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: The interrelatedness of prejudice, stereotyping and aggression

The interrelatedness of prejudice, stereotyping and aggression

Prejudice, stereotyping and aggression are common words used within everyday vocabulary. The interrelatedness of these concepts is of interest and has been researched by some classical theorists in social psychology. Several theories examine the underlying concepts of prejudice, stereotyping and aggression either solely or together. However, a conceptual model has been developed to examine the influences and relationship of these concepts. Links will be made to a concept map which visually represents the conceptual model of integration. Understanding the influence of these components could assist future awareness and aid people within their daily life situations.

Prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination and intergroup aggression have traditionally been thought socially relevant and highly important components for research (Harrington, 2003/04). Prejudice, stereotyping and aggression are interrelated concepts which have influenced each other within history and continue within today’s society. These concepts are evident within society and in films, Ghosts of Rwanda, following the Rwandan Genocide; and Australian Eye, a documentary of Jane Elliot's work. Within the conceptualised relationship model, prejudice, stereotyping and aggression are involved in a circular relationship, each influencing each other and continuously repeating the cycle.

Social Categorisation and Stereotyping
Social categorisation is sorting people into 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 the 'ingroup' versus the 'outgroup' mentality (Baumeister & Bushman). Evident in both Ghosts of Rwanda and Australian Eye. Within Ghosts of Rwanda, the in-group were the Hutu’s and the out-group were the Tutsi’s. Moreover, within Jane Eliott’s experiment, the brown eyed people were the ingroup versus the blue eyed people in the outgroup. These themes are presented within the concept map and show the direct link between stereotyping and social categorisation. This is one of the key components of the overall relationship model between prejudice, stereotyping and aggression.

Social categorisation can lead to many outcomes, including outgroup homogeneity bias and ingroup favouritism (Baumeister & Bushman ,2008), which have been included in the model (see concept map), linked to social categorisation and stereotyping. Additionally, minimal group effect (Baumeister & Bushman), is also integrated. The human mind somewhat innately classifies people and objects into groups; acting as a mental shortcut (Baumeister & Bushman). People assume individual behaviour can be predicted based on the group associated with the individual (Baumeister & Bushman). Thus, 'cognitive heuristic' was included in the model as it links the basis of stereotyping. Perceptions, attitudes and beliefs influence intergroup behaviour and ultimate actions (Bar-Tal, Graumann, Kruglanski & Stroebe, 1989). This concept of attitudes, beliefs and consequent actions integrates underlying factors of prejudice, stereotyping and aggression, illustrating the influence each factor holds and consequently why these have been incorporated into the model presented in the concept map.

Stereotyping and Prejudice
Studying the interrelated concepts of stereotyping and prejudice involves analysing group membership, intergroup relationships and human nature (Bar-Tal et al., 1989). Understanding the interrelatedness of these concepts can assist awareness and possibly help to decrease everyday problems (Harrington, 2003/04). Prejudice and stereotyping parallels attitudes and opinions or beliefs (Stroebe & Insko, 1989). A negative intergroup attitude usually makes up the components of prejudice; whereas opinions or beliefs about a particular social group and their attributes is classified as stereotyping (Stroebe & Insko). However, as noted in the concept map, attitudes can either be positive or negative. Stroebe and Insko state that the relationship between stereotyping and prejudice is linked to attitudes toward attributes, and the consequent evaluation of either positive or negative attributes. In addition, stereotyping and prejudice are closely related concepts but they hold alternative views surrounding the direction of causality (Stroebe & Insko). Social problems become evident when stereotypes and prejudice result in hostile aggressive behaviour and discrimination toward outgroup members (Stroebe & Insko). This statement illustrates the relationship between the three components and can be seen as linking factors within the model presented in the concept map. Also this component was highly evident within Australian Eye.

In relation to prejudice, approaches aim to explain the interrelated and intrapersonal concepts of out-group devaluation, treatment and rejection (Stroebe & Inkso, 1989). Prejudice is believed to be the result of intrapersonal conflict, not social learning processes or societal conflicts (Stroebe & Inkso). The authoritarian personality theory, provides explanations for the development of prejudice, and states three assumptions (Stroebe & Inkso). Prejudice is correlated with alternative economic, political and social beliefs and is 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). The term authoritarian personality has been integrated into the overall conceptualisation, as this theory explains prejudice and its relationship to other psychological components (see concept map). Research by Stanley Milgram helped to form the basis of this theory, from his work with obedience and authority figures (Harrington, 2003/04), and consequently this is another aspect within the model conceptualisation.

Prejudice and Aggression
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). Consequently, aggression was a key aspect within Ghosts of Rwanda. In relation to theory, 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, however it cannot explain its targets (Stroebe & Inkso, 1989). Both these concepts have been utilised within the concept map and are linked with the out-group linked to prejudice behaviour of discrimination and social categorisation and stereotyping. These theories have been integrated into the model as they offer insight into the development of prejudice and can therefore foster greater understanding of the overall relationship involved.

At least three approaches have been used by social psychologists to examine prejudice and intergroup hostility, a form of aggression (Harrington, 2003/04) . Firstly, the social influence perspective illustrated by Stanley Milgram, which investigated how the presence of other people can influence an individual’s thinking and behaviour (Harrington). This approach has been useful in noting the behaviours of both individuals and groups when advised by authority figures (Harrington). Additionally, within this perspective, the concept of social learning theory applies through Albert Bandura's work into the components of modelling and aggression (Harrington). Secondly, the socio-political attitudes perspective, from Theodor Adorno and others research, published within 'The Authoritarian Personality' (Harrington). This area has been of interest in relation to interpersonal aggression and intergroup hostility (Harrington). The third perspective is social-cognition which will be discussed in relation to aggression and stereotyping. These terms have been integrated into the concept map and contribute to the overall conceptualisation, as they examine the inner relationship between stereotyping and aggression, and assist overall understanding.

Aggression and Stereotyping
Stereotypes are explained by the social cognition perspective, the third perspective stated by Harrington (2003/04). This theory developed from observations that the human mind is imperfect, and consequently utilises mental shortcuts in order to categorise objects within the social world (Harrington). Both social categorisation and social learning developed from the social cognition perspective, from the observation that placing individuals in random groups was adequate to influence in-group preference (Harrington). This fits into theories surrounding cognitive heuristics related primarily to stereotyping, prejudice and the consequent behaviour which can be aggressive. This is another aspect involved within the conceptualised model as it illustrates environmental links, stereotypes and consequent aggression.

Prejudice, Stereotyping and Aggression
The study of prejudice, stereotyping and aggression, involves three main fields to help explain their origins (Harrington, 2003/04) . Socio-political areas including authoritarian and social dominance theories aim to explore individual differences and consequent implications for prejudice (Harrington). Additionally, social cognition research aids in stereotype formation understanding; theories including diffusion of responsibility, deindividuation and conformity help explain aggressive behaviour in groups (Harrington). These concepts were also evident within Ghosts of Rwanda. Social identity theory examines intergroup hostility and insight into social categorisation and group formation (Harrington). Not all of these terms have been discussed in great detail as the basis of theory for prejudice, stereotyping and aggression are somewhat similar. However, a few key factors have been linked within the conceptual model (see concept map).

In regard to classic theories and research, this field of thought involved some of the well known 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). The work of Milgram, Bandura and Zimbardo have consequently been integrated into the conceptualised model of prejudice, stereotyping and aggression. As this research provides insight into the inner workings of the components and aids understanding into the relationship.

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 illustrates the continual influence of prejudice, stereotyping and aggression in everyday situations. Also evident within both Ghosts Of Rwanda and Australian Eye. 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. The model has only drawn on a few key areas within this field to assist and further understand the influencing concepts involved. However an interesting and somewhat intricate relationship has been conceptualised surrounding prejudice, stereotyping and aggression and their consequent influence.

Bar-Tal, D., Graumann, C. F., Kruglanski, A. W., & Stroebe, W.
(1989). Preface. In D. Bar-Tal, C. F. Graumann, A. W.
Kruglanski, & W. Strobe (Eds.), Stereotyping and prejudice:
changing conceptions (pp. v – vi). New York: Springer-Verlag.

Baumeister, R. F. & Bushman, B. J. (2008). Social psychology
and human nature. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Bethlehem, D. W. (1985). A social psychology of prejudice. UK:
Croom Helm.

Harrington, E. R. (2003/04). The social psychology of hatred.
Journal of Hate Studies, 3(1), 49-82.

Stroebe, W., & Inkso, C. A. (1989). Stereotype, prejudice, and
discrimination. In D. Bar-Tal, C. F. Graumann, A. W.
Kruglanski, & W. Strobe (Eds.), Stereotyping and prejudice:
changing conceptions (pp. 3 – 34). New York: Springer-Verlag.

Wikipedia. (2007). The free encyclopedia. Retrieved September
2, 2007 from


Appendix A: Self-assessment

Appendix B: Other

Appendix C: Glossary of Terms

Appendix D: Theorists Mentioned in Blog Essay

Appendix E: Concept Map

Appendix F: Links of Interest


Orange said...

Official Essay Feedback

An outstanding piece of work on one of the hardest topics. You have targeted the question directly, but were challenged in terms of qualitatively exploring research evidence and expanding upon some of the theories you examined. Excellent work overall.

You highlight well a host of interconnected theories and provide explanatory links. I felt you had targeted the main concepts well and explained them where possible. As you acknowledge a more in-depth analysis of how some of the theories inter-related and effect each other would have greatly enhanced the power of your model. I felt you did justice to such a complex question. Well done.

Research evidence for your theories was somewhat limited. Although your refer to key studies in conformity, obedience etc, you do not adequately reference these resources or expand upon how they enhance our understanding of the model. It is difficult to find appropriate research given the complexity of your task but smaller supporting studies of claims you make would of enhanced your narrative. On this note you (like many of your colleagues) tended to over-rely on Baumeister & Bushman, which should serve as a springboard for directions to pursue further research.

Written Expression
Your writing style is quite direct and well composed. I applaud your excellent use of hyperlinks to make information more reliable but I felt you over-relied on these, which caused you to miss an examination of the concepts in detail and then to draw the variety of concepts together. On the flip side your appendices were outstanding and provided a wealth of information. Your headings were appropriately titled, but italics would be in APA styles as would the journal names in your reference list. It is evident from your concept map and writings that you have grasped the complexity of the essay topic and done it justice in just under 1500 words. This topic could easily become the work of a thesis. Well done on excelling in such a challenging topic.

Online Engagement
Your online engagement has been exemplary. I have no suggestions for further effort as your mark suggests. Well done!

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