Dr. Brad Bushman: Pro-social Video Games are Good

This post is twelfth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and  your family live better lives.

Are all video games negative? According to Dr. Brad Bushman, a 2014 Hinckley presenter, there are negative effects of violent video games, but there are positive effects of pro-social games.

Bushman lists video games that encourage kindness and helpfulness. He studied young adults who played pro-social, neutral, or violent video games. The young adults were assigned to give another young adult a puzzle. They could pick the difficulty level. If the person could figure out a certain number of puzzles within a certain amount of time, they got ten dollars. Bushman used this experiement to understand if pro-social games help people be kind.


As we mentioned in previous posts about his lecture on the subjects of measuring aggression in teenage boys and other effects of violent media, Dr. Bushman acknowledges that adults have the right to choose what media they consume, but he advocates making these effects on children known. Realizing that some of his findings are unpopular with mainstream channels, Bushman challenges popular conceptions by taking painstaking efforts to design his studies in accordance with the scientific method.

His studies have been published in prestigious scientific journals. He has testified in the U.S. Congress on topics related to youth violence and aggression, and has served as a member of President Obama’s committee on gun violence.

Since this topic can be controversial, we encourage viewers to watch the full lecture and the Q&A session that follows for a more complete look at these findings.

Bushman received his Bachelor’s in Psychology from Weber State in 1984 and holds an MEd in Secondary Education from Utah State University (1985), Masters in Psychology and Statistics from the University of Missouri (1987 and 1990 respectively), and a Doctorate in Social Psychology from the same school in 1989. He is the Rinehart Chair of Mass Communication at Ohio State University and teaches both psychology and communication classes. The professor has been featured in media such as BBC, NPR, and the New York Times.

The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities and single parenting.

 

Hickman Lecture: Air Pollution Myths and Facts

Air pollution continues to be a problem in Utah and around the world, but the extent of that problem, both actual and understood, seems to vary widely. C. Arden Pope III, a professor of Economics at BYU, in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, spoke on the top 10 things skeptics, whether members of the public or policy makers, tend to ask about air pollution and health at a recent lecture, given as part of the Hickman series. In lay man’s terms, and with witty phrases and jokes, he captivated the audience of students, friends, faculty, and Hickman family members. Pope is the Mary Lou Fulton Professor of Economics at BYU. Pope has authored or coauthored about 200 research articles on the subject of air pollution and its effects on health. These articles have received over 62 thousand citations, making Pope one of the world’s most cited and recognized experts on health effects of air pollution.

Top 10 Controversies about air pollution

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photo taken by David Holt, used under Creative Commons

 

 

1CaptureWas London’s smog romantic or deadly?

Many classical paintings included smog and smoke and a hazy view of London. In the 1930-1950’s, pollution was so high that thousands died, so it was indisputable that air pollution was detrimental.

Smog is deadly.

2CaptureCan short-term, moderate levels of air pollution hurt people?

In Utah, Geneva Steel puffed pollutants in to the sky into the 1980’s. Then, Geneva Steel closed for 13 months. Once it reopened, a pattern emerged. Hospital admittance of children with asthma doubled when the mill was opened.

Further research revealed a correlation between daily death count (of respiratory and cardiovascular) and air pollution levels. The more polluted the air, the more people died. Air pollution is also associated with hospitalizations, lung infections, school absences, symptoms of respiratory illness, ischemic heart disease, cardiac-autonomic function, and more.

More researchers, such as John Samet, did similar studies in many cities all over the world.

Any level of air pollution is harmful.

3CaptureCan long-term exposure to air pollution significantly contribute to disease or death?

After much research with many colleagues, Pope proposed new ambient air quality standards for the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce in 1997. Many people resisted and there was a call that other scientists confirm Pope’s data. These studies confirmed the accuracy of the data. Other countries replicated these studies as well.

Long-term exposure to air pollution contributes to disease and death.

4CaptureDoes reducing air pollution improve heath and mortality?

Pope said that there is almost a 25 percent improvement rate of health and mortality when air quality is improved. He referenced several other studies which confirmed this research.

Reducing air pollution improves health and mortality.

5CaptureDoes a save threshold for air pollution exist?

Is there any level of air pollution that will not harm a person? The answer seems to be no. Pope’s research taught him that there is no evidence of such a threshold. There has been research done to answer this question all over the world, and the conclusion is the same.

“We just never could see any evidence of a safe threshold,” Pope said.

6CaptureWhy aren’t all the smokers dead?

Skeptics have asked: “if it is so bad to breathe air pollution, why aren’t all the people who smoke dead? Pope’s research and studies did not find a definitive answer. He did find that there are “not linear-diminishing marginal effects.” There are too many other factors to be able to conclude or not conclude something so linear.

7CaptureAre these health effects biologically plausible?

Air pollution leads to damage of the endothelial lining of the lungs. Damage to the lining can lead to diseases. Endothelial disease kills people the most if it leads to heart attacks.  Pope did studies with BYU student volunteers to measure the healthiness of endothelial in the lungs. BYU is a great place for this study, because BYU students do not smoke, they just live in a polluted area.

Pope learned that there is still much to be learned, but it is plausible.

“Basically, you have more damage [in the lungs], and less repair” because of air pollution, Pope said.

8CaptureAren’t air pollution health effects small in comparison to other risk factors?

“OK, so what?” asked skeptics. Pope said he learned from other’s research that what we eat, drink, and breathe impacts our health. Air pollution is a big influence.

In comparison to other risk factors, the negative health effects of air pollution are substantial.

9CaptureWon’t cleaning up air pollution be too expensive to fix? Won’t it hurt the economy?

Pope said that as an economist, he believes that cleaning up the air pollution will help the economy. “The benefits of improving our air quality are substantial,” Pope said. “These benefits are almost unbelievable, unimaginable.” He was adamant that any claim of damage to an economy caused by the cleaning up of an area’s air pollution is false. Improved air quality would also encourage more people to move to and visit Utah, which would boost the economy.

“It does appear that we can have a thriving economy and clean air,” Pope said.

10CaptureHow much evidence is needed before efforts to have clean air are no longer controversial?

“I have no more slides,” Pope said at the conclusion of his lecture.salt_lake_city_smog_haze_skyline_01

 

Reminder: Fulton Conference poster submission is soon

The deadline for the Fulton Conference poster submission is in two days!

Deadline for poster submissions:

Thursday, March 30, 2017 at noon

Mentored Research Conference: Thursday April 13, 2017

  • For information on why you should enter, if you haven’t already, go here.
  • For instructions on how to make a poster, watch this video.
  • For information about the prizes that will be awarded, go here.
  • For information about what you need to do on the day of the conference, go here.
  • Any other questions, go here or email Jamie Moesser at jamie.moesser@byu.edu

 

 

The Stalled Revolution of the Gendered Division of Housework

“As [more] women have entered the work force, the hope was that men would make up the difference in household chores, said FHSS sociology Professor Renata Forste at a recent public lecture on campus. “Generally, this has not happened….resulting in a ‘stalled revolution.'” Forste said research shows that men have increased the amount of housework they do, and women have decreased the amount they do, but women are still doing more housework than men, even if they are working outside of the home as well. Why?

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Forste offered several possible explanations for this differentiation, including:

  1. the possibility that the person with more power usually has more power to argue to do less housework. In some households now and many historically, the man had more perceived power because he was earning the money.
  2. gender construction, or the perspective that women are viewed as more caring, so they will care more for the home.  A man’s fulfillment of his perceived gender role is not necessarily connected to how much he cares for his house by doing housework.

Family satisfaction is affected when house chores are not equal

But why does this matter? If a family has worked out an arrangement wherein both parents work outside the home full-time, the mother still does most of their housework, but she and the rest of the family are okay with that, is it a problem? It can be, said Forste, in that research shows that “family satisfaction depends on both partners contributing to housework. Gender imbalance is not seen as fair by either [gender], but it advantages men.” She cited research that said couples who believed each other was doing their “fair share” of housework were 60 percent more likely to say that they were satisfied with their marriage. Doing laundry, shopping for groceries, caring for sick children, and cleaning the house were the main chores that couples wanted to share equally.

Forste believes the underlying problem is that society does not value housework. She said it is valued “certainly less than paid income.” She suggested that housework is valued less because it is not visible in the public sphere. So what then, is the solution? If a couple or family is dissatisfied with their work/housework arrangement, what can they do?

  1. View all housework as regular maintenance work.“If we consider housework as work, and not women’s work, its value will increase,” Forste said. “There’s no men’s work or women’s work; there’s just work that needs to be done.” Throughout history, there was an attitude that if women could do it, it must not be that hard. She cited examples of actual commercial posters portraying this perspective:

 

Nowadays, one is most likely to find ads like this:

 

2. Develop career and housework skills. “We live in a complex world where economic opportunities are constantly changing,” she said, “and I think that young couples need a broader set of skills in order to manage family and work life in today’s labor market.” Addressing students, she continued: “I encourage [you] to develop both employment skills and homemaking skills as you prepare for your future. You will have more flexibility and options in an unstable economy.” Female students should get degrees and develop employable skills; unless a female student has a guarantee that she will marry and her husband will always be able to support her and their family, she should earn a degree. “It’s better to have employable skills and not need them, than to need them and not have them.”

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ISSP 2012: Family and Changing Gender Roles IV, Great Britain and US

 

Virginia F. Cutler

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Virginia F. Cutler

This lecture is part of a series of annual presentations dedicated to the memory of Virginia Farrer Cutler, who spent her entire life educating people on the home and family. While she served as the University of Utah’s Head of the Home Economics Department, she founded their Family Home Living Center. She later went on to become the dean of BYU’s College of Family living, now known as the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences.

Throughout her lifetime, Dr. Cutler served in many capacities and received a plethora of awards. These include: “United States delegate to the World Forum on Women, Brussels, 1962,” “appointed by President Nixon to the Consumer Advisory Council, 1972-1975,” “Utah Mother of the year, 1972,” and “distinguished service awards from the University of Utah and Cornell University.”

 

 

Does Violent Media Desensitize You? Yes, Says Dr. Brad Bushman, Hinckley Presenter

This post is tenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and  your family live better lives.

Does violent media desensitize you? According to Dr. Brad Bushman, a 2014 Hinckley presenter, it does. In research that he conducted where he examined the brain waves of video game players of both the violent and non-violent types and then showed them neutral images (such as mushrooms), negative images (such as a dead dog or a child with a birth defect), and violent images (such as a man with a gun being pushed down his throat), he found that those who played violent video games were less shocked by the violent images than those who played non-violent video games. He said, “They’ve become numb to violent images. They’re not shocking anymore.”

Bushman received his Bachelor’s in Psychology from Weber State in 1984 and holds an MEd in Secondary Education from Utah State University (1985), Masters in Psychology and Statistics from the University of Missouri (1987 and 1990 respectively), and a Doctorate in Social Psychology from the same school in 1989. He is the Rinehart Chair of Mass Communication at Ohio State University and teaches both psychology and communication classes. The professor has been featured in media such as BBC, NPR, and the New York Times.

As we mentioned in previous posts about his lecture on the subjects of measuring aggression in teenage boys and other effects of violent media, Dr. Bushman acknowledges that adults have the right to choose what media they consume, but he advocates making these effects on children known. Realizing that some of his findings are unpopular with mainstream channels, Bushman challenges popular conceptions by taking painstaking efforts to design his studies in accordance with the scientific method. His studies have been published in prestigious scientific journals. He has testified in the U.S. Congress on topics related to youth violence and aggression, and has served as a member of President Obama’s committee on gun violence.

The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities and single parenting.

Since this topic can be controversial, we encourage viewers to watch the full lecture and the Q&A session that follows for a more complete look at these findings.

What is a Fulbright, and Why Should Faculty and Students Care?

Are you a faculty member interested in becoming a Fulbright Scholar or in learning more about the Fulbright Scholars Program? Are you an undergraduate or graduate student interested in doing research abroad? On March 23rd, the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences will host two representatives of the Fulbright Program—Sophia Yang, and Lee Rivers—who can tell faculty and students how to apply for either kind of opportunity.

Fulbright student scholarships fund an academic year of international experience for U.S. citizens, and are open to graduating seniors and graduate students. With more than 1,900 awards available, the Fulbright is a terrific opportunity to study, conduct international research or work as an English teaching assistant abroad.

Faculty members interested in learning about opportunities with the Fulbright Scholar Program may attend the presentation given by Sophia Yang at 12:00 p.m. on March 23rd in the Hinckley Building east conference room. A light lunch will be served at 11:30. Ms. Yang’s presentation will be followed by an opportunity to speak with her one-on-one about the application process and more specific information about various opportunities. Faculty members should RSVP using this Google doc, or by emailing fhssresdev@byu.edu.

Faculty Informational Session
Thursday, March 23
12 p.m., lunch at 11:30 a.m.
Benson building
W170

Students interested in learning about opportunities with the Fulbright Student Program may attend the presentation given by Lee Rivers, the Assistant Manager for Outreach and Special Projects for the Institute of International Education. This presentation will be at 11:00 a.m. on March 23rd in room W170 of the Benson building.. There will also be a Q&A following the presentation.

Students may sign up in this Google doc.

Student Informational Session
Thursday, 
March 23
11 a.m.
Benson building
W170

For more information, contact Kristen Kellems at fhssresdev@byu.edu.

Shallit Lecture: Medieval Castles and Political Ecology

Though we live in what we consider “modern” times, we don’t have to look much farther past a Google search of wars today or the evening news to read about the armed, systemic conflicts that still grip our societies. Wars and political unrest may be thought of just the purview of the Middle Ages, with their iconic castles, wars, and disease, but they are still a part of modern life. Could an analysis of medieval castles, then, shed light on the politics of today? Dr. Matthew Johnson of Northwestern University says that they “controlled, delimited, and defined flows—flows of things, of animals, and of people—circulating in and around the castle and its context,” so it’s possible that they could.

shallit

The Event

On March 21 at 3pm in room 1060 in the HBLL, Dr. Johnson, who is from Northwestern University, will give a presentation titled: “Towards a Political Ecology of the Medieval Castle.” Of this topic, he says, “Traditional, culture-historical approaches have stressed [the castle’s] military role and function.  More recently, influenced by theoretical trends, scholars have discussed the castle’s social and symbolic role, the castle as a stage setting for elite identities and practices.” This is precisely what Dr. Johnson will be centering his remarks on: “I focus on how the castle and its surrounding landscape work to control, delimit and define flows — flows of things, of animals, and of people, circulating in and around the castle and its context.”

According to BYU Anthropology, who will sponsor the event, the intended audience are those affiliated with the department and anyone else who is interested in the topic. They “hope the audience enjoys the event and learns something new about the subject!”

Why Study the Middle Ages?

alnwick-castle-castle-alnwick-northumberland-68683But why is studying the Middle Ages- medieval times- important? Weren’t they a barbaric time where everyone died from disease and warfare? Absolutely not! The Bonnie Wheeler Fund website characterizes the era as one of change: “The late period [of the Middle Ages] included the rise of the university system of education and an explosion of artistic expression and architectural innovation, particularly in the construction of cathedrals and castles. It is in this period as well that we see the rise of urban life and the development of a middle class.” All of these innovations are directly affecting us today.

One can argue that we need the Middle Ages to fully understand our own political situation. “In this time of geo-political unrest, we have powerful lessons to learn from events of the Middle Ages,” according to the Bonnie Wheeler Fund website. Understanding the dynamics Middle Ages can help us understand our current position.

pexels-photo-208562 Dr. Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson is a professor and graduate advisor in the Anthropology Department of Northwestern University. His research is directed to theory and British and European societies from AD 1200-AD 1800. The archaeologist recently completed a field study at places in southern England, including Bodiam Castle. Johnson has also written a plethora of books:  Behind the Castle Gate:  From Medieval to Renaissance and  Archaeological Theory:  An Introduction to name only a few.

What’s your favorite era of history?

 

David Wrobel on John Steinbeck’s America and the West: The Redd Lecture

In his book The Grapes of Wrath, author John Steinbeck wrote that “the land is so much more than its analysis.” This is exactly what BYU’s Charles Redd Center for Western Studies is trying to instill in people through the upcoming Annaley Naegle Redd Lecture titled “John Steinbeck’s America and the West.” Presented by Dr. David Wrobel of the University of Oklahoma, the event will be held in the HBLL Auditorium at 7 pm on March 23.

The Event

17103604_1282247045200046_1389641752798943929_nOf the lecture, Dr. Brenden Rensink, the assistant director of the Redd Center, said: “Steinbeck wrote a number of iconic books that unfold in the American West – most notably, The Grapes of Wrath. David Wrobel’s new work on Steinbeck tries to contextualize Steinbeck’s work in broader American culture, its impact, etc. It will be a great lecture that takes a key piece of Western American literature and weaves it into broader narratives of American cultural history.” He added that the intended audience is BYU faculty and students as well as the community at large. Rensink hopes people will leave the lecture with “a better understanding of author John Steinbeck, his relationship to the West, and his impact upon it.”

Steinbeck and Wrobel

John Steinbeck is the 1962 Nobel-Prize winning author of The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, and Tortilla Flat, to name only a few. Said editor Horst Frenz of the Elsevier Publishing Company in 1969, his books dealt with the economic problems of rural labour; “there is also a streak of worship of the soil in his books.” It is this worship that makes Steinbeck the perfect topic for Wrobel to speak on at the Annaley Naegle Redd Lecture. The esteemed historian is the Merrick Chair of Western American History and David L. Boren Professor at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of three books and a plethora of essays and articles. Wrobel has participated in the Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer Program and from 2007-2008 was the American Historical Association’s Pacific Coast Branch’s president. He has also in that capacity for Phi Alpha Theta. The professor was the recipient OU’s College of Arts & Sciences’s 2015 Holden Award for Teaching Excellence.

charles-redd Annaley Naegle Redd

Annaley Naegle Redd was the wife of Charles Redd. Together, they founded the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at BYU. The college graduate became a teacher in La Sal, Utah, where she and her husband met and were married. Naegle was integral to his cattle business, serving as his partner, acting as secretary, store keeper, and cook, among other jobs. And, when their ranch was almost foreclosed on: “her ‘prairie fire’ beans helped save the ranch.” Naegle died in 2000. Besides the lecture, she has two awards in her name: the Annaley Naegle Redd Student Award in Women’s History and the Annaley Naegle Redd Assistantship Award (BYU Faculty Only).

Will you go to the Annaley Naegle Redd Memorial Lecture?