Apr 15

Job Satisfaction: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Blog 7-4I sat at the large conference table, carefully listening to each and every update provided by all of my male counterparts, I was the only female at the table. The senior member asked if anyone had any additional news or updates to add, I felt a kick under the table. My colleague and friend, KNEW I had big news to share, but KNEW I was terrified to make my announcement. I had only been with the firm a few short months, I was lead on a huge project and did not want anyone to think my pregnancy would impact our contract. I quickly returned the kick and gave him “the look” to which he put me on the spot by announcing I had some big news to share.  Like something out of a movie scene all eyes turned on me. So I quickly and carefully recited my 4-second spiel that I had rehearsed a thousand times in my head. As a cancer survivor, I was told more times than I could count that my dreams of becoming a mother were unlikely, but after a visit to the doctor for what I was certain was food poisoning from a recent work trip to Korea, turned out to be a very different prognosis – pregnancy, I was in the midst of a conundrum emotionally. I felt on top of the world with this little miracle inside of me, but in a work environment that was male dominated, highly competitive and demanding I was sure there would be challenges when news got out.  I waited, for what felt like a lifetime, and then my senior leadership pointed at everyone individually at the table – except me and said the following….”You all have wives and children, you all know her (pointing at me) personality and work ethic, if she even looks tired she goes home, you all step up and support her on this effort and her pregnancy, nothing is more important than her health and that baby.” He than, looked at my shocked face, and re-emphasized, “there will be more contracts, and the client will understand, your number one priority is your health and that baby, we are all here for you and are so happy for you.” I was gobsmacked! Needless to say, since that time, I have become my firm’s greatest fan and advocate. Their demonstration of valuing their people and encouraging the work life balance, continues to be unsurpassed.

Blog 7-1 Job satisfaction, the attitude we have toward our job and the various aspects of our job, determines how we respond, whether that is favorably or unfavorably, to our work environment. (Schneider, 2012) There are two widely used, yet different approaches in measuring how satisfied we are with our jobs, global and facet approaches. When we examine job satisfaction from a global approach, we consider how an individual would consider their overall job satisfaction, asking questions and basing them on a 5 point Likert scale. The facet approach, on the other hand, is a little more in depth. We examine how job satisfaction correlates with one’s feelings and attitudes based on a variety of different aspects or “facets” of the job. These various aspects are rated based on a standardized scale and collectively added to determine and overall “score”. (Schneider, 2012)

Why does any of this matter? Disengaged employees equates to loss of revenue for companies, dissatisfied employees, the physical and emotional toll of being unhappy, the feeling of fulfillment, lack of passion, and the impact these factors have on both individuals and their employers are profound. Should I stay or should I go? In relation to your employment, have you ever asked yourself that question?     Blog 7-2According to an article in the American Psychology Association Journal, these feelings are not only the norm, but also the way the majority of employees feel in the workplace here in America. “According to State of the American Workplace, a new report by Gallup Inc., only 30 percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged in their work — in other words, they’re passionate about their work and feel strongly committed to their companies. The remaining 70 percent of American workers are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work.” (Weir, 2013)

Understanding the critical role social behavior plays within organizations is relevant to employers and employees alike. The way in which we evaluate ourselves, and our careers, whether or not we are satisfied, has direct correlations and implications with how we preform our jobs and how we live our lives.

Blog 7-3

Take a minute to examine your career, is it your passion? Is your work meaningful? Do you value your employer? Does your employer value you? How does your job satisfaction, or lack of impact you and your life?


Works Cited:

Schneider, F. (2012). Applying Social Psychology to Organizations: Focus on Optimism. In Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed., pp. 217-244). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Weir, K. (2013, December 1). More than job satisfaction. Retrieved April 27, 2015, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/12/job-satisfaction.aspx

Apr 15

A Positive Attitude: With or Without It

Have you ever pondered how attitude plays a role in your life? How do we define happiness in our lives? Social psychology is the science that delves into the ways in which negativity and positivity impact human nature. Research has demonstrated that those of us who are optimists, have positive outcome expectancies that influence our lives, our way of thinking and how we approach the world around us. (Schneider, 2012)

Blog 4_2

Seemingly, optimists have greater tenacity, or so research based evidence leads us to believe, and are less likely to let challenges or failures deter them from reaching their goals. Contrary to optimists we have those that hold onto negative expectancies, pessimists. Pessimists have negative expectancies, having the opposite impact on their lives. You know the type, they are filled with doubt and negativity, excuses and unmotivated or try to unmotivated others. Do you know someone who is a pessimist? How do they interact with others? Face challenges? How does their attitude impact their life?

Blog 4_4

With or without a positive attitude, does it really matter? Positive social psychologists argue that whether or not you do or don’t have an optimistic outlook can directly impact your quality of life. (Schneider, 2012) Individuals who hold greater optimistic expectancies, “enjoy better emotional well-being, better medical health, and better academic performance.” (Schneider, 2012) More importantly, research evidence suggests that “optimists outperform and even out-earn pessimists in work-related achievement domains.” (Schneider, 2012)


Countless studies have been conducted to demonstrate the profound impact optimism can have on our lives, in a way this psychological phenomenon has captured the attention of multiple concepts, from attribution to cognitive bias – the concept of optimism and how it relates to our mental well-being, physical health, coping mechanisms, lifestyle, health, quality of life and perception of risks is an area that continues to gain interest and that social psychologists continue to explore. (Conversano, et al., 2010)

Blog 4In a Psychology Today article on optimism, the author states, “ Some optimists consistently ascribe benevolent motives to others and interpret situations in the best possible light; others simply disassociate their internal mood from external circumstances, no matter how sticky. Adding in a bit of complexity, the latest research shows that tempering a sunny disposition with a small dose of realism or even pessimism might be the best way to build resilience and achieve one’s goals.” (Psychology Today, 2015)

Blog 4_3

If you were to take a moment to self reflect and self assess where would your attitude towards life fall? Is your glass half empty or half full? Are you eating lemons or making lemonade?




Works Cited:

Schneider, F. (2012). Applying Social Psychology to Positive Well-Being: Focus on Optimism. In Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed., pp. 379-393). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Conversano, C., Rotondo, A., Lensi, E., Vista, O., Arpone, F., & Reda, M. (2010, May 14). Optimism and Its Impact on Mental and Physical Well-Being. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894461/

Psychology Today. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/optimism

Apr 15

Standing Up Instead of Standing By

Bystander Effect Pic 1

So why do we just “stand by” when we should be “standing up”? A phenomenon that has been one of the most researched, documented, and discussed in the social sciences is the bystander effect. It is also, seemingly, one of the most unfortunate of our human traits. The tragedy of Kitty Genovese, the woman who was stabbed in Queens, New York in 1964 while witnesses looked on, is probably one of the most famous incidents in social science and public media. (Schneider, 2012) Why do we have a sense of diffused responsibility? How and when do we become subject to this phenomenon?

Ironically, up until a few weeks ago, I had a tough time conceptualizing how and why this could happen, especially in an emergency. Could people really just stand by and watch someone who was hurt or needed help and do nothing? As I actively engaged in a business phone con during CPAC, where thousands of high profile individuals were gathered, a man ran up to me and said, “we need you, there is a medical emergency”.  Admittedly, I was little perplexed because I am not in the medical profession – by any stretch of the imagination, however I quickly got off the call and ran into a nearby restaurant after the man. I quickly assessed the situation and took in the circle of onlookers staring at a woman lying on the ground, convulsing. Security officers were instructing people to “back up” and “not go near her” – I was in utter disbelief. Despite being in high heels and a dress I flew, very ungracefully, to the ground and started administering first aid and barking instructions to a near by friend. I worked on the lady for nearly 15 minutes and had her stabilized before EMTs even arrived. Thanks to those who were able to assist, she was evaluated and ended up being okay. In that moment it was hard not to make the connection to this course and I was fascinated that the terms that jump out at us in bold face in Schneider’s Chaper 11 text, entitled, “Applying Social Psychology to the Criminal Justice System,” seemingly came to life in that moment. When I pressed the security officers as to the reasoning behind their seemingly horrific response, they stated that they were not trained in any level of first response, and they had been trained to do nothing and call 911.  Baffled, I understood why they demonstrated such a diffusion of responsibility and directed others to do the same, directing them not to even intervene. The crowd that had significant interest in what was going on, but did nothing were comprised of some of our Nations’ most educated, well-known leaders and prominent business men/women – they all had an interest and want to know what was going on, I would even argue that most probably wanted to help, but did nothing (with the exception for the man who through overhearing a conversation knew I was a Marine and was told by someone who knew me to run and get me).  It is compelling to witness such a phenomena first hand.  Obviously this was not a criminal example, but equally compelling. I walked away in utter disbelief.

Bystander Effect Pic 3

More disturbing is the frequency such real-world examples occur, but in criminally-related instances – where someone is being brutally beaten, hurt, abused, killed. Why do people choose to act out against others and why do others choose not to intervene or help? The Social Learning Theory strives to help us understand. Bandura’s theory delves into the reasoning explaining that behind acts of criminal activity are behaviors, which represent what an individual has learned and how they develop throughout interactions and experiences during life in social environments. (Schneider, 2012) But when and why do we, in the face of humanity, not intervene?

Jesse Singal recently published an article, “Researchers Found the ‘Bystander Effect’ in 5-Year-Olds” which clearly describes to us “WHY” the bystander effect occurs. The diffusion of responsibility, as previously mentioned, is “the lack of a sense that it is any one person’s job to step in, since there are others around who might do so: social referencing, which is the natural human tendency to look around to see how others are acting and shape one’s own actions accordingly; and simply shyness at standing out form a passive crowd.” (Singal, 2015) The crux of the article was focused on the bystander effect and children, when or what drives the bystander effect within us? It is interesting to contemplate this phenomenon, how we as humans become susceptible to such an unfortunate tendency and how we should design and/or develop interventions, which promote helpfulness in such situations during early stages of development. (Singal, 2015)

Bystander Effect Pic 2

How would you respond? Would you join the bystanders and stand by or would you stand up if you were witness in a situation where someone needed help?

Works Cited:

Singal, J. (2015, April 13). Researchers Found the ‘Bystander Effect’ in 5-Year-Olds. Retrieved April 18, 2015, from http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/04/bystander-effect-in-5-year-olds.html

Schneider, F. (2012). Applying Social Psychology to the Criminal Justice System. In Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed., pp. 245-272). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Apr 15

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends


Social isolation is a reality in America. It is estimated that the amount of socially isolated Americans has risen over the decades nearly 25% of the population (Harvard Kennedy School). People are not as involved with others and their community anymore. One way to address this, is to increase your social capital. Social capital gives value to all of our support systems and networks in which we are a part of. Social capital can provide information flows, norms reciprocity, collective action, and a change in mentality. (Harvard Kennedy School) Increasing our social capital strengthens our networks, and can lead to increased support. People may gain assistance in a crisis, learn of new job or educational opportunities, or even help drive forward a large movement. These relationships can be of mutual benefit.

Social capital is really our support networks at works. Increased social capital is really an increase in the social support available. Social support refers to the support we get from the other people in our lives (Schneider 2012). Our natural support systems help us deal with stress and cope with life events, even in the day to day. Simply knowing a lot of people and having a lot of contacts does not mean that there is a strong social network in our lives.

The Harvard Kennedy School offers a list of over 100 starter suggestions on how to increase one’s social capital. It ranges from volunteering, to holding a neighborhood barbeque, to offering to serve on a town committee. Increasing social capital can be beneficial for everyone. Being socially connected with each other has benefits. Being alone and isolated can be stressors themselves, so those who are socially integrated may suffer less stressors in the first place. Also, those who have social support may cope better with stressful situations. (Schneider 2012) It may be worth it for all of us to take some time, and consider really connecting with others around us, as we may all benefit.



Harvard Kennedy School. Social Capital. Retrieved from http://www.hks.harvard.edu/programs/saguaro/about-social-capital/what-you-can-do


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.

Apr 15

I’m Wearing You Down!…The Proximity and Familiarity Effects

Did you ever see the 90’s show Family Matters? It was a “Long-running ‘Perfect Strangers’ spin-off series centering on the Winslow family and their pesky next-door neighbor, ultra-nerd Steve Urkel” (IMDb). Oh, Steve Urkel, what a character he was! The poor kid was madly in love with Laura Winslow, who rejected him repeatedly, show after show. However, he was persistent and consistent and well aware of the proximity and familiarity effects, often telling Laura, “I’m wearing you down baby!”

According to the proximity effect, interpersonal liking is increased between people who live within the same vicinity and who have the most contact with one another (Weber, 2012). Therefore, you are more likely to become friends with a neighbor that you don’t have much in common with but you are in contact with regularly, than a person with which you have much in common but you rarely see. Weber (2012) explains it is the proximity that creates the opportunity for regular contact, which can then lead to a relationship. For the character Steve Urkel, although he was annoying and had little in common with the members of the Winslow family, they could not help but become friends with him because he was a nice enough neighbor and he was always around.

The familiarity effect often goes hand in hand with the proximity effect, as regular contact with another person increases familiarity which has been shown to make one feel more positive and comfortable (Weber, 2012). However, Weber (2012) warns that as familiarity increases the likability of a pleasant person, it can also continue to decrease the likeability of an unpleasant person. This negative outcome of familiarity is called environmental spoiling, and I can attest to its effects.

Before I moved to the location I live in now, my family and I rented the front house of a property containing two more houses behind it. During the last three years we lived there, the neighbor who lived directly behind us was extremely difficult to like. She would peak in our windows as she walked by, was rude to the gardeners, grilled our friends with inappropriate and personal questions whenever they visited and constantly complained about everything. Although I loved the house we lived in, I would find myself desperately hoping not to run into her every day I returned home from work. Her presence really did spoil our home environment, so much so that my family and I still occasionally bring up how happy we are to live where we are now without her as our neighbor.

Fortunately, for Steve Urkel, his genuine care for Laura shined through his quirkiness, allowing the proximity and familiarity effects to work in his favor. By the end of the series, he finally did wear Laura down and she returned his love by agreeing to marry him. For a sample of these effects and a moment of nostalgia, I leave you with this short video with clips from the show Family Matters.


IMDb (n.d.) Family matters. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096579/

Weber (2012). Applying social psychology to personal relationships. In F. W. Schneider, J. A. Gruman, & L. M. Coutts (Authors), Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (Second ed., pp. 351 – 364). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications

Apr 15

Sobering Statistics for Social Change

Unfortunately, we too often hear reports of sexual abuse at our colleges. So much so that recently, California enacted a somewhat controversial law known as the “yes means yes law”. This may be a good start as far as sending a stronger message to colleges that sexual assault or abuse will not be dismissed as easily and that their handling of such cases may come under greater scrutiny.

Brian Turner (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

However, we should be realistic of what limitations a law like this has. As with any legislation, just because a law is written, it does not necessarily mean that it will be complied with. We already have laws that make drug use and underage drinking illegal but they still continue. Another argument is that it has the capability to trade off one group of victims for another. Some insist that it will give the accusers too much power over the accused and that some of the innocent may pay the price along with the guilty. This may be true to a certain extent however this is not much different than what is already in place. The law mainly attempts to clarify if consent was given.
It may be questionable if fraternities will be encouraged to start video recording their sexual exploits so they will have proof if a member is taken into court. While this action would most likely violate California law, there are about 38 other states that at least an audio recording would be allowed (AAPS, 2015). This may cause additional problems if this law were to be enacted in those states.
Overall, it would appear that the effectiveness of this law will be questionable at best. It would seem much more effective to address drinking and drug use in order to curb sexual assaults on campuses. In the 18-24 age group, it is estimated that there are over 97,000 students each year that fall victim to alcohol related sexual assault. Additionally, there are approximately 100,000 students that report that they have been too intoxicated to know if they actually consented to sex (NIAAA, 2013). It is here that the new law may fail to have any greater impact than what is already in place. Discouraging or reducing alcohol overconsumption and drug use should reduce the number of sexual assaults and also serve to help prevent alcohol related deaths from drinking which totals approximately 1825 college students each year.
This issue may be best served by using participatory action research with its ability to delve deeper into the culture and subcultures that can exist in colleges (Rescuescg, 2015). By using input from the participants it seeks to better target the intended audience and could guide the selection of more relevant techniques to reach that audience. It may also help identify the best approach to educate new students about these issues. It may also aid in determining whether wearable tech devices are a practical option. Currently, there are some proposed devices to identify if a date rape drug is present in a drink and there is a challenge by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to create a wearable device that will measure blood alcohol in real time (NIAAA, 2015).
Most would agree that the “yes means yes law” is not meant to stand alone in the battle of sexual abuse in our colleges and it will require additional support if our goal is to reduce or eliminate this behavior in our colleges.


Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. (2015). Summary of Consent Requirements for Taping Telephone Conversations. Retrieved from ww.aapsonline.org/judicial/telephone.htm

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2013). College Drinking. Retrieved from http://niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/special-populations-co-occurring-disorders/college-drinking

Rescuescg. (2010). Functional Analysis for Cultural Interventions. Retrieved from http://rescuescg.com/files/pdf/FACI.pdf

Apr 15

Positively Optimistic!

Most likely you have a negative Nancy or a Debbie downer in your life. I know I have a couple. But did you know that having a pessimistic personality can actually mean you have poorer health?

It’s TRUE!

Studies have shown that people with a positive outlook on life have better overall health. In fact, ‘optimism increases longevity; increases your spiritual development; promotes positive relationships; and even decreases anxiety’ (McCarthy, 2013).

According to Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012), ‘optimists believe that good things are very likely to happen. [T]hese people have positive outcome expectancies that significantly influence both their thinking and their approach to the world. The belief that a desirable goal in life is attainable has incentive value for the individual; that is, it stimulates or energizes both one’s goal-directed thinking and one’s goal-directed action. Positive expectancies also cause people to be more persistent when pursuing their goals.’

So, basically, the more optimistic you are, the more likely you are to get the things you want out of life. This can help people experience happiness in romantic endeavors, personal relationships, friendships, and even their careers. Optimism ‘allows you to approach a crisis with strength and resolve’ and ‘sets a positive tone for your day’ (McCarthy, 2013).

With all the benefits of being positive, it seems down right negative to be pessimistic!

And just in case you were wondering what kind of person you are … take this quiz to find out if you are an optimist or not!





Are You Optimistic or Pessimistic? (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.seemypersonality.com/personality.asp?p=Optimism-Test

McCarthy, J. (2013). Optimism and Happiness. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved from http://splash.suntimes.com/2013/07/11/optimism-and-happiness

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.

Apr 15

Precipitating and Perpetuating Factors In Opioid Use

Narcan   A growing problem in my community, and the nation, right now is heroin use. We are in the midst of a heroin epidemic, and last month my home county released to the public their preliminary report from the task force. I have seen a lot of opinions on social media critiquing their proposed interventions, specifically the use of Naloxone, or NarCan, by some police departments. (Montgomery County Overdose Task Force). NarCan is a drug which can be used to stop an opioid over-dose. (Harm Reduction Coalition 2015) Community members have latched on to this aspect of the task-forces report, and some believe it may increase the epidemic because heroin users may feel safer knowing there is a drug available to them to prevent an overdose.

After reading through the preliminary report, I think it is more apparent that other factors in this epidemic are being addressed. In the introduction, the task force identifies a precipitating factor for the rise in heroin overdoses as being abuse of legally prescribed medications. The task force states that “In many cases the patient becomes addicted to these legally prescribed narcotics. Unable to obtain more of the prescribed medicine, they then turn to illicit opioids, namely Heroin, which is cheaper, easier to obtain, and far more likely to cause overdose and death.” (Montgomery County Overdose Task Force 2015). A precipitating factor is one that triggers a problem, as opposed to a perpetuating factor, which is one that sustains it (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts 2012).  The task force clearly addresses these precipitating factors. They are implementing an awareness campaign to educate the public of the fact that abuse of prescription pain killers may lead to heroin use. The task-force also suggests implementing a drug take-back program. This program provides residents a secure way to dispose of left over pain killers which have the potential for abuse. The goal here is to again address the precipitating factor of the availability of prescription drugs for abuse to lead to heroin usage.

The task force also addresses a perpetuating factor in overdoses. Specifically, the task force wants to publicize new laws which are aimed at increasing the reports of drug overdoses and decreasing response time (Montgomery County Overdose Task Force 2015). The new Pennsylvania law, according to the task force, gives amnesty to other drug users who attempt to get help for someone who is overdosing.

So while some people may be caught up on the idea that NarCan may increase usage of the drug, I think it is a good support to the program, and this has by no means been a complete list of the report, but rather a discussion of several factors. The county is not merely putting a bandage on the problem, it addressing real factors which have an impact on drug problem in our community with a thorough intervention plan, which include evaluation to address the need to be flexible and for unintended consequences.




Montgomery County Overdose Task Force. Preliminary Report. 2015. Retrieved from


Harm Reduction Coalition. Understanding Naloxone. 2015. Retrieved from



Schneider, Gruman and Coutts. 2012. Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and

Addressing Social and Practical Problems. 2nd Edition.

Apr 15

Issues Within Inter-Class Marriages

Recently I read an article in The Washington Post regarding a decline in inter-class marriages in the U.S. resulting from the rise in economic segregation. The article focused primarily on the marital struggles between couples within inter-class marriages. Reoccurring themes within these arguments reflected differences in upbringing, centering around spending habits and opposing emotional styles when dealing with conflict. The couples interviewed for the article all seemed to follow a similar trend, which was that the spouse who came from a more affluent background handled both money and household chores differently than their spouse, who was raised in either a poor or working-class environment. One couple even strongly disagreed on how their children should be allowed to spend their leisure time, e.g. one parent believed in structured free time while the other pushed for unstructured free time.

Another issue highlighted in the article was how different social class upbringings can affect how a person expresses their emotions to their partner. In one example given, the husband from a blue-collar working class background was taught that keeping one’s emotions to oneself was “dishonest” and would express himself loudly, much to the displeasure of his wife, who came from a more affluent background where she was taught that emotional reactions should be free from emotional tones and more “intellectualized”. These differences in communication caused problems in the marriage but ultimately each spouse learned how to communicate in the style that was more familiar to other, e.g. the husband would wait a bit before expressing an emotion while his wife became more willing to both feel and express her emotions.

Overall when asked whether they believed that class difference was an important factor in their marriages, most of the people being interviewed remarked that they had skirted the issue in order to avoid feeling superior or snobby. While many of the couples didn’t want to admit that class difference had significant influence over their marriages, it was clear that it indeed did. That being said, the influence of class difference needn’t be a negative one, causing fruitless conflict. As illustrated previously, couples can also learn things about themselves by having to find compromise in order to relate better to a partner who isn’t exactly like themselves. The fact that these types of marriages are steadily on the decline owing to economic segregation is rather disheartening. Jessi Streib, in her book The Power of the Past : Understanding Cross-Class Marriages, observes the literary tradition of finding romance in crossing class boundaries for love, and notes that inter-class relationships provide opportunities to have experiences that one’s own class never provided them.


Apr 15

Recreating cool – Stop Bullying Now

by Cynthia Roebuckcool to be kind

Bullying happens everywhere in classrooms and playgrounds in our youth’s lives, but also it is happening on our college campuses and even workplaces and our personal adult lives. Bullying has gained lots of recognition in the media with schools implementing anti-bulling programs. But most of these programs seem to attack the already developed behavior whereas addressing why the behavior was allowed to develop into a problem for society has less attention. In letters shared between Einstein and Freud, Freud argued that aggression was natural (Einstein & Freud, 1932), but behavior can be modified through social learning principles. Bandura posits that situational, cognitive, and reinforcement controls should be targeted instead of focusing on traits or historical reasons and brings to the topic Ackerman’s beliefs that the child acts out not because they are not loved, but because they cannot trust (Bandura, 1973, p. 245).

This points to the importance of the moral climate in a classroom, because this is where youth develop an understanding of what the social norms are for aggression, and it is an area in much need of research when considering the commonality across the world of school violence occurring (Alexitch, 2012, p.210).  Because most emerging adults socialize primarily in an electronic environment via text, chat, social media, and video games, they are faced with forms of indirect aggression in the form of social bullying called cyberbullying. This form of bullying involves directly telling a person they are not wanted, excluding them from group activities, ignoring, spreading rumors, keeping other friends away, and creating situations where the person will be embarrassed. This is understood to be a form of psychological violence carried out to inflict psychological harm onto another (StuartCassel, Terzain, and Bradshaw, 2013; Taki, Slee, Hymel, Pepler, Sim & Swearer, 2008).

Taki et al. did a longitudinal comparative study to determine the long-term effects of indirect aggression in Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, and the United States (2008).  They found there to be long lasting psychological harm caused from indirect aggression, but because the scars were not visible proper attention to the seriousness of this behavior are not considered thoroughly enough ( p. 4).  They identify three forms — “membership, power of exchangeable status, and frequency of victimization” (p. 6), and it occurs in several scenarios — taking something away, teasing, ignoring, and exclusion (p. 7).  Interestingly enough, collectivist societies have given this type of bullying its own name — Japan: ijime and Korea: wang-ta.  Is cyberbullying a version of this in America?

Interventions to prevent bullying behavior from developing should be set in place at grade schools to encourage a collaboration amongst students in order to break down the social barriers by modifying aggressive behaviors in individuals through showing alternative ways to work together. This is why the jigsaw classrooms have been invited into places like Columbine in Colorado to try to counteract the negative effects of cliques (Gilbert, 2001).  Aronson was invited to Columbine to advise on a collaborative learning environment called the jigsaw classroom that restructures the classroom environment into smaller groups with students engaging with each other to collectively accomplish the requirements of the lesson instead of competing to be better than one another (McNulty, 2004).  The jigsaw classrooms have shown to change the attitudes of students and lead to behavioral change as stereotypes are discarded as classmates begin to see more than the one dimensional stereotype through interaction with one another (APA, 2015).  This approach to learning has also been found to be successful in undergraduate studies (Lom, 2012).

Together we can better identify and make known what bullying is, so we can remove any ambiguity surrounding recognizing direct and indirect aggressive bullying behavior.  If we do, then, the bystander effect where someone may not help will be reduced, because recognizing that a person is being bullied will easily be seen for what it is.  In the meantime, take a moment each day to do one random act of kindness through engaging with your environment.  Set an example that it is okay to care, and speak up…



Alexitch, L.R. (2012). Applying Social Psychology to Education in Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.) F.W. Schnedier, J.A. Gruman, & L.M. Coutts (Eds.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1412976381.

APA. (2015). How to Build a Better Educational System: Jigsaw Classrooms. American Psychological Association. Retrieved 30 January 2015 from http://www.apa.org/research/action/jigsaw.aspx.

Bandura, A. (1973). Aggression. Prentice-Hall. ISBN: 0-13-020743-8.

Einstein, A & Freud, S (1932). Why war? Einstein’s letter to Freud and Freud’s Response. Sequoia Free Press reprint 2010. ASIN: B003NZ932K.

Gilbert, S. (2001). A CONVERSATION WITH/Elliot Aronson; No One Left to Hate: Averting Columbines. New York Times.  Retrieved 23 March 2015 from http://www.njbullying.org/Aronsoninterview.txt.

Lom, B. (2012). Classroom Activities: Simple Strategies to Incorporate Student-Centered Activities within Undergraduate Science Lectures. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 11(1), A64–A71.

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by Cynthia Roebuck
April 19, 2015

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