Sunday, May 10, 2009

DADT, religion, social psych, and other stuff

(I'm guessing that the following analogy will infuriate both gay-rights and anti-gay activists equally).
A few posts back, I commented that "sexual orientation just never arose as a relevant issue" in the workplace during my years of gainful employment.

I could say the same of religious persuasion. With few exceptions, I couldn't tell you if my co-workers were Catholic, Protestant... or even Christian; Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Baha'i, or atheist. Religious affiliation just never arose as a relevant issue at work.
The few exceptions noted were folks who took it upon themselves to volunteer their religious sensibilities, for whatever reason, much the same as my openly gay co-workers chose to volunteer that bit of personal information.
In neither case did the confession interfere with work - and to some extent it may have helped, leading to an increased mutual trust.

A recent headline:
5 years on, gay marriage debate fades in Mass.
The story notes that five (5) years after MA legalized gay marriage, "although Roman Catholic leaders and some conservative activists remain vocally opposed, there is overwhelming political support for same-sex marriage and no prospect for a referendum."

A social psych lesson (bear with me!):
One of the fundamental concepts of social psychology is attitude, which is taken to be tripartite (more on this later), with

Recall - I was studiying social psych during the early '70s of the previous century, so a lot of the discussion revolved around attitudes regarding race.
One of the key findings: to change a person's attitude, first change his behavior.

It sounds a bit counter-intuitive.

In the mid-1960s, when asked if they would patronize a store with black clerks, white Southerners overwhelmingly responded, "NO!" When integration was pretty much mandated by the feds, and stores featured black clerks, there were no massive white boycotts... and subsequent surveys revealed that these same white Southerners were perfectly comfortable patronizing stores with black clerks.
Behavior led attitude.

Similarly in MA. The hand-wringing, red-hot debate on gay marriage has subsided. It's a fait accompli. Most folks don't give it a second thought.
Again, a government mandate compelled a change in behavior... and attitude followed.

I'm betting all the horrible effects on "unit cohesion & effectiveness" postulated by the DADT folks would simply vanish if the policy were repealed today.

Quotation adopted as a motto by Nixon's general counsel, Chuck Colson:
"Get 'em by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow."
From a social psych perspective, there's a lot of truth there!

Digression (this is the "more on this later" referenced above):
Social psychologists regard "attitude" as tripartite: cognitive, affective, behavioral.
This tripartite division has a long and venerable pedigree - at least back to Aristotle, who in his Rhetoric suggested three (3) avenues of persuasion: logos (roughly: logic), ethos (roughly: character), pathos (roughly: emotion). Freud's theory of personality distinguished between the ego, id, and super-ego. As PM pointed out to me, the Christian Trinity reflects this same tripartite view of the world.
Whenever you see just about anything divided into three parts - at least in the West - you can pretty much bet that tripartite division derives from Aristotle. The social psych gurus of the mid/late 1900s were just following this venerable tradition.

a further digression: how do you get intelligent, moral individuals to craft rational defenses of torture? well... you start torturing folks! - the behavior leads the intellect!

1 comment: