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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘prejudice & discrimination’

vMEMES #2

PART 2 The Ist Tier BEIGE (A-N) (Maslow’s Survival; Loevinger’s Pre-Social) This vMEME is concerned with basic survival needs and is bottom of the Spiral. It is instinctive and does not lend itself to cognitive thought as such. Air, food and water, sleep, shelter from the elements and sex for procreation (rather than pleasure or affection) are the very basic drives which characterise this vMEME. If these requirements are not met (with the partial exception of sex for procreation), the human body simply cannot continue to function. If the BEIGE driver ceases to work, then we will die because we simply will not do what we need to do to survive. BEIGE ceasing to function is almost certainly what is meant when we say that someone has lost the will to live. Much of what Evolutionary Psychology has to say about the essentials of human nature is centred at this pre-cognitive, animalistic level. BEIGE/PURPLE (A-N/B-O) There is not enough reliable data to break this transition down into exiting and entering phases. The organism is beginning to show signs of cognition. Graves (1978/2005, p214) referred to it as the beginning of “viable psychological life”. Basic cause-and-effect assumptions start to be made. Primitive… Read More

Attribution Biases

Updated: 20 April 2016 An attribution bias is  a distortion in perception or judgement about the causes of our own or other people’s behaviour. The attributions people make are not always accurate due to these cognitive biases. Rather than operating as objective perceivers, people are prone to perceptual errors that lead to biased interpretations of their social world Some of the most important biases are:- Fundamental Attribution Error Also known as Correspondence Bias or Overattribution Effect, this is the tendency for people to over-emphasise dispositional (or personality-based), explanations for behaviours observed in others while under-emphasising situational explanations. In other words, people have an unjustified tendency to assume that a person’s actions depend on what ‘kind’ of person that person is rather than on the social and environmental forces influencing the person. The term was coined by Lee Ross (1977) after a now-classic experiment by Edward E Jones & Victor Harris (1967). Americn participants read short pro- and anti-Fidel Castro essays. They were asked to rate the pro-Castro attitudes of the writers. When the participants believed that the writers freely chose the positions they took (for or against Castro), they naturally rated the people who spoke in favour of Castro as having… Read More

Leadership – a SocioPsychological Perspective

Updated: 26 May 2016 What makes a successful leader successful? is a question that appears to have vexed politicians and philosophers from the beginnings of civilisation. Certainly, the number of books and articles on leadership by ‘management gurus’ and social psychologists since the end of World War II indicates an ongoing fascination with the topic and, arguably, a vital need to understand the nature of leadership. Peter F Drucker, Stephen Covey, Warren Bennis, Howard Gardner, James MacGregor Burns, John William Gardner, John Kotter and Peter Senge are just a handful of the heavyweight names who have contributed high-profile books on the subject. One unequivocal key factor which has emerged from the multitude of investigations into ‘leadership’ is that leadership and management are not the same thing. Drucker (1967) was perhaps the first to say this, articulating: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Covey (p101, 1989) provides an illuminating example to illustrate this point: “…envision a group of producers cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. They’re the producers, the problem-solvers. They’re cutting their way through the undergrowth, clearing it out. The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle… Read More

Social Change #3

PART 3 Lower Right Quadrant Here we will look at some key structural factors which create pressures for social change… Pandemic The single biggest factor in the short-term is the Coronavirus crisis. At the time of writing, the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control has recorded  infections and  deaths. With no reliable vaccine in sight, the virus running rampant across the United States and much of the less developed world and even European countries battling to contain spikes in infections, there is no way of knowing how long the virus will run, how many people will be killed or sustain long-term harm to their health and what the damage will be economically and socially. What is possible in democracies, especially those that have swung to the right in recent years, is that voters may seek to throw out those leaders who have proved hopeless incompetent in efforts to battle the virus. Donald Trump is the first major leader who will face such a test in November 2020. Other factors which can influence change are:- Population Growth and Composition Changes in the size and composition of the population can have important effects for other aspects of a society. One example of… Read More

On Being Sane in Insane Places

Updated: 19 January 2018 David Rosenhan’s classic 1973 study remains one of the most important in the field of mental health. For all its faults – and there are a number of serious ones – it almost encapsulates the difficulties in trying to determine if someone is mentally ill. The last half of the 20th Century and the first decades of the 21st have witnessed virtual ‘epidemics’ of ‘mental illness’ inflicting themselves upon the Western world. These ‘epidemics’ have, in turn, spawned huge industries in mental health care and pharmacology – and there is increasing concern about the role of the pharmaceutical industry in influencing what is classified as mental illness and how such illnesses are treated. Lisa Cosgrove &  Sheldon Krimsky’s 2012 expose is just one of many focusing on just how many of the authors of the Diagnostical & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – latest version DSM-5 (2015) – more and more have financial interests in the pharmaceutical industry. Thus, to some, it looks like the ORANGE vMEME’s desire for profit is driving changes in DSM – the medicalisation of mental illness that can be cured, or at least managed, by chemotherapy. Opponents to this direction tend to favour GREEN’s motif… Read More

Robber’s Cave

Relaunched: 4 March 2018 The Robber’s Cave study is on a par with Stanley Milgrim’s ‘Obedience Experiments’ and Philip Zimbardo’s infamous prison study at Stanford University (Craig Haney, Curtis Bank & Philip Zimbardo, 1973), both for its sheer audaciousness and what it tells us about situational pressures to produce normative influence. Muzafer Sherif had been a growing force in the development of Social Psychology ever since his ‘autokinetic effect’ experiments in 1935 had developed the concept of conformity that would come to be known as informational influence. In fact, Sherif could be considered one of the founders of Social Psychology. His work was also highly thought of by interactionist sociologists, becoming the first psychologist to receive the Cooley-Mead Award for contributions to Social Psychology from the American Sociological Association. By the end of the 1940s his interest in understanding social processes, particularly social norms and social conflict had led him to conceive of developing a field experiment in which pubescent boys would be nurtured into forming 2 distinctive teams with strong group identities to see how conflict between the 2 groups could be exacerbated and then reduced. This would be the basis of the famous and challenging Robber’s Cave study of 1954 (Muzafer Sherif et al, 1961).… Read More

Modernisation Theory vs Stratified Democracy

Updated: 10 January 2017 It’s rather astounding that, nearly 60 years after Walt Rostow (1960) published ‘The Stages of Economic Growth: a Non-Communist Manifesto’, how much Rostow’s ideas – Modernisation Theory – still shape Western foreign policy – and the United States’ attitudes in particular. In those nearly 60 years that have seen, first, the end of the European empires and, then, the demise of Communism as a political and economic alternative to Capitalism, Rostow’s ideas have almost universally failed to deliver the wealth and prosperity to the developing nations that they promised. Large parts of the world in which Rostow’s ideas have been applied – ‘Black Africa’, in particular – are mired in poverty and debt…and all too often internecine warfare – with the attempts to implement Modernisation Theory a major causal factor. Not only that but, astonishingly, Rostow’s ideas underpin the Americans’ lack of understanding and application of inappropriate intervention strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan and their wholly-misguided approach to the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions, with all the bloody consequences that have entailed during the early years of the 21st Century. Rostow’s ideas have been heavily criticised from Marxist perspectives, most notably Andre Gunder Frank’s Dependency Theory (1971) and Immanuel Wallerstein’s World Systems Theory… Read More

Killing the Terrorists

20 January 2009 This feature is being written even as Israeli shells fall on the citizens of Gaza and people are being killed and maimed. (That’s quite a sobering thought!) The aim of the Israeli assault on Gaza avowedly is to neutralise terrorist organisation Hamas’ capacity to fire rockets into southern Israel. However, there is also talk of toppling Hamas – the duly-elected party controlling the government of the Gaza Strip. Does a government have the right to take action to protect its citizens? In a BLUE-ORANGE Western-style democracy, the government has an obligation to take action. If it doesn’t, the electorate will punish it at the polls – and it’s no coincidence that Israel has an election next month. (By contrast, with the kind of RED-BLUE zealotry, with which Hamas runs Gaza, its government can actually sacrifice large numbers of its own citizens with a fair degree of impunity!) Does a government have a right to invade the land of those who are trying to kill its citizens (and sometimes succeeding!)? The Americans certainly saw it as legitimate to invade Afghanistan as a response to 9/11 – and most of the rest of the world supported the invasion (or at… Read More

Islamification: Europe’s Challenge #2

PART 2 Preparing for change British Home Secretary Theresa May was vilified by much of the media for her 6 October speech at the Conservative Party conference for saying (amongst other things):  “… when immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society.” (The Guardian’s Alan Travis called it a “new low in politics of migration”.) However, May was merely echoing the Functionalist argument of Talcott Parsons (1966) that sudden large-scale change disrupts the equilibrium of society and leads to dysfunction. Parsons postulates that social change is necessary for a society to renew and refresh itself but at a gradual pace which the institutions of society can adjust to and cope with. The disruption of equilibrium brought on by significant sudden large-scale change can bring about conflict. Over the past half-century Western Europe has been flooded with migrants. Their cultures were initially marginalised and disregarded – and then, through Multiculturalism, given nominal equal status with the host majority and a degree of positive discrimination to help foster that equality. A half-century is a relatively short amount of time to assimilate such large-scale changes. In retrospect, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been more overt conflict… Read More

Islamification: Europe’s Challenge

Relaunched: 28 November 2015 This feature was originally published as ‘Islamification: Britain’s Challenge’ in 9 June 2013. It is now updated, expanded and relaunched under its revised title to reflect the dramatic changes that have taken place since the original publication and to add more of a European dimension. Islamification is a highly-emotive word. For me personally, it instantly conjures up images of English Defence League (EDL) demonstrators with their ‘No more mosques!’ placards But Islamification should be a word that stirs the emotions, one way or the other. By definition (WordSense.eu), it is the process of converting a region or a society to Islam. If being in a society that is taken over by Islamists (political supporters of fundamentalist Islam) and introduces Sharia law is something you would welcome, then impending Islamification should give you comfort and possibly even joy. If, like me, you enjoy many of the freedoms (and indulgences) of living in what is increasingly a post-Christian, secular society, then Islamification may fill you with apprehension. In an Islamified Europe, non-Muslims would be ‘dhimmi’: second class citizens. So…is Islamification happening? If it is, how does Europe and, particularly for me, Britain deal with it? (Or does it deal with us?!?) Islam is… Read More