14
Apr 19

PAR and Prevention Programs

A type of research that deviates from traditional research that we’ve focused on throughout the semester is called participatory action research (PAR).  This type of research is a branch of social change research and aims to benefit the community that is being studied, whereas other research methods may fall short of actively creating change.  How does this process differ from traditional methods that we are used to seeing?  PAR uses a hands-on approach that collectively involves both the researchers and members of a community.  In other words, community members work alongside researchers through the process of research, education, and action.  Everyone is contributing their perspectives, skills, and knowledge to a common goal.  As a result, both parties emerge transformed and new knowledge has been acquired (Brydon-Miller, 1997).

A typical community that is studied using the PAR method is usually an oppressed or exploited population.  PAR is intended to help these communities by identifying concerns of the community and transforming these issues into positive social change (Brydon-Miller, 1997).  PAR may also be used to develop effective prevention programs that can be applied at a larger-scale.  I found an example for the latter, which demonstrates how this research methodology can bring benefits to a community, and may be applied elsewhere.

Our nation is currently facing a drug epidemic.  A way to combat this issue is to implement drug prevention programs in schools across the nation.  In some states, it has become mandatory protocol to create a drug prevention curriculum.  Gosin, Dustman, Drapeau, & Harthun (2003) conducted a study using PAR methodology to create a school drug prevention program for students in the southwestern United States.  The reasons for using PAR in this particular situation included that community ownership was contributory for program effectiveness, and the most successful prevention programs were those “in which the culture and learning styles of the recipients are reflected” (Gosin et al., 2003, p. 364).

Throughout the process, researchers conducted focus groups to get feedback from teachers on how to implement ideas into lessons that would be included in the curriculum.  Students would then evaluate these lessons and provide feedback.  Additionally, students were involved in creating a logo for the program and producing educational videos about drug prevention.

Overall, the work from all parties involved produced a viable drug prevention curriculum.  The researchers contributed their academic knowledge and evaluation processes, whereas the teachers and students (the community) served as experts on their community culture and specific needs (Gosin et al., 2003, p. 377).  This study demonstrated the effectiveness of the unique features of the PAR model, and its potential for successfully creating prevention programs for other scenarios.

References

Brydon-Miller, M. (1997). Participatory action research: Psychology and social change. Journal of Social Issues, 53(4), 657-666. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1111/0022-4537.00042

Gosin, M. N., Dustman, P. A., Drapeau, A. E., & Harthun, M. L. (2003). Participatory action research: Creating an effective prevention curriculum for adolescents in the southwestern US. Health Education Research, 18(3), 363-379. doi:10.1093/her/cyf026

 


14
Apr 19

Participatory Action Research in Children

First, let’s go over what participatory research even is. Participatory research blends education, investigation, and action into one (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005). It seamlessly educates both the participants and the researchers on the problem they are researching (Schneider et al., 2012). For the sake of this discussion, it will go over the roles of Participatory Action Research (PAR) in children.

There has been a great push for children’s participation in research in most recent years (Shamrova & Cummings, 2017). However, there are many researchers who fail to include children in their research studies (Shamrova & Cummings, 2017). If a researcher excludes children from their data, then their research will not show insights, ideas, and interpretations than only a child can provide. These possible research findings from the child may be completely different than the adult researchers findings themselves. By letting children and young adults participate in PAR it opens the door to letting them “be a part of social change” (Shamrova & Cummings, 2017). PAR is often thought of as an integration of participation from the community starting from the beginning to the end of the research process (Bennett, 2004). 

What exactly are some perceived benefits or outcomes of using PAR with children? A child’s participation can help researchers increase their social justice awareness, their responsibility and leadership roles, self-confidence, and in gaining more research skills (Shamrova & Cummings, 2017). Children and young adults can actively participate in their communities by getting involved in different PAR projects. The active engagement, team building experiences, and guided participation can all help a child grow in ways they never have before just by being involved in PAR (Langhout & Thomas, 2010). 

PAR is very rewarding for both the researcher and the participant. Past PAR studies with children involve changes in physical harassment policies, in school reconstruction, involvement in new facilities for water filtration, in tobacco access legislation, and more (Shamrova & Cummings, 2017). There are many different fields PAR has been used for. Some to name are in farmer participatory research, in architecture, action research in community development and in organizations, land use, participatory evaluation, and in landscape design (Bennett, 2004). Although there may be challenges with ethical issues regarding the use of children in PAR, there seems to be more positives then negatives in using them in research. 

References

Bennett, M. (2004). A review of the literature on the benefits and drawbacks of participatory action research. First Peoples Child & Family Review14(1), 109-122.

Langhout, R. D., & Thomas, E. (2010). Imagining participatory action research in collaboration with children: An introduction. American journal of community psychology, 46(1-2), 60-66.

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.A. (2005). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Shamrova, D. P., & Cummings, C. E. (2017). Participatory action research (PAR) with children and youth: An integrative review of methodology and PAR outcomes for participants, organizations, and communities. Children and Youth Services Review, 81, 400-412. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.08.022


14
Apr 19

Where is my Phone?

This week in Applied Social Psychology, we learned about social change and participatory research and how it can be applied to a social situation. Psychological researchers are using some of these methods to conduct research and furthermore study social situations. When thinking of a social situation that are affecting many Americans today, a combination of electronic devices and social media comes to mind.

As time goes on, the technology advances and people tend to adapt by learning how to use the newest electronic devices. One electronic device that has advanced beyond our imagination is the mobile phone. Mobile phones became increasingly popular in late 90s and early 2000s, and around 2007 Apple Inc released the Apple iPhone (Chowdhury, 2014). The mobile phone has made many people’s life easier; however, with everything good there are some cons as well.

When walking around campus, have you noticed that most students are looking down at their phones and navigating without even looking up? How about when you are in class? How often do you and your fellow students look at your phones to check for updates? This could be due to something that is known as FoMO–in other words, fear of missing out (Maeng, 2018). The mobile phone and furthermore social media can be both a positive and a negative; however, with more people experiencing FoMO there can be several downsides (Maeng, 2018). It was found that people with FoMO experience anxiety, which is a disorder that many Americans are experiencing. When anxiety is persistent, it can develop into what is known as anxiety disorder. It is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming. It is an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it can be disabling. (Anxiety and Depression Association of America [ADAA], 2018). The FoMO is when people are constantly updating their phones to see peoples new posts, messages, and etc. and they do this because they are scared that they might miss out on something that might have happen. This also leads to another issue that people are experiencing which is known as nomophobia.

Nomophobia, also known as no-mobile-phone-phobia, is the feelings of anxiety or distress that a person can experience when they do not have their phone with them (Valdesolo, 2019). Nomophobia and FoMO can but does not necessarily need to occur together; however, they both can contribute to anxiety (Maeng, 2018). People are depending on phones more than ever and are not able to leave the house without their phones. With the rise of anxiety disorder with around 40 million people in the United States, we must revisit how nomophobia and FoMO are contributing to these numbers and how we might be able to improve our mental health and furthermore life (ADAA, 2018).

Excessive use of technology can lead to issues such as FoMO and/or nomophobia, furthermore anxiety disorder. This is why it is important to evaluate the use of technology, in this case phones, and come to a conclusion to working towards a healthier lifestyle of not looking at the phone at all times. As mentioned in a CNBC article, there are several methods to improve your day (D’Onfro, J., 2018). Some of the tips are keeping yourself on a schedule allowing yourself to check the phone every 15 minutes then move to every 30 minutes, every 45 minutes, or every hour. Another tip is to turn off notifications or as many as possible–notifications can distract you and in a sense encourage you to look at the phone every time it vibrates and makes a sound  (D’Onfro, J., 2018). With the rise of anxiety disorder and its great link to social media/phone usage, it is important to address this issue and the first step might start with you.

 

References

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (2018). Understanding the Facts of Anxiety Disorders and Depression in the First Step. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety

Chowdhury, R. (2014). Evolution of Mobile Phones: 1995-2012. Retrieved from https://www.hongkiat.com/blog/evolution-of-mobile-phones/

D’Onfro, J. (2018). These simple steps will help you stop checking your phone so much. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/03/how-to-curb-you-smartphone-addiction-in-2018.html

Maeng, S. (2018). #The Struggles is Real: Fear of Missing out (FoMO) and nomophobia can, but do not always, occur together. Retrieved from. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327477166_TheStruggleIsReal_Fear_of_missing_out_FoMO_and_nomophobia_can_but_do_not_always_occur_together

Valdesolo, P. (2019).Scientists Study Nomophobia—Fear of Being without a Mobile Phone. Retrieved from. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientists-study-nomophobia-mdash-fear-of-being-without-a-mobile-phone/


14
Apr 19

Largest Prison Population: Enough is enough!

The United States has the largest population of prisoners currently incarcerated.  What makes the United States so unique? I highly doubt it’s the prison conditions that are so attractive to would be criminals. A good majority of those in that are incarcerated are minorities. The simple question to ask is why? The answer is long and complex. Someone’s race doesn’t necessarily make it more likely that the individual will commit crimes, there are far more factors to consider. First let’s examine the United Sates War on Drugs and its implication on minority communities. According to drugpolicy.org “Research shows that prosecutors are twice as likely to pursue a mandatory minimum sentence for black people as for white people charged with the same offense. Among people who received a mandatory minimum sentence in 2011, 38% were Latino and 31% were black.” These mandatory minimum sentences often times force minorities to serve great lengths of time in prison without getting input from a judge. Minorities are often scared into entering guilty pleas by prosecutors in order to avoid lengthy maximum sentences, especially with drug offenses. According to the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation “In its most recent comprehensive study, the U.S. Sentencing Commission reported in 2011 that “high-level” suppliers or importers made up only 10.9% of federal defendants, wholesalers of any amount — 21.2%, street-level dealers — 17.2%, and couriers — 23% sentenced for drug offenses. Only 2.2% were managers or supervisors. The rest of federal drug defendants were other low-level offenders, even marginally-involved friends and family of the accused.” These harsh drug laws are simply imprisoning low level criminals and doing nothing to curb the drug epidemic in the United States. The individuals who do go to prison for drug related crimes are quite simply replaceable in the scheme of multinational drug organizations. One thing is clear, the United States will continue to fill its prisons unless an overhaul of current laws takes place.

References

The Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Race (English/Spanish). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/drug-war-mass-incarceration-and-race-englishspanish

 

Mandatory Minimums and Sentencing Reform. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cjpf.org/mandatory-minimums


11
Apr 19

Eating Disorder PAR

This week in Applied Social Psychology, we discussed participatory action research, which is much different than other forms of research I have learned about in my other psychology courses. In her article, Brydon-Miller (1997) describes participatory action research (PAR) as education, research, and action processes that have the goal of bringing about social change. Specifically, Brydon-Miller (1997) explains that participatory action research has the following characteristics:

  • PAR addresses social issues that affect exploited and oppressed groups of people (Brydon-Miller, 1997).
  • The issues within PAR are addressed by the individuals, families, and communities they affect (Brydon-Miller, 1997).
  • Individuals, families, and communities that are affected by an issue addressed within PAR are encouraged to take on an active role within PAR (Brydon-Miller, 1997).

After learning about PAR, I decided to create my own hypothetical research study by using Burns, Cooke, & Schweidler’s (2011) outline of PAR:

Step 1: Identify the issue- I have noticed that a significant amount of my female friends, peers, and colleagues suffer/suffered from some type of eating disorder (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, & body dysmorphia). Why are young adult females so vulnerable to eating disorders? I hypothesize that exposure to the “ideal” female body in the media is correlated to the engagement in disordered eating behaviors in young adult females.

Step 2: Identify participants- Along with myself, my female friends, peers, and colleagues who are/have been affected or feel vulnerable to eating disorders would be recruited to be stakeholders in my PAR. I would ask my Abnormal Psychology professor, Dr. Dubyak, to join my PAR because she is a clinical psychologist with research experience, and the topic is one that can/could have affected her as well.  

Step 3: Collect the data- My participants and myself would create a self-reported questionnaire. We would create our questionnaire through a website that allowed participants to answer anonymously, which would reduce any response bias from social desirability, and allow us to easily reach more participants than using a hard-copy questionnaire. Not only would we be answering the questionnaire ourselves, through text message and email we could send the link to the questionnaire to people who originally chose not to be part of my PAR in hopes that they would find the study to be relevant to them, and then become a participant/stakeholder in the study and hold an active role.

Example Questionnaire (Link to Word document): eating disorder questionnaire-s93azg

Step 4: Analyze the data- My participants and I would use measures of central tendency (mean and median of scores) to analyze the data from the questionnaire. With this data, we would create a scatter plot to show the visual relationship between exposure to the “ideal” female body in the media and engagement in disordered eating. If we found a positive relationship between these two variables, we could assume there is a correlation (but not causal relationship) between exposure to the “ideal” female body in the media and engagement in disordered eating.

Step 5: Report the data- Unfortunately, there will never be a way to get all media outlets to stop exposing people to the “ideal” body. With this being said, one way to help decrease eating disorders is by educating vulnerable people about the affects exposure to the “ideal” body can have on them. My participants and I would report our findings through various outlets that would reach everyone who is vulnerable to eating disorders. We could make posters that illustrate our findings and ask high schools, universities, and other public places to post them. Also, we could publish our study with the help of Dr. Dubyak and ask universities to share the study with their students. We could also post our findings on various social media outlets, which will probably reach our targeted audience the most.

After creating my own hypothetical research study using PAR, I realized how beneficial PAR can be. The people who are being affected by an issue will not only be the most motivated to initiate change, but can have greater influence/reach to communities they are a part of than an outside researcher.

References:

Burns, Cooke, & Schweidler. (2011). A Short Guide to Community Based Participatory Action Research. Retrieved from https://hc-v6-static.s3.amazonaws.com/media/resources/tmp/cbpar.pdf

Brydon-Miller, M. (1997). Participatory action research: Psychology and social change. Journal of Social Issues, 53(4), 657-666. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1111/0022-4537.00042


11
Apr 19

Social Media: Stress, Depression, and Anxiety?

Health problems have always been around, but now social media may be putting people’s health at risk. The world without social media was very different. Imagine if you will, a world without Facebook, twitter, Instagram, snapchat, and various other social media outlets. What would people do with their time? One thing is clear, many people across the world are using social media. According to Pew Research, “Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) now report that they are Facebook users, and roughly three-quarters of those users access Facebook on a daily basis.” The sheer amount of people using Facebook is quite alarming. These are people that may have never communicated with each other before social media. What’s troubling is now people often argue with each other via social media comment sections. This undoubtedly may be leading to unnecessary stress to the users. Yes, a platform to exchange ideas and opinions is great for the most part; however, the arguing itself may be posing as a health risk to users.

With all this social media usage going on around us, some people are actually experiencing mental health problems because of social media usage. One of the major mental health problems due to social media is social media anxiety disorder. This anxiety disorder describes people that are affected by an excessive need to be on social media. Some of the symptoms of social media anxiety disorder are nervousness, stress, and irritability. Stress has the potential to wreak havoc on a person’s life, but it all depends on how the individual chooses to cope with the stressors. Everyday stressors can trigger a psychological and physiological response. Depending on an individual’s personality, he or she may deal with stress in a different way. The stress resulting from social media usage can become chronic when the user is exposed to the stressors found in social media such as arguing in a comment section. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America it states “Many people see that someone on Facebook who has a great job, excellent husband, and beautiful home and they feel happy for them. But, others can feel jealous, depressed, or may even feel suicidal about their own life if it is not as “perfect” as those they see on Facebook.” This unhealthy comparison of lives that social media may lead to is really affecting people and putting lives in danger. Another health problem social media can cause is depression. One characteristic of social media that may cause depression is the feeling of envy when seeing other peoples lives on Facebook. Despite all these health risks associated with social media for some people, the world will still continue to be fascinated by social media.

 

References

Taylor, S. E., & Sirois, F. M. (2012). Health psychology. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson

 

Social Media Obsession and Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://adaa.org/social-media-obsession

 

Smith, A., Anderson, M., Smith, A., & Anderson, M. (2018, September 19). Social Media Use 2018: Demographics and Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/


11
Apr 19

The benefits of optimism

Psychologists have examined optimism and have theorized it in several forms within the last few years. Many of the theories seem to have some commonalities, such as the idea that optimism doesn’t have much to do with objective characteristics of a situation or an event. In fact, optimism is extremely subjective. Scheier and Carver (1992) agree that optimism conveys the idea that individuals can identify with plans and objectives existing soon. Optimistic people believe that good things will happen soon and are always seeking out the positive in every situation. They are always looking at a glass half full versus a glass as half empty (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012).

The idea of optimism has only been scientifically studied for that last thirty years. The phenomenon is new to the scientific field, but it appears to be related to the field of positive psychology. Optimistic people tend to be more persistent. Optimism itself has been associated with the pursuit of goals, the development of social networks/relationships and with physical and emotional well-being (Bouchard, Carver, Mens & Scheier, 2018). One study that was conducted found that optimism is highly associated with positive mental health. Optimism has been found to be a positive coping technique for survivors of disasters (weather storms and catastrophic events). Individuals with optimistic personalities may also have better health throughout their life span overall (Cherry, Sampson, Galea, Marks, Nezat, Baudoin & Lyon, 2017).

Overall, optimism adds several benefits to social psychology and to individuals. Six of the benefits consists of romantic relationships, friendships, biomedical health, mental and emotional health, work and college. Research has found that optimistic partners in romantic relationships tend to have better relationship satisfaction and functioning. The quality of friendships also tends to be higher when optimistic individuals are involved. As for Biomedical health, studies have found that optimism is related to better healthy lifestyle habits and behaviors. There has also been a relationship found between optimism and mental and emotional health. People who are happier in their daily lives tend to have better moods regardless of their health and situational factors. Lastly, optimism has been found to be associated with better work performance and positive adjustments both at work and in college (Schneider et al., 2012).

Optimistic people are positive thinkers, as opposed to pessimistic people who are more negative natured. Optimistic individuals make internal, stable and global attributions while pessimists make external, unstable and specific attributions to explain why bad things have happened (Schneider et al., 2012). Throughout the course of our lives many of us will take on the characteristics of both being optimistic and pessimistic from time to time. If we could try to be more positive and think optimistically more often, we may also obtain benefits that can improve our overall health and our perspective on ourselves as well as the world around us.

References

Bouchard, L. C., Carver, C. S., Mens, M. C., & Scheier, M. F. (2018). Optimism, health, and well-being. In D. S. Dunn (Ed.), Positive psychology: Established and emerging issues; positive psychology: Established and emerging issues (pp. 112-130, Chapter xiv, 351 Pages) Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, New York, NY. Retrieved from http://ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/2082682435?accountid=13158

Cherry, K. E., Sampson, L., Galea, S., Marks, L. D., Nezat, P. F., Baudoin, K. H., & Lyon, B. A. (2017). Optimism and hope after multiple disasters: Relationships to health-related quality of life. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 22(1), 61-76. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1080/15325024.2016.1187047

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.


10
Apr 19

Detached Digital Parenting

Psychological research has revealed that the nature of adult relationships are largely determined by parent-child attachments established in infancy. Amongst infants, there are three basic attachment styles categorized by how an infant responds to separation distress from a caregiver. Secure attachments in infants are characterized by distress when the caregiver leaves and is easy to soothe upon their return. Then, insecure attachments such as anxious-ambivalent and avoidant were distressed upon the caregiver’s absence and return or unresponsive to his or her absence and return. Notably, babies with secure attachments will likely grow to be secure adults (Schneider et al., 2012). Overall, the infant’s patterns of attachment continue to characterize their adult reactions to love, threat, and loss in relationships later in life.

Clearly, attachment styles are an essential component of a child’s psychological development in infancy, childhood, and across the lifespan. Therefore, it is important to analyze potential factors that may obstruct healthy parent-child attachment and prevent a child from going on to have more secure attachments later in life. Technology use in children is one element of concern in terms of healthy child development, as, excessive amounts of screen time have proven to impair cognitive and social development (Hadlington et al., 2019). Unsurprisingly, research has found that a rise in the use of digital technology in the home by children is changing the nature of home life. Consequently, caregivers that rely on digital parenting often find themselves in conflict with their children when it comes to mediating and setting limitations on technology usage (Hadlington et al., 2019).

Recent studies have shown that by age 1 more than one-third of babies had touched and scrolled on a screen, then by age 2 fifty percent had watched tv shows or played games on apps or devices (Courtney & Nowakowski-Sims, 2019). The researchers outlined that device usage decreases physical human connection, undermining the vital human need for communication that is necessary to form early attachments. In infants and children, social and emotional skills are learned through play activities, as, it allows for enrichment and affective exchanges between parents and children (Courtney & Nowakowski-Sims, 2019). Too much screen time can interrupt these essential exchanges and interfere with learning by diminishing in-person interactions.

Regular parent-infant engaging experiences that create joy synchronize neural activity in the right cortex of the brain between the parent and child. Researchers Courtney and Nowakowski-Sims (2019) describe caring touch as essential for releasing “feel good” neurotransmitters such as oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. Importantly, touch and warmth activate the calm and connection system, bringing feelings of wellbeing to the child that foster strong, secure attachment. Though, sadly, the negative impact of excessive screen time not only affects relationships, but also a child’s early neurological wiring and later function (Courtney & Nowakowski-Sims, 2019). Infants are hypersensitive to electronic stimuli, and an excess can cause a sensory overload as the brain struggles to adjust to the overwhelming amount of incoming information. During development, repeated exposure to superfast processing may cause a permanent change in the brain’s processing speeds. Unfortunately, some of these changes include higher activity levels, risk-taking, diminished short-term memory and poorer cognitive functioning (Courtney & Nowakowski-Sims, 2019).

Researchers Hadlington, White, and Curtis (2019) discovered that when 8-10-year-old children used their tablets, children became fully immersed in the tablet devices provided. This resulted in a loss of conscious awareness, that in some instances, children sought out to create more privacy and isolation from the outside world; reducing interactions with their environment and people around them (Hadlington et al., 2019). Children that displace screen time with social interaction are isolated from family life in a way that undermines social and familial relationships. In turn, children that supplant technology with caregiver interaction may develop a more avoidant attachment style later in life that makes it difficult for him or her to form healthy social and romantic connections.

In summation, excessive use of technology in infancy and early childhood has the potential to impair attachment and overall social-skills, mood, and neurological functioning that pose implications throughout the lifespan. Additionally, when children are pacified with portable devices, it directly impairs their ability to regulate strong emotions. In conclusion, by replacing talking, singing, nurturing touch, and play activities with maladaptive electronic usage, the parent-child bond is ultimately likely to result in an avoidant or insecure attachment style when compared with children who received more nurturing interactions early in life (Courtney & Nowakowski-Sims, 2019).

References

Courtney, J. A., & Nowakowski-Sims, E. (2019). Technology’s impact on the parent-infant attachment relationship: Intervening through FirstPlay® therapy.International Journal of Play Therapy, 28(2), 57-68. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1037/pla0000090

Hadlington, L., White, H., & Curtis, S. (2019). “I cannot live without my tablet]”: Children’s experiences of using tablet technology within the home. Computers in Human Behavior, 94, 19-24. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1016/j.chb.2018.12.043

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

 


08
Apr 19

Conflict Management

Humans are social creatures, thus our lives are filled with social interactions and relationships. In these relationships, we will often experience inevitable issues. The important thing to know is how to deal with these conflicts. This is what you would call conflict management. The goal of conflict management is to deal with issues in a respectful and productive manner. There are three important skills to develop in order to deal with conflict. These skills include communication skills, emotional intelligence, and empathy (Doyle, 2018).

Communication skills are key to resolving issues and preventing them in the first place. Being clear with written and verbal communication is a way to foster your communication skills (Doyle, 2018). Ways to start improving your communication skills are addressing problems quickly, discussing openly, and negotiating. One problem that arises here is making assumptions about what other people are saying or thinking. To steer clear of this roadblock let others express their feelings and needs to you.

Emotional intelligence is important to decrease conflict in relationships. This is the ability to understand yours and other’s feelings and to handle those feelings correctly (Doyle, 2018). You should strive to be good at identifying and meeting the needs of others. Some people have a naturally higher EQ than others but you can always become more emotionally intelligent. Ways to increase your EQ include asserting feelings without blaming, identifying triggers to conflict, and setting ground rules for productive dialogue (Doyle, 2018). 

Empathy is the last requirement for becoming a good conflict resolver. Empathy is the ability to see a situation from someone else’s point of view. Understanding people’s feelings,  motivations, and misunderstandings are critical to effective conflict management.  To develop empathy you should start by validating the other person’s point of view (n.d.).  You don’t have to agree with them but you must respect their right to hold their own opinions. Remember, to always listen to visual and body language cues. Using these steps you can develop your empathetic qualities. 

 

Conflict is inevitable but there are ways to deal with it in a healthy manner. Conflict resolution is about making sure everyone feels heard and coming to a beneficial solution for everyone. Keep in mind you don’t always have to please everyone because that is usually not possible. To reiterate, the three basic skills needed to ensure productive conflict resolution are communication skills, emotional intelligence, and empathy. Implementing these skills well will not only help resolve issues but will also decrease the number of problems occurring in the future.

References

Doyle, A. (2018, October 3). A List of Conflict Management Skills With Examples. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/conflict-management-skills-2059687

Empathy at Work – Developing Skills to Understand Other People. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/EmpathyatWork.htm


07
Apr 19

Tinder: swiping addiction?

Most, if not all of us have heard about, read about, or used the Tinder app ourselves. Ah, Tinder. The dating app that has swept the nation and allowed for infinite date nights and awkward morning after experiences. Morgan (2017) reports that Tinder has actually been the most downloaded lifestyle app in the Apple Appstore for the last two years. This means that an incredible amount of people are downloading, and most likely actively using the app to meet members of the dating pool.

For those who may not know, Tinder is essentially a dating app that allows each user to create a profile using approximately 6 photos of him or herself, and a short “bio” section to write something witty enough to catch someone’s eye. Once your profile is created, the journey of swiping begins. You’ll be presented with a photo of the gender you selected that you are interested in, and you’ll have the option to view more of this person’s photos as well as their “bio”. After viewing, you’ll have to choose to either swipe left for “nope” if you’re not interested, or swipe right to “like” this person. So, yes, you are essentially choosing based upon nothing but physical looks. If you swipe right, nothing happens immediately; but, if that person you “liked” also swipes right on your profile and “likes” you, then that will create a “match” and you’ll both be notified, with the option to message each other privately. This is where conversations begin and plans are set up to set out on dates or meet-ups.

Now, with how rapidly this app has blown up over the last two years, it’s created a sense of curiosity in the psychological research world to determine what the so-called hype is. There are plenty of apps available that encourage dating, so what is it about Tinder that grabs the public’s interest? A social psychologist named Jeanette Purvis wrote her PhD dissertation at the University of Hawaii on the topic of sexual conflict on Tinder (Morgan, 2017). In her research, Purvis concluded that Tinder’s interface/system has a large role in its success. She explains that it’s set up nearly perfectly to impose the desired psychological conditioning effects in its users, such as the need or desire to continue (Morgan, 2017). Tinder uses a “variable ratio reward schedule”, which essentially means that Tinder randomly disperses the profiles it believes you will “like” (Morgan, 2017). Once we swipe right on a profile, we feel a reward because we start thinking about the potential of that match. We then find ourselves seeking that same reward-type feeling again and continue swiping. With Tinder’s interface randomly dispersing profiles we may like, it causes us to continue swiping because those profiles will appear at the ‘perfect’ time, just as we are about to close out. The interface allows for a user to never be swiping too long before a potential match-worthy profile pops up; and therefore, we begin to expect it at certain points, which keeps us engaged and swiping.

Purvis goes on to describe this reward-based system as related to the workings of a drug addict’s brain (Morgan, 2017). She explains how research has found that the expectation we have of the drug typically causes more of a release of the “feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine” than the actual drug itself (Morgan, 2017). That said, the expectation of the next Tinder swipe being a “match” and leading to that reward is releasing more of that feel good feeling than the actual match itself. So, Tinder’s swiping interface is inducing sensations closely related to those experienced in addiction. Therefore, it appears that, in certain situations and circumstances, Tinder has the traits to become an addiction itself, and possibly already has for some users. I found it incredibly interesting that an app’s user interface could have this strong of an impact on our psychological processes.

References

Morgan, W. (2017). A Social Psychologist Explains How Tinder has Become a Real Addiction. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@whitneyvmorgan/a-social-psychologist-explains-how-tinder-has-become-a-real-addiction-ffa18ce4ff17


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