Vision is a prominent part of our sensations. A world that nobody can see will no doubt be chaotic. In fact, visions have been one of the most direct emotional drives in daily life. So how does Nature put everything together so that human beings can see? Continue reading
Hello there! My name is Andy Chen, a current Senior at Westtown school. This semester, I plan to take an independent science course to furthers my interests in Cognitive Science. Let’s get started!
So first, what is Cognitive Science?
When Cognitive Science first emerged in the late 1900s, scientists were unsure about its domain: was it “Cognitive Psychology under a new name,” or “an offshoot of artificial intelligence?” (Estes, 1991, p. 282). Continue reading
“The bystander effect occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation,” says psychologytoday.com.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of the ‘bystander effect’ and how prevalent it is in our everyday lives. While Psychology Today states in their definition that this occurs during an ‘emergency situation’, I do believe this happens in many other situations than those that are considered ‘emergency’. Continue reading
I’m so excited to say that I’ve finally reached the next big step in my research project: transitioning from gathering basic information on the topic to measuring just how prominent the issue of social aggression is in our own community. Because this is the starting point to the actual ‘action-based’ portion of the research plan I initially created, I’m more curious than ever to know just where this feedback will take me next. Continue reading
We all hate the culture of hate in which we live.
We can all admit to the fact that at some point in our lives, if not now, we have treated another group as inferior, or automatically thought something laced with bias the second we saw a person who looked different than us. But, if someone asked you if you were a hateful person, would you say yes? As human beings, none of us are born hateful, but instead we are exposed to the culture around us that systematically implements ideas of hate, discrimination, and bias against certain groups of people. We all agree on the fact that a world without hate would be a better one, but the truth is, very little of us are able to admit to the fact that each and every one of us contributes to this culture of hate every day.
Sally Kohn, an advocate for urging others to see the humanity and likeness across all types of people, recently did a TED Talk called What We Can Do About the Culture of Hate, to which I have linked down below. She begins her talk by sharing a deeply personal story about how she, herself, was a merciless bully when she was a young girl. It wasn’t until a feeling of hypocrisy overcame her when she began to research and teach others about the importance of kindness and acceptance that she realized the extent of her actions as a kid. This, to me, was extremely inspiring and moving; the ability to admit one’s own fault takes a huge amount of courage and self-awareness that many people lack. However, she used that own first-hand experience as a bully to further inspire her to really distinguish what exactly causes people to hate.
As she discusses in her talk, there is a very wide spectrum of the concept of ‘hate’. This may be the reason people have such trouble noticing their own feelings of hate towards others; it is so easy to dismiss our own negative feelings by comparing them to much worse instances of hate. Kohn asked her audience a question that really struck me: on one end of the spectrum is hate on a mass scale through horrific crimes like genocide, and on the other side, there are acts of prejudice so small that many might not even notice. However, aren’t the two still considered hate? Don’t they both stem from the same roots? Because no one even wants to entertain the fact of placing themselves on the same scale as the historical examples of the worst possible instances of hate, we, as a society, find ourselves in a trap. Kohn made a great point on this topic by saying that when we choose to convince ourselves that we do not hate, we automatically place ourselves above those who do. This itself is redundant; the act of feeling superior to other groups is one of the most fundamental actions of hate.
Therefore, to extinguish racism, homophobia, sexism, or any other negative connotations fueled by hatred, we must do the thing that seems logically the most counterproductive in this situation: admit our faults and recognize the hate we feel towards others. It’s been repeatedly shown through research that hate towards others is amplified by unfamiliarity. So, in order to make a change, we should be focusing on listening to stories of others, rather than placing blame or looking for the differences between groups. It’s easier said than done, but as Sally Kohn said, we are all capable of letting go of those feelings if we just make the effort.
Sally Kohn’s TED Talk: What We Can Do About the Culture of Hate
image source: Jacobs, Liz. “Sally Kohn Talks Leaving Fox News.” TED Blog, 30 Oct. 2014, blog.ted.com/sally-kohn-on-leaving-fox-news/.
At this point in my research project, I am content with how far I have come and more excited than ever for continuing it through the rest of the semester. Initially, when this project began, I was still unsure on the path I was going to take, considering the broadness of the topic of “female aggression”. All I was aware of was my strong curiosity of the topic and my desire to be able to reflect on the culture around me and possibly help change it for the better.
Throughout the beginning of the school year up until now, I had been attending a weekly meeting comprised of great girls from grades 9-12. Although the format of the meeting was always casual, we met in order to discuss important and pressing issues regarding Westtown culture and what it means to be female in our modern society. Through this, an interest was sparked in me; I heard heartbreaking stories of my younger friends feeling not only targeted, but demeaned by older girls at our school. I had experienced something very similar during my first years of high school, and I began to question why females feel the need to assert their power in such a negative way once they become upperclassmen. Not only did that inspire me to begin a project, but I also made a promise to myself that I will do everything I can to ensure that younger girls no longer need to feel judged or attacked by older girls.
As I began my research I came to find just how complex this topic is; there were hundreds of books and websites dedicated to just specific subgroups alone under the umbrella topic of “teenage female behavior”. So, I made the decision to start reading as much as I possibly could about various related topics. This included social media, self confidence and body image, hook up culture, perpetrators and bystanders, different types of bullying, and much more.
Although my original schedule had devoted a substantial amount of time for initial research, I faced a struggle when I felt as though I still have so much to learn, and not enough time to do so. This required a change of mindset; I couldn’t expect to learn everything about everything before carrying out the next step.
At this point in my research, it’s time to switch gears into observing and recording how my classmates feel about the presence of girl-on-girl aggression here at Westtown. I have compiled a set of questions that I will be sending out shortly in a survey to the entire student body in order to see some baseline information that I will then be able to refer back to later on in the semester. Formatted with open-ended questions and statements that students can agree with on a scale from 1-5, some questions include, “students who are new to Westtown are made to feel welcome by all ages”, “students display courage and leadership actively intervening when necessary to stop negative behaviors that are not supportive of other students”, and “what can students/student leaders/faculty and staff do to create a stronger and more supportive culture?”. Although most questions tend to be gender-neutral for inclusivity of the whole study body, there are questions that ask specifically about the behavior between girls.
This survey will definitely be one of the largest and most vital aspects to fulfilling my research goals. However, it is what I do with that information that matters most to me. Assuming that I get a large enough answer pool on the survey and am able to observe an overall consensus, I will then use that information to begin my conversations with students at the school. These conversations (which will be conducted in a question-and-answer format but more casual than an interview), will allow me to get insight into specific experiences of behavioral aggression at our school, and attempt to come to a conclusion as to why that might be happening. These conversations will hopefully be conducted with people of all genders and ages. Hopefully, I will be able to find enough people that will be willing to share their experiences with me, just like the amazing group of girls that I have been meeting with before. If all goes to plan, I will be able to begin to pinpoint just what’s going wrong with Westtown’s culture, as well as what we’re doing right, in order to continue to change it for the better.
Although I faced a small setback of falling behind in my schedule, it instead resulted in gaining more background information that will benefit me later on. I continue to learn through this research that there are so many different directions I could possibly take; and while it’s challenging, I continue to look forward to what it will result in at the end of the year.
“She’s kinda bossy.”
“She is such a slut.”
“She’s such a try-hard.”
“She thinks she’s all that.”
“She’s such a b***h.”
These are just some examples of things I have heard girls say to other girls or about other girls…within the past week. Continue reading
The way in which people interact always fascinated me. Of course, during my early adolescence, I was just as confused as the next girl as to why my friends acted so mean at school. Beginning as early as second grade, our class was populated with cliques of girls who paraded around at recess and yelled at others for sitting on their slide, or wearing the same sparkly shirt as they did. Even at such a young age, the issue of girls fighting for power and social status was prevalent, and I wanted to know exactly why. Continue reading
As the holiday season approaches, my independent study on Game Theory is also coming to an end. In my last post, I would like to take the opportunity to reflect on my work with Game Theory this past semester, some lessons I’ve learnt, and my plan for the coming weeks. Continue reading