REDIRECT: Range of Applications

This is the fourth consecutive post on Timothy Wilson’s.book REDIRECT.  To get some idea of the range of applications for which REDIRECT is appropriate consider the following chapter titles:

Shaping Our Narratives:  Increasing Personal Well-Being
Shaping Our Kids Narratives:  Becoming Better Parents
Just Say…Volunteer:  Preventing Teenage Pregnancies
Scared Crooked:  Reducing Teenage Violence
Everybody’s Doing It…Or Are They?  Reducing Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Surely They Won’t Like Me—Or Will They? Reducing Prejudice
It’s About Me, Not My Group:  Closing the Achievement Gap
Sustained Change:  Finding Solutions

As you can readily see, the application of REDIRECT is wide.  In reading these chapters, you will gain insights into how redirecting personal narratives work.  You will also read about research assessing effectiveness and find that there are many problems for which REDIRECT works, but some intuitively appealing, and sometimes popular programs do not.  The primary problem is that the majority of programs are not evaluated at all.  However, the book includes two websites that provide such information.  The U.S. Department of Education  created a ss))website called the What Works Clearinghouse, which reviews the research literature and provides educating with descriptions of programs that work (http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc//).  The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado evaluates the effectiveness of programs that attempt to reduce violence and drug used and publishes their results on a website (http://www.colorado.edu/cspv/blueprints//).

There is way too much research above to even attempt to summarize.  However, one that I find most interesting are stereotypical threats covered in It’s About Me, Not My Group: Closing the Achievement gap.  An example of this used the test Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices Test (Raven APM).  There were three experiments.  One in which the Raven APM was described as an IQ test.  The second in which it was described as just a test.  In the third experiment it was simply described as a bunch of puzzles.  One group of students taking the test was White.  The other group of students was black.  When the Raven APM was described as an IQ test there is a large difference in favor of the white students.  When the Raven APM was described as just a test this gap was greatly reduced. However, when the Raven APM was described as just a bunch of puzzles, the black bar graph overtook the white bar graph.

Another example is the elderly.  When thinking that a memory test was about differences between age groups, the elderly group performed more poorly than the younger group.  However, when they were unaware that the memory test was about age, this difference disappeared.  In reality there are some memory tests in which performance improves with age, and others in which it declines with age.  Apparently the memory test involved in this study was age neutral.

Both researchers and individuals need to be aware of this threat of stereotyping.  Researchers need to be sure that there results are not due to stereotypes.  Individuals need to assure themselves that they are not victimized by the stereotype threat.    So it’s not about me, it’s about my group, and even that is not true.  I will not be defined by a stereotype.  Similarly, we need to be careful that we do not define others in terms of stereotypes.

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