Pepp community talks’ Pepperdine Graphic

Photo of Ryan Brinkman | Photo editing by Haley Hoidal

Family. Christian university. Social media. These are all elements that contribute to the ability of Pepperdine students to structure and defend their opinions – questioning the good and the bad.

The more confident and articulate people are about their views, the more they will continue to speak up, said Kelly Haer, therapist and director of Pepperdine’s Boone Center of the Family.

In a recent Graphic poll of 146 Pepperdine students, 55.2% said they often felt pressured to share their opinion with others.

“It’s part of being you, part of owning yourself, and sometimes our opinions change over time,” Haer said. “It is important to relate to others; a sense of authenticity and transparency is really important for the well-being of the community.

Psychology principal Sam Han said he views opinions as part of our social and cultural bonds, which all revolve around individual experiences.

“When I think of opinions, I think of a nature versus culture debate where our opinions can be formed in our home,” Han said. “But it can also be formed through interactions with other people, and I see my options as attitudes, so a lot of black and white areas start to turn gray.”

From the start

The brain receives stimuli from the surrounding atmosphere. Childhood is the first time someone makes up their minds, based on parental teachings. Then friends, coworkers and even social media play a role in the development of emotions – and the brain takes that information and forms opinions, said Chiconia Anderson, therapist at Pepperdine’s Counseling Center.

“When we receive that stimulus, we form some type of emotion around it – be it anger, happiness, sadness – then all of this information is documented in our brain and we respond to it,” said Anderson. “So every time something looks like [a past experience] we meet, we have the same reaction to it, and that’s how we form our opinion around it.

Opinions can spring up early on, when a person’s initial reactions attach to the part of the brain that rewards quick interactions and instant gratification, Anderson said.

“When children are younger and given vegetables, they form the opinion that they cannot eat a particular food based on what their friends have said: ‘Yes, it is. disgusting, ”Anderson said. “Therefore, they form their opinion based on the social construction of the environment around them. This is how the brain begins to attach itself, through the emotional response to the stimuli they receive. “

Students and faculty alike said that everyone’s opinion formation is different, but from experience they agreed that it stems from family, culture, faith, and upbringing.

Jerry Calderon said that opinion formation begins at a young age from the home environment.

“Fortunately, I have had the privilege of growing up in a Latin and Indigenous home, and everyone’s opinion has always been shaped by family and cultural issues,” Calderon said. “It has always been at the center of my concerns. “

Haer and Hee Joo Roh, a junior psychology graduate, said opinions are often based on the media and information people are exposed to and consume. Although family plays an important role in forming opinions, social media can help a person find their own voice, as it is an individualistic experience. For example, Roh recalls a conservative high school friend who came from a strongly leftist household.

“The media around us, such as the content we consume like TV shows, play an important role,” Roh said. “It’s the realization that I had because we’re surrounded by it all the time, and it just works in our thoughts. Even if we don’t realize it.

Roh also said the media are creating algorithms, feeding someone more of what they are already looking for.

“It’s really easy to create echo chambers, like bubbles, and it can cause polarization,” Roh said.


Haer and others agreed that when they understand a topic better, they can articulate their words effectively and are more likely to speak their mind.

“If I know that I believe X, Y or Z, but it is more difficult for me to explain the context and I don’t feel equipped to explain, then yes, I am more hesitant to say what I am doing. think, ”Haer said.

Being a dogged student can be difficult to navigate family matters, the students said. In the same survey, 36.3% of students surveyed said that family had the most influence on their personal opinions.

Roh said she felt comfortable speaking out on topics she was passionate about, like LGBTQ + rights and the issues of Asian Americans, with those she feels closest to, like her brothers and sisters and her friends, but it is not always easy.

“I’m usually not the person to express myself at family events, mainly because I think very differently from my immigrant parents and I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to rock the boat, who doesn’t want to cause a mess. turmoil, ”Roh said.

Due to someone’s internal conflict, Anderson said that sometimes people find it easier to share an opinion they don’t really believe in in order to blend in with a social situation.

“But as with an opinion, how we view negative feedback or how we view our status within our social roots is how we will express our opinions,” Anderson said.

In terms of college culture, Han said Pepperdine tries to be a place where all voices are heard, but it is sometimes difficult to have an open classroom environment.

“We’re polarized, even the classroom – I thought about that because in some of my classes it feels very one-sided,” Han said. “I know for sure that there are people who are against which side we’re on, but I think it’s uncomfortable because you don’t want to be singled out. Pepperdine tries, like every other school, but to share your opinion you really need to have the confidence to do it.

Even though Pepperdine is a Christian campus, the community should come without expectations, as even Christians can have different opinions – as well as different social and economic positions, Han said.

“Some come to this college expecting, ‘Oh, I’m going to be surrounded by like-minded people, we’re all going to worship God, go to graduation and have a good time,’ but I think l “University is a great place to have conflicts,” Han said.

Bouncing ideas off each other, Anderson said, as well as interacting with course material, faculty, and students – helps influence the way individuals view the world.

“I hope we can continue to grow and change until the day we pass,” said Anderson. “College is a great little bubble because you are able to brainstorm and brainstorm.”

Haer said his seminary experience – learning the Bible and general themes of God’s creation – was one of the most influential factors in forming his opinions. She encourages all young adults to express themselves and discover their own path through their education.

“I think we have to learn to be good when people are different from us and not feel that we have to change everyone to be like us,” Haer said.

Mature in opinion

As students are in some of the most formative years of their lives, Roh said, surrounding yourself with people from all walks of life can be rewarding.

“It’s good for you to surround yourself with people of diverse opinions, but it’s a balance you have to find,” Roh said. “On the one hand, it is very important for you to surround yourself with people from different cultures, but at the same time, if the person is, for example, homophobic, then this is not something that you should include in your group of friends because it is not a matter of difference of opinion.

Balancing these struggles, Calderon said that as he explored postgraduate options, he expected his views to change a lot. He hopes to bring his original values ​​into new conversations and continue to manifest a new outlook on life.

“I have seen opinions change, and it just comes with life, growth and the acquisition of new knowledge; it’s exciting, ”Calderon said.

The core of the personality never really changes, and as students go through life and lose that title of “student,” Haer said that suppressing your voice is worse than releasing it.

“It can actually be very empowering to speak your mind and do something different – and be okay with making it stand out,” Haer said.


Follow the graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic

Email to Beth Gonzales: [email protected]

Key words:
Beth Gonzales Everyone Has a Faith Hee Joo Roh Jerry Calderon Kelly Haer media pepperdine media graphic Opinion Psychology Sam Han Special Edition

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