Reviewed Books & Films

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November 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Do We Need To Teach Students More About Researcher Race Effects?

APA In her review of Researcher Race: Social Constructions in the Research Process by Lauren Mizock and Debra A. Harkins, Vetta Sanders Thompson notes,

Although [the book] is an easy-to-read, quick, and well-organized overview of racial issues in research, it is probably not for seasoned researchers who work in the areas of critical race theory, racial identity, or cultural competence. It is most appropriate for undergraduates or graduate students with minimal exposure to issues of culture and race in psychology or the social sciences.
To what extent do psychology faculty include issues of cultural competence in their undergraduate and graduate research methods classes? Such issues are sometimes covered in classes related to clinical/counseling psychology and social psychology, but do most research methods classes and textbooks discuss issues related to researcher demographics (race, ethnicity, gender, etc.) and how to handle these effects in design and data analysis (e.g., examining researcher race as a covariate)? Or is this material relegated to classes (again, undergraduate or graduate) related to human diversity or cross-cultural psychology? Should we do more to educate our undergraduates, as well as graduate students, about these issues in methods classes?

Read the Review
ReviewReflections on Race and Research
By Vetta L. Sanders Thompson
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(44)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Snips and Snails or Sugar and Spice?

APA Jo B. Paoletti in Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys From the Girls in America describes the role that children's clothing has played and continues to play in communicating children's gender. Paoletti provides a historical perspective on this issue, describing fluctuations in the degree of gender differentiation in children's clothing over time from the late 1800s to the present. As reviewer Marianne LaFrance summarizes it,

Rather than a straight line from a presumedly more rigid past that imposed sharp, gendered sartorial arrangements to current flexibility in clothing choices, sex-typed children's garb has waxed and waned in line with prevailing social and political attitudes.
In terms of current choices of attire for babies, Paoletti argues that gender distinctions in babies' clothing are sharper now than ever before.

Do you agree that gender distinctions in babies' clothing are sharper now than ever? If so, what current societal and/or political attitudes might explain this increased rigidity? If not, in what period of history was there the greater emphasis on differentiating boys and girls by their clothing?

How important is the historical perspective provided in this book for psychologists interested in gender identity? How might it inform research or practice?

Read the Review
ReviewA Gender Eye for Children's Fashion
By Marianne LaFrance
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(42)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Fox and the Hedgehog and a Universal Theory of Influence

APA Roland Tharp has proposed a universal theory of influence, called delta theory, which he describes in his recent book Delta Theory and Psychosocial Systems: The Practice of Influence and Change. The review by Kurt Salzinger was generally positive, but Salzinger continues to believe that simple behavior analytic concepts like shaping and reinforcement are sufficient to explain the myriad phenomena Tharp discusses in his book.

Tharp's work is in the tradition of Clark Hull, Roy Baumeister, and Art Staats. The review triggered a Point by Tharp, and a Counterpoint by Salzinger.

In the 7th century BCE, the Greek poet Archilochus noted, "the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." Is it fair to say Tharp is a hedgehog whereas Salzinger is a fox, or does the dichotomy fall apart when applied to delta theory and behavior analysis?

[Full Disclosure: Roland Tharp was one of my professors when I attended graduate school at the University of Hawaii. DW]

Read the Review
ReviewNietzsche, Sequoia, the Reichstag, Contingency Management, and Tango Therapy
By Kurt Salzinger
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(22)

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Was Bobby Fischer’s Chess Genius Linked to His Paranoia and His Delusional Disorder?

APA Joseph Ponterotto concludes in A Psychobiography of Bobby Fischer: Understanding the Genius, Mystery, and Psychological Decline of a World Chess Champion, reviewed in PsycCRITIQUES by Neil Charness, that Bobby Fischer suffered from a paranoid personality disorder, which eventually morphed into a full-blown delusional disorder.

Was there any connection between Fischer's genius as a chess player and his paranoia and delusions? Is the myth of the mad genius simply a hoax, as Judith Schlesinger maintains, or might there be some connection that we don't yet understand?

Note: Psychologist and Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon was a pretty good chess player, and by all accounts a temperate and modest man. He is seen in the photo below playing chess with William Chase while being photographed by reviewer Neil Charness.

chess expertise project at Carnegie Mellon University

National Science Foundation publicity photo of the chess expertise project at Carnegie Mellon University circa 1972–1973. From left to right: William G. Chase, Neil Charness, Herbert A. Simon. The chess position shown was taken from Game 6 of the Fischer–Spassky world chess championship match in 1972.

[Click on the image to see it full size.]

Read the Review
ReviewExpertise in Chess: Does It Help to Be Paranoid?
By Neil Charness
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(41)

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Why Are Negative (and Sometimes Patently False) Political Campaign Messages So Persuasive?

APA The most recent U.S. presidential campaign has been characterized by an exceptionally large number of misstatements, misleading comments, inappropriate innuendos, and, on occasion, outright lies that have been endlessly repeated. (Two salient examples include the claim that Obama is a Muslim or the widespread belief that he was born outside the United States.)

Fact checkers pointed out these inconsistencies or misstatements (made on both sides), but politicians seem to be able to mislead the public with impunity.

This problem is addressed in William D. Crano's review of Rasmus Nielsen's book Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns. Crano notes,

Wegner and his colleagues showed that even unsupported innuendoes can be deadly, and the credibility of the innuendo's source does not appear to matter.…This is why unsupported misstatements (most people call these lies) continue to be aired even after their lack of veracity has been convincingly illustrated. With the free press's apparent unwillingness to call a spade a spade, when any allegation is taken as possible, even if wildly improbable (after all, pigs might someday learn to fly), the use of deliberate mistruths in televised political ads has become commonplace, if not constant.
Can psychological science contribute to improving the integrity of the political process? Does social psychology offer any insight into why the public is so quick to accept what are at best unverified claims and at worst outrageous lies?

Read the Review
ReviewThe Continuation of Politik by Other Means
By William D. Crano
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(43)

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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