Thursday, December 23, 2004

As December and the holiday season got underway, I began to think about traditions in the UM/Ann Arbor community at this time of year. Given that most people probably leave Ann Arbor for the holidays (often for warmer climes), I could not come up with a lot. One tradition that quickly came to mind, however, was the Galens Tag Days. This event is conducted by UM medical students every December to raise money for children's groups generally, with an historic focus on children in medical settings. Then, several days into December when my Ann Arbor Observer magazine arrived, the cover illustration featured a Galens volunteer, so I knew I was on the right track.

The campaign is named after Galen, an ancient Greek physician. The Tag Days date back to 1927. According to an article in the publication Medicine at Michigan:

"Funds from the first drive were used for a December party for the children in University Hospital, and a portion was saved to found the Galens Workshop the next spring.

The Workshop, which still exists, offers pediatric patients the opportunity to be more 'kid' than patient. Held on the eighth floor of Mott Hospital since the mid-1960s, the Workshop offers events ranging from art projects to Halloween costumes, from parades to parties, from face painting to visits by Michigan collegiate athletes."

As described in the same article:

"The appearance of Galens members in their red ponchos, standing on Ann Arbor street corners with their buckets on the first weekend in December, is a familiar sight to local residents. 'It’s Galens time again,' people say, either preparing to drop coins or paper bills into the buckets or flashing a tag to show they already did. The trademark red and green tags can be seen on almost every winter coat in town that weekend, proud symbols of wanting to help the children of Washtenaw County."

I can't remember if I used to put my tags on my winter jacket or on my backpack.

According to an article in the Michigan Daily (student newspaper):

"The funds granted to Mott are used toward the Child Life Program, which provides activities for children in the hospital and helps them cope with their illness. 'We do it during holiday time because it's a giving time, but it is not holiday-oriented. The money funds activities throughout the year for the children,' said [medical student Paul] Pfeiffer."

As I've mentioned in some of my earlier postings, I'm a faculty member in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Texas Tech University. I remember from a few years back that an undergraduate I had in class wanted to become a child life specialist.

In concluding, I just want to wish everyone inside (and outside) the UM community a happy holiday season!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Yesterday was Texas Tech University's commencement ceremony for the fall semester. As a faculty member at the university, I regularly attend the graduations. The commencement speaker was writer Thomas Mallon, a former English professor at Texas Tech and at Vassar and currently a presidential appointee to a panel within the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The message I extracted from Mallon's talk involved the importance and value of preserving artifacts of one's past, so that one could look back on these items and interpret the memories associated with them from new perspectives. Two examples given by Mallon were his old Little League jersey his mother had saved for 30 years (which made him reflect upon how different the times were when he was a child, as opposed to the present) and a box of hundreds of cancelled checks written decades earlier by his deceased father (which drove home all that his father had done for the family).

Preservation of the past, both of individuals and of communities, has been a steady theme in Mallon's career. Roughly 20 years ago, as I learned from some web research I just did, he wrote a book entitled A Book of One's Own, examining diary writing and famous historical practitioners of it. Currently, his work within NEH involves a major project to digitize newspapers (not just, as he pointed out, those from big cities, but from small- and medium-sized ones, as well) going far back in history, thus increasing their availability to citizens. As Mallon noted, it is communities, as well as families, that say a lot about the fabric of our lives.

Naturally, I view this retrospective Michigan social psychology website in a similar light. I sometimes refer to it as an "electronic scrapbook." As I've alluded to in some of my earlier postings, however, I also have retained physical artifacts of my Michigan education, primarily my course notebooks.

I certainly do not believe people should live their lives exclusively in the past. I nevertheless found it validating to hear a speaker encourage the young, newly minted college graduates (and faculty, administrators, and parents) to preserve their personal histories. Who knows? Maybe 20 years from now, one of the Texas Tech graduates from this past weekend will create a website similar to mine, looking back on his or her years as a Red Raider.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Bonnie Barber, whom I've known since we were both undergraduates at UCLA (and then later both graduate students at Michigan), is now at Murdoch University in Australia. Her new faculty webpage can be accessed by clicking here. A developmental psychologist, Bonnie previously served on the faculty at Penn State and University of Arizona. To Bonnie's friends and colleagues in the United States, this gives a whole new meaning to the song lyric, "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."

Monday, December 06, 2004

Gretchen Lopez, a Michigan social psych Ph.D. who was at UM in the late 1980s and early 90s, has just been named as a Faculty Associate for Diversity at Syracuse University. As described in a Syracuse news release, it appears that Gretchen will be participating in a number of campus initiatives.

Gretchen has been studying intergroup relations for many years and, as noted in her profile on the Social Psychology Network, has continued to publish extensively in this area. Gretchen also co-edited a 2004 issue of the Journal of Social Issues (along with fellow UM Ph.D.'s Sabrina Zirkel and Lisa Brown) on the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

With the airing today of the Jeopardy show (filmed in September) on which Ken Jennings had his winning streak snapped at 74, I feel compelled to point out that among the all-time Jeopardy greats is Chuck Forrest, who appeared on Jeopardy while attending the University of Michigan Law School in the mid-1980s (1985 or '86, if I had to guess).

I suspect that relatively few people nationally -- outside of the hardest of hardcore Jeopardy fans -- would have heard of Chuck or would remember him if they had seen him play. In addition to the passage of time, another likely factor preventing Chuck from achieving the kind of status reached by Jennings is that during Chuck's run (and indeed for most of Jeopardy's history), contestants had to leave after five consecutive wins. Also, of course, there was no Internet during Chuck's run, so that websites celebrating Jennings's streak (such as Andy Saunders's compilation of Jennings-related statistics) could not have helped fuel a similar Jeopardy mania for Chuck.

As noted in the web document linked above to Chuck's highlighted name, he was the show's all-time leading money winner at one point, amassing over $100,000. That, of course, pales in comparison to Jennings's final cumulative total of $2,520,700. However, in addition to Jennings's not having any limit on the number of shows on which he could appear, dollar values for the Jeopardy and Double Jeopardy rounds were doubled within the last couple of years.

Don't get me wrong. For Jennings -- or anyone else, for that matter -- to win 74 straight games is an enormous, mind-boggling feat. No question about it. The point I want to make, however, is that the five-show limit of yesteryear did not allow Forrest and other previous greats the opportunity to see how astronomically far they could potentially take their winning streaks.

I never knew Chuck Forrest during the time we were both at Michigan. However, given the extensive media coverage he was receiving at the time (locally, at least), he almost certainly would have been very well known in the UM/Ann Arbor community. And now, at a time when Ken Jennings and Jeopardy are being lauded nationally (with no less than tonight's ABC Nightline being devoted to the show), I feel a welling up of Maize and Blue pride for a Jeopardy giant of two decades ago.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The recently arrived issue of the Michigan Alumnus magazine included some poll results taken from online surveys at the UM Alumni Association website. I don't know how representative the samples were compared to random cross-sections of Wolverine alums, but the findings comport with what I would have expected.

One question asked about the alums' favorite season of the year in Ann Arbor. Not surprisingly, fall (81%) won overwhelmingly. On most college campuses around the nation, each fall brings the "buzz" of a new academic year, students returning to campus (or first arriving), pleasantly cool autumn temperatures, and (if you're a fan) the start of the college football season. At Michigan, this means action at the "Big House" (the 100,000-plus-seat Michigan Stadium).

In addition to these aspects of fall that are pretty uniform around the country, there are, of course, aspects that are unique (or relatively unique) to Ann Arbor. First on my list are the fall colors, which are more pronounced in some regions of the country than in others (and virtually non-existent in some). I found an excellent slide-show on the web of Ann Arbor fall colors at a site called "Phlog" (above each photo, there's a heading that says "next >>" that you can click to advance the slides; the heading may be hard to see on some screens). Having grown up in Los Angeles, which has little change of season, the Michigan fall colors were a major treat (now if we could do something about those winter temperatures...).

Another poll question inquired into alums' favorite UM sport. Naturally, football (74%) was a runaway winner. The second-place finisher -- ice hockey, with 21% -- may be a surprise to some, given that men's basketball is usually among the top two favorite sports on a college campus (the generic "basketball" finished third among Wolverine grads with 4%). Michigan's hockey program is, however, the most successful one historically in the nation. Also, whether by rules, custom, or some combination of both, college hockey (like that in the Olympics) has remained a game of speed and finesse, avoiding the gratuitous violence characteristic of professional hockey.

Talking about gratuitous violence, this Saturday is the annual Michigan-Ohio State football game, considered by some the greatest rivalry in college football. Though they have been away from the sidelines for quite some time, the rivalry almost certainly would be embodied in many people's minds in the coaching match-up of UM's Bo Schembechler and OSU's Woody Hayes. Schembechler retired as Wolverines' coach shortly after I finished up at Michigan.

Though football was one of my favorite sports for many years, starting around 1993 I decided that the sport's violence and injuries overshadowed the athleticism, in my mind. I have not attended a football game for over a decade. If I'm at home and one of the schools with which I'm affiliated is playing on TV, I may peek in a little for short stretches. That's probably what I'll end up doing on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The November 2004 APA newsmagazine Monitor on Psychology includes an article on a July conference held at the University of British Columbia (UBC) that brought together evolutionary and cultural psychologists. Several current and former University of Michigan professors participated in the conference and were mentioned in the article.

In fact, one can trace the origins of much of this research to the mid-late 1980s at UM. Consider the following scholars mentioned in the Monitor article...

Hazel Markus, who as a graduate student and faculty member was at Michigan for approximately 20 years before moving to Stanford in 1994, progressed through different stages of studying processes related to the self-concept during the years I was in grad school (1984-89).

Hazel appeared to be moving from self-schematicity (Markus, 1977; Markus, Crane, Bernstein, & Siladi, 1982; Markus, Smith, & Moreland, 1985) to possible selves (Markus & Nurius, 1986; Cross & Markus, 1991; Ruvolo & Markus, 1992) to cross-cultural differences in self-conceptions. I saw Hazel give some talks at Michigan on her early ideas in the cultural area, ideas that came to fruition in publications such as Markus and Kitayama (1991, 1994). In my February 2, 2004 entry, I summarized Hazel's Presidential Address at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference, in which she presented her continued cross-cultural research (February archives).

(Many of you who are familiar with these lines of research, as well as others mentioned later in this entry, can recognize the articles in question; if you want more information such as the journals they appeared in, just e-mail me.)

Hazel's frequent collaborator, Shinobu Kitayama, was also mentioned in the Monitor article. Shinobu received his Ph.D. in 1987 from Michigan (where he was my office mate for about two or three years). After serving on the faculty at the University of Oregon and then at Kyoto University in Japan, Shinobu recently returned to UM as a professor.

Dick Nisbett, who is approaching 35 years on the UM faculty, appeared in the mid-late 1980s to be transitioning from his longtime concentration on reasoning and cognitive processes (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977; Nisbett & Ross, 1980; Nisbett, Krantz, Jepson, & Kunda, 1983; Nisbett, Fong, Lehman, & Cheng, 1987) to cultural studies. One of Dick's first major lines of cultural research (with then-graduate student Dov Cohen) involved the southern "Culture of Honor," culminating in a 1996 book by that name. More recently, Dick has blended cognition with cross-cultural studies, probing thought processes in Eastern and Western cultures. That work produced the 2003 book, The Geography of Thought.

Ara Norenzayan, a 1999 Michigan Ph.D. who is on the faculty at UBC, was also mentioned in the Monitor article.

On the evolutionary side, the Monitor article mentioned University of Texas, Austin professor David Buss, who served on the UM faculty in personality psychology from 1985-1996. A prolific author, Buss, along with his students and collaborators, has published numerous books and articles on evolution-related topics, focusing on mate-selection and related topics. Also mentioned in the Monitor article was UM psychiatrist Randolph Nesse. He spoke in the psychology graduate proseminar when I was in school.

The spread of culture is also a major interest of mine. It would have been great to go see the aforementioned (and other) speakers, but it just didn't fit within my travel plans last summer. I maintain a website on the spread of culture.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention two people featured elsewhere in the same Monitor issue with UM ties. Personality-social psychologist David Winter, who has been on the Michigan faculty since around 1988, was mentioned in an article about presidential personality traits. Finally, Steve Behnke, a UM clinical psychology Ph.D., regularly writes in the Monitor on ethical issues in psychology, in his capacity of APA Ethics Director (profile of Steve from when he began at APA).

Thursday, November 04, 2004

This past spring, when I was teaching an advanced graduate statistics course at Texas Tech University on structural equation modeling, I wrote a tribute to the late Frank Andrews and Laura Klem (who is still active at UM), who taught the same course to me at UM in 1988 (April 13 entry, April archives).

Right now, in the Fall semester, I am teaching introductory statistics at the graduate level. Accordingly, I thought I'd say a few words about the professor I had for intro stats at Michigan during my first year of graduate school (1984-85), the late J.E. Keith Smith.

Keith was always very friendly with a quirky sense of humor, but he taught intro stats very rigorously, deriving formulas and attempting to document their theoretical background. In all candor, the material was complex and sometimes difficult to follow.

However, if you went to Keith's office with a specific data-analysis question (either while in his class or even several semesters after you'd had him), he was as clear as could be. He would instantly grasp the type of analysis you'd need to do given your research design, and his instructions for how to implement the analysis on the computer were easy to follow. I know that several faculty members and graduate students would consult Keith on various statistical and experimental-design questions and his advice was always valued.

(As an aside, I still have my textbook that I used in Keith's class, Statistics [3rd ed.], by William L. Hays. Hays, who passed away in 1995, had himself been a faculty member at Michigan until 1973 and finished his career at the University of Texas, Austin. My Hays book was bound so poorly that within a year of my purchasing the book, chunks of pages were falling out; I've had to scotch tape these pages back in over the years. Although I do not teach with the Hays book, I continue to refer back to it for formulas and explanations.)

In my second year of graduate school, I sat in on a categorical data analysis course Keith was teaching. Essentially, this latter course covered more advanced and sophisticated variations on the basic chi-square test. Given a table showing, for example, how many people fell into each of the six cells created by the combinations of gender (male/female) by party identification (Democrat/Republican/Independent), we would typically compare the frequencies in the table as a whole to what would be expected by chance. Keith was working toward facilitating tests of how the frequencies in one (or more) cell would compare to the frequencies of other cells.

When I remarked during one class that the technique he was showing looked very similar to contrasts in Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), which we had learned about in intro stats, he replied, "You've been with me long enough to know that eventually everything will look like a contrast!"

At the time, there was a famous categorical data analysis program called ECTA (Everyman's Contingency Table Analysis). Keith said he was working on a program called VECTA (Very Easy Contingency Table Analysis), which, Keith also noted, was how a New Yorker would pronounce "Vector."

Keith died in 2002. His obituary is available here (you have to scroll down once the page comes up).

To this day, I have a love of numbers and statistical analysis, as exemplified not just in my teaching of research methodology and statistics, but also in fun endeavors such as my hot hand website, which applies probability and statistics to the analysis of sports streaks. I think this represents, at least in part, a legacy of my having learned statistics from Keith.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Tonight begins the 2004 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. Twenty years ago, during my cohort's first semester of graduate school, baseball fans in the UM community got to root for the Detroit Tigers as they won the 1984 World Series. One list places this Tiger squad as the No. 9 best World Series-winning team of all-time.

At the start of the Fall '84 semester, there was about a month left in the regular season, as the Tigers coasted to the American League Eastern Division title. The Tigers then made short work of the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series and the San Diego Padres in the World Series (back then, there was one fewer round of play-offs than today).

The '84 Tigers started the season off 9-0 (including a no-hitter by Jack Morris against the White Sox) and 35-5 (click here for a full game-by-game log). That they were in first place every day of the season inspired the title of George Cantor's book on the team, Wire to Wire, which I read recently. The book, published earlier this year, features a series of short chapters each focusing on a different member of the '84 Tigers. Many former players were interviewed to get their reminiscences on the championship they won two decades earlier.

That Detroit team was noteworthy for the fact that its core consisted of a number of players who had come up through the Tiger farm system within a few years of each other. These players included the aforementioned Morris, Alan Trammell (now the Tigers' manager), Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish, and Kirk Gibson (pictured on the book-cover photo linked above).

Gibson is well-known for a dramatic home run he hit while injured for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1988 World Series. He also hit an important one for the Tigers in the closing (fifth) game of the '84 World Series; against San Diego pitcher "Goose" Gossage, who had overruled his manager's decision to walk Gibson intentionally, Gibson blasted a late three-run homer to give the Tigers, who had been leading by only one run at the time, some insurance runs. In fact, on one list of greatest World Series moments, Gibson appears twice: his '88 homer is No. 1 and his '84 homer is No. 9.

I lived in a graduate dormitory (Baits) on North Campus my first year and I remember watching Gibson's homer off Gossage, as well as the Tigers' recording the final out against the Padres, from one of the nearby dining halls, where I had gone for a late afternoon snack on a Sunday.

Among the Detroit pro sports teams, the Tigers appeared to have the most support among the people I hung out with at UM. Now that the Tigers' on-field performance has plummeted in recent years, it wouldn't surprise me if hockey's Red Wings and basketball's Pistons, both of which have won championships in their respective sports within the last few years, have overtaken the Tigers.

The '84 Tigers are one of the very few World Series champions to have none of their players in the Hall of Fame (among teams going far back enough so that their players would have sufficient opportunity to be voted in). Morris, Trammell, and Whitaker are most commonly discussed as potentially deserving to get in. Cantor discusses this a few times in his history of the '84 Tigers, but even people not linked to the Tigers make similar arguments. Rob Neyer, whose Big Book of Baseball Lineups seeks to determine the best historical lineups fielded by every team, writes that:

"If you study the issue with any sort of sophistication, it's pretty clear that Trammell, like... [teammate Darrell] Evans, ranks among the all-time greats at his position" (p. 90).

The Tigers were managed by Hall of Fame skipper Sparky Anderson, who had previously managed two World Championship teams with Cincinnati. (As an aside, this year the Cardinals' Tony LaRussa will attempt to join Anderson as the only people to manage World Series winners in both leagues; LaRussa led the 1989 Oakland A's to the title.) Anderson was (and presumably still is) a very colorful personality, with his own unique style of expression.

I also had the opportunity during my Michigan years to listen to Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell on the radio. I consider Harwell and the Dodgers' Vin Scully (whom I listened to growing up in L.A.) to be the two top baseball broadcasters I've ever listened two (not favoring one over the other).

Another important piece of the team's history is Tiger Stadium, which hosted its last game at the conclusion of the 1999 season. Author Tom Stanton attended every Detroit home game that year in doing research for his book The Final Season. The book, which I read a couple of years ago, really transcends baseball. Stanton used the Tigers as a vehicle for blending in reflections on his family life. He also interviewed a lot of the "everyday people" who worked at Tiger Stadium.

Since 2000, the Tigers have played at the new Comerica Park. I attended one game at Tiger Stadium, in 1987, during my graduate school days.

Monday, October 18, 2004

With the 2004 presidential election quickly approaching, people are paying increasing attention to the polls (my favorite poll compendia are Polling Report for national polls and Race 2004 for state ones). For a variety of reasons there are questions about how accurate the polls will ultimately turn out to be on Election Day. As one example, a small but growing segment of the American population does its telephone communication only by cell phones, which survey researchers are by law not allowed to call.

Mark Blumenthal, who works in the polling industry, recently created a blog called Mystery Pollster in an attempt to address virtually the full spectrum of issues regarding how pre-election surveys are conducted and what the implications of these controversial issues are for the polls' potential accuracy. Blumenthal's biographical sketch notes that he is a graduate of the University of Michigan in political science and that he later did some graduate work at the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland.

As part of the research methods course I teach at Texas Tech University, I had developed a website on one specific aspect of this year's polling controversy, sample weighting by party ID. I e-mailed Blumenthal to let him know about my webpage and also the UM connection, and he sent me a nice reply. It turns out that Don Kinder, from whom I took a graduate seminar in public opinion in Fall 1985, advised Mark on his undergraduate honors thesis. (Don is also mentioned in my June 5, 2004 entry on the Michigan-UCLA connection; click here for June archives.)

Yet another Michigan graduate is playing a role in 2004 presidential polling. Jon Krosnick, a 1985 UM social psych Ph.D. who is now at Stanford after many years on the faculty at Ohio State, is collaborating on a large Internet-based survey with The Economist magazine and "You Gov" polling firm, both British concerns. Further information is available via a Boston Globe article on the project. The paper by Morris Fiorina and Jon that was alluded to in the article can be accessed here.

Jon is quite a versatile guy. He has academic appointments at Stanford in communications, political science, and psychology. He is also an accomplished jazz drummer, as noted in my May 14, 2004 entry (May archives).

Saturday, October 09, 2004

In various previous postings, I have alluded to the wide array of seminars, colloquia, and lecture series available for individuals in the University of Michigan community to attend on campus. One that I have not yet discussed is the Group Dynamics Seminar, hosted by the Research Center for Group Dynamics (RCGD) in the Institute for Social Research (ISR).

Just as a historical note, the original RCGD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded by Kurt Lewin, one of the most eminent social psychologists of all time. According to a UM biography of one of Lewin's colleagues, Ronald Lippitt:

"In 1946 Lippitt resumed work with Kurt Lewin, helping him to found the Research Center for Group Dynamics at M.I.T., where Lippitt was also an associate professor of social science from 1946 to 1948... Upon Lewin’s death in 1948, Lippitt moved the Research Center for Group Dynamics to the University of Michigan’s Institute of Social Research, acting as program director in the Research Center, as well as associate professor of sociology and psychology at the university."

Back during the 1980s, social psychology faculty, staff, and graduate students had their offices within RCGD; other subdisciplines of psychology such as developmental, personality, and biopsychology were also scattered around the campus. Some time in the early-mid 1990s, however, the long-awaited psychology building (East Hall, a renovation of the former East Engineering) finally opened, bringing all the areas under one roof. Never having been based full-time at UM in the "new-building era," I cannot compare the experiences of being in the social psych program in the ISR versus East Hall. My strong speculation, however, is that links to the Group Dynamics Seminar and other RCGD activities would have been stronger in the former era.

For the first few years I was in grad school at UM (starting with Fall '84), the "Group Dy," as people referred to it, was held every Tuesday night during the Fall and Winter semesters. Toward the latter years of my time at UM, it moved to a late-afternoon time.

As is still the case today, each semester's Group Dy series would have a theme. One thematic series that I'd like to discuss in the remainder of this posting is the one focusing on social conflict, which as I recall was held during Fall '84 (I have a folder with handouts from many Group Dy talks, but none from the social conflict series).

Given UM's strong overall social science portfolio, the Group Dy series on social conflict included, among others, professors speaking on anthropological and political science approaches to conflict. Each semester's series is organized by one of the social psych faculty members; this one was organized by Gene Burnstein.

Interestingly, among the attendees during the semester on social conflict was Robben Fleming, who had served as UM President from 1968-1979 (and then later as Interim President in 1988 during the gap between Harold Shapiro and James Duderstadt). Fleming's background was as a law professor and labor mediator. Given the tumult on the UM campus in the 1960s and '70s over the Vietnam War and Civil Rights issues, the book The Making of the University of Michigan 1817-1992 by Howard H. Peckham, notes that Fleming "brought to the office of president... a unique combination of skills that seemed tailored for the times" (p. 290).

The book reported on one incident during Fleming's tenure as president that I find absolutely fascinating:

"Despite public criticism, Fleming refused to take inflexible stands on unimportant matters. When the Inter-Faith Council for Peace wanted to dig a large 'bomb crater' on the Diag to symbolize the destruction of North Vietnam, Fleming found them a safe place to do it. His reaction to the crater affair was typical of his willingness to co-operate with peaceful dissent. 'Why not let them dig one? Everybody else is digging holes for new buildings, and so forth. It's not a big job to throw the dirt back in the hole after they get tired.' In response to those who objected to his willingness to compromise, Fleming reasoned, 'If you make an issue of activities that do no harm and don't interfere with the running of the University, you run the real risk of attracting a lot of other students who will then be sympathetic to their other demands' " (p. 292).

Fittingly, toward the end of the Group Dy semester on social conflict, Fleming himself was the speaker. He recounted various instances of protests he had to handle, and how he did so. One had to do with students who occupied the Administration Building. I don't recall the details, but I remember Fleming saying that it had been resolved satisfactorily to both sides, to the point where the protesters exited the building singing the UM fight song, "The Victors."

According to a 2003 article on the lives of retired academics, "Fleming, now 86, has lived on one campus or another since he and his wife Sally were college sweethearts at Beloit College in Wisconsin. The couple decided to retire to Ann Arbor and Michigan's 92-unit University Commons."

I'm tempted to say that "only at UM" could you have a speaker series where you'd hear stories like that; it may not be "only" at UM, but the number of such universities would likely be very small.

As a concluding note on the topic of social conflict, I would like to recommend strongly the new (2004) book How Soccer Explains the World, by Franklin Foer. In this book, you'll learn of bands of soccer fans who, in their cheers (more like taunts) and fight songs, spew the most hateful and even violent rhetoric you could imagine (sometimes followed up by actual violence). I wrote a review of this book for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) electronic discussion list.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Seeing the first Bush-Kerry presidential debate a few nights ago prompted another memory from my first semester of graduate school 20 years ago. In 1984, the incumbent President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, was being challenged by former Vice President Walter "Fritz" Mondale, the Democratic nominee. During the Fall '84 semester, Mondale spoke at a campaign rally on the UM's Diag and -- as best I can recall -- that appearance took place just a few days after the first Reagan-Mondale debate.

Nowadays (and perhaps then, too) political analysts talk about "rallying the base" of support within a candidate's own party, then "reaching out to the middle," i.e., moderate and undecided voters. Although it did not occur to me 20 years ago, the fact that Mondale was still rallying the base (very few cities in America are more liberal than Ann Arbor) in mid-October was a sure sign of how deeply in trouble Mondale was. In fact, despite by most accounts winning the first debate, Mondale ended up losing the election 59-41%. Mondale carried only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

I attended the Mondale rally along with two other grad students. We found a spot behind a tree and got a decent view. Mondale was accompanied at the rally by former Sen. Gary Hart (D-CO), Mondale's nearest rival during the primary campaign. I searched pretty hard on the web for any record of the rally, but couldn't find anything. Twenty years ago would probably be too far back for web-archived newspaper accounts of the event. Further, given Mondale's lopsided defeat, it's understandable that nobody associated with the campaign would create a web-based tribute to Election '84.

Many of you will remember Hart from his failed 1988 campaign, which he started in many people's minds as the front-runner. Suffice it to say that Hart, the self-proclaimed "candidate of new ideas," got into trouble from something resembling one of the world's oldest ideas.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Just a few items from the September 2004 Ann Arbor Observer magazine:

One of the major articles, entitled "Borders Grows Up," reviews the recent ups-and-downs of the now 33-year-old icon of Ann Arbor bookselling. As virtually anyone reading this blog would know, Borders was founded (and located exclusively for many years) in Ann Arbor. In the mid-80s, Borders expanded, initially to some Detroit suburbs and then nationally. The article delves into issues such as competition with Barnes and Noble, competition from internet sales, and the healing process from last year's strike at the flagship Ann Arbor store.

Historically, Borders did a lot to cultivate a cerebral image, most notably making its workers pass a test (which, according to the recent Observer article, was "dropped years ago"). George Will wrote the following in a 1991 Washington Post article:

"Reading the torrent of essays about the end of reading, and the glut of books about the death of the book, leaves little time for savoring the significance of Borders bookstores, which are flourishing.

There are 14 of them so far. The first was in Ann Arbor, Mich. The one here in Rockville [Maryland] is typical. It has more than 100,000 titles, 1.3 million volumes and a staff who when asked `Where is `Billy Budd'?' will not reply, `He doesn't work here.'

No one works here who cannot pass a quiz featuring questions like, `In what subject areas would you look for books by or about Jean Piaget, Gustav Klimt, Dorothy Sayers, Karen Horney, Ludwig Wittgenstein'? `Who wrote `Tin Drum'? `Native Son'? `Where the Wild Things Are'?' Non-readers need not apply at Borders, which unlike lots of supposed bookstores sells neither games nor globes nor garden hoses.. . .

A better way of doing business in books began 20 years ago with the Border [sic, it should be Borders] brothers, University of Michigan graduate students, Tom, an English major, and Lewis, a computer wiz. Their idea was to use modern information systems to make possible, meaning profitable, small-volume purchases of many titles rather than large-volume purchases of titles that will sell at a high velocity."

I love that "Billy Budd" quote and am glad to be able to have found a reference to it on the web. Many parts of Will's article are obviously dated, including the test and the number of stores. Heck, today's Borders stores in the L.A. and Chicago areas alone might come close to numbering 14 (those are where I do most of my Borders visiting; my current home of Lubbock, Texas doesn't have one). I also, of course, love to visit the Ann Arbor flagship store, but I haven't been back since 2002.

The Observer article also provides an update on the Borders brothers: Tom now lives in Austin, Texas, and Louis is in Silicon Valley.

One quote in the Observer article really hits the nail on the head, in my view, regarding why Borders has been so successful:

"The saving factor for Borders, [its CEO] says, was that people still like to come to bookstores to browse."
. . .
In my May 14 entry on this blog (May archives), I wrote about Ann Arbor's jazz scene, including a mention of the Bird of Paradise club. We learn from the September 2004 Observer that, after 20 years, "The Bird" is no more, a casualty of financial difficulties. Here's an article on the club's farewell from the Ann Arbor News.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Jennifer Lerner, a Michigan undergraduate in the late 1980s and now a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University, has won an early career award from the National Science Foundation. Back in the 1980s (and perhaps still today) the introductory social psychology course for undergrads was taught as a huge lecture by a professor, with probably around 300 students. Each undergraduate student would also attend a weekly one-hour discussion section of around 25 students, led by a graduate-student Teaching Assistant (TA). Jennifer was in the section I led. I got to know her pretty well then, and have stayed in touch with her over the years.

Also, as featured in my June 5 write-up on this blog (June archives), Jennifer, like me, is a "Bru-verine" (someone with ties to both UCLA -- the Bruins -- and Michigan -- the Wolverines). After completing her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley (during which time I only rarely saw her, at conventions), she did a health psychology post doc at UCLA. Given that I regularly visit UCLA on my trips back to L.A. to visit family, I was able to visit with Jennifer every few months in Franz Hall.

Congratulations to Jennifer!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Twenty years ago, almost to this exact day, the other members of my cohort and I began classes at the University of Michigan as new graduate students. The incoming social psychology grad-student cohort in Fall 1984 included Monica Biernat, Rick Blake, Steve Bright, Greg Diamond, Eaaron Henderson-King, Ann Ruvolo, Judy Shapiro, and myself. Bob Josephs (for whom 1984 was the start of his overall graduate-school career) came over with his advisor Claude Steele from the University of Washington in Fall 1987, but became part of our cohort (Claude later moved on from Michigan to Stanford).

Monica received the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Early Career Contributions to Psychology Award in social psychology in 1999 (news release from her current university). She wrote about our cohort in her award statement, published in the November 1999 American Psychologist (based on this article, Monica had a particular fondness for cohort-mates who loaned her their cars!). In all seriousness, our cohort was pretty tight the whole 5-6 years people were there, but extremely tight the first year or two (people joked that all eight of us even crossed the street together). Just within the first week or two of arriving, I recall, we all went together on a Saturday morning for apple cider in one of the neighboring towns (I think it was Dexter) and also played ultimate frisbee on that outing.

As is virtually inevitable, however, as we no longer were taking classes together and people were spending more time with spouses and partners or other interests, we drifted apart somewhat during our later years at Michigan. Also, based on research interests and personal hobbies, each of us in our cohort developed ties to students in other cohorts, thus diluting the intra-cohort ties. That's not to say that all the bonds within the '84 entering cohort have diminished. I would say I have maintained very close ties to a couple of people in the cohort, more moderately intense ties to others, and have lost touch completely with others. Talking to others in the cohort, this distribution seems fairly typical.

What I thought it would be fun to do was look at the current UM graduate psychology course list and compare the versions of the courses my cohort took in Fall '84 to the current versions of the same courses. To preview my findings (shown below), the course numbers are entirely the same, the instructors are all different (virtually a given, since many professors from '84 have either moved to other universities, retired, or passed away), and the content/format of some courses has changed somewhat. First-year social psych students took the following courses in Fall '84...

Psych 600, Psychology Graduate Proseminar. New students in all areas of psychology -- not just social -- took this course during their entire first year (Psych 601 was the second semester). In '84, a different UM psychology faculty member would come in to lecture each week on his/her respective research area. Faculty speakers were clustered in sequence around larger themes (i.e., a few weeks of biopsych, a few weeks of cognitive development, a few weeks of social). Faculty speakers each assigned a set of readings, with the course providing for discussion of the readings and integrative writing assignments. The purpose was clearly to present the breadth of psychology to students in all of the department's programs. Breadth is apparently still an important goal today, but it is accomplished differently. According to the current 600 description:

"This course is a graduate-level overview of psychology with special attention to its coverage of (a) biological; (b) affective/cognitive, (c) developmental, and (d) social/organizational aspects of behavior... Students will do background readings in each of the four areas on focus [sic], and for each area, attend at least three department- or campus-wide lectures of their choice in which current research is presented... Upon completion of the relevant readings and attendance at the lectures for an area, each student will write a reaction paper... that integrates and responds to the relevant readings and lectures attended."

The description also alludes to some live meetings/discussion between the coordinator and students, but it seems this course is now more individually paced. It is also credit/noncredit, which I don't think was true 20 years ago. In Fall '84, the faculty coordinators were Hazel Markus (now at Stanford) and Bill Stebbins. Currently, the coordinator is Chris Peterson. Chris was on my dissertation committee in '89. For the last 20 years or so a clinical/personality researcher, Chris was actually a social psych Ph.D. (University of Colorado).

Psych 613, Statistics. This class also was for all new psychology students for the full year (614 was the second semester). Back in '84, we had Keith Smith, who passed away a couple years ago (click here and then scroll down for obituary). I plan to do a future entry specifically on Keith. For now, though, I'll just say that the current 613-614 sequence, taught by Kai Schnabel Cortina (who apparently arrived at UM in the late 90s), seems to represent a compression of the old stat courses. Multivariate techniques now appear to be incorporated into 613-614, whereas students of my era had to wait until their third semester to take a separate multivariate analysis course.

Psych 681, Orientation to Social Psychology (now known as Survey of Social Psychology). This was not a "class" in the traditional sense, but rather a forum for first-year social students to receive socialization into the program and field. James Jackson, then the social psych program director, led this workshop. Some of the main activities included helping us along on our first-year projects and having speakers from the social psych faculty. One or two students would invite each speaker and have a preparatory meeting with him/her to discuss the faculty member's presentation to the 681 group. The current version is led by Norbert Schwarz, who arrived at UM in '93. Both my old syllabus (which I've saved, along with my notebooks) and the current desciption list 681 as a three-semester sequence. In all honesty, all I remember is the first semester; perhaps we mainly worked independently later on.

Psych 682, Advanced Social Psychology. This course provided a pretty intensive introduction to our subject matter, with a lot of classic stuff (e.g., Sherif, Asch, Lewin, Festinger). In Fall '84, it was taught by Hazel Markus, who was also mentioned above. The current version is taught by Rich Gonzalez. As I've noted in previous entries to this blog, I first met Rich when he was visiting UM as a prospective grad student and now he's the department chair!

Those were the days!

Monday, August 30, 2004

Tonight will mark the 11th anniversary of the start of David Letterman's "Late Show" on CBS, which continues to run. Before that, he did a virtually identical show called "Late Night" on NBC for 11 years (1982-1993). Although Letterman's CBS show has received many honors (including six Emmys for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program in 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002), it is my feeling (and probably that of numerous other Letterman watchers) that he was at his most creative during those mid-80s NBC years when we were in graduate school.

Letterman did the kind of things during those years that had us graduate students asking each other on many a morning, "Did you see what Dave did last night?" And when Dave did an anniversary show, at least the first few ones, watching was de rigueur. There's an online list of "The 80 Greatest Late-Night Episodes of All Time" and, by my count, 44 of them involved Dave (you need to scroll down a bit when the web document comes up, to see the list).

Granted, some of Dave's stunts appear to have been "borrowed" from Steve Allen's work in an earlier era. But, how can you not love Dave's physical comedy, such as dressing in a jumpsuit covered with probably hundreds or thousands of bits of Rice Crispies and being lowered into a vat of milk, or wearing a suit of Alka-Seltzer tablets and being lowered into a vat of water? (I heard a rumor that during pre-testing of the Alka-Seltzer stunt, a stagehand filling Dave's role passed out from the resulting gases, so Dave had to wear a gas mask when doing the actual stunt.)

From the elevator races, to the "democracy show" where the audience got to vote on which features to implement during an actual taping, to the velcro suit, to "supermarket finds," to riding on a luge sled, the Letterman gems are endless. Though Dave gets less physically involved today on his CBS show (perhaps a result of his health problems), he still gives us such cerebral exercises as "Will it float?," a physics lesson viewers don't even realize they're getting.

Among my fellow Michigan grad students, the one who probably got the most enjoyment out of Dave's antics is Steve Fein, a professor at Williams College since graduating from UM. Back then, Dave's NBC show "Late Night with David Letterman" came on at roughly 1:00 AM on the local Detroit affiliate. Michigan is in the Eastern time zone, meaning "The Tonight Show" (then hosted by Johnny Carson) would be on from 11:30-12:30. Then, instead of putting Letterman on at 12:30 AM, which was plenty late, the NBC affiliate put him on at 1:00, with a half-hour of Barney Miller (and other similar shows') repeats filling the gap.

Rather than stand passively by like the rest of us, Steve called up the NBC affiliate to ask why Letterman didn't come on at 12:30. The answer he got had something to do with local affiliates' being able to pocket advertising revenues for shows aired only in the local market (such as the "filler" rerun), whereas the revenues for a national show such as Dave's went to the national office. Steve got a kick out of many of Letterman's stunts and even was known to imitate one or two of them.

Another feature of the show I find interesting is that, in the early years, there was a fair amount of turnover in the band (known variously as "The World's Most Dangerous Band," "The NBC Orchestra," and "The CBS Orchestra"). Sid McGinnis replaced Hiram Bullock on guitar in '84, and Anton Fig (whom Dave used to jokingly refer to as "Antop Zip") replaced Steve Jordan on drums in '86. Bandleader/keyboardist Paul Shaffer and bassist Will Lee have been there all along. But since '86 (which is 18 years ago, for heaven's sake), there have been no personnel changes on these four instruments (there have been additions to the band, however).

I was a little disappointed that Dave didn't change up the show more when he moved from NBC to CBS, and I recall Steve feeling the same way from our correspondences. The question of what facets of Dave's NBC show he could take to CBS reached the point of absurdity when, as stated in one online biography of Letterman:

"NBC claimed that many of Letterman's gimmicks and jokes, including throwing the pencil at the camera, the top ten list, and Larry Bud Melman, among many others, were 'intellectual properties.' NBC lost, but Larry 'Bud' Melman would now be called Calvert DeForest on the CBS show."

And you think I'm kidding when I say that Dave gave many Michigan social psych graduate students intellectual enrichment during our years in Ann Arbor?

* * *
On a somewhat related note, any longstanding show such as David Letterman's on NBC and CBS, will have its detractors, people who feel the show "jumped the shark" and started heading downhill. The term "Jump the Shark" derives from an episode of Happy Days on which Fonzie, clad in his trademark leather jacket, jumped over a shark on water skis. That, to many, was a signal that Happy Days was seriously on the decline. In keeping with the theme of the Michigan retrospective website, it turns out that the creator of the term "Jump the Shark" (and host of the website and author of the book by the same name) is Jon Hein, a 1989 UM alumnus (to my knowledge, I never met Jon at UM, but with tens of thousands of people there, that's not surprising). People can submit their opinions to the Jump the Shark website on when a given show has started to decline. Here are the entries for Letterman's NBC and CBS shows.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Yesterday's New York Times had a thorough article on the debate over psychotherapy effectiveness research (whether insurance companies should rigorously base their reimbursements on demonstrated effectiveness, should practitioners be required to closely follow procedures from manuals?, can the complexity of what goes on in a therapy room be captured in research studies?, etc.).

One of the scholars quoted in the article is Drew Westen, a professor at Emory University. Drew was a clinical psychology graduate student in the 1980s at the University of Michigan, where he received his Ph.D. He has been a very prolific author over the years. Drew and I will occasionally run into each other at conferences and chat briefly.

If you're already a registered NY Times user, you can just click here to see the article that quotes Drew, for the time being at least. If you're not already registered, you can complete the free process by going to the Times' main page.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Just a brief entry today, on some miscellaneous items...

First, a short time ago while looking through some piles in my office for unrelated purposes, I found a complete list of Katz-Newcomb lecturers for the period 1973-1992 (it was probably an enclosure with the invitation to the 1993 talk that presumably all program alumni received). As some of you may recall, my April 29 entry was devoted to the Katz-Newcomb Lecture. With the help of many people, I was able to compile a near-complete list of speakers from 1973-1997 (when, except for some ad hoc lectures, the series came to an end). But, there were still some gaps for the more distant years. The list I found has now allowed me to fill in all the speakers for the complete series. As an added "bonus," the list I found also included the 1973-1992 speakers' titles, so I have added these. Take a look at the updated list by going to the April archive.

August is a pretty quiet time in academia, as professors, students, and staff members prepare to start another school year. One major event that will be happening in August (the 13th-29th) is, of course, the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. UM has produced a list of current and former Wolverines who are participating. As a sign of how much 80s-era students such as myself have aged, our only Michigan contemporaries are going to Athens in coaching roles. Enjoy the Games!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I recently returned from a trip that I'm calling "Midwestern Tour '04."  For about 10 days during the middle of July, I traveled through Cincinnati (to attend the Society for American Baseball Research or "SABR" convention), Chicago (to visit my sister and her family and also drop by the offices of some professors and researchers at Northwestern University in Evanston), and finally, Madison, Wisconsin (to attend the International Association for Relationship Research convention).  Where academics and sports are involved, a large University of Michigan presence is virtually assured, and there indeed were Michigan connections throughout the trip.

Cincinnati Portion of the Trip 

According to this document, there are six former UM baseball players currently in the major leagues.  However, only two, Cincinnati's Barry Larkin and St. Louis's Mike Matheny, were 1980s Wolverines.  Naturally, SABR schedules its meetings when the home team is in town, so I was able to attend a Reds game; they were playing the Cardinals, so I further got to see the two ex-Wolverines square off.  Although baseball certainly lags Michigan's "marquee" sports (football, men's basketball, and ice hockey) in popularity, I enjoyed going out to UM's Ray Fisher Stadium to watch baseball during my grad school days.  Michigan has a proud baseball history, having won the College World Series in 1953 (under Fisher) and 1962 (under Don Lund).  Up through the 80s, the Wolverines were a perennial post-season team, until being put on probation.  The program has not been the same since, but may be staging a resurgence under relatively new coach Rich Maloney

While in Cincy, I also added another Pizzeria Uno to my list of ones I've dined at (see the February and March archives on the right-hand side of the page, midway down, for my previous Uno's-related writings).

The SABR conference was great fun.  My activities ranged from watching a trivia contest (where I knew the answers to about five questions for every 100 asked, in contrast to the actual contestants who reeled off answers to one obscure question after another) to touring the grounds where Crosley Field, the beloved former home of the Reds, was located (there are no remnants of the park at the site today, just a variety of industrial businesses) and also a park in Blue Ash, Ohio that replicates some of the features of Crosley.  

At the SABR book exhibit, I picked up the book A Mathematician at the Ballpark, by Ken Ross.  On page 178, it cites my hot hand website on the statistical study of sports streakiness.

Chicago/Evanston Portion

Next it was on to Chicago.  Like any major research university, Northwestern has both research centers and traditional academic departments (often, scholars at one type of unit will have a joint appointment at a unit of the other type).  I knew (or knew of) a number of scholars at Northwestern, so I e-mailed ahead to see if people wouldn't mind having me stop by to chat about research and/or just visit.  Within the psychology department, I met with Alice Eagly, a 1965 social psych Ph.D. from Michigan.  I was also hoping to visit with David Uttal, a developmental psychologist who was a comtemporary of mine during grad school at UM in the 80s, but our timing didn't work out.   

I also met with two people at Northwestern's Institute for Policy Research.  My first meeting was with Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, whom only after our meeting started did I learn was also a 1980s Michigan Ph.D  (developmental psych, 1981).  Her research is in the area of public policy as related to families and children, such as studying welfare reform.  As seen in my lecture notes on adolescent sexuality, I've drawn upon Lindsay's research for many years in teaching my "Problems of Adolescence" course at Texas Tech (click here for the main syllabus).  In our conversation, Lindsay cited her experience at Michigan with the Bush Program in Child Development and Social Policy as being particularly valuable.  The other IPR researcher with whom I met was Greg Duncan.  Before moving to Northwestern in 1995, Greg spent over 20 years at Michigan as a research scientist and professor, including a stint as director of UM's Panel Study of Income Dynamics.  Although I had never met Greg during my time at Michigan, I knew of him.  We had a nice wide-ranging discussion of research on adolescent and young adult drinking, public policy, and research methodology.

The Northwestern scholars with whom I wanted to meet, of course, were not limited to people with Michigan backgrounds.  I also had a nice visit with Dan McAdams, who has a joint faculty appointment in the School of Education and Social Policy and the psychology department.

I want to thank my relative Bonnie (whose husband is a cousin of my mother), who works at IPR, for her hospitality during my visit.  Also, of course, I want to thank my sister Lynn and her husband Jeff for hosting me.  It was in the spring of 1986 that Lynn, then an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, came up to visit me in Ann Arbor; on that trip, she met Jeff, then an undergrad at Michigan, and the rest -- as they say -- is history.

Although Chicago is the home of the original Pizzeria Uno's -- both the first one at the corner of Wabash and Ohio and Pizzeria Due's, built about a block away to handle the Uno's overflow crowd -- I had already been to both before, so I didn't have any Uno's pizza in Chicago.  Instead, I tried out another Windy City deep dish place, Lou Malnati's.  It was good, in my opinion, but not quite up to Uno's.    

Madison, Wisconsin Portion

Lastly, I arrived in Madison to present a poster at the IARR close-relationships conference on a study an undergraduate student, Teresa Lair, conducted under my supervision (click here to see both the paper and some pictures I took in Madison).

Naturally, I saw some former Michigan people:
  • Terri Orbuch, who was featured in a June write-up (see archives) about UM's Early Years of Marriage Project.  A paper from the project (Orbuch, Veroff, Hassan, & Horrocks, 2002, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships)  won the IARR Article Award at the conference.
  • Linda Acitelli, a University of Houston faculty member, with whom I overlapped during grad school at Michigan (she was in the personality psychology program, but there was extensive contact between the social and personality programs).
  • Kathy Carnelley, a lecturer at the University of Southampton in England, and Amber Story, a program director at the National Science Foundation, a pair of mid-1990s Michigan post docs.  Kathy was also featured in my June write-up on the Michigan-UCLA connection.
  • Dan Perlman, a professor at the University of British Columbia, who told me he did some of his graduate work at Michigan in the 1960s.

In addition to the people, however, the town of Madison itself evoked a strong connection in my mind to Ann Arbor.  The similarities are numerous:

  • In both towns, the major street in the campus area is called State St. (which is the case in some additional Big Ten cities as well).
  • Both towns have extremely liberal political climates.  In Dane County, Wisconsin (which includes Madison), Gore and Nader combined in the 2000 presidential election to take two-thirds of the vote.  In Washtenaw County, Michigan (which includes Ann Arbor), Gore and Nader combined for slightly less than two-thirds.  I don't claim to know the demographics of these counties that well, but it's potentially the case that the campus areas per se were even more highly Democratic, with rural outlying areas diluting the county-level percentages.
  • A couple of businesses that I thought to be unique to Ann Arbor were also in Madison, namely Steve & Barry's t-shirts (which, I've discovered on their website, has quite a few locations) and the Dahlmann Campus Inn hotel (Ann Arbor link, Madison link).
  • Both, of course, feature traditional, college-town barber shops.  In Ann Arbor, I always went to the State St. Barber Shop during my graduate student days and I make it a point to go there every time I get back to town.  Bill, the State St. barber, was featured in the 1989 book Big Ten Country by Bob Wood, and to my knowledge, Bill is still there.  Upon arrival in my hotel room in Madison, I looked over the Madison magazine that was displayed in the room.  I noticed an article about a man named Don Fine, who owns the College Barber Shop on State St. near the University of Wisconsin campus and has been cutting hair there for 51 years.  I went in the next morning, grabbed a seat in the waiting area, and hoped to get Don for my haircut.  There were about five barbers cutting at the time, but by the luck of the draw, I got Don.  He was extremely friendly.  As the article notes, his chair is "the first in the shop's line of eight and the one in the prime spot in front of the picture window."  I noticed how Don would personally say good-bye to each departing customer, so my guess is that he picked the location of his chair to enable him to do so most efficiently.  (While on the subject of barber shops, I want to acknowledge the Collegiate Barber Shop in Lubbock, where I usually go.)

There are also obvious differences between Madison and Ann Arbor:

  • Madison has the two lakes (Monona and Mendota) on either side of the isthmus containing the state capitol building and campus (in fact, there's a town newspaper called The Isthmus).  The Wisconsin Memorial Union on campus has a beautiful terrace behind the building overlooking Lake Mendota; there are tables set up so people can dine out by the lake, as well as a stage for evening musical performances (see the set of pictures I took, which I referenced above).  Ann Arbor has nearby water as well, including places to go canoeing (as I recall, Chris Crandall was a very skilled rower during our Michigan grad school days), but not as prominently as in Madison.
  • Madison is a state capitol, Ann Arbor is not.
  • Ann Arbor has a Borders book store in the campus area (in fact, Ann Arbor was where Borders originated), whereas the Madison Borders appeared to be away from the campus.

I went to the Pizzeria Uno's in Madison twice on this recent trip.  I had been to this Uno's before, but it was over 15 years ago (when visiting my relative -- again through a cousin of my mother's -- Jill Soloway, a UW student at the time and now a writer for HBO's "Six Feet Under").  Also, not surprisingly given Wisconsin's motto of "America's Dairy Land," I ate more ice cream on this recent trip than I usually do.  The Daily Scoop in the student union, where ice cream made in the Babcock Hall Dairy Plant is sold, is a can't miss.

As you can see, I was quite taken with Madison.  Even a maize-and-blue guy such as myself has to admit that Madison is just as nice a town as Ann Arbor (OK, there I admitted it).

In closing this segment about the Madison component of my trip, I would like to congratulate Linda Roberts, a UW-Madison faculty member and former colleague of mine from our days at the Research Institute on Addictions in Buffalo, New York, on an excellent job of co-hosting the IARR conference.

Monday, July 12, 2004

The U.S. Supreme Court recently completed its term for the year. As most of you are probably aware, the major cases involved the rights of prisoners detained as part of the War on Terror.

One of the cases, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, involved an American citizen named Yaser Hamdi, whom the U.S. government was holding as an "enemy combatant." Two issues were at stake: whether Hamdi could be detained (perhaps indefinitely) without being charged with any crime, and whether he had the right to challenge his detention in court (and with assistance of counsel).

The Court's decision was what might be considered a "compromise verdict." The detentions themselves were permissible (having received the proper Congressional authorization), but the detainee had the right to a day in court to challenge the detention.

As noted in an excellent summary of the case by Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism:

"Amicus briefs [were] filed by former prisoners of war, experts on the law of war, and Fred Korematsu on behalf of Hamdi."

As with all entries on this website, there must be a University of Michigan '80s connection, and that connection is Fred Korematsu. Korematsu, as many of you know, brought an unsuccessful Supreme Court challenge 60 years ago to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

I had the pleasure of seeing Korematsu speak at the UM law school about the history and legal issues of his case. It was probably in 1988 or '89. I've found two documents on the web that allude to Korematsu speaking at UM. Based on contextual clues, the first document could very well be describing the same lecture I saw, whereas the second one appears to describe a later visit by Koretmatsu. There's obviously no reason why Korematsu couldn't have spoken at Michigan on multiple occasions.

As I will attempt to detail in future entries, the University of Michigan gets a lot of prominent scholars, politicians, and historical figures to speak on campus. The "intellectual nourishment" level is high.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

If asked, most researchers would probably say they had one (or a few) favorite project(s) among the research studies they had conducted over their careers. Some projects may stand out in one's mind as being more fun to work on than were others, or it may be the reaction of the field to a published product that stands out.

My personal list of favorite projects would have to include the heat-aggression in baseball study I conducted with Rick Larrick and Steve Fein. The official scientific reference for this study is:

Reifman, A. S., Larrick, R. P., & Fein, S. (1991). Temper and temperature on the diamond: The heat-aggression relationship in major league baseball. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17, 580-585.

I do not teach social psychology (even though my Ph.D. is in social psych, my faculty appointment is in human development and family studies at Texas Tech University). Still, I am fortunate enough to be able to give an annual lecture on the heat-aggression in baseball study to the undergraduate social psych class of my TTU colleague Darcy Reich. Last week I gave this guest lecture for the third straight year, each time during Darcy's summer session class (what better time of year to speak about heat and aggression?).

Rick, Steve, and I came up with the idea for such a study during the summer of 1987 (the end of my third year at Michigan and Rick and Steve's first). Based on a landmark Michigan-based article by Dick Nisbett and Tim Wilson (Psychological Review, 1977), I try to be very cautious about claiming an impetus for my thought processes. Having said that, I would say there were three events that led Rick, Steve, and me to conduct the heat-aggression in baseball study:

*It was a very hot summer for us in Ann Arbor.

*An article by Craig Anderson, a prolific heat-aggression researcher, came out in the June 1987 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology on temperature and crime rates.

*Major League Baseball was dealing with a "beanball war" that season, as exemplified by the July 20, 1987 cover of Sports Illustrated. (After you click on the preceding word "cover," be sure to scroll down far enough when the page comes up.)

I remember that Rick, Steve, and I went for pizza one evening at a place on Maynard whose name I can't remember, to discuss our plans for the study. In conducting the study, each of us spent long hours in the UM libraries, going over microfilm rolls of major newspapers to look at randomly selected baseball box scores (for the hit-by-pitch data, our measure of aggression) and corresponding weather pages (to record the high temperature in the home city the day of the game). Nowadays, box scores are readily available on the web, with weather conditions at the game included in the box score.

To make a long story short, we conducted the initial parts of the study in 1987, presented our results as a poster at the 1988 convention of the American Psychological Association, then published our final results in PSPB in 1991, as noted above (we had to do some additional analyses for the journal version). Beyond some initial media coverage of the study in 1988 and my annual guest lecture at Texas Tech, the study has continued to live on in a number of ways:

*Citation by Dean Keith Simonton in a 2003 Annual Review of Psychology chapter on "Qualitative and Quantitative Analyses of Historical Data."

*Citation by Anderson in several articles and chapters (click here for his list of recent publications).

*Citation by Eric Sundstrom, Paul Bell, and colleagues in a 1996 Annual Review of Psychology chapter on "Environmental Psychology 1989-1994."

*Continued citation in several social psychology textbooks.

*Inclusion of the study in several social psych professors' online syllabi and lecture notes (a search at Google, with the keyword set "reifman" "larrick" "fein" -- keeping the quotation marks -- currently yields 35 hits).

*A reprinting of our journal article in the book Psychology is Social.

*Application by Tom Timmerman of our idea that hit-by-pitch instances measure aggression, to a different context, namely the question of whether black batters were more likely to get hit by a pitch than their white counterparts, as part of the climate of prejudice just after the integration of Major League Baseball.

*And last but not least, publication of a letter of mine in the July 27, 1998 issue of ESPN The Magazine, in response to an article in the June 15, 1998 issue on hit batters that omitted our research.

My bottom line is that, if a topic such as baseball that has interest to many people can get students excited about doing research, then that may be the heat-aggression study's main contribution.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Just a brief entry today. As most of you are probably aware, the controversial movie Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore is bringing in huge box-office sales around the country.

As with anything on this website, there's a link between Michael Moore and the mid-80s Michigan scene. I would estimate that within just the first few weeks of my September 1984 arrival in Ann Arbor to begin graduate school, I started picking up an alternative political newsmagazine called the Michigan Voice. The editor of this publication was none other than Mr. Moore.

As any viewer of Moore's first film, Roger and Me, knows, Moore is from Flint, Michigan, not Ann Arbor. As noted in the biography linked to Moore's name above, he worked for what was then the Flint Voice, which expanded into a statewide version.

I even remember the cover story of the first issue of Michigan Voice that I ever read, again from 1984. It took to task U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), who remains in office today and has long been one of the most liberal members of the body, for some alleged retrenchments in Levin's liberalism. The headline, a play on a song title by the artist formerly (and currently) known as Prince, was "When Doves Die."

Friday, June 25, 2004

A few weeks ago, I received the Spring 2004 issue of Relationship Research News, the newsletter of the International Association for Relationship Research. Within the newsletter was a review of the book Thrice Told Tales: Married Couples Tell Their Stories. The book was written by Diane Holmberg (a Michigan social psych Ph.D.), Terri Orbuch (a research scientist at UM's Institute for Social Research and a professor at Oakland University in suburban Detroit), and Joe Veroff (Professor Emeritus at UM in social psychology).

The book presents qualitative data (i.e., "narratives" or "stories") from the Early Years of Marriage (EYM) project, begun in 1986 by Veroff, ISR Research Scientist Shirley Hatchett, and the late UM Professor Elizabeth "Libby" Douvan. A number of social psych grad students from the mid-1980s such as Susan Crohan, Ann Ruvolo, and Lynne Sutherland also worked on the project. Orbuch came on a little later in a leadership role. (Note that the above link to the EYM project is from Radcliffe's Murray Center, where some of the EYM data are now archived.)

In preparing this entry, I thought I should do a little homework, so I contacted some people on (or close to) the project to see how things were going. I also read the following article, which provides an excellent overview of the EYM project:

Orbuch, T.L., & Veroff, J. (2002). A programmatic review: Building a two-way bridge between social psychology and the study of the early years of marriage. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 19, 549-568.

Participating couples have been interviewed every few years (the title of the book derives from its use of interviews at three occasions). The EYM study has gathered quantitative (closed-ended) data as well as qualitative, but as noted above, the book focused on the latter. Based on the References section of the aforementioned article and some computer searching I did, I would estimate that at least 20 scholarly publications have emerged from the project.

Joe and Libby, always sweet, gentle, and friendly, collaborated extensively in their teaching as well as research. During the Winter 1985 term, I took Joe and Libby's graduate course on socialization (yes, I still have the syllabus and my notes).

In addition to the EYM project, Joe and Libby also collaborated on earlier national surveys on Americans' social participation, as described in the following book:

Veroff, J., Douvan, E., & Kulka, R.. (1981) The inner American: A self-portrait from 1957 To 1976. New York, NY: Basic Books.

This research has been cited in such prominent books as Bowling Alone (by Robert Putnam) and The Tending Instinct (by Shelley Taylor).

Joe also has a long history in studying various social motives (e.g., achievement, power). Monica Biernat, who later switched to research on stereotyping, published an article in 1989 in the Journal of Personality on achievement motives and values, which resulted from her working with Joe.

Joe seems to be doing well at this time. The last time I saw him was in 2002 at a reception during Pat Gurin's retirement celebration (the subject of my June 14, 2004 entry). One of Joe's EYM collaborators, who also notes that "we just finished collecting data in Year 16 of the couples' marriages," informs us that:

"Joe is fine and wonderful. He continues to be active in research activities on the Early Years of Marriage Project. He continues to be a co-PI on the project."

One of Joe's relatives adds:

"He is doing well and I think he enjoys the ongoing connectivity and work on this project. My sense is that he also enjoys the collaborative writing. That said, he is also doing a lot of other kinds of writing for pleasure (fiction, poetry) and savors the slow pace of life in a Michigan small town."

And through the continuing vitality of the EYM project, the legacy of Joe, Libby, and their collaborators lives on...

Friday, June 18, 2004

As people may have noticed from reading some of my postings at this website, I frequently reminisce about events in the 1980s through linkages to developments of today involving the same individuals.

In yet another example of this trend, I took note a while back of the fact that singer/songwriter David Byrne was appearing in concert at UM's Power Center for the Performing Arts this week on June 15 (see review of the concert).

Back in the early years of my grad school experience at Michigan (around 1984 and '85), Byrne's band at the time, the Talking Heads, was among the more popular groups among my fellow social psych graduate students (based on frequency of stereo play at student parties). According to Byrne's online bio,the Talking Heads were active from 1976-1988 (see this excellent Talking Heads fan page).

According to the VH1 Rock Stars Encyclopedia, in October of 1983 (about a year before I arrived at UM), the "Talking Heads' Burning Down The House hits US #9, their biggest hit single to date" (p. 984). Other songs by the group that I remember include Take Me To the River (which I learned from the Encyclopedia was a cover of an Al Green tune), Life During Wartime (This Ain't No Party... This Ain't No Disco... This Ain't No Foolin' Around) and Once In A Lifetime.

Byrne and his bandmates in the Talking Heads were all-around artists, having first met at the Rhode Island School of Design. Byrne has worked in film scoring, winning an Oscar (Best Score) for The Last Emperor, and also in ballet and opera.

A solo artist for the last many years, Byrne appeared to show as much eclecticism as ever in his recent Ann Arbor performance with a string ensemble and a Brazilian sound.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Exactly two years ago to this day, a retirement celebration was held for Professor Patricia Gurin on the UM campus. I (along with a large number of other former students) had the pleasure of working with Pat, and I was equally pleased to attend the retirement festivities. I will discuss three areas in this write-up: the retirement celebration itself, Pat's work in recent years in the area of campus diversity, and the research I and a fellow student, Gretchen Lopez, worked on with Pat.

The Retirement Celebration

A couple of springs ago, I received a letter from Pat dated March 7, 2002, inviting former students of hers to come back to Ann Arbor the weekend of June 14-16, 2002 for both a formal UM Psychology Department event to mark her retirement and other informal gatherings (e.g., a dinner and a brunch).

The letter was very moving, referring to the retirement/reunion weekend as an opportunity "for me to appreciate what is the most important legacy of my years at Michigan. That legacy is you!"

Now, it doesn't take much to get me to go back to Ann Arbor, and I jumped at the chance to attend Pat's events.

The first day, Friday, June 14, consisted of a full day's set of addresses and panel presentations on the many facets of Pat's career at UM (teacher, researcher, mentor, administrator).

Hazel Markus, a Michigan Ph.D. and for many years a professor at UM before moving to Stanford, began the festivities. Hazel's splashy PowerPoint presentation basically covered Pat's life history.

Nancy Cantor, a former Michigan provost and chancellor of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign at the time of Pat's retirement, also gave an eloquent address (see my February 20, 2004 entry for an update on Nancy). Nancy recalled her days as provost, working with Pat when Pat was serving as interim dean of UM's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA). Mainly, though, Nancy focused on Pat's research on campus diversity and the exacting standards to which Pat was subjecting her own research, because the research could come into play in the legal challenges to UM's affirmative action policies (which culminated at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, about which more later).

Among the panel presentations, one focused on Pat as a mentor, with former graduate students (carefully selected to represent different eras) conveying their experiences. The representative of my era was Kerth O'Brien, who has been on the faculty at Portland (Oregon, as opposed to Maine) State University since receiving her Ph.D. in 1987.

Kerth talked about coming away from meetings with Pat where they had worked on Kerth's dissertation feeling "intellectually rolfed." For those of you not familiar with rolfing, according to a website on the subject, the technique involves deep-tissue massage that "aims to realign the body by using intense pressure and stroking to stretch shortened and tightened fascia back into shape." (As an aside, this past year I advised a student at Texas Tech, Andrea McCourt, on her dissertation; I told her about the "intellectual rolfing" reference, and she seemed to think it fit my advising style, too!)

After all the talks on Friday, a reception was held at UM's Museum of Art. The reception provided further opportunity to catch up with current UM faculty members and fellow alumni. Earlier in the day, I had learned that by amazing coincidence, another conference was going on simultaneously at UM on the developmental psychology of the transition to adulthood, which happens to be one of my main research areas. Thanks to John Schulenberg, who let me sit in, I was able to take in some of the "transition" conference in between some of Pat's sessions.

At the transition conference, I saw University of Minnesota sociologist Jeylan Mortimer, a Michigan Ph.D. whom I knew to have a connection to Pat (and, as it turned out, Pat's husband Gerry). I invited Jeylan to stop by the reception to see Pat and Gerry, which she did. Meanwhile, before the reception, I had told Pat to expect a "mystery guest" at the reception, which was Jeylan.

Saturday night, Pat and Gerry gathered with her former students at a local restaurant for dinner. One of the attendees was Dottie Walker, the administrative secretary for the social psych program when many of us were in graduate school. I have some electronic pictures from the dinner (taken by Lisa Brown) and other events of Pat's weekend. If anyone wants a copy, you can e-mail me (see my faculty website in the "Links" section in the upper right-hand part of the page).

Pat's Research on Campus Diversity

As most readers of this website would likely be aware, the University of Michigan's affirmative action admissions policies were challenged in two companion cases that reached the U.S. Supreme Court and were decided in June, 2003: Gratz v. Bollinger, involving LSA undergraduate admissions, and Grutter v. Bollinger, involving the Law School. (Bollinger is Lee Bollinger, the UM President at time the policies were implemented and now the president of Columbia University.) The Law School's admissions policy was upheld and the undergraduate one overturned; however, UM was able to craft a new undergraduate policy based on the Law School's.

An expert report by Pat, deriving from her research, was part of the materials of the cases. The following are excerpts from the report ("Empirical Results" section):

An important question to examine first is whether structural diversity -- the degree to which students of color are represented in the student body of a college -- shapes classroom diversity and opportunities to interact with diverse peers. It is through these diversity experiences that growth and development occur among college students. To test this hypothesis, I use data from the national CIRP data base...

Structural diversity had significant positive effects on classroom diversity and interactional diversity among all students. Attending a diverse college also resulted in more diverse friends, neighbors, and work associates nine years after college entry. This is strong evidence that structural diversity creates conditions that lead students to experience diversity in ways that would not occur in a more homogeneous student body.

Pat and colleagues have published some of this research in the Harvard Educational Review and the Journal of Social Issues. Further, as I recently learned via an ad for the University of Michigan Press in the Spring 2004 LSA Magazine, Pat has a new book out entitled Defending Diversity, co-authored with Jeffrey Lehman (former UM Law School dean and now president of Cornell University) and Earl Lewis (former dean of UM's Rackham Graduate School and recently named provost of Emory University).

Gretchen's and My Research with Pat

Like the aformentioned research on diversity, the studies that fellow student Gretchen Lopez and I worked on with Pat involved social issues and individuals' experiences in social contexts. In the end, we got a couple of conference papers out of our work. One of them, entitled "Attributional Complexity and Political Thinking," by Lopez, Reifman, and Gurin, was presented at the 1988 meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association in Buffalo, NY. Buffalo is Gretchen's hometown, and I later lived in Buffalo when I had a position at the Research Institute on Addictions (1991-1997).

I still have the EPA program containing the abstract:

The hypothesis that cognitive complexity is reflected in political thinking was examined using questionnaires administered to 63 undergraduates. The questionnaires measured (a) individual differences in cognitive complexity of causal attributions, and (b) political beliefs about gender, race, and class disparities. As predicted, subjects with complex external attributional styles were more likely to identify societal discrimination, as opposed to personal motivation, as the cause of group disparities. The role of cognitive styles in political socialization is discussed.