Apr 15

Sexism in Nursing

boys-area-no-girls-allowedSex discrimination is a known problem for women in the scientific and medical communities (Ceci & Williams, 2011; MacWilliams, et al., 2013).  In my first life as a biologist I saw a field dominated by men where women were clawing their ways through the maze of publications and funding; they tried desperately to gain legitimacy as scientists.  In 2004 I decided to become a nurse and the situation in nursing is the complete opposite.  It is a profession dominated by women and not just at the bedside but at scientific conferences and in the achievement of funding, advanced training, tenure-track academic positions and nursing management positions (MacWilliams, et al., 2013).  The predominance of women in nursing makes the profession ripe for a reversal of the sex discrimination with which we are most accustomed, called sexism. Sexism as defined by Kwantes, Bergeron and Kaushal (2012) refers to “…differential and often detrimental treatment of a person based on that person’s sex” (p. 331).  According to Glick and Fiske (1996), sexism is multi-dimensional and is comprised of two subtypes: hostile and benevolent which combine to become ambivalent sexism.  Glick and Fiske focused solely on the impact of sex discrimination on women and disregarded men completely.  Yet, I believe these three types of sexism exist in nursing toward men. The purpose of this post will be to examine the types of sexism in the context of nursing.

Hostile sexism refers to the type of sexism with which most are likely familiar.  Hostile sexism includes blatant negative attitudes and behaviors toward an individual based on gender (Kwantes, et al).  In the nursing profession, men can sometimes be subjected to negative attitudes and anti-male comments by their female counterparts including female nurse educators (MacWilliams, et al., 2013).  In fact, male nursing students report more exposure to sexism than males in other educational programs (Kermode, 2006).

Benevolent sexism may seem to be the most benign form yet it can have consequences for men in the nursing workplace. Benevolent sexism focuses on the manifestations of traditional gender stereotypes (Glick & Fiske, 1996).  An example of benevolent sexism in nursing is the “feminine imagery” of nursing as reported by MacWilliams and colleagues (2013, p.40).  In this context, the image of nursing favors a feminine model whereby nurses are caring, soothing and compassionate, qualities that are stereotypically assigned to females (MacWilliams, et al).  This feminine ideal is reported as a barrier to men entering the field in particular (MacWilliams, et al).

The final type of sexism defined by Glick and Fiske (1996) is ambivalent sexism.  Ambivalent sexism refers to the simultaneous expression of hostile and benevolent sexism.  I believe an example of this in nursing is the simultaneously held beliefs that men are incapable of being tender and compassionate in the care of others while also believing men could not adequately function in a nursing role due to limited ability to multi-task (MacWilliams, et al., 2013).

male nurse

Although the number of men in nursing continues to rise, there are still far fewer men in the profession and in the process of obtaining credentials to enter the profession (MacWilliams, et al, 2013).  The goals defined by the Institute of Medicine include making the nursing workforce as diverse as the population it serves (MacWilliams, et al.). As the nursing shortage continues to grow, it is imperative that nursing take a good look at how it can solve the ongoing issues of sexism in the profession to make nursing a more attractive option to all regardless of sex.  To do this, intervention development should focus on tailored approaches to address hostile, benevolent and ambivalent sexism.

Apr 15

As a manager…selective perception…


I find myself attempting to relate all of the information that we have learned within this course to be a learning experience.  Looking for the information to change how I am doing things in my life to better my experiences outside of the “classroom” so to speak.  One topic that really caught my attention in the lesson on applying social psychology to organization is the concept of selective perception.

Selective perception is noted by Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012) as rewarding or reprimanding one person’s behavior while not noticing when others do the same behavior.  This type of perception can sometime sneak up on someone as a manager and it is a very easy thing to fall into.  Being aware of such flaws in perception, a person can make constant efforts to avoid this error and be more fair to his or her employees.

I have thought about many times when this has happened and in supervising many employees it can become a bit commonplace.  Sometimes behaviors of one person will stick out to you, whereas others may not be noticed.  They fly under the radar, so to speak.  As a manager, understanding this and making yourself aware of this is the best way to curb this altogether and learning about this topic has changed the way in which I manage.  I have spent a good deal of time in the last few months evaluating the ways in which I am fair and I am working to reduce my selective perception in daily situations at work.  Because of this awareness, I have been much more cognizant about the actions of my employees and the consistency in dealing with different situations which have arisen.

Development of manager trainings in selective perception would be beneficial for many different agencies.  This type of perception can become problematic, especially when it regards disciplinary action or performance of an employee.  Through my experience, I noticed that I was much more aware of my perceptions during day to day experiences that I felt as though I was handling  situations more fairly, and I am sure that other managers could have the same experience.  By learning about this perception flaw, people who are in leadership positions could develop their own styles to avoid falling into this flaw.  Ongoing evaluation of the consistency and fairness of a manager is important to ensuring success and employee satisfaction, so any program which encourages such could benefit the organization as a whole.

Although my experience could be unique to me, I tend to believe that this experience and understanding of this concept would be beneficial to others in leadership positions.  I learned about my own perceptions and moved towards a more consistent leadership style.  This seems as though it would be an easy trap to fall back into so ongoing evaluation of my own personal skills is important, and would be important to anyone looking to grow as a leader and avoid selective perceptions when dealing with their employees.

Schneider, F., Gruman, J. & Coutts, L. (2012). Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: Sage.

Apr 15

Social support from a cancer survivor…


One concept which I found to be interesting in the lesson on applying social psychology to health was the concept of social support.  I found this probably one of the most interesting when reading as just under three years ago I found myself in a situation where I needed a significant amount of support and I found my experience resonating through my head as I was reading the information in the text.

On October 12, 2012, at the age of 30 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer.  I found the next several months to be filled with arrays of tests and treatment, loss of my hair and other side effects due to chemotherapy, and surgeries to treat this ugly disease.  Another thing I found myself to be surrounded with was an array of support and networks which to find information about how to deal with the situation at hand.  I found myself learning more about how to deal with the situation and finding new ways to use this support to my advantage.  To use the different groups in order to get through each day and conquer my unfortunate circumstances.  It truly was because of this support that I was able to get through this time and do so with minimal effects on my life.

As I was reading the text, I related much of the supports listed surrounded me each and everyday.  According to Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012) social support is defined as the “resources we get from other people” and my experience was nothing short of a system which helped me get through this situation.  First, I had emotional support from my close friends and family.  They provided me with love, empathy and security which is what emotional support provides (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).  Secondly, I got esteem support from several different people, but I found this the most through my friend Jamie.  She saw me at my worst, and saw through me each choice that I made regarding my treatment, whether it was the right one or not.  There were times which I may have made decisions which were not in the best interest of my health, but regardless of my faults, she accepted me, and my choices.

My esteem support...

My esteem support…

Instrumental (or tangible) support is defined as practical help (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012) and this was the case with many people through this time.  Whether it was coming to treatment to sit with me for hours, or helping me to decorate my house for Christmas, others were there.  They helped to get things done that were a normal part of my life and kept me inspired to keep moving forward.  Informational support was provided to me through the place I was getting treatment and my social worker was the point person when it came to this.  Informational support includes getting information about a situation and is really useful when the circumstances are new to us (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012) and in this case, this was an important aspect to my battle.

One aspect that was of the utmost important types of support which I got through this was my network support.  Network support is a sense of membership to others who share our experiences (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).  A few months after I started treatment, I had stopped at a gas station with my fiancé and the woman behind the counter recognized my port (where I get chemotherapy treatments) and began telling me her story.  She and I conversed for a while and bid our goodbyes.  My fiancé made an interesting statement which I will never forget.  He said, “whether you wanted to or not, you are in a very important and special club, that nobody will completely understand until they are in it, and everyone of you have an experience that you share which is like no other”.  This was the absolute truth and it is the best way to describe the network support which I found in this club.  We all have an experience and an understanding of each other, and this provides so much support for dealing with our situation.

I thought of ways in which people, as a whole, going though this experience do or don’t have support.  Having this support is key, and having all of those different types of support as identified by Schneider, Gruman & Coutts (2012)  is of the utmost importance.  Looking at social programs and developments when it comes to support, those working with groups of people who are ill, must ensure that these supports are in place.  They must ensure that support is coming from all different directions and using these definitions to create supports are a good way to ensure this.  Development of programs which address these areas is important for those working with people’s of this special “club” as providing support is the best way to ensure people are able to get through this awful circumstance handed to them.

Schneider, F., Gruman, J. & Coutts, L. (2012). Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: Sage.

Apr 15

The Joy of Reading and the Overjustification Effect


Source: Parents-Choice.org

When my daughter was in second grade and all through the summer, I could not get her to put her books down. Now that she is in third grade, giving her a book to read is like a form of punishment. Somewhere, at sometime, my daughter’s enjoyment of reading turned into the dreadful “chore” of reading, a change most likely contributed to the overjustification effect.

Alexitch (2012) defines the overjustification effect as “the loss of motivation and interest as a result of receiving an excessive external reward” (p.198). In other words, my daughter may have initially been intrinsically motivated to read, purely because it was enjoyable for her. However, when she began to receive an external reward for reading, such as a weekly prize from the 3rd grade treasure box, the motivation to read suddenly became about the prize rather than the initial enjoyment of reading. Now, one would think that the incentive to receive a prize would motivate a child who already enjoys reading to read more, rather than reduce her motivation to read at all, but research has proven otherwise.

Lepper, Greene and Nisbett (1973) observed three groups of preschoolers to see the effects of external awards on intrinsic motivation to play with a set of magic markers. First, all of the preschoolers were given the option to play with the magic markers, among several other activities, over a three day period. The children observed playing with the markers on their own were then randomly divided into three groups two weeks later. All three groups were told that a visitor was coming to see the kind of pictures they would draw with the magic markers. Then, two of the groups were asked if they would like to draw a picture for the visitor, while the third group was told they would be given an award if they drew a picture for the visitor. All of the children enthusiastically agreed and drew pictures for the visitor with the magic markers. After the children finished their drawings, the first group was returned to their classroom. Members of the second group were unexpectedly given a “Good Player Award” certificate and members of the third group were given the “Good Player Award” certificates as they expected. Finally, the children’s time playing with the magic markers on their own was observed again a week to two weeks later and compared with the time they spent playing with them before the “visitor” came. The results revealed that the children in the third group, who were told they would receive a reward, spent a significantly less amount of time playing with the magic markers and, when they did, the quality of their pictures decreased as well. Meanwhile, the quality of work and time spent using the magic markers remained the same for the other two groups. Lepper, Greene and Nisbett (1973) concluded that anticipated external rewards for engagement in an activity does negatively decrease the “pleasures and satisfaction of [the activity] in its own right” (p. 135), particularly when the activity’s intrinsic value was initially high.

Now I know why my attempts to reward my daughter with ice cream and play dates when she has completed a week’s worth of reading homework has been unsuccessful! Without knowing it, my efforts have added to the effect rather than reversing it. So then, what is a mother to do when her daughter’s motivation to read has been decreased, due to the overjustification effect? Further research has revealed that the overjustification effect “may be minimized or even reversed” (p. 201) by focusing on the personal enjoyment and satisfaction one feels while engaging in the activity rather than any external rewards received after the activity is completed (Alexitch, 2012). I guess my daughter and I will be spending some time talking about the joys of reading tonight.


Alexitch (2012). Applying social psychology to education. In F. W. Schneider, J. A. Gruman, & L. M. Coutts (Authors), Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (Second ed., pp. 191-215). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications

Lepper, M. R., Greene, D., & Nisbett, R. E. (1973). Undermining children’s intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward: A test of the “overjustification” hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 28(1), 129-137. doi:10.1037/h0035519

Apr 15

telecommuting feel-goodness

Last time out, I talked about how we’re all slaves to an oligarchical system that, let’s face it, we’ve put in place. And we talked, in a very meandering fashion because I end up writing these in the wee hours of the morning when I’m half delirious, about one way to change it: by altering the system through (GASP) doing our own research, learning the candidates, and voting your conscience rather than your paycheck.

See, traditionally the Right says they want less taxes (or more uniform-percentage taxes) which mean they get to keep more money – which remember we equated to time. And conversely the Left says they want to get more benefits for the lower-SES folks (and that money’s got to come from somewhere. Hint: it won’t be out of the government’s cut). The difficulty comes hence: what happens when someone is suited to cross-purposes, such as an out-of-work person who is devoutly Catholic and thus presumably against abortion and same-sex marriage? I have no idea; I couldn’t find any peer-reviewed research on it. Going purely off gut instinct here and personal experience, I’m going to go ahead and guess that filling the fridge (and making that month’s rent and cell phone payments) are going to be slightly more important in the short-term than moral accountability in the afterlife. I personally know a few extremely financially well-off people with alternative lifestyles, and though there is a strong detriment to survivorship and marriage, they consistently vote conservative because that side favors lower taxes and fiscal responsibility – despite the fact that neither side has actually lowered taxes or appreciably reduced the debt in a very, very, very long time.

But I digress.

I have another thought for getting out of the funk on a personal level and limiting at least our sense of enslavement: telecommuting. What if we weren’t tethered to our office, and bound by common decency to wear pants to work? Arguably, there are some jobs you just can’t do from home: emergency services, fast food, elementary school teacher, or street-corner drug dealer (DO NOT take that last one seriously. It’s illegal. You’ll end up in jail or dead or both). But law (apart from court, obviously)? Accounting? The bulk of the financial sector? Medicolegal death investigators? That last one is just wishful thinking because I don’t have a take-home vehicle… and that’s what I do for a living – and in fact where I am right now as I type this. In my office, standing by for…

…umm, tasking.

Speaking of task: how many of us spend time doing the rush-hour grind to and from The Grind? Redmond & Mokhtarain (2001) found a 1995 FHWA survey which revealed that 17.7% of the trips taken and 22.5% of the miles driven in the US are commutes to and from work, and that 52% of us think we commute too far. For me, I drive a truck. And it’s a big’un: four wheel drive, dual rear wheel, back seat big enough for a Single mattress (literally), weighs almost as much as three Toyotas, diesel engine, gets all of about 17 miles to the gallon on the highway, and could pull my house off the foundation if I hook it up right. And with a 17-mile commute to work through mixed city and rural state highway driving, I burn about three gallons round trip every day going to work. Thankfully, I work fewer days than normal jobs because I’m not on a nine-to-five shift. The average person commutes roughly 10.25 miles one-way to work (Moritz, 1997), and in traffic you’re looking at a LOT of time in traffic annually. With my 17-mile commute, I spend about 35 minutes one-way in Il Mostro (Italian for “the monster”, which is what I call my truck) – 364 times a year, which is 182 work days. Yes, I know most people work 260 days a year (5 days x 52 weeks, if they don’t take a vacation), but remember I work 12-hour shifts, so I work seven shifts in a pay period as opposed to the normal ten. At my rate, I spend 8.85 DAYS in my truck every year, just driving to work. Giuliano & Small (1993) found the average commute time hovering right around 22.5 minutes one-way (8.125 days per working year), so I’m just slightly above average…

Hey mom! Look! I’m ABOVE average! Oh, wait…

As opposed to stuffing ourselves into our little crushwagon econoboxes and slogging down the byways at half the speed of smell for 45 minutes a day, we could be telecommuting. Think about it: what if your commute to work involved nothing more than a trip to that spare bedroom your significant other uses to store excess junk? Maybe a stop in the kitchen for a quick mug of joe and a toaster pastry on the way, instead of grinding through the local fast food joint to snag some baco-eggo-muffin-esque half a million calorie thing and a pre-leaking foam cup of Caution: Hot Beverage that looks, smells, and tastes more like used Pennzoil than coffee. Fire up the computer, kick the phone ringer on, and you’re at work. No more hour-long routine to get yourself and your children (two-legged or four) ready and in their cage (or off to school). We could be using that extra time in permissible industries to increase productivity, as Fast Company suggests here:


Telecommuting shouldn’t necessarily add working hours to the day, although “four tens” has been shown to actually increase productivity. Kellogg famously said that shifting to the shorter week yielded increased profits and decreased overhead sufficient that, in the 1930s (the Great Depression), the company could “afford to pay as much for six hours as we formerly paid for eight”. Ashley Ellis has a great highlight of the four tens scheme here:


But as with all coins, there’s a flip side. Dembe, Erickson, Delbos, & Banks (2005) reveal that between 1987 and 2000, extra hours in the work day can account for as high as a 61% increased likelihood of workplace-related injury or sickness. Given that you’d be working at home, overtime technically isn’t “overtime” since you’d be blowing that time on your commute and getting ready – but the risk could still stand because you’re physically working the hours. And for those of us who’ve experienced true mental fatigue (as in “I feel like I haven’t slept in a week”), trust me: it sure feels like an injury, and takes almost as long to recover from.

Oddly enough, telecommuting was up 61% from 2005 to 2009, with over 4.9 million workers projected to be telecommuting by 2016 (Thompson, 2012). As she points out, that’s a drop in the bucket of the over 140 million-strong workforce, but 85% of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For on the Over-1000 Employees list have telecommuting listed as a benefit. Mix in a decent salary, not having to spend the money on fuel, accruing less wear and tear on your personal vehicle, and the associated potential lower auto insurance rate (less driving means less risk exposure for your carrier), and it’s not hard to see why telecommuting is a desired perk. Oh, and we can throw in that setting up your home office is tax-deductible – with a savvy accountant, one could find deductions for a lot of stuff associated with a home office if your company isn’t paying for it (internet, a portion of your utilities commensurate with the square footage of your home office, cable if you have it at the office, etc.). Obviously, there’s a complication, because there are always complications. If you’re on a VA, FHA, or HUD mortgage, you may have stipulations in your mortgage which state plainly and clearly that you cannot use more than 10% of your habitable square footage as income-producing property (EG a home office or home-based small business) so if you’re going to do it, pick a small room. Pick the smallest room. And if you’re on a lease, it’s probably a good idea to check with your landlord to make sure there won’t be conflicts on that end, because nothing will gangland assassinate a telecommuting deal like missing a deadline because your building’s internet provider shut down for maintenance at 2 pm on a Friday afternoon (or you forgot to pay the bill).

So if you can manage to convince the boss to let you telecommute, you can take pride in the fact that you’re reducing your carbon footprint by not driving (http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/american-carbon-footprint), helping to ease pollution by staying out the traffic jams (Pant & Harrison, 2013), and saving your company space (and thus money, which they’ll like). Plus it gets you unleashed from the ball and chain, if not released from your shackles. Because, after all, the bills are still locks and our corporate masters still jiggle the keys in our faces.



Redmond LS & Mokhtarain PL (2001). The positive utility of the commute: modeling ideal commute time and relative desired commute amount. Transportation 28:2 (pp. 179-205). Springer.

Moritz WE (1997). Survey of North American bicycle commuters: Design and aggregate results. Transportation Research Record 1578 (pp. 91-101). DOI: 10.3141/1578-12

Guiliano G & Small KA (1993). Is the journey to work explained by urban structure? Urban Studies 30:9 (pp. 1485-1500). Sage. DOI: 10.1080/00420989320081461

Dembe AE, Erickson JB, Delbos RG, & Banks SM (2005). The impact of overtime and long work hours on occupational injuries and illnesses: New evidence from the United States. Occupational & Environmental Medicine 62:9 (pp. 588-597). BMJ. DOI: 10.1136/oem.2004.016667

Thompson K (2012). Working through telecommuting. Phi Kappa Phi Forum 92:2 (p. 23). Online. Retrieved 4/18/15 from http://search.proquest.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/1020414835/fulltext/96E6F7748C9A4827PQ/1?accountid=13158

Pant P & Harrison RM (2013). Estimation of the contribution of road traffic emissions to particulate matter concentrations from field measurements: A review. Atmospheric Environment 77 (pp. 78-97). Elsevier. DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2013.04.028


Apr 15

the system’s slaves

I have a confession: I’m a slave. I wear a badge and a firearm for work, but of my own fate I am neither master nor commander.

I also have some breaking news, which may be a bit shocking: if you have a job, so are you.

Think about it: if you have a job, the location of that job dictates where you can live, due to chronological commuting constraints – because you have to get to that job. The amount of liquid capital (as in, salary) you’re paid in exchange for your time dictates where within that distance you can afford to live. Based on the amount of your salary, which was earned with your time and thus can be said to equate to the amount of your time, you fork over for rent or mortgage, the leftover quantity dictates the quality and quantity of necessities and luxuries you can afford – if any. The schedule at your place of employment dictates things we consider basic human rights such as when you can sleep, when you can eat (based on break times), when you can see your family, and what kinds of things you can do for luxury (because some luxury activities may require more time than you have available).

The amount of salary you earn can even dictate who you love. Sure, we don’t have social classes here in Western society, but when was the last time you heard of a Hollywood actor falling in love with a drive-through fry cook? Lawyer and janitor? A politician and an “occupy” activist? We can go ahead and ignore the 84 Lumber founder here as an anomaly – he’s been married to several of his female secretaries. It happens that the top SES folks sometimes get involved with the lower rungs, but not enough that I could even find statistics on it. Unless these folks knew each other before making their money, or one of them is more highly preferable for partnership (Sprecher & Regan, 2002), there’s not much likelihood the prince(ess) would give a second look to the poor farmer’s kid.

Who, then, you might ask, in our capitalist Western society isn’t a slave? Well, outside of the oligarchy which owns our industries (often corporate entities, not even identifiable people) and subsidizes our education system in order to indoctrinate their own preferred ideologies (Bourguignon & Verdier, 2000), essentially no one. The closest we have in the US are the “out-of-work” class, those with neither legitimate gainful employment nor intent to seek such but whom nonetheless draw a consistent and livable salary from the government in the form of welfare (excluding those who’ve paid into the Social Security pension system and now live on the meager fruits of their lifelong labor). But are they really free either? Political parties swap back and forth every few generations it seems as to who are “conservative” and who are “liberal” – but they’re both in charge if not necessarily in control. They dole out resources by vote and veto, thus maintaining the tethers on the out-of-work class who can’t afford to not “vote” their paychecks, and the working class who can’t afford to vote for whichever side promises to tax them less.

The ruling class, our political oligarchy, are relentlessly beholden to the powers that made them: money, and from whence it came. Fail to toe the line, and financial support will wane or be wholly extricated. Ergo, we are both our own masters and our own slaves. We buttress the industries which finance the politicos’ campaigns, whom are then beholden to and regulate industry, and decide how much of the fruits of our labor we get to keep and how much will be seized for redistribution as they see fit (to themselves, infrastructure, and to the out-of-work class).

Right about now, the thought we share is “hang on a minute, bubba. This is an applied social psychology blog. Where in tarnation are you going with this?”

Here’s the intervention: in order to stop the madness, WE have to stop the madness. Just as our forefathers waged a revolution sparked by the principle of taxation without representation, we have to eschew our own interests and realize we are being taxed but not represented now by our own domestic government. We have to stop “voting our paychecks” and start actually becoming involved. By spending some of our (very) finite leisure time on finding out about candidates and incumbents directly – rather than what media hyperbole would have us believe – and using our own power of public veto to emplace representatives who are truly that, we can affect change. In 1900, our government’s spending was at 6.9% of GDP and currently hovers around 40%. Check it out:


Where is it going? Does it matter? The 12th US Census in 1900 concluded there were about 76.2 million citizens, compared to 309.3 million today (census.gov). In 1900, governance at all levels employed “somewhat more than one million persons” (Fabricant, 1949, p.3) – about 1.5% of the population. Today it sits at about 21.9 million – just under 7.1% of the population. As government gets bigger, it needs more servants to keep its mouth fed. Just like a bigger farm needs either improved technology or more hands to work it, our government (an entity, not a person) needs more to keep itself alive.

By looking to the candidates themselves – their attendance records, their stances on key issues which matter to us, their administrations’ spending habits – we can directly affect change in our system and sow seeds which will later hopefully bear fruit. But if we continue down the road we’re on where the only information we get is from media sources which are not only biased but also parts of the conglomerations to and for which we are slave and servant, we’re going to keep getting more of the same. Go ahead, get hung up on one issue. Toss a candidate out of contention based on spin (yes, I’m referring directly to Romney here, who brought back the failing Bain which later failed again and had taken no salary during his time as a governor previously, and Obama, targeted by “birthers” and his lack of non-government employment) or follow one for the same reason (George HW Bush’s “read my lips” and Clinton’s “definition of the word is” comments come to mind).

I think if we cut the news media – who are essentially all just spin doctors for one side or the other – out of campaigning, and curtail smear tactics beyond reporting verifiable metrics of opposing campaigns and opponents, we’ll actually have an opportunity to get to know candidates: who they are, what they stand for based on what they’ve done in the past (like how many votes they’re present for, actual work experience where they pay taxes, etc.), and whatnot, it would help. But the key variable here is voting. We, indirectly, make policy because we vote the policymakers into place. Granted, they get there with money paid by organizations for which we work who donate profits gleaned from the fruits of our labor, which buys ad time to get their name slathered into our short-term consciousness. Hey, any press is good press (McKinnon & Kaid, 2009) and the more a candidate’s name gets out there, the more likely voters are to remember it when the time comes to push the button (Balmas & Sheafer, 2010).

But if we change our mindset to be aware of things for ourselves, to think for ourselves, and to make up our own minds based on what we think is best rather than who we think had the best narrative, we might find we’re more kindred to the other side of the aisle than we think and less likely to just go with the lesser of two (or three) evils.

Then again, are we? I don’t have time to go into it; I have to get back to work.



Sprecher S & Regan PC (2002). Liking some things (in some people) more than other: Partner preferences in romantic relationships and friendships. Social and Personal Relationships 19:4 (pp. 463-481). DOI: 10.1177/0265407502019004048

Bourguignon F & Verdier T (2000). Oligarchy, democracy, inequality and growth. Development Economics 62:2 (pp. 285-313). DOI: 10.1016/S0304-3878(00)00086-9

Fabricant S (1949). The rising trend of government employment. New York, NY: National Bureau of Economic Research. ISBN: 0-87014-344-1

McKinnon LM & Kaid LL (2009). Exposing negative campaigning or enhancing advertising effects: An experimental study of adwatch effects on voters’ evaluations of candidates and their ads. Applied Communication Research 27:3 (pp. 217-236). DOI: 10.1080/009098899093655337

Balmas M & Sheafer T (2010). Candidate image in election campaigns: Attribute agenda setting, affective priming, and voting intentions. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 22:2 (pp. 204-229). DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/edq009

Apr 15

Similar-To-Me Effect in the Workplace

Humans cannot analyze information in an unbiased way like computers can. According to Greenberg, people “are far from perfect when it comes to gathering information about others and then making judgments about them” (Greenberg, 2010). As a matter of fact, it is more probable “to be the rule than the exception” that people’s judgments of others will be flawed (Greenberg, 2010). When all is said and done, people are not precisely unbiased in the judgments they make. As a result, this can lead to significant issues for people and the organizations where they work.

There are numerous systematic biases that get in the way of making entirely unbiased judgments of others. “These reflect systematic biases in the ways [people] think about others in general” (Greenberg, 2010). These biases together are known as perceptual biases. Perceptual biases are defined as “predispositions that people have to misperceive other sin various ways” (Greenberg, 2010). Types of perceptual biases include the fundamental attribution error, the halo effect, the first-impression error, selective perceptions, and the similar-to-me-effect. The similar-to-me affect “states that individuals get along with people who tend to look and think like we do” (The Pennsylvania State University, 2015). It is a fact that “people with similar personalities tend to get along because they think, feel and act very similarly” (The Pennsylvania State University, 2015).

The similar-to-me effect represents a possible cause of bias when it comes to judging other people. “In fact, research has shown that when superiors rate their subordinates, the more similar the parties are, the higher rating the superior tends to give” (Greenberg, 2010). “This tendency applies with respect to several different dimensions of similarity, such as similarity of values and habits, similarity of beliefs about the way things should be at work, and similarity with respect to demographic variables (such as age, race, gender, and work experience)” (Greenberg, 2010). The similar-to-me effect seems to be partially the outcome of the tendency for “people to be able to emphasize and relate better to similar others and to be more lenient toward them” (Greenberg, 2010). Yet, “it also appears that subordinates tend to be more trusting and confident in supervisors when they perceive as similar to themselves than those perceived as dissimilar” (Greenberg, 2010). Subsequently, they may have more of a “positive relationship with such individuals and this may lead superiors to judge similar subordinates more favorably” (Greenberg, 2010).


Interviews are a type of employment tool used by employers to gain an understanding of a candidates experience, personality, etc. for selection for various positions. They are an essential part of the employment process because they are a chance for the employer to learn about the candidate and see if they are a fit for the position. One of the drawbacks to interviews is the similar-to-me effect however. According to Sears and Rowe, “higher interview ratings are given towards interviewees who possess similar attitudes and demographics as the interviewer” (Sears & Rowe, 2003). One justification for this effect is through pure similarity. “If both the interviewer and interviewee are similar, whether in demographics or even education level, they will develop more accurate perceptions of the other’s self-concepts, as the two self-concepts will be similar” (Sears & Rowe, 2003).

Biases make sense from an evolutionary perspective because “biases arise because of [people’s] use of heuristics, or rules of thumb, to govern much of [their] daily decision-making” (Fiske, 1999). However, heuristics can lead to biased decision making such as in the workplace, particularly in a job interview. Job interviews are a “highly subjective process” and “interviewers often have a range of biases that dramatically affect their perspectives of individual job candidates” such as the similar-to-me-effect (Fiske, 1999). Although this particular biases can be difficult to overcome, Fiske advises people to be themselves but to look for any areas of potential overlap between them and their interviewers” (Fiske, 1999).


Fiske, P. (1999, October 22). Bias: Identifying, Understanding and Mitigating Negative Biases in your Job Search. Retrieved April 17, 2015, from http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/1999_10_22/nodoi.8930516359644216613

Greenberg, J. (2010). Perception and Learning: Understanding and Adapting to the Work Environment. In Behavior in organizations: Student value edition. Place of publication not identified: Prentice Hall.

Sears, G. J., & Rowe, P. M. (2003). A personality-based similar-to-me effect in the employment interview: Conscientiousness, affect-versus competence-mediated interpretations, and the role of job relevance. Canadian Journal Of Behavioural Science/Revue Canadienne Des Sciences Du Comportement, 35(1), 13-24. doi:10.1037/h0087182

The Pennsylvania State University (2015). PSYCH 424: Applied Social Psychology. Lesson 12: Relationships/Everyday Life.

Apr 15

Hollywood: The Non-community


Riots, gang violence, break-ins, shoot-outs, undercover police sting, car theft, you name it, we experienced it in what we now affectionately call that time of our lives- Hollywood-hell. This was back in the 80’s before Hollywood was “Disneyfied”. My husband worked at Paramount Pictures blocks from where we lived and I was a cartoon ink and paint artist in the Valley. So, we decided to live in Hollywood instead of commuting, as shuttling to Hollywood from the greater Los Angeles area could take up most of your life. We thought we were being efficient. Unfortunately, we just didn’t know any better.

wofIn Hollywood the crime was terrifying, the homeless, runaway and prostitute situation depressing, and these social problems were exacerbated by the lack of community cohesiveness. For the individual, the community is integral to sustain an enhanced quality of life. It is where we come together as individuals, as diverse as we are, with shared values and goals. I grew up in a large city with an enormous heart and a strong sense of belonging, harmony and fellowship. I never realized how important community was until I left and was without a support system. There were benefits of living in Hollywood such as our careers and experiencing the diverse cultures were an invaluable the growing experience we savored. So why were we feeling so disconnected? In community psychology, there is a recognition that the difficulties that arise from where one lives need to be addressed at the community level. This is where positive change can be effected (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012).

There are particular values and approaches defined by community psychologists that address the central points of community living. The first approach state there needs to be a sense of community, referring to fostering a feeling of belonging (Schneider et al., 2012). Rarely did I witness community interdependence as in order to survive people had to be independent. The competition for jobs and a place to live turned Hollywood into a competitive, ruthless and cutthroat community. It reminded me of playing that early computer game Oregon Trail where the object of the game is to not die of starvation, cold or disease. There was definitely a pioneer feeling in Hollywood, as to survive and thrive was the goal but most failed and ended up going back where they came from.ot

Another recognized value a community needs to nurture is the ecological perspective (Schneider et al., 2012). Ecological refers to the societal configurations people belong to such as families, work or politics. Of all the structures in Hollywood, the family suffers the greatest. Most people I met were from somewhere else, leaving loved ones behind in pursuit of their dreams. This left them afloat in a world that did not care for them as individuals and evoked an enormous sense of isolation. My best friend was from Poland and I often saw tears in her eyes as she spoke of her grandmother knowing she would never see her again. Los Angeles is cruel to immigrants, my friend was a concert violinist who played concert halls all across Europe but in Los Angeles she worked a minimum wage job. Her husband was a famous director of photography in Poland but now worked the night shift as a janitor. They were isolated with no support; no family to help or rely on and this exacted an enormous toll on their lives. Worse was they had come from a place where the sense of community was warm and protective, but the economic situation was dire so they gave up one for the other but in the end failed at both.

LAAnother community value is wellness and prevention which refers to physical, as well as mental health (Schneider et al., 2012). Lack of mental health care in Hollywood was ubiquitous and would take a book to write about not a blog. The homeless condition is one of the saddest situations I have ever encountered in my life. The lack of care for the mentally ill and young runaways was never more apparent than in Hollywood. Every time I needed money out of my neighborhood ATM there was a man standing by the machine one foot from me screaming obscenities. The whole time. Every time. While he shouted, I wondered what could have happened in this man’s life so he ended up near the corner of Hollywood and Vine yelling at people, day in, day out, year after year. The wretchedness of the situation sometimes is so pervasive it threatens to swallow you whole leaving nothing behind.

ctThe need to respect diversity is another value or approach that psychologist have addressed as important in fostering community (Schneider et al., 2012). I absolutely loved this aspect of living in Los Angeles because I could shift between cultures and learn about them all. Being an American, I felt this was easier for me than the immigrants because I grew up with diverse cultures and ethnicities. Though, in Los Angeles all the various ethnic or sexual orientation groups stayed separate and isolated. There was no unity and the different groups had trouble mixing because they did not understand each other.

Social justice was probably the hardest of all to deal with as the division of the wealthy and the poor was stark. How do you foster a sense of community that is so economically diverse? On one street, sit million dollar homes and the next street over there are 100’s of homeless gathered desperately trying to stay warm on the cold California nights. This was another factor in living there in which I never found peace (Schneider et al., 2012).belair

Community psychologists rely on input from the community leaders on planning programs and interventions (Schneider et al., 2012). Where I live now, it is very apparent who the community leaders are from our mayor to our local food bank coordinator. When I lived in Hollywood, I was never aware of any leader of any sort; I am sure they existed but were outside the peripheral of most people’s awareness.

Citizen participation and empowerment were values that were invisible in Hollywood (Schneider et al., 2012). The only type of citizen empowerment I was aware of were unions that the people in the motion picture industry joined. Though, these unions served the industry favorably but the people poorly.

The last two values of social action/activism and empirical grounding are two areas that a community psychologist uses as tools to evaluate, guide and change social circumstances. Their activities are informed by the research which in turns informs policy (Schneider et al., 2012). Hollywood was a microcosm of the world and I do not blame the leaders in the community for its lack of cohesiveness. The people needed to find a unifying factor to bring them together. It is in need of a specialized intervention on such a complex scale that to me is unfathomable.

imgresIn my Hollywood, there were no happy endings. Though, I remember one event that brought us together as a community. Early one morning we were awakened by the deafening roar of a freight train rumbling through our bedroom. We were thrown out of bed not awake enough to understand what was happening. We tried to maintain our balance running down the stairs which were undulating up and down like a fun park ride as we heard windows shattering, the building groaning and people screaming. We made it outside just as our massive concrete porch split and separated from the building it had been attached to for over a century. It was hard to know where to go for safety. We had heard door posts were safe but ours was collapsing around us while out in the street was sheer panic, car alarms, the trees bouncing, the ground swelling and dipping and babies crying. Then as quickly as it started it all stopped. The deafening roar that had awakened us was now silenced and people began to look around noticing everyone’s various state of undress. Those of us that had an extra shirt or piece of clothing were handing them out to those that had nothing on. Then it began all over again with the Earth rumbling and groaning and the deafening roar. Throughout the next few weeks, the earthquakes, now mere aftershocks and tremors would start and stop as the Earth eased back into a comfortable position. This was the only time I ever witnessed Hollywood coming together as a community. Food and clothing donation tents popped up out of nowhere. As ridiculous and out of touch as only Hollywood can be I saw one homeless guy wearing a mink. People became a bit friendlier, talking instead of ignoring each other as we came together for a short time and behaved like a real community. Though as most things in Hollywood it was simply an illusion and disappeared. It did show me that there could be change, the people simply needed a reason to unite and to feel they are a part of something larger than themselves. This is what a community is an extension of your family that you can turn to any time not just in a crisis.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, Inc.


Apr 15

Similar-To-Me Effect in Employment

  Similar-to-me effect is known as one of the main reasons of attraction. According to the commentary, similar-to-me effect is defined as “individuals get along with people who tend to look and think like they do” (The Pennsylvania State University, 2015). This phenomenon is common in our life. People tend to like others who have the same interests, attitudes and thoughts with them. Similar people are easier to make friends with each other. However, in employment the similar-to-me effect could damage businesses.

Retrieved from http://www.webuildyourblog.com/internet-business-offer/

Retrieved from http://www.webuildyourblog.com/internet-business-offer/

  According to Dr. Jill Flint-Taylor, a business psychologist, similar-to-me effect makes sense because people tend to like others who share the interests and background (Manchester, 2013). This happens in interviews as well. When an interviewer finds an interviewee who has similar interests and background with her/him, s/he could hire the interviewee finally. This possibility was shown in Sears and Greg’s study. Their study tested whether a similar-to-me effect would affect interviews and 40 male undergraduates joined as a sample. The result showed that the similar-to-me effect did affect the interviewer in the consideration of conscientiousness. Interviewers who experienced similar-to-me effect would consider the interviewee as more suitable to the job and likely to hire this interviewee (Sears, Greg, Rowe, and Patricia, 2003).

Retrieved from https://www.score.org/business-tech-training

Retrieved from https://www.score.org/business-tech-training

  What would happen if similar-to-me effect influences the result of interviews? According to Dr. Flint-Taylor, too many similar individuals in a management team would be problematic. In this case everyone has similar skills, attitudes and thoughts (Manchester, 2013) The similar-to-me effect in employment makes a team lack of creativity and energy.   Next time when you apply for a job, let the interviewer know you have similarity with him. Maybe it helps you get the position. However, if you are an interviewer, try not being influenced by similar-to-me effect. This could lead you to build a team lack of creativity.

The Pennsylvania State University. (2015). Attraction_Lesson 12: Relationships/Everyday Life. PSYCH424: Applied Social Psychology. Retrieved from: https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/sp15/psych424/001/content/13_lesson/02_page.html

Sears, Greg J, Rowe, and Patricia M. (2003). A personality-based similar-to-me effect in the employment interview: Conscientiousness, affect-versus competence-mediated interpretations, and the role of job relevance. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. Vol 35(1), Jan 2003, 13-24. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0087182

Manchester. (2013). ‘Similar-to-Me’ Effect Damaging Many Businesses, New Find the Edge Article Says. PRWeb. Retrieved from: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb10618993.htm

The images were retrieved from http://www.webuildyourblog.com/internet-business-offer/ and https://www.score.org/business-tech-training

Apr 15

When Children Act Up…Love Them!

When children misbehave, the parent’s disciplinary actions are often seen as a form of child abuse by others. There are different ways to discipline a child that is not considered child abuse like time-outs, restriction, or taking a favorite toy. Most parents want their child to grow up happy, healthy, and have self-confidence. Parents often think that disciplining their child will cause them to restrict these feelings but this is not true. Children learn from day one from what they see and hear. They mimic a word, gesture, or a respectful comment.

Children need discipline, parent’s that don’t discipline their child, often times the child’s behavior will reflect on the manner of the discipline (e.g. children that misbehave, defiant, and  disrespect others). Unfortunately, some parents tend to base their disciplinary action decisions to their child’s behavior before taking the time to understand the child’s point of view or what the misbehaving is all about. I think that the fine line between abuse and discipline is taking the time to calm down and listen.

Children also need to understand the form of discipline and why the parent is using it, let the child know that you are not just disciplining them to be mean. Explain to the child on their level of understanding why their behavior was wrong. Again, behaving is a learned behavior that stems rom cognitive dissonance. They are taught the difference between right and wrong so when they are actively misbehaving, although they know they shouldn’t, they do it anyway. When being disciplined for it, dissonance takes over.

Children that are deliberately defiant on a regular basis know they can get away with it simply because most parents are too quick to giving in when it come to following through with disciplining their child. Some occasions the parent will follow through with the not so harsh punishments, then other occasions they will give in on harsher ones because they may start to feel that the punishment was too much on their child. Children are smart and intuitive. They learn from trial and error. If they misbehave and they are disciplined for it, they remember how they were disciplined and depending on the harshness of the punishment, they will do it again.

According to Flaskerud, 2011, there is a comprehensive approach that can be taken that includes consideration of the parent-child relationship, reinforcement of desired behaviors, and consequences for negative behavior. There are three elements to focus on for effective discipline; 1) a positive, supporting, loving relationship between the parent(s) and the child, when a parent disciplines their child, tell them that what they did was wrong, but let the child know that even though they have to be disciplined, they are still loved and care for by the parent; 2) the use of positive reinforcement strategies to increase desired behaviors, Parents should reward their child when they behave appropriately; 3) removing reinforcement or applying punishment to reduce or eliminate undesired behaviors in children, when a child misbehaves, take one of their privileges away and explain to them that when they behave the way they are supposed to, they will get that privilege back (Flaskerud, 2011).

Some parents believe in spanking as a form of discipline, because their parents used it as a form of discipline with them as they grew up. Some of the disciplinary methods that our parents and grandparents used are now considered to be child abuse by today’s standards. Parents are often cautious with the form of discipline that they use in public, spanking their child in public for instance because many parents have been turned in for spanking their children for misbehaving in public. The people that have turned them in are often people that are against spanking, simply because they believe it to be a form of child abuse. It is unfortunate that the child is aware of the punishment that can be bestowed upon the parent because of the disciplinary actions that they took. Again, they learn from it and in time will use it against the parents when it comes time for discipline.

Our neighbor across the street had this very incident happen to them. They had a daughter that was very hard to handle, she was always getting into trouble. Then one day, she wasn’t living there any more. Her brother told us that she was removed from the home because of abuse. We grew up with this family on the same street for all of our childhood and early adulthood. Her parents would come over often to talk to my parents to ask for advice. They had quite a bit of experience because I have 6 additional brothers and sisters and my parents loved, nurturing, and used discipline with us (my brothers mostly), because they love us. So yes, children learn how to work the system too. The grass might not always be greener but it is a lesson all the same.

I believe in discipline as a learning tool to teach the child right from wrong, how to act in public, and how to be respectful. Discipline doesn’t need to leave a mark, nor should it ever, only a mark of love.



Flaskerud, J.H. (2011). Discipline and Effective Parenting. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 32 (1), 82-84. doi:10.3109/01612840.2010.498078

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, Inc.

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