Jul 14


Participatory research has forever been a significant part of psychology. Researchers have over time immersed themselves in cultures with a desire to understand their behaviors. The effects can be significant – we all know that observation is integral to any true understanding of phenomena, therefore what better way to understand societal or human behavior, than through immersing one’s self in that particular society. The consequences can be great – such as understanding why certain cultures have a predilection for violence (Wilson, 2010). But the problem with participatory research is that at times in group bias can occur – researchers immerse themselves in a group and unfortunately come to sympathize with the group and stop being objective to the detriment of the study and this can of course have ethical complications when they attempt to make changes within the present culture – this is known as Activist research.

Social change research has a bevy of benefits that can extend from the fact that there is a humanist need to better society. There is mass suffering with regard to things such as bullying, domestic violence. Social change research involves being actively involved in research that affects such sort of change (Langhaut.D, 2011).  There was an active study wherein researchers hung out with children to speak to them, immerse themselves in their worlds to understand how they interact, why they behave as they do how their emotions factor into their decisions. From this they can create intervention strategies that can better the lives of students. Such as empowering bullies who are victims of bullying.  They can get into a victims world, understand via key indicators – triggers that make kids hit others and that sort of thing.

In 2012 I went to visit my cousins in Zimbabwe – it had been a long time since I’d traveled there. They live in an affluent part of the country and as such, things were generally similar to what I experience in the United States. But I was also supposed to go an visit the more rural parts of the country later on, I’d told my mother that I’d read that there was a part of the country called Binga and it was very culturally backward. There was a missionary group from a local church that was going and they’d organized the entire trip basically.  I remember being absolutely in shock when we reached Binga – a place seemingly forgotten my all manner of modernization. It was a very religious place, girls were still married at 12 years of age per historical practice, and there was no such thing as women’s rights. Being in the midst of such conditions moved something within me, I had a longing to change the way things were, to report what I felt was a gross violation of human rights as girls were being married off to older men. But upon actually interacting with these people, I became aware that this was the established culture – the girls I spoke to seemed happy to be married, they loved their husbands (Although this might have been a show for my benefit). It all seemed rather insidious at first but moved toward innocuous with time. This is an example of in group bias – I started making excuses for their behavior, even though the nation’s laws say that 16 is the age of consent. A parallel can be drawn between my behavior and people who make excuses for child marriage advocates in Nigeria (http://www.icrw.org, 2014).


Langhout, R.D. (2011). Facilitating the development of social change agents. Human Development, 54, 339-342.

Wilson, E.O. (2010). On Human Nature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Jul 14

Social Change: Why we should embrace Participatory Action Research (PAR)

I was disturbed to read that an advisor would decline to participate in a dissertation committee for disagreeing with the mixing of politics and psychology (Brydon-Miller, 1997). Research, especially psychological research, has played important roles in helping to move social progress. At any point in time, researchers will look into topics and subjects that have never been researched before. It is here that hypotheses are formed and proven or rejected. For one to out rightly conclude politics and psychology cannot mix is to me perhaps an insult to knowledge generation. How else could society have moved from racial and gender discrimination to the notion of all people being equal? How else could society have moved from having women stay at home predominantly as home-makers (other terms include “house wives”) to become CEO’s on Fortune 500 companies (Molla, 2014)? All these came about after thorough research rejected the notion that only men can perform these responsibilities effectively.

Women would never have broken the proverbial glass ceiling. It is my belief that many in the past would have required for evidence that a woman can become effective in a CEO’s role. It is impossible to prove anything when a person is not given the chance to do so in the first place. This is the same perspective that I hold when looking at Participatory Action Research (PAR). The role and importance of PAR should be allowed to explore knowledge generation without being bounded to certain themes like Marxism, Feminism, and Critical theory. The interpretive and critical approaches that Brydon-Miller (1997) point to, illustrate that human interests cannot be confined to narrow themes.

Suggestions of ethical failures or a lack of separation between the researcher and the research are by themselves not sufficient to invalidate the need for PAR. If data collection and validation methods are established, the outcomes can be invaluable for society at large. It is obvious that when PAR is suppressed, only entrenched corporate interests will be able to undertake self-serving research where the agenda is hidden but the outcomes pre-determined World-Campus, 2014). It is time that Participatory Action Research should be allowed to thrive and their findings accepted after going through peer reviews. This is healthy for generating knowledge in alternative ways, and also for social progress.


Brydon-Miller, M (1997). Participatory Action Research: Psychology and Social Change. Journal of Social Issues (53- 4) Blackwell Publishing Ltd. doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1997.tb02454.x

Molla, R., (2014) Meet the Women CEOs of the Fortune 500 Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2014/03/07/meet-the-women-ceos-of-the-fortune-500/

Social Change/Participatory Research. Lesson 13. Penn State World Campus, 2014

Jul 14

Activist research, is it really research?

When I was reading the online lecture this week I was thinking about social change and how important social changes can often begin with one person.  Social change action researchers can make a difference in their communities by researching a problem and helping to make changes to reach a solution. (Penn State WC, 2014). Activist researchers on the other hand sound like opportunists to me.  They are researchers who not only have a personal interest in the research but also have a personal interest in a particular outcome for the research.  (Penn State WC, 2014).  This type of researcher does not sound ethical.  We learned earlier that research is based on hypotheses and if a hypothesis is not proven it is to be discarded and the research begins anew, this does not seem to be the case with activist research.  The research is supposed to support whatever view the stakeholder holds and the public is to consider the source when reading the results.  (Penn State WC, 2014).  One of the questions I was left with after reading the lecture this week is; do social change researchers do different types of research or is an action researcher always an action researcher and is an activist researcher always an activist researcher or do they sometimes do action or participatory research?

Schneider, F.W., Gruman J.A., Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems.  SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Pennsylvania State World Campus. Applied Social Psychology. 2014. Retrieved from: https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/sp14/psych424/001/common/homepage.html

Jul 14

Traditional And Social Change Research Applied to Business in Japan

In 1989, I started to help American commercial carpet tile company in Georgia as Japanese language interpreter. Then in 1991, I joined this company and then came back to Japan. I have been inside of business scene in Japan since then. This is the story of what I have seen before, during and after the social change research became popular within business community in Japan.

Social change is often associated with governmental and academic studies of societal issues (Penn State WC, 2014), but I feel business in the modern world is ultimately tied to everything about societal change. If we are to make a living, we will be involved with some kind of business. Business affects how a country is run, because no politician in the advanced country in the world is free of business contact.

In 1991, Japan was at the end of bubble economy. At the time, companies were ignoring the possibility of losing huge amounts of money. But it did happen, and when the bubble busted in 1992, like with most other companies, our accounting department was scrutinized. It turned out that there was much waste going on in Japan branch. Many consultants came in to deal with this waste. Some of consultants were hired for one time only projects, and they were seen as rescuers, professional people who knew best. Their research and solutions were based on traditional scientific ways that the objectivity and detachment from emotion was important. With this method, they did not understand the background of why and how the company ended up where they were. They were paid regardless of how the companies fared after executing their recommendations. Our company and just about all companies I knew at the time ended up losing huge amounts of money despite of, or in some cases because of taking the action recommended by the consultants.

Some of the consultants joined our company as hired guns. One was a CEO, who’s job was to re-organize, or re-engineer our company and turn it around within a few years. From what I saw, this was a  common practice in 1980’s and 90’s in the US and Japan. Sometimes they conducted participatory action research to change, seeking out and working with people who have been working with their company for many years. Sometimes, they operated as action researcher who would gain respect and recognition sometimes beyond the business world and make big money by success in taking action based on their research, or integrating their own value through research result. These hired gun consultants may have momentarily brought the company impressive financial turn around, but ultimately after they left, companies went back to its own ways. If a company was based on sound philosophy, it hung on to and strengthened its core. In this process, a new leader emerged to carry it on. Unfortunately, that did not happen to my company, but I have seen it work with some other companies. It worked with Nissan when it was bought out by Renault and Carlos Gohsn was placed in leadership role in Japan, and with IBM when Louis Gersner became its Global leader (Gohsn, 2001, Gerstner, 2003).

Yes, the social change research can be both good and bad, and sometime, traditional research method works better (Penn State WC, 2014). For real life issues in business, I encounter activist research all the time. It is best that we listen more rather than just close our ears to try to think of ways to push through with our ideas, because we can never be certain that our way is the best way.


Brydon-Miller, M. (1997). Participatory Action research: Psychology and Social Change. Journal of Social Issues, 53(4). 657-666

Gerstner, Louis (2003). Who Says Elephants Can’t Fly? Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change. Harper Business.

Ghosn, Carlos (2001). Saisei heno chosen (Challange to Revitalize in Japanese). Diamond Publishing Company.

Pennsylvania State World Campus. Applied Social Psychology. 2014. Retrieved from: https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/sp14/psych424/001/common/homepage.html

Jul 14

Internet Family!

I think community is very important for the good not only of the world at large, but the people themselves who make up these vast and numerous worlds. I believe we all wish to belong to something, to be cared about, to be important – but often, things aren’t quite as easy. People are different, which means you’re going to have extroverts who excel at societal communication – meeting a bevy of strangers at concerts, in clubs; people who aren’t intimidated by the inundation of stimuli. Unfortunately, the reverse exists, some people are introverts and might be uncomfortable in big settings, but the thing is because communities are so large nowadays – the advent of globalization along with mass communication and mass transportation, a lot of people co-exist and because there are so many – some people are left behind and might suffer rejection and fall into a rut of depression. Too much stimuli makes it difficult to fully ingratiate the world one is in (Conniff, 2005).

Luckily, communities sprout everywhere. I know that when I first moved to Pennsylvania from New York, I was a bit depressed because I knew no one but I went online, joined a LETS MEET group that involved people interested in tennis and one for chess, this small group of people is diverse but due to our close bond – we are always there for one another in a time of crisis. It’s a small group, and as such, all the needs of the group members are met. A parallel can be drawn between this and our hunter-gatherer pasts wherein humanity was designed to only process a certain amount of stimuli – the result is we now avoid other people because we see too many people in sprawling towns and cities and ultimately shut down cognitively and do not interact with others. Before the advent of technology, this was practically social suicide for others that brought with it mass depression. But instant messaging applications and internet forums have made it very easy to keep in touch with friends who live far away, to join online MMO’s (Massive multiplayer online gaming for the less nerdy of you) like World of Warcraft or League of Legends (Linden Labs, n.d.) The result is a robust variety of possibilities for one to find their niche online.


Hence it becomes clear that community need not be some purely physical domain. It can be virtual – enjoyed from the comfort of one’s home wherein they interact with others thousands of miles away. Just because the world seems to have ignored the burden stimulus overload can have on people, doesn’t mean they can’t find their own community that affords them the happiness and security they need to thrive.


Conniff, R. (2005). The Ape in the Corner Office: Understanding the Workplace Beast in All of Us. New York: Crown Business

Linden Labs. (n.d.). What is Second Life? Retrieved online at: http://secondlife.com/whatis/?lang=en-US

Jul 14


Being a kid has always been tough – Junior to High school, these years can be very tough on some kids as they skirt the perilous roads on the journey of self-discovery. As we’re all no doubt aware, a lot of kids take their own lives due to depression, self-hate and other mental afflictions that are caused by the broad term known as BULLYING.  The world can be a perilous place and with the advent of social media, mass communication and the perpetuity demanded by the internet – young minds are very vulnerable to the effects. Stimuli are very influential with regard to human behavior (Latane, Nida: 1985). Hence when inundated with a flurry, young people react certain ways due to the fact that their brains are still developing well into their teens as such reactions are predicated on emotions (Frontline, 1985).

Parents have a great responsibility when it comes to bullying. They are the main purveyors of culture for their kids – most of the learning that conditions children for the world, happens within the home. Parent should instil certain rules and limits within their children as they grow because its been proven that parents can help shape the centers of the brain that deal with empathy and concern via conditioning, wherein they reinforce the positives of being a kind and generous person (Frontline, 1985). The problem is that most parents underestimate the extent of bullying in this our contemporary world. They think it’s over blown and that kids are being nancies, that ribbing is a part of the school culture. These ideas have further been reinforced by the prevalence and popularity of teen movies that promote the jock-nerd stereotype. Bullies by proxy feel they need to dominate to get power. These influences can be very dangerous when a parent is absent – the child then learns from television what right and wrong and is susceptible to the ideas espoused and because they’re still developing – they won’t rationalize and differentiate between right and wrong.

Children need support, now more than ever in this changing world. I remember being in Middle School and facing some semblance of racism termed as a joke at the private school I went to in Germany. People would say things and the parents would assume it was innocuous because it was simply a joke and kids being kids and they would grow out of it. And I remember wondering if there was something wrong with me, if being what I was, was a problem. Luckily my parents realized that I was the only student of color in my class of 140 students later and I changed schools. But I believe a boys will be boys mentality pervaded the school and bullying was acceptable. Teachers would hear things and laugh. This is another problem, because just like Parents are leaders in the home, Teachers are parents in the school. To stop bullying, they need to recognize that it’s a problem, and more importantly, they need to act on the problem. Simply being cognizant is not irrelevant – it doesn’t suggest action and inherently change. This means creating groups wherein bullies and victims interact, make bullies understand how victims feel. I believe the blue/brown eyed experiment would be a boon as it would allow the bullies to see how their victims feel (Limber, 2004).

Therefore it becomes apparent that both sets of parents are integral to stopping bullying – those at home should foster ideals of compassion, tolerance and kindness while those at school should monitor and condition the children too. Teachers should reward kindness and punish bullying; doing this can go a long way toward corralling bullying. Because even if it’s banned at school, once the children are off school grounds, they have no oversight and authority – changing how the children think as opposed to simply conditioning them should be paramount.


Latane, Bibb and Steve Nida (1981).  Ten Years of Research on Group Size and Helping. Psychological Bulletin. 89(2). Mar. 1981. pp. 308-324

Limber, Susan P. (2004). Implementation of the Olweus bullying intervention program in American schools: Lessons learned from the field.

Frontline: 1985. A Class Divided

Frontline: 1985 The Teenage Brain





Jul 14

Putting a foot down on cyber bullying

Social cognition can be something that, unfortunately, could be developed later in life or something simply developed inappropriately. They way one views themselves or others is one way to define social cognition. Coming to terms with who you are is a challenge almost every individual faces. Having the added challenge of someone constantly criticizing you and trying to tell you who they think you are can become very taxing especially on youth. Bullying has taken on a whole new role over the past few years. Not only has it increased in severity and forms of which bullying can take place but also adults have been known to underestimate the damage that can occur from bullying.

Bullying has been taken to a whole new playing field online. Cyber bullying has become increasingly popular in youth today. Bashing someone online on Facebook or Twitter is something that can be seen all too often. Kids get amusement out of publicly humiliating someone without realizing the damage they are causing that individual. Having previously been able to do my internship at a psychiatric hospital I saw too many kids come in with plans to commit suicide because of something that someone else said about them online. It was really hard to sit down with a kid who was intelligent, goal oriented, with a bright future in hand and for them to be broken down because of bullies online telling them they weren’t worth anything. The social cognition of the individuals doing the bulling as well as the victims isn’t accurate. The victims are allowing the bullies form their own opinion of themselves and believing what the bullies tell them to be true. The bullies may see one fault in the victim and only believe that one fault is what defines that person.

Parents and adults should pay more attention to their children and what they are doing and saying online. Although they may not understand the severity that cyber bullying can play, it is crucial to decrease the amount of cyber bullying that is happening between youth. Perhaps getting children more involved in activities that do not require technology could aid in that movement. Restricting their computer time and putting parental controls on certain sites can help as well. The issue of bullying isn’t something that will disappear over night, however there are steps that can be taken to lessen the risk of happening.



Penn State World Campus (2014) Media Communications Technology – Lesson 12

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