Have Your Children Had Their Anti-Smoking Shots?


In the early 1960s, social psychologist William McGuire published some classic papers showing that it is surprisingly easy to change people’s attitudes about things that we all wholeheartedly accept as true. For example, for speakers armed with a little knowledge of persuasion, it is remarkably easy to convince almost anyone that brushing one’s teeth is not such a great idea. McGuire’s insight into this curious phenomenon was that it is easy to change people’s minds about things that they have always taken for granted precisely because most people have little if any practice resisting attacks on attitudes that no one ever questions.

Taking this logic a little further, McGuire asked if it might be possible to train people to resist attacks on their beliefs by giving them practice at resisting arguments that they could easily refute. Specifically, McGuire drew an analogy between biological resistance to disease and psychological resistance to persuasion. Biological inoculation works by exposing people to a weakened version of an attacking agent such as a virus. People’s bodies produce antibodies that make them immune to the attacking agent, and when a full-blown version of the agent hits later in life, people win the biological battle against the full-blown disease. Would giving people a little practice fending off a weak attack on their attitudes make it easier for people to resist stronger attacks on their attitudes that come along later? The answer turns out to be yes. McGuire coined the phrase attitude inoculation to refer to the process of resisting strong persuasive arguments by getting practice fighting off weaker versions of the same arguments.

Once attitude inoculation had been demonstrated consistently in the laboratory, researchers decided to see if attitude inoculation could be used to help parents, teachers, and social service agents deal with a pressing social problem that kills about 440,000 people in the U.S. every year: cigarette smoking. Smoking seemed like an ideal problem to study because children below the age of 10 or 12 almost always report negative attitudes about smoking. However, in the face of peer pressure to be cool, many of these same children become smokers during middle to late adolescence.
Practical Application

Adolescents change their attitudes about smoking (and become smokers) because of the power of peer pressure. Researchers quickly realized that if they could inoculate children against pro-smoking arguments (by teaching them to resist pressure from their peers who believed that smoking is “cool”), they might be able to reduce the chances that children would become smokers. A series of field studies of attitude inoculation, conducted in junior high schools and high schools throughout the country, demonstrated that brief interventions using attitude inoculation dramatically reduced rates of teenage smoking. For instance, in an early study by Cheryl Perry and colleagues (1980), high school students inoculated junior high schools students against smoking by having the younger kids role-play the kind of situations they might actually face with a peer who pressured them to try a cigarette. For example, when a role-playing peer called a student “chicken” for not being willing to try an imaginary cigarette, the student practiced answers such as “I’d be a real chicken if I smoked just to impress you.” The kids who were inoculated in this way were about half as likely to become smokers as were kids in a very similar school who did not receive this special intervention.

Public service advertising campaigns have also made use of attitude inoculation theory by encouraging parents to help their children devise strategies for saying no when peers encourage them to smoke. Programs that have made whole or partial use of attitude inoculation programs have repeatedly documented the effectiveness of attitude inoculation to prevent teenage smoking, to curb illicit drug use, and to reduce teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. In comparison with old-fashioned interventions such as simple education about the risks of smoking or teenage pregnancy, attitude inoculation frequently reduces risky behaviors by 30-70% (see Botvin et al., 1995; Ellickson & Bell, 1990; Perry et al., 1980). As psychologist David Myers put it in his popular social psychology textbook, “Today any school district or teacher wishing to use the social psychological approach to smoking prevention can do so easily, inexpensively, and with the hope of significant reductions in future smoking rates and health costs.” So the next time you think about inoculating kids to keep them healthy, make sure you remember that one of the most important kinds of inoculation any kid can get is a psychological inoculation against tobacco.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off

Early Intervention Can Improve Low-Income Children’s Cognitive Skills and Academic Achievement

National Head Start program conceptualized while psychologists were beginning to study preventive intervention for young children living in poverty.
As a group, children who live in poverty tend to perform worse in school than do children from more privileged backgrounds. For the first half of the 20th century, researchers attributed this difference to inherent cognitive deficits. At the time, the prevailing belief was that the course of child development was dictated by biology and maturation. By the early 1960s, this position gave way to the notion popularized by psychologists such as J. McVicker Hunt and Benjamin Bloom that intelligence could rather easily be shaped by the environment. There was very little research at the time to support these speculations but a few psychologists had begun to study whether environmental manipulation could prevent poor cognitive outcomes. Results of studies by psychologists Susan Gray and Rupert Klaus (1965), Martin Deutsch (1965) and Bettye Caldwell and former U.S. Surgeon General Julius Richmond (1968) supported the notion that early attention to physical and psychological development could improve cognitive ability.

These preliminary results caught the attention of Sargent Shriver, President Lyndon Johnson’s chief strategist in implementing an arsenal of antipoverty programs as part of the War on Poverty. His idea for a school readiness program for children of the poor focused on breaking the cycle of poverty. Shriver reasoned that if poor children could begin school on an equal footing with wealthier classmates, they would have a better of chance of succeeding in school and avoiding poverty in adulthood. He appointed a planning committee of 13 professionals in physical and mental health, early education, social work, and developmental psychology. Their work helped shape what is now known as the federal Head Start program.

The three developmental psychologists in the group were Urie Bronfenbrenner, Mamie Clark, and Edward Zigler. Bronfenbrenner convinced the other members that intervention would be most effective if it involved not just the child but the family and community that comprise the child-rearing environment. Parent involvement in school operations and administration were unheard of at the time, but it became a cornerstone of Head Start and proved to be a major contributor to its success. Zigler had been trained as a scientist and was distressed that the new program was not going to be field-tested before its nationwide launch. Arguing that it was not wise to base such a massive, innovative program on good ideas and concepts but little empirical evidence, he insisted that research and evaluation be part of Head Start. When he later became the federal official responsible for administering the program, Zigler (often referred to as the “father of Head Start”) worked to cast Head Start as a national laboratory for the design of effective early childhood services.

Although it is difficult to summarize the hundreds of empirical studies of Head Start outcomes, Head Start does seem to produce a variety of benefits for most children who participate. Although some studies have suggested that the intellectual advantages gained from participation in Head Start gradually disappear as children progress through elementary school, some of these same studies have shown more lasting benefits in the areas of school achievement and adjustment.
Practical Application

Head Start began as a great experiment that over the years has yielded prolific results. Some 20 million children and families have participated in Head Start since the summer of 1965; current enrollment approaches one million annually, including those in the new Early Head Start that serves families with children from birth to age 3. Psychological research on early intervention has proliferated, creating an expansive literature and sound knowledge base. Many research ideas designed and tested in the Head Start laboratory have been adapted in a variety of service delivery programs. These include family support services, home visiting, a credentialing process for early childhood workers, and education for parenthood. Head Start’s efforts in preschool education spotlighted the value of school readiness and helped spur today’s movement toward universal preschool.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Family-Like Environment Better for Troubled Children and Teens

The Teaching-Family Model changes bad behavior through straight talk and loving relationships.

In the late 1960′s, psychologists Elaine Phillips, Elery Phillips, Dean Fixsen, and Montrose Wolf developed an empirically tested treatment program to help troubled children and juvenile offenders who had been assigned to residential group homes. These researchers combined the successful components of their studies into the Teaching-Family Model, which offers a structured treatment regimen in a family-like environment. The model is built around a married couple (teaching-parents) that lives with children in a group home and teaches them essential interpersonal and living skills. Not only have teaching parents’ behaviors and techniques been assessed for their effectiveness, but they have also been empirically tested for whether children like them. Teaching-parents also work with the children’s parents, teachers, employers, and peers to ensure support for the children’s positive changes. Although more research is needed, preliminary results suggest that, compared to children in other residential treatment programs, children in Teaching-Family Model centers have fewer contacts with police and courts, lower dropout rates, and improved school grades and attendance.

Couples are selected to be teaching-parents based on their ability to provide individualized and affirming care. Teaching-parents then undergo an intensive year-long training process. In order to maintain their certification, teaching-parents and Teaching-Family Model organizations are evaluated every year, and must meet the rigorous standards set by the Teaching-Family Association.
The Teaching-Family Model is one of the few evidence-based residential treatment programs for troubled children. In the past, many treatment programs viewed delinquency as an illness, and therefore placed children in institutions for medical treatment. The Teaching-Family Model, in contrast, views children’s behavior problems as stemming from their lack of essential interpersonal relationships and skills. Accordingly, the Teaching-Family Model provides children with these relationships and teaches them these skills, using empirically validated methods. With its novel view of problem behavior and its carefully tested and disseminated treatment program, the Teaching-Family Model has helped to transform the treatment of behavioral problems from impersonal interventions at large institutions to caring relationships in home and community settings. The Teaching-Family Model has also demonstrated how well-researched treatment programs can be implemented on a large scale. Most importantly, the Teaching-Family Model has given hope that young people with even the most difficult problems or behaviors can improve the quality of their lives and make contributions to society.
Practical Application
In recent years, the Teaching-Family Model has been expanded to include foster care facilities, home treatment settings, and even schools. The Teaching-Family Model has also been adapted to accommodate the needs of physically, emotionally, and sexually abused children; emotionally disturbed and autistic children and adults; medically fragile children; and adults with disabilities. Successful centers that have been active for over 30 years include the Bringing it All Back Home Study Center in North Carolina, the Houston Achievement Place in Texas, and the Girls and Boys Town in Nebraska. Other Teaching-Family Model organizations are in Alberta (Canada), Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Believing You Can Get Smarter Makes You Smarter

Thinking about intelligence as changeable and malleable, rather than stable and fixed, results in greater academic achievement, especially for people whose groups bear the burden of negative stereotypes about their intelligence.

Can people get smarter? Are some racial or social groups smarter than others? Despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, many people believe that intelligence is fixed, and, moreover, that some racial and social groups are inherently smarter than others. Merely evoking these stereotypes about the intellectual inferiority of these groups (such as women and Blacks) is enough to harm the academic perfomance of members of these groups. Social psychologist Claude Steele and his collaborators (2002) have called this phenomenon “stereotype threat.”

Yet social psychologists Aronson, Fried, and Good (2001) have developed a possible antidote to stereotype threat. They taught African American and European American college students to think of intelligence as changeable, rather than fixed – a lesson that many psychological studies suggests is true. Students in a control group did not receive this message. Those students who learned about IQ’s malleability improved their grades more than did students who did not receive this message, and also saw academics as more important than did students in the control group. Even more exciting was the finding that Black students benefited more from learning about the malleable nature of intelligence than did White students, showing that this intervention may successfully counteract stereotype threat.

This research showed a relatively easy way to narrow the Black-White academic achievement gap. Realizing that one’s intelligence may be improved may actually improve one’s intelligence, especially for those whose groups are targets of stereotypes alleging limited intelligence (e.g., Blacks, Latinos, and women in math domains.)
Practical Application

Blackwell, Dweck, and Trzesniewski (2002) recently replicated and applied this research with seventh-grade students in New York City. During the first eight weeks of the spring term, these students learned about the malleability of intelligence by reading and discussing a science-based article that described how intelligence develops. A control group of seventh-grade students did not learn about intelligence’s changeability, and instead learned about memory and mnemonic strategies. As compared to the control group, students who learned about intelligence’s malleability had higher academic motivation, better academic behavior, and better grades in mathematics. Indeed, students who were members of vulnerable groups (e.g., those who previously thought that intelligence cannot change, those who had low prior mathematics achievement, and female students) had higher mathematics grades following the intelligence-is-malleable intervention, while the grades of similar students in the control group declined. In fact, girls who received the intervention matched and even slightly exceeded the boys in math grades, whereas girls in the control group performed well below the boys.

These findings are especially important because the actual instruction time for the intervention totaled just three hours. Therefore, this is a very cost-effective method for improving students’ academic motivation and achievement.
Cited Research

Aronson, J., Fried, C. B., & Good, C. (2001). Reducing the effects of stereotype threat on African American college students by shaping theories of intelligence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1-13.

Steele, C. M., Spencer, S. J., & Aronson, J. (2002), Contending with group image: The psychology of stereotype and social identity threat. In Mark P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 34, pp. 379-440. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, Inc.
Additional Sources

Blackwell, L., Dweck, C., & Trzesniewski, K. (2002). Achievement across the adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Manuscript in preparation.

Dweck, C., & Leggett, E. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review, 95, 256-273.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Finance for entertainment industry


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

How The UK Changed The World of Fashion

September 2012 is London Fashion Week, one of the fashion world’s most prestigious events. With London just being voted the most fashionable city in the world by the Global Language Monitor, it’s clear that this year all eyes are on the English capital. As top designers show off their designs on the London catwalks, we take a look at the many ways the UK has revolutionised the world of fashion.

Undoubtedly one of Britain’s biggest contributions to the fashion world is making black the ‘it’ colour. Though Coco Gabrielle popularised the colour in the 1920′s, it is widely thought that Queen Victoria was the first person to thrust the eternally stylish colour into the mainstream. Before Queen Victoria, black was widely associated with mourning and when her husband, Albert, died in 1861 she too donned the traditional shade of mourning as she grieved for him. However while most only wore the colour for a short while, Victoria continued to wear black until her death 40 years later, once more thrusting it into the public eye.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Britain is also responsible for injecting a little colour into fashion as the birthplace of artificial dye. Of course dyes had been used to colour clothing for millennia but these dyes all had their origins in the natural world. However in 1848 the young London chemist William Henry Perkin was working on an artificial treatment for malaria and instead created a synthetic dye called Mauveine. He then nicknamed the colour ‘mauve’ and went to mass produce the dye to great success.

Colourful outfits are all the range these days with pop stars like Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj raising eyebrows with bold, eccentric designs. Though their choices of fashion may turn heads they’re not the first to challenge the fashion status quo. In the late 19th and early 20th century, London’s Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon, more commonly known as Lucile, shocked the world with her radical designs. Rather than following current trend, Lucile instead created bold fashions that she designed for individuals, not the masses. She was also one of the first to show off her wares on catwalk shows and shocked society with her racy lingerie. The House of Lucile was a huge success, becoming one of the first truly global fashion brands and has recently been revived by Lucile’s great, great, grand-daughter Camilla Blois.

So while London Fashion Week will show of many of UK’s best contemporary designs, remember that Britain’s contributions to the world of fashion go back much, much further.

Posted in Fashion | Tagged | Comments Off

Suzhou Travel – Humble Administrator’s Garden

The Humble Administrator’s Garden is the largest of Suzhou’s four classical gardens and the only one without a tea house.


The origin of the Humble Administrator Garden’s history can be traced back to the late 8th century during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) when it was the residence of scholar Lu Guimeng. During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) the garden became the monastery garden of the Dahong temple.

The garden was “appropriated” (legally stolen) by Wang Xiancheng, a senior public servant who not surprisingly was under investigation by the secret police of that time. Most likely for fraud, embezzlement, abuse of power and stealing gardens. Wang Xiancheng had the Humble Administrator’s Garden built over the top of the old temple and monastery garden.

Wang is said to have built the garden so he could live a humble life there gardening, planting trees and tending to vegetables. Considering that the garden is said to cost a boat load of silver and taken 16 years to make, there is very little humble about it.

Ironically Wang’s son had to pawn the garden to pay his gambling debts. Since then the garden changed owner ship many times and was broken up over time with the eastern section sold in 1631 and the central section sold in 1738. Each section of the garden was extensively renovated by its new owners. The present division of the garden into eastern, middle and western sections is based on the gardens original break up in 1631 and 1738.

It was not until the liberation of China in 1949 that the three separate parts of the garden were united.

Grounds & Layout

The Humble Administrator’s Garden is largest of the Suzhou classical gardens with an area of 5.2 hectares. The size and scope of the garden makes it feel more like a decent sized park than a classical garden. The combination of ponds, bridges, islands and buildings and the way they are all interconnected is very well done.

Eastern Section – This section dominated by hills, stretches of grass, and bamboo and pine forests with winding streams running through it. The main attractions here are Cymbidium Goengii Hall, the Pinery Lawn, the Celestial Spring Pavilion and the House of Sweet Smelling Rice.

The Celestial Spring Pavilion houses a small well and is named after the well’s spring water which is meant to taste very sweet.

Pinery Lawn has a little open bungalow and a deck with chairs that looks exceedingly comfortable and inviting. Naturally this area is off limits of to tourists.

The house of Sweet Smelling Rice is a rest area containing classic furniture and has a China Post Kiosk. No one has been able to tell me where this name comes from. I’m guessing this building used to be the kitchen/restaurant for the garden.

Central Section – This area is the heart of the garden and dominated by ponds and interconnected islands. The main building here is the Hall of Distant Fragrance. In summer the gardens lotus flowers are in bloom and the fragrance from those flowers can be smelt in the Hall of Distant Fragrance. The gold fish in the ponds here are enormous and in very large numbers. There are many little pagodas in this area that have tables and chairs and are ideal for picnics.

Western Section – This section is dominated by a very large hall that has been divided by a gigantic screen into two parts, the 19 Camellias Hall and the 36 pairs Mandarin Duck’s Hall. Also in this section is the Bonsai Garden and the Mountain In the View Tower.

Mountain In the View Tower stands on a little peninsula on an island on the west side of the garden. The name of this tower comes from a verse by poet named Tao Yuanming.

The Bonsai Garden holds over 700 Bonsai plants and represents Suzhou style Bonsai which is one of the four leading styles of Bonsai plants in China.

Getting There

The Humble Administrator’s Garden is in the centre of Suzhou city just south of the train station and right next to the Lion Grove Garden. You can get to the garden by tourist buses 1, 2 and 5 and public buses 178, 202 and 309.

Suzhou city is not very large so if you are already in the inner city, you can easily walk to Humble Administrator’s Garden.

Tickets, hours and time needed

With a ticket price of 70rmb, the Humble Administrator’s Garden is the most expensive attraction in Suzhou. The high price is most likely due to the size of the garden and the high maintenance costs. This price also includes a free guide if you are not a member of a tour group and entry into the Bonsai garde.

The garden is open from 7:30 to 5:30 and you can easily be in the garden for half a day enjoying it. 2-3 hours is the minimum time I would recommend to make the most of this garden. I suggest you pack some food and drink and find a spot in the garden for a delightful lunch or snack.

Posted in Gardening | Tagged | Comments Off