The 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association was held from Aug. 4 to 7 in Washington, D.C., and attracted more than 13,000 participants from around the world, including psychological scientists, practitioners, and educators. The conference featured the latest advances in psychological knowledge, with presentations focusing on immigration, racism, eating disorders, clinical practice, social networking, and psychotherapy.
In one study, Dewey Cornell, Ph.D., of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and colleagues found that higher rates of bullying were associated with lower academic performance and lower scores on standardized testing. As part of the ongoing Virginia High School Safety Study, the investigators collected 2007 survey data regarding bullying from more than 7,300 ninth-grade students and nearly 3,000 teachers at 284 high schools located throughout Virginia.
"We asked ninth graders about the bullying climate in their school and found that their perspective was directly associated with school-wide academic achievement across a variety of subjects, including math, world history, and science," Cornell said. "The more bullying and teasing that went on in a school, the poorer the academic achievement was across the board in the school."
In schools where students reported a more severe bullying climate, the investigators found that school-wide passing rates on standardized exams for Algebra I, Earth Science, and World History were 3 to 6 percent lower.
"Bullying is not just a passing aggravation that can be easily dismissed. Bullying can have substantial and lasting effects on children's development and well-being. The fact that it also affects school-wide test performance should strengthen the case for educators and health professionals to pay attention to it," Cornell added.
In another study, Richard Rogers, Ph.D., of the University of North Texas in Denton, and colleagues found that many suspects do not understand Miranda warnings, rights given by police to suspects upon arrest. The investigators evaluated nationwide statistics of 9.2 million arrests in 2009.
The investigators estimated that 976,000 arrests, or 10 percent of the cases, were compromised by problems with Miranda warnings, which included 360,000 arrests of adults with mental health disorders, 305,000 arrests of adults without mental health disorders, and 311,000 juvenile arrests.
"From the defense counsel perspective, we conservatively estimate more than 300,000 defendants do not have clue on Miranda rights, waive them, and provide incriminating statements to police without the benefit of legal counsel. From the prosecution standpoint, many of the current problems with Miranda warnings can be remedied through simpler warnings and standardized procedures," Rogers said.
In addition, the investigators developed a survey with true-or-false questions about Miranda warnings that was completed by 119 college undergraduate students and 149 pretrial defendants at jails in Texas and Oklahoma. The investigators found that 31 percent of the defendants and 36 percent of the undergraduates wrongly thought that their silence could be used as incriminating evidence at trial.
"There are approximately 91,000 preteen arrests annually, whose reading level is far below the Miranda warnings, some of which require some college level education to understand them. In these cases, there is a huge disconnect between what is said and what is understood," Rogers said.
During a plenary session, Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D., of the California State University in Dominguez Hills, discussed the benefits and issues associated with social networking. Negative effects of social networking include teenagers demonstrating narcissistic tendencies with increased use, adverse effects on adolescent overall health associated with daily overuse, and negative effects on learning.
"Our findings suggest strongly that taking part in social networking often -- posting a lot of status updates and photos on social networks -- can reflect signs and symptoms of underlying psychological disorders -- what I call an 'iDisorder,'" Rosen said. "Narcissism can be predicted from social networking activities. In general, narcissism is easy to identify on social networks, as the person tends to use I, me, my, or mine in status updates or comments instead of us, we, you, etc."
However, Rosen said that there is a positive side to social networking.
"Social networking tends to be a good place for kids to 'practice life,' during a time when they are trying to develop their sense of self. It allows them to do it comfortably, as they are behind a screen and feel safe not being able to see the other person or be seen by them. It allows them to be open and less shy," Rogers said. "They can also express empathy online, which is often very difficult for teenagers to do in real life. So there is a good and a bad side to social networking."
APA: Suicidal Thoughts Common Among U.S. Student Veterans
THURSDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Psychological symptoms are common among U.S. military veterans who are college students, with almost 35 percent suffering from severe anxiety, and almost 46 percent thinking about suicide, according to a study presented at the 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, held from Aug. 4 to 7 in Washington, D.C.
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