Psychology in the Media

--Original published at Olivia's College Blog

1 in 4 children enrolled in school showed deficits and delays in motor skills and communication. Time spent on digital media could be the source of this delay in children, according to a new study by JAMA pediatrics. The study found that children between the ages of 2 and 3 who were exposed to more screen time scored lower on development tests at milestone ages of 3 and 5 years old.

The first 5 years of life are critical for a child to stay on track with normal growth and development. JAMA pediatrics explains that the deficits that are associated with too much screen time may be caused children replacing important opportunities for learning and growth with the screens. Screen time may also be replacing interaction time with the caregiver.

2,441 mothers and children were recruited for the study between 2008 and 2010. Between 2011 and 2016, children’s development was self-reported by mothers on the Ages and Stages Questionnaire at 2, 3, and 5 years old. Mothers also reported amount of screen usage for different mediums of technology, like phone, tablet, computer, or TV screen.

The child’s development score on the ASQ was representative of their current ability in communication, motor skills, problem solving, and personal-social skills. A low sum of the three scores on the ASQ was indicative of poor development. The research found that more screen time at 24 months produced lower development scores at 36 months, and more screen time at 36 months produced lower development scores at 60 months.It is estimated that children should not exceed one hour per day of screen time, according to the AMA. Today, 98% of US children aged 0-8 spend an average of over 2 hours a day. Dr. Sheri Madigan, lead researcher of the study, explains the harm in too much screen time at a young age: “excessive screen time has been associated with a number of deleterious physical, behavioral, and cognitive outcomes.”

Children of ages 2, 3, and 5 were found to have an average of 2.4, 3.6, and 1.6 hours of screen time daily. While results show a directional association between screen time and poor development, it does not produce causation. The data showed that more screen time was linked to lower ASQ development test scores. The data did not support the obverse relationship of poorer development being related to more screen time.

Like any study, there were numerous possible limitations. It is likely there are other factors that contribute to the effects we see in development from more time spent on screens.  Not all children are equally affected by the same amounts of screen time and these differences were not all accounted for, Dr. Madigan explains. Examples she gave of this included gender of the child, maternal depression, and how regularly the child was read to. Any of these factors could have been the cause of poorer development but is shown as a trend that is tied to screen time. There were also few outliers of children who had higher screen time but also showed high scores of developments. One last limitation listed was the focus directed to the screen time. The amount of attention directed to screens during ‘screen time’ could cause these findings to be misinterpreted. There is no guarantee that mothers used the same criteria when reporting amounts of screen time. While the data showed an overall negative correlation between increased screen time and poorer development, it is possible that other factors could have applied a hidden pressure to the results.

This study is one of the first to provide evidence of a directional association between screen time and poor development in children. The good news is that this information can be used proactively to make we are doing our part to make sure our children are not spending too much time on screens.

Psych in the Media Reflection

I found this assignment to be the trickiest portion of our Psych in the Media Project yet. For me, the difficulty of the task came from condensing the loads of data in the findings into one short article. I approached the assignment by considering what the audience would gain the most from reading. I sorted through the research and located the numbers and information that were necessary to include for understanding the basic findings of the research. Then, once I had a rough idea of what I would include, I summarized it. It was good practice to take the information and present it with less jargon for a broader audience. I am majoring in psychology and spend a lot of time in my methods class dissecting research papers. It was nice to step outside of that practice and learn how to present the information to anyone who may not understand specific terms of psychology.  

The information that I chose to leave out included most of the statistical data and figures. These results are crucial in presenting findings that lead to published work. However, when presenting the findings as news, it is important to present it in a compelling and attractive way. I liked the flow of the original article, so I aimed to include most of the same information in my version. This assignment would have been even harder if we had to rewrite the article without having to read through the original publication. It was much easier to avoid plagiarizing in our assignment because I had an entire research publication to dissect for new information.

I have always had an appreciation for writers, journalists, and publicists. They are almost like the middle man between the information and the public. This series of assignments has made me view journalists in a new light. They have a lot of power in their hands, and from this assignment, I really do see how most of the information we receive is coming from a secondary source. I never thought about it in that way before, so I appreciate this assignment for making me more skeptical of what I come across in daily news. Many journalists and sources of news may have great content and spread accurate awareness, but it is also alarmingly easy to present the public with false or skewed information. I tried my best to avoid making those mistakes in my article submission, to make the most of the findings of the research on development by JAMA pediatrics.

Work Cited

Howard, J. (2019, January 28). More Screen Time for Toddlers is Tied to Poorer Development a Few Years Later, Study Says. Retrieved January 30, 2019, from

Madigan, S. (2019, March 01). Association Between Screen Time and Child Development. Retrieved from

News Article:

Research Publication:

Chapter 9 – Intelligence

--Original published at Olivia's College Blog

An instructor’s role in the classroom is very impactful on the pupil’s success and intelligence. From their method of teaching to their classroom rules, teachers control the flow of the classroom environment. Their subtle or not-so-subtle behaviors can determine a child’s intelligence. While genetics may have a role in someone’s intelligence, it is important to understand how one’s learning environment may be related to intelligence. I can relate to this topic from having 15 years in the public-school system. I don’t think it is any coincidence that my favorite instructors were the ones whose classes I excelled the most.

              This is a tricky subject, because no two students have the same requirements for an environment that will allow their intelligence to flourish. For me, I always did the best in classrooms where the teacher was outspoken, friendly, and comical. In our class, we’ve learned that learning is done most effectively when there is meaning attached to the content. I am most successful and feel most intelligent in classrooms where the teacher is lively and engaging, because it cues my semantic memory to extrapolate information from interesting lectures. In classrooms like our own psychology class, I am most comfortable which makes me feel like I am retaining more information.

              At the other end of the spectrum, I have had very poor experiences with instructors who I do not feel connected to in the classroom. The most difficulty for me comes from very dry classes that do not involve discussions, student comments, or questions. In these environments, it becomes hard to find meaning in the information that is information that is thrown my way.

              I think one far reach solution to this is having instructors take tests like the IAT that check their levels of prejudice. This is an extremely influential factor in student success. Educators that are prejudiced to any group of people, consciously or unconsciously, could single handedly determine the success of a student. Whether it is religious, gender, or race prejudice, any biases could manipulate the fair learning environment that every child deserves.

I can see how an instructor’s job is a difficult one since no two students are alike. For that reason, I think it is important for the instructor to be adaptable and open to the differences among students. For example, one could create lessons to accommodate tactile learners, visual, and auditory learners. I believe that welcoming classrooms that are accepting of differences will foster learning and intelligence. Just like employers are required to follow certain guidelines to ensure workplace fairness and safety, I think teachers should understand that their role and classroom environment is largely an indicator of student success and intelligence.

Personality Tests

--Original published at Olivia's College Blog

In the HumanMetrics test, I was happy to see that my score reflected my career aspirations and how I view myself. My answers placed me into the “INFJ” category, with a preference for introversion over extraversion, and a preference for feeling over judging. INFJs are characterized as having a deep concern for their relationships with others and the state of humanity at large. People with this personality type are described as dreamers and doers having a “rare combination of vision and practicality”. I feel like these descriptions are spot on. While I am slightly introverted and value time to myself, I do have a lot of empathy for others and like to express my feelings to people I am close to. The first category for career suggestions is social, like counseling and social work. I thought it was very interesting that my questionnaire produced these results that matched me with counseling, which is the career I aspire to have.

The personality test center questionnaire placed me into the ENFJ category. In these results, I was matched into teaching for my best fit profession. Teachers, and people with this personality type are more extroverted. They are known for their authenticity and for being ‘natural visionaries’. I can see how this difference would cause the career shift from counseling/social work to teaching, since teaching is more centered around extroversion and having a presence that is easily felt. I realize I am biased toward the HumanMetrics test because it confirms what I want to hear about my career interests, but I do not believe I would be as good of a fit in a career that requires more extroversion. Afterall, since the answers I selected matched me with ENFJ, I would be open to potentially exploring careers in that field.

The psychometrics questionnaire evaluated 5 main personality traits. My extrovertedness scored 37%. It seems fitting that I am close to the middle because I do not feel as though I am one of the two extremes, but more toward the introversion end of the spectrum. Emotional stability was in the second percentile. This is interpreted as negative emotionality. My highest score is in agreeableness, at 87%. This is described as friendly and optimistic. To me, a combination of introversion and agreeableness is a healthy blend of the two characteristics. My contentious score is 67, indicating that I am careful and diligent. My intellect and imagination scored a 38%, meaning I am closer to the end of being traditional and not being as open if I were over 50%. If this score is a true representation of me, I would like to improve in my openness.

I completely disagree with the color test’s evaluation. The results listed me as having trouble forming emotional attachment, being picky in my relationships, and feeling as though relationship are a limiting circumstance. This is not how I view emotional attachment whatsoever; I prefer to have deep emotional connection with people and view that connection as very important. The color test also suggested that my desired objective is to be seen as a unique individual, wanting to gain recognition and observing how others are reacting to me. I can admit that I can be self-conscious at times, but nothing about the way I think or carry myself leads me to believe that my primary desire is to gain acceptance from others. I think the color test is a bizarre way of evaluating one’s character and is the least accurate/reliable of the tests I took today.

Reading Emotions

--Original published at Olivia's College Blog

              Our interactions and relationships with others are largely influenced by how we interpret their emotional expressions. Non-verbal communication is a huge part of connecting with others by picking up visual cues that are indicative of mood or emotion. I could parallel the importance of reading facial expressions to body language. In my social psychology class, I learned that body posture and facial expressions give us a lot of hints to how an individual is feeling. For example, crossed arms or an outward leaning posture may mean that someone is uncomfortable, and they separate them self by creating distance. Someone with averted eyes with their head tilted downward may be feeling shame. These are both examples of how picking up small non-verbal cues can be very useful in communication.  

Before taking the Emotional Intelligence test, I hoped to correctly match most of the expressions with their respective emotions. I scored 15/20 and hard expected to do well. I am a very compassionate person and find it gratifying to help people through problems and give advice, so understanding these social cues is necessary. Additionally, my career aspirations as a clinical psychologist revolve around non-verbal communication. I think the test is a valuable tool; it would help me be more effective in reading emotions. I believe people should be concerned about their ability to discern emotional expressions, as it facilitates healthy communication. I can vouch for this in an example we all can relate to. Texting has a reputation for producing miscommunication. I believe the source of this miscommunication comes from the lack of face-to-face contact. The crucial difference is that text messages don’t supply us with the necessary non-verbal cues to help us read emotions.

The emotions that were the most difficult to tell apart were fear and embarrassment. I incorrectly guessed embarrassment when it was fear. I misinterpreted her appearance of an open mouth and pulled-up eyebrows as fear. The test is fairly credible in that it gives a general score of how accurate I was in discerning the 20 facial expressions. I don’t think any one quiz is enough of an indicator to tell you concretely how well you read emotions. Other variables must be taken into account, like the atmosphere and overall tone of the conversation, which are absent from the quiz.

Chapter 3 First Impression: Sleep

--Original published at Olivia's College Blog

Poor sleeping habits can be detrimental to other areas of daily life, like academic success, and mental and physical health. Before experiencing college life, I heard many older family members and high school alumni claim that “The three branches of college are social life, academics, and sleep. If you want to be successful you have to choose two of them”. I figured this was an exaggeration, just highlighting the fact that college requires a lot of time management. I’ve learned that college is in fact extremely demanding of my time, but as long as I am mindful of the time I dedicate to each of those three areas, I can manage.

Throughout my life, I’ve had sleeping problems that have made it difficult to have consistent and deep sleep. For that reason, I have always made sleep one of my top priorities. I know that sleep deprivation can make it very difficult to perform in regular tasks like exams or athletics. In an effort to stay on top of how much I sleep, I keep a sleeping schedule and aim to fall asleep and wake up at the same time each day. Over the years I found that it helped my body fall into rhythm which facilitated falling asleep and waking up. Additionally, I have learned how to get a better sleep by eliminating naps. During my first year of college, I took daily naps to decompress, relax, and break up homework during the day. I would oversleep and sometimes sleep hours on end, which made it nearly impossible to fall asleep at night. Having some experience in college has helped me understand what my body requires for the best sleep.

I’ve never been one to pull all-nighters doing homework or cramming for exams. I feel that I do best when I am rested, so I find more comfort in having a good night’s rest as opposed to studying in the early morning hours before an exam. I typically sleep a minimum of 8 hours a night. As an athlete, I think I should get more than 8 hours, taking into account the excess of calories burned and the exhaustion I feel at the end of every day. Overall, I think my sleeping habits are healthy and I plan to continue making healthy sleeping habits a priority.

Vivid Memories

--Original published at Olivia's College Blog

The brain has many ways of internalizing certain experiences; sometimes it may even block out certain memories from stressful or traumatic situations. When we say something is ‘memorable’, we are probably referring to types of experience that are more emotionally stimulating than we typically experience. Situations that are out of the ordinary have the power to generate especially vivid memories. For example, a mother might recall the weather conditions from the day that her son struck his first homerun in baseball. A girl might remember the exact outfit she was wearing on the day of her surprise 16th birthday party. Situations of great significance that are rather surprising, shocking, or exciting can make memories that are stronger than others. 

              In the extreme example of 9/11, most people could tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing at the time of the event. I think one theory for this is because those memories help to remember the rest of the experience. It becomes an easier task for the brain to remember that day, and to relive the experience in their memory, if they have a lot of other information to help bring out the details. If the brain remembers that, on 9/11, you were on your way to pick up your 1 month old from day care on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon, your memory will take you farther in remembering the significance of that day. The same can be said for any other situation that we find significant enough that our brain internalizes very specific details of the situation.

Learning: Violence in the Media

--Original published at Olivia's College Blog

The increased amount of attention given to violence in the media, particularly video games, is a concern that I fully support. I think that the exposure children are having to the violence portrayed in movies, video games, and social media is toxic because it consumes such a large portion of their time. In moderation, I believe that video games, TV time, and social media use don’t have to be considered completely detrimental to the child. This is not the case when violent media is used in excess. For that reason, I think drawing attention to this growing problem is important for understanding the impacts of early childhood exposure in violent video games.

For children, whose brains have yet to fully develop, over-exposure to the crime, gore, and violence of video games can send an inappropriate message early on. As we learned in our lessons of Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory, children learn through schemas. New information is added to existing schemas or to create new ones altogether, called assimilation and accommodation. The violence and graphic, bloody displays of video games could potentially be very detrimental to the development of a child, because they are receiving that violence and it is being incorporated into their existing beliefs.

I think a permanent ban on violent video games is rather extreme. Maybe one could argue that a child will benefit from light exposure to violence in videogames, since the ‘real world’ will involve crime and other harsh realities. I don’t think we have to resort from banning violent video games altogether; a different approach could be taken. Along with the age recommendations for users of violent video games, there could be age restrictions, like 18+, when purchasing R rated games. As for parents who choose to buy them for their children, the games could include a information packet or demo CD that shows the parent what their child will be exposed to. I think if there continues to be overuse or misuse of violent video games among children, these are ways to restrict the exposure kids have with these games.

Can the Damaged Brain Repair Itself?

--Original published at Olivia's College Blog

I chose to investigate the TED talk, “Can the Damaged Brain Repair Itself?”, by Siddharthan Chandran. I was drawn to the topic because it is at the intersection of the themes of the courses I am taking; biology, neuroscience, and psychology. I also am curious to learn about this topic because people in my family have multiple sclerosis, so I feel it is important for me to be educated on the brain’s mechanics and processes.

Chandran stated that any given time, 35 million people are suffering from devastating yet untreatable diseases of the brain. They occur when the cells of the brain die or become damaged, interfering with the brain’s electrical activity and disrupting and slowing connections. Chandran steers his talk into the direction of stem cells. Stem cells can renew themselves or become specialized—two extremely useful functions for a damaged brain. He explains that the brain naturally repairs itself, but not at the rate it needs to for controlling a brain disease. Using stem cells, he describes, would promote the spontaneous repair that is already occurring within the brain.

The most interesting aspect of Chandran’s talk were the statistics he pointed out to support his argument that it is crucial to find treatment for brain diseases. He said that the prevalence of brain diseases is on the rise, because they are age-related diseases, and the population is living longer. Chandran’s TED talk is essentially a call to action, and he uses this fact to insight passion in viewers because it illuminates the dark reality behind this rapidly growing world-wide epidemic.

I found Siddharthan Chandran’s TED talk to be extremely credible. Aside from his expertise in neuroscience, he is an excellent presenter. Chandran modifies his talk by giving the audience a lesson on the mechanics of the brain. He is especially skilled at modifying his jargon for a broader audience, which shows a deep understanding and mastery of his material. In addition, he uses real life examples from patients that he has worked with. From patients with motor neuron disease to multiple sclerosis, he uses personal examples of how the stem cell technique is revolutionizing brain diseases and repair. Overall, I think his presentation was very successful and I trust his work.

For a research idea of my own, I think it would be fascinating to study the impact of stem cells across various diseases. The study could consist of a large pool of patients who agreed to screenings and stem cell infusions, with diseases like MS, motor neuron, Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s.  The research could be used to compare the effects of the stem cell therapy on different diseases, and therefore see if it is a more useful for one type of disease over another. This could potentially help categorize types of brain diseases.

The Ideal Parenting Method

--Original published at Olivia's College Blog

When looking at “problems with kids these days”, it’s convenient to trace the behaviors back to the style of parenting they experienced. I can see how this is a struggle for parents, who only discover if their parenting is effective by trial-and-error and seeing the results of their parenting style as their child grows. Of course my response is biased to my personal experiences and opinions, but I think finding a middle ground between extremes is essential for producing a happy, healthy, and productive member of society.

As someone who was raised by strict parents and very sheltered, I can confidently say that this extreme is not the most fruitful method of parenting. Being raised with strict parents can make a child feel very restricted. It is important to look out for the safety of your child and use your experience to steer them in the right direction. This is taken out of hand once the parents make choices for their child because it creates a certain divide that places the child below the parent. Sheltering is not a good style because it can enforce introverted behavior and have the child miss out on social aspects of their life.

On another end of the spectrum, I believe it is important to avoid the ‘friendly’ type relationship with a child. I know plenty of parents who try to be the ‘cool mom’. I believe this style is constructive in that it develops a comfortable relationship between parent and child, but is lacking in discipline. To me, being friends with your child does not outweigh the importance of raising them with responsibility and having expectations for them. I think children raised this way would benefit from a parent offering more advice or a bit of constructive criticism.

The middle ground includes all the above: the protective parents, the strict parents, the softer parents, the friendly parents. To be a well-rounded individual, a child needs well-rounded parenting consisting of constructive criticism and emotional support, protection and freedom. I believe having a blend of these parenting styles would not only be better for the child, but generate the strongest and healthiest relationship between parent and child. Most importantly, the parent needs to understand the child’s biological need to be nurtured. Genuine emotional support from the earliest stage is a crucial step toward self-acceptance and forming and maintaining strong relationships.  

Research Methods: Are Women Better at Reading Emotions than Men?

--Original published at Olivia's College Blog

Myth busting videos are fun and entertaining. It’s easier to understand the experiment’s results if you take a look at its research methods. The topic I chose experimented on the assumption that women are superior at reading emotions over their male counterpart. The MythBusters took photos of themselves displaying emotions of sadness, anger, happiness, and confusion. They were cropped to show only their eyes. The experiment was designed with a small group of male and female participants who were asked to interpret the emotions displayed in 17 photos.

They recorded the data as participants guessed the emotions from the photos of the eyes. Their data showed that men had a 9.6/17 guessing accuracy, while woman had a 10.6/17 guessing accuracy. From this they concluded that women were in fact superior to men at reading emotions.

My first critique of their methods is the small participant pool. If there was a larger participant pool, the data would be more accurate because it would be more representative of the overall population. This contrasts with the MythBusters approach, because they used only a handful of participants to draw conclusions that supposedly apply to the entire male and female population.

Next, the MythBusters accepted the results of the experiment without replicating.  They could improve on this aspect of their experiment because their results were so close that they should have reattempted the experiment. Had they replicated several times and the women always came out on top, it would be more acceptable to make the claim that women are better.

One of the strengths of their experiment was how they interpreted their results. A notable difference that emerged from the experiment was the speed at which women recorded their responses; women were much quicker at deciding than men. It was a strength of their experiment to analyze and interpret their results for any patterns or red flags. Paying attention to research methods can be useful when trying to find credible studies.