Counterculture Warriors

Kevin Lewis

March 12, 2010

Gender, Diversity, and Organizational Change: The Boy Scouts vs. Girl Scouts of America

Barbara Arneil
Perspectives on Politics, March 2010, Pages 53-68

After growing for decades, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts both experienced a dramatic drop in membership during the 1970s. Since then their membership patterns have diverged as the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) continues to decline and the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) has reached near record numbers. These patterns raise two questions: Why the decline? And why the divergence? On the cause of decline, I argue that a younger civil rights generation, informed by a new set of post-materialist values, did not join traditional organizations like the BSA and GSUSA because their values were deemed to be outdated. The challenge for traditional organizations therefore was how to respond. Using path dependency theory, I argue that BSA and GSUSA-shaped by their own unique origins and identities-responded very differently to the critical juncture of the civil rights generation, which in turn explains the subsequent divergence in membership patterns from the 1980s onward. While the BSA rejects such changes in order to defend traditional values, the GSUSA, which established a commitment to challenging gender norms from its birth, embraces the new values and adapts virtually every aspect of its organizational identity to this new generation. As young people see themselves reflected back in the values endorsed by the GSUSA, its membership resurges, while the BSA continues to decline. I conclude by drawing out larger theoretical lessons on the meaning of change in American civil society in light of an increasingly diverse population.


Multicultural Experience, Idea Receptiveness, and Creativity

Angela Leung & Chi-yue Chiu
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Inspired by recent advances in creative cognition research, the authors examined in the current research some creative benefits of multicultural experiences. Study 1 showed that European American undergraduates had better creative performance immediately after being exposed to American and Chinese cultures or to a hybrid culture formed by fusing American and Chinese cultures; this effect was also observed 5 to 7 days after the initial exposure. Studies 2 and 3 showed that exposure to multicultural experiences is positively related to the likelihood of engaging in some creativity-supporting processes - generation of unconventional ideas (Study 2) and receptiveness to ideas originated from foreign cultures (Study 3). Finally, in Studies 4 and 5, the authors found that need for cognitive closure (or the need for firm answers) and existential terror significantly attenuated the positive link between multicultural experiences and receptiveness to ideas originated from foreign cultures. The authors discussed these findings' implications on multicultural learning and creativity.


The Effects of Semantics and Social Desirability in Correcting the Obama Muslim Myth

Brendan Nyhan et al.
Duke University Working Paper, November 2009

In this paper, we address the question of how to counter political misperceptions, which are often difficult or impossible to eradicate. One explanation for this difficulty is that corrections frequently take the form of a negation (i.e.""Tom is not sick"), a linguistic construction that may fail to reduce the association between the subject and the concept being negated (Mayo et al. 2004). We apply this approach to the persistent rumor from the 2008 presidential campaign that Barack Obama is a Muslim, comparing the effectiveness of Obama''s use of what we call a misperception negation ("I am not and never have been of the Muslim faith") with what we call a corrective affirmation ("I am a Christian"), which should be more effective at reducing misperceptions. As expected, we find that the misperception negation was ineffective. However, our hypothesis that the corrective affirmation would successfully reduce misperceptions was only supported when a non-white experimental administrator was present -- a finding that is consistent with the literature on race of interviewer effects in survey research. In addition, experimental participants who received the corrective affirmation with only white experimental administrators present became more likely to believe Obama is a Muslim and less likely to believe he was being honest about his religion. We interpret this reaction as being driven by Obama's embrace of Christianity, which may provoke cognitive dissonance among opposing partisans.


Ego-affirming Evangelicalism: How a Hollywood Church Appropriates Religion for Workers in the Creative Class

Gerardo Marti
Sociology of Religion, Spring 2010, Pages 52-75

The "creative class" is a growing stratum of American labor consisting of nomadic workers who master self-promotion for economic survival. Using ethnographic and interview data from a Los Angeles church with a majority of attenders working in the entertainment industry, the paper demonstrates how a congregation oriented around a softer form of Word of Faith/Prosperity theology provides moral guidance for creative class believers. Their personal pursuit of fame and fortune is viewed as a veneer for the real self who not only lives by God's standards but also interacts with broader society in solidarity with others in their moral community with the goal of fulfilling religious aspirations. The resulting ego-affirming evangelicalism suggests that congregations that accommodate individual "greatness" within a cohesive community will be embraced by creative class workers who seek both inspiration for daily work and consolation for the isolation and fatigue experienced through their occupational challenges.


Death? Be Proud! The Ironic Effects of Terror Salience on Implicit Self-Esteem

Inbal Gurari, Michael Strube & John Hetts
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, February 2009, Pages 494-507

Using a variety of approaches and an array of methodologies, research has shown that mortality salience enhances people's self-esteem. In line with previous work on terror management theory, the current study tested the hypothesis that when mortality salience is high, implicit self-esteem (ISE) is, paradoxically, more positive than when mortality salience is low. Participants were given an implicit measure of self-evaluation either before or after completion of a series of terrorism-related questions. As predicted, participants who completed the terrorism questionnaire first exhibited significantly more positive ISE than did those who completed it second. Ironically, it seems that implicitly, people may feel better about themselves in the face of terrorist attacks designed to demoralize them.


How Do Cultural Producers Make Creative Decisions?: Lessons from the Catwalk

Frédéric Godart & Ashley Mears
Social Forces, December 2009, Pages 671-692

Faced with high uncertainty, how do producers in the cultural economy make creative decisions? We present a case study of the fashion modeling industry. Using participant observation, interviews and network analysis of the Spring/Summer 2007 Fashion Week collections, we explain how producers select models for fashion shows. While fashion producers conceive of their selection of models as a matter of "taste," or personal preference, we find that their decisions are shaped by information sharing mechanisms in social networks, principally through a mechanism known as "optioning," which enables producers to know each others' preferences and to align themselves with similar status actors. For cultural producers, choices are a matter of strategic status considerations, even as they are expressed as a matter of personal taste.


Do journals accept too many papers?

Vidya Atal
Economics Letters, forthcoming

This paper provides a theoretical model for analyzing the behavior of peer-reviewed journals. It finds that, apart from natural human errors, inefficiencies arise purely for reasons of inter-journal strategic behavior. Specifically, as a result of competition, journals tend to set their quality cut-offs excessively low.


Rational Choice, Round Robin, and Rebellion: An Institutional Solution to the Problems of Revolution

Peter Leeson
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, March 2010, Pages 297-307

Two collective action problems plague successful revolution. On the one hand, would-be revolutionaries confront a "participation problem," whereby no rationally self-interested individual has an incentive to participate in rebellion. On the other hand, individuals face a "first-mover problem" whereby no rationally self-interested individual has an incentive to lead rebellion. This paper argues that 18th-century merchant sailors who confronted these problems devised a novel institution to facilitate maritime revolution and assist them in overthrowing abusive captains. This institution was called a "Round Robin." Round Robins helped overcome both the participation and first-mover problems by aligning the interests of individual sailors desiring mutiny and restructuring the payoffs of leading versus following maritime rebellion.


Breeding Ground: When Presidents Are More Vulnerable to Political Scandal

Brendan Nyhan
Duke University Working Paper, December 2008

Little is known about the underlying causes of political scandal, which is often portrayed as the result of misbehavior by public officials. I argue that scandals are socially constructed events whose occurrence can be influenced by political context. As a result, many potentially scandalous events do not become scandals, while other events do become scandals despite shaky evidence. The decisive factor is often whether the political environment is favorable for opposition legislators to promote scandal allegations. I develop a formal model of presidential and executive branch scandal, which have become pervasive in contemporary American politics, and test its key predictions on data from Washington Post and New York Times news reports. I find that the president becomes more vulnerable to the onset of scandal as his approval rating among opposition party identifiers in the public declines. Scandal frequency has also seemingly increased over time as the parties have become more polarized. Divided government, however, is not found to have an effect on scandal incidence.


Human strategy updating in evolutionary games

Arne Traulsen, Dirk Semmann, Ralf Sommerfeld, Hans-Jürgen Krambeck & Manfred Milinski
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 February 2010, Pages 2962-2966

Evolutionary game dynamics describe not only frequency-dependent genetic evolution, but also cultural evolution in humans. In this context, successful strategies spread by imitation. It has been shown that the details of strategy update rules can have a crucial impact on evolutionary dynamics in theoretical models and, for example, can significantly alter the level of cooperation in social dilemmas. What kind of strategy update rules can describe imitation dynamics in humans? Here, we present a way to measure such strategy update rules in a behavioral experiment. We use a setting in which individuals are virtually arranged on a spatial lattice. This produces a large number of different strategic situations from which we can assess strategy updating. Most importantly, spontaneous strategy changes corresponding to mutations or exploration behavior are more frequent than assumed in many models. Our experimental approach to measure properties of the update mechanisms used in theoretical models will be useful for mathematical models of cultural evolution.


Polling the face: Prediction and consensus across cultures

Nicholas Rule, Nalini Ambady, Reginald Adams, Hiroki Ozono, Satoshi Nakashima, Sakiko Yoshikawa & Motoki Watabe
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, January 2010, Pages 1-15

Previous work has shown that individuals agree across cultures on the traits that they infer from faces. Previous work has also shown that inferences from faces can be predictive of important outcomes within cultures. The current research merges these two lines of work. In a series of cross-cultural studies, the authors asked American and Japanese participants to provide naïve inferences of traits from the faces of U.S. political candidates (Studies 1 and 3) and Japanese political candidates (Studies 2 and 4). Perceivers showed high agreement in their ratings of the faces, regardless of culture, and both sets of judgments were predictive of an important ecological outcome (the percentage of votes that each candidate received in the actual election). The traits predicting electoral success differed, however, depending on the targets' culture. Thus, when American and Japanese participants were asked to provide explicit inferences of how likely each candidate would be to win an election (Studies 3-4), judgments were predictive only for same-culture candidates. Attempts to infer the electoral success for the foreign culture showed evidence of self-projection. Therefore, perceivers can reliably infer predictive information from faces but require knowledge about the target's culture to make these predictions accurately.


Shall We March On? An Analysis of Non-Electoral Participation in the Black Community in the Post-Civil Rights Era

Randall Swain
Journal of Black Studies, March 2010, Pages 566-582

Using data from the 1996 National Black Election Study, this study examines the extent of non-electoral activism in the post-civil rights era. Specifically looking at attending a political rally, signing a petition, attending a protest, and participating in picketing and boycotting, the author finds that membership in organizations with an African American-focused agenda and membership in community-based organizations are important facilitators of non-electoral activism among Blacks. An important finding is that, in the modern context, religiosity in the African American community works to suppress non-electoral political involvement. These findings are important because they suggest that the historical image of the Black church as an incubator of an oppositional political culture is no longer accurate.


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