The Situationist

Archive for March, 2010

The Situation of Sexual Identity

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 6, 2010

From Big Think:

Lisa Diamond’s research focuses on two distinct but related areas — the nature and development of affectional bonds and the nature and development of same-sex sexuality. The common thread uniting these lines of research is her interest in the psychological and biobehavioral processes underlying intimate relationships and their influence on emotional experience and functioning over the life course.

If you’re not familiar with Dr. Diamond’s work, we highly recommend the following video interview, which (though the audio and video are out of sync) is well worth listening to.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Schema Theory and Lesbian and Gay Identity – Abstract,” “Brenda Cossman on the Situation of Women in the Workplace,” “The Celluloid Closet on LGBT Stereotypes,” “Cupid’s Situation,” The Situation of Love,” Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and “The Situation of Cupid’s Arrow.”


Posted in Choice Myth, Life | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The Need for Situationism in the Law

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 5, 2010

Dr. William Woody spoke at the University of Northern Colorado about why Psychologists should be involved in the legal system.  Here’s a ten-minute video of that event.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “The Situation of False Confessions,” “Clarence Darrow on the Situation of Crime and Criminals,” “The Lucifer Effect Lecture at Harvard Law School,” and “Law & the Brain.”

Posted in Education, Law, Legal Theory, Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Situation of Looting

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 4, 2010

Stephen Mulvey for BBC News had an illuminating article earlier this article, asking “Why Do People Loot?”  Here are some excerpts.

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Chile could be mistaken for being in the throes of a political uprising rather than the aftermath of a natural disaster.

“We understand your urgent suffering, but we also know that these are criminal acts that will not be tolerated,” President Michelle Bachelet said on Tuesday, condemning the “pillage and criminality”.

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Social psychologists accept both that looting is criminal behaviour, and that it is natural when the forces of law and order disappear.

They distinguish different types of looting, including:

  • Looting of goods needed for survival
  • Opportunistic theft of good such as TV sets
  • Collective action, conditioned by the political environment

It’s the third category that is of most interest to psychologists.

Steve Reicher, Professor of Social Psychology at St Andrews University in the UK, quotes approvingly Martin Luther King’s adage “a riot is the language of the unheard”.

In his view, a mass outbreak of looting can follow precise patterns, which express the community’s sense of right and wrong.

During the riots in the St Pauls area of Bristol in 1980, some shops were untouched because they were regarded as part of the community. A bank, on the other hand, came under heavy attack because it was perceived as a symbol of authority.

“People joined in spontaneously,” he says. “The number of people who told me they had attacked the bank in St Pauls was remarkable.”

During food riots in Britain at the turn of the 18th Century, there were cases where grain was seized from merchants and sold to the needy at a fair price – and then the money and the empty sacks were handed back to the merchant.

“In Chile, the questions I would want to ask are, ‘Let’s look closely at the patterns of behaviour, the grievances, the sense of right and wrong of those involved,'” he says.

“It’s not ‘What happened to me?’ but ‘What happened to us?’ How are ‘We’ as a group treated by ‘Them’? How much is this due to the fact that they ignored us?”

At the same time, he acknowledges that individuals do use the cover of the riot for straightforward cases of theft – and that distinguishing collective action from cases of individual opportunism is not always easy.

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To read the entire article, including a section discussing the role of anger, click here.  For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “A System-Justification Primer,” “Independence Day: Celebrating Courage to Challenge the Situation,” “The Situational Effect of Groups,” ‘Us’ and ‘Them,’” “Some (Interior) Situational Sources War – Part I,” and “March Madness,”

Posted in Conflict, Distribution, Morality, Social Psychology, System Legitimacy | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Sound Situation of Beer Drinkers

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 3, 2010

Guéguen, Jacob, Le Guellec, Morineau, and Lourel recently published an interesting article, titled “Sound level of environmental music and drinking behavior: a field experiment with beer drinkers.”  Here’s the abstract.

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OBJECTIVE: It had been found that environmental music was associated with an increase in alcohol consumption. The presence versus absence of music, high versus slow tempo and the different styles of environmental music is associated with different level of alcohol consumption. However, the effect of the level of the environmental music played in a bar still remained in question.

METHODS: Forty male beer drinkers were observed in a bar. According to a random distribution, patrons were exposed to the usual level of environmental music played in 2 bars where the experiment was carried out or were exposed to a high level.

RESULTS: The results show that high level volume led to increase alcohol consumption and reduced the average amount of time spent by the patrons to drink their glass.

CONCLUSIONS: The impact of environmental music on consumption was discussed and the “arousal” hypothesis and the negative effect of loud music on social interaction were used to explain our results.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Just Me and My Friend, Sony,” “Alcohol, Hotdogs, Sexism, and Racism,” “What Our Exterior Situation Reveals About Our Interior Situation,” “Susan Boyle and the Situation of Sound,” “The Situation of Music,” “The Situation of the Dreaded ‘Freshman 15’,” The Science of Songs Stuck in Your Head,” and “Investing in Vice,”

Posted in Abstracts, Choice Myth, Food and Drug Law, Life, Marketing | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Century of Dispositionism – Part III

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 2, 2010

From BBC Website :

Adam Curtis’ acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty.

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To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

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The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund’s devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund’s great grandson, Matthew Freud.

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Sigmund Freud’s work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society’s belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man’s ultimate goal.

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The videos from Episode Three, “There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed,” are below. Here is the BBC‘s overview:

In the 1960s, a radical group of psychotherapists challenged the influence of Freudian ideas in America. They were inspired by the ideas of Wilhelm Reich, a pupil of Freud’s, who had turned against him and was hated by the Freud family. He believed that the inner self did not need to be repressed and controlled. It should be encouraged to express itself.
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Out of this came a political movement that sought to create new beings free of the psychological conformity that had been implanted in people’s minds by business and politics.
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This programme shows how this rapidly developed in America through self-help movements like Werber Erhard’s Erhard Seminar Training – into the irresistible rise of the expressive self: the Me Generation.
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But the American corporations soon realised that this new self was not a threat but their greatest opportunity. It was in their interest to encourage people to feel they were unique individuals and then sell them ways to express that individuality. To do this they turned to techniques developed by Freudian psychoanalysts to read the inner desires of the new self.

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Part I of this series is here.  Part II is here.

For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Hey Dove! Talk to YOUR parent!,” “Deep Capture – Part IX,” “McDonalds tastes better than McDonalds, if it’s packaged right,” “Industry-Funded Research,” “Captured Science.”

Posted in Choice Myth, Deep Capture, Marketing, Public Relations, Video | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Situation of Political and Religious Beliefs?

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 1, 2010

Science Daily summarized an intriguing (and, no doubt, soon-to-be-very-controversial study) finding that “Intelligent People Have Values Novel in Human Evolutionary History,” (such as liberalism and atheisim).  Here are some excerpts from that summary.

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More intelligent people are statistically significantly more likely to exhibit social values and religious and political preferences that are novel to the human species in evolutionary history.  Specifically, liberalism and atheism, and for men (but not women), preference for sexual exclusivity correlate with higher intelligence, a new study finds.

The study, published in the March 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Social Psychology Quarterly, advances a new theory to explain why people form particular preferences and values.  The theory suggests that more intelligent people are more likely than less intelligent people to adopt evolutionarily novel preferences and values, but intelligence does not correlate with preferences and values that are old enough to have been shaped by evolution over millions of years.”

“Evolutionarily novel” preferences and values are those that humans are not biologically designed to have and our ancestors probably did not possess.  In contrast, those that our ancestors had for millions of years are “evolutionarily familiar.”

“General intelligence, the ability to think and reason, endowed our ancestors with advantages in solving evolutionarily novel problems for which they did not have innate solutions,” says Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  “As a result, more intelligent people are more likely to recognize and understand such novel entities and situations than less intelligent people, and some of these entities and situations are preferences, values, and lifestyles.”

An earlier study by Kanazawa found that more intelligent individuals were more nocturnal, waking up and staying up later than less intelligent individuals.  Because our ancestors lacked artificial light, they tended to wake up shortly before dawn and go to sleep shortly after dusk.  Being nocturnal is evolutionarily novel.

In the current study, Kanazawa argues that humans are evolutionarily designed to be conservative, caring mostly about their family and friends, and being liberal, caring about an indefinite number of genetically unrelated strangers they never meet or interact with, is evolutionarily novel.  So more intelligent children may be more likely to grow up to be liberals.

Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) support Kanazawa’s hypothesis.  Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as “very liberal” have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence while those who identify themselves as “very conservative” have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence.

Similarly, religion is a byproduct of humans’ tendency to perceive agency and intention as causes of events, to see “the hands of God” at work behind otherwise natural phenomena.  “Humans are evolutionarily designed to be paranoid, and they believe in God because they are paranoid,” says Kanazawa.  This innate bias toward paranoia served humans well when self-preservation and protection of their families and clans depended on extreme vigilance to all potential dangers.  “So, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to go against their natural evolutionary tendency to believe in God, and they become atheists.”

Young adults who identify themselves as “not at all religious” have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as “very religious” have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.

In addition, humans have always been mildly polygynous in evolutionary history.  Men in polygynous marriages were not expected to be sexually exclusive to one mate, whereas men in monogamous marriages were.  In sharp contrast, whether they are in a monogamous or polygynous marriage, women were always expected to be sexually exclusive to one mate.  So being sexually exclusive is evolutionarily novel for men, but not for women.  And the theory predicts that more intelligent men are more likely to value sexual exclusivity than less intelligent men, but general intelligence makes no difference for women’s value on sexual exclusivity.  Kanazawa’s analysis of Add Health data supports these sex-specific predictions as well.

One intriguing but theoretically predicted finding of the study is that more intelligent people are no more or no less likely to value such evolutionarily familiar entities as marriage, family, children, and friends.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “The Stone-Age Mind in an Information-Age Situation,” Seeing Faces,” “The Situation of Hair Color,”The Situation of Reason,” “The Situation of Ideology – Part I,” “The Magnetism of Beautiful People,”The Situation of Revenge,” and “The Situation of Kissing.”

(The illustration above is by Situationist artist Marc Scheff.)

Posted in Ideology, Illusions, Life, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

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