Intrinsic motivation and grading’s’ detrimental effects on self-motivated learning

In this final blog I will evaluate intrinsic motivation and how blog writing have increased my motivation for active learning however also argue that grades as external rewards are detrimental for this intrinsically motivated behaviour.


Schatner (2011) identified that intrinsic motivation is what’s coming from within the individual, something we do out of our own interest or enjoyment. I have found that when looking for material myself I experience a higher satisfaction by learning the material, as explained by Deci et al. (1999) that intrinsically motivated student would experience higher engagement with a task and an overall better psychological well-being.


Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation can affect motivation and self-esteem both positively and negatively and behaviours no longer externally rewarded will cease to occur (Benabou & Tirole 2003). It’s been supported that as external reward decreases the intrinsic motivation increases. Additionally, with an increasing external reward the overall task quality performance is decreased to noticeable levels (Fehr & Falk, 1999; Fehr & Schmidt, 2000; Gneezy & Rustichini, 2000; Deci, 1975). These findings would suggest that motivation for blog writing for modules would increase if they were less heavily weighted as the external reward is decreased.


            As extrinsic motivation is focused on the reward rather then the work, it can damage intrinsic motivation. The problem with expecting external rewards for behaviour is that eventually the reward will disappear, as there is no one to give you that reward for learning. As stated in above paragraphs, a none-externally rewarding behaviour, when so conditioned, will decrease and cease over time. This suggests that because blog writing is rewarded with high marks, the external reward is highly valued and when that reward can no longer be obtained – the intrinsic motivation for learning will cease in time.


Conclusively, on my part blog writing have increased my intrinsic motivation for learning and for general areas within psychology and I will keep writing for my blog even after university because of the satisfaction it gives me.




Benabou, R., & Tirole, J. (2003). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The Review of Economic Studies, 70(3), 489-520.

Deci, E. (1975) Intrinsic Motivation (New York: Plenum Press).

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). SelfDetermination. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 627–668.

Fehr, E. & Falk, A. (1999). Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market, Journal of Political Economy, 107(1), 106–134.

 Fehr, E. & Schmidt, K. (2000), Fairness, Incentives, and Contractual Choices, European Economic Review, 44 (4–6), 1057–1068

 Gneezy, U. & Rustichini, A. (2000a). A Fine is a Price , Journal of Legal Studies, 29 (1) 1–17.

 Schater, D. (2011). PSYCHOLOGY. United States of America: Catherine Woods. p. 325

You Feel What You Eat – How eating behaviour affects emotions

              The awareness of how our eating behaviour affects our bodies and mental health is on the rise as research within the field is expanding as well as increased efforts to inform the general population about eating habits, nutrition and its effects on the body and mind. Our own school of psychology at Bangor University has even designed their own program, called Food Dudes, to encourage schoolchildren to eat more fruit and vegetables to promote a healthier lifestyle.

             Commonly known is that what you eat can cause heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other physical problems. What’s not often considered and what research now has begun to look deeper into is the importance of our diet on our mental health and the factors involved for different psychological conditions, such as depression (Cabrera et al. 2007; Mattar et al. 2011). This blog will evaluate and criticize different types of protein sources and how it affects your brain and emotions.  

            There are many ways in which what you eat affects you, but on a fundamental level – what you eat affects your neurotransmitters and thereby hormones which in turn affects your mood, energy levels and motivation (Canetti et al. 2002). The nutrient most of us are aware of is protein and that it is necessary for muscle maintenance and weight control as it controls the hunger effect (Batterham et al. 2002).  What we don’t know is that protein is crucial in the uptake of Tyrosine and Tryptophan, which is responsible for the production of Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Serotonin in the brain (Choi et al. 1997; Schaechter & Wurtman RJ, 1990).

            Protein can be found in most animal products however nutrients from plants such as beans and soy may be equally sufficient as a source of protein. Friedman and Brandon (2001) reviews for the benefits of soy-products being lowered fat gain, lower serum cholesterol and glucose levels in diabetic rats. This suggests that soy products can be used as a means to treat obesity as it’s a good source of protein with low fat rate which makes it beneficial during energy-restricted diets. Criticism to their studies is that their research was mainly done on rats; however they acknowledge this and assess the necessity of further research on humans.  Opposing factors to the use of soy is the risk of prostate or breast cancer and hormonal imbalance; though these are mostly animal studies and point out that we don’t know how consumption will affect humans (Setchell et al. 2011).  There are some cases where men consuming heavy amounts of soy can experience gynecomastia reduced sexual desire and impotence due to the female plants sex hormone phytoestrogen (Thornton, 2009). However, this may only have been one contributing factor as there is low evidence for plant hormones affecting either males or females (Kurzer, 2002; Weber et al. 2001).

           In their study, Choi et al. (1997) found that all sources of protein tested (milk, soy and gluten) raised dopamine and norepinephrine levels as expected. Interestingly they discovered that lactalbumin (found in milk) increased the serotonin levels when zein (wheat) and casein (eggs, cheese), did not. It seems that soy itself does not raise serotonin levels as it does not contain lactalbumin; however it does contain complex carbohydrates that will increase levels of tryptophan which cares for this effect (Schaechter & Wurtman RJ, 1990).

            Different types of protein seem to be affecting the body differently because of its molecular compounds, the way these affect our mood can be one underlying factor to depression as your diet may be limiting you uptake of necessary nutrients required to feel good. Studies carried out on elderly and anorexia nervosa patients shows that malnutrition is one contributing factor to depression (Cabrera et al.2007; Smoliner et al. 2009; Wade et al. 2000). Because of proteins properties of increasing levels of “feel good” hormones we can conclude that whenever we are feelings down and have cravings for unhealthy food – what our body really is telling us is to eat protein to restore the hormonal balance. Our body knows what it needs and signals it to our brain, our body is best at taking care of itself, we must simply learn to listen to it in order to increase well-being.




Axelson, M., Sjövall, J., Gustafsson, B. E., & Setchell, K. D. R. (1984). Soya–a dietary source of the non-steroidal oestrogen equol in man and animals. Journal of endocrinology, 102(1), 49-56.

Batterham, R. L., Cowley, M. A., Small, C. J., Herzog, H., Cohen, M. A., Dakin, C. L., Wren. A., M., Brynes, A. E., Low, M. J., Ghatei, M. A., Cone, R.D.  & Bloom, S. R. (2002). Gut hormone PYY3-36 physiologically inhibits food intake. Nature, 418(6898), 650-654.

Choi, D. S., Ward, S. J., Messaddeq, N., Launay, J. M., & Maroteaux, L. (1997). 5-HT2B receptor-mediated serotonin morphogenetic functions in mouse cranial neural crest and myocardiac cells. Development, 124(9), 1745-1755.

 Cabrera, M. A. S., Mesas, A. E., Garcia, A. R. L., & de Andrade, S. M. (2007). Malnutrition and depression among community-dwelling elderly people. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 8(9), 582-584.

 Canetti, L., Bachar, E., & Berry, E. M. (2002). Food and emotion. Behavioural processes, 60(2), 157-164.

Friedman, M., & Brandon, D. L. (2001). Nutritional and health benefits of soy proteins. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 49(3), 1069-1086.

 Han, K. K., Soares Jr, J. M., Haidar, M. A., Rodrigues de Lima, G., & Baracat, E. C. (2002). Benefits of soy isoflavone therapeutic regimen on menopausal symptoms. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 99(3), 389-394.

Mattar, L., Huas, C., Duclos, J., Apfel, A., & Godart, N. (2011). Relationship between malnutrition and depression or anxiety in Anorexia Nervosa: A critical review of the literature. Journal of affective disorders, 132(3), 311-318.

Sacks, F. M., Bray, G. A., Carey, V. J., Smith, S. R., Ryan, D. H., Anton, S. D., … & Williamson, D. A. (2009). Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. New England Journal of Medicine, 360(9), 859-873. Christensen, L. (1993). Effects of eating behavior on mood: a review of the literature. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 14(2), 171-183.

Setchell, K. D., Brown, N. M., Zhao, X., Lindley, S. L., Heubi, J. E., King, E. C., & Messina, M. J. (2011). Soy isoflavone phase II metabolism differs between rodents and humans: implications for the effect on breast cancer risk. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 94(5), 1284-1294.

Smoliner, C., Norman, K., Wagner, K. H., Hartig, W., Lochs, H., & Pirlich, M. (2009). Malnutrition and depression in the institutionalised elderly. British Journal of Nutrition, 102(11), 1663.

Schaechter, J. D., & Wurtman, R. J. (1990). Serotonin release varies with brain tryptophan levels. Brain research, 532(1), 203-210.

Wade, T. D., Bulik, C. M., Neale, M., & Kendler, K. S. (2000). Anorexia nervosa and major depression: shared genetic and environmental risk factors. American Journal of psychiatry, 157(3), 469-471.

Weber,K,S., Setchell, K, D., Stocco, D, M., Lephart, E, D. (2001). Dietary soy-phytoestrogens decrease testosterone levels and prostate weight without altering LH, prostate 5alpha-reductase or testicular steroid genic acute regulatory peptide levels in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. Journal of Endocrinol. 170(3), 591-9. doi: 10.1677/joe.0.1700591.

Wilkinson, S. B., Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDonald, M. J., MacDonald, J. R., Armstrong, D., & Phillips, S. M. (2007). Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 85(4), 1031-1040.

Spite – Individual justice and evolutionary costs of infidelity.

Continuing on my previous blog about the heritability of jealousy and its advantages, this blog will look at spite, the deliberate desire to hurt or offend another. I will look on how it evolved, how it affects relationships and why disliking your Ex is completely natural from an evolutionary aspect. From previous reading we know that jealousy helped us to detect infidelity, eliciting efforts to save the relationship (Buss, 2000; Nordström, 2013). What is interesting to know is what happened to those who failed to repair their relationship and what costs came with being found out. There is a close link between jealousy, envy and spite and if jealousy is triggered to repair spite could be the counterpart to this repairing behavior, the yin to jealousy’s yang.

Jealousy is accompanied by feelings of unfairness, anger and despair, each of these separate emotions would each elicit different behavior. Miller (2001) argues that humans evolved to detect, avoid and punish sexual infidelity, as supported by Buss (2000). Furthermore he argues that fidelity could be viewed as a type of reciprocity which requires trust and when this trust is broken, the cheated individual will experience emotional arousal. This arousal with elicit a motivation to punish the other in order to reach equity and fairness (Bayliss & Tipper, 2006; Fehr & Gächter, 2002; Fehr & Gintis, 2007). The punishment of infidelity is usually the ending of the relationship as this would inhibit the others reproductive success. In addition, if the infidelity was detected in the group, no other individual would want to mate with the cheater, resulting in further punishment (Dawkins, 2006; Dawes et al., 2007; Miller, 2011).

Unfairness is experienced in situations where another person is gaining all the benefits and you are suffering all the costs. If your partner is adulterous and you faithful and investing in the relationship, it is expected to result in willingness to engage spiteful behavior. The purpose of this behavior is to correct the wrong and reach for emotional equilibrium and fairness (Dawes et al. 2007). Furthermore they found that the difference between expectation and reality was correlated with the amount of distress experienced; suggesting that the more betrayed you feel the more will you spite the other person. The feelings of unfairness could also be awoken if your partner is dumping you as the relationship did not turn out as expected. In aspects of modern human society, the stronger feelings you have for your partner when you find out about their adultery, the more spite and anger is felt towards them.

These arguments support that if an adulterous individual were to be found out, he or she would be punished and suffer the costs of being unable to reproduce in the future. It could therefore be argued that spite is evolutions way of securing the spread of genes and decreasing the cheaters chances. If this statement was to be true, adulterous behavior would not occur, yet it does. The implications of interpreting emotions from an evolutionary perspective throughout are that it doesn’t explain why punishable behaviour like infidelity and cheating still occurs. Furthermore in modern day society the behavior cannot be punished in the same way as we live in a lot bigger groups and all we need to do is go to the other end of town. Arguably the feelings spite towards an individual who betrayed us is still there and the origins of these feelings say it’s perfectly natural for you to have distaste for your previous partner due to feelings of unfairness and spite (assuming you ended on bad terms).

Word Count: 596


Bayliss, A. P., & Tipper, S. P., (2006). Predictive Gaze Cues and Personality Judgments Should Eye Trust You? Psychological Science, 17(6), 514-520.  Retrieved from, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01737.x

Buss, D., M. (2000). The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is as Necessary as Love and Sex. 1-18. ISBN 0-684-85081-8.

Dawkins, R. (2006). The selfish gene. Oxford university press.

Dawes, C. T., Fowler, J. H., Johnson, T., McElreath, R., & Smirnov, O., (2007). Egalitarian motives in humans. Nature, 446(7137), 794-796. doi:10.1038/nature05651

Fehr, E., & Gintis, H. (2007). Human motivation and social cooperation: Experimental and analytical foundations. Annu. Rev. Sociol., 33, 43-64.

Fehr, E., & Gächter, S. (2002). Altruistic punishment in humans. Nature, 415(6868), 137-140.

Miller, G. (2011). The mating mind: How sexual choice shaped the evolution of human nature. Random House Digital, Inc..

Jealousy – Evolutionary advantages, the dangerous passion and sexual differences.

     Most of us have experienced jealousy in some form at some point in our lives. When is strikes us, we experience an eruption of emotions and don’t really know how to act; we just know that we experience distress. This blog will raise the questions, do we experience this emotion similarly, is there a difference between sexes and is there a purpose to jealousy. Moreover, this post will evaluate whether this emotion is related to culture or an innate emotion we all share.

     For a better understanding, a scientific definition of jealousy is appropriate to separate jealousy from envy. Buss & Haselton (2005) define jealousy as,

     “Jealousy is an emotion designed to alert an individual to threats to a valued relationship, (…) is activated by the presence of interested and more desirable intra-sexual rivals, and functions, in part, as a motivational mechanism with behavioral output designed to deter ‘the dual specters of infidelity and abandonment”. From this we can see that jealousy is connected with relationships, but different aspects of relationships are more important to men and women.

     Looking at jealousy from the evolutionary perspective, women would find emotional infidelity more upsetting and distressing more than sexual infidelity whilst men are expected to report the opposite (Buss, 2000). This is because a woman’s sexual infidelity jeopardized a man’s chances reproduction and he’d risk spending years raising another man’s children. Women however have the certainty that they are raising their own child. However, the problem women faced were the loss of a partner’s emotional commitment from which would secure her with resources and would provide security for her and her child, increasing their chances of survival.

     Because of internal fertilization the female is put at risk during pregnancy, so an emotional bond between spouses secures a man’s presence during pregnancy. This suggests that jealousy is an adaption that has been carried over generations to increase the emotional commitment between mates (Buss, 2005). Jealousy would therefore be innate and fundamentally different between the sexes and is predominately present for natural selection. Harris, (2003) argues that men and women have developed different sexual strategies and would experience jealousy differently.

     This supports the heritability of jealousy and that it’s innate in most humans and we would experience jealousy differently as infidelity brings different costs to each sex. This could also mean that there are different triggers to jealousy in each sex, which suggests that there are physiological differences in the brain programmed to pick up on different signals of infidelity.

     However, plenty of studies show that there is no specific sex-bound jealousy mechanism in the brain (DeSteno & Salovey, 1996). Moreover, Sheppard et al. (1995) found that both sexes rate different kinds of infidelity similar (sex without emotional betrayal and emotion without sex). On an average, it has been found that men and women both report emotional infidelity as much worse than sexual infidelity (Sheets& Wolfe, 2001). Furthermore, when asked how they feel over a mate’s sexual relationship with another, men did not display higher ratings of jealousy than women (Harris,2003; Buunk & Hupka, 1987). These findings thereby disprove the evolutionary argument of an innate sex-bound jealousy mechanism.

     In later research, Harris (2002) argues that both sexes are more distressed by sexual infidelity and found in her study (Harris, 2002b) that both men and women reported that their upset would be greater over a mate’s one-night affair than upset over a comparable emotional betrayal. According to Buss and evolution theorists, this situation would be much more distressing for men than for women, however that was not the results of the study. Showing that there is not one single jealousy module active in each sex. The same scenario as in Harris’ study (2002b) have been replicated a number of times by different researcher (Wiederman & Allgeier, 1993; DeSteno et al. 2002; Shackelford, LeBlanc, and Drass, 2000). The results from their studies support that both sexes believe that sexual infidelity is worse than emotion, however women report greater anger and hurt than men did, also when rating emotional infidelity (Harris, 2003).
     Evolutionary- and Physiological psychologists appear to be on different sides of this argument; they agree that there is a difference and different triggers, however little difference between sexual- or emotional infidelity. It seems, as we are not so difference in our reactions to infidelity after all. Newer research contradicts older studies and has led to a paradigm change in how we look at jealousy. This could mean that jealousy was an evolutionary trait that have now changed due to societies development that we no longer live in smaller packs, but in big cities and there’s a greater chance of finding a new partner. However, further reading into cultural differences is required to establish this hypothesis and may be a topic for next blog.




Buss, M.D., Haselton, M. (2005). The evolution of jealousy.

Buss, D. M., Larsen, R. J., Westen, D., & Semmelroth, J. (1992). Sex differences in jealousy: Evolution, physiology, and psychology. Psychological science, 3(4), 251-255.

Buss, M. D. (2000). The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is as Necessary as Lave and Sex. 1-18. ISBN 0-684-85081-8.

Buunk, B., & Hupka, R. B. (1987). Cross‐cultural differences in the elicitation of sexual jealousy. Journal of Sex Research, 23(1), 12-22.

DeSteno, D., Bartlett, M., Braverman, J., &  Salovey, P. (2002). Sex

differences in jealousy: Evolutionary mechanism or artifact of

measurement? Journal of Personality & Social Psychology,

83, 1103-1116.

DeSteno, D. A., & Salovey, P. (1996). Evolutionary origins of sexdifferences in jealousy? Questioning the “fitness” of the model. Psychological Science, 7, 367-372.

Harris, R.C. (2003). Personality and Social Psychology Review. A Review of sex differences in sexual jealousy, including self/report Data, Psychophysiological responses, interpersonal violence and morbid jealousy. 7(102). 102-128. DOI: 10.1207/S15327957PSPR0702.

Harris, C. R. (2002). Sexual and romantic jealousy in heterosexual and homosexual adults. Psychological Science, 13, 7- 12. 

Harris, C. R. (2003). A review of sex differences in sexual jealousy, including self-report data, psychophysiological responses, interpersonal violence, and morbid jealousy. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 7(2), 102-128.

Shackelford, T. K., LeBlanc, G. J., & Drass, E. (2000). Emotional reactions to infidelity. Cognition & Emotion, 14(5), 643-659.

Sheets, V. L., & Wolfe, M. D. (2001). Sexual jealousy in heterosexuals, lesbians, and gays. Sex Roles, 44(5-6), 255-276.

Sheppard, V. J., Nelson, E. S., Andreoli-Mathie, V.  (1995). Dating

relationships and infidelity: Attitudes and behaviors. Journal of’

Sex & Marital Therapy,  21, 202-212.

Wiederman, M. W., & Allgeier, E. R. (1993). Gender differences in sexual jealousy: Adaptionist or social learning explanation?. Ethology and Sociobiology, 14(2), 115-140.

The Heritability of attractiveness and intelligence

Intelligence and beauty are correlated and sexually attractive people are often more intelligent than less attractive people.

This is the conclusion of Kanazawa’s and Kovar’s paper in 2011, Why beautiful people are more intelligent.

By baking four auxiliary assumptions their logic is sort of solid and not that holistic, when you first look at it. And assume that there are no other components. The problem with this is that their theories are highly deductive and ignore the fact of individual preferences in partners.

The Four Assumptions

“ #1. More intelligent men are more likely to occupy higher status than less intelligent men.

#2. Higher-status men are more likely to mate with more beautiful women than lower status


#3. Intelligence is heritable, such that sons and daughters of more intelligent men are more

Intelligent than sons and daughters of less intelligent men.

# 4. Beauty is heritable, such that sons and daughters of more beautiful women are more

beautiful than sons and daughters of less beautiful women.”

(Kanazawa, S. & Kovar, J.L. (2004). Why Beautiful people are more intelligent).


They also mention in their own paper that the same assumptions goes for aggression and attractiveness and that if a person is super gorgeous – they are most likely super aggressive as well.

Beautiful people who submit a photo with their CV are more likely to be called to interviews, and if they are attractive in real life as well they seem to have higher employability. This is however Not the case for beautiful women. More attractive women are actually Less likely to be employed, due to a “dumb blonde theory”, and they experience discrimination instead of benefits for their looks.  The reason for the higher employability rate among appealing males could be a halo effect, or is it that there is a pre-programmed mechanism in the brain that already knows that a good looking person IS more employable?

This system is already supported; it is called “reward system” and was discovered by Guégen in 2007. He tested this by using women with different breast-sized to see if the size of their lovelies would affect their “help-rate”. The results where: Bigger breasts – more help.

A reward system in the brain tells us to reward beautiful people because they are more intelligent and deserve our help. They are also more employable because they are more intelligent and will do a better job than someone who is not as beautiful. Personality can be seen in the face of an individual and therefore an employer is able to look for desirable or non-desirable personality traits in a job applicant.

These results strongly supports that a beautiful person earns the opportunity to be more successful than his or hers less attractive compeer.


Kanazawa, S. & Kovar, J.L. (2004). Why Beautiful people are more intelligent

Guégen,N. (2007). Bust size and hitchhiking: A field study. Perceptual and Motor Skills: Vol. 105.. doi: 10.2466/pms.105.4.1294-1298

Ruffle, B.J & Shtudiner, Z. (2011) Are good-looking people more employable?
doi: 10.2139/ssrn.1705244.

Little, A.C., Burt, M.D & Perret, D.I. (2006). What is good is Beautiful: Face preference reflects desired personality. Personality and individual differences. Vol. 41, 1107-1118.

Toxic Childhood – Real Phenomenom or an excuse for Bad Parenting?

Over the last 30 years behavioural problems in the UK have doubled and psychological problems have increased by 70% and each year 4,400 people commit suicide. Suicide is the most common cause of death among men under 35 in the modern world. (Link) ( 2012 the rate is only 6.5 in 100,000.) In one of UNICEF’s surveys regarding children’s wellbeing, UK came bottom, with USA just above. Following this development WHO (World health Organisation) predicts over 50% of children will suffer from mental instability and depression at some point in their lives.

Sue Palmer started a lot of debate with the release of her book Toxic Childhood, 2006. She explains that the modern world is developing is racing speed in which humans, especially children cannot keep up. She is researching whether something is interfering with children’s development. The numbers of developmental disorders are increasing amongst children; their emotional and intellectual development is being affected by the accelerating and stressful society around them.

In normal development from birth to teens:

distractibility →→              attention          =                 focused concentration

impulsivity                           →→              self-control       =                 deferred gratification

self-centredness                 →→              empathy           =                 consideration

These processes in development takes time and according to Palmer(2006) this development is disrupted by the high speed children are forced to develop in.

Instead of parents spending their spare – time with their kids, both parents spend all day at work with the kids in school or in front of the TV and when the whole family is home the kid(s) is parked by the TV or computer instead of practicing interaction with his/her parents or outside playing with friends. Their social learning is inhibited (Palmer, 2006). As direct consequence, children grow more self-centred and less considerate towards other human beings along with their communication skills development is being limited. Social skills cannot be learned through a TV or computer games, social interaction is needed.

Wendy Earle, 2006, brings other arguments to the debate. She mentions the fact that from the early 1900 to year 2000 society changed at the speed of light with machines and gadgets that, viewed from the bigger picture, appeared in a second. Children of the modern world need to be presented with these gadgets, because they are the future,  and that is how the future will be: run by technology.

Media is of course another aspect that contributes to the upbringing and psychological development of children. Children are from birth being brought in a world of consumption. From early years they are being raised by the TV and other media “to consume”. The whole: You need this to be Happy – thing. Which contributes to the idea that your life is eternally incomplete until you have purchased this gadget, as well as the obvious stress.

Technology isn’t all bad. Video games are the whole reason I learned English, no “ordinary” person at home over 35 can speak or read English properly. Because they never had the need for it, they didn’t have games in English or internet, all written in English. So factual learning went into overdrive when internet was introduced and faster mental development is possible. Instead of the younger asking the older for something, the roles have been reversed. Computers and the internet allow us to gain knowledge we otherwise would never obtain.

Nonetheless, social skills are still oh so necessary and the attention, care and affection given to children by their parents can never be replaced by technology – Technology should not serve as a substitute for parental nurture.

“Gadgets are cool and all, but we should use them as tools instead of gimmicks that mess us up”
-Popps class, Brigantia 342, 2012.

The advantages of Covert Participant Observation

Covert participant observation (CPO) is when a researcher infiltrates a group in order  to be a part of the sample or group studied.  CPO is a method with very high validity, as you get to experience group behaviour with no factors affecting the parameters, and the behaviour given is sincere I.e. there is no practice or Hawthorne effect.

The ethical issue occurs as the “participants” are unaware of “the experiment”. James Patrick, 1973, published a research report called A Glasgow gang observed. He infiltrated a gang in Glasgow to study their social cognitive behaviour as part of a gang, but didn’t note his observations until he’d left the gang, for his own safety. Another person to employ this technique is Jay Dobyns. He penetrated     Hells Angels to attain inside information to provide to the police. However, in difference to Patrick’s experiment, this experience changed Dobyns own personality. And when he couldn’t even recognise his own voice in the records given to the police – He left the gang. His personality had begun to change, and he started to feel like a part of the gang, making it very hard to actually leave “the boys” behind.

Using CPO there is no consent given; no debriefing and no animosity can be guaranteed. When trying to convey personal information, results data may be altered or skewed, leaving the researcher with a scale measuring personal information vs. valid data.

Advantages of CPO are that you have high validity, no risk of the Hawthorne effect and its more than just observing data and numbers on a screen (take that, SPSS).

Disadvantages of CPO are the ethical issues. If the researcher witnesses or commits a crime, what do they do? (Jay Dobyn). The researcher may be exposed to danger. The participants may feel betrayed and used if/when they find out that everything was for the experiment.

( James Patrick and Jay Dobyns are Pseudonyms to protect the authors)


Arthur J. Vidich and Gilbert S. 1955, A Comparison of Participant Observation and Survey Data. P. 28. URL:

Patrick, J. 1973. Glasgow gang observed. United Kingdom, Methuen and Co.

Dobyns, J.2009 No Angel: My Undercover Journey to the Heart of the Hells Angels.