Age-related Stigma and Golden Section Article Published

An article based on MA Psychology alum Becky Widrick’s thesis has been published in Aging & Mental Health, Volume 14, Issue 4 (May 2010), pages 375-385:

Aging & Mental HealthAge-related stigma and the golden section hypothesis

Authors: Rebekah M. Widrick; Jonathan D. Raskin

Objectives: The present study used the golden section hypothesis, which predicts that people organize information in a ratio of 61.8% positive to 38.2% negative, to examine age-related identities. It was predicted that people would rate identities of the aging population in accordance with a reverse golden section hypothesis. That is, people would assign negative ratings 61.8% of the time and positive ratings 38.2% of the time. Method: A golden section survey was completed online by 148 participants. Along the top of the survey were 15 identities: child, elderly person, grandparent, middle-aged adult, nurse, musician, adolescent, senior citizen, business person, lawyer, secretary, mental patient, homeless person, retired person, and self. On the left side of the survey were 12 adjective pairs with well-established positive and negative poles: generous-stingy, pleasant-unpleasant, true-false, fair-unfair, active-passive, energetic-lethargic, sharp-dull, excitable-calm, strong-weak, bold-timid, hard-soft, and rugged-delicate. Results: Elderly person and senior citizen were rated in a manner consistent with the reverse golden section hypothesis. In keeping with previous findings, the self was rated positively precisely 71% of the time. Combined ratings of the remaining identities were consistent with the traditional golden section hypothesis. A prior finding that mental patient and homeless person would produce a reverse golden section pattern was not replicated. Conclusion: Certain elderly identities evoke a reverse golden section rating pattern. This suggests that such identities have stigma associated with them. Because American society has coupled aging to stigma, people have come to associate negative connotations with certain age-related terms.

My Social Justice Chapter in Studies in Meaning 4

I have a chapter examining social justice from a constructivist perspective in my 2010 co-edited volume, Studies in Meaning 4: Constructivist Perspective on Theory, Practice, and Social Justice. The chapter is intended to offer a constructive critique of the ways social justice is often invoked in the counseling professions. Here is an excerpt that provides an overview of the chapter:

Studies in Meaning 4The idea of social justice, generally speaking, is something everybody finds appealing and agreeable. Further, criticizing social justice perspectives runs the risk of getting one accused of favoring injustice. For these reasons, few have critically scrutinized the philosophical and practical issues arising from the move toward a social justice orientation in counseling and related professions. This chapter employs ideas from constructivism and social constructionism in examining social justice in psychology and counseling. After establishing social justice counseling as a distinct theoretical orientation, a constructivist critique of this orientation is developed. Social justice counseling is criticized as: (1) espousing naïve realism; (2) being theoretically unelaborated; (3) imposing values; (4) being hubristic; and (5) going beyond psychology and counseling’s range of convenience. Social justice counselors are urged to articulate a detailed theoretical approach that restricts its focus of convenience to counseling and demonstrates its utility compared to existing counseling approaches. (Raskin, 2010, p. 248-249)


Raskin, J. D. (2010). Constructing and deconstructing social justice counseling. In J. D. Raskin, S. K. Bridges, & R. A. Neimeyer (Eds.), Studies in meaning 4: Constructivist perspectives on theory, practice, and social justice (pp. 247-276). New York: Pace University Press.

Studies in Meaning 4 Published

I am pleased to announce that the latest volume of Studies in Meaning has been published by Pace University Press:

Studies in Meaning 4Studies in Meaning 4: Constructivist Perspectives on Theory, Practice, and Social Justice

Edited by Jonathan D. Raskin, Sara K. Bridges, & Robert A. Neimeyer

This volume addresses cutting edge issues in constructivist psychology dealing with theory, practice, and social justice. The volume begins by delving into thorny issues of meaning and communication from both radical constructivist and social constructionist perspectives. Building on this, prominent practitioners share advances in research and practice related to constructivist therapy – including work exploring grief, love, and narrative. From there, the volume pays special attention to constructivist conceptions of social justice as they relate to working with torture survivors, mentoring graduate students, and dealing with the objectification of women; it even uses constructivist theory to reflexively examine the limits of social justice counseling as a theoretical orientation. Finally, the volume comes full circle by revisiting theory – this time exploring the value preferences that often infuse research on epistemological beliefs, the metaphor of the psychotherapist-as-philosopher-of-science, and the contentious status of individualism within pragmatism and constructivism. In sum, Studies in Meaning 4 highlights constructivism’s multiplicity through fourteen stimulating and, at times, controversial scholarly contributions intended to sharpen the implications of constructivism for social critique and psychological practice.

ISBN 0-944473-98-9 / ©2010 / $40.00 / Pace University Press
Also available directly from Amazon or from the Amazon-powered CPN Bookstore.

Other Studies in Meaning volumes