APS has a News bit on a new paper.
People and institutions who are marginal members of a high-status or well-esteemed group tend to emphasize their group membership more than those who are squarely entrenched members of the group, according to new research published in Psychological Science,
The full cite:
Rozin P, Scott SE, Zickgraf HF, Ahn F, Jiang H. Asymmetrical Social Mach Bands: Exaggeration of Social Identities on the More Esteemed Side of Group Borders. Psychol Sci. 2014 Aug 20. pii: 0956797614545131. [Epub ahead of print] [PubMed, Publisher]
A few key results:
Universities at the border of the university category emphasized their university identity more than archetypal universities did. On average, master’s universities used the word university in 62.2% of self-references (SD = 31.6%, n = 151), whereas the corresponding mean for national universities was 46.4% (SD = 31.0%, n = 55), t(204) = 3.19, p = .002, 95% confidence interval (CI) for the difference = [6.0%, 25.5%], d = 0.50.
Small (n = 34) airports were more likely to emphasize their status as an international airport than large airports were (n = 20). On average, small airports used the word international in 68.2% (SD = 30.3%) of self-references, whereas the corresponding mean for large airports was 31.4% (SD = 29.1%), t(52) = 4.38, p < .001, 95% CI for the difference = [20.0%, 53.8%], d = 1.24.
Penn students were more likely to mention “Ivy League” or “Ivy” in describing their university than Harvard students were, but directing individuals to answer in a public context, if anything, decreased “Ivy” mentions. In the public condition, none of 30 Harvard students mentioned “Ivy,” whereas 9 of 33 Penn students (27.3%) did. In the private condition, 4 of 24 Harvard students (16.7%) mentioned “Ivy,” whereas 7 of 20 Penn students (35%) did.
I was recently expressing how dealing with the local public school system was the one place in my nonprofessional life that induced me to deploy my doctoral credentials. Part of this is by seeing how consistently the public school people use "Doctor" for anyone in their system who happens to have obtained a doctoral degree. I guess I know a little more about why those people do that.
Ever since joining social media I've been bemusedly struck by those people who choose to put "Doctor" or "PhD" or even "Professor" in their handles and blog titles- whether they go by a pseudonym or not. Now, of course, I am thinking about whether they were in a boundary condition when they came up with those identifiers.
It also makes me think about women and minorities in the sciences. Do people flagrantly underrepresented in a profession feel permanently on the group border? Does this influence their deployment of their credentials?
Those of us who do not feel as though we are on the border, and have a sort of lazy, comfortable ambivalence to deploying our credentials, should probably think about this a little more.