Cultural Differences

We’re Only as Happy as Our Unhappiest Child

Recession is an interesting prism by which to examine our modern society. The scarcity of jobs a century ago, led to an abolishment of child labor, an extension of the educational system to accommodate these out-of-work children, and a development of new laws to serve them. Most importantly, dire economic conditions were the direct cause behind the “discovery” of a new stage of life: adolescence. The current economic hardship is particularly difficult on the 18 to 30 demographic. These “adults” are struggling to find jobs, life-long relationships, educational opportunities, and self-fulfillment. The term failure to launch is coined to describe the restlessness and ambiguity felt by this population. Dr. Jeffrey J. Arnett describes this phase of life as emerging adulthood: “Instead of entering marriage and parenthood in their very early twenties, most people now postpone these transitions until at least their late twenties, and spend their late teens through their mid-twenties in self-focused exploration as they try out different possibilities in love and work. Essentially, a new developmental stage has been created between adolescence and young adulthood.” [http://www.jeffreyarnett.com] Dr. Arnett discusses the internal traits that define his newly-proposed phase of life: identity exploration instability in work, relationships, living circumstances self-focus…

Space-Time Changes in Cultural Variables

Some designs are timeless, some are dated. TV shows, movies, books, and even Web sites change as both technologies driving the medium change and as our sensibilities as consumers alter in time. Cultural shock is easy to spot as we move globe trot, searching for new experiences. But cultural shock is just as easy to get at home, watching old commercials and movies. As product designers, we want to find those attributes that will stand the course of time and space. The need for innovation and push to grab the most number of users makes evolutionary design less and less appealing. But it’s the “hammers” of the world that retain their value long after the newest fads have come and gone. A product that is build as an answer to a specific, human need, stands the test of space-time utility.

Reflections on The Science of a Happy Marriage

Parker-Pope, T. (2010). “The Science of a Happy Marriage.” New York Times. Visited June 24 2010. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/10/tracking-the-science-of-commitment/?pagemode=print Summary: The article, by Tara Parker Pope, discusses the science of a happy marriage, and why some individuals cheat on their partners, while others don’t. Pope explains that some scientists account for this by pointing to biological or genetic factors and others assess the psychological impact of flirting with a stranger. According to some research, it is possible to train yourself to protect your marriage by increasing the feelings of commitment. One researcher, Hasse Walum studied 552 pairs of twins to assess  a gene that contributes to the body’s regulation of the bonding hormone vasopressin.  Overall, men who demonstrated a variation of the gene were less likely to be married. Those that were married in this category, were more likely to be in unhappy marriages or to have experienced a relationship crisis. Other research accounts for how the brain can be trained to encourage faithfulness. John Lydon’s research found that when individuals were presented with scenarios where an attractive woman might threaten their relationship, they instinctively told themselves, ‘he’s not so great.’ His research also revealed that when women were primed to imagine…

Male Paternal Bonds

Angier, N., (2010). “Paternal Bonds, Special and Strange.” Nytimes.com. Retrieved on 20 June 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/science/15fath.html?_r=1 An article written by, Natalie Angier in the New York Times, Paternal Bonds, Special and Strange, begins by stating how men are proudly proclaiming the number of children they have to other men. Comparisons are made between humans and other primates such as monkeys that also proudly display their infants to impress other male monkeys. It is stated that this action is done to strengthen the bonds between men. Furthermore, the article discusses multiple studies that demonstrate how male primates care for their offspring. For example, some bird species are the sole keeper of their nest. The article aims to link parental care and offspring welfare. One study claims that baby handling can demonstrate how fathers can take charge, beat the odds, and expand the nest. The studies referenced provide examples of what the author calls, “dream daddies” and males “behaving dadly”. Conceptual Design Through this study we can see that male animal primates have an instinctual response to care for and flaunt their offspring. This appears to a revolutionary breakthrough in our understanding of linking men with caring giving. The biological and innate instincts…

Response to “Is the Internet Making Us Quick but Shallow”

Carr, N. (2010). “Is the Internet Making Us Quick but Shallow,” CNN. Retrieved on 2010, June 29. http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/web/06/07/carr.internet.overload/index.html?hpt=C2 Nicholas Carr’s article, “Is the Internet Making Us Quick but Shallow,” demonstrates the negative consequences of the internet on the human mind. His article is in response to the media criticism President Obama received after stating that the internet and technological gadgets (i-pad, Blackberry, etc) ‘entertain,’ rather than ‘empower.’ While the media labeled Obama as anti-technology, the author defends and backups the president’s warning statement. Carr’s biggest criticism of the internet and screen gadgets is that they distract concentration, they hinder comprehension skills, and they weaken creative thought. The internet provides the user with an incredible amount of information and knowledge. However, the trouble lies within the manner in which that knowledge is transferred from the screen into the user’s brain. Links, for example, break and discombobulate information (the information is not provided in a linear and coherent format, such as found in a book) from one page of information to another, and thus causing the reader’s attention to rupture and drift. A case study done at Cornell University shows that laptops distract students in class and prevent them from absorbing information.…

Dressed to Distract

Dowd, M., (2010). “Dressed to Distract.” NYTimes. Retrieved on July 1st, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/opinion/06dowd.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=homepage. Summary: Good looks are an advantage to any woman, man or child (and maybe even animal) in this world. Research tells us that babies will look longer at a good looking parent, and the “good looking” babies receive the same preferential treatment. The University of Alberta put together a research team to carry out a study in a supermarket to see if parents gave more attention to their more attractive children. Team leader, Dr Andrew Harrell, says that just as other animals do, “…we tend to parcel out our resources on the basis of value.” Debrahlee Lorenzana, a single mother of 33, was fired from Citibank in August for “looking too sexy”, she claims. According to her lawyer, the shape of her figure made the clothing she chose to wear too distracting for the males in her workplace. Lorenzana wasn’t like other women who chose to come to work in low-cut tops and tight pants, but because of her hourglass figure, any well tailored clothing she wore was “too distracting”. This specific case is interesting because normally the attractive people get better treatment and evaluations at work.…

Mining the Web for Feelings, Not Facts

Wright, A. (2009). “Mining the Web for Feelings, Not Facts.” The New York Times.  Retrieved on 30 June, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/24/technology/internet/24emotion.html Online presence is a valuable commodity in today’s digital market.  As companies seek to track exactly how their brand is discussed via the web and where these discussions appear, it becomes apparent that even a team of employees devoted to such research cannot tackle the shear size of the medium.  Thus, algorithms are being employed by marketing research firms as well as companies themselves to handle not only the amount of information present on the Internet, but also in what context it amasses. These algorithmic tools are applied all over the web, but are concentrated on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as sites that allow large amounts of user-generated content. Theoretically, in this way a computer can track not only when a company is mentioned but also in what connotative context it appears. Differing from previous brand tracking, these new programs seek to determine subjective opinion as well as objective knowledge. By programming computers to scan the Internet for words that hold certain connotative meanings, marketers and brands can preemptively address user satisfaction issues as well as…