12
Nov 18

Distance Makes The Heart Grow Fonder…. or Go Wander?

While our lesson this week put an emphasis on what initially sparks a relationship, my blog is going to dig a little deeper into what maintains a relationship. The basics I think we have all heard from the age of teenagers…opposites attract but so do similarities. For most relationships, I believe the attraction falls somewhere in the middle. It is a unfamiliar enough to create an interest, yet similar enough to make us comfortable. My story is a little more complicated.

I met my husband when I was 18, a little over 12 years ago, and while our initial attraction may be straight out of the psychology laws our journey has been nothing of the sort. The lesson states that the Myers-Brigg Typology Indicator scores indicate that people with similar personalities tend to get along well because they think, feel and act the same. When I was 18 I was shy, naive, and let’s just say a little straight arrow. My husband was the “bad-boy” from out of town that no one really knew much about. He was a risk, and after a lifetime (it seemed) of following the rules I was ready for a little rebounding. In this case, we are a prime example of the popular idea of “opposites attract.”

Let’s fast forward a few years through our roller-coaster relationship that now includes our son. We had been all over the map of attractions from the most passionate of thoughts to wanting to strangle each other. Our opposites for the most part were not attracting anymore, because the real-world kicks in and those little things I once found so exciting I now found to be immature and stupid. I am sure my husband will agree the same as my quiet and inexperienced self became more of a responsibility to him. At this point… I think we would have found comfort in a more similar relationship then we did with our alternate ends of the spectrum.

Ultimately, the fact that we were so different pushed us to the further sides of life experiences and we became so distant until we lived separate lives. My husband took a job on the road and basically came home only on holidays while I maintained as much of a normal life for our son at our home. Slowly, we relied less and less on each other for anything and discovered new attractions outside of our marriage. A very dangerous game to play! We were both craving for the similar-to-me effect.

My story does have a positive ending, as after a LOT of consideration and efforts we changed the direction of our story. My husband left his job on the road and we reestablished a relationship based on the people we had grown into, instead of who we were years ago. I believe the biggest aspect of relationships is keeping an attraction going, while understanding that what the attraction is might change over time. Initially we were attracted by our differences and then at some point we needed to look harder to find the similarities to maintain the attraction. I think there can be a mix of both!

 

 


12
Nov 18

Everything’s Better When the Glass is Half-Full

Winston Churchill once said, “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, while an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”. What he is referring to is the manner in which people view the world. An individual’s knowledge and experiences go a long way in shaping a person’s attributions. Attributions are inferences individuals make about why something is or has happened. (Schneider et. al, 2012) People can be defined in one of two ways based on attributions they make about situations; optimists or pessimists. Pessimists have negative outcome expectancies that tend to demotivate people and produce destructive actions that are contrary to goals. Optimists, on the other hand, have positive outcome expectancies, that both influence individuals’ thinking and approach to life. (Schneider et. al, 2012) For the sake of this discussion, I will be focusing more on optimists and the concept of optimism. In particular, I will focus on the many benefits associated with the mental attitude of optimism.

Optimism by definition is “a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions, and to expect the most favorable outcome to occur.” (Optimism, n.d.) Research findings have consistently found that individuals who operate under an optimistic frame of mind, consistently reap a host of social, psychological, and physical benefits their pessimistic counterparts do not. In the realm of romantic relationships, research suggests greater optimism among the people in a relationship correlates to greater satisfaction, happiness, and functioning in the relationship. (Schneider et. al, 2012) In friendships, optimism has been linked to a greater social support, as well as lower incidence of interpersonal conflict. In terms of health, optimism leads to better health-related lifestyle habits, higher levels of happiness, and a better ability to control personal mood. (Schneider et. al, 2012) The effects of optimism can also be seen in interpersonal group settings, such as offices and classrooms. Research suggests that optimism is associated with better performance, job satisfaction, work happiness, and organizational commitment in the occupational setting. Extensive research has been conducted on the concept of optimism, and the results all point to the idea that having an optimistic attitude provides a wealth of social, psychological, and physical benefits.

Optimism is best in moderation. Like with anything else, too much of it is not always good. For example, extreme optimism, or unrealistic optimism, can lead to arrogance, or overconfidence in one’s self. Unrealistic optimism is the tendency for people to believe that they are less likely to experience negative events, and more likely to experience positive events than others. (Jefferson et. al, 2017) This overconfidence can lead to a host of issues, including making bad decisions, interpersonal conflict, the better than average effect, and the illusion of control. These can all work together to affect an individual’s perception of what is based on reality and what is not. Optimism, therefore, can be likened to red wine. In moderation, there can be some nice benefits, but excessive amounts can create problems of its own.

People’s feelings and experiences drive how they view situations. These inferences are referred to as attributions. How people develop these attributions, determine whether they are categorized as an optimist or a pessimist. There are a host of benefits, (socially, physically, and psychologically) related to having an optimistic attitude. However, like with anything else, moderation is key, as too much optimism or blind optimism can create issues in its own right.

 

 

Jefferson, Anneli et al. “What is unrealistic optimism?” Consciousness and cognition vol. 50 (2017): 3-11.

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.A. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems-2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Optimism [Def. 1.] (n.d.). Dictionary.com. Retrieved from Optimism


12
Nov 18

Beauty? No.

Someone once asked me what it is like to be beautiful. I replied to my mom that no one else besides her thinks I’m attractive. Throughout this lesson, we are told that physical attractiveness is one of the key components to relationship. In fact, it may be the most important factor in initial mating choice. However, I felt it was important to look at this from a different perspective. This is an online class, so perhaps we could add a little online flair to things.

MMORPG’s, or massive multiplayer online role playing games have become increasingly popular over the years. In fact they are so popular that there are now tournaments in which players compete for millions of dollars in real life. If teenage me could have predicted this, I wouldn’t have listened to my mother; rather I think I would study less and play more. But one of the more interesting aspects of these games is the role playing aspect. No, I don’t mean like pretending to be a family in game or some other such weird nonsense (although I have seen such tomfoolery). I mean the general building of relationships that are built through playing as a certain character. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to make friends with someone all the way across the world, knowing that the only thing you have in common might be this one passion. I feel it is reminiscent of the days when people would get on their ham radios just trying to make a little conversation with a stranger. There is a certain fondness and connection that can be built from these online relationships, even though you can’t exactly see the other person.

One study aimed to look at just how exactly online relationships function. Coulson et al. (2018) found that although physical attraction was certainly a factor in terms of predicting levels of attachment through online relationships, social attraction and task attraction were better indicators of how secure their attachment was. In fact, people tended to rate their online friends as less attractive than their real life friends, even though they spent more time with and communicated more with their online friends (Coulson et al., 2018).

So perhaps in this new age of technology, some of the rules are flying out of the book. As for why people tend to prefer online relationships with people who may be less attractive, the question is anyone’s guess. Perhaps because they are not constantly looking at their friends when they are socializing, they don’t associate their physical attractiveness with how highly they each other. Perhaps social attraction is more important because people have to make up for the fact that there is no physicality to be impressed with, so they push to be more social in order to form bonds. And in terms of task attraction, it makes sense that people will prefer friends who are good at the game, as opposed to players who can’t do much to help themselves let alone others.

Maybe physical attraction is on the way out. Maybe online friendships are on the rise. There are a lot of factors at play here, but it seems that there is a constant in all these things. For people that play online games, physical attraction is not the most important factor. On the contrary, social and gaming skill seem to the preferred traits. Maybe it is our time, the time for the ugly barnacles to thrive.

References:

Coulson, M. C., Oskis, A., Meredith, J., & Gould, R. L. (2018). Attachment, attraction and communication in real and virtual worlds: A study of massively multiplayer online gamers. Computers in Human Behavior, 87, 49-57. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1016/j.chb.2018.05.017

 


12
Nov 18

Social Categorization in Politics

Our current political climate is very divided and it says a lot about our community. Primarily, it says a lot about our political identities. We have become very loyal to our political parties in a way that reflects social categorization. Meaning, that we have definitely taken on a “us versus them” mentality. Now, depending on what side you are on this is a very good thing. It can feel like you are fighting for what is right but when it is coming from an opposing side, it can feel like ignorance. The political rhetoric is passionate but also harsh and demeaning.

 

Social media is driving this divisiveness. Social Media has opened up the world and exposed us to a lot of information and to far away connections. If you live in a divided county or a place where your ideology is challenged you don’t need to deal with it, you are allowed to find a group of people who do share your views. This has proven valuable not just in that we can expose connect people to those who think alike to each other, but there is an opportunity to rally and organize to fight together.

 

But again, I come back to what that does to our communities. If we are not forced to try and understand the reason behind what our neighbors are thinking, we will never try and we will continue to maintain a “us versus them” mentality.

 

People will always be complicated and diverse and if we believe what we say when we say that “diversity is what makes us strong” then we need to develop the skill set of understanding that others develop opinions using different perspectives and that they don’t always jive with ours. We don’t have to share all the same opinions but for the sake and strength of our community and what makes our country strong, we have to learn to talk to each other.

 


12
Nov 18

The Psychology of Attraction

There are many different terms and phrases used to describe the ideal setup for the perfect relationship. “Opposites attract”, “Birds of a feather flock together.” But the reality of it isn’t as simple. These phrases are often used to over-simplify the often complicated emotional attachment we have with others as well as dumb down any psychological aspects of our attraction to others. The reality of relationships is that it truly isn’t that simple.

The phrase “Opposites attract” is used meaning that people with very different beliefs/interests will be drawn to one another. This may be true for short-term relationships, but in the long-term those differences will cause conflict and negativity. (Nelson, 2018) The differences that someone has is attractive due to the excitement of seeing something different, or experiencing a different lifestyle/interest – but if someone truly doesn’t share the same interests, beliefs, and thought processes it will only lead to the end of the relationship.

“Birds of a feather flock together” is the over-simplification of the belief that people who share more values, thoughts, and interests will be brought together. In most cases, for long-term relationships this is the truth. However, rather than the interest stemming from the things in common – it could be the lack of chances of conflict that allows the relationship to thrive. The psychological term for birds of a feather is the similar-to-me-effect. This effect states that individuals get along with others that think and look like they do, however, like all things pertaining to attraction – there are outliers.

Attraction is extremely complicated and has many variables, however psychologically the desire for the similar-to-me-effect in romantic partners is the easiest explanation. Being able to share the same hobbies, interests, beliefs, thoughts, and even looks with someone allows a relationship to experience life as a pair rather than two individuals that will inevitably have conflict if things weren’t so similar. Relationships differ across many cultures and areas within the United States. Different customs, upbringings, and social settings can heavily influence what someone seeks in another partner. The psychology behind relationships is determined both by desired evolutionary traits (physical fitness for example), and cultural reinforcement.

References

Nelson, A. (2018). Lesson 12 Relationships/Every day life, Attraction. Retrieved November 11, 2018. https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1942493/modules/items/25002553

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.A. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems-2nded. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

 


11
Nov 18

Social Orientation … Am I a Jerk or Just Realistic?

Chapter 15 in our class textbook which discusses relationships and our need to be close to others  lists traits that are desirable qualities.  The qualities are listed in pairs but one quality in each pair reflects more of  a social orientation. The readers are asked to pick one word of each pair and to give themselves a point for picking certain qualities over others. Your choices reflect your level of social orientation and serve as a crude test for defining you as someone who has a greater interest in relating to others than in developing a personal ability. I interpreted this as a greater desire to be selfless than selfish but yet found myself picking the words not worth points for the most part. out of Strong or Kind I chose Strong. Out of Intelligent or generous I chose Intelligent. Out of Friendly or Brave I chose Brave. The only two I chose words worth points is I chose sympathetic over popular without any internal conflict on the matter and after much internal conflict I chose Helpful over Artistic. So I guess my results of this crude test would conclude that I am not very socially oriented. Perhaps the test is right….but I felt very differently about the myself. I personally think I tend to put others before myself but I chose to be Strong over Kind because I know strength is a hard thing to cultivate and life is very difficult. Kindness is worth its weight in gold as the saying goes but but having inner strength is a treasure that gets you to a new day when nothing else can.  Being strong is important to survival in a way that kindness never can be.  I chose Brave over friendly because I think friendly is a rather superficial term while bravery is something you cannot pretend to me. A person can pretend to be friendly but a person cannot truly pretend to be brave…at least not past a certain point. Out of intelligent or generous I chose Intelligent because I think to be generous with ought intelligence is to be foolish. I think in order to truly be generous you need to understand the risk involved and choose to do it anyway. I don’t care about being particularly popular. I think being popular is nice and brings with it power which is a completely different beast, but I would rather be sympathetic than be a person surrounded by people who tell them how cool they are. Helpful or artistic was hard for me. I feel like the urge to create art is something innate to a persons soul. That art can transcend and help in unexpected ways. However I thought about my mother who I love very much and I realized if I had to give up music (something I love) to help my mother I would not hesitate.

In conclusion though I didn’t like this test. I think life is too many shades of grey to play such abstract concepts against each other and pretend they give us some form of understanding on human nature. I think human attraction is an area of psychology that still has a while to go before its understood, if ever. Yes we are animals…but we are also a shade of grey.

 

 

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.A. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems-2nded. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

 


10
Nov 18

Similar-to-me

When it comes to attraction, romantic or not, the similar-to-me effect states that we get along with people who look, think, feel, and act like we do (Nelson, 2018). Personally, I definitely see that in nearly every friendship that I have. When it comes to relationships, it hasn’t always been like that though. Dating someone who was the opposite did result only in a short-term relationship and I don’t recall dating someone who was exactly like me. However, when it comes to friendships, most of my friends do at least think like I do. We share the same views and opinions, for example, so we tend to get along most of the time.

I think that this can also be applied to bullying in a way, as in you connect to those with similar experiences. I survived bullying, and in some ways sometimes deal with it to this day, and I do see myself connecting with other people who have gone through the same thing. Over the years I have become friends with many people who have had similar experiences that have changed their lives and realizing that we all pretty much think and feel the same about specific things has brought us closer together. However, I don’t think that the similar-to-me effect has to be there all of the time in order for real friendships to form. You can be friends with someone who isn’t exactly like you, or have a romantic relationship with someone who’s different, but some differences do tend to get in the way in the end and cause problems. Diversity is a very good thing, and there is a lot of it in my personal life, but I have to agree that deeper relationships form when you are similar (same culture, background, etc.).

 

 

References

Nelson, A. (2018). Lesson 12 Relationships/Every day life, Attraction. Retrieved November 8, 2018. https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1942493/modules/items/25002553


09
Nov 18

Does the prosecution of cyber bullying infringe on civil liberties?

Does the prosecution of cyber bullying infringe on civil liberties?

This is an interesting question to think about. With the increasing incidents of cyber bullying that are leading to suicide, it is something that lawmakers really need to discuss. One of the most public trials that started this debate was with Michelle Carter who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter of her boyfriend. Carter was on the phone with her boyfriend, Roy who had second thoughts about going through with his planned suicide. Carter told Roy to get back into the car and stayed on the phone and listed to him die and did not do anything about it. Carter’s attorneys filed an appeal stating that the prosecution of the text messages and online conversations that were used as evidence in the trial, violated Carters freedom of speech. Many civil liberties organizations, such as the ACLU came out in support of Carter and her appeal.

This is all very hard to understand for me. On the one hand, I think that anyone who does not try to intervene when someone is hurting themselves, even if it is intentional, should be held responsible. On the other hand, courts have for the majority of time considered suicide to be an act of free will. I also think that when lawmakers are creating policy surrounding bullying, that the question of – was bullying ultimately what lead to a person committing suicide? Then, that would mean that bullying should be an offensible action and we need to create uniform policy that holds people who engage in bullying accountable. To my knowledge, there is no such policy in place at this time, except for some schools adopting a zero-tolerance policy.

Moving forward, I personally think that there should be clear policy on the consequences of bullying, and I do think that someone should be held accountable for involuntary manslaughter for cyber bullying. Bullying is a social problem, not a technical one and we need to address it and start discussing the really tough questions such as where civil liberties and accountability fit in?

Cramer, M. The Globe. In Michelle Carter appeal, high court considers whether encouraging suicide amounts to manslaughter. October 2018.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/10/04/state-highest-court-hear-appeal-michelle-carter-case-today/jkjaR4SzLuHMr86MvIR6ZJ/story.html


08
Nov 18

Birds of a feather

When people consider my husband and I’s relationship they often comment that “it must be true that opposites attract!” My husband is an extreme extrovert, he’s a musician, and at times can be all over the place. I, on the other hand, am structured and organized and prefer quiet nights in to wild nights out (with an occasional exception). These examples are the basis of the idea that we are total opposites, so of course opposites attract. What most people fail to realize is that we are much more alike than we are different. When we began dating we learned that we both wanted the same sort of things out of life. We knew both eventually wanted kids and a stable relationship. We both had educational and career goals. My husband and I both wanted to move to a different area and travel when ever and where ever possible. Most importantly we have the same morals and values. This is indicative of the similar-to-me effect, which states that people generally get along with others that think and look similar to them (Nelson, 2018). Our relationship doesn’t exemplify the notion that “opposites attract,” it represents the notion that “birds of a feather flock together.”

As I reflect on the similar-to-me effect, it not only rings true to my romantic relationship but to my friendships as well. I have one friend in particular who worked for me years ago, and we couldn’t stand each other, but at the point in our lives we were complete opposites. I had one child and was very career and family focused, to be perfectly honest boring. Cork on the other hand was the epitome of a wild child, she was single, had zero responsibilities, lived at home with her parents, and I had already outgrown this phase. Since then we have both evolved and grown, had similar life experiences and lessons. She is now one of my very closest friends and confidants.

 

References

Nelson, A. (2018). Lesson 12 Relationships/Every day life, Attraction. Retrieved November 8, 2018. https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1942493/modules/items/25002553


07
Nov 18

Long Lasting Romantic Relationships

As we discussed in this weeks lesson attraction is the first steps in any romantic relationship.  Generally two people find themselves attracted to one another and in most cases start to bond and spend quality time together.  Also like we discussed in this weeks lesson the saying “Birds of the same feather flock together” is a true saying and I stand by this old saying.  As mentioned in the lesson sometimes adolescents find themselves attracted and dating someone who is totally different from them both physically and personality wise however if you look years later down the line they are not attracted nor dating this same person.  People in most cases like to date/be romantically involved with someone who shares common interests, beliefs, customs, values, etc.  With that said this occurs because it makes people feel more comfortable when they are romantically involved with someone who understands them.  Many times in relationships the “one major psychological explanations that is used is the similar-to-me effect.”  Basically the “similar-to-me effect is when individuals are attracted or like people who think and look like they do.”  There are proven facts that people who like the same things or who have similar personalities and demeanor’s end up getting along a lot better than those who don’t.  My fiance and I are living proof of the similar-to-me effect. We both share common interest, likes, values, beliefs, and customs.  We’ve been together since 2009 and still together almost nine years later and finally engaged with plans to be married July 2019.  I feel like communication is that much easier in a romantic relationship when someone knows you because you feel comfortable to be and act yourself.  With that said we still have so much diversity between us which is a good thing and a very unique thing in my book.  You want some diversity in a relationship because if you literally have none then it could just seem washy or even like you are dating yourself.  Fortunately our diversity is something I love about our relationship he is African-American and I am Caucasian and we both come from different places.  He was born in Zimbabwe and his family migrated here for good when he was just four years old while I was born in the United States.  We still have diversity but our personalities just connected on a much deeper level because we share so much in common.  I believe that these are true and valuable traits to a long lasting romantic relationship.

(Luo & Klohnen, 2005)

(Lurtz, 1999).


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