A Goodbye Message to Our Graduates… that you will eat up like a cheesecake

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Dear Graduates,

I wanted to drop you all a quick note to say congratulations on your upcoming graduation.  A few of you asked that I do something for you like the Mean Girls goodbye I wrote to last year’s graduates.  I was like, “yeah, that’s not a thing, and you’re not the boss of me.” Instead, I just want to say goodbye in my own way and not feel pressured to try and include a bunch of quotes about flying Mexican food or whether or not synchronized lady dancing to a Mariah Carey chart-topper is lame (it’s not by the way).

The truth is, this is a tough group to say goodbye to.  It makes me sad.  I don’t know if that is a good feeling or an incorrect feeling (Feelings are hard.  Sometimes I have the feeling I can do crystal meth, but then I think, ‘Mmm, better not.’).  I just know that lately, when it comes to saying goodbye, I wanna do something else (we could re-live my parents’ divorce?)  It will be ok, though.  I am a survivor, but I have to pull back because I am limited.

We did a lot of great things this year: Psychology March Madness, the Smile Squad, February Psych Challenge, when we wrestled crocodiles and dingoes simultaneously (just to name a few).  One of the best things we did this year, though, was the NAMIwalk.  You may think we just show up and walk for something like that but, nope, the presidents of PHD and Psi Chi made it very clear, “We will practice, and I trust you will add your own cardio.”  I was like, “Yeah, no. Don’t put me down for cardio” but that didn’t stop them.  It was a great walk and we all had a great time, until I realized I parked in a lot where they do not validate.  Plus, if I’m being honest, I realized a couple minutes in that I should have taken that cardio tip more seriously.  Maybe some horizontal running?

I got to have most of you in class too, which was a joy.  I’m impressed by how smart, talented, funny, and curious you all are.  Granted, it wasn’t always pretty.  Like that time I had to tell a student, “That’s not a real word, but keep trying. You will get there” or the time I had to write on a student’s exam, “not a good enough reason to use the word penetrate.”  I’m sorry if I was too rough on you, but I am my father’s son and he always says ‘if at first you don’t succeed’…’pack your bags’.

Plus, it’s not like you were always nice to me.  At least one of you wrote “Is it me, or did we just take a left turn into snooze-ville?” on my course evaluations.  That hurt.  Someone tried to take it out of the evals but I said, “Leave it. It fuels my hate fire.”  So you know, I’m not a total nerd. I also happen to be super-into close-up magic.  Plus, I’m good at modern dance, olden dance, and mermaid dancing (it’s a lot of floor work).  That said, if I could sing a lick, I would. But I can’t. And I hate myself everyday because of it.

But enough about me.  This week is about you.  So in closing, let me say this.  I’ll miss you.  I’m serious…  Dixie Chicks serious.  It’s been an incredible experience working with you all and I’m thankful you chose to study psychology at UWGB.  I don’t like saying goodbye, but like I’ve told you… endings are the best part.

Hands in,

Ryan Martin
Chair of Psychology-UW-Green Bay
Lead Singer- The Minstrel Cycles

PS. I’m sorry for the name of my singing group.  That’s an unfortunate name.

Fact check: Does anger always lead to aggression?

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1When we’re in situations that make us angry, we often want to respond by doing things like yelling, throwing something, or hurting someone. It’s not unusual for those things happen, but does anger always lead to aggression?

Although anger and aggression are terms that are often used interchangeably, they’re not actually the same thing. In fact, the two can operate independently; people can be aggressive without being angry, and angry without being aggressive. Reidy and colleagues (2010) provide evidence this when they investigated the relationship between narcissism and aggression. They found that the higher people scored in narcissism, the more likely they were to aggress toward people without provocation. In other words, when narcissistic people sense an ego threat, they may respond with aggression as a way to protect themselves from being seen in an unfavorable manner, rather than aggressing as an expression of anger.

Perhaps more common than unprovoked aggression, though, is anger not accompanied by aggression. Research indicates that a major predictor of whether anger will lead to aggression is the individual’s ability to control his or her emotional expression. A study by Roberton and colleagues (2015) found that people who have more control over their behaviors are less likely to respond with aggression. Such people don’t necessarily feel less angry, but have better control over how that anger is expressed. One way to help control aggressive behavior is to practice controlling the anger itself, which allows the situation to be dealt with in a less reactive manner. As is explained by Lohr et al. (2007), anger can be reduced in a number of ways, such as relaxation, reappraisal, and distraction.

Considering these studies together, what we find is that while anger and aggression often go hand-in-hand, anger does not always lead to aggression.

By Allie Nelson
Allie is a senior with majors in Psychology and Human Development. She graduates in May of 2015.
References:

Lohr, J. M., Olatunji, B. O., Baumeister, R. F., & Bushman, B. J. (2007). The psychology of anger venting and empirically supported alternatives that do no harm. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 5(1), 53-64.

Reidy, D. E., Foster, J. D., & Zeichner, A. (2010). Narcissism and unprovoked aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 36, 414-422. doi: 10.1002/ab.20356

Roberton, T., Daffern, M., & Bucks, R. S. (2015). Beyond anger control:  Difficulty attending to emotions also predicts aggression in offenders. Psychology of Violence, 5(1), 74-83. doi: 10.1037/a00037214

Hunger, Anger, and Intimate Relationships

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voodoo-dolls-largeCan being “hangry” (hungry and angry) have an effect on intimate relationships? In a recent study done by Bushman and colleagues (2014), researchers looked at glucose levels and aggression levels. Their research suggests that glucose levels affect aggressive impulses and behaviors. Over the course of 21 days, 107 couples took part in a four part experiment. Initially participants took a 10 item questionnaire. Then for 21 consecutive days, the couples measured the glucose levels before breakfast and before bed. The participants were also given a voodoo doll that represented their spouse along with 51 pins. After the 21 days the couples returned to the lab to compete against their spouse, actually a computer; in this competition the winner got to blast their spouse with loud uncomfortable noises, in which they controlled the intensity and duration.

Their findings: lower levels of glucose predicted and increase in aggressive impulses (i.e., more voodoo doll pins and louder and longer uncomfortable noise). Ultimately, this has to do with self-control, the ability to resist an urge or desire.  Self-control is a limited resource that depletes over time when you have to resist or override aggressive impulses.  One way to prevent depletion of this self-control tank is to keep your glucose levels up.

By Katie Bright
Katie is majoring in Psychology and Human Development. A senior, she plans on graduating in Spring of 2015 and taking some time off school before returning to earn a Masters degree.

Midwestern Psychological Association: Honor Student Research

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My three honors students, Kayla Hucke, Olyvia Kuchta, and Sarah Londo, presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference in Chicago last week (April 30th and May 1).  They did brilliantly.

Here’s a sample of their work:

HuckeKayla Hucke: Emotions in Sports Performance

KuchtaOlyvia Kuchta: The Influence of Free Will, Politics, and Religion on Attitudes about Mental Illness

LondoSarah Londo: Locus of Control and the Stress Response

Anger Management Tip: Think it Through First

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One of the worst things that can happen when someone gets angry is for them to say Thinking_Mansomething they regret.  It happens all the time.  They become overwhelmed with anger and their desire for revenge overtakes everything else.  Boom, they say something cruel or hurtful that can’t be taken back.

It’s a difficult thing to do but people need to find a way to stop, think through how they are feeling and how the other person is feeling, and then decide if and how they want to respond.  Learning to do that can be the difference between letting your anger get the best of you and using your anger in a positive way.

Psychology Today: Five Fascinating Findings About Anger

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Anger is everywhere.  It influences our behavior in ways we can’t possible imagine.  Here are five examples.

1. People Really Do Associate Anger with the Color Red

According to a 2013 study published in Emotion (Young et al., 2013), the expression “seeing red” isn’t just a metaphor.

Read at Psychology Today

Fact-Check: Do Video Games Lead to Violence?

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We’ve likely all heard the arguments about video games and their role in violence. The grand_theft_auto__vice_city_by_homel001-d4al0zlquestion of whether or not video games have a part in aggression is an ongoing and complicated debate.

It’s not a new question either.  It’s been studied by psychologists, not to mention scholars from other disciplines, for decades.  Dr. Albert Bandura, along with countless other researchers, showed us that being exposed to aggressive behavior, even at a young age, results in imitation (Bandura, Ross and Ross, 1961).

A more recent study by Hollingdale and Greitemeyer (2014), compared aggression levels in response to a violent video game (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare) and in response to a neutral video game (LittleBigPlanet 2), both played online and offline. Participants in the online group played against human components, whereas the offline group played against computers, each for 30 minutes. They predicted that playing a more violent video game would increase aggression, and (surprise!) they were right. Not only do violent video games increase aggression, according to Hollingdale and Greitemeyer, but there is also no difference based on whether the game is played online or offline Call of Duty increased levels of aggression regardless of where it was played (online or offline). The authors also noted that there may have been other factors, such as the competitiveness of each game, which may have attributed to the increased aggression levels.

In addition to violence and competitiveness, there are other factors.  For example, games can be frustrating, which may increase aggression.  Plus, from a research perspective, how we define violence is also a complicating factor.  Do we only consider games like first person shooters or Grand Theft Auto to be violent, or are games like Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros included?

To make matters even more complicated, if video games lead to increase violence, then why do violent crimes decrease when new game comes out as noted by Ward (2011)? Ward argues that people playing violent video games are inside playing the game, not out and about causing trouble.  Ward calls this  “voluntary incapacitation” and noted that in areas where gaming is more popular, the violent crime rate goes down, which is the opposite of what people might expect (Ward, 2011). In fact, Ward’s (2011) results showed that there were reductions in arson, car theft, and robbery at the time of a new release for a game. This voluntary incapacitation most affects youth (ages 15-25) and draws them away from criminal or violent activity.

Taking all this into consideration, it would appear that playing violent video games does increase aggression. But, the relationship is much more complicated when you take into account are the other factors that attribute to the aggression. In saying so, I would have loved to write a piece that included definite answers, but the truth is, I don’t know and I’m not sure that we’ll ever know.

By Katie Bright
Katie is majoring in Psychology and Human Development. A senior, she plans on graduating in Spring of 2015 and taking some time off school before returning to earn a Masters degree.