Apr 17

Social Change and Urban Rebellion

Social change and urban rebellion

What is social change research and what are the different forms of social change research? How can we use social change research in our and others daily lives to make improvements? One of the topics that I found very interesting is the effect of social change research in the “Ghetto”. What does the word ghetto means? How can we use social change research to help individuals, mainly youths who reside in the ghetto to have better lives and a possible better future?

Social change research comes in several different forms, but the general idea is that the researchers are actively changing something in a social situation that they are a part of. There is Participatory research which is when the researchers are a part of the community and they get involved to learn things about the community that they live in. A good example of such research would be an individual who lives in the ghetto and is constantly tries to bring changes in the ghetto to better the lives of its residents. The second kind of social change research would be Activist research which goes beyond participatory research. The researcher is not only vested in the outcome of the research, but may be pushing a certain value set through their research (Nelson A., 2017).

Social research is a critical foundation for programs that seek to engage communities in change and in the development of more sustainable societies. Without appropriate research, programs aimed at change are likely to be based on implicit or assumed problem identification and or inferred community needs and wishes. I Personally don’t like to use the word ghetto. The term “ghetto” dates to describing the neighborhoods to which Jewish Europeans were confined. More recently, it’s been used in the U.S. to describe urban neighborhoods where minority groups live out of economic pressures (Izadi E., 2011).

To bring change in the less fortunate areas of the city, the residents of that community need to act and figure out what can they do to better their lives and the lives of the people in their community. This would be a perfect example of participatory research. For example, the leaders of the said communities can with the help of parents, educate the youth and provide them with options to do volunteer work after school. Living in a ghetto gives its inhabitants a certain community feeling, a certain sense of comfort and familiarity that they would find hard to get anywhere. Personal sense of comfort, community and normalcy matter much more to an individual when they do not possess economic comfort (Bandyopadhyay K., 2015).

I believe the best social change research method that would be effective in the said areas, would be the participatory research which is research conducted by the residence of that community. The researcher would understand the issues within that community better than anyone else and would be able to design and implement a plan to bring change within that community. Moving from a ghetto is not as easy as just packing up and moving out. People often get caught in the cycle of poverty. Therefore, getting the education and other life skills to move them out of that cycle can be very difficult, however it is possible with the help of the leaders of the community and by providing opportunities to those in need.


Bandyopadhyay K., Quora, (2015, May 9). Why do People Stay in the Ghetto When They Can Move Elsewhere? Retrieved April 15, 2017, from www.quora.com

Izadi E., DCentric, (2011, May 11). Ghetto: Five Reasons to Rethink the Word. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from www.dcentric.wamu.org

Nelson, A. (2017). Lesson 13. Applied social psychology: Social Change / Participatory Research. Presented on the PSYCH 424 course content site lecture at the Pennsylvania State University.

Apr 17

The Kinder & Braver World Project

The Kinder & Braver World Project portray participatory action research as, “a process through which people investigate meaningful social topics, participate in research to understand the root causes of problems that directly impact them, and then take action to influence policies through dissemination of their findings to policymakers and stakeholders (Powers & Allaman, 2012).”  The goal of the research is to expand their social movement into youth communities and encourage leadership.  Schneider describes social action as, “by organizing you can stimulate collective action in the community that generates power to create change (Schneider, 2012).”  Various programs have been designed to add value and promote positive change within communities.

Everyone has their own perspective on how they feel about a particular problem.  Relatively, it is necessary to customize programs that define unique qualities among young people and adults.  After engaging with individualized concerns, a plan for social change may be created.  The plan should clearly define a purpose and identify goals for addressing change.  By involving youthful communities in the developing a plan for social change, young individuals will learn how to address diverse communal issues.  They will learn how to relate to others from various backgrounds, cultures, and opinions.  Youth engagement models are effective for improving issues surrounding a common goal, as well as promoting relations that will motivate involvement.

Youth United for Change (YUC) is a veteran-based organization established in Philadelphia.  The group aims to meet the wishes and needs of young individuals within the community.  Generally, group activities and meetings take place in schools in order to reach out to the youth population.  Organizers promote relationships and address any ideas or worries that the young community may have regarding the world around them.  YUC wants to make sure that juveniles feel like their heard, and their needs are important.  Additionally, the process positively impacts leadership skills and relationships.  Conclusively, the program is an effective way for children to voice their opinion and propose any questions about social reform.


Powers, C.B., Allaman, E. (2012, December 17). How Participatory Action Research Can Promote Social Change and Help Youth Development – The Kinder & Braver World Project: Research Series. Retrieved April 14, 2017 from http://cyber.harvard.edu/sites/cyber.harvard.edu/files/KBWParticipatoryActionResearch2012.pdf

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1412976381


Apr 17

Applied Social Psychology in Our Daily Lives

Social psychologists agree that the research findings in the field can be very helpful when they are applied to our own lives (Nelson A., 2017). Social psychology can be used in different areas of our lives such as, our way of thinking, relationships (personal and professional), physical and mental health etc. At the center of all these, it’s human social cognitive system interacting with everyday situations. What are some ways that we can use applied social psychology to better our everyday lives? I am sure that we all can work on ourselves and improve different areas of our lives. Some of us have relationship issues, whether personal or professional and we can always use findings from applied social psychology research to improve the said relationships. I had mentioned Social cognitive system initially and how it interacts with our everyday real situations which brings me to the question of what is Social Cognition?

Social cognition means the process of thinking about ourselves and other people. According to Allport (1985) social cognition is a major idea in social psychology attempting to understand how our thoughts, personal feelings and behavior of individuals are all influenced by the actual, imagined and or implied presence of others (Nelson A., 2017). Our minds are designed for hot action-oriented cognition rather than cold. What that means is that, it’s better to think less and act quickly in an emergency rather than analyzing the situation and risk the consequences of not responding swiftly. The “hot and “cold” action-oriented cognition is another example of a basic characteristic of human cognition that I personally find very interesting. It has been proven that applied social psychology can be used to better our relationships with others. Some of us have issues with our personal relationships, whether it be with our significant others, siblings or our boss and associates at work.

Given how critical our personal relationships are to our happiness, how we can improve the quality of all our relationships? Based on research evidence five practices can be used to nurture our personal relationship with our significant others. According to research listening to our partner we validate their importance to us and increasing the relationship bond with him or her. Compliment is also very important in our relationships, and it increases the closeness of our relationship with our partner. It is very important to notice our spouse and telling her or him what we have noticed shows our interest and can enhance our relationship bond. One thing that we want to steer clear of is social comparison. Social comparison can be very toxic to our happiness, so when we see someone excelling at work for example, we would want to celebrate and congratulate them on their achievements. Lastly, we need to unplug and spend more time with our partner. According to research we spend average of 53 hours a week plugged in to some sort of device (Holder M., 2017).

According to social psychology jealousy is a major issue in our personal relationships and one thing that causes jealousy is attraction. While we have learned that opposites attract, that is only true in short term relationships. In long term relationships, we tend to look for a partner that is like ourselves. In social psychology that is explained as similar-to-me-effect. An example of this effect can be seen not only in our personal lives but it is evident that it also exists in our workplace as well. The “Similar to Me” effect refers to a well-researched tendency of interviewers and supervisors to favor those individuals who are similar to them. Put simply, people are attracted to candidates with similar senses of humor, similar conversational styles, even similar physical appearances (Cliff H., 2011).

In conclusion, it is safe to say that applied social psychology is used in our everyday lives. According to Social Cognition our thoughts and personal feelings and behavior of individuals are all influenced by the actual, imagined and or implied presence of others. Moreover, we tend to use social psychology to better our personal relationships in our personal and professional lives. For example, the evidence of similar-to-me-effect can be seen almost everywhere from workplaces to our personal individual lives. when people must think about how to communicate with another person it becomes a cognitive drain or overload that makes the relationship more work than it is possibly worth. It is more common than not to see those with knowledge of applied social psychology use what they’ve learned from research and studies to better their personal and professional lives.


Allport, A. (1985). The historical background of social psychology. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.). Handbook of social psychology (Vol. 1, 3rd ed., pp. 1-46). New York: Random House.

Cliff H., Weddedness, (2011, October 7). Similar to Me. Retrieved April 8, 2017, from www.weddedness.com

Holder M., Psychology Today, (2017, February 5). Five Simple Steps to Better Relationships. Retrieved April 8, 2017, from www.psychologytoday.com

Nelson, A. (2017). Lesson 12. Applied social psychology: Relationships / Everyday life. Presented on the PSYCH 424 course content site lecture at the Pennsylvania State University.

Apr 17

Is Jealousy Healthy or Problematic in the Nature of Relationships?

         Allport (1985) conceptualizes social cognition as, “the process of thinking about ourselves and other people to understand and explain how the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others.”  Interpersonal magnetism is fueled by a strong desire for tête-à-tête.  Anticipation of favorable experiences sparks excitement while enduring relations with your significant other.  All of a sudden, partner infidelity may come on as a surprise during your relationship.  In other words, deep feelings for your companion may stimulate a strong emotional response that many of us are familiar with.  Jealousy can be experienced at different intensities depending on the situation.  In fact, desirous feelings could promote relationship quality.  For instance, one of the partners may respond to jealousy as being a direct threat to the relationship in which they value their relationship enough to protect it.  Except that is not always the case in most relationships affected by jealous emotions.  Many similar instances are influenced by misunderstanding a situation or failing to emphasize the importance of communication between partners.

        Most relationships experience three distinct types of jealousy including – reactive, anxious, and possessive (Pfeiffer & Wong, 2007).   These forms are distinguished between whether they reside with emotional, cognitive, or behavioral attributions.  John Wiley (2007) explored relations between different types of jealousy, as well as self and partner perceptions of relationship quality.  He defined Reactive Jealousy as, “the degree to which individuals experience negative emotions, such as anger and upset, when their mate is or has been emotionally or sexually unfaithful (Wiley, J., 2007).”  Furthermore, Anxious Jealousy is when a partner creates false perceptions and images in their head in which they begin feeling distrustful or worried.  Finally, Possessive Jealousy involves an individual taking excessive measures in order to prevent their partner from socializing with anyone of the opposite sex, and forbidding them to socialize with others.  According to Buunk’s typology, reactive jealousy relies on emotional  aspects, anxious jealousy consists of cognitive elements, and possessive jealousy is attributed to behavioral components (Buunk & Dijkstra, 2006).  Relatively, Andersen et al. (1995) discovered that cognitive jealousy negatively impacts relational satisfaction.  Whereas, Pfeiffer and Wong (1989) specified emotional jealousy to be positively associated to love.  Determining relationship quality should always take into consideration both partners’ feelings toward how they feel, and how their partner feels, engaging in their interpersonal connection.

          Relationship quality is determined by interaction between two partners.  Communication between each other is a key component for maintaining an open and sound relationship.  Many people are too invested in wanting to just express how they perceive a situation, and will disregard how their partner feels.  In a relationship, one of the best things I have learned is that there are always three sides to a story – their side, your side, and the real side.  Also, do not try to discuss a tense topic unless you are both rational enough to respectfully listen to each other.  Relatively, jealousy affects the content of the communication (what they communicate), as well as the type of communication they engage in (how they communicate) (Wiley, J., 2007).

         High levels of intimacy and affection is associated with how well you and your partner respects the others’ feelings, understand each other, refrain from negative sources of jealousy, and be a companion to your significant other.  Do not try to compete or evoke feelings of jealousy in your partner to cover your own insecurities.  Take into account that you are your partner are a team and are in this together.  If you both want to keep your commitment, then refrain from problematic experiences, and rather enhance your relationship quality.

        Do you ever experience jealousy in your relationship?  What are some ways that you strive to improve the quality of your relationship?  If you are not in a relationship, what are some things you would want to try for relationship satisfaction?

Thanks for reading!

Barelds, D. P. H., Barelds-Dijkstra, P. (2007). Relations between different types of jealousy and self and partner perceptions of relationship quality. Clinical Psychology and Psychopharmacology. Retrieved April 8, 2017 from


Lesson 12 Commentary (n.d.). Relationships/Everyday Life. Retrieved April 8, 2017 fromhttps://psu.instructure.com/courses/1834710/modules/items/21736698

Mar 17

Racism is Learned at an Early Age

Racism Learned

“New research suggests prejudices may form at a much earlier age, but also offers hope that biases can be unlearned (Boston Globe, 2012).”

            Discriminatory and racial behavior may be learned in children as young as three years old, according to Mahzarin Banaji (a psychologist, brain researcher, and racism and physical prejudice expert from Harvard University).  Children are quick to demonstrate racist behavior and form connectivity between negative biases following exposure to episodes of discrimination.

Banaji performed a study which analyzed these perceptions in which scientists revealed how kids and adults reacted to indistinctive faces.  The pictures of faces ranged in skin tone from very light to brown, in which the kids indicated whether they were happy or angry.  There were 263 subjects classified as children (ages 3 to 14).  Consequentially, the faces that could be presumed as white or black were shown to the young subjects.  As a result, the children indicated that the faces that seemed “black” or “Asian” seemed angry, compared to the faces that they considered to be “white” were happy (unveiling the white children held a pro-white bias).  Furthermore, a group of black children did not present any bias toward white or black facial expressions.

Will prejudice behaviors that children learn at a young age stick with them in future adulthood?   The biggest influence of this factor is how a child analyzes in-group and out-group biases, in which “in-group members tend to evaluate and relate to the in-group favorably and to the out-group less favorably (Schneider, 2011).”  The key component that is necessary for children to understand diversity is to observe different groups interrelating in a balanced and positive nature.  Exposure to diversity throughout their lifespan will express that there are more important qualities that define someone other than the color of their skin, physical features, expressions, ethnicity, or gender (Boston Globe, 2012).

Learned racism is the outcome of how often an individual is personally exposed to how dissimilar cultures and races of people interact with one another.  The development of negative intergroup attitudes allows us to identify the causal effect of role structure and self-identity of oneself to other groups.  In conclusion, improved relations and withheld judgments may occur if a child observes positive interactions and attitudes among diverse groups.





James H. Burnett III Globe Staff. (2012, June 10). Harvard researcher says children learn racism quickly – The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 25, 2017, from https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2012/06/09/harvard-researcher-says-children-learn-racism-quickly/gWuN1ZG3M40WihER2kAfdK/story.html


Schneider, Frank W., Gruman, Jamie A.,Coutts, Larry. M. (2011). Applied Social Psychology: Intervention And Evaluation (Second Edition., PP. 7).




Mar 17

Social Media and Todays’ Youth

As we have advanced in technology and ways to communicate, when it comes to social media and todays youth, we are not in a place that we want to be. There are some major issues with social media and how it is negatively effecting younger people’s lives. There are several different types of social media websites out there in the cyber world. Websites such as Facebook, twitter and My Space are very popular amongst younger people and even adults. What are the issues that exists when it comes to younger people and social media? How can having a Facebook or a Twitter account can be harmful to virtually anyone? What are some ways that parents can protect their children from the issues that arise from social media and harmful websites? These are some questions that are very real and need to be addressed.

We need to know exactly why social media has so much power and influence on today’s youth. Social media has greatly affected the way todays youth spend their leisure time. However, with the rise in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, more and more people are logging in everyday just to interact and share information with friends and followers. Moreover, social media has also changed the way people socialize and interact with each other. Unfortunately, youth who spend a lot of time on social media are at higher risk for depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders and more prone to feeling isolated and disconnected (McGillivray N., 2015).

There are websites that can affect a young person’s health but glamorizing a certain behavior that will have a negative consequence on a young person’s mental and physical health. Websites such as pro anorexia emerged as a new form of thin ideal exposure. These types of websites put a positive twist on the negative truth that anorexia is not an illness but in fact a lifestyle choice (Bardone-Cone & Cass, 2007). This is a very good example on how often teens and even some adults are being misled by media through its context.

However, there are ways that we can decrease undesirable social media effects in our lives and young people’s lives. One way to decrease undesirable social media effects is by doing research and looking at different sources to see if what we are being told on one website, if in fact it’s true or not. Parents can educate their children by informing them to be very hesitant and careful on what they see on social media. Using technologies can reinforce new social behaviors and ways of thinking, including both desirable and undesirable behavior (Nelson A., 2017). Parents can also limit the amount of time their children spend on the internet and control what sites can be visible to their kids through setting parental control.

Even though social media can be a scary place for younger people, it can also be beneficial. There are countless educational websites that youth can take advantage of and use to get the help that they need in their academics. There is no doubt that the internet can either have a positive or negative effect in our lives and the lives of our children. People, especially the young, are often too open and public with personal information when online and that can have a negative effect in our lives (McGillivray N., 2015). We need to teach the youth to always limit the amount of information that they’re making available publicly. Our safety and the safety of our children on social media are mostly in our hands and we can always take precautions when posting comments, opinions and personal values online. There is always a safer and better way to socialize online, and we need to teach our youth how to stay safe and private when doing so.


Bardone-Cone, Anna M. and Kamila M. Cass. What does viewing a pro-anorexia websites do? An experimental examination of websites exposure and moderating effects. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 40(6). 2007. Pp. 537-548.

 McGillivray N., Turbo Future., (2015, October 12). What Are the Effects of Social Media on Youth. Retrieved March 18, 2017, from www.turbofuture.com

 Nelson, A. (2017). Lesson 9. Applied Social Psychology: Media/Communications Technology. Presented on the PSYCH 424 Course Content Site Lecture at The Pennsylvania State University.

Feb 17

Release Social Anxiety By Doing “The Work”

Utilizing “The Work” In Reference to Social Anxiety

By:Kristen Jezek

If you are like most people, there has been a time in your life where you have felt somewhat anxious or nervous at the thought of going on an important date or attending a party with a lot of people. This type of nervousness to meet with others can be natural, even exciting for some. However, for others it is a nightmare of anxiety which develops into full-blown social anxiety disorder (Schneider, 2012), crippling their social life and self-concept. To combat the thoughts that lead to social anxiety disorder, and a host of other undesirable consequences, The Work of Byron Katie offers a way out (Do The Work, 2015).
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA, 2017) defines social anxiety disorder as “the extreme fear of being scrutinized and judged by others in social or performance situations”. While the person who experiences this may have a fulfilling and productive life in the comfort of their own company, the social phobia kicks in with the thought of socializing with other people, meeting someone new, or going on a job interview. As social creatures, this phobia can have devastating effects for a person’s quality of life. When faced with a social situation, the fear can be so great that it stops the person from attending the social activity, leading to isolation and loneliness.
The Work of Byron Katie is a method to question your stressful thoughts. The thoughts you utilize to question in the work consist of anything that is causing you stress or disrupting your quality of life. This has incredible implications for someone who is suffering from irrational anxiety due to their beliefs about what may happen in a social situation. When faced by a social situation that causes anxiety, a person would first identify and write down the stressful thought (or thoughts) they are believing. For example, the stressful thought may be “others will judge me negatively”, “this person will think I’m stupid” or “I will never get this job”. These are the types of thoughts that, when played over and over in a person’s mind, brainwash them into an anxiety which cripples and debilitates their social confidence, and can lead to intense social anxiety. Rather than believe these stressful thoughts, The Work invites you to question them.
So, what is “The Work”? The work is a series of four questions and what is called a “turnaround”, in which you turn the thought around. The four questions are as follows:

1) Is it true?
2) Can I absolutely know that it’s true?
3) How do I react when I think that thought?
4) Who would I be without that thought?

The turnaround is simply finding an opposite of the stressful thought. Examples of
the turnarounds for the thoughts presented above are “They will judge me positively”, “this person will think I’m smart”, or “I will get this job”. The next step is to find three concrete examples of how that thought could be as true, or truer than the negative thought before. I might find three examples of why I should get that job, and armed with the knowledge of those three examples, I could feel more confident that it was true. Furthermore, this increased confidence in social situations often leads to a better performance in the social situation overall.
The implications for The Work in treating and managing social anxiety are huge. Whether you are a person with slight social anxiety or suffering from full-blown social anxiety disorder, the act of slowing down your thoughts long enough to question them can offer tremendous relief. If a person could question their stressful thoughts as they thought them (and turn them around), they would be able to free themselves from the crippling fear that comes with dreading a stressful outcome. This confidence compounds over time and with regular practice of asking these four questions and turning them around, the person can facilitate themselves to greater health, social abundance, and mental freedom.


1) Social Anxiety Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2017, from https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder (ADAA)
2) Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: Sage.
3) International, B. K. (2015, September 06). Do The Work. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://thework.com/en/do-work

Feb 17

Let’s have a heart-to-heart about stress.

How was your day today? Were you happy, angry, sad, stressed? Many of us would answer that we felt some stress. So, what made you feel stressed? Was it class work, money issues, health, family? Maybe it’s all the above. But what does that stress do to us? In this week’s lesson, in Psych 424, we discussed health related problems due to stress. In the lesson, health psychology is defined as the science of understanding psychological issues, as well as social influences on why we become ill, how we stay healthy, and how our bodies respond.

A questionnaire, called The Dental Environment Stress Questionnaire, was given to 205 dental students enrolled in a Bachelor of Dental Surgery program in Australia to quantify and identify the sources of stress in their lives (Sanders & Lushington, 1999). D come as no surprise to us students, their greatest stressor was their grades. But what does this stress do to our bodies?

Most of us have learned that acute stress doesn’t tend to have long-term effects on our bodies. Animals experience acute stress in the wild most every day, but because the stress leaves once there is no longer a threat, the stress doesn’t have long term effects on their bodies. Chronic stress, which is what we humans have come to know so well, is the type that stays with us. It is the worries of work, finances, family, and any other thing that adds to our daily stress that makes them chronic stressors. This chronic stress is what is effecting our health. Though doctors don’t know exactly how chronic stress affects the heart, those at Harvard Medical have a good idea. They believe that it is most likely due to stress triggering inflammation, which is known as an instigator of heart disease. In addition to the inflammation, stress that leads to unhealthy behaviors such as a bad diet and lack of exercise can also lead to heart disease. (Harvard Health, 2017)

You may be thinking, “But what can I do? I’m always going to have stress in my life.” Harvard Medical School has 5 suggestions that may help.

First, they suggest staying positive. Have a laugh! It’s been found to lower stress hormones, reduce that instigating inflammation, and it can help increase “good” cholesterol!

Next, try meditating. The focused, deep breathing has been known to reduce some risk factors associated with heart disease.

Then comes the exercise. Though it may seem like a pain at the beginning, exercise releases mood-boosting chemicals that can help lower blood pressure, strengthen your heart muscle, as well as keep you healthy and stress free.

Unplug. Leave those work calls and emails until tomorrow if possible.

Lastly, find other ways to de-stress. Is listening to music, getting a massage, or reading a book your idea of releasing some stress?

What you think contributes to stress the most? Would any of these help YOU?




Harvard Health: 5 ways to de-stress and help your heart, February 11, 2017, Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/5-ways-to-de-stress-and-help-your-heart

Sanders, A. E., & Lushington, K. (1999). Sources of stress for Australian dental students. Journal of dental education63(9), 688-697.

Feb 17

Bandura’s Observational Theory Influences Violent Behavior Through Observation & Imitation Factors

[Pictured above] is a “Bobo Doll” used in Albert Bandura’s experiment. Findings from the study revealed evidence that supported his Observational Learning Theory.

Violent acts have spread like wild fire throughout the course of history.  Why do negligent acts keep reoccurring?  No one knows the sole reason why one person performs deceitful behavior, while another person does not.  Researchers have proposed several theories which explore the relationship between the brain and violent behavior, as well as other aspects that may trigger violence.  For instance, is delinquency contagious through exposure (personal or media-coverage)?  Some individuals suggest that crime is the result of protecting oneself or people they care about.  However, others insinuate that coercive behavior is acted out by revenge-seeking behavior to punish others.  Another theory investigates whether certain types of brains are more susceptible to violence or aggression than others.  Rowell Heusmann is a psychology from the University of Michigan who proposed that, “If you’re exposed to violence, you’re more likely to catch it (Swanson, 2015).”  Accordingly, this statement relates to Albert Bandura’s Observational Theory, also known as Social Learning Theory – SLT (1970).  The lesson commentary defines SLT as, “watching someone else perform a behavior, then the observer performs a similar behavior in a similar situation (L.5 Commentary).”  The report focuses on the observational theory relative to a clinical/counseling aspect of psychological practices.  Is violence typically learned by observing and imitating actions we see around us?  Moreover, does exposure to violence spark individuals to execute savagery themselves?

A gloomy shade of darkness asphyxiates the victims who have stared fear in the face at some point in their lives.  Words cannot describe the victimizing terror that preys on the lives of innocent people.   Violent trepidation spreads like an infectious disease into the minds of certain disturbed beings.  Why are some people susceptible to violent manipulation, whereas others cease and refrain from any type of hostility?  The Washington Post published an article called, “Why Violence is So Contagious” which highlights key aspects for condoning violent behavior (Swanson, 2015).  Ana Swanson proposes that exposure to violence has been significantly increasing throughout the years.  Conclusively, frequent revelations of violent behavior may be imitated by certain individuals (Swanson, 2015).   Furthermore, the Social Learning Theory illustrates why people imitate the actions they see around them.

The observational theory describes the way that people imitate certain behaviors (such as violence) is through a process known as, modeling.  An article by the British Journal of Psychology defines modeling as, “learning by watching, interpreting, and evaluating peers carrying out a task (Swanson, 2015).”  Additionally, effective modeling follows four stages described as: “observation/attention, emulation/retention, self-control/motor reproduction, and motivation/opportunity/self-regulation (Lesson 5 Commentary).”  The British Journal of Psychiatry (2015) revealed that initially, the learner actually observes the behavior and relevant elements in the learning environment while it is in action.  Second, an individual internalizes the skill by storing the learned series of steps in their memory, so they can remember or reference them later.  Next, the learner must have the motor-skills required to mimic the behavior.  Finally, they exhibit necessary talents and are provided with an opportunity to engage in the behavior (Swanson, 2015).  As a result, the learner converts their mental representation into a physical task.  Observing and imitating violent behavior is the most prevalent in the first, and potentially second steps of the modeling process.  For instance, hopefully it would not be in anyone’s mind set to follow all of these steps until the end while carrying out an act of violence.  Relatively, modeling is related to violent behavior because it drives learned mimicry of the observed behavior from the surrounding environment.

Why do people pick up violent behaviors?  Albert Bandura (1970) developed the observational theory, in which the brain adopts violent behavior mostly by instinctual processes.  Bandura conducted a study, called the “Bobo Doll Experiment,” in order to assess the validity of this causal relationship.  His study consisted of two groups of kids who observed an adult playing with the inflatable “Bobo Doll” under two different conditions.  The first group analyzed an adult engaging in aggressive play where they hit and kicked the doll several times.  However, the second group viewed the adult calmly and nicely play with the doll.  After observing the adults, the children played with the Bobo doll themselves.  The results displayed that the first group (observed aggressive play) were much more inclined to behave violently when they played with the toy.  Nonetheless, the second group mimicked playtime by engaging with the doll in a peaceful and friendly manner.  The article mentions, “the effect was stronger when the adult was of the same sex as the child, suggesting that kids were more likely to imitate people they identify with (Swanson, 2015).”  These findings concluded that people learn through imitating observed behavior.  Furthermore, the “Bobo Doll” experiment incited future research related to the social learning theory.  The article states, “Decades later, scientists began to discover just how much our brains are wired to imitate the actions we see around us – evidence suggesting that human behavior is less guided by rational behavior than people believed (Swanson, 2015).”  Conclusively, much of our behavior is caused by automatic instincts which mimic foreseen actions.

Additionally, findings from the Bobo Doll experiment intrigued a group of Italian researchers (1990), in which they utilized findings from the previous study to test their own theories about the observational theory’s relativity to neurological processing.  In their experiment, they investigated that parallel sets of “mirror neurons” were released in both of the following situations – while a monkey grasped an object and while observing another primate gripping the same object.  Firing of these analogous neurons is prevalent in both primates and humans.  This neural activity takes place in the premotor cortex, which is the brain region liable for “planning and executing actions (Swanson, 2015).”  Additionally, the premotor cortex is essential for learning things through imitation, including violent behaviors.  Neurons stimulate the premotor cortex If we are exposed to direct observation of someone acting violently.  When this brain region is activated, we feel like we are the ones actually doing the victimizing behavior.  Marco Iacoboni, a psychiatric professor, concluded that “these ‘mirror neurons’ (and activation of the premotor cortex) may be the biological mechanism by which violence spreads from one person to another (Swanson, 2015).”  The first thesis statement asks if violence is typically learned by observing and imitating actions we see around us?  Absolutely!  Albert Bandura’s observational theory (1970) explains that violent behavior is learned through exposure and imitation of an observed act of violence.  The study gave heart to the well-known expression:                             * Monkey SEE, Monkey DO!! *

Accordingly, the second half of my thesis statement asks if exposing people to violence prepares them to commit violent acts themselves.  For instance, is hostility increased when exposed to gruesome video games, television shows, or news?  In other words, does the prevalence of violence in the media expose us to heightened levels of aggressive behavior?  When individuals experience brutality through media programs or video games, they are more than likely not going to go out and commit violent acts themselves.  Although, after continuous exposure they may begin to adapt to these terroristic occurrences.  Alternatively, they may start to become numb to some of the gruesome imagery that they used to be completely appalled by.  For instance, the article compares these feelings to those fighting in war typically grow less disturbed by blood and violence (Swanson, 2015).  Overall, continual exposure to violence on personal real-life accounts, or through the media, is related to increased aggression. 

Hostile attribution bias means to interpret other’s actions as threatening or aggressive.  This bias may be influenced by violent media, or by repulsive actions including rejection, teasing, yelling, or belittling (Swanson, 2015).  Being subjected to cruel media makes people react in a more aggressive manner, as well as an increased likelihood to imitate revenge-seeking behavior.

Furthermore, the next objective will focus on the most effective way to prevent violent behavior from spreading.  For instance, in order to dispel acts of aggression, it is critical to limit the amount of exposure to violence that someone experiences.   Enforcing restrictions on the amount of violent media that is allowed to be published will make people not as inclined to negatively react or imitate violent behavior, compared to if they continued to regularly observe negative accounts of terror.  Incidences of corruption should not be seen as a normally occurring phenomena.  If a violent occasion is not relevant to the endangerment of people’s lives to a major degree, then it should be evaluated with stricter guidelines.  Evaluations will consider whether it is necessary to expose the news story to a significantly large audience, as well as consider how the audience members will respond to the situation (become more aggressive, lash out in a violent manner, become terrified or sad, etc.)  Majority of the time, violent media would be better left unsaid in order to protect the well-being of its viewers.  It is critical that we stop prompting the spread of violent news stories, because many people learn and imitate various behaviors (whether minor or extreme) that they learned primarily from media sources.  Limiting exposure to violence is one of the most effective ways to stop spreading around volatile behavior like an infectious disease.  In conclusion, acts of negligence keep on reoccurring since the human brain is wired to learn things (such as violent behavior) through imitating actions that we see around us.

      In conclusion, violence is a dark and fearful topic to discuss.  The outbreak of terroristic outrage is quickly spreading through patterns of acquired aggression and hostility.  Heightened levels of exposure to violence trigger it to spread at an increasing rate throughout the world.  Evidently, the most effective way to diminish or slow down spread of violence and terrorism is to get rid of cruel and unnecessary news stories, as well as limit exposure to violence.

Conclusively, Albert Bandura’s observational theory (1970) constitutes that violent behavior is learned through imitating observed behaviors that we notice in our surrounding environment.  Bandura connected our brain activity to instinctual responses to the observed actions surrounding us.  A group of Italian researchers (1990) performed a study on how a monkey responded to grabbing an object himself, or analyzing what happened to the monkey when he watched another primate grasp the same object.  Results of the study implicated that the area of the brain responsible for ‘planning and executing actions’ (premotor cortex) is stimulated by a parallel set of ‘mirror neurons.’  These neurons are released when we observe someone acting out in a violent manner, and we imagine ourselves performing the violent action ourselves.  Dr. Marco Iacoboni (1990) formed one of the most valuable conclusions of this report, “these neurons may be the biological mechanism by which violence spreads from one person to another (Swanson, 2015).” Modeling threatening behavior typically results from high exposure rates to the media.  Likewise, mimicking such behavior causes amplified levels of aggression and rage, which may impair an individuals’ ability to plan and execute actions appropriately.  In conclusion, humans will follow the four steps of effective modeling proposed in Albert Bandura’s observational theory (1970) in order to learn various things through imitation (such as violent behaviors) and observation of a behavior in which they learn to mimic themselves.





Swanson, A. S. A. (2015, December 15). Why violence is so contagious. Washington Post. Retrieved online from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/15/why-violence-is-so-contagious/?utm_term=.fb549a29f126


Pennsylvania State University (n.d.). Lesson 5 Commentary. Retrieved online at https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1834710/modules/items/2173666

Feb 17

Cause and Effect of Global Warming

As you may have already known, one of the biggest environmental issues that we are facing is global warming. When an individual hears the words global warming, a few things might come to mind. Naturally we think of seas, forests and natural life that inhabits the wilderness. Have you ever asked yourself the question of what is Global Warming? How does Global Warming affect us and almost every living thing on our planet earth? What are some of the causes of Global Warming?

To answer some of the questions we must first understand how does the earth sustains life through energy. Life on earth depends on energy coming from the sun (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2017). Global warming is a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of gases and other pollutants. To further understand the cause(s) of global warming one must understand the science behind it. Most climate scientists agree the main cause of the current global warming trend is human expansion of the greenhouse effect — warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space (Nasa, 2017). How does heat gets trapped in the atmosphere? Certain gases such as water vapor (H2O), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), Methane (CH4) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) are responsible for blocking heat from escaping.

Now that we know a bit about Global Warming and the causes behind it, we must understand how global warming affects us and our environment. The environment is one of three major influences on humans at large. Bandura (1986) devised a theory called Triadic Reciprocal Determinism (or Causation) that states that the environment that people live in both influences human behavior and personal factors. People are both influenced by the environment but also have a certain level of control over the environment so that both can affect each other (Nelson, A. 2017).

We must take responsibility for our actions, and as we mature and become adults most of us do just that. As the population grows so does our need for more resources. You might ask, how does population and resources play a role in global warming. For example, let’s look at one of the factors behind global warming; CO2. As the population grows in any town U.S.A, so does the need for jobs, housing and transportation. Building housing and operating factories requires fuel. Using personal or public transportation to get to work and back, running your day to day errands, all requires fuel. Burning fuel, creates CO2. One of the causes of global warming per NASA is CO2.

Some of the things that we’ve seen because of global warming are; longer and hotter summer season, earth quicks, tsunamis, melting glaciers which has drastic effects on our planet earth and negative effect on the creatures that inhabit our forests, seas and most importantly, us, humans. Per the Guardian the death toll in India’s heatwave has climbed towards 1,500 as the country sweltered in one of the worst bouts of hot weather for several years (The Guardian, 2015).

In conclusion, we, humans are the superior species that have control over all other living things on our green planet earth. It is up to us to educate ourselves on the environment that we live in and understand how does our needs, habits, actions and will to live and to survive is affecting our environments. We are on the right track towards fighting global warming by creating hybrid cars for example, or using solar panels and or windmills to create energy. However, we still have a long road ahead of us to completely and successfully eliminate global warming. We can only try by educating masses and creating more green technology, all to sustain precious lives on our home, the planet earth.


Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundation of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Nelson, A. (2017). Lesson 4. Applied social psychology: The Environment. Presented on the PSYCH 424 course content site lecture at the Pennsylvania State University.

Shaftel H., Jackson R., Tenenbaum L., National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)., (2017, January 31). A Blanket Around the Earth. Retrieved February 4, 2017, from www.nasa.gov

The Guardian.,(2015, May 28). India heatwave death toll rises as awareness campaigns launch. Retrieved February 4, 2017, from www.theguardian.com

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