Author Archives: Darcy Pacheco

Do Dating Apps/Sites Actually Work?

Recently one of my friends coaxed me into downloaded the popular dating app Tinder. At first I was very skeptical because I had no idea what to expect. If I am being completely honest I thought of it as a joke for the longest time, but then I started to think differently after a few weeks of having the app. Not everyone on there was creepy or strange like how I originally predicted; it’s just an app used to meet people whether it’s to form new friendships or look for a potential relationship. However, I must have matched with over fifty people by now and have only talked to a handful of them. This leads to my underlying question: Do dating apps such as Tinder actually work or is it something to not worth bothering with?

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Study One

The first study I am going to address has to do with Tinder. The way Tinder works is that one can either swipe right if the person is potentially interested or swipe left if the person is not feeling it. According to a study presented at the American Psychological Association, a lot of left swipes on one’s profile can result in a more negative perception of oneself in terms of esteem and body image. This study was conducted by using a survey for 1,300 people. The focus was on mainly on college students. They were asked to rate how they thought about themselves through utilizing self-reporting and questionnaires. In a surprising twist, men were found to have a lower self-esteem in comparison to the women that participated in the study. This was found to be surprising because women are stereotypically viewed as having a lower self-esteem than men do. The researchers who conducted this study believe this can be a result of having more men than women on Tinder.

The meta-analysis study was a good way to collect information from all of the participants. However, I believe that there should be an alternative to self-reporting because people are not always honest with their answers especially when not given a template of some form or another to follow thus making it easier to stray off course from the study. Since this was a published study it did not suffer from the file drawer problem.

If people were to view themselves more negatively then that has a direct correlation to the effectiveness of the dating app and people’s perception of perspective matches while using Tinder.

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Study Two

 According to a study, more than one-third of marriages in the United States are started from online. This study was conducted by using a survey and had a total of 19,131 responses. The people who participated in this study married between the years of 2005 and 2012. Another important thing to note about the study was that researchers found that marriages that began through a dating site were slightly more successful in comparison to the traditional form of dating.

Since there was such a large amount of responses, a survey was the most effective method for the study. My initial hypothesis for this study was that it would be 50/50; some people would have success in marriages through online dating sites and apps while the other half would not. The null hypothesis in this study was that success in marriage through dating apps and sites could go either way while the alternative hypothesis in this study was it would either be a complete success or a total failure.

 

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Take Home Message

Ultimately, dating apps and sites aren’t for everyone because we each have different tastes and preferences. The reason why I used two different studies is because I wanted to get two different takes on the question. One study had to do with dating and using an app while the other had to do with marriage and using an online site. This way, there is a better perspective. While both studies were effective, I found the second study to be more effective than the first even though there were more participants because the second study did not include self-reporting. Overall, I think that dating apps and sites can work, but it is just a matter of what type of person you are.

Why is Netflix an Addiction?

Over the course of the past five years I have seen a collective total of twenty-five different television shows. This is why I would consider watching Netflix to be one of my guilty pleasures during my spare time. One episode after another passes and before you know it you’ve already seen five episodes of your favorite television show in just one sitting. How could that even happen one may ask. That is because Netflix is an addiction. With a multitude of options to choose from just at the convenience of your fingertips it’s hard not to get sucked into the world of Netflix. My underlying question here is why has Netflix become such an addiction to so many people aside from myself?

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Study One

The company Harris Interactive conducted a study on behalf of Netflix that consisted of approximately 1,500 participants. They used a survey in order to conduct the study and took into account age, sex, race/ethnic background, education, region, and income to complete a thorough analysis. In this study, the company wanted to see how many people binge watched Netflix on a regular basis. Out of the 1,500 participants, 61 percent of people binge watched regularly. In addition, 73 percent of people binge watched between 2-6 episodes of the same show and the same percentage of people were also noted to have positive feelings about binge watching Netflix.

In order to provide additional information about the study, the following statistical information will be listed:

  • 76 percent of people found that watching several episodes of a television show of choice helped them to relax.
  • 79 percent of participants find that watching several episodes of their show of choice make it a more enjoyable experience for them.
  • 76 percent of streamers said that watching Netflix on their own time is their preference.

This cross-sectional study did not suffer from the file-drawer problem since it was published and was also able to reflect the theory that Netflix is an addiction. In addition, the study did have a causality because there was a relationship between the participant and the Netflix television show the viewers chose to watch. I think using a survey method was the best thing to do for a study like this. However, some people may be embarrassed by how much they watch Netflix and chose not to answer the questions on the survey truthfully which would alter the results and potentially the conclusion. In order to avoid this for future studies, a case control study could be a good alternative.

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Study Two

Light has been found to be a large factor of an individual’s regulation of sleep. Something as simple as having a light on can alter a wake cycle which is why when it’s late at night and the light from your laptop is on from watching Netflix it can keep you awake. According to recent studies that have been conducted, bright lights such can increase the amount of serotonin in individual’s brains. For those who do not know what serotonin is, according to Medical News Today it is a neurotransmitter that contributes to the feeling of happiness and is what keeps one in a good mood. This means that not only can an individual watch more television due to the bright light omitting from the screen, once can do so happily.

This was an observational study because the researchers observed the findings in participants’ brains. Since it was observational, there was no bias present. Another alternative to this study would have been implementing a randomized controlled trial. That way, they would be able to implement various methods and techniques into the study to make it more effective.

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Take Home Message

I used two different studies because I thought it would be a good way to gather more information on the topic. Both of the studies focused on different reasons as to why Netflix is an addiction. Ultimately, I think that another part as to why it is can be due to compulsiveness as well as boredom. In addition, Netflix is also just an enjoyable pastime. I think the first study was stronger because it provided more statistical information to back up the claims of the study whereas the second study was discussing about a concept. Overall, I think that both of the studies presented accurate information and reasons as to why Netflix is an addiction.

Do People Have an Unconscious Racial Bias?

Racial discrimination has been around for as long as history can remember. Typically, whites are viewed to have superiority over other races which stems from the concept of supremacism. Even though we live in a time where we have the first black President of the United States and same sex marriage is legal, racial bias is a concept that has yet to go away. This can be demonstrated in movements such as black lives matter where police brutality is becoming a trending occurrence throughout the country. This leads me to the following question: Is racial bias unconscious?

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In three experimental studies conducted by the Journal Attitudes and Social Cognition, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, participants were shown images of men holding guns. The goal of this task was to avoid shooting images of men without a gun and instead to shoot men who were holding the guns. As a result, participants always shot an armed black man faster than they shot an armed white man. During this experiment, the bias was considered as equal for both of the races that participated.

Although these combined experiments produced conclusive results, I would have implemented several changes in order to make this experiment. In terms of these combined experiments, I would have made several changes in order to make this a more effective study. To begin with, I would have opted to make this a cohort study. That way, participants can be followed over time to see if having an unconscious racial bias is something that can change over time. Another aspect of the combined studies that I would alter is to make the study have a more in depth analysis by providing a survey that allows participants to answer personal questions about themselves and their background.

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This image portrays unconscious racial bias in regards to stops and arrests in the area of Ferguson, Missouri.

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Study Two

The purpose of this study was to test if there was an unconscious racial bias among physicians in healthcare. To be more specific, this study entailed the questioning of any form of implicit bias present in physicians. The ultimate goal of this study was to see how the physicians would predict the diagnosis for thrombolysis among white and black patients. There were a total of 287 people who completed the study and met the necessary criteria. From there, they were randomly assigned to either a white or black patient. Physicians were then tested based off of completing a questionnaire. While they reported not having any racial bias, the test results revealed differently. The test results displayed that whites were favored to be treated in comparison to blacks.

This randomized controlled trial backs up the theory that people have strong negative connotations towards the association of people of color. In terms of how effective the study was I would say it was very effective. The study had a clear and defined purpose and goal. In addition, the study included empirical research as well as displayed the causality between the two factors.

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This image portrays unconscious racial bias in the workplace in regards to resumes.

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Take Home Message

I believe that racial bias can be unconscious. I do not believe this is always the case, but I do think society has engrained supremacist ideology into the minds of many without people realizing it. There is also a factor of implicit bias; according to the National Center for State Courts, implicit bias can be defined as a form of behavior that comes from subtle cognitive processes. This would make sense considering society has a tendency of dictating social norms.

Does Music Reflect Who We Are?

As an avid music listener, I am constantly exploring new bands and artists to listen to. Sometimes, I will even find myself forming attachments to the music that I enjoy a lot. I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. I have heard many people say that a band has changed their life or that a band has gotten them through tough times. Many people also believe that music is a good creative outlet for self-expression. What is it though that allows us to become so attached? The null hypothesis in this case would be that music does reflect who we are as individuals and my alternate hypothesis would be that music is not a reflection of ourselves. This is the question I have always wanted to know the answer to and hopefully by doing research on this topic I will have an opportunity to find the answer.

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First Study

Multiple studies at the University of Cambridge have been conducted to test the following theory: are you what you listen to? Researchers led by Dr. Jason Rentfrow have employed an experimental study that entails researching the link between musical taste and personality.

First, they formed sample groups. Rentfrow then asked them to consider six genres of music: rock, pop, electronic, rap, classical, and jazz. This was the only information that was provided to the subjects because researchers were interested in the assumptions people would make. Next, the subjects were asked to assign each fan a rating depending on different personality types: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. All of these qualities would be considered as soft endpoints because they are all based off of emotions and characteristics and are not factual. Afterwards, subjects rated fans on qualities such as intelligence, physical attractiveness, and athleticism. In order to be more comprehensive, subjects were also assessed on a total of eighteen different values that fans might find important. To add to the list, they were also assessed on social class and ethnicity in order to provide more personal background information.

These results reinforce the idea that music is a very powerful form of self-expression.Music is also a way to reinforce stereotypes because we are often quick to make assumptions based off of tastes. For example, in the study jazz fans were viewed as friendly people and emotionally stable, but also were not good with responsibility. This demonstrates that people have a tendency of making statements of self-expression through self-image and personality types.

There are a few factors of this study that could have been conducted differently. For example, the researchers didn’t utilize a single-blind study which decreases the chance for efficiency since a single-blind study is a study where the researchers, but not the subjects know of the treatment that is being implemented into the study. Since there were so many topics the subjects were being assessed on I believe that they should have been broken down to either separate tests or separate portions.

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Study Two

Six years ago Dr. Adrian North conducted a cross-sectional study to find the answer to the following question: Is there a connection between music style and an individual’s personality? North started this study by surveying 36,518 people. These people were from over 60 different countries and had a total of 104 different music styles in addition to a description of their personalities. As a result, North found that people who preferred music such as opera, jazz, and classical usually had a higher income in comparison to other people that preferred to listen to different music. A third confounding variable that could potentially affect this study is that there are too many people from one place or region, therefore it would not be an equal distribution of representation. With this study I would say there would be a possibility of reverse causation at play because an individual’s personality can very well affect someone’s music style and vice versa.

The downside of this observational study was that some participants did not give honest responses. This is because these people wanted to present a certain image of themselves and knew that their music taste could portray their values and personality types.

In my opinion the idea of this experiment was good, but the overall implementation could have been improved. I think having a meta-analysis study is smart because it allows you to have varied information.Scientists conduct meta-analyses because it’s an effective way of gathering more information by combining data from individual studies. In a way, this is like the prayer study because even though the experiment was conducted well it turned out to be incorrect due to other scientists continuing to do the same study as well as participating in peer review.

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This image depicts different personality types with different genres of music.

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Take Home Message

Although the second study was observational, the overall results displayed that music can be a very powerful form of self-expression that correlates music with a reflection of who we are as people. There was a need for a meta-analysis because the information from meta-analyses are very insightful and comprehensive. Overall even though both of the studies slightly differed, the point that was emphasized in both is important to the main idea.

Is Coffee An Addiction?

Many people often rely on the consumption of coffee in order to get them throughout the day. By drinking coffee, people believe it helps them to have a boost of energy. As a college student, I often see many people holding coffee cups around campus, Keurig machines in countless dorms, and people that wait in a Starbucks line for nearly twenty minutes before they can even tell the barista their order. Then I got to thinking, why do so many people rely on coffee? Maybe it’s a stress reliever and can actually be beneficial. My null hypothesis would be that coffee is an addiction whereas my alternate hypothesis would be that coffee is not an addiction.  My next underlying question is, if people always drink coffee then can it become an addiction?

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What are the ingredients of coffee?

According to Patrick Di Justo, coffee contains ten different ingredients: caffeine, water, 2-Ethylphenol, quinic acid, 3.5 dicaffeoylquinic acid, dimethyl disulfide, acetylmethylcarbinol, putrescine, trigonelline, and niacin. Out of all of these ingredients, it’s the chemical of caffeine that has the strongest effect on individuals. Di Justo states that caffeine stimulates our bodies by blocking neuro-receptors. When neuro-receptors are blocked for the sleep chemical adenosine, it results in people waking up. This is one of the main reasons as to why people choose to drink coffee; coffee helps to wake people up. However, according to a statistic Joseph Stromberg of the Smithsonian provided from the Federal Drug Administration, more than eighty percent of American adults consume caffeine on a regular basis. In addition, Stromberg states that daily consumption of caffeine can alter an individual’s brain chemical composition. As a result, headaches, fatigue, and nausea are symptoms that can ensue if one attempts to quit caffeine. These results are a good way to measure whether or not something may be addicting; if someone has withdrawals then there is a good chance that is has become an addiction. Although all coffee contains caffeine, some coffee brands have higher doses of caffeine than others. For example, a Starbucks cup of coffee has more than double the amount of caffeine that a McDonald’s cup of coffee will have. This reflects on the concern that people have in regards to coffee consumption. With each larger dose of caffeine, the more addicting coffee can potentially become.

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This image demonstrates different types of coffee from different brands and how much caffeine is in each brand.

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Experiment & Analysis

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University was done on the effects of coffee consumption. Afterwards, the study provided evidence that displayed a cup of coffee a day can lead to a caffeine addiction. This was a meta-analysis study because researchers analyzed a total of 57 experimental studies and nine surveys. The results demonstrated that people who did not have their normal caffeine dosage for the day experienced withdrawal symptoms of caffeine. All of these studies supported the null hypothesis. The symptoms people experienced ranged from fatigue to nausea and muscle pain. In order to combat these symptoms, researchers from this study recommended that people drink less coffee or opt to drink decaf coffee as an alternative.

Since the study design employed using a meta-analysis method, it was very effective. This is because in a meta-analysis study combines a wide range of information from many different research studies. That way, the results that were found did not come from just one source, but from many other sources that all confirmed identical findings. On most of the pop quizzes Andrew has presented to us in class, the concept of reverse causation often comes up. He explains reverse causation as when Y is affecting the X variable. Reverse causality does not apply in this study because you cannot get addicted to something you have never tried before so Y should not affect X. In this case based off of the consumption of coffee, those who did not have caffeine experiences withdrawals or those that experienced withdrawals felt the constant need for caffeine.

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This image demonstrates how much coffee people consume globally.

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Take Home Message:

I am an advocate for coffee and caffeine consumption. Personally, coffee has been able to get me through very long days and has helped me to have an extra boost of energy when I need it the most. However, I strongly believe that when people drink coffee they should consume a healthy and normal amount instead of consuming it multiple times a day. In my opinion, a healthy and normal amount of coffee would be a cup a day or two max if you needed an extra boost of energy later in the day. Anything more than that would be too much. I also think that if someone were to drink a small cup a day you could still get addicted. It’s like how all of the little things add up to become a really big issue. Being addicted to coffee isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just isn’t a healthy lifestyle to live. If I were to take this a step further, I would conduct a questionnaire for people of all ages with in-depth questions to find out more information about their personal habits and ties to caffeine.

Midnight Munch

More often than not I find myself experiencing a craving for food as soon as the clock strikes midnight. There is something in my system that automatically makes me feel hungry around this time and begin to go on the hunt for food. What is it exactly that leads me do this though? Most especially, what leads me to have very specific cravings? For example, I was awake earlier this week around 1am and suddenly started to crave caramel flavored ice cream. There are hundreds of different kinds of foods that I could have desired and somehow I had become transfixed on caramel ice cream. Although I do experience midnight cravings, it is on the lower end of the scale. For people that have severe late night cravings, they could have what is known as a Night Eating Disorder (NES). According to a modern lifestyle article, one can be diagnosed with NES when one wakes up in the middle of the night for the sole purpose of eating, eats 25%+ of their everyday food intake after dinner, and has trouble sleeping at night which could potentially be relieved by late night eating. This can be explained by the way our body’s internal clock operates. In accordance to a study published by the journal Obesity, people’s appetite for sweet, salty, and starchy foods drastically increased after 8 pm and people were found to be hungriest during the nighttime. Another study conducted by BYU confirms this. According to BYU, food that contains a lot of calories can create spikes in brain activity. Therefore, people are found wanting to consume unhealthier foods late at night. This can be detrimental to an individual’s health because according to research conducted by Steven Shea, Ph.D, the body’s internal circadian system results in hunger which leads to increase an increase of obesity. Obesity has become a serious issue in America. In accordance to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2 out of 3 Americans are considered to be either overweight or obese. At this rate, midnight eating would only help to make that statistic more valid. It also leaves millions of Americans at risk for obesity. So next time you want a midnight munch, think about the harmful consequences it could have in the long run.

midnight-snack

(Photo: http://www.safebee.com/food/do-midnight-snacks-pile-pounds)

Millennials+Generation Z= Social Media Addiction?

As a part of the millennial generation, I’ve been immersed in a world that has been dominated by wireless communication. For the past eighteen years, I’ve grown accustomed to being surrounded by social media and thus know nothing different. Social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are most likely to be found on anyone’s phone that’s under the age of twenty-five. This especially holds true on our campus. It is impossible to walk around without seeing someone glued to their phone within a few feet radius. I have to admit I am also one of those people too. I can easily spend at least two hours a day on social media and at times for even a longer duration. What exactly draws us to social media though? As our world technologically progresses, so does our desire to keep up. We are also surrounded by an atmosphere where social pressure is rampant. If someone didn’t have any form of social media, my immediate reaction would be that they need to get with the times. It is this exact way of thinking that society has influenced us with. I think that social media can be useful, informative, and fun a lot of the time. I use social media to send funny photos, keep tabs on my friends, stay connected with the news, and spew out my thoughts to the world. By utilizing social media, I have also found it as a great way to avoid potentially awkward situations by perusing through Facebook or another application. What a lot of people have a tendency of overlooking though is that it can also come with severe drawbacks. Social media has become a major addiction for a lot of people. So much so that this addiction can be comparable with the likes of being hooked on crack cocaine. We often forget that our need for connection has made us overly dependent on social media. If social media has this effect, then it has the power to control us. It is truly remarkable in the sense that it can consume our youth. This is because it’s easy to become lost in the allure social media creates. Sometimes, we can even go as far to experience withdrawal symptoms when we’re deprived of social media. According to a study conducted by Cornell University, those who had a perceived addiction to Facebook after going cold turkey were more likely to revert back to their old habits. Social media had become so engrained in these people’s lives to the extent that they would automatically search for social media without even thinking about it. In addition, according to a 2010 study conducted by the Kaiser Foundation young U.S. citizens spend more than 7 ½ hours per day using media. If the youth of today spend this much time using media, then we should reevaluate our focuses and become a more active part of society. As hard as it is to resist social media, the reason behind it may be more simple than we think. In accordance to a study done by UCLA, people desire having mental breaks throughout the day and look towards social interaction in order to do so. Next time you are looking for a nice mental break, lay off the phone and check out something else instead.

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(Photos: http://socialmediaisaddictive14.weebly.com/why-is-social-media-addictive.html)

Does the Freshmen 15 Exist at Penn State?

It has been almost a month since we parted ways with the life we knew and came to Penn State to begin our first year of college. One of the things that made me nervous about college to begin with was the concept of the freshmen 15. I have heard about it from my friends, family, social media, online articles, and even a food account on Instagram named the Freshmen15. For those who do not know what the freshmen 15 is, it is a commonly used expression amongst college students that refers to gaining fifteen pounds throughout the course of freshmen year. There are even schools that I know of that have their own sayings. For example, at the University of Missouri-Columbia they dub it as the Mizzou 22. If that doesn’t sound frightening, I don’t know what does. Then again, according to U.S. News Colleges, our campus is exactly 8,566 acres large.  I can personally attest to the fact that it takes about twenty-five to thirty minutes walking to go from East Residence Halls to the other side of campus. In addition, the health application on my iPhone 6s has recorded that I have walked double the amount of steps in comparison to my daily routine back at home. With all of the walking to do on campus, is the freshman 15 even possible at Penn State? Let’s consider this: we are now in control of what we put into our systems. We choose what foods to eat, how often we eat, and also whether or not to consume alcohol which adds to the weight gain. All of these factors help to determine what each individual’s outcome will be and correlate with one another. According to a recent study  conducted by The Ohio State University, it has been proven that even though students do gain weight, it is of a less significant amount of anywhere between three to five additional pounds. This same study also found that a quarter of the students that participated in the study actually lost weight during their first year. In my opinion, I would only expect this to be largely true for students that attend a college/university with a large campus. The larger the campus, the more exercise is incorporated into your daily routine. According to Jane Jakubczak, a registered dietician at the University of Maryland in College Park, gaining weight is a part of developing into a full grown adult. This means that over the course of our four years of college, we are bound to gain some weight throughout that time period. This leads me to the conclusion that the freshmen 15 is ultimately what you make of it.  On that note, the lifestyle you choose to lead will decide whether or not the freshmen 15 exists for you at Penn State.

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 (http://shine365.marshfieldclinic.org/wellness/freshman-15/)

Journalism>Science

Hello everyone!

My name is Darcy Pacheco and I am from Dallas, Texas. This year I am an incoming freshman as well as a journalism major in the College of Communications. Ever since my freshman year of high school I discovered my passion for writing and have stuck with it ever since. Science has never particularly been my forte which is why I am not planning on having a science major. Even though science majors tend to make a larger income than journalists, I want to pursue something I thoroughly enjoy and am engaged in. I find journalism so interesting because it is not only a means for me to express my creativity, but an opportunity for my voice to be heard and pursue the truth. Click here to read more about why journalism is very important to our society. In the long run, I would absolutely loathe having a career that would not make me happy. SC200 appealed to me because I liked the analysis and writing component of the class.This class combines my love of writing with my love of learning which makes it the perfect class for me in my opinion. I also find science to be interesting in the sense that it tends to be very thought provoking at times. This is why science is the root of important problems in our world today such as climate change, etc.

 

Journalism