Hehman et al. (2012) investigated group attitudes about policies that affect minority groups. The researchers discussed the main two ways that immigrants are integrated into society, and the preferences that White and Black people have about them (Hehman et al., 2012). The first type of integration is called assimilation in which immigrants give up their previous culture and completely join the mainstream culture and attitudes of their new home. The other type is called pluralism in which immigrants take part in the culture of their new society while also keeping their previous cultural identity. According to Hehman et al. (2012), White people think that assimilation is the best method, but Black people favor pluralism. Hehman et al. (2012) suggested that majority groups prefer assimilation because they want the group’s values and cultural identity to stay the same. However, minority groups think that pluralism allows individuals to have their own identity while still identifying with the larger group. Hehman et al. (2012) decided to study the attitudes of Whites and Blacks in a school with a majority of Whites, and in a school with a majority of Blacks. This way the researchers could see if Blacks would have a different opinion as the majority group; even though they remain a minority nationally. Hehman et al. (2012) hypothesized that Whites at both schools would prefer assimilation more than Blacks for national policies, but that the minority group in each school would prefer pluralism for school issues.
Hehman et al. (2012) went to a majority White university and a majority Black university and recruited almost 500 students in total. All of the students filled out surveys that measured their preferences for either assimilation or pluralism for university policies, and separately for national policies. After their statistical analysis, the researchers found that Whites were in favor of assimilation much more than Blacks in both universities when it came to national issues. However, Blacks were more in favor of assimilation policies on the university level in the majority Black school, but were more in favor of pluralism policies for the university when they were the minority there. At the majority Black school, Whites’ preference for university pluralism policies was slightly higher than Blacks, but there was a much higher preference for assimilation policies in this same group. The highest score for assimilation policies on a national scale was this same group of Whites at a majority Black school (Hehman et al., 2012). Hehman et al. (2012) concluded that their hypotheses were generally supported by the results because when each group was a minority they preferred pluralism more than they did as the majority. Hehman et al. (2012) stated that their study was important because it looked at the views of nonimmigrants from a single country in majority and minority roles. They suggested that group integration preferences are caused by the group’s status within the larger society and the goals of the group (Hehman et al., 2012).
I was surprised by the results of this study because I would not have thought that a group who has always been a national minority, and subject to years of prejudicial treatment, would take a different view of integration when in a majority role. It was interesting that even though Blacks preferred assimilation more for school policies when they were the majority, Whites still preferred assimilation far more than Blacks at the same school and as the minority. So even though Whites always preferred assimilation more than Blacks, it was the preferences for pluralism that changed according to the group’s status. This made me wonder if other countries also feel so strongly about keeping their cultural identities, and if all dominant groups within different levels of society hold the same preference for new members’ total assimilation of the group’s cultural norms and attitudes. Some countries have large amounts of many different ethnicities, and even multiple national languages. Do these countries still hold majority and minority preferences, and is it about some other aspect of cultural identity? This study is very relevant to current controversial views about immigration.
Hehman, E., Gaertner, S. L., Dovidio, J. F., Mania, E. W., Guerra, R., Wilson, D. C., & Friel, B. M. (2012). Group status drives majority and minority integration preferences. Psychological Science, 23(1), 46-52. doi: 10.1177/0956797611423547
Research about the Effects of Foster Care
Pears, Kim, Fisher, and Yoerger (2013) investigated children in foster care and how it affected different aspects of their psychological well-being in school. The researchers discussed school engagement and its link to positive educational and social consequences. They proposed that school engagement could be used to help children who commonly end up failing school or getting involved in criminal activity in their youth. Pears et al. (2013) broke down the concept of school engagement into three separate categories for their study. The behavioral category was related to how children acted at school such as whether they went to class, did their work, or took part in clubs and sports. The affective category was related to how the children felt about school in general, and the individual aspects of school. The cognitive category was related to how hard the children tried to learn or do their best, and how well they could manage their efforts. Pears et al. (2013) described the common consequences of high and low levels of school engagement which were associated with academic and deviant behavior. High engagement was related to high performance and positive behavior and vice versa, but negative peer influences could cause children’s school engagement to drop. Pears et al. (2013) stressed how importance this link is for foster children because they are at such a high risk for school and behavioral problems. Pears et al. (2013) hypothesized that foster children scored lower on every category of school engagement compared to children not in foster care, and that this would predict academic and behavioral problems in the future.
Pears et al. (2013) recruited over a hundred children in foster care who were from three to six years old. They recruited a comparison group of children within the same age range who had always lived with a parent. For this comparison group, the researchers recruited children from low-income families whose parents did not have college degrees or receive welfare. They chose children from low-income families so that they could judge the effects of foster care and mistreatment specifically without having financial disadvantage as a variable. Pears et al. (2013) gathered information about the children’s school engagement using school records, and questionnaires filled out by their teachers. In the second phase of the study which began two years after the initial phase, Pears et al. (2013) gathered this information again, and also evaluated the children and their caregivers in a lab to measure their attitudes and behaviors. During the second phase, the researchers gathered this information for three consecutive years. They did this to see how early school engagement affected later school engagement, and academic and deviant behavior. Pears et al. (2013) found that the foster children had lower levels of school engagement in the affective and cognitive categories than the comparison group in the first phase. They also found that the foster children had significantly higher levels of behavioral problems and negative peer influences than the comparison group in phase two. There was no difference in the behavioral category of school engagement in phase one. Pears et al. (2013) concluded that foster care caused damaging effects separate from low-income effects.
This study added to the current knowledge about the effects of foster care, but it was still discouraging to read because showed how early in life long-term problems begin for foster children. I realize that causes must be discovered and pinpointed before solutions can be developed, but this study meticulously mapped out a progression of negative consequences without being able to do anything about it. They likely did this so that they could eventually do something about it, but it would still be difficult to watch and document. I thought it was interesting that the authors of this article automatically attached maltreatment to foster care conditions, and they specifically thought that the main difference between low-income children and foster children was maltreatment. They found significant results, but I think there are low-income children who are maltreated and possibly foster children who are not. The article did not mention any evaluation for maltreatment and so I was surprised that they directly connected the results to maltreatment for the foster children.
Pears, K. C., Kim, H. K., Fisher, P. A., & Yoerger, K. (2013). Early school engagement and late elementary outcomes for maltreated children in foster care. Developmental Psychology, 49(12), 2201-2211. doi: 10.1037/a0032218
An Argument about the Correct Age to Diagnose Personality Disorders
Hutsebaut, Feenstra, and Luyten (2013) examined problems in research and treatment concerning adolescents with personality disorders. They reviewed the results of many different studies to come their conclusions about the basic aspects of personality disorders in adolescents. Then they pointed out some limitations of this research, and discussed the inconsistency between the research and actual treatment of adolescent’s with personality disorders. They presented their conclusions because some researchers claim that personality disorder cannot be diagnosed in adolescents, and because many therapists are very unwilling to make these diagnoses in adolescents (Hutsebaut et al., 2013). Hutsebaut et al. (2013) also argued that adolescents have far less opportunity to receive mental health treatment than adults, and most professionals who specialize in treating personality disorders only treat adults. Husebaut et al. (2013) stated that most adolescents who show symptoms of personality disorders are treated for separate symptoms which are not that successful because they do not address the real problem. Hutsebaut et al. (2013) criticized the large breach between the treatment and evidence of personality disorders in adolescents, and supported their criticism with evidence based conclusions.
First, Hutsebaut et al. (2013) concluded that the diagnoses for personality disorders were just as good for adolescents as they were for adults. Both sets of diagnoses held up to research scrutiny and were more alike than different. They claimed that the differences were due to traits that depend on developmental ages. Second, Hutsebaut et al. (2013) concluded that the symptoms of borderline personality disorder were at their worst during adolescence and that some personality disorders were more apparent during adolescence and come and go during adulthood. They stated that these diagnoses in adolescence are stable predictors of future symptoms and developmental problems. Third, Hutsebaut et al. (2013) concluded that diagnoses should rely on personality and patterns of behavior, and not just severe symptoms. They argued that this could help psychologists spot the disorders during different developmental stages, and be more specific in their treatment. Fourth, Hutsebaut et al. (2013) concluded that when personality disorders are diagnosed early the symptoms can be treated successfully with short-term treatments. They discussed the self-injury associated with borderline personality disorder and how spotting this symptom early could help prevent the disorder from developing. Hutsebaut et al. (2013) proposed that there are obstacles to treating and researching personality disorders, but that there is enough evidence to show the importance of moving forward in this field.
This article was full of technical and advanced psychological information, but I find the topic very interesting because I have known someone with a personality disorder. Also, the implication of a personality disorder is that there is something wrong with a person’s personality. There are many different disorders that have to do with specific aspects of psychological well-being, but a person’s personality defines who they are and influences everything in their life. I have always thought that a person’s personality was somewhat consistent, and so having a personality that is dysfunctional seems as if it would be impossible to treat. This makes this article very relevant and important because if personality disorders can be treated successfully when they are caught in adolescence, why would professionals not want to take these preventative measures? People continue to develop throughout adolescence, but many aspects of personality are already solidified in childhood. If anything, catching these disorders before a person is fully mentally developed gives professionals a chance to shape healthier patterns of behavior. Eventually, enough evidence will probably be collected to quench the controversy over the issue and promote adolescent well-being.
Hutsebaut, J., Feenstra, D. J., & Luyten, P. (2013). Personality disorders in adolescence: Label or opportunity?. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 20(4), 445-451.