Sep 20

The Impact of Climate Changes on Mental Health

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Global warming has been a present issue nationwide for years.(Cianconi, Betrò, & Janiri, 2020). Global warming is likely to cause widespread emergencies in the future. These events lead to extreme heat, change in water, coastal storms and extreme droughts. However, global warming presents a bigger threat to humans. Climate change has an impact on a large part of the population, in different geographical that presents threats to public health. The effects of climate change can affect some mental disorders.

There are common effects of climate change that affect those that are more vulnerable. Researches have studied the associated between psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, schizophrenia, mood disorder and depression, suicide, aggressive behaviors in compared to climate change and extreme weather (Cianconi, Betrò, & Janiri, 2020).  Acute events act as a mechanism similar to that of traumatic stress leading too psychopathological patterns. This consequences into extreme exposure of stress and anxiety when there are prolonged weather-related changes. There are cases of mental health that outcomes of climate change range from minimal stress too distress symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, depression, post-traumatic stress and suicidal thoughts(Cianconi, Betrò, & Janiri, 2020). Therefore, it can be concluded that climate changes affects certain individual that have a  mental health condition.

We may ask ourselves, who is responsible for these climate changes? Ultimately, we are the ones responsible for the changes that occur. Human activities have altered the atmospheric composition, that produces a greenhouse effect which leads to global warming(Cianconi, Betrò, & Janiri, 2020). Let’s think about how much pollution is produced in the environment for production for our daily needs. Although our activities may simplify our daily life, we are destroying the environment with these harsh toxics. In addition, we are harming ourselves in the long run. We are the ones living in this environment. We breathe the same air that we are polluting. Our ecosystem will face plant and animal extinction if we continue to harsh our environment.

Let’s face it, our human activities are harming our environment. Not only is it harming, the environment but it brings harms to our health, plants and animals. Research has proved that climate changes impacts those who are vulnerable and have a present mental health condition. Climate changes leads to anxiety, depression, stress and sleep disturbances in humans. There is an interconnect between physical health, mental health and over all well-being associated to extreme climate changes. Let’s think about the last time you were extremely hot. You probably got irritated, until you were able to cool off. Now image, someone with a present mental health disorder that cannot associate both factors together. These individuals are more vulnerable and experience higher levels of stress when a change occurs in their environment. However, we should look at the bigger picture, our plants and animals are also suffering from these climate changes. Human must make changes in order to better our environment.


Cianconi, P., Betrò, S., & Janiri, L. (2020, March 01). Directory of Open Access Journals. Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://doaj.org/article/1e95243cd72f43bcbf7a714bdb53671f


Sep 20

Coffee and Social Design

I’ll never forget the day that my journalism professor humiliated me in front of the class. I was 19 years old, worry free, and attending my local community college. My friend Julia had bought me a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee that morning, so my body had a particular buzz to it. I felt so privileged sitting there sipping on my coffee waiting for class to start; it felt like a step into adulthood. Leaning against the cinder block walls of the classroom, I wondered if it was the intention of the designer to make us feel like we were in a prison. It was an adult prison though, with coffee, so I couldn’t complain much. My teacher began talking about the complexities of words and how important clarity with “no fluff” was in journalism. She said she had selected quotes from our last paper that contained useless information, aka, fluff. She mentioned that the writers of the quotes would remain anonymous. I remember thinking that there was no way anything from my paper would be up there, I was a genius writer after all. I’m pretty sure that was just the coffee talking.

“I read this and realized I needed a glass of wine. I drank the wine, I read it again, and it still made absolutely no sense to me,” my professor chuckled. “This is the exact kind of thing you don’t want to do.” Her judgement was palpable.

There on the projector was a quote from my paper. I can’t remember what it said, but I know it was poetic and flowery and apparently it was fluffy too. My face turned beat red and I remember feeling like I had absolutely no talent. My next break could not come soon enough.

After class I burst into the cold fall air scanning the crowd of smokers for my friend Julia. All of the buildings in the college were old and they had a way of making you feel like you were in a basement. The courtyard was no different. The cold benches of the outdoor lounge were blocked in by all of the brick buildings. The concrete seemed to swallow the sun. I remember sitting there and shivering in the sea of gray, day after day, staring into the small rectangular prison-like windows.

Delaware County Community College (DCCC) is not the campus it once was. I was there a few years ago to pick up transcripts and I was shocked by the changes of the campus. The newest building on the main campus is called the STEM center. It is a building that was so obviously built by social design. Social design is when a building, or school in this case, is created with the people who will use it in mind (Gruman, Schneider & Coutts, 2017). Social design has six main goals: matching the needs of the user, satisfying the user, changing the behavior of the user, enhancing the user’s personal control, facilitating social support for the user, and employing easy use and navigation for all users (Gruman et. al., 2017). Essentially, social designers take into account a building’s use first, rather than its architectural beauty (Gruman et. al., 2017).

The STEM center was built in 2010, with the goal to provide an engaging learning environment that encourages interactions between students and teachers (Delaware County Community College [DCCC], 2020). There are amenities including: fitness centers, lecture halls, learning pods and a first floor café, with coffee might I add, in order to satisfy its occupants (DCCC, 2020). The building’s design of smaller classrooms and over sized lounges call for a change in independent behavior by increasing collaboration among teachers and students. The STEM center also takes the environment into account, with its use of energy efficient systems and recycled materials (DCCC, 2020).  This allows the college’s students to have a sense of respect and control over their physical environment as a part of the social design. The buildings large interior signs and multiple access points (including stairwells and elevators at every corner), allow for easy navigation. Basically, the STEM center is a stimulating and comfortable glass prism of social education. I wish it had been there when I was a student.

Now, I’m not saying that this gorgeous building based on social design would have eased the blow of my very first reality check in college, but, a little comfort never hurt anyone.



Delaware County Community College. (2020) Our Facilities and Technology. Retrieved from https://www.dccc.edu/academics/academic-divisions/stem/stem-complex#:~:text=The%20new%20STEM%20Center%20opened,pursuit%20of%20science%20and%20enlightenment.

Gruman, J.A.,Schneider, F.W., & Coutts, L.A. (2017). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sep 20

Art and Vandalism: Are They So Different?

The question of what constitutes art versus vandalism is still a popular topic of debate today. While talking about environments that serve as a defensible space, Gruman, 2017 makes an interesting assertion about the nature of public, visual art and how it is very different from vandalism. For public, visual art, he gives an example of “painting a mural that reflects a social concern” (Gruman, 2017). For vandalism, he creates the picture of people who “scrawl their own names on a subway hall.” While I do not argue with these examples, they are based on a very narrow idea that insinuates little overlap between the two concepts. In his view, “The artist’s goal is to beautify an ugly environment” (Gruman, 2017), and “vandals are destructive and egocentric…” (Gruman, 2017). These statements are flawed because they are based on the belief that art and vandalism are inherently antithetical concepts that never share similar aesthetics or motivations. He also assumes that art has an inherently positive impact, while vandalism has an inherently negative one. 

Rather than attempting to define the subjective concept of what makes something beautiful, it is easier to asset that objective beauty does not exist. Like most other concepts, something that is thought to be beautiful is commonly thought to be so because that label reflects the majority of opinions. Simply, art in general is not always beautiful to most people. Goya’s black paintings, especially “Saturn” (often known as “Saturn Devouring His Son”), were never intended to be viewed as beautiful and have rarely been defined as pleasant to look upon by the general public (Goya, 1820-1823). However, few in the art critics would disagree with the notion that they are important and influential works of art. Even though it is not considered beautiful, it may still be valued and have a positive impact on its environment. Even in instances where the artist was attempting to create beauty, they may not prevail in the majority or even a single viewer’s opinion. Likewise, vandalism is not always aesthetically displeasing, and can even be what most people consider to be beautiful. Some can be humorous, inspire social change or even both (The Meta Picture, 2020). This can have a positive impact on the environment.       

Without asking the artist directly, it may be impossible to known with certainty what the motivation is behind a particular visual piece. Art may not always be a self-less, anonymous offering meant to bring attention to a “social concern” (Gruman, 2017). Many benign murals of landscapes offer no message and proudly display the initials or full names or the artists somewhere in the picture. Likewise, many vandals are completely anonymous and socially conscious. It is important to remember that what many people would consider vandalism is not always created for egocentric reasons and can be intended to evoke awareness about specific social issues. When these messages are in conflict with the prevailing view of the public, anonymity may be necessary to protect the vandal from lawful or unlawful repercussions. For example, Black Lives Matter is a large social justice organization that seeks to conduct peaceful protests of police brutality. However, there are supporters of the group that will use various media to paint the name of the group on public or private buildings. Supporters  have been the victims of harassment just for displaying the words “Black Lives Matter” on their own personal property (Ciechalski, 2020). So, it is logical as to why someone might want to remain anonymous while publicly displaying the phrase, even if it is meant to evoke thought about the social issue of police brutality. I would argue that if vandalism contributes to social reform, it improves the environment.    

Attempting to define art and vandalism as mutually exclusive concepts is folly. Because the experience of beauty is so subjective, it may well be impossible to separate the two ideas in a way where one is beautiful and the other is not. Different people may view the same visual in a multitude of ways that are all influenced by their own experiences, feelings, opinions, motivations, etc. This can have an impact on how they interpret a visual image or message. A viewer may also decide this regardless of the author’s intent. Therefore, whether an image is art of vandalism is different for different people based upon how they receive the message. Whether a visual has a positive or negative impact on the environment is also subjective and influenced by many personal and societal factors.  

Ciechalski, Suzanne, Li, David K., and Abdelkader, Rima. (2020, June 16). Couple Apologizes After Confronting Man Over ‘Black Lives Matter’ Chalk in Front of His Own Home. Retrieved from:


Goya, F. (1820-1823). Saturn. [Mixed method]. Museo Del Prado, Madrid, Spain. museodelprado.es. n.d. Retrieved from: 


Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2017). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (3rd ed.), 108-113. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

The Meta Picture. Middle-Class Vandalism. Pinterest. Retrieved September 17, 2020. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/52987733093297116/

Sep 20

Cleaner environment

Have you ever seen an animal eat the trash on the sidewalk? Some people might think littering is no big deal, but because of human carelessness and laziness littering is damaging the environment we all share. As a result, people are commonly seen actively throwing cigarette butts, food wrappers, cans, etc.… in public areas.  This waste is a breeding ground for bacteria. A heavily polluted environment encourages the spread of diseases having a direct impact on public health. The simple act of tossing a piece of trash on the ground such as a cigarette or other toxic material eventually gets washed away into the storm drains and contaminates our waterways. This pollutes our groundwater and especially affects those who depend on wells for clean drinking water.

Sometimes trash is commonly mistaken for food by both sea and land animals, resulting in these animals becoming sick, and eventually killing them. According to national geographic, “There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea”. Pollution in the oceans has a direct negative impact on ecosystems.

Many actions can be taken to change awareness of this shared problem. Each member of society has a responsibility to keep the environment clean. I believe most people are aware that littering is wrong, but I think most do not take it seriously. It is true however, if only a few people litter it does not affect the environment drastically, it is when it happens on a large scale. A common assumption is that people think it is someone else’s job to clean up the mess. But this puts stress on cleanup efforts and an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers as many of these programs are taxpayer funded. 11.5 billion dollars is spent on cleaning up litter in the U.S. (Kab.org) Education and awareness are a vital step to take to help remedy the problem.

To change behavior in people, a conversation needs to take place either by someone in the community or taught through education. Promoting education of littering in schools can help address the attitudes and behaviors associated with littering that created the problem in the first place. A small behavioral change such as not overfilling the garbage bin, as trash can easily be blown away by the wind, is a small but effective change if practiced on a large scale. If everyone tried their best to dispose of trash properly this would have a positive impact on the environment and reduce pollution. Many community waste disposal programs do exist and are immensely helpful for the problem. Participating or even witnessing a community cleanup can change the way people view littering. These community efforts help people serve as role models for the community which in turn changes public attitude. Unfortunately, for those who will not listen, stricter fines can be placed upon individuals caught littering. In the state of Pennsylvania, a person who is caught littering will be fined between 100 to 300 dollars if the offense did not injure someone or damage property, and between 300 and 1000 if it did. ( PA Crimes Code, Title 18, Chapter 65, § 6501) Offering a reward for litter clean up can help motivate people to make it feel worthwhile. We all share this planet together and it pains me to see unnecessary damage to it. It can be a simple reward, such as a gift card or coupon. I believe littering can be reduced with both proper awareness and community effort.

Staff, N. (2017, November 29). Ocean Trash: 5.25 Trillion Pieces and Counting, but Big Questions Remain. Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/1/150109-oceans-plastic-sea-trash-science-marine-debris/

Pennsylvania Littering and Illegal Dumping Laws. (n.d.). Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://illegaldumpfreepa.org/pennsylvania-littering-and-illegal-dumping-laws/

Keep America Beautiful. (2020, August 25). Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://kab.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/LitterinAmerica_FactSheet_CostsofLittering.pdf



Sep 20

Pro-Environment Behaviors

There are so many daily activities and actions that people do that affect our environment. Let’s face it, not many people think about how their actions are really affecting the environment. Taking a longer shower, driving a car, watching tv with all the lights on, letting the water run, these are just a few simple examples. Out of all the examples I just listed I’m sure that people reading this are thinking wow I do at least 2 of those daily. When I was younger I didn’t even think about half of those things I was doing that actually were slowly affecting the environment. I used to leave so many things plugged in, so many lights on, left the tv on, left the water running while brushing my teeth and I didn’t even think about it at all. I believe that the first step in changing these behaviors starts with education.

Growing up I was never taught about all these different things slowly affecting the environment. It was until my junior year in high school that we lightly touched on this topic. In order to avoid these behaviors it will start with teaching people how these behaviors are gradually affecting our environment and what can happen in the future if nothing changes. Teaching kids about this at a younger age such as middle school might even help avoid some of these behaviors to begin with. “The value of educational campaigns lies in their priming ability; that is, they get people ready to make a change rather than actually get them to change. (Gruman, 362). It starts with educating people but actually getting them to make the changes is the tough part. People are most likely willing to make changes if they know that it will improve their everyday life. Saving money is a good incentive to get people to make the changes. I know I was very ignorant to the fact that these little behaviors and actions were affecting the environment. I also thought to myself this little action isn’t going to change much but as I’m growing up I’m realizing that I was wrong.

There are so many different ways we can start to improve on these behaviors. There can be incentives, reward programs, monthly newsletters, advertisements. A big start to all of this can be advertisements. I don’t see a lot of commercials, ads, or billboards about pro environmental behaviors. These ads can list ways to help the environment and encourage others. Another way to improve is companies sending our monthly newsletters through email or mail about how their customers are participating in pro environment behaviors. There can be reward programs with water companies, electric companies, gas companies, fuel companies, and trash/recycle companies. The reward programs can inform customers on how they are doing towards their goals and build rewards to save money in the future. A huge impactful environmental behavior that I wanted to touch on is transportation. In March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic started which affected many businesses. A lot of companies are letting their employees work from home which is affecting transportation for the good! I believe that a huge step in helping our environment can start with these big companies. A lot of companies are realizing that their employees are doing very well working at home. If people can work from home I think this is the perfect opportunity for companies to start permanent work from home positions. Working from home saves a lot of people transportation which saves gas which helps the environment. This solution also benefits a lot of people because they probably prefer to work from home.

There are so many different things that people can do to help the environment but it starts with informing them and getting them to make the changes.

Gruman, Jamie A., et al. Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. 3rd ed., SAGE, 2017.


Sep 20

Tragedy of the Commons, or is it?

The majority of you who are reading this have heard the term “tragedy of the commons” before. It might’ve been in your gen-ed economics class (that’s where I first heard it), this psychology course, or maybe you’ve always been woke. Regardless of how you became familiar with the topic, the tragedy of the commons situation is real and here to stay. Garret Hardin explained this is what occurs when “each person is locked into a system that compels him to increase his harvesting without limit. Ruin is the destination toward which we all rush, each pursuing his own best interest” (Hardin 1989, p. 1244). Basically what Hardin is saying here is, we are all in the same pattern of taking as much as we want for our own gain, ultimately it will end in a self-created disaster.

So what makes this a dilemma? Well, people have two options. They can either A: get ahead and live the way they want to at the expense of the commons (resources) or B: restrain themselves and use the commons in a slower and more selfless manner (Gifford 2016, 450). This is where the psychology aspect comes in, obviously it is more pleasurable to do what we want, how we want when we want, but to what gain if it ends in our own demise? Another facet of psych in this scenario are the individuals who say are very eco-friendly and take exceptional care of mother earth, yet act quite differently. Such behavior results in cognitive dissonance. From their dissonance they are cornered into making a change, will they change their walk or their talk?

Over time our excessive use of the commons has resulted in a downward spiral of our quality of life and the quality of the earth. This is better known as, climate change. About a year ago an article was published in Psychology Today by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph. D., asking the million-dollar question, “If we are facing a crisis, why aren’t more people concerned?” Dr. Riggio explains that several things play into our lack of action-taking, but ultimately it boils down to psychological processes. In laymen’s terms, people are resistant to change, climate change is a big change that will take even bigger change to slow, stop, and/or reverse the damage that has been done.

Now we know psychological processes are why we aren’t doing anything, but what processes are key here? I’m glad you asked. Dr. Riggio elaborated on four factors. The first of these is denial, many people deny climate change, believe it is a conspiracy etc. Therefore, these individuals see no reason to take action. The second reason is rationalization. People decide that since there are so many mixed opinions or since their government isn’t doing much, then they don’t have to either. The third process is a classic example of the diffusion of responsibility. Mentally these individuals are thinking along the lines of, “there are enough other people aware, that they will be taking action, so I don’t have to.” Lastly, egocentrism. Many people are too stubborn or unwilling to sacrifice their own comforts for the well-being of the whole.

To me, it comes as no surprise that our quality of life is declining. Many want the opposite to happen but are not willing to be consistent in the actions required to do so. This is not to say [those] people are bad, they are just as human as the rest of us. Personally, I am guilty of the same. Hopefully increasing the awareness of the situation, as well as our reasons for the lack of change, can allow us to be more intentional in combatting our own habits in order to combat the change of the climate.



Gifford, R. (2016). Applied Social Psychology : Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Retrieved from: ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/pensu/detail.action?docID=5945490.

Hardin, G. (1968). The tragedy of the commons. Science, 162, 1243– 1248.
Applied Social Psychology : Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Retrieved from: ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/pensu/detail.action?docID=5945490.

Riggio, R. (2019). Why aren’t we doing something about global warming? Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201908/why-aren-t-we-doing-something-about-global-warming

Sep 20

Resource Dilemmas and Personal Choice

According to Spock, from the Star Trek T.V. series and movies, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. While this is a beautiful sentiment, we should consider what is behind it. In Chapter 12 of The Ultimate Star Trek and Philosophy: The Search for Socrates, edited by Decker and Eberl, discuss the idea in more depth. The needs of the many are what we need to consider when we are thinking of the greater good and the allocation of resources among people. Many people do consider it, but our respective personalities and experiences can change how we view things and what choices we make. According to Chapter 12, the utilitarianistic thinking of the aforementioned quote is the basis of what tells us whether man’s actions are morally right or wrong when considered from a perspective of balance between benefits and harm. (Decker and Eberl, 2016). How a person chooses to cooperate, share resources, supports his or her community, and more, are all swayed by his personality, his environment, experiences, and other situational influences. We all like to think we will choose what is for the greater good, but no one knows how they will react until they are faced with a situation of hard choices, like those involved in resource dilemmas.

In the current climate with the effects of COVID-19 on travel, shipping, employment, groceries, education, agriculture, and more we are seeing more and more examples of people facing resource dilemmas. From toilet paper shortages to grocery store shelves standing bear people must make the hard choices. These are common-pool resource dilemmas as well as social dilemmas, affecting whether or not there is enough of a resource to provide the community’s needs and also affecting how people take care of turn their back on the needs of others. In these cases, we see people reaching for the extra pack of toilet paper or an extra bottle of hand sanitizer which often leads to supplies running out and other people having to do without. According to the study by Kortenkamp and Moore, this is because “Individuals who choose to overconsume may do so to maximize personal gain as opposed to social welfare or because they prefer the immediate gain (and delayed loss) as opposed to the delayed gain (and immediate loss).” (2006, p. 603). Maximum personal gain does not focus on the greater good or the needs of the many instead it focuses solely on the wishes and needs of the one.

According to Koole, Jager, van den Berg, Vlek, and Hofstee, “The capacity for cooperation is probably present within every human being. Nonetheless, the strength of that capacity may vary across situations and persons” (2010, p. 289). A person’s personality, whether they are extraverted, agreeable, and narcissistic can influence what they choose. It also affects what they think is important, for instance, cooperation, the greater good, personal gain, or that ever ambiguous correct or moral choice. In addition, it depends on whether the person is fixated on the present conditions or the future needs and desires. “The extent to which a person cares about future outcomes, in general, is another individual characteristic that could predict cooperation rates in resource dilemmas given the temporal conflict embedded within these dilemmas.” (Kortenkamp and Moore, 2006, p. 605).

The aspect that makes such situations so hard and yet so revealing, is that “to reap the rewards of individual cooperation, individual group members frequently have to make personal sacrifices.” (Koole, Jager, van den Berg, Vlek and Hofstee, 2010, p. 289). We must not only give but give up something in order to reap the benefits. According to the study, Koole and associates found that certain aspects of the personality impacted people’s ability and willingness to cooperate. “Extraversion was generally negatively related to cooperation” (Koole et al., 2010, p. 289), meaning that people with this type of personality were less likely to cooperate. On the other hand, the same study revealed that “Agreeableness was generally positively related to cooperation” and that further, that those with agreeableness as a personality trait “exercised more self-restraint when the common resource was severely threatened.” ((Koole et al., 2010, p. 289). It is not a surprise that those people who have an agreeable nature are more cooperative in general, but it may be a bit surprising to find that these people also show greater restraint in service of the common good in matters of resource consumption.

The present pandemic has been a good field in which to study resource usage, resource management, and the personal choices that create or contribute to resource dilemmas. In the study The Impact of Personal Metering in the Management of a Natural Resource Crisis: A Social Dilemma Analysis executed by Van Vugt and Samuelson, it was reported that “The conflict between self-interest and collective interest is perhaps most salient when society is threatened by an immediate resource crisis because this situation stresses the need for widespread conservation but, at the same time, motivates people to consume as much of the resource while they still can.” (1999, p. 736). Current events connected to the pandemic, like quarantine orders and rationing at grocery stores and the halting of migrant workers in the produce fields have created a plethora of shortages, from toilet paper to tomatoes. As a result, society is facing shortages of key resources. Some of these shortages are because workers are not producing or did not produce or deliver items during the shutdowns, but a good many of the shortages were caused by panic buying by the masses. These individuals were largely trying to make sure they had enough resources for their own homes and families. However, still others bought up large amounts of things only to turn around and sell them to needy people at exorbitant prices causing false inflation of the market.

In the study by Van Vugt and Samuelson, they studied the effect that metering usage of endangered resources would have on their consumption and what that could mean for helping to control shortages and ensure better handling of such crises. Consistent with expectations of the study the results showed that conservation efforts were greater among metered individuals vs. unmetered participants when they perceived a shortage was severe. (1999, p.735). Revealing that even more than personality, the knowledge that we are being monitored affects an individual’s behavior and choices.

People can and do cooperate for the greater good, but not everyone does. People have the potential to work together and make sacrifices for the greater good, but how much an individual does is a matter of personal choice influenced by the situation, the person’s history, and their personality. It is sad to think that even in the case of a situation like we have seen in 2020, with a pandemic, employment shutdowns, and unsteady food supplies, people still need to be monitored. People need to know that someone is watching out for them in order to live up to their best intentions and take care of their fellow man. Let us learn to put down the toilet paper and pick up our humanity without big brother watching over our shoulder.


Decker, T. and Eberl, J. (2016). The Ultimate Star Trek and Philosophy: The Search for Socrates. John Wiley & Sons.

Koole, S. L., Jager, W., van den Berg, A. E., Vlek, C. A., & Hofstee, W. K. (2001). On the social nature of personality: Effects of extraversion, agreeableness, and feedback about collective resource use on cooperation in a resource dilemma. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(3), 289-301.

Kortenkamp, K. V., & Moore, C. F. (2006). Time, uncertainty, and individual differences in decisions to cooperate in resource dilemmas. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(5), 603-615.

Van Vugt, M., & Samuelson, C. D. (1999). The impact of personal metering in the management of a natural resource crisis: A social dilemma analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25(6), 735-750.

Jul 20

How can we trust each other during this pandemic when most of the news is fake

Over the last few months, we’ve seen so much fake news and media, all with the same purpose, to invoke fear, or invoke riots and chaos among our society. The toxic combination of fake news and low levels of trust among people has resulted in worrying scenes of people gathering on beaches in very large groups, ignoring social distancing precautions set by the government, and you could easily argue, why wouldn’t they? They no longer know what to believe, and you can’t blame them for it. I myself, am finding it very hard to believe that COVID-19 even exists anymore. This is due to the media and its incontinences and false numbers in reports.

However, research found by Edelman in March 2020, found that after health authorities, employers were most trusted to respond effectively to the pandemic. This is very encouraging, especially as employees being to return to their workplace, it’s never been important that people follow the safety measures and trust the advice that their employer is giving them is correct. The consequences of non-compliance could be detrimental to our health and also to the viability of the business we work for. Just one confirmed case of COVID-19 can lead to the whole staff having to self-isolate, which is far from ideal, and can no longer keep going on.

So, as internal communicators, how do we make sure that the message is understood and trusted against the backdrop of fake news and conspiracy theories? We must create a single source of truth. Many internal communication teams have been doing this since the stay at home order began, creating one place that employees know contains up to date and accurate information. We must identify which channels are the most trusted and make sure that as employees return to their workplace, that they have access to this and it is updated on a regular basis. It is also very important to make sure there is alignment. Managers and leaders need to be aware of the key messages and repeat them, being weary as to not contradict or confuse their staff. They also need to be conscious of sharing external sources that have not yet been fact checked, or responding to questions that they are not yet sure of the right answer.

However, a single source of truth will only work during a situation like the one we are currently in, if the employees trust the communications they receive and have access to. Creating a dedicated website, or choosing a spokesperson is a good idea, but if trust was already suffering inside your business, then that will not change in a day. Building and retaining trust should be the key part in the way we communicate always, not just in these times and times of crisis.

We must also have empathy, as employees are more likely to trust that businesses that are fully prepared for their employees return to work if the communication they receive is correct and verifiable. This means that showing empathy while communicating, and remembering that while we have all lived through this pandemic, our individual experiences from it are very different. Business owners and managers must also acknowledge that people may have different feelings about returning to work. Some people may have concerns about their own health and well-being, while others may not, and some people may be grieving from losing someone they love to the pandemic. Others might be excited and eager to return to work, having spent too much time at home in isolation on their own, and in challenging circumstances. Business owners and managers should share their own experiences and what they found challenging about it with their employees, that way they make themselves more relatable and develop a trustworthy and intimate relationship.

It is also very important to remember to share stories from your first experience back to work with others who are just returning,  this will help others begin to visualize what it will be like and trust that the right decisions are being made, and mandatory precautions are in place. Remember to share some of your challenges as well, and what you have learned from going through this process and how you’ve adapted. This will help to ensure that the stories are authentic, and you will be more likely to be trusted among your colleagues. As much as people need to hear from their leaders, they are also more likely to trust the people them know are doing similar roles to theirs, or working in the same environments. In the book “Inside the Nudge Unit” David Halpern talk about the EAST model, which a framework created to help people apply nudge theory. The social element of the model talks about how we are greatly influenced by those around us (Halpern, 2015).

For example, even if we know that wearing a mask is the safer thing to do, if no one else is wearing one, that we are less likely to do it. That is why sharing stories can be a very successful way in encouraging the right behaviors by demonstrating others following good practice. The next few weeks and months to come will be a very important and critical time for businesses as they being to get used to the new reality. Internal communicators have a large role to play in developing and maintaining trust, in order to ensure that employees are not only informed, but are also displaying the right behaviors.



Halpern, D. (2018, February 09). Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference – David Halpern (2015). Retrieved July 28, 2020, from https://www.behavioraleconomics.com/resources/books/inside-the-nudge-unit-how-small-changes-can-make-a-big-difference-david-halpern-2015/

Edelman. (2020). Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust and the Coronavirus [Pamphlet]. Edelman. Retrieved July 28, 2020, from https://www.edelman.com/sites/g/files/aatuss191/files/2020-03/2020%20Edelman%20Trust%20Barometer%20Brands%20and%20the%20Coronavirus.pdf

Jul 20

We Need More Interracial Contact

When we speak about race, you’ll find that most Americans agree that people of all races and ethnicities should be treated equally and with respect. However, personal experiences and news reports show us that race and ethnicity continues to be a problem and it affects how people are treated and how we all interact with each other on a daily basis. Most of us are aware that racial prejudice has a major impact on our lives and on our community. However, prejudice alone does not fully account for all racial dynamics, including occurrences where people of color may experience different treatment from white people. Therefore, we must realize the impact of racial anxiety (the discomfort people feel in anticipation of or during interracial interactions).

Most of us are concerned about how we may be perceived when we are communicating with others who come from different racial groups or ethnicities, and this can make us feel unsure about how to act. In the subject of race, this concern may be particularly severe, as people of color worry that they will fall victim to racial bias and white people worry that their words or actions will be misconstrued or assumed to be racist. This anxiety very often comes from lack of experience in interacting or being around other racial groups, this leads us to develop cultural stereotypes or distorted perceptions about what other groups are like.

Racial anxiety can be interpreted into behaviors that may seem to be bias, for example, the following are all examples of symptoms of racial anxiety:

  • maintaining less eye contact
  • keeping a physical distance
  • smiling less
  • using an aggressive or less friendly verbal tone, or even
  • avoiding all interactions with people from other races altogether

All these behaviors can have major repercussions for perpetuating racial injustices, for example, a white teacher to appear to be engaging less with students color due to awkward body language, or by actually engaging less with students of color. Also, white employers conducting shorter interviews with non-white applicants, or patients of a certain race being less trusting of doctors from a different race. In addition, avoidance and distancing behaviors can also be due to racial prejudice, and people of different race may interpret these behaviors to be coming from racial prejudice, instead of interpreting them as a result of anxiety about interacting with other racial groups.

However, fortunately, racial anxiety is something that can be changed. This would require us to reach beyond our segregated friendship circles or communities, and develop meaningful relationships with people of other races, this has been proven by psychological research (Tropp, 2011). The more we do, the more we can:

  • develop positive attitudes/empathy with people of other races
  • gain confidence about navigating cross race interactions in the future, and
  • alleviate our anxieties about cross race interactions

Positive experiences with people from other races can also help to lower the impact of negative cross racial encounters and help to make people more resilient when they engage in stressful interactions in the future. Most importantly, the advantage of cross race contact may not occur right away, one brief meeting between strangers or acquaintances can induce anxiety, especially for those with a brief history of interracial experiences. People usually become more comfortable with one another through repeated interactions across racial lines that grow closer over time. Even among people that show high levels of racial bias, physiological signs of stress can decrease through repeated interracial interactions, which can in turn cause future interracial experiences to be more positive in nature.

The circumstances in which people from different races come into contact matter. Reduced prejudice and racial anxiety happens most often when people from different races work together as equals towards a common goal, institutional support that endorses this kind of equal status also helps a great deal. Some examples of how these conditions can facilitate familiarity, positive changes and mutual respect in interracial attitudes are integrated sports teams and cooperative learning strategies. However, such favorable conditions can’t always be guaranteed across different situations. We may use these additional strategies to help create a common sense of identity and increase the potential for members from different groups to become friends, we can do this by establishing norms that promote interaction and empathy between groups and encourage respect for group differences.

However, given the fact that most of our communities and social circles remain segregated, it can be difficult to achieve interracial contact. Racial anxiety is usually a byproduct of racially similar environments, which render cross race interaction less likely and increase the changes that it will be less positive if it does occur. In such cases like these, indirect forms of contact, such as observing positive interracial interactions, or knowing that members of your racial group have friends and/or acquaintances in other racial groups, can help to reduce anxiety, promote more positive expectation for future interracial interactions, and create positive shifts in attitude.

The most important thing is to continue to reduce the impact of racial bias and prejudice, and address the structural and institutional conditions that perpetuate our country’s history of racial discrimination. While engaging in these efforts, we must also realize that addressing our racial anxiety is critical if we hope to achieve long-term goals in removing racialized barriers to belonging, opportunity, and inclusion.

We can use intergroup contact techniques to reduce racial anxiety and promote positive interracial relationships as an important complement to other anti-discrimination efforts. We can all benefit from moving past the confines of our group boundaries and into a broader more open circle of friendships, relationships, and colleagues.


Pettigrew, Thomas & Tropp, L.R.. (2012). When groups meet: The dynamics of intergroup contact. When Groups Meet: The Dynamics of Intergroup Contact. Retrieved July 27, 2020, from 1-310. 10.4324/9780203826461.

Tropp, L. R., & Mallett, R. K. (Eds.). (2011). Moving beyond prejudice reduction: Pathways to positive intergroup relations. American Psychological Association. Retrieved July 27, 2020, from https://doi.org/10.1037/12319-000




Jul 20

The Link Between Childhood Trauma and Adult Aggression

Children who experience abuse, family dysfunction, and/or neglect, have a higher risk of developing health problems such as drug addiction, depression, obesity, and heart disease in adulthood. This notion is widely accepted, and has been proven in a series of studies that are funded by the Kaiser Permanente and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Kaiser and CDC project have collected a large database of the life histories and health of middle class residents that live in San Diego, California.

A San Diego psychologist has established that project’s Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) survey to link these negative childhood experiences with adult aggression and criminal activity, including violence, stalking, sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic violence. In fact, the study found that the correlation is additive. The more types of difficulties a person undergoes in childhood, the higher the likelihood of engaging in criminal aggression as an adult.

The men in the study who were referred to outpatient treatment following their convictions for sexual offending, domestic violence, nonsexual child abuse, or stalking, reported about four times as many distressful childhood events compared to men in the general population. The men that were convicted of child abuse and sex offenses were more likely to report being sexually abused as children.

The link between the early damage and the later aggression explains why treatment programs that focus mainly on criminal acts are not as effective as they can be (Reavis, 2013). “To reduce criminal behavior one must go back to the past in treatment, as Freud admonished us nearly 100 years ago,” wrote Reavis in a Spring 2013 issue of The Permanente Journal. “Fortunately, evidence exists in support of both attachment based interventions designed to normalize brain functioning and in the efficacy of psychoanalytic treatment (Reavis, 2013).

So why is there a link between aggression and abuse? The combined experiences of neglect and abuse disrupt the child’s ability to regulate his emotions and to form secure attachments to others (Reavis, 2013). Therefore, men that were abused as children tend to either avoid intimacy completely, or are at risk to become violent in their intimate relationships, this is due to a “bleeding out” of their suppressed inner rage (Reavis, 2013). Not only should treatment for offenders focus on healing their neurobiological wounds, but the research also points to the need for more early childhood interventions in order to stop child abuse before its victims grow up to victimize others.


Reavis, J. A., PsyD, Looman, J., PhD, Franco, K. A., & Rojas, B. (2013, March). Adverse childhood experiences and adult criminality: How long must we live before we possess our own lives? Retrieved July 27, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662280/

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