By Efua Andoh (Public Interest Communications Staff)
This is our 150th post and given that it is the end of the year, we would like to reflect on our blogging journey so far. When Public Interest began this venture in March 2013, we were total novices to blogging. We’ve come a long way since then and we want to thank the psychologists, other social scientists and providers, policy makers, educators and even parents – who have honored us with guest posts that demonstrate the benefits of psychology to society at large. Of course, most importantly, we want to thank all of you – our readers and subscribers – for your invaluable support.
Permit us a brief trip down memory lane as we count down our top 5 most viewed blog posts.
Many parents face the dilemma of raising healthy and confident teenage daughters in a media culture that often sexualizes their maturing bodies – clothing being one particular area of concern. Dr. Tomi-Ann Roberts (Member of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls) tackled this by asking the question:
“What can be done to help our girls dress in a way that makes them feel good and doesn’t turn them into sexy objects?”
First, she explained the problematic ways various types of sexualization (cultural, interpersonal and self-directed) harm girls. Then, she offered concrete steps that parents, girls and boys can all take to fight the damaging effects of sexualization at every level.
Every day, we lose 12 youth to suicide. We can avoid these tragedies by clearing up much of the misinformation surrounding suicide in our society. 2014 APA President, Dr. Nadine Kaslow, did exactly that by dispelling persistent and harmful myths about suicide and arming parents with key facts, assistance in recognizing signs of distress, resources and useful tips for getting suicidal youth the help they need.
She also encouraged parents to:
- recognize warning signs,
- identify risk factors,
- promote protective factors,
- talk to their children and
- encourage them to seek mental health services.
This was our first post to touch on a topic that would resonate strongly with our readers – racial microaggressions – and it remains one of our most commented upon to this day. Microaggressions are:
“the everyday insults, indignities and demeaning messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned white people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent to them.”
These slights are pervasive in our society and have a corrosive effect on psychological wellbeing. Drs. Debra Roberts and Sherry Molock explained the subtle yet damaging ways in which microaggressions operate: First, via personal anecdote as Dr. Molock recounted being mistaken for a hotel employee by a fellow attendee at a psychology conference, and then via the research as they cited the toxic effects created by cumulative stress that can result from persistent microaggressions. They concluded with a few helpful coping strategies for dealing with the stress created by microaggressions.
Dr. Kevin Nadal continued the microaggressions theme, but this time from the perspective of the LGBTQ community. Recounting his own experiences with homophobic bullying and teasing from childhood through his college years, he demonstrated, in personal terms, the demeaning and isolating effects of microaggressions for many LGBTQ individuals. Dr. Nadal and colleagues have interviewed LGBTQ people from all walks of life for the past several years who report that microaggressions are common occurrences in their daily lives. Based on that research, Dr. Nadal provided 6 examples of how these microaggressions function and the damage they can do. He concluded with constructive steps we can all take to avoid committing these acts no matter how unintentional.
Although we knew that our readers were curious about the topic of microaggressions, nothing could have prepared us for the nerve that this post struck. The post went viral in a flash, logging our highest record for single day traffic with over 11,000 views. Dr. Silvia Mazzula, outlined research on the common types of microaggressions that many Latino/as face and offered tips on what we all can do to personally check against and address microaggressions in our daily lives. This post continues to receive constant traffic and feedback. It remains our most commented upon post (117 responses). We have been overwhelmed by the feedback from various contributors detailing how they have coped with microaggressions in their personal and professional lives. It has been eye-opening for us and we hope to duplicate this success in the future.
While this blog post does not appear in our top 5, (it’s lucky #13), this remains one of the more seminal posts in our blog’s short history. Following George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin, emotions were raw nationwide – just as they are now following the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and numerous other unarmed African Americans in encounters with police. In her post, Dr. Gwendolyn Keita (Public Interest’s Executive Director) highlighted the extensive psychological research on the ubiquity of implicit bias and the negative stereotyping of African Americans. She called for an honest dialogue about racial prejudice and stereotyping in our society:
“Codes of silence, politeness and constraint on the topic of race hinder honest and meaningful dialogue… Ultimately, honest dialogues on race can lead to increased group understanding and improved group relations.”
We expected the blog post would be controversial and there was a robust debate in our comments section. However, the rich discussion remained respectful and where there was disagreement, it was courteous, with a willingness to acknowledge opposing points of view. As our society grapples with the ongoing movement against racial profiling and police brutality, we hope this tradition will continue.
A final word: Most of the difficult problems we face today involve human behavior in some way. The Psychology Benefits Society blog reflects our passionate belief in the power of psychological science to advance our knowledge of these problems, of how to prevent these problems, and of how to intervene effectively to solve these problems.
We also launched this blog with the goal of encouraging dialogue and conversation, in particular around some of the complex and difficult issues we deal with. As our disclaimer indicates, we welcome comments reflecting a wide variety of perspectives. We are proud and gratified to say that, with very few exceptions, comments have shared varying perspectives with respect.
We continue to encourage an open dialogue, and with that in mind, we invite you to let us know what you think, comment on the posts mentioned here or any others that pique your interest, and suggest other topics and other kinds of content you would like to see covered here.