Author Archives: Monica Lynn Powell

Why Women Really Love Makeup

Ladies, if you’re like me, going a day without makeup feels so weird! I’ve been putting in on for so long that it’s just part of my routine. Sometimes it seems like if I didn’t put makeup on then the rest of my day slowly starts to crumble. Makeup really is a release for me though. I love to keep up on all the latest trends by watching Youtube videos and checking the Sephora website daily to see if there’s anything new. This had me wondering why I and many other women love to wear makeup so much.


A study was done in France to find answers to that exact question. They asked 70 women of all different ages to partake in the study where they had them complete 4 different questionnaires. The surveys had all sorts of questions about their makeup routine and the feelings behind putting makeup on. They were trying to get at the psychological side of it. Finally, they asked the women to stick to their normal beauty routine. They were allowed to use any kind and as much or little makeup as they wished during the time of the study. The null hypothesis was that when women put makeup on they felt nothing, there were no emotions attached to the practice. The alternative hypothesis was that there were emotions attached and there was a reason as to why women applied the makeup. After sifting through all of the surveys, the researchers came to some conclusions. The surveys revealed two groups that came out on top overall as to why women put on makeup. The first was camouflage and the second was seduction. Camouflage meaning that women use makeup to hide their imperfections and seduction meaning that makeup us used to get others attention. They concluded that women will often times use makeup to cope with emotional and insecurity issues that they face; wearing makeup helps them to feel more confident. So the researchers rejected the null hypothesis and are looking into further studying the alternative.

These results don’t surprise me at all, although I don’t think that they are a blanket statement for all women. I wonder if we had done this same experiment with women who had cosmetic surgery done if the results would be the same. Or what if we looked at the clothes that women wear, would those results come out differently? What do you think?

Sevtap Aytug, from Turkey, did a study of television, magazines and several other types of media to determine what the big deal is with appearance and makeup. He found that women use makeup as a form of self expression. They just enjoy the process of applying it.

I think that both of these conclusions are correct. Every woman is different and wears makeup for different reasons, whether it’s because she is insecure, wants to impress someone,  just enjoys the process of it or maybe a combination. No matter what reason, women shouldn’t feel bad about putting makeup on. I believe that women should feel confident in their own skin and if that means covering up some of the areas we may not like so much than go for it! Women should never made to feel bad about their beauty routines!


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Don’t Be Afraid to Ask a Question

There are two types of people in this world: those who can fearlessly ask questions in class and those who shy away in the back hoping that they will just understand the material. Personally, I tend to shy away and pray that someone else will happen to not understand the same material as me and ask the question. There are times though when I can build my courage up to ask. We all hear teachers say, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are no dumb questions.” But we all know what our peers can be like. I think that it is nice that our teachers try and provide a safe learning environment but it seems as though some people may never feel comfortable.


Allison M. Ryan, Margaret H. Gheen and Carol Midgley from the University of Michigan set out to find out it there was any relationship between how students acted in class and their willingness to get help for the material they don’t understand. Ryan, Gheen and Midgley set up longitudinal study containing 513 students across 63 different sixth grade math classes. A longitudinal study would follow these students for a long time, usually resulting in more solid results at the end. The students and teachers were given surveys to complete and assured that they would be kept confidential so as to avoid dishonestly. Their results showed that boys were less likely to ask for help when they were struggling. Overall though, the study concluded that students who were not confident in their work, were less likely to get help. Although students who were more confident in their work were more likely to ask for help. The researchers started looking in to ways that classroom environments could be changed in order to help everyone feel comfortable asking questions. They concluded that having a warm, friendly teacher will definitely help. In addition, making sure that the classroom does not have a competitive environment will enable the quiet ones to feel more confident asking questions.

I think this study was done very thoroughly and concluded some helpful information. They decided to only look at math classes which was a smart control. They said that there was no specific reason as to why they chose math. I wonder what would have happened if they had picked language arts classes or sciences classes. Would the results have changed? Or what would happen if they had studied college age students?

Christine Chin writes an interesting article discussing why it is important for students to ask questions. She points out that by asking questions, students are exploring the unknown and honing in the areas they don’t understand yet. Chin believes that it is important for students to know how to ask good questions. This isn’t up to just the students though! Teachers should be creating a welcoming environment in which they teach their students to ask good questions and encourage it.

Though none of this may change your mind in wanting to ask a question in class, just know that it really is beneficial to your learning. Some of us, myself included, may need to push ourselves to be bold and ask a question. We have to stop worrying about what others will think about us, chances are they had the same question! Our learning, in this situation, should come before our pride. So if you haven’t been to a post exam review session yet, I highly recommend going because that is a perfect environment to ask questions without feeling uncomfortable. All you have to do is raise your hand!

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Where You Study Affects How You Study

Have you ever noticed that you study better in certain places than others? Maybe you work well in the library and can not stand to be in your dorm room. Or maybe the HUB is way too distracting for you and your room helps you work much better. Studies have shown that the environment you work in has a big impact on how productive you are.

Student Studying Sleeping on Books, Tired Girl Read Book, Library

A study was done in Egypt to find out how much workspace affects your productivity and motivation and the results are solid, but maybe not quite want we wanted to know. Rasha Mahmoud Ali El-Zeiny, a professor at Minia University in Egypt, conducted this research in about six different offices. These offices were in several different areas so that his data would be spread out. He surveyed 129 employees about their work habits, their thoughts on the space they work in now and what changes they thought would help improve their motivation. He looked at 9 different areas within the workspace: furniture, noise, temperature, privacy, spatial arrangement, lighting, outside view, presence of plants and color. He had his sample group rate them on a scale of 1-5, 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree. 96% of the employees surveyed said that they believe that the office environment plays a role in how they work. Furniture scored the highest with an average of 4.43, meaning that furniture is the most likely to cause good or bad work. This makes sense because if you are sitting in an uncomfortable chair, you might not be able to focus on the work in front of you. Rasha also points out that bad furniture could cause health problems which would not lead to good work. The second highest scoring factor was temperature with a mean score of 4.24. Again, if it is too hot or too cold, employees will be more likely to be focusing on that than their work. If the space is too warm it also may cause employees to be grumpy. Overall Rasha made a point that employees believe that their workspace affects their productivity and shows what factors are most important to set a good environment.

I do not disagree with this study, however, I’m not convinced that he studied the right thing. All he found was what 129 people think about their workspace and own work habits. He didn’t really prove anything but maybe started a good discussion to be built off of. This experiment could have improved if he had used a randomized control trial. He could have taken his sample size and set up a couple different spaces: one with dim lighting, one with bright lighting, one with a comfortable chair, one with an uncomfortable chair, etc. He then could have randomly put different people in each space and given them the same task to do and watched how their performances differed.

That’s when I found this study done at a graduate school of engineering in Japan. They took a group of 222 college students and tested their proof reading skills in either a red, white or green room and then also surveyed them to find out their mood. Surprisingly enough, the people who worked in the red room made the least mistakes and the people in the white room made the greatest. It was hypothesized to be the other way around. However, when they were surveyed the people in the white room felt less distracted than the people in the red room. This shows that people’s intuitions are not always right and that is why that first study can not be fully trusted.

To end, it definitely is true that where we study will effect how we study because to be honest we all have our favorite spots! The mechanism isn’t quite clear yet though, nor is the “best work environment ever”. We might make less mistakes in a red room but if we aren’t in a good mood then it might not be worth it. Maybe we all just need green rooms to study in! Stay tuned, I’m certain someone will discover the “ultimate work environment” soon enough.


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Does Getting a Tattoo Make You More Angry?

Though I do not agree with it, tattoos always seem to get the short end of the stick along with the people who have them. Parents never want their children to get tattoos because they are often scared it will change them, by making them more rebellious. Employers are scared to hire people with tattoos because for some unknown reason they might not be as trustworthy as the other applicant that does not have tattoos. Is there any truth to this at all though? Are people with tattoos really more rebellious or untrustworthy? Or do they just have a bad stereotype and it is all in our minds?


Viren Swami, a professor of psychology at University of Westminster, conducted an experiment in which he sought to find truth, if there was any, in whether people with tattoos are more aggressive than people without tattoos. He surveyed a group of 378 adults from London to get information about their aggression levels and rebellious nature. Out of 378 people, 25.7% of them had a tattoo, so only about a quarter which seems like kind of small sample size. The null hypothesis would be that tattoos do not have any correlation with aggression or rebelliousness, nothing is going on. The alternative hypothesis would be that tattoos do have a part in peoples aggression and rebellion. The results of Swami’s experiment were interesting. Adults with tattoos showed higher levels of reactive aggression and rebellion than those with no tattoos. However, when it came to proactive anger and rebellion, there did not seem to be a huge difference between the groups. So according to this study, those with tattoos may be quicker to react more aggressively in certain situations but not be proactive with their aggression.

So if people with tattoos are more likely to have higher aggression levels, is it the tattoos that are causing that? Or, are people who are more naturally aggressive and rebellious more likely to get tattoos? A third variable might also be responsible such as past life events. Finally, it might just be due to chance. However, I don’t believe that this study had a big enough sample size to conclude any solid information. I’m not sure surveying people always brings out the most honest answers too, but there might not have been a better way to gather the information. This study also didn’t take into account the reasoning behind why people got the tattoos. That could also affect the outcome. I wonder if the size or shape of the tattoo might affect this study. The bigger the tattoo, the more aggressive?

Another similar study was done at the University of Cincinnati by Keith King. King was studying if college students with tattoos were more likely to be involved with risky behaviors, such as drugs, than students without tattoos. Almost 30% of the 988 students that were surveyed had a tattoo. He found that those with tattoos were more likely to be linked with risky behavior. Again, it is possible the risky behavior was causing the tattoos, this study couldn’t say for sure.

Despite all of this information that I just talked about, I don’t think it’s okay to judge anybody on whether they have tattoos or not. People that don’t have tattoos get angry and do drugs too, it’s not a one and done deal. I think tattoos can be very beautiful and usually have incredible stories attached to them. I would need to see several other studies saying the same thing to believe this. I don’t think these studies should discourage employers from giving jobs to people with tattoos. Everyone is different and it’s important that we get to know one another on the inside, not just the outside.


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Birth Order May Not Mean Much

Have you ever heard that the oldest sibling is the smartest, the middle child may tend to be more rebellious and the youngest one is always searching for more attention?  Studies are showing that birth order may not effect one’s intelligence nor their personality. Coming from a family with three children this has been a talked about subject for quite some time, whether it is true or not. While some of the stereotypes hold true for us, others were the opposite. Being the youngest, I can see why we are often thought of as attention grabbers. We always try to keep up with our older siblings and want to establish our place in the family. Middle children are often assumed to be forgotten about and therefore act out more. This was so not the case for my sister, the middle child of the family, she was the angel of the bunch and could normally do no wrong in the eyes of my parents. My brother, the oldest, was the rebellious one but probably the smartest as well. He is now an oral surgeon and doing very well for himself. All of that to say, I was very curious as to if these myths were true.


A study conducted at the University of Illinois asked themselves the same question. They studied 377,000 high school students to find out if birth order had any correlation with intelligence or personality. They sorted through the 377,000 and excluded those who were only children, a twin, triplet, etc. and any who were not a credible source. This left them with 263,712 students to study. They asked their participants several questions about their family life background (i.e. who they live with), demographics and personality. In addition their intelligence in many subjects was tested. As we have learned in class, there are several different outcomes that could appear when looking at a correlational study, if the two do indeed correlate.

  1. The birth order could be causing the intelligence and personality of the student.
  2. The intelligence and personality of the student could be causing the birth order.
  3. A confounding third variable could be responsible for the correlation.
  4. It was all due to chance.

The reverse causation, number two, does not seem possible. The third variables seems probable just as a hypothesis. The study did take into consideration these factors such as the number of siblings in the family, the families socio-economic background, the age and gender of the student and family structure. They collected two sets of data, one controlling these confounding variables and another without them controlled. The results proved to be rather interesting. There really was not any large correlation between birth order and intelligence/personality. With the variables controlled, the correlation was at .02 which is a positive correlation but not anywhere close to 1. It only jumped up a tiny bit with the variables unconcealed.

A smaller version of a similar study was done at University of Wisconsin. They had a much, much smaller sample size and were looking into more how birth order can influence personality, not so much intelligence. They also studied how parents perceived their children based on their birth order. Most parents did not perceive their children any differently but it was common for them to say that if one child was extroverted, the other would be introverted. Their results were similar to the first study in that personality is not caused by birth order but rather by genetics or by the environment they were raised in.

Now that we have strong evidence that birth order does not cause a certain personality type or intelligence level, we don’t have to place ourselves in certain categories based on where we are in the lineup. If your family does follow the stereotypes, it is most likely due to chance as the correlation is so low. So just because you are the youngest child, does not mean that you can’t achieve a 4.0 G.P.A. and just because you are the middle child does not mean you have to be a rebel. We are free to be ourselves!


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The Nasty Chinese Stain

It was an ordinary Monday afternoon. I was eating lunch with my friends in Pollock Dining Commons as we discussed what our weeks looked like when I get a text from my roommate that reads, “You’re gonna hate me.” I immediately panicked and racked my brain trying to think of what might have happened. I quickly responded inquiring about what had occurred. She replied with a series of texts reading “Chinese spilled. Everywhere.”


I hurried back to my room to see the damage. She had accidentally dropped some of her general tsos chicken on our rug which then splattered on my bed and backpack. She of course did not intend for this to happen and felt horrible. The comforter was easy to spot treat and throw in the wash and the backpack was easy to wipe up, it was the rug that stumped us! Neither of us had any rug cleaner so we had to improvise with what we had. After doing some research we saw that shaving cream would apparently lift the stain. My roommate quickly started covering all the spots with shaving cream in hopes that it would work. After lots of shaving cream, water and scrubbing the stains were gone! We were both elated!

This had me wondering why of all things does shaving cream remove stains? So I did some digging and this is what I came up with. Stains can apparently be broken down into three different groups or types: organic, inorganic and pigment or dye stains. Organic stains are made up of organic compounds which contain hydrogen and carbon but not metal. Organic stains can be both polar and non-polar and can be very long chains of molecules that need to be made shorter before the stain may be completely lifted. Inorganic stains are comprised of man made materials and can normally be removed through inorganic solvents. This is done through a redox reaction where oxygen is applied to the stain. Finally, pigment or dye stains, such as a wine or grass stain, are made up of molecules that have a double bond and produce certain wave-lengths that show the color of the stain. These specific molecules are called chromophores.

Now that we know the different kind of stains, we can start to look at how to remove them. When removing a stain, beware there is chemistry involved, you have to keep in mind the substances’ polarity, solubility and molecular size. There are several ways to remove stains and they will all work differently on different substances depending on its’ molecular makeup. I will just touch on a few that I found relevant to my dilemma. Water is always a great thing to try first. Water is a bent polar molecule and therefore is great at removing stains consisting of polar molecules or ionic compounds. Water doesn’t contain carbon so it is an inorganic substance and is great at helping to remove other inorganic substances. The other one I wanted to touch on was using bases as stain removers. Bases are also polar and dissolve in water so they also work at removing tough stains.

I couldn’t find a straight answer as to why shaving cream in particular works as a stain remover but I will attempt to piece together the mystery myself. I looked at the ingredients in shaving cream and noticed two things that stuck out to me: water and saponification, in other words soap. Soap and water are great at removing stains, so maybe that is why they worked on my inorganic stain of Chinese food. Why we couldn’t have just used soap and water then, I’m not sure. Maybe we could have, it may have worked just as well! All I know for certain is, if you’re ever stuck with Chinese food on your rug, definitely run for the shaving cream because it works!

But First, Let Me Take a Selfie!

Most people, myself included, are guilty of taking a selfie at one time or another. Some people take one with a group of friends while others will find the perfect lighting and sit for hours taking hundreds to pick out the perfect one. Selfies are becoming so popular that iPhones even have a separate folder in the photo app reserved just for the beloved selfies and there are special contraptions called selfie sticks in order to take even better selfies. Once people have the perfect selfie, it is time to edit it and post it on every possible social media site. While this seems like a harmless way to pass time, studies are showing this may lead to character traits that you may not want attached to your name.


Ohio State University recently conducted a study in which they surveyed around 800 men ages 18 to 40 to find out their selfie taking habits. What they found is a little scary. Men who take more selfies are more likely linked to having narcissistic and or psychopathic tendencies. Jesse Fox who was one of the lead researchers noted that this is not surprising but now what everyone was already thinking has been confirmed. It is important to note that this does not mean that every guy who takes selfies is narcissistic or psychopathic, but they may score above the average on those tests. Fox also asked the men if they edit their selfies before posting them. The results showed that men who do edit their photos are linked more to narcissism but not psychopathy which makes sense because psychopathy has to do with impulsivity. If someone is impulsively posting selfies, they probably won’t take the time to edit them. Overall, Fox came to the conclusion that the way we present ourselves online is impacted by our personality. Like we were talking about in class, correlation does not equal causation. Just because men who take lots of selfies are more likely to be have traces of narcissism and psychopathy does not mean that taking selfies is what caused that. It might even be a reverse causation: narcissistic and psychopathic traits are already in their personality and that causes them to take more selfies. I find it really interesting that this study was done on men and not women though they are working on running the same research on women. It will be interesting to see how those results compare and contrast.

Now that we know what taking selfies tells about our personality, let’s dig into why we like taking selfies, other than they are just really fun to take!  People are very well versed at studying other people’s facial features and facial expressions but when it comes to their own faces, have a lot of trouble. We can look in the mirror all we want but if we saw ourselves in public, we might not be able to recognize our own selves! This is crazy because of all the time our society spends in the mirror, you’d think we’d know our own faces pretty well by now. One study was done in which they asked people to choose the original photograph of themselves out of several that had been altered to make them appear both more and less attractive. People had a lot of trouble picking the real photograph. What we think we look like in our head is completely different than what we actually look like. Therefore, the beauty of selfies is that we can take lots of them until we think we have one that looks like what we think we look.

Like most things in life, selfies should be taken and posted in moderation. I am all for a good selfie to give us a little confident boost. I truly believe that we need to love ourselves before we can love others. If posting a selfie every now and then helps you to feel good about yourself, then I say go for it! However, if you post a selfie a day, maybe lay low for a little while and see if your personality or attitude changes. It can’t hurt to try!

Coffee Break!

Early mornings call for coffee. Mid day pick me ups call for coffee. Long nights of studying call for coffee. And cute, artsy pictures most definitely call for coffee. From sipping pumpkin spice lattes for Snapchat to downing 5 cups a day to stay awake, coffee is such a large part of today’s society. Coffee came to America in the mid 1600’s and thus coffee shops began to appear. Tea had always been the preferred drink until it was being taxed too high for people to keep up with. Therefore, the Boston Tea Party switched America’s preference from tea to coffee, which brings us to where we are today.

There are always new studies coming out about coffee, most of them discrediting myths. Have you ever heard that coffee will stunt your growth, help you lose weight or even sober you up? While unfortunately none of these myths are true, there is a new study that just might explain your constant coffee craving…it’s genetic! Researchers are looking into a gene that may explain why some people drink more coffee than others.

coffee meme

A genetic variant called PDSS2 may be the reason why some people don’t drink as much coffee. In the study, they tested people’s DNA to look for the gene and then questioned them about their coffee drinking habits. The study found that people with the gene drank less coffee than people without this specific gene. Researchers believe that the gene affects how caffeine is metabolized in the body. People with the PDSS2 gene metabolize caffeine more slowly than people without the gene. Therefore, those without this gene need more coffee to feel that buzz because their bodies process the caffeine quickly. Surprisingly enough, this coffee gene is quite common.

This quick look into this specific PDSS2 coffee gene opens up several other discussions about food preference genes. By looking into other food specific genes, scientists may be able to determine why people don’t like certain foods or even why the most pickiest of eaters are the way that they are. If there was some way for people to know these facts about themselves, it may change their eating habits in a positive way. There are endless options when it comes to genetics just waiting to be uncovered!

If you are one who drinks several cups of coffee a day, don’t fret! It just may not be in your genes. If you are one who drinks little to no coffee, don’t fret! It just may be in your genes. Either way, genetics are genetics and they are not something we can easily change about ourselves. This shouldn’t discourage anyone to the point of “To drink another cup or to not drink another cup, that is the question!” In the end, we have to make it through the long day some how whether it’s by drinking one cup a day or ten!


Hi Class!

My name is Monica Powell and I am a freshman here at Penn State. I am majoring in Public Relations, which is nowhere near anything science related. Science and I have just never really clicked for some reason. I have always preferred my english and history courses to my science and math ones, probably because they came more naturally to me. My brain has just never quite comprehended the intricacies of science, therefore, I’ve always had to work extra hard in science classes. I decided to take this course because I heard that it involved more writing and critical thinking rather than math and memorization which sounded appealing to me.

When I was younger I wanted to be a pediatrician, but then as I grew up I quickly realized that I would not be cut out for that. I can not deal with anything medical and faint at the sight of blood. After helping my sister plan her wedding, I was pushed in the direction of communications. I then looked into all the job opportunities and decided that public relations would be a much better fit for me.

Despite my dislike for science, I do appreciate people who have the brains to understand all of sciences’ complexities. From finding cures to illness and helping people take better care of their bodies to learning about possible life on other planets, science is extremely necessary to our society and provides so many insights that help us better understand the world we are living in. I am extremely grateful that there are people who do enjoy science and who use it to better our world. Plus, science provides so many awesome experiments that are really fun to watch! I am excited to open my mind to a deeper appreciation for science through this course.

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