Who are Prone to Depression: Asians or Westerners?

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Cultural differences between Western and Asian cultures in individualism-collectivism (I-C), a dimension of cultural variability, show a strong possibility that Asians are predisposed to more negative emotions than are Westerners.

sad why me GIF by The Room

Individualistic cultures, most of which are Western, promote individual needs, wishes, desires, and values over group and collective ones (Matsumoto, 1990). Consequently, hierarchical differences in status or power are minimized while equality is emphasized (Matsumoto, 1990).

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In contrast, collective cultures, many of which are Asian, promote the opposite; they stress the needs of a group, individuals identify themselves as members of a group, and one’s social role is defined by an entrenched system of hierarchical differences and vertical relationships (Matsumoto, 1990).

lonely selena gomez GIF by Spring Breakers

Members of individualistic cultures tend to display more negative emotions to ingroup members and more positive emotions to outgroup members. Conversely, members of collective cultures tend to display more positive emotions to members of ingroups and more negative emotions to those of outgroups (Matsumoto, 1990).

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These display rules should predispose Asians to more negative emotions, which may result in depression, at least in the social interactions with outgroups.

Emotion regulation norms for Asian and Western cultures also demonstrate a greater likelihood for depression among Asians than among Westerners. Since emotion regulation refers to the ability to manage and modify one’s emotional reactions in order to achieve a desirable outcome, it reflects the different ways that culture tries to achieve social order (Matsumoto, Yoo, & Nakagawa, 2005).

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Cultural display rules, social roles, and emotion regulation norms have effectively contributed to the predisposition of Asians to be more passive, non-assertive, and anxious in interpersonal situations than Westerners (Okazaki, Liu, & Minn, 2002). The results from a study that examined differences between Asian American and White American on a trait measure of social anxiety and self-reports of anxiety-related emotions during a 3-min social performance task indicated that Asian Americans reported more anxiety than White Americans (Okazaki et al., 2002).

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

Source

“Understanding the Concept of Depression Sociology Essay.” Retrieved from https://www.ukessays.com/essays/sociology/understanding-the-concept-of-depression-sociology-essay.php.

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Are People with Positive Traits Deviants in Society?: 8 Guinness Record Breakers in 2018

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Why do people break rules and norms of society? How do we view deviant or “abnormal’ behavior of people in society?

There are basically 3 naive and non-sociological definitions on how to understand rule-breaking or deviant behavior of people in society:

1. Absolutist Definition: Deviance resides in the act itself. The evilness of an act is not in the person but in the nature of the act itself. Thus, killing is always murder, or abortion is always sinful. Once a person performs the act, he or she automatically becomes deviant regardless of his/her intention and circumstances surrounding the act.

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2. Statistical Definition: An act, person, place, quality is deviant or abnormal if it does not conform to the average standard. The law on averages is the norm to judge an act/person as deviant or not. Thus, a person is deviant if his/her height is below the average height, like a woman standing 3 feet tall. Or a normal Filipino usually takes a bath once a day on the average, thus a person who takes a bath once or twice a week is deviant under this definition.

world record GIF by Cheezburger

3. Positive Definition: An act, person, or trait is deviant if it is extraordinary or above the average standard in society. A woman who is extremely intelligent or beautiful is deviant under this definition. Those with extraordinary talents like those who established world records in the Guinness Book of Records are deviant due to their positive traits or talents. But do people ordinarily call people with positive traits deviants or abnormal? Or they are praised by people as heroes? This definition is misleading because society consider those with extraordinary capabilities or talents as celebrities and not abnormal people in society. Take, for instance, the following 2018 record breakers. Would you look down on them as deviants and abnormal? Or praise them as super humans?

black and white animation GIF by The New Big Poppa E

Here are some of the 2018 record breakers and holders. They can be considered deviants by positive definition:

1. Longest fingernails on a pair of hands (female)

The longest fingernails on a pair of hands (female) belong to Ayanna Williams (USA), and have a combined total measurement of 576.4 cm (18 ft 10.9 in), as measured in Houston, Texas, USA,

2. Longest eyelash

The longest eyelash measures 12.40 cm (4.88 in) long and has grown on You Jianxia’s (China).

3. Shortest married couple

The shortest married couple are Paulo Gabriel da Silva Barros (Brazil) and Katyucia Lie Hoshino (Brazil), measuring a combined height of 181.41 cm (71.42 in).

4. Oldest bodybuilder – male

The oldest bodybuilder is Jim Arrington (USA, b. 1 September 1932) and was aged 83 years 6 days when competing at a professional bodybuilding competition in Venice, California, USA,

5. Farthest flight by hoverboard

The farthest flight by hoverboard is 2,252.4 m (7,389 ft 9 in) and was achieved by Franky Zapata

6. Fastest 100 m slackline walk

The fastest 100 m slackline walk is 1 min 59.73 secs and was achieved by Lucas Milliard (France)

7. Most apples bobbed in one minute

The most apples bobbed in one minute is 37: Cherry Yoshitake (Japan)

8. Most tattooed senior citizens

Most Tattooed Senior Citizens: Charles “Chuck” Helmke and Charlotte Guttenberg (both USA)

Most tattooed senior citizens

Photo Credits: Guinness Book of Records 2018

Reference

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/products/books/guinness-world-records-2018-edition/

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Is Taking a Selfie a Selfish Act?

scared april fools GIF by Cheezburger

Introduction

In the Philippines, House Bill 4807 or the Anti-Selfie Bill was once debated in Philippine Congress or legislature: whether or not it is proper to penalize people who take selfies without the consent of the people concerned. Thus, one wonders: Is taking a selfie that dangerous and self-centered that needs legislation and punishment?

One can often hear from some school authorities, educators and moralists, labeling selfie as a form of selfishness. I have heard one Catholic college president delivering a speech saying that taking a selfie is a form of selfishness or narcissism. She explained that the word “narcissism” came from the name Narcissus, the son of River God Cephisus and nymph Lyriope. The Greek myth has it that “Narcissus was once walking by a lake or river and decided to drink some water; he saw his reflection in the water and was surprised by the beauty he saw; he became entranced by the reflection of himself. He could not obtain the object of his desire though, and he died at the banks of the river or lake from his sorrow” (http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com).

The speaker was implying that taking a selfie is a form of selfishness, therefore a sin or immoral act. In the Catholic catechism, a sin “kills” the soul if not forgiven in a confession. So a person taking a selfie, especially when done frequently, would “die” like Narcissus in the spiritual realm.

Is taking a selfie or self-image a selfish act or immoral?

The Basic Difference between Face-To-Face and Online Interaction

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Before we judge those who take selfies as selfish people, let us first see the basic difference between personal or face-to-face social interaction and digital or online social interaction. There is a big difference between the two. In a face-to-face social interaction, we can easily see the entire setting of the interaction, physical presence and actuation of the person or group we are interacting with. The verbal and non-verbal cues can easily be observed by actors during the encounter, providing each one the opportunity to respond or react immediately to what they hear and see.

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This is different from digital and online interaction. In an online interaction, the actors do not see each other in the physical or spatio-temporal space but in the cyber or digital space with limited images and information of the other and mediated by a screen of a device or gadget. This implies that actors in an online interaction have limited view of what actually transpired during the entire interaction and the actual setting where the actors exchange their messages.

fox tv GIF by New Girl

Even if with the use of the web cam, the viewer cannot still fully capture all images of the other and of the background or location of the conversation. In front of a web cam one can pretend what h/she is not. It is difficult to get a confirmation or clue if the person is pretending or not in an online interaction. For instance, one cannot fully observe the non-verbal action of the other, crucial in fully knowing the unspoken message of the other.

get queen sugar GIF

This is even difficult if the person is just posting messages without attaching videos or selfies. The recipient would only rely on the written message without any of image of the sender. Thus, attaching self-photos or selfies to one’s message becomes important to improve the quality of one’s online presence to the other. A selfie or picture provides a lot of information about the other such as appearance, facial expression, or mood.

A Selfie Enhances Online Presence

sarah burke selfie GIF

In social media, people normally post short messages and attach pictures. To enhance their visibility to the other without using the web camera, they attach selfies, not that they are selfish persons, but because they want to make their presence more felt by their recipient, filling up the lack or absence of images if the encounter were made face-to-face or personal. The more poses, selfies or images sent, the more impact is generated for the other. A post or message is greatly enhanced if a selfie is attached, as one adage would say: “A picture is worth a thousand words!”

Selfie as a Social Action

 pope GIF

To the German sociologist Max Weber, an action is a ‘social action’ if it is intentionally done by an actor with a purpose and meaning and oriented towards the other. Taking a selfie is a social action, that is, an action that is strategically oriented towards the other. It is not a selfish act. A selfie is always sent or shared to a recipient, not kept by the sender for self adoration like Narcissus. Thus, a selfie is not egoistic in nature but social. In some occasions, Pope Francis was photographed having a selfie with other people. President Obama too was caught by the media having a selfie with other world leaders. Would these make them selfish or narcissistic persons?

Selfie as a Byproduct of Technological Progress

s1 GIF

Taking a selfie to be posted online is difficult with the older analog technology with requires various and heavy devices with limited features such as big cameras, dark rooms, big tripods, etc. And above all, one needs a photographer who will take the picture. So taking a selfie only becomes possible and easy with the advancement and convergence of technologies in the smart phone or other high-tech gadget. So if one looks at the act of taking a selfie objectively, without first passing moral judgment, the act is not actually selfish but a byproduct of the improvement of technology which enables the self to be the photographer and the subject of the photography at the same time.

The Problem of Semantics

The source of the problem why selfie is associated with selfishness or narcissism seems to be term itself. Probably for lack of appropriate and shorter term to label for self-photography, the word “selfie” is used by many. The new dictionaries have now included the term selfie in their list of words and meanings. Indeed, the term “selfie” can easily be associated with selfishness or vanity since the act is done by the person himself/herself; and thus prone to misunderstanding by some conservative moralists and uncritical moral entrepreneurs who may not be familiar with the dynamics of online social interaction and digital technology.

Act-Oriented vs. Person-Oriented Morality

fred armisen rage GIF by IFC

The act-oriented morality separates the external acts from the motivation and the overall life orientation of the person. In this case the moral fiber of the person is judged merely on his/her external acts, disregarding his/her motives as well as the overall orientation of his/her life–whether s/he is basically a good or bad person.With the advent of the social sciences and research findings on social behavior, the approach of Catholic morality today is person-oriented. The motivation as well as the basic moral orientation of the entire person must be considered, not just his/her few external acts, before judging whether a person is moral or immoral, selfish or generous. It is difficult to see how a good person who has been doing good in most of his/her life becomes, in an instant, a bad or selfish person just because s/he takes some selfies or self-photographs.

selfie GIF

A sound moral judgment and evaluation must be based on a reliable empirical study of the moral situation. Therefore one must first evaluate the empirical and sociological meaning of taking a selfie and understand the real motives of actors of this act before passing a moral judgment whether the act is a form of selfishness or not.++++++

Photo credits: Shutterstock, article.wn.com (Pope’s selfie)

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

Is Taking a Selfie a Selfish Act?*

Introduction

In the Philippines, House Bill 4807 or the Anti-Selfie Bill was once debated in Philippine Congress or legislature: whether or not it is proper to penalize people who take selfies without the consent of the people concerned. Thus, one wonders: Is taking a selfie that dangerous and self-centered that needs legislation and punishment?

One can often hear from some school authorities, educators and moralists, labeling selfie as a form of selfishness. I have heard one Catholic college president delivering a speech saying that taking a selfie is a form of selfishness or narcissism. She explained that the word “narcissism” came from the name Narcissus, the son of River God Cephisus and nymph Lyriope. The Greek myth has it that “Narcissus was once walking by a lake or river and decided to drink some water; he saw his reflection in the water and was surprised by the beauty he saw; he became entranced by the reflection of himself. He could not obtain the object of his desire though, and he died at the banks of the river or lake from his sorrow” (http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com).

The speaker was implying that taking a selfie is a form of selfishness, therefore a sin or immoral act. In the Catholic catechism, a sin “kills” the soul if not forgiven in a confession. So a person taking a selfie, especially when done frequently, would “die” like Narcissus in the spiritual realm.

Is taking a selfie or self-image a selfish act or immoral?

The Basic Difference between Face-To-Face and Online Interaction

Before we judge those who take selfies as selfish people, let us first see the basic difference between personal or face-to-face social interaction and digital or online social interaction. There is a big difference between the two. In a face-to-face social interaction, we can easily see the entire setting of the interaction, physical presence and actuation of the person or group we are interacting with. The verbal and non-verbal cues can easily be observed by actors during the encounter, providing each one the opportunity to respond or react immediately to what they hear and see. This is different from digital and online interaction. In an online interaction, the actors do not see each other in the physical or spatio-temporal space but in the cyber or digital space with limited images and information of the other and mediated by a screen of a device or gadget. This implies that actors in an online interaction have limited view of what actually transpired during the entire interaction and the actual setting where the actors exchange their messages. Even if with the use of the web cam, the viewer cannot still fully capture all images of the other and of the background or location of the conversation. In front of a web cam one can pretend what h/she is not. It is difficult to get a confirmation or clue if the person is pretending or not in an online interaction. For instance, one cannot fully observe the non-verbal action of the other, crucial in fully knowing the unspoken message of the other. This is even difficult if the person is just posting messages without attaching videos or selfies. The recipient would only rely on the written message without any of image of the sender. Thus, attaching self-photos or selfies to one’s message becomes important to improve the quality of one’s online presence to the other. A selfie or picture provides a lot of information about the other such as appearance, facial expression, or mood.

A Selfie Enhances Online Presence

In social media, people normally post short messages and attach pictures. To enhance their visibility to the other without using the web camera, they attach selfies, not that they are selfish persons, but because they want to make their presence more felt by their recipient, filling up the lack or absence of images if the encounter were made face-to-face or personal. The more poses, selfies or images sent, the more impact is generated for the other. A post or message is greatly enhanced if a selfie is attached, as one adage would say: “A picture is worth a thousand words!”

Selfie as a Social Action

To the German sociologist Max Weber, an action is a ‘social action’ if it is intentionally done by an actor with a purpose and meaning and oriented towards the other. Taking a selfie is a social action, that is, an action that is strategically oriented towards the other. It is not a selfish act. A selfie is always sent or shared to a recipient, not kept by the sender for self adoration like Narcissus. Thus, a selfie is not egoistic in nature but social. In some occasions, Pope Francis was photographed having a selfie with other people. President Obama too was caught by the media having a selfie with other world leaders. Would these make them selfish or narcissistic persons?

Selfie as a Byproduct of Technological Progress

Taking a selfie to be posted online is difficult with the older analog technology with requires various and heavy devices with limited features such as big cameras, dark rooms, big tripods, etc. And above all, one needs a photographer who will take the picture. So taking a selfie only becomes possible and easy with the advancement and convergence of technologies in the smart phone or other high-tech gadget. So if one looks at the act of taking a selfie objectively, without first passing moral judgment, the act is not actually selfish but a byproduct of the improvement of technology which enables the self to be the photographer and the subject of the photography at the same time.

The Problem of Semantics

The source of the problem why selfie is associated with selfishness or narcissism seems to be term itself. Probably for lack of appropriate and shorter term to label for self-photography, the word “selfie” is used by many. The new dictionaries have now included the term selfie in their list of words and meanings. Indeed, the term “selfie” can easily be associated with selfishness or vanity since the act is done by the person himself/herself; and thus prone to misunderstanding by some conservative moralists and uncritical moral entrepreneurs who may not be familiar with the dynamics of online social interaction and digital technology.

Act-Oriented vs. Person-Oriented Morality

The act-oriented morality separates the external acts from the motivation and the overall life orientation of the person. In this case the moral fiber of the person is judged merely on his/her external acts, disregarding his/her motives as well as the overall orientation of his/her life–whether s/he is basically a good or bad person.With the advent of the social sciences and research findings on social behavior, the approach of Catholic morality today is person-oriented. The motivation as well as the basic moral orientation of the entire person must be considered, not just his/her few external acts, before judging whether a person is moral or immoral, selfish or generous. It is difficult to see how a good person who has been doing good in most of his/her life becomes, in an instant, a bad or selfish person just because s/he takes some selfies or self-photographs.

A sound moral judgment and evaluation must be based on a reliable empirical study of the moral situation. Therefore one must first evaluate the empirical and sociological meaning of taking a selfie and understand the real motives of actors of this act before passing a moral judgment whether the act is a form of selfishness or not.++++++

*This is a re-post of my LinkedIn article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140903032719-215520107-is-taking-a-selfie-a-form-of-selfishness/

Photo credits: Shutterstock, article.wn.com (Pope’s selfie), en.wikipedia.com (Narcissus), georgecouros.ca (people in front of Internet screen).

Is Jesus a Sociologist?

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Perhaps this question is inappropriate because Sociology as a social science discipline was only established in the late 19th century and Jesus was already preaching in Galilee some 2,000 years ago. Besides, Jesus as our Lord and founder of Christianity had no formal training in sociology and is never considered by many as a social scientist during His time.

But Jesus, believed by many Christians as both man and divine, must have known the human heart and behavior better than any scientist who can theorize people’s actions.

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He may not have known sociology during His time but His words and preaching were full of sociological insights. Theologians and sociologists may have overlooked that there are many passages in the Gospel attributed to Jesus that are full of sociological theories and insights.

Body of Christ

Source: haikudeck.com

The New Testament too in the letters of St. Paul, especially Romans 12:5,1 Corinthians 12:12–27, Ephesians 3:6 and 5:23, Colossians 1:18 and Colossians 1:24 describing the Church as the Body of Christ, is also very sociological! Describing the early Church as one system or a human body with different interdependent parts obviously illustrates the sociological theory of functionalism. Functionalism as established by the French founder of modern sociology, Emile Durkheim, views society as one system like a human body, with different interdependent functions.

Here are 2 similarities between Jesus’s perspectives and sociology as illustrated by some biblical passages below:

1. Jesus’ Teaching on Understanding People’s actions: Judge not just the external acts but the motive behind them is similar to Max Weber’s concept of “Verstehen” (interpretive understanding).

Jesus

Soruce: www.vineyardmsa.org

The following words of Jesus against hypocrisy and rash judgment highlight the importance of understanding people’s motives behind their actions and not just their external acts. In hypocrisy, the public can only see the people’s appearance or what Max Weber calls as “stereotypes”. The scribes and Pharisees appear very religious and pious in front of the Jews or worshipers, but their motives are not religious–these leaders would only want to appear religious in order that the Israelites would praise and respect them.

Max Weber

Source: www.slideplayer.com

The German sociologist Max Weber uses the concept “verstehen” (interpretive understanding) or understanding social action from the actor’s point of view in studying the true meaning of human behavior. In this case, the sociologist must put himself into the shoes of the person performing the external act or stereotype and understand his/her motive. Applying “verstehen” implies research, interviewing, triangulation, and knowing the true meaning of the external action as well as the intention of the individual performing it, thus making the behavioral assessment holistic.

In this case, Jesus saw a discrepancy between what the Pharisees and Scribes showed publicly in their stereotypes, i.e., appearing very religious in the temple, and the motives behind their piety. Before Weber recommended “verstehen” to sociologists in studying behavior, Jesus was already applying it during His lifetime:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity” (Matthew 23:27).

“In the same way, you appear to be righteous on the outside, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:28).

 2. Jesus Teaching against discrimination and marginalization of  the poor in Jewish society resembles the conflict theory in Sociology. 

Karl marx

Photo Credit: AZ Quotes

The conflict sociologists who are inspired by Karl Marx’s dialectical materialism view the oppression of the poor or working class by the elite or rich capitalists as a byproduct of an economic system wherein the means of production of goods are owned and controlled by the private sector or rich capitalists and motivated by profit. Conflict theorists see the unequal distribution of goods as the root cause of economic injustice in society.

jesus and social justice

Source: www.findinggraceatthecenter.com

But before Karl Marx and conflict sociologists saw the unequal distribution of goods in society as the root cause of society’s conflict, Jesus already condemned any form of economic and social discrimination of the weak and inequality during His time. The economic control of the rich and religious elite led by the Pharisees and Scribes of the Jewish society is viewed by Jesus as causing a great injustice and the marginalization of the poor, the sick, and the afflicted: “But if anyone has the world’s good and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in you” (1 John 3:17-18)?

social justice and the gospel

Jesus’ pronouncement on the Last Judgment clearly illustrates His awareness of economic conflict and condemnation of social inequality that marginalizes the poor who imitate Him:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25: 34-36).

Conclusion

Is Jesus a sociologist? Well, formally Jesus may not be a sociologist and social scientist since He did not receive any formal sociological training. Moreover, the primary focus of His teaching is spiritual and religious. But obviously His words and perspectives are full of sociological insights! Theologians and Bible scholars may not have given much attention to the sociological underpinnings of Jesus’ teachings. But to those who have been academically trained in both Sociology and Theology, it is fairly obvious that Jesus is a “sociologist”, that his perspective of reality is holistic, and, thus, using the “sociological imagination.” Of course Jesus is more than just a sociologist. For many Christians, Jesus is the Christ who is both true man and true God. As divine, He knows human behavior more what professional sociologists understand about human agency!

Photo Credit (except those with attribution): Pixabay.com

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