Recently in Intergroup relations/diversity Category

Closeted in High School

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I am a lesbian. I made this a known fact to the world in January of 2006, right after I graduated high school a semester early. To avoid dealing with ridicule face-to-face, I simply changed my MySpace information from "interested in men" to "interested in women." When I returned to my high school for graduation rehearsal in June, 2006, everyone knew and they were at least over the shock. Some people blatantly avoided me on the bus to the church. One of my long-time friends from softball (you might even say one of my best friends), has never talked to me since she found out.

This is actually all pretty mild behavior compared to what Cocalico High School students can usually dish out. I waited to come out of the closet until I didn't have to face these people on a daily basis because I feared for my safety. There was a guy in the grade below me who was openly gay. Some of the kids got together and tried to kidnap and lynch him.

Prejudice is defined as "an attitude toward others based solely on group membership" (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012, p. 337). Obviously, the attitudes and opinions about me changed once people knew that I was a lesbian. Instead of being friendly like usual, the prejudices held by my friends gave them a negative opinion of me, even though I am the same person as I was before they knew!

Of course, discrimination goes one step further, translating prejudices into actions. These actions, like the guy who was beaten and almost kidnapped/lynched, can be violent. It is my opinion that simply employing the use of contact hypothesis would help this specific situation. People are afraid of what they don't understand. Ignorance and fear are the parents of hatred. I thought that by seeing that I had not undergone any kind of dramatic change, my peers would be okay with my sexual orientation because they would not find it scary. This blew up in my face. What was really necessary was forced contact between myself and my peers. At the time I was barely eighteen years old and not ready to face this responsibility. At present, however, I am twenty-five years old and unashamed!


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology:

       Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. 2nd ed. Sage.

       Los Angeles, CA.

Racism in SC

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"I'm so pro black, I won't pick the cotton to get to an aspirin."

"If white people knew it was going to cause this much trouble we would have picked our own cotton."

These quotes are a couple of examples of things I heard on nearly a daily basis while in high school. Prejudice is defined as a set of negative attitudes toward members of a group. Like most places I know of in the South, it was common for blacks and whites to be divided or even prejudice and sayings such as these were juvenile expressions of frustration from both sides. This is evidence that desegregation obviously cannot easily meet the conditions (contact hypothesis,equal status contact between majority and minority groups in the pursuit of common goals, and sanctions by institutional supports) of Gordon Allport's strategy.

I grew up in South Carolina, the first state to secede from the union and the last to return. Sherman led his troops to my hometown, Columbia, and burned it to the ground. A confederate flag still flies on the SC statehouse grounds today and is protected by 24/7 police vigil after a black man climbed the pole where it flies and set it on fire.( He was charged with vandalism of statehouse property.)

It was the flying of the confederate flag on top of the statehouse--which is where it flew from the 1960's until 2000 when the NAACP negotiated and compromised for it to be flown on a pole in front of the statehouse--that led the NAACP, to lead a boycott in SC in my lifetime. As a private boycott against the confederate flag flying at the statehouse, Tiger Woods refuses to play in any golf tournament that is held in SC. Just this week I was driving by a cemetery in a town called Lexington and noticed that someone had posted a small confederate flag at someone's grave site. That is not an unusual thing to see here so I was not shocked. In a much larger show of support there was a confederate rally, I think it was called, where there was an enormous confederate flag draped over the statehouse steps. I actually happened to be downtown that day and saw it firsthand. I have never seen so many confederate flags in one place before despite living here my whole life. A friend of mine who was with me said it was "a beautiful site." I have included a picture of it below. Another interesting situation is how a small town a few miles north of where I live called Winnsboro seems to still practice segregation because all white people live on one side of the town and all blacks on the other. Nobody seems particularly bothered by the separation and they do shop and dine in the same places but they live and worship separately. And these are just a few examples of how racism is still alive in the South nearly 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Although I am not prejudice, it is funny how normal all of these things seemed to me until I moved to Washington state. I don't think I realized there was constant racial tension until I felt the relaxation there. These things I have mentioned just aren't issues there. Of course I do understand that WA was not a part of the Civil War and there is a big difference in the demographics but moving there helped me realize how silly it was for people to continue such a useless feud. I guess I just didn't give it much thought before then. It was in 2009, when I first moved to WA, that I became more aware of my strong feelings against racism and the confederate flag.

All three images below were copied from Google Images.

 flag on steps 2.jpgflag on ground.jpg3 flags.jpg

The link to the news report about the confederate flag flying at the statehouse:

A good article, from the black perspective, in a local publication called SC Black News:


In today's world, there is a lot of different cultures and diversity within my workplace. It is very important to understand and relate to different cultures. I work in a hospital and experience diversity every day with co-workers as well as the patient population and their families.  As a hospital employee, I have gone through many trainings on different cultures and diversity.  All of these have been very helpful, but nothing speaks louder than a real-life experience.

Although diversity presents many opportunities, there are also a number of challenges present when individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences interact (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012).  An example of this was when a woman of foreign decent, I'm guessing Pakistani or Indian, had a baby in the NICU(Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). I needed to get consent from her to treat her son.  She did not speak English. She had an interpreter with her and I communicated through him.  He told me that she could not sign the paper.  I must speak with her husband. I gave her a card to call our department and the interpreter relayed the message to her.  Later in the day, I received a call and went back to the NICU to meet with the father.  I explained what I needed.  The man told the interpreter that he would not deal with me.  He wanted to speak with a male employee. I called down to the office and asked for assistance from a co-worker.  Joe came to the floor immediately to help. He spoke with the man and was able to get the consent form signed.

In this situation, I could have gotten frustrated that the man would not talk with me.  However, I realized that there was obviously some cultural differences. Apparently, in their culture, women are not able to make important decisions, which in this case was signing the form for their son to be treated.  In this case, it was important for me to recognize the differences between our culture and theirs. By having this understanding, the end result works out for both parties in that I was able to get the consent signed and the father was able to exercise his rights and be happy and satisfied.


Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012: Applied Social Psychology, Chapter 14, pg 337.

Racism in Football (Soccer)

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          In 1955 in many ways America finally woke up and began to stand for justice with the beginning of the civil rights movement. According to Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, racism can be defined as "A bias against an individual or a group of individuals based on the individual's or group member's race or ethnicity" (Schneider et al., 2012). As the severity of racism has decreased over the years, there is still some evidence that it has not completely disappeared.

            When I was in high school I participated in soccer and I witnessed racism every game by my teammates and the competition. An example of this was when a teammate of mine called a Hispanic player on the opposing team a racial slur. I was shocked to hear such a word come out of a person's mouth in a sporting event. Racism is not only a problem in high school soccer where I am from; it is an issue all over the world. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association or most commonly known as FIFA, it is the international governing body of football or more commonly known as soccer here in the United States.

            FIFA recognizes its responsibility to lead the way in abolishing all forms of discrimination in football under Article 3 of the FIFA Statutes. Article 3 states; "Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin color, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion" (Blatter, 2008). The FIFA Disciplinary Code was created to describe the sanctions acquired as a result of violations of the FIFA Statutes. This pertains to every match and competition organized by FIFA. After looking at the Disciplinary Code it is evident that all of the rules must be obeyed by all the associations and their respective members, including clubs, officials, players, match officials as well as any fans or spectators that are admitted into the game. (Blatter, 2013)

            FIFA began there "Say No to Racism" slogan and it has been the face of the football world ever since, with the hope of decreasing the amount of racism in the world of football. I personally cannot understand why racism is still one of today's most critical issues. As much as society has progressed with technological advances, environmental issues, and other human rights topics I do not understand why do people still have to live in the past? It has been 58 years since the imperative Civil Rights Movement began and although we have made great strides in creating equality for all, racism is still prevalent in our society. It is up to us as individuals to put an end to racism and stand for equal human rights.


Blatter, J. (2008). Fifa statutes regulations governing the application of the statutes              standing orders of the congress. Retrieved from                 _072008_en.pdf

Blatter, J. (2013). Fifa brand - our commitment. Retrieved from    

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., and Coutts, L. M. (2012).  Applied social psychology:     Understanding and addressing social and practical problems.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage  Publications.          

The Tarahumara and Mestizos of Mexico

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The birth of the Mestizo (biracial people of European and Indigenous descent) culture is one that introduced many inequalities to the Indigenous people of Mexico.  The Tarahumara that live within the mountains of northern Mexico are an example of such inequality.  Though the invasion of Latin America by the Spanish occurred over five hundred years ago the Tarahumara continue to live substandard lives in an industrialized society.  Marak (2003) compares the lives of these people to those of slaves (p. 411).  While the Tarahumara may have wanted to maintain the integrity of their culture to some extent, they have also welcomed the advantages of a modernized world.  I have memories of when I was a little girl and the Tarahumara women would knock on our door asking for food.  They did not speak Spanish and language barriers as well as lack of employment prevents them from living a better life.  Though the Tarahumara are part of the fibers that have created the Mestizo race , they are disregarded and shoved in the corners of the mountains where they still live in caves.  One might argue that perhaps they are holding on to their culture and that it is a personal choice, but I have experienced otherwise.  The Tarahumara still roam the streets of northern Mexico begging for food and asking for work as if they were just another homeless person on the street.  They are uneducated and subservient to those of the Mestizo society. 

In this case the theory of contact (contact hypothesis) would fail tremendously.  While the Tarahumara live in the caves of the mountains, they still come down to the valleys where the rest of society is forced to live among them at least during the daytime .  They are kind and approachable and still their own distant but still attached cousins the Mestizos shun them without hesitation.  While the Tarahumara are part of the out-group the Mestizos are not prejudiced against them, at least openly.  There is however an unspoken sense of discrimination.  This is proven through the lack of resources that are granted to the Tarahumara such as education as to have the ability to become employed in the mainstream workforce.  The snowball effect would take place and of course if these resources were intact, the Tarahumara would live among others in society (Schneider et al., 2012, pp. 337, 343).

Symbolic Racism also contributes to the inequality of the Tarahumara.  Mestizos may not speak ill of these Indigenous people, but again and as stated above, the attitudes and behaviors displayed toward them are evident that this form of racism does exist.  The Mestizo society sees the Tarahumara as the deserving poor in that they are not educated or modernized due to their own personal lack of motivation.  This is how discrimination toward the Tarahumara is justified and apparently it is enough to carry the citizens of Mexican society through.  We have seen this behavior not much further than our neighboring United States (Indian reservations).  When Anglo Saxons arrived on the American continent social dominance was their ultimate goal.  In that same way Mestizos strive to maintain superiority over the indigenous people of Mexico (Schneider et al., 2012, pp. 334 & 335).

According to Marak (2003), many "so claimed" efforts have taken place within the Mexican government to introduce programs that provide education for the Tarahumara.  These efforts have proven fruitless in that recruiting teachers to teach the Tarahumara is difficult.  Good teachers that would be necessary in these communities are either already teaching elsewhere or they just simply do not want to work in these communities.  The teachers that end up accepting the job are "poorly prepared" and thus ineffective (p. 422).

The framework of values proposed by Schwartz as indicated in Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems has merit in that it would be to peoples' benefit to look for similarities between out-groups rather than differences.  It would sure benefit the Tarahumara if Mestizos would see the common root that connects these two groups.  These similarities would be nationality for starters and most importantly Mestizos need not forget the biological traits that are shared.  Mestizos might just be surprised at the potential contribution the Tarahumara may bring to their societies, after all they are great athletes and the fastest runners in the world.  There might just be something else about them not yet discovered (Schneider et al., 2012, p. 329).



Marak, A. M.  (2003).  Journal of the Southwest:  The Failed Assimilation Of the Tarahumara in Postrevolutionary Mexico, 45(3), pp. 411-435.  doi: unknown    

Schneider, W. F., Gruman, A. J., & Coutts, M. L.  (2012).  Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.).  Los Angeles, CA:  Sage Publications Inc.

Applied Social Psychology and Diversity

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Intergroup Relations and Diversity


This country is a mixture of diversity.  We are ethnically and cultural rich because of those differences.  Diversity is not a bad thing.  The world would be a boring place if everyone were the same.  Intergroup relations at work would not be productive if everyone was bringing the same thing to the table.  The ethnic and cultural differences keep different personalities and ideas flowing to generate new ideas.  Socially we want diversity among our friends.  We may be drawn to people who have similar personalities, but we are all still unique.  Whether it is in the workplace or socially if we are not open to working and socializing with people of different ethnic backgrounds, genders or religions we are our own worst enemy.  Embracing our differences and accepting others is the only way to give this world a chance.  Racial and ethnic divides only lead to prejudices and racism, which has in the past and continues today to cause violence and mistrust.  The advances in technology both in weaponry and media could cause catastrophic consequences in areas where there are fragile relations among some groups.  We need to use different applied social psychology theories in social media in its many forms to promote peace and acceptances of our differences.  Social dominance theory as suggested in this lesson, (PSU, 2013) "may be the best way to reduce conflict."  We need to start seeing our intergroup relationship as members of our planet earth and start brainstorming ideas on finding solutions for the problems we have caused.  Many of those problems are from different forms of prejudices and racism that have caused conflicts that have adversely affected our planet.  If comes down to social dominance theory because of a catastrophic event that forces the different races and nations to unit for a common goal it might be to late.  Prejudice and racism will no longer seem like such a great divide at that point.  Let's hope it doesn't come down to that to make people put aside their differences.




PSU, (2013); Psyc424:  Applied Social Psychology, Lesson 6: Intergroup Relations


Diversity in Applied Social Psychology

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When people say racism or diversity, most people automatically jump to the assumption of skin color.  Most people do not think of cultural racism, which is alive and well here in the United States.  I'm not necessarily talking about cultural group relationships, but more of State vs. State culture -- or, to look at an issue close to my heart: North vs. South.

I'm from one of the poorest states in the country in one of the poorest areas in the country in one of the poorest areas in the state.  I went to a high school with a fourth grade reading level and a very low graduation rate.  But I am fiercely, fiercely proud of being Southern.  I am also offended when people not from the South (I won't use Yankee because that's just as negative a term) look at me like I'm stupid because I'm from South Carolina.

I married a man from Ohio, and the first time his family met me, they were stunned.  I'm eloquent, intelligent, and I lived in a site-built home!  They were constantly trying to get me to say "y'all" or "ain't" or to say something that would indicate how ignorant the stereotypical Southerner is.  The common perception of us doesn't help our image.  In the most recent Miss America pageant, the contestant for South Carolina introduced herself with a startling statistic: almost 20% of the homes in South Carolina are mobile homes (Bestler, 2013).

Why is that certain statistic negative?  When you dig deep enough into any state, you can find negative and positive.   Illinois has the highest rate of robbery, Maine has the lowest SAT scores, and California has the most air pollution (Miles, 2013).   When we look at different cultures than our own, we always seem to focus on the negative aspect rather than the positive?

Every group, every culture, every race -- we can all learn from each other.  Sure, there are things to embrace about being different, and the difference is what makes everything work the way that it is supposed to.  Instead of always focusing on negativity and stereotypes, working to protect ourselves -- we should begin learning and changing and opening our minds to embrace everything around us.


Bestler, B. (2013, September 20). Miss South Carolina mobile home comment reinforces stereotype of state. The Sun News. Retrieved from
Miles, C. (2013, September). What is the most screwed up thing about your state? Check this chart. Policymic. Retrieved from

Diversity Today

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It is no surprise to us that cultural diversity exists throughout society, it always has and always will.  The amount of cultural diversity that we experience has increased over time.  Each generation we have come to know has had their own view and attitudes towards their beliefs, values, norms, and behaviors.  What is acceptable in society today was almost unheard of a couple generations today.  The way we communicate has changed drastically and almost negatively I would say.  No longer do we need to communicate at a personal level we now more often than not communicate through technology to get our ideas and opinions across.  This fact means that people are less shy about expressing their opinions due to the fact that they are not forced to state their opinion facing those who they are expressing it to.  It is very simple to state an opinion through social media without feeling the effects it takes on those that read it.  This all turns into an increase in cultural diversity.

Where we live plays a key role in the amount of diversity we experience in our everyday lives, also how willing we are to accept those out of our comfort zone.  We are all dispersed into different communities such as urban, suburban and rural areas.  Cultural diversity is no stranger to each of these different types of communities, because each community has a different perception of what is considered "normal."  While many urban societies are more accepting of abnormal behaviors, rural societies have more traditional views on what they consider appropriate behavior.  None of these opinions are actually wrong so why are we so unaccepting of "different"? 

Another way people come onto conflict when it comes to diversity is our views on women and men.  While some societies believe still that a women's place is at home taking care of the family and the man brings home the income, this view is becoming less and less consistent today.  This causes cultural diversity among people because women are now becoming more independent, marrying and starting a family late in life, and some even making a larger income then men.  While some embrace this change others frown upon it.

No matter what culture we live in, there is one way to decrease cultural diversity as we go.  Communication and similarities have always brought people together no matter what their differences.  By interacting with those that are considered "different" when it comes to their way of life we can observe what it is that we may have in common with them and become more accepting.  It is a guarantee that there will be some views that we do not agree on but instead of shying away form this person because of it, it is good to take in interest in each other's differences.  By doing this we limit the diversity and also learn something new.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology:Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Los Angeles: Sage.

Juror Bias and the Trayvon Martin Case

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By now, everyone in America has heard the outcome of the George Zimmerman trial, also commonly referred to as the Trayvon Martin case. This case is important to a lot of people because of the nature of Trayvon's death: he was only 17 years old, he was unarmed, and he was shot to death at point-blank range by Zimmerman, who had followed him through a Florida housing complex. Martin was also, as the media underscored heavily: a young, Black male. Zimmerman, though his name suggests so, was not White, but nevertheless, the Trayvon Martin case was incredibly racially-charged. For that reason alone, this case will no doubt be explored in-depth by many social scientists. However, as recent events relating to Juror B37 have brought up the pervasive nature of racial prejudice in our justice system; it is probable that social scientists may also discuss the case in the context of juror bias. 

The jury process -our truest exercise in self-governance- is of the utmost importance to both our justice system and democracy as a whole. According to Vidmar and Hans (2007) :

"Juries are supposed to serve a number of important functions. Formally their task is to engage in sound fact finding from the evidence produced at trial. However, juries are also supposed to represent the various views of the community, serve as a political body, and, through rendering of fair and just verdicts, provide legitimacy for the legal system. A jury that is not representative of the community is likely to fail in these functions." (p. 14)

No matter what the public opinion of George Zimmerman may be, the task of determining his verdict was in the hands of 6 jurors, who ultimately found him 'not guilty'. That said, and with all due respect to the jury process, we still can and should question whether justice was in fact served, and more importantly, what the jury's decision reflects about deeper societal issues implicated in this case. And, by "deeper societal issues", I mean race

In discussing race and racism, we need to understand and admit to the simple fact that bias can be, and often is, implicit. Implicit racial attitudes have been linked to a number of non-verbal and para-verbal behaviors such as less friendly facial expression, limited eye contact, decreased speaking time, and more speech errors and hesitation (Stepanikova, Triplett & Simpson, 2011). Moreover, is that these behaviors are generally considered unintentional and are relatively difficult to consciously control (Stepanikova, Triplett & Simpson, 2011).

"I don't think it's really racial. I think it's just everyday life, the type of life that they live, and how they're living, in the environment that they're living in."

- Juror B37 (A. Cooper, 2013)

Some, including Juror B37, contend that race had nothing to do with Martin's shooting. This is clearly debateable, but whether or not race had anything to do with Zimmerman's acquittal is something that we, as citizens and potential jurors ourselves, should be interested in. Given that the juror panel was composed of 6 women, all of whom -with the exception of Juror B29- are presumed to be White, racial diversity within jury groups is worth discussing as well.


A study evaluating the effects of racial diversity within jury groups found that even setting aside the effectiveness of the jury selection process -or what the legal field refers to as voir dire- in identifying biased jurors, a discussion of race and bias during this process "may influence prospective jurors by reminding them of the importance of rendering judgments free from prejudice" ( Salience of racial bias among potential jurors during the jury selection process may impede upon honesty and objectivity. In other words, when jurors are reminded of the issue of race while they are being interviewed, they may unintentionally (or purposefully) deny any inclination toward racial bias. According to Shelton, West and Trail (2012) "although Whites may unconsciously behave in a prejudiced manner, most consciously deny any ill intent and are against unfair treatment of minority groups. Nevertheless, they are aware that their actions and inactions may be perceived as prejudiced and thus, for either internal (e.g. personal values) or external (e.g. societal norms) reasons they are motivated not to behave in a prejudices manner in public settings" (p. 330).

This (either conscious or unconscious) disregard to the pervasive nature of bias is frightening because of the fact that many of our societal decisions -such as jury process- are critical in the context of racial inequalities. Because individuals are often unaware of their implicit biases (or, are ashamed of admitting to them), they may not be cognizant of the extent to which these biases influence their decisions (Shelton, West & Trail, 2012). 

Accordingly, in all arenas of society, we must confront race, admit that racism still exists and discuss how it plays out in all of our interactions. We can only hope that Trayvon Martin's legacy is that we, as a society, began probing this issue because of what happened to him. In turn, we can hope that George Zimmerman too, will be a symbol to us all, of how absolutely imperative it is for us to be mindful of our biases - because we all know that in order to solve a problem you first have to admit you have one.



Exclusive Interview With Juror B-37 [Interview by A. Cooper]. (2013, July 15). Anderson 360 Transcripts: Exclusive Interview With Juror B-37.

Shelton, J. N., West, T. V., & Trail, T. E. (2010). Concerns about appearing prejudiced: Implications for anxiety during daily interracial interactions. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 13(3), 329-344. doi: 10.1177/1368430209344869

Stepanikova, I., Triplett, J., & Simpson, B. (2011). Implicit racial bias and prosocial behavior. Social Science Research. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2011.02.004

Vidmar, N., & Hans, V. P. (2007). American juries: The verdict (16, 66). Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.


Walking in Another Man's Moccasins

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There was a plaque in my church, where I attended as a child. It was an Algonquin Native American prayer. It read:" Oh Great Sprit, grant that I may not judge my neighbor, before I have walked for a day in his moccasins."  This gave reason for me to ponder about the relationship between the Algonquin man who spoke this prayer and his neighbor. The two men must have had similar lives. They were of the same tribe and probably shared distant relatives. They probably fought the same competing tribes for land against their common enemies. Yet, the author of the prayer asked for the restraint not to judge someone very similar to him without knowing even more about the other.      

This prayer reflects an intuition the Algonquin Native American had about himself and his neighbor. Judging oneself and one's neighbor has its risks. One is at risk of overestimating oneself for positive attributes and underestimating oneself for negative attributes. Conversely, one is also at risk for overestimating their neighbor's negative attributes and underestimating their neighbor's positive attributes. This might have come intuitively for an Algonquin man who had lived enough years to make this observation. Theoretical understanding of common events is not necessary to observe the relationship between one event and another. After all, it was the Algonquians that observed that drinking boiled willow bark tea reduced mild pain, fever and mild swelling. Later, Joseph Bayer would identify the willow bark as containing salicylic acid (common aspirin). 

The Algonquin and Joseph Bayer observed the same phenomenon concerning the willow bark but had a different cultural perspective on their observations. Similarly, the Algonquin asked his Great Spirit to grant him that he not judge until he had been in another's moccasins.  Today's social psychologist describes the same situation but has a different cultural perspective. Both the Algonquin and the social psychologist are describing similar, if not identical, paradigms. 

Social psychologists know that individuals emphasize situational attribution in evaluation of their own actions while emphasizing fundamental attributions in evaluating the actions of others. Situational attribution is the tendency for individuals to evaluate their unpleasant social behaviors to situational causes; however when they evaluate the unpleasant social behaviors of others, they attribute it to a fundamental flaw in character (fundamental attribution error). The Algonquin's cultural perspective shared the appreciation that things would be view differently from another's moccasins

As both the Algonquin and the psychologist observe their own failings, they are inclined to blame the situational circumstances. Neither is inclined to blame their basic personality flaws for momentary inconsiderate behavior. But as human beings, both are inclined to perceive the same failings in others as caused by fundamental character flaws. Cultural perspectives are a significant factor in how human beings express their similar observations. In more universal terms, the two are expressing similar observations in two dissimilar manners.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problem. Los Angeles, California : Sage.

Veregge, P. (1999). The History of Medicines. Los Angeles, California: Freeman Publishing.

Young, E. (1946). Algonquin Indian Tales. Boston, Massachusetts: Indy Publishing.

It Takes a Village

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The saying "it takes a village to raise a child" holds true even today. Children need as much guidance, support and encouragement as they can get in order to grow and develop, and reach their full potential. Unfortunately, our educational system is divided and broken, and holds many children back rather than pushing them toward success. This is especially true with regard to social status and ethnic background as bases for judgments.

Education is of the utmost importance. The education system is, as the Lesson 10 notes state, "often the first social interaction for people outside of their can be the first exposure not only to people of diverse ethnic and racial categories, but those with different worldviews as well" (PSU, L10, p.1). This presents a myriad of opportunities to shape our youngest members of society. It is through education that individuals learn not only practical concepts like math and science, but also social skills like sharing, compromise and negotiation, peer influence, group dynamics, racism, bullying, and a host of other prevalent concepts. When we stereotype children and treat them as if they are incapable, inadequate, unlikeable, or unimportant beings, then we damage who they are and who they may become, which can become permanent. However, when we educate them about fairness, kindness, acceptance, and we nurture their skills, encouraging them to be better, we shape them to become more self-sufficient, happier and more confident, just as Jane Elliott demonstrated in "A Class Divided." By educating her third-graders early in their educational careers about the damage of racism and what it feels like to be judged by skin color or ethnicity (in their case eye color), Elliott shaped her students into more fair, potentially open-minded, and accepting individuals, who then shared these ideas with their children (Frontline, 1985).

If children absorb content so easily, imagine how much power we as adults, educators, administrators, parents, siblings, and guardians, hold over who they may become. This power is not to be taken lightly. We have seen the effects of traumatic life experiences, especially concerning children, and how this shapes the person as he or she becomes an adult. Some become mentally ill, others commit crimes or become reclusive, and still others may grow stronger. Now consider the "rags to riches" stories. These often involve an individual who has been beaten down by life, and in many cases, it takes someone who believes in them, who helps them get on their feet and shows them that they are both worthy and capable of success and happiness, to turn their lives around. Granted these stories do not happen everyday, but they are an example of the ability for one person to make a difference such that entire life alteration occur, whether for the good or the bad.

One example demonstrating the importance of and cumulativeness of education is the fact that, "research has shown a link between parental education levels and child outcomes such as educational experience, attainment, and academic achievement[, and] children with more highly educated parents earned higher average reading and mathematics scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) than did children with less-educated parents (U.S. Department of Education 2009, indicators 12 and 13)" (United States Department of Education, 2010). Children's parents' academic attainment plays a role in how they will fair because of the direct effects of poverty, joblessness, inability to help with various subjects, and potential high stress levels that make parents distracted or intolerant.

The most important step is for everyone with an influencing role, such as educators, parents and guardians, administrators and coaches, to take their positions as mentors and role models seriously. Begin with the belief that all children, regardless of ethnicity, are valuable and deserving of a good education. We then must be willing to provide the guidance and support they need, and we must provide this support consistently. It is important that we show them how to behave while encouraging them to be independent people. As demonstrated by the Bobo Doll experiment, children mimic what we do. This can have long-lasting effects, so we have to remain diligent. The fact is, that we are all responsible for shaping the next generation of citizen into the best, brightest, and most compassionate people we can. If we do this, we not only benefit ourselves by creating better adolescents, teens, and young adults, but we also potentially ensure a more successful and safer future.



Frontline (1985). A Class Divided. Retrieved online at:


Penn State University (2012) Psych424: Applied Social Psychology. Lesson 10: Education. Retrieved from


U.S. Dept. of Education: Institute of Education Sciences. (2010). Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from


The Stanford Prison Simulation conducted by Haney, Banks, & Zimbardo in 1973 demonstrated some stark realty about authority and submission. The social roles influenced the behavior of students who were playacting the roles of guards and inmates. Throughout this study, the Orwellian phrase that:" Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" was witnessed by the observers. 


Even after pre-screening of the participants, personality changes started to occur. In relatively short order, the behavior of the prison guards became abusive. The guards were given authority to remove privileges from the inmates. Before long, the mock guards were removing beds from the inmates and locking mock inmates into closets. The study was originally constructed to last a period of fourteen days. In the interest of safety, the study concluded early. The study was terminated after six of the scheduled fourteen days.

The normally mild mannered and courteous students changed in respect to the roles they were playing. The guards became more abusive and the inmates became reacted in kind. The mock inmates bonded together and demonstrated belligerent and hostile behavior. It was disappointing to see how situational variables influence the student's behavior to the negative.

I question to what degree the Stanford University basement experiment reflects what transpires inside America's prisons. It is my impression that the Zimbardo study reflects what happens among well-adjusted university students playacting roles. It does not necessarily reflect what happens when prison employees are working around hardened criminals in a real prison situation.

The differences between role-playing university students and real world prison guards are dramatic. It is doubtful that the students ever feared for their physical safety. Real world prison guards have the second highest on the job death by murder rate of any occupation. Only armed cash transport guards have a higher on the job death rate. The guards are outnumbered sometimes 100 to 1 while on the recreation yards and in the mess halls. Inmate made knives, called shanks, are a constant threat to the guards.

The average guard will be seriously assaulted twice in a 20-year career. Prison guards have a 39% higher suicide rate than the general American population. Prison guards freely admit that inmates control the prison and that rifles in the guard towers are the only element of real control guards possess against the inmates.

Conversely, the inmates are at an uneasy relationship with the guards and other inmates. It is well understood that many inmates in American prisons have mental illness issues. This makes for an uneasy alliance among the inmates themselves. The inmate cannot rely on any guard protection from assaults. 

In the final analysis, it is regretful that otherwise healthy personalities can degrade into abusive ones when given absolute authority. George Orwell's writing seems to have received some verification in the Zimbardo study. This writer cautions against generalizing the Zimbardo study to the realities of penal institutions.

With these observations, it is well to remember that as human beings, we need to make an additional effort to be kind to each other because innate flaws in our makeup.



Irwin, J. (2005). The Warehous Prison: Disposal of The New Dangerous Class. Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing Company.

Orwell, G. (1948). 1984. London: Secker and Warburg.

Progrebin , M. (1999, January 24). Inmate Assaults on Prison Guards Increase. New York Times, p. 13A.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Los Angeles: Sage.







"Words that Change Men's Souls are Softly Spoken, Never Shouted."

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               The notion that loud boisterous speech has a great impact is refuted by the words of Mark Twain:" Words that change men's souls are softly spoken, never shouted.'  I had an unexpected encounter with an unassuming man that taught me this lesson by example. It occurred about eight years ago outside of Idaho Springs, Colorado at a rifle club where my father was a member. Every lesson has a teacher. In this circumstance, the teacher presented himself as was his usual demeanor. He was in the background, a quite unassuming older man.  He was in the middle of his seventh decade, an African American of husky build and quiet demeanor.

                The man was acquainted with my father as they had competed in the same rifle marksmanship matches together. As the time progressed, this man had begun to ask me about what my type of work I was engaged. I was hesitant to answer as I was only employed part time in a menial job although I had been out of high school for years. As I answered his question, I followed up with: "but I am waiting to be called up to begin my basic training in the air force." The older man paused, took a deep breath and began to speak with a thoughtful expression on his face.

                "United States Air Force," he said with a sigh.  "That is something I know something about". The man replied. He offered that his name was Jim, short for James. That he had served in the Air Force. Then he added that his service lasted for twenty years. He began to ask me what I intended to do in the Air Force. I replied I intended to learn a skill and make arrangements to attend college. He inquired about what I knew about air craft. My response must have sounded boisterous, as I rattled off the names of the current Air Force fighter crafts.

                Quietly, he inquired if I knew anything about the 332nd fighter group during World War II. I replied that I did not. He inquired that if I knew of the Curtiss-40 War hawk fighter bomber. Then it dawned on me that this man was a Tuskegee Airman. The Curtiss-40 War hawk fighter bomber was the first craft used by the Tuskegee Airmen. I was no expert on the Air Force, air craft or the Tuskegee Airmen but I knew enough from what he had modestly presented to piece things what he had sparingly revealed. 1.

                I knew that during World War II, the military was racially segregated as was much of the federal government. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African- Americans to be trained as United States military pilots. At that time, there was not air force. Aircraft was a part of the United States Army Air Corps. The Tuskegee Airmen would eventually become most commonly associated with the North AmericanP-51 Mustang. The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to racial discrimination, both within and outside the army. Despite these adversities, they trained and flew with distinction.  2.

                Only when he realized that I had a working knowledge of World War II aircraft, that he became less guarded and revealed that he retired from the Air Force as Major James Harrison.  He described what it was like to board an aircraft for a bombing mission over Germany. The aircraft's motors would start to warm up at about 4:00 AM. As the Tuskegee Airmen would climb to the cockpits, they knew there was a significant possibility that they might not return to their base.

                Over the years that I knew him, I learned many things about honor, bravery and humility.  Although he did not reveal it for some time, I learned that he was among the first group of African American airline pilots hired by United Airlines. He retired after 20 years from second career as a civilian commercial airline pilot.  He passed away late last year. By his humble mannerism he taught me by example. I hold his service and sacrifice in high esteem. I would like to aspire to be as good a man as he was. I am not there yet and I am not certain I ever will get there; he taught me things I could not have learned in books. I remember him with great affection.




Aldemann, J. (2000). Victory at home and abroad: The Tuskegee Airmen Research Project and Seminar. Journal of Aircraft History, 344-351.

Gropman, A. (2007). In Recognition of Their Unique Record: Tuskegee Airmen Awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Air Power History, 46.

Still a Long Way to Go

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Interracial Family

Click the link above to see the video in question.  As many of you all have heard, Cheerios aired a commercial depicting an interracial family--a white mother, black father, and bi-racial child.  In it, the child asks her mom if it's true that Cheerios is good for heart health, to which the mother confirms.  She runs off and we cut to the father who is sleeping on the couch and wakes up to handfuls of Cheerios laid over his heart, having been placed there by his daughter.  It's a cute commercial, to say the least, but when this video made its way to YouTube, that's when something very sad happened.  

In the comments section, despite the many people that saw this commercial as being cute, there were scores of others who blasted the commercial for its depiction.  Apparently, they were upset that, in this day and age, someone would have the audacity to depict an interracial couple onscreen.  The comments displayed just about every type of racism that Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts refer to--blatant racism, aversive racism, and symbolic racism (2012).  It had gotten so bad that Cheerios disabled the comments section on the original video.  

Even though one in 10 opposite sex couples are interracial (Jayson, 2012), apparently this is too much to grasp for some people who feel that people should only marry within their race.  It's definitely compelling evidence that racism is still a thing--although not as overtly widespread as it once was.  

Racism and bigotry and all other forms of hatred are instilled in children by their parents, people aren't born with these feelings.  It's easy to dismiss this as simple Internet trolling, but one should realize that there are millions of interracial families out there that have to deal with this is real life.  Look at the white man who brought his bi-racial kids to Walmart and was reported by a customer who thought the man had kidnapped the children.  The police came to his house and made the kids identify their parents in their own home.  All this, because some person thought that a white man with darker-skinned kids just didn't look "right."  We certainly still have a long way to go.


Jayson, S. (2012, April 26). Census shows big jump in interracial couples. USA Today. Retrieved from

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.  

The Unrealized Beauty of Different

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At its most basic level, diversity is simply "different," and the fact is, everything and everyone is different. Differences are natural occurrences that make life interesting and keep it functioning. Homogeneity does not truly allow us to grow. There are various types of diversity, including cultural, ethnic, and class, and unfortunately in the United States and around the world, every type can be observed.

America is the land of cultural, ethnic and class diversity. As the textbook states, "cultural diversity is increasingly a part of all of our lives" (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2011, p. 325). With regard to ethnic diversity, just walk down the street and you will encounter French, German, British, Indian, Latino, and people from every state, all in one place. The amount of cultural difference between us in fascinating. It is easy to hear the many languages and observe the many cultures expressed and shared by these various groups. One benefit is that it teaches people to be more aware. Through exposure we can often reduce some of the effects of living in a homogenous, closed community, which include intolerance and prejudice. Other benefits include active learning in the sense that we have the opportunity to experience firsthand the cultures that we are often taught about in school. Additionally, this opens us up to new experiences that we would not previously had the chance to encounter.

Sadly, intolerance to diversity is rampant in the United States. This can be observed, for example, regarding the spike in KKK membership after the election of President Obama, or the hateful comments that you can read freely due to the Internet (just look at comments on any number of AOL news stories or YouTube videos). It is also evident in schools and the work place. Regarding personal diversity, the disparity between the salaries of men and women, and White and Black (ethnic diversity), are astonishing. My Women's Studies class is fraught with information and statistics showcasing the growing distance between these groups. First, there is occupational segregation by gender (the types of jobs men and women do), then vertical segregation (based on sexism and racism and separates men and women within jobs) (Shaw & Lee, 2010, pp. 406-409). The following are some truly shocking statistics: based on a 2007 report from the Institute for Policy Studies non-managerial positions bring in  about $40,000/year compared to CEO's who earn about $10.8 million/year; for every $1 a man earns, a women earns about $0.77, and this further decreased for Black women who bring in only 67% of men's earnings and 62% of White men's earnings. This decreases again when talking about Latinas, who earn 58% of men's earnings and only 53% of white men's earnings. Asian American women do much better in the comparison to men's salaries, however, bringing in 90% and 82%, respectively (Shaw & Lee, 2010, p. 412).

These figures show just how much we as Americans, do not fully support and value diversity. We are very hierarchical, and give every group a value, traditionally determined by the majority white male class. These values unfortunately have stuck over many years, and despite great improvements--especially with major events like the Civil Rights movement and the work done by Feminists, for example--we still have such a long way to go.

What seems to be missing is the understanding that being different is a wonderful thing. We are lucky to be able to experience variety and to learn how to cooperate and work together. We are fortunate to be able to fall in love with people from different ends of the Earth. We do not have to live in the Pleasantville world any longer and why would we want to? Unrealized beauty in our differences causes unnecessary strife, violence, conflict, and reduces the quality of life for many of our world's people. The unrealized beauty of different also increases bitterness, hostility, and unfriendliness (which we can sadly see in our everyday interactions with various people). Creating equal opportunities and allowing our differences to make us better, makes everyone better. It has the potential to increase what we can accomplish as humans, and to improve the quality of life for all people. This fear that inclusion takes from someone so that another may succeed is unfounded. America has enough money and resources, that if shared and managed efficiently, can support all of its citizens (and probably several other countries). We have to wake up and realize that everyone was brought into this world as a human being with great potential, and helping everyone achieve this potential only makes us stronger.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.


Shaw, S. and Lee, J. (2012) Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings (5th Edition) New York: McGraw Hill.

American Diversity and Communities

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In the United States and many other countries around the world, immigration and diversity create an interesting dynamic.  Largely, we agree that diversity is a good thing.  Eroding the hard lines between ethnicities and communities should help decrease conflict, prejudice, and benefit society as a whole.  Studies have shown that greater levels of diversity and immigration positively impact the income of native-born citizens in those regions (Putnam, 2007).  Further, the United States has an age demographics issue that may well require more diversity through immigration, as the Baby Boomer generation continues their march into retirement.  Diversity even enriches our culture, through exposure to ingredients, food, attitudes, music, and traditions we can ultimately assimilate into the melting pot that is America.  So we all agree that diversity is good...even great.  Right? 

Most studies of diversity and conflict focus on the ways contact affect the relationship between the in-group and out-group.  Does contact ultimately reduce conflict or harden in-group/out-group attitudes?  What factors can be manipulated to best reduce conflict or prejudicial attitudes between the in-group and out-group?  Fewer studies have focused on real-world diversity and its effect on communities.  Robert Putnam conducted a large scale study of 30,000 Americans around the country to determine the impacts of community diversity on their attitudes or behaviors in the short and mid-term (Putnam, 2007).  So, did diversity strengthen communities and positively impact relationships between in-groups and out-groups, or harden associations within in-groups and out-groups, creating a more contentious divide?  The answer, according to Putnam, is neither.

The study, controversial for its findings more so than its methods, found that diversity had a chilling effect on communities and reduced overall social capital- the strength of the social network (Portes, 1998).  This "hunkering down" effect was extremely pervasive (Putnam, 2007).  The more diverse the communities were, the less likely they were to vote, volunteer, or give to charity.  Nearly across the board, higher levels of diversity were associated with less civic and prosocial behavior.  The study also found diverse communities were far less likely to trust their neighbors than those in more racially/ethnically homogenous communities.  Perhaps most interesting, the data revealed that those in diverse communities were less likely to trust members of their own race/ethnicity, as well.

The results of this study will likely be picked apart, analyzed, and debated for a long time.  The findings aren't so much counterintuitive as puzzling.  While near-term answers will be in short supply, findings like this may force us to reevaluate how community intergroup attitudes and conflict are best resolved under natural conditions as well as the best way to facilitate those desirable conditions.  As Putnam wisely points out, social-bridging (connections with out-groups) and social bonding (connections with in-groups) aren't mutually exclusive propositions (2007).  We've seen them operate in concert within the brief history of the United States, as ethnic and cultural identities have grown into almost inseparable elements of our American cultural fabric (think pizza, bagels, or St. Patrick's Day).  As time marches on, we know these lines blur and the question becomes whether time is the only variable that matters.  In either case, the findings of this study will fuel debate and more research, which is a good thing.  The more we study these relationships (even when the findings are uncomfortable), the better we can understand intergroup attitudes and the best ways to strengthen connections between people.



Portes, A. (1998). Social Capital: Its Origins And Applications In Modern Sociology. Annual Review of Sociology,24(1), 1-24.

Putnam, R. D. (2007). E Pluribus Unum: Diversity And Community In The Twenty-first Century The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture. Scandinavian Political Studies,30(2), 137-174.

Tolerance for Diversity

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           A vast majority of people perceive ethnic diversity as positive, yet it seems that some prejudice and stereotypes persist. In fact, even children are susceptible to utter demeaning and hurtful comments on the basis of ethic background and more precisely skin color, as it was the case in the incident that I am going to talk about. My son is now 7 years old but last year when he was in preschool, he was deeply affected by a comment that some of his friends made. It turned out that some children had noticed my son's darker skin color which stems from his father who is from Costa Rica. Unfortunately, they hadn't simply noticed the darker skin color but they also used it against him and started making fun of him. They told him that his skin color resembled the color of excrement and he felt humiliated, and was concerned that there might be something wrong with him. Of course he came home that day really sad and asked me whether he was different and if so, why was he different. He compared himself to his brother and sister whose skin complexion is rather white and concluded that he must be different. I jumped on the occasion to make a little lecture about genetics and skin pigmentation and brought up the subject of diversity. I explained that diversity is great and that differences are part of our strengths not our weaknesses. Deep inside of me though I was sadden and shocked that my child had to go through that experience and felt rejected on the premise of his skin color, which by the way is beautiful and makes him look gorgeous and exotic.

            That being said, I was thinking about the different forms of racism tackled in the textbook and wondered in which category this event would fit. It seems to me that this was a very overt form of racism thus would be considered blatant racism, in that his skin color was supposed to dissimulate that he was less of a person. Therefore, this comment illustrates an obvious segregation and differential treatment based on skin color (Schneider, Gruman and Coutts, 2012). Yet, one should not omit that in this situation we were dealing with children and we cannot blame them. Plus, it is hard to believe that the comment originated from real bad intentions. Instead, we could turn our attention to the parents and question whether such forms of racism may come from parents. Could such negative comments be the consequences of aversive racism, a more subtle and implicit form of racism? In this form of racism the racist attitudes are not conscious (Nelson, 2002). Maybe children observe and register these implicit attitudes and imitate their parents thus render the racism more overt. Or maybe the comment is a negative byproduct of the tendency to categorize people. Indeed, according to research stereotypes may arise from our need to organize the world around us because as Allport (1954) states the world is just too complicated for us to have a differentiated attitude about everything (Aronson, Wilson & Akert, 2010). Schneider and colleagues (2012) actually describe an intervention that is meant to help children decategorize others because categorization may negatively impact the perception of group differences and create problems. This interesting intervention designed by Jones and Foley (2003) targets those same categorizations and encourages children to place more importance on similarities than on differences. The intervention comprises a presentation on various topics such as anthropology, biology and the idea of melting pot. The study's findings support the efficacy of such an intervention in combating prejudice in children.

            In fact, after this incident I went to talk to my son's teacher and told her what happened. She understood the reasons for my distress and took my son's preoccupations seriously. She asserted me that the next day she would talk to all the children in the class and discuss diversity with them. My son told me that the next day his teacher asked all of the kids to ask their parents where they were from and if they had family members who spoke different languages and were born in another country. It turned out that almost every family had ancestors from various origins. After some thoughts, I realized that my son's teacher did something similar to Jones and Foley (2003) in that she made children aware of the fact that we all come from different places and we have that in common with others and there is nothing wrong with that. People move a lot in Europe and for example here in Grenoble there are many Italians or families with Italian roots. I strongly believe that such interventions are not only necessary but also effective and should be implemented in schools and as noted by the social psychologists "intervention such as these would be another step forward toward fostering an increased tolerance for diversity" (Schneider et al., 2012).




Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.


Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Akert, R. M. (2010). Social psychology (7th. Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.


Jones L. M., & Foley, L. A. (2003). Educating children to decategorize racial groups. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33, 554-564.


Nelson, T. D. (2002). The psychology of prejudice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication, Inc. 

Is Baseball Racist?

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Is Baseball Racist?

With the recent release of the movie "42" there has been increased scrutiny on the diversity within baseball. The facts are pretty simple, at the conclusion of the 2012 season African Americans made up 8.8% of all players in Major League Baseball. That number is ridiculously low, but does that make baseball racist? The total percentage of minority players was 38.2% with Latino players consisting of 27.3% of all players.

Obviously, there are a lot more white players than minority, but why is this, especially considering that African American player percentage has dropped from 19% in 1986 to just under 9% today. The MLB has created a program called the RBI program, which is geared at getting African American children from inner cities to participate in baseball. The program has been started in over 200 cities and provides more than 200,000 children an opportunity to play baseball/softball annually. So why is there still a disparity?

Bo Porter,  African American manager for the Houston Astros, recently stated that the allure of an immediate jump from amateur ranks to the highest level provided by the NFL and NBA makes baseball less attractive. Also, one of my close friends and African American Major Leaguer LaTroy Hawkins recently said "Baseball has become a sport for the rich" Most of the good players play on select travel leagues, which provide a ton of exposure, which places a lot of inner city kids at risk for not being seen. Also, the RBI program does not get a ton of exposure because a lot of scouts don't want to go to the inner cities to see the kids.

So is baseball racist? It's hard to say because baseball is considered boring by a lot of African American kids. The RBI program started by the MLB has produced several superstars that include C.C. Sebathia, Jimmy Rollins, and Carl Crawford, but the program still does not receive a ton of exposure.  I think MLB as a whole is not racist, but some of the people who make up the scouting departments are if they aren't going to see a player in the RBI program because they don't want to go into inner city Oakland.  MLB has to do more to get more diversity in the game in my opinion.

There are several factors to why there is a lack of African American players in the MLB, but is the MLB being racist or are the kids just not interested in baseball when the NFL and NBA are so alluring?


MLB Community: Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities: Facts. (n.d.). MLB Community: Home: Welcome. Retrieved May 31, 2013, from

Why African-Americans don't play pro baseball - ESPN. (n.d.). ESPN: The Worldwide Leader In Sports. Retrieved May 31, 2013, from

Lapchick, R., Costa, P., Nickerson, B., & Rodriguez, B. (n.d.). The 2012 Racial and Gender Report Card: Major League Baseball. Tides Sports. Retrieved May 31, 2013, from


I have four children, one son and three daughters.  My oldest daughter and I (understand that she is almost 13) are fans of a television show called RuPaul's Drag Race.  For those that are unfamiliar with this show, it features an entertainer named RuPaul.  RuPaul is a drag queen.  The show features contestants that are willing to go through multitudes of challenges to show that they have heart, charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent.  The contests in the drag race are typically gay men that dress and entertain as women.   The show is entertaining and you get a real insight into lives that you might not otherwise encounter.  I feel that for my children to live in the world today that they not only tolerate, but accept that our world is getting smaller with the advent of social media.  We are being exposed to multitudes of cultures and should wake up and realize that people are different and are not going to fit into a tiny little box of stereotyping any longer.  'While the show is entertaining, I make sure that all of my children know that it is okay to be different and that all people are not the same.  They are exposed to all different sorts of diversity and my kids are the kids that don't point out differences in public. 


I feel that for my family, being exposed to diversity at an early age will foster an independent mind and that stereotyping will no longer be relevant.

Teaching children to accept what may be different to them is sometimes hard for society, but if parents want to have children that understand and show empathy towards others, then they need to start at home.  Parents should drop gender biases, and stop teaching children to hate.  Bullying also starts in the home.  When parents teach children that it is okay to make fun of another person due to differences, it fosters hatred. (Hollingsworth, Didelot & Smith, 2003).  

Even children as young as preschool-age can begin to learn the value of diversity; children typically notice differences in those around them, such as physical characteristics, at about age 2.  (Hoover, 2005). Learning about diversity can also affect their social and emotional development. Learning to have respect for others is a lifetime social skill that positively impacts a child's developing sense of self.  Teaching children to respect differences is also a beginning in the prevention of aggressive and violent behavior.

Hollingsworth, Lisa, Didelot, Mary J., Smith, Judith O.  Reach Beyond Tolerance: A Framework for Teaching Children Empathy and Responsibility The Journal of Humanistic Counseling Vol. 42 Issue 2 Pgs 139-151 (2003).

Hoover, LuAnn Early Exposure to Diversity Good For Children Journal of Developmental Psychology (2005).



Getting Along in the Workplace

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Work place efficiency is dependent upon proper hierarchy, communication and mutual respect among coworkers. It is of utmost importance to avoid perceptual biases, improper judgments that you allow to affect your decision-making. A fatal error on those in a position of power is to utilize a selective perception, leading to reprimanding/rewarding some employees more often than other (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). We've all had bad job experiences chock-full of poor communication leading to frustration and resentment among staff. I am currently in a position of three distinct shifts that barely overlap. There is rarely communication other than in the written form and things are often left unmentioned, even if they are particularly important.
Two common errors in perception are the fundamental attritbution bias and the actor-observer difference. In the fundamental attribution bias, we choose to believe that a person's actions are a direct result of their personality flaws, while they tend to be more based upon situational issues. The actor-observer bias implies that we tend to base our successes on our implicit characteristics, while as an observer we tend to attribute successes to the situational factors (Schneider, et al., 2012). Anytime we improperly imply something, downfall is all that can be met.
The importance of communication in the workplace, above all else, is the key to frustration in my workplace. Because the Director and Assistant Director both work the 1st shift, they tend to get the best behavior out of our mental health residents. I work 2nd shift, where most of the inappropriate behavior takes place and we get a lot of "well the Director said we could"s. However, because of our poor communication between shifts, we never heard this from the Director and there is no written word that she would allow such an action. Unfortunately, this comes back down onto us when we say that we have no proof of this permission and then the frustration is a never-ending cycle. Especially in a facility like this, where shifts rotate frequently with barely any time for overlap and discussion, it is of utmost importance to keep communication intact. Unfortunately, we don't, and if documentation is insufficient, things go undealt with.
Because of this frustration, many of my coworkers feel a low level of job satisfaction. In the workplace, hierarchy must be in place, communication and understanding must be utilized, and employee's needs must be met to ensure job satisfaction.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology. Los Angelos: Sage Publications, Inc.

The Boston Marathon isn't just an athletic event -- it's a celebration of our democratic republic.  On the third Monday in April each year, the people of Massachusetts celebrate Patriots' Day with the running of the Boston Marathon. It may seem out of place to mark the anniversary of the American Revolution with an enormous road race. But the Boston Marathon is actually a near-perfect embodiment of the meaning of Patriots' Day.


Long before the word "marathon" meant a road race; it conjured a great battle of antiquity, an outnumbered Athenian army turning back the might of Persia's empire. To America's founding generations, it was no mere military triumph but a pivotal victory. They saw in Athens the birth of liberty, and in its triumph the defense of republican government. American orators frequently invoked the memory of Marathon, linking the citizen-soldiers of Athens with the militiamen who mustered at Lexington and Concord, facing down an empire in defense of republican liberty.


Patriots' Day is a holiday of far more recent vintage than the events it commemorates. Until 1894, the residents of Massachusetts observed Fast Day, a religious occasion of reflection and prayer. By the late nineteenth century, though, Fast Day was "more honored in the breach than in the observance." The early spring holiday came, instead, to mark the opening of the season for field sports and ball games. Eager to end the farce, but careful not to eliminate a cherished day off, Governor Frederic Greenhalge proposed moving the festivities to April 19th and renaming the occasion Patriots' Day. The new holiday would mark the battles of Lexington and Concord, as well as the first bloodshed of the Civil War, as "the anniversary of the birth of liberty and union" (Appelbaum, 2013).


People train for months to run a marathon like Boston.  In most cases, they are driven by something larger than themselves.  For instance a memorial marathon was created after the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.  People might run a marathon to remember a loved one who suffered with cancer.  It's a feeling of great accomplishment to cross over that finish line.  In a way it symbolizes the spirit of this country.  It's a feeling of empowerment and a testament to the goodwill and community spirit.  It brings together the fans as well as the runners.


On Monday, April 15, 2013, two small but powerful bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  No one has claimed responsibility for what authorities have labeled a "terrorist" attack.  Some 175 people were injured, and three people, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed.


In the days since, local state and federal authorities have sought clues to determine who was responsible for the attack. Authorities have determined that at least one bomb was likely built from a pressure cooker, filled with gunpowder as well as nails and BBs to inflict damage.  Many of the injured received wounds to their lower bodies, which caused the loss of feet and legs (Goldman, 2013). 




Secretary of State John Kerry, who represented Massachusetts in the United States Senate for 28 years, was overcome with emotion when he spoke on Wednesday about the victims of Monday's bombings at the Boston Marathon.  He said that Patriots' Day, normally a happy time, had turned into "bloody mayhem." Then he said, "Boston is not going to be intimidated by this" (The Lede, 2013).


Some people constantly complain that the government is becoming too "big brother" by installing surveillance cameras on the streets, but does the government have a choice?  If it helps bring criminals to justice, then that's what should be done.  The authorities will sort through video to identify the facial image in order to capture the monster who felt the need to kill and injure people who were merely trying to support family and friends running in a marathon. When will it stop? Has it reached a point where we are afraid to be in a crowd of people?   Somehow, we need to find these terrorists who insist on needlessly killing and injuring innocent victims!  This act of terror was obviously carried out on Patriot's Day to send a message to the United States. I hope we can continue to pull together as a nation, track down, and convict those responsible.


Where is the empathy of these killers?  What is missing in their lives that they feel it is ok to kill innocent people in the way that they have?  Does empathy, which forms impressions or attributions, serve as a better predictor in other people's behavior?  We still do not know if the older brother influenced the younger brother to help carry out this attack but if even so, where is the empathy in the younger brother?  Impressions are dangerous but the lack of empathy for a fellow human being is more dangerous when predicting human behavior.




Appelbaum, Y. 2013. The History of the Boston Marathon:  A Perfect Way to Celebrate Patriot's Day. The Atlantic.  Retrieved from:


Goldman, R. 2013. LIVE UPDATES:  Boston Marathon Bombing, Day 3. ABC News.  Retrieved from:  


The Lede. 2013.  April 17 Updates on the Aftermath of Boston Marathon Expolsions. Retrieved from:

Racism in the Business World

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The wholesale distributor for whom I work recently purchased several locations in the South Carolina market. Our home base, and the majority of our locations (12 of 15) are located in Florida, where I work as an area manager in the Orlando market. Several employees, including myself, were asked to attend a sales blitz in the company's newly acquired Charleston, South Carolina market. Seven Florida area managers descended upon the Charleston market, breaking up into four, two-man teams (I was paired with the Charleston area manager) in an attempt to visit 150 customers over a two-day period. The objective of the sales blitz was to inform the customers of the recent acquisition, how this would impact the Charleston market, learn more about the customers and how we could better serve them, and finally, promote an open house that was about one week away.


As each team went into their respective areas, it quickly became apparent that many of the customers were wary of the presence of the Florida area managers. At one point, one of the customers asked where I was visiting from, and when I replied, Orlando, he stated I was a "Florida Yankee Jew". When I asked what he meant by that, he gave me an explanation that indicated he believed all people who lived in Orlando were from Brooklyn, New York. Because Brooklyn is an area with a large Jewish population and is located north of the Mason-Dixon Line, I was a "Florida Yankee Jew". The customer indicated he didn't like Yankees and didn't trust Jewish people (It should be noted, I am neither Jewish, nor have I ever lived in any part of New York). I have to admit, I was more than a little surprised to see someone, especially a prominent businessman, display this level of discord with a person because of his or her possible ethnic or demographic background. According to Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012), this is an example of racism; "bias against an individual or group of individuals based on the individual's or group members' race/ethnicity" (p. 333).


My experience with this person left me thinking about the amount of work that remains in order to eliminate racism and provide equal opportunity for people of different backgrounds. While Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012) indicate education programs aimed at bringing awareness to diversity have been successful with student targets, the question remains; how does one reach a person such as this business owner? Perhaps the state should require individuals who are seeking a business license to complete diversity training. Observing the effectiveness of the training may prove to be difficult however, as most individuals are not likely to report themselves as being racist or biased towards others. One possible measure that could be utilized is analyzing the backgrounds of the business owner's employees. Unfortunately, this brings another set of challenges. If for instance, a business owner is lacking cultural diversity within his or her organization, an argument could be made that they simply hired the most qualified person that was available at that time. The sad truth however, is that racism and bias towards other people still exists and our country has a long way to go in eliminating these attitudes from society.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (Eds.). (2012). Applied social psychology:Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks, CA:SAGE Publications, Inc.

"Mom! Jacob is playing with my Barbies again!"

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The-Boy-Liked-to-Play-Dolls.jpgFitlya (2012). 


            Whether the average American realizes it or not, western culture is saturated with gender definitions. They can be found anywhere: in the media, work settings, clothing trends, home décor, certain foods or beverages and children's toys, just to name a few. Men and women are even labeled with specific, discriminatory personality traits, such as aggressive and dominant, or affectionate and emotional (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012). While these types of gender-specific orientations are valued in terms of roles, social norms and as a means to individuality, they also guide American culture towards less-diverse views on sexuality specifically aimed at our children.

            The population which is most influenced by the benefits of diversity is also the one that is most limited by it: the one comprised of children, to which their cultural environment will raise them according to certain values, beliefs, ideas and traditions. Yet, despite their vulnerability and their eagerness to learn, society can often limit the diversity children experience, especially within their gender identities. Gender is defined as the social or learned characteristics that are associated with being male or female (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012) and these characteristics, beliefs and perceptions the child learns will be carried throughout a lifetime. This is why it is very important to teach children diversity, acceptance, and tolerance towards sexual and gender differences early on.

            In western culture, there tends to be a focus on the differences between male and female rather than a focus on the similarities the two share. One response that often manifests in the wake of these differences is sexism, which is the differential, and often detrimental, treatment of a person based on that person's sex (Schneider et. al., 2012). Sexist attitudes often stem from a culture's gender roles and are usually negative, demeaning and limiting to society. Have you ever heard someone say that women are bad drivers? Or that a man's work is in the office and a woman's work is in the kitchen? These are the types of uniform ideals that children without gender diversity are likely to grow up in and discriminate against.

            Now, despite these limitations, America's children can be set free. By creating a functionally diverse culture for them, our children will learn that both men and women have strengths and talents that should be appreciated and valued. Believe it or not, a young boy playing with a girl toy, or vise verse, will not have the negative effects parents may think it will. In fact, it will give that child useful experiences, perspectives and insights about the world around them. In addition, functional diversity will enhance both genders' abilities to be innovative and creative when working together (Schneider et. al., 2012). In one experiment, it was found that more creative solutions to problems emerged when both men and women worked together, in opposition to just men or just women (Schruijer &Mostert, 1997). In addition, diversity just may increase the psychological well-being of children if they trust that they are in a respectful environment and can freely express their thoughts and opinions about sexuality and gender issues without being judged or punished.

            If for nothing else, creating a diverse culture will fulfill a children's need to explore. They will better find what they like and what they find interesting, regardless of what that may be. This will be especially useful as they enter into adolescence; a time when sexuality is highly explored and any emerging homosexuality will be greeted with differential treatment and discrimination.

Diversity in American culture should be fundamental for children to gain a better understanding and confidence in their sense of self with less fear of being punished or treated differently. In return, our children will be able to respect others that may be different from themselves. Teaching children to appreciate and encourage gender differences could go as far as reducing sexual discrimination and stereotypes, overall increasing the enjoyment of a child's experiences as he or she matures into adulthood. They will have stronger interpersonal relationships and, needless to say, they will be set up for a better future.


Fitlya (2012). The boy liked to play with dolls? [Photograph]. Retrieved February 17, 2013 from:

Schneider, F., Gruman, J. & Couuts, L. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Schruijer, S. G. L., & Mostert, I. (1997). Creativity and sex compostition: An experimental illustration. European Journal of Work & Organizational Psychology Special Issue: Group Diversity, 62(2), 175-182.


Us Against Them: The Day the Squirrels had no Say

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This week while I read about diversity and group conflict in my applied social psychology class, unbeknownst to me, a real life group conflict was happening amongst my own community and individuals and groups from around the country.  The dilemma supposedly began over sport hunting squirrels and quickly escalated to threats of violence and blatant cultural disrespect.  As doomsday for the squirrels loomed closer each side attempted to force the other side to see the value in their opinions.  Squirrel pro-lifers painted pictures of every member of our community meandering around the center of town carrying shot guns with our hillbilly gun slinging children in tow, shooting at squirrels as they approached us begging for food.  They called the residents of Holley, NY disgusting individuals who do disgusting things and even stated that we are all "breeding serial killers" (Jones, 2013).  I have lived in Holley for 9 years and although I had never heard of the Squirrel Slam, I can tell you that I have never seen a single individual walk through the center of town carrying anything resembling a shotgun.  Squirrel Slam evolved into an "us against them" event that involved threatening the lives of our community members. 

protestors.jpgInitially I couldn't figure out how sport hunting could evolve into members of the SWAT team having to spend considerable amounts of time in our tiny one-light village.  In no time I realized what the underlying problem was.  Although the premeditated death of squirrels played a role in the problem, the underlying issues involved something deeper and more profound--a need to understand how violence occurs and a need to eradicate violence in an effort to feel safe in the world.  It was fear and cultural misunderstandings that led to massive doses of intolerance and stereotyping over the Squirrel Slam.  The recent school shootings in Connecticut were constantly mentioned along with disgust over children bearing arms to engage in killing for fun.  To make matters worse, in the eyes of many, the very people who are sworn to protect us from harm were sponsoring the event.


According to Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts (2012) conflict occurs when individuals or groups perceive an incompatibility of interests that arise from differences in values, attitudes, and/or behaviors (339).  Some conflicts can be beneficial and may even bring about change or understanding but only if the lines of communication stay open and all parties remain respectful.  This did not occur during the days leading up to the Squirrel Slam.  Instead, discrimination occurred on a national level due to the internet and media.  This only proved to further the divide between those for and those against the Squirrel Slam.  By focusing on Holley as a whole, group differences were greatly exaggerated thereby increasing the conflict.  What in reality may have been only 50 hunters was portrayed as being every individual in the community killing every squirrel that they saw.  The individuals who were strongly against the event exaggerated their own group membership to be everyone but the members of the Holley community.  This created an "us against them" mentality (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, p. 340). 


The cultural differences have caused each group to only view their differences rather than their similarities.  Do members of the Holley community who engage in hunting and the Squirrel Run feel that these events lead to serial murders?  They probably do not.  But, if each group were to calmly sit down and discuss the underlying issue for the protestors (aside from sport hunting) they would be surprised to find that they share a considerable amount of things in common.  Shalom Schwartz developed a theoretical framework that is used to understand value systems and how individuals use these value systems to understand the world around them.  If the groups for and against squirrel hunting sat down and discussed their core values, they would more than likely be surprised at how many they share.  Once groups understand that they are more alike than they are different the lines of communication can begin to open up and conflicts can be worked through (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012, p. 329). 


My community is rural with a varied group of individuals.  Hunting is an important aspect of many of the residents' lives.  Hunting is a part of both their social identity and their personal identity.  They are hunters and they hunt.  These same individuals also have concerns about the chaos in the world; share in the fears that one day a murderer could come to our schools and kill our children, and ask how we as citizens can avoid tragic events from happening.  Cultural differences don't make individuals monsters, but stereotyping certainly makes individuals sound like monsters (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012, p. 340).   



Jones, T. (2013).  Squirrel shoot fund-raiser in New York town goes on despite protests.  Los Angeles Times.  Retrieved from,0,5393261.story

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012).  Applied social psychology:  Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.).  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage Publications, Inc.



Diversity can lead to Justice for all

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            It seems like diversity is all around in today's world. This diversity seems to be a blend of race, religions, Immigration, Ironically, America was build on diversity. We are and always have been a blend of different cultures . It is what made who we are today. So what's the problem with us?

            Tolerator's tend to believe that everyone has a right to be different. Celebrator's see differences as an advantage verses a disadvantage. Actuality diversity still tends to be a struggle (Convey pp.184-185). According to the contradictory value system, some people feel segregated and deprived African Americans as a problem others believe a mix of races as a real problem. Basically people fear an integrated society that could lack strength (Lauer, Lauer.  p.239).

            Following this further, some believe the social structure causes such as the media tend to portray minorities as negative stereotypes (Lauer,  p.240). In apply social psychology to the problem of diversity among different cultures. Diversity if used in a proper way can add positive insight to society whether it be positive or negative impact on group behavior. The effects can involve areas of prejudice, discrimination and sadly conflict (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts  P.347).

            Goals need to involve helping society to cope. These coping skills are through education, through workshops, and  discussion groups. We need to learn attitudes and skills about respecting all cultures. After all America is a nation built on diversity. We came together by accepting other nations. We proved that we can make it work for liberty and justice for all.



Convey, Sean. 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. pp.184-185

Lauer, Robert, H., Lauer, Jeanetter. C., (2006). Social problems and the Quality of life. 10th ed.

            McGraw-Hill. pp. 239-240

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology:

            Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks,

            CA: Sage Publications. P.347             

Breaking through gender stereotypes

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In my previous blog entry (Smith, 2013), theories derived from social psychology were assessed as means to reduce the stigmas surrounding mental healthcare and increase the likelihood that those in need of care will look for it. Specifically, the changing of stereotyped attitudes towards those with mental health issues was discussed. But the application of these stereotype reducing practices to other areas, like those surrounding gender diversity, can be just as significant.  To understand how theories from social psychology can be used to reduce stereotypes this entry will look at how girls have been stereotyped at being bad at math and the ways that these stereotypes can be changed.

Gender diversity.png

(Image courtesy of

While some people may laugh at the above comic, what it represents is a clear case of gender stereotyping. Gender in this case refers to the "social or learned characteristics that are associated with being male or female" and a bias resulting from gender stereotyping is commonly referred to as sexism (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). In this case, the statement "girls suck at math" in the comic is a perfect example of negative sexism and is one way in which this bias can be acted upon. Like many stereotypes, this bias is not founded on any actual fact.

Focused attention on reducing the gender gap in performance on tests measuring mathematical abilities has resulted in girls achieving nearly similar scores to boys (Siegler, DeLoache, & Eisenberg, 2011, p. 609). This research helps to show that the commonly held belief that girls are bad at math is simply not true.  Unfortunately, these stereotypes are often held not only by peers, but by the parents and teachers that have a direct impact on the development of the girl and her attitude towards math (Gunderson, Ramirez, Levine, & Beilock, 2012).

These stereotypes are then transmitted to the girl from the parents and teachers who may then assimilate them to her own world view. Once these stereotypes are accepted, girls have been shown to fall victim to the problem of stereotype threats (Shapiro & Williams, 2012; Tomasetto, Alparone, & Cadino, 2011). When this happens the fear that a behavior will verify the stereotype leads to nervousness which may in turn lead to distraction and acting out the stereotype, even if the person would not normally act in such a way. In the example stereotype of girls being bad at math, a girl fearing that she may do poorly on a math test and verify the stereotype of girls being bad at math may show decreased performance due to the anxiety from the fear even if she normally is mathematically competent.

In order to prevent the stereotype threat from having such a profound effect specific interventions have been developed. Gender equity training that targets specific classroom behavior for teachers can be used to help reduce these gender stereotypes (Jones, Evans, Byrd, & Campbell, 2000). Or interventions which blur intergroup boundaries and focused on shared gender characteristics have been shown to reduce stereotype threats (Rosenthal & Crisp, 2006).


(Image courtesy of FemChat blog)

In summary, social psychological theories can be used to understand stereotypes and the biases derived from them. The specific gender bias of girls being bad at math was looked at through this psychological lens. A potential source of the problems relating to this bias, stereotypes threats, as well as the source of the perpetuation of these stereotypes, parents and teachers, was explained using social psychological concepts. Interventions were then developed to target the source of the bias in order to prevent the negative outcomes associated with this stereotype from continuing. Hopefully the implementation of these interventions will result in a change in girls' attitudes towards their mathematical abilities and their true potential can be realized.



Gunderson, E. A., Ramirez, G., Levine, S. C., & Beilock, S. L. (2012). The Role of Parents and Teachers in the Development of Gender-Related Math Attitudes. Sex Roles, 66(3-4), 153-166.

Jones, K., Evans, C., Byrd, R., & Campbell, K. (2000). Gender equity. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 27, 173-177.

Rosenthal, H. E., & Crisp, R. J. (2006). Reducing Stereotype Threat by Blurring Intergroup Boundaries. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(4), 501-511.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (Eds.). (2012). Applied Social Psychology (2 ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Shapiro, J. R., & Williams, A. M. (2012). The Role of Stereotype Threats in Undermining Girls' and Women's Performance and Interest in STEM Fields. Sex Roles, 66(3-4), 175-183.

Siegler, R., DeLoache, J., & Eisenberg, N. (2011). How Children Develop (3 ed.). Worth Publishers: New York.

Smith, I. P. (2013, February 12). Changing the stigmas that surround mental health care. Retrieved from Applied Social Psychology:

Tomasetto, C., Alparone, F. R., & Cadinu, M. (2011). Girls' math performance under stereotype threat: The moderating role of mothers' gender stereotypes. Developmental Psychology, 47(4), 943-949.






Are gender stereotyped toys outdated?

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During this holiday season we see one toy commercial after another.  Barbie's for girls, Legos for boys.  I am the mother of three sons, the oldest loves Legos or anything else he can build with his hands.  He would never of played with dolls or anything that would be considered "for a girl".  My middle son, three years younger loves to help in the kitchen and loves to cook, he is eight years old.  This morning we saw a commercial for a pink toy kitchen.  He asked "do they make them for boys in blue?"  Unfortunately, no they do not, boys get blue tool benches.  He said, "You like tools, did you have a toy tool bench when you were a kid?"  Again, no unfortunately I did not. 

I can see where he is going with this conversation and I was preparing myself to answer some questions that had never crossed his mind before.  The questions began with "what if girls don't like dolls and want to play with Legos?"  "Why is it not ok for boys to like to play kitchen?"  How do you explain to an eight year old why adults put gender stereotypes on children starting from the time they are born?  What if it were only acceptable for white kids to play with certain toys and black kids to play with certain toys?

According to Applied Social Psychology, 2nd edition (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012), stereotypes have been studied as a process, the process of people learning to believe what they believe, how social groups form and the consequences  of going against the norm of your group.  In this case what would be the consequences of a boy wanting to pretend he's a chef and have a toy kitchen that are only meant for girls.

As parents, we teach our children not to be prejudice against any other human and that god did not make us to judge others and place stereotypes on any individual that we do not know.  So how do we explain manufacturers of toy companies shoving it down our children's throats that there is a gender difference?  Girls cook and clean and play with baby dolls and boys build things, shoot guns, and drive trucks and tractors.   Its 2012, boys cook and clean and take care of the children just as much as the girls do.  Women work, build things, and know how to use power tools.

Here's my best explanation (for an eight year old) as to why people still gender stereotype: we cannot let out minds be outdated.  It is a sad existence if we place gender roles on our friends and family.  We have to find what makes us happy and what we enjoy for hobbies on a day to day basis.  You may love to cook and are a boy, I hate to cook and I am a girl.  No one should ever tell YOU what you should and should not enjoy.  Sometimes our minds grow more open from observing the closed mindedness of others and that is ok.  You may be able to change others opinions but you can never change where they came from or what they have learned in the past.  All you can do is have a positive attitude and if you want to use our entire kitchen to play chef and kitchen then I will be your first customer!


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012) Applied Social Psychology: Second Edition. P. 337-338.

Aversive Racism: How can we tell?

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As humans, categorization is an important tool for us to possess. It allows us to perceive and quickly identify significant information without using up a lot of our cognitive resources.  At any given time, we have only a certain amount of information that we can process, so it's central for our brains to be as effective as possible (Pennsylvania State University, 2012). Due to this highly effective tool we obtained we unintentionally categorize people. We place them into groups based of off either age, gender, and ethnicity. This is not the problem when it comes to racism, but it is when these thoughts are negative (PSU, 2012). There lies the key, but in recent times racism has changed from blatant to aversive racism resulting in automatic thoughts that we are unaware that we even acquire, also known as implicit thoughts. This form of racism is hard to measure since bias and negative attitudes are very subtle if anything at all. So how do we measure these automatic and implicit thoughts?

Well a collaborative research effort between researchers at Harvard University, the University of Virginia, and University of Washington have designed a test that, "measures implicit attitudes and beliefs that people are either unwilling or unable to report" essentially measuring ones amount of averse racism (Greenwald, Banaji, & Nosek, 2001). These tests are open for anyone who would like to take them. They have different categories such as race, gender and careers, age, disability, weight, weapons and others. The Implicit Attitude Test (IAT) works by measuring ones implicit attitudes by timing how quickly one pairs positive and negative words with images.

The idea behind the time is the quicker one responds to the two concepts the more closely related they are for the person, since it takes them less time it shows that it is simpler for them to classify them as one unit. So, if a person has a negative attitude about a group it should be faster for them to pair the negative words with the out-group, and it should also be quick to pair the positive words with the in-group. If it takes a longer time for them to pair the concepts they are not as strongly associated. The longer the time shows the difficulty of pairing the negative attitude with the in-group and vise versa with the positive attitude taking longer to be paired with the out-group.

            Automatic processing is, non-conscious, unintentional, involuntary, and effortless meaning we can't do much about it (PSU, 2012).  However we do have the power to control these thoughts. When we are aware of them we can go above and beyond the effortless implicit categorization of a person, and actually think about our attitudes (PSU, 2012). When we think about our attitudes we can make correction if need be and sort through undesired or inappropriate information that has been brought to mind automatically.  This is not an easy process because it takes effort to apply controlled thinking and sometimes we are have a million things going on in our heads so it is challenging to apply our limited cognitive resources to these thoughts, but if we don't we will likely be influenced only by the effortless automatic information and can fall captive to aversive racism without even knowing it. 











Greenwald, T., Banaji, M., & Nosek, B. (2001). Project Implicit, Retrieved from


Pennsylvania State University (2012). Introduction to social psychology:

Prejudice [PDF document].  Retrieved from



Puzzling prejudices in our schools

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Prejudice in our schools is very evident.  Black students stick with black students, white students hang out with white students, and so on.  Why are we such a separated society when it comes to skin color?  Turn on the news any given night, and you will hear about a racially induced crime at a number of high schools.  The following is an intervention program to decrease prejudice in our schools.    

For any intervention, we must first identify a problem.  Prejudice in our schools is definitely a problem.  Once this problem is identified, we must then arrive at a solution.  In other words, how can we address this problem?  What factors are responsible for causing prejudice?  Some factors are social learning, conformity, social structure, economic standing, cognitive developments, and personality developments.  These factors need to be addressed, and they need to be addressed at an early age.  The goals of this intervention are to decrease prejudice and discrimination.  The immediate objective of this intervention is to have students understand prejudice and its negativity.  To implement this intervention we will use what is called the jigsaw classroom.  

The jigsaw classroom is a technique that creates an interdependent classroom atmosphere designed to place the students of various racial and ethnic groups in pursuit of common goals (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2010).  They named it the jigsaw classroom because it was similar to putting a jigsaw puzzle together.  The jigsaw classroom works by placing six people in learning groups that is diverse in its makeup.  The lesson at hand is then divided into six parts and each student gets one of those parts.  Each student learns about their part and has to teach that information to the others in the group.  Because of this set up, students do not compete against each other, rather they depend on each other.  

The results of these classrooms are astounding.  In comparison with traditional classrooms, students in jigsaw classrooms showed a decrease in prejudice and stereotyping,  and an increase in their liking of their group members,  They also performed better on objective exams, showed a greater increase in their self-esteem, and showed a greater liking for school (Aronson, et al, 2010).  The most noticeable evidence of this working was shown in the true integration of the various racial and ethnic groups in the school yard (Aronson, et al, 2010).  

These jigsaw classrooms can be set up in our schools nationwide.  I would think it is worth a try.  A good evaluation of this intervention would be follow up questionnaires about the program.  They would focus on their outlook of their fellow students and their feelings about prejudice.  Ultimately, these jigsaw classrooms can help to decrease the prejudice feelings or ideas of our young children from the very beginning.  


Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Akert, R. M. (2010)  Social psychology.  Upper Saddle River,    NJ:  Prentice Hall.            

The Army and Contact Hypothesis

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I grew up in a sheltered environment in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  I can literally count on one hand the amount of Blacks, Asians, and other ethnic minorities that I attended high school with. While in high school I was very active in different sports programs such as football and lacrosse.  I had several Black and Asian friends.  This was probably because we had many interests in common, and our backgrounds were similar.  We all went to one of the top public schools in the country, we enjoyed the same types of music, and we played the same sports.  I thought I knew how I felt about ethnic minorities since I was so close to several of them.  My perception would change before I ever graduated high school due to a major life decision I made.

When I was seventeen, I joined the United States Army.  I enter what is called the split option program.  The way this program is designed is you go to basic training between your junior and senior year of high school, come home, and then go to your job training once you graduate high school.  It was June of 2001 when I entered onto a plane en-route to Fort Leonard Wood Missouri.  I was suddenly and violently removed from my sheltered life and put with men of all types of races, socio economic backgrounds, and educational backgrounds. 

A major training function of the military is to punish all for one person's actions.  I constantly found myself feeling deep hatred for the people causing us to endure so much pain.  Often times, the people who created the most issues were Blacks.  They would talk back to the drill instructors, fail to conform to the standards, and constantly slack off.  I started thinking to myself, "how can these guys 'be so lazy' and 'be so disrespectful.'"  Did they not know any better? Did they not care?

I spent many nights in the beginning of basic training attempting to answer these questions.  It wouldn't be for several months that I would understand that my judgments were not fair.  The Army builds soldiers by breaking the individual down and then building them back up. However, it wasn't just the individual they were tearing down it was the entire group.  We were molded into one functioning unit.  We became dependent on each other and a comradely unlike anything most people will never understand or feel develops.  Working together day in day out, bleeding together day in day out, and sweating together day in day out eradicated my stereotypes and prejudices I had toward anyone.  This training method seems to be modeled after the contact hypothesis model developed by Gordan Allport (1954).  I now understand that everyone is a unique individual that has been modeled by their life experience,s and it's unfair, no, immoral to judge them for that.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology, 2nd ed.: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, Inc.

Family discrimination

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I recently became engaged to the love of my life.  The name of my fiancée is Susie, and she has always been a victim to light yet hurtful comments by her family members.  Susie was raised in the Philippines and in the United States during her childhood.  She did not have the luxuries of many American children and was subject to an alternative lifestyle.  Granted, her lifestyle was no less fulfilling then anybody else's.   Unfortunately, her misunderstanding certain pop culture references and sarcastic humor has made her the butt of many jokes.  Although family members see this is harmless fun because Susie laughs along, deep down these comments are very hurtful.  To Susie's family, she is seen as a member of an out-group.  Her lack of specific American knowledge that is taken for granted by many individuals makes her seem less intelligent to some and she is therefore categorized in an undeserving way (PSU World Campus, n.d.).

            Susie's biological parents were from two different ethnic backgrounds.  Her father was Caucasian while her mother was Filipino.  She was raised in both Hawaii and the Philippines during her childhood.  She is fluent in Tagalog and has a vast understanding of other cultures and how they operate.  Her limited knowledge in American pop culture is due to her growing up without television or electricity during most of her childhood.  Unfortunately, her appreciation and understanding for activities outside of the norm have not granted her enough knowledge to be considered part of the in-group during many family functions.  Both of her parents passed away and her cousin and his family adopted her at the age of 14.  Their limited understanding of her background and lack of involvement in her delicate past did not help her circumstance.  Luckily, I was able to see right through the culture differences and directly to the person she truly is.

            Although her family does not knowingly offend her, they constantly make inside jokes about her lack of popular knowledge.  This is because the members of the family feel as if they are part of an in-group.  The common knowledge that they have groups them together (PSU World Campus, n.d.).  This argument is strengthened by the fact that Susie looks slightly different from the rest of the family.  Her jet-black hair and tan complexion is an outward sign of an inward difference.

            Humans innately categorize individuals based upon many factors (PSU World Campus, n.d.).  This is no exception with Susie.  Because she looks and speaks slightly different from others, she is categorized.  This categorization puts her at risk for prejudice and discrimination (PSU World Campus, n.d.).  Although her family unknowingly categorizes her, other people may be doing the same thing.  This is a necessary evil for humans.  Although it may have biological significance, it can also be potentially harmful as is the case in Susie's family situation.

            In and out groups are present everywhere we look.  Although it may not be possible to eliminate them, it may be possible to alleviate the damage that these groups can do.  Generally, I feel that society has eliminated many prejudices that were present and affecting out-group individuals.  Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to be done.  As time goes on, I hope that the small barriers that still exist are eliminated.  Through compassion and understanding, prejudices can continue to be eliminated.




Penn State World Campus. (n.d.). Intergroup relations. Reading. Retrieved from

My Experience with the Contact Hypothesis

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    Gordon Allport's (1954) contact hypothesis suggests that the increasing positive interactions between two or more groups will decrease the negative associations and relations between them. I have had some good experiences that corroborate this theory and some bad experiences that negate it. Today I'll be focusing on the positive interactions I've had between myself and another group.
    When I was in my teens, I was trying to determine which career path I'd like to pursue. At this point in my life I was working as a camp counselor for a theater camp during the summer. Throughout my time spent here, I came in contact with a number of children who had either Autism or Aspergers Syndrome (in short, it is a less severe form of Autism which gives the individual the ability of higher levels of functioning then those afflicted with Autism). I was the only camp counselor who was able to really connect with these kids. When other counselors or even directors asked something of them and they wouldn't listen, I was usually able to get them motivated to cooperate.
    This gave me the idea of wanting to become an Intervention Specialist and work with special needs kids. Prior to this idea, the summer camp was the only real interaction I've ever had with anyone who was on the Autism spectrum, so I decided to join a group called Autism Speaks. After cruising the website I noticed that the Walk Now for Autism was coming to my town. I thought this would be the perfect way to get involved with this group of individuals.
    The walk committee encourages people to either join or form a team of walkers to help raise funds for Autism awareness. I took that advice and asked a number of my friends (all of which were "theater-nerds" like myself) and we came up with the team name "Theater Makes a Difference."

Theater out front2

    The biggest way my team raised money was through a fundraiser that I put together with the help of a lot of volunteers - about 40! When I was 18, I spearheaded a grassroots fundraiser called The Arts Against Autism. This event was perhaps the biggest thing I've ever done. It was a free event that was open to the public and it encouraged families who were connected with Autism to participate. It was located at the community theater that I was heavily involved with. This event had short movie clips about what it's like to live with Autism, interactive sensory stations (the sense of touch is the most sensitive to Autistic children, these stations were meant to both stimulate those Autistic kids that were there as well as spread knowledge about the disease), arts and crafts, face painting, balloon animals, vocal performances (thanks to a beautiful girl that I ended up marrying), and perhaps the biggest raffle I've ever seen (one of the prizes was a week long stay in the Caribbean - thanks to someone's timeshare donation)! See the pictures with this blog to get a feel for the event. (I have over 1,000, so choosing just a few was tough).

Donor Banner2

    This experience at the community theater as well as the Walk Now for Autism gave me the opportunity to interact more with people with Autism. When this event was over, and the walk had ended, I found myself much more connected to this group then I had been previously. Allport's (1954) theory suggests the idea that positive interactions are needed for this, while I do agree, I think some negative interactions can help too. Not all of my experiences were positive rays of sunshine, there were times when I would get extremely frustrated, annoyed, and even judgmental. Even though these interactions were not all positive, I believe that the negative times also attributed to my abilities to communicate better with these individuals.
    A dear friend once told me that in order for someone to better themselves, they need to be like the butterfly - there must first be an intense stage of change and unrest before they can emerge as a better and more beautiful person (or insect). This is the how I see the co
ntact hypothesis. When people stretch their boundaries and go beyond their comfort zones (such as interacting with groups not familiar to them), they can develop newfound abilities (like being able to communicate or positively associate with a group other than your own).
    While I am a realist and understand that not all connections between groups will have as positive of an ending as mine, I do see the potential for the contact hypothesis and it's ability to help bring people closer together.


Kids on stage


Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA:Addison-Wesley.

Autism speaks. (2012). Retrieved from

Autism spectrum disorders health center. (2010, April 12). Retrieved from

Jeremy Lin and Asian Americans

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America is filled with different cultural and ethnic groups. The diversity has branded the nickname "the melting pot" for this nation. This however, may have resulted in many racial stereotypes, such as black people are good at basketball and Asians are good at math. The tales of Jeremy Lin, an NBA basketball player for the Houston Rockets, has proven the stereotypes wrong. His rise to the NBA spotlight was not a smooth one; however he has showed that everyone can achieve his or her dream, regardless of what other people think.

Racism is defined as bias against an individual or a group of individuals based on the individual's or group members' race/ethnicity. (Schneider 2012) Despite the government's attempt to eradicate racism in U.S., it can still persist in some individuals and can create discrimination and unfair opportunities at workplace. Racism can lead to prejudice and discrimination, which deal with the attitude and behavior toward a specific group. Historically, NBA has been dominated by African American players and a small amount of Caucasian and Europeans. Asians were not considered NBA prospects until the introduction of Yao Ming. Even so, people assumed that Asians had to be tall like Yao to have a chance in the NBA.

Jeremy Lin was a reserve player for the New York Knicks. After leading his team to a state championship in high school, he was not given an opportunity to play in a top tie basketball program. After graduating from Harvard after a successful senior year in basketball, he was ignored by NBA scouts left alone during the draft. (Keteyian 2012) For those accomplishments, he was given little attention due to his race of Asian American. There has been a common misconception that Asian Americans do not excel at athletics. Lin also admitted that there is deep seated racism against Asian Americans. (Freeman 2012) Despite all the stereotypes and struggles, Lin persevered and had proven that our society is not perfect, and people should not judge others by the color of their skins.

Asian Americas like Jeremy Lin face many challenges due to racism. His story is an inspiration to all Asian Americans. His journey to the NBA is filled with rough bumps and bruises. However, he has proven racial stereotypes to be false and has defied the notion that Asians do not excel in athletics.



Freeman, H. (2012, February 21) Retrieved from

Keteyian, A.  (2012, February 15) Retrieved from

Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, (2012). Applied Social Psychology Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems, 2nd  edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing.

Joel Ward brings out the Racist Sports Fans

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With the olympics going on currently, it shows how people of every type of background can come together in the name of sports.  On a field, pool, rink, or court it doesn't matter what nationality you are, what the color of your skin is, or how you grew up; how you play is the only thing that matters.  That is one of the things that makes sports so great.  Some sports though re predominately played at the top level by people of a specific race or economic background.  There are many winter sports that are very expensive to compete in.

Hockey is one of those sports that is played mostly in colder climates by upper middle class white kids.  The NHL has about three dozen players that do not consider themselves white in a league with well over 600 players (Weissman, 2011).  A majority of the time race plays no issue in the sport.  As long as you're skating hard, fighting through pain, and making plays everything is good, with fans and the athletes alike.  One night this spring that was not the case.

On April 25, the Washington Capitals were playing the Bruins in Boston in game seven of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.  The winner would move on to play  in the next round.  The score was tied at one a piece at the end of regulation.  With just under three minutes into overtime Joel Ward, an African-Canadian for the Capitals, scored to send them to the next round (ESPN, 2012).  The teams shook hands and congratulated each other on a good series.  The sportsmanship wasn't the same on social media.

One look at Twitter that night proved that fans clearly could tell Ward was not just a hockey player.  There were hundreds, if not thousands of discriminatory tweets because Joel Ward is black.  There were tweets filled with stereotypes as was as other hurtful language (Pethchesky, 2012).  Besides all of the hate being a problem in itself, it turns off great athletes and fans to the sport.  Because people discriminate other people who don't look like them, it stunts the growth of a great sport that can bring people together.


Capitals bounce defending champion Bruins in OT to reach 2nd round. (2012, April 25). ESPN. Retrieved August 3, 2012, from

Petchesky, B. (2012, April 26). Here's How Racists On Twitter Reacted to Joel Ward's Series-Winning Goal Against Boston. Deadspin. Retrieved August 3, 2012, from

Tlumacki, J. (2012, May 8). This means Ward. Retrieved August 3, 2012, from

Weissman, N. (2011, January 1). Racial homogeneity in the NHL. The Washington Post. Retrieved August 3, 2012, from


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Aside from my regular job (the one that pays me), I also participate in full time ministry. I work with sixty youth ranging from ages 10-20 on almost a daily basis. My phone is constantly going off and every bit of my time that is not devoted to work and school is spent with those kids, or studying for what I am going to teach them at the upcoming Bible Study. I love those teenagers more than anything in the world, but it sure does wear a person out! I have found that this Applied Social Psychology class has made me a much better leader to them, as now I feel I have a much more firm grasp on social psychological concepts and how to intervene when a problem arises.

As any person who has ever worked with teenagers would know, teenagers are a very difficult group to work with. There are so many things pulling them in every direction while they are trying to grasp a sense of individuality and deal with the biological changes taking place within them. All of this combined makes my job very hard, and very time consuming; I find that I pour out the majority of my time dealing with their problems, rather than even taking the time to think about whether or not I have problems of my own.

As I mentioned above, there are nearly sixty of them, and the age range that I am dealing with is extremely wide in comparison to most normal groupings of adolescents. They range from ten years old to twenty years old, and as you can imagine, they are all going through different phases of their life. Some of them are getting ready to go off to college, while others are terrified of starting middle school. Some of them are getting ready to get their learners licenses, while others are understanding what it's like to have a job. There is nearly an even split between the amount of guys and girls that attend the Bible Study, as well as all different races, bringing in all different cultural views and lifestyles. As if those factors alone did not make my job hard enough, adding the fact that it is a religious gathering, not associated with a particular church or denomination is when you begin to see the real conflict in opinions.

Having kids that have grown up in all different styles of churches and been taught all different doctrines, adds diversity to the group, yes, but it also adds differences of opinions. I cannot even begin to describe how many times we have had debates over topics because one person had been taught one thing while someone else had been taught another. Stereotypes and prejudices are something that we have had to break down since the beginning, which has not always been easy. Conflicts have arisen based on different views and lack of education. Reading the chapter in the textbook about applying social psychology to diversity had helped me a lot in the conflict resolution. I have been able to educate myself in different way to reduce conflict such as the contact hypothesis, and coalition building, and in turn I have been able to educate the youth as well. Since taking this class, I have seen a huge improvement in the way that I work with them, and the way they interact with each other. Now I am able to see more of the benefits of diversity, rather than just the complications!

Ancestry Shame

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When my father was attending his residency after medical school, he was asked about his nationality by his peers.  Embarrassed of being Mexican, he stated he was Italian.  At the time my father was the chief resident at John's Hopkins on his way to further education to the National Institute of Health.   My dad's confidence resided in the fact that he was destined to be a great doctor, but it was apparent that he struggled with other parts of his identity. He suffered with social identity.


 Social identity "reflects a sense of identity based on the social groups to which individuals belong or with which they identify"(Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2005). However it is theorized, that belonging to a group means the individual feels connected to the group and self-esteem is derived from being in that part of the group (Cuniff 2012) .  My dad readily admits that he felt ashamed (at the time) to declare his nationality because Mexicans were stigmatized as stupid and lazy.  He also disclosed that he felt shame for not standing up for his ancestry, but he did not want to labeled or associated with the negative connotation that many Mexicans carried.  This means that he feared he would be disconnected from the group in some way, and a part of his identity as a resident would suffer.


It saddens me that my dad felt his social identity was threatened, especially sense I live in time where being proud of identity is more socially accepted and emphasized.  The way our society sets limits on each other because you were born into a certain race or ethnicity is handicapping.  I am hopeful that with continual cultural acceptance we will be recognized, judged, and accepted based upon our personal characteristics and qualities instead of superficiality.


Cundiff, Jessica.(2012).Lesson 6:Intergroup Relations. Retrieved July,31,2012 online at:


Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.A. (2005). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Classic Tale of Romeo and Juliet

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            Personal relationships are one of the most important and significant factors in a human beings life.  However, many individuals do not understand the process of how we develop relationships or why we develop relationships.  A variety of factors influence relationships, such as, circumstances, situational influences, and social perceptions.

            In my own life, I have thoroughly seen how applied social psychology relates to relationships.  Two years ago I met the love of my life in a course at Penn State Harrisburg.  Every day I saw him and he became more and more familiar and likable to me.  The two of us were seemingly pushed together by common circumstances and pulled together by mutual interests (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts 2012).  The two of us were able to begin to continuously develop our relationship because of physical proximity as well.  We were able to see each other almost every day and lived within ten minutes of one another.

            Devin and I soon began to develop an extremely close relationship.  As humans, we all have this desire as I do, to belong and feel loved.  Abraham Maslow even listed this sense of belongingness as the third most important motive after physiological and safety needs (Schneider et al. 2012).

            "Overall, being attracted to another person is a function of several factors, including proximity, familiarity, and physical attractiveness" (Schneider et al. 2012).  Devin and I were and still are able to continue building our relationship based upon these principles.  I believe we both made a very intelligent choice in choosing one another.  Certain circumstances brought us together and our faith and love in one another will keep us together.



            Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J.A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012).  Applied     

            Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems

            (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

You + Me = Us

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From the 1st grade till the end of high school I lived and studied in India. The school I studies in, the neighborhood I come from, and all my friends back at home are Indian. Most of them have the same social standing and share the same religion as me too. I had never interacted with a world beyond that until I came here to Penn State for college. Looking at my self now and how I was five years ago has made me realize how discrimination against others are only done by those people who are truly ignorant about the fact that at the end of the day we all are one.

            People who have not encountered a certain type of people, mostly a certain race of people, or have had a bad experience with them, always follow the stereotype of that group and generalize the entire group by a hand full of members. For example, a few weeks before I started college I had found out that I had an African American roommate. This obviously was a big deal to my family because they wanted me to only room with an Indian as they had pre set notions about African American people. They thought that all black people were thieves, did drugs, and were extremely rude just because of their stereotype. But when I actually met my roommate for the first time I was ashamed of myself that I too to some extent had believed my parents and we had taken such stupid precautions, when in reality she was a sweetheart.

            I consider myself lucky that I had no other choice but interact with a member of a different group than mine. But what about those who have a choice and choose to stick to their stereotype? They stay stuck in the false world that believes in dividing people. Whenever I go home to visit I see people discriminating against one another based upon social standing, religion, race, gender, etc. and I think to myself what is it that makes us discriminate? Why do some people do while others don't? and then I realized it is all about exposure. The more you interact with people from different groups the more you will realize that we are not so different after all.  

            Many children pick up on the stereotypes and the discrimination against certain group that their parents have and this is because that is what they are exposed too. As people keep growing in age, the stronger their beliefs get. Children should be taught about prejudice, stereotype, and discrimination from a young age which would make it easier for them to avoid these traits and would help us create an open minded society. Schools should encourage exchange programs that would help students go and live and be exposed to a different side of the world. With the internet being so efficient in todays world, small conferences and debates should be held by different schools around the world which would help students communicate and learn about people's view points from different countries.


            My mother always use to tell me that once you get to know someone and try to understand them you could never hate them. We all have the same feelings, same emotions, feel happiness and sadness, feel pain and pleasure, we all have certain strong points and certain weaknesses, then why discriminate? Instead why don't we learn from each other, use each other's experiences and knowledge and help form a more united and peaceful society.

Country Bumpkin

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Country Bumpkin

When my son first went off to college I had the normal parental worries like was he going to party, was he going to study hard enough. I never considered that the problem he would run into was living a kind of sheltered life. He grew up in small town America and never had much exposure to other cultural differences. I first became aware of this problem when he came home one weekend saying he wasn't sure he liked the college life. After a little prying I found out about an incident that occurred during a study group session. Apparently he "stared" at someone a little too long and this individual who was from the inner city took that as a sign he wanted to pick a fight. This individual got in my son's face and confronted him. Of course this really scared my son; he is not the confrontational type!

A couple of things could explain how this situation occurred. Looking at personal diversity, people differ on core characteristics based on their own personal experiences (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012). It is quite possible the individual who confronted my son had an environment that was one of constant fear based on experiences growing up in the city. It could have been that he felt threatened or challenged by my son's stare based on his past experiences.  This individual was also black and could have perceived my son's assessment of him as some form of racism. Since my son comes from a middle class white family, it is probably hard for him to relate to that perception. I liken this to the scenario in the film clip "A Class Divided", that unless an individual has experienced first -hand what discrimination feels like, it is hard to be sensitive to how it actually feels.  

 After talking with some of my co-workers about the incident, the one lady who grew up in the city indicated that staring at someone was like marking them, you want to pick a fight. I was a little astonished to say the least. This is when I realized that many kids going off to college probably don't understand how little differences in cultures can be perceived. Needless to say, he doesn't stare at anyone anymore.  College may be the first experience many youths encounter people from different regions or cultures. I had to explain to my son, it probably wouldn't matter which college he went to, he was going to encounter students from all over. This leaves me to wonder what we as parents and educators are doing to prepare future college students for this new phenomena, getting them ready for their first "melting pot".  In an article found on recommendations are made that students need to learn how to embrace diversity. An excerpt from the article is as follows:

Perhaps no other place embodies the melting pot mentality by embracing diversity more than a college or university. At school, you will have the opportunity to meet a diverse assortment of people from different states, countries, cultures, and religions. You will meet people with physical disabilities and different relationship preferences. Prepare for a wide array of diversity at college and the benefits of getting to know people from all walks of life.

I am not sure this message is getting out to new college students enough. As a parent, I feel perhaps I neglected to realize that this was another aspect of the transition to college life, shame on me!

Prepare for College, retrieved from

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., Coutts, L.M., 2nd edition (2012) Applied Social Psychology, Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage


Frontline's (1985) A Class Divided retrieved at

Demographic Equality or the Lack Thereof

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Demographic Equality or the Lack Thereof

            One would think with all the studies and knowledge we have on discrimination, stereotyping and ethnic bias the world would be a far more accepting and socially stable place to live. With that said, we know the human race is still far from viewing out-groups as equal to our own in-groups. The social demographics of diversity are far from being a level playing field. The advantaged groups, such as Whites, Men and Wealthy tend to dominate the infrastructure of our society. The government implemented affirmative action to address the advantages within the job force and academic opportunities. Affirmative action is a program in which employers hire and schools accept people based on the characteristics that have made them disadvantaged (Martín-Alcázar, Romero-Fernádez, & Sánchez-Gardey, 2011).  There are many new approaches in addressing the equality of employees and school systems. An empirical study approached the subject of diversity by differentiating between moral ideas and moral obligations. Moral ideas relate to "which moral things to do" where as moral obligations focus on "which immoral things not to do."  The male Dutch research participants in the moral idea group were more accepting of affirmative action and their social identity remained intact (Does, Derks, & Ellemers, 2011). The study also inscribed how the advantaged groups in society exhibit more in-group favoritism and out- group derogation than that of minorities. The advantaged groups are prone to oppose change in the social system which in turn keeps equality at bay (Does, Derks, & Ellemers, 2011).

            I believe we should emphasize equality within our youth to have the best advantage of knocking out prejudices. Older generations are set in their ways sort of speak. I still have to tell my own mother that we don't use the word "colored" when referring to African Americans. Our youth are teachable. We could incorporate equality "lessons" within our schools and daycares to lay a foundation of acceptance. In an intervention study, fourth grade children within the experimental group were exposed to topics of decategorization stressing the similarities amongst groups (Scneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). The experimental group scored more acceptances for diversity. Stressing the qualities groups share can lead to lessening prejudice. Although our young may still be influenced by discriminating family members, I believe giving them the knowledge of acceptance can still lead them in the right direction. Social learning theory can be implied here as we learn from example and imitation of behaviors (Scneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).

Being a woman, I have had to deal with stereotypical situations throughout my life. I recently had a conversation with my son about which gender is better. He claims boys are better than girls because they are in professional sports and are stronger than girls. I wish I could say it's just a young boy of nine speaking, but unfortunately the male traits are generally seen as "better" characteristics than females. I, of course, took the opportunity to set him straight and I emphasized how we have qualities that set us apart and yet we shine in distinctive areas making us all "add up to the same."

            Incorporating diversity management within schools, daycares and work is still developing. There is much restructuring needed to implement programs within our society. I will begin breaking down stereotypes and prejudice by teaching my children and setting an example through my actions.


Does, S., Derks, B., & Ellemers, N. (2011). Thou shalt not discriminate: How emphasizing moral ideals rather then obligations increases whites' support for social equality. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 562-571.

Martín-Alcázar, F., Romero-Fernádez, P. M., & Sánchez-Gardey, G. (2011). Transforming human resource management systems. Journel of Business Ethics, 511-531.

Scneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.



Not Just a "Dumb Blonde"

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            My junior year of high school, I remember being a teacher's assistant for a kindergarten class. I chose to help teach children at that young of an age because I thought how great it would be to put a positive impact on them when everything is still new and fresh. Excited for my first day with the class, with my old kindergarten teacher, I wasn't expecting what I was actually going to encounter with these kids. 

            I walked into the class while they were in the middle of there second fifteen-minute playtime. I reminisced with my childhood teacher and discussed what I would help the students with that day - penmanship. With the little bit of extra time until the kids had to stop and sit down for their next lesson, I saw a group of girls playing house at a small kitchen set. All three girls were brunette - named Brittany, Olivia, and Hayli. However, a blonde girl, named Abby, walked up to them - looking like she wanted to play as well, was ignored. With a grin on her face she just walked away and started coloring in a coloring book.

            Class was starting back up and the teacher called all the students back to their tables. Hayli, Brittany, and Abby sat together, by assigned seating, at a table with other students. An hour or so went by as I went to all the students, introduced myself, and helped them with their writing. When I got to talking with Abby and helping her write her sentence, Hayli snickered, "don't get too close to her, she'll turn you stupid."

I was shocked at their remark - however I noticed that Abby was exhibiting stereotype threat. According to Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, stereotype threat is "a fear or nervousness that your behavior will exemplify a negative stereotype about your in-group." (2012) She was always hesitate and nervous to say what was on her mind without whispering it to me. I assumed the girls were picking on Abby because of the stereotype about blondes and growing up blonde I definitely knew how kids in middle school would pick on me, but I was so surprised it already started for Abby in kindergarten. Although, out of all the blondes in class, she was the only one getting this treatment.

Later I learned, it wasn't because of her hair color - it was because she had dyslexia. She always had to get extra attention and asked multiple questions in class. I noticed at any age people can be scrutinized. It could happen to children as young as kindergarteners - and perhaps even sooner in pre-schools.




Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 

Burden of innocence

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            Two black men raped a white woman on January 10, 1984. Ricky Daye was falsely accused after his image was identified by the woman. Daye responds to these accusations in disbelief. Not only was he being accused of rape which he said he was not capable of doing, but then for it to be a white woman changed everything. Daye had dis-positional attribution playing against him. He already spent 3 years in jail for a robbery, and because of his race at the time there was no reason to believe otherwise even if there was lack of evidence.

            He was sentenced to the Folsom Prison in California. Here is where is life would completely turn around once he was in prison. Not only because of the fact he was in prison but because he was in Folsom. He struggled a lot with the fact that he was all alone and the only one there from Iowa in one of the worst prisons. It basically reached the point where he had the "I don't care attitude" it was all about survival. One man compared the prison to a Nazi concentration camp.  A prison warden Jack Carlery explained that there was a void of darkness, human deprivation. What people do to each other behind prison walls is horrible and inhuman. The attribution theory can be applied here; Jack tried to explain the wardens reasoning for their actions, also those of the inmates towards each other. Basically wardens had the attitude that inmates were horrible people and gave them motive to torture. Then with the inmates it was all about survival. Daye said that he couldn't be nice, he had to stab people, had to play tough otherwise he would end up dead if he showed any weakness.

            September 27th he was released after a DNA test concluded his innocence. He was happy to be free, but didn't realize that being free from prison would be difficult. At first he had attention from the media, even got married. Little did he know that all this would all come crashing down. He loved his wife they were each other's first loves. Daye saw that she was stable and had her life in order. At the time she had everything that he needed to be satisfied, so was there ever really love after prison? All of this was illusory correlation they both had a perception of a relationship where none existed, or at least made it seem as if there was something stronger. Maybe there once was something strong but that ship has sailed.  Daye concluded to his testimony that through his lack of being able to find and keep a job and failed marriage that freedom when its taken away you want it back, but once your freedom is given back you forget about all the responsibilities you have and society expectations your suppose to meet.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1412976381.

Principles before NA motto gone awry...

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I remember a prime example of social psychology in action that occurred a couple of years ago. I came into the Narcotics Anonymous program in mid-2010 and got involved with a home group, which is an NA group that I would reliably support by going to meetings there and being in a service position (i.e., making coffee, chairing meetings). My home group peers and I were initially friendly, as we started to get to know each other.


One responsibility of maintaining a home group is that you have monthly business meetings. We do activities such as vote on service positions, order NA literature and key tags, and tally money collected from meetings. After the first few months of business meetings, I was labeled as controlling and overbearing in my personality. I see this as a social psychology phenomenon called the correspondence bias, or fundamental attribution error. This bias is the "tendency to infer that people's behavior corresponds to their personality" (Aronson et al., 2007, p. 108-109). I joined the group when it had only two members, and the organizational structure was in shambles. Neither of them knew where our group policy was, what the business meeting format was, no treasurer's record, etc.


Since I am a military veteran, I have some leadership experience and I also like organization and accountability, so I began to ask questions. Other people soon joined the home group, but since we were all relatively new to the NA program, none of us really had any experience on how a home group should be run. In many different situations, we got into heated discussions about the policy or whether an idea that we had violated one of the Twelve Traditions that we follow in our 12-step program. The other members didn't like me making waves and their first impression of me was negative. In my home life, I was under some stress due to a new relationship and a full load of classes.


group argument social psych pic.jpg

 I was ready to quit the group because of this negative view of me, and it took a mediator to bring the discord under control. We all sat down and had a conversation about the disunity in the group and in the discussion we all realized some simple truths about each other. First, we all have the same goal - to provide a meeting place for the addict who still suffers. Second, none of us are bad people - we all want to work together and make our home group strong. Finally, we came to accept the fact that each of us has our own individual experiences that make us who we are and ultimately, they are what causes us to have different construals, or interpretations (Aronson et al., 2007, p. 8), of the same situation (I didn't know what a construal was at the time!). In realizing those three things about each other, we improved our communication. Personally, I began to include the environmental factors (what happened in a person's day) - not just the individual - in my perceptual salience. According to Aronson et al. (2007), that phrase is what we construe as the important focus of a situation (p. 111). I am grateful to have some knowledge about social psychology because it helps me to look at other people's point of view and be more tolerant.

I found this link for information on improving communication:

1. 9 Steps to Better Communication Today (hyper-linked)


Grohol, J. (2009). 9 Steps to Better Communication Today. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 30, 2012, from




 Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., Akert, R. M. (2007). Social Psychology. Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.





"Want to come to my party?"

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As a preschool teacher I am constantly amazed to see the children's growth and development, as well as how quickly they grasp ideas and learn from one another. In my center we have a looping system which gives me the opportunity to be with the same children for 3 years in a row. The children I'm currently with I once held in my arms as infants. I've been with them from the beginning, witnessing their first steps and hearing their first words. As time passed the children became aware of each other, connections were formed, preferred playmates developed until finally genuine friendships emerged. Since they were just learning to negotiate, take turns, and use their words skirmishes were common but all in all I would say my classroom is a cohesive, happy group. Until the day, for no apparent reason, I heard Molly passionately state, " You can come to my birthday party and you and you, but not you Andrea you can't come to my birthday party." As any preschooler will tell you there are no words ever spoken that hurt more. The baffling part to me is that Molly and Andrea are friends, they've been playing with one another for years. Why the sudden change? Then it clicked, it was the beginning stages of developing a social identity.  Molly was creating "in groups" and "out groups". (lesson 6) Yes, I believe it starts this early. They begin to see that "groups" can relate to people and not only objects. They've already mastered the ability of sorting their different shaped blocks into groups, now they are trying their hand at grouping people. From an adults perspective this is a scary thought, they are too young to be so discriminating. But having worked with kindergarteners earlier in my career, I learned from them how preschoolers see this issue. Their rationale is that in order to be part of a group there has to be some who are not part of the group. If everyone was part of the group then their is no real group. So when Molly told Andrea she couldn't come to her party, it wasn't that she was being mean, it was just her learning that people can also be put into groups. Rest assured by the end of the day Andrea was included in Molly's birthday party list, but unfortunately then Mark got the bad news that he wasn't. It's a scenario that occurs throughout our day. As early childhood educators we handle this situation by emphasizing empathy, stating, "How would you feel if someone said that that to you? If you don't like it then please don't do it to others." It's my hope that it sinks in eventually.

As the children mature these "groups" do become discriminating. The children  see similarities and differences between themselves and others.  According to our lesson  6 reading, "When an individual categorizes him or herself as part of the group, feels committed to the group, and gains some esteem from the group, that group has become the person's in-group. All other groups are seen as potential rivals/competition for resources and are known as out-groups". Social Identity theory states that, at times, we use our personal identity to guide our actions and at other times we use our social identity to guide us.  Meaning, alone you might behave one way but in a group you may behave differently (influenced by your membership in the group). Social and personal identity are not completely distinct entities, but overlap and interact with each another to guide a person's perceptions, attitudes and behaviors as well as form an overall (i.e. whole) identity. (lesson 6 reading). It is my hope that if a child's "group"(social identity) conflicts with the child's way of thinking and feeling (personal identity) that they will chose the behavior that resonates true to their self image. 

So, in the case of Molly, all we can do is encourage her to understand how her actions and words effect others, that no one likes to be excluded. Since her birthday is a good 5 months away, I have hope that on the actual day everyone will be invited to her birthday party, a united group of one.


PSYCH 424 Lessons 6: Penn State World Campus.


You Got It, Boss.......

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Envision two different situations, both involving an authoritative figure, such as your boss. In the first situation, your boss, who is a 72 year old renowned orthopedic surgeon, instructs you and the other employees to begin using a different method of disinfection before entering the operating room. Given his background and knowledge on the related subject, you might be very compelled to follow his instructions, less you quickly find yourself without a job. Now consider the second scenario, where your same renowned-surgeon boss sends out a request to leave your cell phone at home each day. Even if you find the memorandum issued in the second situation to be outlandishly out of touch, you would probably still abide by it for the same reasons you would the first example, specifically, your concerns related to employment termination. This very notion, along with the idea that your boss can overstretch his areas of expertise in ordering you to perform a given task, might cause you to think that figures of authority have it pretty easy in life. You might be right, but be careful before you completely judge a book by its cover.


Video-recorded confessions - we've all seen them glorified within movies and TV shows. Hopefully you've never had to see one in person, regardless of what side of the lens you were on. As one might expect, video-recorded confessions are yet another beneficial form of technology which play a critical role in assisting a detective's case for prosecution. Prior to police departments having the resources to record their interrogations and confessions, the difficulty on the side of the prosecution to prove their case was significantly greater. Not only can detective(s) now show that a criminal has in fact confessed to the crime (if applicable), they can also utilize the recordings as proof that no such confession was coerced or forced out by any type of illegal means. Problem solved, right? Not so fast.

Being a woman today...

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To be a woman in today means knowing that the fight is no longer between only men and women.


We're going to a family party and I say to my boyfriend, "Don't we need to bring something?" He responds, "We have beer, or we can go buy a little cake?"  Beer it is.  We arrive at the party and there's a table the length of the entire patio covered in delicious food.  One of the Aunts asks me, "What did you bring, dear?"  I blush and point to the beer.  The stare she gives me is unbearable.  I think, "We were working all day and didn't have time to make something from scratch."  Then, she goes to my boyfriend's mother and all of her friends.  They giggle and say, "We'll teach you to cook.  You're going to have to take care of your husband and family soon."


I often feel the most persuasion to fit the mold of a "woman" from other women! Schneider, Gruman and Coutts (2012, p. 331) reveal that breaking a social norm such as a gender role in a given culture means that "behaviors that match these expectations are often associated with rewards while behaviors that violate these expectations are often associated with costs."  I used to think that men were the ones placing women into certain roles, but in fact, women want other women to meet their own gender expectations.  And they definitely do enforce a reward and punishment system for those who fall short of or meet those behavior expectations. 


To be a woman in today's age means realizing that you define your own gender role.


My mother is confrontational, moody and rational.  But she is also loving, communicative, and a stay at home mom.  My grandmother is kind and generous, but also selfish and dependent on others.  My friend's mother is career-driven, has a doctorate, hates cooking, and believes in sharing everything with her daughters.  My boyfriend's mother doesn't drink, believes a woman is the only one is the kitchen, owns her own business under her husband's name, and has a live in maid?


This is just a snippet from the spectrum of women, specifically motherly role model types, I know intimately.  When it comes to gender, many stereotypes are often assumed such as, "Men, for example, [are] frequently associated with descriptors such as aggressive, capable, and rational, whereas women were more frequently associated with descriptors such as affectionate, dependent, and emotional (Schneider et al., 2012, 331)."  Most of the men and women I know in my life are a mixture of these masculine and feminine characteristics.  While there are still gender roles in every culture, they are loosing their power.  Today's women choose what being a woman means to them.


To be a woman in today's age means accepting your own hypocrisy.


I was so frustrated with my boyfriend the other day because I felt like I had to do EVERYTHING at the house.  We've had the "I'm not your maid" discussion many a times, but he seems to forget when ESPN is on.  Once he realized he couldn't hear the commentator while I was throwing a tantrum, he decided to move.  I asked him to please take out the garbage and to clean up the bugs in the house (we live in a very outdoor setting).  He asked why we share all the household chores except the garbage and bug cleaning, and I responded, "Because you're a boy!"


There are different types of sexism. The controversial types I often hear are benevolent sexism and ambivalent sexism (Schneider et al., 2012, p. 332).  Sometimes we embrace certain stereotypes we would rationally say we're against.  Why?  Because they seem right in the moment, or they're not mean sexist remarks, or maybe we're all victims of social norms, and even when we want to fight them, we can all be a little hypocritical.


To be a woman in today's age means choosing your battles.


In alignment with the "accepting our own hypocrisy" statement, I believe that men and women need to have some patience for others' hypocrisy too and choose their sexist battles wisely.  Sexism has existed for a very long time, and it's not something that will disappear overnight.  I currently live amongst a rather conservative culture, and if I judged everyone based on his or her benevolent or ambivalent sexist remarks, I would be arguing against all of them constantly.  Today's men and women are learning how they want to incorporate their sex into their individual identities, and therefore, depending on the culture, gender roles are always being redefined.  As Schneider et al. (2012) state, "Gender, unlike sex, is the result of sociocultural influences throughout an individual's development (Schneider et al., 2012, p. 331)."  Cultures and individuals change, and so does gender.  Fighting sexism is about choosing which battles to you are worth fighting today.


So, how do you be a woman today?  I believe being any person today is about deciding who you want to be in this ever-evolving gender world and accepting that not everyone will agree.




Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social


Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications


Stop Trying So Hard!

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                 We've all had that friend.  She's a very nice girl.  All of her friends, including you, genuinely like her.  She just met this guy and has become infatuated with him.  Every time you see her, she has another story of how she made a complete idiot out of herself the last time she talked to him.  "But you're so fun" you tell her.  You have no idea why this sweet, pretty, fun girl bumbles it up every time.  Well, she's trying too hard, literally!

                Situations like this happen every day whenever you find a person in an uncomfortable social environment where the outcome has some importance for them.  People botch interviews all the time because they are so preoccupied with getting across the message they rehearsed at home they don't take the time to read the cues of the interviewer.    The interviewer may be asking very specific questions, giving hints with their eyes, or shifting uncomfortably from an answer that was given.  If the interviewee is too busy with their own agenda to notice and adjust that agenda, they'll lose the job opportunity.  One study observed white non-prejudiced people and their interactions with non-white people (Mendoza-Denton, 2012).  What they found was that the non-white participants felt a stronger sense of prejudice from them, regardless of (and because of) their strong desire to prove how non-prejudice they were.  The white participants tried so hard that they gave the exact opposite impression they intended.

                A similar situation occurs between the sexes, typically in professional settings.  In benevolent sexism, one categorizes a person based on their positive characteristics (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).  In our context, a man may walk in to a business meeting with a woman.  He may be under the impression that she wants very badly to feel accepted by the men in her company.  Due to this belief, he makes the comment, "Your hair looks really nice today".  She makes a face of disgust because she's thinking, "Wow, what a sexist pig!  Why can't he treat me like one of the guys?"  He reads it as embarrassment and every day tries again with another similar comment and a more negative reaction in response.

                There is yet another downfall to the act of trying too hard in social interaction.  Working to make an impression takes effort.  Effort takes brain power.  When your brain power is directed toward things like batting eyelashes, standing at the right angle, sucking in the stomach, wondering if there's something in your teeth, or fitting that really good joke you know in to the conversation somewhere, there is less brain power dedicated to paying attention to the other person (Mendoza-Denton, 2012).  Those who are masters at social interaction are so because they have mastered paying attention to other people. 

                So the next time you're talking to a potential employer, a potential date, or your new love's parents, make sure you focus on them... not on yourself.  Watch their actions, notice their quirks, and listen to what they're saying.  You may be surprised at how the conversation goes!






Mendoza-Denton, R. (March 25, 2012). When Making Impressions, Mind Your

    (Other Party's) Manners. In Psychology Today. Retrieved June 3, 2012,




Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.).  (2012). Applied   

    Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical 

    Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications


The perception of psychotherapy varies across cultures. Psychotherapy and mental illness is already stigmatized in American society, the depth of the stigmas and resistance to the practice is greater in the African American community.  My career goal is to become a psychotherapist and I am an African American. Discussing my career goal with older family members, especially the more religious members, seems to create a level of discomfort. They often dismiss me and question why don't I want to be a minister or an attorney. This saddens me, because I know that their discomfort with "shrinks" and the mental health community is representative of a part of the African American community.

The National Survey of Black Mental Health (Jackson, Neighbors, & Gurin, 1986) indicated that African Americans sought services as a result of referrals by physicians, family members, or friends and tended to contact physicians, ministers, and hospitals; only 9% of those surveyed used the services of psychologists, psychiatrists, or community mental health facilities. African Americans have been found to average fewer sessions and to terminate from outpatient mental health services earlier than White Americans (Thompson, 2004).

Based on Thompson and his colleagues' research article African Americans are not only less likely to use the services of mental health professionals but also participate in fewer sessions. There are many theories to explain this phenomenon. From my personal experience there is a level of mistrust of mental health professionals and desire to keep their mental health issues private. Another factor that comes to mind is religion. When distressed and suffering some communities encourage their members to turn to religion for comfort. I am sure this occurrence permeates race and ethnicity. In the textbook, we learn that there is a level of bias and distrust amongst African Americans who are being treated by White professionals. Perhaps this bias is supported by the fact that, "White therapists are more likely to make false-positive diagnosis for Black clients" (Schneider et al., 2012). The taboo of mental illness and distrust of mental health professionals have a detrimental effect on the African American community. It is troubling for any community to create barriers between their members and professional help. This topic is of great interest to me and I would be interested in learning about how religion impacts groups perceptions of psychotherapy.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 

Thompson, V. L. S., Bazile, A., & Akbar, M. (2004). African americans perceptions of psychotherapy and psychotherapists.Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 35(1), 19-26. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.35.1.19

Additional Research: 

Targeting mental illness in african americans. (2007). Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 45(5), 10-10. Retrieved from

Thompson, V. L. S., & Alexander, H. (2006). Therapists race and african american clients reactions to therapy.Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 43(1), 99-110. doi:10.1037/0033-3204.43.1.99

Whaley, A. L. (2001). Cultural mistrust: An important psychological construct for diagnosis and treatment of african americans. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 32(6), 555-562. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.32.6.555


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I'm floored by what is going on in the youth culture in our country. Young people are taking their own lives in record numbers, and in many instances, it is the result of the persistent mistreatment they are receiving at the hands of peers and adults--key groups from which these kids should be able to connect with someone they should be able to trust. Because of the constant barrage of personal and physical attacks that are being administered, these kids are searching for ways to get out of their own lives. And when I say kids, I mean it.  The most alarming aspect of the suicide epidemic amongst young people is that the victims who are taking their own lives are getting younger and younger. According to the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health (NIH NIMH), as of 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for individuals aged 15 - 24 (NIH, 2012). That data was current as of five years ago, and given the notoriety some youth suicide cases have gained in recent years, it is hard to imagine that the state of this situation is improving.


young bully.jpg


The gravity of this situation is horrifying. That is honestly how I feel about it. It is sickening to think that there are children that are being tormented by other children. The new motion picture, Bully, was released to a nationwide audience as of Friday, April 13th.  I haven't seen the movie as of yet, but the trailer alone breaks my heart:




An 11 year old boy took his life because he could no longer deal with the misery that was imposed on him every day. Could the decision he made to commit suicide be a reflection of Seligman's psychological theory of the learned helplessness model of depression?  The premise of which is that certain life experiences can teach people to give up in their attempts to cope with the circumstances around them (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012, p. 94).  Is this the reason why this child ended his life?  Unfortunately, we will never know for sure because his voice is silenced.  He never got the chance to grow into an adult because the ugliness of the behavior he was subjected to led to the decision he ultimately made.


And what about the adults that are depicted in the Bully trailer that are a part of the school system?


"I've been on that bus. They are just as good as gold."


--Bully movie trailer, 2012


bully movie.bus.jpg


"That bus" is one of the most hostile places I've seen.  The bullying victim is in the proverbial lion's den, and there is no way out for him. What kind of moral climate would that school administrator say that bus had?  These kids' believed that the aggression they were dishing out on this poor boy was completely acceptable; otherwise I'd hasten to think that one of those little bullying bastards would have eventually stopped or been stopped by other students. Moral climate encompasses children's beliefs about the appropriateness of aggression that are derived specifically from others in the classroom (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012, p. 213).  The kind of climate that existed on that bus was pretty evident.


Another reason that bullying violence has proliferated has to do with the profound nature of the bystander effect and the diffusion of responsibility. The bystander effect posits that people are less likely to help in an emergency when other people (bystanders) are present, because of the diminished sense of responsibility that occurs with this phenomenon (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012, p. 247). This often goes hand in hand with the diffusion of responsibility, or feeling as if someone else (whoever that may be) will do something about what is going on.  There was a lot of that on that bus.  Some of those kids were undoubtedly just as appalled and disturbed by what they were seeing happening to that boy--but if they did not step in or at the very least tell an adult to intervene, then they, too, were part of the bullying problem.


What is encouraging is that since bullying is now a media agenda item, the coverage has brought widespread awareness to the seriousness of what is going on. Change is starting to be seen in the emergence of bullying prevention programs, self-esteem sessions, and diversity awareness for kids, to name a few. The momentum needs to keep building. And hopefully it truly is starting to.




Bully (Movie), Official trailer. (2012). Retrieved from:


NIH NIMH. (2012). Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention. Retrieved from:


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M.,(2012) (Eds.)Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.



Images Source:


Young bully.


Bully movie bus.

Excuses, Excuses

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I'll never forget the advice self-handicapping_Carpe_Diem.jpg my older sister gave me on the day I went to take my FTCAPs for Penn State, "whatever you do, don't worry too much about the math section - it is better to re-take intro to algebra as a gen-ed than to take calculus!" Right there, in the midst of varying advice from my parents, my peers, and my Penn State Brandywine counselor I realized something - my older sister was a genius - or at least that is what I thought at the time. Not only would I get to take an easier math class, but I'd delay embarrassing myself in front of peers who obviously had some major social issues - I mean, after all, what person in their right mind thinks math is fun?

Self-handicapping is defined as "creating barriers to successful performance prior to (or simultaneous with) an achievement task" and is probably a concept with which we are all somewhat familiar (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Self-handicapping takes many forms - from procrastination to alcohol consumption, we use a variety of techniques to create excuses when we expect less than exemplary performance. Why is this? Well, most of us experience an intense desire to protect our self-image, and even the most confident individuals can be shaken by negative feedback. A poor performance review or a bad exam grade forces an individual to question his/her self-image:

I'm not as competent as I thought,


I'm not as intelligent as a thought.

When self-image is challenged by contradictory information we experience cognitive dissonance - discomfort stemming from believing two conflicting ideas (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). In order to reduce the dissonance, we can either 1) change one of the facts, 2) add an exception to explain the two competing ideas, or 3) make the conflicting ideas unimportant (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Unfortunately, changing beliefs about self-image is not easy, and we will often use tactics that serve to perpetuate the self-handicapping techniques.

Self-handicapping is not limited to classroom performance. While the habit can develop at a young age in school, individuals use self-handicapping to explain poor performance in almost any area of life:

I botched that interview because I was hungover


I got into this car accident because I didn't get enough sleep last night


I was only late because of the terrible traffic!


All of the above statements have one thing in common - they are ALL excuses. Excuses designed to protect us from recognizing our faults and coming to terms with the fact that we may not be as awesome as we think.

So what? What's so bad about a few excuses used to protect self-image? Well, according to Dr. McCrea, a psychologist at the University of Konstanz in Germany, self-handicapping is addictive- the more you do it, the more likely you are to develop excuses for future performance, which results in lowered motivation and lowered performance (Carey, 2009). If that were not bad enough, a recent study by McElroy and Crant (2008) revealed that co-workers of chronic self-handicappers associate the performance to a person's disposition - i.e. he/she is whiner.

Self-handicapping is a major social issue that affects young and old, students and workers alike. As described above, the side effects of the treacherous habit are numerous and ultimately result in the perception that the self-handicapper (you, me, Jane Doe, etc) has an underlying character flaw that causes their behavior - the fundamental attribution error in full effect. I will definitely think twice about self-handicapping in the future, and I hope you will too!

--In case anyone is wondering, I didn't end up listening to my sister's advice, and I err...enjoyed? Penn State math courses as much as is humanly possible -for me at least.


Carey, B. (2009, January 5). Some Protect the Ego by Working on Their Excuses Early. Retrieved April 10, 2012, from The New York Times:

McElroy, J. C., & Crant, J. M. (2008). Handicapping: The Effects of Its Source and Frequency. Journal of Applied Psychology , 93 (4), 893-900.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M., (Eds.). (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Image source:

Breaking the Cycle

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breaking-cycle.jpgPrejudice. . .we have all experienced it at some point.  It's basically when someone evokes an opinion based on their preconception of others belonging to a group (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012).  I grew up in a time that segregation was supposedly no more; however, it seems that we the people were always divvying out positions or awards in a manner that went, in my opinion, against the goal.  At my high school, we had a black and a white homecoming queen.  Why couldn't the girl with the most votes win?  We all knew this was a popularity vote anyway. Right?  Playing into this tit-for-tat behavior is just another form of being slapped in the face for one of the winning queens.  It's like saying, "Well, you both did so good, why don't the two of you just share the title."  I wonder if an Asian or Hispanic nominee would have ever stood a chance in my day, or if they would have been clumped in with the white contestants anyway in the same way as Bikman (2011).  I suppose this could have been an attempt at abiding by affirmative action, but I doubt that two winners of a position, such as homecoming queen was what lawmakers had in mind when establishing affirmative action (Crosby, Iyer, Clayton, &Downing, 2003); or maybe, just the like.  But, take the basketball team; would you say that only two black kids and two white kids can play at a time, and then joined by, hmm?  Well, who should play that fifth position?  Shouldn't the coach just put the best talent on the floor from the get-go?  The best talent is exactly who played at my high school.  But was there some underlying prejudice that the weak queenly types couldn't handle the disappointment if only one race were named the winner; therefore, the top beauties had to be consoled with a shared title.  But, the athletic types were tough enough to handle it if they were overlooked for their racial opposite, to be able to pull down another win for the team.

I heard behind-the-scene discussions when it was time to sign up for club participation that created confusion and maybe even discord about, "Why it was alright to have a Black history club and not an Asian, Hispanic or white history club".  Granted, there were not as many Hispanic or Asian students in our student body, but fair is fair.  Further, why was it not politically correct for white, Hispanic, or Asian students to sign up to participate as members of the Black history club?  Couldn't one be a better friend if to others without the barriers constantly being thrown up to remind us that we are different?  I recall it just being the way that it was at my school.

I recollect being in the first grade and liking a young Asian boy and that being alright.  When I was in the fifth grade and a young boy of color expressed interest in me, I had to awkwardly explain that I couldn't like him back because I knew that that was not ok.  My baby sister, on the other hand, started school that year and received a phone call from a new friend, Jerrod, a fellow kindergartener.  When my father answered the phone, you would have thought whistles blew and red flags went up; he towered over my sister until the call was finished.  I will never forget her precious words in response to his persistent grilling, "who was that?".  "Daddy, little black boys need love, too."  I wish I had been able to have been as fear-free back then.  As for me and my house, my children know that we all bleed the same blood and that people are just people.  Ironically, my oldest son is colorblind, but that has no bearing on the fact that he has enjoyed companionship of young ladies of several different ethnicities.  You see, racism, which is having bias against others purely based on their race or ethnicity, is just wrong (Schneider et al., 2012, p.333). 

Through an exercise that the Girl Scouts do each year, we could all learn a lesson in the beauty of diversity.  In observance of World Thinking Day - the National Girl Scout way of celebrating diversity, the Girl Scouts of America invite others to join them in Different Shoe Day.  Different Shoe Day is an opportunity to show support for the variety of ethnicities, cultures and religious representations amongst the people, as well as, appreciation and acceptance for this diversity. The girls carry a personal agreement card with the following promise: 

"To those of you who are different from me,

I promise:

To learn about you,

To understand you,

To befriend you,

To value you and your differences,

And to appreciate that our Similarities are larger than our Differences." (NC Coastal Pines, 2012)


Although this is merely used as an exercise, it makes it possible for participants everywhere to visualize walking a mile in someone else's boots, moccasins or sandals for a day.  This is also a unique way for the participants wearing two different shoes to provoke onlookers to ask, "WHY?"




Bikmen, N. (2011). Asymmetrical effects of contact between minority groups: Asian and black students in a small college. Cultural Diversity  and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 17(2), 186-186-194. doi:10.1037/a0023230

Crosby, F. J., Iyer, A., Clayton, S., & Downing, R. A. (2003). Affirmative action: Psychological data and the policy debates. American Psychologist, 58(2), 93-115.

Girl Scouts. (n.d.). World Thinking Day: The National Girl Scout. Girl Scouts - North Carolina Coastal Pines. Retrieved from

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2005). Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems. London: Sage.

Who, What, When, Where, Why is Normal

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Normal is Normal

      Normal is such a strange word in and of itself.  It can and is applied to anything such as biological functions, mathematical applications, and computer programs.  However, when it comes to describing normal to a bunch of undergraduate psychology students or clinicians or researchers normal begins to have a whole new meaning.  But what is normal?

     By definition in most any dictionary, normal is conforming with, adhering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type; typical.  When we students of psychology and sociology read text books, the word changes a bit to social norm, which by definition is shared beliefs about which behaviors are acceptable and which behaviors are not acceptable for members of a given group to engage in (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2005).  Now I know that society dictates what should be considered normal behavior by laws and regulations that keep us safe as well as healthy as a civilization.  But, my dilemma is still who dictates these notions?

     Let me clarify why I am asking these questions of normalcy.  At present, I am employed at a day treatment facility at a local community mental health organization.  I work daily with individuals that are afflicted mental illnesses that range from minor depression to schizophrenia.  During the day, we work hard on making these wonderful people fit into "normal" society by teaching daily living skills through cognitive behavioral therapeutic techniques that help them understand why their behaviors dictate why they think and feel the way they do and vise versa.   Each day we "go to town" as the clients call it and let them integrate with society and try out their new skills.  This is a very nerve wracking event for most of the clients as they are so afraid of making mistakes and not being normal.  This is when I ask them, what is normal?  They have no answer.

     As we walk through the stores, libraries and parks, these fine people look all around to make sure they are not doing anything that could be construed as unacceptable.  These clients wash daily and take their medications, dress appropriately, and act within the normal guidelines of society as they browse, shop and interact with other people.  Yet, as I watch them, society looks down upon them like they are not normal.  This is when I usually stand back and look at the other people that stand in judgment of these clients.  I see children throwing temper tantrums in the aisles, cursing and screaming couples in the library disrupting all patrons, and young men wear their pants to the knees and ladies scantily dressed.  So, this is normal?

     I am not stating in any fashion that all of society is "off its rocker" and the mentally ill are right.  But, it should be noted that I feel that the mentally ill people of this world are incredibly strong and resilient as well as acutely aware (even more so than everyday society) of what normal is because they strive for it every day!  These clients work every minute that they are mentally capable of to look, act, and feel normal so that they are not looked upon as a stigma upon society.

     When I first started working there, these people were working on manners and etiquette.  They were more trained on these things that I was, and I had a very strict upbringing and thought I knew quite a bit.  These clients were able to teach me a thing or two and make me a better person for it, every day I work with them.  I, in turn, have taught them that society doesn't always watch them.  Once, we had a goofy hat day, one in which we decorated goofy hats and then wore them all over the city to different outings.  The clients were very surprised that they did not receive the strange looks they had anticipated and, consequently, they were more relaxed and more accepted to normal society than usual.  Our working relationship is one of give and take, we each teach and we each learn and it is a wonderful program that I am very happy to be a part of! 

     So, take my advice in this post, do not just a book by its normal cover.  Pick it up and read it, it just might surprise you to find that normal may not be by definition, but it could be the normal you seek! 



Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Homophobic Bully or Sacrificial Lamb?

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ravicropped.jpgIs Dharun Ravi a murderer?  Of course not.  Is he guilty of manslaughter?  One would be most hard pressed to find a legal definition that could remotely apply to Ravi's actions.  Did Tyler Clementi suffer from depression and other psychological problems?  In retrospect, obviously.  Did any of Ravi's actions contribute to the psychological distress that ultimately led to Clementi taking his own life?  Maybe.  In fact...probably.  Did Ravi cause Clementi's suicide?  Absolutely not.  The only person who causes a suicide is the person who commits it.  Why, then - in the jury of public opinion, and in the verdict handed down at Ravi's trial for invasion of privacy (fair enough) and "bias crime" (not so "fair enough") - is Dharun Ravi essentially being treated like a murderer?  To me, the obvious answer is because when someone commits suicide, those closest (real or perceived) to them are racked with guilt and excruciatingly painful questions like "what could I have done?", "why didn't I see the warning signs?" and "what if... [insert all sorts of scenarios that are now too late]?"  But, all that Monday morning quarterbacking pain and stress can so easily be alleviated by one thing: a scapegoat.  And what a perfect scapegoat Dharun Ravi makes. 

The public perception of Ravi is that of an arrogant young man who brazenly turned down a plea deal that would have been a mere slap on the wrist, and has now received his just comeuppance.  What the public did not see, until a recent televised interview, was that Ravi refused the plea deal because it would have required him to confess to a hate crime.  As a matter of principle, Ravi refused.  He was not a hater, and wanted the world to know that.  Well, in the real world of media circuses, hot-button social issues, and the not always "just" justice system, one's principles - or innocence for that matter - really don't mean a thing when the pubic wants blood.  He gambled and lost.  In his appeal, I would recommend he take a serious look at using an "inefficient counsel" defense.  His lawyer really should have known better, and should have advised his client to take the deal.  But then again...I'm sure the lawyer looked forward to his own moment in the media circus spotlight.


The gist of the tragedy is that the lives of two 18 year old men (boys, really), fresh out of high school, intersected in a way that happens thousands of times on hundreds of campuses every year - they became roommates in a college dorm.  All we know about Clementi - even now - is that he was gay, quiet, played the violin... and killed himself.  He was apparently not "in the closet" about his homosexuality, as bringing a man to his room for a sexual encounter would clearly be out of character for someone trying to hide his sexuality.  So, we can only assume that he was self-accepting of his sexuality.  I have poured through dozens of news items about the case and have found nothing to indicate that his parents did not know he was gay, or that he suffered prior bullying or rejection from his family for being gay.  If even now, with all the publicity this case has generated, we do not know much about Clementi's state of mind... how could Ravi, who had only known him for several weeks, have known whether his quiet roommate was harboring psychological "demons"?  What Ravi did (secretly video recording Clementi in a sexual encounter) was stupid, thoughtless, insensitive....maybe even cruel - and certainly a violation of privacy, for which he should be punished accordingly.  But, at worst, his actions were those of a young, foolish, immature boy pulling a terrible prank.  There is no evidence that he was homophobic or that there was any malice intended toward his roommate.  In fact, there is evidence that he tried to befriend the quiet and introverted Clementi, and that when his prank had become known to Clementi, he made sincere efforts to apologize.  These are not the actions of a hater, and especially not the actions of the type of person who willingly perpetrates a "hate crime."


Not everyone who is bullied commits suicide.  Speaking from personal experience, I was bullied mercilessly as a child because I was obese.  My torment in school was compounded by an unloving and abusive home life.  My childhood was miserable.  My classmates were mean.  My teachers were indifferent.  My parents were terrible. But I did not become homicidal....and I did not kill myself.  Why not?  There are many factors that explain why different people react differently to similar circumstances.  There are a vast number of complex interactions between environmental factors and personality traits that determine how an individual deals with life.  What is clear to me - and what will hopefully be clear to the judge when he sentences Dharun Ravi on May 21, 2012 - is that Tyler Clementi was a severely troubled young man.  The fact that he was gay seems almost incidental to the facts here.  It is the media, and the perception by some high profile figures that Clementi was so relentlessly tormented by some homophobic monster to the point where he saw no alternative but to end his life, that have turned Ravi into the anti-bullying crusade's sacrificial lamb.


Until we know why Tyler Clementi killed himself, we can only continue to engage in the dialogue of bullying in general - and the acceptance of everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, nationality, socioeconomic status.... or sexual identity.  These are issues that must be continually addressed at the institutional and family levels.  The stigmas associated with seeking emotional support and psychological counseling must be removed.  Adults must have greater accountability and show tolerance and compassion so that children have strong role models and educators in which they can confide. 



tyler.jpgFinally, if indeed Tyler Clementi was so tormented by his own sexuality that perceived bullying led him to such a drastic and irreversible final solution... we can take this as yet another teachable moment in which to teach our young people that there is nothing "wrong" with homosexuality, and that it is not a "choice"... just as one's skin color is not a choice.  And just as one's skin color has nothing to do with the character and worth of a human being, neither does one's sexual orientation.  We must also teach children that there will be serious legal consequences if one commits a genuine hate crime. 


Having said all that, I am reminded that in certain regions of our country "creationism" is still debated, sex education is still prohibited or frowned upon, and we have presidential candidates who call for the elimination of the Department of Education.  Somehow I don't see teenage angst, mental health disorders, or appreciation for diversity being priorities on this nation's social agenda.  Until they are, I hope that the current discussion of the Tyler Clementi/Dharun Ravi tragedy can accomplish a few things: foster greater efforts by individual schools and communities to educate students and adults alike about diversity and tolerance; destigmatize the need for psychological counseling; and stop people from looking for the easy way out of complex social issues.  Let's research and develop comprehensive plans of seeing and tackling the big pictures of societal problems... instead of fixating on convenient scapegoats.


References:, Rutgers webcam spying case: How it all began, March 16, 2012

Retrieved from:


Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School (2010) Retrieved from:


Hate crime overview, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved from:


Video credit:


Photo credits:

John O'Boyle, The Star Ledger

Retrieved from:


Equal opportunity

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           Affirmative action has served well in helping to redress the effects of past discrimination against women and ethnic minorities (Paguyo & Moses, 2011). As affirmative action seeks to redress the discrimination of the past it overtly discriminates against several existing groups. However, overlooking that inconvenient fact, we still see how the policy is ill applied to areas such as government. Affirmative action can be viewed as a failure is we consider how ineffective the government is as the largest affirmative action employer. Perhaps it is not the overarching affirmative action policy that is at fault in making government ineffectual but the fact that affirmative action has missed one key minority group that has not been identified in the policy and as such whose talents are underutilized- bald white men.

          Evolutionary psychologists posit that the struggle for resources has led to evolutionary adaptations among humans. The struggle to propagate the species has led women to seek men who have or show signs of being able to acquire resources to support offspring.  Evolutionary psychologists suggest that mates themselves are considered resources that are sought after by ancestral man (Aronson & Akert, 2010). As we have evolved into such a superficial modern society, who can argue that bald men have less of a chance to acquire mating resources then our follically endowed competitors.  Bald men are at a disadvantage in modern society (Cash, 1990).  

          Affirmative action can redress the past and current discrimination against bald men. However, to suggest that 'bald people' or 'bald men' be included in the policy would amount to double dipping for many currently accounted for groups. For instance, a bald black man would in effect be double dipping and possible be viewed as more deserving of scarce resources than a bald white man. By the same standard a bald white woman could also be viewed as receiving more favorable status because of her double group counting. The policy should include the admission of bald white men to help level the playing field.

          Our group has suffered from stereotype threat leading to disengagement that has in turn led to social withdrawal  (Muscarella & Cunningham, 1996).  This limits our opportunities and makes our group underutilized. Our group has been exploited by the hat manufacturers for decades, taking advantage of our social phobias. We will be fated to line the pockets of these modern day robber barons until there is some kind of government intervention on our behalf. Our talents can never be fully realized until some kind of government intervention can take place to eliminate the out-group bias we suffer. 6091574121_3c61af1f95_z.jpg






















  Equal opportunity is the goal of affirmative action (Crosby et al., 2003).  Each individual should be given the same chances as any other individual. If bald white men were simply included in the existing affirmative action policy then we would enjoy the same opportunities as other discriminated against groups. The slings and arrows our group has suffered by the hand of the follically endowed can only be redressed through the mighty hand of government. Despite how ineffectual government is, we believe that with our involvement we can make a difference toward improving its functionality. We all benefit by having equal opportunity to resources because that creates a diversity among us that can only enrich our lives (Rosenthal & Levy, 2012) .




  Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., Akert, R. M., (2010). Social Psychology (7th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ:         Prentice Hall.

Crosby, F. J., Iyer, A., Clayton, S., & Downing, R. A. (2003). Affirmative action: Psychological data and the policy debates. American Psychologist, 58(2), 93-93-115. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.58.2.93

Lowery, B. S., Chow R. M., Knowles, E. D., & Unzueta, M. M., (2012) Paying for positive group esteem: How inequity frames affect whites' responses to redistributive policies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 102(2), Feb 2012, 323-336. doi: 10.1037/a0024598


Rosenthal, L., Levy, S. R., (2012) The relation between polyculturalism and intergroup attitudes among racially and ethnically diverse adults. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, Vol 18(1), Jan 2012, 1-16. doi: 10.1037/a0026490


Paguyo, C. H., Moses, M. S., (2011) Debating affirmative action: Politics, media, and equal opportunity in a "postracial" America. Peabody Journal of Education, Vol 86(5), Nov 2011, 553-579. doi: 10.1080/0161956X.2011.616138



Buchanan B. P., (2007) Television's portrayal of bald men in prime time.

 Vol 68(6-A), 2007, 2225.


Muscarella, F., Cunningham, M. R., (1996) The evolutionary significance and social perception of male pattern baldness and facial hair. Ethology & Sociobiology, Vol 17(2), Mar 1996, 99-117. doi: 10.1016/0162-3095(95)00130-1


Cash, T. F., (1990) Losing hair, losing points? The effects of male pattern baldness on social impression formation. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol 20(2, Pt 1), Feb 1990, 154-167. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1990.tb00404.x


Hat image retrieved from;

In light of the recent tornados that destroyed Midwestern and Southern states, I felt I must recognize these communities and the spirit they have in rebuilding their lives.  thumbnail.jpg


The weather patterns have just been crazy--in a 48-hour period, more tornados were reported then in the typical month of March!  Yet, victims of this massive wave of Tornados survived. I am not forgetting the 39 fatalities (absolutely devastating, may they rest in peace). This event had me thinking, how does the human race persevere through such horrendous tragedies?


It is with great confidence that I can say Americans persevere because of our support systems--it is what keeps us moving. We have organizations dedicate to this very mission (of providing social support), the Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to name a few.  It is absolutely fascinating (and deserving of media coverage) what the power of helping behavior can do for both the volunteer and recipient. 


So, why do we help?  A significant portion of "helpers" include those who have also suffered and survived the same disaster (Tierney et al., 2001). Research shows that the prosocial behavior is a result of helper's personalization and identification with the disaster (O'Brien and Mileti, 1992). The human desire to help the suffering is correlated with the human need to find something meaningful following disastrous events.  That is, the power of positive feelings associated with volunteerism serves in remediating the emotional and physical damage caused by disasters.  What this suggests is that volunteerism is the result of the fulfillment of social-psychological goals that are both extrinsically and intrinsically motivated.  


What about altruistic motives? For behavior to meet the standards of altruism, self-interest must be absent (Aronson et al., 2010).  However, some theorists propose that altruistic behavior stems from self-interest (Aronson et al., 2010). Consistent with the extrinsic and intrinsic motives presented above, it would make sense then that the altruistic need in serving the community simultaneously meets social-psychological goals. Does this mean that no behavior is truly altruistic?  Social exchange theory would contend this as the case because helping behavior can be costly.  That is, one only engages in prosocial behavior it offers significant personal rewards (Schneider et al., 2012; Aronson et al., 2010). 


thumbnail 2.jpgIf volunteerism aids in the recovery of both personal and community needs, is that so bad? I believe we witnessed altruistic behavior among the events of September 11th as strangers risk their own lives to save others. What's more, experts in the field of social psychologist admit the difficulty in unraveling the true motives behind behavior (Batson, 1991).  Regardless, the donation of sweat, blood, and tears in the recovery of our country, regardless of the source, is praiseworthy. 




Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Akert, R. M. (2010). Social Psychology (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, Inc


Batson, C. D (1991). The altruism question: Toward a social-psychologial answer. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.


O'Brien, Paul and Dennis S. Mileti. 1992. "Citizen Participation in Emergency

Response Following the Loma Prieta Earthquake." International Journal of Mass

Emergencies and Disasters 10(1): 71-89


Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


Tierney, Kathleen J., Michael K. Lindell, and Robert W. Perry. 2001. Facing the

Unexpected: Disaster Preparedness and Response in the United States. Washington D.C.: Joseph Henry Press.

Losing Big: Stigmas and Weight Discrimination

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Most world travelers notice a great deal of differences between foreign countries and the United States, with tiny cars, street cafes, and less advanced plumbing and electricity making an appearance on most lists. Apple.jpg One primary difference is certainly obvious to many avid travelers - the percentage of overweight or obese individuals varies significantly from country to country. Unfortunately, the United States is ranked as one of the top ten "fattest" countries in the world, and a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) states that three out of four people in America will be overweight or obese within ten years (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2012). Worldwide, countless organizations are designed to help overweight and obese individuals embrace a healthy lifestyle, but regrettably, at least some of these groups may be doing more harm than good.

According to the World Health Organization, obesity rates have more than doubled in the past thirty years and roughly 2.8 million adults die each year due to weight-related problems or diseases (World Health Organization, 2011). Even more startling is the incidence of childhood obesity, a problem so pressing that First Lady Michelle Obama started the "Let's Move!" initiative to help children across America get more active and make healthy choices (Let's Move!). Let's Move is not the first program designed to help prevent childhood obesity, and in recent years many state governments and local school boards have adopted programs designed to educate adults and help children develop healthy lifestyles at an early age.

While no one could argue the benefits associated with helping encourage individuals to lose weight and adopt healthy lifestyles, a considerable downside to the current anti-obesity campaigns is the stigmatization of being overweight. Many organizations and people focus on helping individuals lose weight, but overlook how easy it is to replace the strive for a healthy lifestyle for discrimination towards the overweight and obese (Luna, 2011). Unfortunately, even the best-intentioned programs can leave individuals feeling embarrassed and ashamed of their weight and ultimately less wiling to seek help.


Prejudice and stereotypes plague almost every area of life and encourage individuals to point fingers at those who are different - different colors, different sexes, different religions, or even different weights. Anyone who is different from the rest of the group is considered an outsider or an out-group member. These people are different from the group, and are thus less quality human beings because they are different. As Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012) explain, stereotypes have a negative effect on the target individuals and often result in anxiety and fear. The emotional side effects associated with the stigma of being overweight are almost as detrimental as the excess weight itself - overweight individuals commonly experience feelings of shame and rejection, low self-esteem, depression, and loneliness (Sheehan, 2010). A study by Huizing, Cooper, Bleich, Clark, and Beach (2009) clearly showed that weight bias and stigmatization can come from unexpected sources when they revealed evidence that doctors even demonstrate bias in their care and treatment of overweight and obese patients.

Despite good intentions, some of the current interventions designed to help overweight and obese individuals adopt healthy lifestyles result in added harm by causing individuals to be ashamed of their condition. While it is evident that obesity is an epidemic that requires swift and effective action, the emotion toll of the stigma associated with being overweight or obese can damage the health and mental well being of the inflicted individuals. Certainly a better method of intervention is in order, or a new intervention to help reduce the discrimination experienced by overweight and obese individuals.


Let's Move! (n.d.). America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids. Retrieved from Let's Move!:

Luna, E. (2011). Stigam a side effect of fight against obesity. Retrieved from Tufts Daily - Tufts University:

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2012). Obesity and the Economics of Prevention. Retrieved from OECD:,3746,en_2649_33929_46038969_1_1_1_1,00.html#Further_Reading

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M., (Eds.). (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Sheehan, J. (2010). The Stigma of Obesity. Retrieved from Everyday Health:

World Health Organization. (2011, March). Obesity and overweight. Retrieved from World Health Organization (WHO):

Image References:

All We Need is Love

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With the recent occurrence of Valentine's Day, quite naturally the idea of love, sex and relationships was on my mind quite heavily. Walking through the sea of bouquets, balloons and boxes of chocolates at work, I started to think about what all of this meant. I won't delve into the historical origins of Valentine's Day here in this post, but if you would like to get a better idea of what culminated into this holiday's beginnings, here's a great place to start: .  Personally, my boyfriend and I are not the biggest fans of Valentine's Day simply because it overwhelms everyone with this exaggerated sense of expectation that you have to have a kick-ass romantic escapade on this ONE day out of the ENTIRE year. Because surely if you do not have said kick-ass romantic escapade on this ONE particular day out of the year you might start to question your partner's level of interest in you or if you're single, then you might feel doomed in the love department...blah blah.  That is too much pressure for one day. I love my man every day out of the year, so I'll stick to making as much of an effort 365 of those days out of the year to show him that. So thanks Valentine's Day, but no thanks.


However, having said all of that, the upside to Valentine's is that it is a day on which love in general is very much encouraged. Undue pressures aside, it is deemed to be a great thing if you express your love to someone else on this day. Which is why I think that it was a beautiful irony that HBO aired their documentary entitled, "The Loving Story," on Valentine's Day. It's ironic because "The Loving Story" is about Richard and Mildred Loving who were a couple that got married in 1958, and were arrested shortly thereafter.  Their crime?  Marrying each other in the first place. 


You see, Richard was White, and Mildred was Black and Native American and a marriage between individuals of different races was unlawful in the state of Virginia.  They were arrested (in the middle of the night and taken out of their own bedroom, no less!), and ultimately embarked upon a legal battle that changed our society.  They had to wrangle with the courts in their home state of Virginia for nine years, as they tried to battle to get back home since they were banished from the state due to their arrest and conviction.  The Lovings were convicted of violating the state's miscegenation law, banning interracial marriage. Richard and Mildred's case eventually went to the Supreme Court which not only overturned their conviction, it also set the wheels in motion for the remaining states with active miscegenation laws to repeal them. These are the words of presiding Chief Justice Warren as he delivered the opinion of the Supreme Court:


"Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State."


The Lovings' story illustrates a very direct example of blatant racism, and they were victims of racisms' pervasive institutionalized existence in the form of what we clearly see now as ridiculous legal rhetoric. The Lovings said that they weren't out to be civil rights crusaders but by standing up for wanting to exercise their freedom to love each other, they ultimately were.


          "It's not so much about me and Richard because we could go away. But it's the principle; it's the law. I don't think it's right. And if we do win, we will be helping a lot of people."

--Mildred Loving



Richard and Mildred were poor folks living in the South. They didn't have a lot of means. They could have just accepted the fate they were facing because of being arrested for marrying each other. The arrest and conviction could have broken them up. And if they did go their separate ways, the ensuing bitterness could have fueled dissenting opinions about each other's races because of the experience they went through. Both Richard and Mildred could have accepted the high power distance that existed back in those days, which did not tolerate diversity, particularly when it involved intimacy, sex and relationships. Our text defines power distance as the extent to which people in society accept inequalities based on social status, wealth, power, laws, and/or physical characteristics.  They pretty much had all of the above working against them, but yet their quest to have the freedom to love each other endured. Thankfully, Richard and Mildred never gave up and they persevered and got the justice they deserved. During the course of the myriad trials they went through, Richard was frustrated at the lack of progress and posited a very poignant, yet simple request to one of his lawyers representing him in the case:


"Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can't live with her in Virginia."




Freedom.  These two people simply wanted to love each other and express that freely. I personally thank them for enduring their struggle. I am also a woman of Black and Native American ancestry, just like Mildred. My boyfriend is White. And I have the freedom to love him. Freely. I am beyond thankful for that. The richness of each of our diversity has only contributed to the blessings our relationship has bestowed upon the two of us. I am very grateful to Richard and Mildred for fighting for their right to live their lives together. I don't have to fear legal reprisal for falling in love with the person of my choosing, and I owe that in large part to the Lovings.


Other people in our society are still waiting for that same freedom.  The freedom to express their love freely. Hopefully, they too will have it soon...





HBO Films (2012) The Loving Story.  Retrieved from: (2012) Valentine's Day. Retrieved from:


Legal Information Institute.(2012) Loving v. Virginia (No. 395) 206 Va. 924, 147 S.E. 2d 78, reversed. Retrieved from:


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M.,(2012) (Eds.) Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.



Images Source:




Richard and Mildred Loving.


Richard and Mildred Loving.

Naming Status

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        Working in diverse work setting, I cannot help but notice that different racial and ethnic groups have names that vary from the predominant majority race.  Mexican's have traditional Mexican names and African-Americans tend to have "blacker" sounding names.  ABC news 20/20 (2006) reports that the top whitest sounding male names are Jake, Connor, and Tanner; whereas, the top blackest male names are DeShawn, DeAndre, and Marquis (ABC News, 2006).  These are not the most common black and white names; however, there is a difference in what blacks and whites name their kids.  Comparing the top 10 most popular baby names of all races/ethnicity in 2010 to those of African-Americans, differences result with only two male and two female names common to both lists. 

Top 10 Names for 2010


Male name

Female name































(Social Security Administration, 2011)

Top 10 African-American Names for 2010


Male Names

Female Names































(, 2010)

            Why are names associated with race relevant? You might ask.

            De Kelaita, Munroe, and Tootell (2001) through self-initiated status transfer theory describe how status is transferred from activity to activity and how association with a member different in status can influence one's own status.  Particularly the research shows how a member equal in status to the group can influence members by associating oneself to a higher status individual.  The researcher concluded that when people moved from one task to the next, all status transferred with the individual including information to others (De Kelaita, Munroe, & Tootell, 2001).  This status transfer relates to names associated with different names because races are associated with different statuses.  Therefore, a person with a blacker name may be thought of having lower status. The fact that coming from or the perception of being of lower status has real consequences.

            Social dominance theory states that society is a hierarchy with the highest status groups maintaining the hierarchy by suppressing lower status groups while the lower status groups support the hierarchy with hopes to someday join the higher status group (Umphress, Simmons, Boswell, & Triana, 2008).  One way a higher status group maintains this hierarchy results from only associating with people of the same status. 

            It is possible to conclude then that racial names especially ones related to lower status hinder the individual with the name from gaining higher status.  The fact that during a study, resumes with an individual's name of a higher status group were reviewed 17 percent more than resumes with a name from a member of a lower status, supports this conclusion (ABC News, 2006). 

            But what motivates a person to name according to race?

            Sharon Jayson (2009) from USA Today reports that people try to maintain uniqueness and individuality with names while embracing their diverse heritage in America's melting pot (Jayson, 2009).  Unfortunately, this uniqueness is often related to groups other than the dominant group, white males, and parents do not foresee the harm a name could cause their offspring.

            Fortunately, lower status group members should not lose hope in moving up in status.  When strictly objective qualities play influence in selection decisions, biases towards out-group members are reduced (Umphress, Simmons, Boswell, & Triana, 2008).  It is sad that the color of one's skin or even one's name could provoke lost opportunity, but research indicates gaining merit could be an equalizer.  The process of full racial and gender equality will occur slowly, but with education, people will learn to put biases aside, so that this equality could one-day result.



ABC News. (2006, September 21). Top 20 'Whitest' and 'Blackest' Names. 20/20. Retrieved from

De Kelaita, R., Munroe, P. T., & Tootell, G. (2001). Self-Initiated Status Transfer: A theory of Status Gain and Loss. Small Group Research, 32, 406-424. doi:10.1177/104649640103200402

Jayson, S. (2009, May 21). All the rage in baby names: What's unusual. USA Today. Retrieved from (2010, February 10). Top 10 Most popular Black Baby Names. Retrieved from

Social Security Administration. (2011, December 19). Top Ten Names for 2010. Retrieved from Popular Baby Names:

Umphress, E. E., Simmons, A. L., Boswell, W. R., & Triana, M. (2008). Managing discrimination in Selection: TH influence of Dircetives From an Authority and Social Dominance Orientation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(5), 982-993. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.93.5.982

In the New York Times Blog "Room for Debate" (February 26, 2012), five individuals pipe up with what amounts to an even handed estimation of the question; whether, in fact, people are getting dumber.
James R. Flynn, the author of "What is Intelligence" penned, "Thinking in More Sophisticated Ways" for the New York Times Blog. In it, he describes how our grandparents would not have fared as well as we likely could on today's IQ tests. He examines this phenomenon from several perspectives. First, he dismisses any likelihood that we somehow have more cognitive stuff to work with at birth, or any inkling that our ancestors were simply lacking enough intelligence to deal with concrete world of everyday life, instead positing that today we live in a time which offeres us a broad range of cognitive challenges than those of our forbears. We have developed a higher level of cognitive functioning.
Flynn describes the differences between the utilitarian world that grandma and grandpa inhabited, and our modern world. Increasingly we deal with the abstract and the hypothetical. This is good news because we're better equipped to learn about science and also, reason about ethics. He brings up the fact that, in the past, some would have defended racist ideas about an inherent inequality between whites and blacks, but the evidence is not there to support such a claim.
Flynn then links to an article from the "New Yorker" (December, 2007) which describes his namesake finding called "The Flynn Effect." This effect is the increase in IQ that has been witnessed through the generations since the tests were developed. The theory that is discussed is "modernity." In other words, we haven't necessarily become more intelligent, but rather, more modern. The distinction is an important one.
On the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder is a world of concrete concerns. Where poverty, and hand to mouth existence keep people out of the world of the abstract. Theirs is a practical existence, and it is no wonder then that IQ is also found to be lower in relation to poverty. It's not that they couldn't expand their cognitive treasure trove if the circumstances were different. It's just that there concerns reflect different values. Like perhaps, securing a roof over one's head, or food.
Stereotypes about Asians being more intelligent may more accurately understood as Asians are more persistent in their scholarly pursuits, but some prefer the meme that Asians are more intelligent. The article then discusses Flynn's research into the IQ question, and reaffirms that this is overwhelmingly shown to be a nurture issue, not nature. This reflects what modern times demands, and what parents value.
It's important to stress that vast gaps of inequality ensures that some will be thrown under a bus in terms of cognitive opportunity offered in our increasingly divided and divisive culture.
Some have more access to aspects of modern life. That promotes higher scores on a measure of intelligence. If such a test is merely a measure of one person's exposure to modern life, then, well, the results of such a test might impart a sense of self in one's ability to do well on a test! And that is all. So an understanding of "self-as-modern" instead of "self-as-intelligent" doesn't really offer us much in terms of a sense of other, of community or fairness, empathy or understanding.


Flynn, James R. (2012). Thinking in More Sophisticated Ways. Room For Debate: The New York Times. Retreived from:

Gladwell, Malcolm. (2007). The New Yorker. None of the Above: What I.Q. Doesn't tell you about race. Retreived from:

Temp is a four letter word

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         Temp is a four letter word. Anyone who has ever worked for a company as a temp has probably felt the discriminatory glares and behaviors by the full time employees of that company. This inequality creates a certain amount of disharmony among the workforce. In effect there are several groups of employees working towards the same goal and indeed performing the same job at different wage and benefit structures. These groups emerge as full time employees and 'temps', which is short for temporary worker. two_groups_of_people_divided_fan2034560.jpg

     Several intergroup theories can be applied to understanding behavior in organizational settings were dominant and subordinate groups exist. The application of social dominance theory explains why subordinate groups begrudgingly maintain the status quo. The belief that they can achieve the positive social value of the dominant group combined with the lack of power and influence of the subordinate group helps promote hierarchy enhancing legitimizing myths.  Legitimizing myths consist of the values, beliefs, and stereotypes that justify the behavior that distributes the positive and negative social value within the social system (PSUWC, L8, p8, 2011). A company that hires many of their employees from the temp labor force appears to have the effect of keeping the temporary workforce motivated to perform as well as the full time employee group.

         Intergroup conflict arises because full timers and temps view oconflict-management.jpgvertime as a scarce resource. This creates a personal and intergroup threat. A personal threat develops as each individual is categorized into a group as either a full timer or a temp. This motivates each to protect their overtime resource and becomes a self directed threat. Each group feels as though they are more deserving of this resource. The temps view themselves as cheaper labor therefore more cost efficient then the full timer group. The full timer group view themselves as more capable of performing the job and feel they offer more value then the temp group. As the dominant group, full timers perceive temps as acquiring material resources that should be awarded to the dominant group.

        Full timers believe and act as the dominant group and perceive the subordinate group of temps as threatening their access to material resources in the form of overtime. Social identity theory is applicable here where full timers derive part of their self concept from membership of their group, especially when contrasted with the temp group (PSUWC, L6, p3, 2011). In the organizational situation personal identity doesn't play as strong a role as social identity where self categorization, group self-esteem, and emotional significance weigh more heavily toward group membership. In addition social identity theory helps explain full timer behavior regarding intergroup bias, specifically out group derogation. This is evident in the tonal inflection when even mentioning the out group name. "Temp" is pronounced most often as if a negative connotation were attached.

        Although disharmony exists among the groups, temps tolerate the discrimination and subordinate status within the work situation.  Full timers possess power and resources such as the ability to give preferential work assignments and recommendations to be accepted into the dominant group or being hired full time. Social identity theory recognizes group status as a motivating factor for the temp group to maintain the group hierarchy. Social dominance theory however posits that positive social value is one of the motivators for the temp group to maintain their position as the subordinate group within the hierarchy. Social dominance theory further suggests that subordinate groups wish to maintain the group hierarchy in the belief that they may join the dominant group to gain access to material and psychological resources that forms the construct of positive social value. In addition, the discrimination felt by the temp group by the full timer group also helps maintain the group hierarchy via learned helplessness through behavioral patterns of submissiveness.

        However, where social dominance theory suggests numerous reasons why subordinate groups wish to maintain the status quo, legitimizing myths offer similar reasons. The belief that temps will be hired full time into the organization and become members of the full timer group is a legitimizing myth that is plainly evident by the members of the full timer group who were once in the temp group. Nearly half of the full time group was at one time members of the temp group so enough members behave as if this legitimizing myth were true.

   groupOfwomen.jpg     Social dominance theory suggests people want to protect group status in all situations (Schneider,  Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). This clearly isn't the case with temps and full timers outside the work domain. The specific perceived threat that motivates intergroup bias is the reduced access to overtime resulting in decreased monetary compensation. However, when co workers attend social functions after work for instance, gathering at the local bar or restaurant where no threat exists, personal identity most likely plays a larger role. Here the situation is different than the situation at work.

          Integrated threat theory offers that this type of gathering can reduce anxiety and the perception of threat by learning the other group is very similar to themselves. Intergroup threat theory suggests that groups should interact in order to understand that there are more similarities then differences. This uses similar ideas found in the contact hypothesis (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2010). This interaction can help reduce intergroup bias even though intergroup threat exists in a different situation involving the same groups. We could all stand to interact a little more if it would help us realize we are more alike than different.



Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2011). Psych 424: Applied Social Psychology. Lesson 6: Intergroup Relations. Retrieved from:       

Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., Akert, R. M., (2010). Social Psychology (7th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ:         Prentice Hall.

Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2011). Psych 484: Work Attitudes and Motivation. Lesson 8: Intergroup Theories: How do the people around me influence me? Retrieved from:

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M., (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and          Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Image reference:

Tug of war. Retrieved from:

Groups divided. Retrieved from:

Circle group. Retrieved from:

Employee. Retrieved from:

The Cheese Touch

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The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a series of children's books written by Jeff Kinney meant for middle school age children that have been made into wonderfully comical movies.  The imagesdowk2.jpgpremise of the series is based on Greg Heffly and his "journal"- which is NOT A DIARY, of middle school experiences and cartoon style drawings.  This series goes along with the concepts of social identity in the sense that Greg is attempting to fit in a social group at middle school even though he isn't a jock or a nerd or even one of the popular kids. 

According to DMBd plot summary (2010), to Greg Heffley, middle school is the dumbest idea ever invented (as most uncool children would agree with).  The realistic plot describes middle school as a place rigged with hundreds of social landmines, not the least of which are morons, wedgies, swirlies, bullies, lunchtime banishment to the cafeteria floor - and a festering piece of cheese with nuclear cooties.  This festering piece of cheese is what made the greatest impact on my two middle school age children.  The cheese touch is the modern day version of "cooties".  If you have cooties or today's cheese touch, it's never a good thing.  If you are considered to be infected with the cheese touch you are definitely part of the out-group or considered a rival to all.

Greg is less than socially savvy but definitely has a place within his own type of in-group.  His best friend Rowley Jefferson has innocent admiration for his mother and even has t-shirts with their picture on it to prove it.  While Greg shows an inadequate amount of loyalty and is consistently trying to make Rowley "cool".  Ever so lovingly, Rowley sticks to his roots and is unmoved by his lack of cool factor. 

In this movie, Greg is vastly aware his social identity and that he does not belong to a particular social group and is now beginning to have trouble identifying with his childhood friend Rowley and Rowley's lack of ability to conform to what is popular.  This banter provides a great amount of laughter and the realization that I am glad to be out of middle school.

To endure the torturous time in his life (middle school) and achieve the social status Greg feels he is entitled too, Greg comes up with an infinite amount of plans to survive all of which in the end go wrong.  All the while, Greg is documenting everything in his "journal" - NOT A DIARY.  Hence - Diary of a Wimpy Kid 





IMBd (2010), Diary of a Wimpy Kid, plot summary,

We should all be colorblind

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"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character"
(King, 1963).


Discrimination refers to an actual behavior toward out-group members and prejudice refers to an attitude or mindset about out-group members (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).  Whenever the topics of either come up, I tend to get a little defensive. First of all because I don't consider myself to be one who would discriminate or have prejudice and have been falsely accused as being so and secondly because of reverse-discrimination, particularly that of non-whites against whites racism. I will discuss my first reason in that I have always looked at who a person is on the inside, who that person represents.  Are they a good person?  Are they trustworthy and honest?  If so, I will like them with no regard to their color, socio-economic class, sex, age, sexual orientation, or religion.  I sometimes wonder how I grew up to be so open-minded and tolerant of the diversity of others.  I was raised by my maternal grandparents during the 1970's.  They grew up during the great depression, a much different time, with a whole different attitude about minorities.  They grew up with the acceptance of blatant racism.  Retrospectively, I find myself in awe that for whatever reason my grandparents (especially my grandfather) had an issue with people from different ethnic backgrounds.  It seemed odd to me, even as a child, that a loving man of his stature and education (he was a dentist) could be so narrow-minded.  I blame it on the era in which he was raised and the groupthink mindset he was exposed to, resulting in unfair bias toward ethnic groups of that time.  How did I become so tolerant?  I'm not sure, but it could very well be because of Allport's contact hypothesis in that I had positive experiences and contact with out-group members, therefore not jumping to negative stereotypes about a particular race.  Fortunately I grew up colorblind and that is how I choose to raise my children.

This second reason is rarely, if ever discussed. Why is that?  Racism can be a two-way street. It is defined as "bias against an individual or group of individuals based on the individual's or group member's race/ethnicity" (Schneider et al., p. 333).  Of course I understand the whole history of racism of whites versus blacks.  I'm certainly not discounting that fact, nor do I mean any disrespect.  The fact remains that blacks and other non-whites can be just as discriminatory against whites as the other way around.  How so?  Well in my experience I have found in some instances that it is automatically assumed that because I'm white, I'll judge others who are not white, just because I'm white.  I've found that whites can be generalized and stereotyped just as those from other races.  When I was in college the first time (20 years ago), I was asked out on dates by some African American boys. I turned them down because I had a boyfriend at home, and even though I explained that to them, they still accused me of being racist.  There was also a group of African American students on campus who wore satin jackets with the inscription "Nation of Black" embroidered on their backs.  I also recall there being African American scholarships.  Now in all fairness, if a rule applies to one race, shouldn't it for another?  I would never have imagined wearing "Nation of White" emblazoned on my clothing or questioned why there wasn't a Caucasian scholarship.  That's just not my nature.  Another reason is that because I'm white, I'm the enemy because my people allowed slavery to occur.  I've actually been told this before.  When in all actuality I think slavery was an awful abomination and I have no control of what happened in the past.  That was the past, this is today.  I remember watching the movie "Amistad" and being reminded of how certain tribes in Africa turned on other tribes in order for the whites to obtain them and enter into the slave trade.  Although whites were certainly not innocent in this scenario, the fact remains that the root of slavery was many times a result of blacks who turned on other blacks.  I suppose this mindset could be what is known as the theory of relative deprivation, whereas an individual feels they have been "deprived" based on their perception of their group as compared to another's group and have not received what they feel that they are due. (Schneider et al., 2012).

It is my hope that one day we can all be colorblind, just as the great Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of.  I too have felt judged, not only by the color of my skin, but also by my sex and perceived economic success.
I will end this blog with a saying I recently read:

"Before you assume, learn the facts. Before you judge, understand why.
Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think." - author unknown.

King, Jr., M. L.  (1963).  I Have A Dream Speech.  Retrieved from:

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology:   Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks, CA; United States of America: Sage Publications.

Image source:

The "N-Word"

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What are the origins of the word "nigger"?  How did it become acceptable for some Black people to say it about and amongst each other?  When did it become "the n-word"?  Presumably, calling it the "n-word" puts it in the same class as the "f-word."  OK, fair enough.  It's a "dirty word" we want to shield delicate ears from.  I get it.  Except... you can say "nigger" on network TV (as long as you're Black), and you can't say "fuck" (without being bleeped or fined by the FCC.)   So, what is the deal with this word "nigger" anyway?  We hear it all the time in music, movies, and comedy acts.  It's pervasive in pop culture and in "real life."  So, how has a hateful, derogatory, derisive word become almost a term of endearment among Black people, but a crime punishable by crucifixion, or at least humiliation and ostracism, if uttered by a White person in any context?            


All I really know about the question of why it's OK for Black people to say "nigger" is the vague and dismissive "explanation" that "it's a Black thing."  Is this an acceptable answer?  If I am diagnosed with a disease and ask my doctor to explain it, is it sufficient for her to tell me, "it's a science thing"?   Racism is like a disease.  We must talk about it.  We have to dissect and analyze it thoroughly if we are ever to eradicate it - or at least eradicate its outward manifestation, discrimination.  One thing we cannot do is ignore it.  Yet, this is precisely what we do.  We can acknowledge that racial slurs exist, and that different implicit standards of behavior exist for different ethnicities, but it's politically incorrect to talk about what they are.  Why?


These are questions I would like my (hypothetical) children to be able to discuss with their teachers and classmates.  I would like to know that my children's educators are  broaching these provocative, but highly relevant, social issues in an honest, fearless, historically accurate manner, and engaging their students in lively discussions and debates, in a safe and supportive environment.  How do we learn about something we are not allowed to talk about?  We should jump at every opportunity of a "teachable moment" to do so.  That is exactly what Lincoln Brown, a White elementary school teacher in Chicago, did with his sixth grade social studies class in October, 2011.  He raised the subject of the word "nigger" in the context of a lesson on racism - specifically, how damaging and dangerous certain words can be in perpetuating racial stereotyping.  Taking advantage of this teachable moment - which was inspired by a student passing around lyrics to a rap song containing the word - Mr. Brown was suspended.  He was charged by the school principal with "using verbally abusive language to or in front of students."  Last week, Mr. Brown filed a lawsuit against the principal, the Chicago Public Schools district, and the Board of Education.  His lawsuit claims emotional distress and assassination of character, and, according to his lawyer, seeks to have the CPS "change their policy to allow this type of discussion."  (


I applaud Mr. Brown's decision to pursue this lawsuit.  It brings attention to a subject that has been taboo too long.  Racism, though not as blatant as in the form of legislated segregation in the past, is alive and well in America.  It is often "difficult to measure because most displays of bias or negative attitudes have become very subtle..." (Schneider et al., 2012).  In my opinion, the aversion to discussing the "n-word", and the discomfort associated with being exposed to it, are examples of this subtle form of racism.  The insidious nature of these less blatant forms of racism makes it all the more important to discuss openly.  As touched upon previously in our discussion on affirmative action, Black people have made tremendous strides in all areas of life since the wretched days of slavery.  But the scars are far from healed, the damage is far from repaired and recompensed, equality is still only a lovely word with limited real life application, and we have not even begun to build a real bridge across the huge racial divide.  Maybe we can start by taking a word - a small two syllable word whose mere utterance evokes so much heated emotion - and talk about it.



Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


Hill, D. (2012). Chicago teacher Lincoln Brown uses n-word during classroom discussion, sues CPS over suspension.  Fox Chicago News. Retrieved from


Janssen, K and Korecki, N. (2012). Teacher sues CPS after suspension for slur during 'teachable moment.' Chicago Sun Times.  Retrieved from


Hubbard, L. (2012). Lincoln Brown, Chicago teacher, sues for the right to say n-word in class. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from

The Color of Fear

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I recently watched an excellent documentary titled The Color of Fear (1994).  If you haven't seen this video, you are missing out on the sociological perspectives of eight North American men of Asian, African, Latino, and European descent. Directed by Lee Mun Wah, the small group is brought together to discuss the ever-present problem of racism. It is among the intense exchange that viewers witness conflict as a result of social dominance theory (PSU, 2012); that is, how race influences our actions, how we identify with others, and how these actions contribute to systems of power and inequality.


Exploring the meaning behind "White" is largely different for people of color.  The film's central figure, David, represents white Americans and views the oppression of non-whites as self-induced and based on an "unfounded fear."  However, Victor, an African American, argues this socialized notion is the very core of white supremacy.


Thus, the viewers see whites' unawareness of power paired with denial of racial significance breeds what Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (2003) calls color-blind racism.  This blindness or ignorance in recognizing that people of color have distinct historical and contemporary experiences causes systems of inequality insofar as it prevents the privileged whites from seeing the hierarchal systems they create.                     


David's observation that whites do not see themselves as an ethnic group exemplifies this very notion. Yet, ethnicity is inescapable for people of color (Pedraza & Rumbaut, 1996). Whites hold the freedom or option of ethnicity. Through the privilege of choice, whites reinforce the concept of otherness by misinterpreting the meaning of both race and ethnicity in shaping American national identity; hence Victor's declaration in the film that "there is no American ethnicity for people of have to throw it away to be American."


Not only do whites influence the sociological views of ethnicity, they also unknowingly provoke interethnic racism.  Asian Americans, for example, are known to possess "Whiteness" by being smart, hard-working, and successful (Bikmen, 2010).  Due to this "model minority" myth, Asians are used by whites to separate the community (Martinez, 1998). In doing so, African Americans falsely perceive Asians as a threat.  As a result, misplaced rage occurs between people of color.  


What's more, the men in the film admit that being lighter-skinned offers more mobility than their darker-skinned equals.  With mothers celebrating the birth of lighter-skinned babies, it is obvious that they too recognize the potential opportunities in a white supremic society. The goal of the disadvantaged then is to become more Americanized for if you are white, you are considered intelligent, able, moral, credible...even human. 


We (Whites) are born privileged, masked from disadvantaged life, and oblivious to the hardships people of color endure.  We are free from feeling shame for our heritage. We are free to express ourselves.  We are free from suffering because of our color.


I must make it clear that I am not proposing that Whites are callous in any sense of the word. Rather, I am exposing the ignorance that our color has in boosting our power and access to resources.  We are dominant because of the nature of group-based hierarchies (PSU, 2012). 


Fortunately, Lee Mun Wah proves that small group interventions can change social hierarchies and promote membership of subordinates groups (PSU, 2012). Further, The Color of Fear (1994) confirms that living in a multicultural society is possible as eight men become allies and results in a deep sense of understanding and trust. Last, we see that ending racism is not enforcing guilt on white Americans but rather acknowledging that racism exists.  With awareness for the systemic need for change, it is our personal responsibility to do something about it!  




Bikmen, N. (2011). Asymmetrical effects of contact between minority groups: Asian and black students in a small college. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 17(2), 186-186-194. doi:10.1037/a0023230


Bonilla-Silva, E. (2003). Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.


Mun Wah, L. (Author), Almazán, R.(Narrator), Vásquez, H.(Narrator), Lee, D. (Narrator), Clay, G. (Narrator), Matsumoto, Y.(Narrator), Christensen, D. (Narrator), Moye, L (Narrator), Lewis, V. (Narrator). (1994). The Color of Fear [VSH]. United States. Stir Fry Productions.


Pedraza, S., Rumbaut, R. G. (1996). Origins and Destinies: Immigration, Race and Ethnicity in America. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, pp 444-54.

Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2012). Applied Social Psychology (PSYCH 424) Lesson 6: Intergroup Relations. Retrieved from:


ESPN's Foul Play

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Jeremy Lin is a breakout basketball who many may know for coming off of the Knicks bench and leading the team to win several games. The hype around Lin has exploded around the world. Lin is Chinese-Taiwanese-American and has proven to be a player to watch out for. 

After losing against the hornets following a seven win streak ESPN posted the headline "Chink in the Armour" this inappropriate, offensive, unprofessional, and insensitive slur stirred much anger and controversy... but in my opinion not enough. 

According to Bloomberg, the posting was taken down 35 minutes after posting ( One has to question what would motivate a professional journalist to write and publish a racial slur? I could not imagine how that journalist rationalized his actions when confronted and eventually fired. Unfortunately for Lin, much like Yao, there are strong stereotypes that haunt Asians in professional basketball specifically in America.

The excerpt below is from the Sports Inquirer and it parrallels the prejudice Yao had to face to what Lin may have to look forward to... unfortunately:

Like Lin, retired eight-time NBA all-star Yao had to face taunts and ethnic slurs when he broke into the league in 2002.

Former Detroit Piston Ben Wallace said the then 21-year-old Yao would receive a rude welcome the first time China's national team played the United States in August 2002 in Oakland, California.

"We are going to beat him up. We are going to beat him up pretty bad," Wallace said. "Welcome to the league, welcome to our country. This is our playground."

Yao also had to deal with ethnic slurs from former Los Angeles Laker Shaquille O'Neal who once mockingly told a television reporter, "Tell Yao Ming, 'ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh'."


Racism as defined by Schneider et al, "can be defined as a bias against an individual or group of individuals based on the individual's or group members' race/ethnicity (p. 333). The type of racism the ESPN journalist and others may have displayed seem more aligned with aversive racism, because I'm sure if asked "are you racist?" they would all vehemently reply "no", however their biases and actions show otherwise. The slurs and hurtful taunts are fueled by stereotypes of Asians that perpetuate the notion that they can not play basketball and skills are limited to maths and sciences. Prejudging individuals and groups based on a preset of perspective of them is simply prejudice, Redmond described prejudice as, "a set of attitudes towards a group....typically unfavorable" and discrimination as, "overt negative behavior toward a person based on his or her membership in a group" 

Jeremy Lin is aware of the stereotypes and prejudices he faces as an Asian American and actually created a Youtube video that entertained the stereotype. The video is very witty and humorous because Lin is channeling much of societal ignorance into something that both entertains and informs. 

The 23 year old Harvard graduate is far from naive and addresses his obstacles head on when interviewed he stated,  "I think there are definitely (Asian) stereotypes," he said. There are a lot of them. The more we can do to break those down every day the better we will become" (Sports Inquirer). 

All too often we hear people proclaim that racism and prejudice is behind us (America), however without fail we witness it daily. Racism, prejudice, and discrimination is not an American issue it a negative part of human nature that is often justified by societal standards. The crime is in the justification, sweeping under the rug, turning of a blind eye instead of confronting educating and increasing awareness and sensitivity. 


Agnes France-Presse. (2012). "Like Yao, Lin's Success Rubs some the wrong way" Retrieved from:

Redmond, Brian Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2012). Lesson 6, Intergroup Relations. Retrieved from:

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Images and Videos:!/httpImage/image.JPG_gen/derivatives/display_600/image.JPG


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So THAT's it.

Here we've been asking this question since we straightened up and learned words: Why are we here? And there's the answer, in 10-point Arial Western black & white in a lesson commentary for an Applied Social Psych class: It's to protect and disseminate our genetic material (PSU PSYCH424 SP 2012 Lesson 6 Commentary).homer.jpg Picture me doing the Homer-head-slap.

OK, I understand the concept, and we've all heard it in some form before: biology is destiny. Right?

Short answer: Homie don't think so.

I can get on board with the idea that our biology, like that of pretty much every organism on Earth (and likely elsewhere), is geared toward making more of us. It's why we flirt, why we get horny, why we mate, why we want kids even though we know there are already way too many of us on this precarious ride. But is it why we exist?


I'm not a big fan of religion -- as a matter of fact, to my way of thinking (and that of any student of history, I should think), organized religion is one of the greatest "evils" we've come up with in our short infestation of this beautiful rock we call home. But I like the Bible, and some of its stories and ideas have given me a lot to think about. I just don't seem to end up thinking the same things as the Sunday school teachers and their bosses.

Take, for example, the Tower of Babel story. After the Great Flood (presumably a loooong time after), the "whole earth was of one language, and of one speech" (Genesis 11:1 King James Version). One big in-group, so to speak. But then some of them started getting uppity with God, so God decided to punish them. And what does God decide to do, what terrible fate will he inflict on them in his wrath? " ... let us go down," says God, "and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech" (Genesis 11:7). God will separate us, turn us from one big in-group into a whole bunch of intergroups. And God seems to find this punishment appropriate because the problem here is that "Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do" (Genesis 11:6).

Now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do.

Suppose that we were "all one." Suppose there were no Muslims, no Jews, no Christians. No white, no black, and nothing in between. One people, one language, one group ... One. What do you think that would be like?

I think nothing would be restrained from us which we imagined to do.

So how do we get there? Protecting our genetic material by shunning unrelated strangers? Seems counter-productive to me. How do we get to be One if we insist on being White/Black/Muslim/Christian/Rich/Poor/Gay/Straight -- if we insist on being different?

See, what I think -- and this isn't going to be a Sound Theory Based on Empirical Observation, get ready -- what I think is that our endless mitosis is not the reason we're here -- it's just the vehicle. It's how we get there. To One. Because God or whoever stirred the DNA just the tiniest bit one day when we got uppity and made us all different, I guess. But we know that we're healthier -- stronger, smarter, even more beautiful if that can be possible, better -- when we mix our differences together. Not just literally and physiologically, but, as we have seen, in terms of our efforts, our constructions, our endeavours. Like hybrid corn, we gain vigor through d