Tag Archives: Nikki Ramos

JNN: Jeepney News Ngayon!

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I always observe people around me when I commute. When two people are talking inside a jeep with complete strangers, don’t you feel the urge to listen? I do. It’s fun listening to conversations of other people when you are bored to death inside public transportation. You may call it gossiping but I guess it’s harmless since I don’t really know them. When listening to them, I feel that I am also part of the conversation, knowing details about stranger’s lives. Feeling and resisting the urge to laugh at a joke is sometimes embarrassing but I guess it’s part of jeep or MRT entertainment – a mini show for that matter. – like The Buzz, SNN, E News, or Showbiz Central.

However, with the advent of new technology, mobile phones are now used for everyday conversations. In this public transportation scenario, many just resort to chit chatting with their friends through phone. Some with the actual phone itself and some even with wireless headsets that make them look like they’re talking to themselves (which is really annoying if you are not the one driving the train or jeep). The catch is, even though I enjoy overhearing live face-to-face conversations of people, I find people talking using moblile phones bothersome. Although I still feel the need to listen effect, I feel that he or she is disturbing my peaceful ride.

Have you ever experienced this? If yes, I think there is a study, which looks into this effect.

A study by Monk, Fellas and Ley entitled Hearing only one side of normal and mobile phone conversations demonstrated the intrusive effect of listening to cell phone conversations. They conducted a field experiment inside a train which tested their hypothesis that hearing only one side of a conversation makes it more noticeable and intrusive.

The employed two confederate actors who staged the same conversation about going on a holiday under three different conditions. The first condition was a cell phone condition, the second was a normal, co-present both audible condition and the last was a co-present only one audible condition. After their conversation, another experimenter approached the participant in order to ask for feedback. The participant answered five Likert scales rating the following statements:

1. The conversation was noticeable

2. I found the volume of the conversation annoying

3. The conversation was intrusive

4. I found myself listening to the conversation

5. The conversation was annoying

Results show that although all situations had an effect on the participants finding themselves listening to the conversation, the cell phone condition was rated more noticeable and intrusive than the normal, co-present both audible condition. The co-present only one-audible condition produced ratings equivalent to the cell phone condition. This clearly supports their hypothesis. The authors explained this effect as due to the manipulations of loudness in cell phone conversations. Raising one’s voice is a natural response to not being able to hear clearly and is common in personal stereo users such as cell phone users. There are also the negative attitudes towards cell phones due to the relative novelty of the technology, cultural stereotypes or bad experiences that make conversations in this medium produce negative affect.

I guess listening to people’s conversations is more interesting if it is multi-sensory. Perceiving speech and conversations are not just a factor of our auditory system but also our visual system. They’re a tag team. Not being able to see the person talked to in mobile phone conversations and not hearing it, leaves a big gap in our imagination to fill in. It’s also applicable if you can see both of them but not hear one. This might also result to misunderstanding. And it actually takes more cognitive capacity and top down processing to understand the conversation and more so to enjoy listening to it.

The next time you feel the need-to-be-chismosa while in a public space, make sure you have motivation and the right cognitive capacity to clearly perceive and enjoy one-sided entertainment conversations.  Or better yet, just relax, enjoy your trip and listen to Adele. 🙂

Monk, A., Fellas, E., & Ley, E. (2004). Hearing only one side of normal and mobile phone conversations. Behavior & Information Technology, 23(5), 301-305.

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Say Cheeeeeese! :D

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As they say, a big smile can surely brighten up one’s day. It can change another person’s mood and maybe elicit a whole lot of emotions mostly signifying happy, and positive affect – as the song goes “sa iyong ngiti…ako’y nahuhumaling…” (haha!)

                     

A genuine smile is accompanied by the movement of our facial muscles- the muscles of our eyes and of our mouth, which readily exposes our perfect set of teeth. When someone flashes a big smile at you (especially if he or she is your secret crushie), I would assume that you would surely smile back at him or her. But what if his or her smile looks like this (I hope not)?

I bet the saliency of the dental cavities, the yellow teeth, and bad oral hygiene got your attention and turn your upcoming big, genuine smile to a small, fake smile. Bad oral and dental hygiene ultimately influences how we perceive other people.

Several studies looked into how dental appearance affects perceptions of personal characteristics. One study by Kershaw, Newton and Williams looked into the perceptions of personal characteristics of female dental patients and its relationship with tooth color.

Their study involved 180 female participants who viewed one of six images of a man or a woman with three different dental statuses (unaltered, decayed or whitened teeth). The images were digitally altered to appear decayed or whitened. They were then asked to rate the person in the photo on four personality scales: social competence, intellectual ability, psychological adjustment, and relationship satisfaction.

Overall results show that decayed teeth appearance elicited more negative judgments across the four categories. The whitened teeth on the other hand, elicited more positive perceptions. This led them to conclude that teeth color has an influence on perceptions of personal characteristics.

Another study by Karunakaran, Gilbert, Asimakopoulou, and Newton looked into the influence of visible dental caries (aka dental cavities) on social judgments of attractiveness. This parallels the previous study since it investigates the influence of dental appearance on perceptions of personal characteristics. The personality scales they used were: social competence, intellectual ability, psychological adjustment, care ofown appearance and attractiveness.  However, this study took the attractiveness factor. Using different faces with different levels of attractiveness and dental appearance, they found out that individuals’ overall level of attractiveness is more important to a social judgment than their dental condition.

Previous research such as that of Kershaw, Newton and Williams had significant effects for dental appearance because they only used one face which made the dental differences salient. The association of tooth decay with poor hygiene could be basis for the participants’ negative appraisals of personality.

It is also important to note that salience affects where we focus our attention in social situations. Many other factors affect our perceptions such as our previous knowledge on social norms. Media plays a big role in this. Media heightens up this distinction between yellowish teeth, which is actually the teeth color of most people vs. the ideal pearly whites. Yellow teeth, or stained teeth get our attention more than others and thus associated later with negative personal characteristics.

In the end, I think we should just be careful in making judgments based on just one body part. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of our precious set of teeth. Oral hygiene is very important. Sooo, don’t forget to brush your teeth thrice a day and visit your friendly neighborhood dentist!

And maybe, the next time you say cheese with your set of healthy teeth, you might actually have hundreds of people smiling back at you (even your secret crushie).

  Kershaw, S., Newton, J.T., &  WilliamS, D.M. (2008). The influence of tooth colour on the perceptions of personal characteristics among female dental patients: comparisons of unmodified, decayed and ‘whitened’ teeth. British Dental Journal 204, E9. doi:10.1038/bdj.2008.134

Karunakaran, T., Gilbert, D., Asimakopoulou, K., & Newton, T. (2011).The influence of visible dental caries on social judgements and overall facial attractiveness amongst undergraduates. J.Dent 39(3), 212-7.

 

She’s My Eyedol

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Desperately searching for a creative shot concept for the graduation picture last Monday, I rummaged around fashion magazines at home, googgling my way through photographs of beautiful people.

Looking at these photos I can’t help but ask myself— kaya ko ba magmukhang ganyan? parang di ko ata keri.

Fashion magazines whether local or foreign are loaded with lots of ads spanning almost half of the whole magazine itself. Print ads have been a popular tool to attract and persuade possible consumers through getting their attention.

 Popular magazines such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Preview and Mega include advertisements of attractive models, and idealized versions and presentations of women. As I have experienced and I can say most women do experience this: looking at extremely out-of-this-world attractive models makes us feel sad- even depressed. In other words, it generates feelings of doubt about self-esteem and body satisfaction. This is where media images influences the internalization of the thin ideal comes in: most young women are influenced by the societal pressure to be thin.

But what makes these advertisements so influential? It’s not just the attractive, and idealized presentation of the tall, gorgeous and intimidating models but it’s on how we actually focus our attention to the medium. Several studies looked into how advertisements are visually processed and how this in turn influences women’s self-perceptions. It’s interesting to know what elements in the ad do people look at first or what elements receive the longest stare. According to consumer studies, consumers focus more on the pictures in an advertisement more than the brand or the text and the patterns of visual attention vary based on the product.

In a specific study by Heawon Ju and Kim Johnson entitled, Fashion Advertisements and Young Women: Determining Visual Attention Using Eye Tracking. They investigated how young women process fashion ads by measuring their eye movements. They also correlated these findings to self-reports of social comparison and internalization of the thin ideal.

The study’s experiment involves several methods. The participants answered a questionnaire as measures of self-esteem, internalization of the thin ideal, and the tendency for appearance comparison. Afterwards, they entered an eye-tracking laboratory where their eye fixations and gaze durations for the ads were measured. After the experiment, they answered self-report questions on social comparisons.

Hot spot results of participants who were high in internalization of thin ideal: note the hotter areas on the model's image

Findings show that 58.8% of the participants looked at the model first followed by something in the background and then the headline. Compared to other aspects, the model was looked at faster, longer and more often. This confirms our belief that the model receives the most attention!

The participants who reported that they compared themselves to the model showed longer gaze duration and more eye fixations on the model’s image. In fact, internalizing the thin ideal was found to influence not only self- reports also the time spent looking at the model, eye fixations and self-reports of comparison.

It’s just an amazing idea that we can objectively measure social comparison through the small movements of our eyes. So, maybe our eyes speak louder than actions.

In the end, this study made me realize how influential media is nowadays. I guess young women can’t escape the fact that those gorgeous hot models have the greatest potential to influence how we think of ourselves. It can take a lot of work to not internalize the thin ideal and to not be depressed by the images of those out-of-this-world attractive models. Maybe we should focus on not comparing ourselves to those heavenly bodies- in reality, upward social comparison could certainly be detrimental why don’t we try some downward social comparison and feel better about ourselves? 🙂

…How about men? Does this also apply them?

Ju, H., & Johnson, K. P. (2010). Fashion advertisements and young women: Determining visual attention using eye tracking. Clothing & Textiles Research Journal, 28(3), 159-173. doi:10.1177/0887302X09359935

The Traveler’s Playlist

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Traveling is one of the things I enjoy the most. I always look forward to going on out of town trips with friends and having out of the country adventures with family after a long, grueling and exhausting semester in school. This was the best form of relaxation.

However, there is another kind of travel that I rather not get my self into- commuting. I spend at least 3 hours a day traversing the busy and cramped Metro Manila roads five days a week. This is the dark side of traveling and I am just one of the millions who take public transportation every single day.

As I do this daily routine I can’t help but notice people’s behavior in these public transportation systems. People ride the MRT, LRT, buses, taxis, fxs, jeepneys, tricycles, and even pedicabs with their ears plugged into something. They walk, or even run on streets with their big headgears. Sometimes, there may seem more people tuned into their gadgets than those who aren’t.

With the advent of portable music players from the old school Walkman with cassette tapes, to the revolutionary iPods and the tinyest MP3 or MP4 or MP5 players, people got to listen to mobile music.  Anyone can choose their music and listen to it anytime, anywhere – and so, listening to music while traveling is not improbable. Music listening while traveling is just one situation where music accompanies everyday life. As for me, music is my buddy not only in my everyday commuting experience but also during the long and fun out of town trips.

So why do people choose to listen to music while traveling?

According to a 2010 study by Heye and Lamont entitled: Mobile listening situations in everyday life: The use of MP3 players while traveling, the primary goal of music listening while traveling is enjoyment, passing time and enhancing emotional state. Heye and Lamont focused on relatively short and purposeful traveling situations such as commuting. They conducted a Mobile Flyer Survey with 428 people (with an average age of 20 years old) in their campus. They actually had to stop people who were traveling while listening to music (indicated by people wearing headphones while walking around campus or riding a bus going onto campus). They then asked about the traveler’s listening experience and music choice.

create your own "auditory bubble"

Their results show that travelers create what previous studies call an “auditory bubble” in public spaces. Listening to music during travel, allows the person to exclude environmental sound and engage into the music of their choice, carving out their personal space. It is a form of escaping. Attention to the music of choice is high and thus it does not only serve as a “background”.

However, music listening is also navigating. Listeners can still switch their attention rapidly to the external environment. The findings say this auditory bubble is partly permeable and music also enhances awareness of the surroundings. Through the choice of soundtrack, people mediate their perceptions by selectively attending to certain environmental stimuli, creating their own experience of the city (Simun, 2009). This makes people more receptive to certain parts of the surroundings.

Heye and Lamont’s study along with previous studies on this topic do not only validate why I choose and why I think most Filipino commuters choose to listen to music while traveling. It also gave me a different perspective on these reasons. Having music while traveling does not only ease boredom but it is also an active process in which I can escape and create the environment through the songs in my playlist. I create my own permeable auditory bubble. My perceptions of the world while commuting are affected by the music that flows through my ears.

With these new ideas, I might just download happy travel music in my iPod in order to create a lighter, more fun atmosphere of the dark side of traveling. Maybe I can turn my daily commuting experience to an experience like my relaxing out of town sembreak trips.

Heye, A., & Lamont, A. (2010). Mobile listening situations in everyday life: The use of MP3 players while travelling. Musicae Scientiae, 14(1), 95-120.

Simun, M. (2009). My music, my world: Using the MP3 player to shape experience in London. New Media & Society, 11(6), 921-941. doi:10.1177/1461444809336512

The Fast and The Salty

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I grew up enjoying home cooked meals or the traditional lutong bahay Filipino dishes such as sinigang, bulalo and adobo. However, being raised in a fast changing world, with high technology gadgets popping out from nowhere, I guess I eventually grew up eating another kind of food- fast food. There’s no denying that fast food had been and is a great part of one’s life or my life for that matter. Having my 1st birthday at Jollibee, celebrating my subsequent birthdays eating pizza at Shakey’s, collecting all the Happy Meal toys, enjoying my “I don’t want to cook, I’ll just call 8-6236” dinners and hell week snacks, having barkada or org lunches at KFC, and so much more instances, I think that these could be proofs on how fast food became a big part of my eating lifestyle.

Fast food restaurants are truly popular around the world. Multinational companies claim to serve billions worldwide, from giant burgers, crispy fried chicken, extra large fries, and supreme pizzas. People are turning to this kind of food that is convenient and cheap. Through the years, the hazardous effects of fast food had been exposed to the public. The most prominent of which is its high calorie and fat content, which may result to serious health problems. But unfortunately, this is not the only effect of the ever-popular fast food.

Fast food’s high sodium content also has several effects to a person’s biological system. According to a study by Kim and Lee in 2009, excessive exposure to high-salt food such as fast food may enhance one’s preference for salt taste. This may change taste-perception that may result to overconsumption of sodium.

Although this may seem like a complicated study, it was very interesting in the sense that I immediately got to relate with it. Their study was set in South Korea, a fellow Asian country that loves to consume dishes with high amounts of seasoning. Their study involved 70 adolescents that reported their preference for salty dishes, and frequency of consuming Westernized fast food items such as ramyeon, hamburgers, pizza, fried chicken and pork cutlets. In order to measure their taste-perception, the detection threshold for NaCl and preferred salinity of a beansprout soup was determined.

Their findings were equally interesting. The participants who eat in fast food restaurants more than once a month have significantly higher preference for salt taste. Those who like pizza, or hamburgers, and those who frequently eat them preferred soup with a higher level of salt. And, those who reported eating fast food less frequently have a lower threshold for NaCl, which means that they are more sensitive or can detect the salt taste easier.

The study provided concrete manifestations on how fast food “invaded” the lives of teenagers. Being accustomed to the salty taste could be a serious issue that might become worse as one gets older.

Through Kim and Lee’s study, I got to think that if I had a chance to test my salt taste sensitivity, I might be like the participants who prefer salty food and are less sensitive to the salt taste. However, cultural factors may also come into play since Filipinos are accustomed to add seasonings like patis to daily dishes.

Nevertheless, may it be a factor of culture or not, it is in actuality that frequent consumption of fast food is dangerous to one’s health. This could be a wake-up call to most of us fast food babies. We might as well go back to the comfort of lutong bahay dishes and sacrifice the convenience of entering the 24/7 restaurants and calling the 24/7 delivery service.

Kim, G. H., & Lee, H. M. (2009). Frequent consumption of certain fast foods may be associated with an enhanced preference for salt taste. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 22(5), 475-480. doi:10.1111/j.1365-277X.2009.00984.x