Spotlight Blog 3

Peer pressure is something we’re warned about early in life, but it doesn’t translate exactly the way we’re prepared for. Oftentimes, kids are told by adults that peer pressure will manifest itself in the form of a friend telling you directly to misbehave. In the D.A.R.E. program, you’re trained to recall the proper responses to these encounters, such as “let’s play a game instead.” You quickly realize, perhaps through trial and error, that this kind of training is completely ineffective.

Since my own introduction to dealing with peer pressure was somewhat traditional, I was interested in what tips and information are available about it today. I first looked at KidsHealth.org, which has been available for many years to give information to kids, teens, and parents. Their article “Dealing with Peer Pressure,” which is completely geared towards a child audience, starts off with a pretty innocent example of peer pressure: you’re being tempted by your coolest classmate to skip math class and get lunch instead. This scenario isn’t quite as extreme today, but perhaps at the time this article was written it was. Regardless, this opening set the tone for the rest of the article. The strategies offered by KidsHealth.org lead to the same ineffective, unrealistic idea–only associate with kids who don’t act out, and if your friends begin to misbehave, cut them off immediately. The one good tip in the article is to find a friend to join you in resisting peer pressure and it will be easier to do. This relates back to the experiment we observed in class, in which a participant answering multiple choice questions about line length felt more confident about deviating from the crowd when he was given a partner.

Another article I looked at was directed at teen readers. WebMD published an article about how teens in particular should deal with peer pressure, as that’s a major time for young people to explore new things. The article gives several scenarios about trying alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and having sex with a girlfriend or boyfriend, all of which sound way more severe to the writer than to most American teenagers, so it’s difficult to level with. There is one good tip in the article, which is to always assess the risks of whatever activity the opportunity includes. For instance, if you’re likely going to be arrested or at the very least damage a long-term relationship with someone like a parent, it may be best to avoid that behavior.

The last article I looked at was for parents, and it was exceptional. One of the most important tips in this article was to avoid calling your kids any kind of judgemental name in response to an activity they’ve done that you’re displeased with. The result of this is your child feeling emotionally damaged since their parent has just negatively labeled their character according to their actions; this is a very condemning format of communication with teenagers. Instead, the article recommends taking cell phones, as that is a better method of punishment than name-calling. Whereas verbal agression is only damaging, negative punishment like taking away privileges from teens will be more effective in preventing the behavior you want your child to stop.

The reality of being young today is that most kids bond over drug use, drinking, and partying; if you develop close relationships with people who already do this, you’re likely to get dragged this kind of activity so as to preserve your connection to the person, or you may lose that friendship altogether. What parents and teachers need to understand about peer pressure is that it’s not easy to recognize right away, and refusing to succumb to peer pressure can end up causing damage to a young person’s social life due to the connections they will lose. When your environment is full of illicit activity, avoiding it and trying to go your own way will ultimately lead to social isolation. I believe that the biggest part of successfully growing up and accepting this kind of environment is to not judge people based on their actions, but by the way you know them as a person. People go through different habits throughout life stages, and those habits shouldn’t change your mind about that person’s character, especially if it’s your child. That being said, it’s important to make your own choices and always assess risk, as any one of your decisions can change your life drastically.

 

Sources:

http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/peer-pressure.html#

https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/peer-pressure#1

https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parenting-teens-parental-authority-vs-peer-pressure/


First Impression: Mental Health Treatment

The Change Direction campaign will be effective so long as its principles are shared with students by schools, classes, and youth organizations. I think the benefit of these resources can only be had if there is effort put into getting its message to young people. In the “about” section of the campaign site, it says that many private sector companies and nonprofits are sharing this information about mental health, to reduce the stigma surrounding it. A strength of the program is that it discusses the “5 Signs” of emotional suffering: personality change, agitation, withdrawal, decline in personal care, and hopelessness. These are all important markers to look out for, as these changes from what is deemed normal behavior can actually indicate a serious emotional issue, even we react passively to them. What it would take for the campaign to be effective would be if it is able to make this information known to young people so that they will remember these things when they start to notice change in themselves or in others. Another strength to the campaign is that it has the support of major companies associated with health, social work, and psychology.

The difficulty in successfully implementing the Change Direction initiative is getting students to listen. I believe at the high school level and below it will be very hard to get a good response from students. At the college level, I believe it would be far better received, as every college student is bound to be under incredible stress, whether it’s because they’re away from home, struggling to make friends, or crumbling under immensely challenging coursework. At Elizabethtown, I strongly believe an awareness campaign would be taken seriously by students and publicized well. To go about this, I think flyers are the simplest way of reaching students. However, I think the most profound method would be for professors to bring up things like mental health and the 5 Signs to students, as they are mostly already inclined to give their professor their full attention. Most of all, I think it’s important to stress the availability of Etown’s counseling services. Etown has great resources for anyone struggling with mental health or anyone trying to help a friend.


Media Production & Reflection

New Study Shows Your Memory is Far from Foolproof

by Scott Kennedy

Memory is becoming a much less concrete concept with new discoveries in manipulating it. In a study led by Julia Shaw—a renowned psychologist who has studied memory in great detail—various mental exercises and carefully scripted interviews were used to convince college students they had committed a crime that never actually occurred.

While it may seem possible to remember specific details of an untrue event, we now know that the human mind can be tricked into doing so. In a recent study, Shaw’s team of researchers managed to effectively synthesize a false memory for nearly three-fourths of the participants. It is important to note that the study does not explore a natural phenomenon in human memory, but rather attempts to test if it will treat an invalid memory the same as one that is true. The experiment followed a similar outline to past studies on false memory, in which researchers managed to get participants to recall meeting celebrities and even vicious animal attacks that never actually happened.

When the participants of Shaw’s study were selected, their caregivers were asked to give information to the researchers about a deeply emotional event in the student’s life, specifically between ages 11-14. The students were then interviewed three times by Shaw’s team, who began by recounting the details of the emotional event, then asking about the false memory, the crime that they never committed. Beginning this way showed each participant that the information must be valid, as their own caregivers had reported it. When none of the participants recalled the false criminal event during the first interview, they were each asked to practice visualizing the event’s details every night. This mental exercise would help prime the memory retrieval process, ultimately starting formation of the memory by asking the student to repeatedly imagine it.

During the second and third interviews, the researchers gave several cues and details to the participants, all made to seem like they came from their file of actual life events. By the third interview, 70% of the students recalled committing the crime they were led to believe in. In a second group of students, 77% of students were able to remember a highly emotional event—instead of a crime—which also never happened.

Shaw’s study certainly raises the question that if a false memory can be formed in a three week study, could it happen over time in everyday life? We now know that memory is malleable, and it may be possible that some of our memories are false. While it’s unlikely that your friends will use the same communication tactics and mental exercises to get you to remember an event the same way they do, it’s still possible that with enough repetition, a memory can altered falsely or newly formed altogether.
Original news article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201605/three-reasons-not-trust-your-memory

Scholarly news article: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IScvrTbyeUMhpjpOPt5bzE2bY5J_NTzr2K8hsm1n2f8/edit

 

 

Reflection

Successfully encapsulating the significance of a great study into a simple news article is most certainly a challenging task for any writer. In all of the three assignments, I began to see several strengths and weaknesses in the original news article and even the study it was based on. Though Shaw’s work was inspiring, thorough, and revolutionary, there were several questions I still had about the variables in the experiment. While completing the scholarly article critique, I found it difficult to only address the clearer points in the study that could be improved. Reading research provokes many different questions from the reader, and when your job is the regurgitate a highly detailed study and discuss those details, you have to careful and deliberate in which questions you include into consideration.

While completing the media production project, it was an even bigger challenge, as the time I spent critiquing the original news article also seemed necessary for my own work. I chose to completely avoid the main idea of the news article, which felt like a bold move, though necessary. The original new article based its overall message on the journalist’s interpretation, misrepresenting the findings of the actual study. In my own article, I chose to simply summarize the study in a concise way–not as concisely as the original article did, however–and discuss the significance of the findings. Rather than twisting the information into unlikely everyday-life applications, I made sure to emphasize that Shaw’s study does not give a reason to stop trusting your memory, but does show an interesting vulnerability in memory.

 

 


First Impression: Motivation

The reason I chose to go to Elizabethtown College was because I was awarded a large outside scholarship that lowered my tuition to an extremely small rate. I also chose Elizabethtown College because I knew I would be able to graduate within three years instead of four. The significance of those factors is that I’ll be able to arrive at financial independence and stability sooner in life. Independence and financial security will allow me to meet fulfill my own hierarchy of needs, up to the “esteem needs” point, as I will be able to achieve more and live more freely than I do now. Having money and my own living space will allow me to maintain close relationships and live a less stressful life without worrying about student loans. Most of my friends are also in the grade above me, so moving a year ahead and joining them will contribute to my sense of belonging, which is another big emotional and social motive in life.

To motivate myself in my classes, I focus on all of those things I want to achieve. As long as I keep up my academic performance, I can maintain my academic scholarship and proceed through school at a faster pace so that I can graduate at the same time as my older friends. My plan to help myself succeed and graduate early is to reward myself with weekend trips to see my friends a few times a semester. To be able to do this, I will need to complete my schoolwork ahead of time. This semester, I could’ve done better with doing work, but for the rest of my college career, that plan will have to suffice. My current motivation is to maintain my close friendships, as they will be the most fulfilling thing for me as I work my way through school.

 

 


Week 12 First Impression

Cognitive dissonance has been a prominent feeling in communication since its early development. Everyone has the privilege of free thought, yet there is a frequent need in modern civilization to say the things we need to say in order to gain something. While this may not always mean downright lying, it can still bring an inauthentic result.

An example of cognitive dissonance in my own life is actually what was a long-term experience in my life and education growing up. I grew up in the Catholic Church and never shared the same beliefs with the people around me. However, my entire social environment (my school, my church community, and my family) was Roman Catholic. I essentially had no non-Catholic social outlet until the ninth grade, therefore I had to convince my environment that I shared the same beliefs. This led me to experience cognitive dissonance daily, as my responses to questions even in class often needed to acknowledge the existence and role of God. If I did not incorporate religion into the way I communicated, there was a major social risk. Therefore, cognitive dissonance became a constant in my upbringing.

I personally think that cognitive dissonance is ultimately a positive thing, since it leads to a better sense of control when we speak. If we were not to feel that discomfort, we may end up saying something that could compromise whatever gain there would be from giving the needed response, regardless of whether or not that answer feels true to ourselves. I wouldn’t go as far as to say we should promote cognitive dissonance, but I would say we should promote strategic communication, as there are many benefits from it in our careers. Cognitive dissonance is not as deliberate as strategic communication or decision making, as that state of discomfort occurs on its own. Though we are rarely conscious of it, cognitive dissonance serves a great purpose.

 


Spotlight Blog 2: DARE

DARE was a remarkably ineffective government program with an outcome far from what was anticipated. Launched in 1983, DARE was operating in around 80% of schools in the United States, starting with elementary students and even working with them throughout high school to reinforce what they have been taught. By 2003, it was determined that DARE had been overall ineffective in keeping youth from using illicit drugs long-term, according to a reports published by the General Accounting Office. The University of Kentucky conducted a decade-long study that showed how the DARE program had absolutely no positive impact on students by the time they were 20 (US).

DARE America, a sponsor of the DARE program as a whole, even admitted publicly that the program was ineffective and needed time to redesign its approach (“DARE”). Despite its failure, the program still runs today. Popular opinion overshadows the evidence, and there has still been a huge amount of government money being funneled into the program. I think the results of DARE demonstrate that no matter how much funding or public attention these kinds of programs receive, they aren’t necessarily going to be effective. Perhaps the most striking finding about the ineffectiveness of DARE is that students who participated in the program actually showed significantly higher rates of experimentation with drugs, according to a study by the University of Illinois (“Reallocation “). For at-risk teen, experimenting with drugs tends to be an common alternative to “just saying no.”

I myself was a DARE graduate among twenty other elementary students in my grade, and over half of those classmates became involved with drugs in high school. Whether or not a student becomes involved with drugs depends more on the environment and mental state they are in than on whether or not they have been properly oriented to the dangers of drugs by an official program. Destructive decisions cannot be prevented by aids like abstinence programs because those decisions are a constant option to young people and cannot be ignored. These programs are ultimately a waste of government funding which could be used to provide resources to those at-risk students, such as effective health and counseling services for schools. If a student has a proper support group and a caring environment they will be less likely to get involved with drug use, with or without a DARE certificate.

 

Sources:

“DARE Admits Failure.” Common Sense for Drug Policy: Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), http://www.csdp.org/news/news/darerevised.htm.

“Reallocation of Dare Funds.” Edge, https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/ganginterv/reallocation.htm

“US: DARE Drug-Resistance Campaign, Called Ineffective, Is Being.” Powered by MAP, http://www.mapinc.org/newscsdp/v01/n277/a07.html.

 


Week 11 First Impression Post

I feel that the Briggs Myers’ personality test has always been quite accurate for me and known to be accurate for many people. The result of my test was ENTP. I am somewhat of an extrovert, I feel as though I’m more intuitive than sensing, and that I’m more thinking than feeling in my approach to things. I was surprised to see that my biggest percentage was for perceiving over judging; I’ve always considered myself a judgemental person.

The Personality Test Center’s Type Theory assessment told me I am an INFJ. I took both this test and the Briggs Myer’s test consecutively, as well. These results makes me question this website in particular, as I know I have had fairly consistent personality type results in the past coming from the Briggs Myers’ test. I did however agree with the assessment that I have a judging personality.

The Big Five Personality Test ranked intellect and imagination highest for me, then extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability, in that order. I find this test to be strange in the particular things it measures. I think intellect and imagination should be separate, and I think agreeableness and conscientiousness are traits too subjective and specific to determine an overall measure for. Emotional stability doesn’t seem like something that can even have a ballpark measurement from the few basic questions about it, like “do you often feel blue?” or “do you have frequent mood swings?”

The color quiz seemed astonishingly accurate in the result it gave me. However it seemed like maybe some of the explanations may just be easy for any person to apply to themselves and their own problems. The website seemed outdated and unprofessional. I even had a friend take the quiz to see how the results varied, and we found that many of the explanations between the two of us were extremely broad and similar, if not the same. All of the personality tests seemed incredibly basic, outdated, and unofficial. I personally believe personality is too complex a topic to classify.

 

 

 


First Impression Post: Learning

Violence in video games has been a popular concern among parents since video games have started getting more advanced. Video games are no longer puzzles or arcade-style; instead them simulate life, which isn’t always mild. In fact, video games nowadays seem to use extremes to appeal to young people who haven’t been exposed to the more feared, graphic parts of life. War games have an enormous appeal, as the challenge is one that deals with the lives of people, or even national pride. U.S. military recruiters have even used these kinds of games to reel in young people who enjoy challenges of that severity. I don’t necessarily disapprove of violent video games, but I think it’s awful that it takes images of decapitation to interest a playful child in 2017.

I think violence in video games reflects how different our definition of a game is today vs forty years ago. I don’t think it necessarily makes kids more violent, but I do think it gives kids an understanding of the extent of violence and what they could do to someone if they were angry enough – which is scary. There’s also a strange, eerie appeal in a lot of people to seeing gore and destruction, which I think violent video games activate at an early age. I don’t think they should be banned, but I do think parents should hesitate to buy violent video games for their kids, as they might have a dark influence on them in such a formative years of their lives.


First Impression Post: Stress

My current stress management game plan relies entirely on having free time to exercise. The night before a big exam, presentation, or project, I typically like to go for a long run in a new place or lift very heavily before studying and going to bed. Exercising works well for me as stress relief because it helps to remind myself that there are other things to channel my mental energy into when one class seems to be draining my mind. Rather than continue to cram or stress out about a test or assignment, I take a break from that information and give my attention to whatever exercise I’m doing. Since directing your body’s movement is not mentally draining like schoolwork can be, I can typically come back to the important information later with more energy.

Since I exercise daily, I don’t really depend on any other stress management activity. I do however like the idea of writing in a journal each day; I think that’s a great way to organize and clarify your thoughts and feelings when they seem overwhelming. Having a regular schedule and routine would also be a good way to help manage my stress since I don’t stay on campus for the entire day and am often driving to different engagements. Eating healthily with less sugar intake would help reduce my stress significantly as well.


First Impression Post – Sleep

My sleep habits this semester are nowhere near as strong as I’d like them to be. As a commuter, my living space as well as both of my jobs are off campus, and taking 18 credits means my schoolwork demands staying up late every night and studying for every minute of free time between class. I wake up at 7 am each day and go to bed after almost always after 1am. At best, I get about 6-7 hours of sleep each night, which is not healthy for my lifestyle. To keep myself awake to study, I often go to the gym for an intense hour-long session before I sit down at my desk for the night. Sleep is critical for muscle recovery, but I am unable to fit in enough sleep, so I’m putting my body under stress and days of soreness without proper healing.

In addition, my focus and alertness are constantly hindered by my tiredness. I do not consume caffeine any more than once a week, as it tends to keep me from falling asleep later when I need to. Overall, my sleep habits do not work well with my level of physical activity. To improve my sleep habits, the best thing I personally can do is take time off of work to complete schoolwork earlier in the day and get to bed at a more reasonable time. I think 8-9 hours of sleep is almost unattainable for college students, despite the fact it’s what we should all be getting. I would say between 7-8 hours of sleep each night plus a nap later in the day would be the most effective and realistic plan.