Seminar Challenges Student’s Perceptions

By HRV Talon Staff Reporter, Elizabeth Bricker

On Tuesday, students attended a seminar in the Bowe Theater given by Researcher Anne Marie McMayville from Center for the Health and Safety Culture at Montana State University.

McMayville began by explaining that the Health and Safety Culture in the department of engineering at Montana State University spawned from a road safety project. It is a research arm of the university that focuses on driving behaviors. They also research not just traffic behaviors but substance abuse, underage drinking, child maltreatment, interpersonal violence, bullying behaviors, violence against women, and mainly behavioral things. She went on to say that she works in Oregon with Oregon Health Authority where they look at underage drinking in a different way. Her research project in Idaho is on single vehicle crashes in which the vehicle has run off the road and said that 4% of people in Idaho drink and drive. In rural Utah, 30% of people use their seatbelts. She has a Masters degree in Prevention Science from the University of Oklahoma and she works for Montana State, but lives in the east gate of Yellowstone National Park. She goes on to say that she does what she does so that her kids will grow up in a place that is healthy, but also in a place where they feel hopeful.

She then said that questions can transform the way that we look at the world. Then, she began to ask us a series of questions about alcohol statistics, seat belt usage, cigarette using, etc. The students were asked to “click in” their answers on electronic clickers that had been previously passed out. It seems, that while the students perceive that substance problems (such as what percentage of teens ages 13-18 drink) have increased, the reality, is that they have not increased and have actually decreased. She then asked  the data was accurate. About half of the people in the room said that they believed the data to be true, and half said that they did not believe that the data is real or accurate. She went on to say that the surveys the data is based on, are very “clean” and expensive, making the data reliable. The poll administrators have ways to eliminate data from people who are not giving truthful answers. Here is a look at some of the data she provided : 84% of adults wear seat belts in the U.S and 97% of Oregonians wear their seat belts. 20% of U.S adults are current smokers and 13% of Hood River County 11th graders smoke cigarettes.

During this seminar, she asked  questions about statistics related to drinking, smoking, seat belt usage, etc. The audience always answered that the problems were worse than the data she provided proved that they were. She said that students have a false perception of how bad the problems are in our country, state, and county. She told us that the way that we answered her questions is the way that many adults and students answer all around the United States and that HRV student’s perceptions were in line with what most people think. She said that perception is everything. She said that most students are making healthy choices, most students are doing well, and that students today are the healthiest generation in many years.

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