Friday, August 31, 2018

Frustration-Aggression Over Adult Children Living With Parents

One story about an aggressive act that caught my attention is a human-interest about a New York couple who sued their thirty-year-old son to evict him from their house. Every major media outlet reported this story last week, but I first heard about it from a local radio DJ. After doing a little bit of digging I found out that Mark and Christina Rotondo, who live in Camillus, New York, filed suit against their son, Michael Rotondo, in Onondaga County court, which eventually went to the state supreme court, for failing to comply with several eviction notices (Hahn, 2018). Michael's parents served him the first eviction notice on the 2nd of February, giving him only two weeks to vacate their home (Hahn, 2018). However, Michael believed this was too short of notice, so he kept asking for more time. After asking him to leave for a month, his parents finally threatened legal action if he did not leave by March 15th (Hahn, 2018). To create an even greater incentive, his parents offered him $1,100 to help him find employment and a place to live (Hahn, 2018). However, this did not seem to deter Michael, who is self-employed but does not make enough to leave the house. To further complicate matters, New York state law does not allow property owners to evict family members; instead they must go through an ejectment proceeding to kick him out (Hahn, 2018). This is what led to the current court case. Acting pro se, Michael tried to get the case thrown out arguing that his parents are legally required to give him six months to leave (Hahn, 2018). Despite his best efforts, state Supreme Court judge Donald Greenwood ruled that Michael would have to leave his parents' house (Hahn, 2018).

It is not clear who the aggressor is in this situation. On the one hand, the parents' act of suing their own son could be construed as an aggressive act since their normal role is that of nurturing. However, the son's refusal to leave their house could also be trespassing, which is an aggressive act. Since his parents are the sole owners of that house they are the only ones that have a right to be there. Regardless of who you think is the primary aggressor here, their aggression seems to fit the mold of the frustration-aggression hypothesis. Simply put, the frustration-aggression hypothesis assumes that frustration always leads to some form of aggression and aggression always stems from frustration e.g. not getting what we wanted (Baron and Branscombe, 2017). According to Baron and Branscombe, this hypothesis places to much significance on frustration as the sole cause of aggression (2017). However, as suspect as its premise may be, it seems to be true in this case. In this case, the parents' frustration seems to stem from their expectation that their son would eventually find a job and move out again or at least contribute to paying expenses and doing household chores while staying there. To be certain, Michael did move out at an earlier point in his life and even had a wife and son; however, after losing two jobs back to back, he moved back in with his parents at age twenty-two and has stayed there for the past eight years. I believe Michael's frustration stems from the fact that he is being kicked out earlier than when he expects to be able to find a new place. According to the official report, Michael wanted six months to move, which includes not only packing up his stuff and finding a new place, but also finding a job that pays well enough to support himself (Hahn, 2018). However, his parents want him out immediately. The mutual frustration stems from their inability to compromise.


It could reasonably be argued that some of the parents' frustration stems from social norms unique to our hyper-individualistic culture. In other parts of the world, especially in developing countries, it is normal for adult children to live with their parents and for multiple generations to share the same household. A study of the living arrangements of older adults in 43 developing countries found that most of them live in a large household with their adult children, who often tend to be male (Bongaarts and Zimmer, 2002). Across all 43-developing nations, fifty-three percent of men and fifty-six percent of women live with at least one adult child (Bongaarts and Zimmer, 2002). Across Asian countries this number jumps to about sixty-six percent for men and sixty-eight percent for women (Bongaarts and Zimmer, 2002). For instance, in Pakistan eighty percent of elderly men share a household with an adult child (Bongaarts and Zimmer, 2002). Cohabitation with adult children seems to stem from financial and economic reasons. In the absence of a state safety net to take care of the elderly and poor women, people rely on their family structure to help them meet their basic needs, as they have done for most of human history.

Adult children living with their parents is becoming increasingly common in our day and age. According to Pew Research, fifteen percent of adults between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five years of age live with their parents; a five percent increase over the previous generation (Fry, 2017). The percentage of millennials living with their parents is almost double the percentage of adults who lived with their parents, at the same age, in the baby boomer generation (Fry, 2017). One preventive measure that could be taken to keep adult children from having to live with their parents, the cause of frustration in this case, is to make service in some branch of the military or work in the Peace Corps mandatory for adults between 18 and 21 years of age. This would help people who are otherwise directionless find careers that would let them live independently of their parents and help others get through college without racking up crippling student loan debt. This would not require the use of state violence (e.g. threat of incarceration) to implement. Mandatory service could be enforced through certain financial incentives or the loss of certain civil rights such as the right to vote or the right to run for public office.


References

Branscombe, N., & Baron, R. (2016). Social psychology. Boston, MA: Pearson Publishing. ISBN-13: 9780134410968

Bongaarts, J., & Zimmer, Z. (2002). Living Arrangements of Older Adults in the Developing World: An Analysis of Demographic and Health Survey Household Surveys. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 57(3). doi:10.1093/geronb/57.3.s145

Fry, R. (2017, May 05). It's becoming more common for young adults to live at home – and for longer stretches. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/05/its-becoming-more-common-for-young-adults-to-live-at-home-and-for-longer-stretches/

Hahn, J. D. (2018, May 22). Parents successfully sue to get their 30-year-old son to move out. Retrieved from https://people.com/human-interest/parents-sue-30-year-old-son-to-move-out/

Monday, August 27, 2018

Reducing The Bystander Effect In Bullying

How can we reduce bullying behavior in American grade schools? To answer this question, we need to examine not only the factors that cause bullying but also the factors that reinforce it. Even with the widespread implementation of zero tolerance policies, bullying remains a serious problem to be contended with. By some estimates, twenty percent of students are either bullies or the victims of bullies (Jenkins and Nickerson, 2016). By other estimates, thirty percent of middle school and high school students report bullying other students or being the victims of bullying (Nickerson, Aloe, Livingston, and Feeley, 2014). However, bullying is not a dyadic interaction. As Salmivalli notes, bullies have an audience most of the time; in fact, they need the attention of their peer group to get what they want out of bullying behavior (2014). Research into the motivations behind bullying has found that it is often motivated by a desire for visibility, power, and elevated status within the peer group (Salmivalli, 2014). Thus, although only twenty to thirty percent of students are bullies or their victims, the other seventy to eighty percent are involved in some lesser capacity. They are for all intents and purposes bystanders who can assume roles that either reinforce or inhibit the bully’s behavior. Jenkins and Nickerson outline four roles that bystanders can assume during bullying events. Bystanders can reinforce bullying by laughing and egging the bully on or by directly assisting the bully by joining him or her in abusing the victim (Jenkins and Nickerson, 2016). On the other hand, bystanders can inhibit bullying by defending the victim (Jenkins and Nickerson, 2016). Bystanders can also be neutral outsiders that are either unaware of the situation or indifferent to it (Jenkins and Nickerson, 2016). If bystanders are crucial to bullying, then reducing or preventing bullying is a matter of making more bystanders willing to defend the victims and less bystanders willing to reinforce the bully or remain outsiders to the situation.


To understand why peers ignore or even reinforce bullying behavior, we must look at it as a social phenomenon called the bystander effect. The bystander effect is people’s tendency to ignore strangers in need, particularly in emergency situations, as the number of other strangers around increases (Baron and Branscombe, 2017). It is usually affected through two mechanisms: the diffusion of responsibility and pluralistic ignorance (Baron and Branscombe, 2017). The diffusion of responsibility occurs when all bystanders assume that someone else will step in and help the person in need (Baron and Branscombe, 2017). Pluralistic ignorance results from a lack of social informational influence. We usually rely on social cues from others to determine what we should do in ambiguous situations. However, when we face an ambiguous situation in which no one around us is certain of what to do, we hesitate and refrain from acting. The tendency for everyone to hesitate and do nothing in an ambiguous situation is pluralistic ignorance (Baron and Branscombe, 2017). The Latane and Darley bystander intervention model outlines a five step process bystanders take in determining whether to intervene in emergency situations (Nickerson, Aloe, Livingston, and Feeley, 2014). First, bystanders must notice the situation; second, they have to interpret it as an emergency situation; third, they have to accept personal responsibility for helping the person in need; fourth, they have to determine how to help the person in need, and finally they have to execute their decision to intervene (Nickerson, Aloe, Livingston, and Feeley, 2014). Applying this frame work to bullying would help researchers figure out where bystanders, especially outsiders, become inhibited.


Within this frame work, the research is mixed concerning which factors contribute to the bystander effect in bullying situations. Thornberg and Jungert suggest that moral sensitivity and defender self-efficacy determine whether students intervene to defend the victims of bullying, reinforce bullying, or remain passive. Their hypothesis, reliant on the social-cognitive domain theory, holds that increased moral sensitivity, the ability to recognize moral issues in complex situations, will tend to reduce bully reinforcing behavior and increase victim defending behavior (Thornberg and Jungert, 2013). Furthermore, increased defender self-efficacy will tend to be positively related to victim defending behavior and negatively related to passive bystander behavior (Thornberg and Jungert, 2013). In accordance with their hypothesis, a survey study of three hundred and seventy-four Swedish secondary students revealed a strong negative association between moral sensitivity and bully reinforcing behavior as well as a strong positive association between defender self-efficacy and victim defending behavior (Thornberg and Jungert, 2013). Using four subscales to replicate the Latane and Darley bystander intervention model, Nickerson, Aloe, Livingston, and Feeley found that empathy was the single strongest predictor of victim defending behavior (2014). According to this model, the more empathetic students are more likely to notice bullying (step 1), interpret it as an emergency (step 2), accept personal responsibility for helping the victim (step 3), determine a course of action (step 4) and act on their decision (Nickerson, Aloe, Livingston, and Feeley, 2014). Attitudes towards bullying also strongly predicted bystander intervention in bullying but didn’t contribute as much variance as empathy (Nickerson, Aloe, Livingston, and Feeley, 2014). Salmivalli, Voeten, and Poskiparta found that differences among class rooms significantly predicted how often bullying occurs (2011). They found that seven percent of the variation in bullying was due to differences among classrooms (Salmivalli, Voeten, and Poskiparta, 2011). This variation depends on the degree to which classmates reinforce or discourage bullying (Salmivalli, Voeten, and Poskiparta, 2011). Examining two different approaches to step three of Latane and Darley’s bystander intervention model (accepting responsibility to intervene), Pozzoli and Gini found that positive attitudes towards the victims of bullying was positively correlated with feeling responsibility to help the victim (2012). Furthermore, both positive attitudes and feelings of responsibility predicted a coping approach to bullying (victim defending behavior) and was negatively associated with distancing behavior (being a passive bystander) (Pozzoli and Gini, 2012).


Most studies found significant gender differences in victim defending behavior. In a survey study of three hundred junior high students, Jenkins and Nickerson found that girls were more likely to interpret bullying events as emergencies than boys (2016). Thus, girls were also more likely to defend victims than boys (Jenkins and Nickerson, 2016). Thornberg and Jungert found that girls demonstrated a greater degree of moral sensitivity in bullying situations compared to boys (2013). Girls also demonstrated less moral disengagement in bullying situations compared to boys (Thornberg and Jungert, 2013). Adding to the consensus, Pozzoli and Gini found that girls scored higher than boys on measures of victim defending behavior, attitudes against bullying and approach coping strategies (2012).


The limitations of the studies discussed are remarkably similar. Since all the studies were conducted through surveys they all relied on self-reported measures. As such the data gathered in these studies was subject to the participants’ memory bias, social desirability bias, and exaggerated responses. Moreover, since these were cross sectional studies that gathered data from a specific population at a specific point in time, they failed to establish causal relationships between variables which would be necessary to corroborate the Latane and Darley bystander intervention model. Most of these studies are also limited in their external validity. Although most of them used data from hundreds of students, their sample was concentrated in one school or one region in one country, which compromises the generalizability of their results. Future survey research into bystander behavior during bullying situations should not only be longitudinal but international as well. A fourth point of contention is found in the construct validity of the survey measures used. For instance, Thornberg and Jungert used a new construct of moral sensitivity measured with only three items. Perhaps relying on older measures of empathy and other pro-social traits might help us better understand why bystanders choose to intervene or remain passive to bullying. Finally, an observational study would be necessary to overcome problems related to self-reported data. Even a longitudinal study would be subject to them and would fail if to many participants discontinued. An observational study would give researchers a unique insight into how bystanders react in real time as opposed to what they remember.


References

Branscombe, N., & Baron, R. (2017). Social psychology. Boston, MA: Pearson Publishing. ISBN-13: 9780134410968

Jenkins, L. N., & Nickerson, A. B. (2016). Bullying participant roles and gender as predictors of bystander intervention. Aggressive Behavior, 43(3), 281-290. doi:10.1002/ab.21688

Nickerson, A. B., Aloe, A. M., Livingston, J. A., & Feeley, T. H. (2014). Measurement of the bystander intervention model for bullying and sexual harassment. Journal of Adolescence, 37(4), 391-400. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2014.03.003

Pozzoli, T., & Gini, G. (2012). Why Do Bystanders of Bullying Help or Not? A Multidimensional Model. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 33(3), 315-340. doi:10.1177/0272431612440172

Salmivalli, C. (2014). Participant Roles in Bullying: How Can Peer Bystanders Be Utilized in Interventions? Theory Into Practice, 53(4), 286-292. doi:10.1080/00405841.2014.947222

Salmivalli, C., Voeten, M., & Poskiparta, E. (2011). Bystanders matter: Associations between defending, reinforcing, and the frequency of bullying in classrooms. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology,40, 668–676.

Thornberg, R., & Jungert, T. (2013). Bystander behavior in bullying situations: Basic moral sensitivity, moral disengagement and defender self-efficacy. Journal of Adolescence,36(3), 475-483. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2013.02.003

Friday, May 18, 2018

Seattle Penalizes Employers to Help The Homeless

If you’ve been keeping up with the national news lately, you might have heard that the Seattle city council unanimously passed an employee head tax for businesses that gross at least $20 million per year. The first proposal was annual head tax of $500 per employee, but outrage from the Seattle business community caused them to nearly halve it and settle for $275 per employee. Of course, $275 is a low-ball figure that doesn’t account for the cost of complying with the new head tax. Although the magnitude of the effect was minimized the incentive remains the same: hire less people. Low skilled, temporary, and part time workers will especially be vulnerable to the disincentive to hire because the tax doesn’t account for differences in contribution and wages. The homeless, the people who stand in most need of gainful employment aren’t helped in the least bit by this new disincentive to hire. Sure they’ll get better funded government services, but what good are these services if you can’t get back up on your own feet? A more intelligent city council would have considered the true cause of rising homelessness instead of arbitrarily deciding to punish employers for employing people, something which actually contributes to the decline of homelessness and extreme poverty.

Alternative Solutions to Homelessness


Given the precarious position homeless people hold in society, I don’t think much can be done to elevate their status through government services. The stigma attached to this “lifestyle” is perhaps the greatest obstacle to digging themselves out and receiving free services only tends to raise people's’ ire against them. Add to this the fact that their dependence on government services can only ever be tenuous because it’s always susceptible to budget shortfalls and you have a recipe for social immobility. However, there is one government service that I’m in favor of, but one which remains unexamined due to current statutes against vagrancy and loitering. Repeal laws against vagrancy and loitering and allow the homeless to homestead on public land. There are numerous recent examples of the homeless, with the aid of private charity, coming together to build communities of small houses, but because of state laws that criminalize homelessness and force them into government dependence they were destroyed.

Oakland Dismantles Tiny Houses at Homeless Village

Los Angeles is Seizing Tiny Homes from the Homeless

Tiny Houses Project At Sustainability Park raided by Cops

However, despite government imposed setbacks there have been some success stories in this regard.

Tiny Home Village for Homeless People to be 100% Solar Powered

Denver tore down their tiny-home village. They built it again, this time with permission

Fighting Homelessness in Austin, One Tiny House at a Time

The lack of affordable housing in big cities like Seattle is a major contributing factor to homelessness. Developing communities of tiny homes provides the homeless with, independence, a sense of dignity and personal space, things they can’t obtain by being herded into publicly funded shelters and treated like children. In addition to allowing them to live on public land, perhaps cities could also provide them with water and garbage collection. This would in effect make them like any other community, and go a long way in eliminating the stigma associated with their circumstances.

Incels Are A Product of Your Society

Most of the buzz around incels - involuntary celibates - after the Toronto van attack is virtue signaling and moral grandstanding by people on the left, particularly internet feminists who have taken it upon themselves to point out the obvious. Apparently the statements rape is bad and you aren't owed sex are beliefs exclusive to their camp. There has been very little in the way of substantial analysis or constructive criticism of the incel community which Alek Minassian supposedly belonged too. One of the few credible perspectives on the incel problem is that they are a natural result of how society views sex and romantic relationships. Sure incels for the most part hate women, but their misogyny is only a symptom of a much larger problem. Incels don't just hate women; they hate society as a whole and 'normies' as they call other people. Although misguided there is some truth to their concerns. A society that is obsessed with sex and stigmatizes anyone who isn't having and/or pursuing it will inevitably marginalize certain men and some women. As long as men continue to believe in the false construct of virginity, which makes no sense when applied to men, and that their self-worth depends on female validation, another words it can't come from anywhere else, we'll continue to have self-described incels. I think much of the frustration is not a need for sex or companionship, but a need to fit in. Legalizing prostitution isn't going to help incels. It might provide other benefits, but it won't stop people from becoming incels. They need to find alternative sources of pleasures, goals and hobbies that give meaning to their lives. I would venture to say that a lot of them are shut-ins that have nothing going for them or work dead end jobs that don't allow them to hone their talents. They might have mundane lives with no sources of pleasure which is why they hyper-focus on this one thing. For example, Elliot Rodger, who is regarded as a saint to incels, had a rather boring life. He lived in a place that gave him the opportunity to take up anything he wanted to do in his free time, but all he did was drive around and complain about women not approaching him. He had enough money to become anything he wanted to be, but he couldn't even manage to stay in college. Social isolation also plays a role in their frustration. Opening up to other people that aren't on their forums would help them overcome some of their hangups and come to terms with their situation. I cannot speak for incels, but from personal experience I overcame my insecurity by questioning what I really wanted. I came to the realization that my insecurity and anxiety came from a desire to fit in and meet societal expectations rather than a desire to find what actually makes me happy. Who knows? Maybe some incels will realize the same thing.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Blue Lives Matter Is Peak Statolatry

Source: Hundreds rally in Dauphin Island to 'Back the Blue,' and the Billas


As an outside observer who doesn’t feel loyalty to a group of violent psychopaths who call themselves government officials, it looks like a cult ritual. The thin blue line or blue lives matter movement is perhaps the pinnacle of state worship. Their blind faith and devotion to one particular class of government bureaucrats makes their socialist counterparts on the left look reasonable in comparison.

Community members, kids and town officials all joined to make signs, don shirts with a thin blue line and show appreciation for those who risk their lives to keep people safe. Organizer Lillian Ryan wanted the community and police to come together. “They are our lifeline, they are our protection.”

The premise of police being here to protect me is bullshit on all counts. The number one job of police is to generate revenue for other government parasites. The only person responsible for your protection, on a daily basis, is you. The truth is that unless you’re an informant or a witness to a crime, the police are not obligated to protect you. They don’t have to find the guy that stole your wallet, or find the people that broke into your house, or ‘even enforce restraining orders. They will however protect you from the evils of jaywalking and untaxed businesses. A ‘back the blue’ rally makes about as much sense as a back the IRS rally.

She said now more than ever, the community needs to stand up in support of law enforcement.

The community needs to stop being weak minded and realize that they’re responsible for their own protection. Dauphin Island only has 1,500 permanent residents and I’d assume most of them are gun owners since it’s part of Alabama. They could very easily organize citizen patrols to monitor what little crime happens there. And the island is only 15 miles long with only one main road so it’s not like they have a lot of territory to cover. An app could be created to report crimes and calculate statistics of the location of certain crimes and the time of say when they are mostly likely to occur to make the patrols more efficient. The sooner humanity outgrows it's infantile dependence on the state the sooner we'll realize that we're not as helpless as they want us to believe.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Anti-Sex Trafficking Law Increases Sex Trafficking


Source: Pimps Are Preying on Sex Workers Pushed Off the Web Because of FOSTA-SESTA

In another instance of the law of unintended consequences, the passage of legislation intended to crack down on human trafficking and sexual exploitation has only made it worse. Congress passed the Fight Sex Trafficking Online Act in March to shut down websites where people discussed prostitution and the sex trade. Instead of hindering sex trafficking, the new law has shut down online communities that supported sex workers and allowed them to escape exploitative and abusive procurers. These communities helped sex workers find food and shelter, warned them about potentially violent clients and educated them about their constitutional rights. These platforms are essential to a demographic that’s prone to homelessness and more likely to be victimized than the general population. Shutting them down removes their only source of protection.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Society is Partially Responsible For 'Incel Rebellion'


As tragic as the Toronto van attack was, I can’t help but feel that the perpetrator was not the sole conduit for this violence. I’m usually one to lay responsibility at the perpetrators feet, but I think this incident and the motive behind it was a little different from your usual hit and run murder sprees. The perpetrator, 25 year old Alek Minassian, was a self-described incel: an involuntary celibate for those unfamiliar with Reddit lingo. His frustration, his rage stemmed from the simple fact that he had not had sex yet. Whatever else he had going on in his life he threw away over a lack of sex. Now maybe he didn’t have much. Maybe he had other issues that caused him to crack, but you have to ask yourself what would cause him to place so much value on this one thing that he thought he was a failure without it. I’m not just talking about Alek Minassian, but all self-described ‘incels’ who’d be willing to throw their whole lives away for temporary pleasure. I don’t think they arrived at this conclusion by themselves. I don’t think Alek Minassian and other incels came to value sex over every other pleasure imaginable. Some people will say it’s just evolution, but I don’t think that’s quite accurate. Sex might be the only metric of success for lower animals like dogs and rodents, but humans are a lot more complex. Our needs extend beyond basic physiological functions and with fertility rates declining below replacement level, reproduction isn’t really that relevant anymore. I thinks it’s a socio-cultural problem. Society has put this thing on a pedestal and attached more significance than what it’s really worth. It has created a stigma for those who go without it and attached all kinds of unwarranted assumptions about their character. If society didn’t stigmatize ‘virginity’, a construct it made up whole cloth,would these men feel the same frustration and anxiety that they do now? If society tolerated ‘virgins’ or was at least indifferent to them, would they feel the same pain? Or would they feel more free to be open about who they truly are? Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think a lack of sexual intimacy is the only problem that incels have. I do think these people have serious character flaws and it’s reflected in the way they handle their problems. Maybe some of them also have personality disorders, although as a non-physiatrist I can’t confirm this. But they wouldn’t hyperfocus on this one thing if it weren’t for the prodding of society to ‘get laid’ and your a weirdo if you don’t.

For everyone with hangups over being a ‘virgin’ just know that:
  1. There’s no such thing as male virginity. It is a social construct with no medical or scientific validity
  2. Your self-worth does not depend on female validation. Celibacy is nothing to be ashamed of; find what makes you happy instead of always trying to fit in.
  3. Your sex drive has other outlets for expression besides the physical one. Our ideas and intuitions come from the same creative energy.