THE AMERICAN SELFWAY
Or How We Become Separate, Unique Individuals
By Kathleen OToole
earing a milk mustache, Dennis Rodman gazes out from a screen into an
audience of educated middle-class women. "Here is Dennis Rodman
advertising milk," Hazel Markus, the narrator of the slide show says.
"In case you didn't know it, Dennis Rodman is not the boy next door.
He's different, he's special."
Markus, the Davis-Brack Professor in the Behavioral Sciences, replaces
the image of basketball's bad boy for one of an anonymous but
distinctively appointed young woman. In a magazine ad for clothing, the
bold type overlaying the picture orders viewers to "chart your own
course." Next, Markus displays an ad that asserts "The Internet isn't
for everybody." "But you are not everybody," Markus exclaims.
By the time the professor gets to an ad showing a four-wheel-drive
vehicle careening around a curve, the audience needs no help
interpreting. When they see the words "Ditch the Joneses" on the vehicle
image, they break out in a roar. The message is clear, Markus says: To
be a good, moral and healthy person in the U.S. today, you've got to
"ditch the Joneses."
The lecture is on "our culture, our selves" by the social scientist who
is most responsible for creating the field of cultural psychology.
Markus, who came to Stanford in 1994 from the University of Michigan, is
among the most cited psychologists in the world for her ideas and the
clever experiments she has devised to test them.
"For many years, psychologists thought anthropologists studied culture
and they, the psychologists, studied the mind," psychologist Laura
Carstensen told the audience in introducing Markus. "Then Markus came