Spotlight Blog 3

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I focused on three situations in which peer pressure is involved in this blog.  I zoned in on adult peer pressure, teen peer pressure, and peer pressure around drugs and alcohol. As we have learned from our studies in class it isn’t so easy to go against the norm of society, especially when everyone around you seems to be participating in a particular event. Although many may behave a particular way when alone, an audience changes the performance or acts of an individual. The presence of others tends to generally increase the most likely outcome, so how do we say “no” to peer pressure?

An article from Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center website offers ways in which adults can handle peer pressure in their daily lives. The main point they emphasized is that resisting pressure is essential for improving your own self esteem and coming to terms with the life you are living. The key idea is to be true to yourself and to reconfirm your core values. Being assertive and making a wide range of friends is important.  I agree with this wide range of friends idea, that way if one group is doing something you don’t agree with you can find allies to side with you in saying its wrong. Surrounding yourself with those who seek the same values as yourself and learning from mistakes you were previously pressured into can help you handle peer pressure in the future. This article didn’t account for if an adult lives in a individualist or collectivist culture.  If a job calls for group harmony or your lifestyle, you may conform easier. Individuals in an environment where being uniform is important may experience informational influence, in which they assume their answer  is wrong and that of the group is right. Being under a boss that is telling you to do something because they have power over you and are assertive, can make you feel uncomfortable telling them you don’t agree, and therefore you conform.

Teens conforming to peer pressure has always been an underlying issue in society. Especially at an age that is sensitive to how others view them because they are still trying to figure out themselves. Social facilitation enables a teen to act differently around a certain group I believe best explained by Zajonc as the Drive theory.  This theory is that being around others increases arousal in an individual making them want to impress or show off to their friends. The article addressing this topic suggests to come up with a better idea when presented with a task you don’t feel comfortable partaking in. It also suggests walking away, saying no, and coming up with excuses.  This article did not seem very helpful to me.  It’s one thing to teach right from wrong but harder to not do the “wrong” thing.  When a task is easy to do, it’s much easier for a teen to get their friend to complete it even if previously the friend never thought of doing such.  If the majority of your friends are doing something and your the only one not, your most likely going to change your behavior and mind. No one likes to be singled out or feel like the odd ball in the group.

The National Institute for Health article presents ways to resist the peer pressure around drugs and alcohol. The first tip given was to offer to be a designated driver which avoids you from taking drugs and keeps you on your friends good side, by getting them home safely. The article suggests that you tell your friends you have to keep your body healthy for maximum performance. It continues by mainly suggesting to create excuses for yourself to not do a particular activity your friends are doing. They say to blame not drinking or doing drugs to having strict parents that will check when you get home.  Finally, the writing suggests that when all else fails leave, because if they were truly your friends they wouldn’t consistently pressure you. I think the accuracy of these strategies would largely depend on the size of the group participating in these illegal activities and pressuring you to do them.  An individual can still experience normative influence in which he/she doesn’t want to go against the group, not because he/she believes it is right but because they don’t want to stick out.  When surrounded by friends especially those that we want to please it is hard to say no.  Coming up with excuses not to do something doesn’t work every time and eventually your friends will catch on.

Media Production

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Researchers studied a very controversial question: Can money buy happiness? It was hypothesized that money can be used to provide a buffer against the time famine and make individuals happier. Buying time-saving services was claimed to provide protection for people from the negative effects of time stress on life satisfaction. Researchers Ashley Whillans, Elizabeth Dunn, Paul Smeets, Rene Bekkers, and Michael Norton put their claimed beliefs to the test conducting 9 studies on this topic.

            The first six studies of the experiment were correlation studies of an individual’s view of satisfaction with life in comparison to spending money on time saving services. Scientists operationalize their definition of time saving services to “encompass any way in which respondents could spend money to provide more time”. The definition of happiness or life satisfaction however was not defined in their study but left up to be determined by the participants. They used a broad large and diverse sample for their experiments.  Of the participants in the first six studies 366 were recruited Mechanical Turks from the United States, 1,260 U.S. were Americans found through the GfK Knowledge Networks Panel, 467 were adults from Denmark, and 326 were working adults from Vancouver, Canada that were discovered in public settings. The Dutch millionaire population was studied in the fifth and six studies found from an Elite Research database on public records. These first studies gave all participants a survey of the same questions that included answering basic question about their background information along with how much money they spent each month on time saving services and rating life satisfaction.  

Study 7 used Qualtrics a professional survey company to recruit 1,802 Americans over the age of 19.  The method of study was a survey as well asking similar questions to before along with questions on how much money spent on groceries, money spent on material purchase, experiences, and time saving purchases. Study 8 used 60 adults from Vancouver, Canada and looked at how the buying of time casually promoted happiness. Giving participants $40 on back to back weekends. One weekend was designated to spend money on time saving services, while the other was designated to buying a material item. The participants then reported back their feelings all at the same time the night of their purchase.  The final study conducted included giving 98 Canadian working adults a hypothetical $40 to spend on anything they wished. Participants were then asked what the money would be spent on and who it would go to.

The results across these diverse groups of all the studies showed that 28.2% used money to save them time resulting in a mean amount of $147.95 US dollars each month. A significant amount of people viewed spending money on time saving services as beneficial and increasing their life satisfaction. Studies also were shown not to be bias on income and that individuals from varying financial backgrounds showed similar results. Improvement on daily moods were reported higher in individuals who spent less money on material items and more on time saving purchases.  Surprisingly however when giving money to spent on whatever you would want more people choose material items then purchases that could save them time.


Throughout the process of writing the summary of the research article I tried to keep in mind the 5 critical questions we were taught in class to ask ourselves when reading research. Putting yourself in a journalist’s shoes can be very difficult often research papers are very long and its not so easy making a whole study fit into a page limit of an article.  Trying to pick out and touch on the most important pieces was hard for me to do because I wanted to include every aspect of the research.  I think the most important thing to remember and think about when writing it is if it was generalized back to the right population.  I wanted to make sure that my readers could understand the research and viewed it as accurate with no misleading details. I didn’t necessarily include all the p values of the experiment or quantitative results only because I believed it wasn’t essential for understanding the results. There were some variables I couldn’t include in my summary because it would have made my report too long like the percentages of each study. 

We previously critiqued journalists very harshly on their ability to incorporate materials we believed essentially but having to do it myself I can see how they left some pieces out.  Journalists also seem to make their articles more interesting and attention grabbing and add details that aren’t needed for the understanding of the article, but are needed to make an individual continue to read the article. Hearing “all people” versus the accurate depiction of the people studied makes a huge difference when interpreting research, however more individuals will probably be likely to read a paper that is directed to all people not just a certain group.


Bonus Post: Johari Window

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It wasn’t easy for me to pick 5-6 traits I thought strongly described me or applied to myself.  I confidently chose about 4 and the other two I saw myself as occasionally but not on a consistent basis.  There were so many traits to choose from that it felt a bit overwhelming, however I did manage to narrow it down to dependable, intelligent, kind, organized, trustworthy, and logical.  To my surprise many people viewed me the same way I viewed myself with the exception of being logical.  Apparently in the end I consisted of 25 of the traits according to my friends and my family. 60% of the 10 people pinned me as caring which I did not pick for myself, but it is very similar to kind which I chose. My next highest percentage was energetic, dependable, and mature at 40%.  I was surprised to see energetic on there and that so many people thought of me consisting of this trait.  Spontaneous is one some picked that I was shocked by, I don’t consider myself this at all. I am very stick by the book and follow the rules kind of girl,  but I guess to others I have a little wild and adventurous side too?

I think its great to see how others view me however the list had no negative traits like lazy, annoying, grumpy, etc.  Also the people picking your traits aren’t going to pick the bad because they know you are going to see it.  People may feel uncomfortable choosing what they actually think suits you because they fear you may not like the answer. The test may accurately access what your friend “want you” to think how they view you, but they may realistically view you quite differently. This test would have worked better if individuals go to type in 6 traits they thought of you instead of choosing from a list.


Spotlight 2

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Doctor Erlanger Turner explores and provides tips in handling the stresses of parenting in his post on Psychology Today. His first advice for coping with the stresses of being a parent is to seek professional help from a psychologist. As we know counseling psychologists can help an individual cope with challenges and crises to improve their social and personal functioning. This tip proves to be a good one, as help may even point you towards ways to improve your child’s behavior and make the role of a parent a little easier. Another thing he suggests is spending more time together as a family. It is posed that quality time may strengthen the parent-child relationship. We know how important attachment is and for one to feel an emotional bond towards their caregiver. Many children seek comfort and soothing from a parental figure and making sure your child has secure attachment is important. Participating in a family game night or something your child enjoys may have them further associate you with joy. Time for yourself as Turner points out is also vital. Self-Indulgence as we learned is doing something pleasant to compensate for stress, but it has limited usefulness and can backfire. This type of emotion-focused coping only addresses the feelings resulting from the stressor and not the problem itself. However, it may prove to be helpful, but only for a little while as it is not a permanent solution. Lastly, he makes a point to mention that a parent should use their support systems, he is right to include this tip. Social support is an immense part of helping one cope. Support provides hope and resources for an individual to turn to. Giving someone the belief that there is a potential for something to change is very powerful.

Sam Malik looks in on ways students can manage their stresses. He mentions that managing time, academic life, and not procrastination can reduce school stresses. I agree with him that being on top of things largely create less panic. Writing down the things you need to complete for the week in advance and checking them off as you go along is very beneficial and helps you stay organized. You can look at all you have accomplished and all you still need to do so you don’t fall to far behind. Having a sense of control over our lives and what we are doing helps to reduce stress. He further clues in to exercise being a key tip. Exercise has proven to increase energy, calm anxiety, and boost mood. We also know that participating in exercise orders up the neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and the endorphins. Exercise therefore can help to relieve stresses and foster neurogenesis. His next suggestion is to stay positive and optimistic. As we learned of mindful based stress reduction it is important to stay in the moment. Not to remember the pains of the past or rehearse the pains of future but to be in the present. It is said our problems come from the way we observe life so if we look at life positively and with open minds good will come. This is what I believe Malik was trying to express when he wrote this tip. He also mentions spending time with friends to release stresses and to have someone to talk to. Self-disclose as we learned in class can work to a point depending on whom exactly we are talking to. Sometimes however, talking things out can help you or a friend find a solution to the problem and ease your stresses about it. It’s important to feel that you’re not alone when under immense loads of stress. Water therapy was another tip Malik threw out there that I have never heard of before. It involves treating yourself to lots of water or hot baths. I can however see how this can be effective. It reminds me of the technique of a stress shower in wish you imagine washing all your worries or stresses away. Lastly, he suggests doing something you love, again this only focuses on removing the emotions of the stressor and not the stressor itself, but it does help for a little bit of time. Self-indulgencing can distract you from the thing stressing you out but is only temporary you will have to face it eventually.

Christie Morton wrote an article for Live Strong on how athletes can cope with stresses. She suggests that athletes should meet with a clinical psychologist who can assess and treat the athletes undergoing stressful tasks. Her first tip is to have guided relaxation. To focus on relaxing muscles and diaphragmic breathing techniques Morton says will decrease stress. We know from our learnings that simple relaxation produces many results of biofeedback. Relaxing procedures are proven to alleviate headaches, hypertension, anxiety, and insomnia. Mindfulness meditation is another relaxing technique I believe athletes could benefit from where people attend to current experiences in a nonjudgmental and accepting manor. Visualization was another tip that she mentioned that I believe can do wonders. Seeing yourself accomplish something in your mind can build confidence in a person. Imagery can help you to go on a mental vacation and picture yourself in a place that you feel most calm. Putting yourself in a position imagining how it feels and cluing in to your senses is really relaxing. This however is emotion focused and only deals with the emotions of the stress and not what is causing the stressor. This safe space meditation can be very beneficial to athletes to help them stay calm and imagine how a race or situation will turn out positively. Cognitive restructuring was the last topic she mentioned in which you turn a negative into a balanced response and make plans for future improvement. It is important to evaluate and look at things you can do differently or better, as well as what you did good. Planning for the future and having control or input reduces stress as well as excepting you’re not perfect. This method helps to reduce the pain of the past and forget about it however the individual still is rehearsing the pain of the future and may have stresses about what hasn’t happened yet.

Links to websites:

Week 11- Personality tests

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The four tests seemed to give me slightly different results about my personality. I believe some were accurate in representing how I perceive myself and my personality, however some characteristics were quite far fetched. The first test labeled me as ENTJ consisting of 34% extraverted, 12% intuitive, 19% thinking, and 38% judging. The description of this type of person described me pretty accurately.  It stated little encouragement was needed for this person to make a plan. That this individual was decisive, sees what needs to be done and makes it work, and actively applies material to the world.  Other attributes consisted of remaining stable through stress, mechanical memorization, organization skills, and having a large social circle. I believe these characteristics describe the type of person I am very well.  This test provided the most information out of the four even offering job options a person of this personality would do well at.  The next test placed me as an ESTJ personality type considered a “Administrator”.  It describes this type of person to be in touch with the external environment, loyal, and responsible.  This site didn’t go in to full details or more information but a simple brief summary. I could see myself as having these traits as well.

Test number 3 gave you the percentile you fell based on five markers after ranking a series of questions. I scored 96% extraverted, 52% emotionally stable, 76% agreeableness, 95% conscientiousness, and 28% intellect/ imaginative.  This means my determined personality was outgoing, not very stable, friendly, diligent, and traditional.  The higher you scored percent wise the more you exhibited a certain trait. The last test looked at color choices you were to choose dependent on mood, I found this one least accurate.  The color test then separated results into categories of existing situation, stress score, restrained, desired objective, and actual problem.  My results concluded that I need excitement and constant stimulus in my life.  I am said to have a thriving need for adventure and stress the importance of freedom and independence.  I am to be open and emotionally involved in a relationship but distant from those close to me. I’m bothered when my needs and desires aren’t understood and have a self centered attitude.  I supposedly desire to make a good impression and to be seen as unique.  I plan and scheme and I am greatly impacted by what others think of me.  My problem is having things stand in the way of freedom to make own decisions. I am said to work hard to build my position and status. I feel that the outcome or statement this source gave me could be applicable to all people or individuals and not necessarily just myself.

I don’t believe any of these sources provided a completely accurate representation of my personality type.  They are said to all be similar but provided quite different results. I however did find myself relating to some of the characteristics the descriptions had described.

Intelligence: Educators Influence

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I don’t believe to constrict the definition of an educator to the sole responsibility of a school teacher.  I have had a wide range of educators throughout my life consisting of teachers, family, friends, and even strangers that I believe have had a huge influence in making the person I am today. Intelligence in my eyes is a matter of not only genetics but the impact that those around you have had in how you perceive and interpret the knowledge you are dealt with. We are constantly presented with new information each day in the classroom and outside of the classroom what we do with it determines our intelligence.

An educators expectations has strongly influenced how I have learned.  When my teachers in the past have wanted me to do well and succeed I tend to be smarter and learn more.  It is nice to know a educator is on your side and wants you to be your best.  An individuals positive encouragement and personal interactions can go a long way in helping me learn.  I have crossed teachers who have motivated and inspired me to be engaged with readings and lessons, these teachers have grew my intelligence. I have also experienced nasty and cruel teachers that have even said the words “I give up”. I had trouble in math in fourth grade and I can recall my teacher telling me that I wouldn’t pass that grade if I couldn’t multiply.  She had no encouragement to give me and she didn’t believe I could do it but my parents did.  My dad started working on me with math every day he didn’t give up he had faith I would succeed even if we had to start at the bottom.  I ended up completing that year with a good grade and even ended up being in the accelerated math class in middle school.  The best teachers are the ones that push you to do your best and don’t admit defeat when things seem impossible.

A teacher not bringing outside influences or belief into a classroom can be beneficial. An educator entering a situation with an open mind, not being judging, or having a preference to favor can be a positive in a classroom setting as well.  The ability of a teacher to recognizing different learning styles of students and where to direct there attention to can help a child improve learning. School systems should encourage teachers to put their best foot forward when teaching and have the attitude and mentality that every student should succeed.  Come in with the thought that “as an educator I will do whatever it takes to help them reach success and be their best”.


Week 10- Learning

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Free will is the ability of one to act without restraint or freely. Having free will would mean we can choose our paths and have a sense of self control.  Believing that free will isn’t true conflicts with how we have molded society and our morals. Skinner’s view is that we believe in free will because we know about a certain behavior but not what causes it. He thinks environmental stimuli control our behaviors and that our behaviors are modified by either an award or punishment. Whatever stimuli present in this award/punishment system then controls how we behave. Free will is said to be an illusion that hides the real cause of human behavior : environmental circumstances and a previous history.

I believe in free will and that we aren’t fated for something particular. We have the ability to mold our lives and shape our futures knowingly and willingly. In fact our ability to act freely is what separates us from other species.  Other people can influence us and the environment can too, but we have the will to choose differently we are capable of changing a path we were heading down. Everyone is responsible for their own behavior not  believing in free will would suggest otherwise. Free will is not a mirage, we can actively respond to situations around us its not a passive process that happens automatically.

Week 9 Stress

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When I get stressed from school work or I’m in a stressful situation I often take a deep breath and map out what I need to do.  The first thing I do in the beginning of the week is make a sticky note for each day and put on it the assignments or schoolwork I need to get done.  Spacing the work out I need to accomplish by the weekend helps me not to feel too overwhelmed all at once. When something gets done and I get to cross it off the list I feel huge relief off my shoulders. I like to stay very organized and on top of things not only with school work but other aspects of life too.  I hate when things happen unexpectedly or out of plan, like a pop quiz or an assignment a teacher throws in last minute.  These are the situations in which I get most stressed.  Exercise has always helps me to relieve an eventful of overwhelming day, a long run outside has always cured me. I try to schedule free time in my daily schedule as well to enjoy or do something I like, such as socializing with friends or watching a movie.  One thing I found I did quite frequently last year but not so much this is to color in a coloring book. Listening to music and a nice cup of green tea help to calm me down as well.  In the future, I would like to be able to cope better with the unexpected or the curve balls life throws at me.  Meditation is something I have always considered and wonder how well it works.  Learning different breathing strategies I think would also benefit me in a stressful situation.  I am interested to know others ways of stress relieving activities or management skills that I can incorporate into my life.

Week 8- Emotional States

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Its very hard for me to read emotional expressions.  I can never tell when something is bothering someone or how they feel in a certain situation.  It is easier for me to identify emotions of close friends and family, but for strangers I have no clue how. I did the emotions test for this assignment and surprisingly got a 13/20.  I know that isn’t very high, but it was way better than I thought I would get. The test was given in the Greater Good Magazine, which usually magazines aren’t the most credible sources.  The test was however said to be based off of the pioneering research of psychologists Paul Ekman and Dacher Kelther.  These psychologists seem credible but not so much the source on where their results were tested.  University of Berkley is a very well known and credible school who established this magazine to connect the bridge between the research community and the general public.  The quiz therefore seems to be controversial as to whether it was 100% accurate but it did supply scientific explanations behind each picture of emotions.

I found that identifying when someone was happy, angry, sad, scared, or surprised was the easiest.  Happiness tended to have the corners of the mouth turning upward.  Anger showed a tensed face and surprised had an open jaw.  Disgust and flirtatiousness were also relatively easy for me to identify.  The more confusing facial expressions came with interest, compassion, pain, and contempt.  I think contempt was the hardest one for me because it looked more confused than contempt in my eyes. Interest was also a very difficult one. Being able to identify emotions in facial expressions is a very good thing to pick up on.  It can help you decide who needs a compliment or helping hand when down.  It also can facilitate how you speak or talk with certain individuals not to offset their mood.  Recognizing how an individual is feeling can help you relate to their situation better and put yourself in their shoes. Emotions help express actions of a person too. For example, knowing when my dad is angry and when he is happy will help determine what time I ask him for money.


Week 7- Sleep

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Many college students often feel overwhelmed with work and have trouble with time managing.  I frequently found myself my first year of college spending late nights doing school work or studying for exams.  It was difficult for me to get to bed at a good time or to get what I viewed as enough sleep.  I believe the average amount of sleep a human should get is 8 hours, but an individual may need a little more or less.  I have gotten better recently with managing my school work so that I have been sleeping roughly 6-7 hours a night which I think is a pretty decent amount of sleep.  I also tend to be on my phone before I fall asleep which probably isn’t good for my sleeping schedule and should be a habit that I change.

I think around 6 hours of sleep or more is a reasonable number for college students who are swamped with school work and social lives.  It’s hard to balance it all and get accurate sleep but I do see the importance of sleep and believe steps should be taken to strive toward the ideal goal of the average 8 hours.  The brain restores and builds on what we learn during the day so sleeping can be just as important as studying for a class.  If you don’t get good sleep everything you have learned won’t be retained.  Neural connections of important things strengthen when we are asleep that being sleep deprived won’t allow.  I believe winding down would help benefit me to fall asleep instead of just jumping from doing school work right into bed.  I also have a bad habit of needing to sleep with some kind of light (I think its due to my fear of the dark) that probably isn’t aiding the sleeping process much.  Keeping an organized list and planning out homework, school events, sports, and sleep can also help me to recieve all the benefits from a good nights sleep.