I guess I am in the same boat as everyone else, trying to come up with something to write about for the first week. So I decided I would just put down what Social Psychology means to me and what I am expecting from this unit.
When I think of the words social psychology, I go all the way back to when I was in year 11 and I took Sociology as a subject I lasted about 6 weeks in that class. I don't know if it was the subject matter or if it was my teacher who made the subject matter oh so painful to listen to. So when I found that I would be doing social psychology at some stage at UC I was not looking forward to it to say the least. However, since the unit has started and I have begun reading the material and attending lectures and tutorials I have found that this unit is going to be completely different to what I had initially expected. I had expected to be fronted with a very dry subject matter that did not make me think about things in different way or challenge the way I already feel about certain things. But to my surprise my thoughts were challenged and I was asked to think about things from another angle, and I have to say I really enjoy units that challenge my thoughts and leave me thinking about or wondering about the what ifs of life.
Another thing that surprised me about this unit is that we have been given the opportunity to write about anything we want in our essay. I was looking forward to this but also a little taken back as I am used to being told ok this is what your going to write about or here are your choices pick one. So I am very much looking forward to writing this essay as strange as that may sound.
So after initially starting out a little apprehensive about this unit, I have now changed my view and am very much looking forward to discovering more about social psychology and how others feel about it.
Ok so this was my first official tutorial for this unit, even though it was late in the evening I still found it very thought provoking and interesting. It began with the usual ice breakers and games. One of the first games we played I found interesting and rather an interesting game to play on the first day. What we were asked to do was get into groups according to the personal questions, I was expecting questions like how old are you, eye colour (Which we got) and silly questions like if you're wearing thongs or something like that. But that was not to be, we were given quite serious questions such as who you voted for, where you live, religion, where you were born. Although personal it was very interesting to see the different groups especially with religion and who people voted for. I always find it fascinating to see how other members of the community I am apart of feel or think about issues of society such as religion.
So I suppose I should maybe put down somewhere what Social Psychology means to me. I have given this some thought as I realize there are so many different definitions, because it really can be based on what the individual thinks. To me social psychology is the study of an individual thoughts, beliefs, behaviours in the social setting, it is something that has been studied for years by many people, whether it be for their own personal discovery or to better understand the way others think and behave in society. I also feel that it is the study of social norms and expectations. Having just finished a unit on ethics last semester (a unit which I loved) social norm and expectations can vary from culture to culture.
Ethics and moral are a subject that really has no answer other than "to each his own", a question that was put forth in that unit was "Do your ethics come from your morals or vice versa?". By the end of that unit I discovered that your morals are something that you gain along the way, they are learnt through parents and from those around you and your ethics come from your morals. If you have high morals then you would think that your ethics are of a high standard also. But again it comes back to the statement "to each his own" we are all different in our own little ways and our values are different. Yes society has expectations of how we should behave in the social environment, but they are guidelines they are not set in stone rules. Although they are expected norms there are many out there who do not follow these guidelines and simply follow their own set of rules, and more often than not these types of behaviours are frowned upon by society.
What fascinates me the most is where did these so called guidelines for social behaviours come from, who decided that certain behaviours would be expected in the public arena and how did they decide or is it something that is simply in our DNA. Even though we are told from when we are young how to behave and how to act in society I would really love to know whose idea it was. I find it so interesting that we just except that certain behaviours are expected of us when we are out in public, why is it that we expect it?
I guess this is just one of those subjects that you could debate and contemplate for ever and a day and never really come to any conclusion or a definitive answer. I guess it is just one of those unanswerable questions that we have been discussing for hundreds of years and will continue to discuss for many more to come. It is something that will always interest me and I will continue to think about and hopefully through social psychology I might gain a bit more of an understanding for this subject matter or even perhaps find some sort of answer.
So far there has only been a lecture for week three my second tute for this class will not be till next Tuesday evening. So I figured I would put down some thoughts on things discussed in the lecture and then perhaps add some more later on next week when I have been to the tute, you never know something may grab me or fascinate me that I will won't to write about.
Firstly just something random that I am little unsure about. I am not really sure how I am supposed to write this e-portfolio should I be writing it using the correct lingo and terms or is it ok to just put it down as though it is my diary and I am merely having a conversation about what I have learned or discovered or found interesting for the week. For now I have decided I will write it as a diary entry like I am having a conversation and until I am told otherwise I will continue this way.
Anyway on to the lecture topics. There were a topics I found interesting and there were also a few things that I learnt.
The first point that grabbed me was how as human beings we have a tendency to make judgements about others based on their appearance, skin colour, the way they carry themselves before we have even gotten to know them. I find it interesting that we need to put people in categories to enable us to cope with all the differences between ourselves and other people. If someone has a disability we need to give it a name so we understand why that person might behave a little differently to what is considered to be normal. I will never forget that someone once said to me that is unfair that their child gets treated differently and is labeled as an autistic child, simply because society needs to understand why she is different without that label she could not be accepted. They then said to me "you know if she was on a desert island, she wouldn't have autism anymore because there would be no one there to put labels on her". That statement has always stuck with, and I have often wondered why it is we need to categorize people. We claim we try not to discriminate and that we are all equal as human beings, but we still need to label people as straight, gay, married, black, white. I guess this is just part of human nature and is something that can never be changed.
Also on the subject of why we as humans make judgements before we get to know people that I also find interesting and it was something that was discussed in another unit of mine. In this tutorial we were asked to put in order from 1-3 three statements which represented what we think is important in a partner.
These are the three statements that we had to put in order of importance:
- Ambition and Drive
To no surprise most people put them in the order of what is socially acceptable as an answer. So as you can imagine most people put ambition and drive first and some put money. But not me NO I was brutally honest and I was the only one in the class that put looks first. When I shared this with the class a lot of people said well I thought that but didn't want to seem shallow. My answer to them was " Yes it is shallow, but that's human nature, when you see someone you find attractive your first thought is I would like to get to know that person better". Once I had said this most people went "Yeah, thats true". But I then also pointed out to them that sometimes there are people that you don't initially find attractive but as you get to know them they become attractive to you. So sometime looks are not always the way to go, you can get very good looking people who have no ambition or drive and no money so they are really no good to you anyway. So again this is one of those interesting subjects that you could debate forever. I do feel that a large percentage of people would go for looks first, but because it is socially unacceptable they would probably never say it out loud.
One final thing that caught my attention during the lecture was how some things just seem to seep into our subconscious and they just grow on you after you have had repeated exposure to it. I have to say I often find this with music. I am a huge music lover and more often than not if it doesn't grab me in the first few bars then I sort of lose interest, but then there are those few songs that grab me but the more I hear the more I like it. I do not know how many other people find this, but often when it has grown on me after repeated exposure to it, it's often too late and the new flavour of the week has appeared and that song is yesterdays news. I just found this to be an interesting idea how sometimes it just sinks in and you didn't even know it. Here is a strange example of how this might work. Take for instance a Seinfeld episode I have recently watched. George Costanza is a short stocky bald man who has trouble with women so he has devised a plan to ensure he gets another date from the woman. If he feels the date is not going well, he does a leave behind whether its keys or jacket or something. So he is guaranteed a second date because he will have to go and retrieve what ever he has left behind. His theory is by this stage he has grown on them a little and is assured that he will get a third date and by that stage they will be singing "Coostanza!!!" and not know why. I don't know if this is the perfect example using Seinfeld but when I heard James say that I immediately thought of George.
Well I may or may not add more to this depends on the tutorial next week. But I have to say the further into this unit we go the more exciting and interesting it is. I love that it is thought provoking.
This weeks lecture covered a little bit about aggression. I found this subject interesting one particular reason. as strange as it may seem for many years I have had an interest in serial killers and read a lot of true crime books. Now I know you might be wondering why I have an interest in such a thing cause it is really not a normal thing. The reason I have such a fascination with this subject as I just can not comprehend at what point in someone's mind does it become ok and justifiable to take another persons life. I am interested in how their minds work and what leads them to do the horrible things that they do. I can honestly say that this fascination is ultimately the reason I chose to study psychology to begin with.
The more true crime books I read, the more I realize that the human mind is such a strange and wonderful thing. The things that it is capable of making us feel is just astounding it really is like a complicated computer program. In terms of serial killers behaviour and aggression, their aggression is only released in the moment of the crime and not before. Many of them say that once they have picked out their victim, thats it that person is the one that is going to die there is no way of changing their minds and there is nothing that will distract them from they feel needs to be done. This is a long standing argument whether it is nature or nurture that contributes to a person becoming a serial killer. I truly feel that it is a combination of both, that they each influence each other in one way or another.
So if it is nature or nurture or both working together what makes one serial killer worse than the next, what is it about their aggressive nature that causes them to be more deviant than the last. I have read some books were the individual has suffered injuries to the head on one or more causing develop epilepsy. Can it be said that these injuries to the brain may have caused something to go wrong inside the brain leading the individual to a life of serial killing.
This a subject I could discuss for ever but I don't want to go into it to much as this is my essay topic and would like to keep some of these ideas to use for that. I did not come to the lecture as I was unwell but have seen that movie in a different unit about two years back now. I found it to be a very powerful and moving movie which made me a little angry when I first watched it. Only one other movie has made me feel angry at the end of it and that was "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", and it was for the simple fact that I couldn't understand why they were aloud to treat other human beings in such a horrendous manner. The ending was the worst of all, I thought it was unbelievable that they were allowed without consent from either the patient or family to remove a part of a persons brain to fix a mental disorder. I was astounded that this was allowed at any stage during human existence, I realize that during the 60's and 70's that this is how they dealt with the mentally ill, perhaps I was just shocked as I am privileged to live in todays society where there are any number of different treatments. Anyway that was a little off topic but none the less a great movie and should be watched by psych students.
So I guess thats it for this week.
Ok so I know we haven't had the lecture as yet as I am writing this but I have just had a look at the lecture notes and it just got me thinking so I thought what better place to put down my thoughts than my wiki page. So here goes.
Well for those of you who have seen the lecture notes or even after you have been to the lecture you will know that this week is about prejudice. Prejudice is such a broad subject as there can be prejudice on many different levels. There is prejudice against different cultures, people with mental disorders, those with disabilities and so on and so forth. This is a subject that interest me as my family is from India. We are kind of an interesting mix, although from India we are not proper Indians we are what's known as Anglo Indians, this minority group came from the British Raj days when the Indians married the Europeans this why many of us look more European than Indian. So no only have they faced prejudice in their own country but they have faced it also when they have moved away to more western countries such as Australia, Canada or England.
Prejudice is something that has always bothered me a lot, as it is really one of those useless parts of life and can often be a very ugly thing. For me I have experienced prejudice on a couple of different levels. For me Even though I have lived in Australia most of my life and even sound Australian, there are still some occasions when I feel as though I don't quite belong. This is for the simple fact of although I may sound Aussie and have lived here from the time I was 5 I still look different I don't look Aussie whatever that is suppose to look like. Yet whenever I go back to India I don't quite fit in there either they can tell that I have become westernized. So it's almost as though no matter which country I am in I am always made to feel a little different from the rest. Although I can say that I have never had any racial comments made to me ever in my whole life, so I feel as though I have been quite fortunate. The one person who called me a black bitch was Aboriginal so I really didn't take that to heart to much it just kind of amused me.
Anyway as I said at the beginning of this entry prejudice can be experience on many different levels and by many different people. Whether we what there to be or not there are always going to be minority groups that we put labels on, it is simply a fact of society. I think I may have said this in one of my other entries that society needs labels so they can understand and comprehend why the other person or persons are different to themselves. I hate that we have labels but I do understand why society uses labels such as mentally ill or in cultural terms, Asians or Aboriginals. Yes it is a sad fact but I guess that is the nature of the beast, its how we cope as humans. I guess you can flip the coin and say well if we were all the same and we didn't have these labels and minority groups we would be a very sad and boring world indeed. So I guess it is one of those things that you hate but you can't help but conform to the rest of society as you to need to understand why each person is different from the next.
Although there are many different forms of prejudice I have only covered a small part of it I could have discussed how people treat those with disabilities different. I must admit sometimes it is hard, because you never know if you should help them or not. I have once held a door open for lady in a wheelchair thinking I was being kind and doing the right thing and she turned around and said to me "I don't need your help I am not completely useless". I must say I was taken aback by her comment and ever since then I have been very careful and always ask if they are ok before I help now. It is difficult to know what is right and wrong when it come to situation such as that.
Anyhow as I said this such a broad subject and you could go on and on about it forever but unfortunately not everyone wants to read about what I have to say so I will leave it here and I look forward to next weeks topic.
28th August 2008
Ok so I lied I am not going to leave it there until the next topic. Having been to the tute this week and watched the Brown Eyed Blue Eyed video I wanted to add some more.
I realise that many people would have found this film hard to watch as it really is quite confronting and was quite harsh in some places. But I have to say I loved it, I thought it was so interesting and she was pretty funny. Anyway more on topic, this experiment I would imagine was scrutinized by ethics committees very carefully before allowing it to go ahead. This type of stuff could seriously mess with your head and do some damage to your self esteem and things like that. It was shown or stated anywhere in the movie but you would hope that there was some form of debrief after the session occurred especially for the poor blue eyed people. Although I found it very fascinating there was one incident right at the beginning when the blue eyes were coming into the room and an old man wanted to get a chair for himself to sit on and she told him to put it back and sit on the floor because as a blue eyed person he was to do as he was told or he could leave. Needless to say the poor guy left. I felt bad for him because he wanted a chair as he is probably to old to get down on the floor and cross his legs. However, on the other hand if she let him get away with it then the whole purpose of the experiment would have been lost right there, so she sort of had no choice but to go ahead and do that to him. She also points out once he has gone that perhaps there was a bit of sexism involved in him not wanting to be told what to do by a woman. Which is perhaps true because one remark he made when being interviewed after he had left kind of suggests this. He said "It is not in my nature to be treated that way, I am grown man and I don't do what people tell me to". Fare enough Hey when you have lived that long and have seen a lot who the hell is someone half our age to tell you what to do, I would probably feel the same way he did.
There were also a number of things that upset me. I don't mean upset me because of the way she went about it or the way someone was being treated, but upset me in the sense of some of the stories that were told by the aboriginal members of the group. Some of the stories they told were just horrendous to me and I just could not get my head around why someone would do that to another person. Here is an example, one young lady late 30's said that she went into hospital when she was young and as soon as they found out she was aboriginal, they tied her tubes to prevent her having children, this was seen as a process of killing out a culture in Australia at the time. Now this to me is possibly the worst thing I have ever heard, that story is just one of things that makes your heart sink and you feel sick to your stomach to think that we could possibly treat others in this way. I honestly do not even know where to begin at how disgusting I think that act was, I don't even know how to express my anger, so I think I might just move on.
Another example was an aboriginal guy who said he went into sports store and he was the only one in there and over the loud speaking he heard it announced thief in aisle whatever it was. That must be the most awful feeling in the whole world to be ear marked as a thief just because of how you look. However as James pointed out to us, if that store had many instances where they had things stolen from them and it was more often than not an aboriginal person, you could imagine that they would become suspicious of most of them when they come into the store. Although it seems wrong and racist it is what happens.
Moving away from the video and just discussing something else that we spoke about in our tute the other day. James spoke to us a little about when we are exposed to certain cultures consistently we get used to it and we don't see them as different. Quite a number of people said "Yeah you know I am friends with someone from Africa and I forget that they black, and there are some places they won't come with me because they are different'. I found it very interesting and it made me think a little about my own family. My mum is from India and my dad is British, so he is white as, and my brother and I have dark skin however my brother is quite a bit darker than myself he is similar in colour to my grandfather. It was always interesting when I was little, if my dad was out with my brother and I we would often get weird looks, as much to say "are they his children or has he taken them from somewhere". We still get weird looks now, because I don't look much like my dad sometime people look and you can see them thinking "Isn't she a bit young for him" and things like that. If it is just my mum and dad it is fine nobody things twice, but as a whole family it looks odd because we are all so dark and my dad is fare. The best is when the whole family is together because my dad and my mum's younger brothers wife is Australia so when we are all together it is spot the white guy.
Ok I think I have contributed enough now to this week. I better save some room for next weeks topic.
So it has been a while since I have written in my e-portfolio as we have all been on holidays for a few weeks and there was no lecture before the holidays or the first week back. This was the first one we have had this term.So it may take me a while to get my groove back, that is if I am even doing this properly.
Anyway I guess I should discuss the lecture topic a little. I found this weeks lecture quite interesting I have to say for a number of reasons. Firstly, because I feel that it is a subject that many of us in the unit are either experiencing or have experienced. Secondly, because it is an interesting subject which has been apart of society for many years. I suppose I should point out what I am talking about as some of you may not have been to the lecture or the tute as yet. I am talking about relationships and the different kinds of relationships we have during our lives. I found it interesting to find out why we seek out the type of friends we have or for that matter the type of partners we seek.
Although much of this is done subconsciously there must be something in our minds that says yes I would like to get to know that person better. Of course it is only logical that we should seek out friends or partners with similar interests or desires as ourselves. If we did not do this what would we talk about or who would you be friends with.
When reading about sexual relationships I began to think of a story told by my favourite comedian Billy Connolly.He said as did James that Women need to feel loved to have sex while men need sex to feel love and as Billy says this essential requires a lie from one of you for the act of sex to occur. I find that so funny because it is true to some degree. I do not think all women need to feel loved to have sex otherwise there would be no prostitutes, you could almost guarantee that many of these women do not feel loved by these men nor do they want to be loved by any of them. I once red a book about a women who was a prostitute and become a nun called "God's Call Girl". I thought this was so fascinating to go from one extreme the the other. Anyway she states in her book that when they are having sex with these men they feel as though it is happening to someone else and not them, thus detaching themselves from the situation.
One part that did make me laugh during the lecture was the pictures of owners with their dogs and how similar they look to one another. I had never given it a thought that we choose our pets based on how similar they look to us. I mean if you buy them as a puppy you don't know what they will look like when they are older. However, I suppose we do choose them based on how cute they are I mean they are all cute but often one of them will just stand out and you will know they are yours.
I guess some of this can be related back to Freud, as much as I dislike that idea he did have some good points. He said that women tend to marry or choose men who look similar to their father's or men who certainly share similar characteristics with their father such as humour, or their manners. He also stated that men tend to choose partner similar to their mothers, perhaps not necessarily those who like their mothers but rather women who would care for them in the same way their mothers used to. Although this sounds creepy I think he might have been onto something there just looking through my own family and the type of people each one has married and comparing them to their mothers or fathers, there truly are some similarities among. Take for instance my cousin her husband is short balding and a butter ball just like her father my uncle. He also has a huge heart the same way my uncle does. When I think about my own self and the things I find attractive in a man there are some similarities to my father. My father has a very dry quick sense of humour as does my brother, and I find men who can make me laugh attractive. Sometimes I look at the appearance of some of the men I have been out with or have had a bit of a thing for and they have similarities to my father. I like men who are taller than me, which by the way is not hard and my father is tall. I tend to go for men who have a sort of long rounded face with a strong chin my father and brother both have that. This all sounds a little creepy but I really do feel that even though we may not seek to do that we do choose partners with similarities to our parent of the opposite sex.
Anyway I think that is enough for this week I have grossed myself out a little bit with all this Freudian stuff. So I look forward to next week.
I found this weeks lecture to be one of those that leaves you thinking and questioning things about yourself. I do not know if anyone else has ever had these moments throughout their time studying at UC, but every now and then I find myself in classes were I am left thinking about things long after the class is over and wanting to discuss it with someone else to see if they feel the same or even if it to just share my new found knowledge with them. Well this weeks lecture was one of those lecture and I have to say I did discover a few things about myself and human nature that I found particularly interesting.
When James began discussing pro-social and altruistic behaviour and why we participate in these forms of behaviours. I found myself thinking about situations and circumstances in my life when I had been apart of these behaviours. I found one comment particularly interesting and that was "if people who participate in altruistic behaviours are they merely being selfish as they are only doing it to make themselves feel good". This comment just floored me, as you would never think that someone who is only thinking of the well being of others would be a selfish person. But as I said this got me thinking about times in my life when I had considered only the well being of others and one particular situation stood out among all of them.
This situation occurred about two or three years ago now but I was driving home from the gym and as I drove down the main road I noticed that and old lady had fallen over on the pavement and there was nobody around with her at all. I drove a little further down the road and all these thoughts went through my head like, "what if someone has hurt her and knocked her down", "What if she passed out and is in a daze and doesn't know where she is and walks out into the traffic". or "what if she has hurt herself and nobody stops". Well all these thoughts prompted me to turn around because I thought to myself I cannot go home and sit there and not have done anything and wonder what happened to this poor lady. So I turned around and went back to help her. To cut to the chase she was a little in shock and had hurt herself quite a bit grazes on her knees and hand and she was bleeding.Anyway I helped her up and sat with her and asked if she lived far away and could I give her a lift home but she said her husband would be buy to pick her up shortly so I stayed with her until he got there. She was very grateful for my help as was her husband. Now the reason I have told this story is because at the time I felt really good about myself that I a young person had even bothered to stop and see if she was ok or needed help because it is a very busy road that I live on and nobody else stopped or went back. However, upon thinking about Jame's comment my altruistic behaviour was a little selfish for one reason. When I saw her lying there I thought if that was one of my grandparents I like to think that there would be someone like me who would turn back to help them because I might not be there to help them if it was them. However, this was not my immediate thought, my first thought was to help her and later on I thought about if it was my grandparents. So yes my behaviour was some what selfish because I did it thinking if it was my grandparents someone else might do the same in return. I suppose you could relate it to Karma what goes around comes around or if you do something good someone will do something good for you in return. There are a million sayings for these kinds of situations but I won't get into that.
Having said all that I still feel my actions were altruistic because as I said my first thought was to help and later on I thought what if it were someone in my family. So the intentions were good and altruistic from the start and later on the selfish connotations came along. I guess it is like James said it depends on the situation had it been a homeless looking drunk lying on the pavement I would have been more likely to just come straight home and not give it anymore thought after that. I guess that is a problem we have as society we have a tendency to put labels on people and make assumptions based on appearance without knowing actual circumstances. I have said it before I think that society needs these labels to be able to explain why some are different from us, without we would not be able to cope. I dare say there would not be to many people who would help a homeless person who had collapsed as easily as they would a little old lady. Simply because the risks involved with the homeless such as disease and things like that would prompt you to be a little more wary.
Anyway I think I have ranted enough as this is one of those subjects you could discuss endlessly and I love it for that. At the end of the day though we are all a little selfish as a main goal in life is to look out for number one.
End of Year Rap Up
Well I will keep this short and sweet as I think there is enough to read already.
I have to say I have enjoyed this unit for the simple fact that it always left me questioning and wondering about everything I feel and how society works. It also got me discussing things with other people to see if they feel the same way and I love when something make you think in that way and occasionally challenge and make you question what you believe in.
Overall it has been an interesting semester and a great unit to have participated in. For a unit I thought I wouldn't like I would say it has been m favourite this year.
Anyway I just thought I should put a little summary in and not have it end so abruptly. So thank you James for challenging my little mind for six months it has been great.