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.
Written by Bishop Noble
Adolescent bullying in schools is a complex problem that is coming more and more into public consciousness. As a result, many adults have pressured school officials to increase both the penalties for adolescent bullying in schools, as well as the police presence in schools across the nation (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016). However, will the increased punishment and police presence decrease the bullying epidemic? According to Patchin and Hinduja (2016), students are, in fact, deterred more by their parents and school officials, such as teachers and principals, than they are by a police presence. Deterrence theory and the perceived punishment of students should be considered when looking at the nation’s bullying dilemma.
What is Deterrence Theory, and How Does it Affect Adolescents?
Deterrence theory posits that individuals are rational and will avoid criminal behaviors if the punishments are greater than the perceived benefits (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016). The root of this theory comes from the pleasure/pain principle (i.e., individuals want to maximize their pleasure and minimize their pain; Nagin, 1998). Deterrence theory relates to adolescent bullying because students may weigh the pleasures of engaging in bullying at school against the expected pains associated with the threats of punishment by parents, school officials, or police officers; the decision (whether or not to transgress) is dependent upon the student and his/her relationship with these authority figures (Nagin, 1998). However, adolescents view punishments that are administered by parents or school officials as the least favorable, and these sources of punishment are the best at deterring adolescents from engaging in school bullying behaviors (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016).
How Does Perceived Punishment Influence Students’ Bullying Behaviors?
The punishment that an adolescent perceives as severe largely determines what s/he will do in any given situation: if the perceived punishment is lenient, s/he may opt to engage in bullying behavior; if the perceived punishment is harsh, s/he will likely decide against using bullying behaviors (Jackson, 2002). A study has shown that an increased police presence on campuses or in schools may lead to a distrust of officers and induce more delinquent behavior (Theriot, 2009). The reason behind this distrust may be because the increased police presence fosters an adversarial relationship in which the students see the officers as rivals, and this may lead to increased disorder in schools (Theriot, 2009). Parents and school officials who convey to the students that deviant behavior, such as bullying, will not be tolerated and that the behaviors will be punished seem to play a stronger role in deterring students from bullying behaviors. Additionally, it is noteworthy to mention that punishment by parents and school officials must be supportive and nurturing, as well as punitive, in nature (Hoeve et al., 2009). These elements are important because the child must feel love and support from the individuals s/he loves and looks up to even though s/he is being punished for his/her behavior.
Findings from Patchin and Hinduja’s (2016) Study
Patchin and Hinduja (2016) examined the amount of bullying that students experienced in their schools; bullying at school was experienced by 26.6% of the students, compared to online bullying, which was experienced by 5.8% of the students. They also examined how perceived punishment from different sources would affect deterrence from bullying (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016). The sample included 1,096 students in grades 5-8 attending public schools located in the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. Results revealed that even informal efforts, such as discussing the problems of bullying, by parents and school officials have the potential for greater impact in deterring students from bullying than the utilization of police officers (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016). Additionally, school punishment appears to have greater impact in deterring school bullying, while parental punishment is more effective in deterring cyberbullying (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016). Punishment by the police for both school bullying and cyberbullying were perceived less often than punishment by parents or schools (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016).
In conclusion, deterrence theory has been shown to have some relevance to students and their perceptions of punishment regarding bullying. The increased police presence in many schools may not be the best way for our nation to decrease bullying behavior within schools. Having parents and school officials become more involved in students’ lives may be the factor that is missing in reducing bullying. It is important that parents, teachers, principals, and counselors all understand how their students’ perceptions operate so that they will be able to reduce this persistent bullying problem that is present across the nation.
Hoeve, M., Dubas, J. S., Eichelsheim, V. I., Van der Laan, P. H., Smeenk, W., & Gerris, J. R. (2009). The relationship between parenting and delinquency: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychology, 37, 749-775.
Jackson, A. (2002). Police-school resource officers’ and students’ perception of the police and offending. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 25, 631-650.
Nagin, D. S. (1998). Criminal deterrence research at the outset of the Twenty-First Century. Crime and Justice, 23, 1-42.
Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2016). Deterring teen bullying: Assessing the impact of perceived Punishment from police, schools, and parents. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 1-18.
Theriot, M. T. (2009). School resource officers and the criminalization of student behavior. Journal of Criminal Justice, 37, 280-287.
Written by Makeela J. Wells
In today’s society, more adolescents are opening up about their sexual orientation and identity. However, an unfortunate consequence of this action has been resulting experiences of homophobic and transphobic bullying. The purpose of this blog is to help the reader understand instances of homophobic and transphobic bullying in K-12 educational institutions. First, we define homophobic and transphobic bullying. Second, we will discuss the consequences of homophobic and transphobic bullying. Lastly, we will explore how school-based strategies can help adolescents cope with and combat homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools.
What is homophobic and transphobic bullying?
Homophobic and transphobic bullying is a form of bias-based victimization against individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). It can include derogatory language, verbal harassment, and physical violence (Day, Snapp, & Russell, 2016). Additionally, homophobic and transphobic bullying can occur through electronic means, including text messages, e-mails, and social media sites (Schneider, O’Donnell, Stueve, & Coulter, 2012). Research on homophobic and transphobic bullying has received little attention; however, it is not just a regional phenomenon. Homophobic and transphobic bullying is being experienced all over the world. For example, in 2010, a South African study revealed that close to 70% of gay men and roughly 40% of lesbians reported that they experienced hate speech at school (Cornu, 2016). In the same year, a U.S. study showed that 84% of students who identified as either gay, lesbian, or bisexual were called names or threatened by other students (Kosciw, Greytak, Diaz, & Bartkiewicz, 2010). Additionally, close to 20% reported experiencing physical assaults (Kosciw et al., 2010). Among transgender students, 90% stated that they experienced name-calling or threats, and about 50% experienced physical assaults (Kosciw et al., 2010).
Consequences of homophobic and transphobic bullying
Several negative consequences associated with homophobic and transphobic bullying have been identified. Adolescents who experience homophobic and transphobic bullying are more likely to miss classes, have lower academic performances, and have difficulty concentrating (Antonio & Moleiro, 2015; Day et al., 2016). Those who experience these negative effects often leave school before completion. Failing to complete school influences future employment prospects of adolescents who are subjected to homophobic and transphobic bullying.
Socially, homophobic and transphobic bullying victims are more likely to report feeling left out or isolated while attending school (Antonio & Moleiro, 2015). They also are more likely to have difficulties establishing and maintaining friendships and other interpersonal relationships (Antonio & Moleiro, 2015). Negative emotional and psychological consequences of homophobic and transphobic bullying include low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Victims of homophobic and transphobic bullying are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and greater rates of attempted and actual suicides (Antonio & Moleiro, 2015; Day et al., 2016).
Strategies for combating homophobic and transphobic bullying in K-12 educational institutions
Two types of school-based practices have been implemented in schools in an attempt to prevent and eliminate homophobic and transphobic bullying. Supportive practices are initiatives taken by school officials to facilitate both school connectedness and bullying prevention. Examples of supportive practices include adequate counseling and support services for students, providing confidential support and referral services to students, and identifying sanctions for bullying violations on a case-by-case basis (Day et al., 2016). Punitive practices refer to strict, zero-tolerance approaches to dissuade future bullying and include suspension and even expulsion for participation in bullying behaviors (Day et al., 2016). Research by Day and colleagues (2016) revealed that supportive practices were more beneficial in reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying than punitive practices. Schools utilizing supportive practices reported that students were less likely to experience homophobic bullying. Furthermore, supportive practices promoted school connectedness through which adolescents develop positive relationships in school.
Sexual and gender diversity are no longer taboo. Adolescents now, more than ever, are willing to express their true identities. It is imperative that these adolescents feel comfortable with themselves, especially within schools. Schools serve as a place where adolescents are provided with educational opportunities that greatly impact their future life chances (e.g., employment). When adolescents are bullied for their perceived or actual sexual identity, it makes it more difficult for them to obtain a sufficient education. In the end, parents, school officials, and other educational stakeholders must work to prevent and, eventually, eliminate homophobic and transphobic bullying.
For more information of homophobic and transphobic bullying, visit the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Education sector responses to homophobic bullying.
Antonio, R., & Moleiro, C. (2015). Social and parental support as moderators of the effects of homophobic bullying on psychological distress in youth. Psychology in the Schools, 52(8), 729-742. doi: 10.1002/pits.21856.
Cornu, C. (2016). Preventing and addressing homophobic and transphobic bullying in education: A human rights-based approach using the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Journal of LGBT Youth, 13(1), 6-17. doi: 10.1080/19361653.2015.1087932
Day, J.K., Snapp, S.D., & Russell, S.T. (2016). Supportive, not punitive, practices reduce homophobic bullying and improve school connectedness. Journal of Social Orientation and Gender Diversity, 3(4), 416-425. doi: 10.1037/sgd0000195
Kosciw, J.G., Greytak, E.A., Diaz, E.M., & Bartkiewicz, M.J. (2010). The 2009 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York, NY: GLSEN. Retrieved from https://www.glsen.org/download/file/NDIyMw==.
Schneider, S.K., O’Donnell, L., Stueve, A., Coulter, R.W.S. (2012). Cyberbullying, school bullying, and psychological distress: A regional census of high school students. American Journal of Public Health, 102(1), 171-177. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011
Written by Luke Herald
Music is an art form that reaches infinite numbers of people. It can transcend cultural barriers and interpersonal connections, influence an individual’s mood, and even influence individuals' ways of thinking (e.g., North & Hargreaves, 2008). Music affects individuals differently and has the potential to promote and regulate relationships (Hargreaves & North, 1999). The music that we listen to often can influence our thoughts about the world around us. Music is persistent in our culture and affects and regulates interpersonal relationships to the extent that the music to which we listen can bring people together or drive them apart (North & Hargreaves, 2008). While music is very personal to many people, it has an undeniable social function that impacts nearly everyone. The three main social functions of music include its ability to regulate and create are our moods, its role in our interpersonal relationships, and its impact on our self-identity management (Hargreaves & North, 1999).
Music and Interpersonal Relationships
Music has a profound effect on people’s interpersonal relationships, regardless of whether the people are actively playing instruments or only listening to the music. Extra-curricular practices of music groups, such as a high school band, have been shown to have a positive effect on the participating band members, including the creation of friendships with like-minded people, increased confidence, and a sense of belonging. While this effect is not as strong for people who do not play instruments, music's tendency to bring us together with like-minded people and to provide us with a sense of group belonging is still evident when we listen to music (Hallam, 2010). Different kinds of music are used to influence social interaction or invoke particular feelings, including the praise of music in a church to the aggressive, head-banging rock at certain concerts (Hargreaves & North, 1999). The use of music in certain settings can change our perception of what is socially acceptable, such as loud music playing in the background while people dance, whether this be at a prom or a club. Music allows a couple to feel more private when talking and permits for a more socially acceptable way of maintaining physical contact by dancing (Hargreaves & North, 1999). Furthermore, if music is interpreted differently based on how an individual thinks and what s/he has experienced, then one's taste in music serves as an effective way for one to find other individuals who are like-minded. Researchers, such as North and Hargreaves, have referred to one's taste in music as closely resembling a badge that someone would wear to show their similarity and to learn about the personalities of others with badges (Miranda, 2013). This research lends credibility to the idea that music plays a large role in conformity, group identity, and group formation (North & Hargreaves, 2008).
Self-identity and Mood Regulation
Music is an art form that is shaped and created by individuals’ skills and imaginations. A song is influenced by an artist’s view of himself/herself and the world around him/her. Research suggests that individuals can use music to escape their perceived gender roles (Hargreaves & North, 1999). For example, a man’s gender stereotype is to remain macho and not show his emotions; however, once he picks up a guitar and sings about the tough things that have happened to him in his life, people begin applauding, and he is seen as even more macho (Hargreaves & North, 1999). There is a very distinct use of music for day to day mood management (Hargreaves & North, 1999). Individuals use music to influence their own moods and the moods of others around them. If an individual is stressed, s/he may choose to listen to some classical or slow music to calm himself/herself down, or if s/he needs to build energy for an activity, s/he may listen to an energizing mix. Music is also heavily used in marketing; stores will play music that they believe is going to raise the chances of customers coming back and spending more money at those particular stores (Areni & Kim, 1993). Spas, for example, may play soothing or tranquil music to make clients feel and become more relaxed.
Music is a powerful tool that can be used for self-expression, building an individual’s self-image, or even influencing his/her mood. Music is used by most cultures, whether it be for entertainment, mood regulation, religious purposes, or national pride. Because nearly everyone is impacted by music, we should continue researching and gaining awareness on the extent that music influences us and the world around us. The more that we understand the full extent of music’s persuasive power, the more that we will be able to utilize it.
Hargreaves, D. J., & North, A. C. (1999). The functions of music in everyday life: Redefining the social in music psychology. Psychology of Music, 27, 71-83.
North, A. C., & Hargreaves, D. J. (2008). The social and applied psychology of music / Adrian C. North and David J. Hargreaves. New York : Oxford University Press, c2008.
Hallam, S. (2010). The power of music: Its impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people. International Journal Of Music Education, 28(3), 269-289. doi:10.1177/0255761410370658
Miranda, D. (2013). The role of music in adolescent development: Much more than the same old song. International Journal Of Adolescence And Youth, 18(1), 5-22. doi:10.1080/02673843.2011.650182
Charles S. Areni and David Kim (1993) ,"The Influence of Background Music on Shopping Behavior: Classical Versus Top-Forty Music in a Wine Store", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 336-340.
Written by Jamal Tillman
Victims of Bullying
Bullying (the act of intimidating others) has been a hot topic issue for the past two decades (Wang, Iannotti, Nansel, 2009). It appears in our current society, we are playing catch-up with mitigating an uncontrollable fire within the social parameters of our K-12 schools. Bullying is a problem. However, there seems to be another branch on the proverbial tree: sexual violence. Discussions are occurring regarding a potential connection between bullying and sexual violence; researchers are attempting to find a link between bullying behavior (i.e., relational, cyber, or physical) and increased perpetuation of sexual violence (Basile, Espelage, Rivers, McMahon, & Simon, 2009). Regarding the bullying problem, one can see that certain elements can be overtly sexist and/or homophobic in nature (Daley, Solomon, Newman, & Mishna, 2007). Bullying, in this regard, may be connected to sexual violence (Basile et al., 2009).
Prevalence of Bullying and Sexual Harassment
Basile and colleagues (2009) state that bullying perpetration by both girls and boys occurs more frequently than sexual harassment perpetration; additionally, no significant difference exists between girls and boys regarding sexual harassment perpetration in the form of bullying (i.e., inappropriate verbal abuse, derogatory terms or slander, or forced inappropriate contact; Basile et al., 2009). However, students who identify as gay, bisexual, lesbian, or transgender report higher instances of sexual harassment and bullying victimization (Basile et al., 2009). The study by Basile and colleagues (2009) mentions that there are several factors that bullying and sexual violence perpetration have in common: avoidant attachment styles, rape myth beliefs, gender biases and conformity to gender-based roles/stereotype. However, the article (Basile et al., 2009) also points out that even though these factors are shared by both bullying and sexual violence perpetration, this does not mean that the factors are congruent regarding both bullying and sexual violence perpetration.
Some of those factors previously mentioned can be related to sexism and toxic masculinity (i.e., a critique of the way society has created men to be dominant, aggressive (sexually and otherwise), and unemotional, both collectively and as individuals); toxic masculinity can create unhealthy societal standards for boys and men, as well as plant the seeds of misogyny and overtly sexist ideals (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005). If we believe that bullying can lead to sexual violence in males, then can we also assume that the root behavior itself (bullying) has connections to perceived masculinity? It is no secret that the victims of bullying are often those who are seen to be at the lower ends of the social hierarchy. The usual targets are often racial and ethnic minorities, females, “unpopular” kids, and those who fail to conform to society’s ideals of sexuality (Vervoort, Scholte, & Overbeek, 2010) and gender conformity. Bullying behavior is a unified combination of negative attitudes and the power that the bully has over the victims. Further inquiries could bring eye-opening results and provide the general population with additional insight into the bullying epidemic, as well as provide possible solutions that could help us mitigate such behavior and potentially create safer environments in our schools.
Basile, K. C., Espelage, D. L., Rivers, I., McMahon, P. M., & Simon, T. R. (2009). The theoretical and empirical links between bullying behavior and male sexual violence perpetration. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14, 336-347. doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2009.06.001
Daley, A., Solomon, S., Newman, P., & Mishna, F. (2007). Traversing the Margins: Intersectionalities in the Bullying of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 19(3-4), 9-29.
Wang, J., Iannotti, R. J., & Nansel, T. R. (2009). School Bullying Among Adolescents in the United States: Physical, Verbal, Relational, and Cyber. Journal of Adolescent Health, 45, 368–375.
Connell, R. W., & Messerschmidt, J. W. (2005). Hegemonic masculinity rethinking the concept. Gender & society, 19(6), 829-859.
Vervoort, M. H., Scholte, R. H., & Overbeek, G. (2010). Bullying and victimization among adolescents: The role of ethnicity and ethnic composition of school class. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(1), 1-11.
Written by Mandi Ryan
Early childhood years are a fundamental time in an individual’s formative development. Between the ages of 3 and 6, gender stereotypes become more abundant and strict (Coyne, Linder, Rasmussen, Nelson, & Birbeck, 2016). For example, boys are taught to be tough, and girls are taught to be nice. The media that children are exposed to during this time, including books, television programs, and social media, may affect how they internalize gender stereotypes. The Disney Princess line, which consists of clothing, toys, movies and more, is among some of the most popular children’s media today and has been popular for quite some time. As the years go by, should we be questioning the messages these materials could be sending to children?
Disney Princesses and Female Stereotypes
Today, it is not uncommon to see female engineers and doctors or male makeup artists and nannies. Yet, the Disney Princess line typically portrays women as damsels in distress and men as heroes. These movies make implications that women are to uphold certain beauty standards. The characters in these movies often are young and attractive with large eyes, small noses and chins, moderately large breasts, prominent cheekbones, and lustrous hair (Coyne et al., 2016). This combination of physical characteristics would be considered quite unrealistic and may be harmful to a girl’s self-image (Coyne et al., 2016). Furthermore, the princesses in Disney movies portray female characters as unrealistically thin, similar to the impossible beauty expectations in real life. This portrayal can have negative effects on young children who find themselves admiring these characters. One study surveying 969 third graders revealed that 35% of girls and 25% of boys wanted to lose weight (Robinson, 2001). This early exposure to a thin ideal and a high standard of beauty may teach kids that attractiveness is essential to one’s identity (Coyne et al., 2016).
Long Term Effects on Children
Female stereotypes, such as those concerning careers, abilities, and roles in the home, conveyed through the media influence both male and female attitudes about gender (Coyne et al., 2016). Coyne and colleagues (2016) examined the longitudinal associations between exposure to Disney Princess media and gender-stereotypical behavior, body esteem, and prosocial behavior. They found that higher Disney Princess engagement through media and toys was related to an increase in female stereotypical behavior in both boys and girls, even one year later (Coyne et al., 2016). This behavior included their characteristics, toy preferences, and activities. While there is nothing wrong with expressing femininity and gendered behavior, it is potentially harmful if girls believe they are limited in their opportunities due to preconceived assumptions concerning gender.
In conclusion, today, both men and women can be either strong or weak, thick or thin, and affectionate or emotionless. They do not have to be tied to their gender stereotypes. Some children’s media and the way its portrayal separates genders may impact boys’ and girls’ behavior and self-esteem. Although Disney Princess movies are becoming more progressive over time, many of the classics, such as Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, are still popular with children today. It may be important to consider the messages these movies may potentially send to children and make sure they are balanced with explanations that children are not obligated to adhere to a predetermined role in life. Girls should not be afraid of getting dirty from playing outside, as exploring the world is an integral part of development (Coyne et al., 2016). Boys should also feel free to show their emotions without being criticized. Children simply should not be limited by the world’s expectations of who they should or shouldn’t be.
Coyne, S. M., Linder, J. R., Rasmussen, E. E., Nelson, D. A., & Birkbeck, V. (2016). Pretty as a princess: Longitudinal effects of engagement with Disney princesses on gender stereotypes, body esteem, and prosocial behavior in children. Child Development, 87, 1909-1925. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12569
Robinson, T. N., Chang, J. Y., Haydel, K., & Killen, J. D. (2001). Overweight concerns and body dissatisfaction among third-grade children: The impacts of ethnicity and socioeconomic status. The Journal of Pediatrics, 138(2), 181-187. doi:10.1067/mpd.2001.110526
Written by Janet Giron-Legarda
Bipolar Disorder (BD) and related disorders, which include Bipolar Disorder I, Bipolar Disorder II, Cyclothymic Disorder, Substance/Medication-Induced Bipolar and related disorder, Bipolar and related disorder due to another medical condition, other Specified Bipolar and related disorder, and Unspecified Bipolar and related disorder, involve individuals experiencing mild to extreme episodes of manic and depressive moods (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Each of the disorders has its own set of criteria for diagnosis. The criteria include how many episodes an individual experiences in a set amount of time, how severe the episode is, how long the episode lasts, and which type of mood episode the individual experiences. These changes in mood may cause difficulties in many areas of an individual’s life. By informing oneself of the warning signs of an impending episode, you can prepare for the coming mood cycles and get your partner the help they may need. Relationships involving at least one partner with BD are more likely to “experience relationship distress and dissolution” (Rowe & Morris, 2012, p. 328). We will be focusing primarily on the general effects that Bipolar Disorder I and Bipolar Disorder II have on relationships. Information about diagnostic criteria and other facts about BD can be found at this link.
Defining Characteristics of Bipolar Disorder
Recognizing symptoms of BD will help to understand the impact of the disorder on a romantic partnership. Mood swings are either hypomanic or manic, mild to moderate or severe depressive, or mixed episodes. Hypomanic or manic episodes consist of “hyperactivity, euphoria, talkativeness, grandiose ideas, irritability, reckless behavior, marked distractibility, loss of normal inhibitions and decreased need for sleep” (Tranvåg & Kristoffersen, 2008, p. 6). Hypomania is more commonly associated with Bipolar Disorder II. These episodes include “distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and abnormally and persistently increased activity or energy, lasting at least 4 consecutive days…(with) a noticeable change from usual behavior” (APA, 2013, p. 132). Bipolar Disorder I is more commonly associated with manic episodes. In order to meet the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.) for a manic episode, an individual will be “abnormally, persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable…and (have) persistently increased activity or energy that is present for most of the day, nearly every day, for a period of at least 1 week, accompanied by at least 3 additional symptoms” (APA, 2013, p. 127). During manic episodes, the individual may be unable to engage in ordinary communication, which can affect relationships with others (Tranvåg & Kristoffersen, 2008).
Major depressive episodes must have 5 or more of the symptoms identified in the DSM-5 for a 2-week period and “represent a change from previous functioning,” including either “depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure” (APA, 2013, p. 125). Depressive episodes can range from mild to severe and are “characterized by lowering of mood, reduced activity and energy, tiredness, sleep disturbances, reduced self-esteem, ideas of guilt or worthlessness, reduced capacity of interest and enjoyment, psychosomatic symptoms, suicidal thoughts and acts” (Tranvåg & Kristoffersen, 2008, p. 6). During depressive episodes, individuals who suffer from BD may experience starvation, dehydration, and, in extreme cases, suicide (Tranvåg & Kristoffersen, 2008). In situations involving both manic and depressive episodes, an individual diagnosed with BD may experience symptoms of psychosis, including delusion and hallucinations. Mixed episodes are when an individual experiences symptoms of hypomania, mania, or depression at the same time. According to the DSM-5 (APA, 2013), the “mixed features specifier can apply to the current manic, hypomanic, or depressive episode in Bipolar I or Bipolar II Disorder” (p. 149).
Bipolar Disorder and Relationships
The behavior of an individual diagnosed with BD can affect his/her partner’s behavior; a BD-related episode can cause significant strain on the relationship and the individual’s partner. Individuals diagnosed with BD have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships with family, friends, and intimate partners. Problems arise in many important areas of life when coping with BD such as financial problems, difficulties in sexual relations, poor communication, and loss of stability and security (Rusner, Carlsson, Nyström, & Brunt, 2012; Sheets & Miller, 2010; Tranvåg & Kristoffersen 2008). The mood swings and symptoms associated with a diagnosis of BD can have aversive effects on close relationships. For instance, stress can lead to a number of physical problems, such as body aches and depression. Additionally, partners of individuals diagnosed with BD may grow to resent their partners for the disorder (Rusner et al., 2012).
The quality of the relationship changes as an individual goes through mood episodes and as his/her partner adjusts to life with a partner diagnosed with BD. Relationship distress is common with either manic or depressive episodes; however, according Sheets and Miller’s (2010) article, “patient depressive symptoms were significantly associated with patient perception of family and couple functioning” (p. 375). The effects of manic symptoms experienced by individuals diagnosed with BD are highly correlated with poor intimate relationship functioning for their partners (Sheets & Miller, 2010).
Bipolar Relationships and Managing Life
According to Rowe and Morris (2012), mood changes experienced by both partners are linked to overall relationship quality; therefore, partners must pay attention to not only the individual diagnosed with BD, but their own mental health and wellness, too. Understanding both partners’ mental health has the potential to increase quality of the relationship, assists in coping with BD, and provide a better understanding of the onset of an episode.
In conclusion, learning the signs of an oncoming episode can help to prevent extreme symptoms and allow adequate time to get help. Educating oneself about BD and communicating with your partner can be beneficial to the relationship. Being knowledgeable about what your partner experiences with BD and ways you can help him/her during times of need can help reaffirm your commitment to your relationship and partner. Also, partners should not treat individuals diagnosed with BD if they are incapable of living a normal life. Individuals diagnosed with BD are more than the disorder itself and should be treated with respect.
More information about BD can be found at this link.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.
Rowe, L., & Morris, A. (2012). Patient and partner correlates of couple relationship functioning in bipolar disorder. Journal of Family Psychology, 26, 328-336.
Rusner, M., Carlsson, G., Nyström, M., & Brunt, D. (2012). The paradox of being both needed and rejected: The existential meaning of being closely related to a person with bipolar disorder. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 33, 200-204.
Sheets, E., & Miller, I. (2010). Predictors of relationship functioning for patients with bipolar disorder and their partners. Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 372-375.
Tranvåg, O., & Kristoffersen, K. (2008). Experience of being the spouse/cohabitant of a person with bipolar affective disorder: a cumulative process over time. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 22(1), 6-10.
Written by Bishop Noble
Bullying is an aspect of growing up that many individuals either experience themselves or witness at some point in time. Typically, the victim is left to fend off the bully, with no help from other individuals. According to Amelia Kohm (2015), witnesses to bullying only defend the victims between 12% and 25% of the time, regardless of how they feel about the actual bullying victimization experiences or the victims themselves. Social dilemmas often stand in the way of bully bystanders from coming to the aid of the victim. (Kohm, 2015). Even cliques into which individuals group can come into play. In this blog, the purpose is to discuss bullying bystanders and examine how social dilemmas and cliques can keep them from defending victims of bullying.
What are social dilemmas, and how do they affect the bystander?
Social dilemmas occur when individuals make decisions with only themselves in mind; they are based in the belief that individuals do not have the confidence that others will join them in their cause to support a belief or an individual. (Kohm, 2015). A good example of a social dilemma is the public goods dilemma, in which an individual will not assist in a public service if she/he believes others will refuse to contribute or if the individual believes assistance will be a waste of his/her time (Kollock, 1998). This concept shows that many individuals believe that any act defending victims may lead to their own victimization. In other words, if they defend victims, then they too may be victimized (Adler & Adler, 1995).
How do cliques influence a bystander?
Cliques are usually highly influential on those who witness bullying victimization. For instance, most individuals will only side with the popular clique (Kohm, 2015). The bully usually falls on the popular side of the two groups while the victim is on the other side with the unpopular individuals (Kohm, 2015). Pro-bullying behavior is related more closely to popular groups, in general, when it comes to defending behaviors (Kohm, 2015). Individuals will naturally side with popular groups before they try to defend victims. Individuals who are less popular may even begin to harass other less popular individuals in order to boost their own statuses and become a part of popular cliques.
Findings from Kohm’s (2015) Study
Kohm (2015) examined how attitudes, group norms, and social dilemmas influence individual behavior in bullying situations. The sample included 292 participants between the ages of 11 and 14 who attended a private residential school in the United States. Results revealed that both individual (e.g., protecting the victim and withdrawing from the bullying event) and group factors (e.g., encouraging bullying and trying to stop the bulling) were associated with behaviors in bullying situations. Additionally, anti-bullying attitudes were good predictors of behaviors in bullying situations. As anti-bullying behaviors increased, pro-bullying behaviors and support for the bullying decreased (Kohm, 2015). Social dilemmas were only found to predict behavior in bullying situations at the group level.
In conclusion, social dilemmas and cliques both can influence individuals of all ages, from kindergarten to high school. Social dilemmas and cliques both include strong social factors and group influences. In order to understand bystander behavior, they must both be taken into account. In the Kohm (2015) article, her research, which used student surveys, was able to show that individual (social dilemmas) and group factors (cliques) both influence individual behavior in bullying situations. It is important that we learn to understand how social dilemmas and cliques influence bystander behavior among individuals within schools so that teachers, parents, school counselors, and even principals may be able to counsel individuals who are having to deal with these bullying behaviors on a daily basis.
Adler, P., & Adler, P. (1995). Dynamics of inclusion and exclusion of preadolescent cliques. Social Psychology Quarterly, 58(3), 145-162.
Kohm, A. (2015). Childhood bullying and social dilemmas. Aggressive Behavior, 41(2), 97-108.
Kollock, P. (1998). Social dilemmas: The anatomy of cooperation. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 183-194.
Written by Jess Brink
Being in a long-distance relationship is a phenomenon that many individuals experience at least once in their lives. When embarking on this journey, many tend to cite the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” for both comfort and motivation. Research suggests that this saying may hold some truth, and many individuals in long-distance relationships report higher trust levels and better communication than those of closer proximity (Jiang & Hancock, 2013). Although face to face contact is of vast importance in relationships, research suggests that long-distance partners more commonly report greater satisfaction in their relationships than geographically close couples (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). One explanation for this may be increased “romantic idealization” in long-distance couples; romantic idealization refers to describing and thinking of the relationship and one’s partner in unrealistic positive ways (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). Long -distance relationships seem to be the key to happiness, better communication, and increased trust, but once the members of the couple move closer geographically, these effects may change (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). Stafford and Merolla (2007) also considered what happens when long-distance couples move closer geographically.
Does distance make the heart grow fonder?
Laura Stafford and Andy J. Merolla of Ohio State University decided to look at romantic idealization in long-distance relationships, in comparison to geographically close relationships. In the first study, they hypothesized three different outcomes: 1) long-distance couples idealize the relationship more than geographically close couples; 2) long-distance couples think of their conversations more positively than geographically close couples; and 3) long-distance couples experience less face to face communication than geographically close couples do (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). In a study containing 122 heterosexual couples, with 58 being long-distance, the researchers had participants fill out several surveys examining idealization, partners’ perceptions of romantic love, communication satisfaction, and the amount that the couples think and talk about their shared pasts (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). Through this study, Stafford and Merolla (2007) found that long-distance couples do tend to think of their relationships in unrealistic positive ways, particularly in relationships with less face-to-face communication. More recent studies (e.g., Jiang & Hancock, 2013) have concluded that long-distance couples express a higher level of intimacy than geographically close couples. Stafford and Merolla (2007) found that couples in long-distance relationships report higher satisfaction than those in geographically close relationships. Texting, video chats, and scheduling to see one another in person can aid satisfaction in these long-distance relationships. As it was previously mentioned, face to face contact can be extremely important to maintaining a relationship. Although many long-distance couples report higher levels of satisfaction while apart, what happens when the couple members move closer together?
Does the heart stay fond when couples move closer together?
In a second study, Stafford and Merolla (2007) reached out to the individuals who participated in the first study. Participants were asked to complete additional surveys, addressing if they had moved closer to their partners and if they were still involved with the same partners. The study revealed that couples who went from long-distance relationships to residing in similar locations were twice as likely to break up, compared to couples who remained in long-distance relationships (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). They also found that couples with the highest levels of idealization were most likely to break up upon becoming geographically close (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). One explanation for these break ups is that individuals do not live up to the impossible standards that were held by their partners while separated (Merolla, & Castle, 2006; Sahlstein, 2006; Stafford, Stafford & Reske, 1990). Another explanation for the demise of long-distance couples when they reconcile is that the couple members are strangers in some ways. During the time that the couples were separated by distance, they may have grown to believe that they had a deep understanding of their partners. The distance allowed them to ignore potential flaws and to remain unaware of changes in their partners (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). Upon moving closer to a long-distance partner, it may be useful to have a discussion about what to expect. Discussing expectations of the relationship with a partner can help negate any negative feelings that could possibly occur if those expectations are not met. Additionally, one should try to let one's partner know about any new, important changes in one's life. The more a partner is aware of personal changes, the less likely it will be that these changes will have a negative impact on the relationship at a later time.
What does this mean for long-distance couples?
In long-distance relationships, the lack of face to face communication can make the relationship stronger and happier, provided that the couple remains long-distance. However, more time spent face to face can be vital in keeping a long-distance relationship successful once the couple moves closer together. Although a high level of relationship idealization can be the kiss of death for long-distance couples once brought together, a certain level of idealization in any relationship is considered necessary for growth and satisfaction (Murray & Holmes, 1997). Long-distance relationships can be difficult, and moving closer together can be more difficult on the couple in the long run. Therefore, if you find yourself in a long-distance relationship, it is important to spend as much time with your partner as possible. It is also important to try to stay positive, but not overly positive, about the relationship. Perceptions of the relationship should be kept within realistic bounds, with just a little bit of fantasy sprinkled in.
Jiang, C, L., & Hancock, J. T. (2013). Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships. Journal Of Communication, 63(3), 556-577.
Sahlstein, E. (2006). The trouble with distance. In D. C. Kirkpatrick, S. D. Duck, & M. K. Foley (Eds.), Relating difficulty: The process of constructing and managing difficult relationships (pp. 119–140). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Stafford, L., & Merolla, A. J. (2007). Idealization, reunions, and stability in long-distance dating relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24(1), 37-54.
Stafford, L., Merolla, A. J., & Castle, J. (2006). When long-distance dating partners become geographically close. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23(6), 901–919.
Stafford, L., & Reske, J. R. (1990). Idealization and communication in long-distance premarital relationships. Family Relations, 39, 274–279.
Murray, S. L., & Holmes, J. G. (1997). A leap of faith? Positive illusions in romantic relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 586–604.
Written by Mallorie M. Smith
Although not a readily celebrated type of research, reproducibility has become exceedingly important in the progress of psychological science. If you are unfamiliar with the term, reproducibility, or direct replication in this case, is attempting to duplicate a research experiment and its results (Open Science Framework, 2015). To break it down, an experiment will typically consist of an antecedent, or predictor variable, that experimenters attempt to link to an outcome, with the intention of eventually finding the formula that leads to the desired result. If the predictor does lead to a significant effect, it gives support to the idea that the predictor leads to the outcome in some way. However, even if the experiment yields a significant effect, there is still a chance (about 50%) that this effect occurred randomly or was found accidently. It is, therefore, essential to replicate experiments to provide stronger support for or against the effects by determining if the effects keep occurring. Now, this brings up several questions, such as, “How closely do the experiments need to be alike?” and “How do you know when the antecedent really does lead to an outcome?” I intend on discussing these questions, and more, in a later post (so stay tuned!).
Further Evidence of the Importance of Reproducibility and Transparent Research
Reproducibility research helps to protect the ethics and reputation of psychological research. Most notably, the case of Diederik Stapel illustrates this best. An interim report was published by Tilburg University (2011) noted that Stapel had fabricated a large amount of his own data, as well as several datasets of his colleagues and graduate students (unbeknownst to them), since 2004. He was a renowned scientist at the time; however, this information indicated that his large vitae of work was based on false data. According to Retraction Watch, as of 2015, 58 retractions of his research from major psychological research journals, including the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Journal of Experimental Social Psychology have been made (Palus, 2015). In the case of Stapel, the repeated replications of his work would likely have revealed consistent non-significant findings, indicating the misleading results of his studies. Likewise, his refusal to share his data and the secrecy of his methods likely helped Stapel continue to fabricate data for so long. This, along with some other instances (see here and here for examples), led the psychological community to place higher importance on reproducibility and transparent science. Organizations, such as the Center for Open Science and the Association for Psychological Science, now work to promote these components in psychological research.
Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science
The Center for Open Science, or COS, is also responsible for a big contribution to reproducibility with their 2015 article, “Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science” (also called The Reproducibility Project). The Social Relations Collaborative, in conjunction with over 250 other contributing researchers from around the world, replicated one of 100 studies from three different psychological journals (for our specific contribution, see Revisiting Romeo and Juliet, 2014). One important aspect of this study is that it was preregistered, meaning that aspects of the study, such as analysis and hypotheses, were listed publicly before the study began. All protocols, reviews, and write-ups associated with it are publicly available, promoting the transparency and open research advocated strongly for by the COS.
Synopsis and (Some) Implications of The Reproducibility Project
The Open Science Framework (2015) sought to give basis to some of the uncertainties of reproducibility, such as the lack of a percentage of replication successes. By using a fixed-effect meta-analyses and estimated effect sizes, researchers were able to compare the significances of the original and replication studies. Results showed a significant decrease of significance between the original and their (full) replications, with only 36% (less than half!) of original studies being successfully replicated. As you can imagine, these results made a large impact on the psychological community, leading many to question the validity of psychological research. This publication was the topic of 300+ blogs and news articles and placed in the top 10 scientific breakthroughs of 2015 by both Science and Discover magazines (to see the full impact, please visit here).
While this is a significant study in the progression of psychological research, The Reproducibility Project (2015) is merely a starting point for further research into the complexities of scientific reproducibility. It is for this reason that my thesis and dissertation will be focused on answering important questions such as, “What is a standard rate of reproducibility?” and “Is there a publication bias against reproducibility in psychological research?” If the topic of reproducibility interests you as much as it does me, I urge you to check back to this blog regularly for monthly discussions of topics in replication research as well as updates on progress of my own project on reproducibility (as well as several other posts from my colleagues relating to relationship and bullying research)!
Altmetric –Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science. (2017). Altmetric.com. Retrieved from https://www.altmetric.com/details/4443094
Carpenter, S. (2017). Harvard Psychology Researcher Committed Fraud, U.S. Investigation Concludes. Science | AAAS. Retrieved from http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2012/09/harvard-psychology-researcher-committed-fraud-us-investigation-concludes
Enserink, M. (2012). Rotterdam marketing psychologist resigns after university investigates his data. Science. Retrieved from http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2012/06/rotterdam-marketing-psychologist-resigns-after-university-investigates-his-data
Open Science Collaboration. (2015). Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science. Science, 349(6251), aac4716-aac4716. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aac4716
Palus, S. Diederik Stapel Now Has 58 Retractions. (2015). Retractionwatch.com. Retrieved from http://retractionwatch.com/2015/12/08/diederik-stapel-now-has-58-retractions/
Sinclair, H., Hood, K., & Wright, B. (2014). Revisiting the Romeo and Juliet Effect (Driscoll, Davis, & Lipetz, 1972). Social Psychology, 45(3), 170-178. http://dx.doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000181
Tilberg Univeristy. (2011). Flawed science: The fraudulent research practices of social psychologist Diederik Stapel. Retrieved from https://errorstatistics.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/tilberg-report-stapel-final-report-levelt1.pdf
Verfaellie, M. & McGwin, J. (2011). The case of Diederik Stapel. http://www.apa.org. Retrieved January 2017, from http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2011ca/12/diederik-stapel.aspx
Dr. H. Colleen Sinclair
Social Psychologist, Relationships Researcher,
Ms. Chelsea Ellithorpe
Lab Manager of the Social Relations Collaborative and Blog Editor
Ms. Taylor Ritchey
Master's Student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Mrs. Mallorie Smith
Doctoral Student in the Department of Psychology
Ms. Makeela Wells
Doctoral Student in the Department of Sociology and Blog Coordinator
Ms. Jess Brink
Undergraduate Student in Psychology
Mr. Luke Herald
Undergraduate Student in Psychology
Ms. Mandi Ryan
Undergraduate Student in Psychology
Mr. Bishop Noble
Undergraduate Student in Psychology
Mr. Jamal Tillman
Undergraduate Student in Psychology