Teachable Moments about Policing from Ferguson, Missouri

Posted in Advocacy, APA

FergusonBy Tom Tyler, PhD (Professor of Law and Psychology, Yale Law School)

Ferguson represents another step in the escalating failure of the “broken windows” view of crime that has gained ascendancy during the past generation.  Under this approach, the police seek to maintain order by focusing upon arresting those who are committing minor crimes. This justifies the widespread practice of repeatedly stopping, questioning, frisking and often detaining and arresting members of the community, in particular the African-American community, and leads to the same type of hostility toward police officers that has become so visible in New York City in recent years.  Worse yet, it seems the police in cities like Ferguson have moved beyond the original broken windows model which focuses upon arresting people committing life-style crimes and have dropped any pretext of stopping only those who are actually involved in criminal activity.  Instead the police repeatedly stop innocent community residents on the streets to create feelings of fear, which they believe deters criminal behavior.  Why is this bad?

How can the police build trust?  I have conducted a number of studies of popular legitimacy which examine why people do or do not trust the police in their community.  These studies consistently show that the most important issue to public evaluations of the police is whether they believe that the police are exercising their authority fairly.  This means that they are not making decisions about who to stop based upon race; that they are willing to listen to people when they stop them; apply the law consistently and without prejudice and take time to explain the reasons for their actions.  Most importantly, the police need to treat people in the community respectfully and with courtesy.  When the police do these things they build trust.  In other words, we know how the police can build trust in communities, White or minority.  If people see the police acting with justice, they respond with trust.

Of course, there are limits, and even respectful treatment gives way to distrust in the face of repeated police stops of people who are not engaged in wrongdoing.  Two facts emerge from empirical research on the impact of policies involving widespread street stops.  First, such stop, question and frisk policies increase crime by undermining police legitimacy. Jeffrey Fagan and I recently studied young men in New York City and found that those who mistrusted the police were twice as likely to be engaged in criminal activity.  Second they increase hostility and lead to a greater likelihood of conflict when the police deal with community members on the street and when the community reacts to police actions such as the Brown shooting.  Such anger produces precisely the type of unrest so visible in Ferguson.  As so many of the marchers in that community have suggested, if people do not experience justice when they deal with the police, there will be no peace.

This article was re-posted from APA’s Psychology Benefits Society Blog.

Present Your Work at APA Convention in Toronto!

Posted in Graduate School

IMG_2105Psychology graduate students: Now is the time to start thinking about presenting your work at the prestigious 2015 APA Convention in Toronto, Ontario!  The deadline to submit a proposal is December 1, 2014. APA Convention is August 6-9, 2015.

Why submit a proposal directly to APAGS?

  • Gain valuable knowledge and experience for professional development.
  • Have access to a national audience for sharing your ideas and insights, and gain professional contacts.
  • Earn a gem for your CV!
  • Chair a session in your own right, without needing sponsorship from a full APA member.
  • As a first author on a posters or program, all APAGS members have their Convention registration fee waived.

Steps for submitting a proposal:

  1. Choose a topic that has broad appeal to many psychology graduate students. Focus on timely issues and present the most current information.
  2. Develop and refine your ideas by talking to your colleagues and advisors about topics and format. Ask reputable students and/or psychologists to present with you.
  3. Be sure to include contact information and affiliations for all presenters. Review your proposal for clarity and polish, and make sure that your proposal is complete.
  4. Submit your proposal electronically. The first question asks you to “Select the most applicable division for submission of this proposal” from a drop-down menu. Choose “GS- APAGS” to make sure your proposal gets to us.
  5. Submission deadline is December 1 but we recommend submitting early to avoid any last-minute complications.

Proposals will be reviewed and scored by the APAGS Convention Committee and selected presenters will be notified in early 2015. For more information, contact Heather Dade or visit the APA Convention website.

Funding Opportunity for Grad Students! Basic Psychological Science Research Grant

Posted in Graduate School, Research

Are you conducting psychological science research and need additional funding for your study?  The APAGS Basic Psychological Science Research Grant provides financial support for direct costs associated with psychological science research studies conducted by graduate students.

Graduate students in the following science-oriented fields are encouraged to apply:

  • Cognitive,
  • Cognitive Neuroscience,
  • Computational, Developmental,
  • Experimental or Comparative,
  • Industrial/Organizational,
  • Neuropsychology,
  • Neuroscience,
  • Perception and Psychophysics,
  • Personality and Individual Differences,
  • Psycholinguistics,
  • Physiological,
  • Quantitative,
  • Social, and
  • Clinical Science

Students in fields with a practice component are eligible, but they must focus solely on their scientific research in their application materials.

In addition, there is new funding for the grant specifically designated for those conducting diversity-related research.  APAGS is offering up to 3 awards for $1,000 to fund diversity-related research project if you apply for a Basic Psychological Science Grant.  APAGS defines diversity according to APA’s Multicultural Guidelines (2002): Diversity “refer[s] to individuals’ social identities including age, sexual orientation, [gender and gender identity], physical disability, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, workplace role/position, religious and spiritual orientation, and work/family concerns.”

Eligibility caveats:

  • Undergraduates are not eligible to apply for these grants/awards, nor are current or former APAGS Committee members, subcommittee chairs and task force chairs.
  • Former APAGS subcommittee members or ad hoc reviewers who have previously reviewed this grant are not eligible.
  • Previous recipients of each grant/award are not eligible to apply again for a period of five years.

Read more and apply online by December 3!  For specific questions, contact APAGS or Alexa Lopez!

I Have a Condition?

Posted in Graduate School

Hello everybody!Lisa Murphy

This is my ever first blog post. I am extremely new to the blogging world, which means that I have plenty to familiarize myself with! I’ve decided to start blogging for two main reasons:

1) It’s something I have always (well, since blogging became a thing) wanted to do but never had the courage to. Recently however, a dear friend adamantly exclaimed, “Lisa honestly! If I can do it, anyone can do it!” So, here I am (let’s see if she was right!)

2) I need all the writing practice I can get, given that I am merely 1 month into a 4-year PhD program!

The blog is called PhD Imposter purely on the basis of the following true story:

When first considering the idea of actually undertaking a PhD, I was having a conversation with my then undergraduate thesis supervisor and my now PhD supervisor/mentor. She was in the middle of listing the various reasons why she believed that I would be a suitable PhD candidate (none of which I agreed with). One can only take so many encouraging commendations, and so I couldn’t hold it in any longer! I blurted out, “Okay, I really think that you think that I’m better than what I actually am.” In those exact words.

After asking me to clarify, I did, and she paused for a moment, then looked at me earnestly. I honestly thought that the next words to come out of her mouth would resemble something along the lines of, “Yeah, maybe you’re right, forget what I said, best of luck with your future career.” Instead she uttered, “You have a condition you know – and there’s a name for it”. “A condition?” “Yeah, a condition”.

Ashamed, the first thought to pop into my mind was not, “I wonder what is this condition could be?,” but rather, “I wonder if there’s a pill that I can take to make it go away.” I immediately envisioned a morning fixture, like a chewable vitamin C pill, that would eradicate the condition over a period of time. Filtering my thoughts before I spoke, I decided to err on the side of caution and simply ask, “So…what’s the condition?”

“Imposter Syndrome”, she replied.

I must have had the unfortunate look of a panic-stricken little Albert (post conditioning), just as he encountered his very first white furry object.

Once she began to explain, I was utterly dumbfounded. I don’t know if any of you have ever had that experience when it feels like somebody is reading your mind and communicating your exact thoughts right back to you – it is both liberating and somewhat bizarre. It was as if she had been the homunculus inside of my head since the beginning of my academic career (i.e., primary school, age 4). The more she spoke, the more amazed I became. After all, this was my secret that she was unearthing, this dreaded secret that I didn’t really belong in the building at all – everybody just thought I did! I couldn’t believe that there was a name for it! And better yet, I couldn’t believe that other people, particularly in academia, felt this way. I immediately began to laugh at myself!

I decided to do some searching (largely in hopes of finding an immediate and effective cure!) Originally coined by Clance and Imes (1978)*, the term itself “is used to designate an internal experience of intellectual phonies, which appears to be particularly prevalent and intense among a select sample of high achieving women” (originally their research focused predominantly on career women). Today, most people would recognize the expression as signifying a ‘pathological’ inability to internalize one’s own achievements, such as when people believe that their successes are merely due to luck or chance, and consider themselves less able and less intelligent when compared to their peers. As such, they begin to feel out-of-place amongst their colleagues, ultimately coming to believe that they do not belong where they are (hence the term ‘imposter’).

I must admit that to this day an enormous part of me still longs for a pill that could be taken every morning to eradicate this debilitating condition. But alas we, self-proclaimed imposters, must chew our vitamin C pills instead and struggle on!

‘Til next time.

*Clance, P. R., & Imes, S. (1978). The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention. Psychotherapy Theory, Research and Practice, 15(3), 241-247.

Editors Note: Lisa Murphy is a doctoral student in the School of Applied Psychology, University College of Cork in Ireland. This post was co-published on her blog: PhD Imposter. For more reading on the Imposter Syndrome, check out the gradPSYCH article, “Feel Like a Fraud?”

How to Succeed When You Lead

Posted in Advice, Graduate School

Serving as the Chair of APAGS was an incredibly formative professional development experience. In reflecting on the year, with its successes and challenges, several leadership lessons emerge that I will take with me. I hope they are as helpful for you as they have been for me in learning what it means to be a leader, and to lead.

Be Principled

Leaders often face an array of complex, difficult, and even controversial decisions. A guiding framework for making decisions – especially difficult ones – is to align with both your individual principles and the values of the group you represent. You are more likely to make good decisions when you can clearly articulate the principles and the rationale behind them.

Say No

We create strategic plans and mission statements to give us direction and help us decide what we hope to achieve and how to get there. Equally important, they also should help you decide what not to do. Your group will function best when it sets clear priorities and engages in activities that are in alignment with those goals. This means learning to be comfortable saying “no” to opportunities or projects that detract from your ability to realize your vision.

Embrace Disagreement

Disagreement can be uncomfortable and difficult to manage. Yet disagreement is a critically important part of group process. Disagreement usually means that you are discussing something important. Groups can move forward constructively in the absence of consensus. In fact, if you wait for everyone to agree, you may never get anything done. Leading means being willing to move the group forward towards a solution everyone can live with. And working through disagreement to find common ground results in the best and most thoughtful outcomes.

Be Willing to be Unpopular

Being a leader means being willing to be both loved and hated. Leaders make difficult decisions, and receive both praise and criticism for their actions. At times, the right (principled) decision may not be a popular one, or may cause friction with other groups. Leaders need to find the courage to fight for what they believe in, even when there is some risk involved. Stand by – and share – your principles and what you believe is right and why. This is the definition of good leadership.

Communicate & Collaborate

The importance of communication and collaboration cannot be underestimated. Groups in power are most often criticized for a lack of transparency in their actions and decision-making. Decisions will be tough, and decisions will be unpopular. Communicating openly and clearly with your constituents is your greatest protection against mistrust and criticism. When difficult decisions are made, explain your thought process and your rationale (and yes, sometimes even your struggles in making the choice). Transparency and a collaborative style will go a long way towards earning trust, even when you make decisions that may at times be controversial.

I hope these reflections are helpful, and that you will consider embarking on your own leadership journeys. Being involved in the field is a professional responsibility, and being a leader is a great way to contribute and use your skills. Leadership can be challenging, but it is incredibly rewarding and meaningful work. We can only make change happen when we sit at the table, and our voices are powerful – if we choose to use them.

Visit the APAGS Governance webpage for more information on leadership opportunities.