Author Archives: Hannah Katherine Morrissey

Searching For the Perfect Scent

A seemingly timeless tradition in my family has always been looking for the perfect perfume. You want something unique, yet tasteful. Delicate, yet significant. My mom throughout all my life always wore delightful smelling floral perfumes, whilst I always leaned towards more soft, vanilla scents. I can remember in middle school constantly going to Bath & Body Works with my friends and smelling every single scent they had on the shelves. By the time we left the store we reeked, but we left with a scent that we thought was absolutely perfect. The concept of perfume has always been trivial to me. I mean I am a frequent user myself, but one question has always been on my mind about perfume; what effect does the perfume you wear have on the people around you?

Source :

In a study done by International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., they developed a technique to test subjects on the different moods that they encounter when smelling several differing pleasing fragrances. They call the technique “mood mapping”. Through the experimental study, randomized groups of people are exposed to different smells. They then are given a chart where they map where exactly this scent ranks on its pleasantness. The moods included on the map range from lustiness to comfortability.

The null hypothesis in this particular experiment would be that scent has no effect on a person’s mood.

After the test was performed, it was found that all of the scents tested by the company provoked some sort of variation of a pleasant mood in the subjects. The company went on to utilize this information to test whether the scents that were considered the most relaxing could be used in stress relief. After collecting further data on which fragrances were considered the most calm, they developed a scent (Myorelax®) that they found to be the most useful in stress alleviation. This scent is supposedly helpful in muscle relaxant when in a stressful environment. The research done by the company embarking to try and help the stress epidemic in our society is of major importance. Stress can be seen as the route of many differing disorders in the modern day world, one including depression which affects over three hundred million people globally.

Source :

The study’s conclusion made it almost impossible to accept the null hypothesis since all participants in the study ranked the scents on some level of pleasantness through the “mood mapping”. The study ultimately accepted the original alternative hypothesis that scents indeed do have an impact on one’s mood.
The work done by International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. proved the impact that one’s scent can have on the people around them. The research done by the company reaffirms the idea that our senses are crucial to our interpretations of our environments and surroundings. This could be useful not only in the medical field but also in the commercial world where businesses could possibly target our senses in the future. So next time you a pick fragrance, make sure to concentrate on your reaction to it, because it could actually impact those around you!

Can Body Piercings Inflict Major Problems on Your Health?

Recently I went with my friend Lizzie to get her belly button pierced at a local tattoo and piercing shop. As we were anticipating Lizzie’s turn to get her navel piercing, a girl before us was in the midst of getting her septum pierced. As we waited patiently, we suddenly heard some concerning comments from behind the curtain. What to appeared to have happened was that the girl actually passed out from the piercing. As we listened intently we could hear the girl talking inaudibly as the woman who gave her the piercing asked questions regarding her diet and if she had any water that day. I remembered when Lizzie and I were at the desk a few moments before, the receptionist said that the woman was a trained professional and had been piercing for eight years, so I thought it was unlikely to be her fault. But I couldn’t help but wonder, what exactly are the risks that revolve piercing? Even in the safest of cases, can they leave permanent damage?

Source :

Piercing has largely been a concern in the medical community for its notorious risk factors of infection. Infections that involve piercing are extremely frequent, over fifteen percent of all piercings that are performed get infected at some point. These infections seem harmless at first, but they can actually cause permanent scarring and even the loss of skin if not treated correctly. The other danger that piercing presents is much more serious. Some piercings if done incorrectly or not kept clean can lead to the development of Hepatitis C. This disease can cause minor to uncompromising difficulties within a person’s liver. It can lead to lifelong illness and even cancer.

Although these facts are daunting, many dermatologists still say that it is okay to get piercings as long as you are going to a credible practitioner. But there still are challenges in finding a well trained person to trust with piercing your body. In an observational study performed at the Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health, data was collected from over 30 piercing shops that had piercers ranging vastly in experience. The study was performed in order to test the safety of varying piercing shops by the cleanliness of their tools. The samples taken from these tools would then project the likelihood of certain people getting Hepatitis C from these piercing shops, the tools were then all tested for Hepatitis C RNA.

Source :

The null hypothesis in this study would be that Hepatitis C is not transmitted via the tools used at the randomly chosen piercing establishments, and that people infected with this disease perhaps developed it in a different manner.

The study showed that out of all of the establishments tested, 12 of them had tools which carried the Hepatitis C RNA. Many of the piercers did not even know that the disease could be transmitted through piercing in the first place. The conclusive data drawn from this study reaffirmed the idea that Hepatitis C could be transmitted through body piercing.

So, before you decide to be spontaneous and get that nose piercing that mom never let you get in high school, just make sure you know the risks involved and that you are picking a place that you know is sanitary and will not give you long term negative effects.

Acne – That Friend that Shows Up to All the Parties Uninvited

Up until the time I was about 17 I never had a single blemish on my face. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I ever had to deal with the presence of annoying pimples. They weren’t severe, just a couple of little red bumps here and there, but still extremely aggravating. My mom blamed it simply on the stress of senior year and applying to colleges. I also thought it could’ve been due to the fact that at the time I was dancing six days a week for two and a half hours each day, I figured that sweat must’ve also been a cause. However I could remember how some of my friends throughout high school persistently struggled with acne. Even when we were young freshman with minimal work and little responsibility, some of my friends went on medications to try and fix their dermatological problems. This question has always challenged me, what else could possibly be a cause of acne? It is well known that acne is derived from uncleanliness, stress, grease, diet, etc. but could their possibly be causes to acne that are completely out of our control?

Source :

In an observational study done by scientists at the Colorado State University, they studied the skin quality of Western contemporary civilizations compared to those of less developed regions in Paraguay and Papa New Guinea. The study was directed specifically on the presence of the dermatological disorder acne vulgaris that over 75% of the teenage/young adult population in modern and developed Western areas suffer from everyday. The study was concentrated on teenagers/young adults specifically since they are the largest population in Westernized area to suffer from this dermatological disease.


The null hypothesis in this study would be that there is no difference between the acne that people in Western civilizations suffer from and the acne that people in rural / under developed regions of Paraguay and Papa New Guinea suffer from.


The observational study found that one hundred percent of all of the subjects in the study from the under developed regions of Papa New Guinea and Paraguay did not suffer from acne vulgaris. These results undeniably proved that the skin quality of people in the less developed areas of Papa New Guinea and Paraguay was much better than that of the people living in modern, westernized societies. This then led researchers to believe that acne vulgaris is a dominantly westernized disease.

Source :

The conclusions derived from this study report that a difference in the types of habitats and surroundings that the two groups live in cause the significant differences in skin quality. This discovery could lead to further improvements in the treatment of this disease as the study into acne prevention and elimination progresses.


So it turns out that maybe your acne is not because you can’t resist an extra side of fries, maybe you are just a product of your surroundings and environment. Nevertheless, if you want to prevent acne, trying to maintain a healthy internal state and remembering to stay hydrated couldn’t hurt.

Other sources used :

I’ll Do it Tomorrow – The Reasons Why We Procrastinate

Procrastination is undeniably one of the biggest burdens we as college students bear. I remember the simpler days in high school, where assignments were broken up into fragments and when you were given work it was due the next day. This method of completion worked extremely well for me. Usually, my anxiety about school work will override my desire to procrastinate, yet somehow I have been found to fall into the trap of procrastination from time to time. Even some of my friends who I consider to be rigorous students have found themselves cramming for deadlines. I have always wondered, what exactly causes us to procrastinate? Is it simply laziness or is it something more? And how large of an impact does procrastination have on our academic lives?

The research done on procrastination seems to suffer from the infamous file drawer problem. Much of the studies done on the issue of procrastination are solely self-reported studies. There seems to be a lack of observational or experimental studies in the area concerning procrastination.

Source :,720,450

After doing some research however, I found a study done on procrastination from the University of Minnesota. The study focused on the four different categories of procrastination. The four different types consisted of : disorganized procrastinators, arousal procrastinators, fear of failure procrastinators, and avoidance procrastinators. The test group studied was chosen by a series of rigorous tests and surveys performed on a group of students that varied in race, gender, and even in age. The experimental group was comprised of one of each of these types of procrastinators.

The disorganized procrastinator was generalized to be a student that did work ignorant of the advice of teachers. They normally completes tasks carelessly and had strong emotional reactions when they faced adversity in the classroom. The arousal procrastinator was seen to be a student that felt that their best work was done when given a condensed amount of time. The pressure of looming and urgent deadlines pushed these students to complete their work. The fear of failure procrastinators avoided their work because of their immense anxiety in the classroom. These students felt that the pressure to succeed was too great to complete their work. They often procrastinate and pass in poor work because it gives them a concrete explanation as to why it is bad, they did not begin the work on time. Finally the avoidance procrastinators left work until the last minute simply because they valued other spheres of their life more. Whether it was their friends, family, job, etc. these students felt that other factors took precedence over their schoolwork.

The study was performed wanted to test how these different types of procrastinators behaved in a rigorous academic environment. The null hypothesis of this study would be that nothing in particular causes procrastination, it is simply a random occurrence.  Through differing observational computer tests that recorded the student’s progress over a period of ten weeks, the results found proved that procrastination for the most part had an overwhelmingly negative effect on each of the student’s academics except for the arousal procrastinator. The fear of failure, avoidance, and disorganized procrastinators however all suffered from low scoring grades. The most interesting result of this study however would probably be that the test subjects all ranged in race, background, and even age. This presented the idea that we are all susceptible to procrastination no matter what our background is.

Source :

From the study, it is clear that procrastination should be avoided at all costs for students. It reduces anxiety and for the most part will help improve your grades. However, if you do decide to procrastinate, make sure to take the arousal route; get your work done, and get it done right, and within the looming deadline.

“I’m so stressed that I’m tearing my hair out”

A common colloquial phrase known to college students drowning in studies and stressed out adults suffocated by work alike is “I’m so stressed that I’m tearing my hair out” or other related phrases. Why do we associate seemingly unbearable stress with pulling our own hair out? I mean, there are a million different ways to relieve anger or stress, (some popular favorites include screaming into a pillow or even partying the infuriation away), but why is the most popular level of extreme stress expressed by saying you want to pull your own hair out?

Source :

After falling into a deep, dark hole on the internet, I discovered that hair pulling due to anxiety or stress is actually a diagnosed medical disorder. It actually affects a large portion of Americans daily. The disorder is called trichotillomania. The disorder causes people to pull their hair out from their scalp and eyebrows as well as their eyelashes. Over two million people living in the United States are currently coping with this disorder in their daily lives. The trichotillomania disorder most definitely suffers from the file drawer problem. It seems to hold little importance in the medical community despite the large numbers of people affected by the disorder.

Source :

Because of the file drawer problem that research revolving trichotillomania faces, the studies done on the disorder usually revolve around what exactly causes it. In a study published by the British Journal of Psychology, an experiment was performed on nineteen healthy subjects and eighteen that were suffering from trichotillomania. The purpose of the study was to see which part of the brain exactly was affected by the disorder and how. The null hypothesis of this study was to assume that trichotillomania had no relation at all to a functioning brain.

With the healthy participants being used as the control group and the patients dealing with trichotillomania being utilized as the experimental group, the study pushed to find imbalances of grey and white matter in different regions of the people’s brains. After a series of tests were done investigating the presence of grey and white matter within the subjects’ brains, it was found that the experimental group had an unproportionately large amount of gray matter distributed in their brains. The grey matter was found to be extremely dense in the frontal lobe and differing parts of the brain that control motor functions, planning, voluntary actions, and coping with differing emotions.

Source :

The presence of this grey matter in these differing parts of the brain of the study group living with trichotillomania disproves the null hypothesis of the study. It is clear from the study that this grey matter present within the patient’s brains clearly triggers their habitual and incessant hair pulling. Conclusions derived from the study affirm that the action of pulling one’s hair out is a body focused repetitive behavior. The people suffering from trichotillomania pulling their hair out is similar to the way that people who deal with OCD must wash their hands constantly. From the parts of the brain that this grey matter affects, its clear that the people who deal with this disorder utilize pulling their hair out to cope with their emotions. Therefore, the disorder is essentially involuntary, and exists as a coping mechanism for the people that suffer from it to deal with their emotions, whether that be stress, anger, anxiety, etc.

So it seems that someone can be stressed enough to pull their own hair out. Whether trichotillomania is the root of the idiom or not, it is clear that the disease, for the amount of people it affects daily, requires more attention in the medical and scientific world.

Other sources used :


What Effect Does Power Have On the Human Mind?

Today I took my first ever college exam. I spent all night studying and tried to master my knowledge of everything from the Gunpowder Empires to Imperialism. One of the subjects I spent well over an hour trying to memorize were the political theories of Machiavelli and Rousseau. Machiavelli was famously known for his advocacy of the strong, self-preserving, cruel leader. Since he thought human nature was innately evil, he believed that morality and politics should be completely separate entities. A leader that had a stronghold over his government did so for the benefit of his people. Meanwhile, Rousseau believed that politics and morality must be combined in order to make a successful ruler. Rousseau believed that it was our society that corrupted us, and that humans were naturally good. Therefore, he believed a ruler must imply morality and appeal towards goodness in order to be a productive leader.

Source :

This had me thinking, whether or not the “correct” way to lead someone is by appealing to the innate human instincts of evilness or goodness, what is the “innate” way that most humans act when given a position of power? Sure, rulers can be given a set list of “Do’s and Don’t’s” on how to be a successful leader for their people, but how does the average human handle positions of leadership not only in the larger sense (i.e. kings, presidents, ect), but in daily life?

I remember last year in my high school psychology class briefly discussing the Stanford Prison Experiment. The experiment was conducted in 1973 by a group of psychologists at Stanford University. They hired a group of students from the university to participate in the study, paying them each around fifteen dollars a day. The group was randomly divided into two sections – prisoners and guards, they would “act” in these roles for two weeks in an underground faux prison built by the university. The experiment ended up having to be cut short because of the horrifying unforeseen outcomes of the trial. The students participating had seemed to have delved into their roles as prisoners or guards much too seriously. The students who acted as guards specifically began to abuse the power they had. As days went by the students posing as guards would continually pester, embarrass, and torment the other students. This even led to a “prisoner rebellion” towards the end of the experiment which led to physical violence, causing the investigation to be cut short.

Source :

The experiment’s shocking results affirmed how easily humans abused power when given a leadership role. The Stanford Prison Experiment to this day is one of the most shocking psychological tests to have ever been performed. Many of the participants in the experiment after returning home suffered psychological torment from the experience. The investigation as a whole depicted the possible frightening effects that a person in a position of power could encounter.

The results from this experiment are extremely disturbing and concerning. Yet, the students were in an uncontrolled environment that was isolated from the outside world. They were merely being witnessed by the psychologists trying to gather data. So, although the results gathered pointed towards the idea that humans are innately power hungry and will take advantage of the power they are given, does this necessarily mean that humans would act the same way in the real world?

When given the opportunity to hold a position of power, many people feel that it is a great honor and a great responsibility, at least on the outside. However, it is probable that most humans when given these leadership roles will at one point or another use them to their advantage for hidden selfish needs in the unconscious.

The Cost of Fame – Psychological Challenge or All Around Luxury?

I think that almost everyone at one point in their life has had a hidden dream of becoming a celebrity. I know that I find myself sometimes picturing what life would be like if I had millions of devoted fans, assistants and managers waiting on me hand and foot, and more money than I could count. At a glance, being a celebrity seems pretty easy. Everything is virtually handed to you, and whatever isn’t you can probably buy anyways. It seems unfair in some cases that people like the Kardashians, (who many say are famous for essentially nothing), get to enjoy this luxury. However, what is the true cost of fame in one’s life? The obvious answer would consist mainly of the loss of privacy in one’s life, but what else is sacrificed in the making of a “celebrity”?

Source :

I recently encountered an article on Psychology Today that discussed the psychological burdens of being a celebrity. The article refers to psychologist Dr. Ganz Ferrance to dissect the mental stresses involved with fame. According to Ferrance, in order to be a healthy and functioning celebrity, you must be able to handle immense negativity in your life. If you are not the type of person that can fall down seven times and stand up eight, being a celebrity may not be a viable career choice for you, (apologies for any crushed dreams). According to research from marketing Professor Marlene Morris Towns at Georgetown University, being turned down and vehemently rejected by professionals and the public alike are a key factors in the foundation of a celebrity. One’s mental ability to handle opposing forces and backlash is essential in the make-up of a sustainable celebrity. With the overwhelming presence of social media in today’s society, this ability to handle denial becomes even more relevant. Today, rejection and internet “hate” floods different social media platforms every minute, this alone demands celebrities to adapt and to develop less sensitive mental processes.

Source :

Kendall and Kylie Jenner, two of the most famous teenagers in the world, continually complain about their lost chances on being “normal” kids. Both of the teens were practically born into the spotlight. Kylie in particular seems to constantly bemoan her lost opportunity on being a regular kid. At the age of 16 the star began getting cosmetic surgery on her face, starting with lip injections. The plastic surgery continued for the teen up until not too long ago at the age of 18. The reality TV star seemed to go through a complete transformation due to cosmetic surgery throughout the years where her body was still growing and developing. Whether this was simply a personal choice or a coping mechanism to deal with the rejection that coincides with fame is up for debate. But, Jenner does have one of the strongest social media followings, with over 74 million followers on Instagram alone, making her an incredibly easy target for daily online backlash and hatred.

Source :

So, what is the real cost of fame? Is mental stability a pre-requisite or must it develop as your celebrity status culminates? And even when you are born into fame, does that still mean that you must train yourself to ignore the constant rejection and persevere? Whatever the case may be, psychological toughness most definitely is a factor that can attribute to the rise or fall of any celebrity.

Chivalry is Dead, Smartphones Are Alive and Well

Throughout high school, my friends and I seemed to always blame the fact that “chivalry is dead” on our generation. Specifically, we’d acknowledge the presence of smartphones contributing to how “romance” in the 21st century was essentially depleted. I can remember my friends obsessing over their contact with boys on apps like Instagram and Snapchat, picking apart and analyzing a like on a photo or an unreciprocated snap. I can also remember my mom being puzzled by the nature of relationships in my generation. She told me how in her day, if you liked someone, you called them, you set up a date, and it was as simple as that.

source :

Now I’m not complaining, modern technology has given me the luxury as a student to have a vast amount of available knowledge at the tips of my fingers. I don’t have to go to the library and dig through an encyclopedia to find out when Abraham Lincoln became president, I can type it into google and get the answer in a matter of seconds. I am able to connect with friends in different parts of the country in the same amount of time, I can even video chat with my family when I am homesick with about as much effort as it takes me to blink. But, with all of this amazing technology of the modern world, it is inevitable that there will be negative effects on our society as well.

I recently read an article on the TIME Magazine website by Mandy Oaklander that analyzed the effects of smartphones on modern day relationships of college students. The study performed focused on the “dependency” people within these relationships had on their phones. The negative impacts smartphones had on these relationships were abundantly clear. Feelings of mistrust and uneasiness were blatant within relationships where one or both partners relied heavily on their devices. Many of the partners within the relationships studied felt as if their boyfriend or girlfriend focused more on their smartphones than they did on their relationships. The study reported that some partners even felt “jealous” of their loved one’s relationship and reliance on their devices. And although smartphones have improved much of everyday life to people around the world, researchers believe that there are more unforeseen negative psychological impacts as a result of their growing prevalence in society. The article reports that the growing obsession with smartphone usage worldwide is currently being studied to see possible effects it could have on self image and education.

source :

The study I read about in TIME Magazine made me consider the nature of the research done on the effects of smartphones on millennial relationships. The research could very well be a source of direct causation, more smartphone use equates to more distance, less time, and heavy mistrust between you and your partner. But, could it also be a case of reverse causation? Could unhealthy relationships simply lead to more dependence on smartphones as a sort of “escape route”? Or could there be the presence of a third variable, such as the fact that our values and the nature of relationships have changed as we have modernized and grown as a society. After all, the divorce rates as of 2008 have reached 40% (source), so are smartphones really to blame? Or could they be a contributing factor that aids in this particular statistic growing each day?

No matter what the correlation behind smartphones and failing relationships is, we must learn as a society to adapt and learn to balance the devices in our changing world and the relationships that we must sustain to lead a happy and social life.

Blaming Physics

In my junior year of high school, I was crazy obsessed with the hit drama Grey’s Anatomy. I would watch the show days on end. With the help of many, many snow days, I was able to completely submerge myself in the show. As my obsession for Grey’s Anatomy grew, I steadily began to think that I may want to work at a hospital in the future. I mean sure, I hated and avoided anything and everything that had to do with sickness, injury, blood, ect. but Grey’s made working in a hospital look so glamorous! I thought to myself, “I’m going to work in a hospital when I am older, save lives, and find my own Patrick Dempsey and live happily ever after!” When the time came around to make my senior year academic schedule, I proudly told my guidance counselor that I wanted to major in nursing once I got to college. She told me if I was considering a nursing major, I had to take physics my senior year for my application to nursing schools to even be considered. Little did I know how much taking physics would make me despise science altogether. While all of my other friends were taking my school’s designated “easy” sciences (i.e. “Oceans” or “Intro to Environmental Science”), I was suffering through a class where we had to do incredibly challenging and seemingly useless tasks, such as measuring the amplitude of a slinky. Physics was the culmination of my undying hatred of science and math. I gave up on my dream of being a glamorous nurse shortly after my physics journey began.

I am taking this course because when picking my classes the description given of this course appealed to me the most, and because I had to fulfill my science requirement of course. It seems that this course will be much more critical thinking versus equations and math as well, that helps too.

Here is a link to a New York Times article explaining how Grey’s Anatomy represents the various cultural backgrounds in America.