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“Breaking Social Norms – Eating on the floor”by Samuel Ramos

I actually did this right in the beginning of this term. I wasn’t really thinking about breaking any social norms when I realized during lunch time the cougarette food court was actually very crowded, considering it was spring term. I then bought spaghetti with alfredo sauce from the italian fast food restaurant and decided to eat it on the floor. To make it more interesting, I sat on a table where there was two other guys chatting. I asked them if I could join them, but instead of sitting on the chair, I sat on the floor and pulled out a chair to set my food on it. In order to make this more fancy I dumped my spaghetti on a tin foil paper and started eating with my hands. 

I didn’t try to talk to any of the guys. Not that they really would want to do that, since I proved to be a weirdo after that. They were looking at me a lot, and clearly laughing and making comment about me. People around my table also couldn’t hide their smiles (or laughs). No one approached me, or joined our table. For me, I confess I was kind of nervous at first, but after the first five minutes I didn’t really care anymore. I ate happily and slowly. Although I never received so many funny or weird looks with such frequency in my entire life, I found it interesting to notice how people expect the normal and want to be adequate to avoid feeling left out. 

Oh before I forget, at the end of my meal I former mission companion saw me and came over to chat, I could see his confused eyes as he greeted me. At first I didn’t say anything and chatted normally for a couple of minutes, then I told him ” by the way, I usually eat seated on a chair and use a table and plate.”He responded “oh, thats great”. I explained to him the purpose of this but I’m not sure he believed me. Maybe he actually thinks I’m a weirdo. But that’s okay, I guess. After all, wasn’t this the purpose of this experiment anyways (it even rhymed)?

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“Lies become Truth” by Samuel Ramos

I would like to talk about retelling. Basically, this tendency occurs whenever we retell a experience we might have had or a story we heard from someone else differently than the original event. Often times, we exaggerate to make it more believable or dramatic. That way, we get more attention and seem more interesting in the view of other people. Although, this also might happen unintentionally. In several studies, researchers found that people most of the time never accurately describe a past event in the same way after telling these stories over time. 

I fall into this trap sometimes, maybe for lack of confidence or simply to feel socially accepted, I’ve shared past experiences with added drama to get more attention from my friends and also to be seen as a funnier person than I actually am. I catch my wife doing the same thing as I hear her telling her arm injury story to friends. frequently I would I think, “my goodness, she didn’t really suffer that much”. On the other hand, I’ve already noticed that… I do the same thing! 

Finally, I honestly believe that life as it is, doesn’t produce that many fascinating and exciting story telling events to be shared around our social cycle. That’s when we thrown our own twist to it and make it sound nicer than it actually was. Now, although there are experiences that can cause people to like them, we perhaps want to ensure that others will really like the story we are telling them by putting together out own little version of what happened. 

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“Stress Stress” by Samuel Ramos

It is hard to measure the amount of stress we all go through in our day-to-day activities. It is also difficult to notice the outcomes in our behavior stemming from stressful circumstances. However, if I was to define stress in a short sentence I would say that it comprises everyday irritating, distressing, and frustrating demands that define interactions with our environment. It was also studied by Holmes-Rahe social readjustment that 70% of individuals involved in the study began to show signs of physical illness. Whether we react physically or emotionally to different stressors, it is important to note that it does occur differently in every individual.

For me, I don’t think I can point out from the top of my head any specific reaction from stress. I almost believe I avoid stress as much as possible and don’t bother about a lot of things as probably I should’ve. Therefore, not dying over things that didn’t work out in the past has been a great remedy to avoid evident frustration with my current behavior. Since stress is almost attached to our routines, I strongly work towards avoiding regretting unchangeable facts that occurred. If ye can’t change what we experienced previously objectively, why bother hitting the same key over and over again? I rather work towards a solution. I’m sure it is more effective and less stressful than complaining about how our life was or is bad due to past events. Below I also have a good example of what stress can cause.

In the link provided ahead, we can observe a very stressful person extremely raged about his life and especially his job. With all those stressors accumulated in his mind, this is how he choses to deal with it.

Like it was stated initially we all react in different ways to our different stresses, although these are a real phenomenon we can choose to take distinct paths to eliminate these from our lives. It is just a matter of using our agency, meaning we should not establish a mindset that tells us the world is the one acting upon us.

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“Self-Disclosure” by Samuel Ramos

This theory represents what made my marriage stable and successful so far. Right after we began dating I felt very comfortable sharing what could be considered “secrets”. Things about my past, my relationships with my family and inner thoughts that only few people or no one was able to hear about. What I just described is also know as Self disclosure. In more technical terms this trait can be defined as the ability to strengthen our relationship with one another based on the amount of intimate information is shared between each other (boyfriend & girlfriend or spouses). Self-disclosure will enhance trust in a relationship, thus enabling both parties to feel more comfortable with each others presence and ending up with more things and common. This will create a stronger support system in a friendship or love relationship.

Mr. Deeds and Emilio Lopez were closer friends after Deeds would share with him his secrets and more intimate thoughts and feelings. He was certainly drawn in to that, which towards the end of the show Emilio ends up inheriting all money from Deed’s uncle and he gives Deeds one billion dollars due to their close relationship over the weeks. Emilio shares with him his love for feet and Deeds talks about his frozen black foot. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCA0Lpy671g)

Throughout my teenage years my best friends were the ones who knew everything about me. They know what to do when I needed help or how to talk to me. Fortunately, this is the same process now that I’ve been married. I know a lot more about my wife than anyone else, and she also knows me incredibly well. This theory is indeed true, not only based on research but my through own experiences I’ve had so far.

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“Living an Altruistic Life” by Samuel Ramos

Altruism, the best gift we can bless someone with. It might be toward someone we love or one we are trying to love. In all honesty, it doesn’t matter who receives it, however what really counts is the act of giving away of our time and efforts to help our neighbor by expecting nothing in return. We all need to maintain this attitude so we can be ready to catch an opportunity as soon as we see it coming.

After being married for 2 years I’ve come to realize that altruism is applicable in almost everyday living with my spouse. Just recently, while my wife was in the application process for the MBA program at BYU, I was the one who had to spend more time cleaning the house and cooking dinners after work. At first it seemed very much a hassle, I didn’t feel like I had the time and thought I was wasting my time till I realized that this is what families are about. I never before had thought of the blessings I was receiving from walking the extra mile and carrying more load on my back than before so Carol could be successful in her study efforts.

In the end although my wife was accepted in the program, I was the one with the greatest reward. I’ve learned a little bit more about the importance of altruism and how it is necessary for social relationships to improve in a much faster pace.

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“Frustration-Agression Theory” by Samuel Ramos

This theory consists of frustration triggering acts of aggression in a person. In other words, after an individual becomes frustrated with someone he/she will be immediately acting aggressively in one way or another. After, being revised by someone theorists, we now learn that is possible to avoid such aggressive behaviors. Frustration is also important to define. According to our textbook, every time you are motivated and excited to accomplish a goal and something comes up blocking the realization of such, frustration is created. 

A good example of this theory is shown on the TV show “The Office” where Michael Scott and Toby Flenderson have a very unusual chemistry in their interactions with each other. This is mainly because Michael completely despises Toby every time he sees or has to deal with him. Just being around Toby, a aggression trigger is automatically activated to insult him in any way possible.

You can view this in the link provided below. 

As we were able to observe, a direct aggression was performed by Michael without any significant precedence of a purpose as to the reason he would treat Toby that way. Michael was simply bothered by his presence, and treated him badly thinking he was a bad person, when actually Michael only perceived the situation that way. 

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“Ethnocentrism” by Samuel Ramos

This is a very simple phenomenon with serious and complex implications to society. To put is even more simple term, Ethnocentrism is a type of prejudice that puts one ethnicity above all the other ones around. Sadly, throughout history it is common to notice these behaviors, and more recently with the nazis and European general perception on their superiority against black people.

After the entire nazi war accounts, the most despicable account I’ve read and really felt bad about it is found in the “Black like Me”book by John H. Griffin. Perhaps this is because in Brazil, where I grew up, we never had such segregation and humiliation recorded against black people in late history. To really know what kinds of circumstances black people at times lived in, the author decided to take anti-vitiligo oral drugs to darken his skin and to live among black people in southern United States in 1959. The report is astonishing. The bathrooms blacks could use were functional at all, not to say filthy and desease-friendly. Repression was of the charts. They could stand up for their rights cause that would cause everyone to be against them. They weren’t able to sit where they wanted in the bus, they could not speak to white people in some circumstances. Griffin, when given a ride by a white man, was severely humiliated by this man, who downgraded his intelligence just for the fact he was black, although the white man was wrong. These are but a few examples of oppression in those days.

In sum, it didn’t matter who you were or how nice you would act. You are black, therefore you are low, bad and stupid. How people get to that point? Environment, social learning, role models and parenting. Tests were already done to see the difference between black and white people, and off course no differences exist. I’m glad this conflict black and white people has improved significantly. Now the next step is for all of us learn to better distinguish arabs, iraqis and people from those areas and learn to separate between their beliefs, affiliations and nationality. I’m not saying we all think that way, but there are several citizens who openly discriminate the population from these countries without knowing much about them.

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“Deindividuation” by Samuel Ramos

This phenomenon has a very simple definition while it can be widely experienced by everyone in the world nowadays. Deinviduation is basically acting in a group of people differently that would act by yourself. This trait is somewhat different to what is known as Self-monitoring. The latter is referred as behaving according to what the group is pushing an individual towards, it has more to do with acceptance. In the case of deinviduation it is also defined as loosening normal constraints on behavior, thus leading to a tendency of impulsive and deviant behavior. The interaction as a system of people inside a group moves people to act differently.

As far as my experience when attending high school I can report that I really felt much more free and excited to go out and have fun in parties. I definitely couldn’t hide my excitement, and that was expressed through dum jokes and goofy behavior just because I was surrounded by my best friends which had a lot in common with me. Therefore I felt no constraints to my behavior, in fact I felt more liberty to just have fun. This happened all the way from my freshman to senior year before I graduated from High School.

In sum, I can attest to the fact that this really happens. For me at least, I didn’t have to be or feel anonymous to behave in a different manner. To put it simply, I felt happier and in peace with myself when in groups. If there are any cons about being in groups I would categorize them as minimal compared to what you can learn about yourself when interacting with others.

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“We love to be loved” by Samuel Ramos

This title purely represents the uttermost desire of every human being: the need to be well seen by others and to become accepted in a social group. Fortunately or not, this achievement comes through a phenomenon called conformity. This is characterized by a person’s modification of behavior that is consistent with norms of a desired group of affiliation. Since we all enjoy socializing we also tend to adapt to certain behaviors a group might require in order for us to become accepted.

Although, the most used example is school pressures and social interactions, I will still use this example since it really stands up to me till this day. When I was about 16 years of age I was in a rock band, therefore many of the people I hung out with had long hair and used constantly crude language. However, In spite of the fact I wasn’t too churchy, that was a big stretch for to get used to, but I liked to spent time with them so much, that I started to act the same way. After a couple of years I had long hair and I my language etiquette was pretty terrible. I think I was more like a slider in that instance by making my friends not really notice my change.

Interesting thing is that at the same time I felt kind of bad about lowering my standards, they were the only ones that were really there for me. My buddies were great people and really cared about each other. With that being told, I wonder how my friendship would have been if I had stood up firmly for what I believed and acted the way my mother raised me. In sum, conformity is exemplified in a church environment, work and family even. Therefore, we have to open our minds to new possibilities and be able to discern what activities and groups of people are actually good to add to our behavior in a positive manner.

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“Cultural Perspective on Gender” by Samuel Ramos

The best way to define gender is that involves social, cultural, and psychological aspects that belongs to habits, norms, roles and specially stereotypes considered typical and desirable for those who society has designated as female or male. Western culture still has these norms and stereotypes greatly ingrained in people. Going against these traits could mean social rejection and disfunction to people who are raised differently or even too liberally.
The more studies are done between differences between men and women, more similarities are found. Which is not surprising. Because of these similarities I find important that family culture instill in their children the importance of better representing their sex. Therefore, it is technically not too hard to raise our kids in the way we want them to be. In 4th grade there was this “guy”that would talk exactly like a girl, he would wear make up and do his nails colorfully. That happened in a city just outside Sao Paulo, Brazil, a very not so very gay friendly community in those days. His parents often motivated him to try out new products for his skin and hair, and to put it simply, he lived like a girl. Therefore, in my opinion his parents basically raised him that way and were happy with the decision. On the other hand, that kid was bullied heavily at school and he later on became depressed and had several issues till he went to college, where a more liberal environment is seen.
The example above shows not only that parents have immense influence in the way they raise their kids, but the similarities both sexes have can lead people to live several lifestyles if they are sorround by certain values. I’m not directly suggesting what is the right way to teach our family, but I just want to demonstrate how I truly support the theory of cultural theory of gender. Society in general has still maintained a few core values and perceptions of the purpose and characteristics of each sex. There is no coincidence that to defy that means rejection in a few aspects of your lives.

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“Social Roles” by Samuel Ramos

Social role is a set of connected behaviors, rights and obligation in a social situation. It usually is an expected or continuously changing behavior and may have a given individual social status and social position. In other words, when you see a professional soccer player in the field you would expect of him to be aggressive and strong throughout a match. The same applies to us students. We are expected to behave in a respectful manner in front of our instructor or professor.

An applicable example comes from “30 Rock” sitcom when VP Jack Donaughy works in Kenneth’s position as receptionist which includes doing menial errands for everyone. While Jack is trying to follow Kenneth around as his employee, he finds himself having a hard time accepting this job as something important for anyone to take part in. Kenneth in the other hand gets offended after Jack shares his frustration about running these meaningless errands.

The point is, everyone can either accept or deny their roles in society, but in order for companies and society to work effectively and efficiently roles need to be accepted. That is, of course, as long as it is contributing to the overall good. In sum, Roles keep us organized and engaged in improving our social status and significance to our community, not in a way of boasting, but in a way of contributing to others well-being.

Link: http://movies.netflix.com/WiPlayer?movieid=70136124&trkid=2361637

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“My Self-Esteem Dilemma” by Samuel Ramos (Post 2)

The term self-esteem is defined as our perception of the self. In other words, it is how we evaluate ourselves and perceive our self-worth. It is different for the concept of self-efficacy, which focuses instead in our perception of self-competence, or what we are capable of doing in specific circumstances. An important question to consider is if we look at our self-worth based on what others think about us? Or we believe that our self-worth will reflect what others think of us?

In my experience I’ve seen it happen to me pretty often. My wife is the one who brings this to my attention by means of sarcasm. She will imitate me when I ask her if how feels about her looks in a certain day, and she would say: “I look awful of course” Then she smiles cynically and lets me know this is exactly how I react every time I’m given the opportunity to rate myself. Although I don’t like how she points out this issue, I admit that after she is done that a few times I’ve become more aware of my low self-esteem tendencies. I do think I’m the least loved of my siblings by my parents. I think less of me when I compare myself to each member of my family. That also reflects on my self-efficacy, meaning I can’t imagine being capable of performing job tasks with competence and efficiency.
I have theories on how and where it started, but I prefer to comment that I’ve sensed an environmental influence in my perceiving of the self through social comparison. Because all my friends who are important in my social circle tell me so, I started to notice certain patterns that made me believe to a certain extent that I’m indeed not the favorite child in the family. Then I compare my friend’s relationship with their families to use as a base. In the other hand, with enough life experience I can also tell I’m miles apart from being a true competent professional at work. Therefore, if someone complements me at work I won’t probably believe I deserve that compliment; rather I think my supervisor is just being nice.
Despite of all of this, I’m still a very willing and happy person. I’ve learned to cope and increase my awareness of this issue. Finally, by being patient with others and me I believe I will eventually see the world differently.

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“The Overconfident Effect” by Samuel Ramos

Although intuition has a good influence in our decision making aspects of our lives, it is also important to acknowledge its limitations. These can come through the overconfident phenomenon, which is mainly the ability to be more confident than right when making a comment, affirmation or promise. In a study performed last decade it was found that 30% of people were overconfident when asked to tell the air distance between New Delhi and Beijing. This study is not surprising, instead it reassures what we commonly do in our day-to-day lives.

Just recently I caught myself making this same mistake. When on the phone with my brother I was asked how long would it take for me to get to his place. I promptly responded “In half an hour”. But the reality was that I was still in Provo (He lives in SLC) and had just left my apartment. That meant I assumed traffic was going to be clear, road conditions wouldn’t be a problem, construction was stopped for that day. In summary, I consciously didn’t take into consideration these factors and confidently assumed I could make it by the promised time. Truth is, I was wrong. I actually arrived in 50 minutes because of traffic.

Another example comes from the sitcom “The Office” when Michael Scott promises third graders 10 years earlier that he would pay for everyone’s college tuition if they graduate from High School. That day finally came and he had to faced these kids with a broken promise and no reward.

These two examples are perfect to illustrate the lack of thinking ahead by me and Mr. Michael. No executive function of our brains were fully activated when we made those assumptions. We truly thought we knew exactly what the outcome would be simply based on our confidence and current ambition to meet that goal. Willingness is not the only characteristic that will take us where we would like to get in life. Knowledge and competence are two different things that have to be worked on separately to be applied in concert with another.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kzn7HAuP_aw&feature=related

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“The Theory” by Samuel Ramos

A theory is a combination of paradigms that can explain and forecasts observed events in a broader way compared to a hypothesis. It is a manner of applying truth and meaning to what happens with the world and us. For example, one may believe that men are more aggressive than women, which can be considered a theory.  Hypothesis in turn can use this theory as a base of an argument such as that women respond less aggressively than men after watching violent movies. If the results don’t show positive correlation with this hypothesis, it is safe to conclude that the theory may be right. In order for a theory to be considered reliable and valid it is important anyone can test it, either through experiment, correlation or case studies. These methods will enable to open more doors in the field of research an increase the possibilities for further knowledge. It also has to be falsifiable, in other words one has a possibility to “prove it wrong” and finally, a theory has to be able to explain the phenomenon.

I’m sure we all run into theories in our daily experiences with the world although sometimes it might go unnoticed. For me is no different, especially with my interactions with my wife I often hear her theorize about success in life. In her view success comes from either being very spiritual or very intelligent. You just need these two items of business to all the other aspects of life sum up to a happy and successful life. The only causation this brings forth is to myself to think how vague this theory sounds. I have to admit there is some foundation in it, but still we have to consider the many other variables that can influence success. Family background and structure of an individual, the religion you are raised into, biological limitations, culture, social skills, individual faith and many other things.

This theory can be right, but like every scientist would think this theory needs to be tested, but how? That is a very tough question. Intelligence alone is a very complex variable to measure, even with the IQ test. When it comes to spirituality it seems a harder tasks at least. The explaining and falsifiability have room for potential consideration and applicability of a theory in a test, but I hope my point gets across. Many hypotheses would have to be tested under this realm of intelligence/spirituality and success for this theory to be considered. The goal of dissecting theories and breaking them down is to come as close as possible to fact. For this purpose I can start questioning every popular saying or myths with 3 things. Is this testable, falsifiable or explainable?

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