Apr 18

Social Media for Social Change

UNC Chapel Hill November 3, 2008. This is a special picture as my mother and grandmother are located in the bottom right of it in the second row.

As a sophomore in high school, I was able to witness the last campaign rally of then Senator Barack Obama on the eve of the 2008 election. This trip was spur of the moment after seeing a Tweet about the rally two days prior. This rally was held in North Carolina and was a four-hour drive for those of us in East Tennessee. His message was able to reach three hundred miles away from his target group in NC. This was nearly ten years ago, while Twitter was only two years old. Imagine the potential reach now with millions of more users on the platform. I look back on this event and realize I was lucky to have been an early member of Twitter, or I may have missed out on a very special memory that I share with my family.

Obama’s campaign focused heavily on the use of social media as a way to provide the message of hope and change to millions of Americans was the first of its kind (Miladi, 2016). In hindsight of the 2016 election, Donald Trump’s campaign usage social media was just a product of this type of advancement of conveying messages through social media platforms, in my opinion. These types of campaigns and messages can change the culture of our country. We, however, are not the only country that can be affected by social change through the use of social media.

In the African country of Tunisia, a political uprising of social change established on social media platforms such as Twitter, and Facebook helped rid the country of a dictator that had ruled for twenty-three years (Miladi, 2016). This social change accumulated into protest movements that were backed by the sharing of videos, awareness campaigns, and discussions among citizens on social media. I could not help but to compare the use of social media in starting social movements in the USA. This has increased over the last two years and can be seen with the students in Parkland mobilizing very quickly for gun control, or and the Women’s March in 2017.

Social media has connected billions of people worldwide, and is an excellent source to spread social change, hopefully positive social change. Through the recent new cycles, we have also seen that it can and will be manipulated. We must diligently seek the truth and protect ourselves while engaging on social media. We, as Penn State students, have the benefit of knowing how to seek reliable sources. We must use these skills and seek reliable sources when interacting on social media, and bring attention to those sources that do not check out on posts, pictures, etc.

Miladi, N. (2016). Social media and social change: Social media and social change. Digest of Middle East Studies, 25(1), 36-51. doi:10.1111/dome.12082

Apr 18

Social Marketing and its Effects

Can general marketing models and methods be effective when applied to promoting positive social change? This question has been researched since the early 50s. The theoretical answer to this question has generally been, yes, but the discussion continues to this day, to figure out the specific power and limitations of social marketing in application. In 1951, G.D. Wiebe researched four different social campaigns and discussed the limitations and success of each. “He found that that more the conditions of the social campaign resembled those of a product campaign, the more successful the social campaign (Kotler & Zaltman, 1971).” However, Wiebe also noted that since most social campaigns are not structured as a marketable campaign due to the “un-market-like circumstances” of most social topics, clear limitations exist in the “practice of social marketing (Kotler & Zaltman, 1971).” In this day and age, social marketing agencies have been able to promote social change campaigns to various organizations that share a common vision, as Rescue has been able to do since 2001 (rescueagency.com). This paper will discuss and define social marketing, define the barriers present, and finally how to promote its advancements.

Social marketing is defined as “a design, implementation, and control of programs calculated to influence the acceptability of social ideas and involving considerations of product planning, pricing, communication, distribution, and marketing research (Kotler & Zaltman, 1971).” So, in other words, social marketing is a lot more than just social advertising as it includes many different marketing techniques that drive the knowledge needed for social change to occur with implementation of the particular social change in the community (Kotler & Zaltman, 1971). “Social marketers, both scholars, and practitioners, have come to accept that the fundamental objective of social marketing is not promoting ideas but influencing behavior (Andreasen, 2002).” Social marketers understand the need to engender more than just smart social advertising like, Smokey the Bear’s famous slogan, “Remember Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires”, but also need to also engender social change in communities, which will take a lot more that smart, catchy advertisement. The balance between the two are difficult to attain as it takes work and dedication to execute both.

In 1999, the Social Marketing Institute was founded and they were able to identify barriers that hinder the growth of the social marketing movement (Andreasen, 2002). These barriers include: 1) lack of appreciation of top management officials, 2) meager “brand positioning due to social marketing’s lack of clear goals, 3) nonexistent publicity of various social marketing successes, and finally 4) the field’s lack of academic prominence (Andreasen, 2002). All of these barriers affect the field’s ability to grow and implement change to improve its appearance in the media and academia but the major issue is actually how all of these barriers feed into each other influencing one another and hindering the field’s potential (Andreasen, 2002).

All barriers aside, social marketing can be applied successfully “in any situation in which a socially critical individual behavior needs to be addressed for a target audience (Andreasen, 2002). As Rescue explained, their program can be used to reduce teen smoking or help improve community healthcare (rescueagency.com). However, it is important to realize that social marketing can also influence behavioral changes in the media, policymakers, funders, and legislators (Andreasen, 2002). Social marketers need to know how to actually market social marketing to organizations and agencies in the best way possible.

The best way to market the social marketing campaign is in stages. First stage is pre-contemplation, where the “decision maker do not consider social marketing because they have never heard of it” (Andreasen, 2002).  At this stage, it is the job of the social marketer to influence and educate the decision maker that social marketing is not “too expensive” and this style of marketing is not “manipulative” (Andreasen, 2002). Second stage, is the contemplation stage, whereby the decision maker is considering social marketing (Andreasen, 2002). Here it is extremely important to focus on social marketing benefits, costs, support received from others, and self-efficacy skills executed by social marketers (Andreasen, 2002). Thirdly is the action stage, whereby decision makers are ready to implement social marketing (Andreasen, 2002). In this stage, it is extremely important to help re-inforce the decision makers decision to use social marketing (Andreasen, 2002). The final stage is maintenance, whereby social marketing was implemented by the company but they are not yet regulars (Andreasen, 2002). Here, like the third stage, reinforcement is key (Andreasen, 2002). The social marketer should reinforce the decision maker “about the wisdom of their actions” (Andreasen, 2002).

Social marketing is a tool that can be used to influence positive changes in individuals and communities around the nation. Since this is a new discipline it is of the utmost importance to have social marketers like Rescue that are implementing their strategies and continue to grow yearly. “There is a chance to help [social marking] grow and to position marketing as a benevolent force in society, doing good in ways that are beyond filling people’s homes and lives with new products and services” (Andreasen, 2002). It would be a disservice if the barriers stated in this paper block the field’s growth.



Rescue, The Behavioral Change Agency. Retrieved From:  http://rescueagency.com

Andreasen, Alan,  Marketing Social Marketing in the Social Change Marketplace, Ebsco Publishing, 2003. Retrieved From: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f258/fc1aaf0d0a95cdc2832e606f5fab3694ffaf.pdf

Kotler, Philip; Zaltman, Gerald, Social Marketing: An Approach to Planned Social Change, Journal of Marketing Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 3-12, 1971. Retrieved From: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1249783?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Apr 18

Changing Addiction

In today’s society, more than ever, so many different groups are targeted for different purposes with the intention to grasp the attention of the group for participation.  This is especially true for youth.  In many ways, political stances, drug use, social media, and other influences can alter an otherwise steady course for teens and manipulate the impressionable minds of youth.  Even today, mass media is manipulating the minds of young adults by altering their thought processes regarding everyday events.  But, even more than the media, peers and social pressures for teens to engage in activities they probably wouldn’t have considered before, is destroying the youth of not just tomorrow, but of today as well.

Too often in the news we hear about teens and young adults who have succumbed to their addictions, be it drugs, alcohol or even sex. What’s more, even though the detrimental effects of drug use are widely known, overdose deaths and drug use is still on the rise. What is causing this vast epidemic? Why are teens turning more and more to drug use even though awareness is everywhere? Could it be lack of parental involvement? Peer pressure? Environmental upbringing? Exposure to the brief and intriguing effects that drug use brings? Is it all of these things? In an article published by Unity Behavioral Reform, a reason for this growing problem may be parental absence and mental pressures: “Other researchers have theorized about the impact of “rich kids syndrome,” where parental, social and professional obligations lead to a reduction of family-centered interactions. Psychotherapists have suggested that these affluent youths often spend more time with hired help than with their parents and lead overscheduled lives that creates mental distress and a lack of family closeness.”(www.unityrehab.com). Addiction is real.  It’s roaring its ugly head, baring its teeth, and spearing its twisted euphoria into the minds of the impressionable youth leaving behind a messy trail of death and heartbroken families.  So, what’s to be done?

Social change is difficult to achieve without proper research and participation from groups that are intended for the implemented changes to affect. “Rather than just focusing on efforts to change or support individuals so that they can better adapt to the problems they are confronted with, community psychologists seek to create positive change at a community level and a societal level in order to create a better world and prevent problems in the future” (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, p. 288).  Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts (2012, p. 288) refer to six different strategies for achieving social change: mass mobilization, social action, citizen participation, public advocacy, popular education, and local services development.  There are many rehab and support centers around the country but there are not enough advocates spearheading the reform that needs to take place at a social level.  There are many attempts to change laws and create harsher punishment for drug offenders but this may not create the motivation needed to not begin drugs at all.  Too many teens are watching their own parents suffer from the effects of drug use and rather than turn from the problem, many are finding themselves following the example they have in front of them.  Unfortunately, what is happening now is trying to control the problem instead of change the problem at a social level.  Creating new programs that would motivate youth to stay away from drugs through the use of motivation, leadership opportunities, scholarship programs, clean record incentives etc might be the way to do it.  Using empirical grounding in research, that is the idea that research is an important component in community psychology and that research and action are seen as strongly interconnected (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, p. 289), to help create new programs is a great starting point to bring about the social change needed.

Regardless of how it is done, it is through social change at the community and social level that more work can be done to reduce addiction.  Be it more education, parenting groups, support for youth, involvement in the community, or whatever, addiction must be addressed in order to save the generations for the world’s tomorrow.


Schneider, Frank. Gruman, Jaime. Coutts, Larry. Applied Social Psychology. Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. 2012.

American Drug Use is on the Rise. Unity Behavioral Health. 15 April 2018. Retrieved from <https://www.unityrehab.com/blog/american-drug-use-trend-on-the-rise/>

Apr 18

Pushing social change in the age of alternative facts

During a debate session of one of my other classes this semester, we talked about the crime rate of undocumented immigrants. One of my classmates presented us with a long list of data, illustrating how undocumented immigrants commit a lot more violent crimes. I was very suspicious of the numbers, because New York City is one of the safest cities in the country with one of the lowest crime rate, and yet New York City has a lot of undocumented immigrants. So I looked into the source of her data, it is from a right wing think tank. So I can’t help but wonder how credible these data are. This think tank claims to be a non-partisan non-profit organization. But all of the researches published on its websites are anti-immigration. So I would not trust data published by an organization that is so one sided.

I think in this age of alternative facts, we can either choose to be lazy and be a passive information receiver, or we can take initiatives to fact check every data and every social research result presented to us. The choice is ours and the democracy of this country depends on us taking the initiatives.

I grew up in China where every piece of news is censored. State media organizations control the news people read and listen to, they also fabricate data to brainwash Chinese citizens into thinking China is the best country in the world, while the rest of the world is suffering. There is no such thing as freedom of speech in China where expressing anything anti-government publicly means jail time or even death. So when I moved to the United States, freedom of speech to me is a very precious thing. It saddens me to see the democracy of the U.S has been compromised by fake news spread by trolls on social media platforms. I think social researchers have a responsibility in this critical time to regain the trust of the public through fact-based research.

In a perfect world, there should be more funding for social research so that researchers don’t have to heavily rely on funding from interest groups with hidden agendas. But we live in a capitalist world where money can not only buy votes, it can also buy data, scientists, researchers and their results. Hate to end this blog on such a bleak note, but this is the reality we live in.

Apr 18

Control Freaks

If asked, most people could tell you whether they believe they are an optimist, or a pessimist. I was first told that I was a pessimist when I was around seven years old, after a tearful tantrum about how the tigers would all be dead by the time I grew up. The adult who told me this spoke about my pessimism as if it were something concrete and immutable, and so I believed it was. As it turns out, the very fact that I believed that my pessimism could not be controlled made it much less likely that I would bother trying to become more optimistic.

Pessimism can be defined as holding negative expectations for the outcomes of current and future endeavors (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). While an optimist may believe that expanded conservation efforts will cause tiger populations to rebound and thrive, a pessimist doubts that anything can be done about the matter. Because the pessimist doubts that anything can or will be done to save the tigers, it is more likely that they will become de-motivated and not even bother trying to find workable solutions.

While research is always in flight to determine how people become pessimists or optimists, it stands to reason that a person who repeatedly has their expectations dashed may become less than hopeful for positive future outcomes. This circumstance, I believe, bears a great deal of resemblance to “learned helplessness”. The term “learned helplessness” was first coined when researchers subjected dogs to repeated electrical shocks that the dogs had no way of controlling or stopping (Dingfelder, 2009). Eventually, these dogs stopped trying to end the shocks, and instead just laid there. Even when the dogs were given the means to stop the shocks, they didn’t make an effort to do so. The dogs had, presumably, learned that their efforts to stop the shocks were futile, and therefore stopped making any effort. In this way, the researchers created something resembling doggie pessimists.

The common thread between my belief that my pessimism was a concrete quality and the dogs receiving shocks is that we didn’t believe that we had any control over our outcomes. When we believe we have appropriate control over a situation, we feel hope that we can create better results. Two patterns of thought can cause hope to arise within people, and those who score above average in these patterns of thinking are more likely to also engage in optimistic thinking (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). The first pattern is called “pathway thinking” and is seen in people who know the ways in which they can reach their goals. They are flexible in their methods, in such that if one solution fails they can pivot to another solution. The second type of thinking is “agency thinking” and can be seen in people who truly believe that they will be able to attain their goals and believe that they have the willpower to do so. Both types of thinking reflect a strong sense of individual control over circumstances and outcomes. In other words, when we believe we are in control, we tend to expect better outcomes.

My favorite part of this revelation is that research indicates that actually being in control hardly matters at all, so long as we believe we are. When people were put in a room and subjected to random loud noises, those that had a button they could push that they believed controlled the frequency of the noise were much less stressed out than those who had no button (Sapolsky, 2004). This is important because if we can find ways to help people feel more in control of their circumstances, it would likely lead to higher rates of pathway and agency thinking, and from there hope would arise (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). One such way psychologists are trying to improve levels of optimism in society is through “attribution retraining interventions”, which focus on discrediting pessimistic beliefs or attributions, and increasing optimistic ones. This type of intervention has shown a great deal of success with improving various aspects of its subjects’ lives, and holds great future promise.

By giving people a greater sense of control over their lives, we can increase social optimism and hope in the likelihood of positive future outcomes. A more hopeful and optimistic population is a population that is more likely to take action to help themselves, their circumstances, and maybe even the tigers.


Dingfelder, S. F. (2009). Old Problems, New Tools. Monitor On Psychology,40(9), 40.

Sapolsky, R. M. (2004). Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers (3rd ed.).  New York: Henry Holt and Company

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

Apr 18

Social movements drive social change

In 2014, Joe Biden remarked, “No fundamental social change occurs merely because government acts. It’s because civil society the conscience of a country begins to rise up and demand -demand-demand-change” (obamawhitehouse.gov, 2014) When I think about social change, I’m automatically drifted to the 1950’s and 1960’s when the United States was arguably transformed through social movements.

During this period, we saw the rising up of social groups and movements that have lasting impacts on our current society. Some of those impactful social movements includes the women’s rights movements, the civil rights movements, the gay liberation movements, etc. These movements and most importantly the people behind them are the reasons the liberty that is promised in our constitution is somewhat upheld in present society.

People who were born in the early 1900’s can attest to the fact that women were often considered “silent partners” in their relationship and in society. The discrimination women faced were related to low wages in comparison to men, they weren’t allowed certain jobs that were considered too masculine and they were often told that their jobs were to be in the kitchen and to make babies. They were thought of and treated inferior to men. Another major issue around this time was the woman’s inability to access birth control remedies. After decades of fighting, a lot has changed. Contraception and abortion is now available to women in most states. Most professions that were male only, now employ women. Gender roles have actually switched in some households.  Though little, there has been progress made, and hopefully more to come.

Another change that is attributed to social movements is the inclusion of African Americans into the U.S society. Before the Civil Rights Act, African Americans weren’t even recognized as citizens of the United States. They were excluded from events such as voting, banned from certain white areas and only allowed certain jobs. This has somewhat changed over the years as we see more inclusion of African Americans into certain activities, jobs and neighborhoods. Also, there is less open discrimination than there was years ago. One notable progression was the fact that our 44th President was African American, which is something that would have been impossible during the 50’s and 60’s.



Apr 18

Beware What You Tweet For

I’ve mentioned before how social media and technology has connected us all as a one giant community.  This connection has not only changed how we interact as a group but also creates a new method for social change.  Taking a look at recent “viral” causes such as the recent debate on the second amendment and firearms, people such as David Hogg are utilizing social media in order to enact social change.  Through just a few taps of a finger it is possible for a regular, normal, person to get in touch with thousands of others who potentially view the situation in question in a similar light (Gomez & Zdanowicz, 2018).  This new ability almost seems to bypass the need for trained social intervention activists, allowing the layman to become one all by themselves and in essence creating the perfect example of a participatory researcher, one who is involved in the work the are researching themselves.

However, this ability to reach out and capture a large group’s attention almost creates a “beware what you wish for” approach in that you may not like the results that are created.  In the wake of the Parkland School Shooting a group of students took to social media demanding a change in school safety and firearm control.  In a controversial response the schools enacted new policies of mandatory clear backpacks and tighter security measures.  The new policy, while arguably creating a safer environment, wasn’t exactly the change that the student’s were striving for, leading to a largely angry response on their part (González-Ramírez, 2018).

My point in all of this is that while technology is great, it is important to fully understand the concepts that you are proposing be changed.  In this instance the activists suffered from the flaw of having an unclear message.  Most would agree that the real change that the activists were trying to achieve was a change in firearm control, legislation, and regulation.  However, in an effort to make it more engaging, appealing, and to tie it to an emotional event they re-branded the message as a social change movement demanding change in school safety.  This allowed the school systems to respond in a way that was beyond their desired outcome, in a way they did not wish, and are most definitely not happy about (González-Ramírez, 2018).  While I am not looking to debate the merits on either said of this social change movement, the point that I am wishing to make is that while it may be easy and quick for any of us to initiate a social change movement in our own community it is also crucial that the desired goals of the movement be clearly expressed so the desired outcomes can be achieved.


González-Ramírez, A. (2018). Here’s How the Parkland Students Feel About Their New Clear Backpacks.  Retrieved From:  https://www.refinery29.com/2018/04/195395/marjory-stoneman-douglas-students-clear-backpacks-reaction?bucketed=true&bucketing_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

Gomez, I., & Zdanowicz, C. (2018). A Brief History of how Parkland Survivor David Hogg Keeps Schooling Lawmakers on Social Media.  Retrieved From:  https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/28/us/david-hogg-social-media-trnd/index.html

Apr 18

Even Optimists Can Feel Pessimistic!

I love the fact that Positive Social Psychology is an area of study. What does it mean to have positive-well being? Schneider, Grouman, and Coutts define it as “optimal adjustment to life and positive mental health.” How do we determine what these mean if we do not study those who have it? How do we know how to help a person who is having mental health challenges if we do not understand those who do not? What are the differences and why? These are just a few key questions I feel need to be answered if we want to understand how to help those who feel they are struggling in life.

For me personally I feel I am naturally an optimist. I suspect this may have something to do with being lucky enough to have had a few advantages in my life growing up to include a secure attachment, a moderate socio-economic lifestyle, and no serious traumatic events. Is that enough to provide me with an optimistic outlook on life? I do not really know, but I think it certainly helps. Yet we all know people who have not had a good start in life and experienced terrible things and are still optimistic people. So much so we are in awe of them and movies are made about them. We have all heard people say “it is a state of mind” and I believe what you put out there is what you will get in return whether it is good or bad makes no difference. This goes hand-in-hand with the self-fulfilling prophecy, which states if you imagine what will happen you will behave accordingly to ensure it happens even if that means you take no action, (Schneider, et.al., 2012).

Having said that, I do not perceive it as meaning negative or bad things never happen to individuals who are optimistic. Trust me they happen to everyone. I do, however, believe it is more about how an individual thinks and perceives those events or what Schneider, et.al., refers to as attribution. Attribution is part of Seligman’s (2011) learned optimism theory, which is the classification of attributions along with three dimensions, (as cited by Schneider, et.al., 2012). As an optimist I do tend to attribute good events to the self-related causes (internal), as something that will not change (stable), and has a far-reaching impact into other aspects of my life (global). While I see bad events as caused by something other than myself (external), a one-time occurrence with no expectation of it happening again (unstable), and will only affect this one area of my life temporarily (specific). For pessimists, the opposite attribution is inferred. For instance, if I received a bonus at work I would attribute it to my abilities (internal), good work, (stable) and the bonus as a contributor to other aspects of my life (e.g., being able to pay off a bill, buy something, take a vacation, etc.) (global). A pessimist might view a bonus as due to the help of the team (external), on a group project they participated in (unstable), and believe they would never see another bonus besides this one time (specific), (Schneider, et.al., 2014).

So why is it that even for someone who is naturally an optimist to sometimes behave like a pessimist? As a problem-focused coping individual what crashes my party the hardest? When I feel I have to resign myself to the fact there is not a solution I can implement to solve the problem. When my emotions start to run high and I feel I have no control in the event. This is usually due to true external factors because it may really not be mine to solve. While not true pessimism because I do not necessarily attribute this to internal factors, I do view it as a negative stable and global event. For example, when I find an ineffective policy or process at work and it goes unchanged despite efforts (stable) and yet it does affect my work as well as many other people and departments (global). So a pessimistic attitude ensues and perhaps even an emotion-focused coping style, as I try to avoid the situation or the process. This is where I can use attribution retraining interventions to help me out. By reassessing my thought process for this event to ensure I am not internalizing–nothing I did caused the event, recognizing that while it might not be changing now it is possible at some point it will change—it really is unstable versus stable albeit currently frustrating to me, and recognizing it is only one aspect to my overall work—meaning it really is specific to me. This can help me regain some optimism about the event and not allow it to affect me globally and perhaps even give me hope.

Hope was defined as another positive personality type and sister to optimism according to Snyder (2002) and requires one to think in two ways, (as cited by Schneider, et.al, 2012). The first is pathway thinking, where I would think of alternative solutions not previously considered to achieve the desired changes to the policy or process. The second is agency thinking, where I put my energy and motivation into implementing those solutions to change the policy or process, (Schneider, et.al, 2012).

So, yes, even optimists have events that cause them to feel pessimistic. Positive Social Psychology research provided the knowledge about optimism as being beneficial to one’s health and well being that also allowed for the development of beneficial strategies to assist not only pessimists, but also everyone, (Schneider, et.al., 2012). Which brings me back to my initial point of the importance of Positive Social Psychology.


Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Couts, L. (2012). Applying Social Psychology to Positive Well-Being: Focus on Optimism. Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousands Islands, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Apr 18

Classifying Ourselves into Seclusion

Social Categorization, a mechanism that all humans have, is a built in file cabinet deep within the social cognitive process of the brain. Social categorization allows humans the ability to understand relationships and make sense of other people and the world we live in. This social cognitive mechanism allows our brains to classify people into groups (PSUWC, Lesson 6). This natural process helps our brains to identify what is safe and what is a threat to our survival. What is survival? The Oxford Dictionary defines survival as “the continued existence of organisms, which are best adapted to their environment, with the extinction of others…”(Survival. n.d.). It is also defined in the Oxford dictionary as, “the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances.”(Survival. n.d.). For this purpose, I am going to incorporate Darwins’ Theory of Evolution as defined as, is the process by which organisms change over time as a result of changes in heritable physical or behavioral traits. Changes that allow an organism to better adapt to its environment will help it survive and have more offspring.”(Than. 2018) As you can see the Oxford definition of “Survival” and Darwin’s “Theory of Evolution” go hand in hand and are very similar. It is safe to state that in order to survive; One’s brain must adapt social cognitive mechanisms, by processing the every change world in to processes to survive. This social cognitive categorization not only affects people physically, but also cognitive processes. By experiences, people are subjected to help define their social identity and social dominance to survive. Social Identity Theory incorporates both personal identity and social identity. Personal identity can be a combination of objective biosocial personal markers and subjective personal experiences (PSUWC. Lesson 6.). Social identity comes from self-concept. What defines self-concept? Well self-concept come from self-categorization based on the knowledge, acceptance, connection and commitment to a group (PSUWC, Lesson 6). Humans have built a file cabinet that defines who they are, which can influence survival. If a person has high self-concept and feel apart of a group then the possibility of mental illness also lowers. Leaving less deaths to things such as suicide. I hope your still following me, I know I am touch on these topics, but it all relevant. For example, in Today’s society it is acceptable to have what we classify as appropriate groups and not appropriate groups. Everyone’s perception of this differs in certain ways. Children is the easiest way to see this. If you look a one class, you have students that are skinny, short, pudgy, tall, athletic, smarter than others…ect. These are all categories, that are socially acceptable.

One day you are eating lunch with your child and another child from the classroom has an outburst. The staff try to console them, in your mind you are trying to make sense of why this child all of a sudden had an outburst. Some may think they are not disciplined, that they must have problems at home, that they have anger issues ect… This is how our brains are processing the unexpected action of another child. Then your child mentions that this child is different and it happens all the time, so now your brain, put this child into a special needs category and your concerned for the safety of children. This example is pretty short and sweet. However it does happen. That child is what is categorized as autistic. The outburst was from a heighten sensory issue due to the noise of the lunchroom. This child will most likely not eat for the rest of the day, much less function a productive scale. You have no knowledge or experience with autistic children, you may advise your child to stay away from this child for fear of being different or safety of your child. What this does is start a vicious process to exclude this child for acting typical to their needs. If you have a headache, you go to a quiet space. Sensory processing issues are heighten typical issues that the brain can not process. The end of this situation is that Social categorization happened and started the process of seclusion, because their reaction is not what society deems typical. However, what is not well known that in the past ten years people identified with autism has increased 119% (Autism Society. 2015.). Darwin’s theory states evolution is the process by which organisms change over time as a result of changes in heritable physical or behavioral traits. Changes that allow an organism to better adapt to its environment will help it survive and have more offspring.”(Than.2018) This rise in people being identified with autism could be a natural change in evolution. Based on the Oxford Dictionary is child survives,  based on the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances.”(Survival. n.d.) However, because this child is categorized by society and is excluded from social groups, they suffer from lack of self-concept. They are seen as the less dominate within their peer groups. What society doesn’t know about these children is they are the pros at categorizing information, they can synthesis greater concepts beyond our understanding. They are just missing their voice, their self-concept. Unfortunately, in Today’s society we have adults that are excluded based on “disability”. A Categorization for society to make sense of the world. However, our dated evolution has everything in our lives categorized, to the extent of seclusion that is influencing survival.



Autism Society.Facts and Statistics. (2015, August 26). Retrieved April 02, 2018, from http://www.autism-society.org/what-is/facts-and-statistics/

PSU World Campus. (2018). PSYCH 424:Social Psychology. Lesson 6: Intergroup Relations/Diversity. https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1924488/assignments/9628601?module_item_id=23682597

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Apr 18

Optimism in Romantic Relationships

Positive social psychologyis known by social psychologists as the understanding of constructive processes like altruism which is acting in concern more so for the well-being of others than yourself. It is rather selfless as there is little regard for your own interest in comparison to your empathy and solicitude for others. Positive psychologyteaches such constructs in respect to ourselves as our own well-being should not be cared for any less. This falls in line with positive well-beingwhich according to Frank Schneider, Jamie Gruman, and Larry Coutts (2012) is the making of any adjustments or changes in one’s life to achieve positive mental health (p. 381). What makes social psychologists stand out is that they appear to be more in tune with the negative and positive sides of human nature.

There are many places in our lives where we can apply the techniques from positive social psychology; I’d like to focus on romantic relationships. Coutts et al. (2012) define optimistsas those who “believe that good thinks are very likely to happen” (p. 381), no matter what the situation. Optimists have what are known as positive outcome expectancies, or the belief that all things are attainable through persistence. These positive expectancies allow for actions and steps that are consistent in achieving one’s goal without giving up or being discouraged due to other internal or external factors.

In regard to romantic relationships, being optimistic well has positive effects on the overall health of the couple. The results of a study conducted by Kimberly Assad, Brent Donnellan, and Rand Conger show that optimism amongst couples is correlated with cooperation and positive outcomes in comparison to couples who are pessimistic (as cited in Applied Social Psychology, 2012, p. 387). Having the same positive outcome expectancies amongst couples allows the two to work as a team to achieve similar goals.

A longitudinal study of romantic couples tested whether or not optimists and their romantic partners were more satisfied in their relationship. Sanjay Srivastava, Kelly McGonigal, Jane Richards, Emily Butler, and James Gross found that there were three parts where optimism was linked to positive outcomes. Srivastava et al. (2006) found that in part one “optimists and their partners both experienced greater overall relationship satisfaction”, in part two “optimists and their partners saw themselves and each other as engaging more positively in a conflict”, and part three “the relationships of male optimists lasted longer than the relationships of male pessimists” (p. 151). So not only does optimism effect the outcomes and goals in romantic relationships, but their length and resilience.

Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Couts, L. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousands Islands, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Srivastava, S., McGonigal, K., Richards, J., Butler, E., & Gross, L. (2006). Optimism in Close Relationships: How Seeing Things in a Positive Light Makes Them So. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 143-153. Doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.91.1.143

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