My class at 12 pm got cancelled and I originally thought that I could go to the Jepson Symposium. Later I figured out the presentation was only from 10:30 to 11:30 am during which I had work, so I went to the School of Arts and Science Symposium. I interacted with some students from the psychology department. One of them was presenting on the relationship between teachers’ support and the exclusion and popularity of children with depressive symptoms. There was a significance relationship for exclusion but not for popularity. I questioned the methods used to gather the data because exclusion was teacher reporting while popularity was peer reporting. I also looked at research presentations on other-race effect, advertising and emotions, sexual assault intervention, and an anthropology research presentation on medicalization of Internet addiction in the Chinese society.

Jepson Symposium

I really enjoyed speaking to the students at the Symposium. I spoke with Lydia about how her summer research evolved, and how she discovered that many of the heroic traits in the tall tales she studied were similar to the traits of modern-day superheros, leading her to her thesis topic. I think it’s really interesting to hear how research can start as one thing and then lead to another, similar to what we talked about on one of the first days of class (spies? English nobility? theatre? wow!). I also spoke with Juliana who conducted research on terrorism. I was especially interested in her research on the differing leadership structures of Al Qaeda and ISIS. What really struck me at the event was the diversity of topics pursued by these students. I learned about American culture, terrorism, sustainability, economics, and more. Seeing their completed projects was actually quite inspirational – it’s a shame more students don’t pursue research of some kind.

Symposium – Ashley Gross

I thought the Symposium was very interesting because I saw that the methods we talk about in class are the methods used by the students I talked to. I felt lucky to be able to talk to two students who had Dr. Hoyt as research advisors, which I thought was good because I was able to hear about how she does research with students and what their overall impressions were (which were through the roof). The student I talked to that I got the most out of was Brent DeShields’ because he gave me insight into more than just his research. He looked at how people who are lower class tend to be rated higher than those of middle or high class in leadership positions. He found, through Mechanical Turk, that reading about someone from modest backgrounds tended to skew readers towards a more legitimate administration. He also found that they tended to be rated higher for conscientiousness. When I asked him what the hardest part about the research was, he said analyzing the data. That made me equally excited and nervous because I like analyzing data so I know that that won’t be too difficult, but nervous because I know that I’ll have different challenges. I was happy to hear that getting his responses (I think there were 320, I can’t remember exactly but it was in the 300 range) only took a day and a half. That made me happy because I may end up using Mechanical Turk. He also said it was relatively cheap because he paid each participant $0.50. Another student I spoke with expressed her frustration over the fact that her data ended up not being significant. I thought about how frustrated that would make me, but then realized that I have to know that might be the case going in. Overall, I’m very glad I got to see different students’ research and have the chance to talk and ask them questions!

Jepson Symposium

This morning I attended the Jepson Research Symposium. It was very interesting to see what types of things my peers have been up to, and it made me even more excited about my research. I spoke with Lydia about her research last summer, and I asked her about how it connects with her upcoming Honors Thesis. It seems that her projects align with closely with one another, which made her research process go a little bit smoother. I also visited Julianna LoPiccolo and heard what she had to say about Al Quaeda and Isis. Her research was very interesting and she was able to provide thorough answers to the questions we were asking her. With regard to her research process, she said that Dr. Goethals was very helpful, but did not inhibit her from exploring any of the themes that interested her. She explained that her process began as an unorganized stream of consciousness, and she plans to keep researching until all of her questions are answered. Although she claimed that her research was very time consuming, her passion and love for her work is most important.


– What is identity?
o The components of identity: personal identity and social identity
o Focus on social identity: what is social identity
o Introduce social identity theory
o Introduce social identity salience: different identities are salient under different under different situations
– How does social identity create groups?
o Ingroup vs. outgroup
– Intergroup interaction
o How do people interact and communicate differently between and within groups?

My research has been focused a lot on identity. I need to look more into intergroup communication. I still want to talk with Mrs. Hobgood and Dr. Lundberg.

More to read:

Giles, H. (2005). Intergroup Communication: Multiple Perspectives. Peter Lang.
Gudykunst, W. B. (2003). Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Communication. SAGE.
Montgomery, B. M., & Baxter, L. A. (Eds.). (1998). Dialectical approaches to studying personal relationships. Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates.
Swann, W. B., Gómez, Á., Seyle, D. C., Morales, J. F., & Huici, C. (2009). Identity fusion: The interplay of personal and social identities in extreme group behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(5), 995–1011.

Outline – Ashley Gross

I. Introduction

II. Background Information

  • Statistics about women in sports
    • Number of teams at different levels/percentage of the population at each age and gender that participates in each sport (+analysis)
      • professional
      • college
      • high school
      • club
      • recreational
      • age groups
    • Rate of pay
    • Social advantages
  • When and where Title IX-like policies were implemented
  • Look at possible other factors that contribute to the discrepancy between men and women in sports

III. Five most important research questions:

  • Why do women have so few opportunities in sports compared to men?
  • Does cultural influence play a significant role in determining the opportunities available for women in a country?
  • What about our rhetoric contributes to the way we treat men vs. women?
  • “Men’s games are faster, more physical, etc” – but women often have more skill — why do people like watching men more than women? What leads to this? Is it that they’re more exposed to men’s sports, get used to that, and then decide they like that style of play better?
  • How do implicit biases contribute to the way people think about and treat professional athletes? (including how they’re paid)

IV. Hypothesis

  • Women have fewer opportunities in sports which deters them from pursuing higher levels of their sport and produces fewer female adult athletes in every sport. This leads to a smaller fan base, which then leads to less support and funding, and continues the trend of minimal opportunities
  • People tend to have biases about women in sports, not because of an innate nature, but because we’ve socialized this idea around the world

V. Methodology

  • In order to test this theory, I will conduct surveys and possibly an experiment
    • Survey
      • Ask about their preference for watching sports, playing sports, what they wanted to be when they were little, the types of opportunities that were available to them, how they were encouraged to participate or not
    • Experiment
      • Have subjects watch a video (of different genders playing sports?) and respond to questions afterwards about perception
      • Other ideas?

VI. Importance to Leadership Studies

  • Understanding why half the population lacks access to certain opportunities could lead us toward a place of equality (talk about ethical reasons for wanting equality) insofar as people have the option of doing what they want (even if this leads to unequal numbers participating, since I don’t know if the desire to play certain sports will be the same across genders or not).
  • Look at what types of actions could help make a positive change – policy? education?

VII. Annotated bibliography

Further Research:

  • Read more about the preferences of men and women in sports
  • Become more aware of theories about where gendered preferences come from
  • Talk to Dr. von Rueden about cultural influence
  • Research more about creating a survey/experiment and making sure it’s testing what I want it to be testing

Blog Post for April 16

Superheroes Research Plan

  1. Introduction: The relevancy of folklore / pop culture studies to leadership studies.
    1. Can understanding a group’s (or individual’s) major folklore / pop culture help us gain valuable insight into political, social, and cultural norms and how they do or do not change over time?
      1. Particularly in regards to Implicit Leadership Theories and Social Identity Theory of Leadership.
  2. Part 1: Identifying major folklore / pop culture phenomenons in the United States.
    1. The Superhero phenomenon.
      1. Background
        1. Early American Tall Tales
        2. Western Tropes
        3. Comic Book History
        4. Superheroes in Film
        5. Superheroes in Culture
  3. Part 2: The Superhero franchise and its influence on, perpetuation of, or response to American Implicit Leadership Theories.
    1. Social science research on American ILTs
      1. ILTs and (American) social identity.
    2. Four problematic areas of ILTs to be considered in American Superhero films:
      1. American Exceptionalism
        1. Militarism
        2. Social Dominance Orientation Theory
      2. Gender Roles
        1. Feminist Theory
        2. Queer Theory
        3. Toxic Masculinity
      3. Racism
        1. Anglo-Saxon Centricity
        2. Stereotypes
      4. Romanticization of Leaders
        1. Individual vs. Shared Leadership
        2. Hero-Worship
  4. Part 3: Analyzing Superhero films from the beginning until now.
    1. Overview of Superhero films, including box office ratings.
      1. Analysis of the top box-office films against the four problematic areas of ILTs, from earliest released to most recent.
  5. Conclusion: What does all this mean for the superhero film industry?

Apart from actually sitting and watching superhero movies to become extremely comfortable and familiar with the industry and medium, I also have a number of sub-focuses that will require more background knowledge (i.e., I have to do at least minor research on the four overarching problematic areas of ILTs, as well as their sub-components). I want to sit down with Dr. Hoyt to gather recommendations for the best sources to use for leadership theory on gender roles; Dr. Allison for the best on hero-worship; and possibly other professors (not just in the leadership department) who could point in the right direction for the best overview sources of the various theories / concepts I will exploring in superhero films. That could include talking with a film studies professor to find overview sources on film theories (although I spent two years of high school studying film, which included an IB Extended Essay on a film topic).

Research Plan

The thesis which I will be researching is: Do voters choose their candidates out of personal interest or because of their views on social issues? I may focus on one particular issue, such as affirmative action. So in this case, would a white individual who supports greater racial equality vote against affirmative action because it might hurt their chances at college acceptance or employment, or would they vote in support because of their desire for more equality? Secondary questions would evaluate the impact of party allegiances on voting behavior in regards to the primary questions, and the effect of voter information and issue knowledge. In my research thus far, both of these factors have had an impact on research addressing similar questions.

After reading “Whites’ Opposition to “Busing”: Self-Interest or Symbolic Politics?” (Sears, Hensler, and Speer, 1979), “Economic Discontent and Political Behavior: The Role of Personal Grievances and Collective Economic Judgments in Congressional Voting” (Kinder and Kiewet, 1979), and “Homer Gets a Tax Cut: Inequality and Public Policy in the American Mind” (Bartles, 2005), I have come to the conclusion that my primary method of research will be analysis of large data sets such as the American National Election Studies data set. This data includes surveys taken every presidential election of voters, with questions regarding current economic and political issues as well as demographic questions and political and social ideology questions. I will locate the questions which best fit my thesis and analyse this data to arrive at an answer for my thesis question. In order to complete this research, I will need to learn how to conduct statistical analysis, and it is my hope that my research adviser will be able to assist me in this. Also, a source which I obviously still need to read, and very thoroughly, is the data set itself.

It is quite likely that I will need to conduct some original research to answer my secondary questions, particularly the one regarding voter information or knowledge of the subject at hand. The ANES data set contains information on political party allegiance, so I can use that to determine how that might effect voting behavior. However I don’t believe that it can evaluate voter information on the issues. To determine the impact that this has on voter behavior in regards to my primary thesis question, I will design an experiment which will measure voter behavior before and after being properly informed on the issue. I will first present the research subjects with a survey determining their demographics and social beliefs so that I can determine how the issue on hand, such as affirmative action, would effect them personally and how they would feel about it based on their world views. Then I would ask them how they would vote for a candidate who either supports or opposes the issue. After this, I would provide them with information on the issue, such as how it actually would or would not affect them, and the social difference it would make. After being given this information, I would ask them to vote again. Finally, I would study how their vote did or did not change, and from this determine if voter information makes a difference in how people vote on issues which concern their personal and social interests. Here again, I have some learning to do so I can design a sound experiment that properly collects meaningful data which could answer my research question. I will gain this experience through readings recommended by my adviser on research methods and how to design experiments, such as the Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science.

Though I have now read enough articles related to my thesis question to know that data set analysis will be my primary method of research, and to know that political party and voter information are important secondary questions to ask, I still could do additional reading to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the academic consensus on the topic of self interest versus social interests in voting behavior. From what I’ve read so far, most seem to believe that self interest is not involved at all, but I have encountered a couple important exception to this which I will need to consider more closely. I am also interests in the ethical implications of this voting behavior, especially if I do find that some people vote out of self interest, so I may want to speak with Dr. Flanigan or Dr. Price to discuss how I could work ethical considerations into my thesis.