Tag Archives: self-identity

The Situation with The Jersey Shore

The Jersey Shore, a reality show on MTV that experienced high ratings and a great deal of media attention, wrapped up its first season last week and the cast is already negotiating salaries for a second season. The show involved 8 roommates who worked, lived, and partied at Seaside Heights in New Jersey. And while the series was met with disapproval from advertisers and the media for a number of reasons, including excessive drinking and violence by and against cast members, one of the strongest criticisms has been the perpetuation of the Guido stereotype.

Throughout the series, the cast members frequently referred to themselves as guidos and guidettes, a term considered derogatory by many Italian-Americans. Moreover, the roommates frequently reinforced and placed a great deal of value on what are considered negative and stereotypical qualities (for instance, Snooki – who is pictured above – describes her perfect man as “Italian, dark, muscles, juice-head, guido”). While endorsement of negative in-group stereotypes may seem problematic to some, the social psychological literature can help us to understand why people might engage in this process.

Much research has shown that negative stereotypes can have detrimental effects on stigmatized individuals, including losses of self-esteem and poor test performance. However, more recent work has shown that stigmatized individuals may endorse negative in-group stereotypes in order to buffer their self-image. Specifically, rather than letting stereotypes affect the self in a negative way, stigmatized individuals may combat the damaging effects of stereotyping by justifying the existence of these labels or reframing them as something positive. This strategic behavior, while not always conscious to the individual, is thought to be a way to manage threats to self-esteem and performance.

The controversy surrounding The Jersey Shore may be somewhat deserved but as a psychologist, I can’t help but hope the series returns next year. Each episode is rich with behaviors that can be understood using personality and social psychological theory. So until next year, don’t forget The Situation and Pauly D’s advice: GTL – Gym, Tan, Laundry.

Companies Pull Ads from Jersey Shore

Italian-American Group Angered over Jersey Shore

Jost, J. T., Ledgerwood, A., & Hardin, C. D. (2008). Shared reality, system justification, and the relational basis of ideological beliefs. Social and Personality Psychology Compass

Why Harry Potter?

harry-potter-and-the-half-blood-princeThe sixth installment of the Harry Potter series will hit theaters with no shortage of fanfare. It’s not surprising that Harry has suddenly soared to the peaks of popularity in schools across the world. Not just pleasures, Harry Potters series provide important fantasy and illusions to our children.

Clinicians and theoreticians have demonstrated that children often use fantasy play to express and cope with realistic concerns and worries. Additionally, the thematic content of fantasy may also be a significant predictor of children’s adaption. As an example, Harry Potters’ books, movies, games and television all involve the imagination which directs and facilitates child’s feeling, cognitive process and creative thinking ability. Children don’t read Harry Potter merely to reach the conclusion and resolve the suspense, and they also delight in identifying with “good” wizards in this mystical world.

“Good stories capture the heart, mind, and imagination and are an important way to transmit values”( Louise Derman-Sparks, 1989) . On the other hand, some people worry that the discernibly polarized depiction of good and evil in this popular story could cultivate a perception in children that the real world is similarly organized. They question whether the dichotomized view of good and evil presented in such fantasy story are in fact stereotypes that far from enlarging children’s construction of individuals, groups and movements within broader human society.

square-eye Harry Potter hits theaters (The New York Times)

square-eye Laurie Kramer (2006).What’s Real in Children’s Fantasy Play?

square-eye Neil Robinson (2008).Good and Evil in Popular Children’s Fantasy Fiction.