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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

conformity’

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

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

Conformity & Obedience

Relaunched: 21 September 2020 Conformity and obedience are 2 principal and related topics of study in the psychological area of Social Influence. The difference between the 2 concepts can be summed up as:- obedience is a response to authority but conformity is a response to group norms those subject to authority obey those in authority but conformity usually is to peer groups obedience results from the exercise of power by those with the ability to enforce their commands but conformity is associated with need for acceptance and knowing what to do the behaviour of those obeying may be very different to the behaviour of those in authority but conformity behaviour is similar to that of peers the demands for obedience are usually explicit whereas going with the group ‘flow’ is often implicit Conformity Morton Deutsch & Harold Gerard (1955) described 2 types of conformity:- Informational Influence is when someone  conforms to a group norm because they believe this is the right thing to do in the circumstances. Deutsch & Gerrard (p629) say it is “an influence to accept information obtained from another as evidence about reality.” According to Herbert Kelman (1958), the desire to be correct produces the process of internalisation. He… Read More

Is Racism Natural..?

Updated: 9 November 2015 In my past as a part-time teacher, teaching psychological and sociological approaches to prejudice & discrimination, every year I found myself confronted with this question from one or more of my A-Level students. With posters on some Internet discussion forums making statements like: “I think they [British National Party, Britain First, etc] is only saying what most people think but are too afraid to say” , it seems appropriate to me to revisit the students’ question from an Integrated SocioPsychology perspective. It was explaining Henri Tajfel & John Turner’s Social Identity Theory (1979) in relation to the formation of in-groups and out-groups that usually triggered the student’s question as to whether racism is natural. In essence, Tajfel & Turner say that, simply by identifying yourself with one group as opposed to another, your group becomes the in-group and the other becomes the out-group. According to Tajfel & Turner, this basic act of social categorisation – one group has one identity label and the other group has a different identity label – is enough to bring about prejudice and discrimination. Because we invest something of our self in the groups to which we belong, we need our in-groups to… Read More

Is Collectivism being overtaken by Individualism?

Updated: 9 November 2016 It’s been a given in cross-cultural research in the behavioural sciences that Individualism has increasingly dominated in the West since at least the end of World War II while the rest of the world has tended to be collectivistic. In the context of the early 21st Century, this dichotomy provokes 2 key questions:- Was it ever as simple as: West, individualistic; rest of the world, collectivistic – and, if so, how did it get to be so? Is Collectivism being overtaken by Individualism – and, if so, what are the driving factors? Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede & Michael Minkov (2010) define Individualism as “the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups”. In individualistic societies, the stress is put on personal achievements and individual rights. People are expected to stand up for themselves and their immediate family, and to choose their own affiliations. By contrast, in collectivistic societies, individuals are seen to act predominantly as members of a lifelong and cohesive group or organisation. People have large extended families which provide safety in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. Individualism, according to Ellen Meiksins Wood (1973), is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology or social outlook that emphasises the… Read More

Social Change

Updated: 25 August 2020   Social change means some aspect of society, culture or sub-culture changes. The changes may be overt and dramatic and obvious to everyone or they may be more discreet and less obvious…until people come to a realisation society around them has already changed. An example of this is the attitude of the general public in the UK towards welfare and benefits. As Elizabeth Clery shows in the results of the 2012 British Social Attitudes survey (BSA)– see graphic left – there has been an increased perception that people on welfare are over-reliant on their benefits and that cutting benefits won’t harm too many people too badly. The following 2 years’ surveys  showed only the most marginal reversal (3%) of this trend (Sarah Alcock, 2015) and the election in 2015  of a Tory government determined to cut even more could be seen as voter approval of these strategies. This was actually a major attitudinal shift in a country that, for many years, had largely prided itself on a generous attitude to welfare. Yet these more subtle changes in public perception often only become news when surveys like the British Social Attitudes annual survey pick them up. How complex… Read More

What makes People vote Republican?

by Jonathan Haidt September 2008 annotated by Bruce L Gibb, September 2008 [Reference update: April 2009] Jonathan Haidt is associate professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia and author of ‘The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom’ (2005) . He wrote this piece for www.edge.org. Bruce L Gibb is an organisational psychologist in private practice in Ann Arbor and an adjunct professor in the School of Natural Resources & the Environment at the University of Michigan. He is also a frequent contributor to the Spiral Dynamics e-lists. While a commentary on the current American presidential election is clearly highly topical and would normally be more appropriate for the Blog, what gives this piece a more permanent currency is Bruce’s Spiral Dynamics-based annotation. Haidt’s article read together with Gibb’s footnotes provides an excellent and more generalised explanation for the points I raised in the September 2008 Blog: Should the Democrats have chosen Hilary? Jonathan has kindly given explicit written permission for his work to be used in this way. What makes people vote Republican? Why in particular do working class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies?… Read More

Prejudice & Discrimination Theories

Relaunched: 22 November 2020 Prejudice and discrimination blight our world, causing misery to billions and often leading to violence, sometimes in the extreme. Discriminatory violence can range from an attack on an individual to war by one country against another – even to genocide, So it is desperately important to understand how such processes work and what leads to them. Accordingly it is important to understand the difference between prejudice and discrimination – especially as they are often confused in the popular media. Prejudice This is defined by John Dovidio & Samuel Gaertner (2010) as an attitude towards a person based on their perceived group membership. The term is often used to refer to a preconceived, usually unfavourable, evaluation of another person based on that person’s political affiliation, sex, gender, beliefs, values, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race, ethnicity, language, nationality, physical appearance, occupation, education, criminality, sport team affiliation or other personal characteristics. This attitude towards another person may be based on little or no knowledge of them. Eg: someone is considered to be untrustworthy with young children because they are gay. However, not all prejudice is considered negative. For example, patriotism is often thought to be desirable. In prejudice… Read More

SocioPsychological Factors in Crime

Relaunched: 8 July 2020 While, clearly there a number of biological factors which can substantially increase the likelihood of someone committing crime and deviance, most crimes take place in a social setting and result from an interaction between the offender’s state of mind and the social pressures of the situation – including victims of the crime(s). So what are the social and psychological factors that may precipitate deviant and/or criminal actions…? Social Inequalities The world is plagued with huge gaps in social equality, with inequality having increased substantially in the West over the past 40 years. particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett (2010) identified that happiness and well-being are generally much greater in countries where the gaps in the ranges of social equality are relatively small – eg: Sweden – compared to countries with large gaps such as the US. In Western societies the more consumerism there is, the more people are either ‘seduced’ or ‘repressed, to use Zygmunt Bauman’s (1988) concepts. The ‘seduced’ are those who are sucked into consumerism and are seduced into buying many things they don’t need but are persuaded will be life enhancing if acquired. In many ways,… Read More