Communication technology and social change: Theory and implications (2007) suggests that social change occurs after a major (and usually negative) event has taken place; usually in the form of an innovative idea meant to deal with the issue. Timing, as they say, is everything. Jensen and Wagoner (2009, p. 226) suggest note that “Partial adoption, resistance, conflict over resources, dynamism and contingency have always defined social and cultural change.” Examples of the cycle of social change suggested by Jensen and Wagoner (2009) include alcohol prohibition and psychoanalysis.

In fact, this social change cycle can be seen in the history of Psychology as a field. What one theory lacks, the next overcompensates for; there is resistance of ideas, reformation, and a re-presentation of the changed product for implication and continued scrutiny. When structuralism tried to break psychophysics down too excessively, it gave way to the more broad functionalism. However, functionalism only sought to explain ‘normal’ human behavior; Freud manufactured explanations for abnormal behaviors. When psychoanalysis was too subjective, behaviorism looked at only what could be actively observed. Gestalt recognized the need for both observable and cognitive processes, but didn’t have any suggestions for how to make it possible. And cognitive psychology argued that subjects can learn and behavior of their own volition. (Petraitis, personal communication, January – April 2011)

As with paradigm shifts within the field of Psychology, social change is the culmination of norms which have been questioned, reviewed, reformatted, and beta tested (so to speak). While the delivery method of the message is important, in order for a change to be effective and received, the zeitgeist and ortgeist must be right. If there is no need for change at a particular time or place, the change will be resisted.


Communication technology and social change: Theory and implications (2007). In Lin C. A., Atkin D. J. (Eds.), . Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/621547613?accountid=10868

Jensen, E., & Wagoner, B. (2009). Continuing commentary: A cyclical model of social change. Culture & Psychology15 (2), 217-228 doi:10.1177/1354067X08099624

Why I Don’t Tweet Anymore

Communication has changed drastically since the advent of the internet. Weblogging allows individuals to share knowledge, opinions, and more. Similar to weblogging, microblogging allows quick sharing in short bursts. With Twitter, for example, users have 140 characters for pretty much anything they feel driven to share. But what makes us feel the need to share with out online community? How are those communities created? Researchers found that three factors determine an individual’s willingness to share via weblogging: fairness, identification, and openness. (Yu, Lu,  & Liu, 2009)  

Fairness, as defined by Yu, Lu, and Liu (2009) is the social equity between those sharing and those receiving the knowledge, the way the individuals within the community are regarded, and the level of trust the individual has of the community as a whole. They cite research which suggests that individuals prefer to be part of a group working towards similar goals, and as such, will strive to maintain reciprocity in knowledge sharing toward achieving collective goals.

Identification is the way which people see themselves fitting into the group. When a person identifies more as a functional influence within the group; or sees a value in themselves with regards to the group, they are more likely to put more effort into sharing and other interactions. (Yu, Lu, & Liu, 2009)

Openness defines the reception of the community to the message. Norms are established within groups, and the openness of the group to additional information, discussion of information already shared, and the introduction of new ideas within the context of the groups norms, is determined by the level of openness. In other words, for an individual to be keen on sharing, they must feel that the group is open to receiving the knowledge they have to share. (Yu, Lu, & Liu, 2009)

Twitter engages individuals in these ways. Research shows that ‘Tweeps’ tend to belong to communities with specific interests, in which they share information and impression; as well as discussing personal feelings and daily goings on (Java, Song, Finin, & Tseng, 2007). But Twitter is one example of microblogging and knowledge sharing. While research has been done to measure variables such as geographic variability in users, as well as user intention, there have been little, if any, studies done on personality variables in medium preference (e.g., Twitter vs. WordPress vs. fan fiction forums). Until we have explored more variables, we have an understandably limited view of what drives people to share information they way they do.


Java, A., Song, X., Finin, T., & Tseng, B. (2007). Why we Twitter: Understanding microblogging usage and communities. Retrieved from: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1348556

Yu, T., Lu, L., & Liu, T. (2008). Exploring factors that influence knowledge sharing behavior via weblogs. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 32-41.

It DOES Get Better.

In September 2010, the first It Gets Better videos were created. It Gets Better is a non-profit campaign that provides support to 3 different projects, all providing support for LGBT (as well as straight) teens struggling to remain safe from the harassment of others, as well as the threat of suicide. While the campaign has most of it’s focus on various videos (created by countless types of celebrities and authorities, students, and adults who have endured similar hardships or are supportive of every type of orientation or gender identity), there are other media employed as well. Social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube), blogs, marches and vigils, bar and restaurant fundraisers, rallies, film festivals, clothing/merchandise, a book, television commercials and public announcements, theatre performances, as well as parades and walls where supporters can write messages, are examples of other media used to spread this decidedly prosocial message. (It Gets Better, 2011)


Several psychological concepts are used to spread this message via both central and peripheral routes. These include foot-in-the-door principle, celebrity status (which can account for both attractiveness or perceived credibility), speaker credibility (i.e., they have endured something similar, and are perceived as trustworthy), the emotional content of the message, the contact between people giving and people receiving the message, and two-step flow of communication. The message is meant to be persuasive because the plea for support is desperate. (Myers, 2010)

Since the site and the campaign have gone up, calls into The Trevor Project suicide hotline have increased drastically, and over $100,000 have been raised in support of LGBT youth. I believe that the project has done an amazing job of getting their message out, and will continue to grow beyond it’s first birthday. The continuing creativity of site supporters and creators means an increase in number of supporters, as well as the distance they will reach with their message. In my opinion, the sooner and the bigger, the better. (It Gets Better, 2010)


Savage Love, LLC. (2011). It Gets Better. Retrieved from http://www.itgetsbetter.org/

Myers, D. (2008). Persuasion. In Social Psychology (10th ed.). (pp. 229-265). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill


Defining Vast Movement Towards Obscurity

Though many research papers claim that massive changes due to media are apparent (Grietemeyer, 2009), they tend to be headed towards specificity. The first sentence in an article’s introduction is meant to be vague, but knowing that allows us to miss the point. The point is: Media has changed, and will continue to change, an intense amount of our daily lives (Qualman, 2011). The research is impossible to contain in one post, but examples of how social interactions, employment, and travel have been effected certainly can’t hurt.

Cole and Griffiths (2007) explored social interactions within online gaming environments, specifically massively multiplayer online role playing games. They found that players considered their online friendships to be comparable to their offline friendships. They also found that gamers were just as likely to discuss personal and sensitive topics with online friends, as they were offline (or in real life) friends. Online social interactions allow gamers the opportunity to express themselves in ways they would otherwise feel uncomfortable doing. (Cole & Griffiths, 2007)

Straus, Miles, & Levesque (2000) found that employers viewed prospective employees more favorably when interviewing over the phone, than via video chat, especially when the interviewee was less attractive. As the internet, and more specifically social networking sites, are frequented more consistently (facebook would be the third largest country in the world (Qualman, 2011)?!) employers are using social networking sites to access personal information about prospective employees (e.g., facebook and myspace) (Kluemper & Rosen, 2009).

Xiang and Gretzel (2010) did an exploratory study to find the implications of changing social media on travel. They found that travel agencies must have a comprehensive search engine, as well as online visibility on social networking sites, in order to be most frequented. Travelers need to obtain information for their travelling needs; online connectivity is the preferred method to obtain that information.

The changes in social interactions, employment, and travel, along with a variety of other phenomena, have changed, and continue to change, due to social media. The implications of these changes are vast and indeterminable, but by exploring these changes, we can prepare for, and accommodate future media and their uses.


Cole, H., & Griffiths, M. (2007). Social interactions in massively multiplayer online role-playing gamers. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(4), 575-583.

Kluemper, D., & Rosen, P. (2009). Future employment selection methods: Evaluating social networking web sites. Emerald Insight, 24(6), 567-580.

Qualman, E. (2011). Social media revolution 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SuNx0UrnEo

Straus, S.,  Miles, J., & Levesque, L. (2000). The effects of videoconference, telephone, and face-to-face media on interviewer and applicant judgments in employment interviews. Journal of Management, 27, 363-381.

Xiang, Z., & Gretzel, U. (2010). Role of social media in online travel information search. Tourism Management, 31, 179-188.

It’s Just A Game… Right?

Story lines in media, whether it be video games, movies, or television, have become more complex. Webs being woven take more concentration, more awareness, and, in general, more cognitive functions to process. (Johnson, 2005) Video games are a great example of a media that motivates complex cognitive processes (Squire, 2005). 

Students learn in a variety of ways. Research in this field is so vast, that meta-analyses have been done just to make sense of all of the reported findings and styles (Cassidy, 2004). The Index of Learning Styles (ILS) is one such measure (Felder & Spurlin, 2005). Felder and Spurlin (2005) suggest two main uses for the ILS: to provide instructors with insight into how to address the learning styles of students who are struggling in the classroom, and to allow students to understand the implications of their own learning styles.

Because so many learning styles exist, educators must have a variety of tools at their disposal to be most effective. The presentation of information can be done in ways that students are already familiar with. For example, one study of over 1200 lower income students in Chile, found that video games, specifically designed to meet the material criteria for first and second grade students, significantly increased the amount of learning done in classrooms (Rosas et al., 2003).

Studies like this are popping up all over psychology. Rosas et al. (2003), also found that motivation for learning, as well as dynamics in the classroom, were significantly effected by the introduction of educational video games. Other studies have shown increases in social skills such as teamwork, self-expression, and the development of friendships, all via online game play (Cole & Griffiths, 2007).

If we are to afford students the best opportunities for learning, we must offer all the tools we have at our disposal. With the ever developing cognitive tasks required of us, rich and diverse technologies are needed. Video games are one such source of cognitive exercise, with which lessons may be learned, and students may be motivated to continue learning and growing.


Cassidy, S. (2004). Learning styles: An overview of theories, models, and measures. Educational Psychology, 24, 419-444.

Cole, H., & Griffiths, M. (2007). Social interactions in massively multiplayer online role-playing gamers. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10, 575-583. doi:10.1089/cpb.2007.9988

Felder, R., & Spurlin, J. (2005). Applications, reliability, and validity of the index of learning styles. Int. J. Engng Ed, 21(1), 103-112.

Johnson, S. (2005). Everything bad for you is good. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group.

Rosas, R., Nussbaum, M., Cumsille, P., Marianov, V., Correa, M., Flores, P., … & Salinas, M. (2003). Beyond Nintendo: Design and assessment of educational video games for first and second grade students. Computers & Education, 40, 71-94.

Squire, K. (2005). Changing the game: What happens when video games enter the classroom? Innovate, 1(6). Retrieved from: http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=82

Advocacy: Putting the “Pseudo” in Science

No where in this do you see the word "activism".

“The advantage of the scientific approach over other ways of knowing about the world is that it provides an objective set of rules for gathering, evaluating, and reporting information.”  (Cozby, 2009, p. 6)

The important word to note here is ‘objective’.  It is this word that ran through my head as I read the summary of the Craig Anderson et al. (2003) article.  What is presented here is not “unequivocal evidence” as is stated; it is pseudoscience. Possible confounding variables are plentiful.

As Giles (2010) and Ferguson (2009) point out, there are weak (if any) effects showing that violent video games cause aggression. What weak correlations there are, are likely due to other confounding variables. Giles mentions taking anger/aggression out on the game rather than real people. An example of this is playing killing zombies in Left 4 Dead, rather than punching your brother in the face (i.e., displacement). Johnson (p. 83) notes the frustration that goes into successfully playing even non-violent games: getting stuck, solving puzzles, managing options, etc. Other research shows that sexual arousal leads to aggression (Jaffe, Malamuth, Feingold, & Feshbach, 1974). If the longitudinal studies done by Anderson et al. (2003) are measuring differences between childhood and adult aggression, sexual arousal might confound those results.

After some research into additional confounding variables, I stumbled on research saying that high levels of caffeine lead to aggression in rats (Wilson et al., 2000), and gamers self-report high caffeine consumption (Izawa & Nomura, 2006). While no research can be found correlating caffeine levels and gaming, could gamers who are consuming high levels of caffeine be the more aggressive ones? Not uncovering all possible causes or even correlates creates some doubt as to whether the scientists presenting their findings as ‘fact’ should even be continued to be called scientists (Ferguson, 2009). Perhaps advocates would be a more fitting title.

Cozby (2009) presents pseudoscience as a bullet list of things to watch for. Anderson et al. (2003), fits this bill nicely, as Ferguson (2009) points out. The hypotheses are not falsifiable, there is high citation bias (e.g., conflicting results are ignored), results are highly dependent on intuition and personal beliefs (or the beliefs of those funding the research), and results are never revised or updated. This is not science. It is pseudoscience.

Ferguson, conversely, presents all sides of the argument, but follows his statements up with facts and qualifies his personal opinions as his own. Those who present information to the public (e.g., the Hip Hop Messages or the Gerbner video) need to make clear their agenda and what information has been shown to be true versus what information is opinion or theory only. As Cozby (2009) points out, there are too many people who rely on intuition and authority alone, and only skepticism will lead to the empiricism that we ‘soft scientists’ yearn for in our field.


Anderson, C. A., Berkowitz, L., Donnerstein, E., Huesmann, L. R., Johnson, J. D., Linz, D., et al. (2003). The influence of media violence on youth. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 4(3), 81-110.Retrieved December 5, 2009 from http://www.psychologicalscience.org/pdf/pspi/pspi43.pdf.

Cozby, P. C. (2009). Methods in behavioral research (10th ed.) [Kindle version]. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Ferguson, C. J. (2009). Violent video games: Dogma, fear,and pseudoscience. Skeptical Inquirer, September/October.

Giles, D. (2010). Psychology of the media. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Izawa, S., & Nomura, S. (2006). The relationship of hostility to health related behaviors, obesity, and hypertension in adolescence. Japanese Journal of Health Psychology, 19(2), 11-11-19. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/621664203?accountid=10868

Jaffe, Y., Malamuth, N., Feingold, J., & Feshbach, S. (1974). Sexual arousal and behavioral aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30(6), 759-759-764. doi:10.1037/h0037526

Johnson, S. (2005). Everything bad for you is good. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group.

Wilson, J. F., Nugent, N. R., Baltes, J. E., Tokunaga, S., Canic, T., Young, B. W., . . . . (2000). Effects of low doses of caffeine on aggressive behavior in male rats. Psychological Reports, 86(3), 941-941-946. doi:10.2466/PR0.86.3.941-946

*George Gerbner, The Killing Screens: Media & the Culture of Violence http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PHxTr-59hE

*Hip Hop Messages http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjxjZe3RhIo

You Can’t Tell Me What To Do: Public Perception of Media

Many studies have been conducted attempting to correlate media with negative (and to a smaller degree, positive) effects on things like personality, cognitive processes (e.g., learning), temperament, eating habits, socialization, etc. The effects themselves are not necessarily the measure of whether we cling to new media like varnish to wood or shake our proverbial sticks at them; public perception is. (Giles, 2010)

When instincts and assumptions take over research, not only do we have issues like confirmation bias and experimenter bias; we have an influx of studies that may hold us back from progression. Numerous research articles claim to have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that video games cause aggression. Of course, without studying confounding variables (e.g., previously existing aggression issues, abuse, socioeconomic upbringing, etc.), we cannot make these claims with any certainty. (Johnson, 2005)

One of the most drilled lessons in a Foundations of Psychology course that I took in undergrad, is that when you look for something, you are likely to find it: when you look to negate something; you learn something better.


Giles, D. (2010). Psychology of the media. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Johnson, S. (2005). Everything bad is good for you: How today’s popular culture is actually making us smarter. New York: Riverhead Books.

Article Discussion: HOMER as an Acronym for the Scientific Method

This week’s article is VERY exciting to me. It discusses the use of mnemonics (acronyms in particular) in the retention of academic material (specifically the scientific method). There are several reasons this article excited me.

Acronyms may be the most well known mnemonic device around. Any little girl who played MASH has used an acronym. Gamers who have ever referred to an ‘MMORPG’ or ‘WOW’, or (my current favorite) ‘LOL’, have used acronyms. We see it every day in ‘textese’. In elementary school, we used acrostics as a way of introducing ourselves to others, or on those homemade Mother’s Day cards, just in cause our mom’s forgot who we were. Though there are mnemonics that I, personally, use more often, acronyms work for all grade levels, is often used with individuals with learning disabilities, and can be spontaneously and deliberately used for information retention and presentation (Scruggs & Mastropieri, 2000).

Mnemonics would even work for HJS

These researchers presented the acronym HOMER (as in, Homer Simpson), as a method of remembering the scientific method: hypothesize, operationalize, measure, evaluate, replicate/revise/report.

Though they discuss, in true to research fashion, the limits of their research (and yes, they actually conducted empirical research… which totally made me laugh out loud), they found that students consistently remember the material better when using this particular acronym. The purpose of the article seems to be not the praise-singing of memory mnemonics, but specifically the use of HOMER in any psychology courses during which the scientific method will be presented. They also made sure to measure (the M in HOMER) the enjoyment that students got out of using this acronym.

My favorite thing about this article is that the researchers turned it into a full on study. They produced statistics (presented in their results, but I won’t present them here), discussed the limitations of their research (e.g., different instructors, no random assignment, etc.), and show how something that seems so small or intuitive, can still be (and should be) presented using the very acronym they’re teaching.

And you thought learning psychology couldn’t be fun. Sheesh.



Lakin, J., Giesler, R., Morris, K., & Vosmik, J. (2007). HOMER as an acronym for the scientific method.  Teaching of Psychology34(2), 94-96.

Scruggs, T. E., & Mastropieri, M. A. (2000). The effectiveness of mnemonic instruction for students with learning and behavior problems: An update and research synthesis. Journal of Behavioral Education, 10(2-3), 163-163-173. doi:10.1023/A:1016640214368


Research Article #2: Motivations for Play in Online Games

In this article by Nick Yee (2006), a questionnaire is used to determine whether Bartle’s Player Types (Bartle, 1996) translates from MUDs to MMORPGs. The results are something to get excited about (for me, at any rate), however not surprising.

“… Bartle’s Player Types is a well-known player taxonomy…” that needed to be, “… validated with and grounded in empirical data.” This is exactly what Yee set out to do with his research.

Yee sent out these 40 questions to MMORPG players via online groups for players of EQ, SW Galaxies, Ultima Online, and Dark Ages of Camelot (the last of which I’ve never even heard of). I wonder if the results would be the same for exclusively WOW players. Also, I wonder how the WOW players’ scores would compare with people who play primarily games that are not MMORPGs.

You know I HAD to look it up...

It is well assumed that there are a variety of reasons that people choose to game. Furthermore, there are a variety of reasons people choose the platforms and types of games they do. While it stands to reason that this would be the case, there are those (myself included) who love seeing empirical data suggest what they already feel is a safe assumption. Social psychologists would argue, I suspect, that often the things we take for granted as being truth is, in fact, closer to the opposite of what we suppose. A good example of this is the supposition that people would get off the phone quicker if they knew someone was waiting to use it. Those who are naysayers of the kindness of the entire human race, of course, know differently. We’re greedy, and we like having things that others don’t have.

Back to the topic at hand, though. Yee’s research is, as a matter of fact, the study that I’m hoping to replicate in my next at bat. His procedures provide me with a set of guidelines, and the findings give me an idea of what I’m looking for.

In Table 1 of the article, Yee displays the “Subcomponents revealed by the factor analysis grouped by the main component they fall under”. The main components are bolded, with the subcomponents and examples of them following:



  • Progress
  • Power
  • Accumulation
  • Status


      • Numbers
      • Optimization
      • Templating
      • Analysis


      • Challenging Others
      • Provocation
      • Domination



      • Casual Chat
      • Helping Others
      • Making Friends


      • Personal
      • Self-Disclosure
      • Find and Give Support


      • Collaboration
      • Groups
      • Group Achievements



      • Exploration
      • Lore
      • Finding Hidden Things


      • Story Line
      • Character History
      • Roles
      • Fantasy


      • Appearances
      • Accessories
      • Style
      • Color Schemes


    • Relax
    • Escape from Real Life
    • Avoid Real-Life Problems

Research Article Review #1: Demograpic Factors and Playing Variables in Online Computer Gaming

Last year, I embarked on what I’m hoping will be a lifetime of learning. Media Psychology is what I am passionate about, and I have done research in my specific focus of interest; gaming. Part of the challenge of research into gaming psychology, is the plentiful research into gaming and aggression (more on that eventually), and a lack of much else. I decided I was interested into possible correlations between gaming habits (e.g., game choice, online vs. local play, content, etc.) and personality (openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism) or motivation. My first study conducted measured online vs. local game play preferences as a function of level of extroversion. I will post that study soon.

As part of that research, I looked at a wide variety of previous research on gaming and came across some very interesting research. One of the articles that helped me the most was this one by Mark D. Griffiths, Ph.D., Mark N.O. Davies, Ph.D., and Darren Chappell, B.Sc.. It gives demographic information about gamers and some other variables. Though this study is only done with EQ gamers, and computer gaming (not necessarily console gaming), it provides a good blueprint for further research into demographics.

This article presents research conducted via online questionnaire. Questions were asked measuring how much time gamers spent playing, whether they had to give anything up (like sleep or school focus), whether gamers were married, how old they are, gender, etc. What they came up with may or may not surprise you. Though the article is definitely worth a read because it provides insight into the specific methods and materials used for the research, as well as the reasoning behind the research, I will quickly summarize their findings, but you can find the full article here.

  • 81% male
  • 19% female
  • .01% unspecified
  • 8% 12-17 years
  • 59% 18-30 years
  • 22% 31-40
  • 8% 41-50
  • 3% over 50
Player Nationality
  • 77% North American (US and Canada)
  • 20% European (12% overall from UK)
Marital Status
  • 55.5% single
  • 1.5% separated
  • 3% divorced
  • 30% married
  • 10% living with partner
  • 29% current or recently graduated undergrad student
  • 13% postgraduate qualifications
  • 23.5% some college
  • 20% schooling through 16 years (high school)
  • .5% no schooling after age 11
  • 28.7% IT related
  • 20% students
  • 6.9% unemployed
  • remained in various fields including (but not limited to) armed forces, lawyers, tradesmen, unlisted, etc.
Playing History
  • average playing history 27.2 months
Playing Frequency
  • average frequency per week 25 hrs
Favorite Online Gaming Features
  • 24% social game
  • 10.2% grouping together
  • 10% guild membership
  • 6.9% assisting noobs (my term, not theirs)
  • 6.5% playing solo
  • 5.7% magic use
  • 5.4% hand to hand combat
  • 5.2% role playing
  • 3.3% pvp
  • 12.2% other
Least Favorite Online Gaming Features
  • 18.7% immaturity of other players
  • 15.4% selfishness of other players
  • 14.8% camping
  • 13.3% slow levelling
  • 13.1% pvp
  • 5.9% loss of experience after death
  • 4.4% hand to hand combat
  • 3.7% solo play
  • 1.9% role playing
  • 1.7% team play
  • 1.7% assisting noobs
  • .2% magic use
  • 5.2% other
Activities Sacrificed to Play
  • 22.8% nothing
  • 25.6% other hobbies
  • 18.1% sleep
  • 9.6% work/education
  • 10.4% socializing with friends
  • 5.4% socializing with partner
  • 4.6% family time

The author suggests further research may include studies including players of other games, as demographics reported here may be specific to type of game and medium used for playing. In other words, this study was done specifically with EQ players, and doesn’t necessarily generalize to all kinds of gamers. It is a stepping stone.

I chose this article because Dr. Griffiths has done a lot of research into different gaming related variables, and I appreciate that his research is objective. There are those who are pining for the death of gaming, while several studies have shown it is not the seeming evil and aggression CAUSING (ugh) hobby it has previously been labeled. There are benefits to game use, and since we cannot (and some of us don’t want to) get rid of it, I believe understanding more about those who play, and their reasons for doing so, will help us mold it into the tool it could be.