Monday, October 23, 2017

The Effects of Masculinity

HW:  Kimmel and Mahler's Adolescent Masculinity, Homophobia and Violence... (pgs 26-33)

After  examining the social construction of what it means to be feminine, we are now taking a look at the social construction of masculinity.

Question 1 : What are three words that describe what it means to be a man?

Question 2:  What are three words that describe someone who is not a real man?

Question 3:  Examine these statistics, then answer the following question.

Males in School
In school, boys are 30% more likely to flunk,  250% more likely to be suspended and 300% more likely to be diagnosed with learning and emotional disabilities.
Males are less likely than females to go to college o earn a bachelor's degree (women earned 57% of B.A.'s in 2012), a master's degree or a PhD.

Males' Health
Young men are much more likely to die from accidental death than women:  Males 20-24 are 3 times more likely to to die as a result of accidents, 4 times more likely to die from suicide and 6 times more likely to be murdered than women.  (Ferris and Stein pg 256)

Question:  Why do you think this is true in school and in health?

Males and violence
40% of teenage girls 14-17yrs say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
1 of 5 college females will experience some form of dating violence from their male partner.
1 in 3 High School students have been or will be in an abusive relationship.
These stats come from the Zacariah Foundation which is a local organization that will confidentially help individuals deal with sexual and domestic abuse.


How are males at risk because of their socialization into masculinity?

Friday, October 20, 2017

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

As students enter, please take out your "We Should All Be Feminists" reading.  Then answer these questions:

1.  What does it mean to be a feminist?

2.  What does "like a girl" mean?

3.  List all the steps you take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted.     

4.  Tell me about someone you know who is affected body image issues.  Without using any names describe their situation.

Being a Feminist

Here is a link to the author Chimananda Ngozi Adichie's website.

Here is a discussion guide from Lean In.

1. What does it mean to be a feminist?

2. Is being a feminist a bad thing?

3. Can you be masculine and be a feminist?

4. How are boys affected by the treatment of women?

"Like a girl"

When did "like a girl" become a bad thing?

The promotion of masculine traits above feminine ones leads to denigrating of all things feminine.  This binary doesn't allow for individuals to be who they really.  Instead, it pushes males and females to opposite poles with opposing traits.  And the binary's message is, if you are a male, you can't be anything considered feminine.  This means males deny their own humanity because they cannot be caring, empathetic, emotional, vulnerable or dependent - all of which are human traits.

Femininity and body image

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 Women Science Daily (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, MA In 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 Image Media 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.

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

Females and Work

Many jobs still highly genderized: nurses, early education (97%), dental hygenists, secretaries (94%), paralegals, housekeepers are highly female while pilots, carpenters, mechanics (98%), and firefighters (94%) are highly male.

Women earn 78% of what men earn and women earn less compared to men of similar education at every level.  This is true from women in poverty to women with professional degrees.

Take away:

How are females socialized by U.S. society?

How does Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explain feminism?

How does masculinity relate to the socialization of femininity?

For more info, see pages 251 - 259 in Ferris and Stein.

Wednesday, October 18, 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 
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:


How does the media socialize U.S. society to think about femininity?

Explain the themes from the movie.

For more info see Ferris and Stein pgs. 249-251

Tuesday, October 17, 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.

HW: We Should All Be Feminists by Chamananda Ngozi Adichie

---------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:

Friday, October 13, 2017

Agents of socialization and gender

All of the agents of socialization help to construct gender:

(1) This article from newsweek explains the research by neuroscientist Lise Eliot that shows parents begin treating the infant differently even before birth! Ex. pink and blue. nursery, gender reveal parties, etc...
Parents talk differently to babies from the moment they are born based on sex.

Six month-olds treated differently:
boys=independent and active 
girls=dependent and passive
by thirteen months, each gender acts differently.


Girls and boys learn what it means to be a man or woman from friends.

See the book from Patricia and Peter Adler on preadolescent peer pressure.

(2) This research by Patricia and Peter Adler published in Sociology of Education shows that values for popularity develop as early as fourth grade;
boys: athletics, coolness and toughness, grades=lower popularity.
girls: family background, physical appearance (esp. clothing and makeup) and ability to attract popular boys, grades=higher popularity.          

In a 2007 ethnography called "Dude You're a Fag", sociologist CJ Pascoe studied high school peer groups and how they sanction gender norms.  Excerpt is here.


(3) This research in the Sociology of Education shows how high school begins to
shape students' interest in majoring in STEM fields in college.

From the National Academy of Sciences, (4) this study shows that teacher anxiety about math affects their students.

From the Society Pages, this post shows the latent lessons (hidden curriculum) that schools teach.  In this case, it starts as young as 8 years old.

Here is a post from the Society Pages that shows Barbie helps to  reinforce lessons learned from teachers, and around the world girls show higher scores in STEM if the level of inequality in the society is less.

This (5)research from Gender and Society shows research that high school teachers attitudes about girls and math affects how they grade and teach them.

(6) This article from the NY Times shows that gender gap in math scores disappears in countries with a more gender-equal culture.

  -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.


How does each agent contribute to the socialization of gender?

What evidence does sociology provide that agents of socialization influence individuals' self concepts about gender?

For more info, see Ferris and Stein pgs. 247-251

Thursday, October 12, 2017

LGBT Panel

We were fortunate to have a panel of lgbtq students who shared their experiences with those of us willing to listen. Thanks to all who listened with a beginner's mind.

I found it really telling how several of the students spoke about how they could not figure out why they felt different or felt that something was not right.  I think it was a poignant example that sexual orientation and gender identity is not a choice.  In a couple of cases the students grew up in homes where being gay was not even discussed.  The student didn't even know what the words "lesbian" or "homosexual" were.  Furthermore, some students were from homes that strongly did not accept homosexuality.  Knowing the power of socialization and nurture, I think it really sheds light on the fact that these students did not choose to be that way.

Another message was to be mindful about other people. Using language like "That's so gay," or "You're a fag" is hurtful to those who are gay. And, by using that language it really limits how those of us who are not gay are allowed to act and  I don't want to be put into a really narrow box.  There is a spectrum for gender and sex and sexuality, but our culture refuses to acknowledge the spectrum or allow anyone to live along the spectrum.  Instead we are pushed into a box at one end of the spectrum.

Also, realize that all people are different and this includes those who are glbt. They might be categorized as gay or lesbian or transgender but be careful that you don't turn that category into a stereotype. Each person is an individual with his/her own preferences about how to act, talk etc... Try to see each person as individuals and do not make assumptions about how they are.  And in doing so, don't make their status a master status.  In other words, if a friend comes out to you, thank them for trusting you but going forward don't make every conversation about being gay.  Realize that they have a multitude of other interests in their lives such as school, sports, movies, etc...

Lastly, I also think it was revealing how strong the agents of socialization were in their development and acceptance (or not) of their selves.  In some cases, their family had them convinced that they were not gay. But in the end, they did not have a choice about their sexuality, it just comes with who they are. If you are interested in resources or how you can help checkout and

Here are some notes from the panel:

Sydney (she/her) –
Identity comes from many things.  Some things you can change or can’t change.  Sexual identity is similar.  Some people make assumptions about you, some don’t. 
All the way through 5th grade, I kept a diary.  It started very traditional “I like ponies” and gradually changed to “why does everyone want me to have a boyfriend?”   As time goes on you question these parts of their identities.  I didn’t realize that girls can be gay until 15.  But that is not the largest part of my identity. (Master status).  My sexuality is

Q: do you feel that society overemphasizes sexuality? 

Maggie (she/her)-
First time I realized I was not straight is 5th grade.  Family is very conservative; lead to medication, hospitalization and depression.  “Gay people are damned to hell.”  With help through therapy realized I was bisexual.  I play softball so I hear a lot of dyke jokes.  Maybe people aren’t as accepting as I thought they’d be.  “Everything is gay!”

Q: was this pejorative joking?

Fr year I told my best friend and she outed me.  At the time it was really hard for me because she outed me.
Recently, I became comfortable with who I am.  I was with a boy who was taking advantage of me. He was convinced that he could turn me straight.  And he made me think I was wrong.  It took me a long time to realize that I was sexually assaulted and it wasn’t my fault and it wasn’t because of who I am.  I have met some great friends now and a really supportive LGBTQ community.

Started telling friends a couple years ago.  Built it up. And invited friends out like a big reveal.  I originally told them I was bisexual, then gay, then no labels, but overall never really changed.

Q: “just in case you decide to be straight”
Q: why so difficult to come to terms with what you were? You? Society? (Sapir Whorf)

Really, sexuality never changed just the words that I use to describe it have changed.  I told my sister, it was fine, but I was worried to tell my parents.  I had to tell my dad to avoid the awkwardness.  My dad accepted but my mom had trouble with it.  Mom asked me awkward questions, but in the end I felt very liberated.  I lost a lot of people I care about – I even have a whole side of my family that won’t even talk to me.  On me and my twin sister’s bday, I don’t get a call from my grandma but my sis does.

Around middle school, everyone kind of knew before me.  I talked to a lot of girls, but I was more feminine. (binary problems)  13-14 is too young to really understand it.  I told parents and parents said it’s just a phase.  Parents have an outline/plan for their kids.  Just came out on social media.  Coming out – socially first because SHS is overall supportive.  Fr-JR was really hard.  Fr. Year was awful, but then I thought bi first bc safety net.  Jr. year I was more coming to terms.  I didn’t tell my mom, but I still didn’t tell my dad.  Coming out doesn’t get easier, it gets better.  SHS is a good place.

Q: Safety net?

But senior year was really good.  Surrounded by a good community.  Surround yourself with people who make you happy.  Be you, even if you are weird as hell.

Fr year was really hard – depression but I was dealing with sexual identity.

“We know.”

Q: How to react to those who come out to you.

A lot of difficulty was with being Asian (intersectionality).
LGBTQ is not discussed in Asian society.
Overall, process is hard because you have to come out every single day.

Q: explain coming out every single day.

Can’t have a discussion about these things in my family.  Very difficult.
Process is easier if you meet others like you.

Q: Queer as a label?

Importance of words as a label – (Sapir Whorf).

I am gay.  I came out 2 years ago.  I came out to my mom. And she said this is horrible, this is a phase.  My sister was like I’m so happy!  So weird.  Hardest to come out to my team.  We change together.  But they were really cool about it.  I don’t tell everyone in my family.  At Rosh hashanah How many matza balls in your soup?  None! But grandma doesn’t catch on.  Some people are weird about it, but overall surrounded by really good people.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Gender; A Taken-for-granted example of socialization

As you enter, please take out your packet, open to page 23 and answer this question in as many ways as you can (brainstorm):

Besides beng different physically, 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. 

Nature has no edges.  It is not binary.

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 Identity                                                  Masculine          Neutral/Queer/Fluid         Feminine 
Gender Expression

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."

Part 1:  Take a moment to think about where you have heard the various phrases on your handout.

Part 2: Think about what traits those phrases emphasize for men or women respectively.

These are some of the traditional traits that our culture has pushed for each gender.  Note that these are traditional in the sense that society has generally promoted them, even if they do not apply to you.

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.

This is an excellent podcast about the social construction of gender:

Here is a terrific program about gender from National Geographic.

What is the difference between:
Sex –

Gender –

 Sexuality –

What does it mean for sex, gender, sexuality to be binary?

Instead of as binary, how do most sociologists see gender?

For more info. see Ferris and Stein pgs 243-247

Friday, October 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:
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?

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.

This study in Sociological Quarterly shows how kids activities shape them.

Studies have shown that the most important factor in statistically predicting whether a teen will take up a particular deviant behavior is presence or absence of peers who also engage in that behavior

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.


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, October 5, 2017

Self and Agents of Socialization

As you enter, please fill in 20 responses to the question "Who am I?" (see the Twenty Statements Test handout).

This is a survey that has been used in various studies for over 50 years.  In our class, it is an example of how we develop what sociologists call a "self," or a conscious understanding of who we are as individuals.  One important sociologist who wrote about the "self" is Erving Goffman.  Goffman wrote The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life which theorized that people present themselves to the world based on their ideas about their self.  They create an image of how they want to be perceived.  It is like being in a play - when you go on stage you are dressed up to play your role.  Goffman's theory in the form of an extended metaphor is known as dramaturgy.    

Finally, where did these responses come from?  How did we develop our sense of self?  Are there any  responses on the TST that were not learned from someone or some group?   Sociologists call the most important influences on our "self",  agents of socialization.

Family is obviously the most important agent of socialization.  They shape our self concept before we are even conscious of it.

Manifest lessons and latent lessons.
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?

Social Class and Family
Family has shapes us differently based on the social class of the family.  Melvin Kohn studied families and social class in the 1960s.  His research found that parents from working class households emphasize following rules and discipline while upper middle class parents teach their kids to take risks, negotiate, and think creatively.  Sociologist Annette Lareau explains these differences in her research.  Her book, Unequal Childhoods is explained in the Atlantic here.

Family and your Mindset

Carol Dweck explains how parents and eventually schools both work create a fixed mindset that actually prevents learning.

This Atlantic article the latest update to Dweck's research which shows that praise cannot be empty.  It must be directed in specific nuanced ways to promote growth. 

This NPR review of the book includes an excerpt and an interview.

This NY Magazine article explains how to apply Dweck's research to parenting and talking to kids.

A reason to read...
Have you ever been in trouble for poor grades? You may want to read this research by Keith Robinson and Angel Harris.  Angel Harris is a widely respected sociologist from Duke University who focuses on the effects of family, race and social class on student education.  Harris's book Kids Don't Want to Fail explains the influences that limit poor minority students.  From Harvard University Press,
"Despite achieving less in school, black students value schooling more than their white counterparts do. Black kids perform badly in high school not because they don’t want to succeed but because they enter without the necessary skills. Harris finds that the achievement gap starts to open up in preadolescence—when cumulating socioeconomic and health disadvantages inhibit skills development and when students start to feel the impact of lowered teacher expectations.Kids Don’t Want to Fail is must reading for teachers, academics, policy makers, and anyone interested in understanding the intersection of race and education."

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Socialization, Nurture and Love

I am convinced of the overwhelming power of love in the world. As a sociologist, my interest is in the effects that people's environments have on each other. Below I will outline the research that has lead me to believe in the power that loving each other has on our being. To learn to love each other and allow ourselves to love should be our ultimate cause. This may sound corny or anecdotal, however, there is research that supports this. From Henslin's Sociology; A Down To Earth Approach, we read about Skeels and Dye's study of institutionalized children (1939) and Skeels follow-up study in 1966. The research found that children given love, affection, stimulation and intimacy are able to be more independent, socially-attached, more successful adults later in life.  Look at the difference between the children that stayed behind at the orphange receiving proper care, but little stimulation, love and affection versus the children who went to a home where adults with special needs could show them love, attention, nurture and stimulation:
Institutionalized Children (Skeels & Dye)
Orphanage 12                                                Home for Special Needs 13
More functional at first                              More severely dysfunctional
Proper care, but no stimulation                Stimulation, play, challenge and affection
    -30 IQ pts                                                       +28 IQ pts
     - avg. less than 3rd grade ed                     - avg. of 12th grade 5 complete 1+ years of college       
      - 4 live in institutions                                -  all 13 were self-supporting or homemakers
     - low level jobs                                            - 1 grad school
     - 2 marry                                                      - 11 marry

There is a power in our interaction with other people that is difficult to measure.
Dean Ornish M.D. writes about this force in his book, Love and Survival. Checkout the excerpt below:
Love and survival.
What do they have to do with each other?
This book is based on a simple but powerful idea: Our survival depends on the healing power of love, intimacy, and relationships. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. As individuals. As communities. As a country. As a culture. Perhaps even as a species....I have no intention of diminishing the power of diet and exercise or, for that matter, of drugs and surgery....As important as these are, I have found that perhaps the most powerful intervention-and the most meaningful for me and for most of the people with whom I work, including staff and patients--is the healing power of love and intimacy, and the emotional and spiritual transformation that often result from these.

In this book, I describe the increasing scientific evidence from my own research and from the studies of others that cause me to believe that love and intimacy are among the most powerful factors in health and illness, even though these ideas are largely ignored by the medical profession. As I review the extensive scientific literature that supports these ideas, I will describe the limitations of science to document and understand the full range of these implications--not only in our health and illness, but also in what often brings the most joy, value, and meaning to our lives. I give examples from my life and from the lives of friends, colleagues, and patients.

Medicine today tends to focus primarily on the physical and mechanistic: drugs and surgery, genes and germs, microbes and molecules. I am not aware of any other factor in medicine--not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death from all causes.

Cholesterol, for example, is clearly related to the incidence of illness and premature death from heart disease and stroke. Those with the highest blood cholesterol levels may have a risk of heart attack several times greater than those with the lowest levels and lowering cholesterol levels will reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, cholesterol levels are not related to such diseases as complications during pregnancy and childbirth, the incidence of illness and premature death from infectious diseases, arthritis, ulcers, and so on, whereas loneliness and isolation may significantly increase the risk of all these. Something else is going on.

Smoking, diet, and exercise affect a wide variety of illnesses, but no one has shown that quitting smoking, exercising, or changing diet can double the length of survival in women with metastatic breast cancer, whereas the enhanced love and intimacy provided by weekly group support sessions has been shown to do just that, as I will describe in chapter 2. While genetics plays a role in most illnesses, the number of diseases in which our genes play a primary, causative role is relatively small. Genetic factors--even when combined with cholesterol levels and all of the known risk factors--account for no more than one-half the risk of heart disease.

Love and intimacy are at a root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads to healing. If a new drug had the same impact, virtually every doctor in the country would be recommending it for their patients. It would be malpractice not to prescribe it--yet, with few exceptions, we doctors do not learn much about the healing power of love, intimacy, and transformation in our medical training. Rather, these ideas are often ignored or even denigrated.

It has become increasingly clear to even the most skeptical physicians why diet is important. Why exercise is important. Why stopping smoking is important. But love and intimacy? Opening your heart? And what is emotional and spiritual transformation?

I am a scientist. I believe in the value of science as a powerful means of gaining greater understanding of the world we live in. Science can help us sort out truth from fiction, hype from reality, what works from, what doesn't work, for whom, and under what circumstances. Although I respect the ways and power of science, I also understand its limitations as well. What is most meaningful often cannot be measured. What is verifiable may not necessarily be what is most important. As the British scientist Denis Burkitt once wrote, "Not everything that counts can be counted."

We may not yet have the tools to measure what is most meaningful to people, but the value of those experiences is not diminished by our inability to quantify them. We can listen, we can learn, and we can benefit greatly from those who have had these experiences. When we gather together to tell and listen to each other's stories, the sense of community and the recognition of shared experiences can be profoundly healing.

I have just started reading another book about the psychology of love and it's impact on our lives. The book is A General Theory of Love by Amini, Lannon and Lewis and here is a review:
Drawing on new scientific discoveries and seventy years of collective clinical experience, three psychiatrists unravel life's most elemental mystery: the nature of love.

A primordial area of the brain, far older than reason or thinking, creates both the capacity and the need for emotional intimacy that all humans share. A General Theory of Love describes the workings of this ancient, pivotal urge and reveals that our nervous systems are not self-contained. Instead, our brains link with those of the people close to us, in a silent rhythm that makes up the very life force of the body. These wordless and powerful ties determine our moods, stabilize and maintain our health and well-being, and change the structure of our brains. In consequence, who we are and who we become depend, in great part, on whom we love.

A General Theory of Love applies these and other extraordinary insights to some of the most crucial issues we face in our lives. Its authors explain how relationships function and where love goes wrong, how parents shape a child's developing self, how psychotherapy really works, what curbs and what fosters violent aggression in our children, and how modern society regularly courts disaster by flouting emotional laws it does not yet recognize.

A work of rare originality, passion, and eloquence, A General Theory of Love will forever change the way you think about human intimacy.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

nature AND nurture

Please remember to enroll in the dual credit by next week.

HW:  Please read and take notes on Henslin's "Agents of Socialization" for wednesday.

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

What claim is the author making in this reading?

What evidence 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. 

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.  And here is an update on how she is doing 9 years later.

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.

What role does nurture play?

What evidence does each of the following provide?
Feral Children

Isolated Children

-->             Institutionalized Children (Skeels & Dye)