Social Construction

Considering matters of ability and disability, and various other categorizations that society imposes on us, one realizes that this system of labeling is extremely biased and restricting, and negatively impacts individuals’ quality of life in a targeted way. Individuals are all unique in their own right, so sorting people into rigid groups is inherently flawed. Beyond this, one category is typically favored over others. This, of course, is problematic because society is built to accommodate only the needs of this select group of people on the basis of false value. And individuals who fall outside of this group are harmed by this because they are forced to live in an environment that does not encourage them to thrive as they inherently could. I think it’s important to consider that there are many, many ways to live life well, and to foster an environment that encourages and embraces this. Labeling does not have to have a negative connotation so long as labels are considered fluid and flexible in definition and insufficient for capturing and considering an individual’s unique experience.

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Space

I went to a coffee shop earlier today that I hadn’t been to previously. It was inside of an old renovated house, which immediately made it feel welcoming. Inside, there were a lot of different seating options scattered around in a cozy space, which made it a little overwhelming to navigate at first, but easy enough to adjust to ultimately. There were lots of windows that allowed sunlight and fresh air to pour in, which made the space feel spacious and easy to breathe in. The warmth and openness of the environment was mirrored in the actions of the people working there. All of them were lively and chatty, conversing both among themselves and with many of the customers. There was a clear continuity among all of the people in the space, which made it all the more easy and comfortable to be in. Ultimately, the loud music playing in the background kept interrupting my train of thought; focusing on my work became a little difficult, which prompted me to leave. On my way out, one of the baristas called after me and told me to enjoy the rest of my day, which left me with a warm feeling and the thought that I’d like to come back again soon.

Science and News

I came across a New York Times article on smoking cessation entitled “Quitting Smoking Cold Turkey May Be Your Best Bet,” which cited a study by Lindson-Hawley et al (“Gradual Versus Abrupt Smoking Cessation”). Generally, they did a good job reporting the findings of the original research, which suggested that quitting smoking immediately is ultimately more effective than doing so gradually, on average. The article even cites the success rates of each group by percentage, presenting a seemingly unbiased depiction of the results. However, the article’s word choice, starting with the title, paints a scientifically inaccurate picture. Though the differences in success rates of the two groups are relatively slight and likely dependent on various other factors, the article’s title seems to assert that abrupt cessation is ideal for all individuals (which presents a markedly different message than the scientific publication’s neutral title). The news article opens up by implying that immediate cessation is certainly the more effective route to take, while the researchers note that gradual cessation shows promise as well. Overall, the article is successful in putting forth the relevant evidence, but could be more careful with phrasing.

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NYT article: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/03/17/quitting-smoking-cold-turkey-may-be-your-best-bet/

Research article:  http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2501853

Uniquely Human

I think many things that could be considered “uniquely human” have to do with cognitive capacity. This might include capacity for self-awareness, the ability to reflect on one’s own experiences and adjust behavior accordingly. Related to this, humans are unique in that they can have a mental concept about ideas and phenomena without actively interacting with relevant stimuli. This means that humans can engage with abstract concepts, communicate with others about them, and even come up with novel ideas that do not have any connection to objective reality. Having this kind of mental capacity enables humans to act in their environment differently than non-human animals. Specifically, human behavior is less tied to the present and has more to do with preparing for future goals and endeavors. The uniqueness of humans also includes the ability to attribute mental states to other individuals. Accordingly, human social interaction is unique in that it can involve engaging with reality through another person’s perspective. These ideas are from what I have learned and discussed in various psychology classes.

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Case Study: Jack

In this case study, various social circumstances likely mediate risk for future maladaptive behavior. Jack is one of five children, including an infant, so he may not be receiving as much attention as is necessary for him to manage his impulsive behavior well. This may be exacerbated by the fact that, though there are two primary caregivers at home, his mother is struggling with substance abuse. One may also argue that his father’s absence may have taken a psychological toll on him, whether Jack himself is consciously aware of this or not. All of these factors may interact in contributing to his reactive behavior, which may perpetuate and interfere with personal progress without intervention.

Of course, other psychosocial factors are protective in Jack’s case. His grandmother’s presence is evidently positive, as she is proactive in seeking extra care for Jack’s circumstance. His academic performance points to a promising ability to succeed in school. Further cultivating these factors may put Jack on a positive trajectory behaviorally as well. Implementing concrete techniques for shaping behavior could be an effective way to do this. Namely, Jack’s caregivers may reward him consistently for positive improvements in behavior. They would need to be careful to specify the kinds of changes they are looking for. For instance, they could aim to reduce the total number of times that Jack says inappropriate things or lashes out at others. Accordingly, both Jack and his caregivers can be equally engaged in the process and follow his progress in a concrete way.

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The BPS Model & Predicting Behavior

The biopsychosocial model is valuable for assessing behavior because it considers a variety of possible contributing factors. This is important for observing humans and predicting future outcomes, as experience varies on an individual basis and does not occur in a vacuum. In other words, simply considering the genetic profile of an individual may not paint an accurate picture of his tendency to engage in aggressive behavior later on. The predictive value of genes is in their level of expression, which depends on environmental factors (namely, the psychological and social components of the biopsychosocial model). Accordingly, someone who has inherited a gene that is implicated in aggressive behavior may be predisposed to act aggressively, but whether or not he actually does is a function of his experiences at home and in school, especially those that facilitate such behavior. Notably, two individuals with similar genetic backgrounds may exhibit distinct behavioral tendencies due to differences in experience. Thus, considering psychological and social factors alongside biological ones arguably provides a more nuanced view of an individual’s circumstance, and increases predictive power.

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Psychopathy in the Media

I think the media and popular culture shape the way we understand terms like “psychopath” in a big way, especially because the general public typically is not exposed to them in any other context. Through the media, I see psychopaths as individuals with crazed eyes, anti-social personalities, and the sole intention to harm others. There is a lack of humanity associated with such individuals, as if the label “psychopath” rids them of any redeeming characteristics. We hear the term “psycho” thrown around as an insult, making it less of a psychological phenomenon and more of a dooming quality. While negative attributes may be inherent to the definition of the term, there is undoubtedly a side to the story that is left out as the media tells it. So, while I, and many others, may be negatively biased in our understanding of the term psychopath, the fact that the term is attached to real people with real experiences is worth exploring prior to drawing any conclusions about its meaning.

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#unamused

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Social media’s role in the museum is to give people the power to make sense of art for themselves. In the context of our trip to the Carlos Museum, I went in with the intention of observing the art and capturing it in a way that suited the time and place we currently live in. In this way, curation allows art to take on different meanings depending on audience and context. By tagging this image with the hashtag above, I am able to tell a story through it that is relevant specifically to the culture of the present. Another individual may look at it and frame it in a different way, making the work limitless in its capacity to affect people. For instance, while my presentation might be through a comedic frame of mind, someone else could choose to elicit a more serious tone with a different caption. Capturing this work within the frame of social media gives it another life that is separate to the one it lives inside the museum.

Banksy and Political Satire

Political satire is a valuable tool for criticizing society because it opens up another avenue for considering different perspectives and ideas. I think political satire can be considered an art form, and art has the power to create images that evoke emotions and facilitate awareness among viewers in ways that other mediums of communication do not. In regards to Banksy’s Exit, the meaning of the production and the intentions of the producers are largely open to interpretation, which makes it especially intriguing. In fact, the success of the work is arguably in the conversation evoked about the film as much as the film itself, especially regarding its authenticity.

Many critics of the film question whether or not it was a complete fabrication on Banksy’s part. Their fixation with this possibility has to do with their knowledge about Banksy, whose main artistic purpose is social commentary and who is known for his illusiveness. I think their awareness of Banksy’s background prompts critics to observe his work skeptically. The significance of this is that Banksy seemingly wants his audience to be critical of society and art and commercialization in exactly this way.

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Rules for Girls

Smile! Not too big though. Always wear makeup! That’s too much. Now it’s too little. Work hard! Not too hard. You’ll have a family to take care of. Have a sense of humor! Not that kind of humor. Boys don’t like that. Wear this outfit! Wait, no, too revealing. Be nice! Not too nice. No one likes a pushover. Show some emotion! Don’t be so emotional. Have some confidence! She’s so bossy. Watch your weight! Too skinny. Too fat. Sit still! Quiet! Legs crossed! Eyes down!

What about the boys? Boys will be boys!

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