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Teaching Humanities to the Disadvantaged

The effects of a two-semester college level course in the humanities was examined in a group of economically and educationally disadvantaged individuals in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area and a group of incarcerated male inmates at a medium security prison in Pendleton, Oregon. Student responses on a pre-course and post- course survey were compared to assess the impact of the course in meeting its objectives. Within group comparisons indicated that students in the Portland program displayed a significant improvement in their level of self-esteem, verbal ability, and analysis of the major course themes. The course also had a positive impact on inmates who displayed a significant overall positive change in their literary activity, writing skills, two self-esteem measures and written treatment of the major course themes. These findings were supported by uniformly positive anecdotal reports by the students. Taken together, the results of this study add to the growing body of research demonstrating the power of literary classics to give rise to a wide range of positive changes in individuals from low-income communities and prison settings.

Teaching Humanities Report (PDF file)


Computer Mediated Communication

Internet Romances: The Frequency and Nature of Romantic On-Line Relationships

One thousand university students were e-mailed a survey about relationships they had established on the Internet. Of the 248 who returned the survey, eighty-eight (36%) indicated they had formed a friendship with another individual in an on-line setting. Nineteen (22%) described it as a close romantic relationship. These respondents were e-mailed a second survey concerning various aspects of their romantic relationship. The frequency of romantic on-line relationships in the university population investigated was determined to be .0766, or 76 per 1,000 students. The respondents who returned the second survey rated their on-line relationship as equal to or superior to those they had established off-line on measures of strength, satisfaction, and ease of communication.

Internet Romance Report (PDF file)

Compliance

The effects of reprimanding transgressions on subsequent helping behavior

The relationship between reprimanding individuals for naturally occurring transgressions and their later helping behavior was investigated in two field experiments. Admonishing individuals for touching art objects in violation of museum rules or feeding “unauthorized” food to animals in a zoo, increased the likelihood that they would subsequently help a confederate pick up dropped items. Individuals were also more helpful after a severe, rather than a mild reprimand.


Altruism

Knowledge of the bystander problem and its impact on subsequent helping behavior

The helping behavior of high school students exposed to varying degrees of information about the bystander problem was assessed in two naturalistic situations in which the individuals had an opportunity to come to the aid of a distressed female. Overall, the amount of prior information had no differential impact on the likelihood that either male or female subjects would help a distressed person. However, they were much more likely to help a female who had dropped her books than one who appeared to be having an asthma attack. There were no differences between the sexes in the book-dropping situation, but in the asthma situation females were much more likely to help than males.

Download the paper: The Enlightenment Effect (PDF)

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