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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.


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?




Facebook. (2011). Statistics. Retrieved online at:


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


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. 


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

Woodlard, K. (September, 2010).  Linguistic Relativity, Whorf,  Linguistic Anthropology.  Retrieved from

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. 




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

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.



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

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.




Interpersonal attraction. (2010, June). Retrieved from



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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.



Rauch, P. (2008, November). Cell phone culture. Retrieved from


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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 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

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.




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


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.


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