Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences


Prejudice & Discrimination Theories #2

PART 2 Realistic Conflict Theory It is widely recognised that people tend to identify with their groups. They also tend to have negative views about some other groups – out-groups. But why do some outgroups attract hostility and discrimination but others are treated neutrally or sometimes even admired? This is what Realistic Conflict Theory (RCT) tries to explain. RCT states that, whenever there are 2 or more groups seeking the same limited resources, this will lead to conflict, negative stereotypes and beliefs about the out-group – prejudice –  and discrimination between the groups. The negative beliefs about the out-group become shared memes, affecting the schematic set-up of the group members. The conflict generated can lead to increasing animosity and eventually to violence. Competition over resources can be played out as a ‘zero-sum game’, in which only one group is the winner (obtained the needed or wanted resources) and the other loses (unable to obtain the limited resource due to the winning group achieving the limited resource first). The likely length and severity of the conflict is based upon the perceived value and shortage of the given resource. It is tempting to think of ‘limited resources’ as BEIGE survival needs – eg:… Read More

The Prison Studies

Relaunched: 27 October 2020 Philip Zimbardo’s ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’ (Craig Haney, Curtis Banks & Philip Zimbardo, 1973), is one of the most important, controversial and ethically dubious psychological studies ever undertaken – something of a classic bête noire on a par with some of Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments. It raises issues around key psychological concepts such as the identification process in conformity and deindividuation – along with a plethora of ethical issues. Thus, it is a critically-important study for a number of reasons – not least because, according to Zimbardo, it tells us how people will conform to a group norm. Sometimes with very disturbing results. Some 30 years later Steve Reicher & Alex Haslam (2006) carried out a partial replication of Stanford – their study is often referred to as the ‘BBC Prison Study’ because the BBC funded the study and edited it into a series which was broadcast in 2006. The outcome of their study was quite different to that of Zimbardo. However,  these different outcomes can be explained via complementary psychological theories. The Stanford Prison Experiment Zimbardo was interested in testing the dispositional hypothesis that widespread problems in American prisons were due to the intrinsic nature of the prison guards and… Read More

Social Change #2

Part 2 Lower Left Quadrant and Minority Influence Social heroes usually can achieve little or nothing on their own. They need collaborators and, if they are leaders, they need followers. This means the social hero has to convert others to their cause and, thus, create a minority influence. The more people are converted to the cause, the more conversion to the cause (as a process) picks up momentum – the ‘snowball effect’ (Eddy Van Avermaet, 2001). Eventually the minority grows into a snowball so large that it becomes the majority. The social hero in the Upper Left is influencing culture and thought in the Lower Left. So how does a social hero convert others and how does a minority gain enough converts to become a majority? Giddens posits that people in general have a deep-seated need for ‘ontological security’, that their world is orderly, stable and predictable. Therefore, by their actions most people most of the time reinforce the existing culture and structure, There is a sort-of natural resistance to change. Just how resistant to change will vary as to which vMEMES dominate in a culture; individual resistance will also vary as to where that person is on their Dimensions of Temperament. People… Read More

Conformity & Obedience #3

PART 3 Dispositional and Situational The 2 approaches to explaining obedience were to some extent reconciled via the work of Alan Elms (Alan Elms & Stanley Milgram, 1966). One of Milgram’s assistants, Elms tested sub-samples of the 20 most obedient and the 20 most defiant from Milgram’s first 4 experiments, using Adorno’s F-Scale questionnaire. He found that those who tested highest on the F-Scale gave more stronger shocks and held the shock buttons down longer than those who were low scorers. Participants were also asked a series of open-ended questions about their relationship with their parents and their attitudes towards the experimenter (authority figure) and the ‘learner’. Elms reported that participants high in authoritarianism were more likely to see the learner as responsible for what happened to him, rather than themselves or the experimenter who was seen as an admirable figure by many of the authoritarian participants, They also often spoke in negative terms about their fathers. Though Elms’ sample groups were small, the implication is that there is indeed a dispositional element in blind obedience – so that some will respond to a situation demanding obedience more than others. In Integrated SocioPsychology terms the vMEME most likely to obey blindly the orders of a legitimate… Read More

Could the Political Centre be making a Comeback?

    Could it just be that, with Bernie Sanders’ 13 April endorsement of Joe Biden as Democratic candidate in November’s presidential election – see the ABC News clip above – and the 4 April ascension of Keir Starmer to leadership of the Labour Party, the ‘centre’ is making a comeback in American and British politics? A new poll reported by The London Economic’s Jack Peat puts the centrist Starmer’s net favourability 50 points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn, the ‘hardcore leftie’ he succeeded. (Of course, Corbyn was not really the Marxist the right-wing media slandered him as, though his views  were well to the left of Labour under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and even Ed Miliband) Meanwhile Sanders’ concession to Biden effectively signals the end of what might be termed the Democrats’ ‘hard left’ campaign to win the nomination for presidential candidate. (By ‘hard left’ here, we mean the leftie side of social democracy; again Sanders is nothing like the Marxist some on the hard right claim he is!) Biden is decidedly centrist in his politics – some might even argue right of centre – but that enables him potentially to pick up leftie Republican votes, especially those who are totally… Read More

Johnson’s Victory does not create Certainty

So sad to say…but this disaster for our kingdom was pretty predictable.  In Remainers need Simple Messages and Charismatic Leaders, I bemoaned Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson, both as ‘personalities’ and for the messages they delivered. Neither looked or behaved much like a statesman or a stateswoman. To give him credit, Corbyn, when given the chance, can come across as having gravitas; but it’s difficult to envision him going head to head with Vladimir Putin or Emmanuel Macron. Swinson’s message was so easily caricatured as ‘undemocratic’ and ‘disrespectful’ of the 2016 referendum. Corbyn’s message was actually, in its detail, quite reasonable…but not translatable into a simplistic soundbite like ‘Get Brexit done!’ It’s debatable as to whether the electorate actually wanted Boris Johnson or they simply didn’t want Corbyn (or Swinson). With a simple message and a charismatic leader, Labour should have walked this election. At the very worst, today we should be looking at a minority Labour government, supported by the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. The Tories were so vulnerable on so many issues and Johnson is clearly non-empathetic and insensitive and has either gaffed, broken his word or outrightly lied so many times, it’s incredible that anyone… Read More

Vulnerability to Stress

Updated: 11 April 2020 Clearly some people become stressed more easily than others and some have the experience of stress – fight or flight  – more strongly than others. So what are the factors that influence these phenomena? A vMEMETIC approach One way of looking at this is to take a Maslowian viewpoint – ie: people have needs and having those needs unfulfilled causes stress. The vMEMES identified via the work of Clare W Graves are then the drivers to fulfil those needs. Of course, Graves held that motivational systems (vMEMES) emerge in symbiotic interaction with the life conditions in the environment – an internal response to external stressors and almost certainly the first emergence of a vMEME is an example of epigenetic modification. Graves’ position has been upheld completely by Chris Cowan (2004). However, Don Beck (2002a), with his concept of the prime directive, does imply that there is a maturational factor in the emergence of vMEMES. He has not said explicitly that vMEMES are programmed to emerge in sequence as someone develops through life, irrespective of the life conditions; but the implication that maturation matters is inescapable. The position Beck appears to be working towards is perhaps best represented… Read More

Money, Islamophobia and the Surge in Right-Wing Extremism

The mosque shootings in New Zealand on 15 March may represent a significant step up in anti- Muslim right-wing terrorism. At the time of writing, while there has been no further incident of major large-scale violence against Muslims, there has been a significant increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric and minor assaults, both verbal and physical, In the UK alone, in the week following the massacre in Christchurch, The Guardian’s Vikram Dodd reports: “…95 incidents were reported… between 15 March, the day of the New Zealand atrocity, and midnight on 21 March. Of those, 85 incidents – 89% of the total – contained direct references to the New Zealand attacks and featured gestures such as mimicking firearms being fired at Muslims…. Verbal abuse directed at Muslims in London in separate incidents is alleged to have included shouts of ‘you need to be shot’, ‘you deserve it’ and ‘Muslims must die’. Incidents were reported in Scotland, where a mosque was attacked; in Stanwell, Surrey, where police declared the stabbing of a teenager to be a suspected far-right terror attack; and in Lancashire. Meanwhile in Birmingham, police continue to hunt for those behind sledgehammer attacks on five mosques.” After the Charlie Hedo shootings in 2015, Juan… Read More

Romantic Relationships: Economic Theories

Relaunched: 27 November 2018 Simon Green et al (2016, p149-150) write: “The economic approach works on the assumption that people run relationships in a similar way to a joint bank account – keeping an eye on what they and their partner are putting into and getting out of the relationship. The theories share the view that people may choose to move on if someone else offers a better ‘deal’, in a similar way to a bank offering an incentive to join them. Economic theories help to explain how couples keep their relationship going and the decision to stay or go when relationships get into difficulties.” Social Exchange Theory Developed by John Thibaut & Harold Kelley (1959) from the work of George Homans (1958), this approach is based on the precept that people try to maximise the rewards from a relationship – eg: attention, affection – while minimising the costs – eg: time and effort, dealing with the other person’s emotional problems. The underlying assumptions is that people seek out and maintain those relationships in which the rewards exceed the costs. The minimum acceptable  for a relationship to form and be sustained is that rewards received should at least equal rewards given. The establishment of a… Read More

Is Sexual Infidelity Inevitable? #2

PART 2 Are environmental factors important? Looking at this from an Integrated SocioPsychology perspective, we can say that the Evolutionary concepts fit with the BEIGE vMEME’s need to reproduce and the Sociobilogical identification of the role of bond-producing hormones in sex gives us a BEIGE-PURPLE link into PURPLE’s need to belong to our lover. So how does it so often go so wrong? An important clue here is provided by a 1994 study by Georg Sasse et al. Their research indicated that, from a (large) sample of 1600, only 1.4% of Swiss children were born to biological fathers not named on their birth certificates. A staggeringly low figure when set against the 10%-30% claimed for Britain. Are the Swiss genetically different from Britain and much of the rest of the Western world? The answer is almost certainly a ‘yes’ – but a very qualified and extremely minor ‘yes’ and probably not in ways which would explain such a statistical difference. So we have to look at environmental factors – the Stress side of the Diathesis-Stress equation. Swiss society is notoriously BLUE – so much so that the polite manners, conformity to rules and general mechanical nature of much of what goes… Read More