PSYC 1200 Lecture 8b
Chapter 16: Causes of Cruelty and Violence
Attitudes and Beliefs Everyone has personal opinions about religion, politics, morality, how to live, etc.
Attitudes can be individual, derived from personal reflection and experience or attitudes can be given by some external source.
Authoritarianism An external influence on attitude which involves the unquestioning acceptance of attitudes given by authority figures (e.g. religious or
political leaders, “experts”, parents etc.)
Conservatism An external influence on attitude which involves the unquestioning acceptance of attitudes provided by tradition (e.g. cultural
practices and beliefs, religious rituals).
Soloman Asch (1952) Suggested that the need to conform is powerful motivation.
Showed a group of 8 participants a test line to compare with three other lines.
Test Line: ______ A: ______ B: ___ C: ____________
Participants were asked which line was the same length as the test line.
The first 7 participants were actors and said confidently, “Line B!”
1/3 of the people agreed with the wrong judgments more than 50% of the time; 1/5 of the people were completely independent.
Conform People are motivated to conform because not conforming often carries high risks (e.g. social exclusion, humiliation, punishment).
Friendly decent people will be influenced to engage in violence and cruelty when the group that they are a member of wants them to.
Choice People have a right to act in ways inconsistent with your attitudes.
Tolerance When other people have a right to act in ways inconsistent with another‟s attitudes.
Tends to be a more rational approach and leads to better outcomes because it accommodates more than one way of thinking.
Intolerance When another‟s attitude is the only correct one and others are brought into that line.
Much violence and destruction has been caused by intolerance.
Groupthink Tendency for group members to think alike and suppress dissent, leading to risky actions, and confidence that the group‟s attitudes
and actions are the only correct ones.
A sense of invulnerability in action and belief.
Group members suppress dissenting opinions.
Intolerance of dissenting opinions, when they are expressed.
e.g. George Bush‟s administration going into Iraq: everyone was convinced that there were weapons of mass destruction despite not
having any evidence.
Consequence: you don‟t engage in any dialectical reasoning considering all the different pieces of evidence.
Cognitive Dissonance People are tense and uncomfortable when events are inconsistent with their attitudes.
When a person or group behaves in ways inconsistent with your attitudes, people are motivated to reduce this tension by:
1. Devaluing (or dehumanizing) the person or group by interpreting them as evil.
2. Acting to bring them in line with your attitudes through friendly and coercive persuasion.
Attribution Inferences about the cause of events.
Fundamental Attribution Error: overestimating the role of a person‟s personality or disposition as the cause of other people‟s
actions, and underestimating the role of the situation. People are usually not as unkind in interpreting their own behaviour.
e.g. You have a strong view against prostitution, so tension would rise if you encountered a prostitute. The most natural attribution
you would make is that she is genuinely an immoral person without considering the life events that may have led her to that lifestyle.
Self-Serving Bias When I do something wrong it‟s because of the situation (e.g. I‟m under a lot of stress today.).
When I do something right it‟s because of my personality (e.g. I‟m such a nice person.).
Chapter 11: Causes of Not Helping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
Diffusion of The more people available to help, the less likely it is for a person to help others in need.
Responsibility Leads to:
Bystander Apathy: not helping crime or accident victims.
Social Loafing: not working as hard in completing group projects as when completing projects alone.
Just-World Hypothesis People often maintain the belief that folks get what they deserve, which leads to “blaming the victim” for the situation they‟re in.
Ethnocentrism Belief that one‟s culture is superior to all others, which creates a circumstance that favours discriminating against other cultures.
Most often caused by normal motives and psychological processes, rather than low intelligence, evil, or psychological disturbance.
Social Identities People are a member of several groups (e.g. students, race, religion, financial, etc.)
Having a social identity as a member of a group influences one‟s thinking and behaviour (e.g. We always do this; we think this way).
In Group Solidarity Sense of belongingness provided by group membership fulfills an important human need for social contact.
Can provide people with purpose and can help people make sense of a complex world.
Us vs. Them Group membership places people in opposition to members of other groups.
Leads to a: “We‟re Right, Good and Better and They‟re Wrong, Bad, and Inferior” Mentality.
Henri Tajfel (1971) showed British schoolboys slides with different number