Written by Cory Shumate
Laughter, one of life’s greatest joys, can be therapeutic to one’s health and even help build relationships. Laughter can relieve stress and anxiety, subside embarrassment, provide a perfect remedy for awkward moments, and strengthen romantic relationships. However, laughter may also be used in a harmful way. The negative aspects of laughter include its ability to cause overwhelming feelings of embarrassment and humiliation. Also, laughter can be the bane of a relationship due to differences in personalities. For instance, some people simply do not enjoy even the positive aspects of laughter because they find it extremely intimidating. Some people tend to see laughter as being directed towards themselves, more commonly known as gelotophobia (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). The current study examines the effects of laughter in heterosexual relationships (Brauer & Proyer, 2018).
Explanation of Terminology
The variables used to describe people’s reactions towards ridicule and being laughed at in romantic couples include gelotophobia, gelotophilia, and katagelasticism (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). The study explains that gelotophobes view laughter and smiling as expressions of mockery, rather than expressions of joy or happiness (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). The experimenters indicate that people with gelotophilia see laughter directed at them as a sign of appreciation, and they actively seek and create situations that will provoke laughter, as they perceive it as a source of joy (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). Finally, katagelasticists do not feel regret when laughing at others; they see laughter as a part of life and think that the targets could and should ﬁght back if they do not want to be ridiculed (Brauer & Proyer, 2018).
The experimenters used 154 heterosexual romantic couples in this study (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). The mean age of the women was around 27 years and the mean age of the men was around 30 years (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). Approximately half of the couples lived together and around one-fifth were married (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). Each participant individually took three questionaires. The first questionnaire, the PhoPhiKat-45, assessed the three laughter dispositions (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). The test had 15 questions for each disposition (45 questions in total) and the questions were answered using a 4-point Likert scale (1 = “strongly disagree”, 4 = “strongly agree”) (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). The next questionnaire, The Relationship Quality Questionnaire, measured six forms of relationship satisfaction: Fascination, Engagement, Sexuality, Future Orientation, Mistrust, and Constraint (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). There were 26 items on this questionnaire and they were answering using a 5-point Likert Scale (1 = “do not agree”; 5 = “agree very strongly”) (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). The last questionnaire, The Short Relationship Questionnaire, measured communication and coping with disagreement as factors of relationship satisfaction (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). The SRQ included 10 items with three subscales: Togetherness/Communication, Tenderness, and Disagreement (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). An additional item on this questionnaire measured the overall happiness of each participant (Brauer & Proyer, 2018).
These different views of laughter can either provide help or harm to romantic relationships. The results of this study concluded that gelotophobia, the fear of being laughed at, had a negative correlation with global relationship satisfaction, meaning those displaying this disposition tended to have lower satisfaction in their romantic relationship overall (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). The researchers also found that negative relationship satisfaction traits, such as mistrust, constraint, and disagreement, increased as gelotophobia increased (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). The results also showed that gelotophilia, the appreciation of being laughed at, in women was positively associated with attraction, appreciation, sexual satisfaction, and intimacy (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). However, gelotophilia in men was not associated with relationship satisfaction (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). Lastly, katagelasticism, the joy of laughing at others, was not associated with relationship satisfaction overall, but was negatively associated with sexual satisfaction in men (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). However, katagelasticism was greatly associated with a higher amount of differences in partners (Brauer & Proyer, 2018). In conclusion, laughter may have different effects on one’s relationship, depending on the styles that each partner displays; therefore, people should be sensitive to their partner’s laughter disposition in order to have a healthy and flourishing relationship. In other words, now that you know how much laughter can impact your life with someone, take it into account when looking for your own life partner in order to have the healthiest relationship possible.
Brauer, K., & R. T. Proyer. (2018). To Love and Laugh: Testing Actor-, Partner-, and Similarity Effects of Dispositions towards Ridicule and Being Laughed at on Relationship Satisfaction. Journal of Research in Personality, 76, 165–176. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2018.08.008
Written by Mary Grace Payne
The current study, developed by Hafen, et. al. (2014), measured the rejection sensitivity among participants in a longitudinal survey over the course of the participants’ late adolescent and early adulthood years. In the current study, the researchers aimed to determine whether rejection sensitivity in adolescence has an impact on the romantic relationships in early adulthood (i.e., early twenties), and how rejection sensitivity affects romantic relationships in early adulthood.
What is rejection sensitivity?
People who are high in rejection sensitivity, have experienced some sort of relational or social rejection in the past that has caused them to overact towards perceived, real or unreal, threats from others. Those high in rejection sensitivity may distrust reliable romantic partners. This distrust can create a rift in one’s relationship. The processes involved in fostering rejection sensitivity in an individual are best understood by linking past relationship experiences of this person to outcome expectancies (Hafen et. al, 2014).
Why study rejection sensitivity?
In order to improve one’s romantic relationship, it is necessary to understand the past experiences of our significant others and thus, gain a better understanding of our partner’s behaviors. Experiences in adolescence create a foundation for many attitudes and behaviors that are carried out in one’s life throughout adulthood. Experiences in adolescence can have a significant impact on future romantic relationships.
Hafen et. al’s (2014) study suggests that as a result of the common transitions into romantic relationships during adolescence, worries about rejection during the adolescent years are particularly likely to affect the formation and quality of romantic relationships in late adolescence and early adulthood.
The current study
The current study was a longitudinal survey that followed 180 adolescents over a 6-year period, from the ages of 16-22. The survey consisted of two primary periods during which the target participants were tested: late adolescence (i.e., ages 16-19) and early adulthood (i.e., ages 20-22) (Hafen et. al., 2014). Participants reported that “experiences of rejection within parent and peer relationships foster sensitivity for individuals toward the possibility of rejection” (Downey, Lebolt, Rincón, & Freitas, 1996).
In order to measure rejection sensitivity, the Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire (RSQ; Downey & Feldman, 1996) was used during the target participant’s late adolescence stage. This questionnaire was given to participants yearly at four time points in mid-to-late adolescence. The RSQ has 18 hypothetical situations in which rejection by a significant other is possible. For each situation, participants were asked to indicate their level of anxiety or concern regarding the outcome of the particular situation, on a 6-point scale from 1 (very unconcerned) to 6 (very concerned). Additionally, for each situation, participants were asked to indicate the likelihood that the other person would respond in an accepting manner on a 6-point scale from 1 (very unlikely) to 6 (very likely; Hafen et. al., 2014).
When the participants reached early adulthood, they completed the Multi-Item Measure of Adult Romantic Attachment (Bartholomew, 1990; Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998). The Multi-Item Measure of Adult Romantic Attachment is a 36-item measure, in which avoidance and anxiety in relationships were measured (Cooper, Collins, & Shaver, 1998). Each item asked participants how they generally felt in romantic relationships, rather than only in their current relationships. The items were measured on a 7-point scale, from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree), with lower scores reflecting lower levels of anxiety and avoidance in romantic relationships (Hafen et. al., 2014). In addition to the Multi-item Measure of Adult Romantic Attachment, each participant and their romantic partner (if they had a romantic partner at the time) were interviewed and videoed. Each video was coded by the researchers based upon a coding system developed by Grotevant and Cooper (1985). In this coding system, the participant’s overall behavior towards their romantic partner was analyzed. Summary scores of participant’s displays of negativity (eg. “I can’t believe you’d say that, whatever, I don’t want to talk about it”). The frequency and intensity of these negative behaviors were coded (Hafen et. al., 2014).
Findings of the study
The current study had two primary findings. Individuals who were high in rejection sensitivity at age 16 were more anxious and avoidant in relationships, less likely to have future romantic partners, and more likely to have relationships that are characterized by a negative interaction style (Hafen et. al., 2014). Secondly, this study concluded that individuals who were high in rejection sensitivity in late adolescence (ages 16-19), especially females, were more likely to exhibit submissive behaviors in their future romantic relationships. The researchers of the study propose that “intervention efforts that target reducing the anxiety and worry over being rejected by friends and romantic partners in adolescence may have lasting positive impacts in adulthood” (Hafen et. al, 2014, p. 9).
Take home point
In order to reduce the anxiety of being rejected, whether in adolescence or adulthood, it is beneficial for individuals who may be high in rejection sensitivity to understand the reality that everyone has been and will be rejected at some point in their life. Additionally, those high in rejection sensitivity should be aware that rejection comes in many forms and it is not always personal. Sometimes people mean “I am not ready” or “not right now”, even though the message may be perceived as rejection. Finally, it is important to note that it is beneficial for everyone who is or will be in a relationship, to take the RSQ and discover if their partner or his/herself is high in rejection sensitivity. Knowledge of rejection sensitivity will help couples alleviate future conflict and issues that may arise to one partner’s high rejection sensitivity.
Bartholomew, K. (1990). Avoidance of intimacy: An attachment perspective. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 7, 147-178. Doi: 10.1177/0265407590072001
Brennan, K. A., Clark, C.L. & Shaver, P. R. (1998). Self-Report measurement of adult attachment. In J.A. Simpson & W.S. Rholes, Attachment theory and close relationships (pp. 46-76). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Cooper, M. Lynne, Collins, Nancy L. & Shaver, P.R. (1998). Attachment styles, emotion regulation, and adjustment in adolescence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 1380-1397. American Psychological Association Inc.
Downey, G., & Feldman, S.I. (1996). Implications of rejection sensitivity for intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 1327-1343. Doi: 10.1037/002235184.108.40.2067
Downey, G., Lebolt, A., Rincón, C., & Freitas, A.L. (1998). Rejection sensitivity and children’s interpersonal difficulties. Child Development, 69, 1074-1091. Doi: 10.1111/j.14678624.1998.tb06161.x
Grotevant, H.D.& Cooper, C.R. (1985). Patterns of interaction in family relationships and the development of identitiy exploration in adolescence. Child Development, 56, 415-428. Doi: 10.2307/1129730
Hafen, C. A., Spilker, A., Chango, J., Marston, E.S., and Allen, J.P. (2014). To Accept or Reject? The Impact of Adolescent Rejection Sensitivity on Early Adult Romantic Relationships. Journal of Research on Adolescence (Wiley-Blackwell), 24 (1), 55-64. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12081
Written by Ragan Mims
Romantic relationships are an integral part of life. The way that individuals feel and respond when in a romantic relationship can often be attributed to their attachment style. Attachment styles begin to develop in childhood and continue to develop throughout life. The four attachment styles include secure, preoccupied, fearful, and dismissing (Wegner et al., 2018) This article will help the reader identify their attachment style as well as assess each attachment style’s influence on relationships, with particular focus on jealousy.
According to Wegner, Roy, Gorman, and Ferguson, attachment styles are the way in which individuals approach each other in regard to intimate relationships (2018). There are four main attachment styles that were used by Wegner and his colleges in their 2018 study: secure, preoccupied, fearful, and dismissing. The table below identifies the four attachment styles and provides a brief description of each style.
*This table was copied from Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991.
How Attachment Styles Influence Relationships
Each attachment style has certain impacts on relationships. Wegner, Roy, Gorman, and Ferguson conducted a study in 2018 that aimed to determine how relationship attachment styles influence jealousy induction through relationship communication styles. The researchers used a sample of 263 college students who completed a on online survey (Wegner et al., 2018). The survey included questions that measured each participant’s jealousy induction, attachment style, attitude toward relationships, and tendency for self-expression (Wegner et al., 2018). As one might expect, securely attached individuals tend to have healthier relationships. According to the research, individuals with a secure attachment style generally have more assertive, open communication styles and induce less jealousy in their partners (Wegner et al., 2018). Additionally, individuals with preoccupied and fearful attachment styles were significantly linked to jealousy induction in their partners (Wegner et al., 2018). There were also significant differences between women and men. Men were linked to self-silencing and nonassertive communication styles as a predictor of jealousy induction (Wegner et al., 2018). Women, however, demonstrated more aggressive communication styles as a predictor of jealousy induction in their partner (Wegner et al., 2018). This research suggests that men who do not express their opinions and, instead, choose to keep their thoughts to themselves induce jealousy more than others do (Wegner et al., 2018). Additionally, women who are more overbearing and forceful induce jealousy more in their significant other (Wegner et al., 2018).
Given this information, how can individuals foster healthy and happy relationships? The first step is to identify one’s attachment style; understanding how you relate to others is pivotal to relationship quality and endurance. If you would like to discover your attachment style, please click here.
If an individual is afraid of connecting with others or fears that others are going to hurt them, they will most likely engage in destructive behaviors that could end a relationship prematurely. Additionally, communication styles are an important part of healthy relationships. Communicating openly and honestly with one’s partner is the best way to understand the other’s feelings and thoughts about the relationship. If you fear that your attachment style or communication style may be holding you back from healthy relationships, individual counseling could help to expose and exterminate troubling feelings and thoughts. There are also many blogs and articles about how to foster a more secure attachment style. Greater Good Magazine published by UC Berkeley recently released an online article about forming more secure attachments that you can view by clicking here.
In summary, individuals possess different ways of relating to others in romantic relationships. Certain attachment styles can be constructive, while others may not be beneficial for building relationships. Additionally, how individuals communicate with their partner can greatly influence relationships. Having open and honest conversations can lead to less jealousy induction and more trust between partners. Understanding how you relate to others can help foster healthier and happier relationships in your life and in the lives of others.
Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 226-244. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.332.3652&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Wegner, R., Roy, A. K., Gorman, K. R., & Ferguson, K. (2018). Attachment, relationship communication style and the use of jealousy induction techniques in romantic relationships. Personality and Individual Differences, 129, 6-11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2018.02.033
Written by Korilyn Baudoin
The Old Method: Zero Tolerance
The best way to combat bullying is to stop it before it starts. Most school systems take a zero tolerance approach to bullying; such policies suspend or expel the children who bully others. That approach has failed to stop the prevalence of bullying for a number of reasons. According to the CDC (2018), teachers and students are less likely to report incidences of bullying when the punishment is suspension, and physical bullying makes up of the majority of the reports (negating instances of cyber bullying, social bullying, or sexual harassment). Sometimes, bullying can be an early sign of other behavioral problems that a child faces. Children who frequently target their peers are at an increased risk for delinquent behaviors like unexcused absences, fighting, theft, and vandalism (CDC, 2018). These children need positive role models, including the adults and students in their school, but suspension can take away from positive growth. Schools play an important role in the cognitive development, as well as the social-emotional development, of children. Schools should be able to recognize risk factors associated with problematic behaviors, and work with those children at risk to model appropriate behaviors that will help them build successful futures.
The New Method: Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
One imposed solution to subside incidences of bullying is to integrate social-emotional learning (SEL) programs into the school’s curriculum (Espelage, Low, Van Ryzin, & Polanin, 2015). SEL programs fosters the development of positive qualities, such as good behavior, discipline, safety, and academics (Joseph, Allison, Rebecca & Rodger, 2011). These programs help youth become self-aware, manage their emotions, build social skills, develop friendship skills, and learn positive coping and problem-solving skills (Joseph et. al., 2011). One program using SEL, called the Second Step Middle School Program, used social skill instruction intertwined into the curriculum over a three-year period (Espelage et. al., 2015). The program results showed significant reductions in delinquency of students, which indirectly led to decreases in incidences of bullying and homophobic name-calling.
How SEL Programs Works
The program included fifteen lessons at 6th grade and thirteen lessons at both 7th and 8th grade; it aimed to inhibit risk factors and encourage protective factors, which regulated problematic behaviors (Espelage et. al., 2015). Second Step targeted the following risk factors: inappropriate classroom behavior (such as aggression and impulsivity), favorable attitudes toward problem behavior, friends who engage in the problem behavior, early initiation of problem behavior, peer rewards for antisocial behavior, peer rejection and impulsiveness (Espelage et. al., 2015). The program also targeted the following protective factors: social skills, empathy, school connectedness, and adoption of conventional norms about drug use (Espelage et. al., 2015). Students learned about protective factors and became aware of risk factors through classroom methods, such as direct instruction, group activities, hands-on activities, reflection and role-playing exercises (Espelage et. al., 2015). The process included involvement from both teachers and peers, reflecting aspects of the social learning theory.
A Friendlier Future
The SEL method and, specifically, the Second Step Program are relatively new approaches and, with more research, will be able to adapt to fit every school’s needs. The use of these types of programs proved to be more effective than a zero-tolerance policy and offer more resources to kids who are at risk of delinquent behavior, including bullying. Schools have a major role to play in raising well-adapted children by promoting their cognitive development, as well as their social and emotional development. This is a challenge because many schools have limited resources, yet they need to address all of these areas, on top of the already immense pressure to promote high academic performances. Educators must implement programs such as Second Step, which is multi-faceted and addresses many issues at once. Schools must be proactive in promoting pro-social behaviors to end the cycle of bullying.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 10 Jan, 2018. “Bullying Research.”. Retrieved from
Espelage, D. L., Low, S., Van Ryzin, M. J., & Polanin, J. R. (2015). Clinical Trial of Second Step Middle School Program: Impact on Bullying, Cyberbullying, Homophobic Teasing, and Sexual Harassment Perpetration. School Psychology Review, 44(4), 464-479.
Joseph A., D., Allison B., D., Rebecca D., T., Roger P., W., & Kriston B., S. (2011). The Impact of Enhancing Students' Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions. Child Development, (1), 405-432.
Written by Hal Bronson
People have often made the argument that the reason why they date certain people is based on personal preference. Watts (2012) states, “Just because someone isn’t sexually attracted to someone of Asian origin does not meant they wouldn’t want to work, live next to, or socialize with him or her, or that they believe they are somehow naturally superior to them.” While this argument is valid, it is hard to believe that in the current age of online dating, where diverse dating partners abound, that same-group dating prevails overall (U.S. Census Bureau 2012). Stember (1978) believed sexual racism was to blame for this phenomenon. He defined sexual racism as, “the sexual rejection of the racial minority, the conscious attempt on the part of the majority to prevent interracial cohabitation” (p. xi). This phenomenon is further investigated by Callander et al. (2015) in the context of gay and bisexual Australian men.
Online Prevalence of Sexual Racism
According to Callander et al. (2015), most sexual racism expression occurs online. A possible cause of this could be the disinhibition effect. The disinhibition effect occurs when someone can separate themselves from their real life, which makes it easier for them to reveal information about themselves or act out in ways that they would not if the interaction was in person (Suler, 2015). Because we are in the age where online dating is at an all-time high (Jin & Martin 2015), it is reasonable to think that sexual racism might be more prevalent due to this disconnect from the user’s identity. Although Callander et al. (2015) found that sexual racism is more likely to occur online, the question of whether sexual racism is actually racism, still remains.
Results of Callender et al.’s (2015) Study
To begin, Callander et al. (2015) states that there are similarities between sexual racism and racism, but there are additional things to consider. “While the majority of men we surveyed saw racism as a problem on sex and dating web services, over 70% disagreed with the idea that indicating a racial preference online is a form of racism” (2015). The people in the study seemed hesitant to label these behaviors as racist, possibly due to the strong negative connotation associated with this word. Participants in the study may have also engaged in behaviors, such as discriminating against partners and race-based attraction (Callander et al. 2015). Therefore, stating that racial preference is racism would mean that the participants were disclosing that they are racist, which many would not readily admit.
In conclusion, sexual racism has characteristics of typical racism. While people in Callander et al.’s (2015) study indicated that they did not believe that racial preference online was a form of racism, it is quite likely that most people did this because they did not want to be seen as racist. While personal preference may tend to be the excuse that is often used, I find it more likely that prejudice is really at play.
Callander, D., Newman, C. E., & Holt, M. (2015). Is sexual racism really racism? Archives of Social Behavior, 44, 1991-2000.
Jin, S. V., & Martin, C. (2015). 'A match made…online?' The effects of user-generated online dater profile types (free-spirited versus uptight) on other users' perception of trustworthiness, interpersonal attraction, and personality. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, And Social Networking, 18(6), 320-327.
Stember, C. (1978). Sexual racism: The emotional barrier to an integrated society. New York: Harper & Row.
Suler, J. (2004). The online disinhibition effect. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 7, 321–326. doi:10.1089/1094931041291295.
U.S. Census Bureau (2012). Households and Families: 2010. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-14.pdf.
Watts, J. (2012, February 29). Gay men and women are not more racist. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.
Written by Bishop Noble
The experience of being bullied and its resulting side effects can be traumatic for victims. Victims of both traditional bullying (face to face) and cyber bullying (online) may suffer from depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem (McCuddy & Esbensen, 2017). Scholars have also found that both types of bullying are linked with delinquency in middle school and high school children (Hay, Meldrum, & Mann, 2010). However, there is a conversation regarding whether or not the effects of cyber bullying are more severe or just different in nature (McCuddy & Esbensen, 2017). The purpose of this blog is to examine the effects of cyber bullying on victims and how the unique features of cyber bullying can lead to increases in levels of delinquency in middle school and high school children.
What is Cyber Bullying, and How Does It Affect the Victim?
Cyber bullying is a newer type of bullying that involves harassing an individual online through a digital platform, such as social media. The act is typically done by sending intimidating or threatening messages to the ostracized student (McCuddy & Esbensen, 2017). These bullies can be classmates, or they may even be anonymous users online. However, most of the time the victims know the bully (McCuddy & Esbensen 2017). Studies have found that cyber bullying victimization can lead to delinquency (Hinduja & Patchin, 2007). Students who experience cyber bullying are more likely to engage in assault, substance abuse, skipping school, and other problematic behaviors than those students who have not experienced cyber bullying (Hinduja & Patchin, 2007). Hay and colleagues (2010) even found that victims of cyber bullying self-reported greater delinquency effects than victims of traditional bullying.
What are the Unique Features of Cyber Bullying?
One aspect of cyber bullying that may contribute to increased levels of delinquency is the disconnect and disinhibition that are associated with it (McCuddy & Esbensen, 2017). The ability for cyber bullies to remain disconnected from direct consequences while online may lead them to become more aggressive in the messages that they send to their victims. Additionally, the anonymity of the act can make the bully feel more in control and the victim feel less in control (McCuddy & Esbensen, 2017). Another unique feature of cyber bullying is a concept called tethering. Tethering is the idea that victim is unable to escape the cyber bully, regardless of where s/he goes (McCuddy & Esbensen, 2017). Due to the increased use of electronic devices, such as phones, the victims may feel as if they are carrying around the bullies in their pockets (McCuddy & Esbensen, 2017). With traditional bullying, victims can escape their bullies when they are not at school or social events. With tethering, the bully is always there online, and the victim feels as if s/he cannot escape (McCuddy & Esbensen, 2017).
Findings from McCuddy and Esbensen’s (2017) Study
McCuddy and Esbensen (2017) examined the relationship between bullying victimization and delinquency using four waves of panel data to analyze the separate effects of traditional bullying, cyber bullying, and dual bullying victimization. Their data came from the second National Evaluation of the Gang Resistance Education and Training program that surveyed 31 middle schools across seven cities (McCuddy & Esbensen, 2017). Results revealed that those who experience cyber bullying show heightened substance abuse and nonviolent delinquency (McCuddy & Esbensen, 2017). Dual bullying appeared to be most strongly associated with general delinquency. Surprisingly, traditional bullying remained significantly weaker across all models and analyses (McCuddy & Esbensen, 2017).
In conclusion, cyber bullying is associated with increased levels of delinquency, especially during the middle school and high school years. Cyber bullying can increase sadness, anxiety, fear, and depression in students and push them towards acts of delinquency that they may not have engaged in previously (McCuddy & Esbensen, 2017). Therefore, it is important that school administrators and mental health professionals understand cyber bullying and how to help students who are going through these harmful experiences. The responsibility to advocate for the victims falls on both the school system and the parents at home, who can recognize these forms of bullying and help students experiencing cyber bullying.
Hay, C., Meldrum R., & Mann K. (2010). Traditional bullying, cyber bullying, and deviance: A general strain theory approach. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 26, 130-47.
Hinduja, S. & Patchin J.W. (2007). Offline consequences of online victimization. Journal of School Violence, 6, 89-112.
McCuddy, T., & Esbensen, F. (2017). After the bell and into the night: The link between delinquency and traditional, cyber-, and dual-bullying victimization. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 54, 409-441.
Written by Areal Carter
With each passing year, the numbers of first-generation college students are increasing (Stephens et al., 2012) These are students who are the first in their families to attend institutes of higher education. These students tend to struggle more both academically and culturally than students who at least have one parent with a Bachelor’s degree (Stephens et al., 2012). The purpose of this blog is to shed light on the achievement gap and the cultural mismatch theory that affect first-generation students. First, the blog will present the achievement gap and how it can cause students to struggle. Second, the blog will present cultural mismatch theory and how it affects first-generation college students.
The Achievement Gap
The achievement gap refers to the observed disparity in academic performance between different groups of students (Warburton, Bugarin, & Nunez, 2001). Most first-generation college students come from lower middle or working class, whereas non-first-generation students tend to come from upper middle class or lower upper-class families. Many first-generation students attend high schools of poor academic standing that do not prepare them for transition into college; they often need additional tutoring, mentoring, and social support (Warburton et al., 2001). Findings suggest that the gap in academic performance between first-generation and non-first-generation students partially due to the middle class cultural norms of independence that are institutionalized in many U.S. university and colleges (Warburton et al., 2001). When the values and backgrounds of students and higher education settings match one another, students are better able to be served because they feel as though they have social support with the same goals and backgrounds.
Cultural Mismatch Theory
The cultural mismatch theory, according to Stephens and colleagues (2012), is the theory that the U.S. university culture reflects the pervasive middle-class norms of independence that are foundational to U.S. society. In short, most universities follow the motto of paving one’s own way in life (Stephens et al., 2012). Universities stresses the values of independence and interdependence within the college system. Many first-generation college students are more prone to interdependence than independence, whereas universities often stress independence over interdependence (Stephens et al., 2012). and values that students bring to college are influenced by their social classes, and more first-generation students focus on interdependence than they do independence when they come to college (Stephens et al., 2012). They are more concerned with community outreach than becoming independent thinkers. When a student’s motives match the university’s cultural norms which is being more interdependence this has a positive effect on the student’s academic performance (Stephens et al., 2012). Students perform better academically if they feel as though they fit into a system that reflects their values (Stephens et al., 2012). Students may also feel as though they better fit into universities based on the social support that is provided therein, such as student counseling services, bridge programs for transitioning students, and multicultural diversity centers. These programs help provide a conducive environment for first-generation college students to perform well academically and help them to feel as though they are supported by and connected to their universities (Warburton et al., 2001).
In conclusion, the key to helping first-generation college students adjust to life in higher education is by implementing programs to aid in their involvement in the university and feelings of inclusion and by providing them with academic, emotional, and financial support (Warburton et al., 2001). Implementing these types of programs may positively impact the students by making them feel as though they have sources of mentorship, motivation, and encouragement. These types of qualities can majorly impact a student’s grades, social environment and desire to stay in school and earn a degree.
Stephens, N. M., Fryberg, S. A., Markus, H. R., Johnson, C. S., & Covarrubias, R. (2012). Unseen disadvantage: How American universities' focus on independence undermines the academic performance of first-generation college students. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 1178-1197. doi: 10.1037/a0027143
Warburton, E., Bugarin, R., & Nunez, A. (2001). Bridging the gap: Academic preparation and postsecondary success of first-generation students (Report No. NCES 2001–153). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Government Printing Office.
Written by Hal Bronson
Low Self-Esteem’s Involvement in Relationships
While in relationships, individuals often find themselves desiring to be closer to their partners. Behaviors, such as sharing emotions, engaging in intimacy, and providing support to one another, provide opportunities for partners to increase the closeness of their relationship, but these behaviors are risky because partners may react undesirably. Due to the risk involved in disclosing and forming such closeness in romantic relationships, individuals tend to avoid these behaviors when they feel as if they are likely to result in rejection (Baker & McNulty, 2013). Regarding the risk regulation model, individuals with low self-esteem (LSE) are more likely to expect rejection, so they often avoid behaviors that increase interdependence, while the opposite can be said of individuals with high self-esteem (HSE; Murray, Holmes, & Collins, 2006). However, according to Leary and colleagues’ (1995) sociometer theory, individuals with LSE are more likely to participate in behaviors that heighten their interdependence in relationships due to the goal of increasing relational value. Is self-esteem the key in relational intimacy, or does a different factor carry more weight in this process?
Relational Self-Construal’s Involvement in Relationships
Relational self-construal is the extent to which the self is defined independently of others or interdependently with others (Baker & McNulty, 2013). Individuals high in relational self-construal define themselves by their close relationships, while individuals low in relational self-construal define themselves by their independent qualities (Baker & McNulty, 2013). While LSE can be an indicator of interdependence, relational self-construal must be considered as well. It is possible that individuals with LSE who are lower in relational self-construal may be likely to avoid risky behaviors that increase interdependence in favor of self-protection. Meanwhile, individuals with LSE who are higher in relational self-construal may look to increase their connections in relationships. Baker and McNulty (2013) conducted six studies and discovered that individuals with LSE are dependent on relational self-construal to determine if they value self-protection or connection goals more.
In conclusion, HSE is frequently associated with positive traits, and LSE is shown to be associated with numerous psychological disorders and a factor in lowering romantic relationship satisfaction by instilling fear in individuals with LSE that they are undeserving of love (Branden, 1995). However, this does not necessarily mean that the only way that individuals with LSE can increase intimacy and satisfaction within their romantic relationships is by increasing their self-worth. While having HSE may seem incredibly beneficial, this research (Baker & McNulty, 2013) shows that relational self-construal may carry more weight as a factor in determining relational quality and leading to an increase in interdependence in relationships.
Baker, L. R., & Mcnulty, J. K. (2013). When low self-esteem encourages behaviors that risk rejection to increase interdependence: The role of relational self-construal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 995-1018. doi: 10.1037/a0032137
Branden, N. (1995). The six pillars of self-esteem: The definitive work on self-esteem by the leading pioneer in the field. New York, NY: Bantam.
Leary, M. R., Tambor, E. S., Terdal, S. K., & Downs, D. L. (1995). Self-esteem as an interpersonal monitor: The sociometer hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 518–530. doi: 10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.118
Murray, S. L., Holmes, J. G., & Collins, N. L. (2006). Optimizing assurance: The risk regulation system in relationships. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 641–666. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.132.5.641
Written by Madison Shidler
Adolescent and young adult relationships present interesting dynamics as young individuals grow in maturity and experience. Relationships from the teen years are often seen as doomed to end in break-ups, with young adults seen as having a better chance at finding their life partners. However, research such as Lantagne and Furman (2017) regarding the characteristics of these relationships and the impact of teenage relationships on later romances is relatively new. The current research studying the dynamics of young adults’ and adolescents’ relationships and the differences in adolescent relationships and young adult relationships is fairly consistent.
Young Adults’ and Adolescents’ Support Providers
Supportive roles from romantic partners increase in importance over the course of adolescence (Furman & Buhrmester, 1992). For middle school adolescents, friends and parents equally share in supportive roles (Furman & Buhrmester, 1992). By tenth grade, friends provide the most important supportive roles, but in college, romantic partners make an appearance as one of the three main sources of support, sharing it with friends and mothers (Furman & Buhrmester, 1992). This increase in importance of romantic partners regarding support mirrors the average length of the relationships; in the early teenage years, relationships tend to be short, gradually increasing in length into young adulthood, with longer relationships being seen as more supportive (Connolly & Johnson, 1996; Lantagne & Furman, 2017; Seiffge-Krenke, 2003).
Long- and Short-Term Relationship Comparisons
Relationship characteristics appear to be dependent on the couple’s age and the length of the relationship, with older aged individuals tending to have longer relationships (Lantagne & Furman, 2017). Despite the average length of relationships being short for young teenagers, long relationships do exist. These relationships are significantly different from their young adult counterparts; namely, they seem to be inherently more turbulent, strongly characterized by negative qualities, such as jealousy and controlling behaviors (Lantagne & Furman, 2017). Oddly, however, these same relationships tend to be more supportive than their young adult relationship counterparts (Lantagne & Furman, 2017). Conversely, short term relationships appear to follow the opposite trend in regard to age. Young adults’ short term relationships tended to be characterized by more conflict, more controlling behaviors, and less jealousy than their younger counterparts’ relationships (Lantagne & Furman, 2017). However, all types of relationships in the oldest participants in the study (approximately 25 years of age) tend to be fairly similar in regard to support, conflict, jealousy, and control issues, indicating a more consistent relationship characterization, regardless of length, with the youngest (approximately 15 years of age) having large gaps in the comparisons between short, medium, and long relationships (Latagne & Furman, 2017).
The Practice Effect of Relationships
Despite the turbulence of adolescent romances, having many of them seems to contribute to better quality relationships in young adulthood, potentially due to having more practice at conflict resolution and other important aspects of relationships (Seiffge-Krenke, 2003). The benefits of being in a relationship throughout the teenage years appear regardless of whether or not the teenager stays with the same partner or has multiple partners during this time (Seiffge-Krenke, 2003). These romantically experienced adolescents are more likely to marry or cohabit in early adulthood, indicating their better abilities to maintain stable relationships (Meier & Allen, 2009).
Overall, teenage relationships have purpose beyond making teenagers feel important or giving them status. These early relationships give them practice at being in romantic relationships, which leads to more stable and longer relationships in young adulthood (Seiffge-Krenke, 2003). These same relationships may be more chaotic and fraught with issues, but they provide support and are important transitions into young adulthood romances, which leads to better stability and quality in later romantic involvements.
Connolly, J. A., & Johnson, A. M. (1996). Adolescents’ romantic relationships and the structure and quality of their close interpersonal ties. Personal Relationships, 3(2), 185-195. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.1996.tb00111.x
Furman, W., & Buhrmester, D. (1992). Age and sex differences in perceptions of networks of personal relationships. Child Development, 63(1), 103-115. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1130905
Lantangne, A., & Furman, W. (2017). Romantic relationship development: The interplay between age and relationship length. Developmental Psychology, 53(9), 1738-1749. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000067
Meier, A., & Allen, G. (2009). Romantic relationships from adolescence to young adulthood: Evidence from the National Longtidutinal Study of Adolescent Health. The Sociological Quarterly, 50(2), 308-335. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-8525.2009.01142.x
Seiffge-Krenke, I. (2003). Testing theories of romantic development from adolescence to young adulthood: Evidence of a developmental sequence. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 27(6), 519-513. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01650250344000145
Written by Jess Brink
When individuals find themselves in troubled times, counseling can be a much-needed resource to get them through these obstacles. Individuals seek counseling for many reasons, such as needing help in their relationships, dealing with mental illness, or learning new coping strategies to handle difficult events. Individuals also avoid counseling for many reasons, including fear of ridicule from others and social pressures to handle one’s own problems. Mental health and counseling have long been stigmatized; that stops many from seeking help, and some individuals simply just do not feel that therapy will benefit them. For men, counseling may be viewed as something that goes against the ideas of and expectations for masculinity (Vogel & Heath, 2016). Men are often expected to have limited emotions, or at least not show these emotions. Many men are taught that masculinity depends on their ability to handle their problems on their own and without outside help. Masculinity norms also demand that a man be silent and stoic rather than compassionate and caring. This ideal type of masculinity may impact men’s ability to be compassionate towards themselves. Men who adhere more to masculinity norms express more negative attitudes toward counseling and are far less likely to go to counseling in times of need than men who adhere less to masculinity norms (Hammer, Vogel, & Heimerdinger-Edwards, 2013). For counseling methods to succeed, one must look at other factors that affect the willingness of men to seek help.
Masculinity Expectations and Their Relationship to Men Seeking Counseling
In a study consisting of college-age males, participants were asked to complete scales measuring their self-compassion, self-stigma, and risk of self-disclosure (Heath et al., 2017). All of these scales were used to measure the likelihood of male participants attending counseling. The self-stigma scale was used to measure the stigma that men felt towards their own decision to seek out counseling (Vogel et al., 2006). If men felt stigma towards themselves, this suggests that they felt ashamed or embarrassed about seeking counseling. Because men are often told by society that asking for help goes against their masculinity, men who conform to this idea would most likely feel self-stigma and may be less likely to ask for help in the future (Vogel et al., 2006). The risk of self-disclosure model was used to measure the personal risk felt by the men seeking help or opening themselves up emotionally (Vogel & Wester, 2003). Men were asked if they felt that asking for help made them feel uncomfortable personally or if it made them feel at risk for scrutiny from their friends or acquaintances. After completing these surveys, results were then analyzed to see if there was any connection between the three factors mentioned and the unwillingness of men to seek counseling. Results revealed that the more men followed masculine gender norms, the more barriers were in their way when they considered seeking help (Heath et al., 2017). Men with a higher regard for gender norms scored higher on self-disclosure risk and self-stigma (Heath et al., 2017). This study focused on trying to find a way to break through these barriers. Self-compassion was also analyzed and appeared to be the trait that was needed to aid men in their ability to seek help. Higher scores on self-compassion were correlated with lower scores on barriers, such as self-stigma and self-disclosure risk (Heath et al., 2017). Self-compassion may be the factor that aids men in their ability to treat themselves with kindness and understanding in times of struggle (Neff, 2003).
Seeking Out Help Can Be Hard, but it Doesn’t Make a Man Any Less of a Man
Men may feel uncomfortable when seeking out counseling due to the fear that seeking help possibly goes against their expected traits of being strong, independent, and able to provide. Seeking counseling can be an extremely difficult step for many people, not only men; however, men may the task particularly troubling. The ability for men to feel kindness and express understanding towards themselves can increase the likelihood of their ability to seek counseling when it is needed. It is always okay to seek help, and it is important to remember that men who do are not lesser men because of it.
Hammer, J. H., Vogel, D. L., & Heimerdinger-Edwards, S. R. (2013). Men’s help seeking: Examination of differences across community size, education, and income. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 14, 65–75.
Heath, P. J., Brenner, R. E., Vogel, D. L., Lannin, D. G., & Strass, H. A. (2017). Masculinity and barriers to seeking counseling: The buffering role of self-compassion. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64, 94-103.
Neff, K. D. (2003). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2, 223–250.
Vogel, D. L., & Heath, P. J. (2016). Men, masculinities, and help-seeking patterns. In S. R. Wester & J. Wong (Eds.), APA handbook for the psychology of men and masculinities (pp. 685–707). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Vogel, D. L., Wade, N. G., & Haake, S. (2006). Measuring the self-stigma associated with seeking psychological help. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 53, 325–337.
Vogel, D. L., & Wester, S. R. (2003). To seek help or not to seek help: The risks of self-disclosure. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 50, 351–361.
Dr. H. Colleen Sinclair
Social Psychologist, Relationships Researcher,
Ms. Jessica Utley
Lab Manager of the Social Relations Collaborative and Blog Editor