Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Skills for Healthy Romantic Relationships

Here's a 16 minute video your students in Psychology, Sociology, and related fields might like. The speaker is Dr. Joanne Davila, Professor of Psychology and the Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University (my alma mater). 

I showed this in my Sexuality & Gender course and it led to a good discussion. Dr. Davila mentions features of a healthy relationship (security, respect, good communication, feeling of being valued) and explains three skills that form the basis of what she calls "romantic competence": (1) Insight, (2) Mutuality and (3) Emotion Regulation. 

One of my favorite things that Dr. Davila says is “Mind reading is a terrible idea. It never works.” Don't expect your partner to know what you're thinking. Communicate! Mutuality is about communicating needs to each other and supporting each other. 

Dr. Davila also mentions features of unhealthy relationships: fighting so much that you can’t work things out, not being able to go to your partner for support, and contempt, criticism, hostility, violence.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

John Sterling Retires

I'm a lifelong Yankees fan. I grew up watching Yankee games on WPIX, loving the banter between Phil Rizzuto and Bill White. I didn't listen to radio broadcasts until adulthood. I found radio broadcasts very comforting during my grad school years at Stony Brook University. There I was, an hour from Yankee Stadium, usually relegated to the library or my apartment studying and writing papers as a grad student in the Sociology Ph.D. program. It was then that I became familiar with the voice of John Sterling, who at that time was paired with Michael Kay. I loved their chemistry and was bummed when Kay switched to the television broadcast. But I continued to listen to the radio because Sterling was so good, and of course I enjoyed his home run calls and how he would call the end of a victory: "Thhhhhheeeeee Yankees Win!" I started listening to Sterling in my 20s and here I am in my 50s, still a huge fan. I went from listening alone to listening with my wife and kids during road trips. I'll miss his enthusiastic calls but just as much I'll miss his humor, his interactions with Suzyn Waldman, and his observations about the game. How do you explain an untimely error or a sudden slump? "That's baseball," as he liked to say. Totally agree. Sometimes you don't need a lofty or elaborate explanation. Sometimes you just express wonder about the game and appreciate what you are seeing. Sterling always conveyed his love and amazement for the game. Thank you, John. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

“We’re giving the whole Italian show”

Tom DeVito understands the NFL marketing machine. I wonder if "My son gaining sudden fame and our Italian heritage being a phenomenon" was on his 2023 bingo card. His son, Tommy DeVito, has been thrust into the starting quarterback position for the NY Giants, and is having quite a moment. His popularity shot up as soon as it became known he still lives at home with his parents. He got tagged with the amazing nickname "Danny Cutlets." It's fun to see Tommy having a moment, and he was even named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

But getting back to Dad. Mr. DeVito is totally in on the marketing game and keeping his son's profile up for as long as possible. Speaking about the tailgate situation before a recent game against the Green Bay Packers, Mr. DeVito gave us this gem: “We’re giving the whole Italian show. It’s gonna be craziness. We’re gonna give 'em the Italian theater they’ve been asking for. Three hundred chicken cutlets, got Italian sandwiches, baked ziti, sausage and peppers, rice balls — everything Italian. I’m gonna have my guys setting up sandwiches with Italian headbands on. We got an Italian flag with Tommy’s picture on it. They’ve been begging for it. We’re gonna give it to ’em.”

Mr. DeVito sounds like he's all in for however long this lasts. Perhaps he knows the Nirvana maxim: "Here we are now, entertain us." And he's quite likely familiar with the Rocky franchise. We all like an underdog, right? Since "The Italian Stallion" was already taken, "Danny Cutlets" is pretty solid. 

I'm available if anyone needs further takes. I'm a football fan (of the Buffalo Bills, known as the only NFL team with a stadium in New York State). I'm also Italian-American, though not 100%. One German grandparent gives me my last name. The other three have something to do with my love of sauce (my family doesn't gall it gravy) and meatballs. And, yes, we like our chicken cutlets.

Monday, December 11, 2023

David Byrne on The Self, and How We're Social Animals

A few answers from the always interesting David Byrne in an interview with The New York Times.

On the self:

"Lots of other people, scientists and philosophers, think about this more than I have: Where is the difference between yourself here and here and here? Is there any continuous self? You could say you’ve retained memories from various parts of your life, but memories are very malleable. We reshape them every time we remember them. They’re not fixed. Every self you go through, you dredge something up and make it apply to whoever you are at that moment. It’s a hard thing for us to intuitively accept the idea of “self is an illusion.” It’s very Buddhist, but it’s also increasingly more scientific. It’s not just a spiritual concept. It’s also a kind of neural concept."

And our socialness:

"Well, in our culture there’s a lot of emphasis on the individual: I have a right to do this, I have a right to do that. There’s a sense that you’re making these decisions about your life or what you want to do or say and that they’re all coming from you. But they’re not! Who you are at any given moment is defined by the social context. We’re not quite ants, but we’re social animals. To pull one ant away and say, That ant decided to do that! No. We do things because we’re part of a larger community. I feel like the pendulum in our culture here has swung maybe a little too far into the individual zone — away from a sense of community. It’s all about me, me, me. That’s what you think, but everything you’re saying is coming from people around you or the internet. You’re not making this up yourself. We do some things as individuals, but a lot of things we do are socially determined. Way more than we would like to admit. I mean, we tend to look down on arranged marriages, for example, but then you look at who people connect with and you go, I could have arranged that. You think that you’ve had this freedom of choice but, well, your parents might have picked the same person for you."

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Note to (Presentation of) Self

I'll be teaching about Goffman's presentation of self to students soon. I love the material, and enjoy talking with students about different examples of front stage and back stage behaviors. My go to example of impressions is a hundred years ago I went to a job interview not wearing a tie. I could see the interviewer's notes on the table. He wrote "NO TIE!!" We are always making impressions, regardless of whether we mean to. First impressions, of course. But second impressions too. Impressions always. 

Anyway...sometimes I get lost in talking about impression management and performances. This time around, I want to say more about what happens when emotions take over. When we are reacting emotionally, are we less concerned with managing impressions? In such instances, are we less deliberate about our behavior? Like when we're mad! For example, what's going on with the couple constantly arguing with each other in the neighborhood? Do they think about the possibility that their fighting shapes people's impression of them as an unhappy couple? Do they care? Whatever the case, they keep forming impressions. Or suppose a dad is jawing at another dad at a youth sports event. Something angers a parent who then speaks aggressively to the other parent. Awkward! This would be front stage bickering between two dads. In such an exchange, emotions rule the interaction. There seems to be less calculation in these kinds of interactions. So this is just a note to myself (with a few examples to consider) to talk with students about how to analyze interactions when raw emotions are a key feature, and how emotional interactions influence the impressions of audience members. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Three Indie Rock Love Songs

Just a quick appreciation post for contemporary indie rock love songs. What are some of your favorite love songs in various genres? Here are three of my favorite indie rock love songs. 

The song "Lilacs" by Waxahatchee received a lot of play on Sirius XMU a few years ago. I love hearing it whenever it shows up in their rotation. It was on the station yesterday when I caught it. I then listened to it a few more times on YouTube. I'm a sucker for a good lyric, and this line knocks me out: "I won't end up anywhere good without you."

Another song I hear often on XMU is "True Love" by Hovvdy. The simplicity of the lyrics work for me..."You comfort me, Rosy"... and the imagery works for me too...

"Show off your new dress

Spin around for me

Like a blue sky I get up so high

You sure shine in the color

In that shade of pink"

To end with a perfect song... "Geometry" by Rubblebucket

"When you talk to me

I start to believe

I can believe in myself

When you're far out to sea in your personal hill

Draw a line to me

And I'll draw a line to you

Let's make geometry"

I just love the everyday life stuff in this song:

"I woke up thinking the same thing

What you want to do today?

I guess I'd go for a walk again

But Alex said it might be raining"

It's all so good: 

"I like you

You like me too

That's why I'm callin' on you"

These songs will be in my head all day 😍

Tuesday, July 25, 2023