Fulton Winner Found That Sibling Size Affects Risky Behavior

Does the number of brothers and/or sisters one has help or hinder individuals in their life goals? BYU student Tiana Hoffmann sought to answer that question through her 2017 Fulton Conference poster. In her sociology class, she learned that the amount of siblings one has directly affects educational results. This prompted her to ask the question: Does sibship size, or the number of children of a particular set of parents, also affect other outcomes? Tiana found that, at least in the early 80s, the more siblings an adolescent had, the more likely he or she was to try drugs or sex at a younger age. However, the age at which they began smoking and drinking rose if they had more siblings.

Application

What does this mean for the everyday American? According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in the year 2015, 15.9% of those aged 12-17 said that they had used illicit drugs in their lifetime. If you include marijuana in that category- illegal in most states- then the number rises to 25.3%. SAMHSA further found that in the same year and age category,  17.3% and 28.4% had used tobacco products and alcohol respectively. These are serious issues and any research that can be used to better understand and predict adolescent behavior is of paramount importance.

fulton_Sociology

Further Research and Implications

Of her results, Tiana said: “I was definitely very intrigued by the results. I was surprised that a higher number of siblings had opposite effects depending on the outcome.” As for where her research will go next, she added: “I would love to be able to test if birth order makes an impact on the decisions adolescents make. Perhaps, their behavior has less to do with the number of siblings they have in their family and more to do with where they fall in their family. Additionally, I would love to perform the same tests on a newer data set since the data I pulled from was collected in 1979-82. It is possible that we may find much different results when testing with data that is more current.”

What does she hope will happen as a result of her research? “I believe that as a social scientist, it is my responsibility to perform research that matters for people and could impact the way they choose to live their lives. But, I think that people should always be thinking critically about the research that is put out there and make sure that they are considering their own personal circumstances. My results were varied and found that higher sibship had both a positive and negative impact on adolescents depending on the outcome…. I want my research to encourage people to think critically and dig deeper into possible reasons why adolescents engage in risky behavior.”

Fulton Conference

Of her experience with the Fulton Conference, Tiana said: “I had a great time. The conference was very well organized and I felt very accomplished as I presented my research to people who seemed to be very interested in the results. I am obviously very grateful for my mentor, Dr. Mikaela Dufur, and the encouragement and guidance she gave me through the process.”

What do you think of this research?

A Two-Minute Video About how Praise can be the Perfect Teaching Tool

This post is part of a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains short tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

What is the best way to teach a child? According to BYU alumni Denise Barney, the answer is praise. In a 2017 lecture to alumni of the School of Family Life, the Family Studies graduate spoke about how to teach children through praise.

Instead of negatively addressing children’s bad behavior, she said, one should commend children on their good behavior: “As you give praise, be descriptive: ‘I really love how you took out the garbage; that shows me that you’re responsible.’ So you’re describing the behavior and then you’re adding a value to it.” Barney added that our relationships are the only things we get to keep and that praise helps foster these relationships, making home “a place where they want to be.”

Barney also addressed the importance of attention: “If we are giving attention to negative behavior, we are strengthening it. If we’re giving attention to positive behavior, [the] same thing occurs, we are strengthening that.”

In this two-minute video, she talks about how to modify a child’s behavior through proper praise and attention. The full lecture can be viewed here.

Denise is an expert in the Power of Positive Parenting, a parenting manual written by Dr. Glen Latham, having taught classes on it for 15 years. She is also the mother of six children ages 30 to 17.

Infants with Siblings on the Autism Spectrum are more Likely to Repeat Tasks, Student Finds

The fact that, as of 2012, the prevalence of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) had increased from 1 in 150 children to 1 in 68, according to the CDC, is alarming. In response to that, BYU’s Family, Home, and Social Sciences college has sponsored a variety of programs, research, and events meant to cast more light on the effects of the disorder and on better treatments, some of which we discussed here, in our last issue of Connections. Perhaps of equal concern, though, is that some research demonstrates a possible connection between children who have a sibling with ASD and a higher risk of being diagnosed with the disorder.

BYU Psychology student and Fulton Conference participant Katherine Christensen, under the guidance of Dr. Rebecca Lundwall, found that “infant siblings of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder have higher perseveration,” meaning that these infants tended to redundantly or insistently repeat tasks more than infants who didn’t have siblings with ASD. The implications of this study for earlier diagnosis and intervention are big, says Katherine: “I hope that in the future, the computer task that we used in the current study could be used as a screening device that could discriminate between high- and low-risk populations for ASD. If the computer task is able to do so, it could potentially help with earlier diagnosis and intervention for children with a higher risk for developing attentional disorders. Earlier treatment allows for a better prognosis.”

Fulton_Psych
Katherine Christensen’s Fulton poster

 

Katherine’s Connection

What made Katherine want to study ASD? In her own words, “I have grown up with a sister with developmental disabilities, and so the topic was interesting to me given my experience growing up with her.”

The Fulton Conference

Of her experience with the Fulton Conference, a college-wide event held every April highlighting students’ research projects, Katherine said: “I had a great time at the Fulton Conference. I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to get experience researching and presenting research in an open and friendly environment. I thank Dr. Lundwall for allowing me to be on her team and trusting me to present her research. It was neat to be able to see some of the other research in the FHSS school disciplines. I liked walking around and seeing and hearing from other students who are involved in research with other professors!”

Helping Families with ASD

In their 2005 book Helping and Healing our Families, professors Karen W. Hahne and Tina Taylor Dyches suggest the following, for those not affected by ASD who want to help those who are:

  • Offer respite care to families who are unable to attend church.
  • Provide transportation to church, activities, or other functions.
  • Ask parents of children with disabilities and service providers to give in-service training to auxiliary and priesthood leaders
  • Set high, rather than low, expectations for children with disabilities.
  • Express your love for the family, even if you cannot empathize fully.
  • Listen to parents’ concerns without judging their parenting skills.

How have you helped families affected by ASD?

Black and white feature image courtesy of Flickr.

Museum of Peoples and Cultures Ranked Among Top 50 College Museums

BYU is known around the world for it sports and top notch law and business school. But, did you know it’s also renowned for its museums? College Values Online recently ranked BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures on their list of the “50 Most Impressive College Museums 2017-2018.” 

mpc
Courtesy of the MPC Facebook Page

BYU’s museum specializes in artifacts of the anthropological, archaeological, and ethnographic varieties,” said the online college ranking company, who selected those top 50 out of hundreds of college museums in the US based on the breadth of their permanent collections and whether or not they included recognizable artifacts that could successfully appeal to a variety of audiences . “Highlights include shell necklaces from Polynesia and pottery from the American Southwest, though hundreds of countries and cultures are represented here. The museum also offers dozens of programs and classes offered each month for museum visitors of all ages.”

Current exhibits at the MPC include Steps in Style, featuring shoes from various countries and eras, and Piecing Together Paquime, which takes visitors on an archaeological journey through an ancient Paquime city. The museum will also be hosting upcoming summer camps, as well as these activities:

  • Date nights
  • Merit Badge Blitz
  • Museum camps
  • FHS nights
  • Mommy Meet Up
  • Utah Lake Festival

The museum also lends out culture cases containing educational materials to classes in order to further anthropological learning. 

steps in style
Courtesy of the MPC website

 The Mission

 The mission of the Museum of Peoples and Cultures is: “to serve the academic mission of BYU and care for the anthropological, archaeological, and ethnographic collections in the custody of the University. The Museum of Peoples and Cultures is BYU’s Teaching Museum, inspiring students to life-long learning and service and mentoring them in collections-focused activities that reinforce BYU ideals of education as spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, and character building. These activities concurrently serve the scholarly community, the LDS community, and/or the general public and aspire to the highest standards of stewardship and public trust.”  The museum fulfills their mission in the following ways:

  • Gathering and maintaining artifacts
  • Providing an educational setting for BYU students
  • “Facilitating teaching and research on peoples and cultures by BYU faculty, staff, students, and by members of the scholarly community in peer institutions”
  • Utilizing research, exhibitions, and activities to formulate new knowledge
  • Teaching people about cultures and peoples

History

mpc 2
Courtesy of the MPC website

 The museum was formed shortly after the Archaeology Department was instituted in 1946. It has been housed in numerous buildings over the years, including the Maesar Building, the Eyring Science Center, and the Academy Building. (Currently, the Provo library.) Aside from its inclusion in College Values Online’s list, the museum has the been the recipient of a plethora of awards and grants including a State Certificate Award for Excellence in All Areas of Museum Operations and the 2011 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. Since 2000, the MPC has received over $250,000 in federal and state grants for various research projects. In the same time period, $1.5 million in object and cash donations have significantly increased the quality of the collections.

With its rich events and creative exhibitions, the Museum of Peoples and Cultures is truly an educational and anthropological treasure that all BYU staff, alumni, and students can be proud of, and that the public can enjoy.

Have you been to the MPC?

When You Can Ignore Your Kids, According to Positive Parenting Expert Denise Barney

This post is nineteenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Bette Davis once said: “If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.” Parenting is hard! In a recent lecture to the alumni of the School of Family Life, Family Studies graduate Denise Barney spoke about age-typical behaviors of children and how parents can move past them.

“When my daughter was around 16 or 17,” Barney said, “she became less focused on her family and more focused on her friends. She only wanted to spend time with the latter.” Understandably, Barney found this upsetting. However, she eventually came to realize that that’s just how teenagers act. Her attitude went from offense to understanding: “If someone had told me that was totally age-typical, that all teenagers at the age are self-absorbed. And it wasn’t because she hated us. It was just that she was being…normal. So, once I understood that, the rest of our kids at that age: ‘Be on your way, go be with your friends, hallelujah!’” According to Barney, if you ignore your child’s age-typical negative behavior, it will go away.

In this two-minute video, she talks about her experience, as well as the kinds of behaviors that can’t be ignored. The full lecture can be viewed here.

 

Denise is an expert in the Power of Positive Parenting, a parenting manual written by Dr. Glen Latham, having taught classes on it for 15 years. She is also the mother of six children ages 30 to 17.

 

 

Research Shows That People Who Get Divorced or Are Widowed Have the Worst Health

This post is eighteenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Research, as we’ve mentioned here and here, shows consistently that people who are married have better health. It follows, then, that divorce or widowhood can have a significant impact on both mental and physical health. Dr. Linda Waite, a sociologist at the University of Chicago and a 2010 Hinckley presenter at BYU, found that people who were married and stayed married to the same person had consistently better health than those who had remarried after a divorce or loss of a spouse, had been divorced or widowed and not remarried, and those who had never married. Interestingly, in terms of physical health, those in the second group who had been divorced or widowed and not remarried reported the worst physical health, those who had never married reported only 12% fewer negative health events, and those who had remarried after divorce or widowhood reported 27% fewer negative health events than the divorced or widowed. Still, that last group suffered 21% more incidences than the “always married.”

 

The previously married also reported worst emotional health, with those who had never married not far behind.

 

The short video below highlights the results of her research, shared in a 2010 Hinckley lecture by Waite. The full video can be viewed here.

 

 

 

BYU Museum Day Camp for Teenagers Offers Unique Perspective

For the first time ever, BYU will offer a summer day camp for teenagers who want to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of its museums. Youth ages 13 to 15 who are interested in museums, museum careers, art, paleontology, anthropology, or biology will enjoy this camp. During either of two four-day sessions the second or third full weeks of June 2017, they will have a number of opportunities to expand their skills in

  • Critical thinking
  • Design thinking
  • Writing and english
  • Science
  • Creativity and art

The camps will involve the Museums of Art, Paleontology, Peoples and Cultures, and the Bean Life Science Museum.

museum camp
Courtesy of MPC’s Facebook event page

Kari Ross Nelson, Curator of Education at BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures, says: “We’ve been cultivating the idea of a Museum Camp for a while, so we’re excited to see it happening.  We’re excited to have all the Museums on BYU Campus working together for great variety throughout the week.” Instead of screen time, participants will have immersive, hands-on time seeing live animal shows, creating their own exhibits, tie-dying their camp shirts, and replicating fossils. The camp costs $139 which covers lunch, snacks, classroom supplies, a T-shirt, field trips, and teaching.

Jessica Simpson, a graduate student studying Archaeology and one of the camp’s staff members, provides her perspective on this unique opportunity: “Campers will have fun seeing what no one else sees from the perspective of museum professionals.” Go to museum.ce.byu.edu for more information and registration.

What’s your favorite on-campus museum?

 

 

Teens’ Self Esteem is Boosted Through Helping Strangers, New Study Finds

One may be surprised to learn that adolescents’ self esteem is enhanced by helping strangers. A study just published by School of Family Life professor Dr. Laura Padilla-Walker and her student Xinyuan Fu shows that teens with good self-esteem are more likely to help people they didn’t know, and teens who helped others were more likely to experience confidence boosts after that service. Padilla-Walker and Fu theorize, as a result of these findings, that the relation between self-esteem and prosocial behavior goes both ways.

The study will be published in the Journal of Adolescence in June. It looked at 681 adolescents of various races and from families of various income and education levels over four years. Interestingly, it found that no such bidirectional relation existed between self-esteem and prosocial behavior toward friends and family. It was only in serving others not of a teen’s acquaintance that a difference in self-esteem was noted. “[Our] findings..highlight the complexity of adolescent development of self-esteem and the multidimensional nature of pro-social behavior,” says Padilla-Walker.

While these results may or not be surprising, she notes that: “there is something unique about helping those that teens do not know that helps them to feel better about themselves, but helping family and friends does not facilitate this same outcome. It suggests that if we feel a degree of competence, we are more likely to go outside of our comfort zone and help those with whom we don’t have a relationship. I hope that parents and educators will implement helping and service into intervention and prevention programs with the understanding that helping others can boost self-esteem during the teen years.”

Little girl crying

Why are Self-Esteem and Service Important?

Why are these results important? Research shows that low self-esteem tends to cause teens to opt out of things like trying out for teams, at best, and increase the likelihood of doing drugs and binge drinking, at worst.  The beauty product company Dove recently released a report in the Huffington Post showing that “…low body-esteem is causing the majority of women (85%) and girls (79%) to opt out of important life activities—such as trying out for a team or club, and engaging with family or loved ones—when they don’t feel good about the way they look. Additionally, seven in 10 girls with low body-esteem say they won’t be assertive in their opinion or stick to their decision if they aren’t happy with the way they look, while nine out of 10 (87%) women will stop themselves from eating or will otherwise put their health at risk.”

A 2014 study from JAMA Pediatrics revealed that boys were also concerned with physical appearance and that those who were were more likely to do drugs and binge drink. Clearly, self esteem is of paramount importance.

What to do, then?

girl smiling With this being said, how can parents and educators of teens help improve those teens’ self-esteem through service to strangers?

What Else?

Dr. Padilla-Walker plans to further her research in a number of ways: “This summer we’re looking at different types of helping, including defending, supporting, inclusion, physical helping, and sharing. We also are looking at how prosocial behaviors differ across the entire span of adolescence, as we have rich longitudinal data spanning ten years! It will be exciting to see what happens developmentally and how family and other influences impact changes over time.”

What tips do you have for improving teen self-esteem or providing service?

What are the Health Advantages of Marriage?

This post is seventeenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.


Want to know how to be healthier? Get married! University of Chicago professor Dr. Linda Waite studied marriage and its effects on people and found that the institution improves the health of those in it. She said, in a 2010 Hinckley lecture, that it gave men confidants and purposes in life beyond themselves. Statistically speaking, she said, they also:

  • Sleep better
  • Eat better
  • Drink less
  • Smoke less

Women get different things out of marriage, namely financial stability. Because women can generally depend more on men to provide for them financially, they are able to spend more time with the children. Women who are married with kids generally spend less time working than they did when they did not have kids.

“It’s extremely important that marriage produces social connections,” Waite added. “It connects people to an intimate other and that’s probably the most important single connection and can’t really be overrated.”

The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities, social development, and single parenting.

Are Vehicle Safety Inspections Useful? Fulton Winner Says No…

The improvements in car safety technology over the past 20 years have caused a number of lay people and government officials to question the efficacy of state-administered mandatory vehicle inspections. Only 16 of the U.S.’s 50 states require them, according to Economics student Alex Hoagland, and those that don’t have not noticed a corresponding rise in accident fatalities due to car failure. Hoagland won first place in his department for the presentation of his research results in BYU’s recent Fulton Conference, sponsored by the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences.

Under the direction of Professor Lars Lefgren, he and his co-researcher Trevor Woolley had studied fatality rates in car accidents, by state, that were caused by car failure. Why did they choose this topic? He said, “In our training in the Econ program, Trevor and I felt that many of our economics projects lacked real investigative questions. Therefore, we decided to do something real, and reached out to our local representatives. We got in contact with Rep. Norm Thurston, who had previously become interested in the topic of vehicle safety inspections and was looking for some new research on the topic. He urged us to choose that as our topic for our Applied Econometrics class project, and so we did.”

The Research

Alex’s research contributes to a large body of research that shows no conclusive evidence exists between vehicle safety inspections and a reduction in mechanical-error car accidents. According to the Libertas Institute, a Utah think tank: “comprehensive studies show that there is no link between mandatory inspections and a reduction in vehicle failures or fatalities, so in absence of that justification, the program should not exist. And now it won’t, once the governor signs it.” Governor Gary Herbert signed the bill into law in March of 2017, and it will take effect in January 2018.

Senator Jim Dabakis corroborated this, saying: “The statistics from all of the states that have revoked and done away with these mandatory inspection systems; the statistics are out, there is no safety increase for the states that have this.”

econ 1st place

If these inspections aren’t helping, why do we have them? Alex theorizes that “…a lot of people have the preconceived notion that they must be useful for two reasons:

  1. we are all a little of the mindset that we are better safe than sorry, and
  2. we all assume that any existing government program must exist because it works.”

“However, if we stop to think about it, vehicle safety inspections are a byproduct of the 1930’s and 1940’s, when cars were at their worst. With advances in technology and increases in driver awareness, however, it seems obvious that what worked for the 30’s and 40’s wasn’t going to work now.”

He suggests that states should instead be focusing on things like distracted drivers, seat belts, and drunk driving. Alex hopes that through his research, governments will be able to make their roads safer: “We want to help state governments focus their attention on the areas where they can make the most impact in order to keep the roads, vehicles, and drivers safe.”

The Fulton Conference

Of his experience at the Fulton Conference, which is an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students in the college to share their research with members of the general public, Alex said: “[It] was an amazing opportunity to describe our research and receive feedback from our colleagues and professors. We also had a wonderful time surveying all of the other research going on in the school; it made me realize just how many bright and clever minds we have at this university working on complicated and important issues.”

Do you think safety inspections are effective?