New Insights Into Politics, Autism and ADD Diagnoses, Genealogy, and More: our Magazine


When you want to better understand and help solve societal issues, where can you look for accurate information? As an alum of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences at BYU, you have a connection to a special source. The most recent issue of our alumni magazine Connections, just out, offers:

Interesting insights into the question of why more women aren’t involved in politics: aversion to competition among them


As election season rolls around yet again, the question of why more women aren’t involved in politics continues. Research by Professors Stoddard, Preece, and Karpowitz shows that there are a variety of reasons for their under-representation, which include aversion to entering a competitive environment and a general desire to stay behind the scenes. But it also found that, when women were individually recruited, they tended to get involved more often, and to stay involved longer.

New hope for families of children with ADD or autism


Disabilities and disorders are challenges faced everyday by individuals and their families. BYU professors realize that each case is different and they  are looking to find cures by breaking down the disorders and then creating treatments. For those faced with these challenges, professors have been researching options for early intervention among individuals and education among others to create understanding and help before major problems arise.

News about the rise in interest in family history and how that’s changing what we’re doing on campus


In recent years, among LDS church members and individuals around the world, there has been an increase in enthusiasm regarding family history and genealogy work. Individuals are forming bonds with their ancestors and creating a sense of belonging they didn’t have before. We discuss how this surge in interest has doubled student matriculation in family history, and brought together over thirty different campus entities to provide unprecedented access to both students and the community as a whole.

An advanced look at Professor Richard Davis’ new book on Twitter and politics


The question of social media’s usefulness in political campaigns has been asked for some years now. While it has not yet been answered conclusively by anyone yet, Professor Richard Davis’ new book shows that candidates are still not fully taking advantage of the unique nature of Twitter, limiting its influence in the political worl.

News about what individual alumni are doing, as well as where you are as a whole


The alumni of the FHSS college has been leaving their footprints around the world.

And so much more!


We hope you’ll find a lot of helpful information in the pages of Connections! We would love to hear your thoughts on these important topics.

Media: Does it Cause Social Withdrawal?

3035660201_d2478b7068_bDoes a night at home binge-watching a Netflix series, constantly refreshing your Facebook feed, or trying to advance to the next level of your video game affect your social prowess?  A recent study argues that media choices can affect the likelihood of experiencing social withdrawal.

BYU‘s Drs. Larry Nelson and Sarah Coyne , of the School of Family Life, recently published a study entitled “Withdrawing to a Virtual World: Associations between Subtypes of Withdrawal, Media Use, and Maladjustment in Emerging Adults” in the journal Developmental Psychology.  Their research shows that media could have a direct impact on social withdrawal, depending on the type of withdrawal and media being considered.

Coyne, Sarah
Dr. Sarah Coyne

For this study, researchers distributed an online survey to over 200 undergraduate students at two universities in the United States.  After taking the initial survey, participating students were then given another survey a year later and the results were compared.

The Study

While there has been substantial research published about the effects of media on social withdrawal, Coyne’s study proves unique in that existing work:

  1. examines shyness as an “umbrella category,” rather than multiple forms of withdrawal
  2. has a lack of specificity regarding the types of media use and the breadth of outcome variables being examined
  3. focuses primarily on childhood and adolescence

In the study, Coyne explained, “No empirical work with emerging adults has examined

Nelson, Larry2.jpg
Dr. Larry Nelson

how subtypes of social withdrawal might be related to various forms of media use and how that media use might be related to the stability of withdrawal and its associations with indices of adjustment or maladjustment over time.”

Because of this lack of research, Coyne’s work divided “social withdrawal” into three categories: shyness, unsociability, and avoidance.  It also designated a difference between problematic media (violent video games,  online gambling, pornography) vs. connective media (email, social networking) and internalizing problems (depression) vs. externalizing (illegal drug use, shoplifting).

The Findings

By making these distinctions from former research, the team was able to come forth with new information.  They found that:

  1. all withdrawn individuals, regardless of the subtype, used email more frequently than their non-withdrawn peers
  2. the avoidant group played substantially more video games and violent video games, gambled (online), and viewed more pornography than the other withdrawn individuals
  3. there is evidence of stability of social withdrawal in emerging adults
  4. problematic media has a role in mediating the link between avoidance and externalizing problems in emerging adulthood

3936927326_bbabb1a21d_bWhat’s the impact?

The research team explained that their findings “may serve as a warning about the mounting problems that might accrue the longer emerging adults engage in shy and avoidant behaviors.”  They suggest that “problematic media not only leads to increases in shy and unsociable behaviors, but also to higher levels of [negative] externalizing behaviors.”

In addition, “there may be reason for concern for [avoidant] individuals in the third decade of life because higher levels of problematic media use appear to be linked to higher levels of externalizing behaviors.”

Better understanding these findings could impact the way that researchers continue to study the negative effects of media on social behavior and how individuals personally choose to engage in potentially harmful media use.

Photos courtesy of Flickr.



How Landscape Affects Fire Recovery

8598789914_1c1055225f_zMany states, including Utah, often experience devastating wildfires.  These disasters are especially prevalent during the hot, dry months of summer.  While environmental restoration from these fires can be a lengthy process, could the landscape of the area increase the recovery rate?

This inquiry was taken on in conjunction with our college’s recent Fulton Conference.  The study was conducted by a team of geography students comprising of Alan Barth, Roxanna Hedges, Kevin Ricks, Ben Seipert, and Dr. Matt Bekker, their faculty mentor.  Their research showed a positive correlation between an environment’s recovery rate and its vegetation and slope.

The Experiment

The team chose to research the 2007 Salt Creek Fire in Utah’s Juab and Sanpete counties.  This site allowed them to study both the effects of the slope aspect and the rates of the maple and scrub oak tree recovery compared to the juniper trees.

Speaking of their research process, the students explained, “We used imagery from 2006, just before the fire, as our control, and imagery from 2014 for visualizing sufficient regrowth time.  We then analyzed this imagery by running landscape metrics…measur[ing] spatial characteristics of patch, classes of patches, or the landscapes…We also used the slope aspect map to analyze the vegetation types based on the slope aspect.”


Following their research, the students found that “the oak and maple scrub vegetation increased after the fire because the oak and maple scrub sprout from roots and grow at a more rapid rate. Juniper took the longest to recover from the fire. This is likely because juniper grows slowly compared to maple and oak scrub.”

The study also discovered that the slope of the hill and its direction affected how fast the environment would recovery.  From their maps, the students founds that the north facing slopes grew back at a quicker rate than the south facing slopes.  They hypothesized that “this is likely explained by the amount of sunlight that these slopes receive. The south facing slopes in this terrain grew back slower due to receiving more sunlight throughout the day and not being in the shade like the north facing slopes. Being in the shade allowed for the north facing slopes to retain water more water while the south facing slope water evaporated more quickly or became run-off.”

Landscape Ecology of Fire Recovery

The Effect

The findings of this study could help ecologists to better understand the timeline and effectiveness of wildfire recovery.  By furthering knowledge in this field, changes could be made to improve environmental recovery as well as potentially wildfire prevention.

To learn more about wildfire prevention, go to the following website.

Pictures courtesy of Flickr.

Why Anthropology?



In a day and age when our exposure to and ability to interact with other cultures is unprecedented, where the world is shrinking, it can be easily argued that understanding and compassion are more important than ever. It is here that anthropology comes into play; to develop compassion towards other cultures, one starts by studying them, their pasts and presents. There is perhaps no better time to begin that study than when we are young. The younger a child is, the less they understand stereotypes. Exposing and teaching children to anthropology when they are little, will help them carry that lack of bias with them into adulthood.

“Anthropologists study every facet of the human experience and behavior, both past and present,” in BYU’s Department of Anthropology. Classified as a social science, it covers a wide range of geographical areas and time periods. Kari Nelson, Curator of Education at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, an anthropological resource for the community, says: “Being compassionate and kind are wonderful, but they are abstract. By applying the skills learned within the discipline, you can research your own family, your ancestors, and where you came from. This is a literal turning of the hearts.”countries-1295969_960_720

While taking children on a tour of the museum recently, Nelson stopped at a display of masks from another culture. Immediately, the children deemed them weird. She wondered: if they believed that about the masks, what would they think of the people who made them? It is to prevent experiences like these that children and youth need to study Anthropology. They need that understanding in order to live happily and to positively contribute in this world.

Skills Learned

Beyond developing understanding of other cultures, though, the study of anthropology can help kids develop a number of skills and traits that will be useful to them in all of their studies, and in their lives. These include:

  • analytical skills
  • detail orientation
  • self-motivation
  • good communication skills
  • good physical condition
  • patience

In addition, O*Net, an online database of occupational information, reports that these additional skills are acquired as one studies to become a professional anthropologist:

  • public speaking
  • active listening
  • critical thinking
  • reading comprehension
  • scientific understanding
  • writing
  • active learning
  • complex problem solving
  • judgment and decision making
  • social perceptiveness
  • systems analysis
  • time management, an online resource for parents and teachers of anthropology and other sciences, reports that the median salary of an anthropologist is over $59,000 annually.


All of this being said, parents and students may struggle to know about all of the resources available to them to build interest in and understanding of anthropology. The Museum of Peoples and Cultures is an excellent starting point. Watch our site for another post in the near future about specific resources and strategies available to them.


Balancing Work and Family: a Facebook Chat

The question of how to balance family and career responsibilities, if we’re mothers, or if we’re not, how we support those that do, is often deeply personal but also quite common. We also frequently ask ourselves, if we’re parents, how to raise our children so that they are productive and altruistic. The answers to those questions are also quite often both complicated but universal. Various female members of our School of Family Life faculty will talk about what they’ve found works best, in their lives and in their research, and invite you to chat with them in real-time and on-line, in conjunction with the release of their latest magazine.

August Facebook chat

Called Family Connections, the latest issue of the magazine shares the example of alum-turned-professors Laura Padilla-Walker, Chris Moore, and Erin Holmes, as well as those of other alumni who are making a difference in the world today, and discussion of raising “prosocial” children. SFL alumni are invited to request to join the SFL Alumni Page BYU SFL Alumni Connect, if they haven’t already been included. Then get online on

Friday, August 4th

6-7 p.m.

If you’re already a member, comment below with the kinds of questions or topics you’d like to see addressed. There will be a drawing for a $50 VISA gift card at the end of the discussion; all chat participants are eligible.


Erin Holmes

In 1998, Erin Holmes graduated with honors from BYU and went on to get her masters in 2001 at the University of Delaware, eventually obtaining a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006. While going through her doctorate program, Holmes became pregnant with her first child.


As you can imagine, she faced the very difficult choice of continuing her studies or being a stay-at-home mom. Unsure of which was the right decision, she turned to the scriptures. In Isaiah 40: 31 Holmes read: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” After that, the choice was clear: continue with her education.

With aid from family and friends, she was able to complete her degree and was offered a teaching position at BYU. Since then, she has had two more children and continues to balance her work as a professor while being a mother to her three children

Laura Padilla-Walker

Professor Walker obtained her BS in 1999 from Central Michigan University, her MS from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2001, and her PhD from the same university in 2005. As a working mother, she understands the difficulties of successfully managing both a career and children.


However, Walker finds the experience enriching; when asking her daughter of her desired career choice, the girl replied, “when I grow up I want to have a job like yours and work part-time and spend most of my time with my kids.” Walker adds, “That is success to me because she is not aware of how much I work; she just knows that I am present when I am home with her.” Through her actions, she shows that balancing work and a family is something that can be accomplished.


Chris Moore

Chris Moore knew early in life that obtaining an education was paramount. When she was young, one of her great grandmothers told her: “Christine, you cannot rely on a man to take care you, so I am going to give you some money and you are going to college!”


By the age of 50, Moore had one Bachelor’s degree, two Masters, and a Ph.D. Before becoming the director of the Family and Consumer Sciences Education program, she taught junior high. Throughout both of these careers, Moore has been a positive example to all who come in contact with her.



So, be sure to join us on Facebook on August 4th from 6-7 pm to learn just how these ladies do it- and how you can do it too. We hope to “see” you there!

*Panelists may change.

How do you balance the responsibilities in your life?