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Evaluation of Self-help Article

2692 words (11 pages) Essay in English Language

08/02/20 English Language Reference this

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Summary of excerpt 1

The article: ‘5 subtle but fool-proof ways to make him think you’re incredibly sexy’ is a piece of self-help published on the website yourtango.com. The author Sean Jameson is a sex coach with no known qualifications in psychology related to sex and relationships. The purpose of the article is to advise women on how to appear sexier to men.

Self-help is a modern aspect which aims to help improve something about themselves such as stress levels, work success and relationships (Cherry, Barker, 2018). This article takes the main aim of self-help and applies it to individual improvements to increase male attention. It suggests that information from celebrities and psychologists is false on this topic and instead gives its own advice.

The article is a form of empowerment self-help, finding issues within the individual and presenting advice focused on the person having control. This is in contrast to victimisation self-help which looks at outside forces as having an impact on a person’s life (Cherry, Barker, 2018).

The advice takes the form of five ‘easy to follow’ steps to make you appear sexier. It begins with tips on body language to boost sex appeal such as slowing down the way you move and speak. It then goes on to suggest ways to make you appear more confident and get men’s attention including stronger eye contact and touching him on the arm or back. Ideas on how to dress are included stating to be ‘sexy not slutty’ and to apply this to not only your clothes but hair and makeup too. Finally, the last advice given is how to build sexual tension by having fun and teasing him (Jameson (2017) cited in The Open University (2018).

Throughout the article the idea that women need to make changes for men to appear sexy is apparent. Highlighting only the problems with the individual and not suggesting any issues with social and cultural norms links to Rosenberg’s research on self-esteem. (Rosenberg (1965) cited in Mahendran, 2015).

Due to article focusing on women attracting the opposite sex, it suggests that it is the ‘normal’ type of relationship that will apply to everyone. In doing so it ignores other sexual identities such as bisexual, homosexual and asexual and focuses only on heterosexual. Psychological research against this is the Kinsey Reports which look at the sexual experiences of individuals (Bowes-Catton, 2015).

The excerpt suggests that these steps will work for all women who are trying to appear sexier to men. No mention of sexual dysfunction disorders is included for either gender alongside no advice if the steps given do not work such as therapy.

What evidence the author used to support his claims is not stated. This suggests the evidence used was not properly conducted to psychology standards and was possibly biased to fit the authors criteria.

The article raises many issues with credibility and reliability due to lack of evidence, this must be thoroughly evaluated in order to establish its effectiveness at giving advice on sex and relationships.

Word count – 500

Bibliography

  • Bowes-Catton, H (2015) ‘Sex and sexuality’, in Turner, J. Barker, M. (ed.) Living Psychology: From the Everyday to the Extraordinary, Milton Keynes, The Open University.
  • Cherry, S. Barker, M.  (2015) ‘Self-help: changing people’s understandings to change their experience’, in Turner, J. Barker, M. (ed.) Living Psychology: From the Everyday to the Extraordinary, Milton Keynes, The Open University.
  • Jameson, S. (2017) ‘5 Subtle-But-Foolproof Ways To Make Him Think You’re INCREDIBLY Sexy’, Your Tango [Online]. Available at www.yourtango.com/experts/sean-jameson/how-be-sexy (Accessed 24 January 2018).
  • Mahendran, K (2015) ‘Self-esteem, in Turner, J. Hewson, C. Mahendran, K. Stevens, P. (ed.) Living Psychology: From the Everyday to the Extraordinary, Milton Keynes, The Open University.

 

 

Critical evaluation of excerpt 1

Self-help looks at advising people on how to make positive changes to there lives, through books, websites and other means. These materials focus on strategies to improve yourself emotionally and physically. Due to the advice given, it would be assumed that there was a link between self help and psychology, however they are generally not based on psychological research or theory and most of the well-known self-help authors have not been psychologists’ (Barker,2018a). This essay will critically evaluate a piece of self help on sex and relationship advice, an article published on a self-help website. The title of the article is: 5 Subtle-But-Fool proof Ways to Make Him Think You’re INCREDIBLY Sexy.

To begin with, the online article is laid out in an easy to read fashion, however the webpage has many different links and images, making it look busy and unprofessional. The self-help provides the reader with five steps on how women can appear sexier, which is relevant to the purpose of the article. The author Sean Jameson ‘is a sex coach and creator of the Bad Girl’s Bible, a resource for women who are looking to improve their sex lives and have more fun with their partner’ Jameson (2017) cited in The Open University (2018). Despite the experience of writing about sex and relationships, no mention of academic credentials leads to the assumption that he has not got the psychological knowledge to advise people. Due to the articles focus, the author being a man would suggest a biased view, adopting only his own point of view and being selective with the advice he gives. The advice given is likely to be superficial for no research or theories are used as evidence, making it an unreliable source of information. Although this article was recently published in 2017, further psychological developments could diminish the self-help advice given.

Next, the articles primary focus is based upon the ‘normal’ view of sex and relationships. ‘The sociologist Gayle Rubin (1984) argues that people tend to take a hierarchical view of sex, with some kinds of sexual relationship seen as ‘proper’ or ‘normal’ and others seen as ‘kinky’ or ‘weird’ (Rubin (1984) cited in Bowes-Catton, 2015, p.187). In her work she identified what was socially seen as ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ sex. The findings showed that ‘‘normal’ sex was in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship, at home with no pornography, ‘abnormal’ sex was seen as homosexual, casual, alone or in groups with the use of manufactured objects and pornography’ (Bowes-Catton, 2015, p.188). The article accepts the socially accepted view of ‘normal’ sex provides advice accordingly, excluding anyone that falls into the ‘abnormal’ view.  

In doing so it lacks consideration for other sexual identities, relationships and behaviours. It does not take into account homosexuals and bisexuals and instead assumes everybody fits into there idea of a ‘normal’ heterosexual relationship. Research that goes against this idea is the Kinsey reports which focus on the prevalence of homosexual and bisexual experiences. The findings from the report show that out of the people interviewed, 46% of men and 10% of women had a homosexual experience (Bowes-Catton, 2015, p.202). This included those who had only ever had homosexual experiences and those who had experienced both heterosexual and homosexual experiences. The Kinsey Reports highlight that a large amount of people has sexual experiences that are not seen as ‘normal’ and so suggests the advice given in the article excludes a large amount of sexual identities. 

As well as the focus, the aim of the article is to give advice to women who are struggling with sex and relationships. In doing so it produces suggestions such as body language techniques and that dressing in a certain way it will make you appear sexy and will help attract men. However, this advice does not consider the psychological research and practice on sex. Research in the field of sexual behaviour draws towards sex therapy as being a solution for those experiencing problems physically and/or mentally. Individuals who read these types of self-help may benefit further from sex therapy for it may be sexual dysfunction order that is the cause of there problems. The DSM-5 (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders) identifies three diagnostic categories for issues with sex: ‘lack of desire or sexual interest, female lack of arousal or erectile disorder, female orgasmic disorder or delayed ejaculation’ (Barker, 2018b). The self-help article suggests a problem with the woman if she cannot appear sexy to a man, however if either the woman or the man had one of the disorders identified, the advice may not be effective for it does not touch on the psychological research. Instead, sex therapy looks at will for it is ‘trying to correct those so-called ‘dysfunctions, through medical and behavioural techniques’ (The Open University, 2018). 

Another essential point is that the self-help article only presents advice to tackle problems with the individual. ‘Here’s how to make him think you’re sexy, and what you can do immediately to appear sexier in your appearance’ (Jameson, 2017 cited in The Open University, 2018). Even though the aim of this is to help women better themselves, it suggests there is a problem with the individual, not taking into account any wider social issues and structures. This can be damaging to a women’s self-esteem. Rosenberg’s self esteem scale measures a person’s attitude towards themselves by measuring self-worth, self-respect and if they feel they are able to do things as well as others (Mahendran, 2015). The advice in the article is suggesting to women that they need to change a variety of things about themselves for men to find them attractive. This could lead to women measuring low on the self-esteem scale, which compromises the goal of self-help.

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the article, the evidence used by the author for his self-help advice must be assessed. Self-help materials are often based upon either evidence-based practice or practice-based evidence. Evidence-based self-help ‘ensures that the advice given is based on psychological evidence that the techniques used are effective’ (Barker, 2018c). Self-help that uses practice-based evidence ‘refers to psychologists and other practitioners evaluating their own practice over time’ (Barker, 2018c). Due to the article not referring to any psychological evidence, it is likely that practice-based evidence was used instead that was gained through work as a sex coach. ‘Duncan suggests practice-based evidence is important to complement evidence-based practice’ (Barker, 2018d). In Duncan’s work as a therapist he uses practice-based evidence to measure effectiveness. However, Duncan uses both evidence- based and practice-based evidence for his work, whereas the article does not. The lack of evidence-based research puts the credibility of the advice given into question. 

Critical psychologists have challenged self-help for not recognising ‘sociocultural influences on individual experience and behaviour’ (Cherry, Barker, 2018). The self-help article this essay is evaluating, focuses on only the induvial and changes they can make to improve themselves. Critical psychologists criticise this form of self-help for not looking at any social struggles the induvial may face such as poverty or discrimination.  As a result of this, some critical psychologists have developed their own self-help including Meg John Barker. She identifies her book as ‘anti-self-help’ for it ‘suggests that it is not the ‘self’ that needs to change, but rather the wider social messages that people are drawing on’ (Barker, 2018e). In contrast, the article suggests that any problems women may be having in attracting men is a result of body language and dress sense, not touching on issues of cultural expectations.   

Self help can come in different forms, falling somewhere on the scale between empowerment and victimisation. ‘Empowerment self-help suggests that people have the control to determine their own lives’ (Cherry, Barker, 2018). Victimisation self-help is the opposite, suggesting peoples lives and actions are restrained by forces out of the individual’s control. This focuses on helping people find other factors that are the reason for their current problems. Both types of self-help link closely to the theory of locus of control. ‘This refers to the extent to which people believe they can have an impact on how events unfold in their lives’ (Cherry, Barker, 2018). The self-help article is a form of empowerment self help for it suggests that you have the power to change your life by following the steps of self-improvement. The article encourages an internal locus of control which could influence the way someone experiences their life, by never considering that outside forces could be a contribution. 

This essay has critically evaluated a self-help article on sex and relationship advice. The evaluation has questioned the reliability and credibility of the advice given by analysing the authors qualifications and research methods alongside the psychological research produced in the field of sex and relationships. In doing so, it has shown the lack of validity due to not having the appropriate eligibility to make the claims given in the advice alongside no psychological evidence to back up the claims. It has also shown how these forms of self help can be damaging to people’s self esteem and issues with not taking into account wider social factors.

Word count – 1514

 

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