My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘Psychology’

Friday Notes

1. It’s only 3 in the afternoon and already I have plowed my way through 6 Christmas albums. Although Michael Buble, Bing Crosby, Josh Groban, Kenny G and Adam Sandler have been on constant replay throughout my house this year, I would have to say my favorite go-to is Trans Siberian Orchestra. Their version of Carol of the Bells is amazing! Take a listen 🙂

2. Today I got a bag of Peanut M&M’s that had no brown ones. None. I couldn’t believe it. This wouldn’t have been good news for J.Lo because as she states in one of my all time favorite chick-flicks The Wedding Planner, “I only eat the brown ones because someone once said they have less artificial coloring because chocolate’s already brown.” I on the other hand was pretty darn excited; brown are my least favorite because they remind me of rabbit turds.

3. I have come to realize I love singing in the shower, but not acapella. Wouldn’t it sound ten times more awesome if I had some music accompaniment, say a guitar, some drums, a tambourine and possibly even a triangle every time I scrub-a-dub-dubbed? But no back-up singers. A girl has got to draw the line somewhere.

4. I know that your nose is supposed to smell and your feet do all the running, but lately it’s been the other way around for me. Although thanks to my Netty pot and Vick’s Vapor Rub, this nasty cold is on its way out.

5. He’s cute AND he’s hilariously hilarious. Jimmy Fallon, will you marry me?

6. Oh my stars, that Domino’s commercial has me salivating like everyone’s favorite St. Bernard Beethoven. Thanks to Pavlov, I know why.

7. Speaking of Pavlov, I miss Psychology. And Milwaukee.

8. But I am oh so glad to be near my family for the holidays. I seem to have the worst luck when it comes to traveling (i.e. once being snowed in at a motel for two days, another time being grounded for three due to fog and of course the time the airline lost ALL of my luggage…ugh). It’ll be nice not to have to worry about that craziness this year.

9. Speaking of the holidays, I think I need a new party dress. I’m thinking something sparkly, something colorful and of course something with lots of twirl. It’s got to twirl.

10. I also think I need a new pair of footy pajamas kind of like these here:

How cute are these?!

11. I am sooooo glad it’s Friday!

Have a GREAT Friday everybody!


Window-Watching 101

The Experiment:

As I sat in that Starbucks, I decided to go back to my Psych roots and conduct a little quasi social experiment. My plan was to observe and count every time a person would stop and look at themselves in front of a designated store window. I made note of whether they were male or female, age (child, teen, adult, elderly adult), approximately how long of a glance they took and if they appeared to indeed be looking at themselves or inside of the store. As unstalkerish as I could be, I started my experiment. After about a half an hour, I stopped my observing (one: people were starting to wonder why this crazy girl was sitting at Starbucks for over two hours just staring into space and two: my bum was sore from sitting so long and my stomach was growling something fierce) and decided to do a bit of analysis.

My findings were pretty interesting. One thing I noticed right away was gender; females typically looked at themselves in the store windows more often than the few guys that I saw. In fact, I only saw a total six men who actually stopped in front of the store window and ‘look’, and out of those six, only two were actually looking at their reflections, the other four were peaking inside the store to see what was inside. All of the men I presumed to be in their late teens and/or early twenties. I did not see any elderly adults in this experiment, male or female.

Side note: I chose a neutral store front window (Apple) so that it would reach all demographics and not be biased towards any one gender and/or age group.

Getting back to the majority of my population, I observed a staggering 28 ladies stop to look in the window. Of these 28 women, five were looking at the actual store and what was inside while twenty were doing a little make-up check or hair fix-up (the other remaining three were little girls who were either a) slobbering all over the window, much to their mother’s delight, while blowfishing the glass (blowfishing is when you place you lips on a solid object like glass or a mirror and blowing, making your lips and mouth puff up like, well, a blowfish) or b) playing pee-a-boo with the other unsuspecting guests inside the store. Because of this, I ruled them out. The timing was a variable that was also interesting. Most of the women I observed who were doing a once-over did so for roughly 2-5 minutes (the guys only 30 seconds to a minute) and were repeat offenders (aka they would walk by once, stop to fix their hair, come back and check themselves in the glass again–the men only did so once).

Because my population was small, I was only observing for about 30 minutes, and the setting was reduced to only one window, I can’t come up with any absolutes, but I can however make some general conclusions based off of this small study. For one, women seemed to spend more time looking at themselves in the reflection of the glass than men did, both in time and frequency. The younger population (teens/young adult) also tended to ‘reflect’ more than children and elderly adults. Perhaps this says something about how certain genders and ages place the importance of looks, acceptance and conformity over others. We all, or most of us, want to look our best and do care about how we present ourselves to others (I am a sweats/jeans/t-shirt/flip-flip/no make-up kind of gal 99.9% of the time so you know my stance in this issue but every once in a while, I will admit it is fun to get all dolled-up). However, for some, it may go beyond the norm, striving to be ‘perfect’ in how we dress, the shoes we wear or the make-up on our face. The question is, when does it go from a simple touch up, to a state of personal vanity? What causes people to care so much about how they look that they feel the need to primp and preen in any available moment?

Of course, there are a lot of variables and answers to these questions (culture, social norms, media, peers, self-gratification, wanting to ‘fit in’, etc.), all different to each individual. Personally, I think we sadly pay too much attention to what is on the outside, rather than taking the time to discover what is behind the facade. We often base our opinions and judge based on what we see (which is in essence usually the first cue that we are exposed to) when really there is so much more than that, the wonderful story inside the possibly tattered or unglamorous cover. This is unfortunately a view-point and ‘norm’ that is a very hard thing to switch. We are bombarded with messages of beauty and staying fit and diet and fashion 24/7, always stressing the importance of how we look. It’s a tough thing to ignore. However, it isn’t impossible to start making small changes, to challenge the status-quo.

I am issuing you all a double dare or challenge if you will. I want all of you (myself included) to for one day, one whole day, not to look into a mirror or glance into a shiny reflection of a window. Don’t worry about how funky your hair might be, whether your eye-liner is all wrong (or go gasp…go completely au natural for a day) or if your jeans don’t look perfect. Just one day. Will it be hard? Most certainly. But will you feel better about yourself after you do it? Absolutely! Just think about how much time and energy we spend, worrying about how we look, what we could be doing instead? If you do decide to take this challenge with me, please let me know how it went! I would love to hear the challenges of it and what you did or how you thought differently about yourself and others in the process. I will report back to you in my next post about how I did 🙂

Isn’t it amazing how a few observations, simply looking at the people around you, can stir up such hard-hitting questions?

Good luck guys!

Side note: I am sooooo over-the-moon happy to report that I am now a great-cousin to a very beautiful baby boy! My cousin Rachel gave birth yesterday to little David Graham and I couldn’t be more excited for them! Mucho love and congratulations!!!

You’re So Vain…

…you probably think this post is about you.

I think Carly Simon hit the nail on the head with that one.

One of the things I like to do (in a totally non-stalkerish sort of way of course) is to people watch. I think we are probably one of the most fascinating creatures on the planet (with maybe the exception of sharks…if you don’t believe me, catch Shark Week on Animal Planet–crazy cool!). My fascination is so strong that I spent four years in college  dedicated to learning the intricacies of how we as a species think, act, respond, feel, and function.  I find everything about us so very interesting, from the way we walk and talk, dress and present ourselves; in some ways we are completely different and unique, yet at the same time, so much the same.

Earlier today as I sat in a Starbucks, taking a break from a crazy session of window shopping that I was fully partaking in(one of my favorite forms of exercise) and enjoying myself a tasty cake pop, I naturally found myself surveying my surroundings. I could smell the coffee and fresh pastries that were being brewed and baked a mere 5 ft. away from where I sat. I could hear the conversations of the people sitting next to me, the tap-tap-tapping of fingers against laptop keyboards, the pounding of footsteps and swishing of shopping bags coming from the many patrons getting their MasterCard on in the mall and the screaming and crying of little kids that would every so often pass by, giving a temper-tantrum only curable by a cookie or ice cream cone from the food court. I saw professionals in suits conducting business and jabbering away on their cell phones and blue-tooths (gosh those things are annoying, no offense), clusters of teenagers just out of school armed with their parents money and ready to spend, crazed moms juggling diaper bags and strollers, questionable fashion statements…

It's Yoshi!

store window displays…

So wrong...yet so funny!

and the cutest little couple that you ever did see…

How adorable are they?!

I noticed the body language of people, how they interacted with each other, whether they were smiling or laughing. I also noticed the clothes that they wore, the way they had their hair and the languages and accents in which they spoke. For funnsies, I pretended to give each person I saw a story, a background of why they were there, what and who they were shopping for (a game my mom and I used to do, making up conversations for what we thought they were saying). There were a lot of single people, groups of friends, moms and their kids and of course many a couple. Just going off of appearance, some couples looked like they were two peas in a pod; they shared the same sort of style, were the same height, and even had the same mannerisms. Other couples however walked hand-in-hand but were clearly total opposites; there was an obvious age difference, one was tall and the other very short (think Michael Jordan and Snookie) or one had tattoos up the ying-yang while the other was dressed in cashmere sweaters and pearls. Appearance can say a lot, but there is so much more than what a person can observe just from the outside.

One of the things in particular that came to my attention was how many times, women in particular, looked at their reflection in the store windows as they walked by. Confession time: I must admit, I myself have done this very thing in the past. I walk by the giant windowed store front of a Bath & Body Works or an Old Navy, pretending to look at what lay before me inside the store, when all along I was fixing my crazy bed-head hair or adjusting my wonky jeans that were two sizes too small, hoping that no one sees me in action. I think we all have done this at one point in time or another, casually looked at ourselves through the looking-glass if you will. Once or twice is totally fine by me but some people can take it too far, almost to an extreme. Talking of extremes…I actually went on a date once with a guy who, no lie, fix his hair/teeth/shirt/hair/hair/hair in anything remotely shiny aka the car door mirror, the restaurant window, the napkin holder, and even his spoon! Yes, he was gorgeous but had the personality of a rock. AND…I had to pay for dinner because he conveniently ‘forgot’ his wallet in his other pair of way too skinny jeans. It’s safe to say that was a flub to the nth degree…but that’s another story for another day…

I came up with a theory based on these observations of window-watchers: I hypothesized (just a fancy word for educated guess based on observations that I had) that women, more specifically young women, would be more highly to look at themselves in the window than men, both in time and in frequency. My theory suggests that women feel the need to impress people (both men and other women) with how they look, putting more emphasis on appearance and looks than their male counterparts, sometimes equating beauty with success or likeability.

To test my theory, I decided to have a little Freudian fun.

To see what I did and the results, check out my next post 🙂


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