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A SUMMARY OF A STUDY OF SOME PERSONALITY FACTORS IN BLOCK LEADERS IN LOW INCOME GROUPS * This study was made in Detroit, with the assistance of graduate students in the School of Public Affairs arid Social Work at Wayne University, and the cooperation of the Detroit Victory Aid Council. The material was analyzed by Mrs. Eva Shippee of the Committee on Food Habits. The study alas undertaken for the Committee on Food Habits to discover some of the personality factors which influence the success of the block leader, on whom the success of the nutrition program depends, and to evalu- ate some of the problems which confront her. Sixty-one block leaders were interviewed and classified, on the basis of the methods they used, into: ~ ~ the "good" group, who distributed and explained the materials, enjoyed the in- terpersonal relationships of their work, and secured the maximum coopera- tion of their neighbors; 2) the "medium" group, who only distributed the material, and were discouraged by the obstacles, using them as excuses for not doing more; 3) the "poor" group, who had no personal contacts with their neighbors in their work but left the leaflets on door-steps or in mail- boxes, or hired children to distribute them in this manner; 4) the "O" group, who had not participated in ally campaign. It is especially significant that the difficulties are practically the since for each group, whereas attitudes vary from optimism and acceptance of the challenge, to complete discourage- ment and immediate seizure upon any difficulty as excuse for doing nothing further. More of those in the "good" group than in any other volunteered for the work, had attended training meetings, were active in other organizations, en- joyed personal contacts with their neighbors, and had pleasant relationships with them. A positive relationship between self-confidence and an outgoing attitude was observed. On the basis of these findings, the need for an effective administrative organization was stressed. It was recommended: ~) that duplication in as- signment be avoided because of both its obvious inefficiency and its dis- couraging effect on the workers; ~ ~ that publicity be given block leaders to insure their favorable reception; and 3) that not too much material be given the worker at one time. If possible, only those who volunteer for the work should be used; the program and the activities should be carefully explained beforehand; the age of the volunteer's children, attitude toward work and people, motives for be- coming a block leader, and personality traits should be considered; and an attempt made to use only women who fit into their neighborhoods from the * See "Publications of the Committee on Food Habits" on page ~73 of this report. Boa
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o6 The Problem of Changing Food Habits point of view of social class and background. In the training, the need for personal contacts should be made clear, and expected difficulties and ob- stacles with recommendations for treatment should be discussed. The block leaders should know what their function is, understand its interpersonal char- acter, and share experiences in the training group. Each campaign should be planned in advance to fit the particular needs of the community and here block leaders should be encouraged to contribute suggestions.