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Visualizing Psychology

From elementary to high school, I used to believe that people can be categorized according to certain stereotypes. Corny as it may sound, I thought back then that there are some people who should be labeled as “geeks,” “jocks,” “snobs,” “bullies,” “show-offs,” etc. I justified this belief of mine by thinking that they looked and acted the part, anyway, so they certainly deserved the pigeonholing. As a result, however, I was somehow more conscious with my words and actions at school. I was fully aware that people were likewise assuming that I fit a particular stereotype.

When I got to college, I got exposed to a lot of people who, despite having interests that are different from mine, are well-rounded, down-to-earth, and friendly. In the process, I realized that reducing individuals to stereotypes is very infantile and narrow-minded. Everyone has differences – these are what set us apart from one another. It would be a very boring world, after all, if everyone was interested in, say, sports, and nothing else. 2. Do you believe that you are free of prejudice? After reading this chapter, which of the many factors that cause prejudice do you think is most important to change?

I believe that I am free of prejudice – I respect other people’s opinions and I do not judge them according to their physical appearance, gender, social status, religion, or lifestyle choices. As I grew older, I came to realize that prejudice is very detrimental for everyone. A person who is prejudiced towards certain parties is depriving himself or herself of chances to have meaningful relationships with a wider group of people. Someone who is the object of prejudice, on the other hand, experiences unfair treatment because of misconceptions about his or her race, creed, or social status.

After reading the chapter, I think that the cause of prejudice that is most important to change is stereotypes. Stereotypes are a powerful means of promoting prejudice because these provide people with overly simplistic information about certain ethnicities, religions, and social groups. Individuals who believe in stereotypes, therefore, no longer have to think in order to understand those who are different from them. But because stereotypes are based on erroneous knowledge, those who adhere to them usually end up committing offensive acts against members of particular ethnicities, religions, or social groups.

The “Jezebel” stereotype, for instance, gave whites the impression that black women are promiscuous and therefore deserve to be sexually abused. 3. How do Milgram’s results – particularly the finding that the remoteness of the victim affected obedience – relate to some aspects of modern warfare? In the context of modern warfare, the results of Stanley Milgram’s study on obedience showed that people support the invasion or torture of parties whom they deem to be undesirable for the simple reason that they do not have the slightest connection to them.

During the Holocaust, the Germans supported the Nazi policy of exterminating Jews because they themselves were not Jews. In the Vietnam War, the misconception that the Vietnamese were “gooks” made it easier for American soldiers to torture and kill even Vietnamese civilians. Many Americans kept silent on the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo and in Abu Ghraib mainly because they regarded them as “terrorists” and were therefore “anti-USA. ” 4. What are some of the similarities between Zimbardo’s prison study and the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq?

Foremost is the treatment of prisoners. Both the subjects in Zimbardo’s prison study and the prisoners at Abu Ghraib were detained without proper representation in court. They were likewise severely tortured – the slightest infraction was punishable by either performing degrading tasks or being deprived of “privileges” such as eating, sleeping, and washing. Resistance was met with even more torture – detainees who went on hunger strike to protest against inhuman treatment were revived through force-feeding.

Second, the guards were given total control over the detainees. Although both federal and international law maintained that prisoners should be accorded humane treatment while incarcerated, the guards were allowed to torture prisoners with impunity. Worse, not even one of the guards expressed remorse from what they did to the prisoners. Indeed, both Zimbardo’s prison study and the torture of prisoners promoted deindividualization or the feeling of reduced personal responsibility brought about by membership in a group.

The guards in these examples must have felt that what they were doing was not wrong because all of their colleagues were doing it. 5. Have you even done something in a group that you would not have done if you were alone? What happened? How did you feel? What have you learned from this chapter that might help you avoid this behavior in the future? I will have to admit that I have done something in a group that I would not have done if I were alone. There were times before that my friends and I would bash someone who does not belong in our group.

We would make fun of how he or she looks like, acts, talks, etc. At first, I thought nothing of it – the person we were bashing does not know that we were doing to it to him, anyway. But as I grew older, I came to realize that what we did was wrong. I mean, what if other people said bad things about me just because I happened to be different from them? What I learned from this chapter that might help me avoid this behavior in the future is that differences among individuals are a part of human existence.

Diversities are the ones that tell someone apart from other people. Thus, differences should never be used as an excuse for oppression. Eliminating individual differences is akin to erasing the identities of people. 6. Can you think of situations when the egoistic model of altruism seems most likely correct? What about the empathy-altruism hypothesis? Some examples of situations in which the egoistic model of altruism seems most correct are making amends to people that we have wronged and doing favors to others in exchange for something in return.

In accordance to the definition of the model, these actions are committed out of the hope for later reciprocation or to avoid feeling guilty. On the other hand, willingly volunteering for community service and returning lost possessions to owners without asking for anything in return are examples of situations in which the empathy-altruism hypothesis seems correct. Just like what the premise suggests, these actions are truly selfless and are motivated by a genuine concern for others.

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