Affluence leads to overestimation of control?

This interview with a social psychologist is mostly about a non-newsworthy subject, i.e., an older person complaining about how worthless the younger generation is (to the extent that this might be true I would look at what employers are willing to pay for the labor of young people and the employment rate (not the bogus “unemployment rate” but the percentage that are actually working)). Buried in the middle, though, is an interesting idea:

Another thing that happens in the culture of affluence is that people overestimate the amount of control they have and feel compelled to exert control more, including over their kids. … One thing that has struck me is a huge judgmentalism among parents pushing them to overprotect their kids. Parents are afraid that if they don’t, they’ll be criticized by other parents or a neighbor. It’s a powerful moral force.

What do folks think? We’ve become a lot richer as a society. We don’t suffer from heat waves anymore, other than having to get up from watching TV in order to flip on the air conditioner. Does that lead us to wrongly believe that we can control everything else? Could this explain why we thought that we could clean things up in Iraq and Afghanistan?

[The rest of the article is a little bit fun because it uses the word microaggression, e.g., “Moral judgment is not about finding the truth; it is more about broadcasting the kind of person you are to people that you want to like you. You might call it moral posturing. Getting angry about microaggressions shows that you are championing victims. In a victimhood subculture, the only way to achieve status is to either be a victim or defend victims. It’s enfeebling. When victimhood becomes your identity you will be weak for the rest of your life. Marty Seligman has been talking about this for decades. This is a good way to make people learn helplessness.” I wonder for how many more years the term “microagression” will be in vogue.]

7 thoughts on “Affluence leads to overestimation of control?

  1. “Victomhood”

    definition: a new talking point of White Man Burden when
    their victims ask for compensation instead are ridiculed mercifully.

    In the same breath, pale face cries about minimum wage and
    brown being uppity.

    “Finding the truth”

    definition: only white man can find truth and justice everyone
    else can sue for it.

  2. “clean things up in Iraq and Afghanistan”

    Can you say that with straight face. Do you actually believe that
    that was US Foreign policy.

    Great Game, Oil Domination, Divide and Conquer.
    So you think the Empire has not been playing this game for 500 years.
    but now it doing from goodness of their heart.

    The Whole Iraq invasion was about continuation of Iran-Iraq war of 80s.
    and Afghanistan was destabilized by Pakistan in the 70s long before
    any Russian stepped foot there.

  3. This week Pakistani Prime Minister visited DC for official visit
    in which Pakistan demanded US sided with it or Pakistan will
    use Tactical Nuclear Weapons against India.

    Not a peep from Washington or the American Press.

    American Elites should be tried for War Crime for sheer Ignorance.

    1. US has financed Pakistan for 60 years.
    2. Area were U2 were flown is also the area where Taliban were created
    by Pakistan.
    3. During recent Taliban attack on Kunduz, Pakistani Twitteriati were in euphoria over Taliban victory where as Afghani were cursing them.
    4. List of wrong doings is too long for you to digest.

  4. One should never listen to social psychologists’ theories of society, they don’t know any better than the rest of us while imagining themselves—if not usurping—to be the experts. For a while they were a fad in HR, and motivational studies trades, but their expertise became faded[sic!]. Besides, in terms of productivity being the key to growth in your cherished American economy, what contribution do they make? However one looks at it, social psychologists are part of the problem, or at best a sidebar to, rather than part of the solution of getting there.

    The questions could be better framed: (1) it is not affluence per se—which is uneven in the population, across social and age strata—that “spooks” here, but the affliction of affluenza among leisure classes (these mothers that do not require being paid by the state for bearing and nurturing children), that begat home-schooling; that begat helicopter parenting; that begat the trend of imagining ‘selves to be the be-all to own children.

    Yet it wasn’t always that way… think back to the time when even teenagers from well-to-do families were allowed to roam free in town, not to mention lose the whole prep school team’s fencing gear on the subway just before a tournament. Fiction, you say? Then what do we make of this non-fictional “Childhood in NY” memories from the same period, the 50s? (Colin Powell on a bike!)

    (BTW. I don’t know of better expressed insights into the US children-centered parenting than the 2 features of “How Serfdom Saved The Women’s Movement: Dispatches from the nanny wars” (2004); and “The Ivy Delusion: The real reason the good mothers are so rattled by Amy Chua” (2011), both by @Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic. YMMV. Needless to say, she’s not too popular among feminists.

    Philg: (2) Could this explain why we thought that we could clean things up in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    No. Not above the usual American suspects of the “gung-ho,” “can-do,” and the frontier “might makes right” mentality enacted by Donald Rumsfeld & the Neocon boys then (and still) en vogue in Washington, D.C. It’s easier to explain the failure: the White Man has not learned the lesson that he can not subdue the Brown Man for too long (vide Vietnam). Stranger still, the British who were spectacularly beaten in Afghanistan already in the 1840s [a single survivor out of the 16500-strong retreating force] have forgotten that as well.

    Not for nothing has the American military presence in Iraq (“the Emerald City”) been called An Air-Conditioned Nightmare.

    @ #5 Matt Kerr: Constant din of, and the need for Air Condition is what convinced me I would not make it in New York. I could not hear my own thoughts… when apparently others could (their own).

  5. This is way off-topic, but bear with me for a mo: without going into veracity of that #4 el-ites‘ “… Pakistan demanded US sided with it or Pakistan will use Tactical Nuclear Weapons against India” quote, there’s a lot to be said for it.

    The world goes ape over the never-ending (but, however one looks at it, low intensity) strife between Palestinian Arabs and equally Palestinian Israelis, but looks the other way at the palpably growing frustration of the NUCLEAR POWER PAKISTAN over its world-player impotence and constant 2nd banana status vs. their next-door enemy (and India, for all its democratic varnish, is equally bad, or at least a much more volatile entity than is commonly assumed). And that frustration accumulates.

    Pakistan loses Eastern provinces, the now aligned with India Bangladesh; Kashmir is not theirs to rule over; the Americans prove to be fickle frenemies, dispensing military aid, while flying cruise missiles, killer drones and to the teeth armed helicopters over its territory whenever it pleases them; and, to add greatest insult to the injury, a gift from Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff to his Swedish counterpart, three of the finest thoroughbred Arabian mares, are put down by the recipient due to (no doubt “anti-Pakistani”) quarantine restrictions! Anyone could get paranoid for less than that.

    So, if there is to be a nuclear war in the near future, the risks are it could start in that region – after all, what good is having A-bombs is you can’t press the trigger now and then? The irony of it is that we had better hope that the Yanks (and/or the Israelis via their atomic submarines permanently stationed in the Indian ocean), will be able to forego it somehow. I mention the Israelis because, if they can blank out Syrian radar defenses while mounting a major airborne attack on a future nuclear reprocessing site, they probably could as easily reroute any long-range missiles towards… Iran?

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