Friday, November 04, 2005

Is the APA Biased?

Some of my readers have emailed or commented to say that the American Psychological Association is not biased and at least studies the issues of men. I checked out Division 51 of the APA (Men's division) and looked at their newsletter. Hint--just because an organization has a division stating they study men does not mean that they understand them. Take a look at an article entitled Explorations in Phenonmenology (you will have to scroll down the page). After reading this article, it was clear that the newspaper editor who wrote it believes men are basking in the privilege of being men, assuming incorrectly that women might charge them with sexual harrassment (oh no, this never happens), are afraid of left wing conspiracies and are homophobes. The interviewer gets downright angry at the last idea. Read it and decide for yourself.

Update: Here is yet another example of the APA prejudicial views towards conservatives in an article entitled: Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition. I have read this article before but thanks to Michelle Malkin in her new book, Unhinged, for pointing out the article again.

Analyzing political conservatism as motivated social cognition integrates theories of personality (authoritarianism, dogmatism–intolerance of ambiguity), epistemic and existential needs (for closure,regulatory focus, terror management), and ideological rationalization (social dominance, system justification). A meta-analysis (88 samples, 12 countries, 22,818 cases) confirms that several psychologicalvariables predict political conservatism: death anxiety (weighted mean r .50); system instability (.47); dogmatism–intolerance of ambiguity (.34); openness to experience (–.32); uncertainty tolerance (–.27); needs for order, structure, and closure (.26); integrative complexity (–.20); fear of threat and loss (.18); and self-esteem (–.09). The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty and threat.

Though the article points out that the authors do not believe conservatives are pathological, what can you say about those you have described as anxious about death, intolerant of ambiguity, intolerant to change and justifying inequality?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, those conservatives are really screwed up. [Insert eye roll here]

5:43 PM, November 04, 2005  
Blogger S.G. said...

"what can you say about those you have described as anxious about death, intolerant of ambiguity, intolerant to change and justifying inequality?"

Hey, who's been reading my secret profile? Dr. H., you nailed it on your last post and this one too. I resigned from the APA 15 years ago. Being to the right of Atilla the Hun, there was no chance for rapproachment. They're certainly worse 15 years later.

6:04 PM, November 04, 2005  
Blogger Hnkn said...

I certainly understand and agree in general with the point you are making (and am myself pretty far right) but want to take issue with the example used in your update. As an example of "prejudicial views towards conservatives", you point to an article that you say describes conservatives as "anxious about death, intolerant of ambiguity, intolerant to change and justifying inequality".

That is not enough, however, for the views to be "prejudicial." Indeed, the numbers in parentheses after the each of the "psychological[]variables" suggest that the view expressed is not mere prejudice, but rather the result of some kind of investigation. That doesn't mean that the conclusions are true, of course. It doesn't even mean that the method is valid. But supposing that investigation was undertaken, and that this article accurately reports its results, then I think we can conclude that the views expressed are not "prejudicial." (One possible exception is that the method of investigation is *so* poor that it amounts to nothing more than prejudice (e.g., if the numbers merely reported the article's author's own opinion about how conservatives rated in each category), but that is a very strong claim and one that you do not make.)

I think I am particularly sensitive to the distinction between "hostile" views and "prejudicial" ones because, as a conservative, I am used to this confusion being made on the left. So, for example, Murray and Herrnstein were accused of "prejudice" after publication of The Bell Curve. Of course, given the amount of careful analysis and investigation went into this book, the charge is absurd. (Of course, again, some methods of investigation are so poor that they indicate that the views expressed are merely the prejudices of the investigator, but again that is a much stronger and more subtle charge than the objectors usually raised or intended.)

I really enjoy your blog. Thanks.

9:28 PM, November 04, 2005  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I found Kilmartin's article amusing in a dark way. All of his "psychology of men" is interpreted in how it relates to women (and sometimes gays) while ignoring some important male issues, such as the false feeling of safety.

I put forth a more indepth analysis at my blog for anyone interested.

12:23 AM, November 05, 2005  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Is there not a strong element of question begging in the paper? The authors define conservatives as being characterized by various negative characteristics, then find that conservatives have these same negative characteristics to varying degrees.

Use of the vague term "conservative" should be a tipoff that the analysis that follows isn't rigorous. The authors seem oblivious to what anybody not blinded by ideology would see, namely that the set of people they are generalizing about includes numerous subsets representing widely different values, and that that the personal characteristics of such people are diverse enough as to make unclear whether it is possible to generalize about them at all.

1:12 PM, November 05, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To hnkn,

If these researchers want to be taken seriously, they should use a more objective tone. The quote in the beginning of the article is more than a tip off to their views of conservatism. Quoting George Will (whose quote I believe was taken out of context)saying "Conservatism is a demanding mistress and it is giving me a migraine" does not give an impartial view.Does this sound neutral to you?

8:21 PM, November 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The discussion has shifted from the original question, which was whether the APA is biased, to whether one particular article published in an APA journal, Psychological Bulletin, is biased. People are talking as if Jost et al is the official word and the last word from the APA itself. It isn't; in fact, the same journal also published a rebuttal by Greenberg and Jonas.

So again, the conservative faction is setting a pretty high bar for a journal like Psychological Bulletin. It isn't good enough if the journal gives space to both sides. Instead, it's an outrage if the journal ever publishes any fodder useful to liberals.

The article by Christopher Kilmartin is slightly closer to the APA itself, since he is the editor (or an editor?) of the Division 51 Newsletter. This is not very high up the APA chain, but still, maybe you could argue that Division 51 of the APA has a liberal bias. Or at least that its newsletter does. I would certainly have zero interest in discussing my genitals with Kilmartin or his students. But even here, people are skipping over the particular left-wing conspiracy theory that irritated Kilmartin. The interviewee claimed that television networks are foisting homosexuality onto their audiences as a method of national birth control. Is that what people here believe? I personally think that it's more ludicrous than it is irritating.

9:01 PM, November 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen,
With this post you have moved into the rarified 'Best' category of Blogs in my Favorites List.

Glaser, et al, could have just as easily written their opening as follows (changes in italics –if I get the tags right, and additional comments in brackets) :

Analyzing political conservatism as motivated social cognition integrates theories of personality (a desire for structure and order, principled thought–intolerance of amorality and ambivalence), epistemic and existential needs (for solutions, harmony focus, uncertainty management), and ideological justification (social success, system rationalization). A meta-analysis [how was data normalized across studies?] (88 samples [real number of interest], 12 countries [distribution?, and if there were only 88 samples, how useful is this number?] , 22,818 cases [Trojan Number!] ) confirms that several psychological variables predict political conservatism: Awareness of one’s own mortality (weighted mean r .50); living in a non-stratified, casteless society (.47); Responsible Lifestyle –intolerance of the irresponsible (.34); easily manipulated (–.32); willingness to leave questions unanswered (–.27); needs for order, structure, and closure [ Gee-in the original text this almost comes off as a bad thing] (.26); inability to discern sophistry from sophistication (–.20); innate desire to preserve and advance one's status(.18); and desire for unearned recognition (–.09). The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of meritocracy and is motivated by needs that vary as required to manage uncertainty and threat.

10:22 AM, November 06, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To Annonymous,

Yes, I like your way better! The article mentions little or no research on liberals. I'm sure it would be quite easy to make their traits look much more inflexible and pathological than the conservatives. When the APA puts in an article with liberals shown in a negative light, women who don't always come out showing superior traits, etc. then maybe I'll listen to their plans for diversity.

11:12 AM, November 06, 2005  
Blogger Ellen said...

I would say they are right.

Yes, the intolerance of ambiguity. Black or white, moral immoral, for us or against us.

Love Bush or aid the terrorists.

Vote Republican or you’re a baby killer.

1:05 PM, October 27, 2007  
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9:53 PM, May 19, 2009  

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