Photo by Devon Buchanan, Flickr CC
Photo by Devon Buchanan, Flickr CC

The now infamous conversation between Donald Trump and Billy Bush became a major talking point of this election cycle, as the former can be heard describing how he uses his stardom to grope women without consent. Since the tape surfaced, there has been a series of sexual assault allegations against the Republican presidential candidate. Trump himself has claimed that these accounts are fabrications planted by the Clinton campaign, and some of his supporters have dismissed these claims as false. In fact, many people coming to Trump’s defense assert that since these allegations (some of which date back decades) are only coming out now, they are likely false.

According to an article in New York Magazine, however, the opposite is the case. With a little help from Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan (who cites research by University of Texas sociologist Ari Adut), author Jesse Singal described the impact of collective knowledge in situations like this. Moral scandals and “collective and focused action” take root after an offense becomes well-known. As the article explains,

“There had been stories floating around about his treatment of women forever, many of them publicly reported. But the image of Trump as a predator didn’t fully stick until the release of that Access Hollywood video.”

Now that Trump is caught on tape, these women may feel more confident that people will listen to their allegations, or that they are more obligated to come forward because people are aware of Trump’s behavior. Considering the difficulties people face when reporting sexual assault in general, these women may feel more likely to be believed now that people see Trump in a different light. 

Photo by Denis Bocquet, Flickr CC
Photo by Denis Bocquet, Flickr CC

Want to avoid the left-swipe? According to Tinder sociologist, Jessica Carbino, the best way to secure a right-swipe is to include a profile picture that does not cover your face. In an article with Yahoo! Beauty, Carbino explains why you will want to avoid the sunglasses for your online dating profile.

In a process known as “thin-slicing,” we make judgements about the personality characteristics of others by examining their facial features. People often make these judgments unconsciously, but these initial impressions appear to be very important. Studies demonstrate that we can accurately predict the trustworthiness, extroversion, and even aggressiveness of an individual in a single-second view of their photo. Carbino says,

“[Making these evaluations] helps us categorize our life when we’re walking down the street. We’re trying to assess if somebody is like us, dangerous, what have you. In dating, it’s: Is this person compatible with us?” 

Online dating has its benefits, but it has specific challenges that come with it as well – you need to convey to your potential suitors who you are in a brief moment in time and with a single picture. So, if you want to be successful at Tinder and other types of online dating, show your true self and your future date can do the rest!

Photo by paul bica, Flickr CC
Photo by paul bica, Flickr CC

Bring on the sweaters and pumpkin spice lattes!  The time of year has finally arrived where jackets and boots become wardrobe staples and changing leaves capture the imagination. What exactly is it about the autumn season that people love? Kathryn Lively, professor of sociology at Dartmouth College, might have the answer.

In a recent Huffington Post article, Lively explains that people view fall as comforting. From a sociological perspective, individual’s emotions are tied to the meaning we give ourselves, others, and times of year.  For example, the emotional connection towards Thanksgiving and football season symbolizes what many believe the autumn represents. This coming together of joy and creating memories provides special meaning to this season. But perhaps the biggest reason for our infatuation with fall is that we have been socially conditioned to enjoy fall since we were children. The fall represents a temporal landmark where a clean slate can begin and new routines begin. As Lively explains,

“We’re conditioned from a very early age that the autumn comes with all these exciting things…As children, we come to associate fall with going back to school, new school supplies, seeing friends. It’s exciting, for most. We still respond to this pattern that we experienced for eighteen years.”

Whatever the case may be, enjoy the fall season, but remember to brace yourself – winter is coming.

Photo by Sudanshu Goyal, Flickr CC
Photo by Sudanshu Goyal, Flickr CC

While the gender gap in time spent on household chores is slowly declining, ideas about women as the primary caretaker of the home and caregiver for the children is still very present. These ideas in turn influence how men and women feel about parenting. A recent Huffington Post article features a new study that found mothers report more stress and fatigue than fathers. The researchers attribute this to the division of parenting tasks — married mothers are more likely to mange basic childcare tasks and are more likely to be alone with children, while married fathers are more often in charge of children’s play and leisure activities. Moreover, even when moms have leisure time, they are more likely to be interrupted or to report multitasking during this time.

According to sociologist Ann Meier,

“Having data systematically collected from thousands of parents allows us to confirm what parents have known for years — that parenting is meaningful but also stressful and tiring. Many mothers will recognize their experiences of interrupted sleep and daily feeding and bathing. Hopefully, many dads will see that their partners will likely be happier if they trade some of their leisure time with kids for more of the ‘work’ of parenting.”

911 Call Center in Seattle. Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives, Flickr CC
911 Call Center in Seattle. Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives, Flickr CC

The relationship between communities and police officers is getting an increasing amount of attention, particularly the effect police violence has on communities. The Atlantic recently reported on a new study by sociologists Matthew Desmond, Andrew Papachristos, and David Kirk that explores how trust in the police often decreases after a community experiences police violence. After analyzing 911 calls made in Milwaukee from 2004 to 2010, the researchers found that instances of police violence had an impact on the number of 911 calls being placed.

The study began after the highly publicized beating of Frank Jude by police officers in Milwaukee in 2004, after which the authors found that 22,000 fewer calls were placed to 911. They discovered a similar pattern following the killing of Sean Bell in Queens, New York in 2006, and the assault of Danyall Simpson in Milwaukee in 2007. The researchers concluded that instances of police violence, both locally and nationally, have lasting effects on African American communities as whole. David Kirk says,

“Once the story of Frank Jude’s beating appeared in the press, Milwaukee residents, especially people in black neighborhoods, were less likely to call the police, including to report violent crime. This means that publicized cases of police violence can have a community-wide impact on crime reporting that transcends individual encounters.”

Papachristos added in a statement,

“Police departments and city politicians often frame a publicized case of police violence as an ‘isolated incident’ … No act of police violence is an isolated incident, in both cause and consequence. Seemingly isolated incidents of police violence are layered upon a history of unequal policing in cities.”

Photo by US Department of Education, Flickr CC
Photo by US Department of Education, Flickr CC

An ongoing concern within K-12 education is how to go about diversifying the teaching profession. While some blame the negative narratives that discourage many young people of color from ever considering a career in K-12 education for the lack of diversity, others point to weak retention practices.

But which students want teachers of color in the first place? Well, a recent study finds, all of them.

Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng and Peter Halpin recently examined how sixth- through ninth-grade students from more than 300 schools across the country answered 30-question surveys about their teachers. Students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds reported significantly more favorable perceptions of their Latino teachers in all seven survey categories, and more favorable perceptions of black teachers in at least two or three of these categories. These findings held even when Cherng and Halpin accounted for students’ age, gender, socioeconomic background, and academic performance.

The bottom line? Students of all backgrounds prefer teachers of color. Cherng, a former math teacher turned sociologist, told NPR that the findings are surprising:

“I thought student awareness of the racial hierarchy would influence the results,” in favor of whites, he says.

He suspects that teachers of color may draw on their experiences to contextualize issues like race and gender for their students in a variety of disciplines, and says his future research will examine the relationship between teachers’ multicultural beliefs and their strengths in the classroom.

Photo by meesh, Flickr CC
Photo by meesh, Flickr CC

America has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, and it is important to consider the long-lasting impacts that the criminal justice system can have on a person. This goes beyond the struggles of life inside or finding a job once they’re free — they can also lose their right to vote. In fact, due to laws which strip voting rights from people with convictions, over six million Americans will not be able to vote this November. This aggregate estimate comes from a new report by our very own Chris Uggen, TSP Editor and University of Minnesota Regents Professor, and his research team (which you can read about at Quartz, New York Times, Yahoo News, Democracy Now!, The Denver Post, Vogue, and others). Uggen explains,

“The message that comes across to them is: Yes, you have all the responsibilities of a citizen now, but you’re basically still a second-class citizen because we are not permitting you to be engaged in the political process.”

Public opinion is mixed on this issue, but people are generally okay if released prisoners within general society are allowed to vote, meaning legislation may be behind the times. In fact, consider that the 2000 election between Bush and Gore ended with a neck-and-neck finish in Florida decided by less than six-hundred votes. Today, Florida has one of the highest rates of felon disenfranchisement, and in 2000, such voters could have decided the race.  

And speaking of “race,” laws which restrict felons from voting are in many ways a black-and-white issue. Because of such legislation, one in thirteen American black adults are not able to vote. As Uggen explains, felon disenfranchisement particularly hurts the African-American vote, a logical conclusion since the criminal justice system is already known to be racially disproportionate. These laws are often defended staunchly, but things may change in the future, and in large part thanks to work like this. 

Photo by John Morton, Flickr CC
Photo by John Morton, Flickr CC

As the election edges ever closer, the phenomenon of Donald Trump continues to grow. Trump has a realistic opportunity to become the next president of the United States, but a recent jump in immigrants applying for citizenship this year might change the outcome once November comes.

Manuel Pastor, professor of sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at USC, recently wrote an article in the LA Times about the increasing number of applications for U.S. citizenship.  From March to June of 2016, the number of immigrants who applied to become naturalized citizens is up 32% over the previous year, and many of these naturalized citizens might be eligible to vote this coming November.  A new report from the Center for the Study of Immigration Integration examined how significant an impact this increase in naturalized citizens might have if they are eligible to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Pastor explains,

“[T]he newly naturalized voters we counted could make a difference. In Florida, they constitute more than 6% of the voting age population. In Nevada, that share is more than 5%; in Virginia, 4%; and in Arizona, 3%. The results in recent general elections in these states have been so close that these new citizens — if they are registered and turn out — could tip the tallies.”

Photo by Andy Rogers, Flickr CC
Photo by Andy Rogers, Flickr CC

When it comes to looking at patterns of police force, a recent study by sociologist Joscha Legewie notes a relationship brewed from conflict. As described in an article featured in Science Daily, Legewie finds that a pair of fatal shootings of police officers by black suspects in New York lead to an increase in the use of force in subsequent days by police against blacks, but not against whites and Hispanics. Legewie says that this finding,

“…Extends beyond acts of extreme violence against police officers. It suggests a general set of processes where local events create inter-group conflict, foreground stereotypes, and trigger discriminatory responses.”

Legewie stresses,

“Discriminatory behavior arises not only from static conditions but also from temporal sequences of events and responses. This process is applicable to all kinds of everyday interactions, both with the police and with others who might engage in discriminatory behavior, such as landlords or teachers.”

Photo by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann
Photo by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann, Flickr CC

Arlie Russell Hochschild, professor emerita at the University of California, Berkeley, spent five years in Louisiana to explore why many Americans with lower incomes, in states receiving more government funding than most, embrace politicians pledging to cut that funding. It’s called “the red-state paradox,” and Louisiana is a prime example. It’s one of the poorest states, receives 44% of its funding from the government, and it supported Donald Trump in the primary.

Hochschild recently talked with Wisconsin Public Radio, detailing her findings that, for many Louisiana conservatives, policies bringing the disadvantaged forward often make them feel like they are being pushed back. Hochschild uses a metaphor of waiting in a long line winding up a steep hill, saying,

“You have worked your butt off. And you’re waiting in line for this American dream, and you notice suddenly that somebody is butting in front.”

Those who are suspicious of government policies like affirmative action see minorities, women, immigrants, and refugees as being permitted to cut in line by President Obama himself. For someone in an impoverished state, sending their children to some of the worst schools in the nation, and facing an incredibly low life expectancy, this doesn’t look like progress. The government is not seen as their ally, nor are the folks calling them “uneducated ignorant southerners” when they protest. Listening to their real stories, rather than leaning on such stereotypes, is how Hochschild crosses an “empathy bridge” in order to understand those supporting the controversial candidate.