Daily Archives: March 11, 2011

Classic article: Garey & Arendell on “mother blame”

In 1999, sociologists Anita Garey (now at U. of Connecticut) and Teresa Arendell (now at Colby College) wrote a white paper for U. of California at Berkeley’s Center for Working Families entitled “Children, work, and family: Some thoughts on ‘mother blame’.” This paper subsequently became the basis for a chapter in a volume entitled Working families: The transformation of the American home.

In ‘Mother blame,’ Garey and Arendell review the literature on motherhood and trace the tendency of society to blame mothers for various conditions, illnesses, and behavior patterns that contemporary science suggests are the result of other factors (such as genetics), not the ‘fault’ of mothers. Examples include blaming mothers for their children’s autism, schizophrenia, substance abuse, and sexual behavior.

Bibliographic information: Garey, A. I., & Arendell, T. (2001). Children, work, and family: Some thoughts on ‘mother blame’ In R. Hertz and N. Marshall, eds., Working families: The transformation of the American home.  Berkeley: University of California Press.

Read the 1999 white paper version of “Mother blame” here (PDF).


Displaying your anger can be good for you, study suggests

The Daily Telegraph (of London) reports:

A new study by the Harvard Study of Adult Development found that those who keep a check on their frustrations are at least three times more likely to admit they have disappointing personal lives and have hit a glass ceiling in their career.

But those who let their anger out in a constructive manner were more likely to be professionally well-established, as well as enjoy emotional and physical intimacy with loved ones.

Social scientists investigate ‘celebrity contagion’

The New York Times reports:

Why would someone pay $959,500 for a used guitar [once owned by Eric Clapton]?

…Social scientists have been hard at work on the answers. After conducting experiments and interviewing guitar players and collectors, they have just published papers analyzing “celebrity contagion” and “imitative magic…”

The researchers asked people how much they would like to buy objects that had been owned by different celebrities, including popular ones like George Clooney and pariahs like Saddam Hussein. People’s affection for the celebrity did not predict how much value they assigned to the memorabilia — apparently they were not buying it primarily for the pleasant associations.

Nor were they chiefly motivated by the prospect of a profit, as the researchers discovered when they tested people’s eagerness to acquire a celebrity possession that could not be resold. That restriction made people less interested in items owned by villains, but it did not seriously dampen their enthusiasm for relics from their idols…

The most important factor seemed to be the degree of “celebrity contagion.” The Yale team found that a sweater owned by a popular celebrity became more valuable to people if they learned it had actually been worn by their idol. But if the sweater had subsequently been cleaned and sterilized, it seemed less valuable to the fans, apparently because the celebrity’s essence had somehow been removed.

The psychology of staring contests

MSNBC reports:

A new study suggests that we may engage in staring contests without even thinking about it, especially if we’re people who like to run things. “The initiation of the staredown is reflexive for dominant people,” says study lead author David Terburg, a psychology researcher at Utrecht University in The Netherlands.

The staredown, it seems, is an automatic part of a controlling person’s human-relations toolkit. The bossier you are, the more likely you’ll turn to an encounter into a confrontation without even knowing it.