Posted in Photography, Psychology

Psychology of Pop Culture: Conformity

Conformity and individualism are both vital components of pop culture. It surrounds us, infiltrates every aspect of our lives, encouraging us to conform. We’re then faced with a choice: Do we conform? Or, do we rebel and emphasize our individualism. But, here’s the thing. When you try to be an individual, you end up conforming. When you go to Comicon, you dress up and think you’re unique, when in fact you’re not. You’re dressed like everyone else, behave like everyone else, and have conformed to that unique setting. When you are conforming to the group, and you actually come to enjoy it, you change your line of thinking, which is the definition of cognitive dissonance.

Conformity is where we adjust our behaviour or thinking to the rules or behaviours that we see around us. We all conform to social norms in everyday living because of society’s unwritten rules and norms. From an evolutionary perspective, those you stand apart from the group where the first ones killed. instilling in us that they only way to survive was to conform and blend in. Now with pop culture we are often so saturated with pop culture references through consumerism, where these large companies was to conform and purchase their merchandise.

When you see all the Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter merchandise and other references to pop culture it can be difficult not to conform, especially when friends, family and people who you know have already conformed. This has happened to me on a few occasions, where I have conformed and gave in to the temptation of watching certain shows because my friends were or it was what everyone was talking about. My friend Jorinda, recommend to me (on multiple occasions) to watch BBC’s Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch. in order to get her off my back, I watched the first episode. I found it to be uneventful and boring. After I told her this, she told me to watch another episode, so I did. By the end of the second episode I enjoyed it. So,through conformity and mere exposure, it caused cognitive dissonance where I have become a fan of Sherlock and Benedict Cumberbatch (but can you blame me?)

Conformity occurs on the basis of power and the fear of being indifferent. you are more likely to conform to a larger group of people, or if you admire that group of people. But conformity can also occur out of fear, and insecurity. with that being said conformity occurs with pop culture because as a culture of social being, we put so much emphasis on pop culture which is driven by consumerism and brands. We given them power which is then fed back to us for us to further conform. A good example of pop culture conformity is  the documentary  “Generation Like”, which looks at consumerism of pop culture. The underlying message of the video is that we conform more than every before, but we are under the impression that we are thinking and behaving individualistically.

Now with conformity comes the idea of individualistic, which is the favouring freedom of independent action regardless of the group’s actions or behaviours, so being independent. When you reject the idea of conforming, you probably have the idea that it’s because you are a rebel, or a non conformist. But in reality your are still conforming to an idea or belief. A good example of this is with Comic cons. Prior to Comic Con expo, you get your costume of your favourite character, whether it be Jack Sparrow, wolverine, Harley Quinn, or a Disney princess. You think are being individualistic or a special snowflake, except that when are at the Comic Expo, you find many people are dressed as the same character.  not to mention that by dressing up as a character you are conforming to someone else’s appearance in order to be like someone else, which in this case is a fictional character.

The photo collage of cosplayers is a good representation of individualistic thinking leading to conformity of behaviours that occurs within pop culture and consumerism.

This goes to show that even with even in the generation of being different and standing out, it appears that we conform more than ever, under the impression that we are special snowflakes. I believe that the reason that conformity more visibly seen in current times, especially with pop culture is because of the large amount of access we have to different types of information that we are less able to think for ourselves.

With this being said, is there even such a thing as non conformity within the realm of social media, pop culture and consumerism?

For this week’s photo I decided to put to images that represent conformity. The first image (left) is of my sister and the Hulk. there are thousands of similar poses with this hulk and they all think that they are being original and individualistic. The second image (right) is of myself, where I conformed my behaviour. Normally I don’t take images of myself, and I don’t pose is creativity or embarrassing ways but I threw that out the window and conformed my beliefs and ideals at that moment, based on environmental influences of Vegas.

Link for the “Generation Like” documentary:


Chou, T., Chang, E., Dai, Q., & Wong, V. (2013). REPLACEMENT BETWEEN CONFORMITY AND COUNTERCONFORMITY IN CONSUMPTION DECISIONS1,2. Psychological Reports112(1), 125-150.

Cummings, W. & Venkatesan, M. (1976). Cognitive Dissonance and Consumer Behavior: A Review of the Evidence. Journal Of Marketing Research13(3), 303.

Escalas, J. & Bettman, J. (2003). You Are What They Eat: The Influence of Reference Groups on Consumers’ Connections to Brands. Journal Of Consumer Psychology13(3), 339-348.

Fischer, J. (2010). Why We Conform. Plos Biology8(2), e1000277.

Mandel, N., Rucker, D., Levav, J., & Galinsky, A. (2017). The Compensatory Consumer Behavior Model: How self-discrepancies drive consumer behavior. Journal Of Consumer Psychology27(1), 133-146.

Monin, B., Norton, M., Cooper, J., & Hopg, M. (2004). Reacting to an Assumed Situation vs. Conforming to an Assumed Reaction: The Role of Perceived Speaker Attitude in Vicarious Dissonance. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations7(3), 207-220.

PBS Frontline Generation Like. (2017).

Social Influence: Crash Course Psychology #38. (2017). YouTube. Retrieved 16 March 2017, from

Social Thinking: Crash Course Psychology #37. (2017). YouTube. Retrieved 16 March 2017, from

Verhaagen, D., Gaskill, F., Hetterly, J., & Daley, K. (2017). Shrink Tank Podcast Ep.40: Pros of Cons – Shrink TankShrink Tank. Retrieved 16 March 2017, from

Posted in Photography, Psychology, Uncategorized

Psychology of Pop Culture: Escapism

This post is the beginning of a set of blogs that focus on one particular topic, analyzing the psychology behind pop culture. It will be divided into three sections, the first which will be the role of escapism in pop culture. Escapism is defined as a “mental diversion by means of entertainment or recreation, as an escape from the perceived unpleasant aspects of daily stress”.

Escapism is a way to mentally and emotionally escape from the reality when it hands you a shitty hand.  This can include everyday stresses of life, work, school, relationships, but it can also include more traumatic stresses like cancer, death, or any type of grief or distress, this can be seen in people who bury themselves in their work, indulge in their unusual behaviour, or take their usual behavior and take it to the extreme to avoid their stress and divert their attention to something more controllable. An example of this which we seen in pop culture is in the 90’s TV show Full House, in the episode of “Trouble with Danny, Danny tanner alters his behavior to the extreme where he goes from an ultimate neat freak to dirty mess after he overhears his family say terrible things and call him terrible names like “psycho with a dust mop” based on his over obsessed neat freak behaviors, this causes Danny to alter his behavior to the extreme and become very messy to combat his hurt emotions.

This is one way to escape, but the more popular form of escapism is with pop culture. People divert their focus away from their problems and focus more on happy or fulfilling pleasures to cope. By consuming pop culture to escape from our stressful reality, it can be seen by some as a survival mechanism, we spend so many hours a day be stimulating by our jobs, school, and life, that by the end of the day we are both mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted, so by consuming stupid YouTube videos, playing video games for hours, watching Netflix or catching up on our TV shows it becomes a way to survive the rest of the day or recharge our batteries. Not only is pop culture a way to survive and recharge, but with some elements of pop culture, some movies like Perks of Being a wallflower, Eat Pray Love, and pretty much any Disney Pixar movie ever made can give you a glimmer of hope, can change the way you think about life. With movies like Harry Potter, or superhero/ villain movies, they tend to create a whole universe within the movie that allows you to transport into a fantasy world and leave your reality at the door.

From this point of view escapism and transportation to fantasy realms by indulging in pop culture are seen in a positive light as a coping mechanism, and entertaining, but is there a dark side of escapism in pop culture? One article that I looked “Escaping or Coping” (Knobloch-Westerwick, Hastall and Rossmann, 2009) looks at just that: the difference between the two terms. there are few types of coping, the first is Approach Coping which is defined as “an engaged coping strategies in which the goal is to reduce, eliminate, or manage the internal or external demands of a stressor”. The second type is Avoidance Coping referring to disengagement in which “the goal is to ignore, avoid, or withdraw away from the stressor or its emotional consequences”. The third type is problem focused coping which is defined as “seeking to change or eliminate the stressor itself”. So with this being said, do we use pop culture to disengage temporarily and avoid our reality and life stressors?  I believe that when faced not just with everyday life, but with more stressful events and problems we tend to escape and avoid coping rather than approach coping and dealing with your problems, but I think this leads to a larger issue at hand, has pop culture become an addiction?

With the technology that is available today, we have the ability to escape our reality at any time of the day by using our devices to watch Netflix or play games in order to escape our struggles, does this give us the opportunity to consume pop culture more than ever before, that we are more consumed with the trivial facts and information that is available about our guilty pleasures. I know that I am guilty of knowing more about my favorite actors, actresses personal and professional lives like the name of Channing Tatum’s first-born  daughter: Everly, or Ashton and Mila’s first born daughter: Wyatt, than about the material that is taught in class.  One movie that I think emulates this addiction perfectly is Fever Pitch, starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore, it about Ben who is a Boston Red Sox fan meets Lindsay, she soon discovers how his fandom is more of an obsession to which he life  revolves around the Boston Red Sox, which causes friction with their relationship, as he chooses the Red Sox over her, to which he regrets it when its to late. This is a good example of how addicting pop culture can be where it can affect our real life interactions.


With the extreme consumption of pop culture, the reality of how the world works and the stories and interactions that we see in film and TV shows tend to blur. this can occur when similar events happen both in real life and in pop culture, we expect that the outcome will resemble the events that take place in pop culture. an example of this would be that when I was younger I watched Sabrina the teenage witch, which is about a teenage witch who lives in the mortal world, but the magical realm and her mortal realm collide, where she uses her magical powers to make her life easier, from bringing in celebrities to meet her, to transporting herself to mystical places or to school when she is running late. Because I watched so much of this show, I would sometimes catch myself thinking what would happen if I could use my magical powers, thinking that the idea of having magical powers was actually plausible, Leading to the idea that fiction from film, TV, video games, characters and their stories can become fact and occur in real life.

Based on this more negative view of Escapism, one article called “Expressions of Fandom: Findings from a Psychological Survey of Cosplay and Costume Wear” looks at the cosplay and the psychology behind representing a particular character. By dressing up as a particular character where it be Sailor Moon, Hello Kitty, Disney or Marvel characters, it is a way to further connect to that fantasy universe, giving you the opportunity to temporarily become that character and live their fantasy driven life. Within the realm of Escapism, participating in Cosplay and dressing up as your favourite fictional character is one reason why Comic cons  and cosplay are so popular.

I believe that from an escapist perspective dressing up in cosplay, looking into the lives of you favorite celebrity is a way to further connect to a character and their universe, in order to further bridge the gap between pop culture and real life.

In sum, by watching hours of tv and movies trying to live the lives of our favourite characters and celebrities and being a part of pop culture although is a way to recharge one’s batteries, and retreat from life’s stresses by transporting to a fictional world. It can also negatively lead to blurred lines between fact and fiction, in which when we return from our fantasy, our troubles will still be at the door waiting for us.

This week’s photo is of my cousin Elisabeth who participated in Comic Con in Calgary Alberta, in may,2016. She is standing next to the human version of Ariel from the little mermaid, holding a Flounder.  Ariel really played the part of Ariel, not only the costume but the attitude and behaviour to fully become Ariel, she spoke in a high-pitched voice and used many sea terms, and was very endearing, so she transformed into Ariel from the little mermaid, minus the tail.


Addis, M. & Holbrook, M. (2010). Consumers’ identification and beyond: Attraction, reverence, and escapism in the evaluation of films. Psychology And Marketing27(9), 821-845.

Escapism – The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia. (2017). Retrieved 9 March 2017, from

Green, M. (2004). Transportation Into Narrative Worlds: The Role of Prior Knowledge and Perceived Realism. Discourse Processes38(2), 247-266.

Henning, B. (2001). Psychological escapism: predicting the amount of television viewing by need for cognition. Journal Of Communication51(1), 100-120.

Knobloch-Westerwick, S., Hastall, M., & Rossmann, M. (2009). Coping or Escaping?. Communication Research36(2), 207-228.

McCain, J., Gentile, B., & Campbell, W. (2015). A Psychological Exploration of Engagement in Geek Culture. PLOS ONE10(11), e0142200.

Rosenberg, R. & Letamendi, A. (2013). Expressions of Fandom: Findings from a Psychological Survey of Cosplay and Costume Wear. Intensities: The Journal Of Cult Media5, 9-18.

Shrink Tank,. (2017). episode 70Guilty Pleasures & Pop Culture Escapism. Retrieved 9 March 2017, from

Sonnentag, S. (2012). Psychological Detachment From Work During Leisure Time. Current Directions In Psychological Science21(2), 114-118.


Posted in Photography, Psychology

Las Vegas Biases

Over reading week, I went to Las Vegas, NV, and of course being Vegas I thought I would talk about Gambler’s Fallacy, but after studying the human behavior and relating it to  cognitive effects that  often occur in social situations, I decided to write on the observed cognitive and social effects outside the realm of gambling.

One effect that I found to reoccur is the whole idea of labels and categorization. Throughout Vegas there are hundreds of fancy restaurants with celebrity chefs, and more local restaurants that are less formal. These celebrity restaurants that are supposed to have extraordinary food because they are celebrities should have amazing cuisine. So, when sampling cuisine from Gordon Ramsay’s Pub and Grill in Caesar’s Palace, and Buddy Valastro’s Restaurant in the Venetian there was a bias that was instilled because of their famous name and status. I am a huge fan of Gordon Ramsay, so when given the chance to eat at one of his famous restaurants like Gordon Ramsay’s Pub and Grill, I was ecstatic, I thought the food was amazing even down to the mushy peas, while my sister isn’t a huge fan of Gordon Ramsay had the same meal, and thought it was sub par and overpriced: This is the power of Labeling and Categorization.

With this labelling bias, we tend to have higher opinion of something or someone based on the label that is applied. Another example of this labelling bias is that while in the casino, I was approach by an elegant younger woman who was looking for someone to hang out while playing video poker. She was a black, single mother of 2 who was dresses in a nice cocktail dress and high heels and a clutch, her name was Sophia. Over the course of the night we were drinking and gambling and having a grand old-time. The next day I was told that Sophia was a hooker/ escort because of how she was dressed and how men kept approaching her and buying us drinks. This is where the Labeling bias come in, I had met nice women who was out having fun, getting free drinks from guys and gambling, to which I was included. When this was told to other people like my family people jumped to stereotyped conclusions about “being careful that she didn’t slip something into your drink” and “she used you as a cover to remain in the bar so she could get picked up”. These stereotyped conclusions were placed on a label of hooker; I however did not view it this way. This again is the power and demise of labels and how it can lead to unnecessary stereotypes that are a lot of the time false. Labels are so powerful that once they are applied, it completely alters your perspective, and further interactions and behavior, but why?

Another effect that I observed was conformity in social environments. While attending a BlueMan Group Show, I observed several  people taking selfies with their provided     ribbon on their head, I normally don’t indulge in selfies, but I passively broke my rule and    took a few selfies. This is an example of Conformity bias which is a “tendency to behave similarly to the others in a group, even if doing so goes against your own judgment.”(Wikipedia, 2013).

Selfie with Nicole @ Blueman Group Performance

One other form of conformity that I experienced was Situation specificity, which means that “relevant features of the behaviors of the same person are different in different situations.”(Patry, 2011) This hypothesis can be witnesses in many ways. You might normally indulge in drinking and gambling, but when in a city life Vegas, you become tempted and soon indulge in such temptations.  The reason I believe that is very impactful, and very passive is because we aren’t fully aware that environmental cues can cause behavior modification just as much as social conformity and social influence to alter one’s behavior. the two photos below are two street performers on Fremont Street, in downtown Las Vegas. One first photo (left) is an adult baby who is dressed up at Donald Trump’s son. This costume features Trump’s red power tie, and orange hair and a holding a sign that says “Trump is His Daddy”. The second performer (right) is a drag version of Marilyn Monroe, with his full on beard and white Monroe dress, he entertained the crowd by twerking and acting like a complete fool. in relation Situation specificity, these acts appear right at home on the crazy street  of Fremont, but put in any other context, like in a hotel lobby, and they would appear to be mentally deficient, and would be asked to leave, but not on Fremont street, it’s expected.

One article that I found examines how people’s decision-making skills of gambling can be skewed because of more risk taking and distracting environment from the gambling tables in Las Vegas. more money is lost when some is active, aggressive or distracted which I believe the hotel/casinos in Vegas play on these cognitive effects. While in the casino, I was offered free drinks, smokes, roses, and even massages while I play their games, this I believe is because of distraction and more risk taking occur when playing, while getting massaged by a beautiful woman and getting served free drinks, you feel like you are on top of the world and nothing can go wrong which results in more risk-taking behavior and more money that the casino is payed. Is it a ploy that hotel owners use, by adding such distractors as masseuse, drinks, bright lights and graphics of slot machines and fancy casinos and hotels that make us feel like we are living the high life and become more risk taking to give the casinos more of our hard-earned money?

Or what about the largest distraction of them all, which is the high life of Las Vegas. the fancy themed hotels that make you feel like a million dollars, so when you get home you are broke. This effect known as misdirection is not only being used by magicians but the entire sphere of  Las Vegas. A cognitive effect relating to misdirection is Inattentional blindness which is also known as perceptual blindness, is a “psychological lack of attention that is not associated with any vision defects or deficits. It may be further defined as the event in which an individual fails to recognize an unexpected stimulus that is in plain sight.” (Wikipedia, 2017) But with misdirection that occurs, at least we are being doomed by some pretty amazing sights and places: Venetian Hotel, Caesar’s Forum Shoppes and Bellaggio Hotel, and the rest of what Las Vegas Has to offer.

With that being said, I have posted some other of my photographs that I had taken while in Vegas that I believe related to this blog post, other observed human behaviour and some photos that I are unique and just look awesome.

Heart Attack Grill Restaurant
Jellyfish @Sharkreef aquarium Talk about Conformity
Slotzilla Zipline experience @ Fremont Street
Chocolate Fountain @ Jean Philippe’s Cafe.
Statue of Licorice Liberty @Hershey’s World.
Pure Human behaviour of non conformist sleeping on the monorail



Foroni, F. and Rothbart, M. (2013) ‘Abandoning a label doesn’t make it disappear: The perseverance of labeling effects’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(1), pp. 126–131. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.08.002.

Hearts of Compassion Publishing (2015) Las Vegas – Misdirection. Available at: (Accessed: 3 March 2017).
Ian Carlin, B. and Robinson, D.T. (2009) Fear and loathing in Las Vegas: Evidence from blackjack tables. .
Kim, R. and Shams, L. (2017) What can magicians teach us about the brain? Available at: (Accessed: 3 March 2017).
O’Doherty, K. and Lecouteur, A. (2007) ‘“Asylum seekers”, “boat people” and “illegal immigrants”: Social categorisation in the media*’, Australian Journal of Psychology, 59(1), pp. 1–12. doi: 10.1080/00049530600941685.
Patry, J.-L. (2011) ‘Methodological consequences of situation specificity: Biases in assessments’, Frontiers in Psychology, 2. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00018.
Spranca, M., Minsk, E. and Baron, J. (1991) ‘Omission and commission in judgment and choice’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 27(1), pp. 76–105. doi: 10.1016/0022-1031(91)90011-t.
Wikipedia (2013) Conformity bias – Lesswrongwiki. Available at: (Accessed: 2 March 2017).
Wikipedia (2017) ‘Inattentional blindness’, in Wikipedia. Available at: (Accessed: 3 March 2017).
Posted in Psychology

Valentine’s Day Post: Love Story of Humans and Computers

“I think anybody who falls in love is a freak. It’s a crazy thing to do. It’s kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity.” – Amy Adams from the movie “Her” (Jonze, 2013)

This week’s post is a special edition in honor of Valentine’s Day, which is all about love, romance, relationships, and connections. When we think about love we view it as a human to human connection, but with growing technology there is another type of love connection: humans and their technology.

For this post, will be examining a psychological effect known as the “Tamagotchi effect“.  The Tamagotchi effect is where you develop emotions and become attached to computers, technology, and machines, which you then reflect human emotions and characteristic and even a personality onto this inanimate piece of technology. This love story took off in the late 1990’s when such toys like the Tamagotchi and Furby were introduced and became the hottest toy around, where everyone had to own one, including myself. for those who don’t know what a Tamagotchi is, it was a virtual pet in the palm of your hand that you named, and took care of, and if you didn’t, it would die.  Furby was a robotic pet resembling a hamster or an owl. Furby talked and learnt, and was one of the first forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI). But throughout the years, the has been a huge evolution of this love story, where furbys and Tamagotchis have been replaced with cellphones, and Siri. This emotional attachment of a love story has become more intense because of the current technology that we use everyday, such as our smartphones, or computers. We rely on our technology so much that most our generation has developed Nomophobia. Nomophobia is a specific phobia of no having a mobile phone or “No-phone-phobia“. This phobia suggests that we have developed an emotional attachment to an inanimate object.

The psychology behind this love connection coincides with a few cognitive effects such as attachment theory. Attachment theory is defined as an emotional bond that connects to humans where they both become sensitive to each other behaviors and needs. Normally attachment theory is between two people or an adult and infant, but in this case the attachment is between a human and their technology

One article that I read examines the impact of the connection between a person and their virtual technology. With indulging technology, it can be a form of entertainment and enjoyment. for older people, a virtual pet can be a companion. Retirement homes in Japan and Hong Kong are giving their residents robot babies and seals. The idea behind this is to provide lonely people with social interaction. Another article that I read examines a similar experiment where Paro a robot seal is introduced to the elderly as a form of therapy. The elderly’s social interaction with Paro elevates their mood, which in turn causes physiological changes for the better. People who suffer with dementia are given Paro to provide them with constant social interaction resulting in increased levels of happiness and enjoyment which stimulated their brains and reduced their symptoms. This is one of the positives of human-technology interaction.

But like most love stories, there is a dramatic point in our love story of humans and technology, where we examine the negatives that humans will endure because of this connection.

With current technology, people are becoming more dependent on it as it becomes part of our everyday life. For example, in 2013, a movie call “Her” was released, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson. “Her” is about a lonely writer who develops a relationship and falls in love with an operating system. this I think, although can appear to far-fetched has a large grain of truth to it. With technology, today, people are more comfortable with have a relationship with a computer for technology than with an actual human being where the love is reciprocal.  “You always wanted to have a wife without the challenges of actually dealing with anything real and I’m glad that you found someone. It’s perfect.”(Jonze, 2013) This quote from “Her” I think emulates the relationship between AI and humans because technology inhibits our real-life interactions, where we begin to talk to our technology like it’s a living being.

Screenshot from the movie “Her”

This movie leads to the negative effects that occur because of our preference to technology versus human interaction, because of this choice we become more vulnerable and are more impacted by psychological issues. One article looks at the negative psychological effects of technology overuse, illustrating that there is an increased chance of having depression, anxiety, and stress. Because of the non- reciprocal interaction that occurs, people become less adaptive to other people’s needs and are less able to interact with different types of people who have different views, experiences, and personality.

Throughout this post and researching articles, I came across robotic girl where I believe that a line has been crossed is in the case of Erica: The Android Robot. She is a Japanese robot who can partake in actual conversation, and can make various facial expressions.

Erica demonstration Video Link

I wonder where we draw the line between artificial intelligence and human intelligence? What will occur if we keep creating AI at the fast pace that we create them?

For this week’s photograph, it is a neon sign that says “Progress”. I believe this photo emulates what can occur to the progress that we make in technology, that it might look good now, but it can shift to be less progressive and more degenerative, and thus we come to the end of our love story.

The End.



CGTN (2015, August 6). Talking with a beautiful robot girl Retrieved from
Heerink, M., Kröse, B., Evers, V., & Wielinga, B. (2008). The influence of social presence on acceptance of a companion robot by older people. Journal of Physical Agents (JoPha)2(2), 33–40. doi:10.14198/jopha.2008.2.2.05
Jonze, S. (Director). (2013). Her (2013)
Kraut, R., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., Kiesler, S., Mukophadhyay, T., & Scherlis, W. (1998). Internet paradox: A social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being? American Psychologist53(9), 1017–1031. doi:10.1037//0003-066x.53.9.1017
McLeod, S. (2009). Attachment theory. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from
Ostovar, S., Allahyar, N., Aminpoor, H., Moafian, F., Nor, M. B. M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2016). Internet addiction and its psychosocial risks (depression, anxiety, stress and loneliness) among Iranian adolescents and young adults: A structural equation model in a cross-sectional study. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction14(3), 257–267. doi:10.1007/s11469-015-9628-0
Quora. Why do humans sometimes get emotionally attached to ordinary inanimate objects? Retrieved February 15, 2017, from
Shibata, T., & Wada, K. (2011). Robot therapy: A new approach for mental healthcare of the elderly – A Mini-Review. Gerontology57(4), 378–386. doi:10.1159/000319015
Wikipedia (2017a). Nomophobia. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from
Wikipedia (2017b). Tamagotchi effect. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from
(N.D.). INMIGRANTS FROM THE FUTURE. Retrieved 15 February 2017, from





Posted in Psychology

Ugly Duckling Syndrome

For this week’s blog, I will be writing on Ugly Duckling Syndrome, of which there are two definitions. The first definition is one that we are all familiar with which is a “person, especially a child, who turns out to be beautiful or talented against all expectations”. A prime example is Matthew Lewis who plays Neville Longbottom from the Harry Potter Series

Matthew Lewis (right) 2001, and Matthew Lewis Left (2015)

The second definition created by Stanford University describe what they call the Duckling Syndrome as “a person who appears calm, cool and collected externally, but internally they are stressed, frantic and uneasy.” With both of these definitions, they revolve around the same cognition effect known as Illusion of Control.

The illusion of control is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events.  People who express illusory control believe that they have control over different aspects of their life, but this mindset is overestimated. This effect can be viewed in both a positive light or negative dimness.

When somebody shows a lack of illusion of control or real life control they underestimate the amount of control that they have on their lives, believing their life choices are fixed. This can lead to an increased chance of mental illness such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD); they try to compensate with reactions of anxiety, compulsive behaviors,  and destructive eating habits in order to establish some control whether it be illusory or actual.

With a lack of illusion of control, some people can have body image and beauty issues, which can lead to low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and have the belief that beauty is and body image is fixed. This is where the Ugly Duckling syndrome appears because only when you remove the illusion of control and believe that beauty and body image are malleable, is when control is gained, which is when transformations from an ugly duckling to a swan happens, or from a caterpillar to a butterfly. The result was this removal of illusory control can be reflected in their appearance, self-esteem, and confidence.

But what happens when you overestimate the amount of control you actually have?  You would think that you would have the opposite result but in actuality, it can lead to similar results such as increased stress, and mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and OCD. This is because when you have overestimated the amount of control, it can result in pursuing unrealistic goals and use harmful behaviors to reach their goal. where over time having unrealistic goals can hurt your self-esteem and confidence as you strive to reach impossible goals and fail. this is especially true with body image and appearance. For individuals who have an unrealistic goal of beauty or and ideal body image, they might use harmful methods or procedures like surgeries or unhealthy eating habits that lead to eating disorders to obtain unrealistic standards. A prime example of having such unrealistic beauty standards is Justin Jedlica.

Justin Jedlica has spent over $100,000 on plastic surgery, as he believed that he had control over his body as a form of expression, and he modeled his Ken doll as wanted his body and his lifestyle.

This leads to the discussion about what is the right amount of control?

For this week’s photograph is a photo that I took in Calgary at Globalfest. These two Brazilian dancers who appear to be happy, confident women who are comfortable in their own body on the outside, but from this photo we can’t determine what experiences or issues drive these two gorgeous women, and these two women and the ducks in the duck syndrome both have feathers which can express their personality, and emotions.

So with that being said, instead of trying to be an ugly ducking or a Barbie doll: Be a Flamingo in a flock of pigeons; be unique, and true to yourself.


Announcements: (2017). Retrieved February 5, 2017, from
Burkley, M., Burkley, E., Stermer, S. P., Andrade, A., Bell, A. C., & Curtis, J. (2014). The ugly duckling effect: Examining fixed versus malleable beliefs about beauty. Social Cognition32(5), 466–483. doi:10.1521/soco.2014.32.5.466
Hoorens, V., & Buunk, B. P. (1993). Social comparison of health risks: Locus of control, the Person-Positivity bias, and unrealistic optimism1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology23(4), 291–302. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1993.tb01088.x
Illusion of control (2017). . In Wikipedia. Retrieved from
Novovic, Z., Kovac, A., Djuric, V., & Biro, M. (2012). Positive and negative affect in illusion of control. Psihologija45(4), 395–407. doi:10.2298/psi1204395n
Reuven-Magril, O., Dar, R., & Liberman, N. (2008). Illusion of control and behavioral control attempts in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology117(2), 334–341. doi:10.1037/0021-843x.117.2.334
US weekly Magazine. (2016, April 20). Meet 7 real-life Barbie and Ken Dolls. Retrieved February 8, 2017, from
Posted in Psychology

Harry Potter and the Imitation Effect

After initial research, I came across this article about Harry Potter and personality. It looks at the conformity of fandom like Harry Potter and the social impact that it has in people’s lives, and examines the personality of the Hogwarts houses looking at the JK Rowling’s Pottermore Sorting Hat quiz from a psychological perspective.

The power of fandom and pop culture is a huge in our generation. For instance, my sister who you see above is huge Harry Potter fan as you can see. where she spent a large amount of money to see her favorite characters multiple times for only a few minutes each time, this is the power of fandom.

The featured article “Harry Potter and the measures of personality: Extraverted Gryffindors, agreeable Hufflepuffs, clever Ravenclaws, and manipulative Slytherins” applies actual personality characteristics to the Hogwarts houses which stems from the official JK Rowling Pottermore quiz where based on your personality and condemns you to an archetype, where you are sorted into one of the four houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.

The data where they use the big five: conscientiousness, agreeableness, narcissism, extraversion and openness. The results of their study are:

If you are sorted into Gryffindor you are high in extraversion, slightly higher in openness. With Hufflepuff you are higher in agreeableness, a higher need to belong, slightly higher in openness and low in Conscientiousness. In Ravenclaw you have a higher need for cognition or knowledge, are slightly more open to new experiences.  Finally with Slytherin you are higher in the Dark Traid which is psychopathy, narcissism, and machiavellianism, but especially high in narcissism. Based all the results, they all correlated positively to JK Rowling’s description of each house with the exception of Gryffindor showing now results for bravery.

But this article lets to bigger issues which is the main focus of this blog post. in the beginning of the article, the author describes the “Collective-Assimilation Hypothesis”. This hypothesis is described as “experiencing a narrative leads one to psychologically become a part of the collective described within the narrative” which I believe correlated to social imitation and conformity.

If you look at the left photo of my sister, she is wearing a blue belt which is a tie from her Hogwarts house of Ravenclaw. This is a prime example of the power of social imitation and fandom. where people take a piece of fan fiction like someone Hogwarts house that has been assigned an identity like a colour and symbol, to which people conform their ideas and preferences to fit that label, which soon becomes part of their identity, this is conformity. One reason for why I believe that is occurs is a need for a connection where it is based on an emotional, mental, physical or fictional connection.

By having images, symbols, and characters that create its own identity, it is easier to conform and become affiliated to a fictional world with wands, dragons, and spells, than with the real world of work, stress, and life, because the fictional identity is more fulfilling. could this conformity be a relation to the Harlow experiments with the monkeys where we are more drawn to comforting things like that make us feel good like cloth mothers, group inclusion and wands and wizards?

This post is just an introduction to a bigger topic that I plan on delving into more as the semester progresses. Where I look further into why we conform to and socially imitate pop culture like Harry Potter.

I have also posted the link to Pottermore where you can sort yourself into one of the Hogwarts houses:


Crysel, L. C., Cook, C. L., Schember, T. O., & Webster, G. D. (2015). Harry Potter and the measures of personality: Extraverted Gryffindors, agreeable Hufflepuffs, clever Ravenclaws, and manipulative Slytherins. Personality and Individual Differences83, 174–179. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.04.016
Gabriel, S., & Young, A. F. (2011). Becoming a vampire without being bitten: The narrative collective-assimilation hypothesis. Psychological Science22(8), 990–994. doi:10.1177/0956797611415541
Posted in Psychology

Barnum Effect: “Something For Everyone”

For this week’s blog post I will talk about the Barnum Effect, its cognitive effects and biases.

“At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved”. If this sentence describes you then you fall victim to the Barnum effect, as does most the population.

The Barnum effect or as it can be known as the Forer effect is a cognitive effect that is seen in media and social living. The oxford university press defines the Barnum effect as “The tendency to accept certain information as true, such as character assessments or horoscopes, even when the information is so vague as to be worthless”.

This cognitive hoax was created by P.T Barnum who was a 19th century circus showman who coined the term “A sucker born every minute”. This effect although created in the 1800’s still is used in current life as it is used in horoscopes, fortunes, and psychics, mind readers, personality tests and other popular forms of predicting ones’ personality.

The cognition behind the Barnum effect has to do with a few cognitive aspects. One reason for the effectiveness of the Barnum effect has to do with memory specifically one’s internal memory storage, where we tend to have a larger memory about ourselves compared to others and so when given a vague statement, we implicitly scan our long-term memory to find behavioral reasoning to apply to the statement making it appear true.

Another plausible reason for the internal acceptance of vague statements is based on the source of information. People are more likely to believe given information if it comes from a reliable source or a source that has previous experience at being accurate.

This for example can be applied to an experimenter with a professional demeanor, or someone who believes in superstition, good luck, or fortune can believe the statements from a psychic, mind-reader, a newspaper horoscope or a Facebook personality test. The idea behind this theory is motivation or the history or reliability of the source of information. This is more steadily applied when the information is deemed more positive than negative, this I believe is based on the idea that as humans we are optimistic about ourselves, and our future. This is represented by a couple of cognitive biases such as Social desirability bias, which is a tendency to answer questions with answers that would be deemed as favourable to receive praise or the personal validation effect where you internally validate the individual or source of information which then your acceptance of the statement increase. This is seen in the Milgram experiment and Rosenhan experiment where it showed the power of the authority.

Some researchers think that higher acceptance of bogus statements is due to human gullibility, or that we have a biological need as humans to be sociably acceptable to others, and will intrinsically agree with vague statements that tend to be false.

Other cognitive effects or biases that that coincide with the Barnum effect are the self-serving bias which is a belief in more positive traits and statements than in negative ones, which can either inhibit or increase the Barnum effect.  There is also the confirmation bias where people pay less attention to information that doesn’t’t pertain to them, this is in relation to the notion that we agree with more positive information about ourselves, and so we unconsciously pay less attention to negativity especially about one’s self.

Other cognitive biases that can be represented alongside the Barnum effect is the Placebo effect believing something will work like a medication, which creates an actual effect because of the belief, not the supplement.

For this week’s photograph, I have posted a photo that I believe is a metaphor for the Barnum effect, that when you first look at the photo it appears to be a gorgeous mural, but when you look past image you seen that the mural is just covering up an old brick wall in a run down area. This is similar to the Barnum effect where once you look past the face and go deeper into the actual context, you find something different.


Allum, N. (2010). What makes some people think astrology is scientific? Science Communication, 33(3), 341–366. doi:10.1177/1075547010389819

David, T. (2014). Top Twelve most agreed with statements magic words. Retrieved from

Marks, D. F. (1988). The psychology of paranormal beliefs. Experiential, 44(4), 332–337. doi:10.1007/bf01961272

Oxford University Press. (2017). Barnum Effect. Retrieved January 21, 2017, from Oxford Dictionary,

Rudowicz, E., & Hui, A. (1997). The creative personality: Hong Kong perspective. JOURNAL OF SOCIAL BEHAVIOR AND PERSONALITY, 12(1), 139–157.

Snook, B., Cullen, R. M., Bennell, C., Taylor, P. J., & Gendreau, P. (2008). The criminal profiling illusion: What’s behind the smoke and mirrors? Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35(10), 1257–1276. doi:10.1177/0093854808321528

Wikipedia (2016a). Social desirability bias. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Wikipedia (2016b). Subjective validation. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Wikipedia (2017). Barnum effect. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from