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 Chelsea Ellithorpe
Researchers have found that certain brain regions are associated with both physical and social pain and that there may be a gene that is linked to both physical pain and how sensitive a person is to rejection (e.g., Kross, Berman, Mischel, Smith, & Wager, 2011). Kross and colleagues (2011) found that the same neurons fired for both physical and social pain by either invoking social pain by showing participants a picture of a recent ex partner and asking them to think about the rejection or invoking physical pain by eliciting an uncomfortably hot sensation on the participant's forearm, similar to the feeling of spilling hot coffee on one's self. Similar brain regions were activated when participants thought of the recent rejection that were activated during the physical pain task. Could painkillers be used to alleviate both types of pain?
Use of Painkillers to Alleviate Social Pain
The researchers had participants receive Tylenol or a placebo and write about either dental pain or thoughts about death and what would occur after death. They then read a story about a prostitute being arrested and were asked to set a bail price. Finally, they viewed a surrealist video and video that portrayed rioting. Those who had received Tylenol, rather than a placebo, were less affected by the anxiety-inducing tasks and were less harsh in judging the rioters, and those who had received Tylenol and wrote about death or those who wrote about dental pain were more lenient in assigning a bail amount (Randles, Heine, & Santos, 2013).
DeWall and colleagues (2010) also found that those who took acetaminophen, rather than a placebo, reported less social disappointment and fewer hurt feelings, along with higher levels of resilience to social disappointments, over the span of three weeks. Using fMRIs, they also found that participants who took acetaminophen, rather than a placebo, over the span of three weeks had reduced neural responses to social rejection in regions that were associated with physical and emotional pain after playing a computer game that was used to create an environment of social exclusion (DeWall, MacDonald, Webster, Masten, Baumeister, Powell, Combs, Schurtz, Stillman, Tice, & Eisenberger, 2010). Those who had only taken a placebo had more active brain regions that were associated with physical pain when they were rejected in the computer game.
But Are Social and Physical Pain Really the Same?
Meyer, Williams, & Eisenberger (2015) found that reliving emotional, rather than physical, pain led to higher self-reported pain and more activity in brain regions that were associated with feelings of pain, and the amount of self-reported pain was positively correlated with this brain activity. Reliving physical pain led to increased activity in a separate sensory brain system that did not correlate with the self-ported pain that was relived. These different findings show that different pathways are associated with the two types of pain when the pain is relived. Reliving social pain led to activity in brain regions that were associated with mental state processing, which was correlated with response in the affective pain system; whereas, reliving physical pain led to activity in brain regions that were associated with body state processing, which was correlated with response in the sensory pain system. Therefore, although the mechanisms that lead to feelings of social and physical pain may be similar and overlap, different mechanisms are activated when mentally generating thoughts of the pain and reliving the pain. The existence of these different pathways may aid explanations of why reliving the different types of pain led to enhanced social pain but reduced physical pain. Additionally, Woo and colleagues (2014) found that there are exceptions to the overlap between neural networks for physical pain and social pain when using a finer grained analysis. Pain relievers may help lessen social pain that is felt immediately after a social rejection, but it is unclear how they would help alleviate the pain of relived social rejection.
DeWall, C. N., MacDonald, G., Webster, G. D., Masten, C. L., Baumeister, R. F., Powell, C., Combs, D., Schurtz, D. R., Stillman, T. F., Tice, D. M., & Eisenberger, N. I. (2010). Acetaminophen reduces social pain behavioral and neural evidence. Psychological Science, 21(7), 931-937.
Kross, E., Berman, M. G., Mischel, W., Smith, E. E., & Wager, T. D. (2011). Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(15), 6270-6275.
Meyer, M. L., Williams, K. D., & Eisenberger, N. I. (2015). Why Social Pain Can Live on: Different neural mechanisms are associated with reliving social and physical pain. PLoS ONE, 10(6), e0128294. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0128294
Randles, D., Heine, S. J., & Santos, N. (2013). The common pain of surrealism and death acetaminophen reduces compensatory affirmation following meaning threats. Psychological Science, 24(6), 966-973.
Woo, C. W., Koban, L., Kross, E., Lindquist, M. A., Banich, M. T., Ruzic, L., Andrews-Hanna, J. R., & Wager, T. D. (2014). Separate neural representations for physical pain and social rejection. Nature Communications, 5, 5380-5405.
Written by Luke Herald
“Die Jock Die” is the phrase of the Columbine High School shooters. Many people find themselves asking why someone would go to such extreme measures (Gaertner, Iuzzini, & O’Mara, 2008). Studies have shown that acts of aggression, such as school shootings, with multiple victims can be tied to the idea of “perceived groupness” (Gaertner, Iuzzini, & O’Mara, 2008). “Die jock die” was said because the shooters felt the “jocks” were the ones who deserved to be punished for their actions.
What is perceived groupness?
Perceived groupness is the idea that others see an individual as belonging to a certain social group, such as athletes, cool kids, geeks, and punks, even if the individual does not belong to this group. Perceived groupness leads people to attribute personal characteristics, such as beliefs, attitudes, and actions, to an entire group, rather than to the individual who displays the characteristics. For example, a person on the football team may have treated a student in a way that made him feel excluded. Because he perceived the football player to be in a group (e.g., jocks), he may attribute the actions of and his feelings towards the football player to the entire team instead of to the person who actually took part in the actions. Misplaced attributions may cause misplaced aggression, such as disliking all jocks, rather than the one football player who mistreated him.
On the other hand, “nerds” can be bullied for no reason other than their perceived group. Perceived groupness causes misplaced aggression in both victims and aggressors. Perceived groupness affects us all. In the Social Relations Lab, we asked students to identify perceived social groups in their schools. In our research on bullying, we found that fifty-five percent of bullied students felt they were bullied due to their perceived membership in a group. Sixty-five percent of bullied students perceived themselves as being targeted by a specific group.
When does perceived groupness trigger aggression?
Perceived groupness can trigger aggression in many different ways and in more places than just schools. The idea of perceived groupness can be applied to any sort of grouping, such as race, sex, and age. Labels that place people in their respective groups affect society, regardless of the setting. In 2013 two Islamic extremists brutally murdered Lee Rigby, a British Soldier, in southeast London. They later put a video on the internet saying that they killed him because Muslims are being killed by British soldiers every day, and this act was retribution for those murders (Sjöström & Gollwitzer, 2015). Lee Rigby may have had nothing to do with these Islamic deaths, yet he paid what these extremists believed to be the price for the sins of his perceived group. This murder is also an example of the caregiving system in which a person is motivated to help someone who is perceived to be in his/her own group (Buffone & Poulin, 2014).
How can we use this knowledge to help?
If we understand that perceived groupness and rejection are two key factors in multiple-victim incidents of aggression, we can take steps to intervene. Counselors and practitioners can focus on assisting people and helping them cope with their views and experiences with rejection. They can also help people understand that although they were rejected or mistreated by a person, the opinions and actions of the particular aggressor should not be attributed to everyone with whom the aggressor associates (Gaertner, Iuzzini, & O’Mara, 2008). Recently, intervention programs have been created that could drastically help with these dangerous misperceptions by teaching people to alter their ideas of perceived groupness and view people as individuals, rather than as members of a group, which may result in a decreased likeliness of mass aggression (Aronson, 2001).
Gaertner, L., Iuzzini, J., & O’Mara, E. M. (2008). When rejection by one fosters aggression against many: Multiple-victim aggression as a consequence of social rejection and perceived groupness. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 44(4), 958-970.
Sjöström, A., & Gollwitzer, M. (2015). Displaced revenge: Can revenge taste “sweet” if it aims at a different target? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 56, 191-202.
Buffone, A. E., & Poulin, M. J. (2014). Empathy, target distress, and neurohormone genes interact to predict aggression for others–even without provocation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(11), 1406-1422.
Aronson, E. (2001). Nobody left to hate. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Written by Jess Brink
When considering what humans need in order to thrive and survive, people usually think of food, water and shelter, but psychologists have found that there is something else that is vital to human life. The need to belong – to have a sense of connection and social acceptance - impacts multiple aspects of a person’s life. This need can affect one’s emotions, and not fitting in - social rejection - can have an array of negative cognitive and biological effects.
Can the need to be socially accepted change how we think?
The human need to belong can impact the ways in which we think. For example, one study by Knowles and Gardner (2008) showed that individuals who were led to believe that they would have a lonely future changed their thinking to focus on activities that may improve their chances of social success and acceptance. Another study completed by Knowles and Gardner (2008) showed that after an individual is asked to recall an unfortunate social event, they tend to focus on more group based words (i.e., we, us, etc.). In addition, the same participants tended to use groups to define themselves and described their specific social group as being better than other participants who were asked to recall social success or who were not asked to recall any socially based distresses did (Knowles & Gardner, 2008). These results show how social rejection can change a person’s thinking by leading them to think about what changes they need to make in order to fit in.
Although the previous examples may show that the need to belong drives thoughts and behavior in order to help us survive socially, the need to belong can also have a negative impact on other cognitive functions beyond our social cognition. For example, Baumeister and colleagues (2002) found that people who were made to believe that their future would prove socially unsuccessful scored lower on intelligence tests or when answering difficult questions. These participants also found it difficult to remember complicated passages, when compared to participants who were made to believe their future would be successful or who were not given feedback on future social success. This change in complex cognitive thinking may have been impacted by the participant’s change in focus to social belongingness, as demonstrated previously.
If the need to belong is truly a fundamental need, then shouldn’t there be a biological or physical aspect?
Research seems to agree that there are both biological and physical aspects in response to social rejections, but they have yet to agree on what exactly those are. Some research, such as the study conducted by DeWall and Baumeister in 2006, shows that social rejection or the fear of rejection in the future can lead to increased pain tolerance. However, a different study conducted by Eisenberger and colleagues (2006), found that individuals who were made to feel socially excluded did not report a decrease in or desensitization to pain. Even though the participants did not report physical changes in pain tolerance, they did show increased activity in two different areas in the brain that are used in response to pain (Eisenberger, Jarcho, Lieberman, & Naliboff, 2006). In addition, multiple studies have shown that cortisol, a hormone that is released in times of stress, is released in response to social alienation and threats to belonging. For example, a study done by Blakhart and colleagues (2007), where people were told that others had refused to work with them, found that this social alienation led to increased cortisol levels. Therefore, although research still needs to be done on what exactly social rejection does to the body, the current research does prove that there is an effect.
Does everyone respond to social rejection in the same way?
People do not always respond to social exclusion in similar ways. Social anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem have been linked to a greater sensitivity to rejection and greater wariness about forming new relationships due to these states being linked to heightened reactions to rejection and participants being timid in regard to approaching new people (Gere & MacDonald, 2010). This cautiousness is likely a protective behavior to avoid further rejection, but it can actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who are hyper vigilant for signs of rejection – or who may even have a bias for attending to cues that signal possible rejection – may find they elicit rejection from others (Dandeneau etal., 2008; Gere & MacDonald, 2010; Hale, VanderValk, Akse, & Meeus, 2008; Lemay & Clark, 2008; Maner, DeWall, Baumeister, & Schaller, 2007; Murray, Derrick, Leder, & Holmes, 2008).
What does this mean? What can you do?
Everyone experiences loneliness or social rejection at some point in their lives. The feelings that one experiences after such events are completely natural and felt by the majority of people. Social acceptance is something that all of us need. If you cannot find acceptance down one path, chances are you will be able to find it somewhere else. Join a club, a team, or an online forum, and talk to someone new. The worry about being accepted when meeting new people is temporary and will be replaced by the rewarding feeling of having close relationships. Your brain and body will thank you!
Baumeister, R. F., Twenge, J. M., & Nuss, C. K. (2002). Effects of social exclusion on cognitive
processes: Anticipated aloneness reduces intelligent thought. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 817-827.
Blackhart, G. C., Eckel, L. A., & Tice, D. M. (2007). Salivary cortisol in response to acute social rejection and acceptance by peers. Biological Psychology, 75, 267-276.
Dandeneau, S. D., Baldwin, M. W., Baccus, J. R., Sakellaropoulo, M., & Pruessner, J. C. (2008). Cutting stress off at the pass: Reducing vigilance and responsiveness to social threat by manipulating attention. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 651-666.
Eisenberger, N. I., Jarcho, J. M., Lieberman, M. D., & Naliboff, B. D. (2006). An experimental study of shared sensitivity to physical pain and social rejection. Pain, 126, 132-138.
Gere, J., & MacDonald, G. (2010). An Update of the Empirical Case for the Need to Belong. Journal Of Individual Psychology, 66(1), 93-115.
Hale, W. W., Ill, Vander Valk, I., Akse, J., & Meeus, W. (2008). The interplay of early adolescents' depressive symptoms, aggression and perceived parental rejection: A four-year community study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37, 928-940
Knowles, M. L., & Gardner, W. L. (2008). Benefits of membership: The activation and amplification of group identities in response to social rejection. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1200-1213.
Lemay, E. P., & Clark, M. S. (2008). "Walking on eggshells": How expressing relationship insecurities perpetuates them. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 420-441.
Maner, J. K., DeWall, C. N., Baumeister, R. F., & Schaller, M. (2007). Does social exclusion motivate interpersonal reconnection? Resolving the "porcupine problem." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 42-55.
Murray, S. L., Derrick, J. L., Leder, S., & Holmes, J. G. (2008). Balancing connectedness and self-protection goals in close relationships: A levels of processing perspective on risk regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 94, 429-459.
Written by Haley Adams
What is ghosting?
Why would someone ghost?
This manner of ending a relationship and the repercussions that ghosting has on both individuals who are involved are not simple, though. Important to note, ghosting is not used to describe individuals who seek to end an unsafe or abusive relationship by disappearing in order to find safety. The motivation in this case is both emotional and physical safety; whereas, the motivation for ghosting is avoidance (Borguets, 2016).
How do people react to ghosting?
Often, between bouts of insecurity, the victim of the ghosting situation views the ghost as the bad guy and as a coward. These conflicting emotions of anger and insecurity tend to build up and result in extreme behavior that often results in a confrontation with the ghost. Therefore, the very situation that the ghost was trying to avoid occurs tenfold when the victim tracks the ghost down and causes a scene, often in front of an audience that consists of family, friends, or coworkers (Borguets, 2016).
Breakups are difficult to handle, regardless of how they are implemented. However, ghosting is not the appropriate method to use when ending a relationship of any kind. Ghosting is viewed as cowardly and stems from avoidance. This avoidance tactic rarely works because the victim is left with conflicting negative emotions and a surplus of insecurity that often leads them to publicly confront the ghost. Therefore, ghosting should be avoided when ending relationships, and more gentle approaches should be considered.
Borguets, M. (2016). The Psychology of Ghosting: Why People Do It and a Better Way to Break Up. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lantern/the-psychology-of-ghostin_b_7999858.html.
Harasymchuk, C. (2014). Ghosting: The 51st Way to Leave Your Lover? Science of Relationships. Retrieved from http://www.scienceofrelationships.com/home/2015/10/6/ghosting-the-51st-way-to-leave-your-lover.html.
Written by Chelsea Ellithorpe
Why Do Certain Breakups Hurt More?
Attachment style also affects how people respond to breakups. Those with a secure attachment style often ask family and friends for support as they cope with a breakup (Davis, Shaver, & Vernon, 2003). They believe that their social network of family and friends is able to help them during such a time of need and were better able to cope with and adjust after a breakup when they believed their social network, apart from that romantic relationship, was strong (Moller, Fouladi, McCarthy, & Hatch, 2003). Those who are more anxiously-attached and clingy tend to feel more pain after a breakup than others (Sprecher et al., 1998). Anxiously-attached individuals often feel a wide variety of negative emotions after a breakup, including depression, anger, and pain, and often blame themselves for the breakup and may try to rekindle the relationship or obsessively think about the breakup and their ex (Davis, Shaver, & Vernon, 2003). However, those with avoidant attachment often react by isolating themselves and avoiding social connections.
How Can One Move Past a Breakup?
Wegner (2011) suggests a variety of techniques that may help one to forget about a bad breakup and an ex. Distractions of more positive activities and thoughts may help one to shift their thoughts from the painful experience to things that help one cope with the event. Avoiding stressful situations and an ex may allow a person to better suppress unwanted thoughts about the breakup. Temporarily avoiding thinking about an ex and the breakup is much more manageable and likely to succeed than permanently pushing an ex out of one’s mind. Therefore, avoiding seeing an ex or their social media posts for a few days rather than blocking them in general is more likely to help with coping. Finally, learning how to handle these painful thoughts, accepting their presence, and training yourself to eliminate the negative association and affective response are much more effective solutions.
Davis, D., Shaver, P. R., & Vernon, M. L. (2003). Physical, emotional, and behavioral reactions to breaking up: The roles of gender, age, emotional involvement, and attachment style. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29(7), 871-884.
Moller, N. P., Fouladi, R. T., McCarthy, C. J., & Hatch, K. D. (2003). Relationship of attachment and social support to college students’ adjustment following a relationship breakup. Journal of Counseling & Development, 81(3), 354-369.
Poirier, M., Nairne, J. S., Morin, C., Zimmermann, F. G. S., Koutmeridou, K., & Fowler, J.(2012). Memory as discrimination: A challenge to the encoding–retrieval match principle. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 38(1), 16-29.
Sprecher, S., Felmlee, D., Metts, S., Fehr, B., & Vanni, D. (1998). Factors associated with distress following the breakup of a close relationship. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15(6), 791-809.
Wegner, D.M. (2011). Setting free the bears: Escape from thought suppression. American Psychologist, 66(8), 671-680.
Written by Taylor Ritchey
Do these rebound and revenge motives for sex actually help people feel better about their break ups?
A study conducted by social psychologists Lindsay L. Barber and M. Lynne Cooper at the University of Missouri included 170 undergraduate students whose romantic relationships had ended four months prior to participating in the study. The students were asked to complete an initial survey that asked questions about who ended the romantic relationship, themselves or their partner (Barber & Cooper, 2014). The students also completed weekly surveys that asked questions about their distress levels, self-esteem, sexual behavior, and reasons for engaging in sexual activity (Barber & Cooper, 2014). The researchers coded the students’ motives for engaging in sexual activity as ‘rebound’ (to make themselves feel better) or ‘revenge’ (to get back at their ex).
Regarding the 170 students who participated in the study, 35% reported having rebound sex, and 23% reported having revenge sex within the first month following their break up (Barber & Cooper, 2014). The occurrence of rebound or revenge sex was highest immediately following the termination of the relationship and diminished over time (Barber & Cooper, 2014). People were more likely to engage in sexual activity or “hook-up” with new sexual partners in the days following the break up, rather than months later. “Findings generally supported widely held beliefs about the effects of being left by one’s partner, indicating that those who were ‘‘dumped’ ’were more distressed, angrier, and more likely to use sex as a way to deal with the loss” (Barber & Cooper, 2014, p. 262).
Do these motives for sex actually help us?
Therefore, having sex with new partners can boost your self-esteem and re-establish the confidence that is lost after a break up. However, people who have sex for these reasons are more likely to continue having sex with new partners, which suggests that they may be slower to recover from the break up (Barber & Cooper, 2014). In sum, while rebound or revenge sex may be fun, these types of sex do not seem to help or hurt us in the process of recovery. With this knowledge, you could go ahead and swipe right on that cute guy’s picture or buy that girl a drink at the bar, but keep in mind that although rebound or revenge sex may take your mind off of the break up, only time and possibly ice cream can help to heal the blues of a break up.
Barber, L. L., & Cooper, M. L. (2014). Rebound sex: Sexual motives and behaviors following a relationship breakup. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43, 251-265.
Written by Haley Adams
College is a time of adjustment and self-discovery during which many individuals find their passions and form their social support system. Academic demands, financial responsibility, and stress from a new environment are all reasons that humans need social interaction and a support system that can aid their ability to cope with these stressors. The difficult process of handling these new stressors is worsened for individuals who are, or have been, victims of bullying. In order for society to prevent the long term effects of bullying, the beginnings of bullying need to be recognized and reversed as early as elementary school.
What is bullying?
The third form of bullying involves relational bullies who go out of their way to make the victim feel isolated and alone (Young-Jones et al., 2015). This method of bullying is more discreet and refined, although it is equally damaging for the victim as more blatant forms of bullying (Young-Jones et al., 2015). Finally, the fourth form of bullying is due to the recent developments in technology and is constantly evolving with the advancements in technology. Cyber-bullying involves any form of harassment that is conducted via technology, including text messages, social media harassment, and emails (Young-Jones et al., 2015).
How does bullying impact college students?
Often, these individuals are still struggling to recover from previous negative experiences, which continue to affect them years after the bullying has ended (Young-Jones et al., 2015). The adjustments that are required to be made when transitioning to a college setting include new social interactions, which can be quite challenging and anxiety-inducing for those who have been bullied in the past (Holt, Greif Green, Reid, DiMeo, Espelage, Felix, Furlong, Poteat, & Sharkey, 2014).
Victims of bullying, both past and current, have lower academic motivation at the college level than those who have not experienced bullying, which can negatively impact victims' academic achievement and future career success (Young-Jones et al., 2015). Victims of bullying also have higher stress levels that correspond with lower self-esteem and mental wellness (Young-Jones et al., 2015). Anxiety and depression due to previous and present bullying can last for a significant amount of time after the harassment has ended (Young-Jones et al., 2015). Another study that targeted college freshman emphasized the lasting effects of childhood bullying band its association with poorer mental and physical health (Holt et al., 2014).
What can be done?
Holt, M. K., Greif Green, J., Reid, G., DiMeo, A., Espelage, D. L., Felix, E. D., Furlong, M. J., Poteat, V. P., & Sharkey, J. D. (2014). Associations between past bullying experiences and psychosocial and academic functioning among college students. Journal of American College Health, 62(8), 552-560.
Young-Jones, A., Fursa, S., Byrket, J. S., & Sly, J. S. (2015). Bullying affects more than feelings: the long-term implications of victimization on academic motivation in higher education. Social Psychology of Education, 18(1), 185-200.
Written by Bennett Fontenot
Eli J. Finkel, a social psychologist, set out to examine the influence of commitment on forgiveness in romantic relationships. Finkel, Rusbult, Kumashiro, and Hannon analyzed three studies on the topic of betrayal and forgiveness. In any relationship, conflicts arise and are the result of a multitude of causes. Finkel suggests that the violation of relationship norms is one of the more serious threats to a relationship, with betrayal being one of the most difficult obstacles in a relationship (Finkel, Rusbult, Kumashiro, & Hannon, 2002).
The behaviors in which Oliver and Barbara engage decrease their love for one another and cause their marriage to end tragically. Forgiveness is one the most difficult tasks in relationships, and “psychologists’ understanding of forgiveness and betrayal is somewhat limited” (Finkel, Rusbult, Kumashiro, & Hannon, 2002, p. 965).
Commitment and Forgiveness
Finkel et al. outline three reasons for why commitment would influence forgiveness. First, an individual in a relationship may be concerned with long term self-interests. Second, an individual may be concerned with the long-term interests of his or her partner. In committed relationships, individuals become dependent on their partners, and the researchers suggest that higher levels of dependence lead to higher odds of forgiveness. The researchers suggest that if a person has more to lose in a relationship, that person should be more willing to forgive and not hold grudges within the relationship in order to maintain what the person obtains from the relationship (Finkel, Rusbult, Kumashiro, & Hannon, 2002). The third and final aspect that is involved in the influence of commitment on forgiveness is the role of psychological attachment. In a close relationship, “the self and partner may become merged to the extent that departures from self-interest benefit the partner” (Finkel, Rusbult, Kumashiro, & Hannon, 2002, p. 959).
In Study 1, participants were instructed to indicate their reaction to theoretical acts of betrayal. Each participant was primed to react in a certain way. Participants with a high commitment prime were asked questions that promoted dependence and commitment (e.g., “If your relationship were to end in the near future, what would upset you the most about not being with your partner anymore?”; Finkel, Rusbult, Kumashiro, & Hannon, 2002). Participants with a low commitment prime were asked questions that promoted independence and a lack of commitment (e.g., “Describe an activity that you enjoy engaging in when your partner is not around”; Finkel, Rusbult, Kumashiro, & Hannon, 2002).
In Study 2, a cross-sectional survey method was used to analyze forgiveness and commitment in relation to real instances of betrayal. Participants were instructed to think about a time when their partner betrayed them and describe their immediate and long term reactions to the event. Researchers predicted that individuals would be less likely to engage in immediate forgiveness of a betrayal and more likely to engage in behaviors of forgiveness over time (Finkel, Rusbult, Kumashiro, & Hannon, 2002).
Each study revealed evidence that commitment influences forgiveness. It is evident that acts of betrayal have negative influences on close relationships, and the immediate responses to these acts are not positive. However, over time, forgiveness is evident and has been proven to be influenced by commitment. These studies highlight how and why people forgive their partner by revealing that people's level of commitment within a relationship plays a role in their forgiveness within these relationships. The association between commitment and forgiveness was related more to one's intent to persist in the relationship, rather than to a long-term relationship orientation or psychological attachment. In addition, this association was mediated by one's cognitive interpretations of betrayal incidents. Although people tend to resort to self-oriented impulses shortly after a betrayal, those who find motivation to forgive in the longer term do so partially due to pro-relationship motives, which can be promoted by commitment.
Finkel, E. J., Rusbult, C. E., Kumashiro, M., & Hannon, P. A. (2002). Dealing with betrayal in close relationships: Does commitment promote forgiveness? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 956-974.
Written by Haley Adams
What are the physical issues that result from loneliness?
Loneliness is now considered to be a health risk for a number of reasons, including lonely individuals being more likely to display certain health concerns, such as heart attacks, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Recently, colleagues at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, the University of California at Davis, and the University of Chicago discovered new information regarding loneliness and its effects on the immune system. Ultimately, the researchers found that “social isolations turned up the activity of genes responsible for inflammation and turned down the activity of genes that produce antibodies to fight infection” (Nutt, 2016). As the number of positive social relationships increase for an individual, the physical risks that the individual experiences lower, which results in a healthier lifestyle.
When individuals are socially isolated, their body is on constant alert for threats, which greatly impacts how they respond to others. In fact, being on constant alert could lead those who are lonely to react negatively towards others, thus creating more problems with their ability to create social connections.
The negative effects of loneliness can also be explained from an evolutionary standpoint. Previously, human survival was greatly dependent on social interaction and working together in order to satisfy basic biological needs. Individuals who isolated themselves have a greater risk of succumbing to the elements. The pain that is experienced due to loneliness has been compared to the pain of hunger, meaning that the body is emitting a signal to indicate that something is wrong.
In another study, where the goal was evaluating whether or not loneliness is reflected in the brain structure, the “findings indicate that lonely individuals have deficits at a relatively early stage of processing social cues” (Kanai, p. 1977). Because the connections between brain matter, loneliness and social perceptual abilities are so complex, causation cannot be determined.
What are the psychological effects of loneliness?
One key point to understand is that loneliness is not synonymous with depression. However, the two are related. When someone is unable to find a social setting in which they belong, the feelings and symptoms that are associated with depression may soon follow.
Social media can also impact social interactions in both a positive and a negative way. If the individual is already socially accepted, they simply further their interactions through different social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. On the other hand, those who do not feel as if they belong see social media as a constant reminder that they do not belong.
What does this mean for me?
Being socially isolated can impact an individual both physically and mentally. The physical risks that are associated with loneliness include heart attacks and various cancers. Those who are lonely tend to experience depression and social anxiety, which makes finding a social setting in which they feel as if they belong more difficult. Although the United States does not yet perceive loneliness as a public health issue, other areas of the world, such as the United Kingdom, have begun working to “raise… awareness of loneliness” and its impact on heath.
Kanai, R., Bahrami, B., Duchaine, B., Janik, A., Banissy, M., & Rees, G. (2012). Brain structure links
loneliness to social perception. Current Biology, 22, 1975–1979. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.08.045
Nutt, A.E. (2016, February 1). Loneliness Grows from Individual Ache to Public Health Hazard. The
Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
Dr. H. Colleen Sinclair
Social Psychologist, Relationships Researcher,
Ms. Chelsea Ellithorpe
Lab Manager of the Social Relations Collaborative and Blog Editor