Confidence 1301

To the editor:

It is true that "real" confidence (as opposed to feigned confidence, which usually can be detected) is a characteristic in a person who others find becoming, especially when "others" are forming a first impression. Whether in a job interview or meeting someone in a bar, this characteristic, in our society, is favorably looked upon. Couple this with Cooley's "looking-glass effect," which explains that people tend to act according to how others perceive them.

Through sanctions, which encourage people to continue their favorable behaviors (or those perceived as such by other people) and reject those considered "not favorable," we develop our personalities and senses of self. An example of these sanctions, and how they tend to shape individuals' personalities, can be seen in individuals' senses of humor. As a person grows up, jokes he or she tells (or other attempts to be funny) are either encouraged by the audience's laughter or discouraged by its silence. The series of these sanctions (or the "dialectic") over the course of an individual's life generally determines whether that person has a "good" or "bad" sense of humor.

This applies more broadly to confidence. Beginning early in an individual's lifetime, via hundreds of thousands of interactions, this sanctioning process is continual. Thus, when one makes a first impression, to exude "real" confidence, ostensibly, is to say: I've been through my many life-interactions, and have been approved of often. Subconsciously, to the person forming a first impression, the confident person has brought with him or her thousands of endorsements from others.

Using political science terminology, this is a shortcut method used by newly acquainted people to give them some notion of the other person. Voters use this and other shortcuts to make judgments of a candidate they can only get to know from a distance. The idea of this implicit resume explains why confidence (in particular) is widely considered a favorable attribute.

I invite sociology and psychology majors to correct or comment on this theory, and all others to write something to continue this trend of more thoughtful discourse.

Brent Friedman

senior, political science

Not one bit

To the editor:

A few weeks ago, as I watched television one morning, I could not believe my eyes. As I watched, I got the same feeling of disbelief and horror I got the first time I ever saw the Rodney King beating. This time, though, it was a different race: Hispanic. The people doing the beating were again white police officers, which led me to ask myself the question: "Has anything really changed?"

One hundred years after the end of slavery and 30 years after the civil rights movement of the 1960s, African-Americans and Hispanics are still being beaten at will by whites in authority.

I did not see a judge or jury or a sentencing on the side of the road the day those two Mexican nationals were being brutally beaten. These people were treated worse than animals. I could not believe the image I was seeing of a male police officer pulling a Mexican woman out of a truck by her hair.

A few months ago, we heard about a young African-American athlete who ended up dead at the hands of police officers during a routine traffic stop. How is it that he received the death penalty without even being tried in a court of law, convicted and sentenced? I wonder how many incidents such as this go unreported and undocumented because they are not caught on video tape.

I see now more than ever that this country is run by the "good ol' boy" mentality -- white cops who know they can get away with it, the Mark Fuhrmans of the world who do their job through the tunnel vision of racism and ignorance.

How is it that the police officers who so haphazardly beat these two persons are on paid leave? It scares me to think that so much power and authority lie in the hands of police officers like the ones I saw on my television. I'm still asking myself: Has anything really changed?

Margarita Grillo

senior, radio-television

Columns on physics?

To the editor:

The editor's response to Brent Friedman's (April 26) letter didn't make sense to me. Friedman suggests that The Daily Cougar could have a section containing "interesting excerpts from students' papers and dissertations, or from professors' scholarly writings." The editor responded, "We have a section like that every day." I've never seen a section like that in The Daily Cougar, but I would like to. It's tragic that, with a little effort, the Cougar could solicit work that's been carefully thought out and researched, but instead only publishes columns that people seem to write off the tops of their heads.

The editor's reply also implied that the editors don't necessarily assume that people want to read letters and columns with so little substance, but, from the material the paper receives, this is the best they can do. Would it be possible to ask the university community (possibly actually sending someone to ask professors in person) to submit writing on subjects that should be interesting to a university audience (economics, history, medicine, literature, etc.), written by people who know something about the subject, and include it in a regular column?

Phil Putman

graduate student, materials engineering

(Editor's note: The Daily Cougar invites all members of the University of Houston community to submit opinion pieces for publication. While we cannot guarantee their publication, we can assure that all submissions are considered.)

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