Wednesday, January 23, 2019

It's just a job

Interesting piece on the problems with treating jobs as a higher calling. I see a bit of that in the academic world. It is certainly not healthy for any faculty member at any career level. The reality is that organizations that perpetuate the myth of a higher calling (which is what Tesla is doing with Musk at its helm) create a culture in which workers are simply exploited. Work-life balance? Forget it. Look, at the end of the day I clock out and I am done. Absent any incentive to do any more than clock in my 40 hours each week and stop, I'll keep doing what I do. Oddly enough, I still cover my classes, any committee responsibilities, and a bit of professional development. For what I do, that's plenty. I am speaking as someone who busted my hump twice to earn promotion/tenure at two different institutions, succeeded (albeit while putting up a fight) and found myself no more satisfied than if I had just done nothing more than my job. Sharing Psych with students is fulfilling. It won't earn any prizes. My research is nothing earth-shattering, as is the case of pretty much everyone I know (whether they will admit to it or not). What does matter is keeping the lights on and having time to spend with those people who truly matter to me. Losing those moments are the ones I would regret. Forgetting to send out that email at midnight? Not so much. It's just a job that maybe I do until retirement, or until the next job comes along. In the meantime, I'd rather hang out with my family and friends once I am done for the day. So it goes.

Friday, January 11, 2019

For future reference

I have had at least a little experience with OER materials in General Psych (or Intro to Psych as it is also known) and found the experience very positive. Quite honestly, if I had the influence I'd make that happen department wide where I work full-time. For now, that won't happen. I do wonder if I might have more influence over our stats courses in my department, and this provides me with a blueprint:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Possible link to bullying and voting patterns in the US

A recent study found evidence that there was an association between voting patterns and bullying. The research took survey data and examined patterns of bullying in areas that voted more in favor of Trump and those voting more in favor of Clinton during the last Presidential election. There appears to be a positive correlation between pro-Trump voting patterns and higher rates of bullying. Obviously the study has some limitations (self-report, correlational, examines patterns in only one state), but it does seem like something to look at further. National leaders are for better or sometimes worse role models, as are the people in children's lives who support various national leaders. We may be seeing some form of social learning in action - at least tentatively I feel comfortable with that conclusion for now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Sometimes, hindsight is 20/20

When I was involved in writing this article about three years ago, I did not yet know that my recently published meta-analysis would require a considerable rethink about the short term effects of weapons on aggressive behavior. At least one person who tweeted about the review published in 2016 appeared to have a skeptical take (PlumX was fairly useful), and the commentary from that tweet was about spot on. Narrative reviews have their limitations. Of course, so do meta-analyses. That said, based on recent meta-analytic evidence it appears that some things from 2016 do still seem somewhat relevant: there is still tentative evidence that weapons influence accessibility of aggressive thoughts (even adjusting for publication bias) and primary appraisals of threat (also even when adjusting for publication bias). Where things get challenging is when we examine behavioral outcomes, where much of that work was conducted with small samples several decades ago, and where estimates for publication bias are to some degree all over the place, albeit trending toward negligible average effect size. That finding alone requires me to adopt a skeptical stance. In the meantime, let's see what evidence makes its way public in the next few years. That should help us make some educated decisions about how to view this particular phenomenon. In the meantime, the sort of caution I wish I would have advocated a few years ago is very much in order.

Postscript to the preceding: RWA

Here are a couple articles I published on the relationship between RWA and various social attitudes toward violent actions.

The Relationship Between Right-Wing Authoritarianism and Attitudes Toward Violence

Right-Wing Authoritarianism and Attitudes Toward Torture

The first was published nearly 13 years ago, and was intended as a minor validation study for an attitudes toward violence scale I'd worked on revising. RWA just happened to be of some interest to me, and in particular authoritarian aggression (although Altemeyer's instrument was poor for teasing apart authoritarian aggression, submission, and conventionalism).

The second was helpful in that I tried out one of the more recent instruments that avoided Altemeyer's tendency to use double-barrel questions, and provided some tentative support that attitudes toward authoritarian aggression in particular act as a potential predictor of approval for the use of torture. Admittedly a lot more work needs to be done there.

I do have some unpublished work using Duckitt's fairly recent RWA instrument, honing in specifically on authoritarian aggression (or what he calls authoritarianism). I'll hopefully one day find the time to do something with that. If nothing else, it does appear to replicate the initial findings. Replication studies tend to still get a bad rap, but they do serve a purpose.

Interesting take on RWA

I stumbled upon this just by chance. At the time it was written it was a blog post for a grad student working out some ideas for an eventual dissertation, it appears. I do think a lot of his observations about RWA are right on target: in particular that this is an area of research that could benefit from qualitative research. He has some hunches that a link between RWA and attachment seems plausible, but that any validity to that particular connection was elusive. He also seems to know the history of RWA research to understand that we'd largely abandoned RWA as a form of pathology and view it as a social attitude construct. I also liked how he made a connection between Lakoff's moral politics theory and RWA, observing that what Lakoff was writing was largely mining the same territory that Altemeyer and others had been already researched. When I was reading Lakoff's work a while back, it did have that air of familiarity to it. So it goes. No mention of a possibility of RWA having a hereditary component, but hey we can't have everything.