Monthly Archives: July 2009

Employment discourses

EmploymentWith unemployment figures reaching new heights and markets conditions deteriorating, employers need to recruit the most talented employees if they are to maintain their competitive edge and have a workforce that reflects their consumer base. Arguably then, that means recruiting employees from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Overt discrimination of race, sexuality, disability, religion, age and gender is, of course, illegal and employers seem to be proactive in their attempts to eliminate barriers to recruitment, retention and progression. Yet the egalitarian discourses that employers draw upon in these practices, often account for less diverse workforces as a result of external forces e.g. particular groups do not tend to apply. However, these can often be caused by an organisation’s own internal discourses, which inadvertently deselect potential candidates with particular attributes and personalities e.g. advertising a vacancy in magazine targeted at younger people is unlikely to be seen by more mature candidates.

In a more challenging business environment, it may therefore, prove fruitful for employers to review their recruitment methods and dispositions.

square-eye The Times ‘Unemployment hits a 12 year high’

square-eyeThe Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (formerly DIUS) ‘Professional Recruitment Guide’

square-eyeOverlooked and underutilized: People with disabilities are an untapped human resource

square-eyeSense-making of employment: on whether and why people read employment advertising

‘Spanish practices’

BullfightFirstly it was bonus payments for bankers seen as largely responsible for the ‘credit crunch’, and then excessive expenses claims by members of parliament (MPs).

Although these activities were not necessarily illegal, the British public has been enthusiastically encouraged by the press to denounce them as immoral.

This common view that dubious morality is endemic amongst those in positions of power has been highlighted recently by the ironic election success of a Croatian politician with a campaign slogan of ‘All for me, nothing for you’.

From a psychological perspective, such beliefs illustrate the ultimate attribution error, where negative behaviours of individual members are seen as typical of an entire out-group.

On closer inspection, however, this simple moral dichotomy is more complex than it may first appear. For example, MP’s expenses have been likened to so-called ‘Spanish practices’, a derogatory British term that continues to be surprisingly widely-used despite its racist implications. Such practices are questionable non-contractual working arrangements that benefit the employee and have become accepted as normal over time. These typically occur within heavily unionised industries, and have previously been the subject of industrial disputes.

Rather ironically then, many of those claiming the moral high-ground in terms of MP’s expenses commonly take advantage of exactly the same kind of ‘unofficial benefits’, suggesting that morality is a somewhat flexible concept.

Interestingly, the very term (mis-)used to describe these practices is a further example of the ultimate attribution error, being one of a number of historic British slurs attributing negative behaviours to foreign nationality out-groups.

Square-eye‘Spanish practices’ of MPs from the Mail Online

Square-eye£1.99 - small Sunar, D. (2009). Suggestions for a New Integration in the Psychology of Morality

Square-eye£1.99 - smallGiles, D. & Shaw, R. L. (2009). The Psychology of News Influence and the Development of Media Framing Analysis

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The entertainment value of human nature

800px-Video_CameraA natural human tendency is to form groups to fulfill our social needs, navigate a world full of obstacles and threats, and also provide us with a sense of identity and self-esteem. The latest season of CBS’s Big Brother, set to premier this Thursday, July 9, will exploit this innate proclivity. The show puts a dozen willing wannabes in a house under surveillance for approximately three months. Once a week the contestants vote to evict one member of the household until only two remain, when the formerly evicted contestants vote for a winner who will receive $500,000. This season the show will split the houseguests into three age-old high school cliques: “popular,” “athletes,” and “brains.” 
Cliques create a unique experience of power and dominance with highly specific intra-group stratification and provide a sense of identity and purpose for members (Adler & Adler, 2007). They have a strict code of membership (e.g., what one wears, how one acts) and are exclusive (e.g., members are not free to socialize with outsiders, initiation to the group is difficult to obtain). The show’s format already ensures that contestants form alliances in order to win and labeling these groups from the outset that already have stereotypes and expectancies associated with them only accelerates a process that would have occurred anyway with or without the cameras. While we’d all like to believe that cliques exist only in the cafeteria or on the playground they can be found in nearly any place where human beings interact.



CBS Big Brother


Meet the Cast of Big Brother 11


Preadolescent Clique Stratification and the Hierarchy of Identity


Teens Health: The Nature of Cliques

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Evaluating [bare] objects

Flugzeug-SicherheitsunterweisungA marketing campaign, including an airplane safety video from a New Zealand airline implements a strategy in hopes that passengers have a positive response and more importantly pay attention. A safety video presents a purportedly formally dressed flight crew. However a closer look reveals that the crew—presenting safety instructions—is wearing only body paint, nametags included. And while the crew delivers the safety information they playfully hint at the viewer to “take a closer look”.
To an unsuspecting observer the video is meant to add shock value while portraying a literal representation of the airlines marketing campaign. Additionally the video speaks to the evaluation of stimulus that may be appealing or demanding one’s attention.

Read more: Link to Reuters article


YouTube video


$1.99 De Houwer, J. (2009) How People Evaluate Objects? A Brief Review

Individual’s influence on culture: What does Michael Jackson’s story tell us

Micheal JacksonFive days after the death of Michael Jackson the on-going worldwide discussion and mourning fully demonstrated the influences of an individual, especially a culture icon, on cultures in the context of globalization today.

As the speed of globalization accelerates, world cultures are more closely connected to each other than ever before. Traditional research in both cultural and cross-cultural psychology has focused on culture-based effects by identifying the influence of culture on the individual. However, the reverse relationship has attracted increasing attentions over time: individuals influence culture by the creation of institutions, symbols, and practices that carry and validate particular cultural meaning systems. Icons have been called “magnets of meaning” in that they connect many diverse elements of cultural knowledge (Betsky, 1997). Particularly, cultural icons demonstrate an incredible individual influence on culture – an influence stretching across boundaries of race, class, gender and nationality.

Michael Jackson is the best case. His music and clothes, his dance moves, and his massive live concert tours not only significantly influenced the pop music, but also “projected to the world the sense and the promise of a multicultural and tolerant United States”. Like him or not, a cultural hero or a freak, for a long time this singer was considered as the “face of America” and the defining figure of the global pop culture.

Learn more about cross-cultural psychology and globalization The article about “America’s global face”

Learn more about cross-cultural psychology and globalizationLearn more about cross-cultural psychology and globalization

Learn more about cross-cultural psychology and globalizationIcons: Magnets of meaning

Learn more about cross-cultural psychology and globalizationLearn more about social psychology research on culture