I have written e-portfolio entries depending on the designated topic of the weeks. Although I have written a couple of entries related to the tutorials and the lectures, I found inspiration primarily from the text book. I aimed to ensure that every entry included theories, and a practical example found in wikipedia, youtube or other internet sites.
- 1 TOPIC: INTRO, HISTORY, RESEARCH
- 2 TOPIC: CULTURE, NATURE, SOCIAL SELF
- 3 Self Awareness and Anorexia
- 4 Public Self Awareness and Anorexia
- 5 Standards and Anorexia
- 6 The positive and negative consequences of self-awareness
- 7 TOPIC: SOCIAL THINKING
- 8 Irrational beliefs and it's relationship with Gambling
- 9 Irrational Belief: Losses as 'near wins'
- 10 Irrational Belief: Skill in gambling
- 11 Irrational Belief: Gamblers not aware of what they have lost
- 12 TOPIC: AGGRESSION
- 13 Domestic violence
- 14 Gender and domestic aggression
- 15 Social theories of Aggression applied to domestic violence
- 16 Resource Theory of Aggression applied to domestic violence
- 17 Social Stress Theory of Aggression applied to domestic violence
- 18 Social Learning Theory of Aggression applied to domestic violence
- 19 The relationships betweeen power and self-esteem and Domestic violence
- 20 TOPIC: PREJUDICE
- 21 Jane Elliot's prejudice experiment
- 22 The experiment and ignorance
- 23 The Experiment and stereotypes as heuristics
- 24 The Experiment and competition
- 25 The Experiment and Rationalization for oppression
- 26 The experiment and prejudice boosting in self-esteem"
- 27 More information on the experiment
- 28 TOPICS: RELATIONSHIPS: (Sexuality
- 29 Sexuality theories applied to Female Genital Mutilation
- 30 Information on Female Genital Mutilation
- 31 How do people justify Female Genital Mutilation
- 32 Evolutionary perspective applied to Female Genital Mutilation
- 33 Social Exchange theory of Sex applied to Female Genital Mutilation
- 34 TOPIC: GROUPS AND LEADERSHIP
- 35 Evolutionary theories and social facilitation model applied to Barra Brava
- 36 Barra Brava providing a sense of belonging
- 37 Barra Brava providing a false sense of security and protection
- 38 Barra Brava allowing access to certain resources
- 39 Barra Brava providing sense of identity
- 40 Social Faciliation model applied to Barra Brava
- 41 TOPIC: TUTORIAL ON NATIONALITY AND CULTURE
- 42 Culture Shock
- 43 Culture shock:Interview with father
- 44 Culture shock: Interview with international student
- 45 Culture shock:Interview with a man who recently moved to Argentina
- 46 TOPIC: PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOUR
- 47 Bystander effect applied to a stabbing incident
- 48 Evolutionary theory of helping others
- 49 Bystander effect applied to Perth incident
- 50 Step 1 to helping applied to Bus Incident
- 51 Step 2 to helping applied to Bus Incident
- 52 Step 3 to helping applied to Bus Incident
- 53 Step 4 to helping applied to Bus Incident
- 54 Step 5 to helping applied to Bus Incident
- 55 TOPIC: ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
- 56 Polution, crowding, traffic congestion, noise as causes of learned helplessness
- 57 Learned helplessness and environmental conditions
- 58 Irony of human responsibility for environmental conditions and the development of learned helplessness
- 59 sensations of lack of control over environmental conditions
- 60 Crowding, traffic congestion and learned helplessness
- 61 pollution and learned helplessness
- 62 The similarity of symptoms of environmental conditions and symptoms of learned helplessness
TOPIC: INTRO, HISTORY, RESEARCH
It is the end of the first week back at University for Semester two and I have already attended a lecture and a tutorial for Social Psychology. At this stage, as the topic seems so broad and applicable to every part of human life, I am having difficulty understanding exactly what topics are most salient to this area of psychology and how to apply these theories to the infinite situations and interactions that happen in the world around us. This is my first goal therefore for the first week, to really understand exactly what Social Psychology means and how it is important.
Social Psychology definition
To begin with, when James was explaining the definition of Social Psychology, he mentioned that it was ‘how the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others’. I tried to apply this to my everyday life today at work in order to see the extent of this influence. I found that almost every second of my day was influenced in some way by the presence of others; whether it was the respectful and serious manner I acted in the presence of authority, the feelings of pleasure I felt when I was greeted by a friendly colleague or certain thoughts or opinions I developed when hearing the political and cultural beliefs of others in my branch.
Person-vs situation debate
James spoke about the importance of the person vs. situation debate. Whether our behaviours are only a result of our personality, or are influenced by the situation in which we're placed. Just by monitoring my movements for one day it was evident that my behaviours, thoughts and feelings were dependent upon the social situation I was in. This reminded me of the ‘unethical psychological’ experiments from the 1970s that James mentioned during his lecture. Particularly of interest for me was the Stanford University experiment which demonstrated that students like us were capable of things we would have never imagined, provided we were in a certain situation. Viewing a video from youtube I was surprised to find what happened in that ‘artificial prison’ the social networks that developed, the way in which certain guards exerted power over the ‘prisoners’ and the distress experienced and the seeming identity change’ that resulted simply by being in the experiment. This experiment was conducted in 1971 by Stanford University, where they created an artificial prison to see exactly what would happen. The surprising results were that in a short period of time ‘the guards’ and ‘the prisoners’ assumed their roles beyond the expectations of many. Due to the degrading outfits, the harassment they received from the guards and the sense of having no control over their surroundings, the prisoners became very distressed and created plans to be able to escape the prison as if it were real. Some pretending they did not have a healthy psychological state, planning hunger strikes and locking themselves in a room. One prisoner (prisoner 416) said that he was losing his identity, and that his new identity was of prisoner 416. The guards evidently changed the way they acted in this experiment, normal individuals harassing and abusing of the prisoners. One guard, although he refused to participate in the harassment did not confront the abusive guard, instead he just went and allowed for the harassment to continue. However, the person that most surprised me was the psychologist and researcher Zimbargo who he himself said that he got so obsessed with the experiment that he lost his identity as a psychologist and researcher.
What this experiment demonstrates is that depending on the situation, anyone can change their actions, their emotions and their thoughts. And the morals and principles that people expect to have in certain situations may not be what would really happen. Therefore this would be a very good example of where situation and environmental variables prevailed over the personality of the individuals involved, this experiment even having the power to not only change behaviours, change emotional states but also rob them of their sense of identity.
TOPIC: CULTURE, NATURE, SOCIAL SELF
Self Awareness and Anorexia
There was an entire chapter on the self, some theories applying directly to the experiences a friend had that suffered from anorexia. There were specific theories about self-awareness which really was able to identify some ways that individuals with eating disorders can begin to develop the motivation to begin the process of starvation in order to fulfil the need to conform with the social ideals. Evidently, this is only one factor as to why people begin to have eating disorders.
Public Self Awareness and Anorexia
The person with which I spoke to spoke a lot about how she perceived to be viewed by others. Therefore she spoke a lot about the importance of her 'public self-awareness'. The text explains that self-awareness is a process which not only requires individuals to be aware of the self, but also evaluate it. Therefore, self-awareness depends on comparison with social standards. These standards could include what others have done and what is expected. In the case of my friend unfortunately, she compared her physical appearance to standards that were very high. She would often disregard the weight and physical appearance that normal people around her had, and instead would strive to have the weight and physical appearance of people in magazines and on television. This is supported by the text, which explains how many females compare themselves to models, putting them at risk of eating disorders.
Standards and Anorexia
As the text also explains, when a person does not match the 'standard' which they are striving for, they can either escape self-awareness or change themselves to fit the ideal mold. In the case of my friend, she employed extreme strategies in order to be able to minimise the difference between what she perceived herself to be and the standard she had set for her physical appearance. Evidently these strategies included excessive exercise and starvation. In contrast, by escaping it could be said that someone could be reducing their self-awareness as a protective strategy. As my friend was already thin, and was already heavily involved in exercise, she believed that this goal was attainable and therefore was motivated to be self-aware and engage in exercise and starvation behaviours to attain the goal in a small period of time.
The positive and negative consequences of self-awareness
The text states that self-awareness is generally a positive thing which regulates how people behave and treat others and therefore is necessary in the maintenance and development of relationships. However, self-awareness of my friend and her phsyical appearance did not exactly help her, and she inevitably put her health and her life at risk due to being so self-aware and comparing herself to standards that society unfortunately encourage.
In addition, the text also states that self-awareness can also be helpful if it allows people to see the way that others may perceive them. This is because, generally speaking, other people may see us in a more positive light than perhaps how we see ourselves. However, with my friend, her view was so distorted that she believed she knew what others were thinking of her. Unfortunately she was completely wrong, as she imagined that others not only saw her in a negative light with her physical appearance, but also believed tha they did not appreciate her company or value her as a person. This further contributed to her eating disorder, as she now was more motivated to attempt to change what she could, ie. her weight, because she was unable to change the personality which apparently the people around her detested.
Therefore, although self-awareness should be a positive thing that regulates behaviour and allows for individuals to integrate well into society. However, in some cases when a person has negatively and incorrectly evaluated themselves from comparing themselves with standards that are too high, and have beliefs that other people perceive them in a negative manner, self-awareness can become negative for someones mental and physical health.
TOPIC: SOCIAL THINKING
Irrational beliefs and it's relationship with Gambling
This week I will write about Irrational beliefs that are explained in Chapter 7: Attitudes, Beliefs and Consistency. I believe this is very important considering that irrational beliefs, as explained in the text, can contribute to lower self-esteem, anxiety, depression and are less able to cope with terminal illnesses. Today, I will explain how irrational beliefs can contribute to the development of addiction people have to gambling. I will use an example of a person I knew to explain the role of irrational beliefs in the development of gambling behaviours. I have chosen this topic as gambling is a serious problem in Australia. Firstly, the text explains how gamblers maintain their motivation to gamble despite appropriate reinforcement. As gamblers lose more money than they gain, it would be expected that gamblers would notice this lack of reinforcement and cease to gamble. However it is those gamblers which employ irrational beliefs which are more likely to justify their gambling behaviour and continue to play despite putting possessions, relationships and their social status at evident risk.
Irrational Belief: Losses as 'near wins'
One of these irrational beliefs explained in the text, is that they convince themselves that when they lose it is a 'near win'. Therefore, this irrational belief allows them to believe that if they nearly won on this occasion, their likelihood of winning at the next opportunity is much higher. I knew someone who used this type of mentality while gambling. Unfortunately, she truly believed that she was constantly close to winning. Therefore she consistently believed that if she continued playing just one more game she would be successful and not only win her losses back but improve on that also.
Irrational Belief: Skill in gambling
Another irrational belief she employed in order to justify her excessive gambling, was believing that she had a special skill which allowed her to be better than others at the pokie machines. Unfortunately, success in pokie machines is dependent on luck rather than skill. She truly believed, irrationally, that she was aware of which machines to select and how to play on each one. Having this belief that she was superior to other people in these particular games, influenced her to continue seeking affirmation of this belief. This was affirmed every time she won a certain amount.
Irrational Belief: Gamblers not aware of what they have lost
As many people are not entirely aware of how much money they are putting into the machines because they get caught up in the emotion and the thrill of gambling, it is also very probable that people are not aware of how much they have lost. This leads to another irrational belief. This woman, was mentioning that she was winning hundreds of dollars every time she was going to play on the pokies. Companies which provide pokie machines are not so generous as to be constantly providing players with more money than they those people invested in the pokie machines. Therefore it is more likely, that this woman had spent a lot more money than she had 'won'. This is a pattern that many gamblers employ, not paying much attention to the amount of money that they put into the game, but exagerating the significance of any amount that comes out of the machine. Therefore, this lady had perhaps gained 200 dollars from the pokies, but had put in double or triple that amount.
When a gambling addict is finally successfull in winning a game, it can be thought that this winning reinforces the gambling behaviour by supporting the irrational beliefs they had previously developed. Winning reaffirms that the person has unique skill, that when they lost they had 'just missed out' on winning and that they have been able to obtain a profit from these machines. As these irrational beliefs contribute to the development of gambling behaviour, therefore perhaps eradicating them would limit this type of detrimental behaviour.
The topic of this entry is agression. I have chosen to discuss domestic violence in particular, because it is a very important, serious and common problem. In order to do this, I will apply several social theories of agression to this type of abuse. This information was taken from wikipedia.
In the text it says that ‘aggresssion is any behaviour intended to harm another person who is motivated to avoid the harm’. Considering that domestic violence can encompass any form of physical and sexual abuse which have many physically and emotional negative consequences, it is expected that most people will intend to avoid this harm. Domestic violence, can cause significant public health problems, over 1/10 people being affected in the United States for example.
Gender and domestic aggression
Firstly, gender is considered to significantly predict aggressive behaviour. Although it is not suggested that all men are aggressive, there is an abundance of theory and evidence which suggest that men are more likley to use violence for both hostile and instrumental reasons. One study (page 362) indicated that male rats were likley to fight or run away when under stress, whereas females were most likely to nurture and befriend others under the same circumstances. Therefore it can be estimated that men would have a higher likelihood of being domestic violence perpetrators. This traditional belief and theory has been opposed by many that have suggested that males are almost as likely as women to be victimised in domestic violence. For example, the National Family Violence Survey has yielded results that would indicate that both men and women have significant likelihood of being physically assaulted by an intimate partner. This study indicated a surprising rate of rape and assault among men victims. Although a percentage of these men are homosexuals and unfortunately this increases the likelihood of them being victimised in their intimate relationships, 7.5% percent of men were raped or assaulted by their female partners. In addition, just over 1/3rd of people reporting to emergency rooms due to domestic violence were men. However, we must consider that men are far less likely to report such violence being acted against them by their parnters. Therefore, men may still commit more domestic violence crimes. However, the difference expected between violence commited by males and females in the home may not be as significant as expected.
Social theories of Aggression applied to domestic violence
Many social theories have been applied in order to understand why the cycle of domestic violence continues and why victims continue to live under these circumstances.
Resource Theory of Aggression applied to domestic violence
The first is called “Resource Theory” which focuses more on why women stay in abusive relationships. It proposes that as women generally rely on a man more for financial reasons, women are less likely to leave an abusive relationship. It therefore proposes that women are afraid of the financial consequences they will experience, and therefore convince themselves that the violent atmosphere in which they live is the one that is necessary for survivial. This creates a very vunreable situation for a woman, because often they will live in poverty if they leave. Considering the situation in this way, it is understandable how they would believe that a violent atmosphere is preferable to one that does not put food on the table or provide shelter or provide appropriate education for children. Meanwhile, it creates a very powerful position for a male, whom can use this vunreability to feel a sense of power and control over the situation, relationship and perhaps his intimate other. This is not to say that this theory is not applicable to male victims of domestic violence.
Social Stress Theory of Aggression applied to domestic violence
The “social stress” theory is one that can be compared to the “frustration hypothesis” as it proposes that when people are presented with stressors they may react aggressively to the people areound them. Wikipedia explains that those experiencing poverty are more likley to suffer from domestic abuse for this reason. Being unable to provide financially for a family, is one stressor that increases frustration and also, reduces a man’s sense of masculinity in their relationship. This may influence and increase in performance of criminal behaviours, but also violent behaviour in the home in order to increase his sense of masculinity. Again, this can be applied to women perpetrators of domestic abuse.
Social Learning Theory of Aggression applied to domestic violence
Also, social learning theory can be used to explain the cycle of domestic violence that is observed within families. Firstly, those who perform abusive behaviours may be observed or modelled by others. This often is followed by an increase in violence from the observers, for example, the intimate partners or their children. Reinforcement is a very important aspect of this theory, as people often observe that another individual being abusive to their spouse for example, yields the results of the spouse obeying their orders. Viewing this behaviour being positively reinforced therefore increases the likelihood that they in the future will engage in this behaviuor. This creates a very dangerous cycle, which can partly explain why domestic violence often is passed down generation to generation.
The relationships betweeen power and self-esteem and Domestic violence
Finally, a set of theories which have been discussed extensively in terms of domestic violence and in particular sexual assaults, has been that people engage in these behaviours in order to feel a sense of power or control over their victim. These emotions and sensations are considered to reinforce the negative and violent behaviour. Different theorists have disagreed about whether these individuals feel out of control or with low self esteem or the exact opposite. One theory suggests that in an attempt to increase a sense of power, individuals keep abusing over and over again as the root of the power, the low self-esteem and powerlessness has not been fixed.
Domestic violence is therefore a complex set of aggressive behaviours which have many explanations. The resource theory, social stress theory, social learning theory, and low-self esteem and a sense of powerlessness can contribute to partly understanding why domestic abuse happens and why it is maintained despite the negative consequences to the victim.
Jane Elliot's prejudice experiment
Inspired by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jane Elliott sought out to minimize prejudice towards black people in her classroom. During this activity called ‘blue-eyed/brown-eyed’ it is evident that she witnessed factors that have been identified in social psychology as contributors to the existence of prejudice. I will explain these and apply it to the experiment that Jane Elliot conducted.
It is evident from reading documentation on her experiment that there was competition, ignorance, rationalizations for oppression, stereotypes as heuristics, and prejudice boosting self-esteem.
The experiment and ignorance
Ignorance: The text describes ignorance as the process by which individuals aim to class individuals into stereotypes when they do not have sufficient contact with them. Jane Elliot said that a class discussion about the assassination of Martin Luther King demonstrated to her that these children had very strong and similar stereotypes of black people. These stereotypes were not only untrue factually, but any opinions shouldn’t have been developed considering that these children were never really exposed to black people in the appropriate context. For example, in this community in Iowa many of her students had never even met a black person, and she herself had not met one until she was nineteen. In addition, the children not only had developed stereotypes of black people but were also very ignorant to the discrimination that black people were suffering. For example, in a youtube video I saw on this topic, the children really did not seem to know what it would feel like to be a black person living in America. This can be further supported by a quote taken from an interview with Elliot about the class discussion she had with the children where she stated that instead of internalizing what black men were experiencing, the children were just displaying shared ignorance. Therefore, Jane Elliot was a witness to ignorance, one of the explanations for the existence of prejudice.
The Experiment and stereotypes as heuristics
Stereotypes as heuristics: the text explains that in order to save cognitive energy, stereotypes are developed in order to class people and objects. Jane Elliot, as described above, recorded stereotypes that these children used in order to describe black communities. These stereotypes often included unwaranted claims such as black people were stupid and were unable to maintain appropriate employment.
The Experiment and competition
The text explains how competition increases conflict and prejudice particularly when the two groups are attempting to compete to obtain scarce resources. The activity that Jane Elliot conducted was to make the brown-eyed children superior first. They apparently not only received extra lunches but also received extra play time, access to an exclusive water fountain and praise. These emotional and physical rewards which were evidently limited and only being provided to one group caused conflict between the two, and therefore prejudice.
The Experiment and Rationalization for oppression
The text describes this process that groups in a powerful position often justify and give reason to their prejudice. Jane Elliot explained that at first the experiment was not working too well because children did not have a justification for this discrimination. As soon as Elliot suggested that melanin (more abundant in brown-eye children) was also linked to intelligence and ability, the prejudice against the blue eye children increased dramatically. This was demonstrated by treating the ‘inferior’ blue eyed participants as subordinate and generally rejecting them.
The experiment and prejudice boosting in self-esteem"
The text explains that by being a part of a superior group self-esteem rises. The demonstration of this ‘explanation’ for prejudice is perhaps the most remarkable thing about Jane Elliots experiment. Once the brown eyed children assumed their superior positions, there was an improvement in their mathematical and reading grades, which is assumed to have occurred because of an increase in self-esteem. In contrast, the blue eyed children, even those who were at first gifted, suffered academically and displayed timid and low-self esteem behaviours.
Therefore, although this experiment was very controversial it demonstrates an example of real, and manufactured prejudice. Lending support to the theories proposing that compeition, ignorance, rationalizations for oppression, stereotypes as heuristics and that prejudice boosts self-esteem are responsible for the existence of prejudice. In addition, this experiment demonstrates that humans really are prejudiced beings, and that even seperating a group on the basis of its eye colour had the ability to create this prejudice. It was a clear demonstration of the behaviours and emotions that people have towards other racial, religious and socio-economic groups.
More information on the experiment
This experiment was heavily controversial, applauded by some and ridiculed by others. This has inspired a program in order to decrease discrimination, but there has been mixed results as to it’s success. The task was so controversial because it put the children at significant risk of emotional distress. The teacher failed to ensure informed consent, appropriate debrief, did not alert the parents of her intentions, and during the course of the experiments often humiliated the children. This, from a psychological point of view is extremely unethical. Although many students have said that being a part of this unethical experiment, changed the way they viewed and treated the black community and minorities as a whole, the technique Jane Elliot used has been said to increase anxiety and frustration. However, it did stimulate research into prejudice and she did influence people to want to change their prejudices. For these reasons her experiment is important.
TOPICS: RELATIONSHIPS: (Sexuality
Sexuality theories applied to Female Genital Mutilation
I will discuss firstly what Female Genital Mutilation is and it’s consequences and then will explain it in relation to evolutionary theory and the social exchange theory of sex.
Information on Female Genital Mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation/cutting is a very controversial practice which has many sexual, medical and emotional consequences on the people which have received the operation. The most extreme form; infibulation, is often used in order to ensure that a woman remains a virgin until marriage. It is difficult to understand therefore, why parents would subject their children to a practice that will put them at risk of experiencing extreme pain and sometimes death. This practice is primarily performed on children between the ages of 4 and 8, although it may be performed up until adolescence. The procedures range from damaging or removal of the clitoris to the removal of labia and keeping the labia together by using thorns or stitching. Considering that many of these operations are performed by unqualified people, without anesthetic and without sterilization of instruments, many patients run the risk of suffering from shock, excessive bleeding, developing life threatening infections, experiencing extreme pain throughout sexual encounters and even an increase in infant mortality when they give birth.
This practice is found mostly in African countries such as Egypt, although laws have already been implemented in order to limit it’s use. In addition, although many people who promote FGC say it has medical and hygienic benefits, medical professionals have suggested otherwise. Finally, although many have attempted to justify FGC saying that it is linked to religious doctrine, Jewish, Christian and Islam clergy have opposed this idea. However, those of the Sunni view, endorse FGI to an extent.
How do people justify Female Genital Mutilation
Therefore, with laws prohibiting it’s use, professionals outlining the dangers with and the uselessness of FGC from a medical perspective and religious figures opposing FGC, why would parents chose this fate for their children? The answer can be considered to be cultural and evolutionary.
Evolutionary perspective applied to Female Genital Mutilation
Firstly, evolutionary perspective explains that women are more careful with how many sexual partners they will have and who those sexual partners may be. It proposes that this takes place because women can only be pregnant a limited number of times in a lifetime, whereas males can father limitless number of children during the same time. Women are the individuals which decide when sex will take place, because they need to ensure that the man will be available to provide economic and supportive resources for her child, if she happens to fall pregnant. Considering that men want to reproduce and wants to ensure that the child they will be providing resources for is actually his, will essentially sometimes aim to control the access ‘their woman’ has to sexual activity. This can be applied to the use of FGC, considering that this process is often used in order to first limit the desirability of females to have sex and therefore limit their desirability to have sex with other males, and secondly, with infibulation, to ensure that these women have not already been engaging in such acts or that they are not already pregnant with the child of another man.
Social Exchange theory of Sex applied to Female Genital Mutilation
In addition, the text suggests that this may be explained by the ‘social exchange theory of sex’. I wished to investigate this further. In many cultures where FGI is endorsed, marriage is considered the only option that a woman will be able to obtain financial and emotional security. The only way these females can obtain this security is to provide a man with the most valuable thing, their virginity. Therefore, while the need and desire of a man is to be involved sexually with a virgin, they receive this only if they have ensured that the future of that woman will be protected and provided for. There is therefore a clear and obvious exchange being made between the male and the female, the male exchanging his resources, commitment and attention for the opportunity to have sex with that individual. In addition, in these communities it is often humiliating for a man to have married a woman that is not a virgin. Considering that FGI can assure this virginity, the woman, in addition to providing man with the opportunity to be their first sexual partner, are also providing the husband with the opportunity to avoid being stigmatized in his community as someone who has not married a virgin. It is for this reason that many women which have undergone FGC do not believe that it is an evil and violent practice, but instead believe that it is the reason that they have a higher status in society, which has been the source of their obtaining of necessary resources.
It can therefore be understood from social exchange theory of sex, that while FGI can be viewed as cruel and mutilating, the parents of girls undergoing FGC believe they are providing their children with the most important thing, a future. �
TOPIC: GROUPS AND LEADERSHIP
I wrote my essay on how gangs resemble other groups in the way in which they provide protection, access to resources, a sense of belonging and a rise in self-esteem. Although I spoke primarily about violent gangs that had developed in United States and Central America, it suprised me how much these groups were similar to groups such as sport followers. For this reason, this week I decided to compare gangs with the supporters of sporting teams such as the 'barra brava' of River Plate and Boca Juniors, both Argentinean soccer teams. I will discuss the similarities between them, such as what they provide and why people join them.
For me, groups such as these are fascinating because it seems that they form to view sport, but end up being a source of livelihood and the most important thing for the individuals involved. For the individuals that form part of these groups the 'barra brava' and team which they support becomes a source of obsession.
Barra Brava providing a sense of belonging
Firstly, as discussed in my essay, violent gangs provide a sense of belonging according to the belongingness theory. The evolutionary theory proposes that those who joined groups were most likely to survive and reproduce, hence producing a tendency in humans to seek relationships with others. Often unable to find meaningful connections with family and those around them, they resort to joining gangs in order to feel part of a group where they can feel that they are respected and loved. This can also be considered to be the case in the barra brava's whereby these people although are united firstly by the love of futbol, also end up being united because of the friendships they have with eachother. They support eachother when the team loses, and celebrate when the team wins. And this support also can become more personal, many of these barra brava members being a source of emotional support.
Barra Brava providing a false sense of security and protection
Secondly, groups often provide a false sense of security and protection from the perceived violence in the community. This also has an evolutionary explanation, that those ancestors which joined groups were more likely to successfully fend off predators. These individuals were more likely to survive and reproduce. In accordance with this theory, generally speaking, members of the barra brava are more likely to come from more dangerous areas of the city of Buenos Aires. In this way there is a certain expectation that they will perhaps feel more safe being part of such a large and powerful group. In addition, as there is such a significant rivalry between the different soccer teams, supporters of certain teams are victimised by supporters of another team. Therefore, by joining the barra brava, individuals feel they are more safe to express their dedication to their team without being successfully attacked by supporters of rival teams.
Barra Brava allowing access to certain resources
Thirdly, joining a group allows access to certain resources. The evolutionary theory proposes that members of a group were far more likely to successfuly obtain food and shelter, and for this reason individuals actively seek gruops. Violent gangs often manufacture and sell drugs, are involved with extorsion and homicide. It is thought that many members of the barra brava's are often from dysfunctional neighbourhoods, perhaps more likely to have suffered from poverty and abuse. What is surprising is their obsession becomes so strong that some will go without food in order to be able to attend a match. Similar to violent gangs, the member of 'barra brava's' have become infamous for the criminal acts that they commit. Although this has never been proven in court, they are rumoured to be involved in similar activities as violent gangs. These activities allow them to obtain money that perhaps, due to a lack of education and employment, they were unable to obtain earlier. There have been rumours that these sports supporters have been involved in selling of drugs, in extorsion of players; threatening violent action if a player does not perform in a desired way, and have re-sold tickets at a much higher price. This allows for many members of the bara-brava to access resources that they definately would not have been able to access if they were working on their own.
Barra Brava providing sense of identity
One thing I also mentioned in my essay was that groups influenced the sense of identity that a person has. Ironically although groups often provide a person with a sense of identity, if the obsession becomes too dominant, than the individual loses their individuality among that particular groups. In violent gangs, often they are identified tattoos and how they dress. In the barra brava's they often refuse to wear colours of oposing gangs and tattoo the team 'crest' in visible areas of the body. This is their way of demonstrating their identity as an important member of bara brava, but what it actually does is influence that the stereotypes that others hold of bara brava members and what they are and what they do is reafirmed.
Social Faciliation model applied to Barra Brava
In addition, i spoke about the social facilitation and enhancement models, which propose that delinquent behaviours increase in gangs. This is not only involved in organised crime gruops, violent gangs in Northern and central america but also in barra brava's. The violence between the rival teams has influenced that many begin to participate in activities such as bashings because they observe the actions of other people in the gang.
TOPIC: TUTORIAL ON NATIONALITY AND CULTURE
In this weeks tutorial we spoke primarily about culture, about how our names and groups we belong to can indicate so much about who we are, where we came from and what the future holds for us. It was evident from this simple exercise, that nationality had a big impact on the experiences of the people in our class. This was further highlighted when we began to discuss what happens when people go to other countries and are overwhelmed by being so different to the people of that culture, we therefore discussed culture shock. As the opinions from most were experiences that they had had while travelling I did not think this was a true demonstration of what culture shock really is or what it can ‘do’ to a person. I therefore decided to investigate further, with my father, and a friend who went to live in Argentina and my friend who has recently come from Columbia.
Culture shock:Interview with father
My dad arrived in Australia in 1988 alone to set up a life for my family that was still back in Argentina. When I asked him when and why he experienced culture shock his first answer was ‘with everything’. This made me laugh, but in fact it is understandable how someone could feel this way when reaching a country which has a different language, different customs and different infrastructure. He explained mainly how it was a shock how people didn’t say hello to eachother on the street, and that the Australian neighbours were not really accustomed to talking much to eachother (Lucky for him, in the first house we bought we just happened to move next to a man from South America). He said this made him feel somewhat lonely, as he knew from this point that the relationships he would make in Australia would be very different to the ones he had back at home. He also knew, that he was out of place and he would have to learn a whole new set of rules of how to conduct himself in a social environment, which is evidently daunting considering he had spent the last 30 years perfecting another set of rules. He said that forming meaningful friendships, at a time when he had no family or friends in Australia, was so difficult even though he already had learnt English in school. Facing the fact that Australians do not speak with a british accent and use a lot of slang, made his first few weeks at work very difficult. He felt that firstly he could not communicate with anyone, and this made him think it was impossible for him to settle into life in Australia.
Culture shock: Interview with international student
In addition, I asked my friend, a male from Colombia, a few questions. He firstly expressed very quickly that he had been a victim of Culture Shock, both when he lived in London for a year as a teenager and as well when he arrived in Canberra at 23 years of age. It was surprising how similar his explanation of culture shock was to that of my father. He started off by explaining that when one arrives in a country, everything can be so different that even the simple things become a challenge. For example, even greeting someone in a manner which is in accord to the culture of the country can become difficult. In the Latin Culture it is expected that when a man and woman are introduced, they kiss each other on the cheek. Evidently, in many settings in Australia and with certain cultural groups this is not common practice. What seemed like such a simple gesture became the source of much humiliation for my friend. This is because many women were either obviously uncomfortable with the greeting or directly rejected it, leaving him embarrassed and uncomfortable with the social situation. He explained that it was generally interactions with females that have made him feel uncomfortable; such as females paying for dinners or not allowing him to open the door for them. Although this may seem like simple things, when these ‘gentleman like’ behaviours are not only part of your culture, but have therefore become a part of your personality, it can leave a person like my friend feeling humiliated and confused. He also explained how different words and humour can be a source of anger and conflict. He said that in Spanish, particularly in Colombia, stupid is a very strong word. Evidently in Australia, it is used in a very relaxed and innocent way. He explained that when he first arrived and people used sentences like ‘don’t be stupid’ ‘that was stupid’ in a joking manner he couldn’t help but feel offended and hurt by feeling he had been insulted by an innocent Australian that had purely wanted to make a joke or make him feel more comfortable. Evidently with time he became accustomed, and is now no longer experiencing this culture shock a few months after arriving.
Culture shock:Interview with a man who recently moved to Argentina
Finally, I had the opportunity to ask someone that has recently moved to Argentina to tell me about his experiences with this culture shock. Not surprisingly, he had the opposite reaction that my dad and my friend described. He, having to hug and kiss men on the cheek for the first time as a greeting at first made him feel de-masculinized and uncomfortable. He explained aswell, how interactions with women can be difficult, as he is accustomed to the lack of physical contact that occurs when Australian men and women meet. He said that sometimes he forgot that the custom was a kiss on a cheek and could see that he had offended or embarrassed the female. The thing he spoke most about however, was the way in which men speak with women. In Argentina, a courtship between a man and a woman usually includes a lot of ‘pick up lines’, sweet words and a general intensity which Australian males are not used to. He felt that catching a female’s attention required him to compete with many other males that acted far more confident and knew what to say far more than he did. In other words, there was no scope for a sensitive new-age guy in this environment, making his self-esteem drop a little until he became used to the way of speaking. In addition, he added that female tourists which arrived in Argentina often translated attention from Argentinean men as serious interest from an Australian perspective, when it may have been truly merely a tool for conquest. Finally he spoke about how the city was a ‘battlefield’, an environment which truly was highly competitive in both academic and economic forms where survival is the main focus which made him feel slightly overwhelmed. All that I have written about his experiences left him feel like he was not ‘equipped with the right tools’ to succeed in a social, academic and economic environment which contributed to worry, lower self-esteem and frustration. However, once this culture shock subsided, he did love it and appreciated the culture for what it was.
TOPIC: PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOUR
Bystander effect applied to a stabbing incident
One of the most discussed theories in the realm of prosocial behaviour is the bystander effect. Therefore, I will apply the theories regarding bystander effect and helping to a true example I found on the internet of a situation where individuals demonstrated bystander effect when a man was stabbed. This link was at www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/aug/04/ukcrime.features11 - 79k.
Evolutionary theory of helping others
Although the evolutionary theory proposes that there is the process of kin selection, that we help those who are genetically related to us, there is still an expectation that humans will attempt to help others in their community, or those they do not know. Disturbingly however, although humans are expected to be empathetic and should seek to relieve the negative states of others regardless of their connection, this is not the case in many situations as described by the bystander effect.
Bystander effect applied to Perth incident
Firstly, people are more likely to help others if the people whom they will be helping are female, attractive and similar to the person whom is going to help. In addition, the person who will be doing the helping often has a personality which is helpful, is in a good mood at the time and who believes that the victim of whatever situation was not responsible in any way for the situation they are in. I have been unable to track down a newspaper article about it, but I once heard that on a busy Perth road a woman was raped, in full view of motorists passing. According to these theories it would be assumed that at least one of the many people that passed would be in a good mood that day, find the woman attractive, see the woman as similar to themselves and/or be generally helpful for example. As well, in 1964, as the text suggests, the rape and murder of Kitty Genovese demonstrated the power of this bystander effect, the way that people in a group are less likely to help. This is partly due to 'pluralistic ignorance' where people depend on others to indicate how to act in a certain situation.
Therefore John Darley and Bibb Latane identified what five things need to occur before a 'bystander' begins to help somebody. In order to explain these, I found a case of bystander effect on the internet whereby a man was stabbed on a bus. The bus had two levels, the stabbing occured upstairs and the people were downstairs. I will apply this to these five stages, identifying how and why many individuals failed to help in this 'bus situation'.
Step 1 to helping applied to Bus Incident
Notice that something is happening: The text states that busy people, and those around other people are less likely to notice something is happening. In the 'bus situation', although it was 10pm, the woman explained that there was plenty of people. However, although this could have been an issue in 'noticing something is happening' it wasn't. The woman explained that everyone heard the women scream.
Step 2 to helping applied to Bus Incident
Interpret the meaning of the event. The text says that determining whether the event is an emergency or not may be difficult. In the 'bus situation', this was definately the case. Firstly, the people on the bus thought that the people were yelling because they were having an argument, a simple domestic disbute. Also, because the woman was yelling in an inconsistent manner people did not take her screams seriously. It was only when a man actually said he had witnessed an attack that people were made aware of the stabbing that had happened upstairs. The man which alerted the people of the attack simply left the scene, and didn't assist in helping the stabbed man.
Step 3 to helping applied to Bus Incident
Take responsibility for providing help:. The text explains that although people may recognise that an emergency is occuring, they may not take responsibility because with other people present, their sensation of responsibility in the situation is minimised. The lady explained that she was expected someone else to be the first, and not herself. Therefore her first thought was that someone else would do something before she did, a common belief found in those that are involved in the bystander effect.
Step 4 to helping applied to Bus Incident
Know how to help. The text says that a person has to know how to help and have the ability to do so in order to be successful. In the bus situation this was evidently an obstacle in the woman helping. Being a woman, she was not physically strong enough to move the man into an appropriate position. She felt overwhelmed at having to call emergency services, put him in a better position and apply pressure to his wound all at the same time. Fortunately, although she felt overwhelmed at the thought at having to do all these things at once, she still provided the help.
Step 5 to helping applied to Bus Incident
provide help. The text explains that people may be discouraged to offer help because they believe other people will judge how they handle the istuation. In addition, it is believed that if the costs to the person offering the help outweighs the benefits, then they will not offer help. In this case, the woman was noticing that the mans condition was not good, and therefore, believed that the benefits of her providing help would outweigh the feelings of embarrassment she would feel by providing help although she was not sure how. Unfortunately, because she was the only one to help, and it took too much time the man died.
This 'bus situation' is a classic example of bystander effect. It showed how people chose to ignore screams, and even ignore the situation when the man was presented as having been stabbed. Unfortunately, he would not have died if more people had come together and ensured that he had had the help he deserved.
TOPIC: ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
Polution, crowding, traffic congestion, noise as causes of learned helplessness
In recent years, the importance of the environment and it's protection has become more important. Today I will discuss how environmental conditions, which humans have caused have affected the physical and psychological health of many individuals in different societies.
Learned helplessness and environmental conditions
Many of the environmental conditions that humans have had control over causes learned helplessness in many individuals. This is a state of helplessness that humans or animals display when they perceive that they do not have control over the situation, even if they do. The text explains that this state can be observed due to the environmental conditions created by humans such as noise, crowding, traffic congestion and pollution.
Irony of human responsibility for environmental conditions and the development of learned helplessness
It is ironic that these environmental conditions have been developed as a direct effect of the behaviour of humans, yet still have the power to cause learned helplessness in individuals. It is humans which have contributed to noise, air and earth polution, only humans can be held responsible for overcrowding in certain areas and only humans invented vehicles and used them which contributes to traffic congestion.
sensations of lack of control over environmental conditions
However, it is important to note that most of these conditions, although caused partly by the actions of every single individual, are not perceived by individuals as being under their control. In other words, people often do not believe that limiting their car use, limiting their electricity use or minimising the polution in their area will have a sufficient impact to make a difference to the conditions that are affecting their physical and psychological health. In addition, some people who are not responsible for these conditions at all feel helpless as they are already doing all they can to limit the seriousness of the conditions.
Crowding, traffic congestion and learned helplessness
Especially in situations where overcrowding and traffic congestion is an issue, people may have no escape from the place where they reside. This could be an area, city, house even a prison, such as the New Mexico Penitentiary which is explained in a text. People need their space, but if in a negative economic situation or in a city that just does not allow for individuals to have this space, many people start to display physical and psychological symptoms. Being unable to escape this stressful environment may cause learned helplessness.
pollution and learned helplessness
In addition, living in areas with excessive air, water and land pollution make humans susceptible to developing many different physical illnesses, Living in an area with a high level of air and land polution increases the risk that people develope from minor to major illneses. Knowing that these illnesses develop as a cause of pollution, and are therefore inescapable in certain cities, could cause people to feel helpless. For example 1/3rd of Americans will get cancer linked to pollution in 90% of cases.
The similarity of symptoms of environmental conditions and symptoms of learned helplessness
Ironically (once more), although learned helplessness has often been caused by the physical and emotional consequences of polution and overcrowding it also can further contribute to health and psychological problems. Learned helplessness has been linked to people neglecting their diet, failing to exercise and seek medical assistance because they do not believe it will make a difference to their well being. It has also been linked to lower functioning of the immune system. In addition, psychological consequences are an increase in depression and a decrease in cognitive and interpersonal skills.