Author Archives: Ruixue

A late apology: What’s wrong with being gay?

homosexual-gayThousands of people signed to call for a posthumous government apology to the computer pioneer, Alan Turing, for the unfair treatment he received for being gay fifty-seven years after his death. Alan Turing was most famous for his code-breaking work at Bletchley Park during WWII, helping to create the Bombe that cracked messages enciphered with the German Enigma machines. However, after his coming out of closet as a gay in 1952, Turing was prosecuted for gross indecency. Even worse, he was given experimental chemical castration as a “treatment” and his security privileges were removed, which led to his unemployment. As a result of this “appalling” treatment, Turing killed himself two years later.

Although sexual prejudice remains widespread in the world, attitudes toward lesbians and gay men have become somewhat more accepting in recent years. At the same time, a growing body of sociological and psychological studies deal with the attitudes of heterosexuals toward homosexual behavior. Studies show that one important determinant of attitudes toward lesbians and gay men has been identified in personality variables such as authoritarianism, religiosity, and sex stereotypes. A further important factor is the national or cultural context as shown by the results of international surveys. For example, based on an international survey about attitudes toward homosexuality, the highest tolerance score was found for The Netherlands and the lowest for the Philippines and Chile (Kelley, 2001). Furthermore, psychological research also show that media has significant influence on people’s attitude toward gay and lesbians (Levian et al, 2006).

While more and more people believe homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle, some still violently object. The struggle for homosexual people to obtain visibility and representation in society is perhaps best embodied in the slogan that was popularized by the Queer Nation group in the 1990s, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it”.

square-eyePM apology after Turing petition (BBC NEWS)

 

square-eyeLevina, M, Waldo, C.R., & Fitzgerald, L. F. (2006). The Effects of Visual Media on Heterosexuals’ Attitudes Toward Gay Men and Lesbians.

Being a Good Girl Is Bad?

gender role2Bing a good girl is bad? If you think that a good girl should be dependent, quiet, obedient, and shy, then Rachel Simmons, the author of the best sellers Odd Girl Out and The Curse of the Good Girl, might tell you:  No! Simmons talked with TIME that girls were taught early on to suppress their emotions and not live as loudly as they might be inclined to, and her new book aims to show how to raise girls who aren’t afraid to be assertive and even a little less than perfect.

The good-girl identity is associated with traditional femininity gender role which refers to the attitudes and behaviors that class a woman’s stereotypical identity. Girls internalized their gender role during the process of socialization. In western culture, femininity has been associated with traits such as dependence, intuition, submissiveness, and emotionality whereas masculinity has been associated with traits such as independence, rationality, competitiveness, and objectivity. Thus,  a good girl used to be expected to act elegantly and restrainedly, and repress their strong emotions and feelings.

However, the content of socially accepted gender roles changes over time, and roles that may have not been acceptable at an earlier point in one’s life may become socially desirable at a later point. A recent meta-analysis of changes in masculine and feminine traits among college student found that since 1973 women have increasingly reported stereotyped masculine personality traits for themselves (Twenge, 1997). At the same time, some researches shows that women who were gender role typed as stereotypically masculine or androgynous would exhibit significantly greater levels of psychological well-being than women who were typed as stereotypically feminine or undifferentiated. It seems likely that being “good” is no longer the only or preferred option for girls.

square-eyeWhen Being a Good Girl Is Bad (TIME)

 

square-eyeKendra J. Saunders, K.J., & Kashubeck-West, S. (2006). The relations among feminist identity development, gender-role orientation, and psychological well-being in women.

 

square-eyeTang, T.N., & Tang, C. (2003). Gender role internalization, multiple roles, and Chinese women’s mental health.

Help our overweight children

childhood-obesity-by-joe-huObesity has been rated as the No.1 health problem for American children, according to a 2009 poll conducted by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Up to one out of every five children in the U.S. is overweight or obese, and this number is continuing to grow. Obesity places children at risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes later in life. The overweight children are also more prone to be depressed, anxious, and withdrawn, and report low self-esteem.

Children become overweight and obese for a variety of reasons. The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these factors. For example, psychologists explain that a combination of environmental pressures (e.g., parental concerns about children’s safety), technological factors (e.g., labor-saving devices such as cars), and societal transitions from childhood to adulthood are likely to increase sedentary behaviors, which usually coexist with eating, resulting in weight gain in children (Hills et al., 2007).

Although factors associated with and possible causes of obesity are complex, a child’s total diet and activity level play an important role in determining a child’s weight. Today, many children spend a lot time being inactive. For example, the average child spends approximately 4 hours each day watching television. As computers and video games become increasingly popular, the number of hours of inactivity may increase. Reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity is a public health challenge, and schools and parents have the potential to play a powerful role in diminishing this serious health crisis.

square-eyeObesity Is Biggest Health Problem for Kids (WebMD News)

square-eyeCrothers, L.M., Kehle, T. J., Bray, M. A., & Theodore, L. A. (2009). Correlates and suspected causes of obesity in children.

square-eyeTheodore, L. A., Bray, M.A., & Kehle, T.J. (2009). Introduction to the special issue: Childhood obesity.

Divorce hurts health even after remarriage

man woman hands holding broken heartLove is a miracle and happy romantic relationships might be the best gift for most people in the world. In fairy story, marriage is always the ultimate happy ending of romantic relationship. In reality, about 2.4 million American couples marry each year; during the same time period, half or more of these marriages fail as the result of the departure or death of a partner, most often during the second to sixth years of marriage (US census bureau, 2005). What happens when the sweet dream of marriage falls into pieces?

A new study shows that divorce or losing a spouse to death can exact an immediate and long-lasting toll on mental and physical gains, even after remarriage. Romantic relationships don’t end easily because they involve the investment of one’s time and feelings, the exchange of powerful rewards, and commitment. However, once the romantic relationships end up, people will experience not only the loss of caring, affective support, intimacy, and companionate love, but also extremely stressful and miserable feeling of pain, loneliness, helplessness and hopelessness. Besides, people ignore their health; they’re less likely to go to the doctor; they’re less likely to exercise; they’re sleeping poorly. Remarriage helps people get back on a healthy trajectory, but it puts people back on a healthy trajectory from a lower point, because they didn’t take care of themselves for a long time! Divorce operates like a traumatic event in one’s life; it damages not only your romantic relationship, but also your health.

Speed-DatingMSNBC news: Divorce hurts health even after remarriage

Speed-DatingP. F. Moffitt, N. D. Spence, & R. D. Goldney. (2006). Mental health in marriage: The roles of need for affiliation, sensitivity to rejection, and other factors

Speed-DatingA. Mastekaasa (2006). Is marriage/cohabitation beneficial for young people?

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.

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