Art

My definition of art is more traditional, however I can appreciate more modern points of view. I generally believe that art is any creation that is “beautiful” or requires skill to produce. I do understand more progressive perspectives that define art as anything that evokes thought, but for me personally, many advant garde works fail to induce innovative thought. I appreciate historical works of art more than abstract art, and I think this contributes to my definition. I enjoy looking at older pieces and understanding the time period in which it was produced or the particular region or person it depicts. To me, defining art occurs on a case by case basis and is different for everyone. I may enjoy a work of art that another person thinks is total garbage and vice versa. The definition of art is not black and white, but much more blurry and definitely open to interpretation.

I chose the Lilly Pulitzer store in Southlake, TX as my work of art. Although a clothing store is definitely an unconventional work of art, I think this particular store’s interior design qualifies. Not only is the store functional, but also beautifully bright and cheery.  Bright colors are associated with higher levels of happiness (and lower levels of depression); happy people are more likely to find art containing brighter colors aesthetically pleasing. (Baumeister) This is one of the many factors that contributes to what individuals define as art and what they enjoy viewing. The store features multiple murals and tons of intricate details and undoubtedly required plenty of time and skill to create. Each dressing room is unique and contains stylish furniture and hand painted walls; one even has a montage of brightly painted cowboy boots. The designers of the store took the location into consideration when planning by including regional details and combined them with the brand’s prints and mediums to create an innovative new store. They took things traditionally associated with Texas, like cowboy boots or big hair, and incorporate them into the design. Prints and patterns from the Lilly Pulitzer collection are artfully mixed to complement each other and create a unique scene. The context of this work of art is available to any shoppers who happen to wander in, however it has also been featured in local interior design magazines and on the Lilly Pulitzer blog. Media allows the art of the Southlake store to be available to viewers anywhere in the world, as long as they have access to the internet.
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Works Cited
Baumeister, Roy F., and Brad L. Bushman. “The Self.” Social Psychology and Human Nature. Brief ed. Vol. 2. Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, n.d. Print.

“Lilly Pulitzer – Southlake, TX.” Facebook. Lilly Pulitzer, n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.

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The Psychology of Twitter

First it was MySpace, then Facebook, now the current “it” social media network is Twitter. A place where users can find tweets with topics ranging from world events and news to what your co-worker is eating for lunch, although meal time sharing may be more frequently used on Instagram. Twitter, like most other social media sites, allows users to post anything that comes to mind and serves as a place to update your friends and “followers” on your daily activities, opinions, etc. Users also have the capability to “retweet” messages posted by other users, enabling their followers to see the message. This is without a doubt one of the most unique features of Twitter when compared to other social media sites. Users cite interesting content and humor as the largest reasons they retweet. (Bennett) If someone else makes an interesting cultural anecdote, the retweet capability allows you to show your followers that you too identify with this funny message without having to plagiarize. Retweeting also helps spread news. For example, Hurricane Sandy victims used Twitter to communicate and sometimes even received news via Twitter faster than more traditional news sources could report information. The reports of the missing Aggie Football player, Thomas Johnson, were also spread quickly. The local news, KBTX, has a twitter account and tweeted about the status of the investigation and the successful discovery of Johnson at his home in Dallas. I believe that another factor in Twitter’s popularity also has to do with the amount of users. If none of your friends use Twitter, the social media site is less fun. But as more and more friends start using Twitter and start making references to something a celebrity tweeted, the more you want to use it.

Works Cited

Bennett, Shea. “The Psychology Of Twitter.” All Twitter. N.p., 17 Aug. 2011. Web. 16
Nov. 2012. <http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/twitterpsychology_b12776&gt;.

Psychology of YouTube

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While searching for information about the psychology behind YouTube, why it has become such a cultural phenomenon, and why we are drawn to this website full of endless videos about nearly any topic under the sun, I came across mainly links to the YouTube website itself. This could be due to the relative newness of the site and therefore little psychological analysis has been completed or just the large amount of videos regarding psychology on YouTube. The abundance of psychology videos includes topics ranging from general lectures to psychology of pop culture and even in-depth scientific explanations of psychological phenomenon. While some people can easily spend hours on YouTube at a time searching through an unlimited supply of funny videos, the average YouTube video gets only 20 hits in the first month. (Robertson) Because the creators of the site made it easy to upload any kind of videos you’d like, many users upload videos not for the purpose of obtaining “hits” on their video but to send home video updates of their children to relatives or to upload a class projects, where the only views are likely to be classmates and teachers. Only around 1% of videos get over 500,000 views. (Robertson) While YouTube has the capability of reaching information overload, in which users are overwhelmed by the enormity of data offered by the site, users seem to enjoy the amount of information available to them with just a push of a button. The site also serves as an instructive interface in which “how to” videos teach viewers skills ranging from makeup application to self-defense moves. Most videos employ strategies including: the “cute factor,” humor, evoking an emotional response, or music. (Cashmore) However, there is no tried and true formula for achieving YouTube success. Videos that are bizarre and offbeat often top the charts in popularity. The unpredictable nature of the website keeps viewers coming back for more and is a large factor in the site’s success.

Works Cited

Robertson, Mark R. “Average Number of Youtube Views In First Month.” ReelSEO
Video Marketing
. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2012.
<http://www.reelseo.com/average-number-youtube-views-month/&gt;.

Cashmore, Pete. “YouTube: Why Do We Watch?” CNN. Cable News Network, 17 Dec.
2009. Web. 08 Nov. 2012.
<http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/12/17/cashmore.youtube/index.html&gt;.

The Psychology of Facebook

             Technology is changing how we interpret “belonging” to a group; belonging is no longer limited to social invitation and we are linked by Facebook friends and an endless loop of information on our newsfeed. Facebook’s success is linked to its ability to persuade consumers (Fogg).  Once users have been persuaded to create an account, Facebook validates two important social needs: the fundamental desire to belong and self-presentation. (Mehta)

            The desire to belong is innate. The instinct has evolved from a means of increasing one’s chances of survival into more of a social strategy for emotional wellbeing. Facebook enables users to feel more connected to their “friends” despite physical proximity or the status of their relationship with said friend. Even if you’ve grown apart from a pal, you can still be flooded with updates and new pictures thanks to Facebook. The false feeling of closeness provides users with a feeling of popularity and interconnection.  

            In general, humans strive to present themselves in the best light possible. Facebook allows us to create a more idealized version of ourselves and to exclude any negative information we don’t want the general public to see. According to research studies, on average people are fairly representative of their personal traits, including openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion and neuroticism. Researchers are unsure to as whether users simply do not achieve portraying their idealized selves online or if they intend to create an accurate profile of themselves. (O’Callaghan)

            The phenomenon known as Facebook, and other social mediums, have already attracted considerable research; it will be interesting to learn about the psychology of social media on a deeper level. For example, the psychology of being “unfriended” is already being examined. As the first generation where it is uncommon to be without a cell phone or laptop for an extended period of time, I am intrigued to see the long term effects of social media on the ways in which we interact and to see whether the obsession endures.

           

Works Cited

Fogg, BJ. “Psychology of Facebook.” Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, n.d. Web. 02 Nov.
            2012. <http://captology.stanford.edu/projects/psychology-of-facebook.html&gt;.

Mehta, Vinita. “Why Does Using Facebook Feel So Good?” Head Games: What Freud
            Never Knew
. Psychology Today, 29 Apr. 2012. Web. 02 Nov. 2012.
            <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/head-games/201204/why-does-using
            facebook-feel-so-good>.

O’Callaghan, Tiffany. “The Psychology of Facebook Profiles.” TIME: Health and Family.
            TIME, 3 Dec. 2009. Web. 02 Nov. 2012.
            <http://healthland.time.com/2009/12/03/the-psychology-of-facebook
            profiles/>.

Generalized Anxiety Disorders & Alcohol Use Disorders

Remember in my first blog I said I was going to talk about “mean girls” and their lack of supportive behavior toward one another?  Well, this week I’m taking a little detour, looking instead at the relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety. I located a scholarly article, “Drinking Refusal Self-Efficacy and Tension-Reduction Alcohol Expectancies Moderating the Relationship Between Generalized Anxiety and Drinking Behaviors in Young Adult Drinkers”, through the database PsycInfo, to which the Texas A&M Library has a subscription. I know that the article is scholarly because it was published in a peer-reviewed journal, Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

The article focuses on the nature of the relationship between generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and alcohol use disorders (AUD). The authors faced a “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” dilemma in that they wanted to examine which disorder caused the other and the complex relationship between the two disorders. Through previous studies, they found that cases in which generalized anxiety disorder was a precursor to alcohol use disorders were more severe, chronic, and difficult to treat than cases in which alcohol use disorder was the primary disorder. The social learning theory states that individuals’ behaviors and cognitions are established and reinforced through their interactions with the environment and other people. The two main cognitive expectancies associated with the consumption of alcohol are alcohol expectancies, or how individuals believe alcohol impacts their cognitions, mood, and behavior, and drinking refusal self-efficacy, one’s believed ability to successfully turn down an alcoholic beverage. These two cognitive concepts are thought to shape the relationship between social anxiety and heavy drinking behavior. The authors hypothesized that individuals with high generalized anxiety, high tension-reduction alcohol expectancies and low drinking refusal self-efficacy would report greater alcohol consumption and alcohol-related consequences than individuals with low generalized anxiety. Their hypothesis was supported by the data collected; the strongest correlation being between drinking refusal self-efficacy and the amount of alcohol consumed and amount of alcohol-related consequences (see graph below). Alcohol expectancies and drinking refusal self-efficacy were found to moderate the relationships between generalized anxiety disorders and drinking behaviors, as the authors theorized based on previous research. The authors conclude that generalized anxiety disorder may causally precede alcohol use disorders, but that further research must be done to generalize their findings to larger populations.

The article addresses a specific audience of psychologists and psychiatrists, more specifically those who specialize in addiction, alcohol misuse, and/or anxiety. Due to the particular audience, the authors use an abundance of scientific terms and do not explain the disorders in detail because prior knowledge is assumed. I believe that this article conveys a message about an ongoing investigation into the relationship between anxiety and using alcohol as a coping mechanism. The authors investigate new variables that have been previously overlooked, such as looking at generalized anxiety on a continuous scale by using participants who experience symptoms of generalized anxiety but are not clinically diagnosed. Until I have a chance to research a little further, safe to say that if you already suffer from anxiety disorders, alcohol is likely not the path to calm you are looking for.

Works Cited
“Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).” Anxiety and Depression Association of America,
2010. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. <http://www.adaa.org/understanding
anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad>.

Goldsmith, Abigail A., Rachel D. Thompson, Jessica J. Black, Giao Q. Tran, and Joshua
P. Smith. “Drinking Refusal Self-efficacy and Tension-reduction Alcohol
Expectancies Moderating the Relationship between Generalized Anxiety and
Drinking Behaviors in Young Adult Drinkers.” Psychology of Addictive
Behaviors
 26.1 (2012): 59-67.PsycINFO. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

This week my thoughts turned to the workplace and the current efforts among many companies that use psychology to better their work environments. Industrial/Organizational psychology is a blend of both business and psychology. Psychologists in this field usually work as consultants and are hired by companies in Corporate America to help increase efficiency and employee satisfaction. They often work hand in hand with Human Resources departments and offer a wide range of services from improving work place conditions to offering advice on anger management. I/O psychologists aim to improve relationships between employees and their peers, as well as with their bosses. One practice is to install software on employees’ computers that shuts down their work computer after working over 70 hours in order to prevent employees from getting burnt out. There are also other programs that allow employees to go home for the day after accomplishing a certain amount of work or reaching a specific goal. Early release programs get rid of the drudgery that causes employees to sit idly at their desks in hopes of avoiding judgment for leaving the office early. Techniques like these allow bosses to get their employees to effectively complete the tasks that need to get done and simultaneously gain respect from their employees and help foster a positive relationship of trust and honesty. Google was ranked as the #1 company to work for mainly due to their unique corporate culture. They offer free meals to all of their employees, who have access to over 25 different cafes in the “Plex” as well as bocce ball courts, bowling alleys and free eyebrow shaping. Google also added a slide to their front office and painted the walls bright colors instead of the typical gray color scheme present in most office buildings. By offering employees an abundance of free services and extra perks, Mondays aren’t as dreadful and employees slowly learn to look forward to come into work. Companies have learned that a diverse work place fosters a range of new ideas; one task that I/O psychologists face is to find ways for a wide variety of workers to be satisfied within the company culture. Corporate America is typically a place of competition and cut-throat behavior, but I/O psychologists work with companies to promote a unified atmosphere of teamwork within the business. By alleviating competition within and promoting cohesive behavior, the consultants better the work environment and ultimately increase efficiency and productivity.

Works Cited

“100 Best Companies to Work For.” CNNMoney. Fortune, 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/best-companies/2012/snapshots/1.html&gt;.

“Psychology & Career Choices.” EHow. EHow Money, 11 Feb. 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <http://www.ehow.com/about_4781413_psychology-career-choices.html&gt;.

Mean Girls

The rain in College Station prompted me to stay in last Thursday, forget about school for a few hours and watch one of my favorite movies, “Mean Girls”. “Mean Girls” is a film centered on the “popular girls” in high school. A naive, Cady arrives at her first day of public school and immediately catches the attention of the Queen Bee, Regina George. Despite the affection she receives from the in crowd, Cady formulates a plan to infiltrate and “take down” the popular clique with help from her friends Janis and Damien, who have convinced her that the popular crowd is pure evil. Little does she know, Janis has her own personal, intrinsic motivation for destroying the group. A former member herself, Janis was publicly humiliated by Regina in middle school and is using “the Plastics’” new infatuation with Cady to achieve revenge. Although I really like this movie, I do wonder what prompts teenage girls to be so mean to each other almost arbitrarily. Regina is best  characterized by narcissistic personality disorder reflected in by her constant need of admiration (which she receives not only from her friend group, but from many other students who seem to idolize her) and her lack of empathy, shown in the movie by her “boy snatching” and merciless comments made humorous by the writers. Insecurity is also a popularly believed cause for malicious actions to one’s own friends. The Plastics are shown contemplating their flaws in front of a mirror as a typical after school routine and encourage the new member, Cady, to join in. Self-deprecation has become a social norm in their group and it breeds even more insecurity within the individual, yet makes other members of the Plastics feel slightly better about themselves. “At least I don’t have shoulders like Gretchen”, the girls use this tactic to bolster their confidence despite the fact that they tear each other down in the process. The “friends” are constantly making snarky comments towards one another in a battle to gain Regina’s approval. The group dynamic is not atypical amongst the subset of teenage girls, who often seek acknowledgement from the group’s leader. The humor used by the creators of the movie gets people to realize the truth and common occurrence of the strange rituals high school girls have come to accept as “normal” and shows how ridiculous they are in reality. The movie also showcases how easy it is to get caught up in “keeping up with the Joneses” and the materialistic nature of our society. The need to have the right jeans, the right purse, and perfect hair in order to avoid public ridicule from your so called friends gives the term friendship a whole new meaning. The behaviors learned through these high school survival rituals are often difficult to unlearn as we mature. We’ve all had that friend that makes us feel badly about ourselves, yet in the unlearning process we are slow to recognize the absence of true friendship; instead we are engage in a competition we didn’t plan to enter. Perhaps it is the unlearning process that causes us to ultimately have a few very dear friends, having shed those that haven’t matured past the high school rituals used to make them feel better about themselves.

Work Cited

Waters, M. (Director). (2004). Mean Girls [Motion Picture]. United States: Paramount

Pictures.