IBS Newsletter

November 2001

Institute of Behavioral Science
University of Colorado


On October 31, it was announced by Vice Chancellor Phil DiStefano that Jane Menken has been appointed Distinguished Professor. The CU Board of Regents will make the official announcement at their December meeting. Congratulations to Jane for a title well deserved!

Institute News

On September 26, former Colorado Senator Tim Wirth visited IBS and the Natural Hazards Center. Jane Menken, Dennis Mileti, and Mary Fran Myers met with him to discuss activities at the Institute.

Program Activities

Environment and Behavior Program

Lori M. Hunter attended a National Institutes of Health (NIH) workshop on Population and Environment Research September 7-8 in Washington, DC. She presented a summary of NIH-funded research on internal migration and environmental risk. The work­shop was intended to bring together researchers involved in population/environment examination to discuss research findings, possible commonalities among the findings, difficulties encountered in multidisciplinary endeavors, and important future directions.

Natural Hazards Center

On October 25, Mary Fran Myers attended the Forum on Sea Level Rise and Coastal Disasters in Washington, DC, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences' Natural Disasters Roundtable (NDR). NDR roundtable forums are designed to facilitate and enhance communication and the exchange of ideas among scientists, practitioners, and policymakers concerned with urgent and important issues related to natural disasters. Myers is a member of the NDR Steering Committee which selects the topics and designs the programs for the NDR forums. While in Washington, Myers also attended a meeting of the NDR Steering Committee and participated in the First Annual Conference on Infrastructure Priorities sponsored by New York University's Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems.

Lori A. Peek traveled to New York City September 29-October 6 to conduct research on Arab and Muslim student response to the events of September 11. She met with 69 Arab and Muslim students from six different colleges and universities in the New York City region. The research was funded as part of the Quick Response Research program, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center. In Fort Collins on October 15, Peek attended a panel discussion, “Afghanistan: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” sponsored by the Colorado State University, Afghan Student Association as part of the International Festival. She presented a paper based on research she conducted in New York City, “Ethnic Issues on University Campuses Following an Act of Terrorism: Arab and Muslim Student Response.” This event was attended by 150 community members and Colorado State University students and faculty. On October 18-21, Peek presented “Media Accounts of the 2000 Los Alamos/Cerro Grande Wildfire: A Content Analysis of Local Newspaper Coverage” (co-authored with Erin S. Whitney) at the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources in the Western United States Conference in Grand Targhee, Wyoming.

Population Processes Program

Jane Menken attended the quadrennial conference of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population which took place August 20-24 in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. She presented a paper, co-authored with Linda Duffy (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, currently at the University of California, Berkeley), “The Short and Long-Term Effects of Reproduction on Mortality: Evidence from Matlab, Bangladesh.” During the conference, she also participated in a meeting of the Mellon Network on Research and Teaching in sub-Saharan Africa. CU has received a grant from the Mellon Foundation, “Mellon African Demography Research and Training Program,” that supports participation in this network. On September 7, she attended a planning meeting of the Population Council’s Panel on Assessment of Future Needs for Training and Support for Population Experts from Developing Countries, which she chairs. The planned September 21-22 meeting of the Panel was cancelled and, instead, several extended conference calls were held during the last two weeks of September that involved panel members in Nairobi, Kenya; Cairo, Egypt; London, UK; San Jose, Costa Rica; and US cities from New York City to Honolulu. Similarly, the meeting of the NIH Fogarty International Center’s Advisory Board, of which Menken is a member, was cancelled and substituted with conference calls on September 17-18. She attended the meeting of the Panel on Urbanization in the Developing World held in Boulder on September 24. She chairs the Committee on Population of the National Academy of Sciences, which is the parent committee to this panel. On October 5, Menken spoke in the colloquium series of the Institute of Behavioral Research, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. Her topic was “The Effects of Family Conditions in Early Life on Female Survival and Health: The Case of Rural Bangladesh.”

In Print

Pampel, Fred C. 2001. The Institutional Context of Population Change: Patterns of Fertility and Mortality across High-Income Nations. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.  Despite having similar economies and political systems, high-income nations show persistent diversity.  In this book, the author looks at fertility, suicide, and homicide rates in 18 high-income nations to show how they are affected by diversity in institutional structures.  Many European nations, for example, offer universal public benefits for men and women who are unable to work and have policies to ease the burdens of working mothers.  The United States, in contrast, does not.  This study demonstrates how public policy differences such as these affect childbearing among working women, moderate pressures for suicide and homicide among the young and old, and shape sex difference in suicide and homicide.

Problem Behavior Program

Richard Jessor attended a meeting of the National Research Council Panel on the Transition to Adulthood in Developing Countries in Washington, DC on October 1-2. Jessor chairs the Theory Working Group of the Panel. On October 4-5, Jessor was at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia where he presented “Risk and Protective Factors in Adolescent Health, Behavior, and Development” as part of the Owens Lecture series at the Institute of Behavioral Research.

In Print

Menard, Scott. 2002. Applied Logistic Regression Analysis, second edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. The first edition of Applied Logistic Regression Analysis described the basic logistic regression model, including parallels with ordinary least squares regression, criteria for evaluating the fit of the model, interpreting logistic regression coefficients, logistic regression diagnostics, and polytomous logistic regression models. In particular, in the first edition, new procedures for calculating standardized logistic regression coefficients and for analyzing prediction tables produced by logistic regression analysis were introduced. The second edition adds more detailed consideration of grouped as opposed to casewise data, discussion of overdispersion and underdispersion for grouped data, and discussion of the misuse of the odds ratio to represent relative risk. Updated discussions of the properties and appropriate use of goodness of fit measures, unordered and ordered polytomous models, and applications with SPSS and SAS software are also included in the second edition. The substantive example used throughout the monograph is the analysis of adolescent marijuana use based on data from the National Youth Survey.

Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence

On October 24 there was the kick-off for the Colorado Anti-Bullying Project at Invesco Field at Mile High stadium in Denver. Delbert S. Elliott presented on bullying prevention. Other speakers included U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar, Kim Christensen from Channel 9 News, and Dr. James Shaw. The project is being sponsored by the University of Colorado, Coca-Cola, Channel 9 News, The Denver Post, and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. CSPV attendees included: Jane Grady, Landa Heys, Holly Bell, Jennifer Carroll, Darci Card, Gretta St. Martin, Sheryl Cardozo, Sharon Mihalic, and Diane Hansen.

Sharon Mihalic presented “Violence and Bullying” at the Cañon City Community Forum in Cañon City on October 2.


Social Science Data Analysis Center

We are pleased to announce a new addition to the SSDAC staff. Tom Dickinson is a graduate of CU with a degree in geography and is familiar to many in IBS because of his previous work in the Geography Department and in the Environment and Behavior Program. His primarily responsibilities are to support GIS applications and web page development, but he is also able to assist with computer systems support.

In Print

Hanson, Robert C., Edward Rose, Zeke Little. August 2001. “A Comparative Investigation of the Semantic Structure of Language.” Cross-Cultural Research, 35(3), pp. 303-342. The results of a semantic analysis of 20 languages established quantitative parameters intended to describe the semantic structure of language in general. Representative languages were drawn from nine different language families, both literate and nonliterate populations, ancient civilizations and contemporary nations and ethnic groups. Random samples of 100 word and phrase units were drawn from bilingual dictionaries. Each word was classified into one of 34 semantic categories. A reference guide to categories with codes and definitions and examples of coded words with the classification logic displayed are provided.  Some major results are: (a) words referring to activities of all sorts occur with the highest frequency in vocabularies (44%), mostly human activities (39%, 34% physical, 5% mental); (b) various sorts of people (9%) and nature agents (7%) are involved in these activities; (c) the products of human activities (22%) are about equally divided between nonmaterial mental products and man-made material things.

In Focus

Themes Concerning September 11

On September 26, about 50 IBSers gathered for a session entitled “Behavioral Perspectives on the Current Crisis: What can social sciences tell us about the bombings of September 11 and their consequences.” Presenters were Jane Menken, Richard Jessor, Dennis S. Mileti, and Elizabeth C. Dunn with Gilbert F. White as moderator. Thomas Mayer organized the event and offers here his summary of the occasion.

The “Behavioral Science Perspectives on the Current Crisis” meeting was remarkable for the earnest nature of the presentations and the attentiveness of the audience. There was a shared sense that the events of September 11 have changed the United States in a fundamental way, and that we will never fully retrieve our previous way of living. We were laboring to understand the nature of our common wound, and to distinguish balm from toxin in its therapy. While few uncontested truths emerged from the session, I think most participants came away thinking that IBS is indeed a meaningful community and not merely a set of individuals housed in the same buildings. I certainly did.

What follows is essentially a list of themes concerning September 11 and its aftermath. These may or may not be what the presenters or audience commentators intended to communicate, but they are what my memory has fastened upon.

Framing. President Bush and his administration have chosen to frame the attacks of September 11 as a war rather than as a crime. This way of framing the assault on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is itself a political choice and has profound consequences for what might constitute a proper response. The goal of warfare is victory, while justice is the objective in dealing with criminal acts. Punishment of crime is tightly constrained by law, but few legal constraints govern the conduct of war. Collateral damage is a widely accepted consequence of warfare, but harm to the innocent is not tolerable in coping with crime.

Explanation. While no serious person suggests a monocausal explanation of the September 11 attacks, whether the principal explanatory burden is placed upon cultural or on political considerations makes considerable difference. Cultural explanations tend to emphasize Islamic fundamentalism, Arab traditionalism, and/or general hostility to Euro-American values. Political explanations tend to stress American imperialism. Cultural explanations imply that the attacks are harbingers of a protracted conflict in which the United States (and Western civilization as a whole) should fortify its determination, reconfirm its essential lines of political action, and firmly resist any temptation to appease. Political explanations emphasize the importance of policy changes such as ending sanctions against Iraq, a more even-handed approach towards Israel and the Palestinians, and retreat from an oil driven diplomacy in the Middle East.

Universalism. Although September 11 was a deliberate and politically motivated assault, the human response to the loss of life and physical damage was not fundamentally different than to a natural disaster of comparable magnitude. Human response to disaster, whether political or natural, is rooted in deep social psychological aspects of human interaction. The basic impulse is towards self-sacrifice and cooperative endeavors aimed at restoring the wounded social fabric. Thus disaster cultivates some of the most attractive human capacities, which by their inherent character advance the work of social reconstruction.

Gender. Women, it seems, were conspicuous by their absence from the planning and execution of the September 11 attack. Similarly, women have had very little role in the planning or articulation of a response to the attack by United States political authorities.  This strong gender bias inclines some people (especially politically conscious women) to think that the entire terrorism and counter-terrorism syndrome is a peculiar pathology of a male dominated political universe. The most effective antidote to terrorism and reactive violence might be widespread integration of women into positions of political leadership.

Violence. International political affairs are a sequence of actions and reactions, and thus political violence often comes in cycles. These cycles can be explosive, in the sense that each wave is worst than the last, or diminishing, because each violence wave of lesser magnitude than its predecessor. Responsible political leadership should try to make the cycle of violence diminishing rather than explosive. A completely non-violent response to the murder of over 6,000 innocent and unsuspecting people is politically impossible in the United States or virtually anywhere else. Responsible leadership would generate a response that is law governed, protective of the innocent, and on a much lower scale of violence than the September 11 attack.

Racism. War typically generates racist images of the enemy. Such racism is driven by both anger towards and fear of the opponent. Virtually all the major wars in which the United States has participated have fanned the flames of prejudice and discrimination. These passions can turn against sectors of the American population, as in the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The anger and fear caused by the September 11 attack has created a dangerous situation for Arab and Muslim Americans. Numerous incidents have already been reported. A practical contribution that ordinary people can make during this time of crisis is to counter anti-Arab and anti-Islamic prejudice, and to offer personal support to local people of Arab and Islamic heritage.

Inequality. Economic inequality, both domestic and international, has reached unprecedented heights during the past three decades. Extreme inequality tends to undermine any sense of common humanity and shared community. Among the rich it encourages arrogance, self-righteousness, and condescension. Among the poor it stimulates shame, despair, and hopelessness. Extreme and enduring inequality often weakens the internal and external constraints on behavior towards people at the high end of the economic hierarchy. Extreme inequality may lie at the root of the moral anesthesia that makes possible terrorist attacks.

Perception. How is American society perceived by others? Is it perceived as an enticing domain of freedom and affluence? Is it perceived as a hypocritical land of selfishness and military aggression? How can these contradictory images be reconciled? Powerful countries are sometimes surprisingly oblivious to how they are perceived by people living elsewhere. The possession of power allows powerful countries to remain relatively unconscious about the perceptions of others. For many Americans, one of the most shocking aspects of September 11 was recognizing that the United States is widely despised, and that some intelligent people might want to unleash murderous attacks on American society.

Vulnerability. History and technology have conspired to make Europeans, Asians, Africans, and Latin Americans feel vulnerable to military attack. Despite Pearl Harbor, despite the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, and despite numerous American military interventions all over the globe, people of the United States have generally escaped this sense of vulnerability. This comfortable consciousness of invulnerability was irretrievably shattered by the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Although the remaining assassins may be apprehended and punished, and although a fearful vengeance may be wrecked upon any country that harbored or assisted the murderers, there is no way to recreate the lost sense of invulnerability. The United States and its people have become part of the assailable world.

Funding Opportunities

Retirement Research: The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/csom/executive/crr/) in collaboration with the Social Security Administration (http://www.ssa.gov/ )is accepting grant applications for research on retirement issues by junior scholars in a wide variety of disciplines, including actuarial science, demography, economics, finance, gerontology, political science, psychology, public administration, public policy, social work, sociology, and statistics. Scholars with a doctorate or comparable professional certification are eligible to apply. Deadline for applications is November 16. Total amount to be awarded and number of awards is not specified. Amount of individual awards is up to $25,000. View the full text of the announcement at: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/csom/executive/crr/sandellguidelines.shtml .

Research Proposals Funded

Problem Behavior Program

D.S. Elliott

S. Mihalic

Blueprints for violence prevention
DOJ, OJP 03/01/00 – 02/28/04 cont



Environment and Behavior Program

T. McCabe Maasai Migration and livelihood diversification
Wenner-Gren Fndn 07/01/02 – 06/30/03 new


Upcoming Colloquia

There is an online listing of upcoming and recent colloquia.

Institute of Behavioral Science

Jane Menken, Institute Director

IBS Newsletter

Julie Klauss and Sugandha Brooks, Co-editors
Richard L. Cook, Web Site Coordinator

Institute of Behavioral Science
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0483

(303) 492-8147