This is for my Social Psychology class - for assessment and communication. I hope you find my thoughts interesting and please feel free to comment!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Blog 1 - Draft

Hi Everyone, this is my blog 1 draft - it may be a bit all over the place as I still need to edit and check structure etc but I wanted to post it to see if I could get any feedback! Any comments welcome.

Prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination and intergroup aggression have traditionally been thought of as socially relevant and highly important components for research (Harrington, 2003/04). Prejudice, stereotyping and aggression are interrelated concepts which influenced each other within history and continue within today’s society. These concepts are evident within society and have been documented in film, ghosts of Rwanda, following the Rwandan Genocide; and Australian Eye, a documentary of Jane Elliot's work. Added is a brief video from ghosts of Rwanda.

Concepts including aggressive behaviour, ethnocentrism, intergroup hostility and prejudice are considered important components which theoretical based research, and furthermore could possibility help to bring resolution to people and the problems that they face (Harrington, 2003/04). Furthermore, Harrington (2003/04) posits that these concepts are incorporated into the common thought of ‘hatred,’ an outward form of aggression. Additionally, it appears as though prejudice, stereotyping and aggression are involved in a circular relationship, each influencing each other and repeating the cycle.

Social Categorisation
Social categorisation is the process of sorting people into different groups based on common characteristics which can include: race, religion, sexuality, gender and age (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). This concept refers to an us versus them, or alternatively the in-group versus the out-group (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008), themes of this type of categorisation can be seen in both ghosts of Rwanda and Australian Eye. Within ghosts of Rwanda, the in-group were the Hutu’s and the out-group was the Tutsi’s. Moreover, within Jane Eliott’s experiment, the brown eyed people were the in-group versus the blue eyed people in the out-group. This type of categorisation can lead to many different outcomes, including out-group homogeneity bias, the belief that all people within a group are alike (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). Furthermore, social categorisation leads to in-group favouritism, favourable attitudes and preferential treatment toward someone in one’s own group as opposed to another group (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). Additionally, even if group membership is randomly assigned, people have the tendency to show favouritism to in-group members, which is known as minimal group effect (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). Group membership can satisfy the needs of an individual and consequently people organise themselves into groups accordingly (Bar-Tal et al., 1989). The human mind somewhat innately prefers to classify people and objects into groups as opposed to thinking about their separate counterparts (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). Classifying people into groups acts as a mental shortcut and consequently people believe individual behaviour can be predicted based on the group associated with the individual (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). Group membership is one of the most significant and important components of an individual; and consequently perceptions, attitudes and beliefs influence intergroup behaviour and ultimate actions (Bar-Tal et al., 1989).

Stereotyping and Prejudice
Studying the interrelated concepts of stereotyping and prejudice involves analysing group membership, intergroup relationships and human nature (Bar-Tal, Graumann, Kruglanski & Stroebe, 1989). Understanding the interrelatedness of these concepts can assist awareness and possibly help to decrease problems which face many people everyday (Harrington, 2003/04). The concepts of prejudice and stereotyping parallel the common understanding of attitudes and opinions or beliefs (Stroebe & Insko, 1989). A negative intergroup attitude usually makes up the components of prejudice; where as opinions or beliefs about a particular social group and their attributes is classified at stereotyping (Stroebe & Insko, 1989). “A prejudice is an attitude toward members of some outgroup and in which the evaluative tendencies are predominantly negative” (Harding et al., 1954, 1969, cited in Stroebe & Insko, 1989, p. 8). Information processing approaches and consistency theories state that the relationship between stereotyping and prejudice is linked to attitudes toward attributes and the consequent evaluation of either positive or negative attributes (Stroebe & Insko, 1989). In addition, both theories state that stereotyping and prejudice are closely related concepts but they hold alternative views surrounding the direction of causality (Stroebe & Insko, 1989). The information processing approach posits that an individual’s attitude toward a particular social group develops from a significant belief surrounding that group (Stroebe & Insko, 1989). Where as, consistency theories make an additional assumption that changes in a person’s beliefs surrounding a particular social group can develop from attitude change (Stroebe & Insko, 1989). However, social problems become evident when stereotypes and prejudice result in hostile aggressive behaviour and discrimination toward outgroup members (Stroebe & Insko, 1989).
In relation to prejudice, both psychodynamic and cognitive approaches aim to explain the interrelated and intrapersonal concepts surrounding out-group devaluation, treatment and rejection (Stroebe & Inkso, 1989). Within the psychodynamic theories, prejudice is believed to be the result of intrapersonal conflict, not social learning processes or societal conflicts (Stroebe & Inkso, 1989). The authoritarian personality (link), provides explanations for the development of prejudice, and states three assumptions (Stroebe & Inkso, 1989). Firstly, prejudice is correlated with alternative economic, political and social beliefs and is therefore part of a broader ideological framework; secondly, this relatedness is due to more basic personality characteristics; and lastly, personality basis of prejudice is mainly the result of parental influence (Stroebe & Inkso, 1989).

Prejudice and Aggression
Human aggression is “any type of behaviour that is intended to harm another person who is motivated to avoid the harm” (Baron & Richardson, 1994, cited in Baumeister & Bushman, 2008, p. 292). Aggression has three key points: aggression is an observable behaviour; aggression is intended to harm, it is not accidental; and victims of aggression want to avoid injury (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). The scapegoat theory assumes that displaced aggression is commonly placed onto members of minority groups, by blaming the frustration or characterising negative attributes to the minority group (Stroebe & Inkso, 1989). However a flaw within this theory is the lack of explanation surrounding prejudice development, as although this theory can account for the origins of aggression, it cannot explain its targets (Stroebe & Inkso, 1989). Even though the scapegoat theory and the authoritarian personality theory can only offer a partial explanation into the intricate relationship of prejudice, as they cannot explain differences in levels of prejudice or why particular groups become the target for prejudice (Stroebe & Inkso, 1989).

According to Harrington (2003/04) at least three approaches have been used by social psychologists to examine prejudice and intergroup hostility, a form of aggression. Firstly, the social influence perspective was illustrated with Stanley Milgram’s experiments, which investigated how the presence of other people can influence an individual’s thinking and behaviour (Harrington, 2003/04). This approach has been useful in noting the behaviours of both individuals and groups when advised by authority figures (Harrington, 2003/04). Additionally, within this perspective, the concept of social learning theory, which Albert Bandura examined the components of modelling and aggression (Harrington, 2003/04). Secondly, Harrington (2003/04) notes the socio-political attitudes perspective, most widely known from Theodor Adorno and others research, published within The Authoritarian Personality. This area has been of interest in relation to interpersonal aggression and intergroup hostility (Harrington, 2003/04). The third perspective is social-cognition which can be related to aggression and stereotyping.

Aggression and Stereotyping
Stereotypes are defined as “a set of beliefs about the personal attributes of a group of people” (Stroebe & Insko, 1989, p. 5). Thirdly, the Social cognition perspective, developed from observations that the human mind is imperfect, and consequently utilises mental shortcuts in order to categorise objects within the social world (Harrington, 2003/04). Social categorisation and social learning developed from this perspective, from the observation that placing individuals in random groups was adequate to influence in-group preference (Harrington, 2003/04).

Prejudice, Stereotyping and Aggression
According to Harrington (2003/04) the study of prejudice, stereotyping and aggression, involves three main fields help to explain their origins. Socio-political areas including authoritarian and social dominance theories aim to explore individual differences and consequent implications for prejudice (Harrington, 2003/04). Additionally, social cognition research aids in stereotype formation understanding; theories including diffusion of responsibility, de-individuation and conformity help explain aggressive behaviour in groups (Harrington, 2003/04). Social identity theory examines intergroup hostility and insight into social categorisation and group formation (Harrington, 2003/04).

Prejudice, Stereotyping and Aggression Research
In regard to classic theories and research, this field of thought involved some of the well know experiments still discussed today. These include: Sherif’s construction of social norms; Asch’s conformity; Milgram’s obedience to authority; Zimbardo, Haney, Banks and Jaffe power of social roles; and LatanĂ© and Darley bystander intervention (Harrington, 2003/04). With some of these classic experiments developed as particular explanations for intergroup conflict or aggression (Harrington, 2003/04).

Stereotyping consists of opinions and beliefs about a certain social group, where as prejudice involves holding negative intergroup attitudes and from these beliefs aggression can develop. This idea illustrates the continual influence of prejudice, stereotyping and aggression on each other and within individuals. These concepts will continue to influence both society and individual members of a social group. Understanding the interrelatedness of these concepts can assist awareness and aim to influence positive change for all people.



James Neill said...

A couple of quick comments:
- Give your essay a meaningful, descriptive title
- Some of the paragraphs look very long

beck1411 said...

hey zoe,
you make some good points and comparrisons. I noticed you have hyperlinks to wikipedia. Are we able to do this? I hope so cause I have a few things that i want to link but i wasn't sure if we were able to use it.
good luck with ur work, long night ahead for all im assuming!
I like how you put the youtube clip in that works really well =)