years into our marriage I realized that we were nothing alike, he was so co-dependent on me for everything, and we were so opposite, it was like we had nothing in common, but our daughter, I felt like I feel victim to choosing a mate by physical attraction and forgot all the other qualities that I desired in a mate.  The outcome; sad to say ended the marriage, but after a few years I realized what mistakes I made and I found the right mate; my current husband and this time I made sure all my qualities I was looking for were there, including attraction, but I didn't limit myself to just attraction.  But when you find your potential mate and you make that "list" of the qualities that you want in someone, don't deviate or settle because they are out there and the end result is amazing.  I'm not saying my husband is perfect and neither am I, everyone has faults, but every relationship and marriage is a work progress and if you choose your mate by attraction alone trust me you're not getting everything you deserve. 

Evolutionary Theory and the sociocultural perspective  are in agreement in predicting gender differences in the desire for the following three partner attributes: physical attractive, youth (both predicted to be preferred by men), and earning potential and socioeconomic characteristics (predicted to be preferred by women)( Sprecher, Sullivan & Hatfield, 1994)

Men are more likely than women to request physical attractiveness in a partner, whereas women are more likely to offer it (Sprecher, Sullivan & Hatfield, 1994).  However, research conducted on people's reactions or behaviors towards real or hypothetical romantic others suggest that men and women value physical attractiveness to nearly the same degree  ( Sprecher, Sullivan & Hatfield, 1994)

Whereas gender differences in physical attractiveness have been examined in many studies, gender differences in age preference have not. However, in a cross-cultural study on mate preference, Buss (1989) asked the age's respondents preferred in a marriage partner.  In each of the 37 samples (from 33 countries). Men generally preferred mates that were younger and women generally preferred mates that were older (Sprecher, Sullivan & Hatfield, 1994)

According to the documentation, men generally prefer attractive younger women, and women prefer the security of an older man.  This could mean that men are looking for the younger women because they are interested in the reproduction of offspring, and women tend to look for the older man, because she wants the sense of security, knowing her family is going to be provided for.

References:

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

 Sprecher, S. Sullivan, Q. & Hatfield, E. (1994). Mate selection preferences: gender differences examined in a national sample.   Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1994). Volume: 66, Issue: 6, Pages: 1074-1080. Retrieved December 1, 2011 from http://www.mendeley.com/research/mate-selection-preferences-gender-differences-examined-in-a-national-sample/#

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