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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

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Conformity & Obedience #2

PART 2 Conformity Factors The variables that can affect conformity include:- Zeitgeist As demonstrated by the research of Stephen Perrin & Christopher Spencer (1980) and Nigel Nicholson, Steven Cole & Thomas Rocklin (1985), conformity can also be affected by  (the spirit of the times). Peter Smith & Michael Harris Bond (1993, p124) were in no doubt that “Levels of conformity in general had steadily declined since Asch’s studies in the early 1950s”. Culture Smith & Bond’s 1993 meta-analysis was of 20 studies using the Asch ‘lines’ methodology. Across these studies they found a mean 31.2% of conformity errors. Samples of their results are in the graphic above… The Indian teachers in Fiji were the highest in conformity and the Belgian students the lowest, apart from Perrin & Spencer’s 1980 study in England. The meta-analysis included Williams & Sogon’s (1984) study of Japanese students.In a further meta-analysis of another 133 Asch-type studies, Rod Bond & Peter Smith (1996) found that individualistic countries, such as the United States, where emphasis was placed on individual fulfilment, were less conformist generally (25.3% of trials) than collectivistic cultures like China, Asia and much of Africa (37.1%) where group needs were usually prioritised over individual needs. Heejung… Read More

The Prison Studies #2

PART 2 The Stanford Prison Experiment This study is one of the most notorious in Social Psychology – second only to Milgram’s Obedience Experiments. Philip Zimbardo was interested in testing the dispositional hypothesis that widespread problems in American prisons were due to the nature of the prison guards and the prisoners. It had been argued that prison guards bring to their jobs a particular ‘guard mentality’ and, thus, are therefore attracted to the job as they are already sadistic and insensitive people. Whereas prisoners have no respect for law and order and bring this aggressiveness and impulsivity to the prison. Zimbardo wanted to demonstrate that conditions in the prisons were not due to the type of individuals working and incarcerated in the prisons but could be best explained using a situational attribution. In particular he believed that the conditions were influenced by the social roles that prisoners and prisoner guards are expected to play. In August 1971, with funding from the US Navy and the US Marine Corps, Zimbardo (Craig Haney, Curtis Banks & Philip Zimbardo, 1973) set out to show that people allocated to be ‘prison guards’ or ‘prisoners’ would tend to slip into those predefined roles, behaving in a way that they… Read More

Can vMEMES cause Clinical Depression..?

Updated: 24 January 2019 The Gravesian approach lies at the core of Integrated SocioPsychology. The following is a plea to psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, mental health workers and those involved in research into various areas of psychopathology to examine rigorously Clare W Graves research with a view to its implications for mental health conditions. There are literally millions of people whose suffering could be alleviated if we understood more of the psychological processes underlying it. There are a multiplicity of reasons why the work of Clare W Graves (1970, 1971b/2002, 1978/2005) needs to be taken up much more comprehensively by the academic communities and investigated rigorously for its validity. (Which will result in a much higher profile and wider acceptance of his theory.) One of these reasons, I propose, is the applicability to mental health of the Gravesian approach. Strangely enough, for all the many champions of Graves’ work and the Spiral Dynamics ‘build’ developed by Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996), little has been said about the relationship between Graves’ Spiral of motivational systems (vMEMES) and psychological disorders. Although my plea is for research into the Gravesian approach related to all forms of mental illness, in this piece I will be focusing primarily on… Read More

‘William’

2002 The work I undertook with ‘William’ came out of a management development programme I was delivering for ‘Brentbros Ltd’, a smallish family-run machine parts and assembly operation. ‘John’, the Managing Director, was under pressure from his wife (who did the books) to take more time out from the company. They were both in their late 50s and she wanted them effectively to go into semi-retirement. Brentbros, in Adizes LifeCycle terms, had been in ‘Go-Go’ for years without ever having seriously attempted the journey into ‘Adolescence’. John, typical of an Adizes ‘Founder’, still made nearly all decisions in the company. For John to acede to his wife’s wishes would mean he would have to delegate decision-making to others – and they would have to be capable of making those decisions. So I was brought in – on a recommendation from one of Brentbros’ customers – to develop the management capabilities of those people in his team John saw as having potential. 5 people, including ‘Delia’ (John’s daughter and office manager), workshop manager ‘Adrian’ and his assistant, William, went through 5 months’ twilight training (2 hours at the end of every second Monday). The length and format of the training allowed the… Read More

Separation, Deprivation & Privation #4

PART 4 Romanian Orphan Studies Much of the Western world went through a GREEN-tinged liberalisation of cultural norms during from the 1960s onwards. One outcome of this was the increasing acceptance of couples living together without being married and of children being born out of wedlock. The result was that far fewer babies and young children ended up in orphanages and similar institutions. Those that did were cared for much better and much more holistically, with much more attention paid to their psychological and emotional well-being. This was very much a consequence of psychological  research into the damaging effects of institutionalisation in preceding decades. Cleo Dontas et al (1985) provide a good example of a Greek orphanage where each baby was allocated a member of staff to care specifically for them and form an attachment. 15 babies, aged 7 to 9 months, were observed in the 2-week adjustment period of adoption and were found to be forming good attachments with their new adoptive parents – perhaps reflecting J0hn Bowlby’s (1953) Continuity Hypothesis of a good internal working model. However, such progress meant there was little opportunity for a new generation of developmental psychologists to replicate the kinds of studies René Spitz (1945) and… 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

Milgram’s Obedience Experiments

Relaunched: 27 February 2018 “I observed a mature and initially poised businessman enter the laboratory smiling and confident. Within 20 minutes he was reduced to a twitching, stuttering wreck who was rapidly approaching nervous collapse. He constantly pulled on his earlobe and twisted his hands. At one point he pushed his fist into his forehead and muttered, ‘Oh, God, let’s stop it!’ And yet he continued to respond to every word of the experimenter and obeyed to the end.” – Stanley Milgram, 1963 Stanley Milgram’s ‘electric shock’ experiments of the 1960s and 1970s – and the many replications and variations of them throughout the Western world and way beyond – are some of the most audacious, genuinely creative and thought-provoking sociopsychological studies ever undertaken. They provide truly disturbing insights into the human readiness to obey those in authority to the point of carrying out horrific acts of violence, secure in the knowledge that the person is ‘doing the right thing’ and that no unpleasant consequences will follow from carrying out those orders. Yet the experiments are as controversial for validity of their methodologies as their results. The theory the experiments gave birth to, Agentic Shift Theory (aka Agency Theory), despite the strength… 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