Dec 19, 2018 in Analysis

1. Overall, males and females have similar intellectual capacity. However, males are usually better at spatial tasks than females, while females generally perform better on verbal tasks. Discuss in your own words, the possible reasons for these differences. 

 Males and females generally have different abilities to perform certain activities, even though they have similar intellectual capacity. For instance, girls are usually better at verbal tasks, while boys demonstrate better spatial skills. This definitely influences the way roles of males and females are perceived in the world. Thus, for instance, since men are better at performing spatial tasks, they are considered to be better drivers than women. In the meantime, women are thought to be better in the professions and activities that involve counseling and caring for others. The reasons for these cognitive differences are still unclear for scientists. Nevertheless, it is possible that these cognitive gender differences originate from an individual’s childhood and life experience.

Boys are more likely to have toys that help them learn how to manipulate in space (Cherney, 2008). Males are also more involved in sports activities and computer games since their childhood. In addition, their choice of courses influences the development of spatial skills, since boys tend to choose mathematic courses more often than girls (Cherney, 2008). What is interesting, stereotypes can exert an influence on women’s performance as well (McGlone & Aronson, 2006). In certain researches, female participants were told that men were generally better at performing similar tasks, or that the task was associated with male jobs, such as aviation engineering. In these cases, females tended to show more negative results (McGlone & Aronson, 2006). Thus, stereotypes about gender roles turn out to influence the performance.  

The area in which gender differences are found to be the most visible is mental rotation, presumably due to males’ more frequent playing computer games. In the meantime, numerous studies have shown that both men’s and women’s spatial skills can be improved as a result of playing with manipulative toys and performing mathematics and geometry tasks (Cherney, 2008). This proves that practice is important in gaining and maintaining certain skills in people of both genders. In order to check whether women will be able to improve the performance of spatial tasks after playing computer games, a research has been held. Its participants played computer games for a total of twelve hours during twelve weeks (Cherney, 2008). Surprisingly, the results have shown that females might benefit from the training even more than males since they demonstrated higher gain levels and improvement of mental rotation skills. Thus, it has been confirmed that practice of playing computer games can improve the performance of women in metal rotation (Cherney, 2008). This also proves that spatial abilities are flexible and are not entirely dependent on gender.

Stereotypes, social identity, and life experiences exert an influence on a person’s set of skills. Usually, men engage more in the activities that are linked to better spatial skills, such as computer games playing, since their childhood. As a result, they have more practice in developing spatial and mental rotation skills, which leads to better performance in such tasks. However, this set of skills is not unchangeable. Due to sufficient practice, females can also improve their spatial skills and perform similarly to males. 

 
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2. Psychological health of sole mothers is commonly poorer than it is for partnered mothers. Discuss in your own words the possible reasons for this phenomenon.

It is undoubted that sole mothers experience much more pressure and stress than partnered mothers due to the bigger number of responsibilities. Historically, they have been seen as immoral and undesirable society members (Robinson, 2009). Therefore, it is logical that they have always experienced certain social pressure. Today, these stereotypes are not so strong; however, sole mothers are still more stressed than partnered ones. This happens because they have both to bring up their children and to go to work to earn money for living. This situation has much influence on their psychological health. They are more likely to suffer from nervous breakdowns, depressions, and other emotional problems (Loxton, Mooney, & Young, 2006). Thus, the social status and all other difficulties associated with bringing up a child on one’s own have effects on a sole mother’s mental and psychological health.

In order to assess the psychological health of sole mothers and to compare it to that of partnered mothers, a research was held. Age, area of residence, country of birth, and social status of the participants were considered (Loxton et al., 2006). The participants were asked questions about having thoughts of suicide and self-harm, depression signs, taking medications, and experiencing sleep issues. The results of the research have shown that sole mothers are two to four times more likely to have suicidal and self-harm thoughts (Loxton et al., 2006). They also take medications more frequently than partnered mothers. These results have been more evident among sole mothers belonging to lower social levels (Loxton et al., 2006). Compared to singles or couples with and without children, sole mothers have the highest levels of housing stress, since only 13 percent of them fully own their dwelling (Robinson, 2009). Thus, the overall mental health of sole mothers has shown to be worse than that of partnered mothers. These differences are more noticeable for sole mothers in their late 40s than for younger ones (Loxton et al., 2006). Needless to say, the psychological state of sole mothers has much influence on their children’s future well-being. Children in sole-parent families suffer as well, since they do not get as much attention as those who have both parents. Logically, this is harmful for the society. Nevertheless, the number of sole-parent families is likely to increase in the future (Robinson, 2009). Thus, it is necessary to pay attention to such families and to provide them with the required help both in social and psychological ways. Those may include parenting support programs and introducing certain privileges for sole mothers at work and in the society. Furthermore, support from extended families and friends is essential for sole mothers (Robinson, 2009). 

A sole mother’s mental health and well-being should not be disregarded, since she experiences many issues due to raising a child alone and having to earn money. This influences her mental health and leads to depression and stress. Help from the sole mother’s family and the society may reduce the pressure that she experiences, improving her mental and psychological state. A sole mother’s relationship with her child has to be healthy and nurturing for the child to grow up into a successful individual. 

 

3. Token economies are used in a variety of settings, including schools and prisons, to manage and change behaviors. In what ways are token economies effective?

Token economy is a behavior modification system that is often used at schools, prisons, and psychiatric institutions. It is a form of reward which an individual receives for his or her good behavior and for achieving a certain objective (LeBlanc, 2004). Usually, a token is a symbol or an object that an individual can exchange for services, privileges, or material values. Coins, small images of suns, checkmarks, points, and other things are often used as tokens. A broad range of behaviors can be reinforced in this case; they include attending certain activities, self-care, good relationships with the personnel and mates, obedience, and so on (LeBlanc, 2004). In the meantime, disruptive behavior can be punished by giving another kind of tokens or by depriving an individual of those given beforehand (LeBlanc, 2004). Using token economies should be helpful for organizing the proper behavior in patients of psychiatric hospitals.  

In order to assess the efficiency of a token economy in treating patients with mental disorders, a research was held in a psychiatric hospital. The token economy program held in a psychiatric hospital was voluntary. Patients could quit it whenever they wanted (LePage et al., 2003). In addition, all the patients participating in the research were given a handbook and an agreement form which they had to sign. In case a patient was too psychotic to understand the study completely, they received verbal prompts to improve the understanding (LePage et al., 2003). Ink stamps, having shapes of clover, happy faces, and dolphins, were used in the research as tokens. They were put on an ordinary sheet of paper that had seven columns corresponding to each day of the week (LePage et al., 2003). The graph was changed every Monday morning. To earn the tokens, patients had to demonstrate the behavior that facilitated treatment and was useful for the community. These included participating in group activities, coming to meetings, taking medications in time, maintaining cleanness of one’s room and body, and so on (LePage et al., 2003). Some of the behavior aspects were individual, depending on the patient’s treatment plan and history. Those could be demonstrating social skills, practicing relaxation techniques, increasing food consumption, anger management, and so on (LePage et al., 2003). The tokens were given immediately after demonstrating the appropriate behavior. Using them, patients could buy snacks, drinks, phone cards, and other things in a special store (LePage et al., 2003). Some patients tried to forge the tokens or steal them from the personnel; however, they were immediately caught and punished by removing all the tokens that they had earned previously (LePage et al., 2003). The tokens were also taken away for demonstrating inappropriate behavior such as smoking in one’s room, threatening someone, destroying property, and so on. As a result, the research showed the significant decrease of aggression and inappropriate behavior in patients. Similar researches held in schools showed that token economies also enhance the intrinsic motivation of under-performing students (LeBlanc, 2004).

Thus, the effectiveness of a token economy in controlling behavior and maintaining motivation has been confirmed. Both students and patients in different studies were rewarded for the appropriate behavior, engagement in social activities, and following the general rules. The fact that they received tokens and could use them in certain ways motivated them to gain self-improvement and determination. Therefore, using token economies is an effective way to organize proper behavior and motivation in many various spheres and institutions. 

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