SPSP Psychgeist Media Scholarship
Are you interested in sharing your science with a broad audience? Psychgeist Media can help! Psychgeist Media is a non-profit organization that helps researchers communicate about their research with the public in an accurate and engaging way, frequently working with SPSP members to place op-eds in major media outlets.
Each year, SPSP offers scholarships for 10 members to receive Psychgeist Media's standard package of services. Ideal scholarship candidates will have a publication that has been recently accepted or published and a topic that connects in a meaningful way to current events or in people's lives. We strongly encourage individuals from groups that are underrepresented in social and personality psychology to pursue this opportunity.
Applicants are asked to provide a pitch that describes an article they would like to work on during the scholarship program. Check out our current scholars below and click on their name to read their pitch!
Current SPSP Psychgeist Media Scholars
How do children figure out their family's socioeconomic status?
Socioeconomic inequalities are more severe than ever -- how do children figure out their place (or their family's place) in these hierarchies? Families often don't have explicit conversations with kids about socioeconomic status, so figuring this out is a real puzzle for young minds. We trained nearly 400 four- to ten-year-old children to use a 10-rung ladder to rank their family's socioeconomic status, and then we asked them to freely explain why they put their family where they did. Young children from diverse backgrounds tended to rate their families as being very wealthy, but their ratings got lower and more accurate as kids grew older. Moreover, as kids got older, their explanations referenced more things they *did not have*. Younger kids might ignore what they do not have for a variety of reasons—it's inherently abstract and therefore hard to conceptualize, and also parents might avoid talking to kids about what other families have but they do not. Kids' responses were very colorful and sometimes funny—I'd love to share them with readers!
Individuals Talk about Attitudes they Support Rather than Oppose
The rise of social media has led to unprecedented opportunities for individuals to share, or express, their attitudes on social and political issues. We find that individuals are more likely to share their views on issues when those views are framed in terms of what they support (e.g., I support allowing abortions), rather than what they oppose (e.g., I oppose banning abortions). This effect occurs in part because people think others will like them more if they share support, rather than opposition—even though this intuition is often misguided. In an increasingly politically polarized world, where many people are hesitant to express their views on, and discuss, important social issues, understanding the circumstances under which people are willing to have these conversations is key to bringing people to the table on these topics.
The Psychology of Coordination and Protest Movements
Iran is currently in the midst of mass protests in response to state violence against women at the hands of Iran’s morality police in what is being hailed as the “women's revolution”. How are people able to successfully coordinate on such large scales to create impactful protest movements and enact social change? Our recent papers identify one important ability that allows us to coordinate in groups to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes—common knowledge—the belief state where we know that everyone knows. In our research we find that the ability to use common knowledge to coordinate is a fundamental part of human psychology that is present even in early childhood. Our research not only shines light on how humans are able to coordinate at such immense scales but also offers insight into which means are the most effective for coordinating successful protest movements.
Agency is a Critical but Often Overlooked Component of Feedback Delivery
In this piece, I discuss why agency is such a critical but often overlooked component of effective feedback. When you give someone agentic feedback, you give them agency to make choices and implement changes themselves, rather than offering prescriptions. I argue for agentic feedback as a tool for equitable teaching and management, as marginalized students and adults are often the targets of low expectations and overly positive (and misleading) feedback. At a time when many of us are learning and working in hybrid or fully remote contexts, it’s important to understand practices that can help to connect and empower people to improve outcomes.
Shifting Among Women of Color
We've long suspected that being a woman of color is exhausting. But a recent body of research on the phenomenon of shifting—i.e., changing one's self-presentation to cope with the specter of racism and its extended family tree of consequences—demonstrates just how stressful it can be. Across Black, Latina, and Asian women, this type of self-altering behavior is a daily reality, although the nature of the shape-shifting varies. For the former, it's frequently a matter of denying pain (a la the "Strong Black Woman") or downplaying successes in front of certain audiences. For the latter two, it’s often about conforming to White standards surrounding both beauty, language, and even food—whether it's a matter of hair color, eye shape, idiom, or your (purported) favorite thing to eat. Yet for all three groups, one feature is the same: shifting comes at a psychological cost.
Religion as Story, or: Why the Psychology of Religion Should Learn to Love Narrative
The psychology of religion continues to emphasize personal belief and emotions—that is, what goes on inside the head and the heart of the individual religious adherent. What is often left out of this picture, however, is the narratives that saturate religion, both in the form of personal testimony and the larger meta-narratives of the religion itself. While doctrinal propositions and emotional expressions are, of course, a part of religion, they are only woven into a coherent thread (in the individual's life and in the religion) through the use of narrative. For example, religious rituals and liturgies (e.g., the Passover seder, the Eucharist) re-enact stories (the Exodus, the Last Supper) and incorporate modern individuals into the story of the body of faithful believers through time. If narrative is so key to understanding religion and how it becomes psychologically meaningful, then why do psychologists of religion neglect it? I offer five reasons—based in philosophy, theology, and psychological studies—that psychologists of religion tend to neglect narrative and why they should actually befriend it.
Discussion about the present state of American masculinity is mounting. These heated debates are often spurred by high-profile instances of mass violence, although others have commented on boys’ recent shortcomings in education, men’s self-harm, and an “epidemic” of male loneliness. As social psychologists, we wanted to get at the root of these issues. Why are men harming themselves and others? What explains why certain men—but certainly not all men—experience these outcomes? To answer these questions, we combed through the last 100 years of psychological research and theories about the core tenants of human functioning. Boiled down, we found that—at its core—masculinity is about power and status. As humans evolved, men assumed positions of power and influence in societies, which caused masculinity to become equated with high status. This perception still exists, and, as a result, many men feel like they have to be or act a certain way—e.g., strong, aggressive, and tough—to maintain their masculine status. These expectations create feelings of discrepancy that men then want to resolve by being masculine, which can be especially dangerous when men’s status is threatened or challenged. For example, men who are pressured by others respond to threats by outwardly reasserting their masculinity (e.g., with aggression), whereas men who internally want to be more masculine experience dejection-related outcome following threat (e.g., self-harm, shame). Building on the past work showing that unequal gender power structures harm women, what we have identified here is that these structures (and the pressures they induce) may actually harm men as well.