Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Research shows that girls in the United States are socially constructed to think about theirselves in a harmful way.

Do you know Amy?
This video shows Amy not feeling like hanging out. There are numerous studies showing that this is true for significant numbers of young women. Look at the research below and think about whether this has been true in your life. Do you know girls who struggle with self-esteem, body image and eating/dieting disorders? If you don't, can you at least see how the media is constructing a reality for girls?

Thin Ads + Low Body Image = Stress?
Ads Showing Skinny Models Might Hurt Self-Worth In Vulnerable Young Women
Viewing ads of super-skinny models may make young women feel worse about themselves, especially if they have body image problems, according to a new study. Researcher Gayle Bessenoff, Ph.D., reports the findings in Psychology of Women Quarterly. Bessenoff is an assistant professor in the University of Connecticut's psychology department.

What Studies Show: Links Between Media and Self Esteem in Girls Many studies conclude that there is clearly a link between young women’s self esteem and the media. *The Journal of Research on Adolesence, in a study of body image and self esteem (Daniel Clay, Vivian L. Vignoles, Helga Dittmar - 2005), imparts that the the declining self esteem that girls often experience entering into adolescence is in part due to social comparison with media models. In a 2006 study of girls' body satisfaction and self esteem from the American Psychological Association (Hayley Dohnt,, Marika Tiggemann), research also illustrates that media creates a negative influence on girls' body images and self-esteem – particularly in regard to acceptable levels of thinness.

A particularly alarming media trend is the sexualization of women at younger and younger ages. Medical News Today discusses how suggestive images of young women negatively affect girls self-esteem, playing a role in onset of depression, eating disorders, and low-self-esteem.

Sexualization Of Girls Is Linked To Common Mental Health Problems In Girls And WomenScienceDaily (Feb. 20, 2007) — A report of the American Psychological Association (APA) released today found evidence that the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development.

Dying to Fit In- Literally! Learning to Love Our Bodies and Ourselves By Christine Hartline, MAIn the United States approximately 10% of girls and women (numbering up to 10 million) are suffering from diagnosed eating disorders. Of these at least 50,000 will die as a direct result! Recent data reported by the American Psychiatric Association suggests that of all psychiatric disorders, the greatest excess of patient mortality due to natural and unnatural causes is associated with eating disorders and substance abuse.

Teen Body ImageMedia images have a strong effect on people's body image, particularly for women, because the ideals the media presents for women are farther from the average woman's body. The Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) reports that in 1972, the ideal woman shown in the media (models, movie stars, etc.) weighed less than the average woman, yes, but only by 8%. By the late 90s, the difference had become 23%....In one study from Harvard University reported by (SIRC), it was found that by age 17, 7 out of 10 teens have been on a diet and as many as 80% of teens may have a negative body image....The onset of eating disorders for 86% of people is before they finish their teens.


Look at this powerful video about how people are made to think about themselves and how different that can be from reality:
video

And one more:
When did "like a girl" become a bad thing?





Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author, spoke about gender at a TedXeuston Talk.





Service Step 2: Recording your hours

Within one week of serving hours, I'd like you to post about it.

For Step 2 of the Community Service Experience you should record on your blog what you experienced: Before, during and after you have a service experience, try to be mindful of these questions: Things to record: How did you feel about the service before going? What were your expectations? Were there aspects that you were apprehensive about? Where did you have to go for the service? Had you been there before? If not, what was it like going to this place? Who were the people you came into contact with? What were they like? What was the interaction like? What was the actual job you did? What was it like? Was there anything that surprised you? What were you thinking as you did it? How long did your tasks last? What did you think as you went home? Also you MUST include: Name of organization you volunteered? Where was your experience (address)? Date(s) and time(s) of experience? Supervisor or person in charge and phone/email address? And include a picture of you doing the service or you at the site.


After each service experience, you should write your observations down. These observations will be posted to your blog (in addition to your usual weekly posts). This should help you to remember the details about your experiences so that later in the semester you will be able to write a sociological reflection about your experiences. This also provides evidence of your participation in the service experience. Please fill out the information below or you may type and print it out, but be sure to include the information requested below. Please post about your experience within 1 WEEK after you do the service.

One of the ways that girls are socialized is by seeing unrealistic ads.

The Average Girl...

"I'm not the average girl from your video
and I ain't built like a supermodel
But, I learned to love myself unconditionally
Because I am a queen
I'm not the average girl from your video
My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes
No matter what I'm wearing I will always be the india arie
"
- India Arie

video

The average girl in your video, on your magazine cover, or in your advertisement, is far from average. We live in a media age and are bombarded with information. Much of this information is about how we are supposed to view ourselves. For females, the difficulty is especially tricky. Females are under siege with advertisements, movies, toys and magazine ads that all create an unrealistic, unnatural and unhealthy body image. This can lead to self-esteem problems, unhappiness, eating disorders and a desire to seek self-worth in material possessions. Here are some websites worth exploring:

These pictures show the digital enhancement of models like Britney Spears. The picture you see in the magazine is not of a real person.

video
Love your body from the NOW foundation
Includes offensive ads, positive ads, a presentation of sex and stereotypes


Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty
Includes some short films and articles and online workshops for girls and their families.

Here are examples of offensive ads from the NOW Foundation. These ads generally objectify women as sex objects.

Commonsense Media
a compilation of the latest articles on self image and resources to combat it.


Negative effects that media has had on teens, especially young girls and their body image.

Excellent article on our assumptions about our bodies is shaped by the media and even doctors and is not always correct, for example these women all are "average" weight but have vastly different sizes because of their body type:


 


"I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations (no)
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within
"
- India Arie

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Killing Us Softly 4; The agents of socialization, especially the media, shape women to think about femininity a certain way.

Killing Us Softly 4 is a video that highlights the dangerous influence that media has had on our culture - especially how women are socialized to think about themselves, but also men too. (Click here to watch it on mediacast).   I think it's shocking, but true. And it is especially dangerous because in everyday life, you don't pay enough attention to these adds to notice their influence. But, I think the video puts it all together and it really highlights how destructive these images are. And research shows that we see about 300 adds per day, everyday!  Here is the discussion guide for the documentary.  Pages 5-7 provide a summary of key ideas in the movie.  The main topics are:
Advertising Environment 
Objectification
Cult of Thinness
Sexual Pathology
The Results of Advertising:  Consumerism and Violence

As you reflect on the film, look for some ways that you are influenced to think about femininity in your life.  Maybe the socialization comes from friends, family or ads/commercials. Post about them. Do you see how we are shaped to think about women?  Do you see how harmful it can be?  Do you know any examples of this personally?  Here is a link to Jean Kilbourne's website which includes resources for you to fight these messages.  There are a lot of interesting resources there so please check it out.  Here is a preview clip:







This video called "Onslaught" from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty highlights the unbelievable number of negative ads that young girls are shaped by:
video

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Socialization into gender - day 2


As students enter the room, please fill out the qualitative survey about what your favorite toy was as a child.  If you didn't bring a toy, search for a picture of it on your ipad.  Use that picture to answer the questions on the qualitative survey.


---------Pause  Here--------




Each person in your group should find an ad in these categories:

Men's jeans
Men's fragrance/cologne
A movie targeting men







 Each person in your group should find an ad in these categories:

Women's jeans
Women's fragrance/cologne
A movie targeting women




After searching for the ads, discuss these questions below:

--> 1. What are the similarities and differences between what is required for men and what is required for women?
2. How do you explain these differences and similarities?


3. Besides gender, how do other factors such as race, class, age, sexuality, and sexual orientation seem to affect the rules of beauty in these magazines? Be specific and detailed.
 

Here are two wordles hat I created using my students' research and two samples of ads we found:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day?


My daughter on Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day?

What is this day really about? We like to talk about it being a day to celebrate love, but it is really a day to celebrate romance. So often, I think Americans (and Westerners in general) equate the word "love" with romance and passion. However, many cultures view love and marriage differently. They view it more as being a good team member. It is more of a partnership between two people who care about each other. There is a recent article in the Atlantic called "Marry Him" about how too many women are looking for the perfect man who looks perfect, acts perfect shares the right interests and has that spark that makes their heart flutter. This is creating unrealistic expectations. Here is an interview with the author of the article. How do you feel about this? Do you think that our vision of love is too romantic and not practical enough?

When I was in high school my school brought in this speaker/author to talk about the difference between love and infatuation. Here is his book. He explained that biologically, we have a rush of emotions when we "fall in love". This is romantic love and infatuation. But it isn't real love. It wears off. Biologically he said it will last for 6 months or so and then it wears off. After that, you see the other person more realistically and that means you have to make a conscious choice about being with this person. That is what real love is - it is a conscious choice to care about someone. Even when we are upset or angry with the other person we still choose to care about them and thus we still love them. The author of the book includes a list of a dozen or so key aspects of a relationship to examine. I found this blogpost that lists the key criteria to distinguish between real love and infatuation. The book was really a good source for me to sort through all of these emotions when I was going through high school and college. You can get it used from amazon for like $4.

For more sociological insight into Valentine's Day checkout this link.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Gender; A Taken-for-granted example of socialization

As you enter, answer this question in as many ways as you can (brainstorm):
 


How would your life be different if you were born a different sex?




     Gender is one of the social constructs we learn from an early age and we often take it for granted. Nearly everyone is born biologically with a sex (that is male or female) and a sexuality (that is a sexual attraction such as heterosexual or homosexual). Most researchers who study people such as doctors, biologists, psychologists, sociologists will say that all of the research shows that people are born with their sex and sexuality. These are part of our biological makeup, our nature.

      However, gender is learned. Gender is how you react to your sex and sexuality. Think about how you answered that question at the top of this post.  Most of the ways your life would have been different are examples of treating people different based on their sex (and sexuality).  This constructs a certain way of being.  So, for example, if I am a heterosexual male, how should I act? What colors should I like?  What clothes should I wear?  How should I talk?   What sports should I play?  Is it okay for me to cry?  To be rough?  To like violence?   To be sensitive? And so on...These are all our gender and they are all learned reactions. 

Sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity is all fluid on a continuum:
                                                                                    1       2      3       4       5      6      7      8      9          
Sex (biological; physical body, chemical makeup) Male                      intersex                        Female
Sexual Orientation (attraction)                              Hetero                   Bisexual               Lesbian or Gay
Gender (expectations about how to act)              Masculine          Neutral/Queer/Fluid         Feminine 
Gender Identity
         
Here is a terrific program about gender from National Geographic.


       

However, our culture boxes people in to two very narrow ways of being.  It doesn't allow for any expression of sex, sexuality, or gender along the continuum.






Look at the handout called "Socialization of Gender Roles."

Take a moment to think about where you have heard the various phrases on your handout.




Traditional Masculine Traits                                                  Traditional Feminine traits
Independent                                                                               Dependent
Intelligent                                                                                  Unintelligent/spacey
Capable                                                                                     Needy
Assertive                                                                                   Passive
Rational                                                                                    Emotional
Competititve                                                                             Cooperative
Insensitive                                                                                 Perceptive
Ambitious                                                                                 Weak
Brave                                                                                         Timid
Attractive from achievement                                                     Attractive from appearance


Gender notions have changed over time which also highlights the social construct of gender. Checkout this post, called "The Manly Origins of Cheerleading" that shows how gender is a construct and because of that, our perception of gender changes over time.


All of the agents of socialization help to construct gender:

family:
            -begin treating the infant differently from birth, inc. pink and blue.
            - 6 month-olds treated differently; boys=independent & active, girls=dependent & passive
            - by 13 months, each gender acts differently.
         

peers: see the book from Patricia and Peter Adler on preadolescent peer pressure.
            Girls and boys learn what it means to be a man or woman from friends.
            - Ex. Patricia and Peter Adler; values for popularity as early as 4th grade
                      - in boys; athletics, coolness and toughness, grades=lower popularity.
                      - in girls; family background, physical appearance (esp. clothing and makeup) and ability to attract popular boys, grades=higher popularity.          

school  See this postHere is a post from sociological images that shows Barbie helps to  reinforce lessons learned from teachers.

This post from the Freakonomics blog shows research that high school teachers attitudes about girls and math affects how they grde and teach them.


toys:
  -differences in toys; boys=action figures & weapons, girls=jewelry & dolls
           See this essay
See this post from the Society Pages, or this page from the feministgal blog, and this redundant post from the Society Pages And see this post about other products that are pointlessly gendered thus reifying the idea of traditonal gender traits.  And, this post about Barbie shows how the doll creates unrealistic expectations for the female body.

And here is Ellen making fun of Bic pens for women.

media



For further interest, here is an older test that will rate you on the traditional continuum.  The test is outdated as a useful tool now but it was called The Bem Sex Role Inventory when it was developed in 1971 by Dr. Sandra Lipsitz Bem.  It characterizes your personality as masculine, feminine, androgynous, or undifferentiated. The BSRI is based on gender stereotypes, so what it's actually measuring is how well you fit into your traditional sex role. Thus, your score may say as much about how our cultural expectations have changed over the last 35 years as it does about your personality. What I like about it is that it reveals that gender is a spectrum.



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Post 4: Socialization

We have been learning about the socialization process.  This includes the distinction between nature and nurture and the importance of nurture.  We also saw that certain agents of socialization (family, school, media) play a strong role in the nurture process. Sometimes they nurture you purposefully (manifest lessons)  and sometimes they nurture you unintentionally (latent lessons).  Explain the nature-nurture dynamic and how agents play a role in it.  Give examples of socialization from your own life.

Please remember to

1.  write properly and post on time.

2. explain at least one source such as a reading (What is human nature? or Agents of Socialization), or a video (Danielle, Consuming Kids).  Also, your textbook is always available to you as a source.

3. explain two or more topics we have learned (such as those above in bold) and give unique examples of how they might apply to your own life, or something unique from your perspective.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Media, especially TV is a powerful agent of socialization.


Here is the group activity that we are working on today.  Please read the post below and answer the questions on your discussion sheet as a group.

By watching the documentary Consuming Kids and doing the The Un-TV experiment, I hope you became more aware of how the media impacts you.

Part I. First, discuss the Consuming Kids video.  Hopefully, the Consuming Kids video helped illustrate the socialization messages that TV has for us and the reality that it is more like a two-faced back stabber than a friend. Below is the trailer for Consuming Kids. But you can see the whole video by clicking here and logging into mediacast, or in parts at youtube and find more info on the Media Ed website.
video
Part II. The Un-TV experiment.  Hopefully you were really able to experience this experiment. If you did, you may have noticed the mindless trance that TV creates. You may also have seen that TV is in its essence quite boring and so it uses technical events as well as tv's own message that you should believe it is entertaining and exciting. Regarding the news on television, it is really one more entertainment program that presents itself as news. Very little of the news is actual news (in the sense that it is information that you need to know). See this post about headlines that you won't see in the news. Furthermore, the news is there to give you a sense that it is important. Here is a video making fun of the typical news magazine story. Isn't that funny? How true is that? Another one that is pretty funny, though politically charged is comedian Lewis Black's critique of Glenn Beck.

Besides the "news" TV is interspersed with a message to you to be a consumer and a conformer.  It is also produced so that as a viewer you don't question what you are doing, certainly not while you are watching the TV.  The TV is in many ways like a good friend of ours waiting for us in our living room. It's there with us giving us the feeling that we are connected and engaged to society, when the reality is exactly the opposite.

Part III.  Quizzes.  And if you are skeptical that you have been socialized by the media, try playing one of the corporate logo games here. See how much you have been influenced.  Or try this quiz of tv show theme songs.Or this quiz from sporcle for commercial jingles.  Or this commercial jingle quiz from business insider.  What is interesting to me is that none of us ever consciously tried to learn the logos or the theme songs and jingles, but we know so many of them.  TV influences us without us realizing it.

Part IV. FIJI.  Even more evidence of the powerful force the TV has on us comes from the small Pacific island of Fiji. Ann Becker studied Fijian norms before the island was able to get satellite TV. After getting satellite TV, in a very short time period, just a few years, the island had reversed its norms and was now experiencing the body dysmorphic disorders of the United States. Here is one summary from Harvard. And Here is one from the NY Times. Here is an excerpt:
'You've gained weight'' is a traditional compliment in Fiji, anthropologists say. In accordance with traditional culture in the South Pacific nation, dinner guests are expected to eat as much as possible. A robust, nicely rounded body is the norm for men and women. ''Skinny legs'' is a major insult. And ''going thin,'' the Fijian term for losing a noticeable amount of weight, is considered a worrisome condition. But all that may be changing, now that Heather Locklear has arrived. Just a few years after the introduction of television to a province of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, eating disorders -- once virtually unheard of there -- are on the rise among girls, according to a study presented yesterday at the American Psychiatric Association meetings in Washington. Young girls dream of looking not like their mothers and aunts, but like the slender stars of ''Melrose Place'' and ''Beverly Hills 90210.'' ''I'm very heavy,'' one Fijian adolescent lamented during an interview with researchers led by Dr. Anne E. Becker, director of research at the Harvard Eating Disorders Center of Harvard Medical School, who investigated shifts in body image and eating practices in Fiji over a three-year period.
Here is a poster called "What are you missing?" from Media Ed.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Agents of socialization are important groups that shape who we are.

1.  Using your reading about Agents of Socialization, please list some important points about each agent of socialization:
Family
School
Peers
Media
2. Then state whether or not you think its true in your life.  Why/why not?



Agent S
Agents of socialization are groups that we are a part of that shape us significantly throughout our life. Often, the influence these groups have are taken-for-granted so we don't realize the significant impact they have on us; in this way I think of them as "secret agents" nudging us here or there.

Some significant finds regarding agents of socialization are:

Family - the first agent that has often the greatest impact on a person. Families intentionally teach skills, values and beliefs (manifest lessons), but they also can teach unintentional (latent) lessons. When I was growing up, besides teaching, I considered being a cop or working for the FBI. Both of these were jobs my parents did. It is funny that with so much opportunity in America, how often students pursue careers related to what their parents do. Is this true for you? How are you shaped by parents or friends? Check out this post about 7 things good parents do that screw up their kids. Humorous, but based on real research.  One of the 7 things that I find really powerful is the way parents praise their kids.  Telling your kid "you are so smart" is actually harmful to their learning.  See more about why in this post about Carolyn Dweck's book, Mindset; the New Psychology of Success.

School - also teaches both manifest lessons like reading and writing and latent lessons like patriotism, consumption and obedience. Obedience is illustrated in Beavis vs. Barbie. Consumption in schools is illustrated by Murray J. Milner.

Friends/Peer Groups - Starts esp. because of school and cohort groups, becomes significant by adolescence, possibly more intense and more influential than family.  Adolescents spend more time with each other than with parents or anyone else. This leads to adolescent subculture.

Religion - important even if you are not religiously involved yourself.

Day Care - significant findings that there is less of a bond with mothers if child attends daycare, but daycare kids develop more language skills.

Sports Teaches things like hard work, achievement, teamwork and competitiveness.

Work Work affects adults so much that it becomes a part of their identity. For example, "What do you do?" Is a popular greeting when you meet someone new. When adults retire, they often have trouble adjusting to a new life without work because there is a loss in identity.

Neighborhoods

Media
98% of American homes have TV (that’s more than have phones 94%)
- the average American household has at least one set turned on for 7 hours per day.
-the average American child watches 20,000 commercials per year.
- TV watching is a routine that children learn before learning to read.
- many children spend as much time watching TV as they do interacting with parents.
- Sex, violence and wealth are more prevalent in mass media than in real life.
- Minorities watch 40% more TV than those in the majority, but they are not involved in the shows.
42% of children under 8 years old have a television in their bedroom.
Half (52%) of all 0- to 8-year-olds have access to a new mobile device, such as a smartphone, video iPod, or iPad/tablet.
More than a third (38%) of children this age have used one of these devices, including 10% of 0-to 1-year-olds, 39% of 2- to 4-year-olds, and more than half (52%) of 5- to 8-year-olds.
In a typical day, one in 10 (11%) 0- to 8-year-olds uses a smartphone, video iPod, iPad, or similar device to play games, watch videos, or use other apps. Those who do such activities spend an average of 43 minutes a day doing so.
Checkout how much the big media companies own; you can download a chart here. This allows them to cross-market and create a sense that their shows/products are important. Another resource on media ownership is from the Columbia Journalism Review. Checkout how much Disney owns, but then you can see what other media conglomerates own. Merchants of Cool, though a little older, highlights the media's impact on teens.

To highlight how much the media influences us we are watching Consuming Kids.  Click here to WATCH ON MEDIACAST.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

nature AND nurture

Please look at the reading called "What is Human Nature."

What is the author's thesis?

What support does he provide?


Based on the growing man metaphor, we see that people are born with a potential or an aptitude toward their full conscious but they need others to nurture it out of us.  We are made through our biology to be social beings.  The influence of others on us (socialization) actually happens before we are even born!  One example of this is in identical twins who have the same exact DNA and biology.  Because they are exactly the same, nurses will often paint the nails of twins differently so that they can tell them apart.  But, often the parents of these twins can tell them apart from a very early age because they have already started developing different personalities even before being born.   Another example of socialization happening in utero is in this study that shows what mothers eat can affect the unborn baby's sense of taste.  In a more extreme example, researchers have found the the experiences that a grandmother has can affect the genes that she passes down to her grandchild!  In other words, the nurturing or socialization process might start decades before you are even born!  Here is a trailer for a show on NOVA that explores the connections between genes and social experiences. The researchers theorize that social experiences can affect the genes of a person and, more amazingly, these genes can be passed down to a generation or two. So the grandchildren may experience the effects of their grandparents' lives on their genes. How crazy is that? They call it the "ghost in your genes".

Don't let these mind blowing examples complicate things for you. Here is the simple idea: nature provides you a starting point or aptitude such as DNA and genes. And then nurture (or your socialization) works with your nature to enhance it, repress it or change the nature to something else. The point being that we need both nature and nurture to make us who we are.  If we do not have that nurture we cannot reach our higher power of consciousness and awareness.

Besides starting surprisingly early, nurture also plays a surprisingly powerful role in our development.  One example is studying the differences in identical twins; they have the same DNA, genes and biology; the same nature but they are different.  It is amazing to me that so much of what we take for granted as being human (part of our nature) is actually learned from our environment (nurture). The video below is about a girl named Genie that was locked in a bedroom alone for 12 years of her life is one small piece of evidence of the power of social experiences on individuals. Here is what Susan Curtiss wrote about her in her book Genie; A Psycholinguistic Study of a Modern-Day Wild Child. 

Genie was pitiful. Hardly ever having worn clothing, she did not react to temperature, either heat or cold. Never having eaten solid food, Genie did not know how to chew and had great difficulty in swallowing.  Having been strapped down and left sitting on a potty chair she could not stand erect, could not straighten her arms or legs, could not run hop, jump or climb.  In fact she could only walk with difficulty shuffling her feet and swaying from side to side. Hardly ever having seen more than a space of ten feet in front of her she had become nearsighted to exactly that distance....Surprisingly, however, Genie was alert and curious. She maintained good eye contact and...She was intensely eager for human contact. 

video
You can also check out this website for examples of feral children. This website, though sad, provides further evidence for the importance of human nurturing in socializing individuals to their full human potential. How have you been shaped by the experiences of your life?
In class we watched a video of a girl Danielle who was found at age 6.  She had very little socialization from her mother who was later arrested.  Here is Danielle's website.  Here is an update from the Tampa Bay Times.

Lastly, checkout this post from the Society Pages it has a number of different examples showing the socialization influence on kids.  Here is the baby rapper video.  Here are two babies learning to converse.  And baby preacher.

The start of Unit 3, socialization; a metaphor called "The Growing Man"

On page 2 of your packet, please answer this:

What are all of the ways that you are similar to your immediate family (your parents, siblings, the people that have raised you)? Brainstorm as many ways as possible.






The metaphor that I use for the unit on socialization is called The Growing Man Metaphor. I developed the metaphor after being inspired by Richard Strozzi-Heckler's book Holding the Center; Sanctuary in a Time of Confusion. The idea is that to go from being a baby ruled by emotions, instincts and training to being a fully human adult (conscious and aware), we need other people. As humans we were made to be social. Our nature - biology, our language, our dependency all make us social beings. For more proof on how we are made to be social, checkout this link to see a story on 60 minutes about how we have an ability to interpret and remember human faces. So we are made to interact with other people and it is through other people that we become human and that we develop our potential. The process of this influence in sociology is called "socialization."  Here is the Unit 1 handout that I gave in class..

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Unit 1: Connecting Research, ingroups-outgroups, mindfulness

https://qz.com/898207/the-psychology-of-why-americans-are-more-scared-of-terrorism-than-guns-though-guns-are-3210-times-likelier-to-kill-them/

According to the New America Foundationjihadists killed 94 people inside the United States between 2005 and 2015. During that same time period, 301,797 people in the US were shot dead, Politifact reports.
At first blush, these numbers might seem to indicate that Donald Trump’s temporary ban on immigrants from seven countries—a goal he said was intended to “protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States”—is utterly misguided.
But Trump is right about at least one thing: Americans are more afraid of terrorism than they are of guns, despite the fact that guns are 3,210 times more likely to kill them.
Chapman University has conducted a Survey of American Fears for more than three years. It asks 1,500 adults what they fear most. It organizes the fears into categories that include personal fears, conspiracy theories, terrorism, natural disasters, paranormal fears, and more recently, fear of Muslims.
In 2016, Americans’ number-one fear was “corruption of government officials”—the same top fear as in 2015. Terrorist attacks came second. In fact, of the top five fears, two are terror-related. And number five is not fear of guns but fear of government restrictions on guns. Fear of a loved one dying—whether by gun violence or anything else—came next.
One reason people’s fears don’t line up with actual risks is that our brains are wired by evolution to make fast judgements which are not always backed up by logical reasoning. “Our emotions push us to make snap judgments that once were sensible—but may not be anymore,” Maia Szalavitz, a child psychiatrist, wrote in 2008 in Psychology Today.
Also, fear strengthens memory, she wrote, so that one-off catastrophes like plane crashes or terrorist attacks embed in our memories, while we blank the horrible accidents we see daily on the highway. “As a result, we overestimate the odds of dreadful but infrequent events and underestimate how risky ordinary events are,” Szalavitz explained.
Risk perception (pdf) used to be based on an analytical equation: you multiply the probability of an event by the potential damage of its outcome. But Paul Slovic, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, understood the powerful role of emotions in decision-making and altered that equation, noting that many things affect how we perceive risk:
  • do you trust the person you are dealing with
  • control vs. lack of control (lack of control inflates risk perceptions)
  • is it catastrophic or chronic (catastrophic inflates risk perceptions)
  • does it incite dread or anger (dread inflates risk perceptions)
  • uncertainty (lack of knowledge about something inflates risk perceptions)
“Most people do not distinguish well between a one-in-a-thousand risk and a one-in-a-million risk,” said Mark Egan, an associate advisor at the Behavioral Insights Group in London.
Baruch Fischhoff, a decision scientist at Carnegie Mellon, said that the unpredictability of terrorism can make it scarier than something like a car crash. “Terrorism is not like motor vehicle accidents, where past performance predicts future performance,” he said. “Terrorism could change and it’s not irrational for people to react differently to an uncertain risk.”
That’s exactly what Americans did after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. People began flying less and driving more. The result, estimated Gerd Gigerenzer, a German risk specialist, was that 1,595 more Americans died in road accidents during the 12 months after 9/11 than would have otherwise.
Michael Rothschild, then an emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin, calculated some of the risks we face:
  • One in 6 million: Risk of dying in a plane hijacking, assuming you fly four times a month and hijackers destroy one plane every year. (Just to be clear, since 9/11, hijackers have not destroyed any flights in the US.)
  • One in 7,000: the risk of dying in a car accident in any given year
  • One in 600: the risk of dying from cancer in any given year
According to data compiled from the Centers for Disease Control, over 2005-2014, an average of 11,737 Americans a year were shot dead by another American (21 of them by toddlers), 737 were killed by falling out of bed, and nine were killed by Islamic jihadists—who in most cases were US citizens, not immigrants (Nearly twice as many Americans kill themselves with guns as kill each other).
Rothschild blamed politicians for overstating the terrorist risk. Media saturation is also to blame. Having ready access to images of every atrocity known to mankind makes us prone to what behavioral scientists call “availability bias,” the tendency to give weight to what comes to mind most easily. The blanket coverage of the Sept. 11th attacks successfully seared the images of terrorism on our brains; shootings, which happen every day and—with the exception of a few mass shootings—are largely ignored, have less of an effect.
“We over-react to visible threats,” said Max Bazerman, co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and an expert on decision-making. “When there is someone out to get you, it is more visible than when you are silently dying in a hospital.”
After the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, Roxane Cohen Silver and two co-authors looked at what caused more acute stress: being at or near the bombing itself, or being exposed to it in the media. They found “[r]epeated bombing-related media exposure was associated with higher acute stress than was direct exposure.”
President Trump may believe he is responding to people’s outsized fears of terrorism. Unfortunately, his hastily arranged executive order won’t work—not least because, as the Wall Street Journal found (paywall), “of 180 people charged with jihadist terrorism-related crimes or who died before being charged” only 11 came from the seven countries banned in Trump’s order. He didn’t ban people from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, or Egypt—the home countries of the 19 perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.
Some things to consider:
How does this article illustrate that sociology is more than common sense?
What types of research does the article use?
How might ingroup-outgroup mentality play a role in the article's conclusions?
How can we be mindful about our fears?