Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Human Behavior Experiments Bystanders and Emergency Situations

In class, we learned that because of the bystander effect, a person who is in emergency is more likely to be helped by others when there is only one witness than when there are several. Also, the text book says, "people are less likely to help in urban areas than in rural ones." Bibb Latane and Judith Rodin at Columbia University conducted a study about Inhibiting Effects of Friends and Strangers on Bystander Intervention, and explained that the reason is because "there are too many strangers in cities." In their study, each participant was assigned to fill out a questionnaire in one of four situations: 1. alone in the testing room, 2. with an unresponsive confederate of the experimenter, 3. with another participant who was a stranger, 4. with a friend. While they were filling out their questionnaires, a loud sound of an accident and scream were heard from the representative's office. The result showed that the most helpful situations were when the participant was alone, and when he was with a friend; 70% of the participants in both cases helped out. In contrast, 40% of the participants with strangers, and only 7 % of those with the unresponsive confederates offered help. This result explains that people in rural areas are more helpful, because not only there are less people, but also they are more likely to know each other than people in large cities do.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

When Negative Gender Stereotypes Hang Heavy in the Classroom, Girls Learn Less

I don't recall anyone being assigned to make a blog post last class, and since no one is posting I figured I'd put up a post.

In this article, social psychologists discovered that when girls are in a learning environment in which they are being reminded of negative gender stereotypes, they will end up learning less. The way they studied whether negative stereotypes would hinder a woman's learning was by having a group of woman perform a certain visual perception task. Before doing the task, some of the women in the group were reminded of various stereotypes about women being bad at math and visual processing abilities while women were told nothing at all at the beginning of the task. Surely enough, the woman that had been reminded of the stereotypes ended up performing poorly on the task in comparision to the woman that had been told nothing at the beginning of the task. When looking into these stereotypes in younger children in schools, the psychologists looked into who was perpetuating these stereotypes, and they had come to realize that in many situations it was the female teachers themselves that enforced these stereotypes, thus leading these young girls to perform poorly in subjects like math.
This study can be applied to any group of persons that have been negatively stereotyped, and this makes me wonder about our school systems and how they alone can have such a great impact on our futures and whether or not they succeed. Would the enforcement of positive thought from a young age in our school systems be enough to help so many more children succeed who have been previously left in the dust due to negative stereotypes? What are your thoughts?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Group Project Plan

Our group(Alexa Cohen, Irene Kim, and Young Choi) is planning to design a structure in the border area of Clinton-Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant for children's playground that forces children from different groups to get together and cooperate in order to escape from the warmhole-like tunnels. In this region, multiple ethnic groups coexist, and we are mainly focusing on Hasidic Jewish people.

Based on the history of the region and the psychological differences of each group(ethnicity and age), we will plan out how the play-structure can force the children to get together.

The purpose of designing such structure is to set up a common goal to achieve so they feel they are forced in the same situation.

Group Project Progress

Each member of our group has chosen two or three articles to write about, ranging from intergroup relations and ethnic divides to playground mingling and environmental situations. We are all sending our papers to a single editor that we know will be able to make our multiple essays into one cohesive essay.
Also, our group is going to begin the development of the actual playground very soon. How exciting!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Front Row

Our group is integrating the Fort Greene "hipster kids" with the "project kids" through a playground which encourages inter-group contact through means of having to work together to play.

We have each chosen two sources and written two (or more) pages per person on the problem presented in our articles, the theoretical solution they have proposed, and finally how it relates to solving our problem of creating this playground.

We are now reading through all of our papers together and have created an introduction and are working to create an outline and order to when we will site each of our points and sources.

We have also begun to create the actual model of our playground out of recycled materials and metal.

Along the line, after our first draft (which will be finished by Monday) we will then begin to draft an actual presentation , refine our model, and begin collecting imagery for a slide show to go along with our presentation. All of this will be done alongside also refining our paper.

The Front Row

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Group Progress

The group decided on trying to integrate Hasidic Jews and Hipster children. We've each put research from different categories together (Hipsters, Hasidism, Child Psychology, Integration, Gender Roles), and have chosen a category to write about. There are six of us, so one person in the group will edit the papers together rather than writing their own section. Hopefully, this will allow the paper to flow naturally.

One unexpected challenge that came up is separating the children by sex. Hasidic Jews keep their children separated by sex. Typically, children are only allowed to interact with the opposite sex if they are closely related. Because of this, we are planning to design a playground that naturally encourages the children to separate by sex.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Glimmer of Hope in a Bad-News Survey About Bullying

Wasn't assigned this week, but nobody posted, so here goes...

I'm sure that everyone has heard about the obscene number of internet bullying-related suicides in recent news. When I read chapter 8 and came to the section on deindividuation, that was the first thing I thought of. This article talks about bullying (while physically in school), and blatantly leaves out the whole concept of internet bullying which single-handedly led to the 10 suicides in September. I was shocked when I read this - clearly, the issue has gone beyond the playground, and this article gives parents/guardians a false sense of security. "A Glimmer of Hope"? Really? Do you guys think this article is an example of flawed groupthink which the textbook at one point refers to as a "social disease"?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Blog Design w.i.p.

Hey Everyone!

Just letting you guys know that I'm working on putting up the new blog design. I'm having some problems with things like the link color etc so just bare with me for the next few days as I work on fixing up the kinks.
If there's anything that is bothering you about the new layout then let me know and I will do my best to fix it.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Replicating Milgram

original article here (edited by RW 10/25/10)

This article is about replicating an experiment done by Stanely Milgram in 1961. It was a social experiment about obedience and asked for the participants to act as "teachers" and "learners". Teachers had to administer electric shock therapy on the learner. Groups of learners and teachers would administer shocks that they believed were real but the machine was fake. "Milgram found that, after hearing the learner's first cries of pain at 150 volts, 82.5 percent of participants continued administering shocks; of those, 79 percent continued to the shock generator's end, at 450 volts." This experiment is very interesting when dealing with obedience and authority. It's hard to believe humans are so accepting of authority and social obedience. Has there ever been a situation in which you had to conform to a practice which you did not agree with?

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm having the same problem as Yael

I think the most shocking part of this article is the line about older people still not using a condom when they knew their partner had an STI. A big part of the sex ed/driver's ed classes in my high school was the stereotype that young people think they are invincible. This study could not prove them more wrong.

I wonder what percentage of older people don't use condoms because of menopause. Pregnancy is not even a possibility for most older couples in the survey, so the only benefit of using a condom for them would be STI protection. I agree that because the younger generations grew up with the knowledge that HIV and other STIs are highly communicable, they (we) tend to protect ourselves more.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

For some reason, the blog would not let me add my comment, so I am just writing the comment as a post.

You wouldn't think the people preaching to us about what not to do, would be participating in those same activities themselves. It does make sense that older folk who are going back out into the dating world after divorce, or being widowed would not be as protective with sex. As mentioned in the article they have been spoiled, and I guess they forget that they are with a new partner who has new things, such as an std, that they may not know about. It's really interesting to think that more teenagers are being safer about sex than adults. Because our generation has grown up with extremely progressive science, we are constantly learning about knew things that are harmful. We've grown up knowing about the effects of smoking, the possibility of becoming pregnant of getting and stds without proper protection, and things of that nature, whereas people from older generations, were not exposed to the same information. Although they are now aware of these things, I think growing up without having them being drilled into your constantly by parents, media, etc. has an impact on your decisions later on in life. Because our friends and people of our age are the people we normally talk to about sex, there are a lot similarities, but when it comes to someone who is 20 or 30 years older than us, that is a different territory, which we normally don't think about or talk about. After reading this article though, it does seem like we should be the ones lecturing the people ages 40-100 about safe sex.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Study of American Sex Habits Suggests Boomers Need Sex Ed

We've been talking a lot about attitudes and stereotypes in class. As former high school students, we all know what it's like to have awkward sex talks with parents/guardians where they assume you're being reckless when it comes to sex. This article debunks this stereotype, suggesting that older generations could benefit from a sex talk, whereas the vast majority of 14-17 year olds that are having sex, are using condoms. It seems like the first step to changing some gaping, inaccurate attitudes/stereotypes about teens.

Monday, October 4, 2010

How Stereotypes Defeat the Stereotyped

This article talks about the new study of older individuals being affected in a negatively way because of stereotypes, and also how easy stereotype threats compel people to work against themselves. The article goes on to talk about how just reminding older individuals that they are members of a stigmatized group, really dampens their performance upon a test given. Older individuals taking the same test that were not reminded of their stigmatized group did significantly better on the same test. The study shows that the individuals that were told and reminded of their "elderly" stereotype, worried about their advanced age, which intern affected their performance. Interestingly, people between the ages of 60 and 70 were far more susceptible to stereotype threats than those ages 71 to 82. The article explains that this is because those people have just entered their 7th decade are are more sensitive to the stereotype than those who have already been considered old for a decade. Recent research has found that positive reenforcement about one's stereotype may just be as effective as any negative stereotype threat.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Stereotype of a “Fag Hag”

So what constitutes a “fag hag” anyways? And where does the term “fag hag” in particular come from? This article touches upon a study done to see whether or not the common stereotypes of straight women with many gay male friends are in fact correct. In order test the stereotypes, a group of straight women were asked to share how many gay male friends compared to other friends they had, their relationship history, their amount of self esteem through the “Body Esteem Scale”, and finally if they had been recently dumped or if they were the dumper. These results were all compiled in order to test the common stereotype that these women with mostly gay male friends have low self esteems and feel unattractive to straight men. If these “fag hags” did in fact meet this stereotype, then the hypothesis was that their level of self-esteem would correspond with their number of gay friends. To put it simply: the sadder the straight women’s love life, the more gay male friends. The final results? Quite the contrary. It turned out that there was absolutely no correlation between these women’s relationship statuses, their self-esteem, or the amount of times they had been broken up with by a boyfriend. Another interesting find was that the more gay friends a women had the more sexually attractive she actually found herself. The end of this study even brings up that why does this stereotype not exist in the reverse? A straight male with many lesbian friends? Thoughts?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Solomon Asch experiment (1958): A study of conformity

Our answers to social situations are brought about by those that surround us. The observations we make about the world are altered by others' judgments, whether it is realized or not.
When asked to compare the lengths of lines, the subjects of this particular study were incredibly swayed by the other participants' answers (social perception of the lines). They decided to give differing answers than what they truly saw for fear of being considered wrong or different.

Complementarity in Dominant and Submissive Nonverbal Behavior

In Tiedens and Fragale's research, it is understood that social interactions involve complementarity vs. mimicry. Their study on dominant and submissive nonverbal behaviors lead them to conclude that there is a hierarchy between the two.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Would You Do

What Would You Do is a show on ABC that conducts experiments related to social psychology. Hosted by John Quinones, hidden cameras are placed around the area they are doing the experiments in, and wait to see the reactions of the people surrounding. Thee social experiments are really interesting and the outcome can be quite surprising.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pushing Back at Stereotypes

Brittney Griner, a freshmen basketball player at Baylors College punched an opposing team player on the court. The article goes on to talk about violent behavior in the female sports world and research that has been done on it. Gender roles and stereotypes are a big part of why these woman are using aggressive behavior on the court.

Admiring Celebrities Can Help Improve Self-Esteem

ScienceDaily (June 6, 2008) — A new study appearing in Personal Relationships shows how “connections” to celebrities, i.e. parasocial relationships, can allow people with low-self esteem to view themselves more positively

For many people, the admiration of celebrities can have some important benefits. Jaye L. Derrick and Shira Gabriel of the University at Buffalo, State University of New York illustrate how parasocial relationships can provide a safe route for people who have a difficult time with real interpersonal relationships. People with low self-esteem can use their parasocial relationships to feel closer to the ideals they hold for themselves.

Researchers conducted three studies using approximately one hundred undergraduate university students each to examine the relationship between self-esteem, parasocial relationship closeness, and self-discrepancies. Participants identified their favorite celebrity and described that celebrity in an open-ended essay. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale assessed global self-evaluations.

Results showed that people with low self-esteem saw their favorite celebrities as very similar to their ideal selves. Low self-esteem people primed with their favorite celebrity felt more similar to their ideal selves than low self-esteem people primed with a control celebrity. Also, people with low self-esteem primed with their favorite celebrity felt more similar to their ideal selves than low self-esteem people primed with a close relationship partner.

The current research demonstrates that parasocial relationships can have self-enhancing benefits for low self-esteem people that they do not receive in real relationships. These parasocial relationships, which have very low risk of rejection, offer low self-esteem people an opportunity to reduce their self-discrepancies and feel closer to their ideal selves.

“Even ‘fake’ relationships with celebrities, relationships without any actual contact, can have benefits for the self,” the authors conclude. “We found that parasocial relationships can sometimes have benefits for people with low-self esteem that ‘real’ relationships do not.”

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell.

Journal Reference:

  1. Parasocial relationships and self-discrepancies: Faux relationships have benefits for low self-esteem individuals.JAYE L. DERRICK, SHIRA GABRIEL, BROOKE TIPPIN.Personal Relationships, 15 (2) , 261%u2013280 DOI:10.1111/j.1475-6811.2008.00197.x

Social Agression found in both Boys and Girls

Through scientific analysis researchers debunked the commonly believed myth that boys are more inclined to show aggression physically (i.e. through hitting, fighting, etc.) and that girls are more prone to social aggression (i.e. gossip, social rejection/exclusion). The study found that boys are just as likely as girls to show both physical and social forms of aggression, and that children who exhibit one form are more likely to exhibit the other form as well.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How Palestinian and Israeli Children Are Psychologically Scarred by Exposure to War

Palestinian and Israeli children were expose to a highly violence environment which not only cause physical damage but also psychological negative impact. Almost fifty percent of Palestinian children have seen people being sad or crying because they lost someone they love, about same percentage of children had witness the death of their love ones. "... this exposure is very deleterious. It is associated with dramatic increases in post-traumatic stress symptoms and increases in aggressive behavior directed at peers." said psychologist Rowell Huesmann,.
Kids who have experience these traumatic situation reported to have a higher levels of anxiety and much more likely to have nightmare. Further more, fifty to seventy percent of children who have seen violence reported that they have committed one of the violence act.
Violence are like disease that has a stronger effect on children, and the mental scar it cause may never go away from kids' memory.

Lower Parental Investment in Stepchildren

It seems that children with parents that are still married are provided with more financial support than those with a stepparent involved. Stepparents feel less inclined to provide for their non genetic children than those of parents of equal income with biological children. Furthermore, stepfathers are seen to be more financially supportive to their stepchildren than stepmothers, a social indicator of the providing male figure/part of the mating ritual.

Missing 'cult-like' group found alive

A search for the missing group began this past Saturday in Southern California after two husbands reported their wives missing. Both women were part of a "cult-like" Christian group of 13 Salvadoran immigrants all of whom, it was quickly discovered, were also missing. After a full-fledged search was mobilized the group was found praying in a park. The members were "shocked and angry" when they found out about the search efforts and investigators suspicions of a suicide pact. This article highlights many questions and issues about groups and their formation. A few of the members' spouses claimed that their wives had been "brainwashed" by the group's leader. This asks many questions about the psychology of a group. Can so many people really be "brainwashed" by a single person? Can a group dynamic make members unable to make decisions for themselves?

Alzheimer's Disease


This article discusses what Alzheimer's Disease is, and the severity it has on a person. The article describes Alzheimer's Disease as a progressive and fatal brain disease. The disease destroys brain cells, causing memory loss and problems with thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, hobbies, and social life. The disease gets worse over time and it fatal. It is also the 7th leading death in the U.S. Alzheimer's usually begins after the age of 65 years old, but there are cases of it appearing in generations as young as 30s and 40s. Some of the early symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease are loss of concentration and forgetfulness. People often look over these symptoms because they are also signs of old aging. Other symptoms are fatigue, extreme memory loss, illness, hearing loss, grief, and depression. Alzheimer's currently has no cure, but treatments for the symptoms, combined with the right services and support, can make life better for the individuals suffering from the disease. My grandmother has a form of this disease, and the disease has completely taken her over. She is unable to do the daily tasks that she once was able to, and it has impacted her social life dramatically. As the disease got worse, she became less outgoing and began to keep to herself. Everyday is a constant struggle to remember how to do simple tasks. She has even gotten to the point where she told herself that she forgets how to walk- when she is infact more than capable of doing so. Alzheimer's is a rapidly growing disease, and I hope doctors come up with some kind of solution or cure for it.

Better Health, With a Little Help From Our Friends

IS your social network making you fat? Are your friends and family influencing you to smoke and drink more, or to sleep less?

And if our relationships contribute to behaviors that erode our health, can social networks be harnessed to improve it?

Self-Esteem and the Trapped Chilean Miners

In August 33 Chilean miners were unexpectedly trapped about half of a mile underground in a Chilean desert after a mine collapse. They were found, but not rescued at the end August. Now the biggest challenge to rescue the miners isn't getting them food and water until the drill teams can reach them, but keeping them psychologically healthy. The biggest concern is the miners' self-esteem. Many psychologists from NASA and other agencies are stressing the importance of the miners' newly created community, so that every miner has a daily task and responsibilities. This structure could provide the need for self esteem outlined in the textbook, "people are inherently social animals and that the desire for self-esteem is driven by this more primitive need to connect with others and gain their approval" (Kassin 67).

Self-Testing of Sexual Identity

Self-Testing: A Check on Sexual Identity and Other Levels of Sexuality
by Milton Diamond, 1995

Using several case studies, this article explores the disconnect between socially-assigned gender and sexual identity and the self-assigned gender identity of transsexuals: that is, how an individual's idea of their own gender and sex can come to vary so greatly from what the rest of society tells them they are. The author puts forth the idea that many transsexuals engage in frequent self-testing, or analysis of their own adherence to assigned gender roles, by behaving in accordance with the gender society assigns them rather than the one they believe themselves to be– high self-monitoring. However, their preferences continue to differ from those typical of their sex, and this dissonance causes them to conclude that they are "truly" supposed to be the opposite sex. (Notably, the dissonance remains even when their attempts to fill their biological gender roles are successful in the eyes of society.) As "The Social Self" in the textbook indicates, the formation of self-concept is highly dependent on comparisons with others; in the case of transsexuals, however, social reinforcement is insufficient to counteract their private thoughts, even when they intentionally seek verification of their birth sex. Transsexuals are so internally resistant to their societally-assigned sexual identity that they choose to change their bodies rather than their self-concept.

Smoking in Movies Influences Kids to Start Smoking Younger

According to this article, movies that portray actors and actresses smoking should be rated R so that kids who are not legally old enough to smoke are not exposed as often to smoking. In 2008 the National Cancer Institute did a study that showed kids being very influenced by all the tobacco products they saw in movies. This article shows the influence one group has on another, the media on the viewer, role models and the people that look up to them.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Study Links Religious Groups and Racial Bias

Study Links Religious Groups and Racial Bias

  • Study Links Religious Groups and Racial Bias
  • Wendy Wood, Provost Professor of Psychology and Business

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus warned religious listeners against what today would be called “ingroup prejudice”: the tendency to think less of outsiders, especially those of another race.

The Samaritan, a member of a group despised by Israelites of that time, proves himself more charitable to an injured traveler than two members of the Jewish clergy.

Devout listeners startled by the Samaritan’s charity would have had to confront a difficult message: Piety and prejudice keep close company.

It appears not much has changed.

A meta-analysis of 55 independent studies carried out in the United States with more than 20,000 mostly Christian participants has found that members of religious congregations tend to harbor prejudiced views of other races.

In general, the more devout the community, the greater the racism, according to the authors of the analysis, led by Wendy Wood, Provost Professor of Psychology and Business at USC College and the USC Marshall School of Business. The study appears in the February issue of Personality and Social Psychology Review.

“Religious groups distinguish between believers and non-believers and moral people and immoral ones,” Wood said. “So perhaps it’s no surprise that the strongly religious people in our research, who were mostly white Christians, discriminated against others who were different from them — blacks and minorities.”

Most of the studies reviewed by Wood’s team focused on Christians because Christianity is the most common religion in the United States.

Her analysis found significantly less racism among people without strong religious beliefs.

Wood speculated that racist tendencies would not be limited to one religion: “All religions offer a moral group identity, and so across world religions — including Buddhism, Hinduism, Muslim, Judaism and Christianity — the religious ingroup is valued over outgroups.”

Wood and her co-authors — Deborah Hall from Duke University and David Matz from Augsburg College — analyzed data from all available studies on religion and racism since 1964, when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. A quarter of the studies in the analysis were conducted after 2000 and just over half after 1990.

Despite the involvement of religious individuals in the civil rights movement, and in later struggles for racial equality, the authors found a strong correlation between religious belief and racism, as measured through commonly used survey tools that rate respondents’ attitudes toward religion and racial minorities.

Studies of highly devout groups showed the greatest correlation between religion and racism.

“The effect is strongest in the seminary,” Wood said. Of the 55 studies, 14 dealt with highly religious populations such as frequent church attendees and seminarians.

The results may ring false to practicing Christians in mixed-race congregations. But those are only a minority, according to Wood.

“There aren’t many churches that practice with a mixed-race congregation,” she said.

Wood emphasized the value of religion.

“Religion has clear benefits for the individual who is practicing that religion,” she said.

However, “religion has a downside, like any group membership, particularly a group membership that is associated with morality.”

She attributed the association between religion and racism to the combination of ingroup identity and morality, which encourages distinctions between people. The appeal of tradition and social convention also played a role.

“People who were religious because of their respect for tradition and social convention were especially likely to be racist,” Wood said, though adding that the strength of the correlation declined somewhat as racism became less socially acceptable.

“The effect stays significant even in recent years. For people who are religious for conservative reasons [respect for tradition, social conventionalism], they have become less racist in recent years as racism has become less socially acceptable. But even they are still significantly racist, just that the effect has reduced in magnitude,” Wood explained.

Wood and her co-authors also found little difference in racist attitudes between religious fundamentalists and more moderate Christians. The second group tended to pay lip service to racial equality but harbored the same prejudices.

“What we found with that group of people was really no different from everyone else,” Wood said.

Wood’s analysis echoes what Martin Luther King Jr. wrote more than 40 years ago in his famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” in which he reserved some of his sharpest criticism for religious leaders who, with few exceptions, embraced integration in principle but resisted it in practice.

Do the findings mean that being religious makes one a racist? Not necessarily.

The Samaritan in Jesus’ parable himself was a member of a religious group that held other religions in contempt.

Yet he stopped for an outsider who needed help.

An abstract of Wood's review, titled "Why Don't We Practice What We Preach? A Meta-Analytic Review of Religious Racism," is available at

The study of religion and racism is not new. In a 2001 study, included in Wood's review, the authors cite some major studies in the field:

The causes of religious racism are complex. For example, while noting that "decades of research have demonstrated an empirical relationship between religion and prejudice," the authors of the 2001 study blame right-wing authoritarianism rather than religious belief for instances of racial prejudice among Christian fundamentalists.

Wood's review places her among those scholars who find evidence of racial prejudice in a wide range of religious groups, from the highly devout and evangelical to the more moderate and less vocal.