Category Archives: Role


The way in which people are influenced by society is a question many people ask to which many different answers are given. Of all the influences we can think of, one of the major influences affecting how people live their lives and act are due to the direct effect that research, its conclusions and its published findings have. Every single day we are bombarded with new statistics, numbers and correlations that researchers have published that can directly or indirectly create or mold societal values and even the degree to which something becomes a social norm. Whether it’s about the new fad diet that research has found to burn the most fat, or the newest correlation numbers have shown between the consumption of hormones and prevention of cancer over the past year, we are constantly flooded with this information from every resource of media someone can think of. As humans we are naturally attracted to facts and are quick to trust a claim backed up with statements like “researchers have found” or “lab scientists discovered” followed by numbers and percentages and bold word statements. As humans, we are addicted to new and latest information relative to our daily lives. Because of the need we express for new information and the trust that we give to it, we are reluctant to question the source and process from which this new knowledge has been acquired; this is what can make premature research and its published findings dangerous.


One of the most important questions to ask about published research is if it is valid. The validity of research is dependent on the degree to which the model, or measure is truly representative of what is under examination. It is easy to skew the results of research if one does not take into consideration the confounding variables, or variables that are not accounted for during research and can affect the validity of experiments. There are also issues such as the Hawthorne Effect where the influence of the researcher is directly imposed on the experiment and thus can drastically alter the outcome. To help level the playing field for researchers, a universal method used by researchers called the scientific method, provides a series of systematic and organized steps that allows a researchers to remain consistent in their exploration process. Methods like this help promote the validity of research and ensure that it is that much more reliable, or able to be repeated warranting the same results and minimize unwanted alterations. An example of invalid research from history stems from the election between Roosevelt and Landon when sampling error predicted that President Landon would win the election with over 55% of the vote. What the polling team did not take into consideration was that they sampled only people from an upper class population that were more likely to vote for Landon to begin with, and was not representative of the population as a whole. Roosevelt as we know had won the election.

Research of all categories is extensively funded and supported by government, non-profit organizations and communities looking for answers to unanswered questions, and regardless if a proper valid and reliable investigation was conducted, findings whether supportive of the researchers’s hypothesis or unsupportive, are published. Once published the public has access to review such conclusions and is instantly impacted by the information seen. Agents of socialization such as mass media and technology use information to appeal to the public eye and usually attempt to alter behaviors. For example, of all the magazines one can find on a grocery store shelf, how many of those magazine have a front cover advertisement promoting something “new” to help curb your appetite, or tell about five new exercises to protect your heart? In magazines and online articles where claims are not directly cited, sourced or backed up by valid research, it makes me wonder how much I can trust what is being circulated? A perfect example in history of bad research followed by manipulative publishing and the impact it had on society was something Newsweek (a trusted magazine by many Americans) called “The Marriage Crunch”. It was an issue that flew off the shelves in 1986 by college-educated single women across the United States. In short, the article supported that research showed that single women in 1986 in their early to late thirties were more likely to be killed by a terrorist than be married. The cover was donned with a fancy graph and exclusive numbers within the article to sell the point. As social intellectualist Joel Best puts it, social problem claims must compete for attention and when numbers have the weight of authority, through repetition regardless of how discredited a claim may be, it still has an impact on society (Best 2). With that the claim that women in their early to late thirties were more likely to be killed by a terrorist was highly discredited, but numbers have showed that the women of that time have very high percentages of marriage. My questioning wondered if there was an underlying motive that came with publishing the article. Is it possible that the adult women of 1986 read this article and instantly tied the knot as not to fall into a hopeless statistic? In the 80’s women continued to push changes in social roles which in time has led to social change. Was this poorly implemented and published research done purposefully to prevent deviance from traditional female roles in society?


When research is valid, the behavior changes associated with it are not always negative but positive. A perfect example of this is the conclusion scientist have made about the correlation between smoking cigarettes and developing cancer. Since discovered, published and made aware, many less Americans smoke today. But it is the research that is neither valid nor reliable and still published which has a very large impact on society- it becomes dangerous. As Americans, we put trust in the word research without questioning it, and when we are bombarded with numbers and statistics backed by said research, it is hard to deviate our thinking and we are altered by it. Though it is hard for an average American to determine what is valid research and what to believe and trust in without knowing the direct source, I personally believe it is healthy to question it every now and then. We have this contradicting belief that, “you can’t always believe what you hear in the news/internet/radio,” yet we cling to the information these sources provide to us without question. My suggestion to the information seekers out there is to be weary of sources that are not cited and stick to professional journals which most times allow the reader to review the research process and methods that was taken in collecting and interpreting data. Don’t be too quick to pay for preventative medication, buy a certain car, or move to a different state because of what poorly implemented research has done.  Lastly, my suggestion to the researchers out there, carry out your research precisely and effectively. Have multiple peer reviews and be sure that the methodology of your research eliminates as many confounding variables as possible because once the word is out, one can never truly determine how it may affect its observers.



Joel Best, “Promoting Bad Statistics.” Society, March/April 2001:11-15.



When someone refers to a society which consistently hunts or gathers to obtain what it needs in-order to survive, it is a foraging society. Foraging societies were the first societies founded by humans.  Today, many of the oldest foraging inventions or techniques are still used in some kind of form, for example, controlled burns and simple tools, etc. Throughout time, many different groups of people hunted and gathered differently due to their world location, which in turn breaks foraging into three different categories.


 The pedestrian style of foraging consists mainly of hunting and gathering on foot. These people inhabited rich areas with a varied population of species such as woodlands. Controlled burns were a common practice among many of these pedestrian villages which helped fertilize and allow for new growth forest. Pedestrian foragers noted that big game mammals don’t tend to stay in one area so groups that were involved in this foraging practice moved with the migratory routes of certain species. Groups tended to be small in size, only around twenty-five to thirty members and stayed in brush huts and small wooden tee-pees.  When looking at this style of foraging, we can see social roles evolving within this society. Women and men both played essential roles in the community, but their roles differed greatly. The men were to go out and hunt game and also protect the village against intruders or wild animals. Women were to gather items such as fruit and plants. The females were also the care takers of the group. But, once in awhile, the roles of men and women intertwined, such as making tools and grooming/cleaning furs. The male and female roles were both very key in keeping an orderly society and the people depended on each other to complete or help with certain task. Pedestrian foraging is the most commonly known style of foraging used by our ancestors. This kind of foraging still exists in rural parts of the world such as in the Yukon because people aren’t willing to conform with modern society and, in-turn, are facing a cultural lag.

Equestrian Foraging

This style of foraging was practiced mainly on the Great Plains and grasslands. The use of horses helped drastically in hunting big game due to their speed. Plains Indians were a group that relied on equestrian foraging in order to feed their tribes. Having horses created a new kind of hunting which enabled these societies to have greater numbers than pedestrian foragers. The numbers increased due to the amount of food that was able to be harvested. This kind of society also migrated along with specific species that were common to the area such as bison, buffalo, and also guanaco (Species related to the llama). One new tactic used in the hunting with horses was the running of animals off cliffs and corralling individual species out of a group or pack. Equestrian foragers tended to live in clay and hay huts because that was the most prevalent item around. These huts were strong in structure which helped against wind; they were also made from clay which was used as a heat insulator in the winter months. Many men of this society also used horses to rob other societies. A good example of this would be the old western days.


Aquatic Foraging

Aquatic foraging was by far the most successful foraging practice. These foragers lived close to water (typically an ocean) and depended highly on it to provide food such as fish, crustaceans, and marine mammals. They also depended on these animals for lots of other purposes such as the skins for clothing/housing, medical needs, and as a highly valuable trade source. The people that subsided in these villages were typically there all year long, unless the fishing  went bad or they needed to travel for medical or other needs that weren’t available in the village.  Since this kind of foraging group tended to stay in one area, the structure of the society usually was stronger with a designated leader amongst the group. The houses that lined the banks were made from wood and these homes provided for permanent shelter. Aquatic foraging societies were so successful with adapting  to their surrounds that many groups still exist, but the aquatic societies have changed and have to sell their harvested seafood in order to live instead of living off nature’s resources.




I always had to have a substance for getting high or drunk. This led me to selling drugs. I started to become unreliable and untrustworthy to everyone in my life. Not knowing or caring what abusing drugs and alcohol truly does to the lives around me, my life became a loss of hope, total despair, a hatred of self, always looking toward the next feeling of bliss, the ability to become completely numb. The thought came to me quite often that I needed to change. Who really likes change? Change tends to be uncomfortable. When people in my life started to become worried and employers were concerned, I realized that my life was unmanageable.  The change is not easy however; the outcome is well worth the ups and downs from my unfamiliar feelings. Learning how to handle life on life’s terms is a life-long process.


Role exit became familiar to my life in many ways; it is the process of disengagement from a role, for instance, a role that is central to one’s self identity in order to establish a new role and identity. There are four stages to the role exiting process (Ebaugh, 1988). The experience of role exit in my life is a reminder of what my life was like, what happened, and what it is like today.


The first stage of “Role Exit” is experiencing a feeling of doubt, unhappiness, and loss of hope. I rearranged my priorities; I stopped attending college, got into trouble with jobs and was not faithful in relationships. The next stage of role exit is searching for alternatives to get out of the feeling of unhappiness. I moved to different cities, attended three different high schools; my mom sent me to rehab in the tenth grade, and six years later I finally stopped digging. I needed help. The next part of the process the action stage: making a plan to start packing for a rehabilitation center.  When I arrived at the facility, I experienced hope that I had not felt in years. The fourth stage of role exit is creation, or the creation of a new identity. I moved to a new city, left behind material and non-material possessions, and lived in a sober living facility for fourteen months. I continue to learn about who I am sober, one day at a time.


 I firmly believe that we are who we choose to hang out with. When I went to high school, I was involved with many different athletic teams. I never thought I socially fit in with the jock group. But we did all have one thing in common – being a part of the sports team.  Then, outside of the sports I felt socially lost. My status in high school was a jock that hung out with the druggies. I enjoyed taking risks and having a fun time, so I chose to find people that took risks and were rebels. I stopped finding time to hang out with the jocks. My social interaction began to consist of skipping school and getting “messed up.” In the end, the group members all went their separate ways; some went to jail, others dropped out of high school, and we all mainly just lost touch. Our primary group had a common norm it consisted of getting high or drunk.


One problem that is involved with of role exiting is when a person gets involved with old behaviors, and in my experience, turns to drugs and alcohol for a “quick fix”. I have not seen or talked to the old group I belonged to since I left for the rehabilitation facility. If I were to get together with that group now, they might think I am still in that crazy role I used to be in. I could easily fall back into that role because I knew it so well. I have changed today because I am involved with a different group, but I always will remember.  I feel that as long I remember who I was like, God willing, it will help me to not fall back into that old way of living.



Recovery found me when I needed it the most. The active social interaction of the recovery fellowship helps me to know that I am not alone and it is helpful to share experience with others who have the same theme in common.  We can relate to one another. Finding a group to share similar values, beliefs, and norms to belong to on a regular basis, for me, is the recovery community.  I need to keep establishing a fellowship. Getting together face to face with a smaller group of people has given me an opportunity to make true friends. This primary group has helped me stay on the right path with sharing their experience, strength, and hope. I believed for a long time that people with more sobriety time should have more knowledge about staying sober and living happy. The expectations I had based on a given social status occupied by people had not been accurate.  I have realized that it is not the length of time one is sober that matters; what matters is the quality of the time sober.


Today I am willing to take suggestions. I have learned how honesty has helped save my life and those around me by seeing the amazing changes in their lives. I am open to continue learning new and healthy ways of living with the group I have been a part of on a daily basis. Asking for help and admitting when I am wrong is a struggle at times, but life is a learning process. When I think I have learned all life has to offer me, it might be time for me to find a new project to enlighten my mind. I am sure I will experience many different role exits throughout my life. What role exits have you experienced in your life thus far?


Work Cited

“Getting Clean and Sober.” Getting Clean and Sober. CumberlandMountain Community Service Board, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

“Google.” Google. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2013.

Merlo-Booth, Lisa. “Law of Attraction: You Are Who You Hang Out.” SonsiLiving. Sonsi, Inc., 12 Apr. 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2013. (We are who we hang out with)  (Move a muscle, change a thought)


The Kuchi of Afghanistan

Foraging societies, or hunter-gathering societies are the oldest form of society.   They are thought to have been simplistic societies that didn’t know of any other way of life.  As we have recently found though, many of these societies are still thriving throughout the world today.  For example, in the Pacific Northwest, some Inuit tribes forage from the land for their survival because the villages are so remotely spaced.  Another example is the Kuchi tribe in Afghanistan.  Many might see them as a nomadic tribe, but they have foraging techniques that they use: moving from the mountainous regions during the winter to the southern river beds where the wildlife and vegetation are abundant.

Foraging societies existed widely prior to 10,000 years ago before the agrarian revolution.  Most of their time spent during the day involved gathering resources either for the day or the entire week. Social roles were already developing this far back in foraging societies, and every person had a role to play to keep the groups normal.  The males were responsible for hard labor like hunting, killing, and carrying objects. On the other hand, female tasks were gathering plants, berries, or water.  Since the males hunted larger animals they usually involved other men from the tribe, and frequently used large dogs to help track and kill large game. Their dogs were also used for security for the family and as pets.  Animals were an essential part of their life, yet if desperate times called for it, they would eat their pet.

Most hunter-gatherers lived near highly vegetated areas in river valleys. When lush fields died, some populations would burn them making the grass grow back greener and in return induce more wildlife to that area. With that said, most societies wouldn’t leave these areas.  It was hard for them to travel long distances for food that was not guaranteed. Even so, these groups were quite nomadic and seldom settled for long in any given area.  When they did move to another place they had to travel light, packing only the bare essentials: clothes, weapons, or dwelling equipment.  Most of their dwellings were made from the resources that were in that location, leaving them to become very adaptive to what was around them. With that in mind, this was another reason they didn’t migrate from location to location.


Works Cited

Dennis O’Neil.  “Patters of Subsistence:  Foraging.”  Http://  Last updated on Monday, October 30, 2006.  Web.  February 22, 2013.


What is nonverbal communication? It is the messages sent, intentional or unintentional, without words—clothing, facial expressions, body language, etc. (Witt p. 57). All nonverbal communication is learned. How would we know to give someone a hug when someone looks sad or give a high five after scoring a goal? This form of communication varies across cultures (Witt p. 57). Did you know that the thumbs-up sign is considered rude in Australia and Iraq (Witt p. 57)? Good relationships consist of good communication—verbal and nonverbal. Nonverbal communication matters more than what people realize (Segal). They say, “Actions speak louder than words”. In this case, yes they do. If a person says that they that they will be at an engagement at a certain time then show up late, it sends the message, “This engagement is not important to me,” otherwise, she would have made the effort to be on time. If two people are having a conversation and one person says she is not angry, yet has a frown and furrowed eyebrows, she contradicts herself. The other person is then confused and mislead.

There are many forms of nonverbal communication: appearance, facial expressions, posture, gestures, eye contact, touch, and space.

We can send messages through our appearances. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” – unknown author. First impressions are important, not only what we say but also how we present ourselves. If I had a big job interview and showed up in sweat pants, torn shirt, and bedhead, the interviewer would probably be less inclined to hire me. Why? I sent the message that I did not care enough to clean up for an important meeting. What we feel on the inside is how we dress on the outside. Growing up in school I was always told, “dress for success.” As I am writing this I feel like a slob. I am wearing jean, running shoes and a sweatshirt. I have noticed that whenever I dress up, I feel all the more confident and presentable.  This is also known as the dramaturgical approach that looks at social interaction as if we were all actors on stage. The “costumes” help actors get into character.  Uniforms or work wear get employees into the respective role; props such as brief cases, cars, phones, or tools are all used to enhance our sense of role (Witt p. 78).

The appearances of our facial expressions provide a wealth of information. Facial expressions are universal—happiness, grief, fear, disgust, etc. (Segal). There are many ways of sending a message through an expression. Just the other day I told my sister a story that I found funny and I thought she would feel the same; but as I was telling her and chuckling along the way, her face portrayed the exact opposite—horrification. In the work force facial expressions can sometimes send more messages than words. If a person, we will call her Susie, represents an organization, she would want to send the message of friendliness and professionalism through her expressions. Let’s say that Susie is listening to a client. Despite her expression, she is interested in the topic; yet, she appears to be uninterested in what the client has to say by her blank expression. This not only reflects poorly on her, but the company too. (“Personal Appearance”).  In this video, we can see how thoughts and emotions toward co-workers can be expressed through facial expressions.   The Office: Faces of Jim

This woman in this picture portrays a wealth of information through her facial expression. What kind of emotions do you think she is feeling?

We do not have to read a peoples’ facial expressions to sense what they feel; people can communicate through posture. Have you ever felt angry in a situation? If so, how did you stand or sit? Most likely you had your arms or legs crossed. Defensive postures have been interpreted as such (Cherry). The other day I came to Biggby to work on this blog. There was a couple sitting at a table across from me and I couldn’t help but notice that the man had good nonverbal communication skills. He sat across from the woman with his feet flat on the floor, crossed hands on his lap, maintained eye contact, and nodded affirmations. He seemed to be interested in what she was saying.

This picture portrays communication through posture. The woman is turned away from the man. What do you think she is expressing? What emotion do you think the man is portraying?

This picture portrays communication through posture. The woman is turned away from the man in the background with the wide stance. What do you think she is expressing? Sadness? Prejudice? What do you think the man is portraying? Danger? Anger?

With posture comes proximity. Proximity is one of those universally known facts, but never discussed. Typically, if we are unacquainted with someone, we stand at a comfortable distance; between 18 inches to four feet spaced apart (Cherry). The better we know someone, the more comfortable we are around him or her; in other words, standing closer to someone is a way to communicate a close relationship without verbal communication. Have you ever entered an elevator with one other person, whom you do not know, and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him? Probably not.

Our values dictate our codes of conduct. Our values—what we truly believe—become apparent through our actions (in other words, nonverbal communication). For example, if I truly valued a friend I would show her interest in a conversation. I try to avoid yawning, make eye contact, and affirm her through nods.  Have you ever talked to someone who seemed uninterested in what you were saying? I have. It’s annoying, isn’t it? Values are the expression of what we believe, but Norms are the guidelines of our actions. Every society has a set of social norms. For example, “respect elders,” “Do not murder,” “Sharing is good,” etc. Social norms must be expected from every member of society in order for the norm to function. When we go to class we are not told what to do, yet every student sits down and waits quietly for the professor to begin the lecture. Another example is the movie theater. When we go to a movie, we expect viewers to be silent and to sit in the seats provided. Let’s say that you go to a movie theater and you wait quietly for the movie to begin. Then, an old man with large round glasses and white wiry hair enters and begins to shout and cartwheel. How would you react? Others would probably give him weird looks; bold people would maybe try to correct him. He broke the norm. The old man deviated away from expected actions.  The movie theater norm is a folkway. Folkways are a set of norms that guide everyday expectations; if broken, the deviant is not severely punished. On the other side of the spectrum are mores. Mores are the social expectations that must be rigidly upheld in order to maintain societal order.  The violators are severely punished. If the old man who cartwheeled in the theater were to pull a weapon on the crowd, the United States law would punish him.  On the other hand, formal norms are written down, but violators are punished by the state. For example, many restaurants have the, “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rule. The United States government wouldn’t punish the violator; he or she would simply be turned away from the restaurant. Informal norms are those understood rules but never discussed or taught. I subconsciously sat with my back to the person sitting across a table from me at Biggby. It is not considered normal to face a stranger and make eye contact with he or she. No one ever taught me this, nor have I ever discussed with anyone how to act in a coffee shop. (Witt p. 59-60)

So what happens if nonverbal communication goes wrong? When nonverbal communication goes wrong it can be interpreted as deviance, such as the old man mentioned above. For example, I remember the first time I spoke with my friend’s mother. She stood very close and put her hand on my shoulder and did not break eye contact. It was less than comfortable. Another example is Ben. Ben is an articulate speaker; however, if you were to ask his colleagues they would say he is forceful and unapproachable. Ben speaks with his arms crossed, wide stance, and chin up. In meetings, while everyone is seated he chooses so stand and pace. While he may not intend to exude force, everyone reads it as such. (Segal).

Nonverbal communication can also act as a “saving-face” ploy, also known as impression management. In Japan, if the “company man”, or the breadwinner of the family, loses his job he continues to rise early, get dressed and head off to the working sector of the city. Instead, he goes to the library or other places to pass the time until he returns home at the usual time. He may do this to maintain the appearance of a workingman. He may be too ashamed to admit to his family that he lost his job (Witt p. 78-79). People do this more subtlety than realized. If embarrassed in front of friends or a crowd, a person may roll his eyes and shake his head. We can see this frequently in sports. If a goalkeeper fails to save a goal, the keeper shakes his head, places hands on top of his head or covers his face.

Can nonverbal communication skills be improved? Of course! There are many simple solutions. When you are in a conversation, maintain eye contact. This doesn’t mean never break eye contact-that would be unusual. Dress in a presentable way; others will be more prone to treat you in a respectable manner. When addressing a crowd or public speaking, do not look at the ground or mutter. Speak up and look them in the eyes. These are just a few simple tactics to improve nonverbal communication skills.

Works Cited

Cherry, Kendra. “Types of Nonverbal Communication.” Psychology., 2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2013.

Segal, Jeanne, Melinda Smith, Greg Boose, and Jaelline Jaffee. “Nonverbal Communication: Improving Your Nonverbal Skills and Reading Body Language.” N.p., Jan. 2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2013.

“Personal Appearance.” N.p., 2011-2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2013.

Witt, Jon. Soc. Ed. Gina Boedeker. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print.

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