Media Production Project

--Original published at Emily's college blog

Many Americans believe their pets play a significant role by being part of their family, but perhaps large numbers of people do not realize their pets can also play a role in positively affecting their sleep quality and sleep routines. Researchers from the Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation at Canisius College conducted a survey to explore the impacts pets have on human sleep quality. They restricted their online survey to female participants who resided in the United States and sent the survey to previous participants who had volunteered for their other experiments while also posting the survey on their Facebook page.

The researchers collected data from 962 adult women who were living in the United States and found 55% of participants shared their bed with at least one dog, while 31% of participants shared their bed with at least one cat, and 57% of participants shared their bed with a human partner.

Through the survey questions, the researchers were able to measure the sleep components tied to sleep quality deficits, the components that show signs of sleep deprivation. If the participant’s score exceeded five of the twenty-one components, an indication of sleep quality deficits was noted. Measurements of the average wake times and bedtimes, as well as the levels of comfort, security, and disturbance from pets were also noted.

In the results, the researchers found women who shared their bed with dogs had fewer sleep disturbances, as well as stronger feelings of comfort throughout the night than women who did not share their bed with their dog. It was also found that having a dog bed partner strengthens circadian rhythms, the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle which influences important bodily functions. The researchers explained that this could be due to dogs getting up and going to bed at roughly the same time every day.

Although dogs were found to have positive effects on pet owners who allowed them to sleep in their bed, there was no correlation between cats and a good night’s sleep or stronger circadian rhythms. In fact, cats actually had negative results for being equivalent or even more disturbing than human partners during the night. Cats also do not go to bed or wake up at the same time each day, thus they have no effect on their owner’s circadian rhythms.

A few cautions should be warned when discussing the results of this survey. First, 58% of the people who participated in the survey resided in the state of New York (where the researchers had conducted the survey). Since over half of their participants resided where the researchers were doing their research, the experiment could potentially be seen as biased to outsiders, since the results are supposed to represent all the women in the United States. Secondly, the researchers for this survey announced that more research is needed in order to show a stronger relationship between the sleep quality of pet owners and their dogs.  Lastly, the researchers did not take into account the breeds of dogs that could be more likely to cause a better night’s sleep than another type of breed. For example, one breed could be known for snoring, kicking legs in their sleep, barking at noises in the middle of the night, etc.

Overall, this survey suggested an improved quality of sleep and comfort for women who shared their beds with their dogs, however, their findings did not support a strong enough relationship between dogs and sleep quality, so therefore more research is needed to better support the findings.


In my summary, I made sure to include information that would be important for answering all five critical questions for reading research. I wanted to make the research summary straightforward and easy to comprehend. This way, a non-psychologist would be able to understand the results and findings that were discussed. I did not include any p-values or the specific types of studies and methods that would be needed in order to find a stronger relationship between pets and sleep quality of humans. I did not want the reader to be confused by p-values or the numbers they represent. I also did not want to go into too much detail about what the future studies and methods would entail since it would be off topic from the summary findings.

 The news article and my summary both discussed the percentages of participants in each group, the results from pet owners who slept with dogs versus those who slept with cats, the caution of not knowing which breeds would be a better sleep partner, and who conducted the survey. The news article, however, did not include information describing the selection of participants for the study, information describing the weak relationships in the results, or information describing the 58% of participants who resided where the research took place. They also excluded how the researchers measured the sleep and comfort quality of participants. I chose to include the information that was not in the pop culture article because I think excluding those points would establish assumptions and leave some unanswered questions about the research. Specifically, the information including how the researchers measured the women’s sleep quality, how they chose the participants, and how they assigned the participants into groups allows the reader to answer the five critical questions. From knowing those details of the experiment, the reader will know the participants were not randomly assigned to the experiment and were not randomly assigned into groups.

Writing about psychology research through these three assignments, has taught me that authors have the power to influence reader conclusions by choosing to exclude relevant information. By leaving out important information or being purposely biased towards an experiment, an author is able to potentially persuade a reader to his or her point of view. Also, in order to generate more readers, an author could also exaggerate the findings from an experiment or make generalized statements. I also learned about the difficulties associated with writing pop culture news articles. If a study is complex and requires some background knowledge in the field, it can be challenging for the author to write a short, engaging article for the reader to understand. Lastly, I learned to look for the critical questions in news articles discussing research experiments. If the article is missing adequate information to answer the questions, perhaps it is not a reliable source. Writing my own pop culture article demonstrated the power authors have in order to persuade viewpoints and generate readers, while also showing me the hard work in selecting information for the article as well as being aware of information a common reader will not understand.


Coren, Stanley. “Do Women Get Better Sleep Next to a Person or a Dog?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 24 Jan. 2019,, 27 January 2019.

Hoffman, Christy L., Stutz, Kaylee, and Vasilopoulos, Terri. “An Examination of Adult Women’s Sleep Quality and Sleep Routines in Relation to Pet Ownership and Bedsharing.” Anthrozoös, Routledge, 13 November 2018, DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2018.1529354, 15 March 2019.


--Original published at Emily's college blog

Stress is part of everyone’s life (especially in college) that cannot be avoided, but there are ways to cope and manage it. To manage my stress, I try to plan out my schedule and try to work ahead so that I will not fall behind. If something is stressing me out, I will put it down for a day or two and come back to it later. I would say that these strategies work pretty well. If I am not behind on work and just taking every task day by day then I do not have as much stress to weigh me down. Also, when I have everything that I have to do written down in front of me, it helps me to feel more control of the things that I can get done. I think this is because once it is written down, I mentally make a plan to get it finished before the end of the week.

            Some activities that help me manage and deal with my stress more effectively is participating in workout classes at Etown, like Pound, Strong, Yoga, etc. I also will go to the gym and run on the treadmill for fifteen or twenty minutes. I do not know the scientific reason for why these activities relieve stress, but I believe they help me to do better on my work and help me to release stress in effective ways. Some other stress management activities that I could realistically incorporate into my routine would be planning more time for friends and relaxing time for myself throughout the week instead of just on the weekend.


--Original published at Emily's college blog

In this ted talk, Dan Gilbert discussed how people synthesis their own happiness and displayed data to show why synthesis happiness is real.  What I found interesting was that no matter what hard situations the people in the first example were in, they still found ways to be happy.  I think this is very uncommon in today’s young society due to social media. People go on social media and think they are living a boring and uneventful life because they are seeing other people brag about their life in an extraordinary way.   Sadly, this can be the cause of depression in many teens, especially girls, making synthesizing happiness even harder.

Gilbert seemed like a credible and trustworthy speaker.  His data from past experiments did an accurate job of revealing how people synthesis their own happiness, even if they do not know they are.  I also find his message to be reasonable, favorable advice.  Life will not always be perfect, so synthesizing happiness could make a lot more people satisfied with their life. 

I can incorporate more synthetic happiness into my life if I stop overthinking, comparing myself to others, and become more grateful for everything I have.  Almost every day I find myself overthinking or being indecisive about many decisions that I have to make.  During his Ted Talk, it made me realize that just like the students in his study, I overthink a right or wrong choice because I let it drag out and cause me stress.  Just like the students, when I have to make fast decisions, I am happier with the outcome because I did not have to spend so much time deciding which one I would like more.


--Original published at Emily's college blog

As I head into the second half of my second semester of college, I would have to say that my sleeping habits have not yet become unhealthy.  I try to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night or even take twenty-minute naps during the day.  I would say this is a good, healthy amount of sleep for a student in college. However, since I do not have an 8am class this semester, I find that I am going to sleep much later and waking up later.  Even on the weekends, I find myself not wanting to get out of bed until about noon because my body has become used to sleeping in that late during the week.  Now I am uncertain how I managed to get up for my 8am every other day during the week last semester or how I managed to wake up at 6:30am everyday last year.  Of course, it only seems unmanageable now because I am going to sleep much later than I was when I had to get up at those earlier times.  

A realistic goal for amount of sleep per night for a college student should be at least eight hours.  This allows the brain enough time to process everything that a student studied and learned the day before.  To improve my sleeping habits, I want to start going to bed earlier and getting up earlier in order to get more done during the morning and early afternoon.  I can achieve this by putting my phone down earlier in the evening and staying away from sugars and caffeine during the second half of the day.     


--Original published at Emily's college blog

In my opinion, the criteria for orthorexia in criterion A does not set a good boundary for mental illness or healthy eating because there is no time frame to define when this would be normal or out of control.  For example, if someone is insecure about their weight or health and they undergo a cleansing diet for a few weeks or a month, there is a possibility that after changing drastically from an unhealthy diet to a cleansing diet, the symptoms noted in criterion A are likely to come up.  However, if someone continues to feel these obsessive compulsives and anxiety from eating, there is a possibility for a mental illness diagnosis.  The people who wrote the concepts for criteria A should include a time frame for when the anxious feelings actually turn into a serious mental illness.  I believe that if these thoughts and beliefs cause a weight loss and continue to escalate in six months to a year, there should be a check up for orthorexia.

In Criterion B, I think the criteria listed are acceptable to distinguish the boundary between orthorexia and healthy eating.  Someone who is malnourished from severe weight loss would have started struggling with the compulsive behaviors and mental complications for a long period of time and should cause serious concern, especially if these actions are caused by a lack of body image, self-worth, identity, or satisfaction.  I believe that in order to diagnose someone with orthorexia, these criteria have to be met.  


--Original published at Emily's college blog

Memory is essential for human life.  Memory causes us to remember complex concepts for tests and simple everyday tasks.  Some older memories can be so vivid and detailed as if it happened a few minutes ago, while others are blurry or misplaced all together.  What causes our brain to decide which memories to store in detail and which to throw away? When I think about my past memories, most of them are ones that I hold very dear and want to last a lifetime.  Others, however, are moments like, nationwide tragedies, that haunt my mind.  For example, last year on Valentine’s Day, I remember my mother was washing the dishes when I had walked into my kitchen and found out about the Florida school shooting.  I remember in detail what happened a year ago, but I do not remember what outfit I wore yesterday.  The school shooting is something that impacted me and put our nation into a shock for several months. My outfit yesterday, however, had no effect on my or anyone else’s life at all.  I believe events that shape us as a person and the country as a nation are the ones that our brain decides to keep.  The everyday activities that are unimportant and useless to our future are ones that our brain decides to throw away.  There is also only so much space our brain can hold for memories, so as we make more, the unimportant ones fade away or become blurry. However, the ones that have shaped us as unique person or our country as a nation are the ones that stick with us forever.           

Learning Prompt #2

--Original published at Emily's college blog

I believe the video game industry should be criticized for the amount of violence and graphic displays of blood and gore.  I grew up with an older brother who always played video games but when I was very young, my parents would always try to make sure I wouldn’t watch what he was playing.  I never understood why my parents were so strict on protecting me from the video games, but as I got older, I started to understand more. In a way, video games are desensitizing the value of human life and the consequences of violence in real life.  Before video games or any type of violent entertainment, people were never exposed to this much level of violence.  Violence was viewed as a more serious issue because people would only witness it in real life situations.  When children are witnessing violence on a daily basis, it starts to become the new normal and children are not sensitive to it anymore.  When this happens, children are going to grow up to become more violent than the children who were never exposed to violence through their sources of entertainment. 

Although video game violence is an important issue that is being stressed in our society, I do not think people should call to permanently ban them.  Parents should be held accountable for buying and allowing their children to be exposed to this type of violence.  Once the child is older, they can start to make their own decisions on what they want to watch and play.  I do not know what age would be appropriate to allow children to play these games, but I do know that the game industries have put age limits on some of their games. This should be taken more seriously by parents because it could stop some of the violence being brought into our society and world by younger children who are being exposed to it more and more.  


--Original published at Emily's college blog

I chose the TED talk called, “Exploring the mind of a killer” because I have always wanted to know how ordinary people become psychopathic killers.  In his talk, he explained the genetic, biological-epigenetic, and environmental factors that contribute to the making of a killer.  He first tells the audience that we see more violent male killers than female because of the MAOA sex-linked gene that is inherited from the mother.  Females can receive a MAOA gene from their mother but the x from their father will weaken the aggressive MAGOA gene.  With the MAOA gene, males in the womb are bathed in serotonin, causing their brain to become desensitized and unable to use it in order to calm down later in life. 

Next, in order to express this gene, the child has to be exposed to traumatic violence very early in their life.  This is what the presenter calls a “recipe for disaster” and is what causes the brain damage of a psychopathic killer.  He then goes on tell the violent history of his family which causes him to believe that his family has the MAOA gene for a psychopathic killer in the future. 

What I found most interesting about the talk was the comparison of brains between a normal adult and a psychopathic killer.  From the comparison, one could see the damage that the killer’s brain undergoes. 

Although this was an interesting talk, the presenter did not have any evidence that could back up any of his ideas.  He also only did pet scans of the brains in his family.  His family does have a history of violent killers and it would be fascinating to see the gene taking effect on their brains, but this is not enough people to conduct a true experiment. The presenter also only made two or three points to back up his ideas and none of them were proved to be actually correct.  Even though his points make sense, for those reasons, I did not find the presenter and his information trustworthy.

A research idea I have is to find various volunteers who know they have violent ancestors and find various volunteers who know they do not have violent ancestors.  I would pair up each group and make sure that they lived in the same area, being either violent with a lot of crime or calm with barely any crime.  I then would analyze the brain results of each of the groups from the violent and nonviolent area where they grew up.  I would look to see if there were brain differences in all the different children.      

Development – Option #1

--Original published at Emily's college blog

Parenting is said to be one of the hardest jobs in the world, but it is also a very important and rewarding one too.  There are few approaches to parenting that I believe would create happy, healthy, and productive members of society.  The “best” way to parent, in my opinion, would be to provide endless amounts of love.  Now, I do not mean give everything to their child, or always allow them to get away with everything, but it is necessary to make them feel valued, and cherished.  When I said that parents shouldn’t give every little thing to your child, I believe that is another quality of good parenting too.  If a parent gives everything to their child, they will grow up not knowing what it is like to work for something they want.  They will instead, go their whole life expecting something from everyone and everything, but in all reality, that is not how life works.  Parents also shouldn’t be so overbearing or create a lot of stress for their child.  They should be understanding, compassionate, and openminded to their children because after all, they are still learning how life works.  The “best” parents should be available for hard times, life advise, just someone to talk with.  Creating a safe space with their child may allow them to feel trusted and lead them to be less likely to go against their parents.  Parents should be there for their child no matter the cost and let them know that are loved no matter what they do.  There are a lot of different parenting styles, but I believe the “best” parenting just involves a lot of love, even “tough” love.  If a child grows up feeling misunderstood, unloved, or stressed, they may turn to other things like alcohol, drugs, or unhealthy relationships to try and feel fulfilled.  This is why parenting is a tough, but critical job.

Research Methods

--Original published at Emily's college blog

The Mythbusters episode that I decided to watch was “Are women Better Than Men at Reading Emotions?” In this short clip, the Mythbusters put this question to the test by taking five different pictures of themselves, showing a different emotion. In these photos, the men and women participants would only see the Mythbuster’s eyes and they would only have a selected amount of time to guess the emotion that each Mythbuster was trying to portray. After the experiment, Mythbusters declared the combined score from all the women was a 10.6 and the combined score from all the men was a 9.6. This was not a significant difference, but it was a big enough difference that they decided that women could read emotions better than men.

Although this was a fun and interesting experiment, there were some questionable methods used to design it. One being that the Mythbuster’s facial expressions in the photos may not be what they would actually express if they felt those emotions. Since there is no specific expression for a certain emotion, the Mythbusters were only showing how an emotion is supposed to look. An emotion is something everyone can feel but it is not something everyone expresses the same way. Also, it can be hard to read an emotion when only looking at an unfocused picture of someone’s eyes. Two pictures were so misleading that no one had actually gotten the expression correct. Instead, everyone had guessed the same answers of what they actually saw. I also noticed that during one point of the experiment, two of the Mythbusters had different scores for one of the participants. This one, simple mistake can damage the total data for the results.

Some ideas to perhaps fix these methods would be to show the Mythbusters different videos, pictures, or stories that would force their true expression to be expressed. This way, they would actually be feeling and showing their own expression of the emotion. They also could have used a professional camera in good lighting instead of an old, dark photo-booth. Then, the photos would be clear, focused, and of exceptional quality. I think since the Mythbusters would now be expressing their actual emotions, it would not be as misleading as before to show pictures of only the eyes. Especially since the camera quality would be much better, so the participants would have a better chance of trying to guess the emotion as well. Lastly, the Mythbusters should pay closer attention to the answers so that there is no confusion on the participant’s score.

The Mythbusters did, however, have some ideal methods to their design. They kept good timing on the participants and noted that women were answering faster than most of the men. They also made sure to have a decent number of participants in order to balance the playing field of men vs. women.