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August 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Explaining the Morass of Class Differences

APA In reviewing Charles Murray's controversial new book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010, Richard Nisbett agrees with the author that, while the top 20 percent of White Americans have maintained their strong position on a variety of social indicators in the past 50 years, the bottom 30 percent have lost major ground. However, Nisbett takes issue with Murray's explanations for this (e.g., dependency created by the welfare state and a failure of the upper class to "preach what they practice"). Nisbett doesn't claim to know the reason for this situation, but does suggest:

The interventions that seem to me to hold the most promise have to do with education.…This includes instruction of mothers-to-be and new mothers in proper infant care and intellectual stimulation…The best preschool programs result in drastic reductions in the likelihood of being held back in school or assigned to special education, dramatically higher likelihood of completing high school and going to college, and greatly reduced likelihood of being imprisoned or becoming a public charge.
Do you agree with Nisbett that educational programs hold the most promise? How should psychologists contribute to rectifying problems such as the drastic increase in unemployment and out-of-wedlock births in the bottom 30 percent?

Read the Review
ReviewThe Tribulations of the New Lower Class
By Richard E. Nisbett
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(30)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What Is the Role of Psychologists in Dealing With Those Who Enable Child-Abusing Priests?

APA In his review of Thomas Plante and Kathleen McChesney's book Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: A Decade of Crisis, 2002–2012, William Hathaway notes the following:

[T]he retired Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson offers a chapter that lays significant blame for the issue on problematic aspects of Catholic culture. One of those aspects is a "culture of obsessive secrecy [that] has been a powerful factor in the mishandling of the abuse. It is a sad fact that, if the entire church has been slow to respond properly to the abuse, the slowest part of all has been its central bureaucracy" (p. 99).
Possibly related to this culture of secrecy has been the practice of moving accused priests to different parishes. Should priests (or anyone else) in administrative roles who knowingly move (and thereby enable) priests accused of child endangerment to different parishes be prosecuted to the same extent as the offending priests? This was the case, for example, of Msgr. William J. Lynn, who was recently prosecuted for moving priests to different parishes in the Philadelphia area while knowing of their abuse. And, what should be the role of psychologists (e.g., clinical, industrial-organizational) in dealing with these administrators and their organizations?

Read the Review
ReviewListening in on a Family Crisis: Catholic Responses to Sexual Abuse in the Church
By William L. Hathaway
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(32)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Psychology Curriculum: How Do We Improve Its International Scope?

APA Gloria Grenwald has enthusiastically reviewed the Leong, Pickren, Leach, and Marsella volume Internationalizing the Psychology Curriculum in the United States, noting, "mapmakers in the United States [once] represented North America as larger than it should be and placed it in the center of world maps." Psychologists in the United States have done something very similar for far too long, but the centrality of U.S. psychology is increasingly being challenged.

How have you attempted to internationalize your university's psychology courses? How can we ensure that our students appreciate diverse worldviews and international perspectives on contentious issues? How can we link international perspectives with our multicultural strengths?

Read the Review
ReviewMapping the World of Psychology Course by Course
By Gloria Grenwald
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(32)

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Does the Low Rate of Marriage Among African Americans Really Exist?

APA In her review of Ralph Richard Banks's book Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone, Ella Duncan notes,

Arguing that statistics about African American marriages can be deceptive, manipulative, and misleading, Toldson and Marks (2011) asserted,
Sometimes numbers are deceiving…43 percent of black women have never been married compared to 20 percent of white women who are 18 years and older. However, when analyzing the black women who are 35 and older, the percent who have never been married drops to 25 percent, indicating that a solid majority of black women get married before they turn 35. Granted the total percent of unmarried black women is still twice more than for white women who are 35 and older. (p. 2)
Using this demographic, the headline just as easily could be "75 percent of Black women marry by age 35" (Toldson & Marks, 2011). According to the actual census data, 53.2 percent of African Americans marry at some time during their lives, compared with 69.3 percent of all other races. Despite the 16-percent difference, it is not as alarming as stating that only 38 percent of African Americans are currently married, compared with 60 percent of Whites (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
Given these data, is the difference in marriage rates between Blacks and Whites really that alarming? Is there really a low rate of Black marriages? Are we making a "mountain out of a molehill"?

Read the Review
ReviewIncreasing African American Marital Rates: Is There Only One Answer?
By Ella M. Duncan
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(26)

Thursday, August 02, 2012

When Should Teaching Be Job One?

APA Bruce Henderson reviewed the book Transforming Undergraduate Education: Theory That Compels and Practices That Succeed, which describes theory and practices that should transform undergraduate education. High-impact characteristics of successful programs are said to include first-year and capstone seminars, and service and research experiences. These come with significant costs in faculty time and effort.

This is not news to anyone who has followed the higher education literature for a couple of decades. We know that these small, intensive classes and individual experiences matter, and that students who find them do very well after graduation. Then, why is it that some universities where teaching has been the primary mission suddenly decide that they can enhance their reputation with an increased emphasis on research? My concern is based on anecdotal data, but with sufficient cases for me to allege that this is a serious problem.

Given what we know about what makes a good undergraduate education, let's reverse the situation. There are institutions and departments that aspire to become top tier in some ranking, but really do not have the resources to make it. The major resource they do have, faculty time and effort, is wasted on second-rate research efforts leading to a list of publications in second-rate journals. I would love to see an example of a university that said teaching comes first and we will add as many high-impact seminars and student experiences as possible.

Read the Review
ReviewPsychology and the New Undergraduate Education
By Bruce B. Henderson
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(28)

Editor of PsycCRITIQUES

Danny Wedding, PhD

Chair of Behavioral Sciences,
College of Medicine,
American University of Antigua

Associate Editors of PsycCRITIQUES

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