The Power of the Like in Adolescence

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“The Power of the Like in Adolescence” is an article of psychological findings published by Lauren E. Sherman, Ashley A. Payton, Leanna M. Hernandez, Patricia M. Greenfield, and Mirella Dapretto on May 31, 2016. The purpose of this experiment was to measure how adolescent peer influence occurs on social media through neural and behavioral responses. The hypothesis of this experiment is that peer influence will cause adolescents to engage in more risky behaviors if they are reinforced on social media. The participants in this experiment were 34 females between the ages 13-18 who had completed written consent with the institutional review board at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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To perform this experiment, a novel functional MRI (fMRI) was created to simulate Instagram. All participants underwent the fMRI while viewing photos submitted to Instagram, except for two participants because they had scan-console malfunction and excessive motion problems. Participants were shown pictures that had a variety of likes and types of behaviors (neutral or risky). This was completed through the help of a scanner using magnet-compatible 3D goggles. This made it possible for participants to like images or move onto the next image without liking it.

Researchers found that the popularity of a photo was a very important part in the way the participants viewed it and assessed what they were going to do with the photo. Participants were more likely to like photos based on how many likes it had over how risky the behavior was, such as smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol. It was also found that this effect was even stronger for photos that the participants themselves submitted. The experimenters found that the participants were more likely to like photos with more likes than photos with fewer likes, regardless of behavior. This showed the how the influence of peer pressure online plays such a massive role in adolescents decision making. When the participants viewed the photos with more likes, their neural regions are responsible for reward processing, social cognition, imitation, and attention had more activity. When shown risky photos, it was found that activity in the cognitive-control network had decreased. It is known that adolescence is a time in life where it is really important in the way one is presented, which transfers over to social media, as the researchers had predicted. The conclusion had been made that providing feedback to others had been overpowered by self-presentation.

This study was strong in my opinion in the way it was executed. I think that testing the adolescents with the fMRI was the most efficient way to receive the most accurate results since you are able to actually see the neural reactions occuring. The results from this study were very powerful and I liked the motive behind this experiment, pertaining to what effect peer pressure has at a young age. I wrote a paper in my Mass Communications class last semester on how body image portrayed on social media can negatively affect how adolescent girls view themselves. Many of the aspects of that experiment and this one are very similar, along with the results. For example, both studies showed how influential social media can be for girls at this age, whether it is positive or negative. However, I do wish that the experimenters used a larger sample size because I believe that would improve the accuracy of the study. A takeaway from this experiment would be that we should focus as a society on how powerful social media can be and try to create a more positive and accepting environment.

“The Relationship Between Mental Representations of Welfare Recipients and Attitudes Toward Welfare” is an article of psychological findings published by Jazmin L. Brown-Iannuzzi, Ron Dotsch, Erin Cooley, B. Keith Payne on November 22, 2016. The purpose of this experiment was to measure if the disdain that people have for welfare is because of the stereotypes that exist about African Americans. The hypothesis of this experiment is that when individuals think about welfare, they will think of Black people as recipients. There were various groups of people that were tested for this experiment, ranging in gender, age, racial-ethnic composition, and median income. These participants were from an introductory psychology course and Amazon Mechanical Turk and there was over a hundred people in each study group. This experiment entails investigating people’s mental representations of welfare recipients through three different studies. In the first two studies, people were asked to choose the image in each pair that looked more like “a welfare recipient”. In the third study, they asked the participants to determine whether they supported giving welfare benefits to the people pictured as the average welfare-recipient versus the non-welfare-recipient images that were generated in Study 2. Different phases of image-generation, image processing, and image-rating were also used to complete this experiment.

It was found that participants were less likely to give welfare benefits to the person pictured as the welfare-recipient than to the person pictured as the non-welfare-recipient, which showed a bias. The experimenters found that their hypothesis was right, and the mental representations people have of welfare recipients are based on these negative stereotypes. When participants thought about a typical welfare recipient, they imagined African Americans. They viewed typical welfare recipients as naive, lazy and incompetent. Participants also found typical welfare recipients to be seen as relatively unhappy, unattractive, and unlikeable. A negative stigma was very apparent, and contributed to the distaste that people have for welfare and its policies.

I believe that this study was a strong one with all its complexities and intricacies, which ensured the accuracy of the final results. The experimenters did this by using a large sample size and multiple study groups. This was also accomplished by conducting three different studies within the experiment and using phases of image-generation, image processing, and image-rating. Personally, I was fond of the motive behind this experiment since this is such a massive social issue in our society today. As a Criminal Justice major, I have learned a lot about how racial bias can play a huge role in how we view people in society. The way African Americans are regarded in this study is upsetting and should be an eye-opener to anyone who reads it. Talking about topics like this and making the public aware of their sometimes unconscious beliefs is one of the first things I believe we can do to change these negative opinions and stereotypes to hopefully create a better and more equal society.

“When Lightning Strikes Twice” is an article of psychological findings published by Matthew C. Makel, Harrison J. Kell, David Lubinski, Martha Putallaz, and Camilla P. Benbow on November 19, 2015. The purpose of this experiment was to test participants who had shown a large amount of intelligence at an early age, and see if their advanced abilities can be used for the betterment of themselves and society. The hypothesis of this experiment is that people who have these superior abilities in childhood will be able to improve their life and others’ lives. The experimenters had found 259 individuals around the mean age of 40 that were qualified for this experiment (214 males and 45 females). All participants had taken the SAT at the mean age of 12.6 years old between the year span of 1981 and 1994. To perform this experiment a graphic approach that is used in astronomy, called a blink comparator, was used. This works by having participants view photographs of the night sky quickly, as they are flashed back and forth on a screen. The photographs shown are in the same field of the night sky and the participants are tested if they can differentiate the brightness of certain objects and/or the photos’ organizational patterning.

Researchers found that it is possible to predict success from adolescents having heightened abilities. Accomplishments such as graduate degrees, jobs, and creative successes were distinguishable at age 13 and found by studying cross-sample qualitative differences. These participants had been tracked for over three decades by their abilities, and these results are consistent with their occupational and creative outcomes that had been studied in an earlier sample. This earlier sample was conducted by SMPY and consisted of 320 intellects of a similar age group who were followed up later on. Intellectual talent has patterns that can be identified through experimentation and studies. It was important to the experimenters to have a deep understanding of intelligence on a psychological level. Something discovered over the course of experimentation was that the abilities of participants tested varied greatly based on whether they scored higher on the SAT-Math portion or the SAT-Verbal portion. To understand all aspects that make up human accomplishment, the experimenters made sure to test the participants in certain categories of intelligence, such as behavioral genetic inquiry.

When it comes to this study, I feel that it would have been more effective if there had been an equal number of males and females participants. By using 214 males and 45 females, it created a bit of an unequal sampling which could have affected the results. Besides that, I believe that this study was strong in the way the participants were chosen and tested. The specific requirements of the participants that were needed to be included in this study and challenging testing they completed was necessary to convey that they were actually intellectually gifted. Also, the amount of participants included was essential to a study like this, since the results had to be proven over the course of years. I think that this study is important for society to know because intelligence is the way we move forward, and those with advanced abilities can take us to that advancement. Personally, I have never thought about how intelligence at a young age can help predict one’s intellectual future. I wonder if these abilities are based on nature vs nurture because that is what I am led to believe, but I would love to know more about that topic.”

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The Power of the Like in Adolescence. (2021, Apr 19). Retrieved from