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A friend sometimes speaks with incorrect word ordering. However, he writes English at a professional level. How could this be? His vocabulary is fine, just the word ordering is weird sometimes when he speaks. I always understand his meaning. He seems to not know that he is using incorrect word ordering. He speaks very slowly. His reading and listening appear fine.
Have you noticed your own word ordering as well as your word decisions?
Better: Sometimes, a friend says his words jumbled, seemingly out of place. Though I understand him, always, he seems to be unaware of how he speaks. As well, she speaks slowly. Yet, this friend writes well. Also, he seems to listen well. What could cause his problem?
Look up Anosognosia and Aphasia.
Bad Grammar Examples
When speaking or writing, grammar is one of the most powerful representations of intelligence and authority. Right or wrong, people will form opinions based on the way you present yourself—similar to the way a well-tailored business suit helps project competence. If you want people to note your opinions rather than your bad grammar examples, avoid these common errors. You can also take our online course and spend a bit of time learning English grammar.
1. Subject–verb agreement errors
One basic rule of English grammar is that the subject (the one performing the action) must agree in number with the verb (the action or state of being). For example, in the sentence “Matt plays the guitar,” both Matt and plays are singular, so this subject and verb agree. However, most sentences, especially in academic writing, aren’t so straightforward. Descriptive phrases can get in the way, making it difficult to determine if the subjects and verbs agree. When this happens, eliminate all intervening information to get to the meat of the sentence.
Because puppies is right before have, this bad grammar example is easy to overlook. Ask yourself who the sentence is about (the girl), and eliminate the rest:
2. Pronoun–antecedent agreement errors
Like subjects and verbs, pronouns must agree with their antecedents, the nouns they replace. They must agree in both number and gender. Typically, this is easy, as in the following example:
However, with certain words, it is more difficult to determine whether they are singular or plural. For instance, indefinite pronouns (such as someone, anyone, few, none, or everyone) confuse many English speakers, as in this bad grammar example:
Here, everyone is singular, so the pronoun before pencil must be as well. It would be more grammatically correct to say:
Note that many modern English speakers use the plural their to avoid gender-biased language, especially in informal speech. If writing an academic paper, consult your style guide or professor to determine whether this is acceptable.
3. Sentence errors
To be a complete sentence, a group of words must begin with a capital letter, have ending punctuation (a period, question mark, or exclamation point), and express a complete thought. While most people understand the first two requirements, it’s the third that causes problems, with errors often resulting in sentence fragments or run-on sentences. Consider these bad grammar examples:
- Incorrect: Because I wanted to go on a picnic.
- Incorrect: When Al gets here.
- Incorrect: Lisa went to the concert, she saw the band.
The first two bad grammar examples are incorrect because they don’t express complete thoughts: What happened because the speaker wanted to go on a picnic? What will happen when Al gets here? To correct this error, you must add an independent clause to complete the thought.
- Correct: I brought a blanket because I wanted to go on a picnic.
- Correct: When Al gets here, we can start making dinner.
Adding the independent clause completes the thought, facilitating understanding. The third bad grammar example is a run-on sentence it provides too many complete thoughts without connecting them appropriately. To correct this, add a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) after the comma, change the comma to a semicolon, or make two sentences.
- Correct: Lisa went to the concert, and she saw the band.
- Correct: Lisa went to the concert she saw the band.
- Correct: Lisa went to the concert. She saw the band.
4. Descriptive phrase errors
Descriptive phrases can add depth and clarity to writing, but can also result in bad grammar examples. When writing, be sure your descriptive phrase is attached to the right word, and be sure to put your work through editing to avoid these common mistakes.
- Incorrect: Smelling like rotten fish, my sister took the trash out.
- Incorrect: Watching from the airplane window, the volcano erupted.
The first bad grammar example, implying that your sister needs a bath, involves a misplaced modifier. The phrase should be describing trash.
The second bad grammar example leaves readers wondering who was on the plane—because it sure seems like the volcano was having a great trip. To correct this dangling modifier, add an appropriate subject:
While the above errors are sometimes difficult to catch, the bad grammar examples below can be a little bit more obvious (though they can still stump even experienced editors at times!)
Certain pairs or groups of words are confusing because they are similar but have different meanings. Review the following homonyms to avoid appearing lazy or uninformed and infusing your writing with more bad grammar examples.
It’s/Its: It’s is a contraction meaning It is or It has. Its is a possessive pronoun.
- Incorrect:Its going to be a long day. Does the car need it’s oil changed?
- Correct:It’s going to be a long day. Does the car need its oil changed?
There/Their/They’re: There is either a place or a pronoun. Their is a possessive pronoun. They’re is a contraction meaning They are.
- Incorrect:Their goes my freedom. There going to bring they’re suitcases.
- Correct:There goes my freedom. They’re going to bring their suitcases.
Your/You’re: Like the above examples, your is a possessive pronoun, while you’re is a contraction for you are.
- Incorrect:Your going to need you’re notebook.
- Correct:You’re going to need your notebook.
Affect/Effect: Most of the time, affect is a verb, and effect is a noun.
- Incorrect: That medicine effects my ability to sleep. Have you heard of the butterfly affect?
- Correct: That medicine affects my ability to sleep. Have you heard of the butterfly effect?
Note: While this is an easy distinction, in certain cases, affect can be a noun, such as in psychology, and effect can be a verb meaning to accomplish.
Homonyms can be tricky even for experienced English speakers, so make a list of the ones you confuse most and check for them each time you write.
That’s all, folks!
By watching out for all these errors, you can present yourself in the best possible light, whether you’re writing an informal email or a university dissertation. If you don’t want your speech or writing to provide the world with even more bad grammar examples, check out GrammarCamp, the online course that will help you learn English grammar.
Recognizing Defensive Behavior
Recognizing defensive behavior in someone else is usually fairly easy. You may be trying to solve a problem with them or just trying to have a pleasant conversation. But for some reason, maybe because of something you've said or done or maybe for their own personal reasons, they feel threatened. When that happens, they may respond in several ways. Here are a few of them.
- They appear to not be listening to you.
- They make a lot of excuses.
- They blame you for the problem.
- They say that you did the same thing that you're unhappy about them doing.
- They talk a lot about why they caused the problem, trying to justify their behavior.
- They focus on things you've done wrong at other times rather than the current issue.
- They try to tell you how you feel.
Psychologists over the generations have identified basic defense mechanisms that are common used and misused. You may have also noticed that a number of examples of defensive behaviors listed above also line up with common logical fallacies. While they aren&rsquot always one-to-one, recognizing these signs of illogical reasoning can often tip you off to someone&rsquos subtle defensive behavior.
While you might notice these behaviors in someone else, they can be hard to recognize in yourself. A part of the reason is that you justify your behavior in your own mind. Another piece of the puzzle is that you're so concerned with protecting yourself that you don't realize the impact of what you're saying.
However, if you want to have positive relationships at home, at work, and in social situations, it's important to think through the ways you behave with others. Only then can you work on changing those destructive ways of interacting with the people in your life.
If you&rsquore worried that your being defensive, opposing others without provovation, and lack of ease with communicating clearly might be hurting your relationships, talking with a therapist or counselor can help you to strengthen these relationships &ndash and get to the psychological root of your defensiveness.
What Makes Defensive Behavior More Likely?
One way of thinking about defensive behavior is that it's as if you come prepared for war in a situation that's basically neutral. You're ready to fight for yourself, even when no one is interested in attacking you.
However, there's more to defensive behavior. Sometimes, the way you behave may precipitate defensive behavior in others. Here are some of the behaviors to avoid if you don't want to elicit defensive behavior from those around you:
- Your words and actions are focused on judging, criticizing, or evaluating the person you're talking to.
- You treat the other person as an object rather than a human with feelings.
- Your words and actions seem carefully designed for some purpose other than interacting with them. If people think you're being fake to get something you want, they may become defensive.
- Your words and actions seem to be geared toward controlling the other person. They may be even more defensive if it seems like you're hiding the motives behind your behavior.
- You emphasize that you're superior to the other person.
- You're so sure that you know the right answers and the real truth that you aren't willing to entertain the possibility that you might be wrong or even to listen to the other side.
The good news is that there are other behaviors that will create a less defensive and more supportive climate. These are the behaviors that make defensive behavior less likely:
- Rather than placing a judgment on the person you're talking to, you merely describe whatever actions, words, or qualities you want to discuss.
- You show care, concern and empathy for them.
- Instead of planning out what you're going to get from someone and the words and actions that you think will get it, you stay focused on the present moment and respond to what's happening right now.
- You don't try to control someone else with your words and behavior. Instead, you try to work with them to solve a problem that's coming between you.
- You treat the other person like an equal person. Even if you may have certain things or abilities they don't have, you do see them as an equal partner in solving the problem.
- You take an investigative approach rather than taking sides. You honestly consider the other person's viewpoint.
What's the Best Way to Respond to Defensiveness?
Suppose you're in a situation where the person seems to be defensive despite your best efforts to be supportive. How do you respond? The first thing you can do is to use the above tips to shift the climate to one that's more supportive.
It's great if you can find something to agree with them about, even if it's a small thing. If they resort to extremely childish defenses, you may need to ignore at least some of those behaviors. It's usually helpful if you can remain calm and talk about the issue as simply, directly, and honestly as possible, depending on how close your relationship is and the social setting you're in at the time.
It may help you to avoid reacting to their defensiveness in a negative way to remember that it probably isn&rsquot anything personal. As mentioned above, most defensive people learn the behavior early in life. Sometimes it is because they were the victims of emotional abuse themselves.
How to Manage Your Own Defensive Behavior
What can you do if you realize you're engaging in a lot of destructive defensive behavior?
First, you need to understand that there's a reason you're feeling so threatened. A part of decreasing defensive behavior is identifying the subjects that you feel threatened about. You might be able to discover those subjects by journaling.
Journaling is a common psychological technique that involves writing about your day with an emphasis on how events or interactions made you feel. For many people, this makes it easier to understand how certain things can trigger feelings that you may need to understand better.
Once you understand where the perceived threat lies, you can often find ways to increase your feeling of safety. In some cases, you might decide that it's best to avoid those subjects. However, it's important not to become withdrawn or to emotionally abandon relationships that are important to you.
So, you may need to learn how to communicate more effectively and positively. Individual counseling can help you learn what's behind your defensiveness. Your counselor can also help you develop strategies for decreasing your defensive behavior.
You may also need to work on building up your self-esteem. If you feel comfortable with who you are, you're less likely to feel threatened when someone else doesn't. And if you grew up in a very defensive household, it may be very hard for you to let go of those behaviors.
If you're being defensive with your partner, you may both benefit from couples counseling where you can learn together how to interact more productively. Talking to a counselor may change the way you behave with others and improve your relationships significantly.
You can talk to a counselor at BetterHelp to understand and decrease your defensive behavior, learn how to respond to the defensiveness of others, and improve the relationships that matter most to you. If the idea of remote counseling seems strange to you, consider reading the following reviews from real BetterHelp users.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a defensive person?
A defensive person is someone who shows behaviors that are defensive. Psychology&rsquos &ldquoDefensive&rdquo definition is important to understand.
One definition of defensive is &ldquodevoted to resisting or preventing aggression or attack&rdquo. Psychology Today shares that many times someone is defensive because of criticism they&rsquore receiving. This can be an unhealthy cycle that relationships fall into.
People can be defensive because they struggle with their self-esteem. It&rsquos difficult to handle criticism when you already feel bad about yourself. You don&rsquot want others to point out this behavior in your life as well. It makes you feel even worse.
Then, there are defensive people that struggle with mental health challenges such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Their behavior can also be linked to a lack of healthy self-esteem.
What is defensive behavior?
Understanding the definition of defensive can help you know more about what it looks like when someone is defensive. Defensive means &ldquoin the state or condition of being prepared or required to defend against attack or criticism&rdquo. While it sounds good for someone to be ready to defend against an attack, the word can be used in different ways.
For example, defensive driving is good because you&rsquore driving in a way to keep everyone on the road safe.
Defend can mean &ldquoserving to defend&rdquo. You can see how the explanation and definition of defensive would make sense from that.
However, the problem with the definition of defensive is that it really leaves the negative emotion out of it that can be connected with the experience. For example, if a person constantly shows defensive behavior, it&rsquos not a positive thing. This is when someone constantly tries to make excuses for their actions or explain why something happened or isn&rsquot their fault instead of taking responsibility for it.
When this happens long-term it can become a big problem in relationships: romantic, friendships, and at work. If a person feels that they need to be &ldquoserving to defend&rdquo themselves at all times, they can come across as confrontational. People can get in the habit of feeling they need to defend anything.
How do you use defensive in a sentence?
Understanding the definition of defensive is important if you want to know how to use it properly in a sentence, particularly in a psychology context. There are actually different definitions of defensive based on what part of speech it is. There is defensive &ndash adjective and also defensive &ndash noun. It&rsquos important to understand meanings, word choice can improve when you know exactly how to use it.
In the English dictionary, Merriam Webster, the defensive &ndash adjective meaning is &ldquoserving to defend or protect&rdquo. Other definitions of defensive (adjective) include &ldquodevoted to resisting or preventing aggression or attack&rdquo and &ldquosports: of or relating to the attempt to keep an opponent from scoring in a game or contest&rdquo. &ldquoDefensively&rdquo (adverb) describes the nature of a behavior.
But, simply reading the definition of defensive might not always help a person understand how to use it in a sentence. You can use it to describe the way that a person is acting or the state that someone or something is in. A person&rsquos response can be defensive. Or you could keep someone on the defense during your debate.
What do you call a defensive person?
A defensive person can be someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It can also be someone that is a regular victim of emotional abuse that is constantly criticized. A defensive person can also be someone that has low self-esteem or that has a difficult time listening to criticisms about themself.
It&rsquos best not to try to self-diagnosis why someone&rsquos behavior is defensive. If you want to explore this behavior in yourself or your partner, you could try working with a therapist. Even then, knowing how a person is classified can be helpful but referring to them in that way may not be. Try to think of the other person as a person rather than as a &ldquonarcissist,&rdquo a &ldquovictim,&rdquo etc.
What is the synonym for defense?
To find the accurate synonym for defense that you&rsquore looking for, you want to know how you plan to use the word. For example, trying to find alternate words for &ldquoattack defensive&rdquo, &ldquodefensive attitude&rdquo or just the word &ldquodefend&rdquo will bring different results.
Synonyms for &ldquodefend&rdquo could be: contend, fight, or guard
Attack defensive is more about a type of fighting style
Defensive attitude synonyms could be opposing or thwarting
When you understand the meanings, word choice is easier.
If you&rsquore interested in learning synonyms that match the definition of defense to expand your vocabulary, you may want to try using things like using a synonym of the day or word of the day calendar. You can even do things like play word quizzes, crossword solver, scrabble, or other games that help you use new words. Parent-teacher center tips for parents in schools can also provide resources for educational activities like this.
If you are looking for synonyms for things like the definition of defensive to use in school papers (English, science, technology, literature), look for tools, writing prompts, grammar 101, writing 2 or other classes that can help you expand writing skills and word choice.
What is the antonym of defense?
When it comes to learning new words or understanding the meanings in a better way, it can help to look at the antonym of the word as well. For example, if you want to understand better the definition of defensive it can help to understand the opposite of the word.
The opposite of the definition of defensive is &ldquounprotective&rdquo or &ldquounwary&rdquo. Someone who is not defensive is not concerned about protecting themselves.
When you understand both what a word means and exactly what it doesn&rsquot mean, it can help you avoid mixed-up meanings, word choice can be important in getting your message across.
What are the best ways to learn new words?
There are many fun ways to learn new words. Some of them include doing a daily crossword puzzle, learn word of the day, play every day word games like Words with Friends, or use a word finder.
If you&rsquore looking to expand your vocabulary, it can also help to study the different parts of speech that applies to a word. For example, defensive &ndash adjective vs noun. While there many only be slight differences between definitions and usage of defensiveness &ndash adjective vs noun, there are other words where there&rsquos a bigger gap. Learning this can help you understand the right usage of the words to use and the right times to use them.
Remember, you can have fun while you learn, learn new words by trying the following:
Study words to choose a &ldquoword of the year&rdquo
Practice finding a synonym of the day to replace some words you commonly use
Grab a paper and do the daily crossword puzzle, learn new words as you find right answers
Make it fun and get friends involved. Keep a game of Words with Friends going. Look for quizzes, crossword solver, scrabble and other activities using words that you can do.
Get creative with the arts, writing, writing, writing and writing some more forces you to look for new words to get your point across
If you have a child in school, it can be easier to help them learn new words. Parent-teacher center tips for parents can be a place to start looking. It&rsquos also important to know that emoji, slang, acronyms, pop culture, memes, gender, sexuality have given new or secrete meanings to some words.
How can I learn new words?
If you&rsquore ready to expand your vocabulary the best thing to do is learn, learn new words that you can start to use in your daily life. There are many different things that you can do to get started. There are apps that will send you a new word of the day each morning. You can also study a synonym of the day to start to replace your commonly used words with better choices.
If you&rsquore really interested in improving creative arts, writing, writing, writing can help you. You can find tools, writing prompts, Grammar 101, writing workshops and other classes that can help you. The more you&rsquore able to learn, you can avoid mixed-up meanings, word errors, and mistaken pronunciation. This can help you in life and studies including English, science, technology, literature and more.
Studying new words is different now than it was in the past. You may want to pay attention to the association with emoji, slang, acronyms, pop culture, memes, gender, sexuality and more. There can be alternate meanings for some words and it&rsquos important to make sure you&rsquore saying what you think you are.
What causes defensive behavior?
A wide variety of things can contribute to defensive disorders. Any time that your mental health or physical health is compromised, it can lead to defensive behavior.
Symptoms of certain mental disorders may cause defensive responses. Bipolar disorder, panic disorder, personality disorders, eating disorders like binge eating, or sleep disorders which are called parasomnias, are some of the types of disorders that may cause a defensive response as part of their symptoms.
A defensive person may have developed a chronic defensive response as a result of the way they&rsquove been brought up as it was modeled by their parents or other adults in their lives. In other words, a defensive reaction may be a result of learned behavior. While people that react defensively can be difficult to relate to, chronic defensive communication is highly treatable.
Because the causes of most of these behaviors are social rather than chemical, when you approach an expert about becoming less defensive medicine is seldom the answer. Instead, various forms of talk therapy will attempt to get at the life experiences that led you to adopt this defensive approach in the first place.
How can you tell if someone is defensive?
A defensive person has trouble accepting responsibility for their speech and actions. They have difficulty with constructive criticism and may mistakenly take it as a perceived threat.
Anyone can be triggered by a personal issue that causes them to have a defensive reaction. But, it&rsquos not normal to spout off a defensive response on a daily basis. If that&rsquos a problem for you or someone that you know, you may want to find a therapist to help you respond to others and interact with them in more appropriate ways.
What is an example of a defensive behavior?
As mentioned earlier, certain mental disorders can cause someone to react defensively.
Bipolar disorder causes alternating bouts of depression and &ldquomania&rdquo - a state that some people experience as a form of anxiety. People living with bipolar disorder may deny things that are obviously true or false to someone else, even when they&rsquore presented with evidence to support the truth. When someone with bipolar disorder gets pushed too far, they may react defensively, or even aggressively.
Binge eaters and people with other eating disorders often react defensively when someone confronts them about eating too much or too little, or for purging after eating. Many people that deal with binge eating find that support groups can be very helpful.
Defensive people also tend to vent on social media to help support their positions.
How do you deal with a defensive person?
Clinical psychology is helpful for people that react defensively on a regular basis, as well as other people that are in a relationship with a defensive person. A qualified therapist is able to put together an anxiety treatment program for people dealing with a panic disorder or other mental disorder. Goal setting ensures that you&rsquoll make progress in your treatment program.
Many clinical practices offer support groups to supplement individual treatment.
How do you communicate with a defensive partner?
A marriage and family therapist that has either a bachelor&rsquos degree or a master&rsquos degree makes a wise choice for a therapist to help someone dealing with relationship issues. Your therapist can also help you to find an appropriate support group if you need one.
Marriage and family therapy is designed to help people feel secure and non-defensive as they work on problem solving together. A therapeutic session is a safe place where partners don&rsquot feel intimidated or criticized. Typically, after a few therapeutic sessions, people feel like they can communicate better.
Do liars get defensive?
People that lie very often get defensive. Chronic liars may appear fidgety and uncomfortable. Not only do they get defensive, they may go on and on. They tend to give an excess of information in an attempt to try to justify their position. They believe that excessive talking will motivate others to believe them.
Note that this won&rsquot necessarily be the case for compulsive liars. Compulsive liars are often able to spin their yarns without the usual tells &ndash often because they don&rsquot know themselves that the things that they are saying aren&rsquot true.
How do I stop being defensive and argumentative?
Social media has become a haven for controversial discussions and public arguments. If you&rsquore struggling with being defensive and social media is one of your weak spots, you might try to cut yourself off from it until you can get your behavior under control. Many people find this difficult at first but realise after a couple of days that social media made them feel worse rather than better.
Medication and therapy can take time to take full effect but there are still ways you can manage symptoms, improve the way you feel, and increase your self-esteem. The more you do to help yourself, the less hopeless and helpless you’ll feel, and the more likely your doctor will be able to reduce your medication.
Schizophrenia: The 7 keys to self-help
Seek social support. Friends and family vital to helping you get the right treatment and keeping your symptoms under control. Regularly connecting with others face-to-face is also the most effective way to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. Stay involved with others by continuing your work or education. If that’s not possible, consider volunteering, joining a schizophrenia support group, or taking a class or joining a club to spend time with people who have common interests. As well as keeping you socially connected, it can help you feel good about yourself.
Manage stress. High levels of stress are believed to trigger schizophrenic episodes by increasing the body’s production of the hormone cortisol. As well as staying socially connected, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your stress levels. Try adopting a regular relaxation practice such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
Get regular exercise. As well as all the emotional and physical benefits, exercise may help reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, improve your focus and energy, and help you feel calmer. Aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days, or if it’s easier, three 10-minute sessions. Try rhythmic exercise that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, running, swimming, or dancing.
Get plenty of sleep. When you’re on medication, you most likely need even more sleep than the standard 8 hours. Many people with schizophrenia have trouble with sleep, but getting regular exercise and avoiding caffeine can help.
Avoid alcohol, drugs, and nicotine. Substance abuse complicates schizophrenia treatment and worsens symptoms. Even smoking cigarettes can interfere with the effectiveness of some schizophrenia medications. If you have a substance abuse problem, seek help.
Eat regular, nutritious meals to avoid symptoms exacerbated by changes in blood sugar levels. Omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish, fish oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds can help improve focus, banish fatigue, and balance your moods.
What research is being done for aphasia?
Researchers are testing new types of speech-language therapy in people with both recent and chronic aphasia to see if new methods can better help them recover word retrieval, grammar, prosody (tone), and other aspects of speech.
Some of these new methods involve improving cognitive abilities that support the processing of language, such as short-term memory and attention. Others involve activities that stimulate the mental representations of sounds, words, and sentences, making them easier to access and retrieve.
Researchers are also exploring drug therapy as an experimental approach to treating aphasia. Some studies are testing whether drugs that affect the chemical neurotransmitters in the brain can be used in combination with speech-language therapy to improve recovery of various language functions.
Other research is focused on using advanced imaging methods, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to explore how language is processed in the normal and damaged brain and to understand recovery processes. This type of research may advance our knowledge of how the areas involved in speech and understanding language reorganize after a brain injury. The results could have implications for the diagnosis and treatment of aphasia and other neurological disorders.
A relatively new area of interest in aphasia research is noninvasive brain stimulation in combination with speech-language therapy. Two such brain stimulation techniques, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), temporarily alter normal brain activity in the region being stimulated.
Researchers originally used these techniques to help them understand the parts of the brain that played a role in language and recovery after a stroke. Recently, scientists are studying if this temporary alteration of brain activity might help people re-learn language use. Several clinical trials funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) are currently testing these technologies.
NIDCD-funded clinical trials are also testing other treatments for aphasia. A list of active NIDCD-funded aphasia trials can be found at ClinicalTrials.gov.
How dyslexia can affect spelling
What it is: Dyslexia is a common learning difference that affects reading. It makes it hard to isolate the sounds in words, match those sounds to letters, and blend sounds into words. Learning to spell may be even harder than learning to read for some people with dyslexia.
The spelling connection: People with dyslexia often confuse letters that sound alike. Vowels can be especially tricky. People with dyslexia may mix up the order of letters (felt for left). They may also misspell common sight words , even after lots of practice.
Teach phonics rules to help build a strong foundation that connects letter sounds with letter symbols.
Help spelling instruction “stick” by engaging more than one sense , like sight, sound, and touch.
Focus on word history , structure, and meaning.
Let students take spelling tests orally instead of writing the answers.
The Science of Swearing
Why would a psychological scientist study swearing? Expertise in such an area has different practical significance inside and outside the community of psychological science. Outside the scientific community, expertise on taboo language is justification for frequent consultation about contemporary issues that are perennial: Is swearing harmful? Should children be allowed to swear? Is our swearing getting worse? One of us has been interviewed over 3,000 times by various media with respect to the questions above, as well as those about the use of taboo words in television, advertising, professional sports, radio, music, and film. In addition to consultation with mass media, expert testimony has been needed in cases involving sexual harassment, fighting words, picket-line speech, disturbing the peace, and contempt of court cases.
Considering the persistent need for an expert to consult for the above issues, it is odd that swearing expertise is weighted so differently when swearing is viewed from the perspective of psychological science. While hundreds of papers have been written about swearing since the early 1900s, they tend to originate from fields outside of psychology such as sociology, linguistics, and anthropology. When swearing is a part of psychological research, it is rarely an end in itself.
It is far more common to see strong offensive words used as emotionally arousing stimuli — tools to study the effect of emotion on mental processes such as attention and memory.
Why the public-versus-science disconnect? Is swearing, as a behavior, outside the scope of what a psychological scientist ought to study? Because swearing is influenced so strongly by variables that can be quantified at the individual level, psychological scientists (more than linguists, anthropologists, and sociologists) have the best training to answer questions about it. Another explanation for the relative lack of emphasis on this topic is the orientation of psychological science to processes (e.g., memory) rather than life domains (e.g., leisure activities), a problem described by Paul Rozin. Arguably, a more domain-centered approach to psychological study would better accommodate topics such as swearing and other taboo behaviors.
Regardless of the reason for the relative lack of emphasis on swearing research per se inside psychological science, there is still a strong demand from outside the scientific community for explanations of swearing and associated phenomena. To give the reader a sense of the work that we do as psychological scientists who study swearing, let’s consider some of the common questions we’re asked about swearing.
Is swearing problematic or harmful?
Courts presume harm from speech in cases involving discrimination or sexual harassment. The original justification for our obscenity laws was predicated on an unfounded assumption that speech can deprave or corrupt children, but there is little (if any) social-science data demonstrating that a word in and of itself causes harm. A closely related problem is the manner in which harm has been defined — harm is most commonly framed in terms of standards and sensibilities such as religious values or sexual mores. Rarely are there attempts to quantify harm in terms of objectively measurable symptoms (e.g., sleep disorder, anxiety). Psychological scientists could certainly make a systematic effort to establish behavioral outcomes of swearing.
Swearing can occur with any emotion and yield positive or negative outcomes. Our work so far suggests that most uses of swear words are not problematic. We know this because we have recorded over 10,000 episodes of public swearing by children and adults, and rarely have we witnessed negative consequences. We have never seen public swearing lead to physical violence. Most public uses of taboo words are not in anger they are innocuous or produce positive consequences (e.g., humor elicitation). No descriptive data are available about swearing in private settings, however, so more work needs to be done in that area.
Therefore, instead of thinking of swearing as uniformly harmful or morally wrong, more meaningful information about swearing can be obtained by asking what communication goals swearing achieves. Swear words can achieve a number of outcomes, as when used positively for joking or storytelling, stress management, fitting in with the crowd, or as a substitute for physical aggression. Recent work by Stephens et al. even shows that swearing is associated with enhanced pain tolerance. This finding suggests swearing has a cathartic effect, which many of us may have personally experienced in frustration or in response to pain. Despite this empirical evidence, the positive consequences of swearing are commonly disregarded in the media. Here is an opportunity for psychological scientists to help inform the media and policymakers by clearly describing the range of outcomes of swearing, including the benefits.
Is it bad for children to hear or say swear words?
The harm question for adult swearing applies to issues such as verbal abuse, sexual harassment, and discrimination. When children enter the picture, offensive language becomes a problem for parents and a basis for censorship in media and educational settings. Considering the ubiquity of this problem, it is interesting that psychology textbooks do not address the emergence of this behavior in the context of development or language learning.
Parents often wonder if this behavior is normal and how they should respond to it. Our data show that swearing emerges by age two and becomes adult-like by ages 11 or 12. By the time children enter school, they have a working vocabulary of 30-40 offensive words. We have yet to determine what children know about the meanings of the words they use. We do know that younger children are likely to use milder offensive words than older children and adults, whose lexica may include more strongly offensive terms and words with more nuanced social and cultural meanings. We are currently collecting data to better understand the development of the child’s swearing lexicon.
We do not know exactly how children learn swear words, although this learning is an inevitable part of language learning, and it begins early in life. Whether or not children (and adults) swear, we know that they do acquire a contextually-bound swearing etiquette — the appropriate ‘who, what, where, and when’ of swearing. This etiquette determines the difference between amusing and insulting and needs to be studied further. Through interview data, we know that young adults report to have learned these words from parents, peers, and siblings, not from mass media.
Considering that the consequences of children’s exposure to swear words are frequently cited as the basis for censorship, psychological scientists should make an effort to describe the normal course of the development of a child’s swearing lexicon and etiquette. Is it important to attempt to censor children from language they already know? While psychological scientists themselves do not establish language standards, they can provide scientific data about what is normal to inform this debate.
Has swearing become more frequent in recent years?
This is a very common question, and it’s a tough one to answer because we have no comprehensive, reliable baseline frequency data prior to the 1970s for comparison purposes. It is true that we are exposed to more forms of swearing since the inception of satellite radio, cable television, and the Internet, but that does not mean the average person is swearing more frequently. In our recent frequency count, a greater proportion of our data comes from women (the reduction of a once large gender difference). We interpret this finding as reflecting a greater proportion of women in public (e.g., many more women on college campuses) rather than a coarsening of women. Our forthcoming research also indicates that the most frequently recorded taboo words have remained fairly stable over the past 30 years. The Anglo-Saxon words we say are hundreds of years old, and most of the historically offensive sexual references are still at the top of the offensiveness list they have not been dislodged by modern slang. Frequency data must be periodically collected to answer questions about trends in swearing over time.
Thus, our data do not indicate that our culture is getting “worse” with respect to swearing. When this question arises, we also frequently fail to acknowledge the impact of recently-enacted laws that penalize offensive language, such as sexual harassment and discrimination laws. Workplace surveillance of telephone and email conversations also curbs our use of taboo language.
Do all people swear?
We can answer this question by saying that all competent English speakers learn how to swear in English. Swearing generally draws from a pool of 10 expressions and occurs at a rate of about 0.5 percent of one’s daily word output. However, it is not informative to think of how an average person swears: Contextual, personality, and even physiological variables are critical for predicting how swearing will occur. While swearing crosses socioeconomic statuses and age ranges and persists across the lifespan, it is more common among adolescents and more frequent among men. Inappropriate swearing can be observed in frontal lobe damage, Tourette’s disorder, and aphasia.
Swearing is positively correlated with extraversion and is a defining feature of a Type A personality. It is negatively correlated with conscientiousness, agreeableness, sexual anxiety, and religiosity. These relationships are complicated by the range of meanings within the diverse group of taboo words. Some religious people might eschew profanities (religious terms), but they may have fewer reservations about offensive sexual terms that the sexually anxious would avoid. We have yet to systematically study swearing with respect to variables such as impulsivity or psychiatric conditions, (e.g., schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). These may be fruitful avenues along which to investigate the neural basis of emotion and self-control.
Taboo words occupy a unique place in language because once learned, their use is heavily context driven. While we have descriptive data about frequency and self reports about offensiveness and other linguistic variables, these data tend to come from samples that overrepresent young, White, middle-class Americans. A much wider and more diverse sample is needed to better characterize the use of taboo language to more accurately answer all of the questions here.
Donald Trump's Sniffling Continues: Here Are The Possible Causes
Looks like a change in microphone hasn't changed Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump's frequent sniffling. As you may have heard, Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and most importantly in this context medical doctor, mentioned cocaine in the following Tweet:
Notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?
— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) September 27, 2016
You are being very, very mean to coke users)
RT @GovHowardDean: Notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?
— robert hosken (@bo7b) September 28, 2016
Also on Forbes:
Dr. Dean may have jumped the gun on this one. Yes, snorting cocaine can cause sniffling and nosebleeds, but there hasn't been any other clear evidence of Trump using cocaine. Moreover, there are plenty of other possible causes for what has now become chronic (i.e., continuing) sniffling such as:
- Trump may have allergies: Allergies are the most common cause of chronic sniffling. This time of the year (August to November) ragweed is the most common culprit. Mold and fungi are other common possibilities in September and October.
- Trump may have chronic sinusitis: Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses, which blocks mucus drainage, which, in turn, may impair breathing. Allergies can lead to chronic sinusitis. So can growths in the nose like nasal polyps as well nasal defects such as a deviated nasal septum. Viral, bacterial and fungal infections are also common causes. Heartburn, otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux (if you haven't watched all the pharmaceutical commercials about heartburn that may give you heartburn), can also cause chronic sinusitis. Add cystic fibrosis and immune system problems to the list too.
- Trump may be irritated by something: This could explain the slightly constipated look. Common irritants include perfume or cologne, cigarette smoke and air pollution. Cold weather and bright lights can also cause irritation.
- Trump may be taking medications that cause sniffling: Medications that have sniffling as a possible side effect include blood pressure, birth control, antidepressant, antipsychotic and erectile dysfunction medications. Delivering medications to the nose can also cause irritation of the nasal passages such as steroid nose sprays for allergies and shoving Viagra up your nose.
- Trump may be pregnant: Less likely but if this is the cause, he is probably in his third trimester, and the sniffles should resolve within a few weeks of delivery.
- Trump may have a tic: Note this is not the bug, which is spelled tick. Trump does not have ticks as far as I can tell. A tic is an involuntary muscle movement, meaning that it is not deliberate. This would probably not be a simple childhood tic because Trump is not a child, age-wise. Tics can occur when a person has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), myoclonus, obsessive-compulsive disorder, epilepsy or Tourette's syndrome. Anxiety and stress can also lead to tics.
- Trump may be crying: Debates can be tough. People who are very sensitive or strongly empathetic and sympathetic can also be prone to crying.
- Trump may have repeated head trauma: Blows to the head via sports such as football, boxing, soccer and ice hockey, or hitting your head with a brick over beauty pageant winners gaining weight, can cause irritation and even leakage of brain fluid into the nasal passages.
- Trump may have picked his nose too much or too aggressively: Nose picking can irritate the nasal passages and even lead to nosebleeds.
- Trump may have bleeding problems: Anything which decreases the ability of blood to clot properly, such as use of aspirin or blood thinners, and bleeding disorders such as hemophilia, can lead to nosebleeds.
- Trump may have something up his nose: Children often jam objects such as beans, peas and peanuts up their nose, which in turn can irritate the inside of their noses. Some adults do this as well.
Thus, sniffling, a runny nose or even nosebleeds should not automatically translate to cocaine use. (Remember, inhaling glue, "whippets" or "poppers" can also result in chronic sniffles.) Again, no one has presented any other evidence that Trump uses cocaine. Trump's sniffling is now officially not a one-time thing. If it had just occurred during the first debate, he could have had a cold or other momentary infection. or maybe a defective or smelly microphone. Now, something in the list above probably is the reason for his chronic sniffling, with allergies, irritations or stress being the most common possibilities. Or maybe Trump is just a really, really sensitive guy.
Speaking of Psychology: Positive psychology in a pandemic, with Martin Seligman, PhD
Over the past 20 years, the field of positive psychology has grown from a fledgling idea to a worldwide movement. Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. Former APA president Martin Seligman, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the founder of positive psychology, joins us to discuss what positive psychology has to say about flourishing in tough times, such as a pandemic.
Social Psychology Chapter 8
When motivation and ability to process the message are high, the person will usually take the central route. But when the person lacks either the motivation or the ability to process the message, he or she will be more likely to take the peripheral route.
When people have the mental resources to think carefully about the message, they take the central route.
If people are cognitively busy, they take the peripheral route.
Communicators can be persuasive when they are attractive, even if their credibility is low.
Length of message
If the audience takes the central route, message length can either increase and decrease persuasion. On the one hand, a longer message can be more persuasive if it contains many supportive arguments rather than a few (Calder et al., 1974). On the other hand, if you try to increase the length of a message artificially by adding weak arguments or repeating the same arguments, an attentive audience may become irritated at the message and reject it (Cacioppo & Petty, 1979
Of course, not all persuasive messages try to create positive emotions some try to persuade the audience that by doing something or acquiring something, they can avoid negative consequences or punishments.
Banks and colleagues (1995) found that middle-aged women were far more likely to follow a recommendation to get a mammogram if they had watched a video that framed mammography in fear-arousing terms (emphasizing how not getting a mammogram might result in death) than were another group of women who watched a similar video that framed mammography in more positive terms.
What creates an effective emotional response
Repetition and familiarity.
Learned associations with positive stimuli.
The need to maintain consistent ideas about related people or things.
Use of fear to avoid negative consequences if paired with strategies to reduce the negative consequences.
Self-esteem: People with low self-esteem are more likely to be influenced by persuasive messages than those with high self-esteem (Wood & Stagner, 1994 Zellner, 1970). People with low self-esteem are less confident and view themselves as generally less capable, so, as you might expect, they do not regard their own attitudes very highly. As a result, they are more likely to give up their current attitudes and go along with the position advocated in the message. People with high self-esteem, however, generally think highly of themselves. They are more confident in their attitudes, and they are therefore less likely to yield to influence.
One-sided arguments obscure counterarguments, appealing to audiences leaning toward agreement.
Two-sided arguments avoid the perception of bias, appealing to audiences leaning toward disagreement.
How people think and self-monitor
People with high need for cognition prefer the central route.
Those motivated to make a good impression are more susceptible to peripheral route cues.
One of the most interesting implications of reactance theory is that even if a particular behavior doesn't much appeal to a person, if she perceives it as something she has the right to do, when her ability to engage in the behavior is threatened, her interest in engaging in that behavior increases.
In one of the first demonstrations of reactance, Brehm and colleagues (1966) invited students to participate in a study on marketing musical recordings. The students rated a few sample recordings and were told that they would receive one of the records as a gift. (Yes, if the study were done today it would likely be an iTunes download.) In one condition, participants were told that they would get to choose whichever record they wanted. In another condition, participants were also given the opportunity to choose, but the options were rigged so that the participants were told that their third-rated record inadvertently had been excluded from the shipment and was unavailable. Thus, in this condition, a restriction was placed on the participants' freedom to choose what they wanted. All subjects were then asked again to indicate their ratings of the different musical samples, and it was these changed attitudes that revealed reactance. Among subjects who were given a choice but denied the freedom to choose their third most highly rated selection, 67 percent increased their ratings of this selection, compared with 42 percent of participants' increasing their rating of this record when they had no restriction on their freedom.
Looking at reactance from the cultural perspective, we find that culture plays a big role in determining the importance people place on freedom, whose freedoms are most important, and thus how strong their reactance is. We saw that individual agency and a sense of personal freedom are more important to people in Western, individualistic cultures. A sense of group harmony is more important to those from collectivistic cultures, and as a result, reactance might play out differently for people from such cultures.