SOCIOCULTURAL LEVEL OF ANALYSIS: SOCIOCULTURAL COGNITION
Principles that define the sociocultural level of analysis• Human beings are social animals with a basic need to belong.• Culture influences behaviour. (norms and values)• Humans have a social self which reflects their group memberships (not only individual identity, but also a collective or social one).
Be reflective…• Create a list of groups to which you belong to.• How important are these groups in your personal identity?• What needs do these different groups fill in your life?
Research methods at the sociocultural level of analysis• The goal of sociolutural studies: how people interact with each other• To evoid studies that are lack of ecological validity – psychologists use naturalistic methods• Reseraches are done in enviroment in which the behaviour is most likely to take place• Participant observation, interviews, and focus group• „To see the world through the eyes of the people being studied” – PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION (overt and covert observation)
• Leon Festinger (1956) - Covert observation• Marian Keech and UFO religion that believes the end of the world is at hand.1. If you were a reporter what questions would you ask Festinger and his team?2. Discuss the ethical concerns you would have with this research.
What do you think about thosesituations.2.Why that man behave like this?3.Why her boyfriend is late?
Attribution theory • Attribution theory (Heider 1958) is based on the assumption that people are naive scientists who try to explain observable behaviour. Fritz Heider(1896 - 1988)
Attribution theory Attribution theory is based on the assumption that people:•tend to look for causes and reasons for other peoples behaviourbecause they feel that there are motives behind most of their ownbehaviour•are "intuitive psychologists" who construct their own causal theoriesof human behaviour•construct causal theories because they want to be able tounderstand, predict, and control the environment around them.
Why attributions?• People seem to have a pervasive need for causal explanations because this makes the world more predictable.• Most cultures have constructed causal explanations for the origin and meaning of life, (e.g. in myths and religions).• The tendency to see motives and dispositions behind human actions may be so automatic that people sometimes find it difficult to override it even where motives and dispositions dont really apply (e.g. when people attribute motives to objects in computer games or believe in fate or witchcraft).
The fundamental attribution error (FAE)• FAE occurs when people overestimate personality traits (dispositional factors) and underestimate environmental factors when they explain other peoples behaviour.• According to social psychologist Susan Fiske (2004), people rely too much on personality in explaining behaviour and they underestimate - or never consider - the power of situations.
The fundamental attribution error (FAE)• In Western societies it could be because of the ideology that: people get what they deserve.• It makes life more predictable if peoples behaviour is mainly caused by their personality. This gives the impression that people are understandable and easy to deal with.• Explanations based solely on personality are incomplete. It would be wrong not to consider the power of situation.
Read study (in a frame) – page 105
Cultural bias in the FAECulture seems to be a determinant in attribution style.•In collectivist cultures the emphasis is on the primary socialrelationships of an individual (family, social role, culturalactivities).•In individualistic cultures the emphasis on the individual asthe primary cause of action leads to dispositional attributions.The individual is seen as the maincause of success and failure.
Evaluation of FAE Strengths of the FAE Limitations of the FAE• The theory has promoted understanding of common errors • The theory is culturally biased with in explanation of what happens in too much focus on individualism. the world.• The theory has proven very robust • Much research on the theory has and has been supported by many been conducted in laboratories and research studies. with a student sample (problems with generalization of findings).
The self-serving bias (SSB)• The SSB (i.e. a self-enhancing strategy) refers to peoples tendency to evaluate themselves positively by taking credit for their success ("I am intelligent") and attribute their failures to situational factors ("The teacher is not competent").• The SSB could be a way to uphold self-esteem (self-protection). People see themselves as responsible for success but not for their failures because they want to see themselves in this way.
Empirical research• Lau and Russel (1980) found that American football coaches and players were more likely to attribute success to dispositional factors (e.g. talent or hard work) and failure to situational factors (e.g. injuries or bad weather).
Cultural considerations in the SSB• Some argue that the SSB is primarily linked to individualist cultures but others believe it is can be found in both individualistic and collectivist cultures.
Cultural considerations in the SSB• Kashima and Triandis (1986) showed slides from unfamiliar countries to American and Japanese students and asked them to remember details.• When the students were asked to explain their performance, the Americans explained their own success with internal factors, such as ability, and failure with external factors.• The Japanese tended to explain their failure with lack of ability. This is called the modesty bias and is a cultural variation of the SSB.
Cultural considerations in the SSB• Bond, Leung, and Wan (1982) argued that a possible explanation for the modesty bias in collectivist cultures could be a cultural norm in Chinese societies to maintain harmonious personal relationships.
Social identity theory (SIT)• SIT is a theoretical framework developed by Tajfel and Turner (1979) for the analysis of intergroup relations.• SIT is linked to the idea of self-categorization theory (Turner 1991). Henri Tajfel• Social identity can be defined as the part of ones self-concept based on the knowledge of membership in social group(s) in combination with the value and emotional significance attached to that membership. John Turner
Social identity theory (SIT)• Individuals strive to maintain a positive self-concept as well as a positive social identity.• People make comparisons between ingroup and outgroup on valued dimensions to establish, maintain, and defend positive ingroup distinctiveness (social comparison).• When a social comparison results in a positive outcome for the ingroup, the need for a positive social identity is satisfied but the opposite may also happen (e.g. for low-status minority groups).
Social identity theory (SIT) • Intergroup discrimination can be one way to uphold a positive social identity for the ingroup (for example when women earn less than men for the same work or when whites think they are superior and discriminate against other ethnic groups).
CATEGORIZATION people are categorized based on shared characteristics (group membership) – ingroups & outgroups INGROUP: OUTGROUP: Social comparison group members group members to obtain positive seen as similar +seen as individuals + distinctiveness of negative traits (- positive traits (- ingroup discrimination)ingroup favouritism)
Tajfel - experiment in intergroup discrimination (1970) Wassily Kandinsky Paul Klee
Social represenations• Moscovici developed the ideas of group theory with his concept of social represenations – shared beliefs and explanations held by the society in which we live or the group to which we belong.• Social representations are, in a sense, cultural schemas that are fundamental to the identity of the group , and they provide a common understanding for communication within the group (for example: social representation of success, beauty or intelligence).
Social represenations• Howarth (2002) performed focus group interviews with adolescent girls in Brixton in London to study how the girls described and evaluated themselves.• She found that the girls had a positive view of "being from Brixton" which contrasted with how people living outside Brixton perceived people from Brixton (creative, diverse, vibrant).• This can be seen as an example of creating a positive "social identity" based on group belonging.
• Be a thinker – look at page 107
Evaluation of Social Identity Theory Strenghts of SIT Limitations of SIT Minimal group research has been criticized forSIT assumes that intergroup conflict is not artificiality. The experimental set-up is so farrequired for discrimination to occur. This is from natural behaviour that it can be questionedsupported by empirical research, e.g. Tajfel whether it reflects how people would react in(1970). real life. This could limit the predictive value of the theory.SIT can explain some of the mechanisms involved SIT cannot fully explain how ingroup favouritismin establishing "positive distinctiveness" to the may result in violent behaviour towardsingroup by maximizing differences to the outgroups.outgroup.SIT has been applied to understanding SIT cannot explain why social constraints such asbehaviours such as ethnocentrism, ingroup poverty could play a bigger role in behaviour thanfavouritism, conformity to ingroup norms, and social identity.stereotyping.
Stereotyping• What is stereotype?• What kind of stereotypes do you know?• How those stereotypes influence to your behaviour?
Stereotyping• A stereotype is defined as a social perception of an individual in terms of group membership or physical attributes.• It is a generalization that is made about a group and then attributed to members of that group.• Generalization can be either positive or negative.• Stereotyping is a form of social categorization that affects the behaviour of those who hold the stereotype, and those who are labelled by a stereotype.
How do stereotypes form? • Stereotypes are a salient part of our social and cultural environment. • We learn them through daily interactions, conversations and through the media.
How do stereotypes form? • Stereotypes are, to some extent, based on individual experiences but cultural and social factors also play a role, i.e. stereotypes are contextualized and not simply the results of individual cognitive processing. • Stereotypes can be shared by large sociocultural groups as social representations.
How do stereotypes form?• The most common cognitive process involved in stereotyping is social categorization (Tajfel, 1969).• Categorization (and stereotyping) seems to be fundamental to human nature and it helps to make the world more predictable.• Once stereotypes are formed they act as cognitive schemas in information processing.
Look at empirical research:The Princeton Trilogy (1933, 1951, 1969)
Evaluation of research Princeton Trilogy.• Devine (1989) argued that it is important to distinguish between knowledge of a stereotype and accepting it.• According to her, the Princton Trilogy does not take this into account.
STEREOTYPES• Stereotypes are simplified mental images which act as templates to help interpret the social world• Stereotyping is, to a large extent, an automatic cognitive process (i.e. it occures without intention, effort, or awerness and it is not expected to interfere with other concurrent cognitive processes. )
Steele and Aronson (1995)• performed an experiment using African Americans and European Americans, who did a verbal performance test based on difficult multiple- choice questions.• When told that it was a test on verbal ability, African Americans scored lower than European Americans.• When told that it was a task used to test how certain problems are generally solved, African Americans scored higher and matched the scores of European Americans.• The researchers concluded that the stereotype threat could affect behaviour in any stereotyped group if the members themselves believe in the stereotype. Page 108
Spotlight anxiety• Stereotype threat turns on spotlight anxiety, which couses emotional distress and pressure that may undermine performance.
• Look at page 108• Read: Spencer at al. (1977) study
Be empathic• In 1994, a controversial book, The Bell Curve (by Richard J. Herrnstein) was published, discussing the IQs of different ethnic groups.• One of the stereotypes it perpetuated was that Asians are very intelligent. In spite of this being a rather „positive” stereotype, how could this also be an example of stereotype threat?• What are the negative effects of such a stereotype?
What is the effect of stereotypes on behaviour?• Social groups are categorized into ingroups and outgroups. Once people are categorized as belonging to one group rather than another they tend to emphasize similarities to individuals in that group and exaggerate differences between groups. Stereotypes of outgroups are often central to group identity.
What is the effect of stereotypes on behaviour?• People tend to pay attention to stereotype-consistent information and disregard stereotype-inconsistent information - confirmation bias. – Look at page 109 – read Snyder and Swann (1978) study• Negative stereotypes may be internalized by stereotyped groups (stereotype threat).
Darley and Gross (1983)• performed an experiment where the researchers showed videos of a girl to participants.• In video 1 the girl was playing in a poor environment (poor stereotype);• In video 2 the girl was playing in a rich environment (rich stereotype).• Then they saw a video of the girl in what could be an intelligence test.• When the participants were asked to judge the future of the girl they all said that the "rich" girl would do well and the "poor" girl would do less well.• Based on a few salient details from the first video, participants formed an overall impression of the girls potential future based on stereotypes.
HOMEWORK• Find two examples of stereotypes in the media – newspaper, magazines, books, products, posters or films.• Bring the image to class, and explain why the image represents a stereotype and why do you think this image persists.