Monthly Archives: July 2010

What is the future of immigrant relations in Arizona?

By Kevin R. Betts

Arizona’s controversial new immigration law is set to go into effect this Thursday. In short, the law requires that police officers determine the immigration status of individuals who are stopped, detained, or arrested when there is reasonable suspicion that they are in the country illegally. The law also makes it a misdemeanor for legal immigrants to not carry immigration papers. Fearing possible harassment by police and wrongful detention, many legal and illegal immigrants have fled the state since the announcement of the impending law. How might dwindling numbers of immigrants in Arizona impact immigrant relations in the state?

Research in the behavioral sciences has repeatedly shown that to achieve peace between conflicting groups, intergroup contact is necessary. Without frequent intergroup contact, unfounded prejudices often form about members of stigmatized groups. Based on this research, we might expect that fewer immigrants in Arizona will provide fewer opportunities for  contact between immigrants and natural born citizens, and consequently, more unfounded prejudices about immigrants. Indeed, research by Ulrich Wagner and colleagues (2008) provides evidence for this prediction. They looked at how the proportion of ethnic minorities in a region affects opportunities for intergroup contact, and how frequency of intergroup contact affects prejudice. Using East and West German samples, they found that lower levels of prejudice in West Germany could be explained by the larger numbers of ethnic minorities in the region, which allowed for increased intergroup contact.

Will Arizona’s new law be effective in its primary purpose of driving out illegal immigrants? It probably already has, but not without costs for immigrant relations in the state as legal and illegal immigrants flee the region.

Read more:

Hispanics flee Arizona ahead of immigration law

Wagner, U., Christ, O., Wolf, H., van Dick, R., Stellmacher, J., Schlüter, E., & Zick, A. Social and political context effects on intergroup contact and intergroup attitudes. In U. Wagner, L.R. Tropp, G. Finchilescu, & C. Tredoux (Eds.), Improving intergroup relations: Building on the legacy of Thomas F. Pettigrew (pp. 195-209). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

View other posts by Kevin R. Betts

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RIP Cpt. Phil. You’ve earned it!

(image from deadliestcatchwiki.wetpaint.com)

Last night, Discovery Channel aired its tribute to Phil Harris, captain of the crabbing vessel Cornelia Marie. Cpt. Phil died of a massive stroke at the untimely age of 53 on February 9th, 2010, while tapping the latest season of the hit series Deadliest Catch.  While I enjoyed the series, I wouldn’t consider myself a die-hard fan; I just learned of Cpt. Phil’s death earlier this week. However, I am an admirer of the man. When I did watch the show, I noticed something familiar about the grizzly captain. There was something about his spirit, his attitude, that seemed to shout “I’m going to do whatever the hell I want.” I liked that. But during last night’s show, learning about the man through the stories told by his closest friends, it was like reliving my own father’s death and listening to his friends tell similar stories.

Both men—my father, Joe, and Phil—where thickheaded men who lived the way they wanted. They both had two sons, but saw them far less than they would have wanted to. They both worked their ass off all of their lives. They lived hard and they played hard. They smoked, drank, and ate some of the best tasting, cholesterol-filled, artery-clogging foods that a person could consume. While their personal habits may be seen to some as crude or even selfish—in the sense that their habits lead to their untimely deaths—those who were closest to them seemed to admire their rebel spirits. That spirit that lead my Dad and Phil to continue working like dogs, drinking like fish and smoking like chimneys until their early 50s, when it finally caught up to them.

While I admire these men, I also remember that they were fathers who left their loved ones behind far to early. So I must ask myself, should we (me, my brother, Joe Jr., and Phil’s sons, josh and Jake) live like our fathers who we loved and admire dearly, or change? Should we realize the unbalanced natures of the rebel lifestyle, filled with packs of smokes, gallons of coffee and cases of beer every day, or embrace the rebel and say ”to hell with the consequences, I’ll live my life the way I God-damn please!” The same way I have for the past fifteen years? Can we? Though I can’t speak for the other sons in this story, I can speak for myself. I am changing.

I have recently learned of my own paternity. In the next six months my first son or daughter will be born. And for him/her I have quit smoking, cut-down on the coffee and alcohol, but my diet still needs some work; I love butter…. Every day I must ask myself if I want to be like my Dad and leave this earth never seeing my child venture off to college or pursue their talents, whatever they may be. I don’t. I don’t want them ask themselves the same questions about their father that I have. I don’t want them to make the same mistakes and to endure the pains of changing their entire lifestyle. It is very difficult, but I must. I want to see them grow up. I want to be a different type of role model.

Usually, I would include some applicable research to this story. Some article addressing how a son’s understanding of his father relates to his own identity and behavior would do well. Frankly, I couldn’t find any. It seems that fatherhood has been neglected in the literature (Samuels, 2007). I did find that even at an early age, our Father’s seem to be a source of a good time and congruent positive arousal (Feldman, 2003). And perhaps that is the difficulty in separating ourselves from our fathers: they know how to have fun. We must remember them for who they were, the great times they brought us, but try desperately not to make the same mistakes. I think they would want that. Perhaps there is a way to embrace the rebel while not ingesting the copious amounts of poison that seems to come with it. In the words of another fallen rebel father, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, I will ponder this rotten assignment and learn how to cope with it. Until then, I will close with an appeal to The Great Magnet: May these men rest and be remembered fondly. They’ve earned it.

A Relation Called Father Part 1: The Father in Depth PsychologyA Relation Called Father Part 1: The Father in Depth Psychology

Infant-mother and infant-father synchrony: The coregulation of positive arousalInfant-mother and infant-father synchrony


Zero size model is not popular nor ideal anymore

Designers will no longer be able to hire models with a body mass index that is deemed dangerously low because the Australian fashion industry is preparing to ban skinny models from catwalks and magazines. The new body-image standards will not only influence fashion industry but might also play a significant role in changing the way ordinary people see themselves, especially for teenage girls.

There is now growing empirical support for the proposition that idealized portrayals of women in the Western media have a negative impact upon how adolescent girls and adult women see themselves. In one major American survey of over 500 adolescent girls aged 9–16, nearly 70% believed magazine pictures influenced their idea of the ideal body shape, and 47% of the same sample wished to lose weight as a result. Body image is central to adolescent girls’ self-definition, because they have been socialized to believe that appearance is an important basis for self-evaluation and for evaluation by others. However, the media—magazines, TV, films, advertising, music videos—not only emphasize that female self-worth should be based on appearance, but present a powerful cultural ideal of female beauty that is becoming increasingly unattainable. For example, the body size of women in the media is often more than 20% underweight—exceeding a diagnostic criterion for anorexia nervosa of 15% underweight (DSM-IV-TR: American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Using an experimental method, Clay et al (2005) tested the impact of viewing ultra-thin and average-size female magazine models on body image and self-esteem among adolescent girls aged 11–16. They found that viewing ultra-thin or average-size models led to decreases in both body satisfaction and self-esteem in adolescent girls, with changes in self-esteem fully mediated by changes in body satisfaction. These findings demonstrate a causal effect of media images on body satisfaction, apparently spreading to global self-esteem, among girls in the age range over which these variables typically fall most markedly in Western cultures.

Australia to ban super skinny models on runway, in print: report

Daniel Clay, Vivian L. Vignoles, & Helga Dittmar. (2005). Body Image and Self-Esteem Among Adolescent Girls: Testing the Influence of Sociocultural Factors. Journal of research on adolescence, 15, 451-477.

When it comes to road rules France uses a reward approach to driving

One thing police officers can count on is people breaking the law. So in anticipation of seasonal bad drivers traveling across France police decided to ignore this tradition. In a tactical change the police officers are turning to a reward system—that’s right a reward system. Drivers following the rules will be stopped and rewarded. The prize for good driving is a gas voucher.

To explain this good driving campaign, Checkroun (2008) notes that individuals control their behavior when they are likely to lose or gain. However, people who speed usually weigh the consequences of either getting a speeding ticket or arriving somewhere on time and are likely to speed anyway.  Additionally, factors such as “what in-group members identify with” are likely to shape, at times negatively, people’s perceptions of the campaign (Smith & Winnifred, 2009).  So if the drivers view the campaign negatively the act of rewarding good drivers may actually increase speeding drivers. On the other hand, if most drivers view the campaign positively and the incentive is appealing then the campaign will likely succeed.

Hear more: Police reward good drivers

Checkroun, P. (2008). Social control behavior: The effects of social situations and personal implication on informal social sanctions.

Smith, J.R., Winnifred, L.R. (2009). Group norms and the attitude-behavior relationship.

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Protecting the powerful

By, Adam K. Fetterman
Minnesota representative Michelle Bachmann has had her share of questionable moments in the past. For example, she once referred to President Obama and his wife as “anti-American”. She also seems to side with the powerful. The most recent example of this comes in regards to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Because of the lack of safety measures, BP has been expected to take responsibility and face the consequences of the disaster. While most people are concerned about the victims that have lost their livelihoods, Michelle Bachmann seems to be worried about BP and has warned that BP should be wary not to be “fleeced and ma[d]e chumps to have to pay for perpetual unemployment and all the rest”. She went on to say “The other thing we have to remember is that Obama loves to make evil whatever company it is that he wants to get more power from.” These comments appear to indicate that Rep. Bachmann is more interested in protecting the oil company, than the people suffering from the spill.

System justification theory is a process in which individuals tend to justify the status quo, regardless of the fairness of the practices (Jost, Banaji, & Nosek, 2004). For example, one may defend unfair actions or even blame (Napier, Mandisodza, Andersen, & Jost, 2006) the less fortunate in order to maintain the view that the current system is fair and/or to maintain one’s own status. Therefore, perhaps Rep. Bachmann feels that BP needs protection because it may challenge the current power hierarchy. As mentioned in her second quote above, she feels President Obama “wants to get more power from” BP. It may also be that she is worried that if the government is too hard on BP that it will lead to significant change in the way the government regulates powerful companies. Or maybe her only worry is that this will result in “paying $9 for a gallon of gas“. Either way, it seems she is worried more about the perpetrators than the victims.

“Michele Bachmann Channels McCarthy: Obama “Very Anti-American,” Congressional Witch Hunt Needed” By, Sam Stein – Huffington Post

“Bachmann to BP: Don’t ‘be chumps'” By, David Weigel – Right Now – Washington Post

Jost et al. (2004). A Decade of System Justification Theory: Accumulated Evidence of Conscious and Unconscious Bolstering of the Status Quo. Political Psychology, 25, 881-919.

Napier et al. (2006). System Justification in Responding to the Poor and Displaced in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Analysis of Social Issues and Public Policy, 6, 57-73.

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Sh*t my grandpa says (about cautious drivers)

By Kevin R. Betts

Sitting next to my grandpa in the back seat of my mom’s car last week, I listened to him critique his daughter’s driving: “I could have made it through that gap three times by now.” “How do you get anywhere?” “How come Kevin isn’t driving?” Seemingly unaffected by my grandpa’s comments, my mom and grandma discussed the things they wanted to do before our family vacation in Traverse City, Michigan was over. Reminiscent for me of the humorous website http://shitmydadsays.com/, I just laughed.

Although my grandpa’s comments are humorous, the aggressive driving habits he hopes my mom will adopt are not. Just a month earlier than our vacation, a man in the same city sped down a local road and rolled his vehicle, killing one passenger and seriously injuring another. Around the world, similar stories are heard. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 37,261 people died on U.S. roads in 2008 alone.

Hoping to shed light on factors that influence aggressive driving like that resulting in the abovementioned accident, Michele Lustman and colleagues (2010) surveyed a sample of motorists, collecting information about their driving habits and personality characteristics. Results revealed a link between trait narcissism and both perception of intentionality following road incidents and aggressive driving behaviors. Specifically, motorists with high self-esteem were more likely than those with low self-esteem to perceive ambiguous road incidents as intentional, and to react to those incidents aggressively. The researchers suggest that the aggressive reactions of these drivers may be in response to threatened high self-esteem that results from perceived offenses by other drivers.

Read more:

Man charged in fatal rollover accident

FHWA road safety fact sheet

Lustman, M., Wiesenthal, D.L., & Flett, G.L. (2010). Narcissism and aggressive driving: Is an inflated view of the self a road hazard? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40, 1423-1449.

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Bad Relationships Can Hurt… Literally

By Erica Zaiser

Jake and Vienna have called it quits. A recent, much talked about interview with the celebrity couple with the host of The Bachelor revealed numerous problems between the two. Each accused the other of being responsible for their irreconcilable problems and the dramatic interview included much yelling and many tears. It isn’t hard to see that such a stressful relationship could have lasting consequences on their emotional well-being.

Some research has demonstrated that marital relationships are linked to a number of both long and short-term physical health issues as well as emotional problems. According to Slatcher (2010), in a review of some of the research on marital relationships and physical health, there are two independent factors in marriage effecting health: marital strain (leading to negative health effects) and marital strength (which can have a positive impact on health).  Marriage has been linked to numerous physical responses including cardiovascular functioning, neuroendocrine output, and immunity; and marriage can even impact mortality rates. Although there is a great deal of research linking marriage to both positive and negative changes in physical health, the author argues that there is too little research explaining exactly what psychological processes occur in order to explain those changes.

News from CNN highlighted recent research which found that couples inflicted with small blisters who used hostile or aggressive communication styles healed more slowly than those couples that had better communication skills. They linked this to oxytocin levels which were higher in couples who used positive communication skills. This type of research gives some insight into the psychological processes which can explain the physiological effects of a relationship. So it is not the relationship itself, but the response to conflict within the relationship which is influencing physical well-being.

Read more: Slatcher, R. B. (2010). Marital Functioning and Physical Health: Implications for Social and Personality Psychology. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. 4, 455-469.

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