Category Archives: Uncategorized

When “The Black Sheep” Is White

By: Megan E. Birney

2011 marks 10 years since the mixed-race category was added to the U.K.’s annual censes.  To commemorate this event, BBC Two has been running a series of programmes documenting the mixed-race experience both in Britain and around the world.

One of familys profiled in the series are the Kellys.  While the Kellys are mixed race (the father, Errol, is black and the mother, Alyson, is white), what makes them truly extraordinary is that in 1993, Alyson gave birth to twin boys — one black and one white.

How is this possible?  According to population geneticist Dr. Jim Wilson, Errol’s Jamaican heritage holds the answer. In the days of slavery, white men raping black women were common practice and, as a result, most blacks from outside of Africa have a mix of African and European DNA.  In the case of the Kellys, Errol passed his African DNA to his son James (resulting in James’ black skin) but passed his European DNA to his son Daniel (resulting in Daniel’s white skin).

Not surprisingly, being twins with different skin colours was difficult for James and Daniel growing up.  What is surprising, however, is that it was Daniel – the white twin – that endured the bulk of the racist abuse from students at the all-white school the twins attended.  His mum explains that situation like this: “Those kids couldn’t stand the fact that, as they saw it, this white kid was actually black.  It was as though they wanted to punish him for daring to call himself white.”

According to research by Yzerbyt, Leyens, and Bellour (1995), we are quick to reject ingroup members that are not in line with what is required for group membership.  Because the identity of the group is put at stake by misidentifying an ingroup member, we tend to be especially careful when allowing new members in.  If misidentification does occur, there is a “Black Sheep Effect” in which the “bad” ingroup member is chastised more than a similarly “bad’” outgroup member.  In other words, if an ingroup member and an outgroup member both exhibit an undesirable behaviour, we are likely to be much harder on the ingroup member.

Akin to this theory, the white students at the twins’ school punished Daniel because they had identified him as white (and hence an ingroup member) when he was, in actuality, half black.  Such behaviour from these white students illustrates just how important race is in how we identify both others and ourselves.  While the U.K and the rest of the world have come quite far in how we perceive mixed race people, it is clear that we still have a long way to go.

Yzerbyt, V., Leyens, J., Bellour, F. (1995). The ingroup overexclusion effect: Identity concerns in decisions about ingroup membership. European Journal of Social Psychology, 25 (1), 1-16.

Black and White Twins: The Guardian, Saturday September 24, 2011

Social and Personality Psychology Compass

© Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Volume 5, Issue 10 Pages 694 – 823, October 2011

The latest issue of Social and Personality Psychology Compass is available on Wiley Online Library

 

Emotion Motivation

Affiliation Goals and Health Behaviors (pages 694–705)
Jerry Cullum, Megan A. O’Grady and Howard Tennen
Article first published online: 4 OCT 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00376.x

Intrapersonal Processes

The Effects of Social Power on Goal Content and Goal Striving: A Situated Perspective (pages 706–719)
Guillermo B. Willis and Ana Guinote
Article first published online: 4 OCT 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00382.x

 

The Virtue Blind Spot: Do Affective Forecasting Errors Undermine Virtuous Behavior? (pages 720–733)
Gillian M. Sandstrom and Elizabeth W. Dunn
Article first published online: 4 OCT 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00384.x

 

Treatment Choice and Placebo Expectation Effects (pages 734–750)
Andrew Geers and Jason Rose
Article first published online: 4 OCT 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00385.x

 

Selective Exposure, Decision Uncertainty, and Cognitive Economy: A New Theoretical Perspective on Confirmatory Information Search (pages 751–762)
Peter Fischer
Article first published online: 4 OCT 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00386.x

 

The Revision and Expansion of Self-Theory through Preparedness (pages 763–774)
Patrick J. Carroll, Michael J. McCaslin and Greg J. Norman
Article first published online: 4 OCT 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00388.x

Social Cognition

Data-driven Methods for Modeling Social Perception (pages 775–791)
Alexander Todorov, Ron Dotsch, Daniel H. J. Wigboldus and Chris P. Said
Article first published online: 4 OCT 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00389.x

 

How Stereotypes Stifle Performance Potential (pages 792–806)
Toni Schmader and Alyssa Croft
Article first published online: 4 OCT 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00390.x

Social Influence

Self-Awareness Part 1: Definition, Measures, Effects, Functions, and Antecedents (pages 807–823)
Alain Morin
Article first published online: 4 OCT 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00387.x

 

Scholarly Content on the Impact of 9/11

Navy videographer at Ground Zero

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Truck driver… no wait a professor! Can glasses really change impressions of you?

By Erica Zaiser

I came across this cartoon recently from Funnymos.com:

Obviously it is meant to be humorous but it also made me wonder:  Does having a trait like glasses change people’s initial impressions of you? And has there been any research on this topic? Turns out, there has.

According to research by Hellstrom and Tekle (1994), people infer not only occupations based on physical traits but also personal characteristics like intelligence and trustworthiness. The researchers conducted studies in which participants rated the personality characteristics and speculated about the occupation of several male faces with either glasses, hair, or a beard. The researchers found that the combination of having glasses, a beard, and no hair was associated most highly with intellectual professions. The opposite in each category led to the strongest belief that the face belonged to someone in a trade profession or a factory worker.

Another set of studies by Terry and Krantz (1993)    further suggest that both men and women with glasses are rated as more competent and also have less social forcefulness. However, in their studies they found that beards were related to less competence. A key difference in this study was that the researchers looked at each difference separately whereas the first study looked at the combination of factors together. So perhaps a beard alone can diminish perceptions of competence but  not when paired with glasses or bald hair in which case a beard has a positive effect on competence ratings.

Of course, these studies only varied a few physical traits and didn’t take into account all the other subtle influences that help form first impressions. Nonetheless, it makes me wonder, would people respect my research more if I wore glasses?

Read More: Dimensions of Trait Attributions Associated with Eyeglasses, Men’s Facial Hair, and Women’s Hair Length

Person perception through facial photographs: Effects of glasses, hair, and beard on judgments of occupation and personal qualities

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Google+ Invitations: We all want one. Why?

By Erica Zaiser

Those who pay attention to the online world will probably know that Google+ fever is sweeping the blogosphere. Everyone wants an invite to the “Facebook killer” and invites are pretty hard to come by. If you are lucky enough to have one, you can brag about being in the group early and if not, you are left wondering what is going on in there and will you ever get to be a part of it. Invites are in such demand they are even popping up for sale on ebay for as much as $100.

What is the rush and why are we all clamouring to jump on board the Google+ ship when we don’t even know what it’s all about? Well for one, we humans love to belong to groups. And what could be better than belonging to Google+, a group which is entirely based on the ability to form groups. Because Google+ is by invitation only, the boundaries are less permeable than Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and the other social networking sites; anyone can join those simply by signing up. Permeability of boundaries has been linked to group identification in numerous psychology studies. Members of groups with highly permeable boundaries have reduced ingroup identification. So a person who is on Facebook just won’t feel as passionate about being a “Facebook user” as someone who is part of Google+.  Google+ users on the other hand, feel strongly about their membership and are spreading their new ingroup love, which automatically makes Google+ seem pretty cool and exclusive.

We are now willing to buy our way into a group that four days ago didn’t even exist because if there is one thing people hate, it’s being excluded.  By releasing the new social networking site as invite only, Google has created something we want to be part of but most just can’t. In a review of research on social exclusion, Dewall and colleagues (2010) highlight how being left out can cause numerous behavioural and emotional problems. Social exclusion can lead to increased aggression, decrease pro-social behaviour, and even induce actual physical pain. Hopefully more invites will open up before those who are being excluded start suffering the negative effects of social exclusion. And yes, I am still waiting for my invite too.

Read more: Belongingness as a Core Personality Trait: How Social Exclusion Influences Social Functioning and Personality Expression

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If First You Don’t Succeed, Prophesize Again: In the Face of Dissonant Followers, Camping Sticks to his Tune

By P. Getty

May 21st has come and gone, yet we are all still here. Are you as shocked as I am? OK, maybe I’m not really surprised that another “Judgment day,” prophesied by a kooky religious leader, has come and gone with little interruption to my usual Saturday morning routine of Looney Tunes and Captain Crunch. What does seem a mystery, however, is why on earth Harold Camping, the self proclaimed professor of Bible truth, head of Family Radio, a multimillion-dollar Christian organization, and author of this nonsense is sticking to his story that last Saturday truly was the beginning of the end.

“Judgment Day on May 21 did come, “ but in a more spiritual sense, Camping proclaimed in a recent article published on christianpost.com.

Camping further stated that his previous end-times prophecies where also correct, but again it was in a spiritual sense.  The newest new deal is that, according to Camping, Judgment Day is more like five months of Judgment days. Apparently, there are so many of us in need of judgment, his god won’t be able to finish the trials until October 21st, the day Camping now predicts for the rapture, when the chosen go with Jesus, and the rest of us, and the world, will make like John Edwards and cross over, but in a fiery blaze of pain and anguish.

In light of the work of Festinger and his infiltration of a doomsday-cult back in the 50s, as was eloquently discussed by Dr. Duke in his resent post, there is most definitely a case for cognitive dissonance at work in the wake of this failed prophecy. While the dissonance might not lie with Camping per se, his new prophecy is likely intended to combat the growing dissonance among his flock. It would seem that the observation made by Prus (1976) who noted that religious groups, and especially ones who make wild claims about end times, must come up with cleaver ways to ease their followers dissonance if they are to maintain and expand their ranks.

In the end, we can be sure that there is nothing shocking about an old quack distracting his followers with smoke, mirrors and promises. And those followers will likely eat it up. They simply have too much of their time, money and selves invested to turn back now.

Christian Post article on Harold Camping’s latest quackery

Dr. Duke’s article

Prus, 1976