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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘Psychology’

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

Graves: Systems more than Stages

30 August 2020 Historically Psychology is full of stage theories. From Sigmund Freud’s (1905) Psychosexual Stages, through Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages, Jean Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development, Abraham Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs, Lawrence Kohlberg’s (1958) Stages of Moral Development, Jane Loevinger’s (1976) Stages of Ego Development to Michael Commons et al’s (1998) Model of Hierarchical Complexity, etc, etc, etc. Sociology has a fair few stage theories too – such as Max Weber’s (1922) Social Action Theory and Theodore Adorno et al’s (1950) Types of Prejudiced & Unprejudiced Persons. A stage is a period in development – often, but not always, related to age – in which people exhibit behaviour patterns and establish particular capacities typical to that particular stage. Most stage theories have people pass through the stages in a specific order, with each stage building on capacities developed in the previous stage. This suggests that the development of certain abilities in each stage, such as specific emotions or ways of thinking, have a definite starting and ending point – ie: the stages are discreet from each other The pros and cons of stage theories Stage theories allow us to look at motivations, emotions, cognitions and behaviours that seem to cluster… Read More

Conformity & Obedience #2

PART 2 More research into conformity  Timothy Williams & Shunya Sogon (1984) looked at Japanese students belonging to a sports club and found that normative influence was much greater when participants cared about the opinions of other group members. The higher level of conformity found by Williams & Sogon may reflect the collectivistic nature of Japanese society and, therefore, may not be generalisable beyond similar societies. However, it shows clearly the influence of fitting in with those you with whom you have a belonging connection – that connection fulfilling the needs of the PURPLE vMEME. Supporting this, Paul McGhee &, Richard Teevan (1967) found that students high in the need for affiliation were more likely to conform. Dominic Abrams et al (1990) found an in-group influence, proposing that their 1st-year Psychology students would show more conformity if the other group members were perceived to be in the same in-group (Psychology students from a nearby university) than if they were from an out-group (Ancient History students from the same university). Accordingly, there was conformity on 58% of trials when in the presence of an in-group but only 8% with an out-group. Morton Bogdonoff et al (1962) found arousal levels were high in all participants once they were faced with the opposing judgements of… Read More

The Prison Studies #2

PART 2 Evaluation of the Stanford Prison Experiment Most criticisms of Zimbardo’s study are on ethical issues:- Zimbardo deceived the ‘prisoner’ participants, with their arrest at the beginning of the experiment. They were not told partly because final approval from the police wasn’t given until minutes before the arrests were due to begin and partly because the researchers wanted the arrests to come as a surprise. However this was a breach of the ethics of Zimbardo’s own contract that all of the participants had signed It was not ethically acceptable to expose people to such degradation and hostility even with their fully-informed consent Zimbardo being both ‘superintendent’ and chief researcher produced a conflict of roles whereby he lost sight of the harm being done to the participants – in effect he undermined his own competence to conduct the study,  competence of the researcher being somewhat  belatedly recognised as a key ethical issue by the British Psychological Society in 2006 Those who had been guards had to face up to the disconcerting fact that they had been willing to mistreat their prisoners. Guard ‘A’ said in debrief: “I was surprised at myself – I made them call each other names and clean the toilets out with… Read More

SocioPsychological Factors in Crime #4

PART 4 Defining behaviour as crime Picking up from Sutherland’s 9th principle – also discussed earlier when exploring the work of Bonger and considered in Crime & Deviance – the Difference – who decides what is criminal and what is deviant is no simple matter. Nor are there absolute definitions as even Functionalists argue definitions can change over time and between cultures. In the Interactionist view laws are, to all intents and purposes, political products that reflect the power of some groups to impose on others their memes of right and wrong and normality. Thus, Anthony Giddens (1993, p128) writes: “The labels applied to create categories of deviance thus express the power structures of society.” This goes beyond the Marxist view that the social control is about Capitalists using the law to control the working classes.  Howard Becker’s (1963) application of Labelling Theory to crime and deviance posits that, rather than a fixed scenario of the Capitalists dictating values that reflect their interests in society and are enforced via the legal system, in fact politics is a competition between different groups to gain the power to impose their values on others. Routes to such power obviously include legislative institutions such as Parliament… Read More

Remainers need Simple Messages and Charismatic Leaders

It’s somewhat astonishing that, in the second week of the UK general election campaign, the Conservatives are polling at an average of 39%, according to the Press Association’s rolling average of voter intentions (highlighted by the Evening Standard’s Rebecca Speare-Coles) – see below. True, Labour are creeping up, now on 29%. But, in what has been a calamitous 10 days for the Tories – from Jacob Rees Mogg’s highly-insensitive comments implying a lack of common sense amongst those who perished in 2017’s Grenfell Tower disaster to Boris Johnson’s hostile reception from South Yorkshire flood victims – Labour should be doing much better. But what about the poor old Liberal Democrats? When the latest (9 November) NatCen Poll of Polls – see below – puts Remain on 53% to Leave’s 47%, how come the Lib Dems have slumped from 21% to just 16%? Given that they are unequivocally Remain and would like to revoke Article 50 without even the formality of a second EU referendum, it is also somewhat astonishing that their voter intentions have slipped so much. Potentially disastrously so! While there are multiple factors accounting for these poll results – and the polls, as has been shown in both the… Read More

Influences, Acknowledgements & Gratitude

Update: 25 October 2019 Along the way, certain people have been particularly influential in terms of career progression and/or personal development; so it’s appropriate to acknowledge as many as I can remember. So here goes… Close friends and relatives My parents Ted & Betty Rice, of course. My uncle George Chandler who, playing guitar in a nightclub jazz trio and building a yacht to sail around the world, epitomised ‘cool’ to an impressionable 10-year-old. Rita Smith, always the aunty I was closest to and her daughters Norma (now Norma Klunder) and Maureen (now Maureen Williams) who embodied the mysteries of ‘teenage girl’ to their younger, only child male cousin. Ex-wives Linda Rice and Jane Rice inevitably have left their marks on me – as have ex-fiancees Jennie Beasty and Val Horsfall. Liz Olson was an American and a fellow Jefferson Starship fan who flew across the Atlantic to challenge some of my precepts! My 2 oldest friends, Chris Scurrah and David Burnby have been hugely influential in very different ways – Chris for inspiring me and supporting me to become a musician and Dave for supporting me in applying the Gravesian approach to real life. My stepdaughter Viki Harris has sometimes forced me to think about things differently… Read More

Milgram’s Obedience Experiments #2

PART 2 The ‘Obedience’ movie In 1965 Milgram boosted his burgeoning notoriety with the release of ‘Obedience’, a movie documentary of a repeat of the classic study. Below is an edited compilation of clips from the movie – copyright © 1991 Alexandra Milgram.   According to such commentators as Hugh Coolican (1996), most people who see the movie are convinced that the behaviour of the participants in ‘Obedience’ is authentic and that the stress caused by their moral strain is real. However, ‘Obedience’ may not be quite what it appears to be, according to Kathryn Millard (2011). In fact, the raw footage for ‘Obedience’ was shot over a weekend in May 1962, using what Milgram called ‘Condition 25’, a slight variation on the classic study. He used the same actors to play ‘Mr Wallace’ and ‘Jack Williams’ as always and the participants were genuinely naive. The camera filmed through the same 2-way mirror Milgram used to observe proceedings. However, it was 1965 before the completed film was made publicly available. Why did it take Milgram so long to make the movie available? Millard (p660) comments on the finished product: “‘Obedience’ is as much art as science, as much drama as experiment. It… Read More

Knowing Me, Knowing You – Excerpts

Excerpt #1: Do I really know Myself? Well, do you? Do you really know yourself? And, if you do know yourself, are you happy with your self? Do you like you? If you do…great! If you don’t…not so great…. I’ve been a management consultant for some 16 years, working in both the public and private sectors. This has often involved close coaching and/or mentoring with senior people, leading sometimes to deeply personal conversations and periodically therapeutic interventions. For the last 6 years I have also worked as a practitioner in ‘personal change therapy’ for people from all walks of life. And still, occasionally, it surprises me how many people who come to me on a professional basis either don’t know who they really are or what they’re about. Or they don’t understand why they behave in certain ways. In other words, they don’t understand themselves. Why they are like they are. In some cases, they can’t really see what they are like – and the impact what they are like has on others. Often the people they care for most!   These folks are confused. Sometimes they really hurt. It’s even worse when they do recognise what they are like …and they… Read More