Nov 15

Social Change Research: The Frontline For Change

Social change research is at the frontline of a society’s moral fabric. Mahatma Ghandi once said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” Some groups in society are marginalized and exploited. They have no voice and feel there are no mechanisms to change their circumstances. By definition social change research is concerned with providing interventions and data to help advance the exploited group’s circumstances in society and create a more perfect union (Brydon-Miller, 1997). However, to have effective social change you must include input from these exploited populations. It is their input that allow researchers to create a “user friendly intervention.” It is this program that acts as a mechanism to push for social change. It is here that activist researchers are not standing idly by, they are interjecting a certain value.

An example of an activist research intervention is early voting. As an American, voting is one the greatest acts a citizen can exercise. Yet, voter participation among minorities, young adults and the poor which are marginalized groups are extremely low. Many researchers wanted to increase the voting turnout in these populations. They wanted to find out what can be done to improve voter turnout. So, researchers went into churches, colleges and different locations to reach these targeted populations. After input from the exploited groups, they discovered that many people did not have transportation to the voting precinct, did not register or their work hours were not conducive with the voting schedule. Armed with this data, many advocacy groups’ such as ACLU, GOTV and the NAACP lobbied various states to enact early voting which expanded the hours that voting stations would be open. The end result is that voter participation among the youth, minorities and the poor all increased during the 2008 election (Circle, 2010). Their increased participation rate had a significant impact on the 2008 presidential race. A secondary benefit is that it created a greater sense of empowerment to these people (Davis, 2010).

In the end, societies are measured by the treatment of the marginalized and less fortunate among them. It is social change researchers who are at the frontline of helping create a better society. Through their interaction with these populations, they are able to design and implement interventions to bring about the change that is needed for these groups to gain greater access in society.


Brydon-Miller, M. (1997), Participatory Action Research: Psychology and Social Change. Journal of Social Issues, 53: 657–666. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1997.tb02454.x

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Retrieved from
http://www.civicyouth.org/new-census-data-confirm-increase-in-youth-voter-turnout-in- 2008-election/

Davis, J. K. (2010). Voting as Empowerment Practice. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 13(4), 243-257. doi:10.1080/15487768.2010.523352

Nov 15

Racism, Prejudice and Stereotypes Will it Ever Be Eliminated from Our Communities?

I am old enough to have grown up during the latter part of the Civil Rights Movement. I was five years old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, ten when Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were also assassinated. I also remember watching the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite (we only got two channels back then) and the riots at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. I thought nothing like that goes on around here but, I grew up in a small rural town not far from University Park. When it came to diversity in this town it was somewhat limited. The town was made up of Irish,, Polish, or Slovakian. You were Protestant or Catholic and even the Catholics had three separate churches, one for the Irish, one for the Polish, and the third for the Slovakian. The adult males either worked in the coal, lumber industries or worked at one of the brick yards. The women who worked at that time generally worked in one of the sewing factories. The adults I knew at this time in my home town in 1968 were also very prejudice. It was like Norman Lear took bits and pieces from this town to create Archie Bunker his main character in the TV sitcom “All In The Family”.’

 In the 47 years since 1968 the issues of prejudice, discrimination and racism had been making improvements. Recently though is seems like we are going backwards. There have been incidents of white police officers shooting unarmed African Americans, issues at major college campuses that have put college presidents under fire for their actions or lack of actions dealing with racial problems. One of the most egregious acts of prejudice and discrimination showed its face in the past week or so. After the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday November 13, 2015 President Obama spoke of accepting Syrian refugees. I was not surprised that 47% of the American public is not in favor of this (Beinart , 2015). What was shocking is that 37 Governors and Congress are overwhelmingly against allowing Syrian refugees into this country. So much for Congress and Declaration of Independence’s, “all men are created equal” (The Declaration of Independence , 1776). It is just surprising to me that people who have sworn to protect the United States Constitution can be so discriminatory, racist and prejudicial towards one group of people.

As described in a 2012 American Psychological Association report, “Discrimination creates substantial harm, for individuals and for U.S. society as a whole” (APA, 2012). It is hard to believe that an elected official would state that his state will not allow one Syrian refugee to cross his borders. Governor Paul LePage of Maine made the statement, “…I adamantly oppose any attempt by the federal government to place Syrian refugees in Maine, and will take every lawful measure in my power to prevent it from happening” (WCSH & NEWS CENTER, WCSH, 2015). At that time he was one of nine governors that shared the same view, since then the number has grown.

I do not think we will ever be without racism, prejudices, and discrimination, people have dealt “with is since the beginning of time. Noticing differences in people is natural” (APA, 2012) but how we judge and classify others is something we often pick up from our environment as we grow up and develop a part of how we were nurtured. Unfortunately some develop the perception that one race, religion or ethnicity is superior to another race or races (APA, 2012). It is wrong to believe that all members of one race, religion, or nationality process all the same characteristics or one specific group. Such as the case of thinking all Muslim’s or Syrians are terrorist. As humans we can have prejudicial thought without even having intent and even this can be harmful. We need to stop hiding behind the silence of not talking about racism, discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping and bring it out in the open and have honest true discussions about it. Perhaps Congress and Governors need to replicate the Miss Elliott’s, “A Class Divided” experiment, but divide them by eye color not political party.


APA. (2012). Race, prejudice and stereotypes: APA report on preventing discrimination and promoting diversity. Retrieved November 21, 2015, from American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/pi/about/newsletter/2012/04/discrimination-diversity.aspx

Beinart , P. (2015, November 23). Why Obama Is Standing by the Syrian Refugees. Retrieved from The Atlantic : http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/11/obama-syrian-refugees/417222/

The Declaration of Independence . (1776, July 4). Retrieved November 24, 2015, from Charters of Freedom: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

WCH, & NEWS CENTER, WCSH. (2015, November 16). LePage on Syrian refugees: “will take every lawful measure in my power to prevent it”. Retrieved November 22, 2015, from WCSH 6: http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/2015/11/16/after-paris-attacks-gov-lepage-refuses-to-accept-syrian-refugees/75876664/





Nov 15

Social Change Research – The Key to Our Future

Social change can become necessary at any time or in any place due to a multitude of possible reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to, environmental factors such as climate change, demographic factors such as an expanding population, or technological enhancements such as the increasing popularity of online shopping (Social Change, 2015). Therefore, social change plays a major role in all of our lives and like anything else of value in our lives, we should not try to tackle these issues without first performing adequate research. Lynne McLoughlin (2005) confirms the importance of social change research with respect to the development of effective social change programs.

Research for any social change initiative must be performed in such a way that it truly identifies whether or not a problem exists. Biased research or research performed by someone with a personal agenda may not always yield accurate results. For example, participatory research is typically performed by members of the community, organization, etc. who want to uncover and find a solution for a problem they believe is occurring within their community (PSU WC, L13, 2015). One such example can be found in a 2013 article written by Simonds, Wallerstein, Duran and Villegas. The authors discuss the need for participatory research in communities experiencing abnormally high instances of cancer so that effective intervention programs can be developed and implemented (Simonds et al., 2013). Additional focuses of community-based participatory research can be obtained via a quick search of the internet. Some of these topics include medicine, education, land use and transportation.

While participatory research could result in possible issues such as lower objectivity, I believe it yields greater accuracy than the alternative, activist research. Activist research expands participatory research by adding the component of a specific desired outcome (PSU WC, L13, 2015). For example, companies wanting you to buy their products will market the product using research which fully advocates their use. Our lesson commentary provides the example of “milk, it does a body good,” however, a number of others come to mind (PSU WC, L13, 2015). Several years ago, General Mills was sued due to a slogan which claimed their Nature Valley granola bars were “100% natural” even though they contained several not so natural ingredients (General Mills, n.d.). Another example is the marketing of products as containing “less sugar” or “more whole grains” in order to make consumers believe the products are healthier than alternatives on the market (Schober, n.d.) Over the years, I also recall reading about research indicating the health benefits of consuming dark chocolate, red wine, and other foods. While I do not know if these were scientific research studies or products of activist research, they definitely help to support the sale of those products.

Regardless of whether or not social change research is conducted using participatory research, activist research or at times may lack full objectivity, it continues to play a key role in raising awareness of important social change issues. For those of us in a position to evaluate that research, we must do so with the same caution we would use to analyze any other research. We cannot simply assume that what we see or hear is the whole truth, especially when it is directly related to the marketing of goods or services.



General Mills to Drop “100% Natural” Claims on Nature Valley Granola Bars with Artificial Ingredient. Center for Science in the Public Interest. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://www.cspinet.org/new/201411182.html

McLoughlin, L. (2005). The Role of Social Research in Effective Social Change Programs. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 21, 57-70.

Pennsylvania State University World Campus. (2015). Lesson 13: Social Change/Participatory Research. PSYCH424: Applied Social Psychology.

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.

Schober, T. (n.d.). 10 Ways Food Advertising Tricks are Misleading You. Retrieved November 23, 2015, from http://www.coachcalorie.com/food-advertising-tricks/

Simonds VW, Wallerstein N, Duran B, Villegas M. (2013). Community-Based Participatory Research: Its Role in Future Cancer Research and Public Health Practice. 10.

Social change. (2015). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/topic/social-change.

Nov 15

Feminism and Activism

Change. It’s a word often heard, especially recently with the elections coming up. It seems like there is one side that wants change in the form of progress and new ideas, while the other is focused on going back to how things once were. This weekend I named myself a bleeding heart liberal, after I insisted on standing up for something I thought was important. I see this activism as something to take with pride and to embrace, where as media and the right-wing conservatives try to preach is a poor quality. Activism kind of reminds me of the bystander effect. You can either stand idly by and let someone else take care of something that you may believe is worth fighting for, or you can take care of it yourself.

As a feminist I feel it is important to spread the knowledge of the actual definition of feminism. Not every feminist is a bra burning, man hating, and “bitchy” woman. Feminist can be men too. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines feminism as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities” and “organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests”. I think lately, people tend to associate feminist as someone to be feared. I experience this frequently as I am extremely outspoken on social media and in person. I get put down or ridiculed for being to sensitive about the treatment of women, but if everyone chose to listen to the naysayers then nothing would ever change. Real change thrives in adversity. There are websites and social media pages dedicated to the war against feminisim “womenagainstfeminism.com”. Women give reasons for not needing feminism like, “I love to be sexy for my man and cook for him… in the KITCHEN!!” and “I don’t want to discourage MALE rape victims from speaking up! I’m pro equality! Men deserve rights, too!”. Yet all of these reasons are not what feminism is about, it is extremist feminism that feels that women should be treated better than men in all circumstances. We are seeing generalization problems in other social areas recently like the generalization made about the black and Muslim populations. When there is miscommunication about fact and belief people can wind up supporting the wrong causes.





Nov 15

Infant Attachment Styles: Mary Ainsworth’s Strange Situation

Parents can fulfill many different roles in the lives of their children. They can be their teachers, their rule enforcers, their buddies, their caretakers, and most importantly their attachment figures. The role of an attachment figure is a huge responsibility for the parent, because it is one of the most important predictors in what kind of emotional and social outcome the child will have later in their lives (Benoit, 2004).
Attachment is a definitive approach in the relationship between a child and parent that helps the child feel safe and protected (Benoit, 2004). This has little to do with the other roles that a parent has such as feeding, teaching, playing, and disciplining the infant. In this approach the parent is used as a safe haven when the child feels distressed or vulnerable (McLeod, 2009). Attachment theory contributes to the explanation as to how this relationship between the child and their parent emanates and how that impacts the child’s successive development (McLeod, 2009).
Mary Ainsworth formulated a technique called the “Strange Situation” to help determine how attachment differs between various children (McLeod, 2014). This experiment was conducted on infants aged 12 to 18 months old, and included 100 middle class American families (McLeod, 2014). There was a sequence of events introduced that lasted approximately 20 minutes and was able to be observed by one way glass (Brodie, 2015). There were eight episodes that each lasted roughly three minutes in this experiment; the first episode included the mother, baby, and experimenter in the room; the second episode included only the mother and the baby; the third episode introduced a stranger to the mother and baby; the fourth episode the mother left the baby alone with the stranger; the fifth episode the mother returned and the stranger left; the sixth episode the mother left the infant completely alone; the seventh episode the stranger returned; the eight episode the mother returned again and the stranger left (McLeod, 2014). While this was going on the researcher was studying the behavior of the infant. The researcher was looking for four interaction behaviors in which were focused on when the mother returned after leaving the room (McLeod, 2014). These included the proximity of the infant in relation to the mother and whether or not they sought contact, whether or not they maintained contact, whether or not they avoided proximity and contact, or whether they were resistant to contact and comforting (McLeod, 2014). Other behaviors were observed as well, such as, whether or not the infant moved around the room and/or played with toys, whether or not the infant searched for their mother by going to the door or banging on the door or whether the infant cried when the mother left the room and smiled when the mother returned (McLeod, 2014).
Based on the outcomes of this experiment, Ainsworth identified three main attachment styles (McLeod, 2014). The successful outcomes were described as being secure attachment, and the unsuccessful outcomes were described as insecure attachment style, anxious ambivalent, and insecure attachment style, avoidant (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). In the secure attachment style the infant was comfortable exploring the new surroundings while the mother was present, was upset once the mother left, was anxious when the mother left while the stranger was in the room, was not able to be comforted by the stranger, and was able to be calmed down when the mother returned; this style was found in the majority of the children that were studied (McLeod, 2014). In the insecure attachment style, anxious ambivalent the child did not explore the environment, was extremely distressed when the mother left the room, avoided the stranger when left alone with them, and resisted the mother when she returned effectively being unable to be comforted (McLeod, 2014). In the insecure attachment style, avoidant the child was not upset when the mother left, was able to be comforted by the stranger as well as the parent, and didn’t show much interest in the mother when she returned (McLeod, 2014). Ainsworth suggested that the way the caregiver behaves in relation to the infant is a predictor in which attachment style the infant would be classified (McLeod, 2014). Those infants that were found to be in in the secure attachment style had parents that were responsive and perceptive in their care. The infants that were in the insecure attachment, anxious ambivalent style had inconsistent parental care; sometimes their needs were met and sometimes they were not (McLeod, 2014). Those infants in the insecure attachment avoidant style had parents that were completely unconcerned with their care; these infants had already figured out that relaying their needs to their parents was fruitless (McLeod, 2014).
Research has shown that having a secure attachment to a parent is a protective factor against social and emotional disorders in children (Benoit, 2004). Insecure attachment styles whether they are avoidant or resistant have been shown to be risk factors in relation to social and emotional disorders in children (Benoit, 2004). All children have attachment to their parents, regardless of how inattentive they are, and these findings show that secure infant parent attachment is an extremely influential predictor of greater social and emotional outcomes later in a child’s life (Benoit, 2004).

Benoit, D. (2004). Infant-parent attachment: definition, types, antecedents, measurement and outcome. Paediatr Child Health. 9(8), 541-545.
McLeod, S. (2009). Attachment theory. Retrieved from: http:// www.simplypsychology.org/attachment.html
McLeod, S. (2014). Mary Ainsworth. Retrieved from: http://www.simplypsychology.org/mary_ainsworth.html
Brodie, R. Mary Ainsworth and attachment theory. Retrieved from: http://www.childdevelopmentmedia.com/articles/mary-ainsworth-and-attachment-theory/
Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts L.M. (2012). Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Washington DC: Sage Publications.

Nov 15

Why Bella Chose Edward Over Jacob

I recently watched the Twilight series for the first time and actually found the movie quite entertaining.  The storyline involves a high school girl named Bella who falls in love with a vampire named Edward.  Jacob, a local werewolf, befriends Bella and also falls madly in love with her.  Bella is forced to pick between Edward and Jacob which led me to a question applied social psychology may be able to answer: Why did Bella choose Edward over Jacob?  Both are very physically attractive and appealing men, yet Bella is able to choose Edward with confidence.  According to the field of applied social psychology, Bella might have chosen Edward simply because of proximity which led to familiarity.  Many relationships begin with physical proximity or nearness/accessibility to another person (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). In other words, the more time one spends with another person, the more likely liking and love will result (Shpancer, 2014). Another reason Bella may have chosen Edward is because of the similarities between one another.  Finally, the fact that Bella views Edward as a better parent figure and provider than Jacob may have swayed her decision.  Bella chose Edward over Jacob because Edward associates more with Bella, is more similar to her, and appears to Bella as a better parent and provider.

Edward and Bella are in closer proximity than Jacob and Bella because Edward and Bella go to school together. Edward and Bella formally meet when they become lab partners in biology class and continue to run into each other regularly at school. Because Bella associates with Edward more frequently than Jacob, this proximity breeds familiarity and likability (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). The interactions that come about as a result of Bella and Edward’s proximity leads to a greater chance of a relationship. The proximity effect, the tendency for increased interpersonal liking as a result of physiological or psychological nearness, may have caused Bella to like Edward first and thus more than Jacob (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). At the beginning of the movie before Bella meets Edward, she asks Jacob if he wants a ride to school; he declines because Jacob attends school at an Indian Reservation. Perhaps if Jacob had accepted, then Bella may have chosen him over Edward. Because Edward had more exposure to Bella sooner than Jacob, Bella may have perceived Edward as more familiar and thus more reassuring and pleasant (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Had Jacob gone to the same school as Bella and been in closer proximity with her, perhaps she would have chosen him over Edward.

In addition to proximity, Edward and Bella share many similarities which may have led Bella to be attracted to him more than Jacob. People are drawn to other people who are similar to themselves (Shpancer, 2014). Bella and Edward are actually very similar in that they are both intelligent and even enjoy the same musical taste. Jacob and Bella are not as similar because Jacob enjoys things like riding motorcycles and fixing cars in which Bella I not particularly adept. Even physically Bella and Edward are both thin and pale-skinned while Jacob is muscular and tan. Although this may not seem to indicate much of anything, research has shown that most people seek long-term relationships with people who match their own level of attractiveness and who look similar to themselves (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). The key reason I think that Bella chose Edward over Jacob is because with Edward, Bella has the potential to become a vampire. They can be completely similar to each other and dissimilar to most everyone else. This unique chance of similarity between the two may have caused Bella to overlook Jacob since she can never become a werewolf. Bella could never reach the complete similarity of nature with Jacob as she could with Edward. The similarities between Edward and Bella are far more than Jacob and Bella.

Viewing Edward as a better provider and guardian than Jacob may have influenced Bella’s mate choice. Women tend to seek men with good earning capacity who can boost their own social standing and provide for them (Denisiuk, 2004). Edward is part of a wealthy family who will provide him with all of the means to survive comfortably. I am sure Bella recognizes this and unconsciously seeks Edward over Jacob, as a result. In addition, Edward is much older than Bella. He has experienced much of the world and life. This might indicate to Bella that Edward is mature enough to provide for her and a family. Jacob is younger than Bella and she seems to view him as a little brother figure more than a provider or romantic companion. Researchers have also identified that women seek good parenting skills in a partner (Nauert, 2008). Edward’s and Jacob’s temperaments are vastly different and Bella is aware of this fact. Edward is kind-hearted, protective, and self-controlled. He saves Bella from various evils, is constantly reassuring her, and even gives her the option of leaving him for the sake of her happiness. Contrarily, Jacob is hot-headed, cocky, and naïve. He is not exactly representative of a father-like figure for Bella’s children. In addition, the werewolves are prone to angry outbursts. The leader of Jacob’s pack even physically abused his wife, leaving her a facial scar. Being exposed to Jacob’s aggressive and immature tendencies may be enough for Bella to desire Edward over Jacob. In general, Edward is simply easier to view as a provider and father-figure than Jacob.

Using the logic of applied social psychology, one can conclude that Bella chose Edward over Jacob because she was able to bond more with Edward, they had more in common, and she viewed Edward as an adequate provider and father to their future children.  The fact that Bella and Edward see each other every day gives Edward an advantage over Jacob.  Bella and Edward are much more similar in appearance and personality compared to Jacob and Bella.  Just the idea of Edward as a better provider and parent could have affected Bella’s decision.  I am not sure who I would choose, Edward or Jacob, if I was in Bella’s position!



Denisiuk, J., (2004). Evolutionary Versus Social Structural Explanations for Sex Differences in Mate Preferences, Jealousy, and Aggression. In Personalityresearch.org. Retrieved from http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/denisiuk.html

Nauert, R., (2008). How Women Choose Partners. In Psychcentral.com. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/news/2008/03/24/how-women-choose-partners/2071.html

Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L. (Eds.). (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Shpancer, N., (2014). Laws of Attraction: How Do We Select a Life Partner? In Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-therapy/201412/laws-attraction-how-do-we-select-life-partner

Nov 15

I’d Be More Optimistic, If I Thought It Would Help

I’d be more optimistic, if I thought it would help.  I remember reading that on a bumper sticker from a car parked in front of me while being at a stand-still on the interstate one day.  I then wondered to myself about the emotions that were going on with the driver of that car.  Was he feeling positive at that time?  Or was there a rush of negative emotions running through that led him to just one more blood vessel being popped before the barrage of horn pounding started to commence.   Let me ask you this: do you think that the driver of that car had a positive or negative outlook on the situation?  Was the driver an optimist or pessimist?  I explain to you what the difference between optimists and pessimists, what the advantages and disadvantages are of each.

Optimists have a positive outcome of expectancies that significantly influence both their thinking and their approach to the world. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012)  These are the GO-GETTERS!! You are self-motivating.  The only person you rely on is yourself to achieve the goals you’ve set.  Your ambitions are big, and there is no limit, not even the sky.  You set your mind to the bigger picture and never really bother sweating the small stuff.  When you have achieved something, you capitalize on the positive feedback you receive. In summary, you look for the good in everything.  Pessimists are people who doubt their chances of attaining desirable goals and tend to withhold effort. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012)  These are the “well… we’ll see…”  type of people who would rather set the bar pretty low for themselves out of fear that they may never achieve anything that they set out for themselves.   The negative feedback you may receive may actually end up helping you instead of discouraging you because that’s what you were expecting in the first place.  In summary, you look for the worse in everything.


You may look at each of these and automatically assume that being optimistic would have all of the advantages, but that’s not entirely true.  There are advantages of being optimistic, as well as being pessimistic.  The advantage of being an optimistic person is that you always have a positive mindset for whatever the challenges in which you will face.  You may tend to live a healthier lifestyle.  The advantage of being a pessimistic is that you take a more settled approach to your life’s activities.  Instead of always shooting for the highest goals to obtain, you may lower you standards to help take unwanted pressure off of you.  This may help with reducing your nerves, or anxiety, with having that feeling of being a failure when something doesn’t go as plan.  This type of negative feeling may help you prepare, or cope, with life’s realities


One of the main disadvantages of being an optimistic person is that you end up taking more chances in life with your overload of confidence.  Yes, people say that you need to take risks in life to ultimately achieve what you may otherwise never attempt, but sometimes an optimistic person may not know his or her boundaries.  When someone sets their targets on lofty goals, the risks are a lot more, and consequences could end up effecting relationships, money, and maybe even your life.  The biggest disadvantage of being a pessimistic is that for most of the time you fail to have the motivation that is sometimes needed just to function in life.  Pessimists may be at a higher risk for depression, which can lead to unhealthy lifestyles, relationship problems, and an overall dissatisfaction with your life’s achievements.  You may spend a lot of time trying to convince yourself that things are going the way that you want them, but in the end, it’s the feeling of emptiness of sometimes knowing that you can do more if you just take those risks.

So what is your approach when you’re going for a job interview, watching your favorite sport teams, or even taking psychology classes at PSU?   We have all heard of the “glass half-full, or half empty,” analogy.  I’m more of a person who is determined to just get a refill on my glass when it is empty.  There’s really nothing wrong with how you approach life, just as long as it’s the life you feel comfortable living.



Schneider, Frank W., Gruman, Jamie A., Coutts, Larry M., (2012) Applied Social Psychology; Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. 2nd Edition; SAGE Publications, Inc.





Nov 15

MIT research program on social changes

D.Fox Harrell, an associate professor at MIT, is currently developing advanced research programs for online learning environments for middle and high school aged children. Harrell has been working on his research for over 5 years and has recently received a large grant to fund his project. The focus of the project is on social change, virtual identities, and real-world values. His project will dive into the virtual environment and specialize on relationships between avatars and the students personal identities.

Harrell explains how our human values dictate what information we share online through social media, what types of technologies we use, and how we use them. As social media has grown exponentially over the past 10 years, social change is been a hot topic. The way we interact on a daily basis with others is vastly different. Many communications take place over the internet; through e-mails, communication types such as Twitter and Facebook, and through online video games. It seems that we are having less face to face communication as even schools are now available online, high schools and universities offer completely online learning environments. All of these are great for people with limited time for classes, ease of keeping in touch with people that may have otherwise been difficult, and giving older people with full-time jobs and families the ability to earn their degrees.

The video game that Harrell has developed is going to be used in the Boston and Cambridge area for middle and high school students. The project will introduce computer science learning courses in these public schools, but also be a research environment for Harrell. He will study the way the created virtual identities for the student impact their learning. The students will design their avatar , choosing from a wide array of characteristics allowing them to diversify their avatar. This will be a major part of their research, following the way students chose to represent themselves, how they interact with others in the environment, and the way their behaviors change throughout the semester.

I think this study is a great idea for the age range they are focusing on. As social media is taking over and becoming the most popular form of communication, research that focuses on the way we interact and express ourselves as well as acceptance of others is incredibly important. I personally am still a big fan of face to face communication for many reason, when it is not a viable option, the internet/cell phone/e-mail are always available.


Nov 15

Why You are a Terrorist and I’m Not

IF you were offend by the title of this blog…Good! Now let me preface that this is NOT intend to advocate violence or radicalism but unfortunately this day in age requires me to address the political correctness police or “social justice warriors” a term coined by the stand up comedian Joe Rogan. I will not dwell on the over emphasized political correctness movement of this country, however I will not ignore it is very much related or a symptom of a greater issue facing this country.

Now, if you are still reading this, I would like to explain the purpose of this blog entry, which is simply to stimulate a dialogue and shift in perspective. In my humble opinion a shift in social conscious is necessary before the War on Terrorism can be resolved. Before a solution to any problem can be determined operational definitions must be agreed upon. So, I will present my operational definition or interpretation of: The War on Terrorism. According to the United State’s FBI agency Terrorism is defined as the following:


Definitions of Terrorism in the U.S. Code

18 U.S.C. § 2331 defines “international terrorism” and “domestic terrorism” for purposes of Chapter 113B of the Code, entitled “Terrorism”:

“International terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:

  • Involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  • Appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
  • Occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.*

“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:

  • Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  • Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
  • Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

18 U.S.C. § 2332b defines the term “federal crime of terrorism” as an offense that:

  • Is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and
  • Is a violation of one of several listed statutes, including § 930(c) (relating to killing or attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon); and § 1114 (relating to killing or attempted killing of officers and employees of the U.S.).

* FISA defines “international terrorism” in a nearly identical way, replacing “primarily” outside the U.S. with “totally” outside the U.S. 50 U.S.C. § 1801(c).


My question still remains what is terrorism? Furthermore, I would urge you to read the following: http://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/terrorism

I wanted to provide the previous link to demonstrate that this is not a new thought or approach to terrorism. So, what is a definition or explanation of terrorism that I agree with?

Here is a good place to start: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/terrorism/

For the sake of time and your attention span, I will simply state there is no firm “operational definition” of terrorism, in my opinion. Now that we have hopefully reached some middle ground about the definition of terrorism or not that is ok too; we can explore war. Here is another link to a good starting point (my opinion): http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/war/

The take home message or emphasis from the previous site is the following: “War is a phenomenon which occurs only between political communities”

I will now try to synthesize the two previous concepts or The War on Terrorism and provide my opinion. I argue that because terrorism is ideology based and “war is a phenomenon which occurs only between political communities”, the War on Terrorism is fundamentally flawed. If you have followed the recent uprising or development of ISIS (how could you not) the reason there has been much debate about whether ISIS is an established “political state” is paramount in my opinion, because of what I’m attempting to explain… Legally speaking in order for the War on Terrorism to be “ethical” ISIS is required to be recognized as a “political community”.

I do not want this discussion to be driven by political disposition and morph into more of an “US versus THEM” mentality. In fact my goal is the complete opposite. I think that in order for the War on Terrorism to be RESOLVED not WON, because there is and will not be a single “winner”; we as a society must indulge or simply just attempt to adopt an opposition’s perspective, given not an easily surmountable task but necessary in my opinion before what the alleged goal of any war: Peace; can be accomplished.   I will not arrogantly speak to what the collective social conscious change must be or how it will be accomplished; rather, I think the first step is to attempt to consider another individual’s perspective or the politically charged words beliefs or faith.

Nov 15

Social Change

I decided to type in social change into a google search to see what I got. I stumbled across a plethora of TED talks. TED talks offer a large amount of information from specialist all over the world on different issues. There were about 100 different videos on different social change issues. The one that caught my eye was Zeynep Tufekci’s talk on online social change movements. In our commentary it explains about social change research and whether or not this particular research could be taken as good or bad. Tufekci talks about how social change is not spread and organized online and how it was implemented before the technology age.

I thought this video was interesting because it goes back to our communication through email paper and communication in general in applied social psychology. Tufekci talks about the civil rights movement back in the 1950’s and how quickly work spread of a protest and there was no social media available. When Rosa Parks was arrested word spread within two days of the arrest by pamphlets that were handed out by different civil rights groups. Pamphlets used to be the main form of social communication when the internet wasn’t around. Pamphlets helped spread ideals of the rebels before and during the American Revolution. Now we can use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram ect. . . Tufekci then goes on to explain how protests can start within a matter of hours due to today’s social media. She uses Turkey as her primary example on multiple occasions.

So which one is more effective? Today’s social change or pre-internet era social change? I would argue that they have strengths and weaknesses. Modern social media can provide speed while old school pamphlets can facilitate organization. With modern social media thousands of people get information in a matter of seconds and along the way information can change just as quick. With pamphlets and paper there is no room for miscommunication since there is only one shot at organizing something.

An important part of social research is how it is spread. In different countries news outlets are completely controlled by the government hence why social media has become so important with social change because the governments cannot control what is posted on Facebook and the others now they can block these sites and or block internet access. Again, this goes back to how important communication is and how we communicate is also important.


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