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1a. Harlow’s findings from his research on attachment and bonding with infant rhesus monkeys were applied to adults whose life situations left them feeling lonely and isolated and without much human touch or social connection. Researchers examined whether or not Harlow’s findings could be applied to these adults and found that the amount of touch, comfort, and social interaction that an adult gets is linked to their coping ability and physical health. According to Harlow’s article “Discovering Love,” adults who didn’t get adequate social interaction felt that the events in their lives were more stressful and also had worse physical health such as high blood pressure, and even took more time to recover from illnesses or injuries. These adults also did not sleep as well as adults who are not lonely (1958, p.5)
1b. Lenny is the ex- World War 2 pilot who is very active and participates in many groups including Young at Heart. Although the movie does not show whether or not Lenny has a wife or significant other, the movie does show him having close friendships with Joe and Eileen, and also shows him talking about his cycling group and the other harmonica and singing group he participates in (George & Walker, 2008).
Lenny is definitely receiving great benefits from how active and connected he is to his fellow seniors, as predicted by Harlow’s research. Out of all the singers in the movie, Lenny is one of the singers in the best health, which is consistent with Harlow’s finding that adults with more social interaction are physically healthier. Also, when his best friend Joe passes away, even though he is sad and it is a terrible loss, he is able to effectively cope with it and carry on and keep perspective about the loss of his best friend (George & Walker, 2008). This is consistent with Harlow’s finding that socially connected adults have better coping skills.
1c. Langer and Rodin’s research experiment on feelings of control and personal responsibility in a nursing home found that the perception of how much control someone has in their own day to day life can affect their emotional and physical health in a lasting way (1976, p. 3-4). Residents who had their sense of control, responsibility and freedom fostered through how the staff spoke to them were healthier, happier, and more active than those who were spoken to by staff who were more directive and authoritative (Langer & Rodin, 1976, p.3-4). Even though all the residents had the same freedom, the group who was encouraged to take control and responsibility for how they spent their days were healthier, happier, and much more socially active than the residents who technically had the same freedom but did not have their freedom encouraged by staff in the same way; the residents showed great health benefits long after the experiment ended and even lived longer than the other group of residents (Langer & Rodin, 1976, p. 3-4).
1d. Eileen is the oldest singer and one of the most active in the YAH chorus, and is also one of the oldest residents in her nursing home; the administrators at her nursing home have given her so much freedom, control, and responsibility that she is the only resident who has ever been given a front door key so that she can let herself in after late chorus practices (George & Walker, 2008). Despite being the oldest member, Eileen is also one of the healthiest and has no issues with her physical health during the documentary and also maintains a good sense of humor in everyday life and has good coping skills despite being in a nursing home; according to Langer and Rodin, her feeling of having freedom and control over how she spends her time may be part of why she is in such good health despite being very old and living in a nursing home (1976).
1e. Interacting with animals and children on a daily basis gives social connection, through the kids, and also physical comfort, through touching the pets. The seniors get to choose when they feel up to the child and animal visits, which according to Langer and Rodin fosters a sense of control (1976, p. 4). According to Harlow, comforting physical contact is very important and calming, as evidenced by how the rhesus monkeys in his research alway sought out the soft, cloth-covered fake monkey (1958, p.3); therefore elderly benefit from the physical comfort of touching animals which are also soft and thus provide comforting touch.
2a. A personality trait is defined by Schachter as a “long-term disposition to behave in particular ways in a variety of situations”. This means that the person acts or responds to things similarly over long periods of time without there being any massive changes in the way that they act in various areas of their life.
2b. I believe that Fred can be characterized as being very extraverted- he acts very social, fun loving, and affectionate throughout the whole movie.
Fred makes jokes throughout the entire movie and is playful and funny even when he talks about his health (i.e., “we went continent to continent until I became incontinent”) (George & Walker, 2008). When Fred invites the narrator over for dinner and he asks Fred and his wife about their relationship, Fred makes a bunch of jokes about them having a bad marriage and then goes over to give her a big kiss. Fred claims that he has always been the way that he is, playing and joking around. (George & Walker, 2008)
2c. Mischel believes that people tend to act a certain way in certain situations, and that even though people have many different traits, that they will show those traits constantly when put in similar situations.
2d. Stan has trouble learning his lines to James Browns’ “I Feel Good” and is very studious in trying to learn them, even though it is difficult for him. He seems reserved and more nervous during practice, even though he sings the lyrics loudly at home and seems more confident. Even though Stan seems to be comfortable singing at home, he constantly seems more nervous and forgets his lines when singing in front of the group (George & Walker, 2008). This supports Mischel’s perspective because even though Stan may look more extraverted at home when he is put in front of the group he constantly acts a different way, introverted, according to his more reserved, studious personality.
3. Repressive coping refers to when a person tries to handle their stress or anxiety by denying the situation, trying to ignore it, acting like everything is okay when it is not, and being more positive than makes sense given the situation.
Joe demonstrates repressive coping near the end of the film when he is at the doctor getting his blood transfusion. WHen the narrator asks Joe if he is worried about his cancer coming back, Joe insists that he “isn’t worried at all, not even a little bit, haven’t even thought about it,” etc (George & Walker, 2008). Given that Joe has had cancer and had to have chemotherapy 6 times before, it is not very likely that Joe has not thought about it. It is more likely that Joe is being overly positive as a way to cope with his fear that the cancer has come back.
Rational coping means that a person acknowledges something that is stressful to them and tries to address it directly and overcome it, and not deny or ignore it.
Fred using rational coping skills near the end of the film. Fred can recognize that his health is not good and that he has already lived past his doctor’s prediction of when he will pass away due to his Congestive Heart Failure. After Bob and Joe die, Fred decides that even though it has been wonderful to sing with the YAH choir again, that because his health is so poor, it would be best if he accepts that he cannot do it all the time because it may worsen his health. Even though he is sad to not continue being part of the choir, losing his friends and working hard to be part of his last performance in spite of his struggle with heart failure helps him to realize that the best way to overcome or at least not worsen his health is to “retire” from the choir . He accepts this so well that he even writes a thoughtful letter to the other members of the choir to say goodbye to them (George & Walker, 2008). This is much different from Joe and Bob, who both insisted they would continue with the choir even when their doctors were recommending not to and predicting that they had little time left (repressive coping skills).
4. After viewing this video, I feel optimistic that growing old does not have to mean a failing body and mind, or being lonely in a nursing home. Seniors like Steve, who has a girlfriend, works out several times a week, drives a fast car, and is almost 80 years old claim and show that the attitude a person has on their way to old age makes a big difference in how they age. Even though some of the seniors had health problems, they all felt that their quality of life was good and that they were able to enjoy their time even if their health was not perfect. I am less afraid about aging than I was previously and also have taken to heart the lessons that being active and keeping socially connected can make a big difference in how happy and healthy one is in old age.
George, S. (Producer), Walker, S. (Director). (2008) Young @ Heart. United Kingdom: Fox
Harlow, H.F. (1958). The nature of love. American Psychologist, 13, 673-685.
Langer, E.J., & Rodin, J. The effects of choice and enhanced responsibility for the aged: A field
experiment in an institutional setting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34,
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