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Kids learn more formal social skills from their parents, but the bulk of their social learning seems to come from siblings or peers of their cohort.  By helping kids form cooperative relationships with each other from an early age, parents help kids adjust and maintain cooperative relationships into adulthood.  For parents of only children, using playdates or daycare may be an important tool towards developing their children’s social skills.

When I worked with clients dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder, I saw some really interesting patterns in their styles of play.  As adolescents, they still seemed to demonstrate more parallel play styles than cooperative or even pretend play.  I attribute this to the disruption in their early development.  Although I’m not a parent, how do any of you remember your children’s social development occurring?

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2010, January 15). Siblings play formative, influential role as ‘agents of socialization’. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 16, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2010/01/100115112104.htm

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A recent study put out by the Robert Koch Institute found that rates of smoking and obesity are significantly higher among individuals from lower socioeconomic classes.  I didn’t find this study to be all that surprising.  Although preparing and cooking foods at home is cheaper than going out for fast food, it requires time.  Even just riding the bus to and from work, at least in the Minneapolis – St Paul, MN metro area can expect to take at least 45 minutes to an hour on average.  Where riding the bus is cheaper and sometimes preferable (for instance for those people who work downtown and would prefer to not pay to park), time becomes the real resource.  If stopping for fattier, less nutritional fast food saves time, than the price is worth it.  When it comes to smoking, I wonder if smoking becomes almost an element of self care; it is relaxing and you get a break from whatever job you work to have a smoke.  I wonder if actual leisure time, free from childcare and work, might be a change agent for those negative health habits.  I have no idea how implementing this sort of idea would work, but it seems interesting.

Deutsches Aerzteblatt International (2010, January 15). Poor people smoke more. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 16, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2010/01/100115112048.htm

I have often heard people say that pornography is a terrible thing, that damages to men and women, while stunting its users’ ability to develop healthy relationships.  Research put out by the University of Monteral found that this just doesn’t seem to be true.  Most men have consumed pornography and most men are not sexually violent, deviant or devaluing towards women.  If watching pornographic materials could make an individual deviant, watching a heterosexual movie could make a homosexual switch their orientation.  When researchers first started looking into the effect pornography had on male sexuality, they looked for men who hadn’t consumed any.  None could be found.  Maybe pornography isn’t that bad of a thing to consume.  What do you think?

University of Montreal (2009, December 1). Are the effects of pornography negligible?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/12/091201111202.htm

According to a recent study put out by the University of Texas at Austin, Facebook users profiles coincide fairly accurately with their actual personalities. A questionnaire given to a variety of Facebook users evaluated them on the five factor personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness. Users who did not know the original set evaluated them on the basis of their Facebook profile only using the same criteria. The most stable trait was extraversion and the least stable trait was neuroticism, which makes sense because it is difficult to tell how neurotic someone is until you actually meet them.

This finding flies in the face of the idea that social media is all about promoting only a fake or idealized version of the self. The article, in fact, points out that mediums like Facebook and Twitter have now become synomonous with the phone for genuineness of social interaction. Basically, it is as genuine as the user makes it out to be.

Feel free to check me out on either Facebook or Twitter. My Twitter username is stonea3 and my Facebook account is under Anna Bohlinger. See you on the internet!

University of Texas at Austin (2009, December 1). Facebook profiles capture true personality, according to new psychology research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/12/091201111154.htm

An apple a day...

An apple a day...

In line with behavioral theory, a researcher from Harvard University found that when individuals are given rewards for group cooperation, they respond more effectively than when they are punished for ineffective behaviors.  This study has many implications for any time that groups of humans interact for a common goal.  One of the implications I thought of was for America’s current insurance model.  Doctors get paid when people are sick.  What would happen if physicians were paid on the basis of their client’s wellness?  Although many Americans seem to have a laissez faire approach to wellness and that would certainly provide an extenuating circumstance for doctors paid under my purposed model, I think that the systemic change brought about by rewarding wellness instead of sickness would make the change worthwhile.  Preventative care would be at the forefront of our health model.  In addition to promising care in the case of emergency situations, hospitals would guarantee a yearly medical exam and biannual teeth cleanings.  How would our healthcare system change if we rewarded healthy behaviors as opposed to heaping additional punishment on unhealthy ones?

Harvard University (2009, September 4). Carrots Are Better Than Sticks For Building Human Cooperation, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 7, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/09/090903163550.htm

A recent study put out by Emory University looked at brain development for adolescents who engaged in risky behaviors.  In spite of previously assumed theories issuing that risky behaviors were associated with the underdeveloped adolescent brain, researchers found that from a structural standpoint, adolescents who engaged in risky behaviors actually showed more highly developed white matter.  Researchers suppose that this may be due to the increasing complexity of performing adult like behaviors and the extended adolescence American culture employs throughout the college years.  Erik Erikson believed the primary conflict of adolescence was Identity vs. Role Confusion.  As opposed to 100 years ago, when adolescents were expected to be married and raising families by their 20th birthday, 20 year olds are typically college sophmores, just deciding a major and generally figuring out what it is that they want to do with their lives.  That task of sophmore year, and the college years in general, fits in well with Erikson’s postulate on adolescence.  Because of extended adolescence, teens’ brains may mature before they have the wisdom and life experience to make healthy decisions or engage in safer risk taking (as opposed to anti-social or delinquent behaviors).

One of the things that I am working on right now is trying to adjust my sleep schedule for grad school.  I am going to be going to school all day on Mondays and Tuesdays which wouldn’t be an issue requiring sleep adjustment on it’s own.  However, I am also going to work full time at VoA’s Children’s Residential Treatment Center which requires working rotating shifts.  I may work from 7AM-5PM or 1PM-11PM depending on the day.  In order to accommodate that work schedule and time to do my homework, I am setting up a sleep schedule for myself where I go to sleep around 11PM and wake around 6AM.  Seven hours of sleep is not an unreasonable amount of sleep.  However, I love sleeping.  Sometimes if I am feeling particularly indulgent, I will go to sleep at 8PM and sleep until I wake up.  That is often around 9AM.  In spite of my affinity for sleep, I am finding it to be a bit easier now to get my sleep schedule together.  Waking up at 6AM is no longer difficult with an alarm.

My experiments with sleep has got me thinking about the purpose of sleep.  A multitude of different ideas are out there, most of them beginning and ending with brain function.  The general idea is that the nervous system needs a “shut-down” time to function appropriately when totally awake.  However, if that is the case, shutting down would be unwise from an evolutionary standpoint.  However, mammals are uniquely evolved in that although they (we) are unconscious when sleeping, they and we wake instantly in response to certain sensory stimuli.  Parents will sleep through storms and sirens but awake instantly at the sound of their child’s whimper in the next room.  Additionally, even living things without nervous systems like plants experience a cyclic “dormant” period.  Sleep appears to make our brains more prepared to use and respond to unique data.  Prolonged sleep or dormacy deprivation can kill rats, gnats, humans, and plants.  It’s essential even if its purpose remains to be discovered.

Public Library of Science (2008, August 27). Exploring The Function Of Sleep. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/08/080825203918.htm

University of California – Los Angeles (2009, August 23). Why Sleep? Snoozing May Be Strategy To Increase Efficiency, Minimize Risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/08/090820161333.htm

Popular culture would have me believe that parents hate the amount of homework their children are given, believe that the homework they are given takes away from family time, and the amount of time children spend doing their homework takes away from recreation and family time.  However, a recent study put out by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that parents generally support the amount of homework their middle school aged kids are given and know how to help them complete it.  One area that could use improvement, according to the study, is communication between parents and school staff about homework and any issues that come up.  Another area of concern is the trend in which some parents will complete their children’s work for them, as opposed to helping them check it or teaching them to figure the answers out from the textbook or other examples.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2009, August 20). Contrary To Popular Belief, Parents OK With Kids’ Homework Loads. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/08/090820124048.htm

One of the models for understanding how people know themselves is a Johari Window.  It organizes information about the self into four different categories: Arena, Facade, Blind Spot, and Unknown.  Below is a picture of that model:

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

Everyone has qualities about themselves that are known by them, their peers, and combinations of both.  Additionally, everyone has that unknown quality – those adjectives that exist only in the subconscious.

Knowing yourself is an important life task and there are a multitude of ways to go about doing that.  Using tools like the Johari Window is one way to do that.  Listening to feedback from your peers and colleagues is another.  Knowing yourself can lead to greater of awareness of the self we are and the self we want to be.  It is only through knowing where you are starting from that you can move toward your ideal self.

Association for Psychological Science (2009, July 16). Knowing Me, Myself And I: What Psychology Can Contribute To Self-knowledge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 20, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/07/090716113258.htm

My first job out of college was working at a group home for adolescent males who were former gang members or sex offenders.  One night I was chatting with my supervisor and asked him what the average long-term outcome was for the teens we were working with.  He asked what I meant by long term.  As it turned out, most of the adolescents I was working with would be dead or in prison by age 30.  At 15, they were middle-aged.

A recent study put out by the University of Minnesota found that one in seven adolescents believe that they will die before age 35 and that belief coincides with greater risks in sexual, drug and alcohol and behavioral decision making.  How can we encourage far-reaching expectations in already at-risk adolescents?

University of Minnesota (2009, June 29). Teens Who Believe They’ll Die Young Are More Likely To Engage In Risky Behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 4, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/06/090629081124.htm

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