online publication of undergraduate studies Department of Applied Psychology Spring 2013
EDITORS Kara Duca Caila Gordon-Koster EDITOR-IN-TRAINING David Freedman FACULTY MENTOR Dr. Catherine Tamis-LeMonda STAFF WRITERS Alfredo Daniel Novoa Scarlett Wang CONTRIBUTORS Grace Anzalone Kelsey Block Sarah Collin Kara Duca Emily Gallagher Alesha Gooden Vera Stiefler Johnson Seren Karasu Sophie Spiegel Lauren Tkach Yimkwan Tsang SECRETARY/TREASURER Esther Song PUBLICITY CHAIR/ DEPARTMENT LIAISON Scarlett Wang LAYOUT DIRECTOR Amelia Chu SPECIAL THANKS NYU Steinhart Department of Applied Psychology Dr. Gigliana Melzi FOUNDERS Vanessa Victoria Volpe Jackson J. Taylor Sibyl Holland
Cover Photo by Christine Campo
Applied Psychology OPUS was initiated in 2010 by a group of undergraduate students in NYU Steinhardtâ€™s Department of Applied Psychology. The ideas and opinions contained in this publication solely reflect those of the authors and not New York University. All work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial No Derivative Works License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org
nyu applied psychology
online publication of undergraduate studies Volume IV Spring 2013
Contents LETTER FROM THE EDITORS Kara Duca Caila Gordon-Koster | 4 STAFF ARTICLES The “Tiger Mom”: Stereotypes of Chinese Parenting in the United States Scarlett Wang| 8 The Volunteer Experience: Understanding and Fostering Global Citizenship Alfredo Daniel Novoa & Vera Stiefler Johnson | 13 SUBMISSIONS Identity, Therapy, and Womanhood: Humanity in the Mafia Grace Anzalone | 20 Group Therapy: The Primary Treatment for Stress, Addiction, and Eating Disorders Sarah Collins, Emily Gallagher, and Yimkwan Tsang | 24 “The Walking Wounded”: Here-and-now Coping Strategies to Ease the Reintegration of American Military Veterans Kara Duca | 33 Muslim-American Women in the United States: What is Considered Muslim Enough? Seren Karasu | 39 Social Development in Democratic Elementary-School Classrooms Lauren Tkach | 43 The Impact of Parental Divorce on Emerging Adults’ Self-Esteem Kelsey Block & Sophie Spiegel | 50
ABSTRACTS Christine Campo | 58 |Kara Duca | 58 |Alesha Gooden | 59 |Caila Gordon-Koster | 59 | Andrew Cory Greene | 60 | Savanna Keator | 60 |Aakriti Malhotra | 61 |Alfredo Daniel Novoa | 61 | Mercedes Okosi | 62 | STAFF & CONTRIBUTOR BIOS | 65
Letter from the Editors | 4
Letter from the Editors Twice a year, OPUS, the Online Publication of Undergraduate Studies, showcases outstanding work of underclassmen in the Applied Psychology program at New York University. The Fall semester is always exciting for new editors, and as the Spring semester arrives, there is an unspoken uneasiness amongst graduating seniors: who will carry on the journal? An academic journal contains the most novel contributions to a particular field. In order to continue to showcase undergraduate work, it must continue to be undergraduate-led. At OPUS, we strive to encourage and motivate our peers while simultaneously learning from them, creating a circle of novel ideas and inspiration. An intellectual community is built upon a central commitment to furthering knowledge, and we are continuously impressed with the mature commitment to research found within the program and this publication. And so, as we come to an end of our time as editors, we would like to thank our brilliant and innovative staff writers, contributors, and executive board for their boundless creativity and dedication to this publication. We are confident that you will not only carry on the mission of OPUS, but also raise the bar as you do so. We feel so lucky to have been able to serve you as editors and to work with such talented minds, and we cannot wait to see what you produce in the future! Congratulations on another job magnificently done!
8 | Staff Articles
The “Tiger Mom”:
Stereotypes of Chinese Parenting in the United States
n the media, there is a discrepancy between American perceptions of Chinese parenting and the reality of Chinese parenting. The “tiger mom” is the prevailing stereotype of Chinese parenting in America (Chua, 2011). Americans perceive tiger moms to be highly controlling, strict, and severe almost to the point of abuse (Chua, 2011). The most well known tiger mom, Amy Chua, became famous for her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. As a mother and a professor at Yale Law School, Chua tells the story of how she raises her two half-Chinese, half-Jewish girls in the same way that her Chinese immigrant parents raised her and her siblings. To most of the American public, Chua is simply forcing her children toward parentally-defined success, which most believe is unlikely to lead to true happiness in children. Ironically, Chua’s two daughters are both successful and happy in school, in music and in sports (Chua, 2011). In the American media, the tiger mom’s strict and harsh style has spurred a controversial conversation surrounding parenting. At the center of this controversy lies the question of whether happiness and the pursuit of the child’s own dreams and interests are more important than the pursuit of success as defined by the parent. What the American public defines as Chinese parenting greatly differs from Chinese parents’ definitions of their own parenting. Most modern Chinese parents do not subscribe to the tiger mom parenting style, nor do they believe that this model fosters the most successful children (He, 2011). In reality, Chinese parenting styles cover a wide range of strategies, beliefs and tactics (Buki, Strom, & Strom, 2003; Chao, 1994, 2001; Cheah, Leung, Tahseen, & Schultz, 2009; Chen, Chen, & Zheng, 2012; Chen, Zhou, Eisenberg, Valiente, & Wang, 2011). The concept of the tiger mom as Americans perceive it represents an attempt to use American cultural beliefs of parenting as a baseline from which to make sense of Chinese parent-
ing. The “Tiger mom” has become the go-to phrase for Americans when referring to traditional Chinese parenting styles. This attempt to categorize cultural differences into discrete boxes fails to capture the complex nature of Chinese parenting. Considering the lack of both research and media attention to the wide range of Chinese parenting beliefs and practices, this review seeks to explore the nature of these practices and the social process by which the tiger mom has become the most salient representation of Chinese parenting in America. In particular, it will examine the pillar theory of parenting authority as it relates to Chinese parenting, the actual range of Chinese parenting beliefs, and parenting practices of Chinese immigrants to America.
The Pillar Theory of Parenting Authority and Chinese Parenting Diana Baumrind (1966, 1971) has conducted some of the most influential studies examining the effects of parenting styles on children’s behavior. Since its development in the 1960s, researchers have been using her pillar theory (Baumrind 1966, 1971) as the basic model of parenting in American culture. The pillar theory lays out three general patterns of parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian and permissive. These parenting styles differ on two dimensions: strict and demanding discipline, and warm emotional support. The pillar theory posits that authoritative parents are strict and demanding in discipline, though they also provide rich and warm emotional support to their children. Although the authoritarian style also focuses on strict and demanding discipline, authoritarian parents provide their children with little emotional support. In contrast to both authoritative and authoritarian parents, permissive parents lack both strict/demanding discipline and warm emotional sup-
Wang: U.S. Perceptions Of Chinese Parenting | 9 port (Baumrind, 1971). Each of these parenting styles has unique effects on a child’s behavior (Baumrind 1966, 1971). Children of authoritative parents show the most stable and positive behavior, and are also self-controlled and explorative. Children of authoritarian parents are also self-controlled, but are more discontent and withdrawn. Finally, children of permissive parents are often low in both self-reliance and self-control (Baumrind 1966, 1971). Fifty years after its inception, the pillar theory is still one of the most influential models of parenting. Although the pillar theory was based on studies of mainstream American samples, researchers have since adopted Baumrind’s model to examine Chinese parenting and the effects of Chinese parenting styles on children’s behavior (Cheah, et al., 2009; Fung & Lau, 2010; Su & Hynie, 2011; Tan, Camras, Deng, Zhang, & Lu, 2012; Xu et al., 2005). Some of these studies have concluded that Chinese parenting is mostly authoritative (Buki et al., 2003). There are great implications for these results, as studies show that authoritative Chinese parenting is associated with positive behavior patterns and school outcomes in Chinese children (Buki et al., 2003; Chao, 1994, 2001; Cheah et al., 2009; Chen et al., 2012; Chen et al., 2011). However, there are also a number of studies that view Chinese parenting as inherently authoritarian. The results of these studies parallel those that report Chinese parenting to be authoritative, in revealing authoritarian styles of Chinese parents to relate to the negative behavior patterns of Chinese children (Cheah et al., 2009; Fung & Lau, 2010; Su & Hynie, 2011; Tan et al., 2012; Xu et al., 2005). Thus, according to recent literature, Chinese parenting as a whole appears to be primarily authoritative and authoritarian, though these styles have drastically different effects on children’s behavior. Although it seems organic for scholars to study Chinese parenting styles based on the most classic theory of parenting, the pillar theory was derived from White middle class samples and is thus not necessarily applicable to parents of other cultures and socioeconomic statuses. Research suggests that there are differences in cultural beliefs that drive parents to adopt
certain styles and practices in raising their children (Baumrind, 1966, 1971). The pillar theory scale might not accurately capture these differences in cultural beliefs. Therefore, as a stepping-stone to understanding Chinese parenting, it is important to consider cultural beliefs that both academia and popular media leave out of their understanding of Chinese parenting styles.
Beyond the Pillar Theory: Chinese Parenting Beliefs Although the majority of studies examining Chinese parenting styles have adopted the culturally-biased pillar theory, some others have chosen to examine Chinese parenting styles and practices through the lens of cultural notions and beliefs (Chao, 1994, 2001). Studies that focus on exploring Chinese parenting beliefs often focus on the cultural notion of training, Chiaoshun, which is rooted in the teachings of Confucius (Chao, 1994, 2001). The most important emphasis in Confucius’s school of thought is respect for the social order, including relationships between individuals as well as relationships between an individual and society (Bond & Hwang, 1986). Based on this idea of consideration for social order, the notion of “training” in Chinese culture encourages parents to teach their children the quality of respect in all of their relationships. As a result, Chinese parents subscribing to this practice reinforce harsh and strict discipline, and hope that their children will learn from their instruction. Thus, parenting practices that appear harsh and strict to others are often simply a culturally-based attempt to train children to act in a socially acceptable manner (Chan et al., 2009). Moreover, when adopting harsh language and strict discipline, Chinese parents assume the children will understand the connotation behind the harsh language. Rather than ruthless punishment, the harsh language and discipline indicates parental trust and high expectations of children’s performances (Chan, Bowes, & Wyver, 2009; Chao, 1994, 2001; Chen & Luster, 2002; Cheung & McBride-Chang, 2008). Although Chiaoshun, authoritative parenting, and authoritarian parenting all include harsh and strict discipline, the notion of training is a distinct
10 | Staff Articles concept from Baumrind’s parenting styles (Chao, 1994, 2001; Cheah et al., 2009; Julian, McKenry, & McKelvey, 1994; Lim & Lim, 2004). More than simple harshness and strictness, Chiaoshun includes a dedication to instilling certain Confucian qualities in children (Bond & Hwang, 1986; Chao, 1994, 2001; Cheah et al., 2009; Julian et al., 1994; Lim & Lim, 2004). For these parents, the most important priority is that their child should become “a good person,” with academic achievement as a close second (Chan, et al., 2009; Chao, 1994, 2001). American society is unfamiliar with this base of Chinese parenting. When the media isolates Chinese parenting beliefs (i.e., Chiaoshun) from practices (i.e., strictness) and focus only on the practices, the American public comes to understand Chinese parenting as unwavering and harsh. Chinese immigrant parents, however, must often find a parenting style that lies on the bridge connecting the dichotomy between traditional Chinese and mainstream American parenting ideas.
Acculturation and Parenting As this review has determined, there are salient differences among typical American parenting (Baumrind’s three parenting styles), Chinese parenting (driven by Confucius’s notion of training) and American perceptions of Chinese parenting (the tiger mom). Chinese immigrant parents are unique in that they experience parenting at the crossroads of all three philosophies. Having been exposed to both cultures, Chinese immigrant families must navigate the waters of both Chinese and American values to form a cohesive parenting style. Immigrant Chinese parents also face challenges such as acculturative stress and low socio-economic status, and cultural gaps with their more acculturated children, which can all influence their particular parenting practices. A great deal of research has looked at the effects of cross-cultural parenting on first and second-generation children (Chao, 1994, 2001). Results have shown that first-generation Chinese children perform better with their “authoritarian” Chinese parents than most second-generation Chinese children. First-generation Chinese children seem to have more positive
school outcomes and better interpersonal skills than second-generation Chinese children, even after controlling for parenting style (Chao, 1994, 2001; Shek, 1999, 2001; Su & Hynie, 2011). These findings suggest that the strict parenting style of Chinese parents has more negative influence on second-generation Chinese children than it does on first-generation children. The negative reactions of second-generation Chinese children may be due to the fact that second-generation children have been immersed in American culture since birth, whereas first-generation children are more apt to hold certain cultural beliefs that will help them interpret the harshness and strictness in a more positive way. Therefore, one might suggest that some of the important cultural ideologies that help children to correctly interpret the stricter components of Chinese parenting have been lost in the transition to American culture (Chao, 1994, 2001; Shek, 1999, 2001; Su & Hynie, 2011). In addition to the differences in reaction across generation, many studies have also examined the relation between variables such as socio-economic status (SES), maternal acculturation stress, family stress, and parenting practices across the two cultures. Studies have identified SES as a factor in navigating the challenges of cross-cultural parenting, in that lower income immigrant families have faced more challenges than higher-income families (Shek, 1999, 2001). Challenges also exist in families where mothers experience high acculturation stress. Chinese children whose mothers experience higher acculturation stress tend to have a relatively lower score on school outcomes than Chinese children whose mothers experience relatively low acculturation stress (Cheah et al., 2009; Fung & Lau, 2010). Additionally, parenting hassles and family stress can also add to the negative experience of cross-cultural parenting of both parents and children (Su & Hynie, 2011; Tan et al., 2012; Xu et al., 2005). Thus, because of the unique environment in which they live, Chinese immigrant parents must develop their own, hybridized parenting style that includes aspects of both mainstream American and traditional Chinese cultures.
Wang: U.S. Perceptions Of Chinese Parenting | 11
Conclusion Chinese parenting interacts with mainstream American culture in an interesting way. Each culture supports a parenting style with different ideas and notions. In America, Baumrind’s model indicates that parents should combine a degree of strictness and emotional support. In China, Confucius argued that parents should aim to raise a child who knows how to respect social relationships. In sum, research studies that have examined general differences in children’s reactions to Chinese parenting and different factors that might influence the quality of parenting in immigrant families highlight the danger in applying mainstream American concepts of parenting to measure and understand Chinese parenting. Many researchers and scholars have tried to examine cultural variations of parenting practices and styles in America (Buki et al., 2003; Chao, 1994, 2001; Cheah et al., 2009). Since its development in the 1960s, Baumrind’s pillar theory has become the standard conceptualization of parenting styles. When researchers and scholars try to examine Chinese parenting in American culture, it seems intuitive to adopt the classic pillar theory. Although this theory is valuable and valid, the fact that it has been based on White middle class samples directly challenges its generalizability to Chinese parents. Becoming more and more aware of the differences between Chinese parenting and American parenting, many researchers and scholars have begun to include cultural components in their studies that the pillar theory cannot completely capture, such as acculturation and traditional Chinese parenting beliefs (Buki et al., 2003; Chao, 1994, 2001; Cheah et al., 2009; Chen et al., 2012; Chen et al., 2011). Among the studies that challenge the application of the pillar theory to Chinese parents, many have identified cultural notions and beliefs that are important in Chinese culture but absent in American culture (Bond & Hwang, 1986; Chao, 1994, 2001; Cheah et al., 2009; Julian et al., 1994; Lim & Lim, 2004). In the American cultural context, however, the general public and the media tend to make sense of Chinese parenting by directly comparing it with the American standard of parenting. As a result of
the difference in cultural beliefs supporting Chinese parenting and American parenting, Americans interpret harsh and strict Chinese parents as “tiger moms.” Consequently, without the understanding of the cultural notion of training, the parenting style of the “tiger moms” appears controversial in the eye of the American public. However, when looking at Chinese parenting with the understanding of appropriate cultural values and beliefs, one can find the rationale behind the so-called “tiger mom” is actually to prepare the children to thrive in the environment of social order and respect that characterizes Chinese society.
12 | Staff Articles References Baumrind, D. (1966). Effects of authoritative parental control on child behavior. Child Development, 37(4), 887-907. Baumrind, D. (1971). Current patterns of parental authority. Developmental Psychology, 4(1, Pt.2), 1-103. Buki, L. P., Ma, T., Strom, R. D., & Strom, S. K. (2003). Chinese immigrant mothers of adolescents: Self-perceptions of acculturation effects on parenting. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 9(2), 127-140. Chan, S. M., Bowes, J., & Wyver, S. (2009). “Chinese parenting in Hong Kong: Links among goals, beliefs and styles”: Erratum. Early Child Development and Care, 179(8), 1125. Chao, R. K. (1994). Beyond parental control and authoritarian parenting style: Understanding Chinese parenting through the cultural notion of training. Child Development, 65(4), 1111-1119. Chao, R. K. (2001). Extending research on the consequences of parenting style for Chinese Americans and European Americans. Child Development, 72(6), 1832-1843. Cheah, C. S. L., Leung, C. Y. Y., Tahseen, M., & Schultz, D. (2009). Authoritative parenting among immigrant Chinese mothers of preschoolers. Journal of Family Psychology, 23(3), 311-320. Chen, F., & Luster, T. (2002). Factors related to parenting practices in Taiwan. Early Child Development and Care, 172(5), 413-430. Chen, J. J. L., Chen, T., & Zheng, X. X. (2012). Parenting styles and practices among Chinese immigrant mothers with young children. Early Child Development and Care, 182(1), 1-21. Chen, S. H., Zhou, Q., Eisenberg, N., Valiente, C., & Wang, Y. (2011). Parental expressivity and parenting styles in Chinese families: Prospective and unique relations to children’s psychological adjustment. Parenting: Science and Practice, 11(4), 288-307. Cheung, C. S., & McBride-Chang, C. (2008). Relations of perceived maternal parenting style, practices, and learning motivation to academic competence in Chinese children. Merrill Palmer Quarterly, 54(1), 1-22. Chua, A. (2011). Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. New York: Penguin Books. Fung, J. J., & Lau, A. S. (2010). Factors associated with parent-child (dis) agreement on child behavior and parenting problems in Chinese immigrant families. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 39(3), 314-327. He, H. (2011). Chinese mom: American “Tiger Mother” clueless about real Chinese parenting. CNN Travel. Retrieved from: http://travel. cnn.com/shanghai/life/helen-he-dont-demonize-chinese-mothers-545975 Julian, T. W., McKenry, P. C., & McKelvey, M. W. (1994). Cultural variations in parenting: Perceptions of Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American parents. Family Relations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies, 43(1), 30-37. Lim, S., & Lim, B. K. (2004). Parenting style and child outcomes in Chinese and immigrant Chinese families: Current findings and
cross-cultural considerations in conceptualization and research. Marriage & Family Review, 35(3-4), 21-43. Shek, D. T. L. (1999). Assessment of global parenting style and specific parenting behavior in a Chinese context. Psychologia: An International Journal of Psychology in the Orient, 42(2), 69-79. Shek, D. T. L. (2003). A longitudinal study of parenting and adolescent adjustment in Chinese adolescents with economic disadvantage. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 15(1), 39-49. Tan, T. X., Camras, L. A., Deng, H., Zhang, M., & Lu, Z. (2012). Family stress, parenting styles, and behavioral adjustment in preschool-age adopted Chinese girls. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(1), 128-136. Xu, Y., Farver, J. A. M., Zhang, Z., Zeng, Q., Yu, L., & Cai, B. (2005). Mainland Chinese parenting styles and parent-child interaction. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 29(6), 524-531.
Novoa & Johnson: Understanding Cultural Motivations | 13
The Volunteer Experience: Understanding and Fostering Global Citizenship
Alfredo Daniel Novoa & Vera Stiefler Johnson
ver the past century, developed countries like the United States have established programs such as the U.S. Peace Corps (1961) to conduct unofficial aid and development work. These charitable and service-oriented institutions and organizations have prompted a growth in the social action known as “formal volunteerism” (Grönlund et al., 2011). In the past, volunteerism consisted of informal helping actions between members of the same community or religious institutions. However, formal volunteerism is becoming increasingly more common in both individualistic and collectivistic cultures. The widespread growth of volunteer organizations is related to a number of societal factors as well as the increase of available human, social, and cultural capital (Wilson & Musick, 1997). United States volunteers currently provide about 4 billion hours of service per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). Grönlund et al. (2011) suggest that structural factors such as socioeconomic status, age, and the state’s overall promotion of well being predict both volunteerism and reported altruistic motives for volunteering. Indeed, research shows that growth in the non-profit sector increases opportunities for volunteerism in the United States (Anheier & Solomon, 1999). In the United States, groups like the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) provide volunteer opportunities to more than 5 million Americans. Among younger U.S. populations, many educational institutions value, encourage, and in some cases even mandate volunteer participation both locally and abroad. In the U.S., 78% of all students volunteer (Grönlund et al., 2011). Even institutions of higher education now incorporate service learning components into much of their programming, which has led to a noted increase in the rate of volunteerism among college students. Some non-profit charity organizations increasingly promote volunteerism as an altruistic endeavor,
whereas others tend to advertise the social and career benefits of volunteer service. It also appears that collectivistic and individualistic cultures tend to differ in what motivates people to volunteer (Grönlund et al., 2011). Although national data only informs the public of volunteer participation and retention rates, it is important to understand the specific motivational factors that influence volunteerism, particularly with regard to how these motivational factors may differ within collectivistic and individualistic cultures. The current paper seeks to discuss an imperative construct relating to volunteerism: the interplay between individualistic versus collectivistic cultural systems, altruistic and egoistic motivation, and their relation to volunteer participation.
Cultural Antecedents to Volunteerism Despite the ability of structural systems to influence the needs and norms for volunteerism in different countries (Billis, 1993), present knowledge of how specific cultural values influence volunteerism is limited. More specifically, current understandings of collectivism and individualism as they pertain to more specific cultural facets, such as altruism and egoism, dictate the focus of research that examines volunteer motivations in the non-profit arena. Collectivism and individualism are common terms among social scientists that contrast Eastern and Western cultural dimensions such as inner-directedness, conformity, and autonomy (Hsu, 1981). Anthropologists have since defined individualism, which is typical of Western cultures, as an individual’s drive to act on private interests. Collectivism, which is typical of Eastern cultures, is defined as an individual’s obligation to pursue the interest of the group as a whole (Hui & Triandis, 1986). The literature on volunteerism lacks an exploration of the volunteer process
14 | Staff Articles through the lens of collectivism and individualism (for exceptions, see Finkelstein, 2010). Utilizing these cultural constructs can help to explain cultural motivations for volunteerism and aid our understanding of sustained volunteering. A basic tenet of individualism is an emphasis on autonomy and self-fulfillment (Finkelstein, 2010). Research shows that volunteers with an individualistic orientation develop greater respect for the individual, which can foster civic participation (Waterman, 1981). In the United States, which is commonly considered to be an individualistic society, about 26% of the population engages in volunteering activities every year, a relatively high rate (Eisner, Grimm, Maynard, & Washburn, 2009). Members of individualistic societies are also more likely to work with diverse people and groups (Glaser-Segura & Anghel, 2002). However, some researchers argue that the amount of time each person spends volunteering is more valuable than the rate of volunteerism as a whole, as it is a more accurate indication of the sustainability of volunteer commitment to a certain organization or cause (Hartenian & Lilly, 2009). Indeed, an average of onethird of United States volunteers do not return to their respective organizations the following year to offer their services (Eisner, Grimm, Maynard, & Washburn, 2009). This phenomenon is decidedly more discernable in individualistic cultures than in collectivistic cultures (Finkelstein, 2010). Thus, research suggests that although more people in individualistic cultures may volunteer, each person volunteers for a shorter amount of time, making only a cursory impact in the organizations they choose to aid. In keeping with this apparent trend, Grönlund et al. (2011) have asserted that sustained volunteerism may be more linked to collectivism, a conclusion that is reflected in the high rates of volunteerism in South Korea. Research on collectivistic orientations has found that having a communal mindset predicts time spent volunteering (Mattis et al., 2000). In addition, people in collectivistic societies tend to have a centrality in their social norms, which increases the likelihood of volunteering (Hofstede, 2001). In fact, some have found that people in collectivist societies are indeed more likely to volunteer (Grönlund et. al,
2011; Parboteeah, Cullen, & Kim, 2004). Conversely, other studies indicate that individualistic countries tend to have high levels of volunteerism and civic engagement, suggesting that individualism may promote formal volunteerism as well (Finklestein, 2011; Kemmelmeier, Jambor, & Letner, 2006). This disparity between findings suggests a need to understand what functions other than cultural features such as individualism and collectivism influence volunteers to continue donating their time. In addition, it is important to understand how governments can promote these functions to create more sustainable volunteer models. Social structures and norms certainly influence volunteerism within different cultures. Nonetheless, there continues to be a limited understanding of cultural influences in both collectivistic and individualistic societies on volunteerism. Therefore, an emerging body of literature is starting to examine volunteerism, and volunteer motivation, with regard to more specific cultural values than those frequently found at the societal level. Two such cultural values are altruism and egoism.
Altruism and Egoism The understanding that different individuals can engage in the same volunteer behavior while having entirely different motivations adds to the complexity of the current discussion. Traditionally, researchers and laypersons alike assume that people enter the volunteer workforce with altruistic motives. Altruism, as defined by Hartenian and Lilly (2009), is concern about others’ welfare and behavior and a commitment to helping, often at a personal expense. In a rapidly globalizing world, with extensive changes in communication and mobility, volunteerism is thriving (Lyons & Wearing, 2008). As a result, scholars have begun to question the actual motives of volunteers and are attempting to build increasingly cohesive theories of volunteer work. Competing theories and methodological approaches include questions about the motivation to volunteer, as well as a critical examination of the term “egoism,” the opposite of altruism. Egoism refers to an individual’s desire to engage
Novoa & Johnson: Understanding Cultural Motivations | 15 in actions that will promote or help the self in some way. The idea that volunteers sacrifice their time for the benefit of others does not incorporate the possibility that people may volunteer out of a motivation to accrue personal benefits. Motivation that satisfies an internal need is typical of egoistic orientations. Egoistic orientations may include outward egoism, such as building a resumé; inward egoism, such as developing human relations skills; and experiential egoism, such as engaging in new and exciting endeavors (Hartenian & Lilly, 2009). Many of the studies examining volunteerism lack unifying positions on motivations for helping (Cnaan & Goldberg-Glen, 1991). Therefore, it is important to account for both egoistic and altruistic approaches to volunteering by analyzing the functions people hope to serve by volunteering. The functional approach to volunteerism maintains that six different functions - values, understanding, enhancement, career, social, and protective - can be served by volunteering. These functions account for the “personal and social processes that initiate, direct, and sustain action” (Clary et al., 1998). Individuals can serve the values function by acting on important values such as humanitarianism; the understanding function by acquiring worldly knowledge and developing skills; the enhancement function by deepening psychological growth and development; the career function by obtaining career-related experience; the social function by strengthening social relationships; and the protective function by using volunteering to alleviate feelings such as guilt about the circumstances of others (Clary & Snyder, 1999). Each individual’s motivations tend to draw from all six functions, although the importance placed on each function varies between volunteers. Only the values function encompasses an entirely altruistic orientation, and even this function can simply be a “way of dramatizing that one is a good and decent person,” which would serve various social purposes (Wuthnow, 1994). Nonetheless, researchers can use the functions to evaluate the degree of altruism or egoism in a person’s volunteer motivation. Clary and Snyder’s (1999) work on functionalist approaches to motivation has prompted various applications to the understanding of volunteerism.
As purported by Clary (1999), these 6 constructs provide an empirical foundation to emphasize the active role of the participant in context. Such an approach allows researchers to tease apart the different agendas that influence the altruistic and egoistic orientations of self that lead individuals to volunteer. Although researchers have agreed that there exists a multifaceted interplay between altruism and egoism, there is no unanimous support for one single conceptual model.
Future Directions As previously discussed, there are obvious differences in the structure of volunteerism in collectivistic and individualistic cultures. In terms of altruism and egoism, collectivistic cultures are more strongly tied to altruistic motivations to volunteer, whereas individualistic cultures tend to yield volunteers with alternative motivations (Grönlund et al., 2011). A collectivistic orientation also tends to increase the likelihood that a volunteer will develop a volunteer role identity, which motivates the individual to continue volunteer participation in order to maintain his or her new self-concept (Finkelstein, 2010). On the other hand, commitment levels of individualistic-oriented egoistic volunteers may not be as sustainable as those of altruistic volunteers (Hartenian & Lilly, 2009). Once an egoistic volunteer’s personal needs have been met, he or she may have little motivation to continue volunteer participation. Nonetheless, individualistic cultures also continue to enjoy relatively high rates of volunteerism. According to the matching hypothesis, an individual will be motivated to engage in volunteer work if his or her motivations to serve matches the benefits afforded by a certain volunteering opportunity (Clary & Snyder, 1999). Using the 6 functions of volunteerism to evaluate the degree of altruism versus egoism in an individual’s motivation to volunteer may be useful for both collectivistic and individualistic cultures in creating sustainable volunteer models. Collectivistic cultures may benefit from appealing to altruistic, communally-oriented motives to volunteer, whereas individualistic cultures may attract higher rates of
16 | Staff Articles volunteerism if they emphasize, for example, the career-related functions that can be served through volunteerism. Researchers can use the broad structural facets of collectivism and individualism as a lens through which to analyze nuanced cultural values such as altruism and egoism, in regard to their role in volunteer motivation. Understanding motivation on an individual level is an important tool for developing sustainable volunteer models and potentially enhancing the long-term commitment of volunteers. Research in this arena may allow for organizations to establish more nuanced training models for volunteers, which could in turn aid in volunteer initiation and placement. In addition, organizations may be able to increasingly match volunteer desires with opportunities offered, providing for a more fulfilling volunteer experience. Finally, the functional approach to volunteerism underscores that researchers should not view volunteer egoism and altruism as mutually exclusive concepts. Further research should seek to understand the intersection between egoism and altruism and how this can further highlight important and novel aspects of the volunteer experience, both on an individual and a cultural level.
Novoa & Johnson: Understanding Cultural Motivations | 17 References Anheier, H. K., & Salamon, L. M. (1999). Volunteering in cross-national perspective: Initial comparison. Journal of Law & Contemporary Problems, 62(4), 43-65. Andrews, M. (2003). Deconstructing volunteerism: The difference between variables predicting student placement and volunteerism activities. M.A. dissertation, Laurentian University of Sudbury, Canada. Retrieved, April 6, 2013, from Dissertations and Theses: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection. Billis, D. (1993). Organizing public and voluntary agencies. London: Routledge. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). Volunteerism in the United States. Retrieved April 4, 2013 from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ pdf/volun.pdf Clary, E. G., & Snyder, M. (1991). A functional analysis of altruism and prosocial behavior. In M. Clark (Ed.), Review of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 12, pp. 119-149). Cnaan, R. A., & Goldberg-Glenn, R. S. (1991). Measuring motivation to volunteer in human services. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences, 27, 269-284. Eisner, D., Grimm Jr., R. T., Maynard, S., & Washburn, S. (2009). The new volunteer workforce. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 32-37. Finkelstein, M. A. (2010). Individualism/collectivism: Implications for the volunteer process. Social Behavior and Personality, 38(4), 445-452. Gronlünd, H., Holmes, K., Kang, C. Cnaan, R.A., Handy, F., Brudney, J. L.,… Zrinščak, S. (2011). Cultural Values and Volunteering: A Cross-cultural Comparison of Students’ Motivation to Volunteer in 13 Countries. Journal of Academic Ethics, 9, 87-106. Kemmelmeier, M., Jambor, E. E. & Letner, J. (2006). Individualism and good works: Cultural variations in giving and volunteering across the United States. Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 37, 327-344. Glaser-Segura, D. A. & Anghel, L. D. (2002). An institutional theory of cooperation. Proceedings of the International Purchasing and Supply Education & Research Association, The Netherlands, 11, 162-174. Hartenian, L. S., & Lily, B. (2009). Egoism and commitment: A multidemensional approach to understanding sustained volunteering. Journal of Managerial Issues, 21(1), 97-118. Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations. Sage: Thousand Oaks. Hsu, F. L. K. (1981). American and Chinese: Passage to differences. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Hui, H. & Triandis, H. C. (1986). Individualism-Collectivism: A study of cross-cultural researchers. Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 17, 225-248. Lyons, K., & Wearing, S. (2008). “All for a good cause? The blurred boundaries of volunteering and tourism.” Journeys of discovery in volunteer tourism. 147-154. Mattis, J. S., Jagers, R. J., Hatcher, C. A., Lawhon, G. D., Murphy, E. J., & Murray, Y. F. (2000). Religiosity, volunteerism, and community involvement among African American men: An exploratory analysis. Journal of Community Psychology, 28(4), 391-406. Parboteeah, K. P., Cullen, J., & Lim, L. (2004). Formal volunteering: A cross national test. Journal of World Business, 39, 431-441. Waterman, A. S. (1981). Individualism-collectivism and personality. Journal of Personality, 69, 907-924. Wilson, J. & Musick, M. (1997). Who cares? Toward an integrated theory of volunteer work. American Sociological Review, 62, 694-713. Wuthnow, R. (1994). God and Mammon in America. New York: Free Press.
18 | Staff Articles
20 | Submissions
Identity, Therapy, and Womanhood: Humanity in the Mafia
“Tom, don’t let anybody kid you. It’s all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it’s personal as hell. You know where I learned that from? The Don. My old man. The Godfather.” ― Mario Puzo, The Godfather
ince the debut of The Godfather in 1972, American film and television has rhapsodized and romanticized the Italian Mafia. As the Mafia in America has dwindled in the past few decades, media glorification of mobsters has only risen, with some of the most-watched films and TV shows centering around the Italian Mafia in particular (DeStefano, 2006). The Mafia captures the American public’s attention in part because the actions of its members are beyond comprehension. Although the organization’s base values of loyalty, family, and justice are some that many Americans hold dear, what makes the Mafia so fascinating - and horrifying - is the ends its members will go to in order to achieve their goals. Thus, there remains a clear duality in the American public’s perception of the Mafia: a vision of base and ignoble criminals who cannot be redeemed, and a vision of good and fair heroes who bring justice to an otherwise unjust political system. Although the American media has glorified the Mafia in books, film, and TV shows, the reality is much different. What most Americans know as the Mafia or simply “the mob” is really La Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian body of organized crime that arrived in America during the great wave of southern Italian immigration (Guglielmo & Salerno, 2003). “Cosa Nostra” is Italian for “our thing,” and this seemingly simple title underscores two of the most central philosophies of the organization: collectiveness and secrecy. La Cosa Nostra imbues its members with a collective mentality and requires unquestioned commitment and dedication, a value underscored by
calling each clan a Family. Because La Cosa Nostra originated as an alternative system of justice in the face of a corrupt and tyrannical Sicilian government (Dickie, 2005), it places the highest value on silence and is decidedly mistrustful of any governmental authority. Likewise, the organization is highly hierarchal and centralized, so that every member has a distinct rank and purpose. This cultural environment and set of strict social norms, however, ultimately serves to achieve money, power, and security for the group. The primacy of silence and secrecy in Mafia culture make clinical attention and research extremely difficult in this population. Although some sociologists have investigated the machine-like organizational structure of the organization, they have largely ignored the human nature of the Mafiosi. Although they operate within extraordinarily dangerous circumstances and under extreme psychological pressure, the Mafiosi, their wives, and their children have distinctly human ways of coping with these stresses and forming identity in their environment. Although literature examining personal and interpersonal forces in La Cosa Nostra is scarce, it is a topic that deserves much attention moving forward. In order to understand the phenomenon of the Mafia itself, it becomes necessary to develop a much richer understanding the forces that make each member inclined to conform. This review will adopt a clinical psychological lens in order to investigate how individuals cope with their own and their relatives’ Mafia involvement. The goal of this review is not to sympathize with those who commit acts of violence, but to bring the phenomenon
Anzalone: Humanity and the Mafia | 21 of the Mafia to life. It hopes to shift the focus from the glorified hero and feared criminals portrayed in the media to human beings operating within a particular cultural environment. In particular, this review has three research questions: 1) How do Mafiosi men view themselves and their identities? 2) What are some clinical perspectives on the psychotherapeutic treatment of individuals connected to the Mafia? 3) What is the role of women in such an explicitly male-dominated system?
The Mafioso Identity In order to penetrate the inner psychic workings of the average Mafia member, one must first examine how he reconciles his membership in La Cosa Nostra with his individual sense of self. Each individual brought up in the traditional Cosa Nostra structure draws his identity from the organization’s mission. Members are born into an environment that stresses a collective mentality from a young age, teaching them to rely almost exclusively on the “full” family unit for support (i.e., the Cosa Nostra Family to which he or his family belongs, in addition to blood relationships). Because of this mentality, members of the Cosa Nostra community are inseparable from the context of the Family and community to which they belong (Lo Verso & Lo Coco, 2004), and this group identification becomes an indelible part of their identity. Although this strong group identity may initially provide a rationalization for individuals who commit violent crimes, it is also a mechanism that directly benefits the Mafia itself. Dino (2012) points to the Cosa Nostra family as the provider of identity, and explains that the organization often actively discourages individuality in order to strengthen its own interests. Being unable to gain a sense of personal worth from their own life, Mafia members are entirely reliant upon the organization to provide social and psychological support. In this way, the member can feel virtually incapable of acting against the will of the group; besides facing possibly fatal repercussions, the feelings of failure and worthlessness that come with defiance seem even worse. Of course, this lack of personal identity comes
at a price to the individual. Identity, especially in the male Mafia brain, is very fragile, as it hinges on an organization that systematically commits violent crime and perverts family values. Although Mafia value codes stress dedication to one’s family, this dedication serves primarily to maintain a foundation in the Mafioso’s life so that he can approach his work with a clear head. The extreme hierarchal nature of the Cosa Nostra highlights this lack of depth in relationships; a lowly ranking clan member is not permitted to voice dissent, which can severely undermine his sense of self-efficacy (Di Maria & Lo Verso, 2007). Family relationships, although intrinsically valuable to both the group and the person, are characterized less by love than necessity. Although the interpersonal dynamics of Mafia relationships help members to function without a strong personal identity, the fragility of their inner world is especially apparent when group membership is removed. Members who have either lost favor or choose to leave La Cosa Nostra are routinely plagued with psychosomatic symptoms, often become socially isolated, and may become filled with guilt about the criminal acts they have committed (Lo Verso & Lo Coco, 2004). Although there are very few examinations of Mafia or ex-Mafia samples in the literature, existing clinical observations (Fabj, 2013) have reported incredibly high rates of suicide, depression, and isolation.
Clinical Perspectives on Treating the Mafia Through an examination of the few existing clinical interviews with Mafia members and their families, researchers and practitioners can gain some insight into the human side of a phenomenon that seems inherently inhumane. Mafia members sometimes seek out psychotherapy when they choose to leave the organization, are no longer allowed to be members, or are incarcerated (Fabj, 2013; Lo Verso & Lo Coco, 2004). Although the authors emphasize that trends in psychotherapy cannot necessarily be generalized to all criminals or even all mob members, existing studies have noted that their results were striking in their
22 | Submissions consistency and commonality among Mafioso patients. Although psychotherapeutic gains were moderately small in Mafiosi (Fabj, 2013), examining them in this setting allowed significant insight into their individual mental states and the group itself. Lo Verso and Lo Coco (2004) explain the initial appeal that involvement in the Cosa Nostra has to potential members. Ex-members report that they viewed the Mafia from a young age as a way to obtain pride, money, and prestige. They also noted that past members consistently returned to the explanation that the weakness of the Sicilian government created an opening for the respected, family-made, “honorable” criminal. Family cements each clan to create a united organization that punishes disloyalty with death, and ingrains this, as well as a hatred for the police and need for masculine traits, from a young age (Fabj, 2013). Once he has become successfully initiated, the Mafia member starts to lose his ability to differentiate between his own likes, goals, and enemies, and those of his Cosa Nostra family. In addition, clinical interviews have shown that the morality of Mafia members is almost nonexistent. Not only did they not experience guilt for crimes including murder, but few could recall feeling afraid at any time (Lo Verso & Lo Coco, 2004). Besides the continual thirst for money and power, members repressed other emotions (e.g., love, shame, sexual desire) until they decided to leave the Mafia. Likewise, guilt-laden dreams, whether about betraying one’s family or committing acts of violence, emerged only after cooperating with the police and renouncing membership (Fabj, 2013). Research suggests that the removal of group identity removes the primary tool by which members used to cope; without a greater sense of purpose, the machine-like unfeeling is removed and gives way to guilt, confusion, and psychic turmoil (Lo Verso & Lo Coco, 2004). Although therapeutic gains were observed in some Mafiosi, rarely did members ever return to an average level of psychological health. Still, significant gains were made during the course of psychotherapy in about 25% of members. Interestingly, many of the members who benefited from psychotherapy were devoutly associated with a religion (Fabj, 2013). More
often, however, Mafiosi’s therapy was often slow-moving, difficult for the therapist, and frequently futile. Although the examination of clinical work sometimes showed significant change and progress, there are great obstacles to therapeutic progress in this population (Lo Verso & Lo Coco, 2004). Even highly trained psychotherapists can face issues (e.g., fears of their own safety, moral disgust) that can impede hope for recovery or even a stable psyche. Still, psychotherapeutic work with members of this unique culture gives us significant insight into the true operation of La Cosa Nostra. Therapeutic gains were significantly higher in Mafia members’ spouses and children. Although some aspects of Mafia life seemed to permanently desensitize a large portion of ex-members, “typical” morality and individual identity is much more observable in relatives (Di Maria & Lo Verso, 2007). Likewise, less directly involved relatives were shown to have more productive relationship with therapists, as the therapists could better empathize with their situation without directing any blame or fear toward the patient (Lo Coco & Lo Verso, 2007).
The Role of Women in the Mafia Limited research of therapy with females associated with the Mafia indicates that although the Cosa Nostra is explicitly male run and dominated, women hold a deceptively important role. Women are involved in the keeping of secrets, thus seemingly hold the keys to the centrality of the Mafia’s mission (Di Maria & Lo Verso, 2007). Officially, women exist to procreate, seal family alliances, and keep quiet whatever secrets they know. Research points out that this traditional conception of women’s role in the Mafia underestimates their involvement. Women are the ultimate symbol of family, which is the central unit of identity in the Mafia. Although women associated with the Mafia are often exploited and dominated, marriage and motherhood brings about the woman’s crucial role in advancing the the organization’s mission. The power of the maternal figure is both direct and indirect. Directly, mothers have the opportunity
Anzalone: Humanity and the Mafia | 23 to condone and enforce family and Mafia values in their sons, often excusing them from acts of violence at a young age. A weak, or perhaps just uncommitted mother may not further the Mafia’s message and thus not successfully create the “we” identity in her son. Without the loyalty, commitment, and biased moral judgment of the maternal figure, the organization’s familial glue can fall apart. Thus, Mafia mothers are empowered victims and hold a unique and important role in the furtherance of the organization (Di Maria & Lo Verso, 2007). Women in the Mafia also exert their influence on the Cosa Nostra beyond motherhood. Although crimes committed by females are often a simple noted exception in the male-dominated literature on crime, research suggests that women are systematically excluded from both judicial consequences and widespread visibility (Dino, 2012). Likewise, although the Cosa Nostra and laypersons alike often view female involvement in crime as a novelty or freak act, the lower frequency of female committed crimes is likely due to social factors, not genetic or ingrained ones (Dino, 2012). Underlining the civil belief that women are incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions, indictment rates between male and female criminals are vastly different. It may be possible that this belief comes from the strongly imbued Sicilian patriarchy of male husbands, fathers, judges, and politicians (Dino, 2012). It may not be that females are necessarily unable or disinterested in criminal activity, but rather that their role is downplayed both inside and outside of the Cosa Nostra, and any interest in “masculine” business becomes insignificant (Di Maria & Lo Verso, 2007). Mafia-associated women are often assigned traditional roles that form various archetypes in the Cosa Nostra world. These roles are based around the role of wife and mother, educator, and central socializer of values. Furthermore, religious functions are often assigned to women, to present a public face and perhaps confuse law enforcement. Lastly, it is often the wifely duty to legitimize the male’s authority through reinforcing family ties and power structure (Di Maria & Lo Verso, 2007). Female deviation from these traditional roles is often ignored and thus removed from visibili-
ty, which could partially explain their tendency to be under-represented in the Mafia. Because Mafia culture assigns silence as a duty to females, the full extent of her influence is hard to ascertain. To deal with female diversity, male members seek to make the female influence invisible, and thus less influential. If the group is perceived as an all-male enterprise, it continues to be an all-male enterprise. Although expectations of a male-dominated structure assuredly discourage women from participating, Dino (2012) points out a new role of the ‘today’ woman of the Cosa Nostra. While still rooted in traditional family ties, the modern female involves herself in the organization through her own abilities in order to fulfill it’s mission. Still, men in the Mafia are fully controlling the amount of visibility modern women receive, which allows the Cosa Nostra to maintain the level of female influence that it deems acceptable (Dino, 2012). An understanding of how the Mafia treats women provides yet another window into the Mafia mentality and identity. Wives, mothers, and especially active members of the organization are represented, and often misrepresented by the male-run Mafia. Women’s evolving yet stagnant role highlights the fact that women are often marginalized and underestimated in the Cosa Nostra because the mission requires that “foreigners,” in this case, women, be assigned traditional roles and, even when committing a crime or being useful, are rarely acknowledged for it (Dino, 2012). Certain archetypes of women are permitted while others are scorned, and those who do not fit into a traditional role are dealt with as insane or unworthy to accept responsibility for a crime they committed (Di Maria & Lo Verso, 2007). Women and men represent opposing forces in the Sicilian organized crime world. Although men are of course the controllers, their mission is supported less by their individual worth as strong leaders or intimidating bosses, and more by group manipulation, partially promulgated by women (Di Maria & Lo Verso, 2007). The identity of Mafiosi seems to rely almost exclusively on manipulating another resource, be it emotional normalcy, the family unit, or denying women exposure to keep the exclusivity and structure of the group.
24 | Submissions
The Primary Treatment for Stress, Addiction, and Eating Disorders
Sarah Collins, Emily Gallagher, and Yimkwan Tsang
roup therapy is often the primary tactic along the path of treating many clinical disorders (Verster, Brady, Galanter, & Conrod, 2012). There are several positive aspects to group therapy that lead to its popularity as a treatment, including modeling, the establishment of a strong support, the community aspect and the cost effectiveness. Group therapy is very cost effective because it can often be performed by one therapist, yet can treat many patients (Katzman et al., 2010). It can be as little as one third of the cost of individual or other types of therapy and is more easily covered by health insurance (Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy Foundation). This cost efficiency allows group therapy to be readily available to people of many different socio-economic statuses. Cost effectiveness, however, is not the only major benefit of group therapy. A hallmark of group therapy is a combination of tacit understanding, empathy, advocacy, belonging and togetherness. These principles help the group as a whole move forward in a positive way and lead to many therapeutic benefits, most notably modeling and the development of a support system. These benefits are essential for coping with certain clinical disorders. Modeling is based on social learning theory (Bandura, 1971), and plays a significant role in learning by imitating positive behaviors that other group members exhibit. The group setting allows for participants to learn from fellow patientsâ€™ adaptive behaviors and to model these actions for other participants (Saska, Shuki, Srihari, & Woods, 2009). Additionally, the support system created within group therapy settings provides a trusting network of peers with mutual identification, ensuring the individuals that they are not facing their disorders alone (Kaplan & Sadock, 1993). All of these social factors that result from group therapy contribute to the positive treat-
ment outcomes of many disorders. Group therapy is especially prominent in the treatment of stress disorders, addiction disorders, and eating disorders (Verster et al., 2012). These disorders, although different in their nature and symptoms, are all maladaptive responses to daily life (Verster et al., 2012). They typically all require intensive treatment in order to restore the patient to normal, healthy functioning (Verster et al., 2012). Although group therapy is often more popular than individual therapy because of the community aspect and the ability to build on each othersâ€™ progress, there is no perfect form of treatment, and there is always room for improvement in the field (Verster et al., 2012). This paper aims to explain why group therapy is the reigning treatment for stress, addiction and eating disorders.
Stress Disorders Hans Selye (1978) explained that stress is an essential component of life, which can be beneficial or destructive in nature, depending on its characteristics and intensity (Selye, 1978). Despite the fact that certain levels of positive stress can motivate the individual to strive for excellence, extreme levels of negative stress can overwhelm individualâ€™s available coping mechanism (Carlson, 1997; Van der Kolk, 1997) and can sometimes spiral into a disorder. Therefore, it is difficult to judge or draw a clear and simple causeand-effect relationship for why someone is experiencing stress because of the rich complexity of relationships between variables. Stress-related disorders, such as acute stress disorder (ASD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) fall under the category of anxiety disorders in the DSM-IV-TR (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). The essential feature of ASD is the develop-
Collins, Gallagher & Tsang: Group Therapy | 25 ment of some anxiety and dissociative symptoms within one month after exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor, whereas PTSD involves direct personal experience of an extreme traumatic event. The PTSD response includes intense fear, helplessness, and/or horror. Some of the characteristic symptoms include persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event and avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). According to the National Center for PTSD (2010), about 60% of men and 50% of women experience at least one trauma in their lifetime, and 7-8% of the US population will have PTSD at some point in their lives. Research on treatment efficacy for PTSD did not begin until the early 1980s, when the disorder was introduced into the DSM-III, and since relatively few people with PTSD seek treatment (Foa, Keane, & Friedman, 2000), there is still not one preferred, empirically-supported treatment. However, there is some evidence that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic psychotherapy are two of the most common therapies for treating PTSD in both individual and group approaches, though group psychotherapy seems to be the principle method (Foa et al., 2000; Kaplan & Sadock, 1993; Klein, Bernard, & Singer, 1992; Klein & Schermer, 2000). Considering the fact that trauma has a pervasive impact on the psychosocial life of the victim, it is not surprising that counselors would be drawn to group psychotherapy in treating PTSD. Supporting trauma survivors in developing healthy and trusting relationships is an important task, as they often have difficulty trusting others and can be prone to avoidant and isolative tendencies in the wake of a traumatic event (Murphy et al., 2004; Winn, 1994). The development of basic trust is the first and most essential task of human development (Erikson, 1959), and the loss of this trust after traumatization can have devastating effects on one’s relationships (Kaplan & Sadock, 1993; Klein & Schermer, 2000). The rationale behind group psychotherapy is to have people who have been through similar traumatic situations support each other in order to rebuild their psychosocial functioning (Klein & Schermer, 2000). Research has suggested that supportive social networks can offer a broader range
of “reparative relationships” to survivors of traumatic experiences (Stalker, 1999) in order to repair the developmental deficit from survivors’ lives. Older group members who have lived with their traumatic experiences for a longer period of time can pass down their “survivor’s knowledge” to the new members, who have just recently experienced a traumatic event (Foa et al., 2000) for possible coping skills or experiences of what they would encounter in the close future. Because many trauma survivors reported feeling ostracized, judged, or blamed for their seemingly “extreme” reactions to traumatic events (Foy & Larson, 2007), sharing stories with one another provides survivors the opportunity to realize that they are not alone in facing such difficulty (Klein & Schermer, 2000) and to share a mutual identification of internalized pain. It is empowering for trauma survivors to receive support and validation from others who have been through similar situations (Stalker, 1999). This continued support and mutual identification over time allows trauma survivors to bond with each other through their pain and growth in group therapy. There are two types of group therapy for PTSD: “uncovering” and “covering” groups (Foa et al., 2000). “Uncovering” groups, such as psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral groups, embrace a setup wherein a mental health professional directly addresses traumatic experiences. The professional carefully describes each person’s story to the group in a fairly general manner. Psychodynamic groups aim to help members understand the triggers and emotional conflicts that lie between the traumatic event and their resulting symptoms (Treatment of PTSD, 2010). Cognitive-behavioral group therapy is based on the belief that “you are what you think you are” from basic behavioral and cognitive principles. It encourages members to focus on the positive perspective regarding their traumatic experiences by increasing coping skills such as eliminating, reappraising and restructuring the distressing thoughts (Treatment of PTSD, 2010), and changing of the maladaptive behavior that developed in the aftermath of the trauma (Klein et al., 1992). As an illustration, one informative example of an uncovering group is Herman’s (1991) three-stage
26 | Submissions model of treatment for victims of trauma with both approaches. Members’ progression through three groups helps them become progressively more comfortable with their reality (Kaplan & Sadock, 1993). Short-term crisis-oriented group is the first stage for survivors with mutual identification to foster a sense of safety and encourage self-care through discussion using both psycho-educational and cognitive-behavioral approaches. It seeks to establish a sense of communality to aid members in regaining interpersonal relationship. After no more than three or four sessions, group members who wish to continue will move on to the next stage, the short-term trauma-focused group (Kaplan & Sadock, 1993). This group is both time-limited and homogeneous with one major focus on fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance through the construction and sharing of trauma narratives from a cognitive-behavioral approach. Group members also work to eliminate their feelings of shame and self-blame with a psychodynamic approach by using each other as models and mirrors to reflect on their own traumatic memories and feelings in both consciously and unconsciously (Foa et al., 2000; Kaplan & Sadock, 1993). Eventually, group members will transition to the last stage, a long-term heterogeneous group with individuals that have experienced all different types of trauma, which shifts the emphasis from trauma to personality that reenact interpersonal behaviors in cognitive-behavioral approach. In addition, this stage also encourages members to explore and confront the impact of trauma on their day-to-day interactions and ways that they might now improve their interpersonal relationships (Kaplan & Sadock, 1993) with psychodynamic approach. Although the focus of each group gradually changes as members progress through the stages of treatment, every group seeks to establish a safe and confidential environment to build and sustain a sense of trust (Kaplan & Sadock, 1993). Moreover, individuals with PTSD can also join self-help groups for additional emotional and supportive network. Self-help groups are the most indicative of “covering” groups, which aim to maintain interpersonal comfort by having all members of the group share equal status (Foa et al., 2000). Self-help groups define
themselves according to their members’ past traumas or symptoms. They have a concrete structure with like-minded people who may have shared the residual senses of negative emotions such as helplessness, shame, and secrecy that accompany trauma (Kaplan & Sadock, 1993). The self-help group provides a support network to promote interdependence by re-learning to trust, making contacts and developing interpersonal commitments. However, without the appropriate guidance from a mental health professional, group members may not understand the internal origins of their symptoms, or ways to navigate competition, jealousies, and other interpersonal issues in the group, which can lead to a lack of commitment to the group. Although research on the benefits and risks of peer support groups is limited, previous studies suggest that it is possible to put a member at risk for secondary traumatization by hearing the graphic details of another member’s trauma without supervision (Resick, Monson, & Chard, 2008).Therefore, an individual who is attached to the traumatic events with current life crises or inability to tolerate high anxiety arousal may not be a good candidate to enroll in this self-help group setting (Foa et al., 2000). Other than the possible risk that has mentioned for the “covering” group, literature has also suggested the lack of flexibility in personal schedule for appointed group meeting times and the impossibility to handle members with severe paranoid, active suicidal or homicidal thoughts in the “uncovering” groups (Kaplan & Sadock, 1993). Since group therapy targets people with similar experiences, it is inevitable that one particular group can only address a limited range of issues in a given period of time. It is very difficult for the therapist to understand and keep abreast of everyone’s needs. Individual therapy, on the other hand, does not have the same limitations as group therapy. In individual psychotherapy, psychotherapy sessions can range from one to two meetings per week to once every few months, and can even include open-ended sessions that last for years depending on one’s needs (Foa et al., 2000). People with PTSD pay more to receive a highly focused and flexible psychotherapeutic approach from trained professionals (Kaplan &
Collins, Gallagher & Tsang: Group Therapy | 27 Sadock, 1993). Despite the fact that individual psychotherapy is a lot less cost effective and can only reach a smaller segment of the population (Najavits, Weiss, & Liese, 1996), patients share their experiences in a much more protective environment, with just the therapist present. This individual structure allows therapists to spend more time focusing on the origin of the stress and solving problems individually, instead of sharing and discussing the issues with other group members. In addition to the attention that the patient would get, the relationship between the therapist and the patient is a crucial factor when addressing or revealing unconscious problems, because it is very difficult for an individual to share any guilty, shameful or embarrassing stories with someone they perceive to be a stranger. In comparison with many opportunities for mutual identification that group therapy provides, it may take the patient a few sessions of individual therapy to build a connection with the therapist because of the difficulty for developing a sense of trust and safety in people with PTSD. However, the ability to complete trust marks the completion of the therapeutic work (Kaplan & Sadock, 1993) because trust is undoubtedly the most difficult emotional capacity for trauma survivors. These findings suggest that individual therapy will be a more effective approach to individual that is looking for a highly focused and protective environment to investigate all the details that might trigger PTSD (Carlson, 1997). Although there are no clear guidelines for choosing one approach over another because of their own advantages and disadvantages, both individual and group therapy are helpful in terms of different focuses. Group therapy is recommended for people that are looking for an interdependent relationship with the others and have no problem with the lack of flexibility in personal schedule, whereas individual therapy is best for people that are willing to spend more money to focus on solving the problems individually. The combination of at least one individual therapy session in order to perform an examination on patient’s mental process and memories (Kaplan & Sadock, 1993) which could not be replicated in a group therapy setting, and multiple group therapy sessions with a supportive network for interpersonal relationships,
are suggested be the most helpful and cost-effective to patients who require treatment for PTSD (Klein & Schermer, 2000; Stalker, 1999).
Addiction Disorders Similar to PTSD and other stress disorders, substance dependence is a clinical disorder that requires intensive treatment and professional guidance (Verster et al., 2012). According to the DSM-IV-TR, substance dependence (often referred to as “drug addiction”) is a disorder marked by symptoms such as tolerance for a particular drug, the experience of physical withdrawal symptoms, lack of desire to minimize usage, taking great measures to obtain the drug, the forgoing of other responsibilities as a result of drug use, and a constant yearning for the drug (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Addiction to a drug results from the emotional impulses that a particular substance triggers in the brain (Verster et al., 2012). The more prolonged the drug use, the more substance is required to trigger the desired emotions. Because of the cyclical behavior of drug addiction (i.e., craving, satiation), most addicts are unable to recover on their own, and so clinical treatment becomes a necessary step toward sobriety (Verster et al., 2012). Although there is no perfect form of treatment, group therapy is the reigning method used for treating drug addiction and typically produces promising results for addicts (Kelly, Stout, Zwyiak, & Schneider, 2006). Group therapy for addiction follows a very precise structure, which can either lead to a “working group,” in which the group members actively participate and are intent on recovering, or a “resistant group,” in which the group members are not yet fully willing to accept the need for treatment and therefore do not participate effectively (Yallisove, Elder, Rogers, & McMillan, 1991). However, these two categories of groups are not always concrete, but instead are dynamic functional systems that may change based on the leader’s guidance and the group members’ dedication, which could realistically change from day to day. Either way, it is essential that the developing pattern of the group is identified and addressed by the leader. Working groups are quite essential to recovery for all
28 | Submissions group members, because they lead to open dialogue about each individual’s specific struggle with addiction, forcing each member to take responsibility for his or her actions. Loss of all forms of responsibility is a common trait in drug addicts, since drug use can often lead one to forgo many working duties and social relationships (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Thus, regular participation in a working group is essential in rebuilding the sense of responsibility that is necessary for recovery (Yallisove et al., 1991). It is fairly easy to tell if a group is a working or resistant one: if group members choose not to speak up, deny that they have a disorder, and/or do not display a desire to change their ways and become sober, the group is clearly resistant. The group leader must confront any resistant group as a whole, in order to successfully intervene and lead them down the right path to become a working group. In order to elicit initial participation and foster a working group, the leader may often target just one member to start the trajectory (Yallisove et al., 1991). If the leader is able to guide one outspoken member into participating in the group, then it often becomes a trend for the other members to follow suit (Yallisove et al.,1991). This technique is quite practical because addicts often share a susceptibility to mimic the actions of others (i.e., give in to “peer pressure”) (Yallisove et al., 1991). Therefore, if one willing initiator begins to engage in the group, many of the others will often engage in the group as well. Even if their particular addictions differ, group therapy can be an effective tool for addicts because they can easily share the basis for their membership to the group and the hardships they have experienced, building a positively influential dynamic within the group as a result of the “peer pressure effect”. Following the notion that group leaders can harness “peer pressure” for beneficial purposes is the idea that the more group members are able to feed off each other, the less reliant they become on the group leader (Yallisove et al., 1991). Reduced reliance on the leader can be a promising predictor of their abilities to abstain from drug use in the real world post-treatment, sans a professional therapist at their side (Yallisove et al., 1991). To emphasize the importance of group
participation in an addiction disorder group, Kelly et al. (2006) assessed many addiction group settings and monitored members’ levels of participation, as measured by regular attendance and frequency of voluntarily speaking up during group sessions. The researchers followed up on the participants’ progress after the final session of group treatment. Their findings suggested that the more the members participated within their groups, the higher their rate of drug abstinence after completing treatment, regardless of factors such as gender, race, religion, and psychological co-morbidity (Kelly et al., 2006). These results emphasize the extent to which group therapy can be an effective tool for drug addicts. Group therapy for addicts commonly uses the 12-Step Program, a method that many people have critiqued since it began in the 1930s (The 12 Steps, 2012). White (1999) analyzes some major beneficial tools that group leaders utilize from 12-Step Program within group therapy sessions. Initially, the program builds a community that involves each participant. Since all members are coping with a similar struggle, sessions exclude no one from the group, or in the long term, from the path to recovery. Each member has the same general goal in mind (assuming that it is a working group), and like a community, the members have the opportunity to work together to achieve sobriety. As a result, this community setting provides a sort of “family” for those who commit to the program, and creates an upholding structure and friendship for all members of the group (White, 1999). Addicts often have difficulty maintaining familial and social relationships during the time of their addiction, so participating in a group that provides a similar support system is very beneficial for their recovery (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). The 12-Step Program emphasizes the idea of addiction as a disease, not a personal fault of the individual, and discourages the addicts from blaming themselves, for self-blame often fosters and negative outlook and prevents addicts from fully recovering (White, 1999). For these reasons, the 12-Step program used in group therapy can provide much of the encouragement, support, and motivation necessary to reach recovery. On the other hand, not all aspects of the 12-Step
Collins, Gallagher & Tsang: Group Therapy | 29 Program are quite this effective, and there are some features in which the program is lacking. One of the inadequate aspects is the program’s assumption that all addicts share the same spiritual beliefs, since five of the twelve steps explicitly discuss the necessity of a relationship with God (Khatzian, Halliday, & McAuliffe, 1990). Addition groups may include atheist participants, who will have trouble identifying with these concepts. Therefore, the emphasis on finding God in one’s life may apply only certain portions of the group. The program also fails to focus on the physical or psychological aspects of addiction, which are essential for an addict to fully understand his or her condition (Khatzian et al., 1990). The 12-Step Program also does not provide any education about the particular addictive substances. If an addict does not actually have a clear idea of what a particular substance is actually doing to him or her, then he or she may have trouble moving forward with treatment and recovery. Some also believe that this program establishes a reliance on the group members as opposed to the self, which is not promising for group members’ ability to function on their own after treatment ends (Khatzian et al., 1990). Thus, research suggests that the 12-Step Program for group therapy might not be completely adequate in guiding addicts to a lifetime of sobriety, despite the fact that it is one of the most common group structures. Despite the fact that group therapy is the predominant method for addiction treatment, some addicts may instead choose to engage in individual therapy. However, although individual therapy does have some benefits, it may not be as effective as group therapy as a whole. Studies suggest that individual therapy can be useful in targeting specific issues regarding one’s addiction experience that cannot be addressed among the whole group, since group therapy tends to focus on general issues that many addicts may share (Galanter & Brook, 2001). Although individual therapy can be a useful tool for treating addicts, it appears to be more effective when used in conjunction with group therapy. Although an individual’s specific struggles are important, such as personal lifetime losses, particular experiences that have arisen from one’s drug use, or any other comorbid disorders,
the general issues that all addicts face are crucial to address as well, which always arise through discussion in a group setting (Galanter & Brook, 2001). That being said, although individual therapy may be useful for addressing more personal issues, it is still advantageous for addicts to simultaneously engage in group therapy sessions because of the healing power of the relationships formed between group members.
Eating Disorders Eating disorders are similar to addiction and stress disorders in regards to treatment. For all three disorders, group therapy is the most commonly practiced treatment. For eating disorders, evidence-based treatments such as cognitive and behavior therapies are the most common forms of group therapy and are considered the main approaches for treating eating disorders. Although these treatments are the go-tomethod, further exploration into why group therapy is such a popular treatment is warranted. Eating disorders are one of the most common mental disorders, affecting 10 million adolescent females in the United States alone (National Institute for Eating Disorders-NIED, 2010). Eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (ED-NOS) (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Symptoms of anorexia include an obsessive need to control one’s eating, a fear of becoming fat, and a distorted view of one’s body. These thoughts contribute to a universal cognitive rigidity and obsessive core beliefs that are present in most or all anorexic patients. Bulimic individuals, on the other hand, tend to engage in dangerous binge/purge cycles (i.e., eating abnormally large amounts of food and then compulsively ridding their body of the food through vomiting, laxatives or other means) (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Just one third of females diagnosed with anorexia receive mental health care, and only six percent of females with bulimia receive mental health care (NIED, 2010). For those who do seek treatment, group therapy is the most popular approach for multiple reasons. As previously noted, group therapy for
30 | Submissions any type of disorder is cost efficient and can provide an effective treatment for a larger number of patients. As a whole, group therapy requires fewer therapists and fewer hours of treatment per person to provide an effective treatment (Katzman et al., 2010). Individual therapy, on the other hand, requires a much more intensive, time consuming and expensive process. Individual eating disorder therapy requires an average of twelve hours of therapy a month to be effective, many more hours than are needed for success in group therapy (Katzman et al., 2010). These individual sessions are often very expensive and may not always be covered by insurance policies. The symptoms of both anorexia and bulimia tend to be universal across most patients. This shared rigidity increases the effectiveness of group therapy, because many of the patients have the same patterns of thoughts and feelings. Thus, mental health professionals can apply one therapy to several patients at the same time, rather than individualizing a detailed treatment plan for each patient (Bowers, 2001). In addition to being cost effective and applicable to the majority of patients, group therapy has several social benefits that can help recovery among both anorexic and bulimic patients. In a group therapy setting, members of the group form a mutually beneficial relationship. Members are integrated into their peer group in a safe, non-judgmental place. Patients learn from each otherâ€™s success and are motivated to take steps toward recovery from their eating disorders when their fellow members begin to recover. In a group, patients who are taking steps to recovery are praised for their positive behavior, which shows others that recovery can be positive. This modeling of recovery encourages others to seek praise for their own progress (Izdorczyk & Nizolek, 2010). However, both group leaders and members must be cognizant of the fact that modeling can also perpetuate the idea that negative behavior is acceptable. Much of the rigid and obsessive thinking that occurs in patients with eating disorders derives from the idea that one should be perfect. In a group setting, members of the group often come to reveal that they are not perfect, demonstrating to other group members that everyone has imperfections. By seeing imperfections in others,
eating disorder patients begin to understand that their own imperfections are normal and acceptable (Wood, Al-Khariulla, & Lask, 2011). This helps them move towards a more healthy perception of self and a less rigid need to be perfect. Although the positive aspects of group therapy do support the utility of this approach, there are a few negative aspects to group treatment. Cognitive therapies use each individualâ€™s level of thinking to determine how to move forward with his or her treatment. Thus, individuals with dramatically different cognitive levels may not benefit from the universalizing treatment necessary for an entire group of patients (Bowers, 2002). Furthermore, although modeling is a positive social factor in group therapy, social factors can also be the cause of failure or be detrimental to treatment. Eating disorder patients typically do not seek out treatment for their own benefit. Loved ones often force them into treatment, and once there, patients are frequently resistant to treatment or refuse it entirely. When patients are resistant to treatment, their lack of participation puts the therapeutic bond, a trusting relationship between a patient and his or her therapist, in jeopardy. Thus, this bond, which is so important for recovery, is often harder and slower to form in group sessions because there is less individual attention. This effect is cyclical in that when the therapeutic bond is not strong, patients are less likely to participate in group sessions (Leung, Waller, & Thomas, 1999). These factors make it harder to achieve recovery. The main alternative to treating patients with eating disorders is individual therapy. Although often overlooked because of the popularity of group therapy, individual therapy may still provide a beneficial alternative. Studies have shown that patients who are resistant to treatment often times respond better to individual therapy than they do to group therapy. Anorexic patients in particular have shown large refusal and drop-out rates from treatment (Carter et al., 2009). However, individual therapy for anorexic patients has shown a lower drop-out rate than group therapy (Carter et al., 2009). This could possibly be due to the stronger therapeutic bond that individual therapy provides (Garner, 1985). With bulimic
Collins, Gallagher & Tsang: Group Therapy | 31 patients, individual therapy has also shown positive results. In several studies, a brief period of individual therapy has resulted in very long periods of time without binge/purging episodes (Ghanderi, 2006). These findings suggest that individual therapy may be the best treatment method for patients who are resistant to treatment or have difficulty bonding with larger groups. A few studies have compared group therapy to individual treatment. In bulimic patients, group therapy has been shown to be more effective for patients with social issues and/or a distorted self-view. In contrast, individual therapy has been more effective for patients with very rigid and compulsive eating behaviors (Chen et al, 2003; Nenoven, & Broger, 2005; Tasca & Bone 2007). In patients with anorexia, individual therapy was found to be more effective directly after treatment, based on the evidence of symptoms and the number of patients in recovery, but there was not a significant difference between individual and group therapy at a one-year follow up (Chen et al, 2003). Further investigation into the comparison of group and individual therapy is needed to form a concrete opinion on the more effective treatment. There is clear support for employing group therapy as the main approach to treating eating disorders, but research suggests that individual therapy has a few benefits that are often overlooked. More investigation is certainly warranted as the field moves forward in developing treatment for eating disorders. Some studies suggest that a combination of brief individual therapy followed by group therapy with the same therapist may show the best results (Chen et al., 2003). Others suggest that a stepped treatment with various levels and types of therapy may be best (Loeb, 2000). Although group therapy is considered to be the primary method for treating eating disorders, both individual and group therapy seem to be effective in the treatment of various patients. In terms of further research, more comparative studies of group and individual therapy may be beneficial in order to provide a more conclusive picture of the effectiveness of treatment of eating disorders.
Conclusion Stress disorders, addiction disorders, and eating disorders are all very complex, debilitating conditions that are challenging to treat, but it is very necessary that the people suffering from these disorders reach recovery in order to live full, healthy lives. However, practitioners often prefer group therapy as their main approach to treatment. Cost effectiveness and social aspects, such as modeling and support, seem to be the most beneficial aspects of group therapy. In stress disorders, these facets are very important because they encourage the re-learning of trust, and develop interpersonal commitments while sharing mutual identification of internalized pain (Klein & Schermer, 2000). For drug addicts, because of the â€œpeer pressureâ€? effect, group members are likely to mimic the behavior of other people in the group, which can be very positive if the people being mimicked have made significant progress (Yallisove et al., 1991). For eating disorders, patients see imperfections in others through group therapy, and subsequently learn that their own imperfections are normal and acceptable. This helps them move toward a more healthy self perception, and a less rigid and obsessive need to be perfect (Wood et al., 2011). However, there are areas in which group therapy is needs improvement. These limitations include the fact that a clinician can only address a limited range of issues in a group, the establishment of a reliance on group members as opposed to oneself, and the difficulty of forming bond between the therapist and the patient (Khatzian et al., 1990; Leung et al., 1999; Najavits et al., 1996). Although there is strong evidence to support the adoption of group therapy as the principle treatment for stress, addiction, and eating disorders, group and individual therapy combined may be an even more effective tool in reaching recovery. The reason for this is that for someone who may not be as comfortable talking about their personal difficulties and emotions, individual therapy could initially help the person learn to speak openly in a more protective setting, and once the individual becomes more used to this process, he or she may become more comfortable to discuss these matters in a group setting. The combination of both
32 | Submissions forms needs to be further investigated, as well as more rigorous research on the comparison of the results of group therapy to individual therapy.
References American Psychiatric Assocation. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author. Benezra, E. E. (1990). Psychodynamic group therapy: A multiple treatment approach for private practice. Psychiatric Annals, 20(7), 375-378. Bowers, W. A. (2002). Cognitive therapy for anorexia nervosa. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 9, 247-253. Carter, J. C., McFarlane, T. L., Bewell, C., Olmsted, M. P., Woodside, D. B., Kaplan, A. S., & Crosby, R. D. (2009). Maintenance treatment for anorexia nervosa: A comparison of cognitive behavior therapy and treatment as usual. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 42, 202-207. Chen, E., Touyz, S. W., Beumont, P. V., Fiarburn, C. G., Griffiths, R., Butow, P., Russell, J., â€Ś Basten, C. (2003). Comparison of group and individual cognitive behavioral therapy for patients with bulimia nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 33, 241-254. Erikson, E. (1959). Identity and the life cycle. New York: International Universities Press. Foa, E. B., Keane, T. M., & Friedman, M. J. (2000). Effective treatments for PTSD, practice guidelines from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. The Guilford Press. Foy, D. W., & Larson, L. C. (2007). Group therapies for trauma using cognitive behavioral therapy. In V. M. Follete & J. I. Ruzek (Eds.), Cognitive-behavioral therapies for trauma (2nd ed.), pp. 38840. New York: Guilford Press. Garner, D. M. (1985). Individual psychotherapy for anorexia nervosa. Journal of Psychiatry, 9(2), 423-433.
Duca: Coping Strategies for Military Reintergration | 33
“The Walking Wounded”:
Here-and-now Coping Strategies to Ease the Reintegration of American Military Veterans Kara Duca
ince 2001, approximately 2.4 million troops have been deployed to warzones in Iraq and Afghanistan, and over half of these troops have now returned to civilian life (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 2012). Although veterans often feel a deep sense of relief and joy at the prospect of returning home, the journey back to a civilian life is all but smooth (Demers, 2011; Doyle & Peterson, 2005). The process of reintegration – that is, the return home, reunification with one’s family and community, and reentry into civilian life – is difficult for veterans who have spent` time in a foreign and life-threatening war zone (Doyle & Peterson, 2005). Although researchers and civilians acknowledge common struggles such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and suicidality, they often fail to recognize the challenges of reintegration, which include a crisis of identity and feelings of alienation (Demers, 2011). These additional stressors make returning home a difficult and even harrowing experience, instead of a welcomed relief. One of the consequences of the dramatic shift in context that accompanies discharge is an intense identity crisis (Demers, 2011; Turner, 1974). The challenge of reconciling military and civilian identities parallels the experience of acculturative stress in immigrants to the United States. Acculturative stress refers to the psychological challenges that immigrants experience due to differences between home and host culture (Berry, 1997), and it can have a strongly negative impact on identity and mental health (Berry, 1990; Berry, Kim, Minde, & Mok, 1987). After spending months or even years in a military environment that is radically different from mainstream American society, military veterans often experience a reverse culture shock upon return to the U.S. that is analogous to the acculturative stress of immigrants (Berry, 1997). Thus, the reintegration experience provides support for the acknowledgement of military veterans
as hidden immigrants, native-born Americans who spend a significant portion of their lives abroad and then return to the United States (Bell, 1997; Doyle & Peterson, 2005). Because they are legally Americans, mainstream society sees them as part of the established American culture and assumes a seamless reintegration. Despite their American status, these hidden immigrants endure a process very similar to that of first-time immigrants to the United States (Bell, 1997), with added stress of such high expectations for reassimiliation. Whereas acculturative stress often influences the development of mental health symptoms in immigrants, reintegration stressors often exacerbate preexisting mental health symptoms in veterans. Mental disorders are the preeminent cause of medical discharge among men in the military (Keane, Niles, Otis, & Quinn, 2011). After discharge, veterans are highly susceptible to PTSD, anxiety, depression, anger symptomology, and substance abuse (Tanielian & Jaycox, 2008). Perhaps most striking is the recent dramatic rise in military suicides. Prior to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the rate of suicide within the military was 25% lower than the rate of suicide among civilians (Hoge & Castro, 2012). Between 2005 and 2009, however, suicides within the Army and Marines doubled, and now outnumber civilian suicides. As a result, the total number of military suicides each year exceeds the number of combat-related deaths (Hoge & Castro, 2012). These mental health symptoms do not exist in the vacuum of the war zone, but follow survivors home, often adding stress to their relationships with family and friends (Demers, 2009). Reintegration challenges compound these mental health issues, making the process of returning home difficult and potentially dangerous for veterans and their families. The military has acknowledged these concerns. Every branch of the military imposes a mandatory reinte-
34 | Submissions gration training program prior to discharge, which addresses topics such as interpersonal relationships, employment, education, access to benefits, and the search for meaning and purpose in life (Sayers, 2011). Troops are also required to complete suicide awareness training while on active duty and mental health screens prior to and immediately following deployment (Doyle & Peterson, 2005; Hoge & Castro, 2012). Studies have questioned the effectiveness of these formalized programs, considering the widespread stigma surrounding mental health difficulties and treatment within military culture (Greene-Shortridge, Britt, & Castro, 2007). Soldiers often feel that admitting mental health symptoms and seeking treatment would expose a serious weakness, and fear discrimination and a decrease in respect from their peers (Greene-Shortridge et al., 2007). Because of this stigma, most of the troops who have the greatest need will never seek treatment (Greene-Shortridge et al., 2007). The inconsistency of research on existing mental health awareness programs within the military reveals a gap in the current understanding of reintegration challenges and the inhibiting force of stigma. Existing studies rarely focus on mental health stigma in the military, and more often relegate it to a limitation in the discussion. Researchers put forth impassioned calls for policy changes and program development to reduce mental health stigma, but such large-scale transformations in perception and policy cannot occur overnight. In the meantime, rates of suicide, PTSD, and other mental health disorders are increasing at a frightening rate, and most of the affected military members will not seek or participate in treatment. Herein lies the question: What can we do in the meantime? What are some here-and-now methods for coping with reintegration difficulties for American military veterans? Because the War on Terror has precipitated the recent rise in military mental health symptoms, for the purposes of this review “American military veterans” will refer only to those who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Navigating Reintegration: Facing the Identity Crisis The world of soldiers is strikingly different from the world of civilians, and the individual soldier is a different person in each of these contexts. The role of boot camp is to strip military recruits of their former civilian identity and replace it with a new military identity (Demers, 2011). During this process, the soldier goes through three stages of identity change (i.e., Separation, Liminality, or “betwixt and between,” and Incorporation) in much the same way that immigrants to the United States undergo a dramatic identity transformation (Demers, 2011). Once this transformation is complete, the man has now become the soldier, and this new identity pervades his sense of self. Having this military identity benefits soldiers within the military context and particularly in war, where adhering to values of duty, honor, loyalty, and commitment and learning how to turn off emotions and depersonalize the act of killing can mean the difference between life and death (Demers, 2011). The military identity mandates total obedience to authority and the willingness to sacrifice oneself for others, and works off of a merit-based rewards system (Collins, 1998). These collectivistic and civic-minded values starkly contrast with those of the dominant American culture, which prioritize individualism and material gain (Demers, 2011). Researchers refer to this chasm between cultures as the “civil-military cultural gap” (Collins, 1998, p.216). Although the civil-military cultural gap is helpful in separating civilian from soldier upon enlistment, it also provides an understanding of the difficulties that accompany reintegration. When soldiers are discharged from the military, they again undergo a radical identity shift from separation to integration. Oftentimes, however, they can become stuck in the “betwixt and between” phase of liminality, where they feel as if they are lost, belonging to neither military nor civilian culture (Demers, 2011; Turner, 1974). This process often leaves soldiers in limbo, attempting to live in the space between their two cultures. At this juncture, social support from family and friends is critical to successful identity achievement. The American status of veterans, how-
Duca: Coping Strategies for Military Reintergration | 35 ever, precludes family and friends from instinctual consideration of the difficulties that they face in realigning their split identities. Soldiers have described returning home and feeling like a killer inside, only to encounter family expectations that they act like a gentleman (Demers, 2011). This gap in understanding is not the result of any conscious decision to withhold support. Rather, civilians are relatively uneducated about the negative experiences that accompany reintegration and expect their soldier to return the same person as when he left, and are thus surprised and distressed when the reality is different (Doyle & Peterson, 2005). With education, however, it might be possible for family members to adjust their at-home strategies in order to support a positive resolution to their veterans’ identity crisis. Research suggests that both veterans themselves and their surrounding social networks can employ certain dialogical strategies in order to effectively integrate military identity with civilian identity upon reintegration. O’Sullivan-Lago, de Abreu, & Burgess (2008) call for the adoption of an “I as a human being” strategy of living and speaking, which strengthens connections with others by focusing one’s attention on sameness rather than difference. This strategy of engagement supports veterans in facing and accepting their past experiences, which in turn allows for more effective negotiation of cultures and the rejection of any unwanted identities (Demers, 2011; O’Sullivan et al., 2008). From this point, veterans can work toward the development of a healthy hybrid identity in which their two selves coexist without any one claiming dominance over the whole person (Mahalingam, 2008). In contrast, the typical response has been “hegemonic bargaining,” in which the dominant (US) and former (military) cultures exist and compete within the individual for total expression (Chen, 1999). When others focus on differences rather than similarities between their experiences and those of their veteran, it perpetuates a split identity and leaves veterans at risk for mental health symptoms including depression and suicide vulnerability (Demers, 2011). Thus, it is beneficial for family members and other sources of social support to focus on connection by adopting an “I as a human being” strategy of relation
and connection and encourage their veterans to do the same.
The Benefit of Narratives In addition to adopting certain beneficial strategies of interpersonal relation, research suggests that drawing upon narratives may be another hereand-now strategy for effectively negotiating identity development (Demers, 2011). Because traumatic experiences add a challenge to forming and maintaining a cohesive identity, retelling narratives of those experiences helps to reconcile the disparate parts of one’s identity (Burnell, Hunt, & Coleman, 2009). For narratives to be helpful, however, they must first contain a theme. In addition, veterans should avoid dysfunctional integration – that is, telling their story in such a way as to solidify the traumatic experience into his/her identity to the extent that they begin to view all other experiences in relation to the traumatic experience (Demers, 2011). They should learn to frame the story as just one experience that is contextualized within their larger life. In this way, retelling one’s story can serve as an effective here-and-now coping strategy that aids in facilitating identity coherence (Burnell et al., 2009). These practices create a shared sense of meaning that can be helpful both in reducing veterans’ internal stress and fostering increased family cohesion (Holloway, 2010). Because family and community members often have a difficult time understanding and relating to veterans’ experiences, retelling stories could also serve to increase their understanding of the military experience and the struggles that reintegration provides. Such an understanding can lead to stronger social support networks and narrow the civil-military cultural gap (Demers, 2011). More than just a byproduct, however, this increase in knowledge and appreciation of veterans’ experiences may provide additional benefits for veterans, as a lack of understanding on the part of both family and community often introduces its own stressors to the reintegration process. Narrative structures are beneficial primarily for their ability to assist veterans in reconciling a split identity and finding sources of inner strength and
36 | Submissions pride (Holloway, 2010). However, these inner transformations must occur in the context of a society that supports veterans and assumes responsibility for reintegration (Holloway, 2010). In contrast to the highly visible popular support of soldiers during World War II, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have seen a noticeable decline in popular support of soldiers (Doyle & Peterson, 2005). The absence of a national consensus concerning the war itself, unfortunately, has expanded to a lack of validation and respect for soldiers as well as a general non-acknowledgement of returning veterans (Doyle & Peterson, 2005). Families of soldiers have expressed frustration when they attempt to talk with others about the emotional and psychological stress that comes with loving a soldier, and find that others respond by refocusing the discussion on the politics of the war (Demers, 2009). Such a fragmented and unsupportive social context disallows veterans and their families from producing and sharing effective narratives. By acknowledging and validating soldiers’ efforts and identifying with the emotional aspects of a soldier’s experience that are universal and inherently human (Holloway, 2010), society can better provide effective support and connection in the midst of an otherwise isolating experience. In addition to the general lack of societal consensus on the politics surrounding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the dependence on an all-volunteer military force as opposed to a draft has granted Americans the opportunity to completely detach from military issues, exacerbating the lack of understanding about the considerable differences between the two worlds (Collins, 1998). Veterans have described feelings of being misunderstood and disrespected by civilians who did not understand who they were or what they had endured (Demers, 2011). Coming from a context in which they worked hard, earned the respect of their peers, were highly trained and capable, served as leaders, and filled with a sense of purpose, veterans return home to a society that has no clear role for them (Demers, 2011; Holloway, 2010). The increased distance between veterans and civilian society perpetuates a split identity in veterans and hinders the development of a holistic healing process.
Acknowledgement of Psychological Wounds Although researchers, mental health professionals, and civilians are beginning to understand the physical and psychological wounds that plague veterans, they often fail to acknowledge the impact of war on a soldier’s emotional processes. Holloway (2010) calls for an increased awareness of emotional wounds of war in both military culture and the larger society, suggesting that such an awareness might lead to more holistic social support for returning service members. Drawing on the disciplines of psychology and mythology, she contends that “the soul can experience a violent ‘rupturing’ just like a leg, a lung, or a blood vessel in the brain” (Holloway, 2010, p.184). The Western penchant for immediately medicating not only veterans’ physical wounds but their psychological and emotional wounds as well, precludes an understanding of emotional wounds and robs veterans of the opportunity to heal their souls (Holloway, 2010). Because of this emphasis on Western medical treatment, American society offers few support systems that address the struggles of reintegration from a soulful healing perspective. Holloway draws on the mythical tradition of the Wounded Hero to re-vision the soldier’s experience from a more holistic perspective, and draws parallels between ancient myths and the contemporary soldier’s experience. Most notably, the Wounded Hero must undergo a difficult journey in order to discover meaning in his life and understand his role in the world (Holloway, 2010). When the hero reaches the end of his journey, it remains vital for him to draw upon sources of social support rather than isolate as he navigates a period of uncertainty and confusion. Social support is vital in addressing many of the spiritual wounds that veterans encounter. One of the most pervasive setbacks that veterans experience is a perception of failure or weakness. Many soldiers return with Survivor’s Guilt, or feelings of guilt about leaving friends in the war zone coupled with inability to understand why they are still alive when so many others (in many cases, many of their close friends) were killed or seriously wounded (Greene-Shortridge
Duca: Coping Strategies for Military Reintergration | 37 et al., 2007). In these cases, social support serves the vital purpose of helping the veteran to reconcile the disparity between his perception of himself as weak and a failure and the reality of his traumatic experiences (Holloway, 2010). Just as the fear of appearing weak inhibits soldiers from seeking out support for particular mental health symptoms, so too does it prevent them from acknowledging and attending to their broken spirit. Without adequate social support, veterans react to these internal ruptures with a combination of shame, guilt, and stoicism (Holloway, 2010), patterns that simply maintain their current negative responses. By reframing the soldier’s experience as a journey rather than an isolated experience and assuming a soulful healing perspective, however, society can more effectively aid veterans in achieving a more holistic and comprehensive reintegration. Western practice typically addresses psychological wounds of war using the same healing techniques it would with any other physical injury, following the medical model of diagnosis, medication, and intermittent follow-ups (Holloway, 2010). However, the uniquely traumatic wounds of war are more than just physical; these wounds also occur on psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual levels. The veteran returns in such a complex state that it is necessary for a holistic and comprehensive healing modality to be able to address all of these concerns and treat the whole person instead of each individual “problem.” Future research would greatly benefit from an exploration of ways to develop such holistic modalities. Researchers are beginning to experiment with atypical approaches, such as including spiritually inspired language in both medical and therapeutic settings, that could serve to bring together varied aspects of a veteran’s issues (Holloway, 2010). Though knowledge in this area is extremely limited, it is clear that the one-size-fits-all approach to such multi-layered and complex traumas is only a temporary fix for a larger issue, a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. Western society’s reliance on medical models of treatment neglects the damaging effect of war on a veteran’s psyche and soul, and precipitates veterans’ negative self-image of being “broken” (Holloway, 2010). The challenges of reintegration are great, though they are by no means
insurmountable. While researchers and policymakers struggle to eradicate the pervasive stigma associated with mental health treatment in the military and improve reintegration training programs, family and friends can employ simple strategies such as humanistic identification, encouragement of narratives, and an appreciation of the soldier’s experience in order to buffer the negative consequences of reintegration and help their veteran move forward with a new identity and sense of purpose.
38 | Submissions References Bell, L. (1997). Hidden Immigrants: Legacies of growing up abroad (Vol. 11). Notre Dame, IN: Cross-Cultural Publications. Berry, J. W. (1990). Psychology of acculturation. In J. J. Berman (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation: Vol. 37. Cross cultural perspectives. Current theory and research in motivation (pp. 201-234). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Berry, J. W. (1997). Immigration, acculturation, and adaptation. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 46(1), 5-68. Berry, J. W., Kim, U., Minde, T., & Mok, D. (1987). Comparative studies of acculturative stress. International Migration Review, 21, 491–511. Burnell, K. J., Hunt, N., & Coleman, P. G. (2009). Developing a model of narrative analysis to investigate the role of social support in coping with traumatic war memories. Narrative Inquiry, 19(1), 91-105. Chen, A. S. (1999). Lives at the center of the periphery, lives at the periphery of the center: Chinese American masculinities and bargaining with hegemony. Gender and Society, 13(5), 584-607. Collins, J. (1998). The complex context of American military culture: A practitioner’s view. Washington Quarterly, 21, 213-226. Demers, A. (2009). The war at home: Consequences of loving a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Internet Journal of Mental Health, 6(1), 3-20. Demers, A. (2011). When veterans return: The role of community in reintegration. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 16, 160-179. Doyle, M. E., & Peterson, K. A. (2005). Re-entry and reintegration: Returning home after combat. Psychiatric Quarterly, 76(4), 361-370. Greene-Shortridge, T. M., Britt, T. W., & Castro, A. (2007). The stigma of mental health problems in the military. Military Medicine, 172(2), 157-161. Hoge, C. W., & Castro, C. A. (2012). Preventing suicides in US service members and veterans: Concerns after a decade of war. Journal of the American Medical Association, 308(7), 671-2. Holloway, S. D. (2010). The Wounded Hero: Supporting military families through mythology and the performing arts (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute). Retrieved from web. Keane, T. M., Niles, B. L., Otis, J. D., & Quinn, S. J. (2011). Addressing post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans: The challenge of supporting mental health following military discharge. In T. M. Keane, B. L. Niles, J. D. Otis, & S. J. Quinn (Eds.), Deployment psychology: Evidence-based strategies to promote mental health in the military (pp. 243-273). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Mahalingam, R. (2008). Power, social marginality, and the cultural psychology of identities at the cultural contact zones. Human Development, 51, 368-373. O’Sullivan-Lago, R., de Abreu, G., & Burgess, M. (2008). ‘I am a human being like you’: An identification strategy to maintain continuity in a cultural contact zone. Human Development, 51, 349-367. Sayers, S. L. (2011). Family reintegration difficulties and couples therapy for military veterans and their spouses. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 18, 108-119. Tanielian, T, & Jaycox, L. (Eds.) (2008). Invisible wounds of war: Psychological and cognitive injuries, their consequences, and services to assist recovery. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Turner, V. (1974). Dramas, fields, and metaphors: Symbolic action in human society. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. (2012). Analysis of VA health care utilization among Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) veterans. Retrieved from http://www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/ epidemiology/healthcare-utilization-report-fy2012-qtr1.pdf
Karasu: Muslim Enough | 39
Muslim-American Women in the United States What is Considered Muslim Enough?
slamic communities within the United States are perceived as one and the same. Since the events of 9/11, comparative studies emphasize Muslim identified individuals as members of an “emerging collective identity” (Sirin et al., 2008, p. 261). However, identifying Muslims as members of a collective group ignores diversity within the Islamic religion. In light of the literature (Jeldtoft, 2011; Jensen, 2011; Sirin & Fine, 2007; Sirin et al,. 2008), institutionalized religious practices (e.g., wearing the Hijab for women and religious beard or hats for men) are viewed by non-Muslims as universal markers of a Muslim religious identity. Moreover, there are gender differences within the Islamic religion making orthodox women more identifiable by out-group or non-Muslims, via their choice to wear the Hijab (to cover their heads). The majority of research rooted in discriminatory attitudes towards women perceived, based on the Hijab, to be Muslim in the United States, focuses on an out-group (non-Muslim identifying) perspective (Elashi, Mills, & Grant, 2010; Jeldtoft, 2011; Sirin & Fine, 2007; Sirin et al., 2008). Out-group discrimination of Muslim women underscores a collective identity assuming homogeneity within the Islamic religion. There is a dearth of research focusing on how Muslim women in the United States define their faith within their own community, and how discrimination occurs within-group (Elashi et al., 2010). Viewing discrimination solely from an out-group perspective, neglects the range of subjective interpretations of being ‘Muslim enough’ in American Islamic communities. To address the literature gap, the present review will examine how female Muslim identity is constructed in the United States. Muslim-American women face the challenge of reconciling different aspects of their identities. It is important to recognize categories of one’s identity (i.e., gender or race) are not mutually exclusive, and intersectionality underscores that multidimensional
nature of identity (Crenshaw, 1989; 1991). Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989) coined the term intersectionality to encompass how the interplay between one’s race and gender changes one’s experience. Therefore, Understanding a Muslim-American woman’s identity, involves understanding the intersection of her gender, religion, and in most cases her race. Sirin and Fine (2007) discuss how a “hyphenated self” (p.152), can be used to understand how one’s identity can be “at once joined, and separated, by history, the present socio-political climate,” (p.152) etc., especially during global conflict. Muslim-American women’s identities therefore have become hyphenated in the aftermath of 9/11 in the United States. How much a Muslim woman chooses to identify with her faith is subjective. However, perceptions of Muslim women differ depending on how visibly religious they appear by both in-group and out-group members. Institutionalized Islamic standards for women dictate dress, behavior, and with whom a woman can socialize. Additionally, religiosity is linked to commonly Islamic associated practices, such as wearing the Hijab. Wearing the Hijab acts as a “clear [and] visual” (Droogsma, 2007, p. 296) identity marker for Muslim women adhering to Islamic standards in the United States, therefore women without the Hijab are not overtly expected to carry out the same values (Sirin & Fine, 2007). Wearing the Hijab is a choice in the United States as it is not a Muslim country. The element of choice is important to consider when examining how Muslim-American women establish their identities within their communities. Muslim women are often viewed as “submissive” (Abu-Ali & Reisen, 1999, p. 185) in Western stereotypes. Moreover, Muslim women who do not cover are generally overlooked because they are not considered “representative Muslims” (Jeldtoft, 2011, p.1140) and sometimes think of themselves as “bad Muslim[s]” (Sirin & Fine, p. 159). Muslim-American women’s ten-
40 | Submissions dencies to internalize expectations associated with wearing the Hijab or not cause different conflicts, both internally and throughout their communities. Muslim-American women struggle with what it means to be Muslim enough within their own communities in relation to overt markers of their religious identities. Whether a Muslim woman believes she is meeting traditional standards, and how other Muslim women perceive she is meeting such standards is important to how the female Muslim identity is developed in the United States (Jeldtoft, 2011; Sirin & Fine, 2007). An examination of within-group differences is important in accurately account for the different ways women in Islamic communities define their faith. Having a better understanding of the variation amongst Muslim-American women is important in exploring the ways in which discrimination occurs within Muslim communities. Muslim-American women face “political intersectionality” (Crenshaw, 1991, p.12511252) because there are two or more conflicting politically associated facets of their identities. A Muslim woman is subordinated through both her gender and her religion in the United States, and in most cases her ethnicity or race. Members of Islamic communities come from different ethnic backgrounds, making visual markers of religiosity through the Hijab an additional explicit variation in an intersectionality of Muslim-American woman (Crenshaw, 1991; Sirin & Fine, 2007). Categorically three levels of identity (i.e., gender, religion, and race or ethnicity) apply to Muslim-American women who are either explicitly religious or not. The affect each level of their identity has on how a Muslim-American woman experiences “lived Islam” (Jeldtoft, 2011, p.1140) is subjective. Lived Islam refers to the way religious practice or non-practice is incorporated into one’s life. All Muslim-American women do not practice Islam in the same manner; however practicing Islam is commonly viewed as a homogenous practice. On one hand, women not visibly practicing (e.g. wearing the Hijab) are assumed to not be practicing Islam by women who veil (Droogsma, 2007). On the other hand, some Muslim women view veiling or wearing Hijab to be moving backward to a more oppressive lifestyle (Jelen, 2011). However, an overarching theme for all Muslim-American women in
the literature is that religiosity is more than an ideological stance – it is a state of being that encompasses one’s entire identity. For Muslim-American women, being religious is something they need to prove to others, whether it is out-group members or other in-group members. Sirin and Katsiaficas (2011) found Muslim women are more likely than Muslim men to “fight back against stereotypes, discrimination and ignorance” (p.1540). Muslim women in the United States do not only feel they need to fight back to out-group members. Even within Islamic communities, individuals describe actively practicing Islam, and showing to others they practice is necessary to avoid being separated as a bad Muslim for lack of practice, whatever that practice may be (Jeldtoft, 2011; Sirin & Fine, 2007). The identity of a Muslim woman in the United States is constructed in different ways for women who wear Hijab in comparison to those who do not. Muslim-American women who do not wear Hijab express concerns about being considered Muslim enough, though it is not explicitly addressed in the literature. Current research concerning Muslim-American youth and emerging adults explores the meaning behind having hyphenated selves, without further differentiating individuals carrying the same hyphenated identity (Sirin & Fine, 2007). Muslim-American women have different approaches for reconciling the facets of their identities. Though two women have the same hyphenated self on paper, they do not necessarily deal with how they are perceived by society and one another in the same way. Since individuals “connect sometimes conflicting domains [to create] a hyphenated self,” (Katsiaficas, Futch, Fine, & Sirin, 2011, p. 121), further examining differences within the connected domains could be very useful to better accounting for individual differences. Gaining a thorough understanding of how an individual defines a domain of their hyphenated identity (e.g. Muslim), could be useful in understanding the way within-group differences lead to within-group discrimination. The literature suggests a degree of judgment between Muslim-American women in their communities. While the literature suggests a certain degree of judgment between Muslim American women within their communities, not all Muslim-American women judge
Karasu: Muslim Enough | 41 each other. It is important to understand that Muslim women in the United States who consider themselves to be practicing, did not always practice. In some instances, women who were raised in homes that were deemed “non-practicing” or “minimally religious,” began to cover themselves as adult women (Droogsma, 2007, p. 300; The New York Times, 2010, p. 1). How Muslim American Women develop their identities in a culture where they are the minority therefore is different for each individual. Such a process speaks to the existing degree of variation between Muslim American women mentioned earlier, and the need to gain a better understanding of their identity development process. Though Muslim American women are identified in the same manner, most reports do not suggest that they wish to be viewed through a collective identity, as they see themselves as individuals. For instance a Muslim American Woman named Hebah Ahmed, who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, fits this description. She did not grow up in a home that she deemed religious and previously viewed covering oneself in the name of God to be “suffocating” (NYT, 2010, p.1). Though she grew up Americanized to some extent, her father made sure he raised her with a sense of pride for the Muslim portion of her identity. Today she is completely covered from head to toe. While some question and judge her, she notes that “she is not a Muslim Everywoman” and it is not something she wants to be (NYT, 2010, p. 1). The individuality Hebah demonstrates is not captured in the literature examining how Muslim she is in the context of the United States. Scholars suggest that the belief that organized religion and strict practice as the only legitimate religious forms of Islam divides the Muslim American community (Droogsma, 2007; Jeldtoft, 2011; Jensen, 2011; Sirin & Fine, 2007). Such an approach does not fully assess the spectrum of variation among Muslims, especially in the Western world. While Muslim-American women face the same intersections of religion and gender, the response to the intersection is different for a woman who wears the Hijab as compared to not. Many Muslim American women who do not actively show their faith through wearing Hijab want to be viewed as serious Muslims within their community by other women. Some women believe, “being Muslim is not
about what you do,” rather it is about the decisions one makes throughout their life that lives up to their internal sentiment of being “pure Muslim inside” (Jeldtoft, 2011, p. 1142; Sirin & Fine; p. 158). Current literature does not account for the full extent of perceived discrimination Muslim-American Women feel within their own communities. Such discrimination includes covered Muslim women’s view of uncovered Muslim women and vice versa. Jeldtoft (2011) attempts to begin the conversation about non-institutionalized types of religiosity, such as not wearing Hijab, and how scholars do not readily examine them because they are not deemed “relevant” (p. 1137). In a country where Islam is a minority religion, it is imperative that individuals considered unconventional in their practice of Islam do not go unnoticed. By overlooking individuals perceived as unconventionally practicing Islam, American scholars invalidate the religiosity of women who choose to follow Islam in ways that make sense for them individually and stigmatize the right to a unique construct of ideological and ethnic identity.
42 | Submissions References Abu-Ali, A., & Reisen, C. A. (1999). Gender role identity among adolescent muslim girls living in the US. Current Psychology: A Journal for Diverse Perspectives on Diverse Psychological Issues, 18, 185192. doi:10.1007/s12144-999-1027-x Ali, L. (2010, June 11). Behind the veil. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/fashion/13veil.html Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory, and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 139-167. Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241–1299. Droogsma, R. A. (2007). Redefining hijab: American muslim women’s standpoints on veiling. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 35(3), 294-319. doi:10.1080/00909880701434299 Elashi, F. B., Mills, C. M., & Grant, M. G. (2010). In-group and out-group attitudes of muslim children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 31(5), 379-385. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2010.07.004 Jana-Masri, A., & Priester, P. E. (2007). The development and validation of a qur’an-based instrument to assess islamic religiosity: The religiosity of islam scale. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 2, 177-188. doi:10.1080/15564900701624436 Jeldtoft, N. (2011). Lived islam: Religious identity with ‘non-organized’ muslim minorities. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34(7), 1134-1151. doi:10.1080/01419870.2010.528441 Jelen, B. (2011). Educated, independent, and covered: The professional aspirations and experiences of university-educated hijabi in contemporary Turkey. Women’s Studies International Forum, 34, 308-319. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2011.04.008 Jensen, T. (2011). Context, focus and new perspectives in the study of muslim religiosity. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34(7), 1152-1167. doi:10.1080/01419870.2010.526235 Katsiaficas, D., Futch, V. A., Fine, M., & Sirin, S. R. (2011). Everyday hyphens: Exploring youth identities with methodological and analytic pluralism. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 8(2), 120-139. doi:10.1080/14780887.2011.572743 Silvestri, S. (2011). Faith intersections and muslim women in the european microcosm: Notes towards the study of non-organized islam. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34(7), 1230-1247. doi:10.1080/01419 870.2011.565779 Sirin, S. R., & Fine, M. (2007). Hyphenated selves: Muslim american youth negotiating identities on the fault lines of global conflict. Applied Developmental Science, 11(3), 151-163. doi:10.1080/10888690701454658 Sirin, S. R., & Katsiaficas, D. (2011). Religiosity, discrimination, and community engagement: Gendered pathways of muslim American emerging adults. Youth & Society, 43, 1528-1546. Sirin, S. R., Bikmen, N., Mir, M., Fine, M., Zaal, M., & Katsiaficas, D. (2008). Exploring dual identification among muslim-american emerging adults: A mixed methods study. Journal of Adolescence, 31(2), 259-279. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2007.10.009
Tkach: Classroom Environment and Social Development | 43
Social Development in Democratic Elementary-School Classrooms Lauren Tkach
n the late 19th century, John Dewey, a prominent philosopher and psychologist, sought to reform the United States’ education system. He was disappointed by the current state of education because he thought schools were training children to become obedient members of society rather than critical thinkers. Dewey emphasized the need for a child-centric, democratic perspective in education – one that highlights the student’s unique and natural development (Dewey, 2010). Dewey believed that if educational institutions provided young students the space and opportunity to naturally develop their interests in education, those students would be better equipped to handle unpredictable changes in society (Dewey, 2010). He saw the traditional education system as an institution focused solely on memorizing repetitive monotonous tasks in an isolated space (Dewey, 2010). Such an environment, he says, would not prepare them for the unpredictable nature of the world outside the school walls. Over time, this ideology developed into what is now called the Progressive Education Movement. The Brooklyn Free School (BFS), a progressive school located in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, employs a modern-day interpretation of Dewey’s Progressive Education Movement. Like Dewey’s child-centric ideologies, BFS emphasizes diversity in education by embracing the students’ individual strengths and personal experiences. In fact, BFS’s mission statement follows Dewey’s vision for education, stating that it “ supports social and emotional development through conflict mediation, personal reflection, diversity awareness and community responsibility” (“Mission statement,” para 1). Despite the progressive approach’s underrepresentation in the American education system, the staff, administration, students, and parents involved at BFS all support the students’ rights to have control over their learning and overall daily activities.
Teachers and administrators treat every student in the school, from age six to eighteen, as an independent individual who is entitled to guided self-exploration, as well as the basic rights afforded in a democratic society. Particularly enlightening is the practice of granting students the right to call class-wide and school-wide meetings whenever they deem it appropriate. Meetings could range from discussing a prevalent issue occurring within the classroom community, to proposing a change or addition to the classroom rules. Additionally, with teachers’ help, students lead both school-wide and class-wide meetings. Although the school itself mandated weekly all-school meetings, students had the liberty to spontaneously call their own class-wide meetings, sometimes as often as five times a day. With the teacher’s guidance, students engage in a variety of discussions, ranging from general swearing to the misuse of another student’s toy. After extensively discussing and defending different issues through a basic parliamentary procedure, the students then take the issue to a vote in order to decide the necessary future steps. The researcher observed two major yet contradicting trends during the younger students’ class-wide meetings. First, the space created by the meetings provided a safe space for quieter students to speak up when they felt the need to express their concerns. Unfortunately, not every student took advantage of the support offered at these meetings. Some students blatantly did not care about this system and saw it as a waste of time. Others saw it as a perfect opportunity to make their voices heard as much as possible, no matter if it meant getting another student in trouble. Although there are many benefits to this type of democratic system, oftentimes the meetings create an opportunity for more bullying; in such cases, teachers would intervene and encourage the student facilitator to manage the discussion in a more productive man-
44 | Submissions ner. Despite consistent efforts to resolve individual conflicts through one-on-one mediations and classwide meetings, it seemed apparent that certain students knew how to use these methods to their advantage. They abused their right to call meetings, mainly by using these meetings as a space to gain support from their peers about their negative feelings towards another student. It is important to note, however, that these negative outcomes did not occur in all of the younger students’ meetings. When students called on meetings to discuss general issues such as the prevalence of swearing or teasing in the classroom, the discussions were very productive and meaningful because the issues were relevant to everyone. However, the group meetings seemed least productive when a student would gather the class together only to blame another student for something that recently happened. In theory, providing the space and time for democratically driven class meetings is a good way for young students to comprehend the differences between positive and negative social behavior. However, the researcher’s experience at the Brooklyn Free School suggests that theory and practice do not always go hand-in-hand. Despite the constant emphasis of conflict-resolution strategies among teachers and interns in the school, some students were still not able to internalize the consequences of their actions. This review article focuses on progressive classroom environments that emphasize democratic values because students in these classes have the unique opportunity to practice their rights, exercise a significant degree of autonomy, discuss their issues together, and vote on rules. Therefore, it is as if students and teachers are always engaging in some form of explicit or implicit conflict-resolution. However, the researcher interpreted the prevalence of bullying at BFS to be indicative of failed conflict-resolution and a neutral or decreased social-emotional development. Such occurrences inspired the research question: To what extent might a democratic classroom environment foster positive or negative social-emotional development in early school-aged children? Social-emotional development is defined as the development of skills necessary to actively engage with and understand one’s social con-
text (Hoffman, 2009). For the purpose of this review article, conflict-resolution techniques within these classrooms were used as a measure of how a democratic environment promoting problem-solving skills can create both positive and negative social-emotional development for the students. Also, this review article focuses on early school-aged children (ages 6-10), the period that Erikson (1997) predicts the development of understanding of social surroundings begins.
Social-Emotional Development in the Classroom Understanding one’s social surroundings is the crux of social-emotional development (Hoffman, 2009). Skills such as emotional intelligence, emotional literacy, self and social-awareness, and self-regulation, are necessary to become an active and empathetic member of one’s social context (Hoffman, 2009). The development of positive social-emotional skills particularly in an educational setting, is an integral developmental task for early school-aged children. How children develop their social-emotional skills can have great implications on other aspects of their development (Bornstein, Hahn, & Haynes, 2010; Dotterer & Lowe, 2011; Heydenberk & Heydenberk, 2007). For instance, children whose teachers and school environments positively support their social-emotional skills are more likely to have more positive attitudes about education and improved academic performance (Dotterer & Lowe, 2011; Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011). Likewise, these children are also less likely to experience psychopathological symptoms and internalize negative social behaviors during late childhood and early adolescence (Bornstein et al., 2010; Hoffman, 2009). However, failing to acquire a sufficient degree of social-emotional skills is often a predictor of peer rejection, social isolation, and eventually weak academic improvement (Heydenberk & Heydenberk, 2007). Teachers can avert these negative effects by understanding the theories behind social-emotional development and ways to foster positive social-emotional skills in their students.
Tkach: Classroom Environment and Social Development | 45
Theories of Social-Emotional Development To prevent their students from falling behind on social-emotional skills, teachers may consult various theories on child development when designing their class curriculum, activities, and assignments. For instance, Erikson’s well known eight stages of psychosocial development emphasize the advancement of the self, identity, and interpersonal relationships as motivators for moving through each stage (Woolfolk, 2012). During elementary school, students are just beginning to understand the importance of accomplishing goals while experiencing competition and potential failure. If a teacher considers Erikson’s theory of development while conducting a class, he or she may focus too heavily on the student’s individual performance and self-perceptions because a failure to support their perceptions of personal competence can lead to feelings of inferiority (Woolfolk, 2012). Helping young students manage the pressures of competition with the support of personal achievement could help them feel more comfortable working alongside their peers and potential competitors. Simply focusing on the students’ individual goals and self-perceptions of their achievements is an incomplete approach to helping them build and apply their social-emotional skills in the classroom. Unlike Erikson’s theory, which emphasizes a discontinuous path of development, Bronfenbrenner (1979) provides a more integrated and continuous theory that highlights the need for active reciprocal interactions between the student and his immediate and more distant contexts (Dotterer & Lowe, 2011). Teachers utilizing Bronfenbrenner as a framework for their curriculum should encourage interactions between the student, his school, family, neighborhood, and society. This approach not only allows students to learn from others, but it can help them practice patience, active listening, and social awareness in the process. Although it is important for teachers to acknowledge the many different theories regarding social-emotional development, it is a strong student-teacher relationship that ultimately aids children’s development in the classroom (Solomon, Watson, Delucchi, Schaps, & Battistich, 1988). In
addition to opportunities for meaningful and collaborative interpersonal communication among students, teachers play an important role in how students understand social-emotional development in the classroom (Jennings & Greenberg, 2009; Solomon et al., 1988). Jennings and Greenberg (2009) suggest that when teachers have high levels of social-emotional competency (i.e., they are socially aware, they exhibit pro-social values, and they can effectively manage their emotions and relationships with others), not only do they model positive social emotional skills to the classroom, but they also are likely to have healthier relationships with their students. Likewise, positive interpersonal relationships between teachers and students can help regulate and promote children’s social and academic competencies (Pianta & Bruce, 2002; Pianta & Stuhlman, 2004). Conflict-resolution activities are one effective way that teachers can support collaborative communication, enhance one-on-one relationships, and promote social-emotional learning in the classroom.
Conflict-Resolution and SocialEmotional Development Teachers often employ conflict-resolution techniques in their classrooms to help students practice pro-social behaviors while also developing their social-emotional skills. When practicing how to work through conflicts, teachers help guide their students to recognize their peers’ negative emotions, which in turn builds their emotional intelligence (Smith & Sandhu, 2004). Conflict-resolution techniques help students practice self-reflection, active listening, forward-thinking, and communication skills, all of which are important social-emotional skills that help students collaborate more effectively with each other. Depending on the developmental stage of the students in the classroom, a school might implement a variety of techniques in order to teach about peaceful interactions. School-wide peer mediation programs are very popular interventions to implement in elementary schools (Cunningham et al., 1998; Lindsay, 1998). Peer mediation intervention programs train students how to work collaboratively, actively listen
46 | Submissions to their peers, and practice problem-solving in order to mediate their peers’ conflicts on their own without needing to involve a teacher (Jennings & Mills, 2009). Aside from school-wide programs, teachers can also implement individual conflict-resolution activities in a classroom context. Practicing I-Statements, where students learn to express their feelings with sentences that start with “I…” instead of an accusatory “You…” (Heydenberk & Heydenberk, 2007) and “Win/Win” strategies, where the two parties brainstorm effective solutions together, allow students to exercise introspection and effective verbal communication. Likewise, conflict-resolution strategies like these can also have a strong influence on how students deal with issues outside of the classroom (Johnson, Johnson, Dudley, & Acikgoz, 1994) and later in life (Battistich, Solomon, Watson, Solomon, & Schaps, 1989). Overall, it is important to encourage collaborative and introspective conflict-resolution activities in the classroom so that students can translate their social-emotional skills both within and outside an educational context.
Introducing Democratic Values into the Classroom As opposed to non-progressive schools, which tend to adopt ephemeral conflict-resolution intervention programs, progressive schools implicitly and explicitly encourage conflict-resolution and social-emotional development within their community. By encouraging autonomy and individual responsibility among students, progressive schools provide students the space to explore what is appropriate pro-social behavior (Ainsa, 2011). Schools that adopt progressive values may use the Democratic Pedagogy Model, an approach to social-emotional learning that allows students the right to free speech, right to intellectual and physical property, and the right to alter the class activities and policies through a majority vote (Basu & Barton, 2010). When teachers implement these values in a nurturing and collaborative classroom environment, students experience a degree of autonomy and self-control that helps guide them to develop their social-emotional skills and prepare them for societal responsibilities (Solomon et al., 1988). In classrooms
following the Democratic Pedagogy Model, students actively resolve interpersonal conflicts through communication and meaningful discussions about the issues at hand (Basu & Barton, 2010). When students have the time and physical space in the classroom to engage in reflective speech, they have the opportunity to collaborate to reach a greater goal (e.g., learn why it hurts if a child says bad words to another child, learn to respect other students’ toys). Emphasis on classroom collaboration also helps students express their feelings, actively listen, and value others’ perspectives (Jennings & Mills, 2009). It is essential to provide students with the opportunities to engage with their peers in a meaningful and collaborative way. Similar to the Democratic Pedagogy Model, Critical Pedagogy is another way of fostering a classroom environment conducive to respectful teacher-student relationships, cooperation, and collaboration. In this model, teachers encourage their students to assume responsibility by facilitating classroom activities and meetings. With their teacher’s guidance, these students learn to follow through with activities and discussions in order to accomplish a greater goal (Ainsa, 2011). Providing students with a degree of autonomy and responsibility in this context can further enhance the student’s experience resolving interpersonal conflicts and, therefore, build on their social-emotional skills.
Bullying as a Measure of Failed Conflict Resolution Techniques Currently, there is a shortage of literature about progressive approaches to education such as the Democratic Pedagogy Model and Critical Pedagogy. There is, however, a great deal of research surrounding conflict-resolution and bullying intervention programs in non-progressive schools, and how and where they underperform (Merrel, Gueldner, Ross, & Isava, 2008; Ryan & Smith, 2009). Despite the amount of research done regarding school-wide bully intervention programs, there is still not sufficient evidence these programs significantly lessen the issue (Merrel et al., 2008; Ryan & Smith, 2009; Smith, Schneider, Smith, & Ananiadou, 2004). Reasons for the lack of
Tkach: Classroom Environment and Social Development | 47 sufficient evidence in this field include a failure on the part of schools to implement a comprehensive and non-rigorous research methods involved in the development and evaluation of these programs. The failures to implement an comprehensive anti-bullying intervention program often stems from researchers misunderstanding the culture, context and environment it in which it resides, as well as the lack of resources it needs to sustain the values of the intervention after it is complete (Merrel et al., 2008; Smith et al., 2004). A school located in a high-income district has a vastly different school-wide and classroom-wide culture. Thus, the students could be dealing with issues very different from a school in a low-income neighborhood. Although both schools may experience a high degree of bullying, each will experience it in vastly different ways and for very different reasons. In addition, many studies also do not consider the school’s lack of monetary resources. Implementing and sustaining a comprehensive school-wide anti-bullying intervention program requires: (a) sufficient resources for teachers’ leadership development and training; (b) sufficient communication within the school such that teachers and students alike are well informed of the program; and (c) different strategies that help “at-risk” and average students alike (Cunningham et al., 1998; Lindsay, 1998). Each of these factors must be present in order for the program to succeed. After the program’s completion, it is up to the school to provide the resources to continue the intervention and fully support its goals. Many schools do not have the monetary resources for such an undertaking (Cunningham et al., 1998; Lindsay, 1998), and for this reason, maintaining the ideas and values of the intervention after the end of the research program can be difficult. In addition to low budgets, a lack of sufficient time to fully commit to the program’s goals for the long term contributes to the difficulty in executing and maintaining a comprehensive program. Even if the school has resources to implement the program for a year or two, it runs the risk of not being able to sustain the program’s outcomes after its completion due to lack of administrative or staff support (Cunningham et al., 1998). Likewise, teachers are often under pres-
sure to maintain a sufficient level of state testing standards and may not have time to continually stop class in order to engage in conflict-resolution techniques (Lindsay, 1998). Therefore, implementing certain bullying intervention programs can take a significant amount of time away from important classroom time that is necessary for test preparation. A school Aside from what researchers know about the limitations in implementing comprehensive anti-bullying programs, many of the studies focusing on school-wide anti-bullying programs involve poor research methods (Merrel et al., 2008; Ryan & Smith, 2008; Smith et al., 2004). In a meta-analysis of bullying intervention programs among schools ranging from kindergarten to high school, about 60% of studies had an effect size that was too weak to be considered meaningful, and proximately 80% of studies did not use control groups (Merrel et al., 2008). Likewise, researchers in this field also lack adequate measures to consider why bullying behaviors increased or decreased during and after the intervention program, and thus did not adequately study the factors that were directly influencing student behaviors (Merrel et al., 2008). In order to fully understand the factors involved in mitigating negative social behaviors in a school context, studies must have a controlled sample with which to compare the results. Another limitation of conflict-resolution intervention studies is that many have focused too heavily on indirect measures such as student and teacher self-reports (Merrel et al., 2008; Smith et al., 2004). Bullying is not always an overt behavior. Likewise, covert behaviors like gossiping, socially isolating or excluding others, and saying mean comments online may are often underreported (Barnes et al., 2012). Therefore, researchers should be cautious in relying on self-reports when measuring the prevalence of bullying (Cunningham et al., 1998). Instead, researchers should employ multiple methods in order to understand the factors influencing children’s continued negative behaviors. For instance, if students are asked to frequently write down their feelings about social interactions they had with classmates in personalized journals, researchers could have a better sense of the bullying that would typically go unnoticed.
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Conclusion Progressive schools that emphasize democratic values naturally promote positive social-emotional learning in a comprehensive and multifaceted manner (Ainsa, 2011; Jennings & Greenberg, 2009). These schools embody pro-social learning by incorporating three crucial techniques into their classrooms: they recognize issues that are relevant to the child (e.g., name-calling and playing with othersâ€™ toys), promote social competence and consistent pro-social behavior over a long period of time, and encourage students to practice their social-emotional skills (e.g., classwide and school-wide meetings) (Hennessey, 2007). Overall, progressive schools are more focused on social-emotional learning than their non-progressive counterparts. Although the progressive-school approach fosters strong positive social-emotional development, a major critique of these schools is that they do so at the expense of developing studentsâ€™ cognitive and learning skills (Hoffman, 1993). Thus, there is a need for balancing social-emotional and cognitive learning in the classroom. Future studies should aim to understand how schools and classrooms could achieve this balance and effectively encourage social-emotional development in the classroom Additionally, researchers should strive to improve the methods involved in studying conflict-resolution techniques. Achieving this balance in the educational system can have great implications on childrenâ€™s cognitive development such as higher intrinsic motivations for learning (Kohn, 1993) and higher academic achievement (Dotterer & Lowe, 2011). It is not enough for students to gain necessary social-emotional skills; they must also receive adequate and relevant academic instruction. Among progressive and non-progressive schools alike, teachers and administrators need to provide collaborative and meaningful learning environments for their students so that students can learn to work alongside each other and productively work through their conflicts.
Tkach: Classroom Environment and Social Development | 49 References Ainsa, P. (2011). Critical pedagogy towards a sociomoral classroom. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 38(2), 84-92. Barnes, A., Cross, D., Lester, L., Hearn, L., Epstein, M., & Monks, H. (2012). The invisibility of covert bullying among students: Challenges for school intervention. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counseling, 22(2), 206-226. Basu, S. J., & Barton, A. C. (2010). A researcher-student-teacher model for democratic science pedagogy: Connections to community, shared authority, and critical science agency. Equity & Excellence in Education, 43(1), 72-87. Battistich, V., Solomon, D., Watson, M., Solomon, J., & Schaps, E. (1989). Effects of an elementary school program to enhance prosocial behavior on children’s cognitive-social problem-solving skills and strategies. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 10(2), 147-169. Bornstein, M. H., Hahn, C., & Haynes, O. M. (2010). Social competence, externalizing and internalizing behavioral adjustment from early childhood through early adolescence: Developmental cascades. Development and Psychopathology, 22, 717-735. Bronfebrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP. Cunningham, C. E., Cunningham, L. J., Martorelli, V., Tran, A., Young, J., & Zacharias, R. (1998). The effects of primary division, student-mediated conflict resolution programs on playground aggression. Journal of Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 39(5), 653-662. Dewey, J. (2010). Selected writings of John Dewey. In A. Milson, C. Bohan, P. Glanzer, & J. Null (Eds.), American education thought: Essays from 1640-1940 (pp. 361-400). Scottsdale, AZ: Information Age Publishing. Dotterer, A. M., & Lowe, K. (2011). Classroom context, school engagement, and academic achievement in early adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 1649-1660. Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-432. Erikson, E. H. (1997). The life cycle completed. Extended version with new chapters on the ninth stage of development by Joan M. Erikson. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Hennessey, B. A. (2007). Promoting social competence in school-aged children: The effects of the open circle program. Journal of School Psychology, 45, 349-360. Heydenberk, W., & Heydenberk, R. (2007). More than manners: Conflict resolution in primary level classrooms. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35(2), 119-126. Hoffman, D. M. (1993). Pedagogies of self in American and Japanese early childhood education: A critical conceptual analysis. The Elementary School Journal, 101(2), 193-208. Hoffman, D. M. (2009). Reflection on social emotional learning: A critical perspective on trends in the United States. Review of Educational Research, 79(2), 533-556. Jennings, P. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (2009). The prosocial classroom: Teacher social emotional competence in relation to student and classroom outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 79(1), 491-525. Jennings, L. B., & Mills, H. (2009). Constructing a discourse of inquiry: Findings from a five-year ethnography at one elementary school. Teachers College Record, 111(7), 1583-1618. Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R., Dudley, B., & Acikgoz, K. (1994). Effects of conflict resolution training on elementary school students. The Journal of Social Psychology, 134(6). 803. Kohn, A. (1993). Punished by Rewards. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. Lindsay, P. (1998). Conflict resolution and peer mediation in public schools: What works? Mediation Quarterly, 16(1), 85-99. Merrel, K. W., Gueldner, B. A., Ross, S. W., Isava, D. M. (2008). How effective are school bullying intervention programs? A meta-analysis of intervention research. School Psychology Quarterly, 23(1), 26-42. Mission Statement. (The Brooklyn Free School). Retrieved October 10, 2012, from http://www.brooklynfreeschool.org/mission/index.
html Pianta, R., & Bruce, R. (2002). Enhancing relationships between children and teachers. Canadian Journal of Early Childhood Education, 9(2) 121. Pianta, R. C., & Stuhlman, M. W. (2004). Teacher-child relationships and children’s success in the first years of school.” School Psychology Review, 33(3), 444-58. Ryan, W., & Smith J. D. (2009). Antibullying programs in schools: How effective are evaluation practices? Prevention Science, 10, 248259. Smith, D. C., & Sandhu, D. S. (2004). Toward a positive perspective on violence prevention in schools: Building connections. Journal of Counseling and Development, 82, 287-293. Smith, J. D., Schneider, B. H., Smith, P. K., & Ananiadou, K. (2004). The effectiveness of whole-school antibullying programs: A synthesis of evaluation research. School Psychology Review, 33(4), 547560. Solomon, D., Watson, M. S., Delucci, K. L., Schaps, E., & Battistich, V. (1988). Enhancing children’s prosocial behavior in the classroom. American Educational Research Journal, 25(4), 527-554. Woolfolk, A. (2012). Educational Psychology (12th ed.) New York: Pearson Education, Inc.
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The Impact of Parental Divorce on Emerging Adultsâ€™ Self-Esteem Kelsey Block & Sophie Spiegel
he institution of marriage in the United States traditionally provides economic, social, and emotional stability. Major instability within a marriage can influence the surrounding microsystems which can have many negative impacts. Divorce impacts approximately 40-50% of current marriages throughout the United States (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2009). More than one million young children under the age of 18 experience parental divorce every year and many studies show that regardless of age, divorce affects individuals throughout their life (Amato, 2001; Amato & Keith, 1991; Bing, Nelson III, & Wesolowski, 2009; Bulduc, Caron, & Logue, 2007; Kot & Shoemaker, 1999; Mullett & Stolberg, 2002; Ross & Miller, 2009). The consequences of divorce can negatively impact young childrenâ€™s psychological adjustment, behavior, social ability, self-esteem, and academic achievement, which can persist throughout adulthood (Amato, 2001; Amato & Keith, 1991; Baker & Ben-Ami, 2011; Bing et al., 2009; Clarke-Stewart, Vandell, McCartney, Owen, & Booth, 2000; Holdnack, 1992; Kalter, 1987; Kot & Shoemaker, 1999; Short, 2002; Wallerstein, 1991). However, there is limited research that focuses on the consequences of parental divorce in an emerging adult population.
College Students and Parental Divorce Upon entering the first year of college, 26% of college students reported their parents were either divorced or separated (Knox, Zusman, & DeCuzzi, 2004). Moreover, extending to the 16 million college students in the United States, more than four million college students have parents who are either divorced or separated (Knox et al., 2004). College students who came from divorced households often demonstrate increased levels of anxiety compared to those individuals who came from intact households (Ross & Miller,
2009; Short, 2002). Additional difficulties emerged for college students whose parents divorced while the emerging adult was in college: trouble academically, struggling with occupational achievement, antisocial behavior, problems with intimate relationships, relationship with parent, physical health, anxiety, and aggression (Bulduc et al., 2007; Evans & Bloom, 1996; Hannum & Dvorak, 2004; Knox et al., 2004; Mullett & Stolberg, 2002; Ross & Miller, 2009). Although there are some studies encompassing emerging adults and divorce, it should be noted that the term emerging adult does not always refer to an individual in college.
Impact of Parental Divorce on Emerging Adultsâ€™ Self-Esteem A new stage of development that is on the forefront of psychological research is emerging adulthood. Emerging adulthood is a period where individuals ages 18-25 transition from adolescence, but are not quite in the stage of young adulthood (Cohen, Kasen, Chen, Hartmark, & Gordon, 2003). Emerging adulthood encompasses an array of changes, including new responsibilities, and living independently of parental guardians (Cohen et al., 2003). However, emerging adulthood is a stage where many individuals are seeking higher education, before men and women are financially independent, have careers, and start families (Cohen et al., 2003). Experiencing divorce may have negative impacts on this stage of development for emerging adults. Parents often involve their children in the divorce process which may have negative impacts throughout emerging adulthood. Separated or divorced parents use alienation strategies, such as degrading one another or turning the child against the other parent (Baker & Ben-Ami, 2011). Children who experience alienation strategies are likely to internal-
Block & Spiegel: Parental Divorce & Self-Esteem | 51 ize the insults toward their parent and believe they are not loved and the divorce is their fault (Baker & Ben-Ami, 2011). In a study by Baker and Ben-Ami (2011), an adult sample whose parents divorced before the age of 15 were assessed on parent alienation strategies, and individuals who experienced parental alienation exhibited lower self-esteem, higher rates of depression, insecure attachment in relationships, and decreased self-sufficiency in adulthood (Baker & BenAmi, 2011). Adults who experience low self-esteem in adolescence are more likely to develop mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, engage in criminal acts, and exhibit higher unemployment rates than adults who had stable high self-esteem (Trzesniewski et al., 2006). Adolescents with low self-esteem are also less likely to earn a higher education in adulthood (Trzesniewski et al., 2006). Although emerging adults with low self-esteem are less likely to go to college than their high self-esteemed counterparts, there is little research that explores the transition from adolescence to emerging adulthood and the impacts of parental divorce. Although adolescents with low self-esteem are less likely to go to college than their high self-esteemed counterparts, there is little research that explores emerging adults with divorced parents that do attend college. Furthermore, there is little research on whether emerging adults from divorced families that attend college have differences in self-esteem as compared to emerging adults from intact families that attend college. Transitioning from elementary school to high school is likely to decrease self-esteem, but there is little research on the extent to which self-esteem is influenced when changing the environment from high school to college (Wigfield & Eccles, 1994).
Research Questions The present study seeks to understand the following research questions: 1) Are there differences in emerging adults who come from intact versus divorced families on levels of self-esteem? 2) Is there a relation between social support and self-esteem in an emerging adult population? 3) Does parental
marital status moderate the relation between social support and self-esteem in emerging adulthood? The hypotheses of this study are as follows: 1) There are likely differences between emerging adults who come from divorced versus intact families on levels of self-esteem. 2) Social support is likely to be correlated with self-esteem. 3) Parental marital status is likely to moderate the relation between social support and self-esteem in an emerging adult population. Method Participants The current study utilized the survey results from 116 undergraduate students at New York University (74% female) age 18-22 years-old. Participants came from a range of ethnicities: White (58.6%), Asian (18.1%), Latino/a (7.8%), African American (4.3%), mixed (8.6%), and other (2.6%). In terms of parental marital status, 71.6% of the participantsâ€™ parents were married as compared to 22.4% divorced.
Procedures Participants were recruited through convenience sampling. Members of an undergraduate research methods class filled out a survey and distributed the survey form to five additional students that were not in the class. The survey consisted of demographic items and construct questionnaires, such as perceptions of beauty, stress, self-esteem, social support, and anxiety among an emerging adult population in a university setting. The constructs relevant to this study are parental marital status, social support, and self-esteem.
Measures Parental divorce. Parental marital status was measured in the demographic information that the participants reported in the survey. Participants selected from married, divorced, or other, where they could fill it in themselves. Parental marital status was then collapsed into married or divorced, excluding the other category. Social support. Social support was measured using The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social
52 | Submissions Support (Zimet, Dahlem, Zimet, & Farley, 1988). The 12-item scale asked participants to respond with 7 response options (i.e., 1 = very strongly disagree; 7 = very strongly agree). An example of one of the items in the questionnaire is, “There is a special person who is around when I am in need.” The Cronbach’s alpha in this sample has a reliability of α=.85 after removing an item. Self-esteem. Self-esteem was measured using Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1986). This 10-item scale asked participants to respond to statements with four response options (i.e., 1 = strongly disagree; 4 = strongly agree). An example of one of the items in the questionnaire is, “I feel I have a number of good qualities.” The Cronbach’s alpha in this sample has a reliability of α=.85.
Data Analysis Plan In order to test the moderation effect of parental marital status on the relation between social support and self-esteem, we will use Baron and Kenny’s moderation method (1985). In order to test Hypothesis 1 to determine if parental marital status is likely to impact self-esteem we will conduct an independent samples t-test. To test Hypothesis 2 to determine if
social support and self-esteem are correlated we will conduct a Pearson correlation. To test Hypothesis 3 we will conduct a hierarchical multiple regression, in Step 1 determining the relation between parental marital status and self esteem, Step 2 determining the relation between social support and self-esteem, and Step 3 an interaction term will be created by multiplying parental marital status by the centered social support variable to determine the relation between the interaction term and self-esteem (i.e., Parental Marital Status X Social Support). A significant alpha level in Step 3 indicates moderation.
Results To answer the first research question, an independent samples t-test was run with parental marital status as the independent variable and self-esteem as the dependent variable. The t-test was not significant showing no difference between students on mean levels of self-esteem between married (M=3.20, SD=.50) and divorced families (M=3.21, SD=.47); t(104)= -.095, p = .92. Figure 2 displays that there are no differences of self-esteem between emerging adults who come from divorced versus intact families when levels of social support are moderately high. Table 1 displays the answer to the second re-
Block & Spiegel: Parental Divorce & Self-Esteem | 53
54 | Submissions search question where a Pearson correlation was used to evaluate the relation between social support and self-esteem. Results revealed a significant, slightly moderate, positive correlation between social support and self-esteem (r = .23, p < .05) after recoding self-esteem. Finally, in order to test the moderation effect of parental marital status on social support and self-esteem, a hierarchical multiple regression was run and results are presented in Table 2. Parental marital status was entered into Step 1 and did not significantly predict variance in self-esteem (R2 = .000, F change (1, 104) = .009 p = .92). Social support was entered into Step 2 of the model and predicted 5.5% of the variance in self-esteem (R2 change= .055, F change (1, 103) = 6.01, p <.05). As hypothesized, increases in social support predicted increases in self-esteem (Î˛ = .22). To test for moderation an interaction term was entered into Step 3 of the model. Following guidelines outlined by Baron and Kenny (1986), the predictor variable was centered before calculating the interaction term (i.e., Parental Marital Status X Social Support). Results showed that the R2 change statistic was not significant, (R2 change =.001, F change (1, 102) = .07, p = .80), indicating that parental marital status did not significantly moderate the relationship between social support and self-esteem in the present study.
Discussion The results of the present study confirmed the second hypothesis. Social support moderately predicted self-esteem beyond what would be expected due to chance. Moreover, as social support increased, so did self-esteem. There was no relation between parental marital status and self-esteem in emerging adults, and thus parental marital status did not affect the relation between social support and self-esteem. Therefore, the first and third hypotheses were not confirmed in this study. Although there are some studies encompassing emerging adults and divorce, it should be noted that the term emerging adult does not always refer to an individual in college. Adults who experienced paren-
tal divorce in childhood or adolescence are likely to have decreased self-esteem, which can have negative life outcomes in adulthood (Baker & Ben-Ami, 2011; Trzesniewski et al., 2006). The findings of the current study are promising, showing little to no difference between emerging adults who come from intact or divorced families on levels of self-esteem. Perhaps the negative impacts of divorce can be overcome by the time a person reaches college. Furthermore, this study may confirm the results of Trzesniewski et al. (2006), that emerging adults who attend college have higher self-esteem on average than their non collegiate peers. The findings of the current study are limited for various reasons. First, participants did not report when the divorce occurred or the quality of the divorce, and this is critical because parental divorce that encourages the child to choose sides or degrade one parent during adolescence can have more negative outcomes in emerging adulthood (Baker & Ben-Ami, 2011). The construct of parental marital status was dichotomous, and therefore did not account for all of the variance that could be considered. Furthermore, we did not control for other influencing factors of self-esteem such as anxiety or stress. Future research should use a more diverse sample size not exclusive to NYU, or college students. Future studies should also examine the time that divorce occurs and self-esteem in emerging adulthood, and what other influencing factors may predict those individuals who come from divorced families with either high versus low self-esteem.
Block & Spiegel: Parental Divorce & Self-Esteem | 55
References Amato, P. R., & Keith, B. (1991). Parental divorce and the well-being of children: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 110(1), 26-46. Amato, P. R. (2001). Children of divorce in the 1990s: An update of the amato and keith (1991) meta-analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 15(3), 355-370. Baker, A. J. L., & Ben-Ami, N. (2011). To turn a child against a parent is to turn a child against himself: The direct and indirect effects of exposure to parental alienation strategies on self-esteem and well-being. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 52(7), 472-489. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986) The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(6), 1173-1182. Bing, N. M., Nelson, W. M., & Wesolowski, K. L. (2009). Comparing the effects of amount of conflict on children’s adjustment following parental divorce. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 50(3), 159171. Blascovich, J., & Tomaka, J. (1991). Measures of self-esteem. In J. P. Robinson, R. S. Phillip, & Bulduc, J. L., Caron, S. L., & Logue, M. E. (2007). The effects of parental divorce on college students. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 46(3-4), 83-104. Clarke-Stewart, K., Vandell, D. L., McCartney, K., Owen, M. T., & Booth, C. (2000). Effects of parental separation and divorce on very young children. Journal of Family Psychology, 14(2), 304-326. Cohen, P., Kasen, S., Chen, H., Hartmark, C., & Gordon, K. (2003). Variation in patterns of developmental transitions in the emerging adulthood period. Developmental Psychology, 9(4), 657-669. Evans, J. J., & Bloom, B. L. (1996). Effects of parental divorce among college undergraduates. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 26(1), 69-91. Hannum, J. W., & Dvorak, D. M. (2004). Effects of family conflict, divorce, and attachment patterns on the psychological distress and social adjustment of college freshmen. Journal of College Student Development, 45(1), 27-42. Holdnack, J. A. (1992). The long-term effects of parental divorce on family relationships and the effects on adult children’s self-concept. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 18(3-4), 137-155. Kalter, N. (1987). Long-term effects of divorce on children: A developmental vulnerability model. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57(4), 587-600. Knox, D., Zusman, M., & DeCuzzi, A. (2004). The effect of parental divorce on relationships with parents and romantic partners of college students. College Student Journal, 38(4), 597-601. Kot, L., & Shoemaker, H. M. (1999). Children of divorce: An investigation of the developmental effects from infancy through adulthood. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 31(1-2), 161-178. Mullett, E., & Stolberg, A. L. (2002). Divorce and its impact on the intimate relationships of young adults. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 38(1-2), 39-60. National marriage and divorce trends (2013). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/ marriage_divorce_tables.htm Ross, L. T., & Miller, J. R. (2009). Parental divorce and college students: The impact of family unpredictability and perceptions of divorce. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 50(4), 248-259. Short, J. L. (2002). The effects of parental divorce during childhood on college students. Journalof Divorce & Remarriage, 38(1-2), 143-156. Trzesniewski, K. H., Moffitt, T. E., Poulton, R., Donnellan, M. B., Robins, R. W., Caspi, A. (2006). Low self-esteem during adolescence predicts poor health, criminal behavior, and limited economic prospects during adulthood. Developmental Psychology, 42(2), 381-390. U.S. Bureau of the Census. (2009) Statistical Abstract of the United States 2009. Wallerstein, J. S. (1991). The long-term effects of divorce on children: A review. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent
Psychiatry, 30(3), 349-360. Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (1994). Children’s competence beliefs, achievement values, and general self-esteem: Change across elementary and middle school. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 14(2), 107-138. Zimet, G., Dahlem, N. W., Zimet, S., & Farley, G. K. (1988). The multidimensional scale of perceived social support. Journal of Personality Assessment, 51(1), 30-41.
ABSTRACTS The following abstracts highlights the research of students in the Applied Psychology Honors Program, as well as those completing an independent thesis.
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Discussing Sexuality with Children Christine Campo Despite efforts to promote abstinence and delay sexual initiation, adolescents are initiating sexual activities earlier than ever before. Parent-child conversations about sexuality prior to adolescence might be one way to address teen’s increased risk for negative outcomes associated with sex, like unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. However, these important dialogues are often stifled because parents are uncomfortable talking to their children about sexuality-related topics. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the comfort level of American parents with discussing sexuality-related topics with their children. A survey on various sexuality-related topics and behaviors was sent to members of parenting LISTSERVs based in Northeastern urban region of the U.S. who have children zero to seven years; 134 female caregivers responded. Results showed that contemporary American parents are more comfortable discussing sexuality-related topics than was previously found (See Roberts, Kline, & Gagnon, 1978; Gagnon, 1985). Parents were most comfortable discussing normative, age-relevant sexuality-related topics like, the physical differences between men and women and pregnancy. Parents were least comfortable discussing future-oriented, sexuality-related topics, like dating, sexual exploration in adolescence and spermarche; and age-relevant, deviant topics like rape and molestation. Parents most commonly cited reasons for discomfort were age of child and not knowing how to accurately convey the information to their child. Lastly, older parents reported feeling significantly less comfortable discussing certain sexuality-related topics, specifically those that are future-oriented. This trend might show that attitudinal changes toward sexuality and discussing sexuality with children are currently occurring among today’s younger parents.
Acculturative Stress, Gender, and Mental Health Symptoms in Immigrant Adolescents Kara Duca Adolescent immigrants currently represent the fastest growing fragment of American youth. For this population, the journey to America is often fraught with physical and psychological challenges including acculturative stress. Past research has linked acculturative stress to internalizing symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms, and suggests that immigrant youth are overly susceptible to these outcomes. However, research has yet to explore the role of gender in this association. Considering the rapidly rising number of immigrant adolescents in the United States, the alarming rates of mental health symptoms among adolescents, and the unique stressors that immigrant adolescents face, identifying sources and potential buffers of mental health symptoms are of the utmost importance. This study examined the relation between acculturative stress and internalizing mental health symptoms, as well as the potential moderating role of gender among urban high school students (N = 169) using data from the first wave of the New York City Academic and Social Engagement Study (NYCASES, P.I. Selçuk R. Sirin) in the spring of 2008 (Mage = 16.33 years, SD = 1.57). Barron and Kenny’s (1986) moderation method revealed that gender moderated the negative relation between acculturative stress and all 3 types of internalizing symptoms, although it did so in a different way for each type of symptoms. These results suggest that adolescent immigrant boys and girls vary in their mental health responses to acculturative stress and highlight the attention that researchers, practitioners, and educators must pay to acculturative stress in their work.
Gendered Toy Preferences and Preschoolers’ Play Behaviors Alesha Gooden Play is essential to child development in that it encourages social, physical, and cognitive growth. However, many factors influence the toys that children play with; one of the most significant of these factors is gender. As strict adherence to gender-typical toys limit children’s play opportunities, and the play-based acquisition of specific skills, the present study investigated the gender-typed beliefs of ethnic minority caregivers, the gender-typed beliefs and play behaviors of their children, and the relation between caregivers’ gender-typed beliefs, and children’s gender-typed beliefs and play behaviors. Thirty-seven, predominantly Latino children (ages 3-5) and their primary caregivers (predominantly female) were recruited from two classrooms at a Head Start site. Caregivers were asked to complete a gender-sorting task. Children participated in semi-structured classroom play interactions with masculine, feminine, and gender-neutral toys provided by the investigator, and completed an adaptation of the adult gender-sorting task. Classroom play interactions were recorded and coded for play. Results show that while caregivers rated toys as predominantly gender neutral, girls had higher feminine toy ratings, while boys had higher masculine ratings. No significant relations were found between caregivers’ and children’s gender-typed beliefs. However, sampled boys were more likely to engage in a less active form of engagement with the feminine toys if their caregivers were more gender stereotypical. Results are discussed in terms of the intergenerational transmission of gender schemas, and the importance of integrating ethnic minorities into developmental research.
Lenses of Justice: Demographic, Cultural, Ideological, Socioemotional Factors & Distributive Justice Caila Gordon-Koster The act of giving can be complicated; from the question faced by charitable organizations about how and to whom to distribute food, to the question among kindergarteners of how and with whom to share crayons, all types of communities struggle with determining what it means to share and distribute resources fairly. Differing views on the appropriate allocation of resources and responsibility, a phenomenon referred to as “distributive justice,” is at the heart of this question about with whom, and under what conditions, we should give. Distributive justice is the evaluative process that determines how to allocate resources and responsibility (Lamont, 2008). While current research on distributive justice has explored peoples’ views of fair and just distribution of critical resources, scholars have largely overlooked the factors that are associated with or predictive of these views. Further, extant research on distributive justice has failed to include African Americans. The proposed study (a secondary analysis of data drawn from the African American College Study) addresses these gaps in the current research by investigating the extent to which demographic, cultural, socioemotional and ideological factors are associated with distributive justice in African Americans.
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The Role of Stereotype Vulnerability on Black Students’ Relational Engagement Andrew Cory Greene Despite a decrease in high school dropout rates for Black students over the last thirty years, Black students continue trailing behind their White counterparts in all academic categories. A growing body of literature suggests society’s negative stereotypes play a major role in Black students’ academic achievement. Using stereotype threat as a guide, the present study explored the role of stereotype vulnerability on Black Students relational engagement. The study used secondary data from NYCASES; P.I. Selcuk Sirin a pan-racial of 97 “Black” high school students (51.5% females = 50) from minority and immigrant backgrounds (Mage= 16.15 years, SD= 3.50). A multiple regression was used to assess the ability of two variables (stereotype vulnerability and perceived teachers’ expectations) to predict relational engagement. The total variance explained by the model was 17.0%, F (1,94)= 9.783, p=.002, but there was no significant change in the model due to the added moderator. Stereotype vulnerability (beta=. -30, b=. -25, p=.002) and perceived teachers’ expectations (beta=.29, b=.29, p=.002) continued to be a significant predictor for relational engagement but perceived teachers’ expectations was not significant as a moderator of this relation. These preliminary findings suggest stereotype vulnerability and perceived teachers’ expectations are influential factors in Black students and levels of relation engagement.
Multicultural Competence among Mental Health Professionals Savanna Keator The proposed study seeks to investigate mental health professionals’ multicultural competence as it relates to clients’ perceptions of the therapeutic alliance. The growth in culturally diverse clients in the United States poses a challenge for the psychology field that is dominated by American professionals. The proposed study addresses major gaps in research concerning mental health professionals and their ability to successfully treat clients of a different culture. What is the relationship between mental health professionals’ multicultural competence and their clients’ perceptions of the therapeutic alliance? Participants will be 150 mental health professionals and 600 clients recruited from 15 hospitals across the New York Metropolitan area. Ten professionals per hospital will be surveyed, and each professional will have 2 male and 2 female clients each to control for gender. Both clients and professionals will be asked to fill out a demographic questionnaire that addresses cultural values, as well as factors such as reasons for seeking mental health treatment (for clients), and therapeutic experience (for professionals). Professionals will be asked to complete the Multicultural Counseling Knowledge and Awareness Scale (MCKAS) (Ponterotto & Potere, 2003) to assess multicultural competence. Consenting clients of the professionals will be asked to complete the Working Alliance Inventory (WAI) (Horvath & Greenberg, 1989) to assess the therapeutic alliance. Higher professional multicultural competence is expected to be associated with higher client perception of the therapeutic alliance. The proposed study has the possibility to inform both policy and practice in the creation of more rigid guidelines concerning multicultural competence, as well as the development of successful treatments for culturally diverse clients.
Teasing within English-Speaking Latino Families Aakriti Malhotra Sociocultural and linguistic knowledge is acquired by children through everyday language-mediated interactions. Teasing is one type of interaction that can be found within a broad range of cultures, and can play positive or negative roles in childrenâ€™s learning of their language and culture. Although studies have been conducted in Spanish-speaking families, there is a dearth of research examining the incidence of teasing in English-speaking Latino families. Therefore, the present study will explore the frequency and functions of teasing in English-speaking Latino families using an ethnographic methodology. Families were visited four times over the course of one month; all audio conversations were recorded and field notes were written immediately after each visit. Results showed eight different types of teasing grouped into three categories of teasing; there was higher variability in types of teasing and more advanced forms of teasing used in instances where the mother is present. Functions of teasing include reprimands, establishing a connection, life lessons, and diffusing a situation, all used in positive roles within these families. Through types of teasing children learn linguistic knowledge, and through functions of teasing children gain sociocultural knowledge; together, teasing can be used to help children become competent members of society. Future studies should investigate how teasing differs in bilingual households depending on the language being used, and how teasing looks between fathers and sons.
The Immigrant Paradox: Discrimination Stress and Academic Disengagement Alfredo Daniel Novoa Latino youth are especially at risk for academic problems and the highest ethnic dropout rates in New York City. Dramatic proportional increases of Latino immigrant students in the education system prompt need for further understanding of social factors that negatively influence student performance in these underserved groups. The present study examined the role that generational status plays in the relation between discrimination stress and academic disengagement by adapting an immigrant paradox framework. Preventing academic disengagement is important when considering factors to reduce a studentâ€™s likelihood of dropping out. A cross-sectional sample of Latino adolescents (N=208) from the New York City Academic and Social Engagement Study (NYCASES) was analyzed to assess for the relations between these factors. Analyses found that discrimination stress predicted academic disengagement. Examining the role of generation status revealed first generation status significantly related to academic disengagement, however, second generation did not. Furthermore, generational status did not significantly moderate the relation between discrimination stress and academic disengagement. Understanding studentsâ€™ experiences as they vary by generation further will help clarify appropriate preventative interventions for the adverse relation between discrimination stress and academic disengagement.
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Trauma, Meaning-Making, and Identity in Young Women of Color Mercedes J. Okosi The qualitative research study aimed to investigate mechanisms through which young women of color in New York City process traumatic events through meaning making and develop autonomous-oriented identities. The sample consisted of 16 Black, Latina, Asian, and otherwise nonwhite women age 15 to 23 at a youth social service agency. Using grounded theory and phenomenological analysis, semi-structured psychosocial interviews were conducted and analyzed for pertinent themes and meaning units. These were motivational factors and active processes that allowed the young women to achieve resilient outcomes. Major meaning units in the process of meaning making and identity development included future orientation, ability to adjust to negative life events, capacity for self reflection, emotional catharsis, isolation from negative environment or people, passion for sport, passion for career, and necessity to provide for children. The process of meaning making and identity development for young women of color was fragmented due to the chronic nature of their exposure to trauma. Findings support the positive role of community organizations as social capital and suggest strength-based approaches to trauma recovery.
STAFF & CONTRIBUTOR BIOS
66 | Staff & Contributor Bios
Staff Bios Kara Duca - Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Kara Duca is a senior in the Applied Psychology department, with a minor in Italian. She is currently a member of Dr. Selcuk Sirinâ€™s research team, where she is involved in an array of projects, both quantitative and qualitative, surrounding the acculturation experiences of immigrant-origin adolescents. She has just completed her senior Honors thesis, which seeks to understand gender differences in the negative relation between acculturative stress and internalizing symptoms. She is excited to be presenting her thesis at the upcoming American Psychological Association conference in Hawaii. Her general research interests include the interaction of multiple identities as well as the impact of risk environments, unhealthy relationships, and traumatic experiences on mental health. Kara is also the former President of the Applied Psychology Undergraduate Club. In the near future, she plans to attend a doctoral program in Counseling Psychology to pursue her research interests and expand her clinical experience.
Caila Gordon-Koster - Editor email@example.com Caila Gordon-Koster is a senior in the Applied Psychology department with a minor in Religious Studies. She also holds a certificate in Political Psychology from Stanford University. Her research fuses the two subjects of religion and politics by studying religiosity and justice as psychological constructs. During her time at New York University she has worked on the research teams of Dr. Niobe Way and Taveeshi Gupta, Dr. Jacqueline Mattis, and at the Stern School of Business as a consultant to Dr. Durairaj Maheswaran. She has presented research at the American Psychological Associationâ€™s annual conference and at the National Multicultural Conference and Summit. Caila will work as a Political Strategist at an advertising agency in Washington, DC post graduation. Caila was also a member of the New York University cross examination debate team.
David Freedman - Editor-in-Training firstname.lastname@example.org David Freedman is a Junior in Applied Psychology who transferred from Carleton College in 2012. In 2011, while taking a gap year between schools, David volunteered as an Emergency Medical Technician. His experience reassuring patients and tending to their physical wounds solidified his desire to pursue a career in mental health. David is particularly interested in issues of culture, trauma and resilience, substance misuse, and development. This summer, he will be participating in a case management internship in a residential treatment facility, and in the fall will be functioning as an editor for OPUS. Upon graduation, David hopes to work in social services before pursuing further education in the field of psychology.
| 67 Alfredo Novoa - Staff Writer email@example.com Alfredo Novoa is a graduating senior in Applied Psychology who transferred from Utah State University in 2011. After gaining a solid background in social justice through engagement in advocacy for reproductive justice as an education intern and campus representative for Planned Parenthood. Sex education sparked his interest in policy and education. His current research focuses on immigrant and minority experiences and how they influence educational outcomes. Alfredo’s attraction to education is showcased not only through his academic pursuits but also his professional endevors. Combining his love of education with justice, he is interested in pursuing a PhD in Developmental science to study the application of action research with underrepresented groups in school environments.
Scarlett Wang - Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org Scarlett Wang is a senior in the applied psychology program. Her research interests are cultural differences in children’s early development, and how to apply the cultural aspects to counseling of school-aged children. She’s currently an active RA in Center for Research on Culture, Development and Education, working closely with Dr. Catherine Tamis-Lemonda exploring the cross cultural similarities and differences of mother-child shared narratives.
Esther Song - Secretary/Treasurer email@example.com Esther is currently a sophomore in the Applied Psychology program also pursing a minor in Music. Her research interests include how extracurricular musical involvement throughout the lifespan is related to career development and English as a second language. She aspires to use social science professionally in Market Research or Human Resources upon graduation.
Amelia Chu - Layout Director firstname.lastname@example.org Amelia is a freshman in the Applied Psychology Program and is pursuing a minor in Anthropology and Business Studies. She is interested in Social Psychology and Child Psychology. She currently works at PS 130 in the America Reads program. Amelia is also the Layout Editor of Generasian, a student-run Asian-American interest magazine.
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Contributors Bios Grace Anzalone email@example.com Grace Anzalone is a junior majoring in Applied Psychology. Her research interests include personality theories and factors that protect at risk youth from anti-social outcomes. Grace is involved in applied research at the University at Buffalo, and also volunteers at the ASPCA. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in clinical psychology.
Kelsey Block firstname.lastname@example.org Kelsey Block is a junior studying Applied Psychology at New York University. She spends her free time working with adolescents at The Door, and teaching health classes for Peer Health Exchange. She is currently a member of Dr. Elise Cappella’s research team working on a project studying the academic and social emotional development of students when transitioning to secondary school, and which aspects of school and community help adolescents during this transition. She wouldn’t be where she is today without the unconditional support from her parents, and her biggest inspiration, her brother.
Christine Campo email@example.com Christine Campo is a graduating Honors student in NYU’s Applied Psychology Department with a minor in Creative Writing and a concentration in Spanish Language. She will begin a Masters program in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness at NYU this fall. Her interests in psychology include psychosexual development and parent-child socialization. For the past two years, she has conducted an independent research study with Dr. Ronald Moglia which focuses on Parental Attitudes toward Childhood Sexual Behaviors and how these attitudes translate into parenting practices.The findings of this study have been presented at both the NYU Applied Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference and at the Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Conference. Christine has worked on several research teams in addition to collecting her own data under the direction of Dr. Moglia. These teams include: Dr. Mattis’ Project PEARLS, Dr. McClowery’s Project INSIGHTS and, currently, Dr. Juni’s Spanish Language Propaganda Team. In addition to extensive research experience, she has served as an assistant supervisor at a summer camp for over five years and has tutored middle school students at the University Settlement/YMCA in Chinatown for three years. She also was a member several clubs at NYU including Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society and Inside Scoop, a club in which upper-classmen mentor freshman and transfer students in the Applied Psychology Program.
Sarah Collins firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Collins is a junior in the Applied Psychology program, with a minor in American Sign Language. She currently holds internships at the Employment Program for Recovering Addicts, gaining clinical experience in the substance abuse and vocational field, and at the Sloan Kettering Pediatric Inpatients unit, helping children with cancer enjoy themselves through various activities in the hospital. She is a member of NYU’s Psi Chi chapter, the International Honor Society for Psychology. She intends to attend graduate school to obtain a PsyD degree, with the goal of becoming a psychologist specializing in adolescent addiction and mental health.
Emily Gallagher email@example.com Emily Gallagher is a Junior in Applied Psychology. She is a member of Dr. Elise Capella’s research team and has worked on both the INSIGHTS study and Project Friend. Emily is also co-president of the APUG Club. Her research interests include school interventions, teacher-student relationships and Autism.
Andrew Green firstname.lastname@example.org Andrew Greene is a senior in the Applied Psychology department at New York University and a consultant for the Public Science project at CUNY Graduate Center. Andrew has a passion for education reform and student empowerment which he pursues through his qualitative research on urban education, student experience and piloting intervention models. In his free time he runs an inner city mentorship program for young men called H.O.L.L.A! (How Our Lives Link Altogether) and is a resident assistant. His inspiration stems from his son Cory, his wife Teresa, his passion for societal equality, and his breadth of life experience.
Alesha Gooden email@example.com Alesha is a senior majoring in Applied Psychology with minors in Sociology and Gender & Sexuality Studies. She has previously worked with the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior, and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS) and has served as a peer mentor for Inside Scoop! and as the Secretary of Psi Chi: The International Honor Society in Psychology at NYU. Alesha currently works with Dr. Gigliana Melzi’s Latino Family Involvement Project and Dr. Arnold Grossman’s SOGI-Q Project. Her personal research interests include the psychosocial development of gender identity across the lifespan and gender-variance in urban settings. This past year, Alesha designed her own study and collected data for her honors thesis under the mentorship of Dr. Gigliana Melzi, exploring children’s gendered toy preferences and play behaviors and their relation to caregivers’ gender-typed beliefs. Upon the completion of this academic year, Alesha will gain work experience before pursuing a graduate degree in a psychology-related field.
Vera Stiefler Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org Vera Stiefler Johnson is a junior who, as an ex-CAS student, is excited to begin her Applied Psychology coursework in autumn. Having grown up in diverse countries such as Vietnam, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Denmark, and China, she has developed a strong interest in the issues facing women across cultures. She hopes to use an applied psychology foundation to work against gender discrimination and human trafficking, particularly with regard to refugees, recent immigrants, and victims
Seren Karasu email@example.com Seren Karasu is a graduating senior in the Applied Psychology program at New York University. She is currently on Dr. Elise Cappella’s research team exploring peer social networks of early adolescents. Her own research interests include K-12 education, social relationships, race and ethnicity, and social justice. Seren has a growing interest in social policy and law, which she plans to explore upon graduation.
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Savanna Keator firstname.lastname@example.org Savanna Keator is a graduating senior in the Applied Psychology program. She is a member of Dr. Selcuk Sirin’s lab, working on his NYCASES and MAP projects. Her research interests include therapist multicultural competence, the efficacy of therapy across different cultures, and bereavement therapy as it pertains to different types of losses. Following graduation, Savanna is returning to NYU Steinhardt’s Applied Psychology department to attend the Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness Master’s program this fall. Her career aspiration is to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in New York State.
Aakriti Malhotra email@example.com Aakriti Malhotra is a senior in the Applied Psychology program, with a minor in Anthropology. Her research interests are focused on children and minority populations. Aakriti currently works on Dr. Melzi’s LFIP Research Team, which does research on lower income Latino families. Upon completion of her bachelor’s degree, Aakriti has plans to work, travel, and perhaps attend graduate school. She is interested in working in social justice and non-profit programs. While she has not found her passion yet, Aakriti is looking forward to an exciting future.
Mercedes J Okosi firstname.lastname@example.org Mercedes J. Okosi is a graduating senior in the Applied Psychology program with a minor in Spanish. She is a Case Manager at the AIDS Service Center, a nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive services for individuals affected by or at risk of HIV infection. She previously worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator in training at Fieve Clinical Research Inc. assisting with clinical drug trials for anxiety and depression. She also worked as an Intake Counselor at The Door, a community organization that helps disconnected youth achieve their greatest potential. At The Door, she carried out a small, independent, qualitative study examining traumatic experiences, meaning-making, and identity formation of young women of color. Mercedes’ research interests revolve around mental illness, stigma, and identity development of adolescents of marginalized populations including young women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. Upon graduation, Mercedes will continue her work at AIDS Service Center until the start of her graduate studies at Rutgers University’s Clinical Psychology Psy.D program.
Sophie Spiegel email@example.com Sophie Spiegel is a senior in the Applied Psychology program at NYU. For the past two semesters she worked at NYU Metro Center Upward Bound/1199 Workforce 2000 Program working high school students who either have a learning or physical disability who are potential first-generation college students. Although Sophie has been working with high school students, her interests lie in working with children with behavioral disorders, ranging from Autism to ADHD and counseling. This summer, she will be working at The Summer Program for Kids, which is a rigorous day camp treatment for children with ADHD. Sophie’s interests come from her sister Miranda and personal life experiences. She hopes to pursue a career with a focus in behavioral disorders in children or counseling.
Yimkwan Tsang firstname.lastname@example.org Lauren Tkach is a graduating senior in the Applied Psychology program with a concentration in media and communications. Lauren is interested in understanding how our social contexts guide our perceptions of branding, and how that in turn affects our consumer behavior. She is also interested in education policy and the formation of Latin American identity among American-born Latino millennials. After graduation, she will be working in the field of advertising and strategic marketing. In her free time, she loves planning events, drawing, and learning new digital tools such as Adobe Creative Suite and various coding languages.
Lauren Tkach email@example.com Yimkwan Tsang is a junior in the Applied Psychology program with a minor in Web Programming and Applications. She is currently a member of Dr. Selcuk Sirinâ€™s research team working on a qualitative analysis of interview data from immigrant-origin adolescents. Her general research interests include the role of social support across cultures and indigenous psychology in Chinese cultures. Upon completing her bachelorâ€™s degree, she plans to pursue a degree in Clinical Psychology in either the U.S. or Hong Kong.
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Published on May 15, 2013
Volume IV | Spring 2013 Semi-annual, peer reviewed publication of outstanding undergraduate research in the department of Applied Psychology...