Human Behavior in the Social Environment (SWK 5223)

A course at the University of Oklahoma Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work taught by Carrie Jankowski, MSSW, LCSW

Author: Dalton Brandon

BP 12

Regarding the Mindfulness Practice homework assignment, please reflect on that process and share its impact: positive, negative, or neutral. How could you use this in your own life or how could it benefit your clients?

As we discussed in class closure last week, please state 2 things that you are taking away from this course in Human Behavior and the Social Environment.

Congrats on finishing your LAST BLOG for the semester. Hopefully you will continue to use your website for a professional showcase in the future!!


Regarding mindfulness practice assignment, when taking ten minutes out of my day to simply do nothing other than focus on my mind and where I am during the present, I got a surreal feeling. Meaning that when I erased all other distractions and left myself with only my inner thoughts, the complexity of those thoughts increased and there was a sense of clarity in those thoughts. I would think of things such as where my life is and where it is headed, trying to maintain only the positive aspects of that future. This helped build my determination and gave me hope for things to come. I believe this process is a very positive one. This could be used in my own life and with clients during times when life seems a little overwhelming and there needs to be a way to get one’s priorities straightened out. A lot of times we are too busy with the routines of life that we forget what is important to us.

The first thing I will take away from this course is the concept of epigenetics. That is, the way the environment affects our biology. As stated in the previous class, I work with those suffering from mental illness and it is important to learn what road led them to their condition rather than focusing only on the symptoms of their mental illness. Having this knowledge would help develop more effective treatment plans that are specific to each individual rather than using a cookie cutter approach for intervention based on the mental illness that they have.

The second thing I will take away from this class is the theories and concepts surrounding children, primarily those in younger childhood. The reasoning for this is because I have a younger brother who is 8 years old and through my observation of him along with the material presented in the book, the knowledge has an application in my own life which cements the knowledge I am learning.

BP 11

  • Share 2 changes/additions you made to your website (note if they were peer suggested or your own ideas) and explain your reasoning behind it. If you did not make any changes, please state as such.
  • Explain the relationship between stress, physical health, and mental health as it relates to subjective well-being as concretely evidenced by the text.
  1. I did not make any changes to my website for two reasons. The first being that I believe that all the required information is included on the website already and no additional information is necessary, it would just be inflation. The second reason is in regard to my partners critique of the design. I believe the design and layout of the site to be simplistic and directs a visitor well. Adding things such as color or something that is more “colorful” would take away from the professionalism and purpose of the website.
  2. The correlation between stress, physical health, and mental health and how it effects ones welling can best be described to a client in the same way my father taught me. The way my father taught me was the state of your mind, whether you are depressed, happy, or other emotions, can effect you physically and cause/remove stress. I would explain to a client that being stressed all the time can have a negative affect on your overall health and can often cause your body to be more susceptible to sickness. Broderick (p. 542) explains that the increase in cortisol levels in your system due to stress caused by negative emotions can lead to your bodies immune system being weaker than if you were in a time in your life where stress was not effecting you. This gives more background to the term, “Worry yourself sick.”

BP 9

Two part Blog Post:

Referring to the peer review process for student websites, please state three changes you would recommend for your peer’s website and justify reasons for those changes.
Citing the text for specific supportive evidence, name one positive aspect and one negative aspect that influenced your adolescent development.


The first recommendation I would make for my peers website is to change the color scheme. The orange color of the link and titles does not contrast well with the white background, creating too much strain on my eyes.

The second recommendation for her website is the inclusion of a resume. As an employer looking at a potential worker, a resume is a must.

The third recommendation for my peers website is some information on the landing page that indicates what the website is about. Currently on the landing page is the blog role, however, without some contextual assistance the information in the blog role means nothing to someone visiting the website that doesn’t already know what it is.


One positive aspect of my childhood was my choice of peer selection, or who i surrounded myself with. (Broderick, p. 374) I had surrounded myself with friends that cared enough about high school that they were not willing to skip classes and insure that their homework was completed. Because of this, my peers had a positive influence in my own behaviors as I was working to imitate their own successes, an aspect of peer influence. (Broderick, p.388)

Also during my childhood, I spent a lot of time at my moms house outside the authoritative parenting style of my father. My mothers parenting style was more permissive and I was allowed to freely do what I want as long as the consequences did not affect her. This resulted in me making more risky behaviors (Broderick, p.389) than I usually would have taken under my fathers supervision.

BP 8

Reflecting on our mid-term class self-assessment and mutual problem solving exercise, name at least one thing that YOU will do for the rest of the semester in this course to contribute to your personal learning experience and at least one thing that you will contribute to the collaborative learning experience.

In order to contribute to my own personal learning experience I will focus on reading the material for the week earlier than I have been. Normally I would read the material the night before, however, as a classmate had shared, sometimes the material will be so dry and put me to sleep. So starting the reading in advance would give me extra time if needed in order to finish it.

One thing that I will contribute to the collaborative learning is the sharing of knowledge with other classmates. As an individual that has taken this course in my undergrad, most if not all of the information is the same, if only presented in a different way. I could share which chapters or theories proved to be the most difficult and which ones should be given more attention when studying. Up till now, I don’t think I have used my privilege of taking this class before to benefit anyone in a meaningful way.

BP 7

Reflecting on specific gender messages in your culture, clearly name 2 messages that are restrictive and 2 that inspire inclusivity.

Cite at least one supporting example from the text as evidence for your ideas.

When thinking of gender messages, males and females receive two completely different messages. As a male, I have experienced a particular restrictive message, that of “boy’s don’t cry”. This message indicates that it is “weak” for boys to show emotion when they are hurt. Another restrictive message is that of how males should dress. Though it makes sense to most people in my culture, the message of “boy’s don’t wear dresses” doesn’t make any sense other than the fact that it is considered feminine by american culture even though it’s acceptable in others. i.e. Kilts.

There are also inclusive messages told by society that may be contradictory to the restrictive ones. One inclusive message is that when in a relationship, boys are encouraged to share their emotions with their partner. This contradicts the restriction in emotion when boys are told not to cry. Another inclusive message is that of hair length. This message may be specific to my life, but it has been socially acceptable by my family and the people who surround me for males to have long hair. In the past, long hair on a male would be seen as feminine, in today’s society, it is a growing trend regardless of gender. The same can be said for females that have short hair.

An example from the text is the concept around who can be a ballet dancer as told by a boy. His mother asks him who can be a ballet dancer and he claims that only girls can, despite his mother telling him otherwise. The message to him is that only girls can be ballet dancers, which acts as a restrictive force in his interests, even though the reality is different. (Broderick, p. 301)


Referencing the text, name 2 positive outcomes and 2 negative outcomes that come from visual electronic media use in childhood. Also referencing the text/research, if you were working with a parent who needed guidance on screen use for children, what information might you share?

Visual electronic media can be positive and negative regarding a child’s development. One of the benefits of a child watching television in terms of educational material, is that when coupled with parental interaction, can enhance learning. However, on the flip side, when children are left alone when watching educational programs it has been shown to cause delay, such as when learning language through video rather than from a person. (Broderick, p.209)

A negative consequence of television is that on it’s effect on attention for children. Broderick mentions that the more television that children watch before the age of 3 the harder it would be for them to regulate their attention by the time they were 7. (p. 208)

Though it seems television itself has negative connotations, the programming in which they watch is critical. TV shows like Dora the explorer ans Sesame street have shown that for children around 4yrs old benefit in terms of their reading readiness when it comes time to encounter those activities in school.(Broderick, p.209)

If I were to give advice to a parent needing guidance on when to use screen time effectively, my main focus would be around making sure that the parents moderate what the child watches and insures that interaction with the child takes place coupled with the screen time. Broderick mentions that the more violent the material on television, the worse it will affect the childs attention.(p.208-209)


BP 5

Examining the 4 parenting styles as highlighted in the chapter, name one character from today’s pop culture/society that depicts a specific parenting style and describe/cite 4 identifying characteristics as referenced in the text to support your selection.

The parenting style that I choose is that of my father’s, which I believe to be authoritative. My father shows traits of having an authoritative parenting style because when I was younger, he allowed me to make my own mistakes rather than controlling my actions, strengthening my autonomy. (Broderick p.181) Things like going to parties when I was younger was not an issue as long as I behaved myself. Through socializing, my father engraved in me the norms for behaving in such situations, leaving the decision making to myself while at the same time having the knowledge to act appropriately. (Broderick p.181)

Another aspect of the authoritative parenting style my father possessed is the open communication. (Broderick p. 181) When discussing things that I did wrong during my childhood, my father created a dialogue, explaining why what I did was wrong rather than just administering punishment.

The last trait my father has according to the authoritarian parenting style is his strong behavioral control. (Broderick p.181) When punishments were administered, The were punishments like groundings, taking away privileges(like car), or limiting my access to “fun” things.(Games and such) This is reflective of the authoritative parenting style because my father did not use and psychological control such and becoming neglectful or withholding love.


Reflecting on the New York Longitudinal Study (1977) of behavioral traits of infants, how might the effectiveness of caregiving behaviors be different for children with each temperament (name and address 3 traits specifically)? How could that affect level of attachment between caregiver/parents and child?

The three behavioral traits of infants include difficult babies, easy babies, and slow-to-warm-up babies. Depending on the trait the child has will influence the attachment between the child and their caregiver.

Difficult babies are those with low temperament, become fearful more easily, and are irritable. Parents with difficult babies have a harder time building attachment, however, if parents are given support and increase their parenting skills, attachment can be assisted.

Easy babies are on the other side of the spectrum, they are more calm, display more positive affect, and are not as irritable as difficult babies. Attachment concerning these babies are much easier to establish and require less effort in regards to parents.

Slow-to-warm-up babies are in the middle of the aforementioned extremes. They do not present themselves as calmly as the easy babies and are more pron to irritable behavior. however, as long as the caregiver practices satisfactory care giving skills, the child traditionally grows out of the irritable behavior and well adjusted attachment can be made.

With each trait, it all depends on the goodness of fit in regards to the parents. Regardless of what trait the baby has, when proper care giving is applied, attachment can be obtained. However, if the proper care giving is not applied, then the temperament traits can then cause behavioral issues in adolescents.


Play activity plays a large role in the development on young children. An example given by the text regards the process of learning number understanding. The example involved children spacial understanding of where the numbers 1-10 would fall on a line. Meaning that the child would “eyeball” where numbers belong on a line, example being 1 at the beginning of the line, 5 at the middle, and 10 belonging at the end. Those children who played board games with their families like chutes and ladders, a game that requires movement on tiles that are in sequential order from 1-10 or further, had a better understanding of numbers and performed better on the activity in class than those students who did not play such activities at home.

In chapter 3, there is also a concept call “pretend play” or more commonly known as make believe, where children take on roles with others pretending to be things or people they are not. This concept increases the child’s language development through social interaction and increases their theory of mind skills. Skills such as symbolic recognition where the child learns to see objects represent other things, such as riding a broom symbolizes a horse, knowing full well that the broom is not actually a horse.

Another example given in the text is that of exploratory play. A bit similar to pretend play, however doesn’t necessarily need to be social. This concept explains that when children are left on their own with a variety of toys or objects, children naturally begin to explore them. This leads to the child sorting, organizing, learning their properties. This results in the child learning about spacial relations, numbers, and how to categorize objects, among other skills. The example in the text describes an activity performed by Mix, Moore, and Holcomb where children matched items occording to their properties, such as three turtles and three flowers, the quantity being the relation. Those that failed the test were given materials to take home and practice the skill for 6 weeks which included a container with slots as well as items that corresponded to the slots. After the 6 weeks of playing, the children had improved numerical equivalence.

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