Monday, March 28, 2011

Who Looks Like a Genius Now?

In reading this blog post, I was struck by a disconnect between the author's description of the "genius effect" (as used in social psychology, he adds) and the abstract of the journal article he links to.  Specifically, he says that people exaggerate the performance of others ("to grandiose, unobtainable levels") as a way of preserving self-esteem, but the abstract of the article states, "we suggest that the genius effect is not an attempt on the part of individuals to protect or enhance their self-esteem...but is instead due to the pervasive tendency of individuals to use the self as a standard of comparison in their dispassionate judgments of others." 

It's true that the genius effect has been discussed in terms of motivated cognition, and I'm not in a position to say which interpretation is right (or right-er); social comparison theory isn't really my area.  My point is, it's quite weird to attempt to provide evidence for your claim by linking to an article that shows empirical support for an explanation that is not just at odds with your own, but that reports the results of a series of experiments that were purposely designed to refute this claim. 

Also, I'm not convinced that the genius effect is really the applicable concept here.  He's talking about people being impressed by successes that seem magical (i.e., it's difficult to mentally simulate how the person did it) and that other people assume must be due to natural talent, but I don't see any reason why the genius effect (whether it be motivational or informational in nature) would be limited to those types of activities. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Pieces of News Today

(1) Finally got my rejection letter from a social psych program with an 11/15 deadline.  About time.

(2) I have been offered a position at the marketing program I interviewed with onsite in January.  I have until April 4 to make a decision.  That means I'll be visiting the U. of Snow, then determining which of these two programs I prefer right away.  Works for me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Making a Stranger's Day

It's my understanding that all of the programs I applied to (and most PhD programs in my two fields) have made their first-round offers by now, and it's just a matter of applicants making decisions, accepting/declining offers, and waiting to see if they move off wait-lists.  I am wait-listed at 5 programs (4 marketing, 1 psychology).  (I also have 3 programs - 2 psychology, 1 marketing - where I am 99% confident I am being rejected.)

Good news - I have received my official acceptance offer (with funding info - $25,000 per year) from the graduate school at University of Snow, so I emailed the psychology program from which I've been holding an offer to decline admission to their program.  This is a very good program, and I know that there are a couple people who post to the grad cafe psych forum who have been wait-listed there.  My decision is going to make somebody very, very happy.  I also have an acceptance from the U. of Rain marketing program that I have not yet declined (it's my current back-up in case I visit Snow City and decide I don't want to attend the program).

Things are looking good with my thesis.  I spoke to my advisor today about timing, and we decided that I will send him my draft of the introduction, method, and results section before my visit at U. of Snow.  I am finished with the method and am 90% finished with the results.  So it's mostly a matter of getting my literature review and overview of my study written up.  The lit review is something that I could work on practically forever, so it's good to have a deadline in place to work toward.

I've really spent less time on schoolwork this semester than I have all the others ones of the program.  And fortunately, this has not come at the cost that I am now scrambling/praying to finish my thesis to graduate in May or making plans to graduate in August.  I truly believe that I am on schedule.  Not having classes this semester has been great.  It's been nice to not be quite as busy as I was before.  I guess this is the calm before the PhD (snow?) storm.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Robert and I went to a bunch of the ACC men's basketball championship games this past weekend.  (He attended four games by himself on Friday while I stayed home and worked on my thesis, which now has a methods and results section 31 pages long.)

It'd been a very long time since I had seen a live basketball game, and it was awesome.  It's nice to watch people play a sport that you yourself have played (even if at a much lower level) - not only are you likely to know a lot of the rules (I called about 150% of the fouls the refs called), you can you appreciate the athleticism and skill involved (and the fuck-ups, too).  It's also great to watch sports with other people, especially in person - there's just a tremendous amount of energy and excitement. 

The part that sucks - it's really expensive.  We got our tickets cheap ($100 for a pass to the entire tournament) because Robert won a lottery at his previous employer (a corporate sponsor), but the value of our tickets (on the back row, where the view was still very good, however) was like $600 total.  And it was an extra $15 to park each day and a bottle of water was $4. 

Still, it was a really fun way to wrap up Spring Break without traveling very far.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I did a little comparison between the stipends at University of Snow and University of Mountains at White People Like City -- in terms of where I'm living now (and receiving a stipend of about $9,000 for 9 months), University of Snow's stipend is $18,500 (with additional summer support) and University of Mountains is $11,500 (with additional summer support, I believe).  So my questioning how people can live as grad students in such a rich, touristy town as White People Like City appears to be a very reasonable one, even without factoring in the wonderful extras like $29.99 sushi nights and ski trips.

Status Update


2 acceptances (University of Rain, University of Snow -- 95% sure I will attend there)
2 wait-lists (University of Cockroaches, Yuppie University of NC)
2 flyout interviews with no word yet but not likely (University of Steel City, University of Mountains at White People Like City)
1 that is surely a rejection by now


2 acceptances, withdrew from 1 (with the other to follow when I get official offer from U. of Snow)
1 "shortlist", withdrew
1 waitlist
4 rejections (including my top psychology choice)
2 that are surely rejections by now (including my second psychology choice)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Most Likely Scenario

This past weekend, I visited a school in Colorado for an interview at a marketing program - along with two other applicants.  It started with a dinner Sunday night with two faculty members and one of the other applicants.  Then Monday, I had 30 - 60 minute sessions with faculty members (individually) and current grad students (in groups).  A grad student also took me out to dinner.  I felt that it went "fine" but not great - everyone was very friendly, but it seemed to me that I was having difficulty clicking with people, hitting my stride, whatever metaphor you want to use.  Also, even though the location is objectively awesome, I'm not sure I actually want to live there, especially as a relatively broke graduate student.  2-bedroom apartments close to campus are like $1500+.  I had to control the urge to laugh many times as we walked around the pedestrian mall area on Sunday evening and the professors kept pointing out things like the restaurant that has all-you-can-eat sushi one night a week for $29.99, the vast number of independent coffee shops, etc.  It was refreshing the next day when a different professor remarked that there are a lot of good restaurants in town because the residents are mostly rich and it's also a popular tourist town.  I was overall beset with this feeling of being in a place dominated by stuff white people like to a crazy degree, such as:

Organic food
Whole Foods and grocery co-ops
Dogs (oh god, their love of dogs)
Outdoor performance clothes

It's probably just as well that the program/location didn't feel like a terrific fit because they have already offered a position to one of the people I interviewed with but not me.

However, by Sunday night, this totally didn't matter to me because I got a phone call from my dad's nemesis school with the news that I am their top choice for their program!  This is the program that in my first foray into thinking about marketing PhDs, when I looked at the websites of all US-based programs, I liked the best.  And I definitely felt when I did my phone interview that I had a great interview and really was talking to like-minded people.  The prof told me that they were going to give me, in addition to the regular funding, an extra research stipend of $7500 to be used for attending conferences, paying participants, etc., which is awesome.  She then asked me what they could do to help me make a decision to come there.  I said that my only reservation about the program was that I feel a little intimidated by the winters in [this infamously cold and snowy place], so maybe if I visited the campus, I would be able to get over this psychological barrier.  I'm currently arranging to visit around April 1 (no foolin'), at their expense.

Coming back from my trip was an adventure.  The plane from Washington Dulles to home should have left at 6:29pm but did not actually leave until about 11:30pm.  It was annoying, but on the plus side: (1) I got to meet a lovely group of people who were all waiting for that same plane and (2) I had Obama-approved burger and fries from Five Guys for dinner.

But on the downside, I have gotten sick again.  I'm feeling a bit better today than yesterday, but still just totally worn out.  Robert and I went to see My Masters University's basketball team lose in the first round of the ACC tournament this afternoon, and I was exhausted by the time I got home.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Still in Limbo

So it looks like I am on an unofficial wait list at the highly-ranked ACC marketing program I applied to.  Once again, I was beaten out by some quant types (though reading between the lines, I think I was a favored but not favorite choice on the CB side so they gave the limited number of CB offers to other people).  We'll see what happens in the next couple weeks - it's possible some of those people will choose to attend elsewhere (come on, y'all - Wharton and Stanford are excellent programs so take their offers!) and open up a slot.  My "champion" within the department is going to do what he can.

In any event, I have an onsite interview on Monday and am hoping that in the next couple weeks I will be getting some good news from my father's nemesis school, with whom I had a good phone interview.  There are also two other marketing programs that haven't interviewed anyone or made any decisions, to my knowledge, where I assume my application is still in play.

And most importantly: I have already been admitted to a marketing program at a school I'm willing to attend, in a city I'm willing to live in (and where Robert can get a job), and with enough funding that I won't be dumpster diving behind the McDonald's!  Things are good, people.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I racked up my fourth social psychology rejection today - woo hoo!  (This was expected because I did not get invited to the mid-Feb interview weekend.)

Also, my mom's hypothesis that the marketing program I interviewed with early finally found a quant student appears to be right from what I've read on the business PhD forum.  (I refrained from answering this person's query about the program with something really negative to scare them off.)

Word on the street (or web) is that my close-by super high ranked marketing program (with whom I did a phone interview) and another top 15-ish marketing program I like but nobody seems to have been interviewed for are both supposed to make decisions today.  I'm actually feeling a bit antsy about it and hope these decisions do materialize (with good news, of course) this week.

Oh, and I forgot to mention -- Tam alerted me that the marketing paper I was an RA for has finally come out, but even though I'm a co-author, I can't access it yet through My Masters University's online system.  It isn't showing the content for the Spring 2011 issue yet.