Feb 14

The Devastating Effects of the Fundamental Attribution Error in an Organization


Whether it is a non-profit organization, a work environment, or school, perceptions can effect organizations on many levels. Within each of the environments listed, at any given time, these organizations will possess a menagerie of people, with differing personalities, attitudes, and capabilities. But more often than not, it is the perception that a person has about his co-workers, as well as the way the person is perceived that can cause problems within the workplace. The major problem with perception is that everyone perceives things differently, and often they each believe their perception is correct. Because people tend to believe what they see, often they will fall into the trap of the fundamental attribution error.

The fundamental attribution error states that we often judge other people’s actions as a result of some faulty personal characteristic they possess, while failing to recognize the variety of situational factors that could be causing their behavior (Schneider, et al, 2012). This error in judgment can be very detrimental within an organization when we rely on our perceptions of others to cloud our objectivity. We have all been guilty of the fundamental attribution error at some point in our lives, and we typically do not think of how the target of our false perceptions are left feeling once they have been wrongly judged based on a particular behavior that does not actually reflect their true character.

During my senior year in college (the first time) I also worked as a General Manager at a Taco Bell. While the job was not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination, the schedule was flexible and the pay was great for a 21 year old; it worked perfectly for what I needed at the time. I was in my last semester at college and had been diagnosed with a serious medical problem that left me in a great deal of pain almost constantly. I wanted to wait until after graduation to have my surgery so for the next 3 months I suffered through both work and school. I am not one to call in or miss work, or class, so I would show up in massive amounts of mind-searing pain. There were times at work, that as soon as the rush was over, I would be found doubled over in the corner trying to make it through my shift. This went on for weeks on end. My supervisor was aware of my problem, but my employees were not and they were not very understanding. Speculation began to surface and the perceptions of my employees were causing them to judge my situation without knowing the true reason for my behavior. They thought I had become complacent, they thought that since I was about to graduate from college I was going to quit and therefore didn’t care any longer, they thought I was faking the pain so that I wouldn’t have to exert as much effort; you name it and they blamed me for it. The problem, however, was that all of them were incorrect. I still took pride in my work, I still cared about my staff, I felt extremely guilty for being less productive that I had previously been; I felt as though it would be better for me to come to work and be semi-productive than it would be for me to miss work and leave them in even more of a bind.

Most of my employees were guilty of the fundamental attribution error. They were blaming me for conditions that were beyond my control.  They were judging my behavior as if were some character flaw I had just developed, and it was all based on their perception of my behavior; and each of their perceptions differed. For new employees, this can be particularly problematic. Their first perceptions of me were centered on those moments that I was in pain and otherwise, less productive. Perceptions like these are hard to overcome (Aronson, et al, 2013). New employees are not aware of how an authority figure acted prior to their employment with the company, therefore they have nothing to compare it to. It then becomes easy to judge their superior as being lazy.

Good people are subject to many psychological tendencies and organizational pressures within the workplace that affect their decision making; the desire to please co-workers and/or supervisors, the desire to be part of a team, or the self-serving bias just to name a few (Aronson, 2013). We can avoid errors in judgment such as the fundamental attribution error if we learn that what we perceive is not necessarily reality. By widening our realm of focus, especially in regards to co-workers, we can avoid this destructive blame game. Before judging a co-workers actions, it is important to try and put ourselves in their shoes, ask explicitly for an explanation of their behaviors, look at the breadth of their work experience and judge them based on their reputation, or be open to the fact that our perceptions are not reality. Often times if we consider the entire context of a person’s work experience, we will notice that there is often a reason for someone’s unfavorable actions, and many times it is not a character flaw.


Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Akert, R. M. (2013). Social Psychology (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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

Picture borrowed from: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/meyer769/psy_1001/2012/04/to-judge-or not-to-judge.html

Feb 14

Mastery-Motivational Climate

Psychological research has demonstrated that different learning environments can influence the success rates of instructive impact (Ntoumanis & Biddle, 1999, p. 645). These research results are coupled with the fact that society tends to rely on the leaders of groups to produce success in their followers (such as firing sports coaches or company executives when their team isn’t performing sufficiently; not winning games, not making enough profits, etc.) (p. 643). The psychological research and societal perception demonstrate that psychology efforts should be focused on determining methods that improve leaders’ effectiveness.

Mastery-motivational climate is the product of such efforts (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005, p. 123). Although research has brought to light two climate types, mastery-motivational (effort/improvement/team work; such as focusing on enhancing self-skills and collaborating with others; cooperative atmosphere) and performance (performance/ability based; such as employees comparing their own work to those around them, competitive atmosphere), the former has proven most effective (Ntoumanis & Biddle, 1999, p. 644).

Psychologists have empirically demonstrated, in multiple studies [such as Ames, 1984; Dweck and Leggett, 1988; Nicholls,1989 (Ntoumanis & Biddle, 1999, p. 643); Magyar, Feltz, and Simpson, 2004 (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005, p. 123)], that leaders who promote an atmosphere of learning, improvement, and working with others, produce a superiorly increased rate of motivational adaptation (use pattern of positive outlook, effective learning tactics, greater effort) (Ntoumanis & Biddle, 1999, p. 643-644) and collective efficacy (everyone on the team believing in the success of the team) (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005, p. 122). Research regarding mastery-motivational climate also speaks to the significance of the utilization of team members collaborating on decisions, where success is defined and determined, not by specific ability, but based on each team member’s effort and improvement rates (Ntoumanis & Biddle, 1999, p. 644). .

Programs that include mastery-motivation climate are particularly well used in the athletics, school and business systems, as interested parties seek to improve the quality of behavioral production (such as, improving athletic motivation in an effort to improve performance (Strawbridge. & Marshall, 1999, p. 1), improving the quality of physical education programs within school systems to promote increased rates of physical activity (Bowler, 2009, p. 2), inspiring business associates to work together to more cooperatively solve financial analyses and workups ( L’Atelier, 2012, p. 1), etc.). Currently, the effectiveness and utility of the mastery-motivation model is widely recognized and accepted. There are several programs that utilize the many benefits of the mastery-motivation method, but in the interest of brevity, this blog will only cover one area.

In the interest of promoting contentment, successfulness and efficiency in the work place, Christina Nerstad has developed a six principle system which personifies the mastery-motivation climate. First, the business leadership must provide assignments which are both meaningful and varied. Second, the business leadership must promote creative challenges and chances for employees to contribute to decisions being made. Third, the business leadership must encourage self-motivation, learning skillsets, dedication, and acceptance. Fourth, business leadership must avoid playing favorites between the employees, singling people out for talent or lack thereof can cause the other teammates to lose self-esteem and self-worth. Fifth, Nerstad promoted that business leadership should promote an atmosphere of self-development and commitment. Then sixth, it is important to hone individual’s specific talents as well. ( L’Atelier, 2012, p. 1)


Bowler, M. (2009, September 2). The influence of the TARGET motivational climate structures on pupil physical activity levels during year 9 athletics. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/184297.pdf

L’Atelier (2012, February 28). ‘Mastery climate’ more effective than ‘performance climate’ for creating commitment. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://www.atelier.net/en/trends/articles/mastery-climate-more-effective-performance-climate-creating-commitmentt

Ntoumanisn, N., & Biddle, S. J. (1999). A review of motivational climate in physical activity. Journal of Sports Sciences, 17, 643-655. doi:10.1080/026404199365678

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2005). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. SAGE Publications. Strawbridge. , M., & Marshall, N. (1999). Creating a Healthy & Effective Motivational Climate. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from https://usagym.org/pages/home/publications/technique/2000/3/motivationalclimate.pdf



Feb 14

Organization + Intergroup Relations | For better or worse.

Organizations can range from a little as two people to millions as seen in the Department of Defense however, regardless of size there are key components any successful organization must have (The Economist, 2011). Marriage, for example, is a simple organization of two individuals that engage in many of the same behaviors that a major organization engages in such as communication and group decision making (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012). Just as communication is key to the success of a large organization so too is communication’s role in marriage. Schneider, Gruman and Coutts (2012) define communication as a social behavior of at least two people interacting and providing one another with information (p. 233). Furthermore, Schneider, Gruman and Coutts (2012) go on to discuss the actual model of communication which includes conveying a message by means of a medium (“channel”) that must be encoded, decoded and received by another individual (p. 233). Within a marriage, the same process takes place. For instance, take the simple chore of washing dishes – a wife (or husband) may verbally or nonverbally convey to their significant other that they would like help washing the dishes. In order to do this, the wife must form her thoughts into a message to communicate to her husband. Typically this message, once formed, is likely to be conveyed through a face-to-face medium. Once the wife has transmitted her message the husband then receives and decodes the message (and hopefully agrees to help do the dishes!). This process can go back and forth and can be very clear or can result in a disagreement due to lack of clarity.

Penley, Alexander, Jernigan and Henwood (1991) uncovered that managers of corporations with effective communication skills outperform others and this is also the case for effective communicators within a marriage. In order for managers to be effective and efficient communicators they must be able to provide clear objectives and accurate feedback (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012). In order for a married couple to communicate efficiently they too must be clear and accurate in their requests, concerns, desires etc. Now this does not always occur within organizations nor does it always occur within a marriage and when it does not follow this communication model, problems may arise whether it be the wrong person getting laid off or a big argument over who left the toilet seat up.

Krone, Jablin and Putnam (1987) described that within the psychological perspective a major influencing factor of how something is received or communicated is an individual’s “conceptual filter” (p. 234). A conceptual filter incorporates an individual’s cognitions, attitudes and perceptions (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012). Therefore, it is essential to take into consideration in an organization when communicating with another individual as they will have a different conceptual filter. This is the same in a marriage, just because two people fall in love and have many of the same attitudes and opinions does not mean that their conceptual filter is the same. In order to be an effective communicator in both an organization and a marriage, one must consider how their message may be influenced by another’s conceptual filter.

Modern organizations have begun to place more emphasis on teams in order to divide up and assign specific tasks to specialized individuals (Pennsylvania State University, 2014). A team, or group, can be defined as “two or more persons who are interacting with one another in such a manner that each person influences and is influenced by each other person” (Pennsylvania State University, 2014; Shaw, 1981). A marriage then, can also be seen as a team of two individuals who influence and are influenced by one another. Additionally, teams are divided up based on specialization and within a marriage this can be seen by having the husband and wife both take on different roles. Perhaps the husband takes on the “team role” of investing in the stock market and mowing the lawn while the wife assumes the role of providing a nice dinner and paying the bills. Whatever the roles may be, it often takes a team effort to achieve and maintain a functioning household.

House, R.J., Shuler, R.S., & Levaroni, E. (1983). Role conflict and ambiguity scales: Reality or artifact? Journal of Applied Psychology, 68. 334-337. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.68.2.334
Jamal, M. (1984). Job stress and job performance controversy: An empirical assessment. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 33(1).  1-21. doi:10.1016/0030-5073(84)90009-6.
Krone, K., Jablin, F., Putnam, L. (1987). Handbook of organizational communication: An interdisciplinary perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Penley, L., Alexander, E., Jernigan, I., & Henwood, C. (1991). Communication abilities of managers: The relationship to performance. Journal of Management, 17(1), 57-76. doi: 10.1177/014920639101700105.
Pennsylvania State University. (2014). Organizational Life and Teams. [Online Lecture]. Retrieved from http://cms.psu.edu.
Rizzo, J.R., House, R.J., & Lirtzman, S.I. (1970). Role conflict and ambiguity in complex organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 15. 150-163. doi: 10.2307/2391486.
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.
Semin, G. (2007). Grounding communication. In A.W. Kruglanski & E.T. Higgins (Eds). Social Psychology Handbook of basic principles (2nd ed). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Shaw, M. (1981). Group Dynamics: The Psychology of Small Group Dynamics. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
The Economist. (2011). Who are the world’s biggest employers? Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/09/employment?fsrc=scn/tw/te/dc/defending.

Feb 14

Lesson 6 – Blog Post – Taboa – Social Hierarchies and Workplace Discrimination

Social Hierarchies and Workplace Discrimination

I’m sure that throughout our lives, many of us have experienced or witnessed some form of workplace discrimination. We often hear about the glass ceiling that blocking women from achieving promotions as easily as men or the glass elevator that men ‘ride’ to their promotions because they don’t face the obstacles that women usually face in the workplace. Some of us women have noticed that climbing up is difficult with the sticky floor that keeps women at the lower rungs of the job ladder (Padavic & Reskin, 2002). So why does all of this discrimination happen? It was considered a social norm before for women to be housewives and men the bread earners; in a different age, we were taught that the male was dominant and the female was inferior. We’ve grown past that now. Our age places a lot of focus on gender equality and looks at gender discrimination as something to be frowned upon, so why is there still inequality in the workplace?

One of the theories that we focused on this lesson can be easily utilized to explain why job discrimination is still persistent today. According to social dominance theory, all of us belong to groups. These groups provide us with support and resources, so we wish to keep the group safe (Penn State, 2014). Let’s take a look at the support and resources that men gain from their male groups. According to social networks theory, the current workplace often hires people with connections or through word-of-mouth (Padavic & Reskin, 2002). According to Padavic and Reskin, because the highest levels of organizations are dominated by males (and males tend to share work information with and hire other males), females are usually held at a disadvantage. Social dominance theory states that because of the support that individuals gain from their groups, they’ll want to keep their groups protected (Penn State, 2014).

We’ve learned in this lesson that society is arranged in a way that groups are often placed in hierarchies, and individuals in groups will behave in ways to keep those hierarchies intact (Pratto, Sidanious, & Levin, 2006; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). Women, who often perceives their status even today to be lower in the hierarchy as compared to men, will often subconsciously behave in ways that keep themselves lower while the men, who see themselves as members of a superior hierarchy, will behave in ways to keep their higher status. Most higher-ups in companies tend to be male, and when asked why most individuals hired into higher positions or given promotions tend to be male, many replied that that the reason they’re employing and promoting males is because they themselves are male and feel more comfortable around men or with promoting individuals more like themselves (Padavic & Reskin, 2002).

The dominant group in this situation, that is, the males, are regarded as individuals with positive social values who have access to greater resources than groups that are considered lower in the rungs, such as the females. The females, as the subordinate group, are perceived as having negative social values, a lack of power, a lack of resources, and fewer desirable attributes (Pratto et al., 2006; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). Men tend to be given more chances to train on the job and learn new skills than women (Padavic & Reskin), and because they have less skills, they’re less likely to be hired in the future as compared to men and learn new skills. Gender is one of the major categories of hierarchies when dealing with the social dominance theory, and whatever part of the social dominance theory we taken and apply to how men and women are regarded at work goes to explain why these happenings occur (Penn State, 2014). Men were viewed as holding a higher status in the past. Even though our norms have altered and it’s no longer socially acceptable to be a sexist, men wish to maintain their position in the social hierarchy and women behave in ways to keep theirs.


Works Cited

Padavic, I., & Reskin, B. F. (2002).Women and men at work (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press.

Penn State (2014). Lesson 6: Intergroup Relations. (n.d.).PSYCH424: Applied Social Psychology. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://cms.psu.edu.

Pratto, F., Sidanius, J., & Levin, S. (2006). Social dominance theory and the dynamics of intergroup relations: Taking stock and looking forward. European Review of Social Psychology, 17, 271-320.

Pratto, F., Sidanius, J., Stallworth, L., & Malle, B. (1994). Social dominance orientation: A personality variable predicting social and political attitudes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67(4), 741-763. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.67.4.741.

Feb 14

Intergroup Relations: How the Media Can Play a Role

Have you ever had to work with someone you wouldn’t consider “your type of person”? Perhaps it is in the workplace or maybe at school, but if you didn’t have to interact with them there is a good chance you never would. Maybe you never got along with them, or maybe there was just something about them that you didn’t like, but for some you just didn’t like them.

Despite the fact that you didn’t like them, you may have had to work with them. You might have found out that by working together and interacting with them, you may have learned that you actually have more in common with them than you would have thought or maybe they aren’t the person you perceived them to be. Intergroup research suggest that implementing contact hypothesis, where positive contact between groups is increased, can help reduce negative stereotypes as long as both groups consider themselves to be equal and share a common goal (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). As positive contact between each group increases, attitudes about the out-group change.

Over the years, the media has had their fair share of criticism, being blamed for putting unrealistic images in peoples’ heads, such as the way they should look, how they should act, what’s popular and what’s not. However, researchers suggest the media can be used to improve intergroup relations. Using an extended contact hypothesis framework (Lienemann & Stopp, 2013) conducted a study investigating the association between the media and intergroup relations, in this particular case interracial relations and interracial attitudes. The results showed that prolonged contact of Black-White relationships via the media increased favorable attitudes toward Black-White relationships. This was a result of more positive attitudes toward interracial relationships.

This is an interesting idea because it showing that the contact doesn’t have to be physical and that the media can play a role in improving intergroup relations. The media is in our daily lives, what we see on TV or in magazines becomes “normal” to us. If you were to constantly see Black-White relationships somewhere in the media, there is a better possibility of it becoming normal and accepting to us without even realizing it.



Lienemann, B. A. and Stopp, H. T. (2013), The association between media exposure of interracial relationships and attitudes toward interracial relationships. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43: E398–E415. doi: 10.1111/jasp.12037

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (Eds.). (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Feb 14

Discrimination in the workplace

Throughout everyone’s lives, there are going to be situations everyone will come into contact with people that are a different than they area. This difference could be race, religion, gender, and several more. As people come into contact with other, discrimination and conflict between people. This discrimination not only happens often, but it is also very common to be against women.

As discrimination in the world increases, so does discrimination in the workplace. Nearly 30% of women report being discriminated again in a workplace (Covert, 2013). With this being said, women are being given the chance to get paid the same as male employees or advance in their jobs. As women continue to succeed in their careers, something is still holding them back. This is the sexism in a workplace. This can occur when a man is given a higher position because they are seen to be inferior to women. These negative attitudes will cause women to be stuck in a position or pay amount that is not allowing them to succeed to their full potential.

In order to lower the amount of discrimination in a workplace, there are training programs. The Equal Employee Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers training programs for employees on prevention and discrimination laws. With their programs, the discrimination can decrease and all employees can have a greater chance to succeed.

As I think about jobs, discrimination on women could be due to the fact that there is not enough contact hypotheses. Contact hypothesis for this discrimination would be having males and females work in a group. When people group together to do a job, they work toward the same goal. If an employer gives men and women the chance to work together, the women will be able to have an opinion and show their knowledge. As men and women work together, the hopes would be that the men will have a more positive opinion on women and open to the possibility of a women advancing higher.

In conclusion, women are more likely to be discriminated against at work than men are (Covert, 2013). Not only do women have less opportunity than male coworkers, they also make less money. The EEOC gives opportunities and laws for employees and employers to prevent discrimination. Diversity and discrimination can be positively affected if applied psychology is used correctly.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2005). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Bryce Covert. August 19, 2013. About a third of women have experienced discrimination in the workplace. Retrieved February 20, 2014. From http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/08/19/2486721/about-a-third-of-women-have-experienced-discrimination-in-the-workplace/#

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retrieved February 20, 2014. From http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/outreach/

Feb 14

Diffusion of Responsibility

In an effort to combat issues of diversity in the workplace, schools, government, and various other environments, prevention programs known as Bystander Effect Training are being implemented (Scully & Rowe, 2009, p. 1). The Bystander Effect Training is meant to compensate for the diffusion of responsibility that people feel while in the presence of others, i.e. the bystander effect. The bystander effect is another name for the theory of diffusion of responsibility; they both present that when situations occur where there are multiple people present, each person tends to feel that since there are others, someone else will likely step up and do what is necessary, thus instigating a perceived lessening of the burden on that particular individual, and that person then doesn’t feel as inclined to do anything about the situation at hand (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005, p. 333). This is where the Bystander Effect Training comes into play; the Bystander Effect Training teaches people to take responsibility in situations such as those, to stand up and do something when appropriate, even when there are others around that could also take action. The Bystander Effect Training teaches people how to rely on themselves, instead of others, to be morally responsible and take action (i.e. speak up for sexual harassment, refute acts of discrimination, report safety concerns, etc.).

Programs like the Bystander Effect Training work by training people to encourage positive behaviors through helping those around them to produce more positive behaviors, while also commending those who follow socially acceptable behaviors and actions. For instance, a manager acknowledging and rewarding an employee for a well delivered presentation on methods to improve workplace sexism issues (putting together a program to reduce sexual harassment in the workplace). Through the employees work towards addressomg sexual harassment and sexual stereotypes in the workplace, they not only improve the workplace atmosphere for others, but they, as well as the commendation of their work, set a shining example of appropriate and morally inspirational behavior for their peers. Thus, one of the Bystander Effect Training’s goals is to encourage people to help others and support other’s good choices.

The other major aspect of Bystander Effect Training is the dissuasion of negative instances of behavior. The Bystander Effect Training encourages people to speak up about those actions or people who do not follow the expectations; i.e. people that make discriminatory or sexist remarks or actions, display unsafe or illegal behavior, and/or act in an unprofessional or offensive manner (Scully & Rowe, 2009, p. 2). For example, in a situation where one coworker makes a sexist comment to another coworker, while the third-person coworker, bystander, voices that the comment is inappropriate and continues to speak to the insulted coworker in a professional manner; i.e. speaking up for what is right and demonstrating proper behavior.

As an example, here are two Bystander Effect Training Programs currently in place in academia, Arizona’s Stepup and Indiana’s Bystander Intervention. Stepup was put together by the University of Arizona in an effort to improve personal responsibility for moral action and fortitude for their students, athletics, violence prevention centers, residence halls and Greek life (University of Arizona, 2010, p. 1). Arizona’s Stepup breaks down the teaching process into a five step decision making process, while also training individuals in helping skills, warning signs, what to do and resources that can help them get it done. Stepup also utilizes what they term an S.E.E. model; safe, early, effective (p. 1).

Then there is Indiana’s Campus program. Indiana utilized Bystander Prevention as part of their Sexual Assault Primary Prevention Project, through which students are taught how to increase awareness and identify warning signs of sexual assault. The campus’s Bystander Intervention also teaches subjects how to step in and make a difference in a sexual assault situation; both directly and indirectly. (Purdue University, 2014, p. 1)

Overall, in an effort to influence change in diversity issues, all of these programs utilize the same methods behind the Bystander Effect Training, teaching individuals to standup for what is right and motivate others to do the same, not to let or assume others will shoulder the responsibility for them.


Purdue University (2014). Indiana Campus Sexual Assault Primary Prevention Project. Retrieved February 17, 2014, from http://www.purdue.edu/incsapp/bystanderintervention/index.shtml

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2005). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Termin, L. M., Kohs , S. C., Chamberlain, M. B., Anderson, M., & Henry, B. (2012). The Vocabulary Test as a Measure of Intelligence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 9(8), 452-456.

University of Arizona (2010). Step UP! A Prosocial Behavior / Bystander Intervention Program for Students. Retrieved February 17, 2014, from http://www.stepupprogram.org/


Feb 14

Stress in Applied Social Psychology




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          Stress is a part of daily life for most people, but there are some extreme side effects. Severe illnesses such as cancer and heart disease and emotional side effects such as anxiety can be influenced by both social  and psychological factors ( Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012 ).  Stress, therefore is a way which may help facilitate the disease or emotional well-being. There will always be a relationship between individuals and their surroundings and the transactional model of stress is that ongoing connection. First, a stressor occurs which can be the onset of stress and then appraisal sets in as to how to determine how to react. Next, coping takes over which is how an individual tries to lower the stress. And lastly there is usually a result to the stressor which may come in the form of health issues.

 I was adopted, but one thing I inherited from my mother is that she stressed out about everything and I am now like that as well. I was on a journey for 17 months in 2011 through 2012 to adopt my two foster children and I can honestly say that there wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t stressed because of this journey, whether it was because of fear of losing them or fear and stress of the unknown. It caused me to overeat which may be a side effect which also contributes to risk factors such as being overweight. Unhealthy eating may also lead to such things as heart disease which just happens to also be the number one reason that women die each year, which is responsible for a third of the deaths of women ( Cardio Smart, 2013 ) . Before this journey, I was maybe got sick once a year, but during this stressful time, I was getting sick quite often. I have always experienced anxiety, but it really had come to the forefront during this emotional time. I now incorporate exercise and breathing relaxation techniques to cope with stress.

            Stress is a well known factor for smoking and can lead to many health factors which can be life-changing. This issue is very close to my heart. My husband is a smoker and my grandmother who died from lung cancer and quite a few of my good friends still smoke, even though the places where they are allowed to smoke are fewer. I thought that when they banned smoking in restaurants, bars, even many work places that would cause people to quit smoking. However, many people still do, including my husband.  I work in a restaurant and probably 70 percent of my co-workers have to “have” a smoke break during a busy shift. Some people can quit “ cold turkey” , but others have used other methods such as the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, hypnosis, relaxation techniques or drugs which may have powerful side effects such as Chantix which my friends have tried for the third try and are successful, thus far ( one month into it).

            Stress is a well-known, thoroughly studied risk factor to Cardiovascular Heart Disease (CHD). In one study, participants showed a 2.15 greater risk of developing CHD when stress was present ( Bosma, Siegrist & Marmot, 1998). Stress is instrumental to CHD by lowering the response to inflammation ( Yudkin, Kumari, Humphries and Mohamed-Ali, 2000). Psychological treatment would focus on stress management and by decreasing stress, it would improve a CHD patients; longevity. Since stress play a vital position in the progress and cultivation of CHD, finding ways to lower stress such as relaxation exercises, hypnosis can be helpful.

            Finding ways to cope with the stress such as social support from friends and loved ones or a support group for those that are going through the same thing as you can be very helpful. The “theory of planned behavior”  says that how we alter an individual’s behavior is to change the behavior such as not being around negative environments if you are trying to stay away from alcohol ( Schneider et al., 2012 ). There should be no existence of a temptation surrounding the individual because it may facilitate failure. The perception has to be altered as well. If the individual is trying to abstain from alcohol, having friends that want to always “ go out”  may not be the friends that they want to surround them. Finding new ways to have fun may include going for hike’s along trails or having a picnic at a park instead.

            The onset of stress can occur during negative events such as a loss or death and may even occur during positive events such as wedding or in my case, the eventual adoption.  Random events are what cause stress to sometimes take over as well as feelings of being overwhelmed because of upcoming events or “too much on your plate” which happens to most of us. The “five stages of change model”  allows us to understand and research why some interventions in health aren’t attainable. Optimism is important in realizing that stage of an intervention are steps which are flexible meaning that if you miss a step, that just means that you have to make adjustments. Health psychology is another important component to applied social psychology!



Bosma, H., Peter, R., Siegrist, J., & Marmot, M. (1998). Two alternative job stress models and the risk of coronary heart disease. American Journal of Public Health, 88(1), pp. 68-74.

Heart Disease Statistics. (2013). Cardio Smart. American College of Cardiology.

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

Yudkin, J. S., Kumari, M., Humphries, S.E., & Mohamed-Ali, V. (2000). Inflammation, obesity, stress and coronary heart disease: is interleukin-6 the link?. Atherosclerosis, 148(2), pp. 209-214.



Feb 14

Parental/Classroom Joint Substance Abuse Prevention

Through health promotion, or efforts that help and support people’s utilization of healthy behaviors, youth substance abuse prevention strategies are being applied and utilized every day (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005, p.170). These programs are impacted by the fact that youth’s behaviors and choices are highly influenced by their family and peer relationships, with family instilling their original basis for guidance and values, and peers offering an opportunity for youth to become more independent and make their own choices (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005, p.174).

The current statistics for substance abuse signifies the necessity of these prevention programs implementation and usage. The CDC has noted that alcohol is the most commonly used and abused substance by youth in the U.S.; inherently leaving other drugs to come in second (Center for Disease Control and Pervention, 2012, p. 1). Eleven percent of all alcohol purchased is utilized by underage consumers, the lion’s share of which is utilized for binge drinking (90%). Alcohol abuse leads to 4,300 deaths each year (p. 1). It is also a lead factor in the three most common causes of adolescent death; accidents, suicide, and homicide (Foundation for a Drug Free World, n.d., p. 1). Research further indicates that adolescents who drink will also be more likely do drugs as well, and youth rates of drug abuse are currently approximating 10% (p. 1).

Current prevention practices for youth typically revolve around school based programs, with community outreach programs available, to include assessment and help programs for those individuals already afflicted. Yet, despite a myriad of studies that validate the increased effectiveness of using a joint method approach (parenting skills training combined with school-based activities), with some evidence of enlarged effectiveness regarding alcohol abuse rates, parent involvement is still rarely utilized in substance abuse prevention programs today. Specific state prevention program examples include Dorchester, NH (Dorchester Alcohol and Drug Commission, n.d., p. 1), Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania State Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs , 2013, p. 50-61), Missouri (Missouri Institute of Mental Health, n.d., p. 1), and many more that follow in the same, less fruitful, footsteps.

For instance, although there are some parent training programs being implemented out there, they tend to not have wide, or easy enough applicability and accessibility.  First, where there should be parental skills training for all parents, a good deal of programs focus only on those parents who already have  substance abuse issues themselves; i.e. Celebrating Families Intervention in Missouri (SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidenced-based Programs and Practices, 2014, p. 1). Then second, generated in Pennsylvania, there is a private program that fits all of the parent training criteria (parent skills training to support children in making positive choices regarding drugs and alcohol, and not as a recovery program), but it is an item for purchase, like so many other self-help options. Although Guiding Good Choices, Families that Care program specifically targets parental techniques to improve substance abuse rates, it is not available for the mass public to learn and grow from, it has a cost, it must be bought through a private seller (Channing Bete Company, n.d., p. 1). With youth substance abuse prevention programs being aimed at preparing children and families to thwart negative influences and pressures related to drugs and alcohol, it seems like these sorts of programs should be made easily accessible and available if we wish to have the most effective outcome.

Such methods can be implemented utilizing the multiple studies that have repeatedly demonstrated the efficacy of parental/student training technique. In the Spoth and collegues experiment, the combined method was utilized, and indicated its excellence at reducing the substance abuse rate in youth, and in this study, even greater excellence in decrease of alcohol abuse rates (p. 176). The two fold system worked first by educating students in the classroom about drug abuse, how to avoid it and how to resist peer pressure; to include in class and home assignments. Second, it combined with a parental/family element which imparted communication and parenting skills to support their children (p. 175). This intervention method proved to largely reduce the ratio of students involved in drug and alcohol abuse. Overall, these results demonstrate that parental involvement and classroom based programs can be strongly influential, esp. as it pertains to alcohol abuse; that this, and programs like this, are a vital asset to reducing substance abuse in our youngsters.

As further examples, Morrison et. al.’s, The Protective Function of After-school Programming and Parent Education and Support for Students at Risk for Substance Abuse (Morrison, Storino, Robertson, Weisslgass, & Dondero, 2000, p. 1), demonstrated support for the same method, as did Riggs, Elfenbaum, Pentz’s, Parent Program Component Analysis in a Drug Abuse Prevention Trial, (Riggs, Ellenbaum, & Pentz, 2006, p. 1). The former utilizing student after school programs and questionnaires, with parent-child supportive skill training (Morrison, Storino, Robertson, Weisslgass, & Dondero, 2000, p. 1), while the latter utilized parent-school committees, parent training, and parent-child homework activities (Riggs, Ellenbaum, & Pentz, 2006, p. 1). Despite the wide variety in the way that a parent program aspect is implemented, the focal point is that both students and parents were trained in skills to support the students, ways in which to improve the student’s chances at withstanding peer pressure and negative influences with regards to drug and alcohol. Thus, the results from each of these studies support the same idea, that combined effort prevention methods are more effective than student/classroom based activities alone. Thus, substance abuse prevention programs should account for easily accessible family and youth education programs, as utilizing a parent training aspect alongside the school based aspect is shown to have the most effective results.

With all of this information considered, how might we go about changing the current standards, and make this kind of combined method prevention strategy the norm? Does anyone know of a good program that involves both parental and school based aspects, which is currently being implemented?


Center for Disease Control and Pervention (2012). Fact Sheets-Underage Drinking – Alcohol. Retrieved February 12, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm

Channing Bete Company (n.d.). Guiding Good Choices: A Families That Care. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from http://www.channing-bete.com/prevention-programs/guiding-good-choices/guiding-good-choices.html

Dorchester Alcohol and Drug Commission (n.d.). Prevention Services. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from http://www.dadc.org/PREVENTION-SERVICES.asp

Foundation for a Drug Free World (n.d.). International Statistics. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/alcohol/international-statistics.html

Missouri Institute of Mental Health (n.d.). Prevention. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from https://www.mimh.edu/ProjectsWebsites/tabid/783/articletype/tagview/tag/prevention/Default.aspx

Morrison, G. M., Storino, M. H., Robertson, L. M., Weisslgass, T., & Dondero, A. (2000, August). The protective function of after-school programming and parent education and support for students at risk for substance abuse. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from http://search.proquest.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/psycinfo/docview/619472243/87B233F9BB6B43E3PQ/3?accountid=13158

Pennsylvania State Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (2013). DDAP Home Community. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=20800&PageID=1125999&mode=2

Riggs, N. R., Ellenbaum, P., & Pentz, M. A. (2006, July). Parent program component analysis in a drug abuse prevention trial. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16781963

SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidenced-based Programs and Practices (2014, February 10). Intervention Summary – Celebrating Families. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from http://www.nrepp.samhsa.gov/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=100

Siero, F.W., Bakker, A.B., Dekker, G.B., & van den Burg, M.T.C. (1996). Changing organizational energy consumption behaviour through comparative feedback. Journal of Envirionmental Psychology, 16. 235-246.

Feb 14


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