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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

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Race and Demographics: Biden’s Challenge

So, thankfully, Joe Biden got enough Electoral College votes to claim victory in the 2020 US presidential election. However, it is far from the landslide that the more wishful-thinking Democrats had hoped for and which might have obliged Donald Trump to concede defeat. As it is, Trump is threatening a barrage of lawsuits to challenge the results in several states, alleging electoral fraud. Given that a Michigan judge has already rejected the Trump campaign’s allegations as lacking any substance, as reported by CNN’s Jessica Schneider & Laura Jarrett, Trump may find he simply doesn’t have the backing of his sponsors and donors to pursue his case throughout so many courts. According to Sky News’ James Matthews, some of Trump’s closest advisers are against his continuing Tweets about electoral fraud and senior Republicans such as Maryland governor Larry Hogan and Congressman Adam Kinzinger are calling for Trump to cease these allegations. However, given Trump’s history of erratic behaviour, it is entirely possible that he may refuse to accept Biden’s victory and resist his own dismissal, using every tactic available to him, from the courts to white supremacist militias like the infamous Proud Boys. So unpredictable is Trump seen to be that there are… Read More

Prejudice & Discrimination Theories #3

PART 3 Common In-Group Identity Model The Common In-Group Identity Model is a theoretical model proposed by Samuel Gaertner et al (1993) that outlines the processes through which inter-group bias may be reduced.  It is derived from the Social Identity Theory approach to inter-group behaviour. The model describes how intergroup bias can be reduced if members of different groups can be persuaded to see themselves to be part of the same, larger group, then they would develop more positive attitudes of the former out-group members. An individual will change the way they view the out-group through re-categorising former out-group members as members of the enlarged in-group. In other words, their existing schema set is modified by taking on board memes of shared values. Re-categorising is driven by giving the different groups a ‘common out-group’ that they are concerned about. Thus, they start to see themselves as having a shared in-group identity against the shared out-group. Eg: in soccer Manchester United vs Liverpool fan conflicts can be transcended by getting both sets of fans to see themselves as being England supporters vs Scotland supporters. Working together against the common ‘enemy’ creates a sense of homogeneity amongst the former opponents. Importantly, while  re-categorisation… Read More

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 #3

PART 3 Rejecting Inequality (Days 1 to 6) (cont) Days 3-4 On Day 3 the guards decided which prisoner should be promoted – the selection of the individual being made by the guards on the basis of a procedure suggested by the researchers. After this promotion, the possibility of movement was removed by announcing that there would be no further promotions (or demotions) – thus, stating that the situation was now impermeable.. With permeability shut down, the prisoners now took on the guards as a group. Almost instantly they began to act together and started to agree norms of behaviour. They started teasing the guards, humiliating them and challenging their authority. On Day 4 3 of the prisoners defied 3 guards, demanding better food. The guards could not agree how to respond, so came off worse in the confrontation. Low group identity amongst the guards led to ineffective leadership. The daily psychometric for social identification – see left – shows it to be much weaker amongst the guards than the prisoners from Day 3. Day 5 With the prison in disorder the researchers made their second planned intervention on the morning of Day 5. An experienced trade union negotiator (prisoner 10) was introduced as a… 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

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

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

Vulnerability to Stress #2

ART 2 Life events and stress For most people life can be very challenging at times. Everybody experiences major ‘life events’ or ‘life changes’ which can prove acutely stressful and bring about illness – eg: marriage, divorce, death of a close friend or family member, etc, etc. Even Christmas can be acutely stressful! And stress-related illness can contribute to further illness. The idea of ‘life events’ causing stress to the point of illness had begun in 1919 with the ‘life chart’ work of Adolph Meyer. His work became the foundation for the Schedule of Recent Events developed by N G Hawkins, R Davies & Thomas Holmes in 1957; this looked at the cumulative effect of life events in causing stress. (Amusingly Holmes’ interest in the relationship between stress and illness came from finding his mother-in-law’s visits so stressful that he developed a cold every time she came to stay!) In 1967 Thomas Holmes & Richard Rahe added the idea of the magnitude of different life events – measured in ‘life change units’ (LCUs) – to get a more precise understanding of the cumulative effect. They examined the medical records of over 5,000 medical patients as a way to determine whether stressful events might… Read More