Author Archives: Adam K. Fetterman

England players wear their emotions on their faces

By, Adam K. Fetterman
One of the most anticipated matches in the 2010 FIFA World Cup took place on the second day of the tournament. The US and England faced off and ended the game in a 1 – 1 tie. Both teams should be happy with the result. While the US is definitely happy, as they were considered the underdogs, England does not share the enthusiasm. With a one point lead, the goalkeeper from England, the game’s proclaimed country of origin, allowed an easily blocked ball to sneak into the goal off the foot of one of their US rivals, a country in which soccer has yet to catch on. The disappointment over the goal, and the subsequent tie with the little favored underdog, left despair on the faces of those associated with the team. Indeed, the news media and bloggers have devoted much space to writing and showing pictures of dejected England players, including goalkeeper Robert Green and injured star David Beckham.

The facial expressions depicted in these images can give us insight to what these men were feeling. When someone sees a facial expression of emotion humans automatically mimic the expression of positive and negative emotion (Dimberg, Thunberg, & Elmehed, 2000). Through these mimicked facial movements, we are able to recognize the emotion being expressed. Therefore, when someone sees a picture of a sad-faced David Beckham, then one can get an idea of how he is feeling in that moment. In fact, we may even be able to feel what he is feeling. Ruys and Stapel (2008) showed that facial expressions are indeed emotion messengers, but are also emotion elicitors. So, one may feel bad for Robert Green when presented with his saddened face. However, since facial recognition acts the same with positive emotions (Dimberg et al., 2000), a different emotion would likely be recognized on US soccer players’ and fans’ faces: Happiness.

Dimberg, U., Thunberg, M., & Elmehed, K. (2000).Unconscious facial reactions to emotional facial expressions. Psychological Science, 11, 86-89.

David Beckham’s Matchface!: a gallery. By, Brian Phillips – Dirty Tackle Yahoo! Blog

Ruys, K. I. & Stapel, D. A. (2008). Emotion elicitor or emotion messenger? Subliminal priming reveals two faces of facial expressions. Psychological Science, 19, 593-600.

Rob Green makes no excuses, reminds us that he’s 30. By, Brooks Peck – Dirty Tackle Yahoo! Blog

U.S. fans discover use for tie. By, Les Carpenter – Yahoo! Sports

Does Racial Profiling Give White Criminals an Advantage?

The New York Times recently reported a study from the Center for Constitutional Rights in which it was revealed that Black and Latino people were nine times more likely to be stopped and frisked by police in New York. As the article notes, this study was a response to issues that the organization feels are a result of a Supreme Court decision to allow officers to “briefly” detain people for “reasonable suspicion.” What they found is that even though people of color are stopped for “reasonable suspicion” more often, they are not arrested any more often than white individuals. Interestingly enough, white people were found to be arrested and possess a weapon slightly more often.

Numerous scholars have shown the obvious negatives effects of police stereotyping, or profiling as it is termed, on people of color. However, an interesting consequence to think about is the amount of White “blue-collar” criminals not getting stopped because they do not fit the stereotype, or profile, of a “blue-collar” criminal. In fact, in a 1996 study, Gordon, Michels, and Nelson, showed that people significantly underestimated the amount of “blue-collar” crimes that White criminals commit. Moreover, Gordon and his colleagues found that White criminals are overly estimated to be “white-collar” criminals, as opposed to “blue-collar” criminals. Therefore, it is likely that some of the results presented in the New York Times article are due, at least to some degree, to the fact that white people do not fit the stereotype (i.e. profile) of a “blue-collar” criminal. Consequently, racial profiling may be allowing some criminals to walk free because they do not fit the profile and are therefore not eliciting “reasonable suspicion”.

“New York Minorities More Likely to Be Frisked” New York times article.

Gordon R. A., Michels, J. L., & Nelson, C. L. (1996). Majority Group Perceptions of Criminal Behavior: The Accuracy of Race-Related Crime Stereotypes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26, 148-159.

A New “Nightmare” Makes Us Feel Good.

A common trend in Hollywood is to remake old films and television shows. As an example, the remake of the 80’s horror film “Nightmare on Elm Street” was recently released. While getting horrible reviews, it still topped the box office. It is likely that nostalgia is to be thanked for this. According to Sedikides, Wildschut, Arndt, and Routledge (2008), nostalgia increases positive affect and reduces existential threat. So, it is no wonder why we flock to remakes that are ultimately going to disappoint us. In fact, we will probably go in groups to bask in the glow of a remade classic movie, as nostalgia brings about social connectedness (Sedikides, et al., 2008).  According to Sedikides and colleagues (2008), while in the past nostalgia was seen as a kind of homesickness or negative mood state, it is now more associated warm feelings of the past or one’s childhood. Accordingly, they changed the definition to “sentimental longing for one’s past” (Sedikides, et al., 2008, p. 305). Therefore, by going to remakes of older films, we can attempt to return to a time that we fondly long for (i.e. childhood). Although, the new films have the arduous task making us feel as good as fondly remembering the originals.

Perhaps the reason to remake these films is to update the classics with modern technology, or to retell the tails from a different perspective, or perhaps just to pay homage. No matter the reason, film makers have made quite a killing by invoking the happy feelings that are associated with nostalgia. While they may not live up to our rosy view of the originals, it can still feel good to get a “blast from the past”.

“‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ Slashes Box-Office Competition” – MTV News

“‘Nightmare’ fails to deliver the chills — and fun — of the original” – The Washington Post

Sedikides, C., Wildschut, T., Arndt, J., & Routledge, C. (2008). Nostalgia: Past, present, and future. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17, 304-307.


Political Ideology is Alive and Well

In the middle of the 20th century, a group of researchers pronounced political ideology dead. They argued that most individuals do not know enough about their beliefs to have an ideology. While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to this claim, the emergence of heated Tea Party protests and the overall Tea Party movement indicates that political ideology is alive and well. Social psychological research also backs up this claim (Jost, Nosek, & Gosling, 2008). Political psychologist John Jost and his colleagues have found numerous differences between those that have conservative and liberal ideologies, even though they may not be aware of it.

The strongest differences concern system justification and change (Jost & Hunyady, 2005; Jost et al., 2008). Specifically, conservatives are more likely to support maintaining the status quo or hold stronger system-justifying attitudes. For example, a New York Times/CBS News poll indicates that the Tea Party supporters are upset about the amount of support that the current United States administration is giving to minorities and lower social classes. This is quite reflective of what Jost and his colleagues describe in their research on system justification. As far as change goes, conservatives are less likely to be supportive of change. This is quite evident in the Tea Party, as seen in the following quote from Sarah Palin (a voice supported by many in the Tea Party movement): “Is this what their ‘change’ is all about? I want to tell ‘em, Nah, we’ll keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion — and you can keep the change.” To conclude, while individuals may not fully understand their ideologies, humans are indeed “ideological animals”, as Jost and Hunyady (2005) conclude.

Jost, J. T. et al. (2008). Ideology: Its Resurgence in Social, Personality, and Political Psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 126-136

Jost, J. T. & Hunyady, O. (2005). Antecedents and Consequences of System-Justifying Ideologies. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 260-265

New York Times/ABC News Poll about Tea Partiers

Time Magazine Quote of the Day: Sarah Palin Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2010