Sep 17

To Kneel or Not to Kneel? That Is the Question.

In recent news, a massive wave of controversy has centered around the decision by National Football League (NFL) players and owners to take a knee while the National Anthem is played and American Flag are presented at the start of a football game. Originally, in August 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began to ignite the controversy by refusing to stand for the National Anthem (Wyche, 2016). Moreover, Kaepernick explained how he felt he could not stand up for a country who continually “oppresses black people and people of color” (Wyche, 2016). Kaepernick would later opt out of his contract with the 49ers and currently remains a free agent (Daniels, 2017). While other players followed suit, it was not until President Donald Trump injected himself into the heart of the matter. President Trump was at a campaign rally in Alabama to provide support for Roy Moore who was running as the Republican candidate against Luther Strange. This election was to determine the Republican candidate who would face a Democratic challenger for the vacant seat left by previous Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions who went on to become the United States Attorney General shortly after President Trump took office. During the rally, the President stated any “son of a bitch” who took at knee should be fired for showing a lack of respect to the flag (Diaz, 2017). However, the President’s comments channeled a wave of NFL protests in the days following the Alabama campaign rally. Numerous teams took a knee during the days that followed with the Pittsburgh Steeler remaining in their locker room until the entire National Anthem had played (McLaughlin, 2017). These events have given rise to a divide that exists within our society, which could be explained through applied social psychology.

(Rogers, 2016)

The United States is a country made up of wide diverse groups of people from all over the world.  In psychology, diversity is not only representative of the difference between people but is also representative of how diversity can originate from a variety of other sources such as ethnicity, nationality, religion, sex, sexual orientation, physical ability, and social class (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005). While diversity allows for the intermingling of diverse cultures together it can have unintended side effects. For example, Schneider et al. (2005) suggested cultural diversity could lead to increased levels of xenophobia and misunderstanding (p. 335). Another potential side effect is demographic diversity, which can result in sexism, racism, and classism (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 335). In this particular case, conflict exists due to the perceived existence of racial disparity between whites, blacks, and racial minorities. For instance, Colin Kaepernick suggested the death of black men by police officers were another reason for his protests (McLaughlin, 2017). Racism as defined by Schneider et al. (2005) is the bias toward a group or individual on the basis of their race or ethnicity (p. 332). Similarly, discrimination is the “actual behaviors” towards a group or individual on the basis of their group affiliation (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 337). Using the framework suggested by Colin Kaepernick and his peers, minorities are subjected to different behavioral responses by others than nonminority populations. These differences in perception provide a source of conflict, which will lead to moments of tension due to incompatible goals between competing views (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 339).

(McLaughlin, 2017)

Opposed to the view of the NFL football players are those that view his (and his fellow players’) actions as unpatriotic and are demeaning what the American Flag stands for. This would be representative of the adopted position of President Trump, who would later tweet, “When it comes to the respect of our nation, when it comes to the respect of our anthem and our flag, we have no choice. We have to have people stand with respect” (Diaz, 2017).  As a result, there are two sizes who vehemently view their position as the right one. Why does this conflict exist?

(Press, 2017)

According to Social Identity Theory, a person is both aware of the personal identity and social identity (group based identity) when performing critical evaluations against other groups (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 341). In situations where there is negative social identity a conflict can develop due to the perceived difference of status between the individual’s group and the group being used for the comparison (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 341). The authors argue how this can create an us versus them scenario, which pits members of each group on either side of the issue (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 341). Using the Social Identity Framework, we can look at Colin Kaepernick’s original statement to understand the crux of the conflict. Initially, Kaepernick stated he would not stand up for a country who continually “oppresses black people and people of color” (Wyche, 2016). To Kaepernick and his fellow players, there is a disparity between his individual and social group and that of other groups who are not minorities in the United States. This comparison led to a negative social identity comparison where the football players feel there needs to be a change to restore the balance between the groups.

In contrast, the Theory of Relative Deprivation would assert conflict arises in situations where one is deprived of a social category encountered in the past, from another group, a learned idea, or from another person (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 341). Thus, this deprivation could lead to the need for an evaluation towards a certain social category, which if deprived, could lead to conflict. If we utilize the Theory of Relative Deprivation towards this situation, it is clear Kaepernick and his peers are striving for equality between minority populations to nonminority populations. Therefore, Kaepernick and his peers perceive their equality (standard) has been deprived from them and only through their actions can the disparity be resolved and the deprivation removed.

Finally, the Realistic Group Conflict Theory suggests conflict arises from existence of conflicting goals between groups (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 341). Moreover, conflict occurs when precipitating elements such as discrepancy between both groups’ interests and reduced cooperation pit groups against one another (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 341). If we apply the Realistic Group Conflict Theory to the current situation, the football players have a desire to increase the level of equality for minorities, which is at odds with those that feel kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful or unpatriotic. Additionally, opponents would argue this would not be the correct forum to draw attention to their cause. Therefore, it is those competing interests between the two groups that keeps both sides in conflict with one another (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 341).

Applied social psychology can help to facilitate the reduction of these tensions through coalition building through high acquaintance potential (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 343-344). Using this method would allow groups to come together and extend a dialog to one another to better understand and reconcile their differences rather than polarize to their respective sides without any dialog between the groups. Moreover, the method would help facilitate the contact hypothesis, which would allow for a fostering of better relationships through increased positive contact as long as both groups shared equal status, worked towards a common goal, and had environmental support (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 343). Finally, applying Interpersonal Conflict Management strategies to both groups might help to increase the way in which groups integrate information to better balance a high concern for one’s own needs with the needs of others (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 343).

In conclusion, the NFL controversy is one of the largest social issues currently causing a divide within America in a highly polarizing way. As a result, there is a feeling this situation is leading to an “us versus them” situation as outlined by the Social Identity Theory (Schneider et al., 2005, p. 341). However, it is not too late to begin to reach out, not with the intent to defend our positions, but rather with the intent to understand one another. This would be a perfect opportunity for a person from one side to reach out to the other with the goal of having a dialog. It is only through the understanding of each other’s position can we truly grow as a society. It will not be easy and it will require America to look back and see troubling points within its own history, which will undoubtedly be uncomfortable. However, if we work together, it is my belief we can achieve great things as one group rather than being divided as a nation.


Daniels, T. (2017, April 12). Colin Kaepernick Officially Opts out of 49ers Contract. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2695566-colin-kaepernicks-agents-inform-nfl-teams-qb-will-opt-out-of-49ers-contract

Diaz, D. (2017, September 28). Trump on NFL owners: ‘I think they’re afraid of their players’. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/28/politics/donald-trump-nfl-owners-afraid-of-their-players-health-care/index.html

McLaughlin, E. C. (2017, September 25). These are the NFL players protesting today amid Trump criticism. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/24/us/nfl-trump-take-knee-protests/index.html

Press, A. (2017, September 23). NFL Anthem Dispute: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Fires Back at Trump. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/nfl-anthem-dispute-trump-says-protesting-players-should-be-fired-n804086

Rogers, M. (2016, September 13). Colin Kaepernick heightens social conversation while dropping to knee. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/columnist/martin-rogers/2016/09/12/colin-kaepernick-national-anthem-kneel-protest-san-francisco-49ers-st-louis-rams/90290074/

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

Wyche, S. (2016, August 27). Colin Kaepernick explains why he sat during national anthem. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000691077/article/colin-kaepernick-explains-why-he-sat-during-national-anthem


Sep 17

The Role of Religion in Prejudice Enablement and Reduction

Prejudice and discrimination have a long-storied history throughout the world. It is these two psycho-sociological concepts that influence the presence of in and out groups throughout our society. Prejudice, as defined as a series of attitudes directed at a specific group or the individuals that make up a group, still remains a significant problem in both established and emerging societies (PSU, 2017). Pennsylvania State University (2017) notes that prejudice often highlights negative stereotypes of a group or individuals. Historically, examples of prejudice have been noted throughout a series of societal changes such as immigration and the civil rights campaign. We are often made aware of the common sources of prejudice; however, Joanna Burch-Brown and William Baker recently uncovered a community that often escapes the blame as a source of prejudiced behavior.

Burch-Brown and Baker recently explored the connection between religion and prejudiced behavior. Prior to performing their research, Burch-Brown and Baker (2016, p. 784) hypothesized that religion has the ability to promote and or reduce prejudicial behavior among followers. Their work introduces social identity theory as the two explore how religion is capable of enabling prejudice. As Burch-Brown and Baker (2016, p. 786) introduce the historical relationship between religion and prejudice, they cite several meta-analyses highlighting a strong correlation between religious affiliation and prejudiced attitudes. Groups such as gays, the nonreligious or members of other religious groups are labeled (Burch-Brown & Baker, 2016, p. 786).

As the conversation shifts to causation of prejudice, the researchers (Burch-Brown & Baker, 2016, p. 788) note the rise of intolerance as it relates to prejudice and discrimination; however, they also reinforce the idea that religions have become a source of social acceptance for individuals. The end result of this phenomenon is an increase in racial and religious intolerance (Burch-Brown & Baker, 2016, p. 788). While religious groups may present a social outlet for individuals to engage in prejudiced behavior, Burch-Brown and Baker alert readers to other critical psychological frameworks uncovered throughout their study. Interestingly, the concept of priming is well documented throughout the Burch-Brown and Baker research. Priming, which relates to the response of a familiar stimuli, has a distinct relationship with religion (APA, 2014). Burch-Brown and Baker (2016, p. 788) state that, “Words like ‘Bible,’ ‘Jesus, ‘and prayer’ are conceptually associated with conservative social values for many people in the US.” Through priming, individuals may be exposed to prejudiced and discriminatory attitudes.

However, one of the most fascinating aspects of the research relates to the concept of social identity theory. Social identity theory indicates that individuals can be influenced by either their personal or social identity (PSU, 2017). Burch-Brown and Baker argue that social identity theory has the capability of either reinforcing or removing prejudicial behavior and attitudes. Regarding the reduction of prejudice, the research points to specific examples such as the civil rights movement, in which religion played a pivotal role in supporting the cause of civil rights activists (Burch-Brown & Baker, 2011, p. 790). These experiences were commonly associated with positive social aspects of religious groups. Alternatively, religious groups and members may fall victim to religious identity threat, which is Burch-Brown & Baker (2011, p. 790) label as a threat to an entire religion or religious community. Religious threat has the capability to dramatically impact the social identity of faithful religious individuals thus creating negative or prejudiced attitudes towards outgroup members.

Unfortunately, the concept of social identity theory indicates that religious groups can both positively and negatively impact the attitudes of their followers. When groups represent progress and pride, the social identity of individuals may match that of the overall group. However, when challenged, religious groups have provided unfortunate examples of hatred, bigotry and prejudice. The personal and social identity of individuals is an extremely important concept as it relates to prejudice enablement and or reduction. Lastly, the outcome of social identity theory and religion reminds us that we must always be cautious of how we label religious groups. Negative social influences within religion are not a new phenomenon in modern society; while these forces are projected to continue well into the future, they should not take away from the positive social progress that many groups have made.


American Psychological Association. (2014). Lexical Decision Tasks, Semantic Priming, and Reading. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/highlights/peeps/issue-33.aspx

Burch-Brown, J. & Baker, W. (2016). Religion and Reducing Prejudice. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations. Vol 19, Issue 6, pp. 784-807

Pennsylvania State University World Campus. (2017). Lesson 6: Intergroup Relations/Diversity. PSYCH 424. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1867078/modules/items/22915547

Sep 17

Acrophobia Be Damned!

Over the past several years I have had the unpleasant experience of acrophobia (fear of heights). My first experience occurred during a much-anticipated trip to Italy. I was walking up the circular steps of the Duomo Climb to the Top of Florence’s Duomo to the cupola when all the sudden an intense fear overcame me. My excitement in viewing the frescoes and Florence were overcome with a sense of doom and panic. This intense fear filled me with angst, as the only way to exit was to walk around the entire circular cupola to reach the exit on the other side. The large crowds propelled me forward as I held onto the wall for support. Eventually, I did make it to the other side and began the quick descent down the stairs. It has been two years since this episode and I have experienced quite a few similar incidents that has altered my lifestyle. However, recently I learned of a possible cure for my acrophobia through a technique called observational learning.

Observational learning is a concept Bandura (1986) observed from his Social Cognitive Theory of learning. This theory believes learning is achieved through observations and processes to stimuli and responses (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). More specifically, Bandura’s (1986) observational technique focusses on four processes that coincide with learning: attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation. Attention is the ability to learn the observed behavior as its occurring. Retention is the ability to remember the learned behavior that you witnessed. Problems with attention and retention have been demonstrated to take a longer time to cure phobias (Yarwood, 2017). Reproduction is being able to perform the learned behavior. However, one must have the motivation required to engage in the learned behavior. To be cured of this phobia, I will have to focus on all four of these processes and perform the same behaviors exhibited by someone modeling the desired behaviors. However, before I can perform these behaviors I need to have self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is the belief that one has the confidence to exhibit control over a desired behavior (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Obviously, I lack self-efficacy because I am extremely fearful of heights and do not have to skill set to overcome this phobia. My hope is that with the observational technique, I will overcome this fear and once again be able to explore all the wonderful landscapes of my environment.

Unbeknownst to my family members, I tried to incorporate this technique while on a hike near an overlook. I watched as my family members climbed rocks on an overlook and it proved to be a challenging task. My children and husband have no fears of heights and I tried to just watch as they sat on the rocks of the overlook and marveled at the canyon down below. This proved ineffective because my attention was not focusing on their behaviors. I would close or cover my eyes as I watched them get closer and closer to the edge of the canyon. Obviously, this exercise proved to be a challenging task and I will be seeking professional help in the hopes of curing my acrophobia.

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

Schneider, F., Gruman, J., and Coutts, L. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. (2ed). Washington D.C., Sage Publications.

Yarwood, M. (n.d.). Psych 424 Module Lesson 5: Health and Clinical/Counseling – Part 2. PSU World Campus. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1867078/modules/items/22915541.


Sep 17

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies in Interracial Interaction

Most of us are well aware of the explicit prejudice that exists in the world and of the discrimination that can occur as the result of such prejudice. We see these prejudices in the tribalism that is so pervasive throughout our society, and in the beliefs, one group of people will hold about another group of people. Our text makes the important point that Prejudice is, “an attitude towards others based solely on group membership”, and that “When prejudiced attitudes get translated into behavior, discrimination results.” This is an important distinction because we are often unaware of many of our prejudices until they make themselves glaringly obvious during some kind of discriminatory behavior. Much work has been done to illuminate the more wide-spread prejudices in our society, and an equally large effort has been made to explain how these prejudices manifest into discriminatory behaviors. While we are all aware of the overtly discriminatory history of our country, we might not be as cognizant of the many covertly discriminatory behaviors that still exist. In an experiment carried out by researchers at Princeton University, these covert prejudices and discriminatory behaviors were tested, and the results have profound implications.
Job interviews are stressful enough as it is, but imagine walking into your interview thinking that your race was going to influence the interviewer’s opinion of you. Furthermore, imagine that your interviewer (different race) was displaying subtle non-verbal behaviors that indicated they were less interested in you from the start. How might you respond? Would you become tense and rigid? Would you have more speaking errors? Most importantly, would your concern for potential discrimination cause you to perform less optimally during your interview, therefore, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy? These are some of the questions the researchers at Princeton sought to answer.
In their study, the Princeton group ran two separate trials. In the first trial, 15 white subjects were told they had to interview a number of candidates and that their goal was to hire the most qualified individuals. The interviewees in this first trial were 2 black and 3 white high school students who were trained to respond to the interviewer’s questions similarly. The goal of this first experiment was to observe how the behavior of the interviewer changed in response to the race of the applicant. So, what were the results? Black applicants were shown less immediacy, had 25% shorter interviews, and the speech fluency of the interviewers was significantly affected. These results indicated that this randomly selected group of white interviewers acted significantly different while interviewing white vs. black candidates who acted in almost identical manors. While this finding is interesting, it only really confirms what prior research has shown, mainly that asymmetrical groups hold prejudices about each other and that these prejudices can elicit prejudiced behavior.
The second experiment is where things got really interesting. In this experiment, the original roles were reversed with interviewers as confederates and interviewees as the subjects. The goal was to see how a change in interviewer behavior would affect the performance of the interviewee. Because of the results obtained in experiment one, the researchers believed that the less immediate behaviors, poorer communications, and farther proximity of interviewers would negatively affect the interviewer’s performance, which in turn would make them appear as less qualified for the job. Indeed, these were the findings. Interviewees responded negatively to the poor non-verbal communication and were rated as less deserving of the job by independent judges who were tasked with watching tapes of the interviews. So, perfectly qualified individuals were primed by the nonverbal behavior of the interviewer to perform normally or sub-optimally during their job interview.
These findings are significant because they illuminate the ways implicit biases and prejudices can affect real-life inter-group interactions. While overt discrimination has certainly diminished, some of the more covert and nonverbal forms of discrimination carry on and have the potential to advantage some groups over others. This is important to keep in mind, especially when considering how lower-status groups of individuals may be implicitly disadvantaged in settings like the one examined in the Princeton study.

Schneider, Frank W. Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles, SAGE pub., 2012.

Word, Carl O, et al. “The nonverbal mediation of self-Fulfilling prophecies in interracial interaction.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 10, no. 2, 1974, pp. 109–120., doi:10.1016/0022-1031(74)90059-6.

Sep 17

Social Phobia

Part of an applied social psychologists job is to find the roots of issues in society and find a solution. We learned about intervention and evaluation in the earlier lessons. This is done through research and real-life experiences. In clinical and counseling psychologists encounter many issues. Clients come in with issues seeking for a solution or a “cure”.  The issue that caught my attention that people face every day is social anxiety also known as social phobia. “As such, social anxiety is a type of emotional distress that can vary in intensity” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012). In order to find the best way help people overcome this issue psychologists must understand why and how it occurs. “Identifying specific cognitive-social culprits involved in the onset and perpetuation of symptoms of social anxiety is important because their identification improve our theoretical understanding of how symptoms develop” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012). Finally, after understanding the person’s social phobia psychologists must find the best approach to overcome the disorder.

“Social Phobia is defined as a marked and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or possible scrutiny by others” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012). Understanding how people develop this is key to finding the treatment. As mentioned earlier identifying these cognitive symptoms from the person is vital in understanding their situation. This also works for the prevention of these disorders. It is very important for these practitioners to understand the general symptoms of social phobia. This way they are able to put in place an intervention to prevent this from happening. Leary and Kowalski action developed a theory called self-presentation theory. It uses the same cognitive-social culprits to create a blueprint of the origin of this disorder. It also lays out how maintain living with the disorder and finally the treatment (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012).

According to self-presentation theory, “a person experiences social anxiety only if two cognitive-social conditions are present simultaneously; the person must really want to make a particular impression, and doubt his or her ability to succeed” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012). My cousin has social phobia and after reading about this in class it helps me better understand his situation. As humans in social settings we are always looking to make an impression on someone. Essentially, we are looking to have someone perceive us the way we would like. Most of us do not want to be put in embarrassing situations. We look to stay away from feeling of embarrassment. My cousin fails to stay out of embarrassing or awkward situations because both of these cognitive-social symptom are present. He lacks confidence in social situations. He has doubt in his personal ability. With the use of SPT, I can see that realize many of my cousin’s experiences have been negative ones mixed with both those cognitive-social factors present this results in social anxiety.

Treatment to social anxiety is reviewed in the book. I do not know what type of treatment my cousin undergoes as we do not speak as frequently as we use to. SPT is used to understand if the social-cognitive factors are present. If present, an approach to treating social anxiety is treating the two factors. “Interventions should seek to modify social self-efficacy, and self-presentational motivation” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012). In essence, practitioners must look to find ways to boost the self-confidence of the individual. By boosting self-confidence this will improve the way the individual feels. Confidence is also the ability to not care what others think of you. Practitioners focus on building confidence and helping the individual understand it is not important what others think. Practitioners may go through social skill therapies to develop the client’s sense of self-efficacy.

Social phobia is a disorder that affects many. It debilitates an individual from living every day and performing in social settings. It can be a crushing feeling as it can completely destroy self-confidence and create an anxiety during social activities. This can even cause the individual to seclude himself from social environments in severe cases.



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

Sep 17

Why Health Counseling Should be a Part of Everyone’s Life

Humans are complicated.  Our body and minds are intertwined and it is important that both receive the attention necessary to keep us healthy. “Whatever happens in the brain (or mind) can affect physiological processes elsewhere in the body, and what happens in the environment is mediated by the brain (mind) can also influence physiological processes” (PSU WC, PSYCH 424, L. 5, p.2). With that understanding, it is time that health care becomes all-inclusive in its treatment plans. Plans that treat the body should also treat the mind and clinical health psychology can show us the way.


The purpose of clinical health psychology is to promote the maintenance of health by being attentive to the relationships of social, emotional, cognitive and the biological components of health.  It includes treatment and prevention of the individual and the improved health care in general (“Clinical Health”, n.d.). This comprehensive approach could address problems that have been ignored because they have shown no physical symptoms.


In a country that is impacted, on a daily basis, by the results of behavior that is associated with mental illness, it seems that it is time to include health counseling as a normal part of maintaining good health.  If health insurance can allow for an annual physical check-up why not an annual check up on our emotional health? Integrated care could provide a means to address issues before there are problems, provide skills to manage stress, address phobias, manage pain, help relationships, work with learning issues, and support self-esteem. Of particular importance is that the variability of an individuals psyche affects how the body responds to treatment for physical ailments. Health psychologists in conjunction medical practitioners should be the first line of assessment for health care.


The first hurdle may be the stigma of counseling in any format. A1986 study by Sibicky and Dovidio reported that there are stereotypes against those who participate in psychological counseling (Sibicky and Dovidio, 1986). How can we change this attitude? Like physical and mental health, attitude and behavior are also inseparable. To change attitudes we have to go back to the beginning.


Psychologists can apply their “knowledge of persuasion to improve the ways in which health promotion efforts can influence their target audiences” (Schneider et al., p. 189). To promote the idea of a holistic approach to and individuals’ health clarifies that the marriage of these components impacts everything. Parents and schools can also influence health choices and emphasize the importance and relatedness of physical and mental health. Health psychology is an area that reaches into all aspects of individuals’ lives and it is important that it be recognized for the contributions it makes.





Clinical health psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from American Psychological Association website: http://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/health.aspx


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


Sibicky, M., & Dovidio, J. F. (1986). Stigma of psychological therapy: Stereotypes, interpersonal reactions, and the self-fulfilling prophecy. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 33(2), 148-154.


Sep 17

Counseling Services at Penn State

    College can be tough for young adults living without their parents for the first time in their lives. There is a lot of self discovery that goes along with becoming independent. Some of these self discoveries can lead to fears and phobias young adults were not even aware of until they began living on their own. These fears may include psychological disorders such as, anxiety and depression. The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as worried thoughts and tension that result in physiological changes such as high blood pressure (Anxiety, n.d.). Depression is categorized as a mood disorder that may cause a variety of symptoms such as weight fluctuations, lack of interests in normally enjoyable activities, abnormal sleeping habits, feelings of worthlessness, and more (Depression, n.d.). Fortunately, both anxiety and depression are treatable with either counseling interventions, medication, or both. Specifically on college campuses, such as Penn State University Park, there are counseling services available to students in need. These counseling services are known as CAPS, which stands for Counseling and Psychological Services. CAPS at Penn State provides many helpful opportunities to students suffering from various anxiety and depressive symptoms to help them manage and mollify their psychological disorders.

The Counseling and Psychological Services department at Penn State provides a variety of programs such as both individual and group counseling, couples counseling, psychiatric consultations (for medications), mental health workshops such as stress management and bystander interventions, and drop in consultations also known as CAPS chat. CAP’s website also includes resources such as mindfulness techniques, self help videos, wellness trackers, and various coping mechanisms that have been proven to alleviate some common symptoms of anxiety and depression (Services, n.d.).

Concluding my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with panic disorder. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder where one repeatedly has episodes of fear and worry that seem to come out of nowhere. My personal struggles with anxiety led me to reach out to CAP’s during my whole first semester at Penn State. My anxiety and my erroneous beliefs of feeling trapped in an environment I did not feel comfortable in (Penn State) also lead to feelings of hopelessness and low self efficacy. Hopelessness can be defined as the lack of power perceived to change an undesirable situation (Needles & Abrahamson, 1990, p. 156). In my case, I did not believe I had the power to change my negative views of living at Penn State. Self efficacy can be defined as one’s level of confidence of success in a particular situation (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005).

Counselors at Penn State’s CAPS helped me alleviate some symptoms of my psychological disorder by introducing me to positive stable and global attributions to combat my negative attributions. Stable attributions are thoughts and beliefs that a person thinks will be present forever. Global attributions are thoughts and beliefs a person thinks that will affect many or all aspects of their lives (Schneider et, al, 2005). In my situation, some positive attributions I thought up with a counselor were that school is a safe environment for me and I am I will not be feeling this uneasy about school forever. In the end, replacing my negative attributions for positive ones helped me enjoy not only my time at school but my life in general too. Form personal experience, I can say counseling is beneficial for people who struggle with psychological disorders that interfere with daily living. After my counseling sessions, I can confidently say I am still a Penn State student currently living in State College keeping up with my school work and maintaining plenty of friendships and even entertaining a boyfriend. Penn State students are lucky enough to have this service at school because this is a critical time in our lives and it could easily become very overwhelming. That is why counselors are around to help people with psychological disorders cope.


Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2017, from http://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety/

Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2017, from http://www.apa.org/topics/depression/

Needles, D.J., & Abrahamson, L.Y. (1990). Positive life events, attributional style, and hopefullness: testing a model of recovery from depression.

Services. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2017, from http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/counseling/services

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

Sep 17

Why I Only Engage in Some Health-Protective Behaviors: The Health Belief Model

For as long as I can remember, I have hated going to the doctor.  Sitting in the waiting room, the smell of the antiseptic in the office, feeling the alcohol swab on my arm right before a vaccine…it’s all terrible and it does not help that I am pretty phobic of shots.  Due to this, I tend to attempt to avoid many things that have to do with doctors’ offices and health, like getting yearly flu vaccines and going for yearly physicals, but I do go to the doctor with more serious concerns, such as major dental issues or more severe illness prevention.  After understanding how psychology concepts are applicable the adoption of health behaviors, I think I can explain my actions through the health belief model.  As presented in Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012), the health belief model says that the health-protective behaviors in which people will engage will be influenced by cognitive factors, including general health values, perceived susceptibility to illness, perceived severity of illness, expectation of treatment success, perceived barriers and benefits, and cues to action.

As I said above, one of the health-protective behaviors that I tend to avoid is getting yearly flu vaccines.  While I am invested in maintaining good health, know I am susceptible to the flu, know I could actually get a vaccine if I wanted to, know a flu shot would likely work in preventing the flu, and see many cues to action regarding getting flu vaccines, my perceived severity of the illness and perceived barriers versus benefits stop me from actually getting a flu vaccine.  Generally, I do not consider getting the flu to be a super serious risk to my health.  I know that it can be serious, but as a young and generally healthy person, I tend to believe the flu will be, essentially, a mild inconvenience.  Also, in terms of perceived benefits versus barriers, I see the barriers outweighing the benefits.  I absolutely hate shots and tend to pass out when I get them and the only benefit would be potentially avoiding something I view as a minor inconvenience.  Based on this, getting a yearly flu vaccine just is not worth it to me, leading me to not partake in this health-protective behavior.

On the other hand, there are certain health-protective behaviors in which I do participate.  One situation occurred when I was planning to go on a medical mission trip to Nicaragua.  The CDC recommended two different vaccines for travel to Nicaragua (Hepatitis A, Typhoid), both of which I got.  In this case, my concern about maintaining good health (general health values), perceived susceptibility to illness (working in areas with many mosquitos and potentially contaminated water), perceived severity of illness (both hepatitis A and typhoid can both be serious and even deadly), expectation of treatment success (vaccines tend to be successful in preventing these diseases), self-efficacy (I knew I had the ability to get these vaccines), perceived barriers and benefits (benefits of not contracting a serious illness in a foreign country outweighed the barriers of cost and fear), and cues to action (going on the trip and being notified of recommended vaccines) all led me to go to the doctor and get these vaccines.  Essentially, my cognitions led me to participate in health-protective behaviors.

Based on the health belief model, it seems that the way to get me to change the types of health-protective behaviors in which I engage is to change the way I perceive certain aspects of them.  For example, if I perceived the flu as more severe, I would be more likely to get a yearly flu vaccine.  Also, if the barriers to getting the flu shot were diminished or the benefits were increased, I, again, would be more likely to get one.  If my job offered them for free or provided an incentive for getting a flu vaccine, that increased benefit would increase my desire to get one.  Additionally, if they made the nose spray flu vaccines more available, that would decrease a barrier to getting the vaccination and would likely increase the chances that I would get vaccinated.  Looking at how changing different factors of the situation could change my behaviors is fascinating.  It is really interesting to dissect the way cognitions can affect health behaviors in such extreme ways.




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



Sep 17


Overpopulation; when the human population exceeds the maximum capacity. Claustrophobic much? Overpopulation is a huge issue happening in our world today. There are a few causes of overpopulation. These causes include; decreased death rate, better medical facilities used to decrease death rate, advanced fertility treatments, and unplanned pregnancies. You might be thinking, “Wow! A longer life and more cute babies?! What’s wrong with that?” In fact, there are many consequences to having too many people on our planet. Some important consequences of overpopulation we should be aware of include but are not limited to the following; depletion of natural resources, violence and conflict, a surfeit of unemployed peoples and ridiculously high costs of living (Rinkesh, n.d.). Overpopulation is known is applied social psychological terms as a social dilemma. A social dilemma can be defined as a decision one must make, benefiting society or benefiting themselves. People who decide to have more than the average amount of children in their family without considering the many consequences mentioned above can be noted as individuals who are fulfilling their individual needs over the needs of the population. The behavior of multiple individuals satisfying their individual desires over considering the limitations of the environment is known as the tragedy of the commons (Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L. 2012).

Let us hone in on a few specific consequences of overpopulation, the depletion of natural resources. As we all know, the Earth has a limited amount of food and water to support all living things on Earth. If Earth is overpopulated, there will eventually not be enough food and water to support everybody on Earth. People on Earth have been going to great lengths to try and receive as many natural resources as we possibly can. Although, these practices are not always environmentally safe as well. For example, farmers genetically modify their crops so they can produce more product in a short amount of time. This is not always the safest route for human consumption because some of these genetic modifications include chemicals that can be harmful (Rinkesh, n.d.). In any case, the depletion of natural resources could lead to another consequences mentioned, high costs of living. If resources are numbered, that means there is not enough food and water for everybody. The economy will try to preserve natural resources by raising the prices of certain products. Therefore, only some people will be able to afford the resource and the others will have to substitute this resource for another (Rinkesh, n.d.).

How do we solve this social dilemma? Intervention strategies such as educating people about sex and the consequences of overpopulation could open individual’s eyes as to why overpopulation is such a big problem. Educating people on statistical evidence and data trends of the extremely large increase of the population in the next 50 years compared to the statistical trends of the large decrease in natural resources may influence people to limit the amount of children they are planning on having. Creating cognitive dissonance by conducting a survey asking people in their 20’s how many children they are planning on having after being educated on the dangers of overpopulation may help mitigate the social dilemma. Social dilemmas like overpopulation, recycling, pollution, etc can not be solved unless the population is aware that there is a problem. Therefore, it is important to educate the population before asking them to change their behaviors. The tragedy of the commons is only a tragedy if people focus solely on themselves. If everybody works together as a community to solve a problem, we will surely come to a solution. If we fall for the common fallacy, that our personal impacts will not make a difference then we will all be doomed. It is important to remember that every little bit counts, and our society depend on it.



Rinkesh. (n.d.). What is overpopulation? Retrieved September 22, 2017, from



Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L. (2012) Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Sep 17

The Growing Need for Behavioral Intervention within the Healthcare Industry

As the United States advances well into the 21st century, American citizens have been the recipient of significant developments in domains related to science, technology, engineering, among others. However, despite these advances, The United States still faces a growing health crisis. Dave Chokshi (2014, p. 1243) states that noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic pulmonary disease, and diabetes pose a significant threat to all individuals throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization (2017), noncommunicable diseases are responsible for 70 percent of all deaths globally. Annually, the world experiences 40 million deaths as a result of NCDs (WHO, 2017). Perhaps most devastating of all, remains the fact that many of these diseases are preventable through proper education, healthy behavioral habits and adequate healthcare.

In assessing this growing epidemic, it is important to first understand why Americans are experiencing such poor health. However, simultaneously, researchers, healthcare professionals and policy makers need to begin crafting a plan to better guide citizens through important health decisions and behaviors. According to Schneider et al. (2012, p. 176), the health belief model indicates that our behavioral actions are a result of situational factors such as health values, susceptibility to illness, misunderstanding of illness severity and treatment success, self-efficacy, perceived barriers and signals to act. In the case of many American citizens, these variables act as an influence on some of the most critical health decisions an individual can make. Information regarding the danger of living an unhealthy life are plentiful. It is now commonly understood that tobacco use, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse and unhealthy diets increase the risk of NCDs (WHO, 2017). Individuals are also aware of the importance of early detection, screening and treatment (WHO, 2017). So why are individuals still making poor choices regarding their health? The answer appears to lie within the situational variables laid out by the health belief model.

Health professionals operate on the notion that individuals who make poor health decisions remain extremely naïve, believing that their actions have few consequences. Attempts to intervene in this behavior have been well documented throughout history. Frequently, social marketing has been the choice of public health officials to help endorse healthy behaviors and decision making (Suarez-almazor, 2011, p. 461). Results of modern health campaigns remain mixed among citizens; however, research has indicated that some interventions have yielded positive results (Suarez-almazor, 2011, p. 462). It is important to note that not all interventions have produced desirable results. While campaigns regarding smoking and road safety have produced an impact, other variables such as alcohol use, skin cancer prevention and violence have shown little evidence of success (Suarez-almazor, 2011, p. 462).

It is imperative that public health researchers continue to study why variables such as alcohol use and improper diets show such a dramatic resistance to intervention. Intervention techniques must first address the importance of valuing one’s personal health. However, to address health values, individuals need to recognize their susceptibility to illness as well as the severity of an illness (Schneider et al., 2012, p. 176). These two variables are critical in their effort to address unsuitable health behavior. Unfortunately, as individuals begin to decline in health, they rely on the assumption that treatment is their only option. Far too many individuals have an unrealistic expectation of medical treatment, which can influence their decision making (Schneider et al., 2012, p. 176). Additionally, at this stage in one’s life, self-efficacy becomes quite noticeable as individuals believe they are too far gone for help (Schneider, et al., 2012, p. 176). This variable coincides with a toxic thought process in which individuals believe that their actions cannot change their underlying condition (Schneider et al., 2017).

Together, these individual concepts related to the health belief model offer insight into the progressive downfall of an individual’s health. The valuation of health is central to this model, however, to achieve this goal, individuals must first relinquish their naivety and realize the potential of serious health ailments. By realizing the risk of illness as well as the severity of an illness, individuals adopt a preventative mindset. It is critical that individuals begin to adopt preventive measures rather than relying on treatment as a cure. As soon as a treatment-only mindset has been adopted, self-efficacy plays a powerful role in the outlook of an individual. Unfortunately, far too many American citizens have decided that their efforts are useless and slowly begin to accept the poor fate of their health.





Chokshi, D. A. (2014-09-12). Health. Changing behaviors to prevent noncommunicable diseases. Science (New York, N.Y.), 345(6202), 1243-1244.doi:10.1126/science.1259809

Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L. (2012) Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Suarez-almazor, M. (2011). Changing health behaviors with social marketing. Osteoporosis International, 22, 461-3. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1007/s00198-011-1699-6

The World Health Organization. (2017). Noncommunicable diseases. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs355/en/

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