Social Psychology Semester 2/2008
- When reading chapter 3 of Social Psychology and Human Nature, I came across the subsection "making an impression". The textbook gave an example of "refusing to present oneself in a way the audience would approve" referring to the Columbine High School shooting, where Cassie Bernall told one of the gunmen that she believed in God, where there was a pressure for her to reject or renounce her faith. The textbook suggests that "if she really didn't care about how other people saw her, she could esily have lied and denied her faith. She insisted on maing a public statement of what he believed in, and that got her killed".
- I found this raised a few questions in my mind. Have the authors, failed to accept the fundamental basis of religion: faith? Or is this an example of caring about what someone thinks, i.e. God?
- Another point I disagree on is the final sentence, quoted above (if she really...), because to me, it appears Cassie really didn't care about how other people saw her (i.e. the gunmen). So the argument posed above falls apart for me. Either way you look at the example, Cassie, either cared about how she was perceived, or she didn't. To me, what is the point of a theory if it is proven and disproven at both angles?
- Apart from this I enjoyed reading the readings for this week, and found I agreed with the majority of the concepts and examples raised.
- During this tutorial we were told that communication was approximately 7% verbal and the remaining 93% was non-verbal, comprised of 38% tone of voice and 55% body language.
- I found this very interesting as I was previously under the impression that communication would be much more reliant on verbal communication. This led me to start thinking about situations were this breakdown would not apply.
- In the example of blind people, the majority of their communication skills would again be reliant on non-verbal. However, the body language component would be completely erased from the equation. Although, they would probably be much more in tune, and dependent on, tone of voice. The break down might be 60% non-verbal and verbal would probably increase to approximately 40%.
- Deaf people’s communication would rely almost 100% on body language, as there is no spoken component available to them, and clearly no tone of voice. However, if verbal includes sign-language and Braille then this would be a major component and I guess the split between “verbal” and non-verbal would be 50/50.
Prejudice and Aggression Tutorial
- This week's tutorial was centred around three main pieces: Jane Elliot’s famous blue-eyed/brown-eyed study that exposed people to discrimination based purely on their eye-colour; the Australian Eye documentary focusing on rascism in Australia; and Ghosts of Rwanda, an American documentary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, where over 8 000 people were butchered in 100 days.
- I have focused mainly Elliot's study, as I was torn between liking the message presented and being disturbed by the ethical issues that arose from the experiment.
- I think the overarching ethical issues resulting from Elliot’s approach are the issues of informed consent and the question of long-term psychological harm.
- Elliot failed to inform her subjects are the nature of the experiment, failed to provide them with confidentiality, and failed to inform them of the potential risks involved with the experiment. Furthermore, Elliot was under an ethical obligation to obtain the consent of the children’s parents for their participation in the experiment.
- She purposefully exposed the children to discrimination and harassment. I also don’t think she took reasonable care to avoid harm to her students, or took the appropriate steps to ensure no long-term psychological damage or prejudice had occurred as a result of her experiment.
- I think Elliot’s experiment has taught people a lot about prejudice and discrimination, however, I think the experiment is too controversial and difficult to replicate. There are too many ethical issues central to the experiment.
In February this year, I went to Thailand for 10 days. I went with six other girlfriends and during this small amount of time, I experienced four of the five stages of cultural adaptation.
I began to go through stage one, the honeymoon phase as soon as I got to the airport. I had never been overseas prior to this and I was awestruck by the duty free, the formality of the staff and procedures. This stage continued, for me, until day one. I was excited and fascinated by the differences around me and excited to be on my first overseas holiday.
By the next day however, I entered stage two, the crisis period. I was the first of my girlfriends to awake and decided to make my way down to breakfast as it was included in our hotel stay. I approached the reception and found that no one could speak English well enough to direct me to the dining hall. Eventually I met a European couple who were able to point me in the right direction. After this, I decided to go for a quick walk around the town, while my travelling partners were eating their breakfast. I felt like I was smacked in the face with the heat, the stench, the poverty and the harassment of the street vendors. I felt faint from the experience and wanted to go home. I complained for about three days about the humidity, odour, and endless badgering.
Thankfully by day four I entered stage three, the adjustment phase. It was confronting for me to realise that: the hounding of the street vendors was due to widespread poverty – which made shopping even more enjoyable; the heat was a blessing, as there were beautiful beaches and a stunning hotel pool to cool myself in – unlike at home; and that the stench was a result of the poverty and was very soon compensated for by surrounding myself in a cloud of Benson & Hedges smoke that cost less than two dollars a packet.
I partially entered stage four, the acceptance and adaptation phase. I rode elephants and surf skies, I had a Thai massage and drank some local whiskey that was kindly offered to me by the beautiful local merchants. They also taught me a few Thai words and were very patient with me as I struggled with the pronunciation. I think if I stayed longer this stage would have been more prominent and pleasurable for me.
Upon arrival I quickly found myself in stage five, re-entry shock. I have never felt more love for my country and more appreciative of all the minor details we often take for granted. Even though homelessness is a major problem in Australia, it is nothing compared to what I experienced in Thailand. It was awesome to speak to someone and have them understand me, the first thing I bought when I got off the plane was a t-shirt that stated “I heart AUS”.
My experience in Thailand opened my eyes, I feel I have grown and the next time I go overseas I doubt I will stay as long in stage two as I did on my initial journey.
Australian Zeitgeist Tutorial
I felt anger while listening to Hugh MacKay’s lecture. He did well to arouse my Australian Pride, resting not too low beneath my surface. Not only did he madden me with his bleak description of the current spirit of Australia, he made me feel like justifying my choices and decisions as a woman; which I should not have to do. Mr MacKay did make some valid points, however, I will focus on the issues raised about women specifically as this invoked the greatest reaction in me.
Mr MacKay mentioned the gender revolution that begun in the 1970s, the changes to women in the workforce and the consequential drop in birth rates. I do not think this as a negative outcome, rather as a positive one. My mother stayed at home and raised me as was expected 25 years ago. When I started to maintain some independence during my adolescent years, my mother began to get bored and as a result; became over-concerned with cleaning; and micro-managed my free time. I feel if she had a job, the void (I believe) she experienced due to my development would have been less. In five or so years, when I feel ready to have children I like to think I will go back to work within two years of giving birth. While I do feel it necessary for a motherly influence during child development, I feel this is not counteracted by pursuing personal development by keeping an active mind, and effectively contributing to the work force. Maybe Mr Mackay’s suggestion to ban women from attending university would be improved if he suggested increase facilities for working women, such as lengthening maternity leave and supplementing the (outrageous) costs of child care. Mr Mackay, would a predominantly male workforce be any better for society than a falling birth rate?
Finally, on the high divorce rate, I am not convinced this is as disastrous as Mr Mackay portrays. Just over thirty years ago, the Family Law Act 1975 came into effect. Prior to this, women had no contractual rights and were considered the ‘property’ of the man. Maybe this higher rate of divorce is a positive that indicates a greater freedom of women in a larger proportion of life. Thank you Mr Mackay, but you have failed to convince me on these parts of your lecture.