race and presidential politics. In the 1990s, he and his colleagues developed the Implicit Association Test, designed to reveal people’s unconscious attitudes toward race and other issues — deeply implanted biases that operated below the level of conscious thought. In 2008 and again in this election cycle, Greenwald is using the IAT to measure voters’ attitudes toward the candidates. “We’ve already found that [implicit] racial attitudes are involved with a preference for white Republican candidates over Obama, white Republican candidates over Herman Cain, and surprisingly Cain over Obama,” he says. Greenwald says that such implicit biases are strong enough to affect election outcomes — and they can have other societal impacts. “There’s increasing acceptance of the idea that important pieces of human behavior are enacted without much or any thought,” he says.
To try out Greenwald’s Decision2012 Implicit
Association Test, go to https://implicit.harvard.
Bosses from hell
Bad bosses make for good comedy, as movies like “The Devil
Wears Prada” attest. But for workers and the companies that
hire them, subpar superiors are no laughing
According to Robert Hogan, PhD, poor
managers — who range from incompetent
to tyrannical — do more than make
workers’ lives miserable. They also lose
money. Research shows that ill-managed
companies earn far fewer profits than
well-managed ones, says Hogan, who is
president of Hogan Assessment Systems, an
international distributor of psychological assessments.
Worse, they cost people their health. Sixty-five percent to 75
percent of workers say the most stressful aspect of their job is
their immediate supervisor, find studies by Hogan and others.
“So these guys aren’t just bad for business — they’re killing
people,” Hogan asserts.
What’s to be done? Psychological researchers need to
pinpoint the best leadership qualities and interventions.
In the field, practitioners need to use
good assessment tools, develop training
programs and suggest hiring practices based
on these interventions. Many people fall
into management jobs based on seniority,
hierarchy or technical ability rather than
personality and talent. Good leadership must
be nurtured, and “bad leaders need to be
confronted with their flaws,” Hogan says.
Up Close and Personal with Janet E. Helms
This year’s “Up Close and Personal”
question-and-answer session will feature
Janet E. Helms, PhD, founding director of
Boston College’s Institute for the Study and
Promotion of Race and Culture. Helms’s
research has driven new theories of how
race and gender identity and cultural factors
influence counseling practices, assessment
and personality development.
Her work has provided empirical evidence that it is not race
or gender per se that affects people’s mental health, but the
psychological effects of being treated in certain ways because
of one’s ascribed membership in these categories. Helms
has found that racial identity predicts a variety of outcomes,
including race-related stress reactions, performance on
standardized tests and perceptions of supervisor-supervisee
experiences. She is now investigating the links between racial
and womanist identity and health disparities of women of color.
“Although obesity is a problem for U.S. women, particularly
African-American and Latina women, little research has
examined racial stressors and the women’s manners of coping
with them as catalysts for the problem. If we can find how these
identity schemas affect eating, we might develop interventions
more useful than just telling women to eat less.” Helms will
answer questions about her work and looks forward to learning
from attendees about other practical applications of her theories.
A dolphin’s tale
Some dolphins learn to use tools, while
others don’t. Georgetown University’s Janet
Mann, PhD, will explain
why — and much more
— in her plenary talk,
“Growing up Dolphin.”
She will describe what she
and her colleagues have
learned during 25 years of
research on the bottlenose
dolphins in Shark Bay off
the coast of Australia —
the only group of dolphins known to use tools
in the wild.
“I will tell the story of how these animals
grow up as individuals and meet the social
and ecological challenges they face, including
how to hunt, how to avoid sharks and how to
make friends,” says Mann.
Mann will explore what she calls the