Anxiety levels

A buffer protects people from having to confront the consequences of their action, and prevents them from experiencing the psychological strain of obeying an immoral or unethical order. Agency theory explains a wide range of social behaviours, ranging from how we act in work to the how normal people become involved in atrocities such as the Holocaust. It is supported by studies showing that we attribute less responsibility to actors following orders than people acting of their own free will (Blass 1996).

One of the strengths of agency theory is that knowing the impact of authority figures can help people be more responsible for their actions and protect them from following orders without question. A limitation of agency theory is that it does not easily explain individual differences in obedience or the ability of leaders to command subordinates. A significant minority of Milgram’s participants did not obey. Some individuals, charismatic leaders seem to have a remarkable ability to persuade people to obey their wishes. Ultimately, the agentic state is difficult to identify because cannot be defined independently from obedience.

2. Explanation and evaluation Power of Social Roles (Deindividuation) Social roles are a set of connected behaviours, rights and obligations as conceptualised by actors in a social situation. It is can also be defined as the expected behaviour for a given social position. Every of us play a variety of different roles during the course of every day – daughter, car driver, pedestrian, customer, friend, student, club member etc One of a classic example of power of social roles and deindividuation is Zimardo’s prison simulation experiments.

The analysis of the results showed that the participants of the experiments simply ‘became’ the roles they played. More than a third of the guards behaved in such a hostile manner consistently, that Zimbardo described their behaviour as sadistic. This was despite the fact that the roles were assigned at random and there was absolutely no prior evidence that any of the subjects were inclined to behave as they did.

Instead of protesting, some of the prisoners began to act in depressed, dependent ways, just like many real prisoners and inmates of institutions. They deteriorated into learned helplessness, becoming ever more surly and depressed. The more they acted in that way, the more they were mistreated. By the end of the sixth day, the situation had deteriorated to such an extent, with guards inventing new rules to make the prison regime more punitive, that Zimbardo called a halt.

Deindividuation describes the loss of a sense of personal identity that can occur when, for example, in a crowd or wearing a mask. Deindividuation can happen as a result of becoming part of a group, such as an army or mob. Zimbardo’s participants were wearing a uniform. They became members of a particular group: guides or prisoners. They acted in ways in which they might not ordinarily act, as they were normal, stable and educated people. Analysing this experiment we can see that when people become part of a group they take the attitudes and behaviour of the group. Also deindividuation is associated with a reduced sense of personal responsibility and increased anti-social behaviour.

Social roles theory is one the most significant fields in social psychology. There is much experimental support for the concept of deindividuation. Zimbardo repeated Milgram’s (1963) experiment with participants that were either wearing a name tag (individuated) or were in a hood (deindividuated). The latter gave more shock. However this uniform may have acted as demand characteristic, and may have led participants to believe that more extreme behaviour was expected of them (Johnson & Downing 1979).

Deindividuation explains the irrational crowd behaviour, aggression and violence which can occur when individuality is lost, and when social norms are relaxed and the person is free to indulge in behaviour that would ordinarily be inappropriate. Knowing this helps police to control crowd behaviour at a rock concert, football match or political demonstration and also to prevent the public disorder they have learnt to expect.

In another hand deindividuation does not necessarily produce anti-social behaviour. Gergen et all (1973) showed that in some circumstances when people can not be identified, more affinitive, even intimate behaviour can occur in a relatively short time. 3. Explanation and evaluation of Social Identity Theory Tajfel explains the minimal group effect in terms of social identity theory (SIT). According to SIT, a person’s self image has two components: personal identity and social identity. Social Identity theory explains how prejudice can arise – through social categorisation, identification and comparison.

Categorisation: we divide other people into those who belong to our group (the “in-group” and those who belong to other groups (the “out-group”). Social Identity: each of us has several social identities, corresponding to the different groups with which we identify. The more positive the image of the group, the more positive will be our own social identity, and hence our self-image. Social comparison: comparison is made between groups in order to increase self-esteem. In-group favouritism and out-group negative bias enhance social and personal esteem, and lead to biased perceptions of in- and out-group members.

SIT offers good explanation of why members of an in-group favour each other over members of an out-group, and that this might lead to prejudice. The theory has been criticised on the grounds that it presents racism as “natural” helping to “justify” it. If, as SIT implies, inter-group hostility is natural and built into our thought processes as a consequence of categorisation, then racism conceived as a form of inter-group hostility (or in-group favouritism), may also be considered natural. Tajfel never intended SIT to be seen as a justification of racism; indeed he was a life-long opponent of racism. Taken out of context SIT is easily misrepresented as an explanation and justification of racism.

SIT generates a number of testable propositions. It can account for prejudice in inter-group competition but doesn’t really fully explain the violence associated with some prejudice. 1. Explanation and evaluation Realistic Group Conflict Theory According to realistic group conflict theory, realistic inter-group conflict arises when two distinct groups want to achieve the same goal but only one can and hostility is a natural consequence.

It suggests that competition for resources such as jobs, housing, education, etc. can increase prejudice between groups and may even lead to prejudice driven violence. This explanation of prejudice only applies to inter-group conflict, that is when one group’s interests are threatened by another. When self -interest is threatened, aggression is most likely result, not prejudice. The theory doesn’t explain why prejudice and economic conflict do not always occur together. It doesn’t account for how we might categorise ourselves as belonging to this group or that group, nor does it account for how economic groups are created.

Social psychology attempts to explain aggression through several different theories. Two theories include the theory of effects of deindividuation and the theory looking at the effects environmental stressors can have on aggressive behaviour. Deindividuation refers to the anonymity a person …

One theory of aggression is deindividuation. Deindividuation refers to when individuals lose their sense of individuality and behave in an anti-social or primitive way. Zimbardo identified a difference between individual (conforming to acceptable social standards) and deindividuated (not conforming to …

Social Learning Theory (SLT) emphasises the importance of observing behaviours and modelling ourselves on these behaviours. The theory suggests that we learn to become aggressive by observing, this is controlled by environmental influences. Bandura (1961) conduced a study on a …

In this essay we will be looking at the causes of prejudice from two approaches, firstly looking at the individual authoritarian personality theory before looking at the more group approach of the social identity theory. We will then look at …

David from Healtheappointments:

Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one? Check it out