Posted in Photography, Psychology

Ikea’s Value of Learning.

For my first post on learning and education, I will discuss effects that examine the value and effort of learning. Have you ever have a professor lay out the material and research in a nice organized fashion: power point slides, bullet points, summaries? What do you remember from that class… probably not a whole lot? Laying out the material for students is like laying out clothes for a child when they have an opportunity to dress themselves… they don’t have a clue and end up putting on a bunch of random clothes, like Julian from Big Daddy.

tumblr_ktwi0rGm3I1qzmuypo1_500 Julian “Frankenstein” from Big Daddy, had the opportunity to dress himself; choosing to wear underwear on the outside of swim trunks, oversized cowboy boots, and a towel as a cape.  The same can be said for learning, hence the organization effect.

The Organization effect is “outlining, integrating, and synthesizing information produces better learning than rereading materials or other more passive strategies” (Hu, 2017), so by organizing materials for others, you inhibit their learning. Part of effective learning is organizing information, in a way that you have associated it with the knowledge that you already know. By organizing, summarizing, and bullet pointing your own material and research; rather than just memorization. You become more familiar with the material, allowing it to be better ingrained in your Long Term memory (LTM) for later recall.

Beyond this acquisition of knowledge through LTM, learning is more effective when students can understand the purpose of learning such material. By organizing their own material, it can help to answer the question of how and why is this information relevant — adding value to their learning.

This line of questioning leads to the larger realm of inquiry: what happens to knowledge and learning when students put in the effort to learn the material rather than the material being presented in a neat and tidy bow in the form of slideshows and bullet points? They remember it better and care about it more– hence the Ikea effect.

The Ikea effect is described as adding a higher automatic value to something because of the effort they put in to create it— a labor of love. I believe this can relate to learning. By using the organization effect to organize our own material, we not only remember it more effectively in our LTM, but we value the knowledge and learning more but because we have put in the effort to organize and understand it. By using the organization effect, students can establish the Ikea effect towards their learning and education.

A real life example of adding effort to learning from students that result in the added value of their knowledge and education is seen in this Ted Talk: “What if students controlled their own learning?”. Students design, and control their learning and education. The result? Students are passionate about their studies and intrinsically motivated to achieve, which is not fueled by grades or physical measures, but by their motivation and passion for learning and knowledge obtainment on topics of interest.

 

This real life example shows that by having students be active in their learning, by making mistakes, and putting in the effort to earn, it adds higher value to education and learning, thus implementing motivation, and passion. WIth this being said, can we add a higher value to learning and education as a whole beyond the degree and grades? I believe so.

For this week’s feature photo is of my cousin Allyssiah and her son Felix. Felix was a labor of love, that has motivated Allyssiah to go back to school and get her degree so she can provide a great life for Felix. The motivation, passion, and the love doesn’t end as soon as he walks, talks, grows up, graduates, gets married and has kids. The love, passion, and motivation of Felix will always be there for Allyssiah. This is how learning should be. it should stop as soon as the task is done, or the grade is achieved, it should continue throughout the rest of your life, using acquired knowledge to help perpetuate growth and learning. Learning; like Felix; should be valued, promoting motivation, drive, and development.

References

Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (2001). How people learn. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Donovan, M., Pellegrino, J., & Bransford, J. (1999). How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice. Committee On Learning Research And Educational Practice, 88. http://dx.doi.org/0-309-51946-2

Hu, X. (2017). Organization Effects – L.T.T.A @ the UoMHome.umltta.org. Retrieved 14 September 2017, from http://home.umltta.org/home/theories/25p/organization-effects

Martin, J. (2017). The Science of Learning: Organization Effect. ACADEMY FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP OF LEARNING. Retrieved from https://learningscholarship.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/the-science-of-learning-organization-effect/

Metcalfe, J., & Shimamura, A. (1996). Metacognition: Knowing about Knowing. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Norton, M., Mochon, D., & Ariely, D. (2011). The ‘IKEA Effect’: When Labor Leads to Love. SSRN Electronic Journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1777100

Ted Talk X. (2017). What if students controlled their own learning? | Peter Hutton | TEDxMelbourneYouTube. Retrieved 14 September 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMxqEkg3wQ0&t=339s

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Posted in Photography, Psychology, Writing

Has Religion Lost its Way?

During these trying times of politics, terrorism, and Trump, the world has become a scary and unpredictable place. The religions and belief systems typically used to promote peace, community, and the betterment of the individual are now being used as a form of social control. Using religion to promote fear, ignorance, and exclusion is based on rule books or bibles written thousands of years ago. While the stories and techniques may differ, I believe that all religions are virtually the same in their end goal —the betterment of the individual and their life.

Christianity, the most practiced religion, has Jesus Christ as the central figure. The son of God, sent to die for us and save our sins, is symbolized by a cross. In Christianity, people who follow the religion exist to worship God and Jesus Christ and must guide their life by the Holy Bible and the Ten Commandments. When acts, thoughts, or deeds go against the lessons and orders given in the Bible and Ten Commandments are not followed, it is considered a violation or sin. To get into heaven after death instead of hell, people must live by the teachings of the Holy Bible. Forgiveness is at the core of Christianity.

Anabaptism includes traditional Christian religions such as the Amish, Mennonite, and Hutterite among others known for their simple lifestyles void of modern technologies or conveniences. The Amish are the most extreme. They refuse to use cars, power lines, or power tools to assist in their farming and daily living. Mennonite and Hutterite, however, are more accepting of modern conveniences. They use some modern technology such as phones and cars but must still live a simple life.

To maintain the simple lifestyle associated with Anabaptism, strict rules and harsh consequences are doled out. Shunning, for example, forces a member (and sometimes their whole family) to have no contact with their community or extended family. They can no longer attend any community events, family functions, or their church. So, by not following rules that are hundreds of years old, dissenters live in complete isolation and are essentially mentally tortured in an effort to maintain social control and order.

Islam, the second largest religion, is concentrated in the Middle East including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Egypt. Followers of the Islamic religion, called Muslims, believe in one god known as Allah. Like Christianity, Muslims believe in Jesus Christ and live by the laws outlined in two holy books: the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Like Jesus Christ, Islam’s founder and the prophet is Muhammad who was sent from God. Allah (God) is a powerful and strict judge who will be merciful toward followers depending on the sufficiency of their life’s good works and religious devotion. The teaching of the Islamic religion says that giving up one’s life for Allah is a sure way of entering heaven. And when one goes against Allah, they should be punished.

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion in the Southern Asia including India and Nepal. Unlike Islam and Christianity, Hinduism has no single founder, no single scripture, and no commonly agreed set of teachings. There are many gods that take different forms, which is why they believe in reincarnation. Hindus have different beliefs or laws. One law is Karma, which says the actions and the way you live your life will be returned to you in your current life or in a future one. Dharma is another law that helps to maintain society. It encourages people to be more moral or gives them the opportunity to act virtuously.  So, a Hindu’s goal is to become free from the law of Karma by using Dharma.

Buddhism is a spiritual religion that is mostly located in Southeast and Western Asia including Thailand, China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia. Buddhists don’t believe in figure heads or deities. They believe that nothing is fixed or permanent, and that change is always possible. The goal of Buddhism is to reach a state of enlightenment or nirvana through the development of morality, meditation, and wisdom. The founder and teacher of Buddhism is the Gautama Buddha, who achieved a long state of happiness or enlightenment. Just like Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, Buddhism is a collection of guided disciplines, values, and directives that a person may want to live by.

New Age is a wide variety of different beliefs, practices, and therapies found in North America, but mainly in the USA. The goal of New Age beliefs and practices is to develop an altered consciousness and one’s own divinity while trying to reach a higher consciousness within themselves. Popular elements of New Age include alchemy, alternative psychotherapy techniques, aromatherapy, astrology, channeling, crystal work, divination, color healing, magic, mediums, psychic powers of every kind, reincarnation, and past life regression, Tarot card readings, Yoga, and many other unique movements and zany practices. To society, these techniques are better known as self-help methods and alternative therapies. But like the already mentioned religions, New Age promotes a sense of betterment within the individual.

So why am I describing these different religions? To make a point that, no matter what the figure head or founder is, these religions are striving towards a similar goal of betterment and prescribing to a higher (sometimes unknown) power. I believe that religions are just coping strategies that people use in times of difficulty, death, hardship, and when struggling with a lack of guidance. By putting all religion on equal footing, it allows commonalities to come to light.

Religion allows people to deal with the issues of life, society, death, and struggle. When people are in desperate need, they seek answers through religion. A good example of this is when people are facing death or a loved one are attempting to deal with their loss. They end up praying to a higher power even if they aren’t religious. Religion and spiritual beliefs also provide people with an escape from reality to establish comfort and relief. This is seen with prison inmates, who claim to have found Jesus. Inhumane living conditions can negatively impact one’s mind and body, so religion offers a mental escape just like reading, learning, or inane tasks.

Religion and spiritual beliefs have also been used as a method of control or locus of external control. By believing a higher power has control over your actions, destiny and eternal life have become a scapegoat for actions that result in negative actions. This is seen when people claim to act as God’s messenger.

What often results from trying to live religiously is that instead of trying to live to your best potential, religious groups try to oppress and establish some type of social control. This appears to be a common issue when groups of Christian terrorists, extremists, or believers, kill and protest because it says to do so in the bible and they want to please God. This often results in the oppression of immigrants, women, and LGBTQ.

I am not claiming that all violence is due to religious ideals, but these views of religion, places of worship, and leaders tend to skew peoples’ views of our current society by opposing change that needs to occur. If you look at protesters, there seems to be a common thread: people against LGTBQ, immigration, abortion and any sort of discrimination frequently have religious tendencies advertised on their protest signage.

“Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”. Quoted by Karl Marx, who is known as the father of Communism, Marx believes that during trying times of depression, religion can serve as a distraction. This quote, I believe, is still quite relevant, but religion has become less about love, forgiveness, reaching enlightenment, and living to be your true self. Today, it is more about following traditions, orders, and laws, even if that is through oppression and discrimination.

One example of such discrimination is with the conflicts in the Middle East. There has been much controversy over the Muslims and Islamic religion. Uttering words like “ISIS” or “Muslims” seems to be the equivalent of saying the Dark Lord’s name from Harry Potter (Voldemort). These words promote fear, and with that, paranoia. Associating all Muslims are terrorists is a joke.

Stereotyping all Muslims and people who wear hijabs or turbans, and denying Syrian refugees and immigrants from having an opportunity to live a normal life, is disgraceful. This can also be said for LGBTQ community, where protesting against love and acceptance of LGBTQ members, one the perception of being sinful is horrible, and should not be tolerated. If religions like Christianity are all about love and forgiveness, then why are same sex couples, who want to be married, live a normal life and have a family, considered sinful? This is where I believe religion comes into play. Through all this hatred, it appears that religious groups have lost their way as they try to establish social control.

This dictatorship of social control by religious groups needs to stop. I hope that, by putting all religions, spiritual beliefs, and belief systems on equal grounds, it can lessen stereotypes, fear, and religious social control, while promoting a sense of equality and an openness to different ideas and people. Whether they are Muslim, LGBTQ, black, white, or those with purple polka dots, acceptance and openness is key for the survival during these difficult times.

For this weeks featured photo, I have posted a photo of unique donuts. Each donut has its own special characteristics (whether it be sugared, glazed or feature different flavors like bubblegum). The bottom line is that they are all the same — they are donuts. This I believe is a metaphor for religion, that when it comes down to it, they are all the same — each religion has similar goals — self-improvement, guidance, and enlightenment.

Posted in Photography, Psychology

Is Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Bisexual?

In society, sex and gender are controversial and confusing. Traditionally, sex and gender were binary (male or female), but today they are a spectrum. Bill Nye explains the spectrum of human sexuality” by using an abacus break it into four different categories: sex, gender, attraction, and expression.

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Bill Nye Saves the World S1, E9. Abacus of Sex.

Sex is defined as biological features that are often split into male or female. It’s the sum of the structural and functional differences by which the male and female are distinguished. Or, it’s the phenomena or behavior dependent on these differences. Sex varies because of the varying of sex hormones, chromosomes, and organs.

Gender is like sex in that it is on a spectrum. Gender is the physical appearance of male/female binary classification and is based on the individual’s personal awareness or identity. People think that sex and gender must match, but this isn’t the case. On one end of the gender spectrum, there are individuals who were born one sex and identify as that sex. On the opposite end, you have individuals who were born as one sex but identify as the opposite sex. They are referred to as transgendered. Jazz Jennings is an excellent example of this.

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Jazz was born as a male, but at an early age, she identified as a female. She began transitioning to a female by taking hormones. Because Jazz is transitioning from male to female, she has received many threats, where people call her a “freak”, “transvestite”, or telling her that what she is doing is unnatural/ a sin.

In the middle of the gender spectrum, there are individuals who neither identify as a male or female — gender fluidity. One example of a gender fluid individual is Ruby Rose.

An actress who considers herself gender fluid, Rose sometimes dresses more masculine. Other times, she dresses in ways that better fit feminine societal roles. (She has the bone structure to pull off either one).

Attraction, like sexuality and gender, is also on a spectrum in regards to who you are sexually attracted to. Much of the population are attracted to the opposite gender making them heterosexual. On the opposite side of the spectrum are individuals who are attracted to the same gender or sex — homosexual. Those attracted to both males or females are referred to as bisexual. Those attracted individuals regardless of sex or gender are referred to pansexual, while people not attracted to either male or female sex are a-sexual.

In the past, expression was binary. Females wore clothes like dresses, pink colors, and makeup socially defined as feminine, while males wore more masculine clothing like darker colors, suits, and ties. But, this is all changing. Here are a few examples showing the diversity of expression for men and women:So_Lashy_BlastPRO_Mascara_by_COVERGIRL_LashEquality_16

James Charles is the first male model for CoverGirl cosmetics, showing that men, like women, can wear make-up.

These are just three examples in the fashion world of how certain pieces are for one type of gender. Ellen DeGeneres is known for her more masculine clothing, even though she identifies as a female and is attracted to other females. Jennifer Morrison is a heterosexual female who can rock a suit and tie. The final fashion choice is from a runway show where male models showed off more feminine pieces like a dress and fur boots. One of my favorite examples of expression that defy binary rules is RuPaul Charles.

Ru Paul is a homosexual male who can rock drag attire and a suit and tie. On an interview with Oprah, Rupaul commented by saying that dressing in drag was his job, but he still enjoys colorful suits that reflect feminine patterns and colors like pink polka dots. In fact, RuPaul’s explains the spectrum of expression best when he says “We are born naked, and the rest is drag”. After reflecting on the “Abacus of sex” and the “spectrum of human sexuality”, I believe that gender is socially constructed.

In society, we try to place a label on something to better understand it, and we apply these labels with the help of attraction and expression. But, what happens when we can no longer rely on expression to define gender? When trying to determine someone’s sexuality or gender, we use fashion, mannerisms, and emotional responses to deduce whether someone is male or female. We try to label or define someone by only their appearance, which needs to stop. One advocate for this type of labeling and how to approach it is IO Tillett Wright.
IO_Tillett_Wright

Io was born as a female, but identified as a male and is homosexual. When IO interacts with people who are transgender, queer, or homosexual, IO asked their preferred pronoun — he, she, or it. Notice how I did not use a pronoun when talking about IO, I used IO’s name? This is how we should talk when discussing people instead of using the pronoun of he, she or it. Instead of labeling a person’s sex, gender, or expression and putting them into binary boxes, we should consider a more tasteful and humane approach like ice cream flavors.

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During the sexual spectrum episode of Bill Nye, he introduced a cartoon clip of different flavors of ice cream cones in a conversion therapy group. The storyline of this clip is that vanilla tries to convince the other flavors to be more vanilla because it is the most natural of the flavors. This clip is a good representation of how we shouldn’t try to change ourselves so that we can fit in with the norm. Each person or flavor is made of similar ingredients (internal body parts and organs), but the flavor is how we define ourselves vanilla (heterosexual), pistachio (homosexual), and mint chocolate (bisexual). Be true to your flavor.

Instead of labeling people by their expression, sex or gender, love them for who they are, and embrace your own flavor. In the words of RuPaul: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else”.

This week’s featured photograph is of a boy standing in a fountain. The idea behind this photo is that a child doesn’t have near a number of social biases, as compared to adults. They express themselves freely without concern for others judgments.

Here is the link for the Cartoon Ice cream clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46h-LfNWPn8

 

 

 

Posted in Photography, Psychology, Writing

Could Brain Damage Cause Brilliance?

The New York Times features an article about using cognitive brain manipulation to explore mental disabilities such as autism. This article leads to future possibilities that could have a huge impact on how mental disorders are studied. This article begins by the author discovering new skills, such as impressive drawing, through the application of electrodes of certain brain regions. The electrode experiment led to further investigation into the ability to manipulate human cognition past their mental capacity and provide insight into how the human brain functions. One example of this type of manipulation of brain areas is the research into autism.

Allen Snyder developed a theory while studying autism called the Savant theory. Snyder theorizes that a small number of people with autism can perform super specialized mental acts. These acts can include learning new languages without any formal training or impressive drawing skill.

The unlimited mental capacity within people with autism leads to the larger question of the neurological impairment that causes autism. Could neurological impairment be the cause of such genius-like abilities? With this line of questioning, I wonder if higher brain capacity is caused by lack of brainpower.

An analogy that I think relays this thinking is having all your eggs in one basket. By having more brain area impairment, more time and neurons are applied to fewer brain areas as compared to multiple brain regions. The experiment to investigate this savant theory was tested by the manipulation of electrodes to shut down parts of the brain. This type of testing can also give people with normal functioning brains gives a glimpse into the reality that people with mental disabilities deal with daily.

By manipulating certain brain areas, changing the way people perform and think can provide more intense and scientific research into what causes mental disabilities.  It could also change the way we think in unexpected ways

Not only can we determine the underlying cause of mental disorders, it but can also assist in the treatment of mental disorders. This treatment and cause for mental disorders can be achieved by stimulating other areas of the brain to dispel syndromes and side effects of mental disorders by using a normal functioning brain to create autistic syndromes.

In summary, not only can brain manipulation help with treatment and prevention, it can also assist with therapy. This technique could be used as a therapy where people can learn what is it like to have a mental disability. By gaining a new perspective and appreciation for people who deal with daily mental difficulties.

This week’s featured photo is of graduation shoes, which is symbolic of this blog post, by allowing people to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. whether this is through shoes or brain manipulation.

Posted in Photography, Psychology

Warning: People Under Creative Influence.

This is a followup blog to my first blog on creativity.

What role does creative instruction have in creativity? Everyone says that creativity is increased by constraints, but nobody has questioned how creative instruction affects creativity.  Finding out how creative instruction affects creativity, could affect educators, businesses and other professionals investigating creativity and provide a different perspective when applying such constraints as self-imposed, situational and material constraints.

How is creativity defined? Depending on what context creativity is being discussed, determined how it is defined. When talking about creativity from an artistic perspective, creativity is defined as a trait or talent, that only the elite portray. from a psychological perspective, creativity is a skill that one must develop, but still portraying the idea that only some can develop such a skill. From a scientific perspective, creativity is a type of thinking or intelligence, which is referred to as divergent thinking. With this divergent thinking, it is still emphasizing that to think divergently, but people portray different type of thinking, where some are more divergent thinkers and others are more convergent thinkers. Excluding the idea that everyone can think creativity, leads again to the notion that creativity, whether it is defined as a trait, skill or intelligence, it still leads to the idea that creativity is only for those with such an elite ability as creativity. I think creativity is defined as a type of mindset. By labeling a task creative, it allows the participant to believe that they must think outside the box, or in a unique way, resulting in a more creative outcome.

Constraints are defined as a barrier that restricts, or blocks something or someone towards a goal. Constraints affect one’s behaviour, or thinking when trying to strike towards a goal or complete a task, which is seen negatively. But when talking about constraints in the context of creativity, constraints are discussed in more of a positive light. By applying constraints to creativity, it can limit ones thinking, allowing that individual to restructure the task at hand, or re-evaluate their thinking or ability to the task or goal, through limitations. There are different types of constraints that are often applied to creativity. The first is self-imposed constraints, this is where one applies their own constraints, as a w ay of self-control. Examples of self-imposed constraints are to apply a time limit or deadline. Limiting the use of materials that one can use, which can be in the form of limiting art materials when drawing or painting, and limiting the subject matter.  The second type of constraints is situational constraints, constraints applied are outside of the person’s control which forces that individual to restructure the task or redirect the goal accommodate the constraints. Examples of situational constraints are limited materials, limited time, or additional tasks to complete a goal. Both the self-imposed and situational constraints serve as the two main types of constraints, but there is another type of constraints that is arbitrary, but can still impose different behaviours or thinking when applied to task or goal. These constraints are known as arbitrary constraints. Examples of arbitrary constraints are personality type, or type of intelligence. where although these personality and intelligence are not visible or physical constraints, they still impose boundaries and limitations.

Creative instruction is a type of instruction that informs an individual to think a different or unique manner. By using keywords such as: creativity, make, build, or imagination. By applying creative instruction to a task, it is like applying an arbitrary constraint or label to the task at hand.

So with a different definition of creativity, being defined as a mindset, that means that creativity is no longer for the elite, but for everyone.

For this week’s featured photo, is of my cousin Sarah. She is not the most creative person, but by implying to do something wacky, or crazy, she gave me this face.

 

 

Posted in Photography, Psychology

Reflection Blog: What have I learned?

So with this being my last blog that I will be doing for my social cognition class. We are forced by Dr.Jesse martin to write a reflection blog instructing us to tell the world how great his class is. Just Kidding. But what have I learned in in class? Well a better question would be what haven’t I learned, but we’ll go with the first question anyways.

One of the first things that I have learned is that there is a huge difference between teaching and learning, to which it is not seen within the education system. What I mean by this is that teaching doesn’t have to be done by an experience man in a suit or tie, or even by Bill Nye the science Guy: Bill-Nye-4hTeaching can be done by the students.  Learning doesn’t have to be done in a conformed lecture hall where all the students sit facing forward and keep their head down while the teacher/instructor lectures. Learning can occur through discussion and blog posts that spark pure passion and interest because students can freely choose what interests them the most. Leaning doesn’t have to occur in a classroom.and it doesn’t have to occur under the structure of taking a course through a university at $500 per course.

This leads to the second thing that I have learned. which is that our education system has failed us, turning us all into robots where we crave structure and order. This is because we have spent 12 plus years being told to conform, which can stripped us of creative thinking. where we can’t think creativity without constraints.

The third thing that I have learned is that I unfortunately have low confidence and seek constant approval from others. Sad but true.

I think that with the help of this class, as well as the rest of my other classes this semester, I am finally experiencing my “Elle Woods Moment”. In the epic movie, legally blonde,  Elle woods, a blonde sorority queen is dumped by her boyfriend. She decides to follow him to Harvard law school to get him back.  Once there, learns she has more legal savvy  and skill than she ever imagined. where she goes from the school joke to graduating top in her class. That just like Elle woods, I thought that my ideas and thoughts were half-baked, and they and I had no value, that i was trying to be something that i not which is studying psychology. But this is not the case!  I have ideas, and skills that can get me places.

Things that I have learned that are class related are such things as: How social cognition can be applied to less relevant topics that can be unrelated to psychology. and example of this studying the psychology behind pop culture, color psychology, body language, the psychology of evil, and of course creativity. So if anybody wants to donate $300, to take the Psychology of evil by Dr. Jesse Martin, I can continue learning  and growing. With the help of this class, I have discovered that a blog is a wonderful way to get my ideas and thought about the world, out into the world, to which I can hopefully open a few people’s eyes to what is around us and how we are impacted by things such as pop culture.

With all of these life lessons  that have provoked warm and fuzzy feelings,  I have learned that I’m not just a student, but a scholar!

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So, with it being the end of an era (for this class). I would like to thank Jesse Martin for an amazing class. For those who read my blog outside of class assignments I hope you continue to read this blog, as I have a lot more to say and will continuing blogging.

For this week’s feature photo I decided that with summer just around the corner and with the few days that I have had I wanted to put up a photo that was happy. Enjoy!giphy

Posted in Photography, Psychology

Psychology of Pop Culture: Sense of Belonging

My third post analyzing the psychology behind pop culture will focus on the notion that pop culture provides a sense of belonging. This effect is known by a few names such as need for affiliation, sense of belonging or belongingness. The need for affliction is defined as a person’s need to feel a sense of involvement and belonging within a social group. This was coined by David McClelland. To have a sense of belonging means to have a human connection or emotional need to be accepted by someone or a group. As social beings, we have a need for human contact and belonging.

One famous study or theory on the topic belongingness is A.H. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. After basic needs, there are the psychological needs. This features belongingness and love which comes from relationships and friendships. Psychological needs can be defined as mental or emotional needs that help us to achieve self-actualization. This can even stem to Harry Harlow’s idea of belonging and attachment. With the work of Harry Harlow and his adorable baby rhesus monkeys. he discovered that we need social contact to thrive, whether that connection comes from a wire mother, cloth mother, family or more accurately social contact that provides us with happiness, satisfaction, and security. This I believe can apply within pop culture as well.

Normally when we think about having a sense to belong, it’s about family, friends, or high school social cliques, but having a sense of belonging can also appear in pop culture. When you belong to a group, you get feeling of acceptance, where you feel all warm and fuzzy inside because you are no longer socially isolated. For example, here at the University of Lethbridge there is a club for just about everyone. You have a Religious club, Native American club, Amine club, Object Manipulation club, Fraternities, Sororities, and the ever-popular Gamers club. So, with so many exclusive clubs, it is more than probable to find a group that suits one’s interests to obtain a sense of belonging with a group of friends that share the same interest. Which is part of the reason why you get that warm and fuzzy feeling. Because of being around other people who understand you and share similar interests.

Within the realm of pop culture, although it is mainstream, some people who have more obscure interests like gaming, cosplay, or even drag don’t normally have a sense of belonging within their standard circle of family, and maybe not even with their circle of friends, causing a social isolation. This leads to the in individual seeking out other social relationships and social bonds where they can express their interests with like-minded people. This is where we have the comic cons and hobbyist conventions. After some intense research, I have discovered that there is a club, group, and convention for everyone. Here are some examples:

The Fetish Convention in St. Petersburg, Florida, is an annual convention and trade show focusing on the adult entertainment industry. This includes bondage, latex and their mascot Bernie the Bondage Bunny.

Another unique convention is Bronycon in Baltimore, Maryland. “BronyCon is the world’s largest convention for and by fans of the animated TV series “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” It’s a convention where people from all over the globe come to take part in all activities of My little pony. Including costumes, Bronypalooza which is market for all things of My Little Pony, and just connect with other “Bronies”.

Anthrocon is a convention for people who love to dress up in furry animal/ mascot costumes, known as Furry fans. These like-minded people participate in workshops, seminars and collectively celebrate Furry Fandom. They even have a Fursuit Parade.

Burning man is an annual gathering for people to explore various forms of artistic self-expression. This festival includes a temporary self-made community where one can freely express themselves without judgement. Their list of ten principals include: “radical inclusion, self-reliance and self-expression, community cooperation, civic responsibility, gifting, decommodification, participation, immediacy and leaving no trace”. (“Burning Man – Welcome Home”, 1989)

These crazy conventions although unique and ridiculous to some all have one thing in common: a sense of belonging for people who have abnormal but similar interest which in this case would be pop culture, giving the people a sense of belonging within pop culture.

One reason why we want to have a sense of belonging is that is can be a form of therapy. Having the opportunity to talk and relate to other like-minded individuals who understand some of the issues that one faces and how to deal with them can be very therapeutic. In the sense that you are not alone. This is like the concept of venting to a friend about family or relationship issues.

Per the relational-cultural theory, we develop a sense of belonging and a connection to others when we feel like we are in a healthy relationship and have a sense of growth as an individual that occur when with that group (Shaw, & Hammer, 2016). This type of belonging occurs in a community like setting, where you are surrounded by other people with similar hobbies or views that you can connect with and develop relationships through acceptance, promoting a sense of belonging. But what about the connection and sense of belonging to a fictitious group of characters that you see in in TV, movies, and pop culture? This occurs in a similar fashion to community based belonging. With the idea that you can relate and share similar experiences with that character. An example of this is with the movie “Perks of Being a Wallflower” starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller. Whenever I watch this movie I become so sweep up in the story and events, because I experience similar situations and feelings as the character Charlie. The relatable character of Charlie just wants to live a normal life without his mental illness of schizophrenia getting in the way, so through fate he becomes friends with a group extroverted high school seniors who introduce him to a world that he has always observed from a distance or through other people, or by being a wallflower. As I watch the movie I relate to Charlie and start to feel that I am part of the misfit group. Going through the moments that occur and feel the same emotions that the group experiences. Giving me a sense of belonging, and a connection with Charlie, Sam, and Patrick while on the island of misfit toys.

 

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Now what happens when you are unable to obtain a sense e of belong to a social group or pop culture icon?  This is when the notion of social isolation and alienation comes into play. by not having a sense of belonging you can lack satisfaction in life. This can go back to Harlow’s rhesus monkeys. when his rhesus monkeys were socially isolated they became very depression, social damage, and behavioral ailment, and leading to physical ailment, where they even refused to eat. Now this is obviously an extreme case of social isolation, and goes way beyond pop culture and feeling accepted, but the principals are similar. When you are socially isolated from your friends or your pop culture fandom or anything that gives you a sense of belonging, it can be very lonely. An example for this would be it someone where to take your phone away leaving you without any form of social media. It would be very alienating, depressing, etc. But this is where the idea of pop culture comes into play. Thanks to the internet and technology and being more globalized and less localized. Pop culture and social groups are more accessible. through social media, I can feel like I am always connected and have a sense of belonging through virtual means. With Netflix, movies, TV shows, video games, and virtual communities, it provides people with more access and opportunities to relate to other and to always have a sense of belonging through virtual means.

With the crossover of virtual and communal sense of belonging. Is having a fictitious connection in the attempt to gain a sense of belonging as satisfactory as having real-life interactions with physical touch? For example, when we FaceTime or virtually connect with someone, we would probably prefer to be interacting with them in real life, so why do we choose virtual or fictitious over physical?  And is pop culture encouraging a false sense of belonging?

For this week’s Photo, I decided to do a collage of three photos that I took while at Globalfest in Calgary, Alberta. It features three Muslim women that have a sense of belonging through their religion and relationships. That although some people isolate themselves from people who have a connection to the Middle East, they still are happy and have a sense of belonging, despite all the hate. These three gorgeous women are what we should strive for, which is to be happy, secure and feel connected through a sense of belonging whether it be from religion, family, friends, fetish conventions, or pop culture.

Here is the link for The Harlow Monkey study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O60TYAIgC4&t=44s

 

References:

Anthrocon 2017: Take Me Out To The Ballgame | “Fur, Fun, And So Much More!”. (1996). Anthrocon.org. Retrieved 23 March 2017, from http://www.anthrocon.org

BronyCon 2017. (2017). Bronycon.org. Retrieved 23 March 2017, from https://bronycon.org

Burning Man – Welcome Home. (1989). Burningman.org. Retrieved 23 March 2017, from http://burningman.org

Choenarom, C., Williams, R., & Hagerty, B. (2005). The Role of Sense of Belonging and Social Support on Stress and Depression in Individuals With Depression. Archives Of Psychiatric Nursing19(1), 18-29. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apnu.2004.11.003

Cohen, E., & Lancaster, A. (2014). Individual Differences in In-Person and Social Media Television Coviewing: The Role of Emotional Contagion, Need to Belong, and Coviewing Orientation. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, And Social Networking17(8), 512-518. http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2013.0484

Con, F. (2017). Our Official MascotFetish Con™ – August 10 – 13, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Retrieved 23 March 2017, from http://fetishcon.com/our-official-mascot/

Hagerty, B., Williams, R., Coyne, J., & Early, M. (1996). Sense of belonging and indicators of social and psychological functioning. Archives Of Psychiatric Nursing10(4), 235-244. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0883-9417(96)80029-x

Harlow, H. (1958). The nature of love. American Psychologist13(12), 673-685. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0047884

Harlow, H., Dodsworth, R., & Harlow, M. (1965). Total social isolation in monkeys. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences54(1), 90-97. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.54.1.90

Harlow’s Monkeys. (2017). YouTube. Retrieved 23 March 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O60TYAIgC4&t=44s

Mellor, D., Stokes, M., Firth, L., Hayashi, Y., & Cummins, R. (2008). Need for belonging, relationship satisfaction, loneliness, and life satisfaction. Personality And Individual Differences45(3), 213-218. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2008.03.020

Paston, B. (2009). An Exercise in Personal Exploration: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The Surgical Technologist, 347-353.

Pillow, D., Malone, G., & Hale, W. (2015). The need to belong and its association with fully satisfying relationships: A tale of two measures. Personality And Individual Differences74, 259-264. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.10.031

Shaw, P., & Hammer, T. (2016). Captain America: The Search for Belonging. Journal Of Creativity In Mental Health11(1), 118-124. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15401383.2015.1113151