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Androgynous, Ash Chambers

Androgyny refers to a quality of mixed feminine and masculine (traditionally speaking) traits in a single person.

A good example of andgrogyny is my boyfriend and I. We both have quite a few masculine and feminine traits. For example, I love to do extreme sports. I get filthy, risk my limbs, and don’t bother with ‘dressing up’ when I go do these sports. I also love to play video games and often ‘hang with the boys’ playing call of duty. I also have feminine traits of enjoying hair and make up when I go out with friends, reading romance, and talking about my feelings. My boyfriend is a great communicator and often asks me to be more forthcoming with my emotions. He also hasn’t cried himself in years and enjoys every sport you can think of.

We make good examples of androgyny because we illustrate a mixture of gender traits. While these traits are more gender typed because of culture than sex, they are still considered gender traits. And we exhibit a good mix of both.

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Retelling, Ash Chambers

Retelling is when a person relates a previous experience, often adding embellishments or other changes to enhance the story. 

My personal experience with this is when I accidentally broke my boyfriend’s nose. It was a complete accident. He tickled me, I slipped, and I elbowed him in the face. I play ice hockey, as does he, but this means I have strong elbows. So, when I hit it, blood gushed out and it’s been crooked ever since. However, when he retells this story with the added changes such as how I ‘abuse him’ or ‘was mad’ or some other way to make me look bad. He usually tells the truth after having a laugh about it, but it drives me nuts that he always does this. 

This is a good example of retelling because my boyfriend clearly is making changes to an event that he remembers clearly. He knows it’s not true, but he does it anyway. This is different than misinformation. 

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Social Norm Violation, Ash Chambers

One of the interesting norms of our society is how people should dress in given situations. Factors such as modesty, weather, flamboyancy, gender, and many others, all contribute towards what is ‘appropriate’ attire. So, for my social norm violation, I decided to disobey the rules of dress.

When me and my friends went out for dinner, I donned a Greek toga instead of ‘normal clothes’. I wore an over the shoulder greek toga with gladiator sandals. I also had a leaf crown, though I did not wear it the entire time (it was uncomfortable). This outfit was slightly immodest, too breezy for how cold it was, and incredibly flamboyant/out of place in the restaurant. In other words, it was a clear violation of the norms of dress.

A lot of people stared. Okay, everyone stared. Everyone who saw me shot me a questioning glance. This sometimes was followed by a chuckle, sometimes a high-five or congratulations on my clothing, or a look of disgust. Some people seemed so perplexed that they just couldn’t stop staring, with no visible reaction at all. Most of all, I was surprised by the amount of complements I got. Many people said they liked my outfit. It was not exactly the ‘violation’ I expected–I expected it to be a little more controversial.

Despite the majority of positive feedback I received, I still felt a bit uncomfortable. I have never been a big fan of many eyes on me at once. So I felt a bit hot and out of sorts throughout the evening. Every so often I would let out a nervous laugh when given a compliment. However, I eventually enjoyed it. I may not be an attention seeker, but I definitely enjoy going against the norm. It was hard to think up what to do for this project because I so often go out of my way to be ‘different’ (in a good way, I hope). I am a low social monitor, so I probably violate norms quite often. But this was such a big, intentional, and odd display, that it helped me feel that discomfort I used to feel when I was younger. When violating norms meant more to me. It got me thinking that we all have our comfort zones, and unless we push past them, violating a norm won’t bother you much. But this did push past my comfort zone, and I could not help but feel a little embarrassed.

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My Stressors, Ash Chambers

There are many different theories behind what exactly stress is. It’s a dynamic and intangible construct that has been defined thousands of times, with varying and diverse definitions. However, some general theories have arose from this clutter of descriptions. The stimulus theory of stress defines stress as significant, arousal inducing life events that give rise the the stress responses that can damage mental/physical health.

I’ve always been attracted to the stimulus theory of stress because I have personally experienced the legitimacy of this theory. For two years, non-stop, I experienced one significant event after the other. I was scoring impossibly high numbers on ‘stress scales’ that evaluated the number of significant events in my life. If I wasn’t prepping for surgery, I was dropping out of school, or losing friends because I was so ill. To be honest, I don’t want to disclose too much personal information over a blog. But, suffice it to say, I was not only severely ill, but experiencing new, emerging complications almost weekly. Every good news/bad news event was so significant and life altering at that stage of my life, that any kind of news left me tired, weak, frustrated, and defeated. I was so stressed out that I could barely function. 

You can look at stress as a response. You can try and give it fancy terms and descriptions. But for me, after experiencing what I described, I have a personal example of how heavily stress is defined by the events that trigger the unpleasant sensations associated with stress. It didn’t matter really how I was ‘looking at life’. I had buffers that could maybe help me deal with the stress. But I was completely at the mercy of those events. Dealing with the stress was an after defense–the stress itself was those events. And I could not stop them from happening. 

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Matching Up, Ash Chambers

There are many unspoken understandings about attraction in our culture. Reasons for couples getting together are guessed at by almost everyone, and many people claim to have understandings of coupling. One prominent theory that is seen in both social psychology and the general public is the Matching Hypothesis, where couples are presumed to pair up based on an equivocal physical attractiveness. When a couple is not equally physically attractive, we assume (often rightly) that the less attractive individual has other compensating qualities. 

A good illustration of this principle is the general reaction BYU students have to wedding announcements. As a wedding announcement is a single photographic depiction of the couple, the primary thing we see is the physical attractiveness of the two. When our friend in the engagement is the more attractive one, we often initially think things such as “she must have a great personality” or “he must have an amazing sense of humor”. And when our friend is the less attractive of the couple, we will think things such as “Good for him, he’s marrying up!” or “She really scored a good one!”. And when they are roughly equally attractive, we think that they are a good couple. Superficially speaking, we are very tuned into the slight attraction differences between couples. We base our assessment of the couple compatibility on physical attraction, and, if we sense a imbalance, we assume there must be other qualities that person has to ‘make up’ for their lack of attractiveness. 

This example illustrates our basic understanding of the matching hypothesis. When evaluate couple compatibility, we assume that person should/should not be in a relationship with another based on their relative physical attraction. We are all familiar with this ‘matching phenomenon’, whether or not we are consciously aware of it. Receiving a wedding announcement, we judge if that couple is appropriately matched. And we are surprised when they ‘are not’. 

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Fainting Fancies, Ash Chambers

When people are confronted with situations where others need help, our behaviors are not always in line with what we would like. A startling example of this is the bystander effect, which is essentially that we are less likely to help those who need it if there are other people around us. 

I have low blood sugar–sometimes going a couple hours without food can have me near fainting. Before I figured out the basics of how to manage this (because I’m special, so I obviously couldn’t have just normal hypoglycemia), before I figured it out, I would faint a lot. I have had a few concussions from unexpected falls. Those were pretty rare though. More common was my vision was black out and I would get very dizzy and I would try to steady myself before a fainting spell happened. It was scary stuff-especially at school or other places with very hard floors. The odd thing was, when around many people, no one acknowledged my sudden drops/leans/or half tumbles. I would be hanging onto consciousness on a stair rail and people would push past me. But if there was only a couple people around, almost always someone would try and get me to a seat (as I had pretty obvious signs of ‘about to pass out’). 

This example demonstrates the bystander effect. When many people were around, I was completely ignored. I had actually fainted in class (luckily fell into a chair) and not a single person acknowledged it. But even slight tremors in the presence of few elicited unsolicited help. People were kind, helpful–what we would hope to receive. But when more ‘potential helpers’ were near by, I was out of luck–I was on my own.

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Hostile Aggression, Ash Chambers

Aggression may be the intentional physical/verbal harm of another person, but that is a pretty shallow definition. It doesn’t cover the many different types of aggression and doesn’t address why the aggression is committed. One of the more interesting aggression types is hostile aggressionwhich is aggression with the soul intent of the aggression itself. It’s aggression for aggression’s sake. 

I gave a presentation today on aggression, and I’m going to use the comic I drew for it.

 

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This story (Stan likes Stacey, tries to impress, gets frustrated by Steve, so he attacks him, then leaves into the sunset) is a good illustration of hostile aggression because it is a clean cut example of the steps. Essentially, a goal is frustrated. Rather than using aggression to attain that goal (in this case, Stacy), Stan behaves violently and aggressively against Steve, and is satisfied by that act alone. There was no other purpose for the aggression aside from the violence. This is what defines hostile aggression: aggression for aggression’s sake. 

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Sexism, Ash Chambers

Prejudice is at the heart of a lot of negative attitudes towards certain groups. These groups can be based on separating factors such as race, sexual orientation, or gender. Sexism is type of prejudice where negative attitudes and actions are aimed towards people of a given sex.

Almost everyone has experienced some form of sexism. An experience where people’s actions/attitudes towards you were more based on your sex than any personal quality you had. Unfortunately, the majority of my bad experiences with sexism was actually in the LDS church. It started in Young Women’s. The Young Men’s group would be provided with activities like paint balling and hikes. We had quilting and cleaning the church. It was demeaning and frustrating that our fun activities were ‘home maker’ preparations. When I got to BYU, I had experiences with home teachers and bishops saying that my goals for graduate studies were a ‘good backup’, in case anything happened to my husband. And when I was dealing with extremely serious health issues, some guys thought I must just be ‘cranky from my period’. And when I tried to find boys to play hockey with me or go mountain biking, the attributed my interest to romantic inclinations, because it ‘wasn’t normal’ for a girl to just be into those things.

Although these examples form more of a net of examples than a single instance, they well illustrate sexism today. I do not have too many glaring memories of outright, hostile sexism. It’s more tiny things that add up and up until they are unbearably demeaning. Many encounters with sexism can be benevolent–unintended and thought to be ‘good natured’. But this attitude still forms a basis for negative behaviors towards my sex. My individual qualities are often ignored in favor or an idea of ‘what a woman should be’. These negative attitudes and discrimination are what add up into sexism.

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Easy Rider, Ash Chambers

When in groups, people do not always try as hard as they can. In fact, sometimes team efforts can even lead individuals to put forth less effort than they normally would. The concept of social loafing describes this as when individuals are involved in additive tasks, they may perform more poorly than they would alone. And a more specific example of social loafing is called free riding, where individuals in groups get benefits without putting in much effort.

Everyone in school, work, or any part of real life has experienced this. A team member who does none of the work yet wishes to get full credit. There are too many examples in my own life for me even to count. But my favorite example happened to someone else. This boy and his group has a semester long project that required meeting at least once a week to put together a finished product of a paper. Every group member came to meetings, researched, wrote and edited for this paper… except one. One never came. Yet he continued to act as part of the group, hoping to get the grade. But, when the end of the semester came nearer, the group was required to fill out evaluations of fellow teammates. Before this, they had no idea that they were getting evaluated at all and thought it was a uniform grade. But they took the opportunity. The group thought the guy deserved a 0%, for zero work. Angry, he insisted he did a lot of work editing the paper over googledocs. So, the group leader looked through the access records, and found he had fixed two spelling errors. (The most hillarious part of this story is that he totaled the paper’s words, divided out the two spelling errors, and then offered the boy the 0.05% credit that his efforts were worth.)

This is example highlights the social problems that free riding causes. Individuals in groups feel that mere group presence and minimal contribution justifies them receiving full credit. They free load off others hard work and expect greater returns. This boy was a free rider, and his group knew it. Luckily, they were given an opportunity and devised a way to see that his free riding failed. But, in the real world, free riders often succeed and receive benefits from community goods.

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The Recycling War, Ashley Chambers

Today I want to talk about conformity, which is how a persona will change their behaviors to match the common/’normal’ behavior in their group. People like to feel accepted and agreed with, so conformity is a quick shortcut to a feeling of belonging. However, there are factors that affect how likely a person is to conform, I want to focus on the idea of prior committment. Prior committment is when previous presentation of a behavior/attitude goes against the norms of the group, so he/she will be less likely to conform.

A good example of this is what I refer to as the ‘Great Recycling War’. It took place in one of my apartments during my early BYU time. Coming from Portland, Oregon, I am a bit of a hippy compared to the average BYU student. Some of my behaviors seem odd/out of place, or even disruptive to some people. One such case was my insistence on recycling. I asked my roommates if it would be ok for me to put a small recycling bin next to our trash can. I would be responsible for taking the recycling to the plant and it would not be their worry. I cared very much for recycling and I made it clear that I was all too happy to do the chore if it meant less garbage.

Well, one roommate took particular offense to this idea and grouped up with those who were slightly opposed. She aggressively voiced that the apartment did not want/need a recycling bin. I ended up sacrificing my pantry floor space to create ‘room’. I was already very committed to my need to recycle. I had made it clear that it was important to me. And I wasn’t going to be bullied into changing that–even at the risk of incurring some roommate wrath and aggression.

While my behavior may not have been conducive to inter-roommate relations, it certainly is a good example for how prior commitment affects our likelihood to conform to the group. I had already made my position clear, before I realized the most of the group did not want to recycle. Thus, I stuck to my guns and stubbornly sorted through the trash to get that recycling. I would not conform to the situation. Had I known their dislike for the idea before I used the bin… maybe I would have been less likely to stick to my guns.

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Foot in Cinderella’s Door–Ashley Chambers

Behaviors can affect our attitudes in a variety of ways. One well known method is the Foot in the Door Phenomenon, which is the tendency for people who have first agreed to a small request to comply later with a larger request. For example, when a salesman is able to get into a house for a drink of water, it’s easier to score sales. Because the host has already accepted the first request.

My family used to call me Cinderella. I am not joking. I had three older sisters who took priority in the parenting chain and it often fell to me to do household chores. In fact, one time my sisters were laughing and teasing me about being Cinderella, and then they paused, looked at each other, and said, “Oh my gosh, we’re the evil step sisters.”

I didn’t choose to be Cinderella. I am not really sure if it was even a conscious manipulation on my Mother’s part. But she sure knew how to use the foot in the door technique. She would ask me to dust real quick before going skateboard. So I’d dust–and then she’d ask if I wouldn’t mind vacuuming. And after I finished vacuuming, she’d ask if I would clean the bathroom. Eventually she’d have me clean the entire house. Sometimes she got me to cook dinner too. When I only thought I was going to dust. The house would be sparkling, when I had no intention of making it so originally. But by her slight nudging, getting me to agree to smaller things, she planted an attitude that made me completely accepting about doing the whole house. My initial attitude would have been to feel overworked and that the distribution of chores was unfair. But I agreed because I got trap in her foot in the door technique!

As I was saying, my transformation into complying Cinderella happened rather routinely due to my mother’s wielding of the foot in the door techniques. I wanted to be helpful, but I was also a teenager and wanted to play outside and see my friends. She shifted my slightly helpful attitude into completely willing servant because of her way of placing requests. She started small and then went larger. Eventually getting to comply with a vastly unfair amount of housework. Her impressive wielding of the technique is frightening. Glad to know I am the final child and have no need to protect younger siblings.

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Fundamental Attribution Error -Ashley Chambers

When individuals attempt to evaluate and explain the behaviors of others, they are executing the process of attribution. Essentially, attribution is the process of explaining the behaviors of both ourselves and others around us. However, often we are self-biased in our attributions, and tend to differ in self attributions and others’ attributions. Fundamental Attribution Error describes our innate tendency to determine others’ behaviors as personality-based rather than situationally based. Meaning we overestimate personality’s contribution to the behavior and undervalue situational circumstances.

My personal experience with this concept was rather unpleasant. I had been very ill for about a year and required two surgeries and a rather unpleasant treatment. The surgeries were abdominal and I had a tumors excised. Moving around is important within days of the surgery, to boost the immune system and reduce scar tissue. So, with the help of my visiting mother, I was trying to ‘run’ errands. Walking was painful, I was weak, and on morphine. We tried me holding onto the cart in Walgreens, and I fainted and ended up tearing one of my sutures. So, in our next outing, we determined that I needed to utilize my handicap placard. As I was getting into a motorized cart, a woman in a walking cast insisted that I get out. I would have protested, but another cart was being driven up and I just got into that one. I was too weak to argue. Well, this woman said some rather rude things to me as I did. And, leaving the store, she shouted at me (very loudly, drawing attention of others) how ‘rude I was’ to ‘take those carts away from people who actually need them’.

Apparently, because I had no visible deformities, she thought I was a lazy, inconsiderate kid. She had no consideration for what my illness/injury situation was, and assumed that I was being thoughtless. It probably didn’t help that I was so weak and taken aback by her unbelievable behavior, that I did not really try to correct her. Perhaps if I had lifted my shirt and shouted back ‘did you have a tumor cut out this week too?’, she might have been kinder. However, ultimately, she refused to consider any situational circumstances that would persuade me to use a store’s motorized cart. She made broad assumptions about my personality. It was an upsetting experience with everything else I was dealing with, but a perfect example of the fundamental attribution error. She made a gross error in her attribution assessment of my behavior, and regarded my behavior as entirely due to my personality.

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Basking in Reflected Glory -Ashley Chambers

There are behavioral aspects of the self that are executed in a manner to defend, preserve, and enhance our positive self view. One of these behavioral strategies is basking in reflected glory. This behavioral strategy relates to how we identify and associate ourselves with relevant groups. People tend to leech on to groups that are doing successfully (and thus claiming some success for themselves) and tend to distance themselves from failing groups (to avoid attachment to that failure.

My personal encounter with this subject is largely my experience in my family growing up. Each of my siblings exemplify high achievement in different areas, partially to gain attention from our parents. My mother and father had a tendency to utilize the ‘basking in reflected glory’ strategy with their children–highlighting, focusing, and bragging about achievements and ignoring if failing or even just not succeeding. They would highly associate themselves with a child if she was particularly succeeding at the time (focusing in on how their parenting led to that success). But, in moments of failure or below average performance, they would distance themselves from that sibling and voice their dislike for her ‘independence’ or ‘stubbornness’. I am sure all parents do this to some degree, but there was a particularly strong presence of this behavioral strategy in my home growing up.

My parents association/distancing strategies with succeeding/failing children is a clear illustration of the ‘basking in reflected glory’ concept. Their defensive strategy preserved their positive views of both themselves alone and their roles as parents. Thus they enhanced and defended their self concepts. By separating oneself from failure of a child, a parent can attribute blame to that child. But when the child succeeds, they will be more likely to leech onto that success and partially attribute it to themselves.

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The Correlation Says So, Ash Chambers

The general understanding of what information Correlational Research can provide is varied and sometimes out right awful. Not everyone understands it. A correlational study investigates the relationship between two (or more) variables–two factors that can change. Researchers measure these variables and can use math to determine if they change in a related manner. If they vary closely enough, it is determined that they have a significant relationship and that one variable can predict the other. However, this does not in any way convey that the two variables affect one another. This is because causation (a cause and effect relationship) cannot be inferred from a correlational study. It has predictive value only.

A recent experience with this concept was a rather funny picture I stumbled upon. Many people online that work/study outside the realm of math/science often mistakenly assume that correlation means causation. This picture takes an assortment of random correlations that do covary, but are in no way related to one another. It’s basically poking fun at the general misunderstanding of correlational research. To take a peek at the picture, click here.

This picture well illustrates the confusion that the general public experiences when evaluating correlational research. While some correlational studies are good start-points for later experimentation, some have little scientific value. But because it has the ‘math’ and ‘sound’ of what people consider science, they buy into it. The picture is pointing out various incidents that are clearly unrelated yet correlate well. Meaning that you could get just as strong a correlation from unrelated variables as you could get from interrelated variables. Correlational studies cannot account for all factors that go into events–it can only report the amount included in the study. A big problem of this is that it ignores confounding variables. Not to mention that it is also impossible to determine the direction of a relationship, even if it seems apparent that one exists. The author of this picture sought to convey this flaw by using many incomparable and laughable variables. But even though this is humor, he/she is hitting on the biggest danger of correlational research. Although it can help identify possible relationships and can support ideas, it can in no way be relied on as definitive evidence or suitable to infer causation. It is only a description, sometimes a predictive tool, but nothing more.


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