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Top tags: Psi Chi Related  Chapter Life  A Better You  All Things Psych  Conducting Research  Career Advice  Going to Grad School 

We Need More Autistic Women In Media

Posted By Samantha Picaro, Kean University, Union, NJ, Friday, July 17, 2020

I was diagnosed with autism at age 3. I still have struggles, though I struggle less thanks to wonderful family support and services like tutoring and social skills lessons. Though I’m not the only woman in the world with autism, I don’t see them on TV, in movies, or in books.

Diversity is getting better in the media. Most of it centers around racial and LGBT+ diversity. But what about neurodiversity, specifically autistic women and girls?

Lack of Media Portrayal

More autistic characters have appeared in the media with shows like Atypical and The Good Doctor. But these characters, like so many autistic protagonists, are White, male, straight, and financially stable as pointed out by JR Thorpe in “Why Are There So Few Women With Autism On TV?” (2017). Only a handful of female characters have been openly identified as having ASD, like Fiona Helbron on Elementary and Julia on Sesame Street (Thorpe, 2017). But it is more common to have a female character on a show exhibit traits of ASD but not have the diagnosis confirmed in the storyline (Thorpe, 2017). The best example is Dr. Brennan on Bones, who is suspected by fans to be on the spectrum, but the show never confirmed it (Thorpe, 2017).

Confirmed and nonconfirmed female characters with autism are limited regarding diversity (Thorpe, 2017). Often the character is White, straight, and financially stable (Thorpe, 2017). This character is usually in the STEM field, being a gifted mathematician or scientist (Thorpe, 2017). Thorpe (2017) goes on to state that characters should have diverse jobs like art rather than science (Thorpe, 2017).

Misconceptions of Women with Autism

Autism is different in girls, and I can personally testify to that. Studies show that autism is different in girls and that girls may face additional challenges that boys may not. Girls are more likely to be undiagnosed or diagnosed later in life because, historically, the disorder was thought to be four times more common in boys (Szalavitz, 2016). This is because the diagnostic criteria was originally derived from studies done on males (Szalavitz, 2016). Experts also used to believe that girls with autism had more severe symptoms such as intellectual disability (Szalavitz, 2016). Even in the modern age, a girl may be more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, OCD, or anorexia (Szalavitz, 2016).

Girls with autism have different symptoms from boys. One reason girls are under-diagnosed is because they are more likely than boys to hide their symptoms (Szalavitz, 2016). Girls are more likely to be social than boys, especially due to gender expectations, thus a girl is likely to mimic the social behaviors of other children and girls (Szalavitz, 2016). For example, an autistic girl may not understand why other girls play with dolls but will learn to play with dolls too in order to fit in.

However, mimicry can only go so far to help a girl with ASD blend. Girls with ASD face more difficulties in adolescence due to the emergence of mean girls, and puberty can cause distress because both boys and girls with ASD often dislike abrupt change, and what is more abrupt a change than puberty? (Szalavitz, 2016). A girl or woman with ASD is likely to be in an abusive relationship because she may not know what comprises a healthy relationship and/or may believe nobody else will love her (Szalavitz, 2016).

Gender roles extend beyond social behavior by affecting the realm of health. Girls are expected to be hygienic, yet sensory issues may make deodorant and wearing bras uncomfortable (Szalavitz, 2016). Difficulty following appropriate sequence of behavior when the person has no interest in the activity makes it more difficult for a girl to learn to wash her hair or put on makeup (Szalavitz, 2016). As stated earlier in this article, a woman with autism may be misdiagnosed with anorexia. The reason is that one of the features of ASD is sensory issues, which means that many individuals with ASD do not like certains tastes or textures (Szalavitz, 2016). This often leads to a restricted diet, which may appear to be anorexic behavior (Szalavitz, 2016).

My Experience

I agreed with both JR Thorpe and Szalavitz in their articles regarding women with autism in media and receiving the ASD diagnosis. As a woman with ASD, I’m disappointed and frustrated with the lack of female ASD representation in media. Where is a Disney Princess on the spectrum? When will Hallmark feature a heroine with ASD? In all these coming-of-age movies and shows, where is the girl who goes to special ed classes and receives occupational therapy?

Part of the problem is understanding ASD in women. Doctors have gotten better at diagnosing women, but the field is still uneven. Portrayals of women with ASD need to include the struggles we specifically face, like the added pressure of socializing. Most importantly, like with autistic men, nonautistic people need to be reminded that autism is called spectrum for a reason. Not every person with autism, male or female, is into science.

Why is representation important? It’s human nature to be drawn toward people like us. America is diverse, and the media needs to show it. If we see a character who is like us, we are more likely to believe we can be like that someday. For example, the increase of women in STEM helps little girls understand they can be doctors. I hope autistic representation of women improves by the time I have kids because I don’t want my little girl to ask me why there are no autistic girls in her books or movies.


Szalavitz, M. (2016, March 1). “Autism—It's different in girls.” Scientific American.

Thorpe, JR. (2017, August 1). “Why are there so few women with autism on TV?” Bustle, Bustle.

Tags:  A Better You  All Things Psych 

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Five Things the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Taught Me

Posted By Kaitlyn L. Nasworthy, Georgia Southern University alumni, Tuesday, June 23, 2020

COVID-19 has been undoubtedly stressful for everyone. Children’s routines have been changed overnight, plans have been cancelled at the last minute, people have been laid off, fired, or had to change jobs suddenly, schools suddenly switched to online, many jobs have to be worked from home now, and people are scrubbing compulsively, keeping their distance from others, and wearing masks and gloves to protect themselves and others from spreading a novel illness that is deadly among older adults and the immunocompromised. Indeed, a quick Google search tells you everything about how COVID-19 has turned our worlds upside down and has destroyed many things we hold dear.

However, some people are beginning to discuss some good things that the COVID-19 pandemic has made possible, such as a well-needed break from work, more quality family time, time to get DIY projects done, and more. Although it is very important to address the bad parts of COVID-19, it is important to address the silver linings COVID-19 has provided us as well. During these trying, chaotic times, we could all use some positivity in our lives. I’m going to discuss five good things that the COVID-19 pandemic has provided for me in the hopes that it will provide some positivity to those who need it, and allow those same people to consider some positivity that has come to them because of the lockdowns.

1. Breaks Are Important

One unintended consequence of this pandemic is that it left me without work for almost three months; I was in the middle of changing jobs before the lockdowns began, and the government lockdowns put a hiring freeze on the job I was going for, so I was in limbo from early March to late May. Although I was initially stressed out, I did learn a few things. First of all, I was stressed out over nothing since my husband’s income covers all our bills. Second, this was the first work break I’ve had in almost ten years where I didn’t have to worry about finances. Third, with the first two points in mind, I could use the break to take some well-deserved relaxation time and work on myself. During my time off work, I have been able to work on my workaholism, reset my body and mind, and just take me-time. I used to have chronic migraines—I haven’t had one in months now! My body isn’t as sore and I don’t feel frazzled. Now that I have a part-time job again, I’ve come to appreciate taking breaks when needed, and will in the future.

2. Having Hobbies Is Wonderful

Before the COVID-19 lockdowns, I was a store manager, which left very little time for relaxation, let alone hobbies and interests. When I resigned as a manager and ended up out of work, I was lost for a couple of weeks. But during the boredom, I discovered several hobbies that I love: painting, DIY home projects, crafts, baking, and cooking elaborate meals. I have also rediscovered my love for reading, writing, and learning new information and skills. I’m taking Coursera classes and watching YouTube tutorials again. Discovering and rediscovering hobbies has added a richness to my life for the first time in years, and I’ll never let that go again.

3. Minimalism Is What We Need

It goes without saying that an income loss means having to cut costs and rebudget wherever necessary, but plenty of good can come from that. After being out of work, I’ve learned where we can cut most of our costs to save money, what our needs are versus our wants, free and low-cost entertainment ideas, and what is truly important in our lives. For example, we don’t need a new TV every two to three years, we don’t have to have the latest gaming computer, we can live without takeout and eating out often, and there are plenty of things we already have that we can sell and donate. I have already taken three huge boxes of clothes to Goodwill during this lockdown, and I probably have one or two more to give. We have sold old technology and furniture to clear the house more, and thrown away broken items. We have come to value space and peace over things, and our saved money means we can use it for bills, put it in savings, and spoil each other and our dog more.

4. It’s Never Too Late to Learn a New Habit

I took a Coursera course titled “The Science of Well-Being” as a birthday present to myself, and part of the course was learning that good habits lead to happiness rather than just things and money. Some habits I have taken to learning are regular sleeping, regular exercise, writing in a gratitude journal, savoring small things and events, and performing random acts of kindness. I have been cooking at home more and eating better, I have become less jaded and cynical, and having gratitude every day makes me feel better. All the free time has allowed me to learn better habits and reject bad ones. I can truly say it is helping me be a better person overall.

5. Reset My Priorities

All of these things meet a final, but highly important, lesson for myself, and that is where my priorities lie. Obviously, my family is my first priority, but now I have learned to focus more on my family rather than giving most of my focus to my work. I have also learned to live with less so I and my husband can work less and be home more together with our dog. We have also relearned the importance of date nights, visiting extended family, and unplugging our devices to focus on each other. In addition, we have both learned, not only how to better balance work and home, but also which work would benefit us the most and better use our strengths. I can truly say that the lockdown has provided me with clarity that I may not have received otherwise.

What’s Next?

These are five major good things that the COVID-19 pandemic has provided for me. By reflecting on the positivity, I am better able to plan ahead for myself, my family, and my future career options! Your list may be similar, or very different, but I urge all my fellow Psi Chi members to create a list of positive things that COVID-19 has allowed in your life. No matter how big or small, any and all positivity will be helpful. Furthermore, spread the lessons you’ve learned to other members and classmates and cohorts. Use them to plan your next steps in life, and always remember to stop and smell the roses from time to time.

Tags:  A Better You  All Things Psych 

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COVID-19: How a Pandemic Highlights Necessary Changes to Help Students Thrive and Colleges Survive

Posted By Kaitlyn L. Nasworthy, Georgia Southern University alumni, Thursday, June 11, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Almost every aspect of normalcy has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. From beaches to businesses to banks and beyond, right down to our very homes, economic uncertainty has left millions out of work and anxious for what happens next. These are uncertain times filled with confusion, and one area where this is seen very clearly is within the structure of higher education. Overnight, college classes had to convert to online courses, dorms were shut down and refunded, course material and exams had to be changed, and graduation ceremonies were halted and replaced with online live-streamed graduation announcements. Although the short-term changes are very clear, what remains to be seen is the long-term effects of COVID-19 on our colleges and universities. This article will discuss a few ideas to change our colleges and universities so they may better serve students and survive for the students of the future.

Costs to Cut

COVID-19 has forced everyone to look into college costs and ways to curb many of these costs. Colleges’ lack of adaptation to the changing "traditional" student stereotype has been noted before, but this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. With today’s technology and internet accessibility, an unintended consequence is that colleges will have to become more accessible and move most of their course materials online to survive, with the exception of service-learning, of course. This will not only make taking on a future pandemic easier for students, but it will also make college cheaper and easier to attend for working students, a demographic which is rising steadily every year. It will also increase the need for internet companies to expand their services into rural areas, and the increase in competition could potentially decrease the cost of internet services.

Another thing that COVID-19 highlighted to full-time students were the on-campus services that they were forced to pay for regardless of whether or not they used them. Gyms, athletic fees, student life fees, counseling services, health services, etc… all being included with tuition costs as a requirement to attend, and no refunds issued if the student chooses not to use them. Many students also faced difficulty getting refunded for these services when their campuses were closed, or only received a partial refund. Many students would be okay paying for these services by use rather than just paying huge costs upfront and never using the services in question.

A common complaint regarding college costs is the requirement for college-level CORE classes that should have been covered in high school. Many students voice their anger at graduating high school only to turn around and pay to take the same CORE classes at a college level that they just graduated from. COVID-19 has brought further light to the extra costs and time students face because of required CORE classes. Many of these individuals were first-year students, and required to enroll in CORE classes, get a dorm, and not have a car on campus, so it’s been a huge slap in the face for them, particularly because their college experiences were taken from them and online CORE classes tend to be more difficult. As such, many may choose not to return to college, or take a gap year to work.

COVID-19 has also highlighted more issues with student loans and problems to come. Because colleges have taken a steep profit loss and might have even dipped into their endowment funds, these losses in endowment funds could cause colleges to reduce merit and need-based aid, and drive students to take out larger loans to cover the loss. Furthermore, the cuts to student jobs and outstanding student loans may discourage students from returning and applying to colleges later. This will also discourage alumni and parents from donating money to these colleges, further driving away potential returning students and new students.

Finally, another change that could be made to help students thrive and colleges survive is for colleges to adopt trade school and apprenticeship models. Although college enrollment has declined, trade schools have received an increase in enrollments, particularly because the costs are far cheaper and there are little to no unnecessary classes to take in order to receive a certificate for a particular skill set. By cutting unnecessary courses that have nothing to do with the degree, students can save money, graduate earlier, and be more ready to begin their chosen careers.

Due to COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, many bored students took to using massive open online courses (MOOCs) such as Khan Academy and Coursera to pass time for free or low-cost courses. Some of these students have voiced the idea of using MOOCs rather than traditional brick-and-mortar colleges. With all of these facts presented, why would students of the future pay thousands of dollars a semester for four or more years when they can pay hundreds of dollars a semester for two years or less, get trained and certified, and have a job lined up upon graduation? People are asking this question now, and if colleges won’t accommodate student’s needs, they won’t survive after COVID-19.

What to Do?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), total undergraduate enrollment rates decreased by 8 percent (from 18.1 million to 16.6 million students) between 2010 and 2018 (NCES, 2020). Climbing tuition rates and difficult work-school-life balances are being cited as the major factors for this dip in enrollment. COVID-19 has been credited as a nail in the coffin for many failing businesses, including colleges and universities. If higher education is to survive, college administrators have to be willing to cut costs wherever possible and change the traditional college model to a more streamlined model made for the growing working adult student demographic. This includes strengthening online course and material accessibility for all students, cutting required on-campus fees and unnecessary courses, creating a service-learning environment that nurtures tangible hands-on work skills rather than just relying on grades and degrees, and limiting scheduled meeting times for labs and service-learning to better accommodate working students. Like it or not, higher education is a business and runs on money, and the only way to make money is to adapt to the changing society. In an age of the internet, information, and the existence of MOOCs, colleges and universities will have to change, or they will eventually die out.


Undergraduate Enrollment. (2020, May). Retrieved June 1, 2020, from

Tags:  All Things Psych  Career Advice  Going to Grad School 

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Six Extremely Interesting Applications of Psychology

Posted By Bradley Cannon, Psi Chi Central Office, Monday, April 1, 2019
Updated: Monday, April 1, 2019

No two psychologists are the same. As you probably know, the field of psychology has branched out in many directions and become interconnected with numerous other fields, both within the areas of psychology and beyond. For a quick idea of the many fields in psychology, take a lot at Psi Chi’s Career Finder.

The idea that all psychologists are counselors is simply no longer true—nor was it ever. Today, let’s take a look at some of the most unique and creative applications of psychology that we have come across at the Psi Chi Central Office. (You’re going to love these! They might even make up for that ridiculous April Fools post that we used to introduce this article…)

1. Studying Female Serial Killers

Forensic psychology in itself is fascinating. But a few years ago, we stumbled upon Dr. Marissa A. Harrison, who specifically studies female serial killers! Like, who even knew that this was a thing?! As it turns out, women serial killers do exist and they do tend to have different motives and methods for killing people than the male serial killers that are often portrayed and discussed on television. Learn more in what quickly become one of our most popular magazine articles.

2. Superhero Therapy

Dr. Janina Scarlet survived Chernobyl radiation when she was a child, which caused her to have lifelong health issues such as migraines and seizures. As she recently explained to the University of California San Diego Psi Chi Chapter, when she immigrated to the United States, other children often made fun of her for and asked her things like if she glowed in the dark. Janina felt like a total outcast and often wanted to die, until she saw the first X-Men film in a theater, which immediately attracted her attention because the X-Men characters were also frequently bullied for their exposure to radiation. Largely due to the X-Men, she gradually began to see herself as a survivor with special talents, instead of a victim, and so she later dedicated her life to helping others use their favorite fictional hero characters in order to better understand themselves and manage painful experiences.

3. Influencing Pixar's Inside Out

There are many ways that media psychology can (and should) be used to influence the choices that writers, producers, and directors portray characters and situations. For example, a few years ago, we reached out to Dr. Dacher Kelter to tell us about how he worked with the director of Pixar’s Inside Out. As it turns out, Dr. Keltner convinced the director to significantly alter the ending of that film in order to portray a meaningful and unique theme regarding the importance of sadness. Find out how the Inside Out was originally supposed to end and more in this magazine interview.

4. Space Psychology, the Final Frontier!

Have you ever stopped to consider whether the same psychological principles that you study here on Earth would also apply to people when they aren’t located on our planet?! For 15 years, Dr. Nick Kanas served as a NASA-funded principal investigator as he conducted psychological research on astronauts and cosmonauts. We wrote an in-depth interview with him about the various stressors of long-duration space travel, which include everything from the potential for equipment to break down to the effects of separation from family and friends. Far out!

5. Pick Up Lines

Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research has published articles about everything from the effects of music on mood to the effects of using different types of password combinations. But this year, a really unique article investigated the perceived attractiveness of people who use pick-up lines to get a date! In other words, would you expect a person to be more attractive if they used a direct pick-up line (e.g., “I just have to tell you, you have amazing eyes”), an innocuous line (e.g., “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”), or a flippant line (e.g., “If you were a triangle, you’d be acute one”)? The next time someone walks up to you and says, “Is your name Ariel? Because I think we mermaid for each other,” remember that that this is only one of the many unique situations that social psychology has explored in order to better understand interactions between people.

6. Outdoor Healing Excursions

Soldiers historically were faced with a long march or journey home after wartime. But now, technology often allows them to be shipped directly home within a few days of fighting. Because this does not give them as much opportunity to process their experiences before returning to civilian life, is it possible that this causes them to be more likely to exhibit PTSD ? This year, Psi Chi’s Austin Peay State University Chapter raised $1,100 for Warrior Expeditions, a nonprofit that helps veterans heal from wartime experiences by facilitating long-distance outdoor excursions. This organization also researches the effects of hikes, bikes, and paddles on veterans' mental health.

More Interesting Applications of Psychology

Be sure to check out Psi Chi’s free online Careers in Psychology Resource. This resource will help you choose possible career routes and sharpen your skills to acquire rewarding jobs that you can be proud of. Also, if you are interested in learning about a particular field, review the “Career Preparation” and “Fields of Psychology” sections of our Publication Search for Eye on Psi Chi magazine. You never know what you might find!

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Tags:  All Things Psych  Career Advice 

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Can Psychology Be a Science and an Art?

Posted By Jessica Costello, Stonehill College, Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Can Psychology Be a Science and an Art?

Jessica Costello, Stonehill College

It’s no secret that the field of psychology has been going through an identity crisis. At my college, as I suppose is the case at many others, the psychology department is located in the science building, despite debate over whether a field focused on the ever-changing human mind qualifies as a true science. To add to the confusion, when I graduate, I’ll earn a Bachelor of Arts.

I embraced the contradiction and chose psychology as my major in part because it rests on the border between science and art. Studying the mind engages both my desire for empirical knowledge about human functioning and my curiosity about the classic existential questions that poets, artists, and theologians have posed for centuries. Getting involved in research projects at the undergraduate level has renewed my appreciation for the scientific method and ignited my curiosity about new topics.

But I worry that current trends in the field have cast off the existential flair in total favor of empirical testing. Even if an exciting study’s conclusions have many practical applications, it’s unlikely nonacademic readers will slog through pages of dry, academic text to learn about them. As the field has retreated into the lab, researchers have lost the art of communication with the outside world.

Marianne Fallon, of Central Connecticut State University, would agree. In her recent editorial, “Writing Quantitative Empirical Manuscripts With Rigor and Flair (Yes, It’s Possible),” Fallon argues for greater accessibility in scientific writing (for example, using a concrete example to help readers visualize an abstract concept) and “encourage[s] all scientists to adopt a classic style that puts writers and readers on a level playing field” (Fallon, 2018).

My first love was creative writing. As I became more familiar with psychological literature, it seemed obvious to me that I could combine my passion for crafting prose with my love of psychology and communicate scientific conclusions to everyday people. I was going to reach the audiences whom all this advanced psychological research is meant to benefit.

Perhaps that’s partially why I was so shocked when a faculty member recently questioned the value of my creative writing minor. Given the chance, I could go on for hours about the stories I’ve written, both in terms of the content and of my experience while writing them. I could ramble about how writing makes a good metaphor for life. How creating fictional characters and living in their worlds, seeing life through the narrators’ heads, has increased my empathy for people who have experienced things I can't imagine. At the heart of both fictional stories and at the heart of our real day-to-day existences lie relationships. Whole, fractured, healthy, toxic—all of them. Writing about the lives of fictional people has given me insight into how I interact with real people.

Have psychologists been so busy trying to earn the identity of a science that they have forgotten the sense of human connection that drives so many people to study psychology in the first place?

In an article for Psychology Today, Gregg Henriques, a psychology professor at James Madison University, argues that much of the confusion over the field’s status is due to a “never ending call for more research” that muddles the larger purpose for which we carry out research. He cites the data, information, knowledge, and wisdom (DIKW) pyramid to illustrate that psychologists tend to be so concerned with gaining information that we forget how to synthesize the data we collect into meaningful knowledge. As we struggle to wade through all our studies' contradictory conclusions, we risk forfeiting meaningful progress toward that eternal, poetic wisdom for which we’ve been searching.


Fallon, M. (2018). Writing quantitative empirical manuscripts with rigor and flair (Yes, it’s possible). Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, 23, 184–198.

Henriques, G. (2016, 27 Jan.). The ‘Is psychology a science?’ debate. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Tags:  A Better You  All Things Psych  Career Advice 

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Five Strategies to Prevent the Spread of Non-Diverse Zombies

Posted By Bradley Cannon, Psi Chi Writer/Journal Managing Editor, Monday, October 15, 2018
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2018

Yep, the title says it all! Let's have some Halloween fun AND promote diversity issues. Are you aware of the five ways below to support diversity with Psi Chi?

We at Psi Chi passionately believe in the importance of embracing the unique characteristics and perspectives of all types of people in our increasingly diverse world. This is true in the classroom, workplace, family settings, and yes, even on the brink of a zombie apocalypse! That’s why Psi Chi provides a special online resource, Diversity Matters, which features free teaching tools, group activities, and other materials to help you support diversity issues in your local communities.

So, let’s talk zombies! In recent years, numerous articles have been published concerning issues of diversity in television programs such as AMC’s The Walking Dead. At times, that particular show has suffered from criticisms for lack of diversity, and yet in later seasons, it has been recognized as one of the most diverse casts for any top-rated series.

There are many reasons why people care about the inclusion of diversity in programs like The Walking Dead. For example, it helps viewers connect with people of different backgrounds, and it provides unique, and sometimes untold, story-telling opportunities. Diversity in children’s programming helps introduce kids at an early age to diverse peoples who can serve as role models. And of course, diversity in television and other media results in more jobs for individuals in underrepresented groups too!

As actor Ross Marquand says, who plays the LGBTQ character Aaron on The Walking Dead, “I’m very grateful that AMC and Scott [Gimple] and Robert [Kirkman] have done such a good job of maintaining the vision of those original [Walking Dead] comics, because I think it’s a really wonderful kind of metaphor for how we can all bind together in times of real struggle and real chaos.”

Beyond television, a large amount of psychology research has more generally indicated the value of embracing diversity-affirming stances with regard to sexual and gender diversity, racial and ethnic diversity, disability status, religious diversity, refugee and immigrant status, SES and social class, and many others. You can learn more about this in the “Related Articles” section at the end of this post.

So, in recognizing the importance of diversity everywhere (including in hair-raising scenarios involving the living dead), here are five strategies that you can use with Psi Chi to help prevent the spread of non-diverse zombies! Or in other (less playful) words, here are five strategies that you can use to help increase diversity awareness—both for yourself and for others.

1. Learn to Recognize Your Implicit Biases

Anyone can have implicit biases—even you! At this link, legendary psychologist Dr. Mahzarin Banaji encourages you to open yourself up to the possibility that you might have implicit prejudices. Dr. Banaji is a cofounder of Project Implicit (Harvard’s online Implicit Association Test), which is used to detect hidden and subtle biases that you might not even know you have.

This free online test has been taken by millions people to help them identify a broad range of biases with regard to race, gender, weight, age, disability, religion, etc. Discover how this test changed Dr. Banaji’s life, and how it has the potential to change yours too! It is never too late to work on improving yourself!

2. Apply for Diversity Article Awards

To encourage more article submissions about diversity, Psi Chi provides two $600 awards each year. One award is given to an article published in Eye on Psi Chi magazine, and one award is given to an article published in Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research.

What are you waiting for? All articles published in our magazine and journal will be automatically considered for this award at the end of each year—no award application is necessary. It pays to promote diversity in our publications. View our submission guidelines today and meet last year’s recipients.

3. Challenge Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone

Do you know who you are? Psi Chi President Dr. Melanie M. Domenech Rodríguez shares how your knowledge of diversity starts with understanding who you are and what unique contributions you bring to diverse groups.

Seek activities along dimensions of identity outside of your comfort zone such as race/ethnicity, gender identity, and political ideology. This new article provides specific activities to consider, as well as a chart to help you determine who you are.

4. Discover How to Create Nurturing Environments

Establishing nurturing environments in your local neighborhoods and college campuses has the potential to change the world. So, instead of getting “bogged down” trying to change the large-scale problems of the world such as gun violence and climate change, consider starting with small meaningful acts that will support your local community.

Esteemed psychologist, Dr. Anthony Biglan, provides these eight steps to create homes and schools filled with positive reinforcement, respectful communication, and evidence-based resources. Just imagine all the ways that your communities could benefit from your acts to maintain safe and nurturing environments!

5. Post Our Pledge on Your Social Media

Last of all, we would like to invite you to participate in our Diversity Pledge. It only takes a second, and yet the possibilities to spread the message of “Diversity Matters” to others are limitless! To participate, simply share the following quote on one (or more) of your social media accounts:

I pledge to stand with #PsiChi to promote cultural diversity and awareness. Take this pledge with me by sharing it on your social media. Learn more at

Do you agree with this sentence from Psi Chi’s Diversity and Sustainability Statement: “The scope of our organizational relevance is only as broad as the diversity of our membership and their scholarly pursuits?” Take a moment to consider how you could use the five survival strategies above to improve yourself and others in your community.

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Tags:  A Better You  All Things Psych 

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Labeled Praise for My Kindergarten Teacher

Posted By Cristal Martinez, Licensed Professional Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, Monday, August 20, 2018
Updated: Monday, August 20, 2018

Cristal Martinez, Licensed Professional Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor

PsiChi Alumni from the University of Texas at El Paso class of 2009


I have been a therapist since 2011. I have been practicing psychotherapy with children, adolescents and adults. One day while writing a client progress note, I had a flashback. (Not like a traumatic stress type of flashback, so don't worry). It was a snippet of my life I had captured of myself in kindergarten. I loved learning and was a smart (and eager) child. One day, during free-play time, I went off to the corner of the classroom on my own and started working on a floor puzzle. I was disinterested in what the other children were doing. I had a moment of solemnity that quickly turned into fun. I can remember that it was a wooden number matching puzzle. I had to match the number “1” with another piece that had one object, the number “2” with the other piece that had two objects . . . etc.

As I was happily constructing the puzzle, my kindergarten teacher got my attention and said, “Cristal, you’re doing such a great job completing your puzzle. I’m going to give you a gold star for that.” As I looked up at her from my spot on the colorful rug I was sitting on, my face brightened. I felt warm and fuzzy inside despite sitting on the scratchy carpet, and I kept on working diligently with the puzzle. In fact, for “free play” time from that point forward, I completed puzzles, games, and read books on my own in that same corner of the classroom. My eager mind was finally met with appropriate stimulation as well as positive attention. This may be why I continued to love school and why I was motivated to obtain my master’s degree.

Treating young children with behavior problems has always been a challenge. But then . . . enter a treatment called “Parent Child Interaction Therapy.” It is great, in my opinion, because I truly believe that, to change a young child’s behavior, the intervention must be with the child’s parents and the surrounding environment. Working with children ages two to seven years old is a unique experience, and PCIT takes out most of the guesswork. This intervention is heavy in caregiver involvement and changing their interactions with their children at home, subsequently improving their relationships . . . thus reducing problematic externalizing behavior.

One of the main components of PCIT is teaching and coaching parents how to play with their children. Interestingly enough, some caregivers need to be taught how to play and some do not enjoy playing with their children. I can see how the “inner child” might’ve gotten sucked out of some of us as we’ve grown.

There are three target skills taught to each parent: labeled praises, reflections, and behavior descriptions. Each of these used during five minutes of play per day can help children and parents become closer, build a child's self-esteem, and catalyze a myriad of other benefits (Eyberg & Funderburk, 2011). We encourage, of course, that caregivers use these skills throughout the day as much as possible and to practice with other children in their lives. There are more components and you can research them on your own, because this essay is related to PCIT—not a comprehensive manual.

Caption: Cristal Martinez in a PCIT observation room speaking with a parent over a headset.

What my kindergarten teacher did was monumental although it seemed so small. I’m sure it even changed my life trajectory. Instead of wandering aimlessly in that little classroom, she pointed out and praised my productivity and independence. And, in my lifetime, there have been moments where I’ve felt disinterested and lost . . . But, I’ll never forget this labeled praise (otherwise known as an "LP" in PCIT) because it was a moment that was impressed upon my heart and mind forever. She taught me, with such few words, that I am self-sufficient, I am enough, and that I have everything I’ll ever need inside of me.

I can only imagine what PCIT and this treatment can do for kids in this day and age. The fact that the skills are meant to be constantly and consistently used (mind you, I only had memory of ONE), and that these are said by the child’s caregivers has got to be way more powerful than the one I received from a teacher. So, to Ms. Tellez at Marian Manor Elementary School, thank you for your encouragement. And to parents of young children everywhere, please try PCIT.

For more information on PCIT and to find a PCIT certified therapist near you, visit

Eyberg, S. M., & Funderburk, B. (2011). PCIT: Parent-child interaction therapy protocol: 2011. Gainesville, FL: PCIT International.

Listen to Cristal Martinez, MA, LPC, NCC talk about mental health on her podcast at or on iTunes.

Or visit her blog at

She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @ThroughTheEyesOfATherapist

Tags:  A Better You  All Things Psych 

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Stormy Days: The Role of Psychology in Disaster Relief

Posted By Jenna Tipaldo, Hunter College, Monday, July 16, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 29, 2018


Globally, an average of 24.6 million people are displaced by a disaster each year (Ferris, 2016). In 2012, I was one of them. Growing up on a peninsula in Queens, New York, down the block from the beach, we lived blissfully ignorant to the power of the ocean. Sure, we knew there was a risk, but we never thought we’d see a major flood in our lifetimes. We were so wrong. The storm surge was massive, bringing the ocean ashore, and my neighborhood was six feet under.

My family, and countless other families along the coasts of New York and New Jersey, faced the challenges of rebuilding a home. Displaced from our ravaged house, my family had to adjust to living doubled-up with relatives in a new town while facing the uncertainty of when we could return home. We had flood insurance, a financial safety net, and a place to stay, but many others did not. Replacing household utilities, cars, and belongings can add up quickly, and relief from insurance and government efforts was slow to come. On top of this, the cleanup was physically and mentally draining, and only the start of the rebuilding process.

Caption. "I coped how a 15-year-old might cope: on Instagram, of course."

My community and others like it could have greatly benefited from insights from the research and work of psychologists. The American Psychological Association outlines several key roles that psychologists may play after a natural disaster: listening to concerns, advocating for needs, as well as providing information, coping and problem-solving strategies, and assurance that recovery is possible (American Psychological Association, 2014). Industrial-organizational psychologists could work to eliminate the stressors that affect people after a disaster by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of relief efforts. Regarding the community, social support played a large role in my neighborhood’s ability to rebuild, to transition as individuals and as a community from old to new.

Psychologists might explore ways to help facilitate social support and community belongingness in these situations, especially in vulnerable populations. Furthermore, therapists could provide strategies for dealing with the stress and trauma of a suddenly disrupted life. The effects of post-disaster stress may be seen across demographic groups, and the mental health implications may be long-lasting (Arnberg, Bergh Johannesson, & Michel, 2013; Kessler et al., 2008; Mcfarlane & Van Hooff, 2009). Looking back, coping strategies could have assisted me—and surely others facing worse situations due to socioeconomic factors or a lack of flood insurance—to help push through that time of need. In general, the work of psychologists can be vital in supporting relief efforts following a disaster, natural or otherwise.

With the threat of climate change, natural disasters like hurricanes are predicted to become not only more frequent but also more devastating. The theme for the 11th Annual Psychology Day at the United Nations is “Climate Change: Psychological Interventions Promoting Mitigation and Adaptation,” signaling an acknowledgement of the potential for psychologists to assume an important role in shaping the future, and further support for psychological research regarding the impact of environment-related issues is warranted (United Nations, 2018). My hope is that the knowledge and practices of psychology will be applied to augment the work of other fields to help reduce the impact of disasters, and also to analyze and tackle the problems posed by climate change in an objective and socially conscious way.


American Psychological Association. (2014, April). What psychologists do on disaster relief operations. Retrieved from

Arnberg, F. K., Bergh Johannesson, K., & Michel, P. (2013). Prevalence and duration of PTSD in survivors six years after a natural disaster. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 27, 347–352.

Ferris, E. (2016, July 29). Disasters, displacement, and climate change: New evidence and common challenges facing the north and south. Brookings. Retrieved from

Kessler, R. C., Galea, S., Gruber, M. J., Sampson, N. A, Ursano, R. J, & Wessely, S. (2008). Trends in mental illness and suicidality after Hurricane Katrina. Molecular Psychiatry, 13, 374–384.

Mcfarlane, A. C., & Van Hooff, M. (2009). Impact of childhood exposure to a natural disaster on adult mental health: 20-year longitudinal follow-up study. The British Journal of Psychiatry: The Journal of Mental Science, 195, 142–8.

Psychology Day at the UN. (n.d.). United Nations. Retrieved April 04, 2018, from

Tags:  All Things Psych 

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Analysis of Inside Out

Posted By Samantha Picaro, Kean University, Union, NJ, Monday, June 4, 2018
Updated: Monday, June 4, 2018

Despite being college undergraduates or graduates, we all still cherish children's movies, especially Pixar. The purpose of the article is to highlight several psychology-related discussions that can be had after watching the film, Inside Out. I will try not to give away too many spoilers.

For those who have not seen or heard of the movie, it is about five emotions who reside in the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, who moves with her parents to a new town and new school. The five emotions are Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger. Joy is the leader, who ostracizes Sadness to protect Riley. However, Joy and Sadness are accidentally dragged out of Riley's head and into her memory bank, forcing them to get back because Riley cannot feel happiness without Joy.

The Importance of Sadness

Joy comes to see the importance of Sadness despite her undesirability. Sadness, both the character and concept, are important for Riley to adjust to moving away from her friends, home, and hockey league. For most of the film, she bottles her emotions in order to spare her parents' feelings but it causes her to break down. Only when she finally cries and confesses her feelings is able to adapt to her new situation. The emotion of sadness helps connect people and face realities, and ignoring/hiding sadness only makes matters worse.

The Complexity of Emotions

Accepting Sadness is also important in another way: it helps Riley grow up. At first, Joy sees emotions as simple and does not understand that a person can feel two emotions at once. Eventually she sees that a person can feel both sadness and happiness at the same time, thus memories are not cut and dry. The difference between children and adults is that adults come to accept that emotions are complex and no memory has just one emotion. In a pivotal scene, Joy sees one memory in which Riley's parents turn Riley's sadness into joy. This affects the way in which Riley views relationships and memories.

What I enjoy is how the character Joy outright explains the purpose of each emotion barring Sadness, at least in the beginning. Psych students are aware that emotions exist for a reason. Joy explains that Fear keeps us safe, Disgust also encourages caution, and so on.

Another psychological aspect in the movie is personality. Riley's mind contains five "islands": Goofball Island, Hockey, Friendship, Honesty, and Family. Each island deteriorates as Riley becomes more depressed, culminating in Riley running away and shutting off her emotions until Joy and Sadness finally return to the headquarters. Each island is rebuilt with time after Riley comes back home and expresses her true feelings to her parents. Personality indeed shapes our personality, making it understandable why there is a link between happiness and being outgoing, competitiveness and athleticism, and love and strong family ties.

In the absence of Joy and Sadness, the other emotions struggle to keep Riley functional but fail. Joy was the most dominant emotion but in her absence, Fear, Anger, and Disgust inadvertently increase Riley's stress and encourage her to run away to her old home, thinking this is the answer to her problems, and even plants the idea of stealing her mother's credit card. The growing dominance of these emotions and recklessness show Riley's conversion from childhood to adolescence because adolescence is a time of confused, strong emotions in which joy is not always the dominant one. This is where the stereotype of the moody teen comes from.

The movie isn't entirely accurate about the human psyche because the psyche is not that simple. Nothing about humans is simple. However, I applaud Inside Out's depiction of a girl's mind and how it is forced to mature. This is relevant not only to kids but to adults because even as adults we struggle with identifying and expressing our feelings. I would recommend it to every psychology major and would encourage professors to show it in class and discuss it.

Tags:  All Things Psych 

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My True Crime Addiction Fueled My Career Choice

Posted By Janelle L. Rondeau, MS, Loyola University Maryland, Monday, May 21, 2018
Updated: Monday, May 21, 2018

Hi, my name is Janelle, and I am addicted to true crime. This addiction started as early as I can remember, as I’ve always been fascinated by things I don’t understand. A lot of what I don’t understand involves rape, murder, and other kinds of crime.

Whenever I talk about this topic, I probably come off to others as a little sadistic, and I tend to get a lot of strange looks. This is likely because my interest and favorite conversation topic is literally about other human beings getting traumatized or killed in a heinous manner. However, once I realized that I can use this passion to fuel my career, I felt a little better about my abnormal fascination. Also, now that I’ve found the My Favorite Murder podcast family, I think that my true crime addiction is completely acceptable and will rattle on about it until the end of time to whoever will listen (for those of you also interested in the topic, if you haven’t already, listen to the podcast. Seriously. Do it.).

I’ve since come to the conclusion that my attraction to true crime isn’t in the crime itself—it’s in the motive behind the crime. What could cause a person to do something like that? What happened that resulted in this severe lack of empathy? Is there a way to rehabilitate this emotional deficit?

Getting back to true crime and psychology, I knew psychology was the field for me when I found out that I can work with these people who boggle my mind so much: the murderers, serial killers, arsonists, the list goes on. That’s why I’m currently pursuing my clinical psychology doctorate degree with a concentration in forensic psychology. My ultimate goal? To assess those who claim insanity, to see if someone is competent to take the stand, and just to all around work with the people in the world who lack the capacity to feel for another human being. I don’t know if I will ever be able to stabilize the aggressive and violent behavior that are exhibited by many killers and rapists, but I do hope that, in working closely with them, I will be able to better understand the meaning behind the behavior.

Despite my long story, my message is this: there is so much more to psychology than the stigma of sitting in a room asking someone, “How do you feel about that?” Psychology offers you the opportunity to fulfill your every expectation by taking your passion (however unique) and turning it into a full-blown career. My passion is true crime. Because of the opportunities psychology offers, I get to be a forensic psychologist. Thank you, psychology, for making my dream a reality. And thank you, MFM podcast, for making me feel like I’m not alone.

Tags:  All Things Psych  Career Advice 

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