Category Archives: Article Discussion

Research Project Introduction

I’ve been writing a lot lately, then hiding it away in the hopes that when my mind clears enough, I’ll be able to refine what I want to say. One example, less personal than some of the other things I’ve been working on, is the introduction to the research paper I’m writing for my class this semester. This is only the first draft, but I thought I’d let you take a look. It’s meant to be understandable to anyone – straight-forward, concise, and jargon-free – so if it’s not, kindly let me know. Also, I included links to all of the reference sources that I could, and where I couldn’t I linked to the abstract, in case you wanted to check out the sources.

INTRODUCTION

Attraction is the compulsion to seek the attention of a specific person usually, but not exclusively, for mating. It is a strong, inherent drive, which evidence indicates is an evolved mechanism to help us choose a partner that will provide the best combination of genes, resources, and care (Trivers, 1972). One manifestation of this is the near-universal preference that women have for a particular combination of youthful and mature male facial features as a way to identify mates that have an ideal combination of genes, youthful energy, resources and skills, as well as a caring and nurturing personality (Cunningham, Barbee, & Pike, 1990). The evolution of both short term and long term mating strategies indicates that there are often trade-offs when we seek certain parental qualities — such as physical beauty — over others, such as high-status or resources (Buss & Schmitt, 1993). Thus, choosing mates is a challenging proposition.

Modern men and women still struggle to find the best balance when choosing between attractive mate and ideal parental partner. It is a search that is shifting from an in-person, physical process to one that is increasingly taking place online. Humans evolved to make mating choices in person, so making accurate assessments of physical, emotional, and economic attractiveness on an online venue is a new challenge to mate choice that is being researched (Merkle & Richardson, 2000).  One issue being investigated is how individuals rate choices for trustworthiness, interpersonal attraction, and the Big Five personality traits from various kinds of online dating profiles (Jin & Martin, 2015). What researchers are uncovering is that, in the kinds of information-poor environments where we are increasingly searching for our partners, that it is very difficult to predict with whom we will be compatible (Joel, Eastwick, & Finkel, 2017)

This difficulty is significant when approximately one-third of marriages that occurred between 2005 and 2012 began online (J. Cacioppo, S. Cacioppo, Gonzaga, Ogburn, & VanderWeele, 2013), and from 2013 to 2015, the use of online dating sites and dating apps increased approximately 36% for all age groups, and almost tripled for 18-24 year olds, according to data from the Pew Research Center (Smith & Anderson, 2016).

As Feingold (1992) points out, there is a complicated set of both attraction and non-attraction related factors that influence mate choice. Moreover, our initial perceptions of accessible traits (e.g. physical attractiveness) influence our perceptions of non-accessible traits that take more time and effort to discover (e.g. responsibility). The more time someone has invested in another person, the less likely they are to end a relationship when unfavorable information is discovered (Feingold, 1992).

In 1968, Zajonc introduced the idea of the mere-exposure effect, whereby individuals respond to repeated exposure to a stimulus with increasing positive affect. Harmon-Jones & Allen (2001) confirmed that the mere-exposure effect does successfully increase positive affect for stimuli. Lee (2001) further concluded that uncertainty reduction could explain the increase in positive affect. The amount of time a subject is exposed to stimuli also affects the amount of positive affect a subject feels for the stimuli. (Huang & Hsieh, 2012)

These stimuli are present on dating apps like Bumble and Tinder, where people indicate they are interested in meeting someone by swiping on the profile photo they are interested in. The photo is listed only with the name and age of the individual in the photo. If the individual in the photo also selects as attractive the person that thought they were attractive, the app gives them an opportunity to have a conversation to decide if they want to meet. Thus, with the increasing usage of dating apps like Bumble and Tinder, the degree to which people seeking dates believe they can accurately assess attractiveness, and perhaps other qualities, at first glance is increasingly important. Additionally, the evidence that the amount of exposure affects how individuals feel about a stimulus has important implications for decision-making on dating sites like these.

We will seek evidence regarding the influence of the mere-exposure effect on the initial rating of male attractiveness by female subjects.  Consistent with the research on the mere-exposure effect, we hypothesize that subjects will rate the attractiveness of a photographed individual higher on a second viewing than they rated the individual on the first viewing, because the individual will seem more familiar (Zajonc, 1968).  If our hypothesis is correct, then the implication is that individuals using dating apps likely hold flawed assumptions about the value of rating attractiveness based on a single viewing, and the information influencing mate-choice-decisions provided by online dating sites like Bumble and Tinder are not reliably objective. This may have a significant impact on the way that people interact with dating apps in the future.

References

Buss, D.M. & Schmitt, D.P. (1993) Sexual strategies theory: An evolutionary perspective on human mating. Psychological Review, 100, 204-232. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.100.2.204

Cacioppo, J,T., Cacioppo, S., Gonzaga, G.C., Ogburn, E.L., & VanderWeele, T.J. (2013). Marital satisfaction and break-ups differ across on-line and off-line meeting venues. Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, 25, 10135-10140. doi:10.1073/pnas.1222447110

Cunningham, M.R., Barbee, A.P., & Pike C.L. (1990). What do women want? Facialmetric assessment of multiple motives in the perception of male facial physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 61-72. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.59.1.61

Feingold, A. (1992) Gender differences in mate selection preferences: A test of the parental investment model. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 125-139. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.112.1.125

Harmon-Jones, E. & Allen, J.J.B. (2001). The role of affect in the mere exposure effect: Evidence from psychophysiological and individual differences approaches. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 889-898. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167201277011

Huang, Y.-F. & Hsieh, P.-J. (2013). The mere exposure effect is modulated by selective attention but not visual awareness. Vision Research, 91, 56-61. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.visres.2013.07.017

Jin, S.V. & Martin, C. (2015). “A match made online?” The effects of user-generated online dater profile types (free-spirited versus uptight) on other users’ perception of trustworthiness, interpersonal attraction, and personality. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 18, 320-327. doi:10.1089/cyber.2014.0564

Joel, S., Eastwick, P.W., Finkel, E.J. (2017). Is romantic desire predictable? Machine learning applied to initial romantic attraction. Psychological Science, 28, 1478-1489. doi:10.1177/0956797617714580

Lee, A.Y. (2001). The mere exposure effect: an uncertainty reduction explanation revisited. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 1255-1266. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461672012710002

Merkle, E.R. & Richardson, R.A. (2000). Digital dating and virtual relating: conceptualizing computer mediated romantic relationships. Family Relations, 49, 187-192. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2000.00187.x

Smith, A., & Anderson, M. (2016, February 29). Fact Tank: 5 facts about online dating. Retrieved from Pew Research Center website: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/29/5-facts-about-online-dating/

Trivers, R. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual selection and the descent of man (pp. 136-179). Chicago: Aldine-Atherton.

Zajonc, R.B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Monographs,9(2, Pt. 2).

Love you all,

Digging Into The Science

Is That Real Science?
My primary intellectual interest is in Social Psychology and related fields. In case that explanation alone isn’t enough to express why I want to do article discussion posts – to talk about our ideas and feelings, and how we’re the same and different, and special and insane – I want to share that one goal is to challenge ourselves to think about something we may not have given a lot of thought to before. Also, to have us all thinking about the same thing, to evoke our unique perspectives and apply them together to learn things and expand our views in a way that is impossible alone. I think that’s the whole point of there being more than one of us on this planet.

Often, the articles that I’ll choose for article discussions will come from peer reviewed journals. That means that before an article is accepted or published, it is reviewed by rival scholars in the field who are both familiar with the research techniques being used, and the topic being examined. So, for the reviewers, though they are generally anonymous, it is in their best interest to be honest and fair in their assessment of the article – for better or worse – because no one wants to stake their professional reputation with the journals (that are likely also considering some of their articles for publication) by unfairly or inaccurately judging the work of a colleague.

Even with the high standards to which social scientists are held by their peers, for some hard science devotees, a critical question remains:

Can you really call Psychology research – science?

When discussing History, or one of the other soft social sciences, the debate can be pretty murky because social sciences deal with the subject of people, and the study of something so varied and complicated rarely results in any one single right answer. Psychology, at least, has the distinction of being grounded in the function of the physical structures of the brain, which are increasingly being illuminated by Neurology, which is more concrete than domains like personality. But, unlike Physics, there is a wider and more uncertain range within which any behavior studied in the Social Sciences can be called predictable or measurable. You, perhaps, have a different word for that, one I’ve heard is: terrifying.

Unless you are married to the idea of a black-and-white world, we must admit uncertainty in everything – most particularly in perception – even of something we think of as being concrete. I would even go so far as to argue that Physics theory itself (compared to experimental data, which is always a little fuzzier than theorists would wish)  is less clear and concrete than a hard-science-enthusiast might be willing to concede (such as is being revealed by the difficulties of confirming the details of the Standard Theory of Particle Physics). Science, of any form, is always struggling to discover what it doesn’t know it doesn’t know, and the degree to which what we know and don’t know is interconnected. You know, easy stuff.

So, then, I assert that the only standard to which “Science” can be measured is by its commitment to the principles of the scientific method, including a willingness to change or abandon your hypothesis when the data indicates it is necessary.

I will ask you to evaluate for yourself the degree to which any research adheres to the Scientific Method; but perhaps it goes without saying, that I believe Psychology, along with the other Social Sciences, hold themselves up to the same scientific standards as those in the hard sciences. We can never know anything perfectly – even Newtonian physics breaks down at the atomic level – but in the Social Sciences we can still get results that are both replicable as well as practical and applicable in a broader population. In short, you can reprove the results, and get good real-world information that people can use to make their lives better; and if we don’t discover all of the hidden secrets of the universe today, well, then there’s always tomorrow.

Getting off my soapbox …

WHERE DO YOU FIND ARTICLES?
The places that I most commonly look for research articles, particularly when I am not affiliated with a university – as I haven’t been for …  a while – are JSTOR and Google Scholar.

JSTOR is an online repository of Social Science research articles from a large number of academic journals. Universities pay big money to obtain full access for their community. But recently, JSTOR has made it possible for anyone not affiliated with a university to get access to a significant portion of their library. In general, that means you’re limited to three articles every two weeks, and you can’t download them, but, that’s a much better deal than you’d get from the journal publishers, who might charge around $30 to download (or just read) a single article. They also have a pretty reasonable subscription program, for more serious unaffiliated scholars, with less restricted access for about $100 per year.

Google Scholar is a special branch of the Google search engine that only searches for peer-reviewed articles. Not every article will have free access, and some only give access to the abstract on the publisher’s website, but for a more general search, Google Scholar is perfect because there isn’t a restriction to the number of free articles that you can access or download when you find them.

If you can get an article citation, many universities still have physical copies of many journals, and access to the libraries and their photocopiers is generally not restricted to the university community. It’s definitely worth exploring.

Our First Journal Article

 I first started writing this post two weeks ago, and have pondered what would make the most exciting article to suggest for discussion. The first article I ended up posting, though very thought provoking, was not a peer-reviewed journal article, so I didn’t want to post it here.

During the last week, the Psychology Research Methods class that I’m sitting in on started to delve into peer-reviewed research articles. Since it’s been a long time since I’ve had a university’s library resources at my disposal … I might have gone a little … I was going to say “overboard,” but really, if there are that many articles that I haven’t read, I think it just means I’m behind in my reading. But, I found a lot. I’m so excited. But, I’m still sorting through it all and couldn’t pick just one, yet.

So, instead of my choosing an article, I’m going to encourage you to explore Google Scholar and JSTOR and find an article about something you find interesting.

Next time, I’ll write a little about the fun articles I’ve been finding, I’ll tell you what I know about digesting peer reviewed research efficiently, and I’ll talk a little about how to evaluate – even within peer-reviewed research – which articles have the most impact in the field, and if that means anything about the value you may or may not take away from an article.

The last thing I’ll ask you to think about as you search for and read your article(s) is, even if the work you’re reading is very specific in scope, imagine how the skill researchers have and continue to develop in doing their work makes them increasingly capable of nuanced and significant discovery. Even if you’re reading about research that does not have immediate or obvious practical applications (think: transistors), can you imagine how it might inspire others to imagine things that never occurred to them before (think: pretty much everything in our world today)?

We live in a web of interconnection, and sometimes we can’t discern something’s significance because it’s so broad that it takes a long time to understand. So, be patient with yourselves as you read, and be patient with the researchers. We’re here to do our best, make mistakes, be compassionate, to get excited and inspire each other to make the most of what we share in this world. The most important tool we have to accomplish all of that is words, words, words, and our mutual striving to share and understand them.


I don’t think this is what Shakespeare intended when Hamlet spoke words, words, words.

I’d love, love for you to comment about what article(s) you find!!

Love you all,

Comfort With Discomfort

There will be many times I will ask you to consider your boundaries and the value of stepping into discomfort, to be brave in challenging yourself to experience something more fully and to shift perspective away from “black & white” or “good & bad” to something more complex. We often equate “good” with the things that we expected, are familiar or wanted, and “bad” with the opposite. And, though I am just as guilty of that as anyone – like you, I have waded through enough of both to understand the latter helps us to grow and the former serves to reinforce our comfort zone.

It is, therefore, with some amount of irony that I chose the article I’m suggesting for our first article discussion because, at its core, it’s about the damage that being comfortable with discomfort can cause in society.

The difference between the two forms of “comfort with discomfort” is who benefits from the discomfort.  Challenging yourself to grow beyond your present self into your future self may certainly benefit others, but ultimately it all benefits you. Asking one person to bear the cost of another’s convenience or desire is something different.

ARTICLE
Loofbourow, L. (2018, January 25). The female price of male pleasure. Retrieved January 28, 2018, from http://theweek.com/articles/749978/female-price-male-pleasure

When a woman says “I’m uncomfortable” and leaves a sexual encounter in tears, then, maybe she’s not being a fragile flower with no tolerance for discomfort. And maybe we could stand to think a little harder about the biological realities a lot of women deal with, because unfortunately, painful sex isn’t the exceptional outlier we like to pretend it is. It’s pretty damn common.

QUESTIONS
Let’s discuss! Here are some questions I thought of. I’d love to hear your questions in the comments!

  1. Does this article hit home for you?
  2. What do you agree with?
  3. What do you disagree with?
  4. Did the author leave anything out?
  5. What is your take-away quote from the article? or What from the article do you wish you could automatically make others understand?
  6. How can we deconstruct the problem? What are some “what can I do” solutions?

N.B. I do vet the comments before they are posted, and trolling – anything that is written with the assumption that anyone is stupid, or less-than, or any other form of ugliness or hatred – will be deleted without apology. If you are genuinely curious, open to self-questioning, and are just looking for more information, but aren’t sure whether your perspective will be perceived as trolling, the best advice I can give is, first, to ask a question rather than make a statement and, second,  ask yourself if that question depends on an assumption being true. If there is an underlying assumption that is something other than all people are worthy and equal, then I’d ask you to dig deeper and start with a question that has a universally valid premise.

DISCUSSION
For me, core argument of the article was that good women and men, alike, have been acculturated to believe that when work must be done to bridge a gap between male needs and female needs, that the costs will be primarily paid by women. The main example used to illustrate that point was the recent story about Aziz Ansari, asking us to imagine why the woman who brought her story to light – even if you believe she could have made a different decision – what could explain why a woman  in that position might believe the path she chose was the only real option she had in the situation.

Honestly, I cried when I was reading the article. Even though the number of people I’ve dated is a pretty small sample size, I think it’s remarkable that I can’t say I’ve ever dated a guy that didn’t, at some point, make me feel like my hesitation or refusal to do something he wanted must mean that I didn’t deserve to be treated as well as before, or that I wasn’t worth the same investment of energy as before.

I’m not talking about poor choices about men, either. If you know me, and know my husband or any of the guys I dated before him, then you know that even the worst choice of partners that I’ve ever made was considered by the majority of people that knew him as being a decent guy, certainly fun and personable, if not kind and considerate.  Furthermore, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t describe my husband as a great guy. And yet, although I haven’t run the numbers, I wouldn’t be shocked if there wasn’t a statistically significant difference in the number of times sex has led to my having an orgasm compared to my partners, and yet, I feel like the consensus of the world around me is – “well, female orgasms are just so …. tricky. Be grateful you’ve had any.” So, to read an article that so emphatically suggested that wasn’t just my problem, and to suggest that the dirty secret behind the perpetuation of this behavior is not the salty-man-whores of the world, but that both good men and women buy into a double standard of social and behavioral expectations; further, to suggest that women are allowed to question why we asked to bear that burden? In many ways, I cried tears of both relief and fear.

I think it’s easy to imagine why I would feel relief. But the fear? Maybe you understand that too. Fear that there’s a limit to how much “good” you’re allowed to have without paying for it the way someone else chooses, not giving a second thought about subjugating your needs or wants. Fear that standing up for your needs will result in poorer net treatment. Fear that you’ll have to give up all of the comforts of relationships to escape the burdens of “minding the gap.” Fear because you’ve repeatedly felt all of those consequences of standing up for yourself, and then some. Our brains aren’t wired for isolation (Banks, 2016), but when we aren’t collectively comfortable with discomfort, discomfort turns into a threat to which we retaliate by isolating the source of our discomfort; pushing it away.

I’m not sure the attitudes this article outlines are the best approach to solving the problems we’re facing as a society. I’ll leave it to you to decide how those attitudes contribute to the causes of those problems. But, again, I’m curious to read your thoughts about this article, your answers to the questions I had, and what your own questions are!

Love you all,