Superficial friends on Facebook

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2012 by thailiafoo

New forms of social interactions have formed with the arrival of social networking sites such as Myspace, Twitter and the most popular, Facebook. All created with the intention to expand or facilitate the building of social relationships and/or networks among individuals who share real-life connections (family relations or real face-to-face friends/acquaintances), common interests and activities.

Research on conventional social networks propose that the number of people with whom an individual maintains close relationships is about 10-20 people (Parks, 2007) investigations into social networking sites suggest online relationships often noticeably surpass this figure. But to what extend can people call ‘friends’ on Facebook actual friends-are not superficial to be just another number on the visible friend count?


One definition of friends on Facebook ranges from established intimate relationships to simply being distantly acquainted (Boyd, 2006). A recent study conducted found that a sample of Facebook users reported a mean of 272 ‘friends’ (Vanden Boogart, 2006). Yet, there are users on Facebook that acquire hundreds of these social connections; some have been seen to mount up to 500, if not more. These possible weak ties have been explained to serve the purpose of bridging social capital rather than create close kinds of relationships. An explanation that Ellison et al. (2007) proposed is that it may help individuals to maintain pre-existing relationships, however, it could also serve as a means of low-maintenance way to keep an eye on newly attained social contacts. There are frequent viewings of their Facebook profile to learn more about that person and whether there are any common friends or similarities. While others have argued that its a strive for status and sociometric popularity, to purely to receive more positive liking and potential friendships from peers. This suggests that the amount of friends someone obtains on Facebook the more they will be perceived to be popular and well liked (White, 2005).


Boyd, d. (2006). Friends, friendsters, and top 8: Writing community into being on social network sites. 11(12).

Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook ‘‘friends’’: Social capital and college students’ use of online social networks sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4).

Parks, M. R. (2007). Personal networks and personal relationships. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Vanden Boogart, M. R. (2006). Uncovering the social impact of Facebook on a college campus. Unpublished masters thesis, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

White, J. (2005). The relationship between profiles and perceived popularity online. Paper written for COMM 501. University of Illinois at Chicago.

Cellular memory-is it possible for transplant patients to inherit donor’s memory or personality traits?

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2012 by thailiafoo

Cellular memory is a hypothesis which suggests that memory as a process, can form in other systems in the body-due to cells containing information relating to our personalities, tastes and histories. There is evidence to illustrate that there are other organs in the body that store memories and personality traits-the predominant organ is the heart. This contrasts the belief that memories are stored primarily in the nervous system and secondarily in the immune system. Post-surgery some transplant recipients have displayed a complete change in tastes, opinions, cravings, and other personality changes.


A prime example that demonstrates the existence of cellular memory comes from Claire Sylvia; she underwent a heart and lung transplant from a teenaged boy. Post-transplant she reported she had new and extreme cravings for foods which would not normally interest her (as she was health conscious due to being a dancer) such as beer and chicken nuggets (from: A Change of Heart: A Memoir). Also she experienced a behaviour change which was a lot more aggressive and more impulsive which was uncharacteristic of her.

 Could it be possible that transplant patients, like Claire Sylvia, inherit their organ donor’s memory or personality traits due the personal history stored in the transplanted tissues?

 Early research into the living systems theory found that all living cells possess ‘memory’ and ‘decider’ functional subsystems within them (Miller 1978) which helps provide explanation for cellular systemic memory.

Pearsall, Schwartz & Russek (2002) found 10 cases of possible cellular memory reported which were representative of more than 74 transplant recipients. Their research was gathered through open-ended interviews with volunteer transplant recipients, recipient families or friends, and donor families or friends. Recipients, their families and/or friends noticed changes in food, music, art, sexual, recreational and career preferences. In some cases they experienced awareness of names and sensory experiences related to the donors (the example provided: one donor was killed by a gun shot to the face; the recipient had dreams of seeing hot flashes of light in his face)…all changes confirmed by family members and/or friends. Furthermore, in each case, information about the donors was specifically verified from donor family members and/or friends.

To conclude, in light of the evidence provided herein I propose that there is a possibility some recipients of organ transplant can experience aspects of the donor’s personal history stored in the transplanted tissues.


Miller, J.G. (1978). Living systems: The organization. Behavioral Science, 17 (1), 1–182. doi:10.1002/bs.3830170102

 Pearsall, P., Russek, G.E.R, & Schwartz, L.G.S. (2000). Changes in heart transplant recipients that parallel the personalities of their donors. Integrative Medicine,2(2–3),65–72.

 Sylvia, C., & Novak, W. (1997). A Change of Heart: A Memoir. New York: Warner Books

Art Psychotherapy-Fab or Fad?

Posted in Uncategorized on February 26, 2012 by thailiafoo


Art Psychotherapy is a un-renown psychological therapy, which helps people work through their mental illness or other issues, by using the media of art as the primary mode of communication to express themselves. This process offers people a way of being able to process their feelings in a safe and contained way.

The actual artistic merit of the images is of no concern, nor is it used for interpretation and diagnosis. The therapist’s aim is to build a trusting relationship with a client and for the client to use their art to improve cognitive fluidity, and attempt to bring into question their negative core beliefs.

This form of therapy is primarily used to help people who have: experience of mental illnesses (such as Depression, Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Eating Disorders e.t.c), encompass relationship/self- confidence difficulties or suffered any form of traumatic event.

However, there has been prevalent discussion as to whether Art Psychotherapy is a useful method to deal with such issues-as mentioned above.

From an Art Psychotherapy session:

There are various amounts of research that support the notion that Art Psychotherapy is valuable to help a person bring about changes in their life by making shifts in the way they think and feel. Via longitudinal studies, it has been shown that reflection on the produced art products may express basic modes of relating to one’s self, and the world around them (Betensky 1973). The treatment can alleviate deviant behaviour in children and possibly prevent the outbreak of potential pathology (Harms 1973) by successfully setting up a psychotherapeutic relationship with a child when other techniques have failed (Wolf 1975). Significant improvement can be observed with regard to anxiety-depression after undergoing one year of treatment of Art Psychotherapy (Theorell et al 1998). Thus, research demonstrates that Art Psychotherapy can be a useful tool as a therapeutic technique to help people on the way to recovery.


Betensky, M. (1973). Patterns of visual expression in art psychotherapy. Art Psychotherapy, 1(2), 121-129. doi: 10.1016/0090-9092(73)90061-6

 Harms, E. (1973). Art psychotherapy and the prophylaxis of psychic healing. Art Psychotherapy, 1(3-4), 1973, 185-192. doi: 10.1016/0090-9092(73)90035-5

 Theorell T., Konarski K., Westerlund H., Burell A.M., Engström R., Lagercrantz A.M., Teszary J., and Thulin K. (1998).Treatment of Patients with Chronic Somatic Symptoms by Means of Art Psychotherapy: A Process Description.Psychother Psychosom 6.50–56 doi: 10.1159/000012259

 Wolf, R. (1975). Art psychotherapy with acting-out adolescents: An innovative approach for special education. Art Psychotherapy, 2(3-4), 1975, 255-266. doi: 10.1016/0090-9092(75)90009-5

What motivates individuals get piercings and/or tattoos?

Posted in Uncategorized on February 19, 2012 by thailiafoo

Piercings and tattoos are body modifications that date back to ancient times around 5,000 years ago, which most likely began as cultural rituals. An example of this was tribal tattoos, which were to represent different cultural tribes; each tribe would have certain meanings and expression.

Piercing/tattoos-either you like them or you loathe them, it is the deliberate altering of the human body for non-medical reasons, but what makes an individual want a piercing or a tattoo? Submitting themselves through pain for what benefit/gain? A rite of passage, religious reasons, to display group membership or affiliation, to create body art, shock value, or self expression? This debate persists about the motivation of individuals who engage in such body modifications as tattooing and piercing.


Research have found a significant rise in body piercing and tattooing among adolescents (Armstrong & McConnell, 1994), with estimates among adolescents arraying from 10% (Armstrong & Pace Murphy, 1997) to 25% (Grief, Hewitt, & Armstrong, 1999). One specific  piece of research conducted by Roberti, Storch and Bravata (2004) used a sample of 281 college students (160 females and 121 males) that possessed such modifications, they were required to complete demographic questionnaires regarding body alteration practices, the Sensation Seeking Scale (Zuckerman 1994), the impulsivity subscale extracted from the Zuckerman-Kulnman Personality Questionnaire and a section of stressors from the History of Psychosocial Stressors developed by Scotti (1999). Data was collected from participants from various different undergraduate courses completing a variety of previous research questionnaires to increase content and concurrent validity. The results obtained suggested that sensation seeking preferences and exposure to a psychosocial stressor could be associated with obtaining a body modification such as a tattoo or piercing in some college students.

My personal opinion is that I love piercings and tattoos. I think they are another form of self expression especially tattoos as they are a form of art-if done correctly they can be a thing of beauty.


Armstrong and McConnell (1994). Tattooing in adolescents, more common than you think: The phonomenon and risks. Journal of School Nursing. 10. 22-29

Armstrong M.L., Murphy K.P. Tattooing: Another adolescent risk behavior warranting health education (1997) Applied Nursing Research, 10 (4), pp. 181-189

Grief, J., Hewitt, W., & Armstrong, M.L. (1999) Tattooing and Body Piercing: Body Art Practices among College Students. Clin Nurs Res.November 1999 vol. 8 no. 4 368-385 doi: 10.1177/10547739922158368

Roberti, J.W, Storch, E.A and Bravata. E,A. (2004). Sensation Seeking, exposure to psychosocial stressors, and body modifications in a college popultion. Personality and Individual Differences. 37 (6)

Scotti, J.R. (1999) History of Psychosocial Stressors. Unpublished instrument. West Virginia University

Zuckerman, M. (1994) Behavioural expressions and biosocial bases of sensation seeking. Cambridge Press. New York

Does text messaging make us illiterate?…and wrecking language as we know it…..

Posted in Uncategorized on February 5, 2012 by thailiafoo

Text messaging has become a convenient and easy medium that has transformed the way people interact and get in contact with each other (excluding the ever-popular social networking sites such as Facebook…. -_- ). Text talk ‘textisms’ has even developed using abbreviations such as- omg, lol, idk, ftw, wtf, fml; short-handing pre-existing words such as- wz, wat, plz and even creating whole new words to help express ourselves though text form such as- meh. According to the Mobile Life Report which conducted an investigation in 2006, found that 92% of UK mobile phone users feel that their mobiles are an essential part of their daily life.

The debatable question is, does texting make us more illiterate?

Evidence to support the notion that the action of text messaging has a negative effect on grammar and literacy comes from Plester, Wood and Bell (2008), who conducted correlational research through meta-analysis. Their paper reviewed studies which investigated the relationship between children’s texting behaviour, their knowledge of text abbreviations and their school attainment in written language skills. One piece of research used 11–12-year-old children who provided information on their texting behaviour, the children were also asked to translate a standard English sentence into a text message and vice versa. The children’s standardised verbal and non-verbal reasoning scores were also obtained. Children who used their mobiles to send three or more text messages a day had significantly lower scores than children who sent none. They concluded that the result showed that the greater the habit of text messaging has a negative effect on written language skills.

In response to this new generation of language, the latest update of the Oxford Dictionaries Online had published new additions of words, definitions and abbreviations consisting of the initial letters of expressions (made popular through their frequent use in text messages, and other forms of technological communications such as in social-networking sites and emails) such as omg and lol. These new internet and text inspired expressions are now legitimately merging into our English language, which demonstrates how much of an impact technology is changing the future of communication. But for better or worse???

Plester, B. Wood, C. Bell, V. (2008). Txt msg n school literacy: does texting and knowledge of text abbreviations adversely affect children’s literacy attainment?Literacy,42 (3), 137-144. DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-4369.2008.00489.x

How do we develop phobias?

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2011 by thailiafoo

A phobia is defined as a type of anxiety disorder, in which there is an irrational and intense fear of an object or situation. The three major types of phobias are; Agoraphobia-the fear of open spaces, Social phobias-the fear of the embarrassment/humiliation in front of others (Juster and Heimberg 1995) and Specific phobias such as a fear of spiders, flying etc. One approach that attempts to explain what causes us to develop a phobia comes from the Pavlovian conditioning model, which suggests that fear can be acquired through classical conditioning and maintained through operant conditioning. It proposes that phobias are the result of a neutral stimulus being associated with an unpleasant/traumatic experience so becomes a fear-eliciting unconditional stimulus (Mower 1947) which elicits anxiety which is a unconditional response of automatic upheaval-increased heart rate, cold sweats (Wolpe 1958). The avoidance of the phobic stimulus response is negatively reinforces as it reduces anxiety. Thus separate conditioning processes may create and then sustain specific anxiety responses (Levis 1989).

One of the most famous research relating to phobias waslab based experiment by Watson and Rayner (1920), they conditioned a phobia of rats into an infant ‘Little Albert’ by repeatedly startling the infant with a loud noise every time a white rat was presented, the fear response created a stimulus generalisation to other objects related to white such as beards, cotton wool.

Levis (1989)

Juster, H.R, & Heimberg, R.G. (1995) Social Phobia longitudinal course and long-term outcome of cognitive behavioural treatment. Psychiatric clinics of North America. 821-842

Mover (1947)

Wolpe, J. (1958) Psychotherapy by reciprocal inhibition, Stanford, Standford University Press

Watson, J. B & Rayner, R. (1920) Conditioned emotional reactions. Journal of experimental psychology. 1-14

Hypnosis….Does it work?

Posted in Uncategorized on November 18, 2011 by thailiafoo

When you hear the word hypnosis people generally picture a mysterious man swaying a pocket watch in front of you and saying ‘look into my eyes’ in a fixating way and the ‘victim’ being instantly at the hypnotist’s whim. This hypnotist figure is highly popularised in movies and TV however this depiction bears little similarity to actual hypnotism.

The British Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis states that “Hypnosis usually involves the person experiencing a sense of deep relaxation with their attention narrowed down, and focused on appropriate suggestions made by the therapist.”

The cognitive psychological research on repression, interference, reconstructive memory and cue dependant memory can be used to aid the understanding accuracy of memories retrieved through hypnosis. However, there is a dispute on the accuracy of the recovered memories which are ment to have been deeply repressed by traumatic events.

There have been cases where hypnosis has lead to false memory syndrome as hypnotists could present leading suggestions during hypnosis which could distort original memories by acting as retroactive interference or imaginative reconstruction. CT scans uses X-rays to build up a picture of the brain which can show how the brain reacts when under hypnosis.

Wilson and Barber (1982) interviewed 27 highly hypnotizable participants and found that 26 of them shared a series of characteristics which they coined as fantasy-prone personality. They concluded that some people could have hypnotic susceptibility and may be more imaginative and/or have a fantasy-prone personality which would result in false memory syndrome. However without replication in larger sample studies using randomly selected participants, their conclusion should be considered preliminary.

A real life example of False Memory Syndrome occured in 2001, where Nancy Anneatra (former school teacher) was rewarded $5 million due to false memory syndrome which involved her therapist planting false memories in her mind which resulted in her accusing her parents and brother of abusing her.


  • Albery, I., & Chandler, C., & Field, A., & Jones, D., & Messer, D., & Moore, S., & Sterling, C., (2004). Complete psychology. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
  • Wilson, S., Barber, T.X, (1982) The fantasy-prone personality: Implications for understanding imagery, hypnosis, and parapsychological phenomena. PSI Research, 1(3), 94-116.