Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unconscious Prejudice

It is a fact that people don’t always speak their minds. But sometimes people do not speaking their minds because people don’t know their minds.  The IAT Test exposes the unconscious prejudice that people do not self report.
Implicit racism can be seen in many cases. Jennifer Eberhardt (2006) experimented implicit racism by making judges decide if a shown criminal should be sentenced to death or not. It was seen that between two images of criminals (where both had no records of crime but the judges did not know about it) the judges would find the person who was considered to be more stereotypically black to be sentenced to death.
The IAT Test goes from different stages such as people are asked to categorize the faces of black and white people. Then, they are asked to categorize negative and positive words. The test later on asks to combine the faces and words together. They ask to press the left key on the computer when a black face and a positive word comes up and asks to press the right key when a white face and a negative word comes up. In the last stage opposite pairs like ‘black or negative, white or positive’ are shown. By taking the test the emotions and attitudes towards African American’s can be measured by the time the person takes to respond to black-bad/white-good versus black-good/white-bad pairs.  
The IAT Test was found by Anthony Greenwald (1998) to measure the implicit racism. Greenwald tested a group of white students with the IAT Test to see the automatic reaction that they would give toward race. The test revealed the true responses and attitudes that were suppressed. Even though the white students did not show any explicit negative thoughts in the self evaluation reports, they demonstrated more quick responses to the grouping of ‘white + pleasant and black + unpleasant.’ This concluded to students showing more positive automatic evaluation towards white people.
The implicit racism makes me question where does these unconscious thoughts comes from? Is it the environment that we live in? Is it the society that embeds these thoughts? Or is it the background knowledge and historical facts that we keep on learning today embeds thoughts to our minds to differentiate race? Would it be better not to talk about these issues from the past to new generations so that they would not differentiate people by seeing that once there was a difference between races? Or is it better to talk about them and try to come up with solutions to the thoughts of the older generations and how? 


Zeynep Ercan

Friday, November 18, 2011

Herman Cain's Alleged Sexual Harassment - A Racial Component?

For those of you that haven't been keeping up with the political race, there is an African American man named Herman Cain currently running for the Republican nomination. Recently, several accounts of sexual harassment claims have come out that were lodged against him during his former employment. But Soon after a woman named Sharon Bialek came forward and specifically described a particular incident.

But one thing that I found interesting was that the news seemed to make a big deal about this time having a white woman accuse a black man of lewd behavior. Many are harking back to the history of black men being accused of preying on white women in America. Interracial relationships in general are still a bit of an issue in our world, even Cracked recently brought it up in an article about things Hollywood seemed unwilling to show. And the media has always seemed to favor stories involving the proverbial blonde woman with blue eyes.

I personally don't really think that an accusation from a white woman is really all that different from that of a black woman, but what do you think? Do you think it will it grant any more validity to these claims in the eyes of the voters? Or do you think it is just another example of lynch mob mentality making a big deal out of percieved events?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Individual-collective primacy and ingroup favoritism: enchancement and protection effect


Ya –Ru Chen, Joel Brockner and Xiao-Ping Chen conducted an experiment that examines the interactive effects of individial-collective primacy, ingroup performance and outgroup performance on ingroup favoritism. They define ingroup favoritism as the liability for group members to perform more constructive evaluations of their ingroup relative to outgroups (482).


The participants were consisted of two different cultures, The United States and China, and they were either students from the Indiana University or Peking University. They were divided into groups of 6-10 people. The experiment was divided into several stages. The first stage of the experiment was focused on setting apart the participants into two groups. They were informed that this division would be decided through attitudinal similarity. Then they filled an initial attitude survey. Also, while they were waiting for the results they completed a self-perception questionnaire. After the formation of the groups, they were shown their group members average responses of the attitude survey, which in reality were arranged by the experimenter. Then, the participants were asked to complete the Social-Cognitive Aptitude Test (SCAT.) They were told that this test was estimating “ intellectual and interpersonal competencies and is believed to be reliable indicator of an individual’ ability to process and integrate information and to make deductive inferences.” The test consisted of vignettes about ten couples. The participants were asked to make predictions about whether the couple’s would still be in relation a year after. The experimenters manipulated the feedback of the accuracy of the participants’ predictions. In the individual performance feedback participants’ performances were randomly assigned into three conditions, individual success, individual failure and no individual feedback. (484). Then they received ingroup and outgroup performance feedback. After feedbacks, participants completed another questionnaire that consisted measure of ingroup favoritism, manipulation checks and other measures.


Feedback manipulation was successful. Although, grater collective primacy was associated with more attachment to both ingroup and outgroups, the relationship with ingroup attachment was significantly stronger. Thus the study was successful in terms of preceding the participants to perceive their group members as an ingroup (486-87). Their findings presented that the collective-primacy had a positive correlation with ingroup favoritism when an unfavorable intergroup comparison was present. When both groups performed well or bad, there was no relationship between collective-primacy and ingroup favoritism (489).

Why do you think such change occurs?

Also, according to Chen, culture didn’t have a major effect on the ingroup favoritism in this study. In what ways culture relate to ingroup favoritism and why do you think it’s effect was insignificant in this case?

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Case for Egoism


Because the act of suffering for the benefit of others goes against the evolutionary idea of survival of the fittest, there is much debate over why humans regularly go out of their way and at time jeopardize themselves for others with whom they have no relationship. The main debate is over whether people have the capacity to help others out of sheer altruist empathy or if there is always some kind of ego-driven motivation behind their actions.

Psychologist Robert Cialdini describes three different "vicarious emotional responses" people have when faced with a situation where their help is called for. These emotional responses are reflexive distress, normative distress, and sadness.

According to Cialdini, reflexive distress is characterized by "a kind of self-oriented, highly aversive, arousal-based affective state that results from exposure to cues of pain or suffering from a victim". A person experiencing reflexive distress will seek to relieve this feeling in the quickest and easiest way possible (Piliavin, Dovidio, Gaertner, Clark 1981) which will usually result in helping the person who is suffering.

Normative distress refers to the discomfort one experiences when violating a social norm. In our society helping the needing is regarded in a positive light while failing to help is seen as negative. (Berkowitz & Daniels 1964; Gouldner 1960) An observer of someone in need would therefore offer aid in order to feel that they are doing what is generally thought to be the right thing.

The last emotional response someone might experience in the presence of the needy is the negative state of sadness. Because helping has proven to have a mood enhancing affect on the average, normally socialized adult, the observer will want to help in order to alleviate their sadness. (Cialdini, Kendrick & Baumann 1982)

Regardless of the scenario, the person giving help benefits by relieving his or her self of the negative emotions brought on by witnessing a person in need.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Helping and Cooperation at 14 Months of Age


 An experiment by Felix Warneken and Michael Tomasello investigated the proclivity of 14-month-old infants; to altruistically help others toward individual goals. The infants helped another person by handing over objects the other person was unsuccessfully reaching for, but did not help reliably in situations involving more complex goals.
With regard to helping, children as young as 12 months show concern for others in distress and sometimes intervene by comforting them (Eisenberg & Fabes, 1998). In addition, children occasionally point to objects another person is looking for as a form of helping through informing others most recently, it has been shown that 18-month-old children perform unrewarded acts of instrumental helping spontaneously and flexibly in diverse situations.

The experimenters set up six situations for helping for the young children to help.  The three that the 14 month old responded to were the simple tasks the “out-of-reach” scenario.

Clothespin (3). In the experimental condition, the experimenter used clothespins to hang towels on a line. He accidentally dropped a clothespin on the floor and unsuccessfully reached for it. In the control condition, the experimenter intentionally threw the clothespin on the floor and did not reach for it.

Marker (3). In the experimental condition, the experimenter used a marker for drawing, accidentally dropped it on the floor, and unsuccessfully reached for it. In the control condition, he threw it on the floor intentionally and did not reach for it.

Paper ball (3). The child and the experimenter sat at a table, facing each other. Three balls were on the experimenter’s side, and three on the child’s side. In the experimental condition, the experimenter collected three balls with tongs and put them into a container. He then tried to reach for each of the other three balls that were on the child’s side, but failed because they

The children helped 30% of the time in the clothespin scenario, 40% of the time in the marker scenario, and almost 70% of the time in the paper ball scenario. And in the controls less than 10% of the children helped the experimenter.  These results speak in favor of the view that an altruistic motivation is already apparent in early human ontogeny. It also shows children’s cognitive capability of discerning people’s goals.

In another experiment children were given material rewards for helping the experimenter, after helping the experimenter and receiving the material reward the children helped much less, where as children who did not receive a reward helped much more consistently.  Why did the altruistic motivation decrease so much when given a reward? Why is there a higher altruistic motivation when children are not rewarded?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stereotypes and Status

According to the stereotype content model, group stereotypes about other groups vary based on two "dimensions"- warmth and competence. "Warmth" focuses on moral aspects such as kindness and honesty, while "Competence" focuses on intellectual factors such as intelligence and creativity. These dimensions in stereotypes in turn affect the perception of whether the stereotyped group has a "high" or "low" status, and how competitive the group may be to others.

In the part of this study, when the stereotype content model was tested in the United States, many groups tested as “ambivalent”, either meaning “warm but not competent” or “competent
but not warm” (Cuddy et al., 2008). A few groups scored with low warmth and low competence, indicating that people said groups as free-loading and lower in status. On the other hand, in-groups and mainstream social groups were the only ones that rated with both high warmth and competence (in other words, high status).

With this knowledge, how can groups increase positive interactions and/or equalize status with other stereotyped groups? For example, how can groups like “rich people” (typically seen as competent but not as warm) get along with/interact with groups like “the disabled” (typically seen as warm but not as competent)? Furthermore, how can the levels of warmth and competence associated with different groups change, to in turn change and perhaps equalize perceived status across all different groups?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Robber’s Cave Experiment


The Robber’s Cave Experiment conducted by Muzafer Sherif (1961) focused on how competition between individuals can create prejudice and intergroup conflict. The experiment took place at Robber’s Cave State Park, Oklahoma involving two groups of eleven to twelve year old boys. All the boys were of similar backgrounds (white, middle-class) and complete strangers to one another. They were randomly assigned to a group and knew nothing about the other group before the first phase. The members of each group were encouraged to bond with each other and each group began establishing their own group name and culture. The second phase of the experiment was the competition between the two groups. The “Eagles” and “Rattlers” competed aggressively against each other in many activities, such as football, tug-o-war, and treasure hunt. The winning team would be able to get a trophy and there were prizes for the individual members of the winning team, while the losing team would receive nothing. The rivalry became so aggressive that the groups burned each others’ flags, cabins were ransacked, and other hostile things were done. In the end, the experimenters had to physically separate the groups.

Does this experiment mimic real life?

Is competition the only reason for group conflict?