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TEDxAtlanta: Sarah Botto discovers children care about their reputation from the age of two

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If you thought a child’s awareness of society’s social expectations is slim to none, think again.

New research studies reveal beginning at the age of two years old children pay attention to what others think of them and will adjust their behavior accordingly with the interest of their reputation in mind.

Still, don’t believe us?

Ph.D. candidate in the Cognition and Development program at Emory University, Sara Botto is here to answer your questions and debunk your myths.

The doctoral student has been diligently dissecting this psychological study for quite some time and is ready to share her findings with the world.

On March 15, Botto is slated to give her first ever TED Talk during the TEDxAtlanta Conference. The anticipated event is already sold but will be available via livestream.

Check out the full interview below.

What sparked this study or this question?
In the literature, a lot of people had researched when children begin to develop a reputation which is around four to five years of age. We didn’t know a lot about when that would emerge or the type of factors that might contribute, and I thought this was important because the extent that we care about what people think of us really influences our behavior. I thought this was important phenomena to understand from its origins so that’s why I want to investigate when exactly that would emerge in development.

What kind of response have you received to your to your research/findings? It was very surprising that we found children modify their behavior strategically right before the age of two. Most people thought this wouldn’t emerge until after four years of age when children started school. Children are sensitive to the values other people are expressing and then they’re incorporating them into their behavior. The sensitivity is adapted in a sense that if we know what people are going to value we’re more likely to behave that way and be accepted in a group. These are all important things in development and for our self-esteem.

Why is this research important? What are the possible real-world applications? For cognitive a processes, if we, for example, find a certain ability to understand other people’s point of view and how it contributes to the extent of how we care about the evaluation of others then we might be able to create implement some kind of intervention for individuals with autism, which might allow them to incorporate into society a little better than they are. Now for typically developing the average person, basically understanding why you care so much about other people’s opinions can give you power. If were are able to understand why we think a certain way we’re able to reflect.

What do you want to achieve with your research?
We know very little about the type of factors –– social factors, cognitive factors that contribute to the extent that we come to care about what others think about us. I see our concern for others evaluation of the spectrum. One one hand, you have individuals with autism who aren’t really socially motivated and they don’t really care to illicit any approval from others. On the other side of the spectrum are those individuals with social anxiety who are extremely concerned with how others are going to evaluate them. If we’re able to understand the cognitive and social factors then we could explain some of the individual differences and better understand the clinical disorders but also what might contribute to our care for other people’s opinion –– that’s the end goal.

I recently reviewed a media report from Nerdy Creator on why people want to please each other. The article states people begin to please each other when they want something in return, are highly impressionable, or are hoping to feel worthy. Do you agree?
I absolutely agree that we begin to be sensitive to the evaluation of others. We want to please people because it’s beneficial for us. There’s a lot of actual debate about why we care about what other people think and whether we want to please people because we want to get something in return or are trying to find value in what others think about us.
It’s all about concept and what others think about me is going to get incorporated into what I think about myself. My personal opinion is that It changes from person to person and context to context. However, just like everything in life, something can be beneficial in moderation but if you have too much of it you can develop something like social anxiety.

Have you noticed any difference or similarities between demographics or gender? Excellent question! We have ongoing research right now asking those exact questions. That project is ongoing so I can’t definitively say whether those factors are influential or not. Hopefully in a couple months will know.

What the gist of your TED talk?
My talk specifically is really about how we are always communicating values to others. I think when parents understand that early on, your kids are picking up on the values you put down. They’re motivated to get approval from you. We’re also exploring the factors of how caregivers behave so that their children do not develop a lot of sensitivity. Parents can really adjust their behaviors or be mindful so their children do not develop a lot of sensitivity so that they don’t look for approval. We can be mindful of what things we’re praising and what things we’re emphasizing because that’s what’s going to shape the child’s behavior.

Why do you feel this research study could potentially change the world?
I think it’s two-fold: the first is how those people interact with young kids and how powerful our behavior and our words can be. I think sharing the fact that before they can even talk they are really paying attention to what you’re doing. It’s behavior that you’re not explicitly telling the child. They’re really watching what you’re doing in general and how you react to certain things. Understand that emerges early on, I think that really raises some awareness for caregivers and parents around kids, letting them know what you do matters very early on.

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UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union schedules protest following “false arrests” on campus

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RACHAEL GARNER

Students of color at The University of California-Berkeley’s Black Student Union have announced plans to orchestrate protest today (March 20) following the charges filed against two of the institution’s students.

The university’s public-affairs department released a statement on Tuesday revealing news regarding the recent arrest made by University of California police in response to a March 8 report.

The two students were allegedly spotted on campus by authorities, with one carrying a stun-gun, which is prohibited on campus by property by law.

“Following standard practice, officers asked her not to touch the weapon and told her that, due to safety concerns, he would need to take it from her,” the statement said.

“When the officer then reached for the stun device, a struggle ensued between the officer and the owner, as well as the second individual who sought to intervene.”

In that statement, Marc Fisher, UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for administration, said that “we recognize this arrest has become a racial issue for some of our community members. We are committed to supporting a fair and thorough investigation, and to taking the steps necessary to maintain a relationship of trust with our community and our guests while ensuring their safety.”

BSU plans to rally outside the campus near Golden Bear restaurant at noon Wednesday and asked that participants wear black to protest what it called police brutality.

“The constant targeting and harm directed at Black people is repugnant and unacceptable. We are calling on the black community and our allies to advocate for black lives on this campus through direct action,” demanding that all charges against the students be dropped, the statement said.

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Wendy Williams reveals she is living in ‘sober house’

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After months of speculation surrounding Wendy Williams’ ongoing struggles with alcohol and drug addiction, the cat is officially out of the bag and the talk show host revealed the news herself.

Williams, 54, courageously announced she’s been living in a “sober house” on Tuesday to in front of her in-studio audience at “The Wendy Williams Show.”

Aside from her husband and son, no other relatives or close friends knew of her big secret.

Williams says she works out after her show and then is driven by her “24-hour sober coach” to a home where she lives “with a bunch of smelly boys who have become my family.”

Williams also admitted she’s been addicted to cocaine in the past and never sought treatment.

She returned to her talk show earlier this month for the first time since December, saying she was off because of continued thyroid issues associated with Graves’ disease.

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Facebook and Instagram outages affect thousands of users

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Two of the most popular social media networks are experiencing massive outages.

Wednesday morning, Facebook and Instagram users across the U.S. began reporting issues with the website and app — including login errors, inability to post comments or photos and problems uploading links, and the list goes on.

Just before 2 p.m., Facebook issued a statement via Twitter saying: “We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps. We’re working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.” The company added in a follow-up message that the problems are not related to a hacking incident.

According to CBS News, there have been more than 11,000 reports of Facebook problems since at around noon on Wednesday. A live map shows it’s apparently a global issue, with outages reported outside the U.S., too, including in India.

Facebook has not yet released at statement regarding the source of the technical issue.

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