Author Archives: Salvatore Mattioli

Are Participation Trophies Bad?

Millennials are commonly known as the “Participation trophy generation.”  I myself remember receiving trophies for every sport and activity that I participated in, regardless of whether I won or lost, for as long as I can remember.  These trophies have become controversial over the years as many argue that giving trophies to kids who did not win gives them a false sense of accomplishment and does not motivate them to be better.  While many athletes such as the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison have voiced their strong opposition towards these trophies, scientists and psychology experts have conducted various experiments to test whether or not these trophies are having a negative impact on this generation.participation-trophy

The Experiment

An article from the Huffington Post highlights the views of psychology professor, Dr. Kenneth Barrish, who believes that participation trophies do not have a negative impact on a child’s psyche.  Barrish supports his views by citing a study conducted by a Stanford psychology professor, Carol Dweck.  Dweck and her colleagues conducted an experimental study which involved 400 fifth grade students being given an easy IQ test.  After performing well on the tests, the students were either praised for being smart or working hard.  The students were then asked to take another test and had the choice to take an easy test that they were bound to do well on, or a test that was more complicated, but would improve their learning.

67% of the students who were praised for their intelligence chose the easy test.

92% of students who were praised for their effort chose the more challenging one.

The students who were praised for being smart often chose the easy test because they wanted to preserve their “status” by acing another test.  The students who were praised for their hard work were more determined to challenge themselves and improve.

These participation trophies are given to children as a reward for their effort and dedication to a sport/activity, regardless of how well they do.  Rewarding a child’s involvement leads to an increase in participation among kids, which is very beneficial for them at a young age.

My Experience

I’ll never forget one of the best coaches I ever had was Coach Ralph, who was in charge of the chess club that I was a member in during elementary school.  Ralph would engage with all of the members individually to identify their mistakes and work his hardest to help the players who were truly trying their hardest to improve. At the end of the year, the members who came to all of the meets and focused received a medal, regardless of their skill level.  The handful of students that placed in the final tournament also received trophies for their achievement. This is the model that I believe all of today’s youth sport coaches should follow.

Take Home Message

Participation trophies are not as bad as they are made out to be. Kids should be rewarded for trying their best and improving, even if they don’t make the top three.  Rewarding a child’s motivation and hard work makes them more determined to improve, instead of giving up.hard-work-beats-talent

Picture 1 source

Picture 2 source

Are Pre Workout Supplements Safe?

Short Answer: No

We are always trying to perform our best at school, work, and our hobbies.  Weight lifting and exercise is, luckily, a common activity among younger adults.  Everyone who walks into the weight room is there to perform to the best of their ability by lifting the heaviest they can (with proper form) in order to increase muscle strength.  We use a variety of different tools to help us achieve our lifting goals such as music for motivation or coffee for added energy.  Most serious lifters also use a pre-workout supplement, which includes a variety of vitamins that help increase physical energy and muscle endurance.  People ingest these supplements every day without realising what they are made of much less the physical toll that they take on our hearts.

Active young man training with barbell in gym

The main ingredient in most pre workout supplements is 100-400mg of caffeine, roughly three times as much as a cup of coffee per serving.  Other ingredients include BCAAs, Arginine and Dimethylamylamine (say that 3 times fast) which increase energy and blood flow throughout the body.  While this can lead to improvement in performance, it can also cause harm to your body if not consumes properly. This article by Livestrong on pre workout tells the story of how Army Private Michael Sparling collapsed while training with his unit after taking said supplements.  Performing high energy tasks on these substances puts an unsafe amount of stress on the heart and can lead to heart damage or other cardiovascular problems.


Another danger of taking pre workout is kidney damage or failure from the common ingredient, creatine.  Creatine is a popular supplement for lifters to take to help rebuild their muscles but it is also commonly used in pre workout supplements to enhance performance.  Dr. Hopkins from the University of Otago in New Zealand posted a journal to Sportscience discussing the connections between creatine consumption and kidney damage/failure.  He concluded from his research that human kidneys have a hard time filtering the excess creatine consumed from supplements and can lead to kidney failure.  He noted how nine athletes developed kidney problems after several years of excessive creatine consumption.

There are much safer and cheaper ways to get energised before exercise and weightlifting.  One of the easiest ways to increase energy is by dieting.  A strong balanced diet with carbohydrates and healthy fats can lead to increased energy throughout the day and in the weight room.  Another healthy way of boosting energy is with traditional coffee.  This provides the same effect as the pre workout but on a slightly milder level.  It essentially achieves similar performance gains but without the cardiological and endocrine risks of pre-workout.  In conclusion– your health is priceless; don’t risk degrading it by listening to your ego instead of your body.

What’s Your Favorite Color?

“What’s your favorite color?”


While this question serves as a cheesy ice breaker on a first date to some, it could actually produce an insightful answer.  Various studies have provided evidence which suggests that the colors we see, from the second we wake up, affect our mood and emotional state.  This phenomenon, referred to as color psychology, is used everyday in media and in advertising to manipulate our subconscious without us even realising it.  Being an Advertising major, this concept has always been of interest to me.  In this post, I will discuss how different colors can subconsciously dictate our mood.


(photo taken from

A study published by the US National Library of Medicine conducted a single blind randomized control experiment that involved giving a group of test subjects one of 49 individually colored anxiety medication pills to measure how different colored drugs would affect people.  The study was conducted on patients with varying diseases.  The results of the study concluded that there was a positive correlation between certain colors and effects.  The colors red, yellow, and orange yielded a stimulatory response from the subjects.  Calmer colors like blue and green gave the patients a more sedative effect.


Businesses take this phenomenon into serious consideration when developing marketing strategies and brands.  For example, McDonald’s uses yellow and red for its colors because these colors stimulate our brains and make us hungry.  The goal of the golden arches is to subconsciously attract hungry people to their brand and their establishments.


This is a picture of my car. One of the main reasons I decided to purchase this car over others was the color.  The moment I saw this color in person, I was immediately drawn to it and knew that it was the right color for me.  I have always loved the color blue and especially liked this shade of electric blue.  Ever since I bought it, I started to get much more attention driving around town.  It always puts a smile on somebody’s face whenever they see it parked at a car show or zipping down a street.  I find it to be, at least in my personal opinion, a very visually appealing color that tastefully complements an aggressively styled car. I happen to have a friend with nearly the same car but in black who says that his car doesn’t get nearly as much attention. Although the car is still very attractive, the color black doesn’t generate the same emotional response as the lighter blue color.
In conclusion, different colors affect our mood everyday without us even noticing it.  Luckily we can use this to our advantage in many different ways.  If you suffer from chronic anxiety, you can try to surround yourself with relaxing colors such as blue or green by painting your walls or hanging art.  Highlighters are always bright colors to help stimulate our brains when we are reading or studying.  There are an endless number of ways that color psychology affects our everyday lives.


Placebo Study

Color Psychology Website

Risky Business

During a phone call I had with my father over the weekend, I was telling him about how I spent a part of the Labor Day weekend taking on a few of Tussey Mountain’s biking trails with some friends.  Even though I made sure to tell him that I was wearing a helmet and exercised caution throughout all of the trails– he responded by saying, “Everything you like is dangerous, why don’t you try playing chess or something.”  After having a good laugh with him and hanging up the phone shortly after, I realized he was right.  I was also surprised that after years of mountain biking, motorcycle riding, and playing D1 rugby, I never let risk get in the way of my involvement in any of these activities. In this post, I will discuss why younger individuals love to take risks, and why Andrew was right when he told us that our intuition is quite lousy.


A picture of Philippe Petit tight rope walking between the Twin Towers in 1974. Photo taken from NYDailyNews Photo Gallery (


Why do young adults and adolescents engage in risky behavior?

Whenever this question arises, it is most often answered with an explanation of, “Teenager’s minds are still developing” or simply, “Kids are stupid and have terrible intuition.” While both of these statements can be true, they do not fully explain the mechanism behind why younger individuals are more prone to partake in risky behavior. In this article from Harvard Magazine, Dr. Frances Jensen and Dr. David Urion explain that teenagers make risky decisions because of the way our brains develop.  They go on to explain that the lobes of the human brain develop from back to front (posterior to anterior). This process is not fully completed until the ages of 25-30. The frontal lobe, which is responsible for critical thinking and decision making, is the most anterior lobe and is the last to develop.  Their hypothesis states that because this lobe is the last to develop, it leads to highly impaired decision making in teens and young adults.


Conclusion- Is all risk taking bad?  Should I take Risks?
We are always skeptical of the concept of risk as it involves the possibility of failure, which nobody likes.  It gives the word a negative connotation.  What many fail to consider is that there are both good and bad risks.  High stakes gambling, unsafe sex, and drug use are all examples of bad risks because their positive outcomes are very unlikely and have little to no longevity.  Firefighters, police officers, and servicemen all over the world risk their lives and well being for the people that they swore to protect.  The founding fathers of the United States risked much more than their lives when they declared independence from Great Britain.  Scientists take risks when conducting various experiments and field research, such as the Apollo missions or the Challenger disaster.  These are all good risks because their positive outcomes lead to improvement of society and human technological advancement.  Although these risks can lead to a negative outcome, they are a necessary step to achieving great things and improving.  Taking healthy risks builds character and leads to unleashing one’s full potential.  It’s not always a bad idea to occasionally step outside your comfort zone.

Science is cool

Hello SC 200!

My name is Sal Mattioli and I am from New York City. I am currently a Junior at Penn State studying Advertising and Public Relations. For as long as I could remember, I always loved presenting and getting people’s attention from a young age.  After taking graphic design classes in junior high and being involved with designing advertisements for work and school, I knew that I had developed a passion for marketing and advertising. Here is one of my favorite advertisements. I have worked for the past two years as a salesman for Enterprise Rental Car and have loved every second of it. From dealing with problematic customers to having a good chat with the frequent ones, it is safe to say there is never a dull moment there!


Why Am I Taking This Class?

Good question! After reviewing my degree audit with my advisor, I realized that I needed another science class to fulfill a requirement. She highly recommended this class and Mr. Read saying that most of her advisees loved the course and the professor. After only one week of class I can see what she was talking about.

Why Am I Not A Science Major?

Although i’ve always found science interesting and exciting, I can’t see myself as a professional in the field. Some say that I am studying a sort of social science by studying marketing and advertising, but aside from that I never had the passion that I have for business for any type of science. I  believe that science should be taught to everyone as it is important to understand for some of the reasons Professor Read stated in class (i.e. Our terrible Intuition). Although I loved watching Bill Nye and love learning about astronomy, I would not want to pursue a career in this field. I believe people should study something that they are truly passionate about as that will be the only field that they can do their best and succeed. I believe I am better suited for working with people rather than doing research and experiments. Therefore I am not majoring in science.

-Salvatore Mattioli