- 1 One man's dictator can be another man's saviour
- 2 Product of the environment or inherently bad?
- 3 Fallible model of communication
- 4 Self-censorship
- 5 "Ghosts of Rwanda" reflection.
- 6 Relationships
- 7 Community involvement
- 8 Prosocial Behaviour
- 9 Environmental Psychology
- 10 Final thoughts
One man's dictator can be another man's saviour
Radovan Karadzic, Bosnian Serb wartime leader who has been accused of war crimes, has been arrested in Serbia. According to theaustralian.news.com.au, Karadzic “waged a barbaric campaign of "ethnic cleansing" in the early 1990s... and no doubt that he is one of the monsters of the 20th century”, and yet he has been considered by some as a hero of the 1992-1995 war following Bosnia’s independence from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia . In view of the 43 months siege of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the massacre of Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, rape camps and other ‘cleansing campaigns’ it is interesting to read that some would still consider him a hero. This reminds me of several Iraqis in a couple of documentaries I’ve seen about the war in Iraq who have said that they miss Saddam Hussein . Not for his dictatorship, but because under his rule they had an identity and a country that was run by their own people (more or less) rather than the chaos that Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the Middle East is now. The Middle East conflict and the historical-socio-geo-political issues involved are so much more complicated than I am able grasp at the moment, however it is interesting to note that despite undertaking terrible actions, some people can be hailed as saviours or heroes. What does that say about the current wars/conflicts? What legacy will the current war in the Middle East leave? I guess, if nothing else, this just highlights the obvious point that various people have, and will continue to have, different world views. I guess a differences of opinion is one thing, but an opinion or belief that someone is willing to die or kill for is another. I wonder where does one stop and the other begin?
If leadership is "the ability to make people do what they don't want to and like it", as the lecture slides suggest, the implications of such situations can be (and have been) quite phenomenal. I don't think this unit covered much on followership, unless I've missed it. The reason I bring this up is in order for people (leaders) to lead others, there has to be a group of people willing to be led and willing to follow the leader. Leadership qualities and environmental factors aside, I wonder how do aspects of followership affect leadership. (I tried to google the term, but nothing handly come up). Leaders can influence people to engage in social changes for the better (i.e.: Gandhi , the Reverend Desmond Tutu ,) or for worse (Hitler , Stalin , Karadzic, Jim Jones , David Koresh etc...).
I was also watching "Enough Rope" interview last night with Imran Khan , who mentioned that General Sharif wanted to get into politics just for the sake of power. What is it about leadership that attracts different people for different reasons? Khan wants to make a positive difference, Sharif just wanted power. How does "positive leadership", involving integrity, honesty and vision morph into rigid and authoritarian dictatorship types of leadership? Is it the inherent personality traits coming through, or is it more the consequence of the environment?
Product of the environment or inherently bad?
The social psych textbook mentions Saddam Hussein as an example of what a “clearly aggressive” dictator is . Although it is undeniable that some of his governing methods were despotic and cruel and he terrorised his people, I just wonder again about whether Hussein was inherently evil or the product of his environment, in which case who knows whether someone else would have acted any differently. I don't know Iraq's history very well, but like most other Middle Easter societies, it has experienced decades of social disruption and either internally or externally-led warfare. Is it fair to assume that maybe (and I'm not excusing what Hussein did) Hussein was more the product of his environment than being inherently "bad"? If Hussein grew up in a different Iraq, would he had become the dictator that we now know him for? Is it too far fetched to wonder whether he might had become a great leader rather than a despot? If the circumstances in which Hussein grew up are the same, if not worse, in Iraq now, what does that say about the potential of history repeating itself?
Similar things can be asked about Hitler . It is undeniable that he instructed and implemented horrendous plans to exterminate a whole race, and it boggles the mind of how people who otherwise would not harm anyone, would comply with his demands. However, at the time that Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Germany was recovering from its defeats during WWI, unemployment was high while public morale was low… Hitler was responsible for one of the most significant infrastructure developments in Germany thus managing to instill a sense of national pride again, amongst other things. And he managed to find scapegoats (the Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, etc) for all the bad things that had happened to the Germans as a nation. I guess this is taking the fundamental attribution bias to the extreme . I know this is oversimplifying how WWII started. However, had the social context been any different, would Hitler even had managed to gain any support or any position of power? Would WWII ever have happened? Or was it inevitable and Hitler was ‘in the right place, at the right time’, so to speak?
Fallible model of communication
One of the things we covered during the second tute was the "Fallible Model of Communication". The model proposes that communication begins with an idea someone holds in their mind, which is then translated into spoken word, that is then conveyed verbally to another person, who then interprets the message in their own mind. Sounds simple enough, yet so many minor glitches (such as inability to accurately translate mental image into spoken word or the message getting mangled up in the process of conversion from verbal to mental images) can build up to such extent where you might want to tell someone about an apple, and they end up thinking you're talking about going to the moon. Sounds far fetched, yet the communication process can be a particularly delicate one. Although the model mentions the feedback loop, I wonder how often and to what extent is it actually used? How often to we stop and ask to clarify? Or do we mostly just try to fill in the blanks ourselves based on our previous knowledge?
We also talked about mental short cuts, schemas, scripts, priming and framing that allow for quicker and more efficient information processing, as there is just too much information in our environment to coherently pay attention to everything at once. So... given that we have tendencies to take mental and verbal short cuts, given that we can mostly only hold one view (rather two opposing views) of a situation at once, given that we generally don't have time or don't make the effort to go back and clarify, it's a wonder that things are not in a worse state of disarray then they are now. Or maybe, it should not be surprising at all.
The Duplex Mind model tells us that conscious processing of info is slow, deliberate, effortful, and the automatic processing is the opposite: quick and effortless. It also suggests that we are cognitive misers. I guess we can't stop to ponder all the aspects involved in every situations, as then we might never cross the street or get out of bed, and yet maybe taking the 'easy mental road' too often may not be a good idea either... It was also interesting to note how much of our social interaction is non-verbal and it effects on our communication. It's interesting to think that despite the complexities and intricacies of (verbal) language, all the non-verbal cues make such a significant impact on how we perceive and interact.
Also, in regards to effective communication, I wonder about self-censorship and the various contexts that it occurs and the repercussions. Or benefits. Is it "wiser to be silent and thought a fool, than speak and remove all doubt?" Does "silence give consent"? Is "silence golden when you can't think of a good answer"?  Should we "enjoy the silence"? . Or should we be able to speak our minds and thoughts, albeit at least a bit diplomatically and thoughtfully? Be a 'whistle blower', and potentially change a bad working condition, but also experience the wrath of a scorned boss? Make a statement about the political situation with a hope for a change, despite have a good sense that the political situation will not change? As Baumeister and Bushman say, is it because no-one is willing to express any doubt, we get the impression that no-one has any doubt either?
Is "self censorship" the same as "self monitoring"? Do we do both or either/or in order to fit in, to be included, to feel part of a group, even if it means that we sometimes hold our own opinions to ourselves? I would suggest that in our culture the term "to fit in" tends to have negative connotations, as it refers ideas such as conforming and normalising, and these generally have been seen as bad things, particularly when we tend to perceive ours as an individualist society.If you conform, that means you cannot think for yourself, that you are a drone that follows the orders of others. But if you want to be "normal" (ha!! someone should write a thesis on what actually is normal!), that means that you do conform to at least some social norms: work, study, personal hygiene, how and what we say at certain social situations, etc. At times, if there is someone who is perceived as not "normal" they tend to be ostracised and excluded (think about people with chronic mental health issues or disabilities, artists such as the Dadaists , people who abuse drugs/alcohol, etc) who are vilified and on the fringes of society. And the most interesting aspect of this is that when something or someone is perceived as different or seen as challenging the status quo, if people are exposed to it often enough, mainstream society is most likely to appropriate it and "normalise" it. I think this is a bit like the mere exposure effect, but I'm not 100% sure. The best example I can come up with is Elvis Presley . He begain his career as a teenage rebel, and with time he become a caricature of his former self. Personal problems notwithstanding, Elvis the performer was... I can't think of a better word than appropriated by mainstream culture. The opposite has been said about The Beatles . They started as a clean-cut group of boys who went to openly use all sorts of hallucinogenics and other narcotics and opposed the Vietnam War, which was very controversial at the time.
We all conform to certain norms, such as driving on the right side of the road, the way we engage in different roles in relation to different people in our environment, when we get up and when we go to bed... I wonder, whether we want to be "unique... just like everyone else"... Whether we want to be loved (whatever love means to you), acknowledged, validated, accepted and comforted... and we do what we can to meet those needs? Even if it means conforming and "normalising", even if we don't want to...
How much does the need to belong influence our behaviour? I guess it would be a combination of seeking social acceptance and wanting to avoid rejection and social exclusion. The need to belong seems to have a paramount impact on our social interactions, even if we perceive ourselves part of an individualistic society, where self-reliance and independence are heralded as important personal attributes. So... whether we are bothered if we 'fit in' or not depends on whether we have control over it- whether its my our own choice or not?
"Ghosts of Rwanda" reflection.
After reading the Wikipedia link, I'm more confused, bewildered and disorientated than before...
If the Tutsi were cruel to the Hutu, back in the day, does that explain the animosity? Does it explain what might have motivated the Hutu government to put an "extermination plan" into action? Does it explain the extent of the genocide? Although the documentary mentioned that the Hutu were planning on complete annihilation of the Tutsi, did it become more of "mob mentality", where "if you kill once... to lessen the effect of this on the psyche.... you kill again... Because part of you needs to kill"? (I think that was Gromo Alex who said that, and I'm not sure whether I'm paraphrasing correctly...)
One thing that caught my attention was what Joyce Leader, the Ambassador in Kigali, who said: " It's hard to believe of something so awful... being so meticulously carried out...". This reminded me of something I read in Elie Wiesel's novel "Night"  about the Holocaust... No-one in his village believed the stories of systematic extermination of the Jews in the concentration camps. That's why no one in his village or anyone in his family decided to evacuate or flee or save themselves. It was just too hard to believe... Does this mean that we are inherently optimistic, always believing the best of our fellow human beings? Thus far history has shown that humans are capable of horrific acts, and despite this we still opt for believing that such circumstances are the exception rather than the rule. And maybe we are inherently good, though the bad things tend to occur on the greater scale, hence attract more attention.
Phillipe Gaillard of the Red Cross said: " If you shut up, when you see what you see... morally and ethically you cannot shut up. You need to speak..." Are morals and ethics something that we as a community (local, national, international) agree on, or it is something, some standards, that we each individually set for ourselves? Again, I'm confused about this concept of speaking up, as evidenced in the documentary, people did speak out, people did not follow orders and stayed back in Rwanda, tried to salvage something of the situation (some humanity, perhaps?) And despite this, no help came forth. Was that because the countries that were asked to intervene had 'no interests' in Rwanda, were more individualistic, more concerned about their well being than warranted stepping out of their comfort zone? Is it fair to ask why didn't America or other European countries intervene if we are not willing to help someone in our own neighbourhood? How many of us would be willing to help someone when this would mean an inconvenience for us? I wonder whether whatever is happening on a global scale is also happening on a more intimate, local scale too... And whether we really should be surprised at all...
Why was it that only the 'little people', the people actually in the thick of it, attempted to help others in Rwanda? Like the Adventist Church guy (sorry, can't remember his name, Carl...?) said, we are inherently capable of extreme good and extreme evil... So whether we are good or evil is a result of our circumstances, as they elicit our response? One man's saint is another man's sinner...
Regarding leadership, it was interesting that none of the world leaders took any action, hid behind bureaucracy, failed to act, and did not or would not say sorry (sounds familiar?). I understand that under the Security Council guidelines certain rules of warfare engagement need to be maintained, even if the 'other guys' are not playing by the rules, you have to, or at least should try to, because otherwise everything will fall into chaos. So in order to do so, bureaucratic system needs to be engaged, and this has proven to be fallible time and time again. I have noticed that all systems (political, religious, local, international) are based on this ideal model of what things should look and function like, which unfortunately is hardly ever attainable. Why? Maybe because people are "people"... "only human?"... Because of corruption, inadequacies, flaws... Like Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which ever (natural/synthetic) system we exist in is trying "self actualise", and we can diffuse some of our cognitive dissonance whereby we know what we have potential to grow, evolve and develop, but if things don't work out, then thats alright, because "we are only human". And that woman! That wouldn't say whether its genocide or not?! That was just ludicrous!! Why is that when 3000 to 4000 people die as a result of an attack in a predominantly White country (as horrific and terrible it is, no one is denying that), that's considered worse or acted quickly upon than a systematic murder of hundreds of thousands of others, who are not of the same race? Who makes these rules of whose life is more important? And Kofi Annan saying this should never be repeated... That's what they said after WWII... It's what they will say after each war and genocide. Never again. Until next time...
But "the ideal" needs to be there in order to have something to live up to, maybe to keep pulling wool over peoples eyes, or maybe because we need to maintain hope (or delusion?) that things could be better, that we cannot be capable of such atrocities, that it's only 'the others', never us, because to admit to ourselves that we are just like them, or we could be under similar circumstances, would that be too confronting and interfere with our schemas of how much more civilised than those 'devils' are?
Was this whole disaster just a matter of an observer/bystander effect blown up to a colossal scale? Do we do try to wait things out to see how they work out before we intervene (or interfere)? If something of the same scale was happening somewhere right now, what would be do? Does it only matter if it something is happening to us, or people like us?
Jane Elliott "Blue eyed/Brown Eyed Experiment"
The Blue eye/Brown Eyed experiment (The Australian Eye) was pretty interesting to watch for several reasons. I guess it's the sort of experiment or exercise that can be used in any situation, not only regarding racial or sexist issues, to try to assist people to at least think and feel from a different perspective, to break down stereotypes and stigma. I guess that would be something like contact theory, where through no longer identifing 'the others' as a faceless mob, they are 'humanised' by being treated as individuals? As one lady indicated in the clip, it's easy to intellectualise the injustice, but it's another thing to live or experience it (would that be something like aversive racism, when people like to maintain the self image of fair and just, and to (consciously or not) justify cognitive dissonance between the perceptions of self and actually having negative feelings towards 'the others'? How politically correct... Is that worse than overt racism?)
It seems that prejudice tends to occur through lack of time or consideration or through our need to be 'cognitive misers', to maintain a sense of control of our environment (that's simplifying the situation but still...) As Melisah said in the lecture, considering everyone as individuals would be just too time consuming and inefficient... nothing would get done. Is it then a necessary evil? I think it was mentioned in the tutorial that stereotypes don't necessarily need to be a negative concept, it is only when it is over-utilised or over-generalised then that's when things can go a bit pear shaped. Or when people struggle for resources, in terms of realistic conflict theory, where the resources as perceived as scarce, which can increase between group competition. But how does this explain the Cronulla riots? Or why Camden council wouldn't let a Muslim school being build?
One thing that we as a group reflected on in the tutorial was how quickly and easily the Blue eyes conformed, how quickly and easily the Brown eyes engaged in vilifing behaviours, and yet many of us mentioned that 'we couldn't do that... that this (aggressive behaviours) wouldn't happened to us...". We reflected that under certain circumstances, when we knew that it's for scientific good/knowledge, the others would be debriefed, etc, then maybe we could, but even then we wouldn't feel comfortable...I hope so, but I still wonder... I wonder whether the people being allocated the prison or guard roles in the Standord prison experiment thought the same... .
Culture mapping and Culture shock
The idea of 'culture shock' seemed a rather theoretical rather than an applied one in today's tutorial. That is until someone mentioned in the tutorial that it's possible to experience culture shock just by moving cities or states. Seems odd enough to think about, as we are all living in the same country, with similar values and social schemas, and yet for a while after moving cities or interstate we might feel completely out of depth, like we did in fact just land in another country.
Take Sydney and Canberra for example. The two cities could not be more different, so what would someone moving from the hustle and bustle of Sydney think when they first arrived in Canberra? The pace of this town (and I do really think that Canberra is really just one big country town, except for a few more bureaucrats and international students running around :O) ), its endless roundabouts, quiet and almost deserted streets at night, is a polar opposite of Sydney, a place that seems to be forever lit up. I guess you need to adapt, sink or swim. Also, it may also depend on how much a person is attached to the previous schemas and ways of doing things, how much are they are willing to abandon some of those old habits and adapt into the new environment. I guess this might be similar to what immigrants from completely different cultural backgrounds (India, Africa... anywhere that hasn't been completely Westernised yet) go through when they move countries: how much do I keep of my old traditions, customs and habits and how much do I take on from this new culture, the new home...
Culture mapping was also an interesting exercise. It highlighted how much of our social interactions, our roles and social cues, we take for granted. If most of our social interactions are culturally relevant, and we either don't take the time or don't have the cognitive space to take the time to learn about other people's culturally sensitive social interactions, no wonder the world is in so much trouble. What I find interesting though (and I know this seems pretty obvious) but how much of the international world is becoming very much Westernised and how Western ideologies are permeating other societies and cultures. I don't pay as much attention to Polish news as much as I would like to, but when I do happen to watch the news, I'm dumbfounded at how much of the English language has been appropriated in Poland, and how it becomes part of the normal, every day use. Maybe some of that may be unavoidable, especially with increased access to the Internet and its applications, which may not be easy to translate into other languages (for example, prior to the 'technological revolution', I don't think Poland has an equivalent word for 'email', etc...). So if the language/s that we use to communicate are changing due to the social influences, if different cultures (either through interest or necessity) are changing their traditional forms of communication to suit the changing times, does that mean that soon we will become one homogeneous group of people who are pretty much indistinct from one another? (Culture mapping would become a breeze then!) If the language that we use to define ourselves and our cultures is changing, does that mean our definitions and identities will also change? No wonder people are reacting strongly to this, with their cultures being eroded and substituted with foreign concepts, loosing their identity... In some circumstances being too traditional may be seen as too rigid or inflexible, and adaptability to new environments increases the chances of survival, but there is something to be said for maintaining an ethnic identity... I guess that kind of leads to issues such as immigrants being required to "assimilate" or "adopt" Australian way of life, and experiencing difficulties with maintaning their traditional customs...
If from the beginning, humans are 'wired' to want and thrive on social interaction, if we really are 'social animals', it's interesting to reflect on disorders such as autism and schizoid personality disorders , where the element of 'others' or the need for others can be almost non-existent. Whatever factors contribute to the development of these disorders, ultimately individuals who fit the criteria just don't need human contact to be happy. Others around them can struggle with that, especially parents and siblings, who might be used to sharing hugs for comfort in tough times or when expressing joy and love, rough play as kids... I guess this sort of ties back with what was discussed in an earlier tutorial, of how much of our communication can be non-verbal (i.e.: tactile, physical contact, body language, etc) and how important it can be when that's not readily available. I wonder whether or how such disorders are diagnosed or treated in collectivist societies, where apparently the recovery rate of disorders such as schizophrenia are higher than in Western countries. Also, I wonder if we are indeed an individualistic society where we prize independence and self-reliance, when people who become (or are) the epitome of self-reliance and independence from any others, either by choice or circumstances, are found to be 'strange' and discomforting... Is it because they are too far off on the spectrum from 'normal' behaviour, or is it that maybe we are not as independent as we like to think we are...
As it was mentioned by Bryony on my social talk page, support is one of the better predictors of recovery in any health related issues, and the textbook argues that even religious hermits depend on regular social visits from certain others (although I wonder about that. The book didn't actually mention who those 'others' are meant to be, and I would have thought that an affinity with a Higher Being is what sustained religious hermits ; that being a hermit was to, infact, isolate oneself from society, but anyway...) and the example of San Quentin prisoners in solitary confinements suggests that extreme deprivation of interpersonal contact can be extremely stressful. Failure to satisfy the need to belong can result in significant health problems, even death. So, I guess, we are social beings after all.
If money and time was not an issue, our tutorial group decided that we would adopt a Scandinavian model of parental leave subsidised by the government, whereby approximately 80% of the parent's income will be paid for the government so that at least one parent could stay at home following the birth of a child. The payment would also be contingent on the parent attending a 'family care center', which would be staffed by health professionals (such as nurses, doctors, counselors) that would assist the parents with caring for the child, assist with 'parenting classes' etc. The center would also be similar to a drop in center, where parents can come with their children to socialise, replicating the extended family unit that existed in previous generations (grand parents and uncles helping with child rearing...). We proposed that this sort of a plan would reinforce parental responsibility for child rearing, create/foster greater sense of community interconnectedness, that could have longer lasting effects, like better socialisation skills, less stress (including testosterone hormone production).
Another group had a good idea about having short info breaks between programs on TV introducing what legislation and policy the government has introduced each day. This highlighted the fact that not many of us are actually diligently involved in politics- whatever is shown on the news each day is really a farce of what real politics are like... Having these unbiased and purely informational info segments (30 sec to 1 min long...) could really make people a lot more aware, informed and willing to participate in the political life in their culture. Maybe this could really make a difference in decreasing apathy and lack of interest in politics. Despite its failings, maybe our political system is in pretty good condition. If we choose to, we tend to have freedom of opinion (although can someone explain to me how did NSW government pass a legislation around World Youth Day where it was going to be an offense to wear an anti-Catholic t-shirt, as to avoid 'annoying' the pilgrims? . Can you imagine if Muslims tried to pass such legislation? Are there any Muslim representatives in local, state or federal governments?) We tend not to be persecuted for opposing or satirising the government, etc, so may be it is because, in some aspects, we have it pretty good in Australia, we don't always feel a need to fight for it, unlike in other societies, where freedom of speech is not a given right? Maybe we don't know what we have until we loose it? (Knock on wood we don't loose it, although with the new internet laws coming through, who knows...).
First of all, is "bad stronger than good"? This question has been popping up in many places lately. Why is "bad" more salient, more news-worthy, more focused on? Why is it that more "bad" news, such as wars, conflicts, deaths, accidents, tragedies, etc, get reported with more frequency and more interest that "good" stories? Is it because there is more "bad" in the world than "good"? If that is the case, then why do we generally assume that people are "inherently good", when it becomes obvious that we tend to be much better at being "bad" to one another. There are "good" things that happen in our lives, I'm sure, like having a coffee with a friend, reading a good book, spending time with friends and family... And yet, whenever something "bad" happens, we spend more time talking and thinking about it; it is easier to come up with five "bad" things that have happened recently than three "good" things; we remember the "bad" aspects of past friendships/relationships than "good"; we don't always like hearing others "good" news... I tend to hear most international news in terms of what wars/famines/tragedies have occurred in those areas in the most recent times, not what festivals have occurred, what "good" things have recently happened (and look, I had no problems rattling off "bad" things that could happened, and had trouble coming up with "good" possibilties. Why?) (Another thing: when I was updating one of the first entries to this portfolio about good and bad leaders, again it was much more difficult to remember people who have attempted to change some things for the better, and much easier to recall those who are remembered for their bad leadership...)
If the "bad" things that can and do happen take up most of our consciousness, no wonder when something "good" or prosocial happens, everyone is amazed. And we are no longer so surprised when "bad" things happen. Is it delusion to consider that maybe people are "inherently good" and good things do happen, although these are not as marketable and news-worthy, so they are more difficult to find and subsequently more valuable? (You know the adage, nothing worthwhile comes easily?).
On a tangent thought... What James mentioned about his trip to America and being asked my a homeless person to "move on" because he was hurting his "business" after he tried to have a conversation with him and offered him food/drink was pretty ironic. I wonder whether it is likely that this could have been a "business" to this guy, this is how he learnt to survive, and you can be prosocial only up to a certain point, before someone decides they don't really want your 'prosocial behaviour". I guess this would be an example of the homeless guy's "cost-benefit" model, where the "cost" of loosing money outweighed the "benefit" of some companionship and attention from another person.
John Butler talking about being reminded of the good things 
In the "Relationship" post I mentioned how severelly isolated prisoners can experience profound distress/stress as a result of their socially deprived environments. The Oskamp and Schultz reading for this topic mentions the flip side of this, whereby prisoners who are held in high density (that is, high number of people in any given space) areas have reported higher blood pressure and other related ill-health problems. So it would seem that too little as well as too much social interaction can be bad for you. The common theme that seems to be coming through both of these findings is the aspect of control: people tend to adapt and manage situations better when they at least think they can control some aspects of their situations. The Oskamp article mentions that you don't have to be actually in control of the situation, just hold a perception of such. I guess for all our wiles of being sophisticated, civilised, evolved beings, ultimately things come down to how much can we control our environments, including how we try to harness nature and our immediate environments, such as our homes, work, suburb and cultural designs. If we feel out of control, if we can't group or categorise things efficiently enough, our anxiety and fear can become overwhelming.
I've seen Alain de Botton "Architecture of Happiness" book around and never really gave much thought to the impact of architecture or architectural psychology on the human psyche. While in some part thanks to the Kerrigans  the notion that our homes are our castles has permeated our (at least Australian) culture, I have never really considered the psychology of infrastructure and architecture. The lecture and the readings have pointed out though how much social constructions such as buildings can influence our social interactions. Think about shopping malls vs. independent stores, chain coffee stores vs. smaller, independent coffee shops, suburban homes vs. inner city flats, etc. The houses/flats we rent/own/live in, the shops that where we get our groceries, the shopping malls or shopping strips where we spend our time can, and do, significanlty influence how we see ourselves (e.g.: urban vs. rural), how we interact and form in-groups and out-groups (e.g.: northern vs. southern suburbs), how we spend our time and money (e.g.: Borders vs. Paperchain), and the cost and benefits of these. Architectural psychology becomes even more pronounced when we compare how various cultures and societies live, how they form connection to their homes, what they homes look like, if they don't have any homes (nomadic tribes or displacement due to war), etc. To consider things more locally, the way Canberra is expending, the new suburbs being build, how will they support the future generations? What will the new sububs look like? More "leggo-land", more uniform buildings and structures? I hope not.
One of the biggest investements that most of us will take up in our life times is that of a morgage, or owning our own homes. It's the "Australian/Americam dream". What is it about our homes that makes them so important? I guess it's the people that fill it (our family and friends), how we decorate it and furnish it (modern, eclectic), do we make it a 'home' or just a place we are passing through, where we buy it and our mortgage repayments will influence how we spend our time and remaining money. How much time we spend indoors and whether we venture into the 'wild' and engage in any leisure activity outside of the home, all can contribute to how we see ourselves and others.
I think this has been a particularly good unit. It has defintely made me think and rethink a lot about individual,social and cultural situations and contexts and how we all try to make sense of things. The 'environmetal psychology' topic was a new perspetive that I have not considered before, so I would definitely say that this unit has opended up few more 'doors of perception' for me. One thing I would say is that I wish that the assesments weren't all due at the end of the semester, but apart from that I really enjoyed this unit. Cheers James.