Ivette Rodriguez Borja on December 8th, 2018

When I first met my good friend Leticia, we were playing a competitive soccer game with some friends. At the time I didn’t know her, I didn’t know half the people on the other team to be quite honest. What I did know, was that I wanted to win. During what we had decided would be the last goal I remember I had the ball and I was running towards the other side of the field until all of a sudden she kicked it away from me, made it all the way to our end, and scored the final goal. I was so upset. If it had not been for her, our team would have won and I wouldn’t have gone home feeling unsuccessful and unsatisfied. I blamed her for my anger and disappointment that night, and it took awhile to accept the fact that it was nobody else’s fault but my own that we lost that match.

After reading about first impressions in social psychology, I realized that I came to attribute a lot that I shouldn’t have to Leticia’s personality that night. Even though I didn’t like the fact that she took the ball from me, that didn’t make her a bad person. I didn’t even know enough about her to start making such assumptions. Nonverbal communication plays a big role in how we assess other people. I had never talked to Leticia, the only thing I had done was lose a really stressful game to her. If we had been friends I would have taken that loss lightly, but because we weren’t, the only thing I let myself focus on was the fact that I let a stranger beat me. I also learned that first impressions are long lasting, and that turned out to be true. I didn’t let myself get to know her for weeks, because I didn’t want to.

My awareness of the social psychology behind first impressions has taught me that I shouldn’t have been so quick to judge that night. Just because her team won doesn’t justify the fact that I had a grudge to hold. The fact that I was a sore loser said nothing about the qualities she held as a person, if anything it said a lot about me, and nothing good. Nevertheless, after some time in the same spaces I came to learn a lot more about her, and am surprised and thankful to say that we are best friends today.

 

Ivette Rodriguez Borja on December 8th, 2018

At Tufts I feel like I’m constantly being reminded of the identities that distinguish me from the rest of the student population. As a first-generation, low income, latinx student I recognize what sets me apart and although I try not to think about the ways I’m different, it’s hard to feel like I belong with everyone else. I’ve heard students of higher socioeconomic status say that they’re paying for [my] education, although never directly, and even though they think that’s where their tuition goes, it isn’t necessarily true. I remember when I was tabling for Building Engagement and Access for Students at Tufts (BEAST) at the pre-orientation booth during Jumbo Days there were some parents that asked me what we were about and when I told them we were dedicated to helping first-generation, low-income, and students of undocumented status transition to Tufts they would give us a smile, tell us we were doing great work, and move along. They would make me feel pitied and the fact that they said that the work we were doing was great made me think that they saw the groups we were targeting as some that needed help. These instances make me feel a social identity threat, because I feel like these characteristics give others the impression that I need extra help, or that I’m “less than” instead of as a person who earned their place at this private institution just like everyone else.

Sometimes at Tufts I feel like I’m devalued and this extra burden makes me feel like I need to do great in order to discredit the stereotypes and prejudices that other people hold about my identities. My first semester at Tufts I thought about this a lot, and that really affected my work. I came from a city with a predominantly latinx community so I was never judged about who I was there, and I was never seen any differently. Here I feel like I am, and I get upset with myself when I don’t do well because I feel like it only justifies their beliefs.

My awareness of the social psychological concept has clarified why I don’t think I did well my first year. I think the transition was harder for me than it should have been, and that wasn’t because I was less smart or motivated, it was because there were psychological barriers which kept me from being one hundred percent present all the time. I think that if others were aware of this psychological concept, specifically the people doing the damage, they’d try to be more conscious of the way they say things, or atleast, who they’re saying them in front of.

 

Ivette Rodriguez Borja on December 8th, 2018

As the daughter of two Mexican immigrants, I’ve had to deal with a lot of media talking down on families like ours and people like my parents. Around the 2016 Presidential elections, there was a lot said about Mexicans specifically. I had heard things in the news that said we were rapists, murderers, drug dealers, all of which; were far from true, demeaning, and painful to hear. Most of these rumors began as a means to blame us for unemployment in the US. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this social group was targeted as a result of realistic conflict theory; the idea that limited resources leads to conflict between groups. But, why were we being blamed for unemployment in the United States? President-elect (at the time) Donald Trump  had begun these rumors to use his own prejudices and get everyone in his favor to support his ideas and shift the reason for America’s suffering on someone else.

My awareness of this psychological concept makes my anger towards the government stronger. They manipulate the media to get the public to blame minority groups for problems they cause and should be fixing instead of derailing. Learning this concept has taught me why there is someone to blame in the first place. Because if we aren’t, who is? If we aren’t blamed then the public has someone else to talk about, the US government itself.

I think that if the public was made more aware of this concept, then they would be more willing to recognize where their own prejudices come from and hopefully be more inclined to be accepting of other social groups. I wonder how elections would go for a candidate who doesn’t blame anyone for the United States’ problems but the United States itself. I wonder what it would be like to have an election where no minority group has a finger pointed at them. I wonder what it would be like if instead of talking about the “people who affect” the United States, we talked about who the United States is affecting.

 

Ivette Rodriguez Borja on December 8th, 2018

I always hear about how forming housing groups for the next academic school year brings drama and breaks friendships, but I had never expected to face that issue within my own group of friends. This past weekend we had a discussion through text about who we should invite to form a 7 person suite with us next year. We are a group of 4 so we needed at least 3 others to join us, and within our group I am the only female-identifying member. When considering options one of my friends, Jose, suggested inviting Ben and another one of my friends, Alex, proposed we invite Michael. I recognized that both of these candidates were great people and I was sure they’d fit in, but, I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of living with 6 other men. In the chat I voiced this concern and Jose responded with, “but we’re gay.” I was taken aback by his comment and the rest of the group went on to discuss whether or not we should add them. I had voiced other issues too, but they seemed to be dismissed and I got really upset. I wrote them a long message that night about how I was feeling and pointed out how wrong it was for them to ignore my concerns. They responded with an apology and then moved on to talk about other things. Although I accepted their apologies, I was still upset about the situation and found myself unable to concentrate on my school work because I was so angry and contemplating my place in that friend group.

Upon reading about aggression and how to approach it, I considered the actions I took after our conversation and realized that there were several connections between what I did and what social psychologists consider healthy and unhealthy behavior. I was upset and had kept to myself about my anger for at least a day. I didn’t talk to any of them, and didn’t feel like talking to anyone else either. I think I had projected the anger I felt for them, on everyone else, and none of that was helping. After contemplating this matter for a long time, I realized that I needed to talk to them about how I felt in person, because through text they may not have been able to recognize how hurt I really was by their dismissive attitude and the lack of attention paid to my needs. I texted them that we needed to meet, so we did that night, and talked.

I took a calm approach, reminding them of what they said and how such things made me feel. I made sure to say that the way I was interpreting the situation could have been a misunderstanding on my end. I also made sure to say that I wanted to hear what they had to say, because this wasn’t an attack, this was a conversation, and with that it’s important to have dialogue about what when wrong. After I finished talking, their responses were very receptive, and they were sorry that they had caused me so much anger and distress. They explained that because our initial conversation was had through text, they didn’t realize I was really mad, and because of that, didn’t take more steps to reach out to me. They assured me that they were the ones in the wrong, and said they would make changes so that this doesn’t happen again.

After our conversation I felt a lot better. I was happy we were able to work things out, and glad that miscommunication was one of the factors which prompted the dispute, that it wasn’t them not caring about me, but them not realizing how wrong and senseless their statements were. The textbook talks about how important this calm and nonjudgmental approach is, and how healthy it is for the person experiencing the anger to talk about how they feel with the person/people that caused these feelings. I definitely felt a lot better afterwards, and think that I got a lot more out of that conversation than I would have if I had just tried to let my feelings go. I think that our friendship is stronger, and I feel more comfortable about talking to them if I ever need to again.

My awareness of ways to approach aggression after reading shows me how unhealthy it was to keep how I felt to myself, and how important it is that I discuss how I’m feeling, especially in a non accusatory and tranquil manner. I see that my second approach was great, and it was honestly so effective. Thanks to this new understanding, if I ever find myself in a similar situation, I recognize what I have to do to resolve the internal anger I tend to build within, and how important it is that I do that. Both for myself, and for those I am having issues with.

 

Ivette Rodriguez Borja on December 8th, 2018

A month ago I was tabling at an event for United for Immigrant Justice (UIJ) in order to encourage students to sign up for our phone bank. The phone bank would be dedicated to contacting minority groups, calling their attention to immigration issues at hand, and encouraging them to vote during midterm elections. At first no one signed up, so we talked about what we could do to encourage students to come to our event. Our club president suggested that we approach people, ask them if they care about human rights, and then reel them in with our event. His strategy was successful! I don’t think anyone in their right mind would say that they didn’t care about human rights, and that was where we were able to catch them.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, our president had come up with a strategy that employed the foot-in-the-door phenomenon. By asking a small question he got people to pay attention to him, then he was able to encourage them to sign up for our event because the question was manipulated in a way that suggested that if they didn’t help, they didn’t care about human rights.

My awareness of this psychological concept helps me understand why our president’s strategy was so successful. Nobody wants to look like a bad person, so a lot of them followed through after their first response. Also, by answering our question participants became invested in the issue, so it seemed like they had more intention to join our cause. I think that if the participants we approached recognized the strategy we were using, they would be less inclined to help because they’d see that we were manipulating our approach and that we didn’t necessarily think they were bad people if they said no. Our question put the people we asked at war with themselves, so it was in their good faith that they agreed. By saying yes, I think they were hoping to clear their conscious. In the end, turn out for the phone bank was great, and that’s all that matters!

 

Ivette Rodriguez Borja on December 8th, 2018

I remember that when I was in high school I used to care a lot about what other people thought, and with that, how they judged me. I always wanted to be liked and accepted, so I did what I felt like I had to in order to fit in, even if it meant changing something about myself. In high school I would straighten my hair every day, damaging the curls I only grew to love and embrace here in college. I did this because I wanted to conform to the societal norms that perceived straight hair as beautiful. All the other girls had straight hair, so I thought that by straightening mine, I’d be like everyone else, not so different, not so weird.

Doing this every day was exhausting, and the damage I was doing to my hair was immense, but even though I liked my hair curly, I assumed I would be judged for being different so, I straightened it constantly. While I didn’t realize this at the time, taking social psychology has taught me that in high school I had been participating in normative social influence. I changed my look into something I thought would be more publicly acceptable, and although it meant the deindividuation of my own look, I did it anyway because I wanted to be liked.

Now in college I’ve learned to be accepting of myself and that I can have my own standards for what should be considered beauty. I’ve also come to care less about what other people have to say, and I’ve only been stronger since.

After having learned this concept I wonder just how much of what I thought in high school was actually true. Did others perceive straight hair as better because its “tamed” or was that just something I convinced myself was true because it’s what the pretty girls had? I think that if I had been made aware of this concept in high school I would have kept straightening it because “high school me” was stubborn. However, I do recognize how toxic normative social influence can be, and I can only hope that I am better about being my own person, for myself, in the future.

 

Ivette Rodriguez Borja on December 8th, 2018

One of the worst things I could ever do this year, was find out that the Latino center added a Wii U to its recreational space. I have never owned a console of my own, but I did gain experience while playing on my cousin’s system back home in California. My cousin and I would spend hours together playing Super Smash Bros, Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart, and anything in between, so when the game system in the living room caught my attention, I knew there would be trouble in store for me. I considered playing a match of Super Smash Bros, so I asked my friend Juan to step in and join me. He did, and then that one match turned to two, then four, then six, and before we knew it we had spent three hours fighting against one another in the game. I looked at the time and saw that it was two in the morning, what had I done?

That night, my behavior was at odds with my attitudes, and in order to settle the cognitive dissonance I was feeling, I recognized that I needed to add a new cognition to justify my behavior. As I thought about what went wrong, I considered what I had been doing to prior to gaming. That day I had spent six hours in Tisch library, and then I went to the Latino center to take a break. Maybe that break was longer than it should have been, but, I needed it. Or atleast, that’s what I told myself. If I had gone back to work mode after a thirty minute break, I would have burned out, and at that point is productivity even possible? After much thinking I was able to convince myself that the time I spent gaming was justified, and I was no longer upset with myself.

Cognitive dissonance has the power to decrease a person’s self esteem, as it had done with me. The only way I felt capable of settling that instability, was to come up with a new belief, and after I had done so, I was at peace.

My awareness of this psychological concept makes me reconsider just how justified my actions were that night. Was it really okay for me to have spent three hours gaming? Looking back, it wasn’t, but what I recognize now doesn’t change the fact that I needed to get rid of the internal discomfort I was feeling. Although I am aware of this concept, it doesn’t change my behavior. I know that this will happen again, but I will still try to settle any distressing thoughts I have with myself because I need balance.

 

Ivette Rodriguez Borja on December 8th, 2018

A few years ago I was at my uncle’s house celebrating my cousin’s birthday with the rest of our family. My cousins and I decided to go for a swim in the pool and after having spent a fair amount of time inside, we stepped out and sat a table right next to it. We were having a good time, just catching up and talking nonsense, until one of them pointed out that our younger cousin, Danny, was drowning. I remember observing the scene. There was a man, who I assumed was one of my Uncle’s friends, watching this all happen, just as we were. And then, before I knew it, one of my older cousins, Julian, had jumped in and was swimming towards Danny. Julian was able to get Danny out and then we ran to tell our aunt what had happened.

There were about 10 people by the pool that day, and of those 10 there were 9 of us who played right into the bystander effect. This concept refers to the idea the more people there are present in the event in the emergency, the less likely any one of them is to help. I would like to tell myself that if Julian hadn’t dived in to save Danny, I would have done it, but to be honest, I don’t know. The reading suggested that witnesses feel a diffusion of responsibility when others are present, because they assume that someone else will take initiative and do something about the issue at hand. I think that those of us who waited to help, experienced that. While I hate to say this, I might not have decided to take initiative that day because I assumed someone else would do it.

If I had been aware of the bystander effect that day, I would have recognized how much more important it was that I take immediate action, because others are susceptible to not doing so. I think that no matter what, someone would have taken it upon themselves to help Danny, because this was an emergency that involved family. If this were to take place at a public pool, there was no lifeguard in sight, and someone was drowning, I think that the outcome for the individual at risk is capable of becoming a lot more dangerous.

 

Ivette Rodriguez Borja on December 7th, 2018

This year I’ve been thinking a lot about wanting to have a romantic relationship, but I often find myself scared to approach potential interests because I fear rejection. However, despite these feelings that hold me back, I recently developed enough courage to ask my crush out to dinner in a restaurant at 6 o’clock. The day we were supposed to meet for dinner he texted me and asked if it was okay if his friend joined us, I said it was, but immediately felt pathetic and dejected. I thought that I had made my interest in him clear, but the fact that he invited his friend too made me consider the possibility that he either didn’t recognize my intentions, or did this in an attempt to turn me down by making our plans seem less like a date.

When reading about self-esteem, I considered what my thought process was like after I recognized I had spent enough time sulking in my disappointment. In an attempt to make myself feel better, I considered possibilities which placed a different spin on the justification of his friend’s attendance. I told myself that he probably got nervous because he had similar romantic feelings for me, so his friend’s company was meant to bring security and reduce any awkward air. I also told myself that he may have just not recognized my intentions, and that didn’t mean that he didn’t like me back, it just meant that he thought the dinner was casual enough to invite another friend. I made all of these justifications in an attempt to boost my self-esteem. I provided excuses which distorted the realities of the situation, to feel better about myself. Now, after considering one of the central motives behind people’s construals, which is the need to feel good about ourselves, I realize that I had done exactly what social psychologists predict we do!

Knowing what I do now, about self-esteem and the psychological implications behind it, I think that my awareness of this social motive will not change my susceptibility to justify or distort events in the future. I think that self-esteem is important, because it makes us feel better about situations that would otherwise force us to evaluate our self-worth and make us unhappy.

My awareness of this social psychological concept does, however, change the way I interpret the events of that day. Although having high self-esteem can be good, it can also bring suffering. I think that the self-justification that I provided that day encouraged me to hold on to romantic feelings that may not necessarily have been reciprocated. By holding on to false hope, I was also setting myself up for heartbreak, and by those means, self-esteem has the power to hurt an individual.

 

Ivette Rodriguez Borja on December 7th, 2018

Last year my Intro to Community Health class offered extra credit for going to events their department hosted. At the beginning of the semester, I didn’t make an effort to attend their events because I was doing well in the class. Towards the middle of the semester my grade had begun to droop, and I wanted to get it back up. I thought about what I could do, so I got help from an ARC tutor for my research paper, I went to office hours, and I formed study groups, but I still felt like this wasn’t enough. Then I remembered that if I went to their department events I could get extra credit, so I did!

Looking back at this now, I realize that it was the social psychological concept of extrinsic motivation that persuaded me to attend those events. At first, I attended them because of the external reward, extra credit, and internal pressures, my grades, not necessarily because I found going to the events interesting. However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the events while I was there. Although this concept emphasizes the idea that we do something solely for rewards and that we don’t feel pleasure from the tasks we engage in, I found myself thankful for being pressured into attending, because I learned a lot from the speakers that I went to go see. This concept emphasizes the idea that we lose interest in what we are doing, because we are only doing them for the rewards they grant. However, I found myself more invested and more excited to attend the events after I realized that they were more compelling and engaging than I thought they would be.

In light of this understanding, I wonder if my Community Health professor considered the effects of their decision to add extra credit. Did they want people to come so that they would have turn-out or did they want them to come so that students would recognize a resource they may not have checked out on their own? Nonetheless, I’m glad they had this, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to both, improve my grade, and check out something new.