FURTHER TRAVELS IN THE US - 1967-91
The journal describes travels from home bases between 1967 and in 1991 in various parts of the US, as a result of educational and career decisions. These home bases include graduate school in Boston, MA, teaching in Seattle, WA, and teaching in Whittier, CA.
Being away in Europe in 1967 gave me the confidence to realize that I had could change career plans if I wanted to. So I completed my masters in physics in 1968, and started taking classes in Sociology, since I decided that I was more interested in studying people. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, teach college or high school or be a counselor, so I started working part-time at a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed teenagers. It was rewarding, but emotionally draining. I decided that I did not want to be a therapist, but instead be a college professor.
I completed my master's degree in Sociology in 1970, then decided that I was more interested in micro-sociology rather than macro-sociology. I wanted to understand face-to-face interaction. So I applied to graduate programs in Social Psychology, and was delighted to be admitted to Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, which was a suburb of Boston.
GRADUATE YEARS IN BOSTON, MA
When we were at the University of Washington, my wife had completed her master's degree in physics and worked as a computer programmer at Boeing while I earned my master's degree in Sociology. Before moving to Boston, she wrote to 50 colleges and 12 employment agencies in the Boston area seeking a computer programming job, with no success. My favorite response was from a small Catholic college that said they didn't have a computer. At that time, the only computers were large expensive mainframe computers. I remember taking a computer programming class at the University of Oregon using a IBM 360 computer, that was the deluxe model having 8k of memory instead of 4k, and had to have multiplication tables and the Fortran compiler loaded on cards! At Harvard, it's computer was just a terminal for a mainframe computer at MIT. The idea that individuals might own computers was unthinkable then.
When I told one of my professors at Harvard that my wife was having trouble finding a computer programming job, he told me to have her contact a colleague at MIT. The same day she was offered a job there, she received a letter from the MIT employment office saying that they had no openings. This experience taught me the importance of networking in job seeking. Even if you are not showing favoritism, you are more likely to trust a recommendation from someone you know than from someone you don't know.
The Social Psychology program at Harvard was in the interdisciplinary Department of Social Relations at that time. The department was originally founded by young professors in Social Psychology, Personality Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Social Anthropology, and Sociology, who felt they had more in common with each other than with older professors in Experimental Psychology and Physical Anthropology. But by the time I got there, Sociology had pulled out feeling they could have more resources as a separate department, and Clinical Psychology was kicked out and moved to the Education Department, as was explained to me.
While I was there, the Social Anthropologists decided to rejoin the Physical Anthropologists, and Freed Bales referred to the remaining programs as the Department of Residual Relations, what is left after you pull out Sociology, Anthropology, and Clinical Psychology. The University administration brought in a respected psychologist from Texas who did research in both Experimental and Social Psychology, to pull Experimental, Social, and Personality Psychology back together into a Department of Psychology, which he did and then went back to Texas after a year.
During its existence, the Department of Social Relations fostered an interdisciplinary approach that I very much appreciated. We were allowed to take courses outside our own program, and develop our own theoretical and methodological approaches, in contrast to rigid boxes defining the field or subfields and their research methods. Among the 14 of us who began the PhD program together, only four had majored in psychology. Harvard professors felt that if you were smart you could learn the field in graduate school, while other universities usually required an undergraduate psychology major and often specific courses.
The first year I took seminars that introduced the subfields of Social Psychology. I spent hours in the library taking notes on assigned journal articles so I would be prepared to discuss them in class. Each seminar required a paper that was 20 pages long instead of the 10-page or shorter papers I had written as an undergraduate. In college, I had typically stayed up all night to write a term paper. I didn't have a car then, so I often rode my bike to clear my head, and stopped at a cafe somewhere to write down an outline. I then returned to my dorm or fraternity to write in the early morning when it was quiet and there were no distractions from others. It typically took an hour to type each page, since I had to retype each page several times when I changed the wording that I was struggling with. I would finish in the morning in time to go to class to turn in the paper.
In graduate school, I couldn't write a 20-page paper overnight, and I couldn't stay up two nights in a row, so I had to learn how to write in the morning. I would lie in bed in the morning thinking about the outline, then get up and start typing. When Xerox machines were invented years later, I would cut and tape paragraphs together using magic tape, and Xerox the pages, instead of retyping entire pages. That was before computer programs made it possible to Cut and Paste before printing.
For the second year at Harvard, I asked Zick Rubin if I could be a teaching assistant for his research methods course. He said that he didn't need a TA for that course, but did for his Interpersonal Attraction course. He told me to talk to Anne Peplau about it since she was the previous TA. Anne told me that Zick was beginning a research study of dating couples with a grant from the National Science Foundation. Zick had developed a Love Scale like an attitude scale, in which people indicated degree of agreement with statements such as "I would do almost anything for (____)" and "If I could never be with (____), I would feel miserable." He did an experiment in which he demonstrated that his Love Scale predicted the extent to which couple members would gaze at each other at the same time. The grant was to study the development of love over time.
I began working with Zick and Anne on the project that came to be known as the Boston Couples Study, which was the first longitudinal study of dating. Previously sociologists had surveyed married couples, while psychologists had observed strangers interacting in a lab, and then speculated about what happened in between. We recruited couples by sending letters to randomly selected male and female college sophomores and juniors at four colleges in Boston, then invited respondents and their dating partner to each complete a 38-page questionnaire independently at their school or at Harvard. Both members of 231 couples participated.
The three of us worked together extremely well, and others collaborated on the project as well. Zick was expert at theorizing and flair, Anne was great at searching the research literature, and I was good at analyzing data. Zick was especially interested in measuring love and self-disclosure, Anne was interested in gender roles and power, and I was interested in who stayed together and who broke up. We each took responsibility for developing measures and being first author on papers on those topics. Anne wrote up findings on power for her doctoral dissertation, and I wrote up findings on breakups for mine. Over the years, we wrote dozens of articles in journals and book chapters.
Initially the study was to last one year, but after the six-month and one-year followups, we decided to do a two-year followup to see who was still together, and about half of the couples had broken up. On the initial questionnaire, we had asked the women if they wanted to be married and if they wanted to have a career 15 years later, and asked the men if they wanted a wife with a career. So 15 years later we sent a follow-up questionnaire, and found that about a third had married their original partner and two-thirds of those were still married. We had obtained updated addresses from their college alumni offices, and three-fourths of them responded, which is an amazing response rate.
Another 10 years later I was curious about how satisfied they were with their lives, so we did a 25-year followup, and more than half responded. We found that overall satisfaction with life was related to their personal relationships with spouses or partners, children, friends, and others.
While at Harvard, I studied hard during the week, and then my wife and I went on outings on weekends and vacations. I felt that we would probably not stay on the East Coast since my family was on the West Coast, so we wanted to see as much of the East Coast as possible. We made weekend trips all over New England. We especially enjoyed going to Sturbridge Village in western Massachusetts, where old farm buildings and people in costume depicted life a century ago. We similarly enjoyed colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. We made several trips to New York City and to Washington DC, and one trip as far south as North Carolina. We also made trips in Eastern Canada, including Montreal and Quebec City. I remember going on a 10-day camping trip to Nova Scotia with another couple, and it rained every day of the trip. It was 8 years before we ever went camping again!
We made other trips around New England with that couple, that we had met through a student wives group. I liked to stop at yard sales, and the other couple liked to shop for antiques. The first time we went to a beach in New Hampshire, planning to barbeque lunch there, we stopped at so many yard sales and antique stores along the way that we didn't get to the beach until dinner time. They and we and two other couples got together regularly for international dinners. We took turns planning the menu, then gave recipes to the others, so each couple prepared part of the meal. We had been in a similar dinner club through a student wives group at the University of Washington, but with more couples that rotated who was together.
While I was at Harvard, and my wife was a subway stop away at MIT, we lived in Watertown, which was the next suburb west of Cambridge. When we first arrived in the Boston area, we had stayed with a former co-worker of my wife at Boeing who had moved to Watertown, while we looked for an apartment and found one nearby. The apartment was conveniently located, since there was a bus a block away that went to Harvard. The bus stop was next to Perkins school for the blind. When persons with a seeing-eye dog wanted to board the bus, the dog would put his nose on other people's legs to get them to move out of the way. The same was true riding the subway from Cambridge across the river into Boston. At first I was concerned about making way for little old ladies boarding the subway, but quickly discovered that they had learned to use their elbows to work their way through the crowd.
Our first week in Watertown, we decided to have dinner at a Chinese restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue with a classmate and his wife who were from New York City. We had made reservations by phone, but when we arrived at a restaurant they said we had no reservations. Our friends from New York were very insistent that we be seated, and now, and we were. Later we realized that there were three Chinese restaurants on Massachusetts Avenue, and we apparently had made reservations at one but had gone to another.
During Christmas vacations, we flew to Oregon to spend Christmas with my family, then flew to Wisconsin to spend New Years Day with my wife's family, since that day was her and her brother's birthday. My wife's family had lived in Oregon during her high school and college years, then her parents moved to Superior, Wisconsin, where her father was a sociology professor, while she was in graduate school. To get to Superior, we had to fly to Minneapolis where there was snow in the ground. I remember looking at Christmas decorations in department store windows before taking the train up to Superior. While in Superior, we visited some of my mother's relatives in nearby Duluth, since she was born in Minnesota and still had relatives there.
TEACHING IN SEATTLE, WA
After completing my PhD in 1975, I was offered a job in the Sociology Department at the University of Washington, where I had earned my master's degree in Sociology. It was great to be back in Seattle, since I liked the city. The first year we rented a house in Ballard, near the locks and enjoyed taking walks to watch the fish swimming up the fish ladder. We got a dog, a beagle that my wife took to dog obedience school, but it flunked twice. I remember it running down the hall with a loaf of French bread in its mouth. We often took it on walks in the many parks around Seattle. My wife had thought that having a dog would be good practice for parenting a child later.
The first year my wife worked as a computer programmer at a bank, so with two incomes we could save a down payment for a house. She wrote a program for ATM machines, but was disgusted when her boss put the program online before she had thoroughly tested it. It captured the debit card of a customer leaving him stranded, since he had an account number in a series that she had not been told were valid account numbers. By the end of the year, we had our down payment and bought a house north of the University near Northgate. It had a view of the Cascade mountains to the east on the days when it wasn't cloudy. But it was on a busy street, and we just had a daughter, and we were worried about her running into the street. So we had a fence built around the property.
Teaching required a lot of effort, since preparing each new lecture was like writing a term paper. The first time I taught a class, I prepared each lecture the night before I gave it. I worried about running out of material, and the anxiety caused me to speed up, increasing the likelihood that I would run out. But the second time, I had lectures prepared, so I wasn't worried about that. I taught small graduate seminars, and worked closely with graduate students supervising master's theses and doctoral dissertations. Ironically, a couple of the students that I supervised had been classmates when I was a graduate student in the department five years before, but had not finished their degrees.
My undergraduate classes were large, so I didn't assigned papers in them, and I didn't really know any of the undergraduates except one who wanted to do research with me and stayed on to do his master's degree under my supervision. He and I did an interesting longitudinal study of roommates, which involved knocking on doors in the dorms and asking roommates to answer questionnaires in the fall, then returning and asking them again in the spring. Previous research on roommates had found liking to be related to perceived value similarity, but not actual value similarity among men, and women hadn't been studied.
We found that liking between roommates was not related to actual value similarity for men, but was for women, for four measures of liking -- who had chosen each other as roommates in the fall, liking in the fall, staying roommates in the spring, and liking in the spring. We concluded that value similarity was more important for the women since we found that they self-disclosed more to each other than did the men. Women who were roommates felt that they had to be friends, while men could be roommates without being friends. And women's friendships were based more on talking, while men's friendships were based more on doing things together.
When we wrote up our self-disclosure results, we criticized the way in which reciprocity of self-disclosure had been analyzed in the past. Previous studies varied the intimacy of one person's disclosure to see if that increased the intimacy of another's response, but did not compare the intimacy level of the two messages, as we had compared the intimacy level of roommates' disclosures to each other. When we submitted our article to a journal, the editor sent it to be reviewed by those we had criticized, and rejected the article. We wrote back explaining why the reviewers were wrong. After three rejections and rebuttals, the editor finally publishing the fourth version of our paper, which included all of our rebuttals!
During my third year of teaching, our second child was born in the spring. When he was two weeks old he had pneumonia and almost died. Just four months before that my father had died, and then a month after that my grandmother died, so it was a stressful period. At the time, I was chairman of the board of the Crisis Clinic, a telephone service providing crisis intervention and information and referral services. The director of the agency was a friend who had recruited me for the board, but when he left for another job I had to manage the agency for several months until I could hire his replacement.
This related to a Philosophy of Life that I developed in response to an incident at the Pike Street Market in Seattle. Located on the waterfront, the Market has beautiful displays of fresh fish and fruits and vegetables. One day I saw a display of corn with a sign that said 4 for 29 cents. As I was selecting 4 ears, the seller said, "You can't have those. You have to take 2 from the front and two from the back, 2 good, 2 bum." I was picking them myself because I had previously been given some bum with the good at the Market before. I realized that life is like that -- you get 2 good and 2 bum. You need to appreciate the good, and cope with the bum, without letting the bum overwhelm you. Having social support from others makes a huge difference in coping.
Of course, people vary in how much good and bum they get, based on their life circumstances, which are only sometimes their own fault. And people vary in how optimistic or pessimistic they are, whether the glass is half empty or half full. My life has been mostly good, in spite of the bum, and I have generally been optimistic about life. One way I try to avoid the bum is by being careful about taking risks. I avoid physical risks whenever I can, although I take social risks, like talking to strangers to meet them.
Assessing risks is an important part of traveling. Some people are so afraid of the unknown that they severely limit traveling. Others are fearless in situations when caution is warranted. Guidebooks can forewarn of places to avoid, but developing good "street smarts" is essential for traveling safely anywhere. One needs to be able to look at the buildings, lighting, and people on a street and anticipate possible dangers.
How you carry yourself is important, since a confident, purposeful person is less likely to be a target than one who looks lost or fearful. I remember one time when I took my youngest brother to New York City when I was living in the Boston area. We wanted to take the subway from lower Manhatten to Columbia University, but got on the wrong subway line and ended up in the middle of Harlem. Upon leaving the station at 125th, I immediately realized where were, and confidently headed west up the hill to Columbia. As we walked past them, African Americans sitting on porches stared at us wondering what two young White men with expensive cameras were doing there, and a police car with two White policemen stopped and asked us if we knew where we were. I explained that we took the wrong subway line and we quickly walked up the hill.
While I was teaching at the University of Washington, I concentrated on teaching, research, and parenting two children with my wife, and didn't socialize very much with others. Although I worked with other Social Psychologists in the Sociology department, I seldom interacted with others in the 35-member department, and the only faculty I knew outside the department among the three thousand at the University were those in the faculty wine-tasting group. At one of the wine tastings I was talking with another faculty member with whom I had become friends, and we were discussing family backgrounds. He mentioned that his great-grandmother had come from a German village in Russia, and I asked what was her name, and recognized that she was my grandfather's sister! So his mother and I were second cousins! That was the second time I had discovered a second cousin, the first having been on the road trip to Wisconsin.
My colleagues asked me what were the sociological issues in the various research studies that I was conducting, and I realized that I was primarily addressing psychological issues using sociological research methods. For example, I studied love in dating relationships and liking in roommate friendships using surveys instead of laboratory experiments. I felt that I would be happier in a psychology department, and accepted a position in the Department of Psychology at Whittier College in a suburb of Los Angeles.
TEACHING IN WHITTIER, CA
At Whittier College, I found faculty who encouraged interdisciplinary collaboration. Its Liberal Education program, which is the college's version of General Education, required students to take Paired Courses. Faculty members from two different disciplines coordinated their courses, through common readings, papers, or fieldtrips, and the two professors attended each other's classes. To get credit for the Pair, students took both classes at the same time. When I taught Child Psychology I paired it with an Anthropology course on child-rearing in various cultures, and later with a course about teaching physical education to children. I have paired Social Psychology with courses in Linguistics, Religious Studies, Political Science, and Business Administration, and paired Diverse Identities with Business Administration.
The paired courses are more work, since you are attending and doing the readings for the other class. But it is fun since you are learning new things. I make comments in the other class pointing out connections to my class, and the other professor does the same in my class. Just seeing the other person in my class makes me think of examples linking the two courses. We become used to other faculty being in our classes, instead of feeling defensive about other faculty watching us teach, and we observe and discuss other teaching techniques including ones that worked or didn't work well. It also helps in advising students about classes to take since we are more familiar with other classes.
I decided that I would socialize more with other faculty than I had at the University of Washington, so I organized and hosted a faculty wine-tasting group. There were only about a hundred faculty at the college instead of three thousand, and we all attended faculty meetings instead of sending representatives. Working together on small committees also was a way to get acquainted. As a result of being involved on campus, I was elected Vice-Chair of the Faculty my third year and Chair of the Faculty my fourth year. As Chair, I felt that I was a Shadow Dean, since I followed the Dean of the Faculty to many faculty and administrative committees. I realized that I didn't want to become a full-time administrator, since I would rather be teaching.
When I arrived, the Introductory Psychology course was offered using Tag-Teaching, in which one person taught the first third, another the second, and another the third. No one was responsible for the entire course, and the exams had inconsistent styles, which I thought was disastrous. So I began teaching the entire course, with one guest lecture from each of the other faculty in the department, and I have been teaching it ever since.
I began teaching two sections of the Introductory Psychology in fall semester, and one section in spring semester. About two-thirds of all students at the college took the course. It thus was the largest class on campus, with about a hundred students per section, which concerned my colleagues since we try to limit most classes to 25 or fewer students. But it was small compared with class sizes of nine hundred at large universities.
To encourage interactive learning in spite of the large class size, I created a series of Class Exercise Forms that students discussed in groups of four. That way every student is thinking, discussing, and writing. The first time I tried it, the room was alive with excitement, so I did it almost every class session. After discussion in small groups, I led a large group discussion for which everyone is prepared instead of just a few students in the front row. Course evaluations have been consistently very good, with rare complaints about the class size.
Also when I arrived, I was assigned to teach a senior seminar in which half of the students conducted research projects involving data collection and half wrote papers based on library research. I found that the students didn't know how to write library research papers, so I split the course into two courses, a Research Seminar involving data collection for those planning to attend graduate school, and a Literature Review Seminar required of all psychology majors. I created a series of assignments and grading rubrics that would teach students how to conduct literature searches; how to compare and contrast theories, research methods, and findings; and how to outline, draft, and rewrite 20-page papers.
After teaching Literature Review Seminar for many years, I passed it on to colleagues who have taken turns teaching the course since it requires a great deal of work grading. On alumni surveys, those in graduate school said that it was the most valuable course they had taken as an undergraduate to prepare them for graduate school. While their classmates there were wondering "What is a Lit. Review?" they were confidently asking "How many pages and how many references?"
Since I first came, I have been teaching Social Psychology, in which I explicitly draw on materials from both psychology and sociology, so the course was cross-listed in both departments, until the Department of Sociology hired another professor. Social Psychology represents the overlap between psychology (which focuses primarily on individuals) and sociology (which focuses primarily on groups) since Social Psychology focuses on individuals in groups. When Social Psychology is taught in psychology departments there tends to be more emphasis on individuals, while in sociology departments there tends to be more emphasis on groups.
My Diverse Identities course was similarly cross-listed in both departments since it draws on both psychological and sociological research. It examines the development of various kinds of identities, including ethnic, racial, national, religious, gender, sexual, occupational, familial, and other identities. It also analyzes stigma, prejudice, and discrimination. I discuss research findings, and have the students read First Person Accounts of what it is like to deal with various identities. In addition to three weekly lectures, I show a film about identity issues one evening each week. On course evaluations, students say that they realize that others have been dealing with similar identity issues, even if it concerns a different identity.
I taught various other courses in the past that I am no longer teaching. Most interesting was a course for the Whittier Scholars Program, in which students can design their own majors and general education courses. The course was called "What is reality?" and I used a textbook on world religions supplemented by readings on social psychology and on the philosophy of science. Most frustrating was a course on Tests and Measurement which had few students, and I found the material boring, whereas I am usually very enthusiastic about the material, so I never taught it again.
Also frustrating was teaching summer school when I first arrived. I taught Social Psychology to three students three hours a day for six weeks and was paid a low salary based on the number of students taking the course. I decided that it wasn't worth it. Most Whittier students need to work in the summer, and they usually only take required Liberal Education courses if they need another course or two to graduate. I haven't taught summer school at Whittier College since.
In fall of 1991, I spent a semester with my family in Denmark, as part of an exchange program. I will describe that in a separate journal.