*** Originally Published on Engaged Sociology by IUP Department of Sociology***


What does it mean to be a sociologist? This is a question that I have spent the last seven years of my life trying to answer. We know how to define sociology; but what does it mean to be a sociologist? Here is my take on this question. Being a sociologist is in many ways like being a superhero. Everyone who comes into the field has an origin story of how they became a sociologist (or a sociology major). They have experiences that acted as a calling to this field, and that act as a motivation or a drive which allows them to do the work that they do. Also, everyone in the field has unique skill sets, which are kind of like superpowers, that allow them to tackle pressing social issues present in society.

Although sociologists, like superheroes, are unique in many aspects, one way in which they are all alike is how they discover and present information about social phenomena. The primary way that sociologists communicate about the world is through the research process. Constructing a research project at first can seem like a rather daunting task, especially to an undergraduate student who has never done something like this before. But, it is something that can be accomplished with ease (well, hard work). In this paper, I discuss my own origin story that explores not only how I became a sociologist but also how I found a passion for research. I then talk about how I used that passion to create and develop my own original research project that I presented and refined until I reached a thesis topic for my master’s program.


New Page


Rob Matchett|Sociologist now contains a Teaching Portfolio page. On this page of the website, you can explore Rob’s teaching portfolio which includes his teaching philosophy, sample syllabi and assignments, guest lecture materials, and evaluations from students and faculty that he has worked with.

You can access this new content by clicking “Teaching Portfolio: on the navigation bar or by following this link.

Telling Fish to Climb Trees: Standardized Testing and its Flaws



“Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid. “-Albert Einstein

One of my ongoing struggles is my performance on standardized test. In elementary school and middle school, it was the PSSAs, in high school, it was the ACTs and SATs, and now that I am in college it is the GREs. One thing that these test all have in common aside from the fact that they are standardized is that the majority of them predicted that I wouldn’t do well where I was going. For middle school, this wasn’t that big of a deal. However, in high school and, now in college, as I am looking at advanced degrees this is a huge deal. I have proved time and time again that my test scores don’t speak to my intellectual abilities, yet I face the same struggles everytime I look for a new degree to pursue. Admissions committees don’t believe that I am a strong enough candidate because this test says so.  We live in a society that puts so much emphasis on attaining degrees and building a career, but we regulate entry to these programs with a tool that systematically oppresses and discriminates against students who aren’t a part of the majority. In this blog post, I will be discussing the standardized test, what they are, and the limitations that they have in regards to predicting a student’s potential to perform well.

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Social Psychology and Disability

*** Originally Published on Engaged Sociology by IUP Department of Sociology***

        At some point in everyone’s life, they will either have known someone with a disability or have had a disability themselves. Disability can manifest from genetics, a spur of the moment injury or ailment, or as a result of the aging process. When we study disability what we see is a lot of intersectionality across race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, class, etc. and this is because disability doesn’t care about who you are or where you come from it is a natural part of life, and it can affect anybody, at any time. The onset of disability reminds people that they are not invisible or eternal, but they are in fact human. How does this reality impact our attitudes and perceptions of individuals with disabilities? What are challenges that individuals with disabilities face in regards to identity? How do individuals with disabilities embody their identity? These are all questions that can be answered through research in a subfield of sociology known as Social Psychology. Social Psychology is a subfield of Sociology that explores how feelings, thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, intentions and goals are constructed and how these concepts contribute to our interactions with other people and environments. Social Psychology merges the disciplines of sociology and psychology together allowing the disciplines to share and create methodologies, and theoretical constructs. Social Psychologist study topics such as social structure and personality, expectations states theory, self-concept, self-esteem, symbolic interactionism, dramaturgical analysis, socialization, emotion, embodiment, and identity. By utilizing the concepts brought by the field of social psychology, disability scholars can better understand how individuals construct and embody their identity.

In this blog post, I will begin by conceptualizing the term disability. I will conceptualize the term disability by discussing combating definitions of disability. Then, I will introduce the social psychology of disability covering topics such as attitudes and perceptions, effects of stigma, and disability identity. Finally, I will end the blog post by summarizing the key points that were made throughout.

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Physical Health VS Mental Health

Mental Health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can contribute to his or her community” (WHO, 2001). Mental Health is made up of three components which include: emotional well-being, psychological well-being, and social well-being (CDC, 2013). Mental Health is an essential part of our lives, and just like we exercise to maintain our physical health, we must practice different strategies to maintain and strengthen our mental health. The problem with sustaining and improving our mental health is that starting when we are young we are socialized to believe that mental illness and emotional health are undervalued forms of illness. Individuals who have mental illness face the stigmas associated with receiving a diagnosis, which impacts their decision to seek out treatments. For some reason as humans, it is easier for us to accept that our bodies can be hurt than it is to think about our brains and our minds falling ill. The reality is though that the brain is an organ just like any other organ in your body and it can become sick. So How do we prevent our brains from becoming sick? What can we do to change the way society views mental illness and emotional health?

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Dimensions of Hate: Exploring the Pyrimid of Hate


Part of my background at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), was working as a Head/Community Assistant (H/CA) for the Office of Housing Residential Living and Dining (OHRLD). Part of that experience was week-long training that would prepare us for what we would encounter when we were working in the residential facilities. It was there in those training sessions, specifically the diversity rounds, where I was exposed to what is known as the “Pyramid of Hate.”

Pyramid of Hate

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The Monster in the Closet: Issues of Childhood Trauma, Codependency and Addiction

*** Originally Published on Engaged Sociology by IUP Department of Sociology***

Author Note: ***Before I begin the paper I want to introduce a case study about a fictional boy named Max. I want to emphasize that this story is a fictional case study created to show how childhood trauma impacts an individual’s development, it will be referred to throughout the paper several times. ***

Max’s Story

Max’s story is one that I hold close to my heart because Max is this kid who grew up to be an amazing person. Despite the adversity that he faced he decided to dedicate his life to service and education. When people look at Max today, they see the exact person I described to you; they would never guess for one second that Max was someone who had grown up in a dysfunctional family, experiencing childhood trauma. They tell Max about how good of a person he is, and about all of the good things that he has done, and they praise him for his accomplishments. However, Max does not feel like he accomplished anything. When he hears these praises, he feels numb. He feels like his work, no matter how great it was, wasn’t as good as the other people around him.  To understand why Max felt this way we need to look at a few events in Max’s life starting with things that happened while Max was in school.

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Releasing the Dolphins: The Effect of Laughter on Greif and Stress


To start things off here is a short video from Ellen Degeneres about how laughing is good for the brain.

Ellen DeGeneres once said “If we’re destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there’s got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that”. We as humans live in a world where bad things can and do happen every day. We can’t control what happens all we can do is adapt to what happens, and overcome our hardships. How do we do that though? How do we adapt when the people who are supposed to protect us hurt us? How do we adapt when a loved one struggles with an addiction? How do we adapt when a loved one dies? How do we deal with that loss and grief?

In this blog, I will begin by talking about how deaths from addiction are different than other causes of death. From there I will talk about loss, grief, stress and the healing process. Then I will move on to talking about the idea of releasing the dolphins, and how humor and laughing like a five-year-old is key to the healing process. Finally, I will end by summarizing the key points.

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Cracks in the Foundation: The Impact of Childhood Trauma


John Steinbeck in his book East of Eden states “When a child first catches adults out — when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not always have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just — his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child’s world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing”.  Just as you have seen in this quotation from Steinbeck, the family is a powerful force and can greatly impact an individual and their development. What is the impact of a dysfunctional family on a child? What happens when the child does not grow up in an environment that supports them? What are the results of the trauma associated with growing up in dysfunctional families?

In this reflection paper, I will begin by talking about the importance of maintaining healthy relationships. From here I will talk about different types of dysfunctional families including families where there is abuse, foster children, divorce, and addiction. Then I will talk about gender and its role in relation to trauma. Finally, I will conclude with a summary of the points I made in the post.

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Following the Yellow-Brick Road: Pathways to Recovery


Frank Baum writes “The road to the City of Emeralds is paved with yellow brick, said the Witch so you cannot miss it. When you get to Oz do not be afraid of him, but tell your story and ask him to help you”. For an individual planning on entering treatment so they can recover from an addiction, finding the right kind of treatment is a journey, much like the one Dorthy-Gail faced on her way to see the great and powerful Oz. There are many different yellow-brick paths that an individual can follow on the way to recovery. Then once they locate the right program, and they can see their emerald city in the distance, it is all about telling their story and getting the help that they need to recover. So, what options are out there for an individual recovering from addiction? What options are out there for families of individuals who are recovering? What does it take to hook someone and how do you keep them engaged?

In this blog, I will first begin by talking about peer based support groups. Then I will move into some of the challenges that make treatment of addiction hard. From there I will Talk about some of the tools that have been developed to aid an individual with an addiction through their recovery process. Finally, I will end by discussing relapse and why it is important not to consider a relapse a failure.

To begin, listen to Crystal’s story below:

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