The Psychology of Online Professor Ratings

“Journal of Marketing Education” (from Sage Publishing) has published a study by David Ackerman of California State University Northridge and Christina Chung of Ramapo College of New Jersey about the presence of bias in online student evaluations of their professors. Their research compared actual on-campus ratings versus online ratings for the same professor and class and found that the latter tend to reflect whatever tone early ratings give. Thus, if a professor gets a couple early very bad ratings, later ratings are typically not so good. The opposite also holds true. They theorize that a kind of peer pressure, once removed, may be at work. But I would just call it “framing” in the Kahenman-Tversky sense.

What I like best of all about their work is their characterization of “Rate My Professor” and similar forums as the online equivalent of bathroom stall walls–a place to vent one’s frustrations.

Now what we need is more research into on-campus ratings in terms of their accuracy.

Here’s the link:

The Music Medium & Psychology

The November issue of Hollywood Reporter has a wonderful roundtable interview with six top film and TV composers. The questions were probing and the answers somewhat surprising, providing real insight into how composers think and approach their projects. It’s a great read and I highly recommend the article.

Here’s the link:

Internet Gaming Disorder…Not

DSM V has added “Internet Gaming Disorder” (IGD) to its list of mental maladies. But is it a real addiction and is it necessarily a chronic condition that needs intervention? One recent study says “No.”

According to a study of 5,777 American adults published in PeerJ, ( IGD should be looked upon in a nuanced way and most especially should not be assumed to be unhealthful, especially longitudinally. The authors cite studies that tend to support that IGD is “a possible psychiatric condition” (p. 1) needing intervention, but cite others that contradict this conclusion and urge caution. Their own work relies on three factors of mental health: autonomy, competence, and relatedness, and how these are or are not regulated by IGD.

Quoting from the authors’ Discussion section,

In line with predictions we found that the IGD criteria proposed in the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) were, on an individual and continuous basis, moderately stable over a six month period. Contrary to what we expected, however, none of the participants meeting diagnostic thresholds at the start did so at the end of the study, and only three participants reported more than four IGD criteria at the start and six months later. These findings, that very few, if any, individuals who meet the proposed diagnostic thresholds over time mirror those derived from other large-scale representative studies of problematic gaming research (Festl, Scharkow & Quandt, 2013; Scharkow, Festl & Quandt, 2014). These unexpected results do not support a theoretical framing of Internet Gaming Disorder as a chronic psychiatric condition akin to substance abuse disorder as some have argued (e.g., Hasin et al., 2013; Petry et al., 2014); rather, the constellation of results we uncovered provide evidence that dysregulated gaming is a nuanced phenomenon that requires careful conceptualisation, and one which can be fruitfully studied from a motivational perspective (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Griffiths et al., 2016; Kardefelt-Winther, 2014b)….Also contrary to our expectations, we did not find that IGD had an observable direct effect on health over time. Although this finding is inconsistent with some results derived from small-scale convenience samples, it is in line with the only other representative longitudinal work which suggests mixed or non-significant lagged effects linking problematic gaming with life satisfaction and perceived success of gamers (Scharkow, Festl & Quandt, 2014). (Weinstein, Przybylski & Murayama, 2017, pp. 15-16)

This is not to say that IGD is illusory or that it might not have any long-term ill effects. The authors point out that in a minority of cases, IGD can have a negative influence on overall health, but generally in cases where other disorders are also in play.

In summary, the overall thrust is clearly cautionary and tends to align more with my own conclusions after a review of a number of studies (see my article on DSM V and bias in Research Gate), that psychiatric diagnoses are too often misconstrued labels for what would be better seen as normal challenges in development that tend to be worked out by the principals involved as they mature.

Microsoft’s Truly Awful Tech Support

Two days ago I went online and purchased Office 365 for Mac (2016) and downloaded it. But when I tried to open any of the apps (Word, Excel, etc.) none of them would launch. I got a pop-up that said “Invalid” and when I clicked on “More” got a window full of alphanumeric code. I saw something about “library” in there.

I tried to access MS’s online chat and after a long session we tried deleting various files, deleting all the Office apps and reinstalling Office. No luck. I went through this process twice.

I got another, supposedly higher up tech person. He was going to have me repeat all that and I let him know it had all been tried. Could we please just download Office 2011 for Mac, which I had deleted on the advice of my first techie. He navigated me to the appropriate web page and started the download. When we were all done it turned out we had Office 365 for Mac 2016 all over again!!!

The last tech sent me an email apologizing for the problem. He gave me both n 800 number to call and a support website URL. I tried the phone and got nothing but a continual outgoing message to go to the support website. No advice of my call being answered by a real person, no telling me I was in a queue position. So I ended the call and tried the support website, which put me through the same bunch of crap as my first two tech “support” attempts. And its responses to my inputs told me it was clearly some kind of AI robot, not a real person, as it clearly never read my original message.

I am now downloading the Apple apps for the MS files I have used up to now (Pages, Numbers, etc.) and as far as I’m concerned Microsoft can go bankrupt.

Reining In Smart Phones

I want to thank my niece for bringing this article in “The Guardian” to my attention. It’s an excellent look at how some of the inventors of high tech tools we use and overuse are taking steps to wean themselves off those very tools and protect their families from them.


Box Office & Ticket Prices

So my wife and I went to the movies last Saturday. We’re of an age that entitles us to senior citizen discounts, and at our local Laemmle Theater I’ve been accustomed to getting change back from a $20 bill for two tickets to spend on refreshments. No longer. Try AMC or Regal/Edwards and it’s even worse.

I read the various entertainment industry trades like Hollywood Reporter and as a subscriber to the L.A. Times I get exposed to their fairly extensive entertainment industry coverage. Often of late I see articles about the decline in box office, along with various theories as to why this is happening.

What I do not see is any discussion of the role that the rise in ticket prices plays in the decline in attendance. And if you ask me, high ticket prices are a top-tier reason for poor attendance. Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie…these and many others like them (and I admire all of the ones I mentioned for their talents) are getting totally outrageous salaries to appear in movies whose ticket prices keep going up and up and up on an elevator with no top floor. Well, I submit the top floor got reached a few years ago and Hollywood has yet to wake up and notice that there’s no longer a still-higher floor in their ticket price skyscraper.

The studios seem to think that as attendance goes down, prices must rise. (They must be following the electrical utilities pricing model in our era of more off-grid supply; people need less, so we have to charge more.) In the very short term it makes sense. But the short term ended a while back. We’re in the future now, and the future of movie box office is starting to look a lot like the sets of Blade Runner 2049. Simply put, the ecology is not sustainable.


Die, Twin Peaks, Die!

The worst TV series I’ve ever watched is now over. The two-part finale that aired this past Sunday epitomized all the poorly conceived ideas and brainless writing that have manifested all season long. Undecipherable plot threads, ambiguous dialog, horrible special effects, wasted acting talent, the list goes on.

The exercise is now over, thankfully. And if anyone ever pulls the trigger on another season of this swill, they should be encouraged to make a career change to cleaning toilets.

I watched to the bitter end out of a sense of fascination and the duty to watch the whole thing before rendering a final critique. Now, my masochistic streak has been satisfied for the next 20 years or so. It was a terrible show. May such never happen again.

Mr. Lynch has hung himself with this expensive travesty. Showtime should be ashamed.

%d bloggers like this: