Monday, December 04, 2006

Jacqui Woolley Featured for New Publication

Jacqui Woolley, a Michigan developmental psychology graduate student from the mid-late 1980s and a faculty member at the University of Texas, Austin ever since, just had a recent publication of hers featured in this news release by UT's media service. Congratulations to Jacqui!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bo Schembechler, Legendary Football Coach, Dead at 77

Glenn E. "Bo" Schembechler, the University of Michigan football coach from 1969-1989, died today at age 77. In one of those bizarre coincidences, Schembechler's passing occurred just one day before the annual Michigan-Ohio State showdown. With the Buckeyes and Wolverines both sporting perfect records coming in -- and ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country, respectively -- some observers are calling tomorrow's game the most significant one of the long series between UM and OSU.

Cranky and "old school," but with a grandfatherly friendliness, Schembechler was -- and always will be -- a UM institution. As noted in the above-linked university tribute to him, Schembechler spoke at the 2005 Michigan commencement (a video is also available). I suspect there are not too many college coaches in any sport who would be invited to speak at a graduation some 15 years after their coaching days were over!

There's a Schembechler Hall on campus, and there was even a reference to him in the 1983 movie "The Big Chill" (see the item toward the bottom of this Big Chill trivia list).

The UM has lost one of its true icons, one who not only made things exciting for Wolverine football fans, but also really connected to the university community as a whole.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

James Hilton Moves to UVA

In response to my recent Michigan-Princeton-Waterloo overlap analysis (immediately below the present posting), I received word that longtime UM professor (and Princeton Ph.D.) James Hilton had moved to another university in an information technology (IT) capacity. After a little bit of web searching, I see that he's now at the University of Virginia (news release).*

James joined the Michigan social psych faculty in the Fall 1985 semester (I'm virtually certain of the timing). I entered the graduate program in Fall 1984, and the faculty search/hiring process that yielded James was my first exposure to job talks, meetings with candidates, and other such events. James's research focused on person perception and self-fulfilling prophecies; during his first few years at UM, the graduate students with whom he primarily worked (based on a review of article references) included Steve Fein and Bill von Hippel.

As noted in the above-linked UVa news release, James also left a lasting impression with his teaching. The basic undergraduate social psychology lecture course had several hundred students, with students also attending discussion sections of around 25 for an hour a week. I was a Teaching Assistant for James one semester and, in addition to leading a couple of sections, I attended the lectures.

I would say that within the first 10 minutes of his first lecture of the semester, James had the students in the palm of his hand. His sense of humor -- sardonic, but not acerbic -- was very effective with the students.

For example, in setting the stage for his presentation on the classic social-psychological finding that people prefer to affiliate in anticipation of a stressful event rather than wait alone (see description of the Schachter study toward the bottom of this document), Hilton reminded the class of a common occurrence on exam days.

Almost invariably, it seems, students gather in the hallway before a test, to discuss material from their notes with other students. Why do students show up early? , James asked the class. Was it because they wanted to allow enough travel time in case they blew out a tennis shoe along the way? No, he insisted. It could well be because affiliation with others would help to alleviate the pre-test anxiety.

The UVa news release also mentions that James is returning to what sports fans would identify as "ACC Country," Virginia being close to Hilton's boyhood home of North Carolina. In another of his memorable classroom demonstrations, James once started lecturing in a heavy North Carolina accent, driving home the important person-perception point that the presence or absence of a Southern accent would likely lead people to judge him differently.

Best wishes to James as he begins this new phase of his career!

*Hilton returned to the University of Michigan in 2013 as Dean of Libraries.

[The information above about the size of the large lecture courses was edited slightly from an earlier version, for clarity.]

Monday, October 16, 2006

Social Psychologists Who Spent Time at Michigan and Princeton and/or Waterloo

It's been almost exactly a year since my last "overlap analysis," which was between Michigan and the University at Buffalo/State University of New York (see October 2005 archives). In an overlap analysis, of course, I list people who have official affiliations with both of the institutions in question, as students, post-doctoral fellows, and/or faculty members (I tend to exclude cases in which someone served only in a brief visiting position at one of the schools).

Each of my previous analyses has looked at UM in conjunction with one other school. In thinking about which school to examine next for overlap with Michigan, I considered Princeton University and the University of Waterloo. I quickly realized that there were some people who had ties to all three institutions -- Michigan, Princeton, and Waterloo -- in addition to the many who were associated with two of the three.

Variety is the spice of life, so for a little change of pace, I now present my first three-way overlap analysis. The various combinations are shown first via Venn diagram, with a more detailed list of the named individuals following [names updated 10/17/06 ].

Michigan, Waterloo, and Princeton
(All three of the following individuals received graduate degrees from UM and had faculty/research positions at Princeton and Waterloo; see their respective webpages for further detail)

Geoff Fong

Ziva Kunda (deceased)

Paul Thagard

Michigan and Princeton

Steve Fein (Princeton undergraduate, UM Ph.D.)

Ann Ruvolo (Princeton undergraduate, UM Ph.D.)

Michelle Buck (UM undergraduate, Princeton Ph.D.)

Pete Ditto (Princeton Ph.D., UM post-doc)

James Hilton (Princeton Ph.D., UM faculty member; now at University of Virginia)

Nancy Cantor (Faculty and administration at both UM and Princeton)

Michigan and Waterloo

Diane Holmberg (Waterloo undergraduate, UM Ph.D.)

Sara Konrath (Waterloo undergraduate, current UM graduate student)

Jesse Chandler (Waterloo undergraduate, current UM graduate student)

Mark Baldwin (Waterloo Ph.D., UM post-doc)

John Ellard(Waterloo Ph.D., UM post-doc)

Sandra Murray (Waterloo Ph.D., UM post-doc)

Geoff Haddock (Waterloo Ph.D., UM post-doc)

Steve Spencer (UM Ph.D., Waterloo faculty)

Dov Cohen (UM Ph.D., Waterloo faculty; now at Illinois)

Waterloo and Princeton

Mark Zanna (Faculty at both)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bob Josephs' Research Featured in APA Monitor

Bob Josephs, who received his Ph.D. in social psychology at Michigan in 1990, just had his research featured in the July-August issue of the APA's Monitor on Psychology. As described in this article, Bob's study showed a congruency between people's testosterone levels and their optimal functioning context (i.e., participants with high testosterone levels functioned better in a high- than low-status role, whereas those with low testosterone exhibited the reverse pattern).

Bob started graduate school at the University of Washington (which I recently visited and photographed) in the fall of 1984, where he worked with Claude Steele. When Claude moved to Michigan for the Fall 1987 semester, Bob came along. Initially during their time at UM, Claude and Bob finished writing up manuscripts on their "alcohol myopia" research. Bob then branched into additional areas, such as self-esteem and decision-making.

Based on the starting date of his graduate training (1984) rather than the start of his time at Michigan (1987), Bob was considered part of the same entering cohort with me and my classmates. Bob had three essential attributes -- he was a nice guy, an excellent and enthusiastic researcher, and a big sports fan -- and we became good friends.

Bob and I have both been based in the Lone Star State (and Big XII athletic conference), for many years, he at the University of Texas, Austin the entire time since completing his Ph.D., and me at Texas Tech for the last nine years. Given this proximity, we sometimes see each other at meetings of Social Psychologists in Texas (SPIT) and other organizations.

Probably my favorite grad-school story involving Bob stems from one of the aforementioned alcohol-myopia papers he was working on (which ultimately was published in 1990 in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology). Around this time (in August 1988), Sports Illustrated came out with a cover story on the role of beer in fan behavior, as seen on the right.

The SI piece actually made some conceptual points relevant to Bob's research paper, so he cited it. Then, a few months later, when he got the reviews back, Bob showed them to me. One of the referees had been taken aback by a citation to Sports Illustrated in a scholarly work! (I just checked the references for Bob's article, and the SI reference didn't make it into publication.)

Those were good times...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I've just returned from a trip to the West Coast that included a stop at the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) conference in Long Beach, California. Below is a picture of me with Monica Biernat at our poster. As I describe below, our study's subject matter had to do with golf, and I spared no detail in trying to create a golf theme -- the poster itself was supposed to look like a golf course, I brought along a golf club, and all visitors to the poster were given a complimentary golf ball.

Monica and I were in the same entering cohort (Fall 1984) in the social psychology graduate program at Michigan, and we each finished in the summer of 1989. For the last 14 years, Monica has been on the faculty at the University of Kansas; two of her former KU graduate students, Kathy Fuegen and Terri Vescio, were also authors on the poster, but were unable to attend SPSSI.

One of the nice things about this poster is that it is the first collaboration between me and Monica in 15 years, using the official conference or article citation date (the previous one being: Reifman, A., Biernat, M., & Lang, E.L. [1991]. Stress, social support, and health in married professional women with small children. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 15, 431-445).

As I discussed a few months ago on this blog, Monica and I were both in Mel Manis's seminar on stereotyping in 1986. Monica has followed through in stereotyping and prejudice research since then, formulating the "shifting standards" model of social judgment (she has also recently come out with a book on the topic, one that would be good for a graduate seminar on social judgment).

I've gone in a few different research directions since grad school (primarily related to adolescent and young adult drinking), but I try to stay informed about the research being conducted by friends and colleagues of mine.

When female golfers Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie started playing in men's pro tournaments a few years ago, I came up with the idea of content analyzing media coverage of these women in men's tournaments, to test for evidence of shifting-standards phenomena. A detailed summary of the project, to this point, is available by clicking here.

Also while at SPSSI, I ran into another UM Ph.D. recipient from my era, Lisa Brown, on whom I can provide an update. After several years in Florida, Lisa is now on the faculty at Austin College, which is in Texas, but not in Austin (rather, it's in Sherman). Here's her faculty homepage, which is quite extensive.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University faculty member who received her Ph.D. in personality psychology at the University of Michigan in 1998, recently came out with a book entitled, Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled -- and More Miserable Than Ever Before (2006, Free Press).

Jean has developed a very successful line of research where, for whatever personality trait she happens to be studying at a given time (e.g., assertiveness or anxiety), she tracks down all available studies where the same questionnaire measure of the trait has been administered to college students, in articles published over the past three or four decades. With the measurement instrument and population (college students) held constant over time, she can thus uncover generational change in the traits she studies. The book reports the results of these investigations, non-technically for a general audience.

To glean all the needed research articles and reports, Jean has had to spend great amounts of time in libraries, which she writes about in a blended humorous-acerbic style. Much of her searching was, of course, done in the UM's Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, which she describes as:

...a building so vast and confusing that red and yellow lines are painted on the stone floor to help people find the exits. The university had added on to the library in 1970, smushing two buildings of different styles and floor heights together with limited access between the two. The older building ended up with floors like "4A" ... connected by narrow, apparently randomly placed staircases.... (p. 13).

To the right is a picture I took of the graduate library during one of my visits to Ann Arbor in recent years.

Jean also writes, in places, with a feisty, earthy style, referring to one particular media report about marriage trends as "unmitigated crap" (p. 200).

Her research on today's young people meshes well with one of my own areas of research, the study of "Emerging Adulthood," a life stage in between adolescence and full-fledged adulthood. Beyond our somewhat overlapping research interests and receipt of Ph.D.'s from the University of Michigan (me almost a decade earlier), Jean and my career trajectories, in fact, have a number of parallels. While it's not exactly the Lincoln-Kennedy Coincidence, consider the following:

Jean grew up in Texas and is a faculty member at a university in California. I grew up in California and am a faculty member at a university in Texas.

Also, we each did post-docs in rustbelt industrial cities off of Lake Erie, Jean in Cleveland, and me in Buffalo.

And both of our first names have four letters, and end in "an"!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The website that hosts this page (known as Blogspot or Blogger) has now made available the option to include photos in one's postings. As a result, I can now post some pictures I took during my visit to Ann Arbor last summer. Pictured below in clockwise fashion are: the Bell Tower, one of the major campus landmarks; the tower portion of the Michigan Union (student union); and the Psychology Building, which opened a few years after my cohort graduated.

Now that I have this capability, I will continue to post additional pictures in upcoming entries.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It is now the 20th anniversary of Mel Manis's graduate seminar on stereotypes research, which was offered in the Winter 1986 semester (see Mel, now an emeritus professor, in this group photo of the UM social psych faculty). For this write-up, I shared my recollections of the seminar, in advance, with everyone whom I recalled being in it (including Mel), to see if my memories might trigger additional ones from them. I've now heard back from a few people, and am thus including their reflections in this essay.

A good starting point is to list who was in the seminar. Based on our best recollections, the following people were students in the class (with links to their current professional homepages, where available):

Monica Biernat

Lee Jussim

Janet Landman

Chris Langston

Linda Nyquist (a post-doc at the time)

Starting with Mel, our leader, he replied to my request for reflections with the following, very kind, statement:

My main memory about the stereotypes seminar was my pleasure in meeting with such a bright, interested group. One of the (many) pleasures of the academic life.

Monica and Lee each cited the seminar as an impetus to conducting research on stereotypes with Mel. Wrote Monica in a reply to my inquiry:

I'm afraid my memory is iffy other than that I really liked the course -- it made me want to work with Mel and got me doing stereotyping research. It's frightening to me that 20 years have passed!

Lee really was able to pinpoint specific aspects of the seminar that spurred certain directions in his research:

1. I think [Mel] had some required paper. I always hated doing papers for no reason. So, I asked him if he wanted to do a study. He, being the kind of guy he was, readily agreed, even tho we did not really have an idea.

So, we met and met and just talked. For months. And then it hit us -- all the cognitive business had forgotten affect! And we guessed that affect was at least as strong, maybe stronger than cognition, in its effects on judging individuals. So, that led to a series of studies titled "Prejudice vs. Stereotypes" as sources of labeling bias in person perception, which was eventually pubbed in JPSP. Not bad for a class.

[Note, the reference is: Jussim, L., Nelson, T.E., Manis, M., & Soffin, S.(1995). Prejudice, stereotypes, and labeling effects: Sources of bias in person perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 228-246.]

2. It was in Mel's class that I first read McCauley, Stitt & Segal (1980). That paper seemed to me to be one of the most clear-headed things on stereotypes I had read up to that time. It has influenced my thinking about stereotypes in particular and expectancies in general, and was a major contributor to my thinking about accuracy.

[Reference: McCauley, C., Stitt, C., & Segal, M. (1980). Stereotyping: from prejudice to prediction. Psychological Bulletin, 87, 195-208.]

It partially inspired my '91 Psych Review, and it definitely led to my collaboration with McCauley on our '95 book. And it more than partially inspired me to go down the path that has led to the talk I am giving at EPA (they concocted the title out of thin air, the actual title is "The Unbearable Accuracy of Stereotypes").

[To see a summary of Lee's appearance at the 2006 Eastern Psychological Association conference, click here and then scroll down to the second page displayed.]

I, of course, have a few recollections of my own.

We read some chapters from Gordon Allport's The Nature of Prejudice, and I remember being amazed at the degree to which this book (from 1954) presaged the cognitive approach to stereotyping that became very popular in the 1980s.

David Letterman's show (then on NBC) was at a high point in popularity, and references to it permeated our seminar. For example, when writing article summaries to hand out, Janet would title them "Late Night Thoughts on..." Also, in discussing ways (hypothetically) to observe unobtrusively the degree to which kids at school interacted with kids of the other gender, other racial-ethnic groups, etc., the idea of using a "skycam" (a staple of Letterman shows) came up. According to this list of Letterman milestones, the skycam debuted on September 30, 1985, thus making it a salient novelty in early '86.

[Update 4/4/06: Janet sent me a nice e-mail, in which she noted that she never watched David Letterman, and received the inspiration for the term "Late Night Thoughts..." from some other source.]

In discussing intervention studies based on the Contact Hypothesis, a robust finding appeared to be that such interventions worked only if the actual intergroup meetings were accompanied by a "little lecture" by an authority figure, stating why prejudice was wrong. Monica confirmed this latter recollection:

I also remember the "little lecture" theme, and the studies by Stuart Cook in particular.

[Some links on Cook and his research are available here and here.]

To me (and probably the others, too), Mel's represented the ideal of what a graduate-school seminar could be: a small group, in a warm, supportive environment, getting together to discuss ideas and trends in the field, and generating research ideas, plus a few memorable anecdotes!

Monday, January 16, 2006

I'd like to use the occasion of today's Martin Luther King Day holiday to reminisce about the inaugural observation of the King holiday 20 years ago, January 20, 1986 (although King's birthday is January 15, the holiday takes place on the third Monday of every January).

The University of Michigan has always had an extensive series of events to mark MLK Day, including marches, speakers, symposia, and films. Although the greatest number of events are on the actual holiday, others are held in the days before and after. This year's schedule of events gives you an idea of the scope of the activities.

My main recollection of King Day 1986 was of participating in a march up South University, ending up on the Diag. The next day's Ann Arbor News ran a couple of photos of the march, which I have saved to this day (please e-mail me, via the link to my faculty website on the upper-right portion of the page, if you'd like to see a copy). If you look closely enough, I can be seen on the left-hand side of both photos. My hair and beard were a little heavier back then than now, and I wore contact lenses at that time.

The only other social psychology grad student I remember also participating in the march was Jill Klein. I can't pick Jill out among the crowd in the newspaper photos; she's a tad shorter than I am, so she must have been blocked from view.

I also remember going to the keynote addresses in the years up to and including my graduation year of 1989. According to this UM history of MLK Day events, subsumed under the title of "MLK Symposium," these speakers included: William Gray, then a member of Congress and later head of the United Negro College Fund (1987 keynoter); Douglas Wilder, then Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, later Governor, and now, after years out of public office, Mayor of Richmond (1988); and Willie Brown, then Speaker of the California Assembly and later Mayor of San Francisco (1989).

Back in 1983, when the U.S. Congress was taking up the bill to create a King holiday, I was still an undergraduate at UCLA. I remember typing up a petition in support of such a holiday to send to one of our elected representatives, and getting family members to sign it. Seeing the bill become law was very gratifying, and my actual experience of the holiday during its early years was greatly enhanced by all the activities taking place at UM.

It's hard to imagine any other universities' MLK Day programs being more extensive than UM's, but I haven't done any rigorous comparisons. Michigan observes MLK Day the way I think it should be observed -- looking backward and looking forward, and trying to bring American society ever closer to realizing Dr. King's dreams.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

I just finished reading the book A Black and White Case: How Affirmative Action Survived Its Greatest Legal Challenge, which I picked up over the holidays. The 2004 book by Greg Stohr, refers, of course, to the two lawsuits against the University of Michigan, challenging the use of race as a factor in its admissions policies at the undergraduate (College of Literature, Science, and the Arts) and Law School levels.

As many of you will recall, the U.S. Supreme Court announced in 2003 that the UM Law School's admissions policy was constitutional (Grutter v. Bollinger), but the undergraduate policy was not (Gratz v. Bollinger). In the aftermath, however, the university was able to modify its undergraduate admissions procedures to make them more like the Law School's and thus preserve affirmative action at the undergraduate level, too. (UM continues to maintain an information page on the admissions lawsuits, on which new legal and research developments are reported.)

What's notable for the UM's social and personality psychology programs is that three professors -- all of whom are discussed in the book -- played roles in the university's defense of affirmative action. A key component of that defense was the research-based claim that diversity was educationally beneficial for all students at the university, "...a case that would actually prove the value of diversity -- how it enriched a university, produced more thoughtful citizens, and helped overcome the racial segregation that still permeated American society" (pp. 79-80).

Stohr's writing, based on interviews with many of the principals in the cases, takes the reader behind the scenes into the planning, preparation, and argumentation of the cases up the federal judicial system to the Supreme Court. Particularly vivid is the description of a meeting between Nancy Cantor, a former UM psychology professor and UM provost during the early stages of the lawsuits (she's currently chancellor at Syracuse) and John Payton, one of the attorneys representing UM.

Cantor urged Payton to get in touch with the chairman of Michigan's psychology department, Patricia Gurin, who had been studying students' experience with diversity on the campus since 1990... And Cantor gave the attorneys the name of Claude Steele, a Stanford psychology professor who had studied the effect of race on standardized test performance (p. 79; Claude had previously been on the faculty at UM).

The roles of Nancy, Pat, and Claude are discussed further in the rest of the book.

One of the testimonial blurbs on the back cover refers to the book as a "page-turner." I concur with that characterization, as I zipped through the book's 300-plus pages in just a few days.

I have alluded to the UM affirmative action cases in a previous posting reminiscing on Pat's 2002 retirement festschrift (see June 14, 2004 entry in that month's archives). Stohr's book, like Pat's retirement event, reminded me of how important diversity and helping members of historically disenfranchised groups participate fully in the university and in the broader society are to members of the UM family. You could even say that these values are part of the very fabric of the University of Michigan and perhaps even synonymous with it.

Having either done research with, taken classes from, or served as a Teaching Assistant for each of the three aforementioned professors during the 1980s, it has been especially exciting for me to see the fruits of their work in the historic Supreme Court cases.