Author Archives: Jon Shanfelder

About Jon Shanfelder

Double majoring in Criminology and Psychology. Junior.

Music and Our Mood

All people listen to music. No matter what age, race, religion, or culture someone is a part of, they listen to some sort of music. Music is a constant part of my day. I hear music when I’m on the bus, between classes, in movie scores, through the surround sound system when I get home, and even in cars that drive by me. When I listen to music, the genre of music that I listen to often influences how I am feeling. This is why I have different playlists so the music I turn on is already corresponding with my mood. When I am happy, I do not want to listen to songs that are slow and sad, I want to listen to upbeat and cheerful tunes. I believe music has a large influence over our moods and emotions. For this blog post, my hypothesis is: can music affect a person’s mood?

When you are watching a movie, have you ever stopped to listen to the music in the background? Some movies are more subtle than others, but according to Dr. Waldie Hanser’s article,  movies add music to the background noise of a lot of scenes to evoke a certain emotion from the audience. Since most new movies have music, you would probably never know how mundane a movie can be without certain musical tunes to tell us how to feel (Hanser). Movies can easily change our emotion based on what is happening in the movie, and since music is the pathos of any scene, music helps change the way feel.

When I am driving in the car, I always have music on. Sometimes the music is fast and loud, and other days the music is soothing and quiet. I believe that the music I listen to directly affects the way I drive, including how careful and how fast I drive. Now I know what your thinking, “Jon, it is very unscientific to base your views off of your experience alone.” You are right! That is an anecdote and a very bad way to view every subject. But on the other hand, it is alright to make a hypothesis or ask a question to determine if your experience is similar to everybody else. So my question is: does my music affect my driving?  Well, my next article seems to think that it does. An Ergonomics article studied the connection between music and driving. The experimental studied people’s driving habits while driving in silence and compared it to their driving while upbeat music was playing. The results concluded that upbeat music increases the drivers awareness and lessens the boredom of the driver (van der Zwaag).

The third article I found explains how music is used to treat anxiety and depression. Aside from normal psychological therapy, there are less conventional branches of therapy such as music therapy. Music therapists are specialized counselors with Masters of Doctoral degrees that treat patients with music. The basis of music therapy is that the connection between music and mood is so strong that people’s anxiety and depression can be treated with the aide of music. The article also describes ways in which music can also help learning, sleep, and stress reduction (Music and Mood).


My hypothesis asked: can music affect a person’s mood? After analyzing my sources and consulting a plethora of other data, my conclusion is that music can affect mood. In fact, music seems to have a large influence over our mood to the point where it can help us drive, learn, reduce anxiety/depression/stress, and sleep. Music does affect our mood as much as science can be sure of anything. Although this blog post is coming to an end, I am left with more questions than ever about music and mood. Why is the brain stimulated by music? Is liking music in our biology or is it an evolutionary trait? Can we use music to change our moods in a way other than we are already doing?


Works Cited:

Hanser, Waldie E., and Ruth E. Mark. “Music Influences Ratings of the Affect of Visual Stimuli.” Psychological Topics, vol. 22, no. 2, 2013., pp. 305-324.

van der Zwaag, Marjolein D, et al. “The Influence of Music on Mood and Performance while Driving.” Ergonomics, vol. 55, no. 1, 2012., pp. 12-22doi:10.1080/00140139.2011.638403.

“Music and Mood.” American Academy of Pediatrics, 21 Nov. 2015. Web. 21 Oct. 2016. <>.

Pictures (in order of appearance):

How Music Improves Your Mood And Outlook On Life

White Lies

Has your friend ever gotten a bad haircut and they ask you if you like it? If you tell them you like it when you really don’t, you are telling a “white lie.” A “white lie” is a name people give to small lies. People tell white lies for a lot of different reasons, whether it is it spare your friend’s feelings or get a day off of work, white lies are commonplace in today’s society. For this blog post I am doing something a little different by not presenting a hypothesis, My sole intention is to gain knowledge on white lies and find out a little more about them. Some initial questions I can think of would be, how does a white lie differ from a normal/big lie? Why do people tell white lies? How often do people tell white lies?

The first study I found examined the difference between altruistic white lies and Pareto white lies. The study describes altruistic white lies as lies that may hurt the teller of the lie, but benefit the receiver. For example, if I said I spray painted graffiti on a wall when in reality my friend did it, I would be hurting myself so my friend would get the benefit of not getting in trouble. It then describes Pareto white lies as lies that benefit the teller and the receiver. For example, let’s say my girlfriend asks me if her new jeans looks good. I say they look fantastic when they really look mediocre. This lie benefits both me and her because she is more confident in her appearance and I don’t get yelled at for telling her they look mediocre. The findings of the study concluded that 76% of people were willing to tell a Pareto white lie, but only 43% were willing to tell an altruistic white lie. It also found that women were more likely to tell an altruistic white lie while men were more likely to tell a Pareto white lie (Erat). The study does not provide an explanation as to why that is, but I wonder if it has something to do with their consciouses. Maybe women are more likely to tell an altruistic white lie because they would want somebody to tell them the truth if the situation was reversed. As for men, maybe they are more willing to tell white lies on the whole, but are less willing to display themselves in a negative light. An experimental study conducted by Dr. Warneken set out to find if children would tell lies to make others feel better. This study had children show their artwork to another child and ask them if they like it. The study found that children were more likely to tell a white lie  by saying they liked the artwork to visibly sad children, while they would tell the truth to a neutral or happy looking child (Warneken). This result is very heartwarming because even as children, we see people telling lies for the pure benefit of others. From a scientific perspective, I wonder if you could infer that humans are, at least somewhat, innately considerate of other peoples’ feelings.

A third study also conducted a study on the white lies of children. The study had children take a picture with a man that had an obvious mark on his nose and ask “do I look okay?” Fifty-five out of the sixty-five children (ages 3-7) confirmed he looked fine. Like the previous study, this study also found that a majority of children will tell a white lie to spare a person’s feelings (Talwar). This again provides further evidence that children are innately sensitive to people’s feelings and are willing to tell a white lie to avoid making another feel bad.


After deciding to not rely on a specific hypothesis, I went into my research looking for general “truths” about white lies. I found that there are different sorts of white lies (altruistic and Pareto), men generally lie more often than women, and children do not have an issue lying if it is to increase/maintain the happiness of someone else. Maybe white lies are not as bad as I initially thought.

Works Cited:

Erat, S., and U. Gneezy. “White Lies.” Management Science, vol. 58, no. 4, 2012, pp. 723-733. doi:10.1287/mnsc.1110.1449.

Warneken, Felix, and Emily Orlins. “Children Tell White Lies to make Others Feel Better.”British Journal of Developmental Psychology, vol. 33, no. 3, 2015., pp. 259-270doi:10.1111/bjdp.12083.

Talwar, Victoria, and Kang Lee. “Emergence of White-Lie Telling in Children between 3 and 7 Years of Age.” Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, vol. 48, no. 2, 2002., pp. 160-181doi:10.1353/mpq.2002.0009.

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The Wall Street Journal’s willful climate lies

How do video games affect kids?

Ever since I was a seven year old child I have been playing video games. From the original Playstation to the Playstation 2 to the Xbox 360 and now the Playstation 4, I have always found a deep enjoyment in console gaming. This got me wondering how video games affect children. How does it affect their weight, their social life, and their cognitive abilities? Although I like to think I turned out fine, was it possible video games were hampering my development? Or is it possible that they were helping me develop certain cognitive skills? It is difficult and inaccurate to determine if video games were hurting my development through pure reminiscence, so I will explore several scholarly articles and cross-examine the studies to come to a rough conclusion. To focus my thinking to one question, I will use the following hypothesis: how do video games affect kids? This hypothesis assumes video games do affect children in some way, but obviously there is always the possibility of video games having no real affect on children.

The first study I found was a longitudinal, all-inclusive study on how video games affect children’s behavior, school work, and weight. The study controlled several third variables including family structure, parental socioeconomic status, and lifestyle habits. It found that video games do not have a significantly negative affect on a child’s behavior, school work, or weight (Nakamuro). Another article studied if children learned faster through written instructions or video game assistance. The null hypothesis was if there was no difference between the two instruction methods. The study was well conducted because it was a randomized double-blind study with the result having a p-value of less than .05 (or 5%), which means it is scientifically significant. The study found that children learn much faster through video games than they do through written instruction (Chuang). This is significant to my hypothesis because learning faster through video games could help develop children’s reaction skills and other abilities through regular video games use.

There are also different schools of thought on this subject that are less friendly towards this teenage entertainment phenomenon. For example, this article summarizes and explains different examples of when kids’ video game habits affected their lives very negatively. Certain examples include gaining massive amounts of weight, becoming depressed, and behaving in a more violent manner (Olson). I would like to point out that this is not an experimental study, but a detailed account of several anecdotes. From a scientific perspective, these examples are less relevant than actual data. It is just like in class how we talked about how a former student knew prayer actually healed because he prayed for his family member and they survived their cancer. Although these were anecdotes, there is some evidence out there detailing a correlation between violence and video games like in this article.


My hypothesis was “how do video games affect kids?” My conclusion to that question is that I do not know. The first two studies that I examined provided evidence that video games would help kids learn and that they would not affect a child’s behavior, school work, or weight. Although this is tempting to conclude that video games affect children in a good way, there is too much research out there that says otherwise. A lot of the research done in opposition to video games is funded by conservative family organizations which makes me very skeptical about their findings, but at this point in time I can not write them off as nothing. Even though I lean towards  one result, the summary of evidence is inconclusive.


Works Cited:

Nakamuro, Makiko, et al. “are Television and Video Games really Harmful for Kids?”Contemporary Economic Policy, vol. 33, no. 1, 2015, pp. 29-43. doi:10.1111/coep.12058.

Chuang, Tsung-Yen, and Wei-Fan Chen. “Effect of Computer-Based Video Games on Children: An Experimental Study.” Journal of Educational Technology & Society, vol. 12, no. 2, 2009, pp. 1.

Olson, Cheryl K. “Children and Video Games: How Much do we Know?” Psychiatric Times, vol. 24, no. 12, 2007, pp. 41.

Puiu, Tibi. “Do Violent Video Games Make Children More Aggressive?” ZME Science. N.p., 09 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Oct. 2016. <>.

Pictures (in order of appearance):

How much does the way we dress affect our self-esteem?

Since high school I have always been told I “dress nice.” Most of my classmates back then usually dressed in athletic shorts and t-shirts. This trend is still more often true than not in college. I knew then and I know now that my fashion choice tends to be a little more complex than athletic shorts and t-shirts. I do this because I think “dressing nice” is respectable and it also helps boost my self-esteem. This got me wondering how much the way we dress actually affects our self-esteem? For me, I believe it helps a lot, but what about everyone else? Would “dressing nice” increase the self-esteem of people a minute amount, a lot, or not at all? If so, why do people decide not to “dress nice?” Is my assumption that people wearing athletic shorts and t-shirts is not “dressing nice” wrong? Do people consider that “dressing nice?” I will try to answer as many as these questions as I can, but this is my hypothesis: How much does the way we dress affect our self-esteem?

The first article I found focused on how a person dresses affects the self-esteem of elderly women in nursing homes. This experimental study found that elderly women consistently reported feeling more confident when they would feel they were dressed nicer than normal (Pensiero). Another study that also used older women (55+ years old) found that the way they dress and their overall appearance had a direct affect on their self-esteems. Appearing poorly dressed, having messy hair, and having poorly done make-up were all shown to have negative affects on a person’s self-esteem, while appearing well dressed, having a good haircut, and having well-done make-up resulted in higher self-esteems (Joung). I think it would be acceptable of us to apply both these findings to people other than the well-aged and elderly. We are all people with volatile self-esteems that can constantly increase and decrease. Would it be so much of a risk to try this method if you are lacking in self-confidence?

The third scholarly article I reviewed did their research on the fashion and self-esteem of Indian women. It found that wearing prestigious fashion brands increased the self-esteem and perceived social status of the women in the sample (Khare). Their results were also reported as having a p-value of .02 (or 2%) which is scientifically significant. This study is yet another example that supplies more evidence towards the claim that the way people dress affects their self-esteem. Why is it that we connect the way we dress with our social status and self-esteem? Maybe it is because we live in a world where we rely on other peoples’ opinions to judge ourselves. It also could be that we strive and ache to live and look like the models and celebrities we see every day. Is this a naturally occurring phenomena? Or is this a result of our society that taps into our innate desires to sell products?


All three of the articles I discussed focus on slightly different aspects with slightly different participant pools, but they all touched on the overarching theme of clothing choice and self-esteem. They all provided evidence to support my thesis that the way we dress affects our self-esteems. So if you ever feel yourself getting a little down, put on your favorite button-down, lace up your nicest shoes, and strut your stuff.

Works Cited:

Pensiero, Marcine, and Mary Adams. “Dress and Self-Esteem.” Journal of Gerontological Nursing, vol. 13, no. 10, 1987, pp. 10.

Joung, Hyun-Mee, and Nancy J. Miller. “Factors of Dress Affecting Self-Esteem in Older Females.” Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, vol. 10, no. 4, 2006, pp. 466-478. doi:10.1108/13612020610701983.

Khare, Arpita, Ankita Mishra, and Ceeba Parveen. “Influence of Collective Self Esteem on Fashion Clothing Involvement among Indian Women.” Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, vol. 16, no. 1, 2012, pp. 42-63. doi:

Pictures (in order of appearance):

Homeschool and Underage Drinking

This last summer I worked at a local swimming pool. One of my coworkers was currently being homeschooled and constantly perplexed me by his ideology and behaviors. One topic that occasionally arose during our breaks together was the idea of underage drinking. While my other coworkers who were still in high school were not against underage drinking, the coworker that was homeschooled would consistently argue against it.


This got me thinking about if there was a correlation between the underage drinking of homeschooled kids and their counterparts that go to public and private schools. Although I only know one person that is homeschooled, I think that people that are homeschooled are less likely to underage drink because they have stronger family ties. Since it is usually parents that tell teens not to consume alcohol, I think that homeschooled teens who naturally form a stronger bond with their parents would take their advice more often than a teen who attends a public/private school. Hypothesis: Homeschooled teens are less likely than public and private schooled teens to consume alcohol. Now I know my whole hypothesis is based off of the assumption that homeschooled teens have a stronger connection to their parents than normal teens, but since a hypothesis is only an educated guess, I think it is worth looking into. To delve into this topic, I will start by trying to find out if my assumption is correct about homeschoolers having a strong bond with their parents. After that, I will dig deeper to test my actual hypothesis.


The first study I found used a sample of 3,000 high school students and found that homeschooled teens are less likely to drink than their public and private school counterparts. The study also found that homeschoolers who do drink are less likely to get drunk than teens in public and private schools (Thomson). This study also accounts for third variables like gender, family income, and race. It also uses an interesting connection between homeschooled teens and religion as a possible explanation for why they do not drink as much. If religion was the reason for why they do not drink as much, my hypothesis would be wrong. Another study I found does not discuss underage drinking, but goes into more detail on why homeschooled kids are more religious. This second article explains that parents who do not believe in evolution and other standard public school teachings are more likely to homeschool their kids so they are not exposed to these “lies.” The article is relevant to underage drinking by homeschooled kids because the article also provides evidence that the combination of religion and homeschooling creates a stronger parent-child bond than teens that attend public/private schools (Joyce).

After seeing two scholarly articles about homeschooling with large sections relating to religion, I started to wonder how large a role religion had to do with underage drinking and homeschooling in general. So after doing some digging I found another article that has found strong correlations between religion, conservative political ideals, and homeschooling. It shows that states with a high concentration of conservative thinking and evangelicals also have a lot of families that homeschool their children. It then continues to say that these families have stronger bonds because of homeschooling (Vieux). I have some concerns about this article. Although there is a high correlation between conservative thinking, religion, and homeschooling, that does not mean that religion and conservative thinking cause homeschooling. There could be an unseen third variable that the researches did not account for. The only solid information that came out of this study was that parents who homeschool their family form stronger bonds with their children.


Although I could not find much directly relating research to back up my hypothesis, I did find several sources that support the idea that homeschooling teens results in a stronger parent-child relationship. One source also provided evidence that teens who are homeschooled are less likely to drink than teens that attend public/private schools (Thomson). So although I was correct in my hypothesis that homeschooled teens drink less alcohol, my sources and I could not provide a definite mechanism as to why that is. I believe religion could be a contender, but as of now it is just speculation. Religion just might be associated with homeschooling and have no real influence on underage drinking. So I am left with the question of, what is the mechanism?


Works Cited:

Thomson, Robert A., and Sung J. Jang. “Homeschool and Underage Drinking: Is it More Protective than Public and Private Schools?” Deviant Behavior, vol. 37, no. 3, 2016, pp. 281. doi:10.1080/01639625.2015.1012411.

Joyce, Kathryn. “THE Homeschool APOSTATES.” The American Prospect, vol. 24, no. 6, 2013, pp. 62-65,67-71. ,

Vieux, Andrea. “The Politics of Homeschools: Religious Conservatives and Regulation Requirements.” The Social Science Journal, vol. 51, no. 4, 2014, pp. 556. doi:10.1016/j.soscij.2014.06.004.


Pictures (in order of appearance):

Lack of Sleep

This last summer was a great time for me. I worked a full-time job (made a decent wage), went to a concert, a professional soccer game, and socialized with my friends a lot. The only major complaint I had this summer was my lack of sleep. Since I stayed up every night hanging out with friends and had to wake up at 5:30am every morning to get ready for work, I lost a considerable amount of sleep. Most college students, like myself, sacrifice several hours of sleep throughout the school year. Maybe a lot of college students try and make that time up during the summer, but not me. This got me thinking, and also worrying, what will happen if I keep missing a few hours of sleep every night?


I have found an article that discusses how in an ongoing study, teens and college students have been found to consistently get less sleep than what doctors recommend. The article claims that doctors recommend for people to sleep between eight and nine hours every night. The study in the article has been collecting data since 1991 and has found that students are consistently getting less than seven hours of sleep a night; sometimes severely less. I thought that maybe the rise in technology and social media would have something to do with the lack of sleep, but the article goes out of its way to explain that students have been losing great amounts of sleep well before the invention of major social media outlets and the wave of individual technological devices. So if it’s not technology, what is it? The researches in the study seem to think it is a result of many factors, but mostly because today’s teens have such high expectations that it is hard for them to find enough time to do all the things expected of them; including school, jobs, extracurricular activities, and hanging out with friends.


As a young college student, I find this information accurate when compared to my everyday life. What does this mean? Is it bad? The article explains that researches have found that a teen’s lack of sleep may result in stress, decrease in academic performance, daylong fatigue, and obesity. Although I have not yet experienced academic decrease or excessive weight gain, I do often find myself stressed out and fatigued. Then again, it seems to me that colleges have already embraced that stereotype.

Storage of the Future

Earlier today I was browsing various websites searching for an interesting subject to write about when I came across an article about using DNA as digital storage space. Most of the article was very technical I nature, but I will try to explain how this can be done without boring you too much.


The article explains that DNA is made up of four types of “nucleotides” (labeled A, C, G, and T) that can be used in different combinations to make up peoples’ genes. It is very cleverly compared in the article to the way computers make up code through various series of ones and zeros. Scientists have figured out how to make synthetic DNA and can arrange it in a way so that each piece that goes into the DNA strand can represent certain numbers and letters. Large companies that require a vast amount of storage space can then use this DNA to store any information they want in a very tiny amount of space instead of having to use large servers or magnetic tape.


Over the last few decades the world has seen technology shirk and get more complex at the same time. We have gone from floppy disks, to compact disks, to online storage, and now possibly to strands of DNA. Can we get any smaller? DNA is already a microscopic form of storage and to create something smaller and with more potential seems not only impossible, but also unnecessary. Will it be unnecessary in, let’s say, fifty years from now? Documents, digital books, movies, video games, and any other sort of storable data is only growing in size as the graphics get better and the software becomes more complex. Is it unnecessary? Or is it preemptive of the next wave of information that people and companies will need to store?



Tv shows: How accurate are they?

The other day when I was sitting down and watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory, I wondered how accurate all the facts and references to science were in the show. I wondered if these shows lack real evidence-based, scientific facts and are actually misleading their viewers with false information. This subject was also touched on a few days ago in my Psych 105 class. We spoke briefly about how the media, if they are not careful, can spread false or very poorly concluded “facts” about the world and claim it is “science.”

After searching for a good article on the subject, I came across THIS. This article is about three individuals whose jobs are to keep television shows scientifically accurate. One of those people is a woman named Donna Cline who is responsible for keeping the show Bones scientifically accurate. She works closely with the writers and actors to ensure that every aspect of the show is up-to-date with current scientific theories, discoveries, and vocabulary.


I learned from the article that some shows are better than other shows when it comes to being scientifically accurate, but ultimately it is entertainment. Entertainment is more likely to sacrifice scientific truth than it is to sacrifice viewers and ratings. Although people like Donna try their best to keep shows informational as much as they are entertaining, she cannot make them perfect. For example, the article previously mentioned says that Bones must stay time-relevant. Some DNA and blood tests can take weeks to get analyzed, but for the sake of speed, they will cut that time out of the show to keep the plot moving and keep their viewers happy. Another example from the article is that the show Bones will have the FBI and the lab analyst interact regularly because they are both friends and main characters on the show. When in real life, those two cogs in the criminal justice machine would never interact that often. In conclusion, I learned that some “facts” on television shows are true and that some are fake, but it is probably smarter to assume the latter without doing any individual investigation on the subject.

Science is not for me

Hello SC200, my name is Jon Shanfelder and I thought I would get the Initial Posts started. I have decided to take this class because, although I am not a science major, I have always appreciated the information that science gives us. We take for granted many of the things science gives us, including but not limited to, cures to diseases, insight into Earth/human history, and general information on how nature functions around us. Although I appreciate true fact from fiction, I am not a science major because my aspirations lie with the more fluid field of criminology. Or maybe I just wanted to enter a field with less ethical dilemmas…breaking-bad

I have also included a link to an article HERE that I thought may be relevant to this course. The article is about how cancer has been catching up to heart disease as the number one killer in the United States. What conclusions have they drawn? Are their sources reliable or is it just clickbait? If so, why is cancer on the rise? Have our grandparents been right all along when they told us of the dangers of our fancy, mobile, cancer phones?