University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Seminars Archive

Dr. Ulrich Wagner
Ulrich Wagner

Prejudice in Germany

October 9, 2007

Dr. Ulrich Wagner is Professor of Social Psychology and Director of the Center for Conflict Studies, Philipps-University Marburg, Germany. Although Germany has always been a country with immigrants, until recently, German politics had officially considered the country as “non-immigrant.”

This paper described current relations between Germans and immigrants, with a special focus on German majorities’ prejudice toward immigrant minorities in their country. Data from large scale surveys demonstrate how many processes and theories used to explain ethnic prejudice can be applied to understanding Germans’ prejudice against immigrants. In particular, data show that an increase in the immigrant population at the district level (county) corresponds with reduced prejudice, as predicted by intergroup contact theory.

Dr. M. Brinton Lykes
M. Brinton Lykes

Feminist-Infused Participatory Action Research and Universal Human Rights:

Challenges from field work in rural Guatemala and urban USA

March 26, 2007

Dr. M. Brinton Lykes, is Professor and Associate Director, Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College. Dr. Lykes has collaborated with women and their families in community-based participatory action research exploring the interface of indigenous cultural beliefs and practices and those of Western psychology and in the development of programs that respond to the effects of violence in war and post-war contexts of transition and transformation.

She has worked for many years with mental health and human rights and women’s groups in Guatemala and, more recently, in South Africa and Northern Ireland.In each of these contexts she has also collaborated in the design and facilitation of training programs using participatory methodologies that draw heavily on the creative arts (drama, creative storytelling, art, etc.) and in direct service with women and child survivors of sexual and other forms of violence in war and in urban contexts in the USA.

Dr. Demis Glasford
Demis Glasford

The Struggle Within:

Responding to Ingroup Violation of Personal Values

March 2, 2007

Dr. Demis Glasford is Assistant Professor of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Dr. Glasford's research draws on cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger, 1957) and social identity theory (Tajfel, 1978) to examine intragroup dissonance, a discrepancy between one's personal values and the behavior of one's ingroup that results in psychological discomfort. Across three experiments, Dr. Glasford manipulated whether participants' ingroup violated a personal value, measured participants' emotional responses and use of dissonance-reduction strategies.

As expected, individuals experienced psychological discomfort (but not negative self-directed emotion), when an ingroup, but not an outgroup, violated a personal value. In all experiments, disidentification was used as a dissonance-reduction strategy, such that psychological discomfort mediated the tendency to disidentify when the ingroup violated the personal value. Results are discussed with respect to social identity, cognitive dissonance theory and intragroup dynamics.

Dr. Emily Erikson
Emily Erikson

Central Authority and Order

November 17, 2006

Dr. Emily Erikson is Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Strong central authorities are able to effectively manage costly defection, but are unable to adequately address lesser conflicts because of limits to their ability to monitor and enforce. We argue, counter-intuitively, that these limitations build cooperation and trust among subordinates: the limitations contribute to the production of order.

Through an examination of case studies, we isolate and describe the mechanisms by which central authority produces order as they operate in varied settings. We find that central authority may be effective, but the majority of this effectiveness derives from an indirect influence on dyadic relations rather than direct intervention. We briefly explore implications for the operation of law as well as the production of generalized trust.

Dr. Erikson's research interests include economic integration, the role of eastern markets in the development of capitalism, the relationship between organizational and network structure, and network dynamics. Her research incorporates multiple methods and uses a social mechanism-based explanatory approach to social processes. Recent research includes how organizations shape the expansion of foreign trade, the indirect effects of centralized authority on community-level relations, and the role of decentralized Asian markets in 17th-century market expansion.

Her most recent publication, co-authored with Peter Bearman and published in AJS, traced the positive impact of employee malfeasance in the English East India Company on organizational growth and the construction of the first global trade network. This research was covered by UPI and Scientific American. In addition to her teaching and research activities, Professor Erikson serves as Associate Editor for Social Science History.