May 20

Internet addiction

When Henry Ford came out with the Model T in 1908, it eventually changed life as that generation knew it. When television became mainstream in the 1950s, the American world was forever altered. When the internet became a household standard in the late 90s-early 00s, everything about the way we do things changed—but when the first iPhone was released in 2007, it was more than just a game changer. Sure it changed the way we talk (we don’t, we text), the way we walk (with our eyes on our phones), the way we have dinner (with our phones laid out on the table)—but it did more than that, it completely changed our relationships. Nearly 10% of Americans have some form of internet addiction (Cash et al 2012) and this has many negative implications for forming and maintaining a happy relationship.

Over half of people cannot go an hour without checking their phone (Harris Research 2012). That’s rather problematic for going to a movie, going out to dinner, engaging in a long conversation—essentially, doing anything that lasts any length of time—with your partner, is it not? There are also larger implications of smartphone addiction, according to a 2012 Pew Internet study, which suggests that this addiction can lead to shorter attention spans, poorer communication skills, greater need for instant gratification, and loss of patience. All of these things affect the way we conduct relationships. With a shorter and shorter attention span, how can we listen to our partners? With poorer communication skills, how can we say what we mean? If we need instant gratification, can we see a long-term relationship through? A study by Konrath et al in 2011 finds that the rising generation is the least empathic yet—and there surely is a technological tie in there as well.

But in terms of how technology is specifically affecting relationships, a study by Przybylski & Weinstein in 2012 revealed that when one partner pulled out their phone or had their phone out during conversation, the other partner deemed them less trustworthy, and as the lesson in module two discusses, high levels of trust are essential to moving from an exchange to a communal relationship. When the phones were out, the other partners were also less likely to engage in important conversation, closeness levels decreased, and perhaps most interestingly, perceived empathy levels went down. Empathy is very important to relationships and altruistic behavior, as discussed in module five. Phone use also leaves partners feeling alone and unimportant, which can as Harris Research revealed in their Mobile Mindset study in 2012.

In fact, people flat out say it—a Pew Research study in 2014 found that 25% of couples reported that their partner was often distracted by their phone/social media while they were spending time together, and 20% of couples reported that technology has had a significantly negative impact on their relationship. This could be due to feeling unimportant since the person is choosing to use their phone over pay attention to their partner, lacking trust because the partner does not know who the person is talking to or what they are doing on their device, or feeling alone, since the partner is not actually engaging with them. This is even more true for people ages 18-29, where 42% of people reported that their significant other was often distracted by their phone in some way, a number likely to rise since younger generations are more phone-dependent. A study by Robert Clayton in 2014 showed that there was a significant relationship between active Twitter usage and negative relationship outcomes (break ups, divorce), likely because of these reported feelings and related findings.

Social media usage can also lead to troubling relationship behavior, a long-term study by Farrugia in 2013 suggests. In this study, active to highly active Facebook use had a positive correlation with surveillance behavior and jealousy, and a negative correlation with relationship satisfaction and individualized trust. Surveillance behavior is extremely unhealthy and jealousy also hinders the relationship. As module two explains, satisfaction levels in long-term relationships already decline over time, so adding something else that decreases relationship satisfaction and reduces trust levels can only have a negative effect. Trust is also necessary to move from an exchange-based relationship to a communal relationship, which is an important step that any long term relationship takes.

That said, it does not have to be this way. Smartphones and the technology that makes them work are incredible inventions that help a lot of people and have benefitted the world in many ways. One of the main problems right now is that these devices are still relatively new, they have really only been in the world less than a decade and when you consider how new things like Facebook and social networking and related applications really are, it makes sense that people have not quite yet figured out how to reign them in and master them to make them work for us instead of us developing addictive behaviors towards them. In time, once multiple generations have been using this technology for many years, they will likely have taught their children to manage their usage much better than we have taught ours.

Anderson, J.Q., & Rainie, L (2012). Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/02/29/main-findings-teens-technology-and-human-potential-in-2020/ on February 27, 2015.

Cash, H., Rae, C. D., Steel, A. H., & Winkler, A. (2012). Internet Addiction: A Brief Summary of Research and Practice. Current Psychiatry Reviews, 8(4), 292–298. Retrieved February 25, 2015.

Clayton, R.B. (2014). The third wheel: the impact of Twitter use on relationship infidelity and divorce. Cyberpsychology, Social Media, and Networking, 4(2), 121-123. Retrieved February 26, 2015.

Farrugia, R.C. (2013). Facebook and Relationships: A Study of How Social Media Use is Affecting Long-Term Relationships. Rochester Institute of Technology. Retrieved February 25, 2015.

Harris Interactive Research (2012). Mobile Mindset Study. Lookout. Retrieved February 27, 2015.

Lenhart, A. & Duggan, M. (2014). Couples, the Internet, and Social Media. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/02/20/couples-the-internet-and-social-media-2/ on February 26, 2015.


Przybylski, A. K., & Weinstein, N. (2013). Can you connect with me now? How the presence of mobile communication technology influences face-to-face conversation quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30(3), 237-246.

May 20

Gottman Couples Therapy

The Gottman method was developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, beginning in the 1980s. Highlighting the value of marital friendship, shared fondness and admiration, and managing conflict, the Gottman approach focuses on giving couples the tools they need to repair any negative interactions and begin building and maintaining a Sound Relationship House. Through a large amount of research, albeit much of it conducted in their own “love lab” at the Gottman Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, the Gottman method has been established as a valuable, successful, and distinct model of couples therapy based on empirical data of real couples observed repeatedly in real time.

The overall foundation of all Gottman interventions is the Sound Relationship House. According to Gottman, the foundation of any healthy relationship is marital friendship. The friendship between the couple is the foundation of the house—essentially, something the couple can always fall back on. Building and strengthening the marital friendship is actually an intervention for the Gottman method because of the change it can generate and the way it affects the relationship. Just above that layer of the house is building what Gottman calls “love maps”—in other words, a map of each partner’s world. This is in depth knowledge about each other gives insight as to how each one functions, the way they operate, what matters to them, what their priorities are, all the way down to their favorite things (Gottman, 1999). This helps the couple understand each other on a deeper level and be more considerate and aware of the person they are. The following level of the house is sharing fondness and admiration for each other—if this is legitimately the case, then hopefully this will be a default consideration and way of operating for the couple. Turning towards instead of away is the next layer—a major part of the Sound Relationship House. Even in Gottman’s “Love Lab,” this is a significant thing that he looks for because if one or both partners consistently turn away from each other instead of turning towards each other in any given scenario, that creates additional relationship distance and spells trouble for how the couple connects. The next level of the house is the positive perspective—this will be further discussed later on, but is basically the couple having a consistently solidly positive view of each other and the relationship and reflecting that in their interactions.

The following level of the house holds a major Gottman theory of change and intervention within it, and this is managing conflict. Managing conflict, according to Gottman, involves accepting influence from each other, having dialogue about the problems, and practicing self-soothing. The style in which each approaches and engages their conflicts must be analyzed, although research has shown that contrary to the assumptions of the Gottman method, not all conflict styles are created equal (Busby & Holman, 2009). Rejection of influence from one’s partner often causes tension and strife, and in order to manage (and even resolve) conflict, accepting of some influence is necessary. The kind of dialogue that is had (and the fact that it is being had) also matters in the Gottman model—especially at the onset of the discussion. The way the conversation opens has everything to do with the path that it goes down. According to the Gottman model, a harsh start up to conversation is usually followed by one of the four horsemen and rarely leads to any positive dialogue, rather, they incite defensive behavior in both partners. Soft startups indicate a positive perspective and sensitivity towards the other partner and are far more successful in having good dialogue about problems. These startups are often the difference, in the Gottman perspective, between talking about feelings related to a problem, and casting blame at a partner. Self-soothing is always a valuable skill as well. If a partner cannot calm themselves down after an argument, a bad day, or a negative interaction, they are prone to stack one on top of the other and create further negative interactions. That said, research shows that there are other factors that can play into conflict along with Gottman’s perspective, such as Bowen’s differentiation/individuation concepts (Gubbins, Perosa, & Bartle-Haring, 2010).

The next levels are similar to each other, the first being making life dreams come true, and the final, or the “attic” per se, being creating shared meaning, and often these go hand in hand. This has much to do with another Gottman model intervention called dreams within conflict.

Busby, D. M., & Holman, T. B. (2009). Perceived match or mismatch on the Gottman conflict styles: Associations with relationship outcome variables. Family Process, 48(4), 531-545. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.2009.01300.x

David, P. (2015). Wedding the Gottman and Johnson Approaches into an Integrated Model of Couple Therapy. The Family Journal, 23(4), 336-345.

Driver, J. L., & Gottman, J. M. (2004). Daily Marital Interactions and Positive Affect During Marital Conflict Among Newlywed Couples. Family Process, 43(3), 301-314. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.2004.00024.x

Gottman, J. M. (1999). The marriage clinic: A scientifically-based marital therapy. New York: W.W. Norton.

Gubbins, C. A., Perosa, L. M., & Bartle-Haring, S. (2010). Relationships between married couples’ self-differentiation/individuation and Gottman’s model of marital interactions. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, 32(4), 383-395. doi:10.1007/s10591-010-9132-4

May 20

Impact of Pets on Mental Health

Animals have undergone a dramatic transformation in roles in the past few centuries. Whereas animals used to serve as mere assistants in survival and aids to physical labor, they have now edged their noses into people’s homes and beds. Undoubtedly, pets do affect certain aspects of human health, such as the likelihood of developing heart disease (Patronek & Glickman 1993), as well as depression and psychological wellbeing (Antonacopoulos & Pychyl 2008). But would it be accurate to say that pet owners have better overall wellbeing, physically and psychologically, than non-owners?

The research indicating that pets are beneficial to one’s physical health is plentiful. Heart disease, the number one killer of humans in the United States, is often caused by a mix of physical and psychosocial factors, including hypertension, high anxiety, social isolation, and elevated plasma cholesterol levels. In a landmark study by Patronek and Glickman in 1993, they hypothesized that pets would lower blood pressure, lessen anxiety, and decrease feelings of social isolation, along with a host of other positive effects, thereby leading to a lesser risk for coronary heart disease for pet owners compared to non-owners. Not only did pet owners have a lesser risk, but even for those that had heart attacks, the mortality rate of pet owners was significantly lower, and the survival rate past the one year mark was significantly higher. Numerous studies have also shown that pets do indeed significantly reduce the risk of hypertension. One study by Friedmann, Thomas, Son, Chapa, & McCune (2013) measured the systolic and diastolic blood pressures of various dog owners at home every twenty minutes of their waking hours and had them keep a diary of who was in the room and what they were doing for each time their reading was taken. With everything taken into account, both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were significantly lower when the participant’s dog was in the room with them. The same study also tested cat owners, and the diastolic blood pressure of the cat owners was significantly lower when their cat was present in the room with them. Dog owners have also been known to have significantly fewer minor ailments such as colds and headaches than they had prior to ownership (Wells 2009).

In terms of physical activity, adults with dogs take 25% more steps per day than adults without dogs, and children with dogs are significantly more active than children without them (Owen et al. 2010). In a study by Rebecca Utz (2014), she established through the use of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study that dog and cat owners were less likely to be obese and more likely to report excellent health. It reasons to say that this could be in part to the fact that dog and cat owners reported significantly higher participation in all types of exercise behaviors; they were likely to walk at least a mile five times a week, and participated significantly more in bicycling, weight lifting, and swimming. Another study found that dog owners got more exercise, were fitter, and were seen less often by doctors than non-owners (Heady, Na, & Zheng, 2008). These results were significant among all demographics, but particularly among middle aged women, with the dog owning factor being the most significant predictor of physical health. This same study also got significant results in the sleep departments—dog owners had more nights of uninterrupted, high quality sleep than non-owners, which could lead to other effects such as less depression and better psychological condition, which are known to be associated with quality of sleep.

Psychologically, pets have also proved to benefit their owners. There are particular benefits for those in one person households. One study in Switzerland concluded that those who lived in one person households and owned cats were less likely to report being in a bad mood than those who lived alone without a cat (Antonacopoulos & Pychyl 2010). In the same report, studies also showed that female university students and female seniors were less likely to report being lonely if they had a pet than if they did not. An additional study saw similar benefits, with a lessening in depression and feelings of loneliness resulting from simple benefits of having animals, such as their presence in the room, and their making the human feel needed (Wells 2011). Other studies have shown that pets improve psychological wellbeing by increasing social interactions between people, such as getting their dogs together for a “play date,” and going to dog parks and interacting with other owners, as well as the positive social effects that come from positive comments and attention that come from owning a pet such as a dog or cat that people are often drawn to (Wells 2009). Pets have also been shown to alleviate highly stressful life occurrences such as death in the family or divorce, and can reduce feelings of anxiousness, depression, and isolation (Wells 2009). One study even showed that all these benefits were not even isolated to the primary caretaker—they extend to everyone living in the house with the pet (Lewis, Krägeloh, & Shepherd, 2009). These are some great studies showing impact that pets have on wellbeing.

Antonacopoulos, N., & Pychyl, T. A. (2010). An examination of the potential role of pet ownership, human social support and pet attachment in the psychological health of individuals living alone. Anthrozoös, 23(1), 37-54. doi: 10.2752/175303710X12627079939143

Friedmann, E., Thomas, S. A., Son, H., Chapa, D., & McCune, S. (2013). Pet’s presence and owner’s  blood pressures during the daily lives of pet owners with pre- to mild hypertension. Anthrozoös, 26(4), 535-550. doi:10.2752/175303713X13795775536138

Heady, B., Na, F., & Zheng, R. (2008). Pet dogs benefit owners’ health: A “natural” experiment in China. Social Indicators Research, 87(3), 481-493. doi:10.1007/s11205-007-9142-2

Lewis, A., Krägeloh, C. U., & Shepherd, D. (2009). Pet ownership, attachment, and health-related quality of life in New Zealand. E-Journal of Applied Psychology, 5(1), 96-101.

McConnell, A. R., Brown, C. M., Shoda, T. M., Stayton, L. E., & Martin, C. E. (2011). Friends with benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(6), 1239-1252. doi:10.1037/a0024506

Owen, C. G., Nightingale, C. M., Rudnicka, A., Ekelund, U., McMinn, A, van Sluijs, E, et al. (2010). Family dog ownership and levels of physical activity in childhood: Findings from the Child Heart and Health Study in England. American Journal of Public Health, 100(9), 1669-1671. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.188193

Patronek, G.J., & Glickman, L. T. (1993). Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease. Medical Hypotheses, 40(4), 245-249. doi:10.1016/0306-9877(93)90049-V

Utz, R. (2014). Walking the dog: The effect of pet ownership on human health and health  behaviors. Social Indicators Research, 116(2), 327-339. doi:10.1007/s11205-013-0299-6

May 20

Mental Health and Criminal Justice

Mental health training should be a requirement for criminal justice professionals (cops, firefighters, EMS, guards, troopers, even judges/magistrates), and mental health professionals should be essential staff in every jail and prison. There are so, so many issues that arise both out in the community and within correctional facilities that truly would benefit from a trained mental health clinician, and this is something that can be funded by the state. In addition, most staff members should have basic mental health training to prevent a wide variety of unnecessary issues.

This is an important issue for many reasons. Many of the people who get booked into jails everyday are citizens with mental health issues. It is essential that those people have proper care while in the custody of whatever justice facility they are in, and it would make communication issues much less frequent, as well as cut down on outbursts and potentially dangerous situations for both the citizen and the professional. Additionally, criminal justice workers often encounter critical situations in which someone with a mental health issue may be presenting as a danger to themselves or others. It would be incredibly beneficial for all criminal justice professionals to know how to handle these situations safely.

My ultimate argument is that mandatory mental health training for all criminal justice professionals would greatly benefit many different aspects of the field. Many different situations that occur in the criminal justice field would benefit from having mental health professionals available for intervention as well as well trained staff for day to day interactions. A study was done in 2019 by R. Shively discussing the importance of mental health training in the corrections field, and another study was done the same year discussing the benefits of having mental health staff in crisis situations that occurred during ride alongs (Shively 2019, White & Weisburd 2019).

Think of all the different things that would be affected just by staff members having basic mental health training. They could reduce altercations, intervene in high risk situations, and be of assistance in crises.


Shively, R. (2019). The Importance of Staff Training in Mental Health. Correctional Health         Care Report20(3), 37–43. Retrieved from             http://search.ebscohost.com.postu.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?  direct=true&db=i3h&AN=135305905&site=ehost-live&scope=site

White, C., & Weisburd, D. (2019). A Co-Responder Model for Policing Mental Health Problems at Crime Hot Spots: Findings from a Pilot Project. Policing: A Journal of Policy and  Practice, 12(2), 194-209

May 20

Role Identities in the Stanford Prison Experiment

Role identities are concepts of the self in different roles. Each participant in the study took on a role identity for their assigned position, whether it was guard or prisoner, that role was taken on and lived out to the fullest. The participants that took place in the study were all of a similar age in a university degree program, predominantly white, all male, and all middle class. Demographics always affect dynamics so of course they affected that as well as the results. Any human is susceptible to altered identity and behavior based on assigned roles, but it is unbelievable to think that a major shift in demographics would not impact the results in some way. For instance, including women might behave differently than the men did. People of different religions might have chosen different actions. People from a different cultural background may respond differently. There are all kinds of ways things could be affected.

There was a major resocialization for the participants of the Stanford Prison Experiment. The prisoners were stripped, searched, deloused, given a smock, a new number to be known by instead of a name, and put through an entire process to help “resocialize” them as prisoners. Guards were given no training but given a uniform, a whistle, and a billy club. Every participant was resocialized into their role by removing every ounce of their previous identity possible and resocialized physically and mentally into their new role through dress, name (or lack of), schedule, routine, and rules. The guards and prisoners adapted. Some adapted more poorly than others, to the point of dropping out of the study. The participants resocialized in ways some never would have imagined and embodied their new roles quite quickly.

I think the Stanford Prison Experiment simulates a real-world experience very well. Particularly having worked in jails, I have seen what inmates go through and some unfortunate actions from guards. People definitely can and do respond to role identity and the power of those roles can be very strong. It tells us that people can be drastically affected by the power and “duty” given to them. There are limitations as this was a very small number of people and a very limited amount of time.

There were many ethical standards discussed, and many violated. The Stanford Prison Experiment lacked fully informed consent by participants, they did not consent to being “arrested” at their homes, the participants, particularly the prisoners, were not protected from psychological harm, and experienced great humiliation and distress. From a research perspective, to improve ethical standards it could have included complete consent and discussed the possibilities even though they could not have predicted exactly what would happen. They also could have given the guards some guidelines to some extent as to what they could and could not do, although they would not have gained all the information they did.

I agree with the Lucifer effect interpretation. There are few other interpretations that disagree with this stance and the Lucifer effect explains why people who were “normal” before coming into the Stanford Prison Experiment ended up doing such unseemly things to one another. While the Stanford Prison Experiment did shed light on the human ability to change roles and commit acts against their fellow man particularly in situations of blind submission to authority, there are still questions to be answered regarding individuals, relationships, and systems in relation to the Lucifer effect.


DeLamater, John D., and Meyers, Daniel J., and Collett, Jessica. (2014). Social Psychology, 8th edition. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. ISBN-13: 9780813349503

Zimbardo, P. G. (2017). On the ethics of intervention in human psychological research: With special reference to the Stanford prison experiment. Cognition,().

Zimbardo, P. G., Haney, C., Banks, W. C., & Jaffe, D. (1971). Stanford prison experiment. Zimbardo, Incorporated.

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