SGPsychStud: Psychology of having SteamBoat

This is the second Chinese New Year post! If you have yet to read Psychology Behind The Red Packets, read it now!

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Today's topic is about the Steamboat (or also know as Hotpot or 火锅 in Singapore)!!  It is a dish very commonly found and available all year round, so...
Why are we still having it for Chinese New Year reunion dinner?

Some families may choose to have a banquet dinner, but majority would still go for the all-favourite steamboat!

It seems to have a logical reason after exploring several sources.  Going back to Chinese customs and traditions, two words explains it all.  They are 围炉 (read as wei-lu; meaning "gathering around the family and hearth" as defined by National Library Board) and 团圆 (read as tuan-yuan; meaning of "reunion" and "getting together as a whole").

According to this Taiwanese Yahoo forum, it is common to have a hot stove to warm up the family during the reunion dinner (which is 围炉) during the Chinese New Year winter in China.  This has evolved to the steamboat in modern day.  With a burning fire for steamboat, it represents a prosperous family.  With the steamboat dinner, it allows the whole family to come together and reunion (which is 团圆) for this special dinner.

Why do we need to have this special reunion dinner? (From a psychological viewpoint)

Mark Banschick (in a Psychology Today post) states the benefits of having a dinner together:
  • Setting a fixed routine
  • Catching up and bonding with family
  • Reducing stress
  • Food as a connection between people
This behaviour of sitting together for a family meal could be explained using the relational models theory (Fiske & Haslam, 2005).  According to Alan Fiske,
"Relational models theory posits that people use four elementary models to generate, interpret, coordinate, contest, plan, remember, evaluate, and think about most aspects of most social interaction in all societies. These models are Communal Sharing, Authority Ranking, Equality Matching, and Market Pricing. Scores of studies have demonstrated that people in all cultures use these models to organize much of their everyday social cognition."
With the above reasons, it highly demonstrates the model of Communal Sharing, where the family comes together once a year (or more), performing "comunal sharing" by having New Year's dinners or lunches, and hence increasing the cohesiveness and connectedness of the group.
It is not really about the steamboat dinner, but more of having a dinner with the whole family where everyone comes together on this one special evening.  Regardless of a banquet, steamboat, or even a simple family meal, it is always the company of the family that counts.

Valentine’s Day: To Buy or Not to Buy?

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Valentine’s day on February 14th is approaching soon.  Love songs, red and romance has started splashing in the air. Pink and red advertisements also start gracing the windows of retail shops complimenting the Valentine’s ambience as well as creating a high profiting festive (with CNY in the mix for 2018).  It is an opportunity for retailers to craft the gift of dreams for consumers.  Interestingly on the other hand, in America, National Retail Federation (O’Shea, 2017) reported that consumers were spending lesser in 2017, as compared to 2016, which indicates a decrease in people who plan to celebrate Valentine’s day or a tendency to spend lesser on this special day.

History of Valentine’s Day
One of the inspired history about Valentine’s Day is related to St Valentine who was a priest whom helped couples wed in secret (Romney and Mullin, 2018).  It was rumoured that when he was sent to prison for not obeying the Roman emperor Claudius II, he sent a letter to a young girl he had fallen in love with and signed it ‘From your Valentine'. Some believed that Valentine's day is celebrated on 14 February to mark the anniversary of St Valentine's death.

Reasons to celebrate Valentine’s day
There are two reasons mentioned by White (2011) in his Psychology Today post.  He commented that Valentine’s Day provides an opportunity for people who are dating but not in a committed relationship yet to “test the waters” by trying out as a couple to assess whether both parties are ready to commit in the relationship.  As for people who are crushing on someone, it is a great opportunity to express their feelings on that special day, without feeling awkward.  

Differences between gender in buying gifts
People in new relationships may felt more obligated to give gifts than those in established ones.  George Zinkhan (2003, as cited in Coghlan, 2009) found that 81% of men in new relationships felt most obliged to buy Valentine Day gifts; only 50% of females felt the need to buy the gifts.  However when they are in a more mature relationship, 44% of men and 13% of women are willing to buy the gifts. 
Gender role may also affect the expectations in the presenting of gifts. In general, women may expects the men to plan or create a day that is more lavish each year.  

Are gifts really necessary to build up a more established relationship?

The Influence of Retailers and Consumer Psychology
This special festive season is especially tied to emotions.  Since the 18th century when Valentine’s Day took off in England (Romney and Mullin, 2018), lovers start sending cards and flowers to their loved ones. That is when Valentine’s Day cards are being mass produced leading to the start of commercialism of this special day.  It has hence become a day for people to prove that they love their partner through materialistic celebrations and presents.

Marketers are trying to convince people that gifts are necessary on February 14 to prove that they love their partner (Coghlan, 2009).  This trend shows complexities of consumer psychology such as perceived obligations to buy gifts, escalating expectations by the the other special half (i.e. boyfriend or girlfriend) and ambivalence that may give in to market resistance (Scheinbaum, 2015).  If gifts are not presented or meeting the expectations, there may be feelings of dissatisfaction and hence impacting the quality of the relationship over time. 

Reactance Theory (Lessne and Venkatesan, 1989) states that:
“According to the theory, when an individual's freedom to engage in a specific behavior is threatened. the threatened behavior becomes more attractive. For reactance to occur, the individual must have an expectation of free choice and the individual must perceive the freedom in question as being important (Clee and Wicklund 1980).”
This meant that despite not wanting to give in the retailers to purchase a gift (the threatened behaviour), it seemed that buying the gift is the more “attractive” behaviour as the freedom of maintaining the relationship is more important.

In a nutshell, it seemed like there are good reasons to buy the gifts and utilising the elements of surprise and generosity to satisfy your partner’s expectations.  These are also the vital aspects used by retailers to design the marketing strategies during this season.  As much as it may be the rituals of adapting into the commercialized world of buying gifts during Valentine’s Day, it is important to understand your relationships also requires a balance of trust, love, and care to maintain it for the long run.

JAE 2018: Choosing the Polytechnic Diploma of Your Choice

'O' Levels results have been released yesterday on 12 January 2018!  Hope all of you have received the results you wanted!

Here is the list of diplomas (and their cut-off points) offered by the polytechnics in Singapore:
SPApplied Drama and Psychology (Cut-off: 14)  /  Human Resource Management with Psychology (Cut-off: 12)
NPPsychology Studies (Cut-off: 8)  /  Child Psychology and Early Childhood (Cut-off: 13)
NYPSocial Sciences (Social Work) (Cut-off: 15)
RPHuman Resource Management with Psychology (Cut-off: 17)  /  Consumer Behaviour and Research (Cut-off: 19)
TPPsychology Studies (Cut-off: 9)

However the main question you might have is:

Which diploma should I take?

To better guide prospective psychology students taking up the polytechnic route, this post is written in the Question-and-Answer format with questions that students may actually ask.  Disclaimer:  This post is written with the assumption that you are eligible and able to enter the local programs with your current results. 

Question 1:
I am really interested in psychology, but I am not sure if I should go to a Junior College or Polytechnic first?
This is not the main purpose of this post, but students with this questions, you may refer to the below posts to get some thoughts on this question and/or some comparison from seniors who have gone through both routes:
1) SGPsychStud: Diploma or A levels? A post for the secondary schoolers
2) Majoring in Psychology in Uni: Polytechnic vs Junior College Route

Question 2:
I am not too sure if I should be taking up psychology.
Obviously you are interested in psychology, otherwise you will not be at this blog! Here are two posts that you can use to consider that thought:
1) SGPsychStud: Should you be taking up Psychology??
2) SGPsychStud: Seriously?? Psychology??

Question 3:
What do I study in Psychology Studies at a diploma (or even degree) level?
These are two posts you definitely must read:-
1) So what am I going to study in Psychology? (Diploma/Bachelors)
2) SGPsychStud: Stereotypes vs Reality - Psychology Major

Question 4:
I am only interested in learning psychology and no other programs.
Simple question.  You have two options: Diploma of Psychology Studies either at TP or NP, both under their respective Schools of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Question 5:
What is the difference between the TP and NP Diplomas of Psychology Studies?
From our knowledge, we only know that the TP diploma has a very strong inclination towards research, while the NP diploma has a strong inclination towards working in the community.  Otherwise they should be very similar.

Question 6:
What are my choices if I would like to try psychology with something else?
For those also interested in the application of psychology in business and human resource, you have diploma options such as:
  • SP's Human Resource Management with Psychology
  • RP's Human Resource Management with Psychology
Make sure to read Effective Human Resource Management and Psychology for more information about the field.

For those interested in the application of psychology in communication, human behaviour, and the arts, you have diploma options such as:
For those interested in the application of psychology in psychology-related fields, you have diploma options such as:
  • NP's Child Psychology and Early Childhood
  • NYP's Social Sciences (Social Work)  -  You may wish to read Challenges in the Social Work Field for more information about the field.
Question 7:
What degrees are available for me after the respective diplomas?
It has already been answered previously here:  SGPsychStud: What’s Next? The Polytechnic Edition

Last Question:
How do I know whether which psychology/psychology-related diploma at which polytechnic is best for me?
This is the most difficult question.  As we have learnt in psychology that humans are very complex and each of us a very different person, there is no standard answer to this question.  Each of you may be choosing the diploma and the polytechnic for different reasons.  I would advise that you seek the help of your secondary school's Education and Career Guidance (ECG) Counsellors, or the polytechnic's ECG Counsellors if they are available at the JAE exercises in the polytechnics, for their opinions as well.  You should also find out more about the respective diplomas from their websites as well as the lecturers available this week at the JAE exercise.

Good luck!!

JAE 2018 Update: Academic requirements for local psychology diplomas and degrees

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The 'O' levels results are coming out soon on 12 January 2018, which has resulted in the polytechnics having their Open Houses this week and the JAE exercises from 12 to 17 January 2018.

As mentioned previously, the cut-off scores are the scores of the lowest ranked students who entered that program, and is only a general indication of the next year's intake, and hence does not guarantee that you will be given a spot even if you get that similar score.

Here are the cut-off for psychology and psychology-related programs from 2017 for your application in 2018:

For the diplomas:
These cut-off points are based on ELR2B2: (Please refer to the respective websites for more details)
EL=English Language; R2=Two relevant subjects; B2=Any two other subjects excluding CCA

SPApplied Drama and Psychology (Cut-off: 14)  /  Human Resource Management with Psychology (Cut-off: 12)
NPPsychology Studies (Cut-off: 8)  /  Child Psychology and Early Childhood (Cut-off: 13)
NYPSocial Sciences (Social Work) (Cut-off: 15)
RPHuman Resource Management with Psychology (Cut-off: 17)  /  Consumer Behaviour and Research (Cut-off: 19)
TPPsychology Studies (Cut-off: 9)
The results are also available here ( for more general information.

For the 2018/19 admissions for the degrees: 
This are represented by their current year entry students' 3H2/1H1 and polytechnic GPA grades and stated by 10th % - lowest minimum; and 90th % - safest to be confirmed percentile

NUS  (2016/17):  3H2/1H1:  10th - ABB/B, 90% - AAA/A.  GPA: 10th - 3.73, 90% - 3.94
(Additional criteria - Students must obtain at least a B-grade in each of these modules during their first year of the program: PL1101E and PL2131)
NTU  (2016/17):  3H2/1H1:  10th - ABC/B, 90% - AAA/A.  GPA: 10th - 3.69, 90% - 3.94
SMU  (2016/17):  3H2/1H1:   10th - BBC/B, 90% - AAA/A.  GPA: 10th - 3.71, 90% - 3.96
The indicative grade profiles of the 2017/18 cohorts are not being released by the universities.

For last year's academic requirements, please view here!!

Good Luck for your 'O' Levels results and your polytechnic and university applications!!!

3 Ways of Carving Your Psychology Career during University

A model was proposed during the recent SPS Student Forum 2017 at Singapore Management University during the opening talk, and it discussed on how one can discover your psychological specialisation.  It is achieved mainly through these steps:
1.  Learn
2.  Explore
3.  Experience
4.  Network

Sounds Easy??
Actually it is relatively easy if you know what to do and have the means to do it.

These steps are actually the same as our topic for today:  Carving your Psychology Career during University, but I will be providing you with more resources, as well as a new opportunity that SG Psych Stuff has decided to pilot for 2018!

When you are doing your university (and other tertiary) education, this is the best time to try out different things, because as a student, a) it is socially accepted to discover and try out new things and still fail at the same time, and b) you have lesser obligations and commitments than a working adult, which results in more time to try out new things.  Starting to plan and carve your career earlier is better, with reasons as stated in 3 Reasons Why You Should Plan Your Psychology Career During University, and it helps to increase your value even before you finish your degree.

So here are three things I would advise you to do before you graduate:
1.  Network
2.  Internship or Volunteer (or any experience)
3.  Find a mentor

With regards to Networking and Internship/Volunteer, SG Psych Stuff has already written multiple posts on their benefits and why you should partake in them as much as possible.  Here are the posts to read before you start anything else:

Networking: (In chronological order)
Power of Networking
Jobs (Part 8): Summary + Major reason for expanding your network
Interactions of Psychology Students in Singapore
Networking on Social Media

Conclusion: Always remember this phrase from Jobs (Part 8):
Expanding your network = More (future) job opportunities

Internship/Volunteer: (In chronological order)
Importance of practicum/work experience/internship
V.I.P. (Volunteering/Internship Project), leading to Why the internship/volunteering plan did not work
5 Things Students can do during the Holidays

Links for volunteering opportunities:
Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 3)
Organizations in the Mental Health Scene in Singapore

Finding a mentor was a idea that is relatively new that has only been discussed since November 2016, hence here is the only post:  Having a Mentor for Your Psychological Journey
Often, a mentor is someone that you know through your existing contacts (hence Power of Networking again), whom you can discuss your career thoughts and issues in the hope to better direct yourself in the path that you wish to move in your psychological journey.  This navigation in your journey is not easy, hence it is of utmost important to find a mentor who is willing to guide you, as well as challenge you to become a stronger person.


Throughout our years in SG Psych Stuff, we have tried and implemented many projects to help students gain better knowledge.  Here is our latest project for 2018:

SG Psych Stuff will be taking in a total of 8 students for our pilot mentorship program. We are currently only accepting Year 1 and 2 students who are studying the major of Psychology from local universities in Singapore (as of Jan 2018).
Please click THIS LINK for more details and registration for the program!  Registration for the program will close 14 January 2018.
Interviews may be done in end January or early February to see the suitability of the students to the respective mentors. Stay tuned!

Last advice of advice from Using the "COW" in Building Your Career:
"Whatever you are doing, it is for your future career."